The Beach

Yesterday was a really fun day. First I went to school and all we did at school was torah and Chagim and we got out at noon. Now we start vacation and we don't have school until Sunday after Sukkos. After school I went to the beach with Avi, Tikki, Elana and Zvi. First we swam then we collected seashells after that we said Tashlich and then we went to a really yummy restaurant for dinner. Today was such a fun day.

Great morning for the big kids

Rivka and Zvi both got ready this morning with no problems at all. They played games together and helped pack up their aruchat eser. We were outside around 7:30 all ready to go and they got on the bus at 7:55 with no trouble at all. Yesterday Rivka's teacher sent home a note telling us what a sweet girl Rivka is and how well she keeps up especially considering that she doesn't talk the language. It's really amazing!

Unfortunately it wasn't a great morning for Leora. She refused to go to Gan today which is pretty much par for the course but when we got there she was clinging and crying more than usual. The ganenet told me that yesterday wasn't a very good day for her. Leora absolutely refused to go so finally I took her home so she could spend the day in her room. Shira spoke to her and she agreed to go today for the afternoon and tomorrow for the morning. She ended up asking to go at around 10:30 and didn't complain at all when she was brought there. We'll see how it works.

Yeshaya's Birthday

Today is Yeshaya's second birthday (and Aliza Sussman's 32 and Rikki Volosov's 33rd - Happy Birthday). We are so proud of our little guy who is toilet trained, besides the occasional poopy accident -yuck (although today he was quite successful, but I'll spare you all the details). Yeshaya and I spent the day with Avi, Tikki and Elana in J"M. We drove in on 443 and took the route to the kotel through town. We were able to stop for a few minutes to see Eli Greenbaum (our shaddchun whom we probably haven't seen since our wedding ten years ago) since it was on the way. After much argument as to the correct way to reach to old city, we arrived and found parking. The weather was just magnificent and we did not mind walking around. After a visit to the kotel, we ventured up all the stairs to find a place for lunch. There was a group of soldiers there taking a tour of the old city and a very nice chayal helped me carry a sleeping Yeshaya and his stroller up all the stairs. Avi and Tikki had another kind chayal help them. We ended up at Bonkers for lunch and we all got sandwiches. We then went into a beautiful gift store (after several trips to the bathroom for Yeshaya) and admired all the gorgeous items that were way out of our price range. (if anyone would like to buy us a gift, there is a gorgeous 3-D picture hanging on the wall which I would love. I think the cost was something like 1600 NIS or maybe more).

We made it back to Modiin just in time for Rivka and Zvi to return from school. Zvi was complaining that a kid hit him, so I decided to call the teacher. Turns out she had been wanting to call me but did not have a home phone number, only a cell (which does not half reception half the time). She wanted to tell me how well Zvi was doing and how we need to keep encouraging him to do his homework etc. I tried to explain that that was easier said than done. In Baltimore it was always a battle and there he understood what he had to do. I am glad to say though, that by bedtime all of his missed homework was completed.

We celebrated Yeshaya's birthday at David's parents house since it would be easier for his grandmother. We enjoyed a pizza dinner and a home made birthday cake (from a package of course). Yeshaya got a toy phone and a package of markers and the excitement at receiving his gifts was like someone winning the lottery.

Gan "O"

Leora goes to Gan Shalhevet. It's a gan chova which is for the year before first grade but in the same building as her is another gan and there are two more right next door. I'm not sure what each one is for but I think one is for those who go half day and another one or two are for kids a year younger. Anyway, we were talking about all the gans there and Leora said that the gan next door to hers was Gan O. I said, "O? You sure?" She said "Yeah, it's the letter after E." Now we were really confused, I asked if maybe she meant the letter after N. She said, "No, L, E, O, R, A. The letter after E." Ok, so now we understood that part but there was no way this gan was called Gan O. She said that her friend told her it was Gan O. Finally we figured it out it's Gan Or but with the Israeli accent it sounds like O.

My Encounter with the Cops

My parents live across the street from Country Center which is a little shopping center in Modiin. It's very convenient for them and it's great for us too since they have a pizza and falafel store and a grocery store and lots of other convenient things. The only bad thing is that it means it's very hard to find parking there on Friday and at other busy times. My parents do have a garage but it would mean that I'd have to call up for them to come down to open the garage so I only use that when necessary. Friday was especially busy since there is also a bike shop and many people had to get their bikes fixed before Yom Kippur. My grandmother lives in the next building over and I just had to run up for a minute to get something from her apartment and my father was going to meet back at the car.

