Playoff game

My Second baseball game in Israel ever was a playoff game two weeks ago and the teams were the Bet shemesh Blue sox vs. Netanya Tigers in Gezer field. We got to the game at the end of the first inning (because my father got lost a little) and the score was already 1-1. It was my father, my grandfather, Leora, Rivka, Dafna (a second cousin of ours) and me. Netanya scored in the second but then in the bottom of the third Gregg Raymundo cranked his second homerun of the game to tie the score!

In the bottom of the fourth with Netanya leading 3-2, the Blue Sox had runners on second and third when Ben Pincus hit the ball over the fence in right field. There was some discussion though and the umpire ruled that it didn't go over the fence and gave him only a double. There was some discussion and one of the kids in the stands went to ask the rightfielder and he supposedly told him that the ball did go over the fence but he wasn't going to admit it to the umpire. So the Blue Sox led only 4-3. They scored two more runs in the fifth and won the game 6-3.

I really wanted to go to the championship game but instead we spent the day in the North and couldn't go to the game. The Blue Sox beat the Modiin Miracle 3-0 in that game.

Meeting for Rivka and Zvi's school

Tonight I went to a meeting for Rivka and Zvi's school. I went thinking that it would be a chance to meet some of the administration, some parents and get some information about the school. Boy was I wrong. Basically, from what I understood or had interpreted to me, the city of Modiin has denied the school classrooms. What does that mean for my kids. Well thankfully nothing right now. According to the administration the school currently has enough room for kitah aleph boys and girls, kitah bet boys and girls and all the other girl grades. BUT, what does this mean for me and David as parents sending to Laman Achai. It means a lot. The school has asked us to participate in a hafganah (rally) outside city hall. The will be a rotation of parents for five days and the boys in kitah gimel and up will be having their classroom sessions there. The issue is very politically and religiously based but we were asked not to make an issue of this. Our posters should be tame they requested. I was thinking of writing my slogan as "take me back to Baltimore" but I thought that my kids may get the wrong message from that. It was funny the two people sitting next to me both made the same comment to me "welcome to Israel". I just was happy that I had some more blogging material.

Our second trip to the kotel

Today Zvi suggested that we all go to the old city and the Kotel. I was thrilled as that is one of my favorite places to visit. I love just walking around the old city and looking around. We drove to J"M and found a great parking spot right outside the Jewish Quarter (it was free too b/c of our Cypress plates). We walked to the kotel from there, first choosing the restaurants that we would return to for lunch. We had a lot of shaliach mitzvah gelt to distribute so we decided to divide and conquer. David and the boys took the men's side and me and the girls handled the ladies. Overall it was a positive experience and the kids learned a good lesson on tzedakah. We davened at the kotel and when we were done we climbed all the stairs that brought us back to the Old City. On our way up Leora flirted with a chayal and got to take a picture with him. First we bought popsicles and an ice coffee (yum yum) for me. Then we ordered lunch and enjoyed our time people watching. We headed back to the car for our drive home to Modiin. Yeshaya was so upset about leaving the old city that he cried the entire way home (30 minutes).

The Gym

I got an early start today as I wanted to make it to the "mini class" for stomachs. The brochure describes it as a 20-30 minute class focusing on the stomach. I got there five minutes late and they were already in full swing. I quickly got my mat, found a place on the floor and joined in the fun. The instructor was a killer but it was great. He kept telling us to remember to breathe. I'm trying really hard to concentrate on breathing while completing these excruciating exercises. Suddenly my OT ears perk up. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Someone with a tracheotomy was doing this class. I kept hearing the high pitched breathing that you hear when someone is blowing air through their tracheotomy. I was trying inconspicuously to locate this brave person. I looked to my right, to my left and ahead of me and I couldn't find the person. After about 5 minutes I turned around and located the person. The breathing noise was coming from the rowing machine behind me not from someone with a tracheotomy. Duh, it's a gym not a nursing home.

On a side note, the first day I was really happy because Dr. Phil was on TV. Something familiar. But after returning the next day the happiness wore off a little when the same Dr. Phil rerun was on. I shouldn't complain though, because at least it was in English.

