Monday, October 30, 2006


They are doing construction work on the floor above me with some
seriously heavy drilling. I can't think and I'm going to walk out of
here with a headache for the second day in a row. Thank God, they
promised it will be over by tomorrow.
Lieberman joined the government today and I don't think it makes a shred
of difference in my life.
The basement flooded again. I spent all evening squeeging it out because
there is no drainage system. So I called my plumber, well actually my
plumbing consultant because he still lives in the old country. But I
wanted to get some good advice before I talk to the Israeli plumber, who
I probably won't be able to understand. At least I learned the Hebrew
word for drain. I made it up to the roof last night for 3 seconds before
it started raining again, but that was enough time to unplug the main
problem gutter. I'll have to play with the rest of the as well, but I
really don't want to climb on the wet roof in the dark. Something about
not wanting to break a leg.
In any case, Old Achmed never wrote me back, so I'm going to have to
figure out some other way of finding Arab doctors who trained in the US.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I have to say that Eilat was all that. We had a great time and made all the people who brought their children very jealous. The hotel was very nice, though the couches weren't comfortable and the lobby didn't really have a sitting area. We got a little suite with a kitchenette and sitting room for the two of us.

Thursday night we had a nice bbq when we got there after the flight. We then went on a nice long walk along the boardwalk, where we saw there was nothing interesting for sale. We ended up buying some tshirts for souveneirs for the kids.
We were in bed by midnight and got up bright and early and went swimming. You would think that you could sleep in without kids, but apparantly it doesn't always work that way. Breakfast was great. Waffles and burekas and danishes and tons of other stuff. Our morning tiyul was cancelled because there was a triathlon that was blocking the bus route, so we had free time. We considered going to the dolphin reef or the underwater observatory, but we had to be back by 12 to go on the boat. So we first walked along the boardwalk for a little bit. We stopped at Kings City, the new biblically themed amusement park, and got information but we didn't go in. (It costs 118 shekel a person and you have to be about 4 feet to go on the King Solomon Waterfall ride.) We then went back to the hotel and went swimming in the pool. That was a lot of fun. They have a very funky pool with a number of different interconnected sections, so you can swim from one section to the other. There is one "bea!
ch" section, where there was sand/gravel in the entire pool section and up onto the shore. You could sit on the lawn chair and feel like you're at the beach. There was a Pantheon type section where water was pouring out of a greek looking structure, There was a sprinkler section, where you swim through water shooting at you from both sides. There were waterfalls pouring down on you and caves that you could swim in to.
They also had a huge waterslide, it took a full minute going down.

The boat was a lot of fun. It had 2 Jacuzzis and chairs and tables and mattresses, a bar with beer and soft drinks and decent music (if you discount the one bob marley song they played). We anchored in the middle somwehere and got to go swimming in the Red Sea. They also had snorkel masks, which I tried, but there was nothing to see because we were about 100 feet above the bottom and fish don't swim that high.

There was a bbq on the boat for lunch after which we turned around and went back to shore for shabbos.

Shabbos we lazed around. There was no minyan in our hotel (though there were more then 10 people with kippas), so I went to the hotel next door.

It was a great trip and I highly recommend it.

We got home and the basement was filled with water, but that's a
different story.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

general update

So now we have a minister for strategy against Iran. I saw a great comic in the yisraeli newspaper a couple days ago which had a secret meeting of the Iranian folks. The President asks, "does anyone have any comments before we go to the next step of enriching uranium" One of the advisors says that he proposes delaying the nuclear project because he heard a report that the Israelis just a appointed an important minister for strategy to work against Iran. In the next frame they all crack up laughing.
Not that I'm against Lieberman, he may be able to do some good for the good guys in this country, but taking the "Ministry against Iran" position just seems silly. I guess if we don't get nuked by the time this government finishes, then he can claim success. If we do get nuked, then we won't be around to blame him.

Anyways, we're off to Eilat this afternoon. I tried calling the russian girl and her mother now has her cell phone, and she said she was in school. Then she said that her Hebrew wasn't good enough to understand me, so she hung up.

The answering service guy I was expecting to hear back from replied with a negative, so I called someone else who was interested in working on the idea. Now we'll see what happens.