So I parked illegally. I had been told that cops won't bother ticketing our car since we have the Cypress license plates. We've tested it numerous times and have seen cops drive by our car without ticketing us so I felt comfortable leaving the car parked illegally for a few minutes. As I came out I saw a cop car with three policemen driving slowly past the car so I waited for them to pass and then I went to the car. My father came at the same time and I pointed out that the cops just drove by the car. Then a policeman knocked on my window and said something really fast in Hebrew. I didn't know what he said so I told him in English that my Hebrew wasn't very good and he should please talk in English.

He asked me all sorts of questions about the car and about how long I'm in Israel and about my Maryland driver's license. He called his supervisor a couple times and checked with the other guys who were in his car. He asked me to get out of the car and asked me more questions. Finally, after about 15 minutes he told me I could go but he warned me that I must always drive with my passport and I shouldn't park illegally otherwise he could take me into the station. He was actually pretty nice during the entire episode and wished me a gmar chatima tova at the end.

Yom Kippur

This Yom Kippur went really well and really fast (no pun intended). Since we changed the clocks, the fast was over by 6:14 pm. David went to a vas(t)kin minyan that started at 4:45 am and was home by 9:30. Tikki and I then went to shul and stayed until after kiddusha of musaf. It was a very nice experience. The Ba'al Tefilah was a former member of Bitachon and had a beautiful voice. The weather was very nice, with a pleasant breeze (although hotter on our walk back). I spent most of the day lounging around and borrowed the book Small Miracles from my neighbor. Those kind of stories always make me cry and I thought it was "kosher" reading from Yom Kippur. Later in the day Tikki, Elana, me, Yeshaya and Zvi went for a walk while David, Avi, Rikva and Leora were at shul. We went to the "tashlich" spot where everyone said you could see the sea. We noticed something that we thought could be the sea, but we weren't sure. We then went walking through an apartment complex. There were so many ramps and stairs that took you to different places. It was neat ... the kids certainly enjoyed themselves. On our way home a chiloni (not religous) couple with a child approached us and asked us where there was a shul. They wanted to be there to hear the tekiyah at the end of davening. I spoke in hebrew and was able to answer all of their questions. It was really touching to me that they wanted to go to shul, especially when I have seen the lack of interest by non religious people so many other times. Thank G-d Yom Kippur is over. We had our breakfast on yummy bagels from Holy Bagel and pizza (for the kids). The house is somewhat clean again and I will probably head to bed soon so that I can have energy in the morning to fight with the kids about going to school. I can't wait!!!

The shvigger has arrived

Our guests are starting to trickle into our house for yom tov. Shira's mother came on Wednesday afternoon and all the kids got out of school early so they could go get her from the airport. She had gifts for them all which they are really enjoying. Yesterday, Shira spent the day with her and Yeshaya in Yerushalayim. In the evening Shira went with her and Chanina R to Kiryat Sefer to buy some stuff for Sukkos. Then late last night Avi came with Tikki and Elana. My kids are trying their best to get them adjusted to the new time zone by making lots of noise in the morning. They also had gifts for the kids. Leora and Yeshaya also got gifts from us for their birthdays (Yeshaya's is Sunday and Leora's is a month from today). Leora got a bike with training wheels and Yeshaya got a new tricycle.

In Israel, everyone is busy preparing for Yom Kippur. The sad thing to me is that the non-religious get ready by making sure their bicycles are in good shape for the big bike ride tomorrow. A custom has developed in this country that while the religious are at shul and the stores are all closed they go for a bike ride. There are basically no cars on any street so they bikers get the entire street.

School is dumb

I hate school so far so much. I wish that I never had to go again. If I knew Hebrew maybe it would be better but for now it's very boring.

Pre Yom Kippur Fun

Yesterday was the most fun school day. This is what we did.
  • Davened
  • Torah
  • aruchat eser
  • Chagim
  • recess
  • English
  • Recess
  • Trip - this was the fun part - we went to a forest and had a great time there
  • and a class that I don't know what we did but it was good
Have a good yom kippur and shabbos.


Rivka came home from school yesterday and told us that she got a 98 on her second straight chumash test. She also said that she davened out loud for the first time in class. Coincidently, Zvi also davened out loud for the first time. He also said something in Hebrew in class for the first time - he asked to go to the bathroom. Leora continues to learn more Hebrew and uses more and more Hebrew words (90% of which are words she makes up). Yeshaya went the entire day without making in his pants for the first time in his life. Looks like he's getting ready for his second birthday on Sunday.

