Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coming Home to Oakland

I really hope the memories we've created through our travels and life in Israel remain strong in our hearts. In case we forget, we have our blogs which we are having printed into books, one for each of us.
On our last night in Jerusalem, Mark went to a wine festival.  Micah and Jonah and I enjoyed dinner on Emek Refaim and finished packing and went to bed.
We traveled home from Jerusalem through Warsaw and New York.  In a big rush, Mark decided to purchase a couple of bottles of Israeli wine from the duty free store in the Tel Aviv airport.  Well, we get to Warsaw and try to go through security check to get from our arrival gate to our departure gate and the agent there tells us we cannot take the wine through.  Duty free shop forgot to give us a special sealed bag so the liquid wasn't allowed.  We asked if there was ANYTHING we could do.  He said the only option would be to exit the sealed area and check them in one of our backpacks.  So, we got to go through customs, got our European stamp from Poland, and stood in line to check Jonah's backpack, now empty except for two wine bottles and some cushioning clothes and newspapers.  We then got back with plenty of time to spare because our flight was delayed more than 2 hours total.  It was a very frustrating wait.  Every half hour they announced that they would give us an update in a half hour, then a half hour later, the update said, "we'll give you an update in a half hour."  LOL  Luckily, there was a delicious coffee shop there where I had a special hot chocolate and Mark had a special coffee treat.  We finally boarded and flew to New York where we had a now VERY short layover.  We just got our luggage, went through customs, cut to the front of the luggage check-in line and checked in, then cut to the front of the security line, went through security, quick bathroom stop, and picked up some food, and walked right onto our plane boarding for San Francisco.
We got home late in the evening.  Mom and Dad Bloom met us at the airport and brought us home to their house.  We stayed overnight and drove ourselves home in the morning. They had been taking care of my car while we were away so we used my Volvo wagon to drive home from San Mateo to Oakland.
The renters left our house in very good shape.  A few minor things had to be fixed like a slow draining sink, some broken off tiles, etc. but we really didn't have much to do.
We immediately unpacked all our clothes from our suitcases and storage.  We only had one day to unpack and repack for our trip to LA for our cousin's Bat Mitzvah.
However, my college friend Lara was also in town for a short time with her daughter Sophie so we agreed to get together at my house that afternoon and go out to dinner together at our favorite burrito place in Oakland, Los Cantaros on Grand Avenue.
But I got one of the biggest surprises of my life when in the door walked my freshman year college roommate, Jode Gedansky!  It was so excited to see her and get to chat with her about the directions our lives have gone.  We still have lots in common and I was so so happy to reconnect.
The next day we got in the car and drove to Fresno where we met Mom and Dad, Jennifer and Zach for a night in Fresno.  We went to the Fresno Grizzlies game and stayed overnight in the Radisson Hotel there.  It was pretty fun but not as good as in years past.  We couldn't get in too early because there was some kind of season-ticket holders' special event going on before the game.  So no practice balls from the stands, no players hanging out stretching and giving autographs.  Oh well.
Near Fresno we stopped a the Sun Maid Raisin factory store and bought some snacks and a postcard for Rafi "I hope I get my raisins from Fresno." Swidler who is one of Micah and Jonah's friends from All Star Sports Camp in Jerusalem..
The next day we drove to Los Angeles.  It was a wonderful Bat Mitzvah weekend for Maddy starting with the amazing Friday night dinner hosted by the family friends, the Saturday afternoon service and party at the country club, and the Sunday morning brunch at Chris and Laurie's where the kids were swimming while we ate yummy food and chatted with family.
While we were there we got to each some yummy kosher food on Pico, a new meat Mexican place.  YUM!

The weekend rounded out our trip beautifully because we stopped in LA for a long layover on our way to Fiji in March and while we were there we went to Pico, ate Chinese and Japanese food at Shanghai Diamond Garden on Pico, and met Maddy, Laurie, and Samy there for a pre-Bat Mitzvah chat.  What perfect Harbert bookends!  :-)

On our Saturday morning of the Bat Mitzvah weekend, we extended our Israel experience just a bit by attending a Modern Orthodox shul called B'nai David.  We know a couple of families there from Camp Ramah and the service felt very similar to the ones we experienced at Yedidya, Yakar, Shira Chadasha, and Mizmor L'David with a side-by-side mechitzah and a Torah carry through the women's section.
After the Bat Mitzvah weekend, we drove home and life in Oakland began again.  We had three days to get Micah ready to start his new school, CCJDS, and two more days for Jonah to be ready to start at Joaquin Miller in third grade. 










