Thursday, December 18, 2008

Copied from Despite Motherhood, DrSavta, and The Mommy Guilt Blog

So I'm supposed to take this list and color all the things I've done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (What you can afford is a matter of perspective, I guess, so not sure if this counts)
7. Been to Disneyland/world (Disney World, and I don't remember it)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang/played a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (while pregnant, no less)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables. (though not terribly successfully)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked (but don't tell my mom)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (not a long one, but a dinner cruise)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I suppose this depends what you mean by ancestors.)
35. Seen an Amish community (It was one of those fake-tour ones, though)
36. Taught yourself a new language (does html count?)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (but not in public)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (does snorkeling in a swimming pool count?)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (I've eaten them, though)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (does salmon roe count?)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (by my own brother, no less)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (at least twice)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox (had shingles!)
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Made a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Blog


I've started a new blog called Lazy Environmentalist.

The idea behind it is that we all want to save the environment, but most of us are too lazy to change our lives to do it. While we might not be willing to use cloth diapers and bike to work, there are things we can do here and now, without driving ourselves nuts, to use natural resources better and pollute less.

I figure that even the laziest among us can make small changes with minimal effort that can help. Sure, they only help a little, but if all of us lazies make little changes and help a little, we eventually get a cumulative effect. Think that if every citizen of the USA managed to use just one less plastic bag a week, that would be 15,659,277,244 per year. That's over 15 BILLION plastic bags.

It's pretty amazing how much you can achieve if everyone makes small changes. So think globally, act locally, and figure out how you can save your plastic bag each week, your liter of water, or whatever else needs to be saved in the environment.

Come on over to the Lazy Environmentalist blog and leave comments on quick, easy things that you can do to save the environment without driving yourself nuts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A FAQ for Those Spending Time with a Pregnant Woman

Q: The pregnant woman appears to be eating quite a lot. When should I stop her?
A: When she starts eating your vital organs, you may suggest something else instead.

Q: When can I tell a pregnant woman that she's gaining too much weight?
A: When you have a death wish.

Q: If I'm out and I see a woman who I think is pregnant, what should I do?
A: If you don't see a baby coming out of her, keep your mouth shut.

Q: When is it appropriate to touch a pregnant woman's belly?
A: Unless you're her OB/GYN or her husband, only if you're invited to.

Q: Why do pregnant women glow?
A: It's called sweat. The little person inside of them functions as a heater.

Q: What should I do if my pregnant wife wants the house cooled below freezing?
A: Buy yourself an extra blanket. Or take hers. She likely won't notice.

Q: But won't that cost a lot in electricity?
A: You're about to have a kid. Electricity is nothing compared to a college education.

Q: My pregnant wife is crying. Why?
A: While it's probably somehow your fault, a pint of Ben & Jerry's might help.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Secular Zionism

Warning: Contains Kol Isha (a woman singing solo)

What I like about this video is that it's clearly secular. The girls are wearing jeans, and one of them has a solo. The boys aren't wearing kippas, but listen to what they're singing about.

the words are over here:
על כפיו יביא

Here's a quick translation of the first verse:

In our narrow street
Lives one strange carpenter
He sits in his shack
And doesn't do anything

No one comes to buy
No one comes to visit

It is two years that he doesn't
Do carpentry

And he keeps one dream in his heart
To build a chair for Eliahu who shall come
He will bring it in his palms
To Eliyahu the Prophet

He sits waiting for him
For years, he's dreamed that he will merit him
He keeps his secret and he waits for him
When will the day come already?

Oh yeah, I have a point here... my point is that this country is built upon the ideals of being Jews and the upcoming (soon, we pray) redemption.

You don't have to wear a kippa or study gmara all day to believe in it.

Today's government seems to have forgotten that this is the Jewish homeland, which means, first and foremost, that it is a home for Judaism.

The city of Hebron has a Jewish history. Abraham bought the cave of the patriarchs. There was a continued Jewish presence in Hebron even after the 1929 massacre, until the British Mandatory Authority moved the remaining Jews out in 1936.

But Ehud Olmert's appeasement plan involves beating Jews to keep the Arabs happy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

When Fair Isn't

On Orthonomics, a poster named tesyaa posted the following quote:

There is no way I would let any of my children even apply to a private college. Even if we could somehow manage to send a deserving older child, the precedent we'd be setting with regards to the younger ones -- and the hard feelings we would cause by saying no to them -- would basically be ruinous.
I've been turning this over in my head. I'm one of five kids. I don't remember my parents telling us where we could and couldn't apply to college. They asked us, and we decided where to go. I'm certain that they (and their wallets) heaved a sigh of relief when 4 out of 5 chose to go to college in Israel.

However, one of my siblings went to Yeshiva University. He was number three, so he could have started a trend, and my parents didn't raise any objection. My brother was the sort of person who was very socially active. In his time at YU, he ran camps in the Former Soviet Union. He worked with a group called Yachad, which provides activities for developmentally disabled Jewish teens, he worked as a mashgiach (the guy who makes sure the kitchen is Kosher at a commercial establishment.) He simply wouldn't have had these opportunities at Bar Ilan or Hebrew University (where the rest of us went).

For the rest of us, being in Israel was paramount. We weren't willing to give up life in Israel for any of those opportunities. Should my parents have forced him to go where we went, us to go where he went? It wouldn't have been right.

To bring the point home further, my sister and I both live within walking distance of my parents. My mom sometimes takes me to doctor's appointments or even grocery shopping, because I don't have a car. Should she have to pick up my sister for her doctor's appointments and grocery shopping to be "fair"? My sister has a car and would be more inconvenienced by shopping on my mom's schedule than she is by driving herself. On the other hand, my mom took my sister's oldest daughter to Beijing in 2007. Should I complain that she didn't take Kinneret? The idea is laughable.

While I see that it's important for parents to not favor one child over another, it's also important for equality to be less important than giving the children what they need.

For example, suppose you have a child with dyslexia who needs tutoring. Should you make each of your other children also have a tutor? Should you withdraw other children from advanced reading programs so that the child with dyslexia doesn't get jealous?

Equality is nice in theory, but it ends up not being to anyone's advantage when it's over-applied.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

7 things about me

I've been tagged for a meme by Leora from Here in HP

Here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people (if possible) at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Seven things about me:
  1. I have a superman complex and find myself wanting to save pretty much everyone from pretty much everything. I obsess over other people's problems.
  2. When I was 12 or so, my best friend cut her wrist in a suicide attempt. Since then, I get weirded out by anything touching (or especially scratching) my wrists. (Friend is still alive and even occasionally in touch)
  3. I'm one of the only people I know who actually LOVED high school and had relatively few complaints about the particular school.
  4. The longest I ever lived in one place is 5 years, but I'm coming up on 4.5 years in my current apartment.
  5. When I was in kindergarten, and they asked me what I wanted to be, I said "author and illustrator." Author is still on the short-list of what I'd like to be.
  6. I'm not sure whether I'm more afraid of having an epidural or going through another whole labor without one.
  7. I've crocheted a kippa for almost every guy I was ever serious about - except Yaakov, who only wears velvet anyway.
People I tag:
  1. Rachel at Despite Motherhood
  2. Bethami at The Mommy Guilt Blog
  3. Raggedy Mom
  4. Robin at My Home in Israel
  5. K. at Children Mentioned
  6. Raanana Ramblings
  7. Perky over at Chez Perky

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Haveil Havalim #192 is Up

I haven't been terribly active in the whole J-Blogging community, but I've decided that maybe I should be... so here goes.

There is a weekly carnival called Haveil Havalim. This week's is the Thanks & Giving Edition.

Check it out over at Ima on (and off) the Bima

Friday, November 21, 2008

Laziness/Efficiency (or a Quiet Family-Oriented Friday)

Friday & Shabbat are the only days off in Israel. Israelis call Fridays the day for SKS - Siddurim (errands) kniyot (shopping), and sponga (washing the floor). Yes - it sounds like what it sounds like in English too.

For those of us who are religious, it's the only day off we have all week that we can really just do what we want. Add in the chores involved in preparing for Shabbat, and many families never really get to just spend some time together on their Fridays.

