Thursday, March 30, 2006

HOP box 2

Last night I started the second box of Hooked on Phonics with my oldest daughter. She is totally bonkers over Harry Potter right now, and after opening the box, I called out to my wife that there was Harry Potter book 5 in the box and I wasn't sure if we should let her read it or not. Then I told her I was just kidding. She got so mad, it was so funny. We did learn to read some some new sounds: both th as in thin and th as in that are in the new section, as is sh, ch, sk, sc and a bunch more. By this time next year, maybe she'll be able to read Harry Potter 5 in English.

Number 2 wants to learn to read English as well, and we just found out what her Hebrew reading problem might be. She needs glasses. As soon as we are comfortable with her Hebrew reading she gets to start English.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

being in the middle

Stepima had a similar post today, but only about religion. No politics involved.

Yesterday I wrote about being in the middle and as I talk to more and more people, they identify with the right wing and not with the center. I've heard people disparage the center and say they would never go there. This made me think of an example where every religious Jew thinks they are the center. Orthodox Judaism.

No matter what you do or how you practice you feel that you are only doing what is absolutely required. People who don't follow exactly what you follow are "not as religious," people who do more then you do are "crazy fanatics." As does everyone else, I only do what is in the shulchan aruch. Nobody feels that they are being needlessly machmir. If someone is extra machmir (stringent) in a certain thing it is because it needs it and anyone who is not machmir on that specific thing obviously doesn't understand. Anyone who is more maikal (lenient) then you is obviously missing the spirit of Judaism. "Who cares if they got a psak to swim on shabbos, it just isn't done by normal Orthodox Jews." This is necessary for religion because we don't want to think we are doing things that God doesn't care about, otherwise why inconvenience ourselves. Also if we are doing something to inconvenience ourselves, it better be something that God cares about. That makes everyone else who is not following exactly what your following not as practically Orthodox as you are.

The same should be true politically. We should be looking at ourselves as the center, that we are no more nationalistic that requires. We are no less nationalistic then requires. That puts us squarely in the center. In your religious observance you don't associate yourself by other people's standards. Nobody thinks, "He's Normal Orthodox and he doesn't play ball on shabbat, so if I play ball, I must be left wing." They think, "He's frummer then you need to be. My rabbi told me exactly how to do it without breaking shabbos."

We should be defining ourselves as middle of the road. No matter where we are on the political spectrum. In our own minds the spectrum should rotate around us.

what a caption,,2-2107093,00.html
This has been commented on by a number of blogs I have seen.
Check out the voting Hareidi.

coalition analysis

Looks like my predicted numbers were slightly off. The count with more then 99% of the vote counted is:
Kadima : 28
Labor : 20
Shas : 13
Lieberman : 12
Likud : 11
Arabs : 10
Gil (old folks) : 7
UTJ : 6
Meretz : 4

The coalition games will begin. Lets start out by saying that I would not be surprised if the Arab parties were invited to join the coalition by Kadima. There are 3 Arab parties, though so that would compound the difficulties.

Possible coalitions:
Kadima, Labor, Shas, UTJ, Gil= 74 seats - strong coalition
Kadima, Labor, Meretz, Arabs = 62 seats - very hard to stomach for a half of kadima members.
Kadima, Labor, Likud, Gil= 66 seats - would be called national unity and acceptable to most in both parties
If Kadima cannot pull together one of those 3 coalitions, the game might get interesting.
Shas, Lieberman,Likud,NUNRP,oldfolks,UTJ and 3 Kadima rebels = 61
Kadima right wingers may break from the party and return to Likud or even Lieberman on the proposal to include Arab parties. The right wing should anticipate and encourage this.

The real question is whether Kadima can stomach the social demands of both Labor and the Pensioners. It seems like they won't have a choice if they want to build a disengagement coalition.

The only way this can happen is if Shas, UTJ and Likud hold out on a Kadima/Labor group. This is not seen as likely.

A second round of elections will probably have even lower voter turnout then this one did.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

moving rightwards?? NO WAY!!