Good news to share - they are both loving school after about a month so far.  Micah has made new friends and is doing well at his schoolwork as a middle schooler
Our first week back, I forgot to go to three things that week.  A TBA book club Monday night, a JM auction envelope stuffing meeting Wednesday night, right across the street from our house, and finally a haircut appointment for both Micah and Jonah on Friday.  Well, Micah's hair was SO long, I don't know how I could have forgotten!  But it made me realize that I needed to start using the calendar that I bought for 10 shekels in Jerusalem.  It's a reminder of our special time there that I am carrying with me this entire school year.
Since then, not so many missed appointments.  We're getting back into the swing of things. I helped with Lice Check and one lunch prep at CCJDS.  I'm helping in the office, library, and working with students at Joaquin Miller.  I'm learning things for my Hadassah Trainers trainings, attending Rosh Chodesh, Hadassah, and WTBA events, and went back to book clubs.  I'm back in yoga class at Barefoot Movement and will start up Core Flow and ballet next week at Shawl-Anderson.  Mark and Jonah both had their birthdays and we enjoyed a San Jose Giants game with cupcakes, a San Francisco Giants game, and a very special musical Havdallah birthday party at our house.  Life is good and full.  We are busy and happy to be home.
Though I will miss our life in Israel, I very much appreciate being back in my chosen community with my special friends and sleeping in my own bed.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One More Day!

Yes, that's all we have left, one more day.  We have been enjoying our last week here very much - cramming in as much fun and new memories as possible while revisiting old favorites.

Stacy, Howard, Leorah, and Peri were here for Friday night Shabbat dinner. They brought us yummy Marzipan rugelach, and we enjoyed spending time together.  We tried a "Bratslav" type synagogue but it was hot and boring.  Why didn't they have the air conditioning on?  The women's section was particularly isolated with a very dense wood grate mechitza covering the balcony windows.  Ruchie, our friend from Ofra, told me that her rabbi said with a balcony you don't need any additional screening, but I haven't seen any open balconies here yet.  On Saturday we touched two places.  One in our neighborhood that our wine steward at Gabriel restaurant said was excellent (it wasn't for us) and the Ashkenazi one in Yemin Moshe.  It was a very familiar feeling service but the women's section off to the side had yet another very think mechitza and I couldn't see a thing.

Today we took one last trip to the Old City.  It was not as crowded as it has been in the past.  We stopped for chocolate at Max Brenner in the Mamilla Mall where I got a "chocolata italika.' It was delicious.  Micah and Jonah got their chocolate syringes.  :-)  We then walked through the Arab market down to the Jewish Quarter, picked up a few last minute gifts for people, and went to the Wall.  We had all written one last prayer for the Kotel. Unfortunately, the women's section was SO crowded that I couldn't even get close to the Wall.  The men's section had a lot of open space so I called Jonah over to the mechitza and gave him my note to put in the Kotel.  Another disappointing visit to Judaism's holiest site for me.  Guess it's just not my thing.

We have a few fast food meals left to enjoy down on Emek Refaim.  Today I finally had New Delhi for the first time but I was disappointed in the Philly Steak Sandwich that was way too peppery.  Tomorrow I'll have Re:Bar for lunch and possibly some sushi for dinner.  Or I may get some soup at Magic Carpet (Marvad Haksamim).  I haven't decided yet.  Tonight BG (Barbara Goldstein from Hadassah) is taking us out to Olive and Fish where we almost went with Deborah Reback but it was too crowded.  Should be yummy!

I was sad to finish out ulpan at the Conservative Yeshiva.  It was great learning every day.  Our teachers were very creative which I really enjoyed.  We learned through songs, stories, "thoughts of the day," and beginner newspaper articles.  We used our book a little bit as well.  It was a very nice atmosphere for me.

I am saddest of all to leave Jerusalem. I had to adjust quite a bit to living here in this urban lifestyle but I b'emet (really really) love it here and can't believe that our 4 months in Israel are ending so soon.  I've enjoyed so many aspects of living here and know that if we could, I wouldn't mind living here.  There will be a lot of tears shed over the next few days.  Much as I look forward to coming home, seeing friends, reconnecting with the TBA community, the JM community,and the local Hadassah community, getting to know the CCJDS community, and just starting regular life again, I will mamash (really really) miss living here.  It's wonderful to enjoy such an extended vacation in such a special place.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What a crazy week! Visa Adventures and finally, Hadassah!

