Purim 2009

We were very much looking forward to our first Purim in Israel being a memorable one. Well, it sure was – but not what we expected! Before the vomiting began late Sunday night, I did manage to prepare some spirited desserts (a coffee liqueur creme, and an orange liqueur creme with fruit cocktail and coconut), and shop for other treats and costume components at the Ma’ale Adumim mall. All sorts of festivities were taking place for children, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me and Yisrael declined participation in this outing.

Earlier that day, I accompanied him to school in his U.S. Army attire (Michael did the face paint – pretty cool, huh?) so I could share photos with all of you, so enjoy…

Continue reading Purim 2009


Maybe Judah Maccabee IS Alive After All!

For those of you who might be worried about us because of the crap (pardon my English) that you see on the “news” (someday you might want to look up that word in the dictionary and compare it to what’s on the tube and radio), I thought I’d write to let you know that I had a fun day shopping with Carol (18-year-old daughter of our friends back in Cleveland who is here for a year of seminary) at the Shuk (Machane Yehuda market) and various malls and shops in Talpiot, while Michael & Yisrael stayed home and played.

While we were shopping, Carol received a text message from her school warning the girls not to go to Ashkelon or Sderot today because of the potential rocket attacks coming in from Gaza at our civilians. Please note that these rockets are not in retaliation for Israel’s attack on Gaza during the past 24 hours; Israel’s attack was in response to the 2+ years of thousands of rockets being fired by terrorists directly at Israeli civilian targets – most often the city of Sderot where Israeli men, women, and children have 15 seconds to run to a shelter when the code red alarm is sounded. Not a happy or healthy life, but it’s the price we’re paying in the “land for peace (a.k.a. piece) process. Continue reading Maybe Judah Maccabee IS Alive After All!


Chanukah Treats for the Soul and Body

I was moved by this week’s offerings in the OU’s Shabbat Shalom e-zine and thought you might be too. So I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites with you.

In Second Thoughts: Candles in the Desert, award winning author Yaffa Ganz gives an illuminating description of Maaleh Adumim (the city where we live) and links it to the Chanukah story.

Rabbi Bini Maryles has written an inspiring article titled Where Have You Gone Judah Maccabee? playing off of the Paul Simon lyric (from ‘Mrs. Robinson’) ‘Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you…’ It’s a nice read about our need for heroes. If you’re interested in learning about modern day heroes, AISH.com published a wonderful article titled 8 Nights, 8 Heroes last week. I was familiar with all except the story of Shlomo Mulla who, at the age of 16, set out on foot with a group of 17 friends from their Ethiopian village for the Promised Land. His journey evoked tears and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to God for having made Aliyah so easy for those of us from America.

In the Historical Fiction arena, Rabbi Leiby Burnham challenges us to “search just a bit deeper, to take on the impossible, to let the light conquer the stifling darkness” in Chanukah, 165 B.C.E.

And no Chanukah would be complete without food! Continue reading Chanukah Treats for the Soul and Body


Happy Chanukah! Modern Day Miracle

In the frenzy of packing to move here last summer I packed our dreidels. It completely slipped my mind that dreidels outside of Israel have the Hebrew letters:

Nun-Gimmel-Hay-Shin printed on (or etched into) them
for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham; A great miracle happened there!

It didn’t even occur to me when I unpacked and placed them in our Judaica cabinet.

So this past week, Michael went out and bought a new dreidel that displays: Continue reading Happy Chanukah! Modern Day Miracle


Chanukah Parties – Israeli Style

Yisrael was invited to a Chanukah Party this week at the home of one of his classmates. After spending what seemed like an hour trying to interpret the note from his teacher (I guess Israelis don’t send invitations, the teacher writes a note in Yisrael’s homework journal when an event is taking place), and Yisrael insisting that the party was to start around midnight, I made a few stressful phone calls and finally learned the time (4 p.m.) and location of the party. It was in the new 07 neighborhood; an area I have no experience navigating by bus.

On Tuesday morning I dropped Yisrael off at ulpan and walked up to the bus depot in hopes that someone could at least understand my pointing to the location on the map and would tell me what bus number to take. No such luck; the trailer that served as the bus depot was gone! I’m not kidding; just a few pieces of office furniture were left sitting in the parking lot.

