Sunday, December 31, 2006


This Shabbat, we had a Hillel group from Rio in the hotel with us, also on Taglit program. They had three girls who wanted to have a Bat Mitzvah (one each, not one for all three) and the staff only knew how to ask for help and wasn't really prepared to help plan the service or ceremony. So we helped them, and had some of our Shabbat scholars lead the service and read Torah. And each of the girls spoke after their aliyah. But the entire thing was in Portuguese. I'm sure they spoke beautifully, but I didn't understand one single word....

It's still pretty cold here in Jerusalem. I definitely didn't bring enough long sleeve shirts. That was a strategic packing error on my part. And at some point, I have to do laundry. But I've got a new fleece and a new sweatshirt, long underwear and heavy socks. And this year, I remembered to bring an umbrella.

Yesterday on the radio I heard them announce a song called "Shir Ha-Mitria" or the Umbrella Song. I couldn't imagine what it was going to be, but sure enough, it was all about rain, and definitely appropriate for the way the weather has been around here.

Yes, Israel needs the rain. But it would be nicer if it was a warm rain...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A new Saturday night program

Well, it's finally happened. A Saturday night in Israel that did not involve the Campus Club. I think we have a group there next week, but that's at least 7 days away, and at least for now, we can honestly say that we had a season without Campus. Instead, we were at the Israel Museum to view the mini-model of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea Scrolls, to hear Avraham (only the second time this trip for me), and to hear a band called Shine.

It should be noted that the lead singer in the band dresses badly. Not just strangely, but badly. And he only has 1/2 a mustache for reasons that are not readily apparent.

And now, it's way too late with an early morning to follow....

Thursday, December 28, 2006

implications of snow in jerusalem on students

Of the 40 students who flew in from Berkeley yesterday, most were wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip flops when they got off the bus in Jerusalem for their first time, where it had just stopped snowing, at least for a few minutes. Needless to say it was a really quick shehechiyanu ceremony.

One student got off the bus wearing a colorful Taglit scarf that was part of the swag from the first round of birthright. Being of suspicious nature, I approached her and said, "great scarf, where'd you get it?". My fear was that somehow she had also participated in the first round. She didn't look old enough, but you never know.... It turns out, she got it for $5 at at a thriftstore in San Francisco!

And of the 40 students from Central Florida who arrived yesterday, 10 of them did not bring coats with them. Why? Because they don't own them! Evidently it's never cold in Orlando, or wherever else they're from.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cold and rainy in the orange room

Well, I moved into my apartment. In the rain. And the cold. From a parking spot two blocks away. With an empty fridge. Well, the last part was taken care of at 11pm last night, but only because I was hungry then and knew that by breakfast time, if it was still cold and rainy, that I was going to be in trouble. The good news, I didn't get lost finding my way. Strange, very strange, but true. I basically just had to remember that once I found Efraim, I needed to just figure out where Menashe went wrong (see my last post for explanation).

I actually got the keys earlier yesterday, but didn't really get back until late last night. Why, because it was time once again to hear about Avraham Infeld's 5-legged table. They haven't changed, in case anyone was wondering.

Back to the apartment. The walls are very orange. And when I picked up the keys yesterday, Aviad (the landlord's son) was wearing an orange sweatshirt. I'm pretty sure it's not a political statement at this point, but you never know around here. The apartment is furnished in Ikea. Much of which is familiar from our house in DC, including the kitchen table and counter. And living room lamp. And chair. And probably some kitchen items I haven't explored yet.

But it's a nice space, and while it's much smaller than the apartment I was in this summer, it's plenty big for one person, and once I figure out how to keep the windows closed in the cold, blowing (did I mention cold?) rain, it should be perfect.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Efraim and Menashe

I learned something about the streets in Jerusalem last night. It turns out, that if you know Jewish history, then it's easier to find your way around. The twelve tribe streets are in Baka, and the sites given up in the War of Independence have streets named for them in Talpiyot.

My apartment is on Menashe street, so I figured he would be near Efrayim (his brother). He is, but around the corner. Maybe he was a little twisted? I don't know. I also found it once, parked, and then made my way to the coffeeshop (named, appropriately, Coffee Shop), and I'll be able to walk back, but I'm really not sure if I'll ever find it again driving. It's too many one way streets, many of which I think I drove down incorrectly to find it the first time.

It's cold here (and summer-like by Milwaukee standards) and it might even snow tomorrow. And me without a camera. It's already snowing on the Hermon - and they're expecting 4 or 5 feet!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Dulles, the Haaj and Afula

I hate Dulles airport. It's far away, the lines are always long, and there just has to be a better way to start a trip, even erev Christmas eve, than their disorganization. I got the airport 2.5 hours before my flight. Which turned out to be good, because I waited in line for an hour just to check in. And then to drop your bags off to check, you had to weave in and out of all the other people checking in to get to the x-ray machine. And then there was security, and then the shuttle to the terminal, and then really, really long lines at all the places I wanted to stop and get a drink. oh well.

