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New Apartment – Video Tour

From an email to my family / friends back in Toronto, mainly unedited…

So tonight is our last night in the Merkaz Klitah (absorption centre).  Here we are at the 6 month mark (nearly) and the next step of our adventure is beginning.

Yes, the apartment is tiny, but it is clean, if not spacious.  Still, I made these videos after dark and it all looks a bit grimy because of the bare-bulb lighting and cardboard boxes everywhere.

This video tour is presented by our 3 wonderful tour guides, each (kind of) more gracious than the next.  As always, the screaming and squabbling you have come to enjoy from our videos has not been edited out here.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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We are thinking of you and miss you all.


(saying goodbye to friends at the Merkaz Klitah… mischievous inquisitive little friends who asked 1000 times if we were coming back and where we were going, but still don’t quite seem to understand the concept…)

For English, press 4 – then speak Hebrew.

chashmal Every time you phone a big customer-service oriented company here in Israel, you get a menu that sounds something like this:  “Blah blah blah (in Hebrew), blah achat (1); blah blah blah (in Russian), blah dva (2); blah blah blah (in Arabic), blah blah (3)” and then, finally, in rich, plummy tones, “for English, press 4.”

So I press 4, right?  Because I speak E N G L I S H.  English is an option?  Yes, please!

And then you get some hold music, and maybe some announcements (in Hebrew) about how great their company is (or some such thing; I’m just guessing), and maybe they tell you how long you have to wait and what place you are in line (I like this feature).

And then… miracle of miracles, you are connected to the operator.

At which point they, say “Blah blah blah (in Hebrew), shalom!”  or “blah, blah, blah, blah, la’azor lachem?” (… help you?)

So remember, I pressed 4, for English.  So this is me:  “Medaber Anglit?” (Do you speak English?)

And the response – always, always, always:  “Lo.” (no)

Which is my cue to forge ahead because hey, I just sat waiting on hold.  So I stumble forward in my awkward Hebrew and eventually, either hang up, get hung up on, or (more and more these days) actually accomplish what I set out to accomplish, with Great Difficulty.

Great Difficulty which, I might add, could easily be avoided if they had an actual operator who spoke English, instead of just a guy they paid $20 to record a greeting that makes it sound like somebody there speaks English.

My Great Difficulty apparently matters little to Corporate Israel.

This rigmarole, this little English-speaker tease, has happened no less than THREE TIMES in the last 2 days, with three different, unrelated companies.  Three times, I have reached the goal only to find out that the promised English-speaker doesn’t exist. 

At one point, desperate to get my Internet working (and having already been on the line to both the Internet provider and the “sapak,” an additional company who basically takes your money in return for a password to access your Internet line), I demanded an English speaker. 

He said, “beseder” (okay) and then I heard him shouting across the room to someone else to find out if they spoke enough English to help me out.  He then put me on hold for five minutes, maybe to look for someone else.  Eventually, literally 10 minutes later, the “English speaker” came on the line.  Heavy on the quotation marks, as heavy as his accent.

image The fun part was that while I was waiting, I solved the Internet problem myself and the whole thing was working fine by the time the guy actually tried to introduce himself in English and find out what my problem was.  And then, it was almost harder for me to explain that I’d solved the problem myself in English that he’d understand than it would have been to work through the whole thing in Hebrew in the first place. 

(Why did I wait instead of hanging up?  Still Canadian, I guess.)

Not that my Hebrew is so fancy-wonderful anyway.  Today, one of the companies I called two days ago phoned back, in a weird customer service gesture, to find out if all my needs had been taken care of. 

Ha ha ha – I had ended up picking another company that at least put up with my linguistic idiocy. 

So I decided to actually give them a piece of my mind and explain that I hadn’t chosen them because they hadn’t been helpful.  Thinking fast (conjugating fast in my head!), I said what I hoped was “I found another company because you didn’t help me”… in Hebrew, “מצאתי חברה אחרת בגלל שאתם לא עזבתם אותי”. 