Clearly, one doesn't want to enter Shabbat with a filthy house and no food, so there are going to be preparations, but cooking doesn't need to take up all of your day.

I've prepared a sample menu for a Shabbat that involves relatively little preparation time.

Friday night:

First course:

how to make this course:
(prep time - about 10 minutes + shopping)
buy challah, hummus, matbucha, your family's favorite hatzilim, olives, and pickles at the supermarket.

1 bag pre-shredded, pre-washed lettuce
2 tomatoes
4 cucumbers
lemon juice or vinegar
olive or other oil
pepper if you like it

wash the tomatoes and cukes
sit down at the table with a cutting board
cut the tomatoes into pieces and put them in a big bowl (preferably with a lid)
add contents of lettuce bag. Add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar and a splash of oil, a dash of salt, and maybe some pepper. Put the lid on the bowl (or plastic wrap if you don't have a lid.) Shake it all. Put in the fridge. Serve.

Everything else can be served directly out of the container or spooned into a plate or bowl before serving. (I prefer not to serve cans at the table, but have no problem with hummus in plastic containers)

Pea Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes.
Lead time: at least 2 hours

How to make this course:
you'll need:
split peas
1 large or 2 small onions
oil for frying
salt & pepper to taste
parsley (dry flakes work fine)

Chop the onion fine.
Fry the onion in the bottom of your soup pot until it turns transparent
add water and split peas. Stir.
Bring to boil, then leave to simmer, stirring every 30-40 minutes and checking to make sure it doesn't run out of water.
Add parsley - it helps with certain gastric issues.
Add salt and pepper only after the peas have become mushy. If you forget, they can be added at the table.

Main Course:
Chicken & potatoes
String beans with slivered almonds

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Chicken & potatoes:
prep time: 5-10 minutes
lead time 1-2 hours, depending upon the cooking utensil.
you'll need:
1 whole chicken & or a bunch of chicken pieces
4 large or 6 medium potatoes (or you can use the tiny ones)
Granulated garlic

how to prepare:
I usually use a clay pot, but you can use a regular deep baking pan or even a disposable.
wash the potatoes. Do not peel.
slice them, unless you're using the tiny ones, in which case, just stick them in as usual.
place the chicken on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle granulated garlic on the chicken.
Cover the chicken (if you're using a clay pot, use the lid. If you're using something that doesn't have a lid, use tin foil) Place in the oven at about 350 degrees F (175 C). A clay pot needs about 2 hours while a regular baking pan needs a bit more than an hour

string beans with slivered almonds
prep time: 10 min
you need:
frozen string beans, preferably whole
slivered almonds
oil (preferably olive)
granulated garlic

how to make:
defrost the string beans, either by leaving them out or by microwaving them until they're defrosted and not all the way cooked
put oil in a frying pan.
add string beans and stir until they look lightly sauteed.
add slivered almonds, salt, and granulated garlic to taste.

cake & fruit
buy a nice cake at the supermarket or bakery (rugalech are fine too)
rinse off the fruit and put them in a bowl, serve whole.

Shabbat Lunch:
first course:
(look familiar?)

main course:
sliced deli meats
sliced tomatoes
sliced challah/rye bread/rolls
ketchup/mustard/mayo (depending upon your family's tastes)

cake & fruit

that's it. done. You don't have to spend your whole day working on this.
You've only prepared:
salad (10 minutes)
soup (10 minutes)
chicken & potatoes (15 minutes)
string beans with slivered almonds (10 minutes)

You've spent less than an hour slaving away in the kitchen, but you have full, acceptable Shabbat meals, you haven't bought lots of overpriced prepared junk, the meals have a reasonable amount of variety, and you don't have to leave the platta/blech on all of Shabbat either. (This is a huge benefit in the summer, imo - we use a timer to have it on for about 2 hours Friday night, and then it's off the rest of the time.)

If you put all the hot stuff in the oven and put it on high for a few minutes right before you leave for shul, you can actually get away with not leaving the platta on at all. (unless you go to a Karlebach minyan...)

This isn't our family's definitive every week menu, but it's a good sample of how we manage to get in a nap on Friday afternoon, have friends drop by, and not feel like we're rushed to get our food ready for Shabbat.

*matbucha is roughly like salsa, though it has more cumin and less pepper.
**hatzilim is shorthand for any of a number of salads which include eggplant (the actual translation of hatzil)

Not Exactly Writer's Block

I haven't written in quite a while. It isn't that there's nothing to say, and it isn't quite writer's block either.

Recent events in my life include:
A trip to the emergency room which almost ended up with me being admitted for monitoring because I have hypertension and the doctors are worried about pre-eclampsia. I am monitoring blood pressure and protein at home. It's still fairly low risk, so that's ok.

I'm on bedrest for something called SPD, which is related to an over-production of elastin. Basically, the bedrest is to limit how much pain I'm in rather than to save the baby or something useful like that. Limiting pain is good. There's enough of it already.

Kinneret can say baba (byebye, and she waves), hello (when she picks up a phone), ball (when playing with a ball), mo (for more).
She touches her nose when asked where her nose is, and she touches her head when I sing "yadayim lemala, al harosh" (hands up, on your head).
She claps for "if you're happy and you know it"
She spins around when she likes music. She enjoys playing her xylophone, drawing on a magnadoodle thing, and keeping her toothbrush in her mouth for hours.
She knows how to climb into her stroller by herself, and sometimes will do so if we tell her we're going out. She climbed in by herself the other day when my nephew went to pick her up from her daycare.

I was thinking about writing various posts about stuff going on at Orthonomics. It makes me mad to see people who have loads of kids that they can't support and then complain that people from the community aren't supporting them. If our financial situation doesn't improve, I can't imagine us having another baby after this one.

There was also a thread in the comments there where I suggested that a solution to the extremely high school tuition in the US might be to make aliya...

>>>Dave said...

Leaving financial issues out, I think the case can be made that widespread Aliyah is not in the interest of the Jewish people.

Historically speaking, what has preserved Jews as a people has been a widespread diaspora, so that when oppression arose in one area, there were still safe Jewis communities.

Had there not been a widespread Jewish Diaspora in the late Republic and early Empire, I doubt that Judaism would have survived the Bar Kochva rebellion.<<<

I've been biting my tongue to resist getting up on my soapbox to tell people that only through widespread aliya can we prevent the scary stuff that's in the works... A Shas spokesman told the press that of course Tzipi Livni won't be selling the country to the charedim. She's already selling it to the Arabs. (This in response to Livni saying she won't sell the country to the charedim.) It sounds like Jerusalem is already on the chopping block. Scary stuff.

At least Sir Peres isn't rushing to evacuate the West Bank.

I also tried to stay out of the whole US election debacle. I'm now just praying to be wrong about my predictions for Obama's America. Unfortunately, a few years ago, I prayed to be wrong about the Gaza expulsion. The situation in Ashkelon is precisely what I feared would happen. (Hat Tip: Joe Settler) It doesn't look like life in Sderot is improving much either.

Anyway, all of these little bits and pieces could be posts, I suppose, but I'm afraid that the beginning would be boring, the Kinneret stuff would be standard (and boring) parental bragging, and really, no one wants me to get up on a soapbox about the rest of it. So that's why I haven't been posting.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Being Helpful

Today, someone pointed out on the Modiin e-mail list that Terem, our emergency first aid center is open only 1pm to midnight. They asked what to do in an emergency at any other time of day. Since apparently, this is not a directly Modiin related issue, the moderators of the list rejected my answer.

Since I'd spent a while translating & researching, I'm going to post the information here. If you don't live in Israel, this will probably not help you.

The list included below is translated from:

Terem is an emergency medical care facility which charges around 70 shekels for a visit. In certain cases, you may be referred to Terem by a doctor, in which case the health fund (kuppa) will pay the 70 shekel deductible. In some cases, the Terem doctor may send you to the emergency room (ER).

If you have an emergency at a time that Terem is not open/available, you call your kuppa's moked (maccabi is *3555) and ask to speak to the nurse. If it is an ER situation, they will fax the ER a "hithayvut" and you will not have to pay for it.

