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Things that bite: hysteria, truth, tips

A black widow spider's bite can cause serious reactions.Snakes, yes (previous post, recent article).

And black widow spiders (article).

And scorpions (article) (they are apparently “overflowing” with poison this month “after their long winter slumber” - sheesh).  There are 21 varieties of dangerous scorpions in Israel. The riskiest are the yellow ones and the black ones with large tails.

And, um, jellyfish (article)??? 

I know, they don’t bite… but still.  Ick!  Ouch!

The article about jellyfish calls this type “wired wanderers” – but when I google the species, only that one article comes up, which makes me think they made up the name. 

In any event, this significantly SMALLER article doesn’t name the species, but does debunk some of the hysteria over giant killer jellyfish that has apparently been rampant throughout Israel. 

“Even though there are killer jellyfish in other parts of the world, Spanier said, the "possibility is very low" that Israelis are at risk. The sting of the non-lethal variety of jellyfish causes minor burns, which tend to go away within the hour as long as they are treated correctly.”

What to do about it???

Well, not much, besides cower indoors or in big cities.

Magen David Adom suggests that you “wear high-topped shoes and long pants when [entering] areas with tall grasses and rocks.”  Also, when you’re camping you should “shake out clothing, shoes, sleeping bags and tents to remove any dangerous creatures.”  How ‘bout we just not camp, okay?

If you’ve been bit:

  • What bit you?
    • Snake:  take its picture (including its skin pattern) – to blog about it, of course!  Ha ha ha, no, to give to the people who are trying to save your life after you’ve been bitten.  Call Magen David Adom – phone number 101 – and do whatever they tell you to do.
    • Spider:  Rinse with water and soap, cool the area with ice. If there is significant swelling or pus, fever, vomiting, muscle or abdominal pain, excessive sweating or black or blue areas around the bite – or if things get worse over 24 hours – seek medical help.  Most Israeli spiders are not dangerous, except the Mediterranean recluse, which has a white violin-shaped pattern on its back and lives indoors and the less common black widow, which is is small and shiny black with red spots on its back, and usually lives outdoors.
    • Scorpion:  note its colour and tail size.  Call Magen David Adom – phone number 101 – and do whatever they tell you to do.
    • Jelly:  pour vinegar or salt water over the affected area.  If you develop allergic symptoms, call Magen David Adom – phone number 101 – and do whatever they tell you to do.  Take comfort in the fact that you haven’t, technically, been “bitten.”
  • Never suck toxin from the wound
  • Do not cut the skin to remove it
  • Do not use a tourniquet or cool the area (except for a spider bite; see above)
  • Do not give the victim alcohol.
  • Do not try to catch it.  Okay!
  • Stay as quiet as possible; do not let a victim (like yourself) move.

This is a way better list than I could have come up with on my own.  My own list would likely have included “action items” such as:

  • Scream
  • Cry
  • Blame Ted
  • Stomp around violently in a random and possibly deadly attempt to kill whatever it was that hurt me
  • Cry some more
  • Blame the children
  • Try olive oil on the wound
  • Cry a lot
  • Die –?

So there you go – listen to the experts and you’ll be okay, all summer long, until those critters stomp back into their caves, or wherever they lurk all winter, to recharge their poison supplies and come back to get you a few months later…

Slight change of plans

imageNo, we’re still coming!  Or going (depending on where you are and how you look at it).  But it looks like we may have a slightly different (short-term) destination.

Nefesh b’Nefesh have expanded the “Go North” region to include Haifa and its “krayot” – a bunch of suburbs that are all called “Kiryat” Something (= Something-town). 

And although we were planning to go straight to the Merkaz Klitah (absorption centre) in Karmiel, at the last minute, we were offered a place in the Merkaz Klitah in Kiryat Yam, one of these krayot.  And while the Karmiel MK offered us only a couple of weeks – eek!  during which time we’d have to scramble to find a home – the one in Kiryat Yam has said we could stay longer; from 2 to 5 months.

Actually, to be very honest, these events happened in the reverse order:  we were offered the place in Kiryat Yam, we considered it (and checked with Nefesh b’Nefesh to be sure!) and ultimately said no because it wasn’t in the Go North region.   Then I got an email saying they had expanded the Go North region, so I emailed the Jewish Agency back saying, “yes, please!” to Kiryat Yam.