She said oh, okay, thanked me nicely, and wished me a good day.

Those who read Hebrew may have caught my typo (in my head, it was a think-o) already. It was only when I was off the phone that I realized I’d gotten one letter wrong

What I actually said was, “I found another company because you failed to abandon me.” 

The one-letter difference between עזבתם / azavtem, you abandoned, and, עזרתם / azartem, you helped… is, it turns out, the fine line between, “Dear sirs, I am a savvy consumer whose will moves mountains,” and “Dear sirs, kindly disregard every morsel of gibberish exuding from my malfunctioning brain.”

Which is, of course, probably what they were planning to do in the first place.

EDITED TO ADD:  See the comments section – I have been exonerated, slightly, by a very helpful reader.  (The first English word that came to mind was exuded, not exonerated, but luckily, I remembered the right word just in time.  Proof that my English is definitely slipping!)

A wonderful world without opposites

If you learned Hebrew as a kid, what kind of world did the language teach you about?

If a world can be described by its adjectives, let’s talk adjectives. 

Back in Hebrew school, they put a lot of effort into teaching us to describe things in neutral ways:  colours, and some opposites like גדול / big and  קטן / small.  And then, there were more judgmental descriptors like  טוב / good,  יפה / pretty / nice, חכם / smart / wise and, of course,  שמח / happy.

But I cannot for the life of me remember learning the opposites of all those wonderful-world adjectives… and I strongly suspect it’s because they didn’t teach them.

Ugly / מכוער?  Boring / משעמם?  Stupid / טיפש?  Terrible / גרוע?

Negative words are basically all new to me; most of the ones I know have only come since the last week or so of ulpan – basically, in the last month, after what has been, essentially, 35 years of learning Hebrew (albeit not non-stop). 

Even in ulpan, for the most part, they kept these “negative” words from us. 

To complain about something, for example, we learned the simple phrase  זה לא בסדר / it’s not okay.  Fair enough.  But it might be nice to be able to escalate things a bit, in case (God forbid) of something really bad, like a cancer diagnosis, or an eviction – This sucks.  It’s rotten.  I hate my life.

Need to tell the doctor you’re sick?  In ulpan, the phrase we learned for that is אני מרגישה לא טוב / I feel not good.  I don’t know about in Israel, but in Canada, you get better medical attention if you show up and say, I feel so wretched, I think I’m gonna die.  That’s the phrase I’d teach, probably.

Is this conscious?  Did somebody sat down at some point and said, “let’s make the Hebrew world a happy world, full of rainbows and smiles.”  Maybe it happens in all foreign-language instruction – teach the positives first.

But at some point, you’re going to have a day when you wake up and you’re not feeling בסדר / okay, or even ככה-ככה / so-so

Maybe you want to tell somebody, not that you נהנתי מאוד / enjoyed your vacation, but that you were מאוכזב / disappointed.

I think what’s needed here is a “dark side” ulpan, where they’d teach you how to kvetch, how to talk about the negatives, how to be angry, disgusted, sad in Hebrew.  How to describe things that are ugly and hypocritical and disappointing and evil.  Maybe throw in some cuss words, just for fun.

Even if I never try them on other Israelis, I definitely need more powerful words to spice up my own internal monologue. 

Otherwise, like yesterday, I find myself sitting, chilly, in a hurry, on a bus-stop bench, waiting 45 minutes for a bus that doesn’t come (when 2 each of the other 2 buses that stop there have already come and gone) and muttering over and over to myself like The Little Engine that Couldn’t, זה לא בסדר ,זה לא בסדר, זה לא בסדר… it’s not okay, it’s not okay, it’s NOT okay.

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny…

… little Israeli Euro-appliances!  (Hope you didn’t think I was going to say anything else)

For a grand total of about ₪4500 (including delivery and installation), all these marvellously teeny Euro-appliances are OURS.