If you go to the ER between 1am and 6am without a "hithayvut," you are charged 139 shekels
Between 6am and 1am, you are charged full price (566 shekels) if you don't have hithayvut or a referral from a doctor.

*There are a whole bunch of situations in which you don't have to pay for ER treatment:
1. a new broken bone
2. a serious dislocation of shoulder or elbow
3. a wound which requires stitches or similar "sealing"
4. inhalation of a foreign object
5. objects in the eye
6. Cancer patients
7. Hemophilia patients
8. CF patients
9. A pregnant woman in labor
10. Anyone who is brought in by ambulance from a public place
11. Babies under 2 months of age with a fever of 38.5 or higher
12. Dialasys patients
13. Rape victims
14. Victims of domestic violence
15. Terror victims

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Curtains are supposed to be bright, cheery. They're supposed to accent a room. They're supposed to be thin enough to let the light in and thick enough to provide a measure of privacy. Not these. These are beige, thick. They are only to block the world's eyes out. They must be kept closed at all times, lest the unsuspecting world see my hair, my elbows, the distant image of my unclad legs.

They feel like they lock me in to a world too hot and stuffy to be lived in.

When I go out, the skirts bind my legs together, rubbing skin against skin until it is raw and wants to bleed. They prevent me from sitting comfortably. They make me feel that I have to be hidden. That somehow, I am so unholy that I must be kept away from the light of day.

My hair, too. is shrouded. It too, is wild and evil, and must be reined in. Heaven forbid anyone should see the stray wisps of hair. No, Push it forward. Forward. More. Better yet, cover it all, cover your face. Stay inside and never be seen. Wilt away in the darkness. A king's daughter's only honor is inside.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Open Letter to Anyone Who Wants to Help Me Lose Weight

Dear all you well-meaning souls,

1. I am in my seventh month at the moment. The large bulge in my abdomen might be related to the BABY who is currently residing there.

2. I own a mirror. More than one, actually. I can tell that I am overweight. Your pointing it out is not helpful. Rather, it is incredibly rude.

3. I have heard of the South Beach Diet, the Atkins Diet, the Pritikin Diet, the Popcorn Plus Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Zone Diet, and probably a few more that you've never heard of. Most of them are incredibly dangerous, especially during pregnancy.

4. The fact that a specific diet helped you lose those stubborn 3 ounces left over after your last pregnancy doesn't mean that it would actually help someone who has a real weight problem.

5. Talking about how fat you are when you can wear a size 4 is obnoxious. Shut up about the extra ounce of fat already! Complain to me when your doctor refuses to treat certain issues because they're "to be expected" at your weight.

6. I don't have to justify my weight to you. If you don't like how I look, then stay away from me. If I don't like how you talk to me, I certainly do my best to stay away from you. Perhaps I should suggest some courses on how to be tactful. I assure you that you need it more than I need to lose weight.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Might be Broke, but I Ain't Gonna Fix it

DrSavta can't upload pictures to her blog posts. I tried to update her WordPress to the latest version, and lost her entire blog.

Fortunately, her hosting service has complete backups. I rolled everything back to yesterday.

Net time: 2.5 hours.
People who were upset: 3
Net result: she still can't upload pictures.

Anyone know how to migrate WordPress to Blogger?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vietnam and Cambodia - Kosher

Kosher Tour to Vietnam and Cambodia – All Included, in English or French!

Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours will be offering, for the first time ever, a kosher tour to Vietnam and Cambodia in English and French. All meals, flights, hotels, and day trips included!

Sep 28, 2008 – Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours is offering a very special tour to Vietnam and Cambodia for English and French speakers this fall.

The dates for this incredible 18-day trip are November 24- December 11.

All meals are included and are kosher. Tours are appropriate for Sabbath-observant Jews, although there is no requirement to keep Sabbath or kosher while on the tour. The tour will be guided in two separate groups – one with a French-speaking guide, and one with an American English-speaking guide. As an added bonus, anyone who signs up before Saturday, October 25, 2008 will be automatically entered in a drawing for a free woven blue and gold Cambodian tablecloth, and will receive a free genuine pearl necklace!

Tour leader Dr. Rona Michelson says “Be prepared to see a country unlike anything you could have imagined. Vietnam is a country that has majestic mountains, verdant rice terraces, colorful ethnic minorities, beautiful beach resorts, bustling cities, and an ancient culture. We will board a boat to see Halong Bay, one of the most beautiful places in the world. We will see river life along the Mekong Delta. And to cap the trip, we will see the magnificent buildings of Angkor and Angkor Wat. This is an unforgettable experience!”

Be sure to look at the pictures at:

All this is available for under $4500, including flights from Israel, per person in a double-room! Travelers joining from other countries will receive a price reduction and assistance in organizing flights to join the group.

For a detailed itinerary and pricing information, see

For more information, call Rabbi Aaron Michelson & Dr. Rona Michelson:
Israel: 052 574 0573
UK: 0-800-404-9504
US: 1-866-500-5864
Rest of the world: +972-52-574-0573

About Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours: Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours has been providing kosher Hebrew-speaking tours to exotic locations around the world for over thirty years. In the past five years, Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours has expanded their staff to provide English and French tours to the same fantastic locations. With American and French guides, tourists from around the world are guaranteed not only a guide who speaks their language, but a tour leader who understands them and their unique needs.

I Don't Want to Hurt You. I Just Want to Make You Kosher!

Recently, DrSavta quoted one of the funnier films from my childhood...The Frisco Kid.

As a child, one of my favorite scenes was the one where Avram (Gene Wilder) is chasing a chicken and says "Come here little chicken. I don't want to hurt you. I just want to eat you. I don't want to hurt you! I just want to make you kosher!"

So... I haven't been hunting chickens... Instead, I've been hunting chicken pot pie recipes...
My friend Scott found this one, which looks terribly complicated. Here's the problem. Among the ingredients are butter and milk, which... for those who keep kosher, don't work well with chicken.

Also shortening is not easy to buy and is not part of my standard cooking repertoire.

So, chefs and chef wannabes, can I make the crust with just margarine? Should I use "butter flavored?" Should I make it with entirely shortening?

For the filling, should I substitute with margarine or is oil ok?

For the "milk," should I use rich for coffee, pareve cream (there's one without sugar), soy milk, coconut milk?


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Who Uses a Synagogue?

I live in Modiin, a medium-sized town which currently has over 80 thousand residents. It's slated to be the fourth largest city in Israel, behind Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem. It's supposed to eventually have 250 thousand residents.

There are synagogues in town. The Israeli government mandates a minimum number synagogue space for a given population. One of the older synagogues in town is my synagogue. It was intended as a Sfardi-Ashkenazi synagogue, to hold one service for everyone. There was a basement designated as a reception room. For a while, all was well. Then people moved into the neighborhood. The synagogue overflowed. No problem. We split the basement into a separate service. The Ashkenazim were the smaller group, so we got the basement. Excellent. We have a space. They have a space. All was well.

People raised money to build an ark, buy a Torah-reading table, and benches for the men's section. The women's section uses plastic keter chairs. Still, all is well.

We have a makeshift mehitza - a translucent curtain that hangs from a piece of wire.

We have 40-50 families who pray at our shul (Yiddish for synagogue). On a regular Sabbath morning, we have two minyanim (services), one at 6:45am and one at 8:30am. On Friday nights, the men's section is packed, but far from overflowing. When there is a Bar Mitzva, the guests generally find seats in the men's section, but the women's section often becomes quite zoo-like. This is mainly because the chairs move easily. Most of the Bar Mitzva's in our shul are of neighborhood families who are not members of our shul. That's fine. We welcome every Jew.

The worst is Yom Kippur. We are a synagogue. It is the high holy days. We do not turn Jews away from a synagogue on Yom Kippur. We do not tell old ladies that they cannot sit down because they haven't reserved seats. I know there are places that do that, but it goes against everything I believe in.

So each year, the crowds get worse. Those of us who do pay for seats can't get to them. I'm told that the men's section is just fine, but for those of us who are banned from that section by virtue of our gender... getting into the synagogue on Rosh Hashana morning and Yom Kippur evenings is simply horrendous.