  1. It’s not Karmiel, and it’s not a town we would probably consider living in.
  2. No religious schools nearby – the kids will have to travel daily to Kiryat Shmuel, another of the krayot, about 20-30 minutes’ walk away.
  3. Not our ultimate destination – this will probably mean transferring schools mid-year.


  1. Ulpan onsite – however, they only offer level alef (the first level), so I may have to travel to another ulpan, unless I am also at the alef level, which may indeed be the case.  I’m not saying my Hebrew is so great, just that it’s better than Ted’s, so if he’s alef… well, maybe I’m alef-and-a-half.
  2. Other resources onsite  - and hopefully, assistance with some of the mundanities of day-to-day life
  3. Reduced rent – the downside of this is losing part of the first-year rent subsidy that is part of your sal haklitah (immigrant benefits)
  4. Meeting other immigrants – the downside of this is that, from what I understand, most of the olim here are from Ethiopia, which isn’t a downside in and of itself, simply that they will have had a very different experience from ours.
  5. The train!  Is nearby!  I love this one.  Easy to get to Yerushalayim and other parts of the country, easy for Elisheva and others to find us.
  6. The city!  Is nearby!  I love this, too.  I am a city girl, through and through, and I’ve been sad about leaving big city life behind.  Haifa isn’t Toronto, and Kiryat Yam isn’t Haifa, but it’s a whole lot more exiting than most of the small towns in Northern Israel.  Not saying I don’t still want to end up there, but there it is... while we’re getting our sea legs, it may be reassuring.
  7. Employment -  shamefully, I forgot to mention this when I first posted last night.  Parnassah (earning a living) is important.  No matter where we end up living in the north, Haifa is a centre of employment and it will be handy to be there for a number of reasons.

File:Downtown Haifa, Israel at night.jpg

(downtown Haifa at night)

Here’s a view of the Merkaz Klitah from a distance:


It’s right on the Mediterranean, which sounds pretty deluxe to my Canadian ears, but I’ve heard that Kiryat Yam is the most run-down of the krayot.  Also, nothing about life in a merkaz klitah is “deluxe” anything. 

And finally, “situated right on the Mediterranean” means that the air will contain a shockingly high percentage of that healthful Mediterranean water – exactly the kind of humidity I had hoped to avoid.  (Right now, the temperatures are in the high 20s, with a humidity around 60-some-odd percent.)

Still – we think and hope and pray that it will be a good thing.

The view next door (beyond the palm trees is the Mediterranean):


Meanwhile, looking up the Merkaz Klitah in Google StreetView, I happened to notice a little drama playing out in front of the main gate…

These people are getting out of some sort of car with a shopping cart full of suitcases – all their earthly possessions, or at least, whatever didn’t fit into their lift.

Cruising slowly past on the Google camera-car…




I don’t know who these people are, and this little drama played itself out, according to Google, in October 2011.  I hope by now he/she/they have found a happy “forever home” in the holy land.

Im yirtzeh Hashem by us!

Everything you wanted to know #5: Appliances and voltages

I asked:

Every site says different things on transformers vs converters and kitchen appliances. I know it's been asked many times before, so I just want personal experiences: what small kitchen appliances did you bring, what did you run them on, and how well did they work (& how long did they last)???

And luckily for you, if you’re looking to this site for answers, smarter people than I am actually responded!!!