I learned a number of things from my dad when I was growing up. One of the interesting things I learned from him was that normal people shave in the morning. Not that he did nor anyone else I ever saw shave, but that's besides the point.

The more relevant thing I learned from my dad is that it's important to be in the middle. Being in the middle means that you are balanced. Being on one side of the spectrum, for example a right winger or a leftwinger means that you are a bit radical. Nobody wants to be radical so they define the spectrum around themselves. I would like to say that I am the center, Likud is left, Kadima is very left, Labor is a bunch of nutcases and meretz is like martians they are so far out there. I would say marzel is slightly right wing and then there are other groups which are far right wing.

The slogan of the "right wing" should not have been "Moving rightwards", and their party should not have been called "the new Right". The message should have been, "come back to your roots" or "Don't be radical, vote for us", "All normal people vote this way", "Education is our middle name", "The pro children party".

I don't see religious issues as being right wing while left wingers can't follow mitzvot. In my mind, religion is the middle of the road. Anybody can do it. I also see settlements as a normal middle of the road part of Israeli society. It is not radical, it is not right, it is normal. One huge problem with the gazan refugees is that they define themselves as so far right that most of the population doesn't see them as having any connection to normal mainstream people. If they marketed themselves as normal mainstream, they would get a lot more sympathy and other people might identify with their plight. But really, who in Tel Aviv really cares about a bunch of far right wingers.

i voted gimmel; wife voted Good

I got up early this morning. Not because I was excited about elections, but because the baby got up at 5:45. So I went to an early morning shachris and then got home as the kids were finishing breakfast. We went out to the yard and started gardening, I cleared away a new vegetable patch and we planted cherry tomatos, regular tomatos and zucchinis (but the planting took place much later). Then we went to vote.

I voted Gimmel.
My wife voted Good.

Then we went hiking, it was just like Sunday, we went to the keshet cave and then the the namar cave. They are on the lebanese border and there are hidden treasures in them. My children were looking for dinosaues because I told them there were baby dragons in the caves and they didn't know the difference and then ignored me when I tried explaining it. The keshet cave was a has been. Local legend has it that there used to be a cave there but it was inhabited by a band of robbers. One of the robbers repented after seeing mohammead in a dream. He told the others they should become farmers. The other robbers decided it was easier being robbers and they were going to push him out of the cave and down the cliff, but as they planned it the cave roof collapsed and only the one part (the part that is still standing) the the good robber was standing under stayed up.We saw someone kind of rappel down the side. It was only kind of because he was more let down on a string and there were no walls to repel against.
Then we walked to namar, but there was a sign by the nature authority that said entrance forbidden because bats hiberate in the cave in the winter and they didn't want us waking them. So we continued walking to the bottom and then rested for a bit and walked all the way back up.

Finally we had a nice bbq with 3 other families. A really nice evening. Well balanced with 2 English speaking and 2 Hebrew speaking. I don't like having too many english speakers because then there is mostly english going on and the hebes feel left out. - they were here first - so I always have either all english or no more english people then the number of hebes. It helps our hebrew as well.

Monday, March 27, 2006

election predictions

(Unsponsored) Ad for UTJ - A vote for UTJ is like putting a dollar in tzedaka. If you hate all the other parties, why not give some tzedaka.

My election predictions are as follows:
Kadima : 28
Labor : 24
Likud : 20
Shas : 16
NRP/NU : 14
Lieberman: 6
Arabs : 5
Meretz : 4
UTJ : 3

This leaves nobody with a natural coalition. Though it opens a strong possibility of Kadima, Labor, Shas and UTJ. That will give shas a lot of power. Another possibility is that Likud and Labor will leave Kadima in the cold and join together to destroy their common enemy. Remeber if Kadima is not in the government, they are completely out of the picture. They don't have a platform or ideology holding them together. You will definitely not have a strong opposition and the people in that party will likely float back to their original parties.
My numbers gives the right wing bloc only 59 seats. The left wing coalition is not much better, as the arabs would never join the government, so a left wing coalition would only include 56 seats.
My government prediction is either Kadima, Labor, Shas and UTJ or Likud, Labor, NRP, Shas and UTJ, giving each party about equal power.

