Sunday, July 29, 2007

gan hashlosha

Mazel Tov. My sister got engaged on Friday afternoon to a nice Jerusalem boy (American born) named shlomo. This was the official engagement announcement, prior to that they had agreed to get married but would not call it engaged as my parents had not spoken to the boy yet and you can't marry a girl without asking a father for his daughter's hand. So they had a couple weeks of that awkward stage of being more then just dating but less then actually getting married.

This Friday we went to a place in the Bet Shaan valley called Gan Hashlosha. Gan Hashlosha is pretty much an oasis in one of the hottest places in Israel. There are huge pools of water and waterfalls that you can sit under. We spent 3 hours swimming there and the girls actually showed me that they know how to swim. We went into water that was probably 12 feet deep and we swam the length of the largest pool (Not all at once, we did stop at a number of places on the way).

I am reading Harry Potter 6 right now. I like to read what my daughter is reading so I know what she is up to and I don't think she is ready for this book yet. Book 5 started with the whole boy/girl relationship, and book 6 is not really taking it that much farther, but ... I have to come up with a good age that it would be ok for her to read about dating/kissing someone because you are mad at someone else.

Monday, July 23, 2007

tisha b'av

The 9 days culminates today with the 9th day of Av. The day that the bais hamikdashes were destroyed. The day that the Jews in the desert cried for no reason so God said (what parents everywhere have been repeating since then), "I'll give you a reason to cry."

For those of you fasting, have an easy fast.
For those of you saying kinos, try to actually read an entire one with the translation. Maybe it will talk to you.
(For those of you who don't know what kinos are it is the main cause for depression on tisha b'av Reading ancient depressing poetry that we don't understand.)

For those of you who are not doing anything for tisha b'av, please take a couple minutes and reflect on the state of Judaism as it exists today.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Day 4

Warning: Religious Post

Do bad things really happen specifically during the 9 days? I was discussing this with my brother who got into a car accident. He wanted to know what I thought about those people who got a "pass" during the 9 days and nothing bad happened to them.
Here is part of my general philosophy (I've heard bits and pieces of this floating around various rabonim, so it isn't completely made up) - If you include God in your life and attribute events that occur towards his presence then God makes his presence more visible. If you attribute events that occur to coincidence and you take a more natural approach to life, then God's presence is not as visible to you.
In other words, part of our freedom of choice includes whether we live a spiritual life or a natural life. One story that exemplifies this freedom of choice happened a number of years ago before we moved to Israel. We were in Toronto for shabbos and someone smashed my car window. It cost me $250 to fix and a bit of aggravation. We drove back home without further incident until we got to the border. My wife gave the border guard her temporary resident papers and he looked at it and said that it was expired. We talked to him for a bit and he said this time he would let us go, but normally it would be a $250 fine. I was struck by the fact that God had let me know in no uncertain terms that I had to lose $250 that weekend. It didn't matter whether it happened by my car being broken, bad paperwork or the refrigerator breaking.
However, it is just as easy (or maybe easier) to not relate the 2 events at all. Bad Luck on the car (what did you expect from Canadian hoolums), Good Luck with the border guards (they did admit that the immigration office was 2 months behind in their paperwork so there was no way for us to have gotten the current documentation).

I believe that if this time you say they are unrelated then you have chosen to diminish God's presence in your life and therefore the next time he won't make it as obvious. (ie the border guard will just let you pass without giving you a hassle and telling you how much you would have had to pay.) If you attribute it to God then you have chosen to increase Gods presence in your life. That lets you more easily see the connection between 2 events in a spiritual way.