Which is why I get a little irked when non-religious people say that synagogues won't serve the majority of Modiin residents. Actually, if there are literally one hundred people trying to shove into my synagogue beyond the number already packed in by design, then take a count. The majority is speaking loud and clear.

*Bonus points to anyone outside of my family who can explain why the picture is relevant.

Bad News, Good News

The bad news first... My hamster, Mishmish, committed suicide. Seriously...she died in a botched escape attempt from her cage. It's very sad and kinda gross. Fortunately, my dad decided to join the ZAKA hamster squad, and I'm no longer quite as traumatized.

The good news... is that there's a great opportunity to go to Vietnam & Cambodia on a Kosher, shomer Shabbat trip!

If you want to go to some really exotic places, eat jackfruit, and have a great time, this is THE trip. Don't miss out!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Halacha vs Immorality

This is a far cry from my usual life update- navel contemplation, but I feel like I need to step up on my soapbox about something.

Over on Wolfish Musings (and, yes, I desperately need to update my blogroll), Wolf was talking about the statement of Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz saying that YU is acting "like Amalek" by allowing a professor of modernist American poetry, Jay Ladin to return after a two year absence during which he has begun taking hormones and has transformed himself into Joy Ladin.

Do I agree with Professor Ladin's behavior? It's an interesting question. I think if I were a parent and my child made that choice, I would be quite upset. As someone whose life is completely unaffected by it, I really can't judge... and that's my point here.

Rabbi Lipschutz may be able to say that there is a halachic problem with it. Transvestism is absolutely forbidden by the Torah, "A woman must not put on a man's apparel (beged ish), nor shall a man wear woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is abhorrent to the L-rd, your G-d." (Thanks, Jewish News Weekly, for the translation.)

However, lighting a fire on Shabbat is also forbidden. We may say that one is labelled as abhorrent (to'eva) while the other isn't, but it is abhorrent to HASHEM, not to humanity.

Transvestitism and homosexuality are, simply put, not moral issues. They are religious issues. It is true that these are non-standard behaviors, but as long as all related acts are between consenting adults, the ramifications should be left between the doers and G-d. It is not our place to judge people, any more than we should judge a person who drives on Shabbat or eats a cheeseburger. We may cry out for their neshama, but we do not have a right to mistreat them or hurt them.

For Yeshiva University to fire this professor while there are other professors on staff who eat non-Kosher, drive on Shabbat, aren't careful about nidda, or are careless about lashon hara would be, simply speaking, hypocritical.

For the Jewish community to raise outcry against a transgendered person while child molesters are still not being properly dealt with is beyond hypocrisy. It is evil!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Helping Agunot

Over at The Muqata, Jameel is helping out in a new initiative taken by the Israel Rabbinate to help women whose husbands have disappeared to avoid giving their wives a proper divorce.

Someone near and dear to me was an aguna for fourteen years, so this is a subject very close to my heart.

Please look here to see if any of these men* are hiding in your community.

*yes, I'm using the term quite loosely.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who Took My Picture?!

Over Pesach, we went out to Sachne for the Israeli juggling convention. At night, it got so hot that I slept outside the tent to get more air.

Who took my picture and posted it to the Fail Blog?

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

(no, it's really not us - Yaakov closed the tent so the mosquitoes wouldn't get in. Plus, I was wearing flannel pants, not jeans)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Trish and Bob

I wrote this when I was in college. It has some inaccuracies and some problems, but I thought I'd put it out there anyway... it has some interesting points. Comments are welcome, but please be polite.


Okay, who are Trish and Bob?

No, wait. don't make this sound like the dating game. This is Tisha B'av, a holiday, not a couple. In fact, as holidays go, this one is pretty anti-couple.


Well, it's a sad day, so we don't do happy-couple things.

I see. So what IS Tisha B'av? What does the name mean?

Well, the name means "the ninth of Av" and Av is a Jewish month, following Tammuz and preceding Elul.

Pretty straightforward name, not too original.

No, not very, but then again, it's not a particularly happy day, not one you want to give a special name to..

What's so sad about it?

Well. The first and second temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on this day.

So we're mourning the tearing down of a building?

No, we're mourning a lot more. You see, the destruction of the temple not only meant losing a large war in a big way. It didn't even just mean a lot of deaths. It meant the destruction of a country and way of life.

But we're still Jews. They didn't destroy our way of life.

Wrong. Our way of life was centered around the sacrifices brought in the temple. If a person sinned unintentionally, they brought a sacrifice. On holidays, people brought sacrifices to the temple. The Cohanim lived and worked for the temple. When a woman gave birth to a baby, she brought a sacrifice, and when the high priest came out of the holy of holies on the afternoon of Yom Kippur, the day was suddenly transformed from the solemnest to the happiest day of the year, and the girls wore their white dresses and danced in the fields. On Sukkot, the simchat beit hashoeva was the happiest, biggest, most impressive party ever seen. No.Our way of life was destroyed. We rebuilt it, slowly, over a few hundred years, but it's nothing like how it was.

I see, I think. But why don't we build a new one?

Well, there are a lot of reasons. The first being that we don't know exactly where the holy of holies stood, and no one is allowed to go to that place -except the high priest on yom kippur in the afternoon service, that is. That's actually the best reason, because almost everything else can be worked around. We have the blue dye for the priests' clothing, we have the measurements for ever inch of the building.We don't have a red heifer, but we could probably get one, and even if we don't we could still offer sacrifices on the temple mount, because we're all equally impure...but we don't have the full knowledge that wee need to find the holy of holies, so it's all pointless.

so it's lost and gone forever? why?

Well. It's not forever. We tend to believe that when the messiah comes, we will rebuild it. But in answer to why, well. It seems like it was our own fault. You see, in the time of the first temple, the vast majority of the world was composed of idol-worshipers, and being very much into "cultural relativism" and "political correctness", we got into that too. I mean, we did some really bad stuff, to the point where within sight of our holiest place, the temple, we had human sacrifices going on. Pretty terrible, really. So G-d sent the Babylonians to put us in our place, or maybe to get us out of his. That was in 586 bce.

Now, these two guys, Ezra and Nechemia, decided to come back to Jerusalem and rebuild the Jewish nation both physically and spiritually. They did a nice job, rebuilt the temple, the country, and the nation. These were the people who began the custom of reading from the torah every week. They made a fairly spectacular second temple, which held up until 70ce.

Why was the second temple destroyed?

Well, you see, we got into a pattern of causeless hatred of our fellow man. For example, there was a case of two men with similar names being confused, and the wrong one being invited to a party. Instead of the host being hospitable and allowing the wrong guest to remain, the host publicly asked the man to leave the party, and when the man said he was willing to pay for his food rather than be embarrassed in such a way, the host refused, and made him leave.

That's pretty mean

Yeah, G-d thought so too, I suppose. That is, I suppose that G-d believed that a nation of people who would do such things wasn't a nation fit to be a "light unto the world", and since we weren't fulfilling our part of the bargain, the Romans were sent to help G-d stop fulfilling his. From then, 70ce, until 1948ce, we didn't have a country.

That's almost 2000 years

Yes, and in those two thousand years, the Jewish people has been persecuted over and over again, in every country in the world. The Crusades, The blood libels, the Spanish inquisition, the pogroms, the HOLOCAUST, and the list continues to build. Even in our own country, we are threatened daily. The independence war, the Yom Kippur war, the War of Attrition, the Six-Day War, the Munich Games Massacre, Entebbe, The Intifada, The scuds during the Gulf War, and the list of bus bombings seems endless. Even just in the past year, we've had three major bus bombings, and a huge bombing in one of the nation's busiest malls, not to mention the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Argentina. (note: this was written in 1996 or 1997)

I see what you mean. Since the Romans expelled us from our land, it's all been one nightmare after another.


So what's it about this day that makes it so unlucky?

Lashon Hara.

What? Isn't that a type of dance?

No. Lashon means tongue, and Hara means "the bad". That is, when you speak badly of someone or something, even if it's true, it's a sin, and it's called Lashon Hara

Where does THAT fit into Tisha B'av?