I sent an email to an arab knesset member asking for help finding
qualified non-Jewish workers. I wonder if he'll reply.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


We're heading down to Eilat this weekend on a company vacation for some fun in the sun.

A couple years ago we had 2 russian girls in the "convert the soldiers" program who came to us for a number of shabboses. One of them seemed pretty serious about asked a lot of questions. She said she was planning on maintaining a kesher with us after she converted so she could continue to grow and learn. The other one was interested but was not as exuberant about it. I went to Jerusalem and testified at the beis din and both girls converted. The one who seemed more interested called us once afterwards to come for shabbos, but we weren't home that weekend. I called her a couple of times to see how she was doing, but she never called back when I left messages. After about half a year, I stopped calling.

The girl, Olga, had to pick a Jewish name and she told us that she was thinking of Osher. I thought that "Wealth" was a very odd choice of name. She asked me if I had heard the name before or if it was in the Torah at all. I told her the word was in the Torah, though I had never heard of the name before. The pasuk I showed her was "Wealth and honor are in front of you, and you rule all." She started laughing and told me it was Osher with an aleph, not an ayin, which means happiness. I thought it was a much better choice of a name after learning this.

Olga/Osher was on an army base near Eilat which was her excuse for not coming up the 6 hours to visit us for shabbos afterwards. I am pretty sure she still lives there and I'm thinking of giving her a call to see if she's available to stop by the hotel. I am curious to see if any of the religion soaked in or if the whole thing was just a scam. The girl's father was Jewish and she was persecuted in Russia for being Jewish and she came to Israel to find out that she wasn't really Jewish, even though she felt a complete connection to the Jewish people. She also went through all the effort to learn the laws and try to become a real part of klal yisroel.

I still haven't decided if it is a complete failure if she is not religious or if it is any worse then being a non-religious Jew.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

7th inning stretch

It is starting to come out that the IDF wasn't going all out even in the air because of the potential threat of a wider war with Syria. Beyond that, it is clear now that even had the airforce gone all out, the results would not have justified it. Turns out they knew that after the second day. This is tiring. Could it be after Israeli knowhow and hardware from the battlefield was sold profitably for so many years that our militarty capability has flattened out and become commoditized?

Our bird, Mad Max, who was a cheerful and chirpy 5 year older before the war, died a while back apparently pushed too far or fatally traumatized by the noise table of incoming and outcoming coupled with the absense of his companions, us, and being fed and watered only once a week. The garden flowers in plastic containers outside, still blooming and giving color and depth and meaning to me at least - are still alive and even though winter rains have started, they remind me of the effort I made for their survival and i would do it again.

At the same time - during the war - I admit to attempting to build a parallel work life and I believe this was the correct strategy at the time and I would continue to investigate this thread even now if it develops . Our reality was so shaken, all the symptoms are there: those that deny anything has changed, those ill or limping somewhat physically or emotionally and others worse off. It reminds me of that catastrophic weather movie the day after tomorrow - but we are still waiting for the tomorrow no weatherman has told us about. The real jolt has not hit yet and it seems we are sitting ducks. A jerusalem post political commentator has repeatedly claimed that we have become tired enough as a nation that we are prepared to give it away. We can only hope that those not so tired are developing secrets for a new day and are young and serious enough to keep them secret.

The visitors scored a couple runs but we're the home team.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

intelligent life out there

I have been researching a company that I am hoping to do business with
when I came across the owner's blog. He is in the middle of
writing a book about his business philosophy, and so far I have
enjoyed everything that he has written. In fact, I have argued a
number of the points that he makes with people in the past year. The
company is an answering service, based in Oregon, that pays the highest
salary in the industry. He says this is one of the primary reasons for
his great success.