During the 9 days, God spits at people, but only those people who have chosen to have God in their life will know that they got spat on. Not everyone gets spat on, but those that do got spat on because of the 9 days. Those that don't include God in their lives are more or less ignored by God. Personally, I prefer God to be involved all the time and I am willing to take 9 days of getting spit on in return for getting taken care of the rest of the year. We have lots of examples where things just happened to occur at exactly the right time or didn't occur until we absolutely needed them. (Like finding a job the week we ran out of money)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 3

I called a friend last night in California. They lived in Israel for a number of years, he joined a kolel that teaches kiruv and then they send the kolel families to places out of Israel in need of Torah. I actually hadn't talked to him since they moved away, though I have thought about them and wondered how they were doing. Last month his mother died, and I called during shiva to make a shiva call. The problem with making a shiva call to someone you haven't talked to in a while is that you feel like a real shmuck. It's as if you only call because you feel some sort of obligation, and then when you call you can't ask how he's doing or any of the other things you would have talked about if you had called at a normal time because the answer is he's feeling lousy and he thinks life sucks at the moment. So I called, spent an uncomfortable minute on the phone, offered my condolences and hung up. It's not the first time that I've made a shiva call to an oldl friend who I hadn't talked to in a while, s I decided on a policy that after a month or so I would call the friend back and talk to him about normal things.
I got his cell phone number and a good time to call him from his wife, who I saw online one day. Then I put off calling him for 2 weeks because I was busy until last night I decided that I was going to call. I waited until 11PM which is lunch time in California and I called him. I said hi and asked him how he was doing. He sounded a bit stressed and said, "You probably didn't hear the news" I asked what news. He said he was on his way to a funeral. His grandmother passed away that morning. Now I felt like a double shmuck, so I quickly said, I guess this is a bad time and I will call back another time.

Day 3 of the 9 days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 2 and counting

I was talking to someone at work about the ways that we are sad during the 9 days, he had never considered things this way before so I thought I would share them with my readers as well.
1) We don't eat meat. This is to remind us of the korban shlomim, which was considered the ultimate happiness.
2) We don't listen to live music. This is to remind us of the levites who would sing in concert every day.
3) We don't go into water for pleasure. This is to remind us of the water that we entered to become spiritually pure before entering the Beis haMikdash (BhM).
4) We don't drink wine because of the wine that was poured on the altar.

Joe Settler wrote on the Muqata blog that he has a hard time with forced seasonal emotions, such as becoming sad during the 9 days. In a lot of ways he is correct because in our reality nothing has changed from last week to this week. There was no BhM then and there is no BhM now.
What we are doing by adding on these symbols of sadness is more then just making our lives less comfortable, we are putting the things that we are missing in front of us and saying, look this is what we used to have and we don't have it anymore.

With that you can begin to feel the loss, not because of an artificial forced sadness, but a sadness based on a reality check that we imposed on ourselves so that we remember what we lost.

Monday, July 16, 2007

8 dairy dinners

The 9 days before tisha b'av started last night. The past two years we had real tisha b'av experiences (as the deejays on the radio say "לא עלינו").
Last year, we got bombed. We lived as refugees in Jerusalem. Of course we did the refugee bit Jewish style, as friends and family took care of us pretty well.
The year before we were in Jerusalem for the fast and we decided to go back home in the middle of the day.
The first thing we noticed as we left the old city was our flat tire.
It went on from there.
This year we are hoping to have a meaningful, but uneventful tisha b'av.

Last night we went to a goodbye party for friends who are going to England for 3 years. I believe the concept is to help build the connection between Israel and out of Israel. I spoke of Jeremiah and exile and how appropriate this was to send them off during the 9 days. An Israeli spoke about what a great opportunity this was and how this is the best thing that could happen to anyone.
Different perspectives. I suppose if I hadn't lived in America I would probably want to experience the life outside of Israel. They are planning on coming back eventually, but 3 years is a long time and their kids will be teenagers when they are ready to return. It will be a tough adjustment both ways.