So, with two weeks left, we are trying to squeeze in lots of things.  But first we had a big adventure with our visas.

Mark's brother Barry came to visit us right after the TBA Congregational Trip left.  He spent some time in Eilat then joined us in Jerusalem, staying at the Little House in the Colony which is about 4 blocks from us.  After a couple of nights there, Mark and Barry took a little trip to the North to do some wine tasting.  In order to travel up north, Mark rented a car.  When he went to the car rental place, they told him that his visa was expired.  You see, a automatic visitor visa is only for three months but we are staying here a total of four months and three days.  As soon as we found out, we got some advice from friends and Mark made an appointment at the Misrad HaPnim, Ministry of the Interior.  Our appointment was for Tuesday, August 2nd at 12 noon.

We arrived a bit early and luckily another customer told us that we would need to fill out some forms.  So I went up to the "Israeli" floor and picked up four visa extension forms and brought them back down to the "Immigrants" floor to fill them out.  Surprisingly, once we got called for our appointment, only about 10 or 15 minutes late, it just took about a half hour for Miri in window 9 to complete our visa extension at a cost of just 170 shekels (about $50) per person.  The interesting part about this was when she asked me my parents' names, and my mother's parents' names.  It ended up being a really easy process.  It seems if you want to visit here, you have a salary currently coming in, you don't want to work here, and you've rented an apartment already, it's easy to get a visa extension.  :-)

Another very special event this week was our trip to Hadassah Ein Kerem.  This was so exciting for me.  And probably our only adventure centered around only me for our whole sabbatical.  We were very lucky to be introduced to Barbara Goldstein, past Hadassah National President and current Executive Director of Hadassah in Israel.  We met her when were were traveling with TBA and our tour guide, Yishai, knows her and introduced us when we were at The Valley of the Communities at Yad Vashem.  I was so excited to meet her!  She gave me her card and told us to call her so we could have a private tour of the hospital.

I called her after the TBA tour ended but she was traveling in the United States for three weeks so I had to wait until the end of July to call her to schedule our visit.  Finally we connected and set up our tour for Thursday, August 4th.

We waiting for the boys to get home from camp before setting out for Ein Kerem, one of the Western suburbs of Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, they DID NOT want to go.  They both whined and fussed but especially Micah.  He threw a huge tantrum.  It was really awful.  Jonah recovered pretty quickly but Micah took a lot longer.  We finally got them calmed down and ventured out to find a taxi to take us to Ein Kerem.  We arrived at the Hospital complex after about a 20 minute drive, and the driver dropped us off at the entrance to the mall where we were to meet BG as she calls herself at the Aroma Cafe.  There she was sitting waiting for us drinking her coffee.  :-)

Our first walk was through the mall, then through the newest main entrance of the hospital, the entrance to both the Davidson Tower and the current main hospital.  Later in the tour, we got to see the construction in action at the Davidson Tower with cranes moving things around high above our heads!  It was so cool!

Because 30 - 35,000 people, plus 5,000 staff, walk through the complex each day, the mall is a convenience for both consumers and store owners.  Bet you didn't know that Hadassah was in the business real estate business!

Our first stop was at the Chagall windows inside the gorgeous chapel that he helped design.  The windows depict the 12 sons of Jacob and include lots of symbolism both Jewish and Chagall.  Since Barbara had met Marc Chagall many times and heard directly from him what each window included and meant, we got to hear from her exactly what he had told her.  Some important features to notice are: (1) a white spot in the middle of some purple to remember when some of the windows were blasted out during the 1967 war, (2) Marc Chagall's house in one of the windows just because, (3) the bimah is lower than the seats instead of higher, one of a handful of synagogues with this placement, because "out of the depths I call to you," (4) no use of human forms in any of the panels - the hands that are shown are all imperfect, missing thumbs or fingers.  Chagall and his assistants created the technique for these windows just for this project. He had never made any stained glass product before this.  When he was approached and asked to do these for Hadassah, his reply was that he was waiting for someone to ask him to serve the Jewish community. (!!!)  Amazing.