Train Ride

Today was Leora's lucky day. She got to go with Savta on a train ride all by herself. We drove them to the airport where they would catch their train. First they walked around the airport, ate lunch and saw some planes. Then they took the train to Tel Aviv where they were able to see some really tall buildings. From there they took a bus ride back to Modiin. When they got to Savta's, Leora got to make a scrap book with pictures from her day with Savta. Here are some of the pictures

My friend Adina Gal Kurz

I just found out today that a childhood friend of mine is ill. She is going through aggressive treatments. Her name for tehillim is Mindal Adina Bat Yenta Yitah. You can join Shmirat Halashon and/or Tehillim for Adina on facebook or have her in mind in your tefillot. She should have a speedy and complete recovery and we should only hear good things.

gym membership

Ahhhhh, I finally joined a gym. I did not realize how much I really needed it. I went today to find out the different prices as they do not do that over the phone. I had an hour long meeting with Shira at Holme's Place. Basically in the end I signed up for a morning membership which allows me to enter the facility from 6 am-4 pm everyday but Friday (and Saturday - how sad). I did not come prepared with my gym clothes so I quickly returned home, changed and headed back to the gym. I enjoyed my treadmill workout with Dr. Phil. The difficult part was figuring out how fast to go because the machines are in KM not M. I then moved onto the weights where I encountered a similar problem with KG and LBS. I managed though and left the gym feeling better than I have in several weeks. The hard part is getting back into a good eating regiment, but that too will come - yeah wishful thinking.
P.S. Thank you Aviva Spotts and Risa Lasson for reading our blog.

get my bike

When we got to Israel, we went Shaynas house. and Mommy had a surprise and the surprise was a bike and when we got to our new house i got to ride it!

Bubbies house

We went to Bubbies house yesterday . Dina, Aviva and Savta were there. Aviva and Rivka were playing ball, Abba was talking to Bubbie and mommy just fell a sleep. I almost forgot the yummy supper that Savta made me Challa with tuna.

Leora asked me to post this for her.


How come all emergencies happen erev Shabbos? We felt like we had everything under control and were ready to welcome in Shabbos. Leora decided to throw us for a loop. David noticed that she was playing with a small bead and started telling her how dangerous it was to put in any hole in her body. Just as he was telling her about a friend that had to go to the hospital because she stuck a bead in her nose, Leora started screaming. Sure enough she managed to wedge a bright yellow bead from a BB Gun into her left nostril. David tried using a pick up stick to get it out but was not successful (of course Yeshaya was watching all this and he too had to try and stick a pick up stick up his nose). I called a friend, Penina, and she suggested that we get ourselves to Terem right away. David and I decided that I would go since I had showered and he had not. I drove there but made sure to have a stroller in my car. Muhammad (or whatever his name was), was very nice and got the bead out right away. Leora's first question was, "now can I pick my nose?" The doctor told her no. Shabbos was about to begin, so Leora and I ran to the car and drove for about 2 minutes. We had to park the car and walk to rest of the way. Leora was really good and didn't kvetch as we climbed over 100 stairs. We stopped at the Meltz figuring they would know of any shortcuts but were saddened to hear that there weren't any. We made it home just as our dinner guests arrived. I'm still not sure if Leora learned her lesson. She's quite a stubborn child ... must be the red hair.

Givat Brener

Today we went to Givat Brener it is a water park with a arcade room, a jeep ride and moonbounces. Yeshaya liked the little swimming pool
Leora liked that she knew where everything was
, Zvi liked the arcade room and I liked running in to the buckets and letting the water that was in it fall on me. After that we went to Bubbies house and Savta, Aviva and Dina were there.What a fun day.

School Supplies

I haven't blogged in a couple of days because I've been busy with this and that. Yesterday we went to J"M in the morning and picked up Rivka who slept over at Lev Yerushalyim with the Adlers. We parked illegally and did not get ticketed despite the many cops around us. I then ran with the girls to Geula to buy shabbos shoes while David and the boys went to buy some items for shabbos (Challah etc.). We then met up and drove to Ramot to have brunch at the Peerless's. We had a yummy brunch with eggs made to order. We then went to visit Jeff and Mindy Callen (our cousin's) who live close by. The kids enjoyed their ice cream dessert. They helped make their visit memorable by breaking a glass table top.

When we returned to Modiin, a girl who will be in Leora's gan came over with her mother and younger brother. Our kids welcomed them by fighting with each other, calling each other names and messing up the game that the girl was winning. There's nothing like making a good first impression.

Rivka also invited a friend, Liat over. They will be in the same class. At around 7pm we (me, Rivka, and Savta) drove Liat home and picked up school supplies. Savta paid for the kids school supplies and we are very appreciative. We then crossed the main street and entered Kiryat Sefer where we proceeded so spend more money. I paid for two more mattresses that we ordered, bought some more household items (including the platter we shattered in the store), bought some food for shabbos and picked up our mattresses that had arrived from a previous order. We then went to purchase the books for school. Again I handed over the money 1200 NIS just for books. No wonder school is practically free - you have to pay for everything else. But I shouldn't complain, it is still cheaper than Baltimore. We did not return home until close to 11pm and we were wiped. Rivka literally crawled into bed and I wasn't too far behind.