Hopefully I'll talk to him tonight, and let you know more about him

Monday, October 16, 2006

no tzavei

The shul I used to daven at in Detroit had a lot of idiosyncrasies.
One of them is that for hakofos, each hakafa was only one song (if I
remember correctly). I've never seen that anywhere else, especially
not at the shul I daven at now, where the song changes every minute
and a half. One hakafa in Detroit was always tzavei yeshuas yainkiv,
which seemed to be the rabbi's favorite. Here, they didn't even sing
tzavei once.
One of the cool things about hakafos here is that I now have a chazaka
on chazunus for ozer dalim (not on purpose, as far as I can tell)

Sukkos fun

I'm back at work after an exciting week of holiday fun. We did something almost every day and as holidays go, this one was exhausting.
The Israeli branch of my family came up for the first days (yes, days - they stayed for some of chol hamoed too). My brother-in-law had a baby the week before, so they were convalescing with his wife's family. So, including us we had 14 (+2 on the way) in the Sukka it was a nice party. The kids all wanted to sleep in the sukka, but I didn't want to turn off the lights early because that would disrupt the traditional sukka scrabble game, so I built another sukka on the mirpeset upstairs for sleeping.
We started our tiyuling on Friday morning with a jaunt down nachal keziv. We made it all the way to the springs and we were the only ones there, so it was nice and enjoyable. The kids wanted to go into the cave, but we forgot to bring a flashlight.
The first day of chol hamoed, we went all the way to the Lebanese border in Metulla, to the Good Fence. We weren't sure why it was called that, but when we drove right up to it a young soldier with a large rifle pointed at us signalled us to turn around. We then did the nachal Iyun hike. Nachal Iyun has 4 waterfalls, but they were all dry because it is the end of the season, though I heard the Hizbani is full of water and this was dry because the Lebanese are diverting our water, which is odd because last I heard they were diverting the water of the Hizbani.
After that intense hour and a half nature walk, we decided to go to the Ein Zeitim JNF park where the kids played for a couple hours. That night we had our shul's simchat beit hashoeva with the famous invei hagefen band playing. From what I heard it was much better then Mosh ben ari who was playing that night at the agam. My brother and sister-in-law went to that one. Mosh, by the way, is spelled mem vav shin in hebrew. I once met a guy named maish and his name was spelled mem aleph yud shin. (These are all nicknames for moshe. It's just funny seeing them spelled as nicknames in Hebrew).
The next day we spent at the agam, where there was a huge "happening." Happening is a Hebrew word that means event. So the kids got to see a lousy magic show, which they enjoyed, and jump on jumping toys. My oldest also got to do Omega (a zip line). Then the kids made kites and tried to fly them. Subliminal and Hetzel played at the agam that night and my sister went. Some people thought it was "veHaTzal (and the shadow)" and not hetzel, but in any case my sister reported that there was no shadow or hetzel anywhere to be seen. Tuesday morning we made our pilgrimage to Jerusalem. We spent 3 hours in the old city doing absolutely nothing and the kids weren't bored for a second. There was just so much happening every 3 steps you take. We also got to hang out with my cousin who is learning in seminary in Jerusalem for the year, and that was fun. That night we went to a huge concert in Bet Shemesh and heard Pay Daled, Shlomo Katz and Chaim David before we decided the kids had had !
enough. We also got to see my new neice and her parents and an old high school friend who made aliyah to ramat bet shemesh recently. Unfortunately, I didn't see Rafi G's message until we got back home so we didn't hook up. (we were the one's on the boys side of the mechitza, right next to the mechitza, about 20 feet from the end.) We slept at my brother's place in Modiin.
Wednesday we went to Neot Kedumim, where we had heard there was an exhibition of all the sukkas mentioned in the mishna. We hadn't heard that before the exhibition there was a two hour biblical nature walk. I really enjoyed the biblical nature walk, though we didn't bring enough water or food for the wife and kids. What made the nature walk biblical is that when the Jews returned to Israel they didn't find a lot of the vegetation that was listed in the torah and prophets. In this park they planted all the plants and trees listed in the Torah and put up signs with the sources. They have a couple of other historical mishnaic/talmudic exhibits, for example they have a little lake in the middle of the park and on the shore they have a water screw that brings water from the lake to the mikva and the argument about whether that is kosher for a mikva or not is noted on a sign there. They also had an esrog orchard and the signs said do not pick the etrogim. Other signs said, "A stol!
en etrog is no good."