Well, before we came into Israel, we sent spies to check out the land. We sent 12, and ten came back with fairly lousy reports. In other words, they spoke out against the land G-d had promised us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Now the people got scared because of their reports, and thy started to cry. Supposedly, that day was the ninth of av, and G-d made sure that we had something Real to cry about on that day.

So, aside from crying, and not doing happy-couple things, what else do we do or not do on Tisha B'av?

Well, we don't bathe, shower, swim, or even wash our hands.

Wait, that's gross. You have to wash your hands when you come out of the bathroom, right?

Yes, but unless there is dirt on the hand, you can only wash from the knuckle to the top of the finger.

Okay, is there more?

Yes, you can't eat or drink anything, unless you are pregnant, nursing, under age 12, or sick. You have to read megillat Eycha, and kinot, and you can't wear leather shoes, and it's preferable to sit on low chairs.

Is that it?


Whew, that list was getting long. It seems like we have to be in total mourning.

We do. And doesn't it make sense to? Look at all we've lost.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Feelin' Kroovy!*

*Kroovy is the Hebrew name for the character Grover!

So my sister went to San Francisco, and she met Grover, for real. See here.

Me? I went to the mall and had a chocolate souffle... so hey, I can't really complain!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Think She's Teasing Me

Today, while Kinneret was sitting in her high chair, eating a salmon cutlet (fishie schnitzel!), she gave Poofy a piece.

"Kinneret," I cried "we don't feed Poofy!"

She mumbled something back at me which for all the world sounded like "well, I do" with appropriate intonation.

I swear she can talk, she's just holding out on me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Good Day!

Today, I decided I was going to have a good day. I took Kinneret and we went to the gym. I put her in the babysitting, and I did 30 lengths at the pool (not great, but not too bad either).
I'm currently at precisely the weight I was when I started my pregnancy (not bad for 15 weeks).

Of course, tonight my appetite went wild (it was only chicken, but it was a LOT of chicken), so we'll see how long that lasts.

Anyway, I spent about 1.5 hours in the pool with Kinneret, who was in a kamikaze mood today. She kept trying to drown herself, and I kept having to force her to keep her head above water. (She wanted to sit down - on the floor, not on my lap - even though the depth is such that it lands her mouth and nose under water.)

When we got home, she crashed for a good 2.5 hours. I took a shower and then found my own crash site... I love to sleep.

When we woke up, I made her an omelet, and then our friends Bethami and Eden (3) came over. It was very nice seeing them. Eden wanted to hug Kinneret all the time, and Kinneret seemed a bit indifferent to the affection, but it was pretty cute anyway. I wish I'd taken pictures. We'll have to invite them back soon!

By the time Bethami and Eden left, it was time to take Poofy for a walk and meet Yaakov at the bus stop. Yay!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Psalm for Today

In memory of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

א אל-נקמות יהוה; אל נקמות הופיע.
ב הינשא, שופט הארץ; השב גמול, על-גאים.
ג עד-מתיי רשעים יהוה: עד-מתיי, רשעים יעלוזו.
ד יביעו ידברו עתק; יתאמרו, כל-פועלי אוון.
ה עמך יהוה ידכאו; ונחלתך יענו.
ו אלמנה וגר יהרוגו; ויתומים ירצחו.
ז ויאמרו, לא יראה-יה; ולא-יבין, אלוהי יעקוב.
ח בינו, בוערים בעם; וכסילים, מתיי תשכילו.
ט הנוטע אוזן, הלוא ישמע; אם-יוצר עין, הלוא יביט.
י היוסר גויים, הלוא יוכיח: המלמד אדם דעת.
יא יהוה--יודע, מחשבות אדם: כי-המה הבל.
יב אשרי, הגבר אשר-תייסרנו יה; ומתורתך תלמדנו.
יג להשקיט לו, מימי רע-- עד ייכרה לרשע שחת.
יד כי, לא-ייטוש יהוה עמו; ונחלתו, לא יעזוב.
טו כי-עד-צדק, ישוב משפט; ואחריו, כל-ישרי-לב.
טז מי-יקום לי, עם-מרעים; מי-יתייצב לי, עם-פועלי אוון.
יז לולי יהוה, עזרתה לי-- כמעט, שכנה דומה נפשי.
יח אם-אמרתי, מטה רגלי; חסדך יהוה, יסעדני.
יט ברוב שרעפיי בקרבי-- תנחומיך, ישעשעו נפשי.
כ היחוברך, כיסא הוות; יוצר עמל עלי-חוק.
כא יגודו, על-נפש צדיק; ודם נקי ירשיעו.
כב ויהי יהוה לי למשגב; ואלוהיי, לצור מחסי.
כג וישב עליהם, את אונם-- וברעתם יצמיתם;
יצמיתם, יהוה אלוהינו

Psalm 94

1 O LORD, the God who avenges,
O God who avenges, shine forth.

2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.

3 How long will the wicked, O LORD,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?

4 They pour out arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.

5 They crush your people, O LORD;
they oppress your inheritance.

6 They slay the widow and the alien;
they murder the fatherless.

7 They say, "The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob pays no heed."

8 Take heed, you senseless ones among the people;
you fools, when will you become wise?

9 Does he who implanted the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?

10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?

11 The LORD knows the thoughts of man;
he knows that they are futile.

12 Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD,
the man you teach from your law;

13 you grant him relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.

14 For the LORD will not reject his people;
he will never forsake his inheritance.

15 Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.

16 Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?

17 Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.

18 When I said, "My foot is slipping,"
your love, O LORD, supported me.

19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.

20 Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—
one that brings on misery by its decrees?

21 They band together against the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.

22 But the LORD has become my fortress,
and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.

23 He will repay them for their sins
and destroy them for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will destroy them.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Latest Concept

Here's my latest idea that would make me rich if I could build it, program it, patent it, and market it...

A Wifi baby monitor. Here's how it would work. You plug in the baby monitor next to baby. If baby makes too much noise, then everyone on your LAN would receive an alert saying "baby is crying."

It would then open a chat window so that all the members of the household who are awake and online could debate whose turn it is to get the baby.

This is absolutely necessary in my home, since Yaakov watches his movies or plays his piano with earphones while I listen to music with earphones while I work at night.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Something's Happening...

I haven't posted in over a month. Sorry about that folks. I've kind of been in a not-so-bloggy place lately.

First the big news - I'm pregnant! I'm due Jan 9th or thereabouts. Part of the reason I haven't blogged is because at first, I was having really bad doubts about this pregnancy. I had pains that I thought might mean it was ectopic, and I just had weird emotional stuff that didn't let me believe it was ok.

Then I went to a doctor who I decided I don't like so much, and he almost refused to do an ultrasound. I basically had to tell him that I thought it might be ectopic. He refused to take a measurement, so I almost missed my chance to do a neuchal translucency. Fortunately, that was taken care of, and the numbers are good.

Lately, I've just been extremely tired, and while I have a lot to say, I don't seem to be able to organize it into a blog post.

And then, Kinneret turned one!

She's so sweet. Here's a picture of her enjoying her new tricycle (a gift from Aunt Rachel and Uncle Ohad & family).
Also visible is Poofy, who is a big fan of Kinneret's newest trick - giving all of her food to the dog instead of eating it. Fortunately, she does seem to be getting enough into her mouth - her face has thinned out some, but she still has baby-folds in her arms and legs!

In other exciting news, Rachel Inbar has moved her blog to here.

New on the blogroll is Chez Perky, with 1 midi perky and 3 mini perkies for four times the perkiness of the other leading blog!

DrSavta (and RabbiSaba) are doing a coast-to-coast tour of the USA.

A Mother in Israel is way more ambitious than I'd ever be. She's even washing her floor!

And that's pretty much all the news for right now... so stay tuned for the next exciting adventure of.... trrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiLcat!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Today, Kinneret said her first word, Duck!
I was singing her the Waddles song (my own composition) and she said duh and dut and several other sounds that sounded like she was trying to say duck!

