Friday, April 22, 2011

Shabbat, then Pesach, Shabbat again

I loved my first Shabbat in Jerusalem. It really is so beautiful to see the streets empty, people walking, and to hear singing and praying coming from every neighborhood.  I also finally felt a warm welcome from our friends the Greybers who invited us over to their home for Seudah Shlishit, or the third meal, basically Saturday dinner.  We were there from 4:30 pm until after Havdallah.  Jen Greyber, especially, has helped me so much by sharing her knowledge and experiences with me.  She even invited me to the supermarket with her and she helped me with different names of things and such.  It was really amazing.  It helps so much to have such a nice person so willing to go out of her way to help me.  It really made a huge difference.
Our Pesach was also wonderful.  Rabbi Gail Diamond from the Conservative Yeshiva connected us with Charlie and Alexis and their three children who hosted us.  Also in attendence were friends of theirs, Jodi and Yaakov and their two kids.  We had a wonderful child-friendly, but still lengthy, seder with delicious food and wonderful people who made us feel very welcome.
The next night we were invited to dinner at the home Tali and Yaron Lipshitz. Yaron's parents, Linda and Stanley, were also there.  They have a three year old son Yonatan who just ADORES Micah.  It's so cute.  And they have a younger son Daniel who is also adorable.  The dinner was amazing; Stanley is in the food/restaurant business and did a lot of the cooking, AND Yaron actuallhy told us his secret to creating the fluffiest matzah balls I've ever had.  :-)  Plus, Tali and Yaron offered us the use of their clothes washer and dryer, any time, for our whole four month stay!  What amazing generosity!! We are so lucky!  So, yesterday, we went there for several hours and washed and dried two loads of laundry.  And then today, we ran into Linda right on our main drag, Emek Refaim Street.  So fun to see people we "know" that we've met here!  :-)
The smell in the apartment is almost all better.  The boys room still smells a little but we continue to work on it with wood cleaners, diffusers, Glade air fresheners, dryer sheets, auto air fresheners, and baking soda.  My mom is going to send us some Febreeze which we cannot seem to find here.
I'm not enjoying how much cleaning we need to do. It is very dusty and dry here so the good news is that things air dry quickly. The bad news is I've been constantly wiping, sweeping, etc.
Now it is still Pesach and Shabbat is tonight.  We are lucky to be having guests, the Kafin family: Alicia, Peter, Toby, and Ben.  But I need to prepare by doing a bit more cleaning and getting started on the cooking.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Well, this is interesting.  Our travel days have ended and now we get to live here. Here are some pluses and minuses so far...

- I don't understand any Hebrew.  It was really frustrating yesterday shopping in Talpiot.  In our neighborhood, the German Colony, everyone speaks English, but elsewhere there are many who do not.

+ Our apartment is a large two bedroom with ample storage space in the kitchen.  The manager lives across the hall and was very helpful.  The location is great, we can walk everywhere we need to go, and we are very close to Emek Rafaim.

- Our apartment smells like smoke.  Most of the towels and linens do too.  We do not have in building laundry so it is not easy for us to clean them.  We are placing most of them in high cabinet storage in the boys' room, will take a few to the local laundry, and purchased some new ones yesterday.

- There was a ton of open food and dirty plates, flatware, and pots left in the kitchen.  The apartment has lots of stuff in it that we don't need or want, plus it doesn't have lots of things we do need and want, like paper, tape, hand soap, tissues, paper towels, napkins.  We purchased a lot of these items yesterday and will get more things from our list today.

+ This is Israel.  Jerusalem to be more specific.  Crowded and a bit hot.  But everyone and everything surrounding us is Jewish.  I love hearing Hebrew spoken and can't wait to learn more.  Shabbat and Pesach are coming up and then we'll really get into our daily routines including ulpan.  I am really looking forward to that.

+ We ran into some Americans walking down the street on our first night here and guess where they were visiting from?  San Francisco!  That was pretty cool.  And dinner at Burgers Bar ( ) was delicious.

Here we go, life in Israel.  Shabbat Shalom!!!  Tonight, services and dinner, just the four of us.  :-)

Friday, April 8, 2011


It's been a while since my last post because blogspot is blocked in China.  So are Facebook and Twitter, btw.  Mark and Micah have already posted about the week in China. I'll be helping Jonah post as soon as we can.
We are really enjoying some amazing hospitality in Dubai with Mark's friend Justin, his family, and their household staff.  Our laundry was washed, dried, ironed, and folded for us the first day.  So amazing!
Anyway, we really had some amazing experiences in China.  The first two days we were in Shanghai, then two days in Kaifeng, then three days in Beijing.  The Bessler Baum family were with us the whole way and Joni really took good care of us throughout China.  She set us up in a very wonderful boutique hotel just a block and a half from their home in Shanghai,  Then we were at a 5 star hotel in Kaifeng (who'd of thought?),  Finally, in Beijing, we were at a lovely courtyard style hotel very close to all the tourist attractions,  All wonderful.  The history, culture, traditions, etc. are so strong and beautiful in China.  And the people just adore our children.  And it is so safe.  No worries about crime.  But of course, no real true freedom either.  Judaism is not one of the five state-approved religions, so Jews meet at people's homes and are not really permitted to "practice" our religion.  However, the attitude is such a strong one of live and let live that if you are not breaking the law, you can basically do whatever you want.  So, services and such still happen and communities still form.
Our two days in Dubai have been pretty relaxing.  Yesterday, all we did was visit the Mall of the Emirates,, where we had some delicious snacks and played at the indoor arcade/amusement park called Magic Planet.  Today we went back there for a movie and some browsing at Borders.  Then we went to the heart of the city of Dubai where we took an abra across the "creek" and browsed in the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk.
I will add pictures another time.