Sunday, May 22, 2011

Torah Yoga and a lovely Shabbat lunch

Last Wednesday I was very fortunate to be able to attend a Torah Yoga class with Diane Bloomfield (Torah Yoga) here in Jerusalem.  It was inspiring, strengthening, and a fabulous stretch as well.
Then on Shabbat she hosted our family for lunch after services at Mizmor L'David (see Mark's blog Rabbi Mark Bloom's Blog for more info on that). Diane and Jonathan were wonderful hosts, we enjoyed the company of another family with three children, and they had recently found a baby kitten that they were nursing which dominated our attention even more than the children!  :-)  There was delicious food, of course, plus some really engaging intellectual discussion among the adults.  Torah at the table. I can find no better word to describe it all than wonderful.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Just because it's been a while

Well, life continues on here at 8 Dor Dor V'Dorshav in Yerushalayim, near Emek Refaim in the German Colony.  Micah and Jonah made up a cute song to the tefilah tune "L'Dor VaDor" that explains where we live here.

We've completed two weeks of ulpan and continue to learn. I'm working hard on my studies and have learned a lot and keep trying to speak as much Hebrew as possible.  It's still pretty funny, though!

I don't know why but Jonah is doing this dance and song for me "antidisestablishmentarianism" over and over again ending with "word."  It's hilarious.

Today we cracked open the largest container of humus I've ever bought. I have a photo so share.

Also, here is the "milk in a bag, placed in the pitcher."  Yes, milk is sold in plastic bags here instead of bottles or cartons.  There are also bottles and cartons but you pay extra for the container.  :-)

Today Jonah had a private Hebrew lesson and got to be on the radio, (Rusty Mike Radio) the only English radio station in Israel, which is broadcast out of the AACI (AACI) offices where Mark and I are taking our ulpan classes with Ulpan L'Inyan (Ulpan).  So much fun!

After Ulpan we got a vanilla and chocolate danish from Cafe Hillel, went shopping at a discount housewares store where I got tissues and rubber gloves, and then went to two playgrounds with spinny things.  Jonah and Micah both love those spinny things.  We walked home and had lunch.  A little later Micah came home and throughout the afternoon we all did games and work on our computers, did some math workbooks, worked on Anim Zmirot (Micah is being bribed to learn it.), and had leftovers for dinner.  Tonight we Skyped with some friends - Micah got to talk to Charlie and Avshi, Jonah talked to Luka, and Mark and I got to talk to Abby and Stuart.  :-)  It was a lot of fun.

Monday, May 2, 2011

School and Ulpan and Life in Jerusalem

Well, I haven't updated in a while because there really wasn't much to say.  But now the boys have had a few days of school (they call it school-pan, a play on the word ulpan), and I've had two days of ulpan.  So here's the news on that front:
Micah is in a class of beginning Hebrew middle schoolers so his placement is just right.  He is learning to become fluent in reading and writing in Hebrew cursive and has already made great strides.  His Hebrew handwriting is MUCH neater than his English print and cursive. 
Jonah is in a class of second graders who have been in the ulpan since September so he really doesn't know much about what is going on in class.  Luckily, it is a very small class and the teacher gives him some private attention when she can.  He has learned the cursive Hebrew letters already (before English cursive!) and is also making progress on the reading and writing front.  Luckily, he has a friend, Benjamin Greyber, from Camp Ramah, in his class who translates for him regularly.
Unfortunately, neither Micah's nor Jonah's classes work on conversational Hebrew.  So their "ulpan" is more of a school transition HSL (Hebrew as a Second Language - I made this up, I would think their acronym has Hebrew letters instead of English ones!) class with limited conversation.  As opposed to Mark's and my classes at Ulpan L'Inyan.
You can see what we are learning at  The creator Ami, has made a fantastic program and if we practice we should learn a lot.  With having had only two days so far, I still feel like I can't do much, but I have learned some new words, can follow some really basic conversations (would you like something to eat or drink?), and can conjugate regular present tense verbs.  We do quite a bit of conversation, as well as a little reading at the end of class.  Our homework includes the writing.  I feel very grateful for the excellent Hebrew School education I received at Congregation M'kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ back in the 70s and 80s.  I am most grateful for one of my teachers, Cara Albom, who I had in 5th and 6th or 6th and 7th grades and who taught me a ton of Hebrew (reading, writing, and conversational) and presented Hebrew plays with her students.  We did Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and then Kazablan.  It was really fun.
I still find Spanish popping into my head first when I try to think of a word or phrase in Hebrew, but I'm trying to remember it and not replace it with Hebrew the way Spanish replaced my Hebrew when I was a teenager.  I know a lot of people who speak (or know) more than two languages, so why can't I?  :-)
Anyway, life here is complicated but we are getting used to things.  I keep saying "if we lived here" followed by how things would be different.  Here are some examples.
- we would have an oven whose broiler worked
- we would be able to throw away anything that smells like smoke
- we would have at least a washer if not both a washer and dryer
- I would hope we would have a dishwasher
- I would feel free to purchase clothes
- we would have nicer bedding and pillows and towels and other household items
- we would have doctors and dentists that we would go to
- we'd have a blender and a coffee maker (for company - you know I don't drink coffee)
- we'd have better kitchen supplies for meat
- we'd have better knives
...and the list goes on and on and on.
I have to really just appreciate what we DO have, try to live a bit more simply, and keep in mind that is' only for just over three more months really.  I am doing my best to enjoy myself, learn, study, connect with others, and appreciate that we have this long break from volunteer and paid work of any kind.  I have done a lot of sudoku, reading, crossword puzzles, etc.  The boys have played a lot of computer games.  LOL
One last thing:  Jonah dared me to finish reading War and Peace by the time we leave here. I started two days ago on my Kindle and I am 10% finished.  :-)