Yay for Kinneret!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

An Israeli War Song

This is a song written years and years ago. It was remade this year, and it still rings true.

After the attack on Ashkelon yesterday, it seems very much like we're at war, whether the government says so or not. The translation follows the Hebrew.

האם את בוכה או צוחקת?

פגז אחרון התפוצץ ושתק,
עטפה הדממה את העמק.
ילדה בגדות יצאה ממקלט,
ואין בתים עוד במשק.
אמא, היה לנו בית ירוק
עם אבא ובובה ושסק.
הבית איננו, ואבא רחוק,
אימי את בוכה או צוחקת?

הביטי למעלה, בתי, אל ההר,
ההר שהיה כמפלצת.
עוד יש תותחים, ילדתי, על ההר,
אך הם מאיימים על דמשק.

הביטי למעלה, בתי, לגולן,
שם יש חיילים, אך להבא -
דגלם בצבעים של כחול ולבן,
בוכה וצוחק שם גם אבא.
יהיה לנו בית ירוק, ילדתי,
עם אבא ובובה ושסק,
ולא עוד אימה, ילדתי, ילדתי,
בתי, את בוכה או צוחקת?

שקיעות באדום וזריחות בזהב
פוגשות בירוק ובמים.
ובלי תותחים של אויב על ההר
יוריק עוד העמק כפליים.

זורם הירדן, מתפתל כשיכור,
פריחה את העמק נושקת.
ואיש לא יסב את מימיו לאחור,
בתי, את בוכה או צוחקת.
זורם הירדן, בין גדות יעבור,
פריחה את העמק נושקת,
ואיש לא יסב את מימיו לאחור,
בתי, את בוכה או צוחקת.
בתי, את בוכה או צוחקת.

Are You Crying or Laughing?

The last shell exploded and was quiet
The valley was wrapped in silence
A girl in [Kibbutz]Gadot left the shelter
And there are no more houses in the farm

"Mom, we had a green house
with Dad and a doll and a loquat [tree]
The house is gone and Daddy is far
Mom are you crying or laughing?"

"Look up, my daughter, at the mountain
The mountain that was like a monster
There are still cannons, my child, on the mountain,
But they threaten Damascus

"Look up, my daughter, to the Golan,
There are soldiers there, but from now on -
Their flag is colored blue and white,
Up there, Dad is crying and laughing too
We'll have a green house, my little girl,
With Daddy and a doll and a loquat
And no more fear, my girl, my girl
My daughter are you crying or laughing?

"Sunsets in red and sunrises in gold
Meet in the green and the water.
And without enemy cannons on the mountain
The valley will be twice as green.

"The Jordan flows, turning like a drunkard
The flowers of the valley it kisses
And no one will turn its waters back
My daughter, are you crying or laughing?
The Jordan flows, through [Kibbutz] Gadot it passes
The flowers of the valley it kisses
And no one will turn its waters back
My daughter, are you crying or laughing?
My daughter, are you crying or laughing?"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Passover is a great holiday. Seder this year was a bit hectic, as we piled 12 adults and 13 children into a living room/dining room area that seats 14 comfortably.

The Shabbat meals were fairly quiet, as Yaakov, Kinneret, and I hosted just my brother Ben. The food was a little sparse with no matza and all the bread eaten on plastic before the meal proper... (sorry Ben).

And then... we get to the good part. Each year, there is an Israeli juggling convention (IJC) held in Gan Hashlosha (Sachne) which is located between Afula and Beit She'an in the Beit She'an Valley.
(My dad claims it's in the Jezreel Valley, but it belongs to the Beit She'an Valley Council.)

I love juggling! I love jugglers. They're great people. I love juggling festivals. I don't love camping, but I'm willing to make the effort, as long as I have enough food. I really really really don't love traveling on multiple buses with my baby and lots of luggage. However, we examined all of our options, and sent up a big bag with Scott, and we went up by bus on Monday morning. We left at ten am, made a few stops at the central bus station in Tel Aviv, and got to Gan Hashlosha at three pm. It was hot and I was worn out from traveling, so Yaakov agreed to put together the tent and watch the baby so I could go swimming with Scott and his girls.

We swam. The water there is beautiful. The next day, I took Kinneret with me into the water. She was a little scared of it at first, but eventually, she calmed down and seemed to be having a good time.

The water there is beautiful, and there are fish in the water. The downsides to the convention: It was VERY VERY hot during the day, rising over 45 C (113 F). You can say "but it's a dry heat" as many times as you want, but when you're going through a liter an hour of water and you still don't have to go to the bathroom...

The gym, which usually stays cool all day got so hot that the few jugglers there wilted and could barely juggle. There was no air-conditioning available most of the time. The tent was so hot that I had a panic attack from feeling like I couldn't breathe the air inside of it.

In the evenings, it cooled down nicely. Friends and I cooked meals, and there was plenty of food this time. (Thanks to the Bar Yaakovs, Trachtmans, and Seltzers for their cooperation in feeding me and baby K. Sorry there were eggs in the cake, vegans.) On Wednesday, I hitched a ride to Beit She'an with M. Trachtman, and we spent a long time in the well-airconditioned supermarket. I picked up a cake for my birthday (which was Shabbat, April 19th, so passed with little fanfare. Thanks parents for the new outfit, and thanks Rach for the pearls!) and told the Bar Yaakov and Seltzer children that anyone who wanted cake had to sing happy birthday to me. It was a neat party out on a straw mat in the cool evening air.

The best parts were swimming in the natural spring, making some new friends and spending time with old friends, and Kinneret's big moment! At one of the shows, there were some technical difficulties, so they asked volunteers to come up and showcase whatever they want in order to amuse people. (With some assistance from Yaakov,) Kinneret went up on stage, sat there, and held three small rings (linked together) in her hands. I announced "Kinneret with three rings" and she got a huge round of applause. As we took our seats, Kinneret was asked for her autograph several times.

The down sides of the convention... There were mosquitoes and other biting insects. I'm still bitten up. Fortunately, Kinneret seems to be bite-less, and Yaakov was more careful about not getting bitten (not to mention that the aforementioned panic attack led me to sleep outside the tent all three nights whereas Yaakov and Kinneret slept inside the tent). It was insanely hot. The worst part, though, was that Yaakov was sick, so we ended up going home a day early (which was a relief in some ways), and we missed the big show with the international guests.

The beautiful:

Nir David at Twilight

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pesach Food

So Pesach is coming again, way too fast.

said that I should post my favorite recipe, so here it is. It's a recipe for apple kugel that's so good that I would make it with matza even during the year. My mom says that it's from an out-of-print cookbook. It's not easy to make, unless you have a kosher for pesach food processor, but it's soooo worth the effort! I generally don't like sweet kugels, but this one's a real winner. I confess, though, that I have been known to eat it with vanilla ice cream...

Apple Kugel

3 matzot
6 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ c raisins
½ c chopped almonds
4 tart apples, peeled and grated (this is where you'll wanna use the food processor)
cinnamon sugar mix (1/4 t cinnamon and 1 T sugar)
¼ c oil

Crumble matzos into water and soak until soft. Squeeze out excess moisture. Beat eggs. Add sugar, salt, & cinnamon. Continue beating until well blended. Stir crumbled matzos, raisins, almonds, apples, and orange rind into the egg mixture. Place in well-greased 1 ½ quart casserole. Sprinkle with sugar cinnamon mix and pour oil over all. Bake at 175 C degrees until firm and nicely browned. (about 45 minutes.)

Hopefully, I'll be writing some tips on how to stay sane for Pesach cleaning, and how to keep within budget over the next few weeks, but I have to get my legos out of the laundry (just kidding. We don't generally EAT our lego.)

For more great recipes, check out Spice and Spirit.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Why I Can't Keep up with the Laundry


It begins in the morning. Kinneret is wearing the clothes she slept in. Her diaper is blessedly still holding. I change the diaper and feed her a bottle without mishap. I'm wearing my pj's, because I don't have to go out yet.

Yaakov has dumped his yesterday's clothes, undershirt, etc on the floor. I dutifully pick up the socks (which aren't actually standing up on their own, so all is well).