Wishing everyone who reads our blog a shabbat shalom.

Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim

We forgot the camera today so we don't have any pictures to post which is really too bad because you saw how happy Zvi looked when he wasn't having fun. Today Zvi said that it was one of the most fun days of his life. We went with the Adlers (our cousins from Baltimore) to the water park at Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim and we had a really good time. If you're ever trying to find out how to get there you must realize that it can be spelled a bunch of different ways: Hafetz Hyim, Chafetz Chaim, Khafetz Khaim. When I looked on emap, I hadn't considered the third possibility and coulnd't find it anywhere. It took me a while to figure that out.

It's a water park with separate hours for men and women. We tried calling them yesterday, last night, this morning to find out when women's hours were and what else there was to do there. We never got through to anyone but the message seemed to say that women's hours would be in the morning and men's hours starting at 1. We decided to meet there between 10:30 and 11. We got there around 11 and Josh and I went to pay but the day was set aside for Magen David Adom employees and families and nobody else was allowed in the park! Josh and I walked away not knowing what to do. Then Shira came to the rescue and explained that we drove from far away and we tried calling and we had to go. They agreed to let us go for 20 shekel each as long as we didn't take their lunch that they were providing. That was a great deal and we were more than satisfied.

It turned out that women's hours at the water park were first so they quickly went in while the boys went to the rides. There were only a few rides but it was enough to keep us entertained for an hour or so. Then we met for lunch (the canteen was open) and then the boys went in the water park. It was basically a couple swimming pools and about 5 huge slides. Zvi loved it and even Yeshaya and I had fun. I can't tell you much about what the girls did there but maybe Shira will post later (she might repeat what I said also since she tends to ignore my posts ;-) )

Malcha Mall

Today we went to the mall in J"M and spent a few hours there with our nieces Talya and Ayala. Our plan initially was to go on these inflatable indoor rides, but of course they were no longer there. Instead we headed to the food court, since food is always the solution if you have nothing else to do. We ordered fleishig (Mehadrin) because we are all pizza'ed out. We had an enjoyable meal. Afterwards, Zvi, Rivka and Talya went on a scavenger hunt to get signatures for the clues I made for them. They were a little shy to approach people so they only managed to get 2 out of 10. David, Leora, Yeshaya and Ayala hung out at some climbing mats outside of Toys R Us while I bought some candy and a BLUE Dora packback for Yeshaya (I've been looking for one for a long time). We met Danny (who came in to Tel Aviv for a course) at our house and I drove him and the girls to the train station at the airport.
Later on I took the kids to the fruit store but ran into my in-laws who were headed to J"M. We gave them a lift to the bus stop outside of Modiin, did a quick shopping, stopped in for a minute at Bubbie's, came home, ate, showered and went to bed early (well not me, but the kids). That's all since I have a huge migrane.
P.S. Happy Belated birthday Nechama. At least I did get my birthday message to you before midnight (although I could swear it was closer to 10).

Connection problems

Eventually I'll get it all figured but for now everything is just another experience. Yesterday we came home after spending a couple hours with the Adlers (our cousins from Baltimore) at 2:30 just in time for me to start working. I logged on and everything was going great until 3 when I lost my connection. I tried rebooting the router but it didn't help. I started calling Bezeq International (our ISP) but right when I got on the phone it started working. I hung up and a couple minutes later it went down again. I did that a couple times until I realized that every time I got on the phone it worked but when I hung up it would stop working again. I called Bezeq Int again and they said that they are having some general problems and I should call back in two hours. I worked on dial-up for a couple hours but it wasn't great and I missed a meeting. I was getting frustrated. I called back again and they said they were still having trouble so I finally gave up and went to my parents who use a different ISP.

I worked from there for a few hours and Shira periodically checked to confirm that it was still down. Now it wasn't even working when we were on the phone. Then I spoke to my sister Amy who also uses Bezeq Int and it was working for her. So I figured something must be up on my end. I called back Bezeq Int and they told me that it must be a problem with my phone line and not with them so I called Bezeq (not connected to Bezeq Int) and described the problem to them. They asked me if I had any phones plugged straight into the wall. Sure enough my parents had lent us a phone today because ours aren't working great and we plugged it right into the wall. Bingo, that was the problem!
That's a picture of a splitter. You plug it into the phone jack as shown above and then you can plug the DSL line into the bottom and the phone into the top. It splits the line. I understood all that and I had been using it but what I didn't realize was that the splitter also works as a filter. You need to put it into every jack and not just the one where the DSL is plugged into or else it ruins the DSL connection. Now I know and now everything is working fine.