The rock of galilee still has not come out with an absolute recommendation, but we will definitely be voting either for UTJ or NRP/NU. We don't see the UTJ as being a major player because of the few seats that they have and I don't see any possibility of them joining a coalition without either shas or the NUNRP, and shas is their more natural partner.

(just to let you know the official polls from yesterdays yidiot (if I remember it correctly), so we can compare afterwards:
kadima : 34
labor : 21
likud : 13
Lieberman: 12
Shas : 11
nunrp : 9
arabs : 7
meretz : 5
old people : 2

Which leaves 6 seats unaccounted for.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

disengagement and elections

I was against the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. However, I was not against the withdrawal because people were going to lose their homes and their livelihoods, though that made me sad. I was also not against the withdrawal because giving part of the land of israel to non jews falls in the category of יהרג ועל יעבר, a sin that is so great it is better to die then to take part of it, because most rabbis who I heard did not take that opinion, or the opinion that there was anything halachically wrong with doing it at all.

There are times when people have to give for the for the good of the state. The people who went to live in the settlements helped enhance security, and gave of themselves to do it. They put themselves in danger every day because they believed it was good for the country. Obviously the country has to compensate them and make sure that they are looked at as heroes for serving the country and not as drek that was holding the country back, and it is doing a lousy job of that. But that probably has a lot to do with the level of confrontation that was involved here and the open hostility between the 2 sides.

I was against it for the simple reason that I felt it did nothing to enhance any aspect of the State of Israel. Security is not improved because of it, though it may be worse now, no social problems have been solved, it created a big rift in society, and soldiers are still in danger. It brought Hamas into power and showed the arabs that violence pays. It also did not gain us any real foreign relation points. In fact in retrospect, all the warnings beforehand have proved accurate. So I feel that I was correct in opposing it.

There are other people who feel that this was a good move. I don't understand their reasoning, but I respect their opinion that this will be good for the country.

This came up again now because of an article on the Arutz 7 newsite. It seems that the Hareidi religious parties, United Torah Judaism, are willing to be part of a government that will disengage again. They said that they will join any government under certain conditions and they will keep their coalition agreement and would expect the other side to keep theirs. Keep in mind that the UTJ votes are _always_ decided by their council of Torah Sages, at whose head is Rav Elyashiv the leader of Ashkenazic Torah Jewry.

The Talk backs on the site were interesting. Pinchas from Jerusalem feels that Christians understand the Torah better then Rav Elyashiv. Charlie from Boca Raton feels that if they join the government they may as well join Hamas. Lorrie from Brooklyn feels they are making their own Torah, she also knows Torah better then Rav Elyashiv and therefore must be the Christian Pinchas talked to. Yael from Yesha doesn't understand why their is even a question because she fully understands the Torah unlike these foolish rabbis. Benny from Toronto is sad that the Rebbe was right. Mordechai from Jerusalem will now not vote for the UTJ because of this article. Uncle Bernie (nice to see your name on the list), along with many other people, feels that they are selling the Torah for funding. Akiva in Chicago feels that the hareidim have no fear of God. Jay from the USA, maybe a voice of reason, suggests that they ask a shalo. (Who should ask the shalo? The council of Torah sages should ask his local orthodox rabbi?)

People are forgetting what the Hareidim believe about the State of Israel. They believe that the government is not a Jewish government, it is a government of Jews. This is something that the national religious are slowly realizing. That means that if the government gives up some of Israel, that is not against halacha, because while Jews were living on that land and that was good, it was conquered by an army of Jews and not a Jewish army and therefore there is no
problem handing it away if that is for the good of the country. They would like to live in a completely religious country, but they are under no illusions that this is going to happen because of a knesset decision or not.