Washing machine (5kg, which sounds awfully tiny to me, like 5 of the 1-kg bags of flour)…


Stove… they all have this lid thing on top, but I wanted a lid that wasn’t glass because no matter how much they tell you it doesn’t break – they haven’t met my kids.




Weird thing about fridges here.  Even cheap fridges in North America are frost-free, but here you have to pay extra if you don’t want the entire inside of the unit to turn into a solid block of ice.  We don’t, so I paid extra.

Someday soon, these will be delivered to our NEW APARTMENT… and then the apartment, which is itself teeny tiny, will be full.  Literally full, like with no space to move around.  Luckily, there’s a park across the street so I can kick the kids out.

Good Shabbos!

Cub reporter at work!

selfie  What, missed me, you say? 

I’ve been away from here this past week but busy, busy, busy in my REAL job of establishing myself as THE Canadian-Israeli Jewish writer.  As you may know – well, everyone in my world knows – I’ve spent the week covering Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper’s first-ever visit to Israel for the Canadian Jewish News.

Read my articles about the visit on the CJN site here:

Here’s a personal opinion piece I wrote during a break while we waited to go in and hear the prime ministers speak:

IMG_00003810Speaking of hearing prime ministers, why did nobody tell me how utterly, utterly charming Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu actually is in person? 

In pictures, on the news, he looks like nothing much, just a guy.  But in person, speaking in perfect, unaccented English, with his deep, plain-spoken, reassuring voice?  Nothing could be wrong with the world when a guy like this is in charge.

(That doesn’t mean I agree with him politically, but I do know that if he speaks anywhere near as well in Hebrew as he does in English, it is very obvious why he’s Prime Minister today.)

The way I see it, covering Harper’s visit has been a win-win for both me and the CJN. 

For me, in addition to an (admittedly small) paycheque, I earned some serious on-the-spot reporting experience, working on much tighter deadlines than usual, covering far more political topics than I usually handle.  As a writer, I couldn’t ask for a better apprenticeship, and being paid (a bit) to do it – well, that’s great, too. 

So how’s it a win-win?  The CJN is a low-budget organization, in the perilous position right now of pulling itself back from the brink of closure, where it hovered for a couple of months last summer.  No way they could pay the $2500-something to send a reporter over with the “official” media contingent; that honour was reserved for the Big Boys of Canadian media. 

IMG_00003812Yet at least they had the chance to have a reporter on the ground, covering their specific angle, which is far more positive (about Israel) and far more Jewish in focus than that of the regular media organizations.

Plus, I’m super-frugal!  They told me they’d cover expenses, but I just have to brag here that my total billed expenses for this entire 3-day cub reporter stint came to about $110 Canadian.  ₪74.80 round trip for the bus to Yerushalayim, ₪74.50 round trip for the train to Tel Aviv, and ₪200 for the night I spent in Yerushalayim.  That’s compared, again, to the $2500-something that the Prime Minister’s office wanted if we had to be part of the official media contingent (which didn’t include airfare).

Another win for me:  spending a few days with “real” journalists in their natural habitat.  I always feel like I’m more of a “writer” than a “journalist,” partly because of my lack of credentials, and partly because I tend to write more feature-y, fluff-type articles.  Also, I feel humbled and shy around people who know politics – always an area of mystery to me.

But I have news for you, world:  “real” journalists aren’t so smart either.  Seeing a bunch of them here in person convinced me of that.  They have some background knowledge, they know who the key players are (usually)… but I found out that a lot of that comes in the form of press releases and backgrounders, which the Canadian prime minister’s office put together and sent out at times hourly. 

Media professionals can also be prima donnas, whining and kvetching and demanding, and generally losing perspective on how ultimately insignificant their role is in the unfolding drama before them.  If their newsfeed doesn’t get through or they don’t check their Twitter feed every ten minutes, the world won’t come to an end. 

I hope not, anyway… I haven’t checked my Twitter feed in about six months.  I wonder what they’re saying about me???

What ever happened to FRUIT???


A few days old by now, but I took a picture because I couldn’t believe my eyes when GZ came home with this monstrosity from gan on Tu b’Shvat. 