Balagan and more

Today we spent the day with Danny, Talya and Ayala. We drove into Zichron Yaakov using our Cypress car on highway 6 (we don't have to pay tolls). We met Danny (we were a little late) and followed him to the amusement park type place called Balagan (only in Israel!!). There was something for everyone there. The kids really had a great time,

except Zvi who did a great job at complaining how boring it was.
Yeshaya is already becoming Israeli. He just wonders off with no care in the world and find things to do. He would go from station to station calling out an occasional name, "Leora" or "Mommy" and if he didn't see one of us he'd move on.
We spent over 5 hours there which is the most time we have ever spent anywhere except for Dutch Wonderland (we miss you Volosov's).
On our way home, minus Rivka and Leora who slept at Danny's, a car was honking at us and motioning us. I was a little nervous that he'd pull a gun out and shoot us but it turned out he was a good guy. David pulled over and checked the doors??? not sure what he was thinking and they all were closed - big surprise. He then drives off and the car is making noise. I tell him to pull over and hop out of the car. Right away I notice we have a flat tire - doesn't take a rocket scientist to notice but I guess you have to look at the tires to notice that it is flat, not the doors. (Sorry David for my sarcasm, at least I didn't make you feel bad right when it happened). I called our AAA like place and they asked all sorts of irrelevant questions and were taking forever to get to our problem. Our biggest issue, besides the flat was that we didn't know where we were on the highway. I decided to flag down another motorist to find out. A nice family pulled over and he was able to tell us what our closest exit was but he also informed us that there is road side assistance on highway 6. He gave me the number, I called, and the nice guy on the phone told me that the service was free of charge. Meanwhile, our insurance AAA place was telling us how much it would cost us to come out to highway 6 plus change our tire, since this was not part of our plan (not sure what is part of it, but whatever). We told them we didn't need their help. True to the highway 6 guys words, our savior arrived within 30 minutes, change our tire (manually) and we were on our way. He didn't accept our tip. We made it home, thank G-d, and I still had a bit of energy left to wash my floors. They should stay clean for about 10 seconds.

Our first shabbos in Modiin

We had a really nice first shabbos in Modiin. We were really looking forward to spending shabbos in our house finally. I made a soup and chicken and potato borekas, my sister-in-law Amy gave us meatballs and roast and my father-in-law bought us a potato kugel. This was all for Friday night. Rikva went away for shabbos. She's at that age where she'd rather be anywhere but with her family. We thought it would only the remaining five of us. We were wrong. David's nephew Yehoshua, asked if he could join us for shabbos as his family was going to Ashkelon and he didn't want to join them. No problem. David called our hostess for lunch and they didn't mind. Then Friday we get a call from Eli, my brother, asking if he could come. No problem. I call our lunch host again and she graciously agrees to allow another guests to come. What is one more when you are having more than 20 people. I then felt bad for Zvi that Rivka was away so I let him have a new friend sleep over. So not only was it not just the five remaining Greenstones, we had 3 more people too!!! It really worked out well and we had plenty of food.

Shabbos morning David went to the hashkamah minyan. He was home really early and looked a little hot. It turns out that the minyan was outside someones house. Pretty weird. I then convinced him to come to the main shul here so that he could meet people. It was amazing how many people we knew. David couldn't get over that there were people there that were even newer than us. (We saw the Rosenbaum's who just made aliyah from Baltimore this past week).

We ate at JJ and Aliza Sussman's and enjoyed the company of their other guests. It was like a mini Midreshet reunion as there were four of us (Midreshet alumni) there. Leora ended up wanting to stay and play so lazy me stayed with her.

All in all we had a very nice shabbos and look forward to many more.

A Shabbos with cousins

This Shabbos I went to a hotel in Jerusalem with my some of my cousins . There were 4 cousins my age and we all played together. We all made a play. It was such a fun Shabbos.

First Shabbos at Home

We finally spent our first Shabbos at home. Shira pulled it all together and we had a beautiful Shabbos with our family and 3 guests. Rivka went away with cousins but Zvi had a friend sleep over and my nephew and Shira's youngest brother came for Shabbos. We had lunch at JJ's house.

It's interesting that when we go to shul now we're practically old-timers. Last Shabbos they had six new families who just moved into the neighborhood (four had made aliya). Yesterday, we saw the Rosenbaums who made aliya last week from Baltimore and another family who is here for the summer. We were actually answering questions from newcomers since we've been here so long. It's really amazing how many new people there are in this community.