After school Shira took them all to see Saba, Savta and Bubbie and they each got a little present from them. They all had a great time there. Then, this morning they went to school/gan without any complaints (besides a little kvetching from Leora). That's because we promised them that we're picking them up early to go to the airport to get Bubbie who is flying in from Toronto today. They're all very excited about that and they can't wait for their Uncle Avi, Aunt Tikki and Elana to come from Baltimore late tomorrow night. Yay!

No more Daylight Savings Time

As Shira mentioned, we changed our clocks on Saturday night even though the people in the United States (even Indiana now keeps DST) change their clocks the first Sunday of November. It's a big political issue both in the US and in Israel for some different reasons. In the United States the proponents claim that it's better to have extra sunlight in the afternoon/evening to save energy and to give people more time to play/work outside in the evening. The opponents don't like the fact that it gets light so late in the day. We also just fail to see the benefits of changing the clocks. This is a real problem for religious Jews who live on the Western edge of a timezone (like Detroit) where sunrise can be really late and it makes it very hard to daven before work. In Israel, there is the added element of Yom Kippur. The idea is that it's easier to fast 25 consecutive hours if the fast doesn't end so late in the day. There have been many changes in the DST rules in Israel over the years:
From 1993 to 1998, the change to Daylight Saving Time was on a Friday morning from midnight IST to 1:00 a.m. IDT; up until 1998, the change back to Standard Time was on a Saturday night from midnight Daylight Saving Time to 11:00 p.m. Standard Time. An exception was 1996, when the change back to Standard Time took place on Sunday night instead of Saturday night to avoid conflicts with the Jewish New Year. From 1999 to 2004, the change to Daylight Saving Time was on a Friday morning, but from 2:00 a.m. IST to 3:00 a.m. IDT; and the change back to Standard Time was on a Friday morning from 2:00 a.m. IDT to 1:00 a.m. IST.
In 2005 though a new law was passed that stipulated:
The move to Daylight Saving Time will always occur on the last Friday before April 2nd, at 2:00 a.m.
The move back to standard time will occur on the Sunday before the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, at 2:00 a.m
. The determination of the move back to standard time according to the Jewish calendar ensures that it will always occur on Saturday night between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur.
In general I'm a big fan of standard time because I like when it gets light early and gets dark before my kids have to go to bed but this year was really great when we changed the times because it was right after the three day yom tov so the extra hour of sleep was very much appreciated and because it meant that Tzom Gedalia and Yom Kippur both end an hour earlier.

By the way, for those curious if we were going to build off yesterday's success ... the answer is no. It was right back to the old ways for everyone. Tomorrow will be better!

A good morning

The best school morning of the year so far. We can still do better but this was definite progress. Rivka has always been excellent in the morning and today was no exception. She watched Yeshaya a bit and helped get herself and the others ready. Zvi went to school without complaining although he did hint that he'll only do this until the chagim and after that he wants a change. He seems to think that the Hebrew will be easier if he's at a different school. I think it's just a case of the grass is always greener on the other side but we'll continue to monitor his progress at Lamaan Achai and see how it goes. I walked Leora to her gan with Yeshaya and she struggled a little bit on the walk. We got to gan and she tried to cling to me but the teacher gave her a picture and suggested that I go with her to sit with crayons to color. She looked very sad but didn't cry or scream. First time, that either of us have left her at gan that she wasn't screaming. This is real progress. The shekel and popsicle that she was promised if she doesn't cry certainly didn't hurt.

Rosh Hashana

It's been a few days and there is so much stuff to blog about. Rosh Hashana here was great. We were invited out for the day meals and ate the night meals at home (by choice). We enjoyed the company and food at the Baks, Gelbergs and Shlockers. I got to go to shul both days. The first day I went and saw Chanina Rosenbaum so of course we had to catch up and spent most of the time talking. The truth is, it was very hard to concentrate when there were a million kids running around, mine included :) I davened at home before I got to shul and was able to hear the shofar so I was happy. The next day I was determined to have a proper shul experience. I only took Rivka with me and made my way down to shul. When I got there I realized that low and behold in my hands was a siddur not a machzor - there went that idea of having a meaningful davening. At least I was able to share a machzor with a friend (Penina).