Today's a sheet-changing day, so I strip the beds. N0 problem.

Kinneret eats a yogurt for breakfast. She cooperates. There's not even a lot of yogurt on the bib.

Naptime. I've finished the first load of laundry, including folding. Neither Kinneret nor I have changed clothes. We're doing great!

I take the silk blanket off of Yaakov's bed, fold it, put it away. He hasn't used a blanket in about 4 weeks. Heck, he's already complained that the flannel sheet I gave him instead of a blanket is too darned hot, even with the fan on.

I put clean sheets on the beds. We don't have enough pillowcases, so we'll have to wait for them to come back from the machine later.

Kinneret needs lunch. Great. There's some baked sweet potato in the fridge. I mush up the inside and warm it up, and Kinneret digs in. Literally. With both hands. Much of it ends up in her mouth. Also much of it ends up in her outfit and on the bib.

change Kinneret's clothes. Into the pile they go. Cuddle some. Kinneret is tired, so she goes for a nap.
Put away clothes, realize that the next wash isn't in yet. Uh-oh. Put in the next wash.

Poofy needs a walk, and Kinneret could use some air too. Great! We'll go see how the new train station is coming along. I change into clothes (yes, still in pajamas up until this point.) Pajamas could do with a wash... into the pile they go.

We go towards the train station. After Kinneret's hat takes a few trips to the sidewalk, it goes under the stroller. Train station is not currently stroller-accessible. We'll have to take a look next week maybe.

There are loads and loads of ladybugs! They're really pretty. We count over 25, including 4 pairs in the process of "pairing up."

We get home, and Kinneret is hungry. I give her a bottle of milk which she downs in 2 seconds flat.

I pick Kinneret up because she looks like she needs a burp. She becomes a fountain. That bottle of milk... well, it's on the floor (and her, and me) now.
Change all of my clothes, get back into pajamas. Give Kinneret a bath, changing her clothes again. (and of course, when I went to get her into the bath, the diaper was dirty.)

I have an appointment. My mom comes over while I put Kinneret to bed, and then I get ready for my appointment (getting into new clothes). Pajama top is sweaty. Into the pile.

I come home, realize that I look like a wreck and want to look nice for Yaakov. Shower. Change into something nicer. Previous clothes were sweaty. Into the pile.

Yaakov helps me finish making the bed. Poofy promptly gets in... great. Doggy sheets.

Bedtime. Change into pajamas. Previous clothes can actually go back into the closet. this time.

Get in Touch with Your Feelings

We couldn't do this as a song, but here it is... Kinneret is in touch with her feelings!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today, I woke up early. I got my nails done. I had my hair and makeup done. I fasted. I prayed the special mincha (afternoon prayers) for Yom Kippur. I had my picture taken dozens of times.

Oh, and I got to take Yaakov home at the end of the evening!

It's been a great two years, and I can feel that this is only the very beginning.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Kinneret Milestones

Today Kinneret sat herself up from a crawling position for the first time.
She makes progress in a crawling position, but doesn't exactly crawl.
She turns from her stomach to her back and back to stomach, but she needs to be motivated.

She claps her hands and says something like Yay!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Catching Up Memes

Ten Things I Don't Get

  1. Why it's seriously hot in the middle of March. I'm wearing a t-shirt and sweating bullets
  2. How to do Mill's Mess
  3. Why Kinneret is all smiley one day and then can't stop crying the next.
  4. Pain - it just doesn't make any sense to me. Trust me, I know that I bashed my head against the wall, even if it doesn't hurt.
  5. Why anyone would claim that skirts are more modest than pants!
  6. Why some people can't just be nice and they have to try to burst my bubble when I'm happy.
  7. Why I can't make cream of celery soup that tastes as good as the canned stuff.
  8. What motivates a person to shoot a bunch of teenagers having dinner.
  9. What motivates a person to send a missile into a civilian area that poses no threat.
  10. Why the international press chooses to claim that missile launchers are victims, while those who try to destroy them are attackers?

Ten Things You'll Never Hear Me Say

  1. Rami Kleinstein can't play piano.
  2. Yaakov is so superficial.
  3. This is too big a steak for me.
  4. Could you please move to a talk-radio station?
  5. I'd love to go for a jog. And after that, maybe you'll let me wash your floor.
  6. I've gotta get out of the country for Yom Haatzmaut.
  7. Shlomo Artzi is playing Tzavta? And you have an extra ticket? No thanks, I'm not a big fan.
  8. I'm glad they stopped Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It wasn't a good show anyway.
  9. I loved college. It was a great social scene.
  10. I'm not a big fan of desserts.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Globbing the Globe

A certain Princess but not Princess Kinneret Kangaroo has requested that people around the globe glob for charity. With such a great cause, I supposed I must help the war effort.

So here is my Glob post.

I have no clue what to say on a glob post, although I suppose a purim-related post could be appropriate. Purim is an interesting holiday. It celebrates how they tried to kill us and we won, so we should eat. Actually Haman tried to kill us, and Esther risked life and limb to save all of Am Yisrael.

It's pretty neat how one person managed to save a whole nation. She got stuck in this freaky situation where she was forced to marry a king, and she was basically not much more than a concubine. But not only she managed to make it work, she saved her whole nation.

I think there's something to be learned from that - that you can actually improve the world even from a crazy awful situation.

So I guess I glob with Esther.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Head in a cage. Flaming redhead. Baby spew.

Yes, this is another migraine-related post...

On Wednesday, I had a doctor's appointment at Malcha Mall in Jerusalem. My parents graciously offered to take me to the mall and wait with Kinneret.

The neurologist said that my EEG looks normal and that it basically rules out an electrical problem in my brain. She didn't have much else to say about that. So, with my appointment scheduled for 10:30, after a 20-minute wait, I was back at the shopping level of the mall before 11am. My parents treated me to a cup of coffee (vanilla) at Cafe Hillel, and then we began to explore the mall.

First, we checked out the special "nursing room" in the food court restroom area. Turns out that they have a really good changing table there, which Kinneret and I tested out. Then my mom decided to have a medallion made with Kinneret's face on it. It didn't come out great. Oh well.

Then we went on a search for booties for Kinneret. Let me tell you folks, it is hard to find decent booties at a decent price. After searching pretty much every single store in the mall, we finally found two cute pairs of booties, which I bought for Miss Kinneret. It turned out that one was too small, so we're sending that pair to her newest cousin in Toronto, Caylie. They're very nice and very warm, so I hope Caylie (and her parents) will like them.

After an exhausting search for booties (not booty), we decided to take a look at Toys R Us to see if they had anything cool. I ended up buying a very cute red wig, which I love! Everyone else thinks it's silly.

Thursday was the day of my MRI. I didn't sleep well Wednesday night, because I was nervous about it. I've seen MRI on tv, and it looks a bit unpleasant - your whole body is put into a tunnel and all. My parents couldn't take me because it's a total disaster to park at Hadassah Ein Kerem, and besides, what would they do with Kinneret while I was being tortured tested. So I took a bus and then a taxi to get there.

So I arrived at the hospital, and immediately went to the MRI area to get all the paperwork taken care of. Then I decided to look around. I went down some hallways that smelled pretty weird, and finally discovered a staff cafeteria. Since the smell was nauseating, I decided to forgo lunch there. Then I went down another hallway and found myself surrounded by medical students. I felt distinctly wrong there, so I went back to the MRI clinic area, and waited, looking at magazines and regretting my choice of book. I had brought A Beautiful Mind with me, but as I started to read it, it looked kinda boring.

Finally, it was my turn. They told me to put my stuff in what looked like a changing room, and double checked to make sure that I didn't have a hair band with metal on it or any jewelry. I changed from a jeans skirt into pajama pants, and wore a loose snood on my head. Then they told me to wait for the doctor.

Then the doctor, kinda out of nowhere, told me that I needed an IV line. So I sat there and let him put one in. I have a pretty serious fear of needles, but I can manage when I need to.