I mean, sure, they take every opportunity to feed the children candy and sweets… I’d expected that when we came here.  But Tu b’Shvat?  A day to celebrate trees, and all good things that come from them?

I asked him if they made the cupcake in gan, and whether it perhaps had some connection to fruitiness.  Nope.  He shrugged, guessing that the ganenet had made it, and that it was chocolate cake.

Perhaps the brown cake represents soil.  Perhaps the gummy worms represent… well, worms.  And the flower?  That’s just plain cute.

But honestly, I think they could have done better in helping a kid appreciate his first Tu b’Shvat in this incredible land of milk, honey, and sweet dried fruits.

First, but not last: me, Immigrant Mom.

IMG_00003766  I got fed up with Israeli shoe stores the other day.  They’re terrible!  Everything’s expensive, with a limited selection of overpriced, weird-brand shoes.  I hate buying new shoes at the best of times, but in an Israeli shoestore?  Forget about it!

But Naomi Rivka needed a new pair, urgently, because she’s always telling us her feet hurt.  There’s nothing visible on the outside, but I suspect they hurt either because she wears Crocs all the time or, occasionally, her terrible pair of Israeli-shoestore model gym shoes.  (I blame the Crocs – I loved them at first, but now cannot wear them at ALL).

Happily, there’s a Payless shoe store in Lev HaMifratz, one of the big malls in Haifa, and we happened to be going past it yesterday on our way to get passport photos (finally!) from another mall.  In Canada, my attitude was always, if I have to buy retail, give me Payless.  I knew the one here was very similar, and carried the same (ie REAL, not Israeli) brands.

I wasn’t disappointed by the selection – but I was stumped, at first, by my Hebrew.

Problem was, I had no idea what size she needed.  I wanted to measure her feet.  I needed one of those shoe-measuring thingies, a staple of every shoe store, throughout my childhood.  You know… THIS thing:

(Did you know that in English, it’s called a “Brannock Device”?  Me neither – thanks, Google!)

There were two sales guys talking at the front counter to one customer and I didn’t want to interrupt, but luckily, a sales gal came along when I needed her.

“Efshar limdod et ha…”  Is it possible to measure…? I began.

Ugh.  Okay, yes, I got 94% in ulpan, which included basic body-part terminology, but still don’t really know how to say foot.  I don’t know if there IS a word for it, I think it’s just כף רגל / caf regel, which sort of means “palm of the leg.”

Problem #2 hit me the moment the salesgirl nodded eagerly.  The verb למדוד / limdod, “to measure,” also means “to try on.”

“Of course,” she said, “choose whichever size you need and try them on.”

“But which size does she need?  I don’t know.  Can you measure her leg?”  Argh – foot!  Foot!

“You can try whatever size she needs.”

Argh.  We were going in circles.

Aha!  I knew what we needed.  Naomi had just been trying to teach me the word for ruler…

“In North America,” I explained slowly, “when I want to buy shoes, in the store, there is a,” turned to Naomi Rivka in English.  “How do you say ‘ruler’?”

“סַרְגֵל / sargel.”

That’s when the salesperson’s ears perked up at Naomi Rivka’s yummy little accent.  She leaned over a bit.  “Do you speak Hebrew?” she asked Naomi Rivka.

“Ktzat,” (a little), Naomi Rivka replied sweetly.

No, no, no, no, no. 


Because I knew exactly what she was thinking. 

No WAY was she going to speak to my 8-year old instead of directly to me.  No WAY was I unable to handle a basic shoe-buying transaction without my kid as an intermediary.

It was the first time this has happened… but certainly not the last.

I could NOT let this happen to me, to turn into the classic, stereotypical Immigrant Mom.

So I didn’t let it.  I cleared my throat and take charge, a little.  We reached an uneasy truce whereby the salesperson admitted that she’d never heard of having a ruler in the store to measure kids’ feet (huh?!?), but she would let us try on any shoes we wanted.   (gee, thanks!)