  • ask me again on a weekday, please [I posted this question on a Friday morning here – ie late afternoon in Israel!]
  • Personally, I'm not one for transformers. Never owned or used one. If you have an almost new, expected to last a decade or more appliance that's one thing, but otherwise get appliances that will be good for Israel, even if the price seems high. I'm here over 40 years. Transformers aren't free either, and some appliances don't work that well with them. Also, don't overstock on clothes, tablecloths etc. You'll need more closets and more space. They also cost money.
  • I agree…!
  • To be honest I would try to sell your 110 v appliances and buy new top quality 220v ones - go to the 220v store up North and check out prices there and buy from there and put on your lift. WE bought a 220v immersion blender for Pesach more than 6 years ago there and I am still using it!!! It's now chametzdig and dairy
  • I agree… . I didn't come with any appliances at all. Of course, I came marrying into a family here. But even what Rebecca brought over didn't last very long. Nothing more than 5 years. Transformers are great for a once in a while use, like the iron that we use perhaps 5-6 times a year. For things used often, it does shorten the appliance's life span. Better to put 220 stuff on your lift, or buy it here.
  • I agree - buy 220 there and ship it here- because it's being shipped, it doesn't get taxed (in Ontario). We use all the kitchen appliances we used to use- but more often (there is fresh food here so we make more of the stuff that we used to buy over there- we make the baby food, the sauces etc..)
  • For small appliances, you can check the price of 220V appliances in Israel on websites like,, and compare to the cost of bringing a 220V appliance from the US.
    for large appliances, take into consideration that appliances bought in Israel will have local service and warranty, and be appropriate for Israeli conditions - e.g. washers that heat their own water (only a small amount needed) instead of having to heat up the whole water heater so washer can take from it.  [This seems like a good rule of thumb] In general, a transformer might be good for an occasional appliance that you really like, but best to avoid them if you can get a 220V appliance to do the job. also the transformer can convert voltage but not cycles, which can be relevant for some appliances. and they are not supposed to be used for electronic equipment or high-wattage appliances.
  • It might be a bit premature to show up with appliances. They say that the electricity will finally arrive here in 2016.  [What a joker – I hope!]

But seriously… the blender is kind of new, so that hurts a bit.  And the hand blenders, and the mixers, and the Pesach mixer.  But the hardest is my beloved Cuisinart, although… precious as it is, is definitely on its last legs.  I just searched for the post where I blogged about it when it was a brand-new birthday present and discovered that it is older than one of my children (bought for my birthday, I guess eight years ago?).  So I guess they will have to go.

I think the kind of appliances people say to buy and ship are LARGE appliances, which we will definitely need to buy sooner rather than later (even if you’re renting, apartments generally come without any appliances).  But what I was asking about was mainly the small ones, so I guess we will have to buy them when we arrive … or do without. :-(

I suspect that we will be hemorrhaging money for the better part of the first year…

Addendum:  Computers and Power Supplies:

Two late-breaking comments were particularly important so I wanted to add them – actually, this is one issue I researched early on because I just bought a new desktop back in December…

  • However, some electronic equipment, such as a computer or router, might have a power supply that can work on either 110V or 22V input.

  • BTW we brought our computer, monitor and printer as well as our video camera - all of the worked fine with just an adapter (but make sure you switch your CPU to 220 v setting - otherwise you will blow the transformer and lose everything :)

So there you have it – the definitive responses… from actual folks who have been there and done that.

When you can’t pretend…


… that everybody is going to fly over to see you in your new home in Israel.


Ted’s parents (white shirt, red shirt) should live and be well for many more years.  But they are not entirely young and not entirely healthy.

They’re not getting on a plane. 

It was wonderful that they came to visit us in Toronto once (twice?), but even that, 5 hours on a train, was a shlep.  Twelve hours on a plane – a plane which doesn’t fly direct from Ottawa, where they have lived for their entire married life – well, that isn’t happening.

Sometimes, goodbye is goodbye.

I am definitely getting off easier in this department.  My mother is more than a decade younger than Ted’s parents.  She travels.  She went to Europe on her own; she drives around Ontario, hops onto buses with tour groups.  Wonderful!

And I’ve been after my sisters for years that they need to get over to Israel; hopefully, this will be a push in the right direction. 

Actually, Ted’s brother beat them – he and my brother-in-law (taking the picture above!) spent a big chunk of time yesterday sharing pictures and memories of their Israel trip 18 years ago.  They’ve been there, done that, back when I was still not sure whether I ever wanted to go.  Of course, their trip included quite a few Christian sites, as will Ted’s sister’s when she gets over there to see us.  I’ll be happy to show her around if I can.

Despite the bittersweetness, they did pull together a very classy send-off, including a completely surprising (cuz his birthday’s in over 2 months!) 50th birthday party for Ted yesterday.

Hard to muster great big happy smiles – but we sure saw plenty of them this weekend.


Very happy that everybody at that end has Skype and is actually figuring out how to use it… hopefully, we’ll keep those beloved faces grinning for many years to come.