You may be wondering what Connex is but you'd only have to read the Modiin email list to hear all about it. I'll fill you in though. Basically for the past while there has been a bus company, Margalit, running in Modiin. People hated it thus a switch to Connex. Yesterday was Connex's first day and they failed miserably to make the people of Modiin happy. So they decided that today they would let you ride their buses for free as a kind of "I'm sorry" message. On the spur of the moment I decided to take the bus with my kids to J"M for an adventure. Why not it was free. We drove our car to the bus stop, hopped on the bus (that was a little late) and set out for J"M. When we got there we first located our bus stop for the return home and then set out to find something for dinner. We didn't have to go far, just inside the tachana mercazit, and had kid friendly food. The kids were so good I let them then go to the candy store for a treat. We made our way to the bus stop, got on the bus and arrived back in Modiin in time for a quick swim. Zvi commented that it was his best day so far. I am a cool mother!

Cleaning Ladies

I am happy to report that all of our things are finally unpacked and everything has found its rightful place. It was now time to get some cleaning help in. We hired a mother and daughter team to come clean our house. We were thinking great, they'll be done quickly. Boy were we wrong. I have never ever in my life seen people move so slowly. They are also so needy. Every second they are asking us for something else. I guess we won't be using them again but at least my house smells nice and clean.

Meanwhile as they were gathering their supplies, the gardener decides to show up. It's not like in the States where you go around to the back with the lawnmower. No, here you go through the house. At least I was smart enough to tell the cleaning ladies to wait until the gardener was done. They charge $30/visit to cut our grass that is the size of a walk in closet. Of course it took them close to an hour to finish up. At the same time as all this, our neighbor comes over to invite us for shabbat lunch. It was very sweet of her. She also offered us some furniture to help fill up our house and help with the acoustics. I'm happy she dropped by, it makes us feel like we are not alone on our street that is constantly under constructions. It is just us and them so far. All the other houses are not lived in yet.


One of my big concerns with working in Israel was how good the phone connection through Voice over IP would be for work. I spend at least three hours a day on the phone in conference calls and if my connection breaks up too many times or if there is lots of static or anything else then it won't be good at all. My parents use Vonage and they have a lot of trouble with their line. My friend, Aryeh has been in Israel for a few years working for an American company and has been using Vonage the entire time. He assured me that if set up properly I won't have any trouble. We signed up about a month before I moved here to test it out in the States and it worked fine. By the time we moved into the house last week we had everything set up and it was all working perfectly. People at work who know I'm in Israel have commented about how clear the connection is.

In the States we had two phone lines - one for work and one for home but here we have just one (American) line. It's been working out fine so far and I don't anticipate any problems. We don't have a cordless phone on it right now because the phone we had intended to use with it isn't working for some reason. So it's been a bit of a pain for Shira to always come into my office to talk on the phone. The one thing that we chose to do which might have been a mistake was to keep the same phone number that we had in Baltimore. It's great for our friends and family because it means that they don't have to learn a new number. The problem is that it means that telemarketers, tzedaka organizations and other people we don't want to call us don't have to learn new phone numbers. So it's really important that we turn off the ringer at night so we don't get the "dinner" calls at 1 AM. I think it was worth it because we're just here for a year. This way when we go back we'll have the same phone number. If someone is making aliya though I'd advise to get a new phone number.


For some people the word safety may bring back memories of childhood when someone would call out "safety" before they passed gas. This time I'm really using the word to talk the real meaning in reference to my experience tonight. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I have not yet started exercising. Tonight I decided that enough was enough. All the kids were asleep except Yeshaya. I put him in the jogger stroller and started on my speed walk. I didn't think anything of it at first but as I was a few minutes into my walk I realized that it was 8:45 pm and I was out on my own walking in the dark. I would never have dreamed of doing that in Baltimore. It just is not safe for a woman to go waking after dark on her own. It was was an eye opening experience for me. Back in Baltimore I would never have thought that I'd feel safer in Israel. With all the talks of war, the terrorist attacks etc. I thought that I'd be terrified to move out of my house but truthfully I have not thought about it until tonight. I am truly amazed.

Liberated Woman

Today I took a bus into Yerushalyim to pick up our car that was having work done on the alarms. I took a cab to the dealership, had a little trouble figuring out the alarm, and then was on my way. I was pretty impressed with myself that I remembered where to go (from way back in the Midreshet days). I drove to town, parked and had an enjoyable morning. I shopped a little(or a lot depending on how you look at it), bought an ice coffee, had lunch with my father-in-law who I bumped into on the street, and had an all around good morning.

On the way home I decided to turn on the radio and see what kind of music I'd find. Since the car was previously owned by an American I assumed the preprogrammed stations would be something I'd like. I was wrong there, but the coolest thing happened. I'm listening to the news in hebrew, not really understanding much, and then this hebrew song comes on and I KNEW THE WORDS. That was so neat. For all of you who enjoyed Israeli dancing at Bnei Torah this was Od Nagiah. Of course I had to share the news with someone. Luckily Nechama lives here in Israel and we are music buddies. I called her and we had a good laugh. - thanks Nechama!