She peered at Naomi’s feet, clad hugely in Crocs, and suggested Size 3, which was obviously way too big.  Then, she offered another pair which was slightly smaller, but way over what I wanted to pay (“yakar miday,” thanks, Ulpan!). 

I’d already noticed several pairs of a decent brand in a few kids’ sizes, on sale for ₪50 – THOSE were the shoes I wanted!

I guess, realizing she wasn’t going to get a huge commission, she finally left us on our own while she wandered the quiet store, and I pulled a couple of pairs so we could try them on. 

The very best ones were not too flimsy and not too padded, but they were black, and I worried that Naomi Rivka would reject them because they weren’t girly.  There was a sparkly pair also for ₪50, but they felt cheap and had a weird lump in the sole. 

Happily, Naomi Rivka loved the black pair, even though the salesperson had tried to tell us they were for boys.  Until you show me actual physiological differences between boy feet and girl feet, I will continue to believe that feet are feet.

We paid our ₪50 – will I ever stop loving the fact that tax is included in sticker prices?! – and got the heck out of the store, feet and wallet relatively unscathed. 

Just wish I could say the same for my ego.

The “howishness” of Hebrew.

Photo edited with I don’t always carry a dictionary with me, and don’t have a smartphone so I don’t do dictionary apps.  But even if I did, I couldn’t look up every single word.  Especially if it’s a word that I can figure out on my own.

In Hebrew, lots of nouns are made from other words by adding prefixes, suffixes and changing the vowels around a little bit.  Take the word לבקר / levaker, to visit (verb), shift the letters around a bit, and you get  ביקור/ bikur, a visit (noun).  The language is wonderfully flexible that way.

So when I started noticing the word אֵיכוּת / eychut popping up all over the place around me, like on product packaging and bus-stop signs, I could have looked it up.  But I already knew its root, איך / eych, which means “how” – like the manner of doing something (“how’s the weather?”  “how was your day at school?”).

Naturally, I just shifted it into noun form in my head:  how… in noun form.  Doesn’t really exist in English, I reasoned, but that’s nothing new.  If it did, it would be… “howishness.” 

How charming:  the “howishness” of the weather, the “howishness” of your day at school, the “howishness” of the environment, or the manufacturing of whatever-it-is inside the product packaging in question.

This made-up word, howishness, literally lived in my head for about three months… until I read an article about Tu b’Shvat in the Jerusalem Post Easy Hebrew edition. 

The article, about ecology and Tu b’Shvat, mentioned איכות הסביבה / eichut has’viva.  Environmental howishness:  a lovely use for my favourite new word!  But I noticed the phrase was in blue, meaning there was an entry for it in the small dictionary at the end of the article.  The dictionary said, “Quality of the Environment.”

That meant my new favourite, exotic Hebrew word meant…


Really???  Such a common, everyday thing, and I’d totally missed the boat?

A word I’d taken as an exotic sign of how beautiful and flexible Hebrew was, to offer its speakers simple way to describe the howishness of all things, and of how very lacking English was… was, in fact, totally ordinary.

But it’s too late.  Deep in my head, this odd bird has already latched on; this word that will not be released from its responsibilities easily. 

Talk all you like about the quality of the environment, or your company’s committment to quality, but if you say it in Hebrew, you should know that I’m paying attention not just to what you say, but to the howishness with which you say it.

Lost in Translation: The Giving Tree

If there’s one thing I take WAY more seriously than anybody really ought to take something, it’s kids’ books. 

(Did you follow that sentence?  If so, check out my writing kids’ books blog!)

Tonight in Ulpan Bet, in honour of Tu b’Shvat, we had to read one of the great-granddaddies of modern kids’ lit, a book I have practically memorized in almost 20 years of reading it to my children:  Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

The translation itself was enjoyable and readable enough until I realized, about halfway through… in the Hebrew version, the TREE is a BOY.

The Giving Tree, the main character of the story, the perennial mother, standing by to give and give and give of herself, to the point where it hurts and beyond… is a boy.  Huh?