I was planning on going to a meeting of the local tzedaka group because we really want to get more involved and they asked us to come. Dinner was scheduled for 8:00 PM and the meeting was at 8:45. I figured that it is an Israeli meeting, it won't start until 9:15 and if I get there before 10 I will be there for most of it. That would have been fine, except that dinner works the same way as meetings and the Israelis didn't show up until 8:30 and then the women didn't like the way the table was set, so we went for a walk on the beach until they got it all set up... we left at 1/4 to eleven because of our babysitter and I completely missed the meeting.
It was a nice dinner and I got an electric sander from the guy leaving. In Hebrew it is called a mishayefet.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I had a fight with a guy at work on Thursday. He thought that it was entirely appropriate to ask me to do his work for him because he was very busy. Except that he didn't exactly ask me to do his work, he replied to an email that someone sent him that they should come to me to solve the problem and I would change the process if it needed it. I looked at the system from the perspective of the developer and it all looked like it was working. The problem was that the user didn't fully understand the process. So I said to the guy, the system looks fine to me and the user doesn't know what needs to be changed, if you would like any changes please send me a detailed change request specifying what you want. He replied to my email that he would expect that for small things I would know what to do on my own. I still had no idea what he was talking about, so I went to him and asked him to open up the screen and I asked him what I am supposed to know how to do on my own. It all looked normal. He said well if there was no problem then you should just explain to her how the system works. So I asked him if he had looked at this at all when she asked him the question. He replied that he figured there was a possibility that it was a system problem and even if it wasn't, at least I know how to use the system so I could explain how it works. I explained to him that I was also busy and that I would expect him to look at the issue and then decide if it is a bug in the system before sending a user to me. He failed to grasp the concept that we each have our own jobs and that I am just as busy as he is. If this had been the only time that he asked me to do his job that would be one thing, but its not. On previous occassions he has asked me to make sure the equipment in the conference room was working every time he had a meeting. I told him where the batteries were for the wireless keyboard, if he needed to switch them, and he sent back a nasty response. So I suggested that he should check everything an hour before his meeting and if there was a problem that he couldn't deal with then he could come to me and then it wouldn't be a problem in the middle of a meeting.
In any case, we yelled at each other for 15 minutes and then I went and discussed it with our boss. He agreed with me that it was inappropiate for the other guy to keep trying to pass off his tasks onto me. And today he had a 45 minute talk with him. At the end he said to me, it seems like he wasn't trying to pass off tasks to you, he just doesn't understand the line between your job and his. (We work in completely different areas.)

Tonight we are goin out to dinner with a couple that is going on shlichut to England for 3 years. Shlichut is when an Israeli family goes to "israelify" an area of "out of israel" and convince them to move to Israel. This family doesn't speak any English, so their absorption will be almost as amusing as ours was here. Because the 9 days starts today, we are going out for dairy :-(

Monday, July 09, 2007


Apparently, my anniversary was on Shabbos. I found out Friday afternoon about an hour before shabbos (when my mother called to wish me a happy anniversary) and I couldn't even go out and get my wife flowers because all the stores were closed. In my defense, nobody bothered to remind me.
10 years.
I've been with my wife for almost 1/3 of my life.
One question that people ask married people is what they think is the most important aspect in a marriage.
The answers that I have heard include the following:
  • communication.
  • who controls the money
  • individuality
  • common goals
  • food
  • sex
What I have found most interesting is that husbands and wives very often come up with exact opposites of what is the most important. For example, I believe that the most important thing in a marriage is not to hate your spouse. My wife believes that it is love. (I am more practical.) I have heard wives say that communication is the most important thing while the husbands say, it's better when we don't talk. Personally, communication does not rank on my list of relevant things about a marriage.

Anyways, we went out to a fancy restaurant last night to celebrate the occasion, Decks in Tiberias. There we feasted on lamb ribs, lamb steak and lamb kabob. For drinks we had the lemonana slushies and for dessert the pancake. The drink and the pancake were more then 1/3 of the bill. I would recommend to anyone going, to forgo dessert and drink water. If you are still hungry have another piece of steak for 35 shekel.