People who still believe that the government of Israel is the Jewish government that is the result of the redemption from exile are missing a few peas from their pod. While we have to fight for Jewish issues and the right to live Jewish lives in a Jewish country in the land of Israel we have to choose our battles. The battle on civil marriages, for example, is of utmost importance to the survival of the Jewish people. If there was an ultimatum that either you vote for withdrawal or civil marriages will actually be put up for a vote in the knesset (where it would most likely win) I think it would behoove every religious party to make sure that withdrawal passes. Yes, I feel they should sell out for other important Jewish issues. That is what a democracy is. Selling out on some issues so that your important issue goes your way. Don't like democracy? Daven for mashiach!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

tzim tzimmering

To celebrate my wife's birthday we are going to a tzimmer for the night and then doing something fun tomorrow without the kids. A tzimmer, for those chulnikim that have never heard the word, is a nice little getaway generally in the north. You can see details at We are going to moshav avivim, closer to the Lebanese border then we actually live. The problems with some of the nice tzimmers that I saw on the website is that it has the same view as I see from my house, one of them seemed like it was directly across the mountain from the picture of the view they had up. One might think that if city folks come to the country for vacation that the country folks would go to the city for vacation, but that isn't even remotely true. The reason the city folks come to the country for vacation is because that is where everyone truly wants to be. (except for one friend who hates trees and needs to live in urbania).

This will be the first time we have went away by ourselves since my eldest was born 8 years ago. (Yes she's already 8). We have left some of them before with my parents before we aliyahed, but we always had at least one with us. This was made possibility by our neighbors who wanted to do something nice for my wife on her brithday and offered to watch the kids. Since the baby just turned 3 and he really is sleeping through most of the night and hasn't had a complete freak attack when I've gone up to him recently, we accepted. My wife thinks that he considers the neighbor like a second mom anyways, so it should be no problem. My oldest didn't want to sleep with everyone else, so she gets to go to a friends house and she is very excited about it.

Tonight we have a reservation at a nice steak house in Moshav Dishon called El Rancho (kosher hechsher, but with some kosher mehadrin food). Tomorrow we are planning on going horse back riding at vered hagalil and then maybe hiking somewhere in the area.
For shabbos we're invited out for lunch and eating home for dinner but the food is already cooked. (yay wife).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

happy birthday

I hope all my readers will join me in wishing my wife, Mrs. Rock of Galilee (also known as Rolling Hills of green), a very happy 30th birthday.

...and many more

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

got a sign

We're in the middle of election season and I finally sold out and got a big orange sign for my property that says (in Hebrew) "a new right has arisen" and it supports the NRP nd NU merged party. I was talking to our local NRP bigshot who asked me if I had a sign yet./ I told him I didn't know who I was voting for yet, and he said that was fine, but I still needed a sign in my yard. I'll probably end up voting for them anyway, and it is the party that the majority of the community supports, so I put it down to public service.

There really aren't a lot of choices to vote for, I mean there are a ton of choices, but none of them are any good. A guy at work suggested that voting would be a lot more popular if you couldvote for who you didn't want. He was going to vote against Peretz (Labor). The death penalty also seems to be popular in our office, and if any candidate supported it, he would be a shoo in.

Speaking of the death penalty, whoever came up with the NU NRP mergers campaign should be shot. They are focusing on things that absolutely nobody cares about. They are not focusing on the things they are good at that people do care about, like education. Their campaign should focus on raising the standard of education and building a strong nationalistic country, not being a new right wing.

The Green Leaf party probably won't make it in and neither will Marzel. The polls are showing Shinui not getting in either. That's the pot heads, the hot heads and the snot heads.

They are saying that the polls don't really reflect reality though because there are 25 undecided seats. That's a 20% swing vote. It also seems like the people who aren't sure aren't going to vote Kadima, they are trying to decide which of the other bad parties to vote for.