P.S. Thanks for calling today Hindy. Sorry I was so out of it. I miss our Thursday phone calls!

Mussar Schmooze

Zvi, Yeshaya and I went to get much needed haircuts today. We went to a barber who is right across the street from my parents and he did a good job. He didn't have a yarmulke or anything but when we told him we were here for a year he proceeded to launch into a tirade of how there is no excuse to live in chutz l'aretz (chul). He pointed out that this is OUR land and we're all strangers in any other land. If everyone thinks its easier somewhere else and lives there then we'll lose this and we'll be persecuted again just like our grandparents. The only way to properly educate children is to send them to school in Eretz Yisrael. etc. etc. etc.

It's amazing how you can get mussar from anyone and anything in this country. Yesterday, I took a bus in Yerushalayim and in front of the first row of seats is a big sign - "mipnei seiva takum." It's great to see parts of pesukim used to teach mussar on public buses. Another beautiful thing about this country.

Another Shabbos

We spent another enjoyable shabbos with Shayna's family in Chashmonaim. This time we had the pleasure of Brad being there. Brad's cousin Jonah was also there. The kids all got along really well and I was able to bribe Rivka and Zvi to run a "camp" for the younger kids in the morning so that I could relax. I offered them a shekel but their response was "that's like $.25" so I had to up it to 4 shekels an hour - they're getting too smart for me.

Friday night I went to shul with all four kids and Shoshana. My friend Adina Bloomberg, who I have not seen in years, now lives in Chashmonaim. She emailed (facebooked) me that she would be in shul so we went to see her. It turns out that she also lived in Memphis for a year and was my nephew Akiva's teacher. Everyone was excited to see her. Adina also came over shabbat afternoon and we enjoyed her company.

Motzei Shabbos we came home to Modiin and put the kids to bed. David then picked up my brother Eli from David's sister's, Amy's and he came with me to Shayna's to take apart an aron that Shayna gave to us to use. (Thank you Eli!)

It's pretty neat that there are so many connections between my family and David's.
Tomorrow Leora and my nephew Ezra will be going on a train ride with Savta. They are sure to have a great time.

Finally made it to the Kotel

Six years ago we came to Israel for 10 days and went to the kotel at least 5 times in that short stay. We've been here two weeks already and we just finally made our first trip to the kotel of the year. It's just been so hectic trying to get everything in order that we haven't had time. This morning we left early, went to the water place in Modiin to get it changed to our name (we were unsuccessful) and then went to Yerushalayim. My father came with us and Shira dropped us off near the kotel and then drove to park.

As we were leaving the Old City we saw lots of policemen and ambulances and tons of traffic. We had no idea what had happened but we were just happy that we missed all that traffic. Little did we know that it was a terrorist attack just minutes from where we were. We then went into Geula to get some baked goods for Shabbos at my sister's and so the kids could get lunch. We made a quick stop at the shuk and Shira ran in to get more baked goods at Marzipan. Apparently that's the best bakery. Then we went to my sister's house to say goodbye since she's leaving back to LA on Sunday. Now we're home getting ready for Shabbos to spend with my other sister in Chashmonayim.

A nice quiet pleasurable day without too many headaches. Aaaah the beauty of being in Israel.

Thank you

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of family and friends in North America for their patience while we get our lives in order. I have not been good about phoning people or emailing but I want you all to know that we think of you all and miss everyone. Hopefully in the next few days or weeks we will start to feel more settled and will have more time to sit and chat. Meanwhile, you can follow our journey through this blog and you can even leave comments if you'd like.
As for today, nothing really new to report. The kids were all occupied doing various things while I stayed and cleaned the house for hours. I even had my first repair guy out to fix our "new" washing machine before we even had a chance to use it. He was really nice and pleasant to deal with.
The one thing that I have not been able to do, and it is killing me, is exercise. I was almost ready to ditch cleaning for a workout but thought that my family wouldn't appreciate it. Not only have I not been working out, I have also been enjoying the wonderful food of Israel. I just keep telling myself, this is vacation. In two weeks the diet and exercise begins with a vengeance.


Zvi was the least enthused about coming to Israel for a year. I think we all had our fears and concerns about the trip but Zvi insisted that he really didn't want to join us. Part of the reason was that he was leaving the place where he was comfortable and going to a country where he couldn't even talk the language. Another thing that bothered him was that he was leaving baseball. He loves playing, talking and watching baseball.