Then another doctor took me to the MRI room. He told me to lie on the table, with my head on the headrest. All good so far. Then he gave me headphones. I asked "Are these for music?" and he said "yes." Then he closed a cage around my head, put what felt like the bulb of a sphygmomanometer in my right hand, and told me that if I panicked, I could press down on that. That's it - no explanation of anything, and then he turned on the machine, which raised me and stuffed me into the tunnel. So there I am, with a cage over my head, in a tunnel, and guess what? It's not music. It's noise. I mean noise like sirens and buzzing and tapping. All kinds of noises which are supposed to stimulate my brain in a variety of ways.

As if this wasn't bad enough, I have a cold, and (roll over this text if you're not easily grossed out) -- fluid from my nose started dripping to the back of my throat -and I felt like I was suffocating.

So imagine, if you will, lying in a tunnel, with your head in a cage, listening to sounds of increasing loudness, and suffocating because you can't really clear your throat while lying on your back. I closed my eyes so I wouldn't see the cage. I tried to imagine that I was in my bed.

Then the technician/doctor/whoever came in and injected something into the IV. Of course, I couldn't SEE anything, and I couldn't hear him walk in either because of the headset, so all of a sudden, I feel something being injected. I asked him how much longer, and he said ten minutes.

Ten minutes. I couldn't imagine spending another ten minutes like that, but I didn't want to hit the panic button either. So I started counting to sixty slowly in my head. The noises got louder again, until I couldn't hear myself thinking each number out loud. I tried over and over to clear my throat. I tried to relax my body. I felt my arms shaking during some of the sounds. They shook of their own accord, and I couldn't stop the shaking. I counted slowly to sixty again. I thought of stray songs that I used to like. I coughed a few times. I counted again to sixty, slowly.

I lost my place around thirty, when a random song snuck into my head. I forced myself to continue counting, going on from thirty. I felt like all the air was gone from my lungs. The sounds got louder, shriller. The table shook violently as if it were having a seizure. I tried desperately to clear my lungs in the fourth slow, steady count. I listened to the sounds, trying to understand what they were doing to my brain. I counted another sixty, trying desperately to hold on to the numbers, keep them going, one number after the other. I opened my eyes, saw the cage again, thought about pressing the button, and forced myself to keep counting. I closed my eyes again.

Three minutes to go. Just three minutes. I couldn't count them anymore. I couldn't think of anything anymore. I opened my eyes. I closed my eyes. I cleared my throat, I took deep breaths, feeling my chest and abdomen fill with air. I started to count again. I couldn't focus. I got as far as three before my mind wandered. I thought that I had to count. I had to know. And while I was thinking this, everything stopped. The noises stopped. The shaking stopped, everything. And then I was pulled out of the tunnel. The cage was removed from my face, and I was told to stand. I couldn't.

I couldn't stand up at all at first. The doctor or technician or whatever he was had to help me up. He had to steady me. He had to help me get out of this room. I followed him back to the room where they'd put in the IV, and he gently, slowly, ripped the tape off of the IV. It was so painful. My whole body was shaking, and I was thirsty, so thirsty I thought I'd die. Finally, it was done. I held the cotton ball on the injection site, got my purse, went outside to wait for them to give me a cd with the images of my brain.

I'm afraid I'll have to stop now to get ready for Shabbat, so you'll hear about baby spew some other time.

Shabbat Shalom, all.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hold the Hijab, Please

I noticed myself ranting and raving over in Mother In Israel's blog comments. Over the course of several posts, she translates (and comments on) the Maariv article, Neshot HaRealah (women of the veil). The article discusses a disturbing new cult in which a "rebbetzin" (I put it in quotes because I've heard no evidence that her husband is a rabbi) wears ten layers and covers her face with a veil for the purpose of modesty.

People all over the Jewish blogging world (Mother In Israel has a list here) are taking a stand on the subject. Instead of leaving my comments on every single blog out there, here are my feelings...

The "rebbetzin" has said that women should cover their whole body, including the face, and she (for 'religious' reasons) does not speak except for four hours a week. She rarely goes out, and encourages her followers not to speak to men, get into a taxi driven by a man, or even go into a shop when there is a man inside.

Here's my main argument:

Judaism is about living in harmony with the world, not about living outside it.

Throughout the Torah, we are told how to experience but harness our animalistic side. We are supposed to taste the food, but make a bracha (blessing) to remember where it came from. We are supposed to enjoy making love, but only with our spouse. Even if we fall in love with a captive of war, we may marry her, but only when we are convinced that it is true love and not the heat of the moment.

We're supposed to search for the balance and the way to make even the most mundane things spiritually holy.

Putting my baby to bed at night is made holy by saying shema for her. Waking my husband in the morning is made holy by washing hands and helping him get organized to put on tfillin. My husband's work in a mundane job is made holy by the tzedaka he gives from his salary, and the home that he supports. Even my husband's hobby of juggling is made holy by the fact that he uses it to entertain sick children, to bring joy to Purim at our shul, and for sukkot to remind people of the simchat beit hashoeva.

Even grocery shopping is holy when you think about your Shabbat table, the guests you want to please, and the joy you bring to your spouse by preparing something they like.

Heck, even going to the bathroom is part of a holy ritual in which we give thanks to G-d for making our bodies function as they should!

So please, "rebbetzin" stop hiding from the world, and learn to live in it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Quick Update

People seem to be worrying about my head. Thanks, people. It's much better, b/c of the Maronil (Anafronil). It still hurts most of the time, but at a livable level. There should be results from my EEG, but I haven't heard from the doctor who should have the results.

I have an appointment with her in two weeks, but I think I'll ask my doctor to give her a call. I don't think she'll speak to me, but she'll speak to him, and I really think that two weeks is a long time to wait for test results that have already been processed.

In other news, Kinneret and Yaakov both have colds. I took Kinneret to the doctor today, and he said not to worry too much. So we put a humidifier in her room to help her breathe more easily, and we're just going to wait it out.

These days, doctors don't give any symptomatic relief for cold symptoms for children under 2, because some new research showed that it could be dangerous... so poor Kinneret is miserable. I hope she gets better soon!

And finally, I'm now swimming 56 lengths (1.4km) each time I swim, and I'm down 4.5 kilograms!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Could be Better

After a week of relative calm on the head front, today I was dizzy and headachey and had trouble focusing my eyes.

My EEG has been rescheduled for Sunday, next week. Just means more time until we can give a guess at what's going on. I'm quite frustrated, needless to say.

I have to wait two days to even find out when my MRI is.
I haven't called Rabbi Firrer yet. I just don't... I don't know what I'd even ask at this point.

Thanks everyone for the continuing good wishes.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Goodman Look-alike Meter

Everyone keeps telling us that Kinneret looks just like Yaakov or just like me. They can't seem to make up their (collective) minds. Well, folks, I guess that everybody's right. Or everybody's wrong?

All I know for sure is that she's CUTE!

Update on My Head

Just a quick update.
My head is feeling somewhat better.
I saw a new neuro on Sunday, and will be having my EEG on Monday next week.
I'm awaiting approval for an MRI.
What joy.

Monday, January 07, 2008

7 Weird Things About Me Meme

1. I have hyperflexibility, which means that even when I don't exercise, I can touch my toes to my forehead.

2. I started using email when I was 10, back in 1988.

3. For about a year in high school, I walked around talking to my deceased friend in my head. I sometimes thought he answered me, and once or twice I even felt him. Sometimes, I still wonder if it was all in my mind. I mean, logic says it is, but I really felt something back then.

4. I have nightmares about being trapped underwater or in places with very small openings. I'm not afraid of elevators or other "ordinary" small places. I did have to leave the heart exhibit at the Franklin Institute though - I wasn't 100% sure I could fit through all the tunnels while pregnant and it scared me a bit. I also get upset when I can't get off jewelry or clothes.

5. I didn't pay much attention to my body ever, and still don't. I found out that I was fat because I saw myself in a picture and suddenly I realized I was fat. In the mirror, I still looked ok to me.

6. I don't use woodcase pencils because I'm too tempted to chew on them. I only like 1.1mm lead mechanical pencils. (normal is .7 or .5)

7. I once went to a palm reader. She was wrong about everything she said about me.

I think I'm not gonna tag anyone, but if you want to do it, feel free.