We then headed for home, though the kids still hadn't eaten anything all day. I decided to stop on the beachfront in Netanya to get them a bite to eat. For some reason they all wanted to eat pasta, but they didn't have a kids menu so I asked the waitress about the size of the portions. The waitress was quite large and when she said that a single portion generally fills her up, I was satisfied that if I bought 2 portions for 3 kids that would be enough. Apparantly my children eat more then the waitress because they were not filled up by the meal and I had to order them a pizza to go as well. They also forgot to bring my sandwich. I recommend NOT going to SALSA PIZZA AND PASTA in Netanya, it is a bad place.
Thursday we went to the Achziv beach, which has a nice inlet for the kids to play in.
Friday, we relaxed at home.

Simchas Torah was very nice, we ate dinner with 10 other families. Our kids were very tired and cranky, but it was nice company. The singing and dancing was very nice. In Israel, the 2 minhagim of chul for Simchas Torah, to drink and do shtick, haven't caught on yet.

Now we're back to regular life.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

thought of the day

If a beinish is a ben yeshiva then a bat ulpana must be a batula.

The sukos post should be up tomorrow.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

holidays and festivals

I work on the 5th floor of a 6 floor building. They just started renovations of the 6th floor and it is driving me crazy. It is like chinese water torture listening to a guy with a hammer on top of my head going, bang, bang, bang, bang. Then it stops and the drills starts dhrew pause dhrew pause dhrew etc. I can't concentrate on what I'm soing and I'm developing a headache. Work is very understanding and they bought everyone earphones. The problem is they are like a sensory deprivation device and I feel like I'm not really here when I'm wearing them and then I get nauseous for some reason, so I can't handle wearing them.

Thank God vacation starts this evening and I will be gone for the entire week to celebrate Sukkos.

Lats night I finished stabilizing the sukka and put on the schach. I had to cut down some large braches that we on top of the sukkah, and they went on top of the schach. Now we just have to decorate.

There are a ton of festivals going on in the galil over the holiday. Mosh someone who people have actually heard of is playing at the agam on Sunday night. To see a list of festivals in the north you can go visit

One of the random weird things that crossed my mind while I was thinking about galilean festivals over sukkot was yeravam ben nivat. He didn't want people going to Jerusalem for the holidays, as is appropriate, so he put up his own temples with golden calves so that people would worship God where they were. This was considered a very bad thing. I would recommend heading down to Jerusalem for a quick prayer at the wall even if you are planning on coming up north for some ejoyable vacation time. We will probably be heading down to Bet Shemesh for the shemeshfest to hear shlock rock or chaim david or one of the countless other bands (depending on which day and time we actually go). That way we will be able to visit my new niece as well.

My boss asked me if I was sleeping in the sukkah this year, so I told him I wasn't sure. He said, "but it's a once a year mitzva, my children sleep in the sukka every year" (you gotta love the secular). Sleeping in the sukka will depend on the weather and the children. The children would like to, so it depends on how well they behave. I may put up a quick sukka on the mirpeset upstairs, so they can sleep out there and still be in the house.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

been atoned

Green oranges (??) are now in season and they just don't rank.

Yom Kippur went pretty well, I davened well, didn't eat or drink and took my oldest daughter with me for the last 3 hours so she wouldn't fight with her siblings.
Part of the viduy (confession) inclues a line that says "we were Hamas." I didn't think that I was Hamas this past year. Or was I? What is being Hamas? Is it only about hating and killing Jews because they are Jews? I didn't do any of that this year. Even though I didn't fully understand how I was Hamas, if it said in the book that I did it, then I must have and I was very sorry about it. Except that saying that I was Hamas gives them a more human face. If I was Hamas and I wasn't so bad, then maybe they really aren't so bad and they just get a bad rap. Except that they are that bad, and I was not, so maybe I should skip the line about being Hamas.
In the end I confessed that I was Hamas about 20 times. Then God forgave all my sins. Even for being Hamas.

I must have missed something with this whole Amish school shooting. I just don't understand why the little amish boys didn't take out their rifles and shoot the guy.

My sukka is standing, somehow miraculously it didn't fall down even though when I arrived home last night, both sides were standing at a 60 degree angle. I tell you it is God's own hand that holds up the sukka. Tonight I will finish it so I can get to all the other projects I need to do. We're having a big party for the first couple days, as the whole Israeli family is coming up north. We're thinking of Nachal Kziv on Friday, as a nice practice hike and then Nachal Iyun, (up near Metulla) with its 4 waterfalls on Sunday morning.
Here's hoping for good weather.