I'll try to keep y'all updated on the election happenings, but the good news is that we have a vacation day. That means I might not vote, because we can go on a full day tiyul. What kind of idiot decided that there should be no work on voting day. They should give off the day after voting as a reward for the ountry if they get a high turnout.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

snickers and twix

Today I noticed that Snickers and Twix in Israel are not under the
hashgacha of the rabanut of Israel. They are under the hashgacha of
the triangle K, with the approval of the rabanut of Israel.
Apparantly, the rabanut gives a rubber stamp approval to certain
kashrut organizations from the US and the triangle K is on the list.
While I don't really know any solid reason why we don't eat triangle
K, it is a generally accepted principle in the US, not to eat that
hechsher. I looked at the Twix bar today and it specifically said it
contains gelatin. This could be the reason why we don't eat triangle
k, because our rabbinic leadership has said that gelatin is treif (not


For those that do not know what gelatin is, my understanding is that
it is made from finely ground up non kosher animals. There is an
argument in halacha if something that finely ground up is still
considered the animal. We paskin that it is, and we do not eat it. I
once had a discussion with someone on this topic and he said that for
those considering it treif, it was treif as pork.

I suggested that assumedly everyone would agree it is not treif as
pork and the argument was whether it was better not to eat it
anyways. In terms of bitul bshishim, one issue is that in this case
they made the mixture on purpose, which while still halachically
permissible for those that did not make the mixture, is considered

We never resolved this issue and if anyone has a clue please feel free
to post your thoughts.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

what is purim all about

The Jews were in a sorry state back in Persia. They were fast becoming assimilated, not keeping Torah and Mitzvos. You couldn't even tell who was a Jew by looking at them, the megilla says that the only way Haman knew that mordechai was Jewish was because people told him. My chavrussa (who I am giving credit for the base idea behind the vort) said that there are some modern opinions that Mordechai and Esther were themselves assimilated.

The miracle here was not that the Jews were saved, the miracle was that they accepted the Torah anew. They all realized what happened could have only come from God and therefore did tshuva. If you look at what Mordechai did, it seems very small from a Jewish perspective. He refused to bow down to Haman. Even a jew who eats treif on yom kippur wouldn't bow down. It's one of the big 3 sins. But it was this small, almost insignificant act that brought about the grand scale tshuva which was the goal of Purim. Saving the Jews was incidental to the main goal. What we learn out from Purim is that even if there is just a spark of Judaism left in someone it can cause the entire Jewish people to ignite in a religious fervor.

Even Tommy Lapid lighting the menorah can cause tshuva. (Though if he knew that, he would shoot himself for doing it)

When I told my dad this vort, he didn't like that I said mordechai and Esther were assimilated, so I told him he didn't understand Toras Eretz Yisroel. Then I called my little brother in jerusalem and told him to tell my dad the same vort when he visited him on Purim the next day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Jericho Operation

The IDF went into Jericho and took the bad guys out of PA jail right before they were going to be set free by the new Hamas government.
For those that don't remember, there was an international agreement which included British and US troops to guard these prisoners as a condition for them remaining in PA jail. The international jail guards left yesterday, probably because they were afraid of getting kidnapped or killed, and the IDF swooped in and asked them nicely to either surrender or die. They nicely decided to surrender.

During an election campaign this kind of operation is looked at very cynically. Nobody believes that Olmert did this to gain points for his campaign. This was the kind of action that was required and this was the only time to do it. Some would say that he got lucky in having an operation like this fall into his lap.

However, we can not get out of the political mangling so quickly. Why did the US and British guards decide to leave exactly 2 weeks before the elections? Was there some sort of secret agreement between the Israel,US, Britain and the PA? Is this the real reason why Mazen was out of the country? Can we see Shimon Peres working behind the scenes convincing them to leave so that Olmert could gain political points?

I don't see any reason to think otherwise.

This is one of the rare cases where political sleaze actually benefited Israel. Putting those guys behind Israeli bars is going to do a lot for Israeli morale and the war against terror.

an enjoyable purim

We had a very enjoyable Purim. My parents and littlest sister came up from the less then holy land to celebrate with us. My kids dressed as harry potter, shabbat queen, ninja turtle/spiderman and barney.

Monday night we had a community Purim party that was very culturally Israeli. The food was cold falafel and there was a costume competition and then an evening of song. The children got to watch a magician and a couple plays and they enjoyed it very much. The costumes were interesting, especially noteworthy was a couple who dressed up as MP3. She wore the M and he wore the P3. On the back they had the words in Hebrew, she was אם (mother) and he was פי 3 (times 3). He was dressed in a "fat" costume.