At least the baseball concern has been alleviated. We found out that Little League starts here after Succos and we'll be sure to sign him up. I also pointed out to him that at home he goes to sleep before MLB games even start most of the time but here he'd wake up soon after the West Coast games were beginning and he could follow them live on Sure enough, he's been doing that almost every day anxiously waiting for Bonds to break the homerun record. He even watched a couple atbats live and he saw the record breaker just a few minutes after it happened.

The real baseball highlight so far though has been last night when his uncle and his grandfather took him, Rivka and some cousins to an IBL game. I didn't go to the game because of work but it sounds like it's similar to a single A game in the States. Not many seats, lots of other entertainment and close interaction with the players. He had a great time. My brother-in-law and father told me that most people were walking around, talking or other stuff but he just remained glued to the game. His eyes didn't leave the field once. His cousin even got him a ball so he has a souvenir.

We're in the house!

I'm working from the house. We have a high speed connection but I don't have Vonage (for the American line) working yet. We have a phone but half the jacks in the house don't work yet. We have air conditioning but it doesn't seem to work that well upstairs yet. We have lights but some of the fixtures don't work yet. We're about halfway unpacked (no thanks to me - Shira spent a lot of time unpacking today). We have some furniture but still don't have a table and chairs. So we're not completely set up in the house yet but at least we're sleeping here tonight and we're making progress.

Avis Car Rental

Today we had a "chavaya" with our car rental. We have to start calling these situations chavayot otherwise we'd cry with how many setbacks we've had in our short time here. We're driving from Chashmonaim to Modiin and the car starts shaking. We get to our destination, check out the tires and everyone looks okay. We then continue on our way and the shaking persists. We call the Avis emergency number and we are given two choices. Either go to Lod or J"M. I call the Lod office and tell them that I am not driving the car on the highway and they said they would come and pick it up. We have a little problem, they tell me. We have no more cars to give you as a replacement BUT we know what the problem is with your car and it should take 20 minutes max. to fix plus travel time. Okay, we agree. What choice did we have. Without going into too much detail, mainly b/c I'm exhausted, I'll cut to the end of the story. After many wasted hours (not a mere 20 minutes as promised) we were told that there is nothing wrong with the car. They said that we don't know how to use the gears. GEARS you may ask, in an automatic car. We wondered the same thing. Apparently they have this novel idea in Israel. The cars are automatic with an optional semiautomatic setting for those joy seekers. Basically, we just had the gear pushed over too much. What an absolute waste of a day. I decided however that I wasn't going to stress out about it but rather just relax and enjoy my downtime. And I did.


One great thing about being in Israel is that we have so much family that is here. On Friday we went to Zichron to a park for a pizza picnic with all four of my sisters (the two who live in the States are here now) and their families. My parents, grandmother and some cousins were there also. We drove Shira's youngest brother up to Zichron (he's in Yeshiva in Yerushalayim) and spent a couple hours at her brother's house there. Then we went to the Kinar hotel on the Kineret for Shabbos. My oldest sister wasn't there since she and her family left for Switzerland at 5 AM on Sunday. She sent two of her kids though for Shabbos so they could be with the family. The rest of my sisters and their families were there and 5 of my cousins with their families were also there. We had a great relaxing Shabbos and we just forgot about everything we had to do.

The only bad thing was that we didn't have any time to do anything in the north. We drove back to Chashmonayim right after Shabbos so we could spend all day yesterday doing things with the car and the house. Rivka has been spending lots of time with various cousins. She wrote about her trip to Mizpe Rimon with Shayna and Amy's families and then she spent Sunday in the north with Aliza's family. Zvi has no boy cousins his age so it's been a little harder for him. He's been a good sport about it and is excited about going to see the Modiin Miracle play tomorrow night with his uncle.

Mizpe Rimon

My cousins and I went to Mizpe Rimon. It is in a desert . It was so much fun. Here's a list of things that we did.
  • We went on a jeep ride around a cliff but we almost died because the driver lost control. On that ride we also tricked my aunt by saying that we did not know where my cousin was. She was was so scared until we told her the truth that he was lying in the back.
  • We went to Eilat for a day and we went to king city there.
  • Last we went to a mall.
What a fun trip!

Bezeq, Chinese People and More

What a day yesterday. All I can say is thank G-d that we have fluent hebrew speakers around. Let's start with the Bezeq story. My father-in-law arrange a few weeks ago to have Bezeq come to our house to install a phone line and DSL line. Simple enough. I was told to wait for them from 11-2. Our house had no furniture or working a/c yet, so I left a note on the door asking the Bezeq worker to call me when he arrives at the house (we asked permission for that). At around 12:30 I was getting nervous that maybe this wasn't such a great idea. I called Bezeq and they said that the order was only for a phone and that it was hooked up yesterday???????? Then I called back and they said that the yes the order was for phone and dsl but they came to the house and we missed them????? I was getting really upset and not five minutes later I get a call from a man, the Bezeq worker, that he is on his way to my house????? Can they not get their story straight. I'm happy to report, that we supposedly have a working phone and dsl line.