I understand why it has to be that way, but knowing doesn’t help, somehow.

The tree MUST be a boy (or a man) in Hebrew because  עץ (eitz), the Hebrew word for tree, is masculine.  It is apparently just as inconceivably ridiculous to think of a tree being feminine in Hebrew as it is to think of an ant (נמלה /nemala), bee (דבורה / devora) or monster (מפלצת / mifletzet) as masculine.

Even the most aggressive, disgusting, slobbery, slimy monsters – are feminine (we have one book where the monstery critter is described as a שד / sheid, a demon, which is apparently okay to be a boy, but the Monsters Inc movies, for instance, are about Miflatzot – girl monsters).

But honestly, in this case, the story doesn’t work if the tree is a boy.

clip_image001Discussing it in ulpan class, the teacher asked about the relationship, and said the boy in the story is just “using” (לנצל  / lenatzel; you do NOT, apparently, use the same word for “using” a computer, pen, or notebook) the tree, without giving anything in return.

I tried to explain – this is what mothers do.  We stand and wait for our children.   We’re not the centre of their lives even though they are without question the centre of ours.  We wait for them to return, and they may not return to us for decades, or perhaps lifetime.  And we give and give and give until the point where, if we weren’t mothers, it would hurt.

If the tree’s a boy and the boy’s a boy, well, then, they both kind of deserve what they get, don’t they?  If they’re both boys, then the tree’s giving makes no sense and the title applies only in the most literal way:  the tree gives, because it’s a TREE THAT GIVES.

Never fear, faithful readership.  I explained, in the most articulate way I could, that they couldn’t possibly understand the story until they’d read it in English.  Well, I didn’t say that EXACTLY, but it was implied by my saying that only I could know the original intentions of author Shel Silverstein.

But I realized that my point was lost when one of the many Russian speakers chimed in to say that, in Russian, trees are neither masculine or feminine.  “It is the exactly same thing in English!” I cried back, with my pitifully insufficient words.  “But it is the PRONOUNS, ‘she gives,’ ‘she stands.’” 

Nobody understood, and I had no idea how to say pronoun so I had to say it in English.

“What do you think?” the teacher asked the class, when I was done saying nothing at all.  “Does the boy really love the tree?”  Unanimous head shaking all around, except me.

(um, hello, can you read what it says ON THIS PAGE?!?)

(Okay, it’s tiny, so I’ll translate – “and the boy loved the tree” – in case you didn’t catch the gist of the illustration.)

In Israel, I still FEEL like an articulate person inside, but what comes out is… well, to put it politely, usually the opposite. 

Here’s what I said:

“I don’t agree.  I think that the boy really loved the tree.  I think when we are young we know what is important but then we are busy then we forget about the things that are important and when we are old we return to the things that are most important.”

If only I knew how to say “we get our priorities all messed up, and that’s what the book is essentially about,” I might have prevailed.  Instead, I think I muttered something about “old people knowing what is true.”

The discussion continued around me while I grumpily refused to participate (nobody noticed).  The general conclusion is that the boy is just a taker and some people are just that way while the rest of us mature out of the “taking” phase of our lives.  And the tree – well, HE is just a giver, like the title says.  He is just very, very, pointlessly generous.

Are the boy and the tree really happy?  Everybody agreed that they were, that The Giving Tree (Hebrew version) has a happy ending.  While I just shook my head, quietly, internally, fuming about little things that get seriously lost in translation…

Okay, amiright or amiright???  Is this not a story about the way mothers (feminine!) give to their children?  English speakers of Israel, and mothers of the world, back me up here, please!

Ulpan talk for Tu b’Shvat is Tu b’Shvat, and our teacher told us to bring two things for the chag:  something to eat and something to say.

So I wrote this.  It’s probably longer and more complicated than she wanted.  That’s me.  To compensate for having to listen to me drone on, I baked a very yummy apple cake (this recipe, but I grated four big apples into it instead of the whole thing with the pumpkin) to share with the class!