The evening of song was enjoyable. My dad had never been to or heard of one before. He found it amazing that Israelis could sit around for 2 hours and sing old songs. There was a guitarist and the words to each song were projected on a screen.

Shaloch manos was good this year. I grilled my steaklets right after davening and then delivered them warm. Most of our friends were actually home this year, which was surprising. My neighbor refused to eat a steak for breakfast, so he had to heat it up later. His loss. Being fleishigs first thing in the morning is a segula for being fleishigs for lunch and being fleishigs for lunch is a segula for being fleishigs for dinner.

Monday, March 13, 2006

tzedaka on purim

There are different levels of giving tzedaka and one of the highest forms is where the giver does not know who he is giving to and the receiver does not know who he is receiving from. A lot of communities have organizations that handle this, in our community it is called keren chesed. You give them money and they make sure poor people get the money. It is 100% voluntary organization and 100% of the money goes to the people who need it.

I was discussing matanos le'evyonim with the rabbi last night and I asked him if this form of tzedaka was appropriate on Purim. There is a big discussion among the rishonim about the purpose of mishloach manos, whether it is to help someone with their seuda or to increase good will among people. If it is to increase good will then giving anonymously will not fulfill the mitzva but if it is to help with the seuda then it will fulfill the mitzva. However, there is no discussion that I have seen about the purpose of matanos le'evyonim. Does that have the same criteria, in which case the poor person must know who he is receiving from and the giver must know to whom it is being given? The rabbi wasn't sure. I figured I'll ask the gabbai tzedaka, who is probably an expert on these matters and he'll be able to tell me the best way to give this year.

We also discussed mishloach manos, and the best thing to give is something that can be eaten as part of a meal and not just candy and bisli. I wanted to share an inexpensive high quality way of doing this.

Buy a cheap roast and a cheap bottle of brandy. I got a little more then a kilo for 30 shek (and that was mehadrin) and a 20 shek bottle of brandy. Marinate the roast in the brandy at least overnight. That will tenderize and flavor the meat. Cut it steaklet size strips and bbq. You can get 15 or so steaklets out of it, adding about 2 shek per shaloch manos to your package. You should cut the meat with an electric knife. It makes it much easier.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Selling aliyahs

Our shul has an interesting minhag to sell aliyahs on shabbos zachor, the shabbos before Purim. What makes this an especially interesting minhag is that we don't sell aliyahs any other time during the year.

Last year, we hosted my BILs wedding party right around Purim and had a house full for shabbos zachor. My wife, God bless her, got stayinbedanddontmove sick and I was left to deal with the children and the company. Normally this wouldn't be a problem and I would take all the kids to shul with me, but there were ladies sleeping in the boys room so I couldn't get them dressed. So I stayed home and played with them until one of the women got up and then headed off to shul by myself. I am usually an ontime shul goer. If I'm late, it is usually just after they started. That shabbos I walked up to the entrance around birchas kohanim. I was one of the gabbaim of the shul last year and there were two other gabbais talking outside. As I neared the building they saw me and said "Thank God you're here. You have to sell the aliyahs this year in English." Not having any clue what they were talking about and not having davened yet, I let them lead me up to the front of the shul where I sold the aliyahs in English and very poor hebrew.

This year, they had the decency to tell me in advance. I don't know why I was chosen, except maybe because I have the worst Hebrew in shul, and I'm not a gabbai anymore. But the current gabbais asked me to sell the aliyahs again and in the spirit of Purim and fun, I agreed. So I brought my brand new starw cowboy hat (Did I mention that it says Dale Earnheart on the side with the number 3?) to shul and went up to sell the aliyahs. This year there was no request to do it in English, so I sold most of them in Hebrew. I threw in an English joke and then in Hebrew said,"That doesn't translate well."
We try to confuse the average person, so the bidding is in objects instead of money. The first kovud went for cakes for the party. Now each cake costs 8 shekel, which they rounded to $2. So anybody who bid 1 ooga, was actually bidding $2. We also sold for sections of the curtains that they wanted to buy and candy bags for the children.