They are so gorgeous I will show you some photos Mark took to let the windows speak for themselves.


This week, ulpan continues to go well.  I've definitely learned a lot and hope to continue learning more and more Hebrew after I return home.  Micah and Jonah continue to love All Star Sports Camp and next week will get to have even more fun doing "extended day" schedule.  Our days this coming week are just jammed packed with friends, last visits to places, eating out, hosting, etc.  It's all great fun now, and I am very sad about it coming to an end.  As much as I look forward to coming home, it's going to be a very big adjustment.

Also this Friday we took a family trip to Bet Shemesh.  We all took the bus together in Jerusalem for the first time (for Jonah and me it was our second time) and then we took a sherut from Jerusalem to Bet Shemesh and from Bet Shemesh back to Jerusalem.  It was great to see Mark's friend Ze'ev and to meet his wife Monica and their two children, and to enjoy a delicious brunch that they prepared for us, and to spend time with Mark's friend's Brenda and Steve Ganot who took us to see the caves. Very fun and full day.  You can read more about it here on Mark's blog.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Approaching the End

Wow.  It's hard to believe our four months are almost over.  We have about two weeks left, and things are really starting to wind down.  We have a few things we'd like to do before we leave that we are trying to squeeze in.  I want to get a massage, take a ballet class, and see a movie.  Tonight we are going to the Lev Smadar to see Footnote which has gotten rave reviews from people we interact with here in Jerusalem.  So that will check one item off my list.
We want to visit Bet Shemesh (Mark has two childhood friends who made aliyah years and go and now live there with their families) but we're not sure we can swing it.  We want to have a playdate with the Schweigs of Oakland who are in the German Colony this summer like us.  We want to absorb everything we can about Jerusalem to keep this special spirit with us when we return to Oakland.  We want to eat as much kosher meat at kosher restaurants as possible.  We want to see the shuk one last time.  And of course in the Old City, we want to go to the Wall one last time.
Some items that we recently checked off our list:  (1) spending Shabbat at a friend's house in the West Bank (to read about this in Mark's blog you can click here), (2) attending extra talks at the Conservative Yeshiva (I learned all about the fast days especially the 17 of Tammuz), (3) reconnecting with friends from our first ulpan (I even got to do a lice check on one of them!), (4) trying Cafe Ben Ami when it isn't Passover (two thumbs up!), (5) trying some restaurants off of Emek Refaim (enjoyed both Darna and Gabriel), (6) letting Micah and Jonah go to the local playground/park by themselves, and I'm sure much more that I will think of at 3:30 in the morning when I can't sleep.  If I do, I'll come back and add them to the list.
These four months have been such an amazing experience with much to remember.  As much as I don't want it to end, I am also getting ready to go home. 