Not quite ready to deal with this challenge on my own, Continue reading Chanukah Parties – Israeli Style


Simchat Torah 5769 and Yisrael’s Birthday

Being IN ISRAEL for Simchat Torah was an amazingly joyful experience for us this year! It was pretty uplifting for the past few years in Cleveland, but here, well it was different.

In Israel Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are blended into one day, which makes for a long day at shul – I think it started around 7 or 7:30 AM and ended around 1:30 PM here.

Rabbi Katz, Ma’aleh Adumim’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, brought the Yeshiva boys up from Mitzpe Nevo to join into our celebration at Musar Avicha – they managed to increase the volume and liven up the dancing beyond what I already felt was a lot of fun.

One very noticable difference between the celebration here and in the US Continue reading Simchat Torah 5769 and Yisrael’s Birthday


Yom Kippur 5769

We have really been enjoying Carol/Rina Baum’s visits with us. In addition to being with us for most Shabbats, she arrived on Erev Yom Kippur to help unpack Yisrael’s toys and the kitchen essentials (which we used the following Shabbat).

Campus life must be pretty demanding because she fell asleep during Kol Nidre. No one else seemed to notice so I let her sleep until Yisrael popped his head in to say he wasn’t feeling well so we went home. By 8 pm the three of us were asleep and Michael managed to come in quietly enough not to wake them up.

Michael spent most of Yom Kippur day at shul while Carol, Yisrael and I davened at home. I couldn’t imagine myself making the 20 minute walk to shul in the hot sun without water. Thankfully I got through the fast day without a migraine – I attribute this to the Lewis & Clark Motion Sickness Wrist Bands that Carol let me borrow. All in all it was a pretty easy fast compared to previous years – and much more meaningful being within a few miles of where the beit hamikdash once stood (and will soon stand B’ezrat Hashem).
Continue reading Yom Kippur 5769


Sukkot 5769

Today is my brother’s birthday – Happy Birthday Philip!

Carol returned on Monday morning/Erev Sukkot and Michael rode back with her to the Tachana on Wednesday night because she had to keep two days of Yom Tov (because her intention is to return to the galut). We’re expecting her back on Monday/Erev Simchat Torah.

We thoroughly enjoyed the first night of Sukkot in the comfort of the Casden’s sukkah, and then had a fun lunch the next day with the Macklers in their cozy sukkah.

Mitzvahs are remembered
When we arrived at the Macklers for lunch there were a few moments of uncomfortable silence while Carol and Miriam stared at each other trying to figure out where they had met before. I was unable to help because this was the first time I was meeting Miriam as well. Then Miriam remembered that on Yom Kippur evening it was Carol who picked up Miriam’s youngest son and comforted him in the shul lobby so Miriam could finish davening. Miriam wanted to hire Carol on the spot for all of her future babysitting needs and put forth some effort to convince her not to leave Israel – ever!

To keep in the spirit of this fun holiday, we went Sukkah hopping in Jerusalem. Well, not exactly. People don’t really sukkah hop here, but we sure did enjoy the sights in Meah Shearim. I was careful to wear the appropriate uniform (black skirt, tights and shoes, white blouse with a shell underneath, and a scarf that covered all my hair – I couldn’t bring myself to wear a bad wig to fit in completely!) to avoid being bleached by the modesty patrol! To make it a little more interesting for Yisrael, we told him we were in search of Moshe and Mali Bellanga’s sukkah (from the movie Ushpizin)! Continue reading Sukkot 5769


K’Siva V’Chasima Tova – Rosh HaShanah Message

We will be offline from 10 A.M. Eastern time on Monday until 1 P.M. Eastern time on Wednesday for Rosh HaShanah.

May all of our Tefillot (prayers) be accepted for the good and may we be able to find the good in everything that comes our way.

I wish each of you a year of health and safety, each day filled with joy, success, satisfaction in your accomplishments, the constant desire to improve, enough parnassah (income) to relieve you from worry, shalom bayit (peace in your home), and much nachas (blessings and joy) from children, family members, and yourselves.

Next year may we all be together in Yerushalayim.

Le Shana Tova Umesukah!