At one point I tzun dritinmulled and someone tried to bid afterwards. The concensus was that he didn't understand yiddish and was trying to figure out how much the aliyah would actually cost him if he bid on it, so we opened up the bidding on that aliyah again.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the performance, I even got people to laugh at some Hebrew jokes, though I did hear some people explaining to other people what was so funny. One of the politicos in shul kept trying to keep the currency in "kaful tov (without the vav)", because tet bet is the letters of the NU and NRP merger. At one point we had a discussion if someone said 4 times tov and someone else said 44 who gets it. Then someone bid for someone else, who yelled that he knew how to bid for himself if he wanted the aliyah.

All in all I had fun, and the congregation had fun and my children weren't embarrassed (I think they're still too young for that) and that's what counts.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

just a random post

It's hailing. Again. In March. And my bus isn't for another 10 minutes and I don't want to go outside and wait. And 2 days ago it was 80 degrees (not israeli/canadian degrees, real degrees).The folks are coming up for Purim in a couple days and I'm hoping we get some decent weather.
There are a couple of big events going on in March.
First was sister-in-law deb's bday. then yak and debs anniversary, then my baby turns 3. The next day my wife turns 30. A week later my little brother turns 29.
Seems like everyone is getting older.
There was some excitement in ISrael today, the Baby Ruth bar arrived. I don't know exactly when it came or how long its been here, but I noticed it for the first time today. I haven't had a baby ruth in a long time and the peanuts and nougat really hit the spot.

Shout out to the Nestle folks.

talk backers in trouble

Now, not only bloggers need to worry about whether what they write will pass the legal litmus test in Israel, people who write Talk Backs to newspaper articles are in danger of being prosecuted.
The new Yisraeli newspaper, handed out for free in bus and train stations reported today that a newspaper had a story about a mother and a daughter and a couple of Talk Backs hinted at who the father was. I don't know that story, so I can't comment on that in detail, but basically it said that they are going to start tracking down people who leave Talk Backs and prosecute them if their views don't conform with that of shabak.
(Can you say administrative detention).
I mostly read ynetnews to get my Israeli news of the day and the talkbacks are very entertaining for the most part. There are 5 or 6 writers and 100 comments. After someone comments the other people comment back to them.

I may write about these commentors one day, now that they are marked as international talkbackists. So here's to Abdulla, Bunnie Meyer, Michael Steiner, Josh, Yishai Kohen from YeSHa and the rest of you. You better watch your back. Shabak is watching you.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

ready for purim

At a lousy toy store in the mall. I walked into the middle of an argument with a lot of people yelling about how the store doesn't take returns. I didn't much care whether they took returns or not. I just wanted to make sure that they didn't have what I needed just so that I wouldn't feel like maybe they did.

There, on the shelf, in between the crappy felt cowboy hats and the chinaman hats, were genuine, straw cowboy hats. They all said Dale Earnhart on them and they had a colored rim but I bought 3 of them anyways.
I don't know where my cowboy hat went from last year, but it would have been a sad purim without a cowboy hat.
Now we have an alomost complete Purim. The folks are coming (kinda oleh regel) and they are probably bringing wild turkey with them. Not only that wild turkey who we will also enjoy seeing, but also the beverage.

Now all we have to do is prepare our shalach manos, write our poem, listen to megilla and give money to poor folks. It is looking like a fun time will be had by all.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Conversation with Jameel

I spoke with Jameel for the first time last night and my first thought was to have the traditional conversation that one might have with an Arab in Israel.
It would go like this (transliterated because I can't write Arabic)
Masa Alchir
{Arab Grunts}
{Arab Grunts}
Jareeda Minfadlak
{Arab Grunts and gives you a newspaper}

Our conversation didn't go exactly that way, and after thinking about it, it could be because Jameel is the first arab I've talked to who didn't work at a gas station.


Purim is coming up fast and that got me thinking about cowboys.
I got home last night from work and turned on some Waylen and Willie. "Mommas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys." After the song my 5 year old said to me, "Daddy, why shouldn't momma's let their babies be cowboys?" So we played the song again and then I asked him if he understood. He didn't. SO I told him when he was his sister's age, then he might understand. At that point he burst into tears and said, "Daddy, Af Pam (Never) I won't understand." We went to the other computer that has better speakers and I played the song one more time and then I asked him if he understood and he said yes and went happily to bed.