Here’s what I wrote (Google Translation lies beneath):

הערב יתחיל חג "טו בשבט". מה זה?

"שבט" – זה חודש עברי. "טו" – זה מספר, המספר חמש עשרה. עכשיו, החמישה עשר של חודש שבט. בתורה, כתוב שאסור לאכול מפרות עץ עד שהם מגיעים לגיל שלוש. אבל איך לדעת בן כמה העץ?

לכן, התחילו להזכיר כל שנה בתאריך הזה "יום הולדת" כדי לדעת בני כמה העצים בישראל, ולדעת איזה פרי מותר לאכול.

יש עוד שלוש "ראשי השנה" ביהדות, אבל ההכי חשוב זה החג בחודש תשרי הנקרא "ראש השנה." אבל גם יום הולדת הזה, טו בשבט,עדיין קצת חשוב. למה?

במסורת היהודי, יש השוואה בין אנשים ובין עצים. בתורה כתוב: "כִּי הָאָדָם עֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה." איך? העץ צריך הרבה דברים לחיות, כמו: אדמה, מים, אוויר, ושמש (זה כמו אוכל). אם חסר רק דבר אחד מהדברים האלה, אי אפשר לחיות עוד. גם חיים שלנו תלויים בסביבותינו – אי אפשר שנמשיך לחיות לבדנו.

סיבה אחרת אומרת שלעץ, יש הרבה חלקים: עלים, ענפים, פרחים, פרות, גזע ובוודי, שורשים. לכל חלק, יש תפקיד חשוב לחיים של העץ. אפילו השורשים המלוכלכים ומכוערים, שנמצאים תחת האדמה, יש תפקיד חשוב. בלי שורשים, אי אפשר שהעץ ימשיך לעמוד.

לכל אדם בעולם יש תפקיד חשוב. אבל, תושבי ארץ ישראל דומים במיוחד לשורשים. כולנו, עולים וטיירים, גרים פה כשורשים של עץ גבוה הנקרא "ארץ ישראל." כשאנחנו נשארים פה, גרים פה, עובדים ולומדים פה, אנחנו מגדילים את השורשים של עם ישראל ומגינים את ביטחון של הארץ. בלעדינו, ה"עץ" לא יכול לעמוד בחזקה.

אני מתפללת שהעץ ממשיך לחיות ולגדל ושנמשיך לגור כאן בשלום.

Postscript:  I realized this was WAY too long, so read only the part in BOLD print.  But I still let them have the cake. :-)

This is for Ulpan Bet, by the way, so there’s a chance somebody will actually understand what I’m saying.  Here’s what Google Translate says this means (I’ve made some small hasty changes where I think Google was waaaay off).

The evening will begin festival " Tu Bishvat " . What's this?
" Shevat" - this Hebrew month. "Tu" - it's a number, number fifteen . Now , the fifteenth of the month of Shevat.  In the Torah , it’s written that it’s forbidden to eat the fruits of a tree until they reach the age of three. But how to tell how old the tree ?
So, started mentioning every year on this " birthday " to know how old are trees in Israel , and know which fruit you may eat .
There are three " New Years " in Judaism , but most important is the holiday in the month of Tishrei called " Rosh Hashana. " But this birthday , Tu Bishvat , still somewhat important. Why ?
Jewish tradition , there is a comparison between people and trees. The Torah says : " man is a tree of the field. " How ? The tree needs a lot of things to live, such as land, water , air, and sunshine ( it's like food ) . If anything is missing just one of those things you can not live long . Even our life depended on around us - it is impossible that we continue to live alone.
Another reason says to the tree , there are many parts: leaves, branches , flowers, fruit , stem, and of course, roots. Each part has an important role in the life of the tree. Even dirty and unsightly roots , who are under the earth, have an important role . Without roots , it is impossible that the tree will continue to stand.
Everyone in the world has an important role. But, the residents of Israel similar especially the roots . We are all immigrants and tourists, living here like roots of the tall tree called " the Land of Israel . " When we stay here, live here , work and study here, we are increasing the roots of Israel and protecting the security of the country. Without us , as the Tree " can not stand firmly .
I pray that the tree continues to live and grow and we continue to live here in peace.