Adventure on the Egged Bus System in Jerusalem

So, if you've been following our family's blogs at all, you know that we have not EVER taken a bus here.  We have walked virtually everywhere we needed to go locally.  When our trip was too far to walk, we took a taxi, since for the 4 of us to take a bus, it costs almost as much as a taxi to the same location.  Three times we rented a car to travel outside of Jerusalem.  More on car rental later.
It's not that we are afraid to take a bus because of terror attacks.  We are afraid to take a bus because we don't speak the language and don't know the city outside of our local area (read: walking distance) very well or at all.  So... why the adventure then?
Well, in Ulpan for Olim, Jonah became very friendly with a wonderful little boy named Chaim.  Chaim's family has lived in Florida and Israel and they speak English in the home.  As a matter of fact, Chaim's mom, Nitzah is South African with a delightful South African accent.  They are Chabad Orthodox, Chaim wears payot, kippah, and tzitzit on his tallit katan.  So, Jonah and Chaim became fast best friends at ulpan and had playdates together at our apartment, their apartment, and even the park as often as they could.  Then, sadly, Chaim and his family moved to Ramat Eshkol; Chaim missed the last two or three weeks of ulpan.  Jonah missed him very much.
Nitzah invited us to come visit there for a playdate.  One week, Chaim came to visit us here near his old apartment.  The following week, Jonah and I were scheduled to visit Chaim in Ramat Eshkol.  Ramat Eshkol is a 30 minute bus ride from our home.  Luckily, the number 4 goes directly from Emek Refaim to Sderot Levi Eshkol where Chaim lives.  Checking schedules on the website, I thought that we would have to transfer for our busride home.  But luckily, the number 4 also goes directly back from Sderot Levi Eshkol to Emek Refaim.  Hooray!  That made it much simpler.
It costs NIS 6.40 (6 shekels and 40 agurot) to ride the bus each way.  I had to scrounge and save our change so that we would have exact change for our bus fares each way.  This could have created an issue with our needing change for laundry, but luckily it didn't; we have had enough for both by raiding Micah and Jonah's allowance money and giving them bills for their coins.  So, for 12.80 each way, a total of 25.60, about $7.50, Jonah and I were able to travel to Ramat Eshkol and back.
Since I have never been to Ramat Eshkol before, I asked an English speaker on the bus if she would help me and show me where to get off.  She was also going to Ramat Eshkol so it was perfect and she told us exactly where our stop was.  On the way home, we knew where to get off because we are very very familiar with Emek Refaim, and we knew we were going to meet some long-ago friends of ours at Falafel Doron on Rachel Imenu.  The bus got crowded in both directions but not unbearably so.  Based on this one experience, the buses seem to be very clean and well air-conditioned, a special treat for this hot weather.  We ran into friends from Oakland on the first bus as well - the Schweig family from OHDS.  That was really fun for me!  They are living here for a while too and we hope to play with them before we leave August 16th. They were on their way to Machane Yehuda (the shuk).
It was a fabulous playdate.  The boys hung out together at Chaim's gorgeous apartment (with air conditioning!) for an hour or two and played together and played computer.  Then we all went to the park right behind their apartment building for some soccer in the sun.  It was really hot so the boys had to take turns being goalie in the shade at the bottom of the hill while the other kicked the ball from the sunny spot at the top of the hill.  Since it was right before dinner, I didn't want Jonah to have an ice cream or popsicle so Chaim and his three sisters had to wait until we left to get their treats.
I enjoyed chatting with Nitzah the whole time the boys were playing.  We have a very nice connection as well.  I truly believe (and know in my heart) that Jonah and Chaim will be friends forever and keep in touch even though they have only known each other for a short time like in the movie Beaches.  :-)
It wasn't bad, taking the bus. I'd be willing to do it again, as long as I don't have to transfer in a strange neighborhood where I'm not sure where to get off, which bus to pick up to get back on, etc.  If I had someone to hold my hand the first time through it, I might be willing to try.  Maybe Aliza will teach me?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Adventures in Acquiring a Library Card in Israel

This is a popular story in our family and the punch line has become one of Jonah's favorite quotes.

Near Micah and Jonah's first ulpan, Ulpan for Teenage Olim, there is a community center with an English and Hebrew library.  We decided to visit and to try to get a card so that we could take out books since we don't want to buy books here.  Not only are they more expensive here, they are heavy and we don't want to carry them home.

The librarian asked me to go upstairs and talk to Svetlana in order to sign up for a library card.  Svetlana is a very nice woman from Russia who speaks Hebrew and Russian but only a little bit of English.  I am a woman from the US who speaks English and only a teeny bit of Hebrew.  It was frustrating for us trying to communicate about the process by which we were to get our library card.  She kept trying Hebrew and I wouldn't understand. Then she'd try English and didn't know how to explain.  Finally, she says, "sprechen sie deutsch?"  And I said "lo, habla espanol?"  And she said "lo."  So we just kept going on in her broken English and my even more pathetic Hebrew and finally I filled out the paperwork, brought back the blank check for security purposes, and several weeks later, we got our card.  :-) 

The library has been an important resource for us because we need books for Micah and Jonah to read during Shabbat services.  And of course, we got a great story out of it.

It is also fun to run into friends at the library. Micah and Jonah see friends from their ulpan, their first summer camp (Camp Shelanu), and I saw my ulpan teacher Caron with her daughter.  It is a nice place in the community.

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

It is hard for me to believe that three weeks of Conservative Yeshiva ulpan have passed already.  It has been quite an experience.  I made some friends in my class:  teacher Ouzi, Alex/Yehuda, Samuel/Shmuel, Yohannes, Mary, Henri, Elliot, Miki/Michal, Bonnie, Corinna and outside of my class: Kate, Marjie, Abbey, teacher Edna, Kath, Sarah, Annie, Cornelia, and I'm sure others I have not remembered.  There were many young people studying there - two sisters, some recent college grads, some current college students.  I have learned quite a bit of Hebrew -   new vocabulary, some grammar, and more.  It is less scary to try to do things on my own.  I know what my friend Brad calls "restaurant" Hebrew.