The traditional family favorite is the Alvin version where he changes the word cowboys to chipmunks.

For those few of you that don't recognize the song you can goto to hear it.

Cowboys ain't easy to love and they're harder to hold
They'd rather give you a song than diamonds or gold
Lone Star belt buckles and old faded Levi's
Each night begins a new day
If you don't understand him and he don't die young
He'll probably just ride away.

Mommas don't let your baby's grow up to be cowboys
Don't let em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Let em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mommas don't let your baby's grow up to be cowboys
Cause they'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love.

Cowboys like smoky old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night
Them that don't know him won't like him and them that do
Sometimes won't know how to take him
He ain't wrong he's just different but his pride won't let him
Do things to make you think he's right.

Mommas don't let your baby's grow up to be cowboys
Don't let em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Let em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mommas don't let your baby's grow up to be cowboys
Cause they'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love.

Mommas don't let your baby's grow up to be cowboys.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Aliyah Tip

One of the most important things that is often overlooked when moving to Israel is budgeting. The costs in Israel are generally not the same thing as they do in the US. For example, when we moved here almost 3 years ago, I thought we had enough to live on for 6 months. We ended up with enough for 9 months (Thank God). Having an accurate financial picture is very important but also not easy to come by.

I would recommend discussing various costs with people you know in Israel who are in a similar family situation as you are. Sit down and write out the standard expenses that you are expecting every month. Remember, all the numbers that you have been working with and understand up until now are practically worthless. For example, we spend approximately 20% less here on food every month. Gasoline in Israel costs about $5/gallon.

What I recommend is starting with an estimate that includes: rent, car and gas (if you're going to buy one), electricity, water/sewage, arnona (municipal taxes), food, phone, internet, entertainment, house/garden (if you need to buy things for this), schooling (if you are planning on sending to pre-gan or private school - regular schooling doesn't cost that much), clothing (including shoes), chugim (extra curricular activities) and any other category you can think of.

Ask 5 people from the community you are moving to what the rent prices how much they generally spend on those categories. Remember, winter and summer are different for things like water and electricity.
You need to talk to people in the community because a lot of the numbers depend on your community. For example, if all of your friends send their kids to chugim, you will probably also. If none of your friends send their kids to chugim, the odds are that your kids won't want to go.

We've found budgeting to be very important, especially when you are starting again from scratch and don't have the experience of approximately how much you spend every month.

Just thought I would share.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

need ideas, please help

I was talking with traintalk on the train this mornign (as usual) and the conversation turned towards employment, poverty, hopelessness and why nothing can be done about it in Israel. I mentioned an idea that I had been working on a couple years ago before I got a job that I believe could improve the situation.

The Day Labor Employment Center. A for-profit social enterprise.

I never followed through with it because I got offered a full-time job in my field during the same week that I had an interview for a grant. The grant wouldn't have paid all the bills and I was really more interested in integrating into society at that point, soon after we had made aliyah. But now that I'm feeling that my family has pretty much normalized into our community and Israeli society, it is time to put the social issues back on the table.

Helping me out with this can be a serious help to the Israeli economy, and give people more control on their lives. In short, it is a mitzva.

What I am looking for:
1) Ideas for projects that can be done with little/no training, paid on a per task basis and do not need follow up by the person who did the work.

2) People or companies who are willing to pay for this work to be done.

As an example of #1, filling cute bottles with Israeli sand.
As an example of #2, someone who would like to sell cute bottles of Israeli sand out fo Israel.
As another example of #2, a company that would like to sell bead necklaces, needs filing done or any other non-complicated work.

We would be able to do this for a very good price, and you would be helping out the Israeli economy. Right now I am trolling for ideas and to check out the potential before starting to more seriously pursue it. If a test case center works in a small town, then we can expand the program around the country.

Please pass this link on to anyone else you think may be interested.