Happy Hebrew tree day!!!

How I did in ulpan!

teudah mod

Because I know you were all on tenterhooks, waiting to see how I’d do.

One thing at a time, please…?

When I’m feeling frazzled, which is all the time at the moment, I tell myself that (during my “normal life”), any one of the things I’m dealing with right now would probably be at least a big part of a very full day.

I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me, just suggesting that there’s a lot running through my brain at the moment.

Here’s what’s on my plate today, in no particular order.

  • Details of renting a house (utilities, taxes, making sure the money goes into our account to pay the rent?), plus questions to ask the old tenant (where can we build a sukkah, where’s the miklat?).
  • Forgot to mail a cheque to the lawyer I loved who was so helpful last week when it was a crisis – oops. :-o
  • Switching GZ to a new gan closer to where we’ll be living (we’re happy with Naomi Rivka’s school, so hopefully leaving her there).
  • Ulpan 3 times a week.  Plus, I just found out about another program in Haifa, called This is Not an Ulpan (TINAU) that has once-a-week classes starting soon.
  • Volunteer English tutoring at the library, ongoing, 3 kids/week.
  • Buying appliances for the new apartment.  We need a fridge, stove and washing machine, and somebody sane has suggested we measure the space first before we think about buying.
  • Arranging for delivery of our shipment from Canada.  A shipment that, due to the tiny size of our new apartment, will just about totally fill our new apartment.
  • Arranging for a mover to bring our possessions from the Merkaz Klitah to the new apartment, and possibly to help pick up purchased appliances along the way.
  • Establishing a freelance writing career, keeping up with new clients and assignments and making sure everyone is happy and nothing is forgotten.  Okay, this one is at least a part-time job, on its own.  Today, I have one article to revise, one to write from scratch, and 50-100 blog comments to post.  Not a ton, but nothing I can just sit back and forget, either.
  • Covering the Canadian Prime Minister’s visit next week – arranging security, access, schedule, etc.  Plus booking hotel/hostel if I need to stay over in Yerushalayim or Tel Aviv.  Actually staying in a hotel is fun, but making arrangements is not something I need in this particular week.
  • Maintaining blogs – sometimes goes by the wayside, but I have a new one I’m trying to build up at the moment.
  • Register our family for a “tik” – self-employment tax status from the government
  • Renew our Canadian passports (must go get pictures done on Friday from the one place in Haifa we’re told takes acceptable photos… then figure out how to travel back to the consulate in Tel Aviv and pay for the passports themselves)
  • Applying for whatever extension money we’re able to receive from Misrad HaKlitah (absorption ministry) given that, approaching the 6-month mark), neither of us has what could be considered a job and Ted is still not finished ulpan.
  • Paid online journalism course from a from a Very Reputable School that I paid for with my birthday money from my mother… and now I just need to start the work.  Happily, I have up to a year to do this.
  • Children’s writing course I want to take starting in February.
  • Wanting to visit Canada sometime… this is for the future, but it is always somewhere near the tippy-top of my mind.
  • Did I mention I have to go pick up Naomi Rivka in five minutes???  It’s no wonder little things like feeding my family tend to go by the wayside.

You know, when I googled “full plate,” to get a catchy picture I could include with this post, most of the pictures I found were of full-body suits of armour.  Which is really something I could use – just seal myself up inside a suit of armour until all of this, somehow, has passed.

But no.  Naomi’s finished school, so I’ll strap on my mp3 player and dash over to meet her.  And then come back and start slowly, slowly ticking things off the list, putting out fires, or, to use another metaphor because I know you won’t mind, sowing seeds of which, hopefully, we’ll eventually reap the rewards.

Maybe life will be normal again, someday soon?  Pretty please???