Another experience yesterday I had was with the Chinese workers. I went with Sivan, our babysitter/tutor to check out the size of beds in storage so that I could order mattresses. She looked at our stuff and said there is no way that we could move it ourselves. She said that we need to get some Chinese workers. What, Chinese workers???? Well, it seems that it is quite like the Mexicans in California (only the countries are not quite as close). Basically, the Chinese workers sit outside city hall and wait for people to come and hire them. We got two Chinese men who we paid peanuts to to shlep our stuff. They were great. Thanks Sivan!!!

Car from Cypress

We're getting a lot of things done and soon we'll be all settled here. Shira takes care of 90% of everything but I actually do a few things (as long as Shira gives me step by step instructions). So today was something that was my job ... going to Haifa to get our new car at the port. Shira will have to blog about some of her other experiences but I'll write about my own.

First a little background: in Israel taxes on cars are really, really high. Tourists, though can buy/bring cars from chu"l and avoid the taxes. We thought about shipping our car from the States but were persuaded not to do that. If you buy a used car from an Israeli or a new car in Israel then you have to pay the taxes. You can either buy a used car from another tourist or buy a car from outside the country. There is a guy here, Ari P., who specializes in selling cars from Cypress to tourists. Someone gave us his name and he had a van that had been owned by Shira's friend's cousin for the last year. So Ari just had to send this car back to Cypress and then ship it back into this country and we'd buy it from him. He had sold the van to this other guy last year and was buying it back from him. So he bought it a week or two ago and sent out of the country and he had it shipped back in to this country today for us to get at the port.

Ari arranged for a lady who specializes in bringing cars in from Cypress to take me to the port to get the car. She was a very nice frum lady from Bayit Vagan (was born in Denmark about 60 years ago but has lived in israel for a long time). We met in Tel Aviv at the train station and we took a train together. She was saying tehillim half the time and the rest of the time was saying "b'ezrat Hashem it will all go smoothly .. sometimes it goes quickly and sometimes it takes a long time ... we just have to remain calm and have lots of patience." She seemed like a very patient, calm lady so I assumed she was saying it for my sake. I think though that she was really saying it for her own sake. I had no reason to get upset because I was just following her around and she was doing the talking.

We took a 9:40 train from Tel Aviv and were in Haifa by 11. The first step was to go to the shipping company. We had to pay them money and they had to give us a form that we were allowed to get the car. That was pretty simple and then we walked across the street to customs. I don't really understand what happened but she had called from the train to ask someone (I think from the shipping company) to send clearance ahead to let us into the port. Apparently, they're very strict about who gets into the port and you need clearance. The guy (she said he was an Arab) refused and said he wouldn't do it until we got there. We waited for an hour for the clearance and we didn't get inside customs until around 12:15. There was one person in front of us in line - a Belgian UN guy. My escort told me that she had been there the previous week and it was the same guy working behind the desk and he was awful. I couldn't tell for sure if he was bad but he was having lots of computer problems and it took a long time. He almost messed mine up also. First he was only going to give me the rights to the car for three months (and then I'd have to renew it) and I had to argue with him to get it for six months. Then he forgot to sign something and it took him a long time. Then we went to another customs office (one of these wasn't actually a customs office but I'm not sure what it was so I'm just calling them both customs offices) and they had to finish off some paperwork. The problem was that the people at the port were leaving at 2 and we had to get there to get the keys. My escort was getting very anxious and every step took a long time. We had to pay 187 shekel and they had no change so we had to scrounge up all our change and we managed to get it together. Finally we had it and then they just had to print the form. They finished just before 2.

My escort had called the people at the port and they said they'd wait for us until 2:20. We ran to a taxi and we got in the taxi and she told him where we had to go but she said that last time the taxi driver went the wrong way so this guy had to call the guy waiting at the port. The Arab taxi driver got lost and she was yelling at him but finally he got us there at 2:20. We showed our paperwork that we had waited so long to get so we could go in and then we went to the office and they gave us the key to the car. That was the fastest. Then we had to leave the port with the car and that took a while. The lady kept insisting that we were missing paperwork. She chose the wrong time to start up with my escort. My escort yelled at her and finally she let us through.

We had a nice quiet, uneventful drive back home and I was home around 5. My escort was a very interesting lady and maybe I'll share some stories about her another time but for now I'm just happy to have my car.