I got on the plane, found that might seat was thankfully much closer to the door than I expected, and sat down in my window seat. There was already someone in the aisle and no one yet in the middle seat. And by the time the plane took off, we realized we had the only empty seat on the plane, next to us. So we started talking. I was headed off to birthright, and he was heading to Jedda for the Haaj. We figured between my trip to Israel and his for the Haaj, someone either figured we needed the space between us, or deserved the space between us. And I got an invitation to his family's kabob restaurant in Faifax when I get back....

I changed planes in Frankfurt, and really, they just shouldn't tell you that you're going to be delayed while they de-ice the wings, you know!? So I said T'filat Haderech again figuring it couldn't hurt.

Landed in Israel, handed off a laptop and a big check to the person meeting me (I'm not sure I'm allowed to name her here, but for those that know her - she's the one that meets all of the Hillel groups), met my cousin Ayelet, picked up a car and drove to Afula.

It was nice to catch up with Steve, Galit, Or, Nadav and Ayelet now, because starting today, the craziness hits. Plus, they have a new cute puppy (who did not pee on my stuff).

Friday, December 22, 2006

back to birthright...

Well, I'm back to Israel tomorrow for another round of birthright. Thankfully, I'm not on a flight with students. The other good news - all the students are going to be in the desert Sunday night, so I'm not going to see anyone until Monday. It will at least give me a day to get over the jet lag and run up and see my cousins.

We've already got 12 buses on the ground and already, there are stories. The tamest - a cat bit one of our staff people. Who pets the cats in Israel?!

And Debbie - if you found this - stay tuned for more over the next month.

Monday, December 11, 2006

You've got mail!

What I didn't mention in earlier posts about the shiritaki noodles I ordered on-line, is that there was a serious delivery problem. As in, when I ordered them, they didn't get delivered. So they agreed to send more out. They said they would arrive in 3-5 days, and when I called 2 weeks later and asked for tracking information, they sent some a few days later. Strange, but then again, I'm ordering noodles made from a smelly flower, what should I expect?

So finally a box arrived and you know what happened with the "meatballs". Not good. And I've got 19 more bags of assorted shapes and sizes that I've been avoiding ever since.

But tonight, there was a box on the doorstep, and lo and behold, it's another box of 20 bags of assorted smelly noodles. So now I'm thinking, I didn't like the first kind, I'm wary of trying a second, and now there are another 20 bags that I'm going to have to ship back to them. But first, I figured I should try them again. I also figured I should try a shape that I'm more familiar with, like spaghetti.

So I tried it. With plain marinara and a lot of grated parmesan (I figured if they were bad, at least they'd be edible). Ki Tov. And it was good.

And now I have to write them again and pay for the second box. It's hard being so ethical.... But at least it's nutritious, too.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Forty is the new Seventy

Part 1: 40 = 70
It's 3:00pm. I get a phone call from someone who asks how things went today at Ronnie's doctor's appt. I answered that it took forever at the doctor and that we'd just gotten home.

When did I turn 70?

Part 2: Boing and Thud
I actually got to go to two doctors with Ronnie today. The first was the orthapaedist that made the spine surgeon recommendations and the guy that did my knee surgery. He used the rubber mallet to hit Ronnie in the shin and see how far his foot kicked up. The left knee popped up with a boing (yes, there really were sound effects). The second was a resounding thud, with no appreciable kick (or accompanying sound effect). Fascinating, actually.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wet Meatballs

Well, I tried the "meatballs". I made them like I'd make any veggie meatballs and figured that would give me a good comparison. Basically, after I rinsed them off, I let them soak while I cooked up a big sauce pan of onion, mushroom, pepper and tomato.

They look like scallops, which is weird, because I've really only seen scallops on television. But these are rounder (I think scallops are flat?).

Here's the thing, these noodles are sometimes called "wet noodles" because usually you want to dry them out before you put sauce on them or they just feel too wet. I don't know how to describe it. They look like wet scallops, only round.

I think I didn't dry them out enough, and they taste, well, like scallop-sized but rounder wet balls in the middle of pretty good tasting mushrooms, onions, peppers etc. I'm pretty sure there's no way that Ronnie's going to try this...

Oh well. I think I'll try the spaghetti next...

Big Box o' Shiritaki

Well, the box of shiritaki noodles I ordered nearly a month ago finally arrived yesterday. There are 20 bags, each of a different kind of noodle. But I think it's all going to taste the same. In addition to regular types of noodles, there are"shrimp", "meatballs" (do you put these with the spaghetti made out of the same stuff?!) and something called "hand knot" pasta.

I saw the white squirrel again today. I took more pictures, and I think I could tell that he has pink eyes and not blue. The other squirrels didn't seem to be shunning him at all, which is a good thing.