The connections between people here in Jerusalem are just amazing.  The first day of ulpan I met a man named Mark Goodman who used to teach at JCHS and is now moving to Denver, whose wife is also a dancer.  The second day in my class I met a boy named Alex Howie from Cincinnati who just happens to be very good friends with Aliza's friend Jodi AND Aliza and Jodi stayed with Alex for two nights in his apartment near the Yeshiva. Alex knows Glen and Andrea Bochner also!  Such a small Jewish world.
Last Shabbat was pretty special.  Sarah Levine joined us for lunch.  Then Barry came over after his trip to the Israel Museum.  Later, Melissa Werthen stopped by.  And finally, 5 of the 6 Schackers plus Adi's aba David came over.  It was wonderful to see all of them and so special to spend time together here in Jerusalem.  The Schackers went on to Ben Yehuda Street to see Ellie Rosenthal.

The Conservative Yeshiva works hard to provide a sense of community.  There are all kinds of classes, evening lectures, lunch and learns, opening Shabbat dinners, closing lunches provided.  The people are warm and friendly.  We also had a song session to close out the first session of learning.  It was fun.  Some of the students played guitar and keyboard and Mary from my class joined in and played her flute.  Mary is a health food store owner from Virginia.  Shmuel is from Sweden.  Alex, as you saw earlier, is from Cincinnati.  Corinna has made aliyah and is from both Allentown, PA and Nashville.  Bonnie has made aliyah and works at the Conservative Yeshiva, both in NY and Jerusalem.  Yohannes is a Christian from Korea, has lived in Japan, and speaks Korean, Japanese, German, and English.  Hebrew is his fifth language.  Very smart.  Miki grew up in New Jersey (I think) and went to Rutgers.  Ouzi lives in Tel Aviv but commutes to Jerusalem to teach at this ulpan.  Elliot came to class two or three times to try it out and Henri joined us for the last three classes.  I didn't get to know Elliot at all but Henri is from Paris and like many of his generation has quite a story to tell.  Abbey is from Florida and is good friends with Rabbi Linda Joseph who Mark went to school with in Cincinnati.  Marjie is from New York and is a math teacher.  Kate is a Hebrew teacher.  Edna is a fourth generation Israeli.  Pretty amazing!  :-)

One of the really fun projects we did in ulpan was recipes.  For Aliza's birthday, I baked Dawn's banana bread recipe.  Well, Alex told the class about it, so I made some for our last day today.  Yum.  :-)  Everyone had to write a recipe in Hebrew, Ouzi corrected them and we rewrote them, then he copied them for all for each of us.  We also made techina together in Hebrew earlier this week.  That was fun.  We learned the words for put, bowl, stir, cut. 

Here's another funny story:  we were talking about what we eat for breakfast and I said "baboker, ani ochelet ofanayim" which means "in the morning, I eat bicycles."  LOL  Ouzi said "ofanayim?" and made the bicycle riding motion with his hands. I said "lo, lo, lo, ani ochelet melafafonim" which means "no, no, no, I eat cucumbers."  But here you just say "melafafon" for cucumber or cucumbers.

There is another story about me telling my ulpan class about Micah and Jonah.  You see, the word for "now" is "achshav," but it is spelled with a yud like "achshiv."  So the boys are always laughing and saying achshiv instead of achshav.  So, when Ouzi taught us the word and the class asked why there was a yud in it,I said to my ulpan class, "hayeladim sheli midabreem 'achshiv' He He He, 'achshiv He He He" which means "my children speak 'achshiv' He He He..." I should have said "omreem" which means they "say" instead of "midabreem" which means they "speak."  Oh well!  At least I'm learning and trying to get my thoughts to come out of my mouth in Hebrew.  :-)

We have quite a few family private jokes right now, other than "I eat bicycles for breakfast" and "achshiv."  Jonah goes around saying "sprechen sie deutsch?" "atah ohev chemah?" and "atah ohev gevinah chocolad?"  Micah has quotes from a Russian boy David "You play hookey? footbowl?  America footbowl? basebowl?"  "Ata hongary?  Ata pig?" and  "Ata meshugah?"

I am looking forward to another great session at Conservative Yeshiva ulpan.  Three more weeks of Hebrew - hooray!