After dinner we headed down to the kibbutz lavi hotel for what has become an annual tradition. No silly. We visited people there. We actually got 2 for the price of one, because while we were sitting down and shmoozing (My spell checker says shmooze has a c in it, but what does it know) , Rabbi J walked in and sat down with us, which was a big surprise for both of us.
It's always fun watching rabbis network.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

daughter at work

Yesterday, I brought my daughter to work. I had a vry good reason for doing this, it was my wife's turn to have the 2nd daughter's friends over in the mother's camp she is part of and we didn't want the older daughter fighting with all of them and bossing them around.
We have stuff for children to do at work, we have 2 computers dedicated for children and YES, satellite television. As an aside, I read an article a while ago about how the russian olim relate to the television options. Russians read an H like we read an N, so from their perspective there are 2 options, "YES" and "NOT."
I didn't want my daughter using the children's computer, because it is in an office not near anyone and she likes to search the Internet. I'm not worried that she will look for inappropriate things, but I am worried that she will find them by accident. So I grabbed a spare computer and set it up in my office (one of the advantages of being the IT manager) and gave her enough desk space to color and do whatever she wanted to do.
It took her a couple hours before she got bored, but she was very good and we went out for lunch together. My wife asked her what I do all day at work and she said I write emails and talk to people (which is moistly what I do, I suppose) .

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


The telemedicine deal went through!!!!!
The work is part time and can be done concurrently with another job.
If you know any doctors who are licensed in the following states and would like
to augment their income, have them send their CVs and/or any questions to

Feel free to post this message on your blog or forward it to your friends if you would like to help olim doctors.

You do not need to live in Israel to apply.

Immediate Needs:
New Hampshire

Monday, July 02, 2007

north american olim statistics

My brother called me up today and asked me hwo to figure out the average of olim from north america, given statistics he got from the Department of Absorption. I told him the average was 28. He still wanted to figure it out statistically, so I gave him a suggestion as to breaking down the categories and figuring it out with the numbers.
He called me 10 minutes later and said the average was 28 and he wanted to know how I knew. I told him that I made aliyah when I was 28 and since the world revolves around me, there couldn't be any other answer.

Next Sunday I'm meeting a future oleh in the high tech field so that he can network with me before making aliyah. I did this before I made aliyah, I met with a bunch of random people and I learned absolutely nothing. So I thought about what I could possibly tell this guy that would make it worth his time to come up to Haifa and talk with me. I realized that the only thing I have to tell him is that there are a lot of available jobs in Israel and that he can ignore anybody who tells him there aren't.

nice day for a picnic

Today is our company picnic, which should be a lot of fun. We had a company picnic 3 years ago and they made the whole thing treif, except for our family the caterer bought glatt kosher meat, special grill utensils and a separate grill, opened the packages in front of me and showed me . If I had known I wouldn't have gone. But I didn't know and we had a very good time, except for telling the children they couldn't eat most of the food and that they had to eat on paper while everyone else ate on china. (Why they would have fancy china in a forest picnic is beyond me, but they did).
This year we have 4.5 kosher people (minimum) and so they are making the whole thing kosher. We are also having the picnic before the 3 weeks start, which is also good religious-wise. Go Jews.

I didn't post yesterday before I left, so....
The picnic was very nice. We got there first (on time) so my kids got to run wild through the forest and claim it as their own before any other children got there. The activity was a competition between a number of groups in which we had to use team-building skills and intelligence to complete a number of physical and intellectual tasks. On example was we were standing on a rug (8 of us) and we had to turn it completely upside-down without stepping off of the rug. It included having everyone jump at the same time a number of times so we could pull out the part of the rug they were standing on.
The food was excellent.

Now that the President has resigned and we are stuck with peres as president it has been revealed that the main complainant consistently lied throughout the investigation. This is the reason the police felt that couldn't win on a rape charge and settled on a plea bargain. Why Katsav agreed to the plea bargain is beyond me, but he must have felt that they had something. Maybe he didn't want all his dirty laundry to become more public then it already was. Now that he will only be convicted of sexual harassment, he can become vice premier. At least that is the position being offered to Haim Ramon (according to a ynet report), who was recently convicted of sexual misconduct. At least they're not offering him anything important. It is the position Sharon created to get peres off his back.