The funniest thing happened over R"H. I was standing at the end of my driveway Wednesday night and who do I run into, the Rosenbaums. They were on their way to the Mazeri's. It turns out the Mazeri's live a few houses away from us and we had no clue. It's funny, we lived around the corner from them in Baltimore, and didn't really get to know them. But here in Modiin we are becoming acquainted. Rivka and Avital Mazeri hit it off and spent a lot of time together over R"H.

We did not get to say tashlich because in Israel it is hard to find flowing water this time of year. Many people stood atop a hill with the view of the sea in the far distance and recited tashlich. That was just too weird for us. We plan on finding a place to say it before sukkos.

On shabbos (day three) we were walking to the Shlockers for lunch we kept bumping into people we knew. Our kids even commented that we know more people in Modiin than we do in Baltimore. It kind of feels that way.

We changed the clocks motzei shabbos so the kids got to stay up until shabbos was over. It was into the bath with all of them.

Yeshaya had several poopy accidents over shabbos but thank G-d today he only had a small one this morning. He lets us know when he needs the bathroom. We are so proud of him. Although today he gave us quite a fright. David had gone to Mincha and I was preparing dinner for the kids. Yeshaya was outside but I assumed that the older kids were watching him. One of the children from next door told me that Leora was outside of our complex and I asked her to tell Leora that she needed to come back into our driveway. Leora returns a few minutes later screaming her head off that Yeshaya was lost. Turns out that Leora suggested to him that they go look for Zvi. Yeshaya liked the idea and set off on his own while Leora spaced out. We all went running in different directions, including other adults from our complex and I found him down the block walking with a nice man and his two children. It seems that Yeshaya made his way into the middle of an apartment complex and was playing around in the open area. He did not seem even slightly scared. The positive side to this was that we got to meet a kid in Leora's gan who lives across the street from us.

Happy Belated birthday Aryeh!!!

Shana Tova

I haven't been allowed to blog in the last couple of days. Only bloggies or statistic obsessed people would understand why(Greg and Aryeh :) ). You see, David has been tracking the flow of hits to our blog (don't worry we can't see who you are, just how many hits we get and what city etc.). Apparently he linked to a very popular blog, instapundit, who in turn linked to ours. Let me tell you, I have never in my life seen David so excited before. He was practically jumping up and down with happiness. The traffic to our blog was exploding. Hit after hit, our numbers were going up. 1300, 1400 (but truthfully I have no idea how many hits we got but I'm sure David does). For fear of affecting our flow, David asked me not to post anything new. I figured though that being Rosh Hashana today, I can post a shana tova message.

We wanted to wish you all a shana tova. A happy and healthy new year.

Also, happy birthday to Daniella Shields who is turning five.

Blood donation

Today, I donated blood in Israel for the first time. Before I went, Aryeh told me that there is a big shortage now so I felt better about going but they should have really publicized that fact. The turnout was kind of pathetic. It was going on for five hours so it's possible that I went at a slow time but I didn't get that feeling. It's also possible that most people give at work because I have no clue if they organize those things at the offices here like they do in the States. Even so, in Baltimore, when our shul organizes these (twice a year) we get far better turnout. Or it could be that people just look at their leaders who seem to feel that there is no great need to donate. I got a couple emails about the blood drive but they need to get the word out on the street. The shuls in the neighborhood should all be making announcements and signs should be posted in the schools. I came home and told Shira that so she felt guilty enough to go. She usually feels sick after giving blood so she hasn't tried in a few years but she figured she'll give it one more shot.

The experience is different than it is in the States. First of all, they don't read all the questions about what drugs you took but you fill it out before you go up to them. Then there are three separate stations to 1. check your blood pressure, 2. check your hemoglobin 3. check the paperwork. Actually hemoglobin was supposed to go before blood pressure but I went out of order.

Then we went into the backroom to donate blood. Glenn Reynolds posted pictures last year when he donated blood and I was jealous of the cushioned chair that he got. What I got there though was a lot more comfortable than what they give here. They don't have chairs that recline but just flat beds so you have to be flat on your back the whole time. I didn't find that very comfortable. At least they gave me a pillow. They also don't spend a lot of time bandaging it when you're done. They just put a piece of tape over the bandage that was covering the needle. Overall, it wasn't bad. The people from Magen David Adom and the volunteers from the shul were very nice and helpful. Compare the picture from Instapundit to this picture and you can see why I was jealous. The lady is the one who took my blood.

My First Test in Israel

Today was another fun day. First we had chumash (we had a test and I got a 98). Then we had dikduk. Then we had English. Then we had art and last we had chagim. When I got home, I went outside to play on my bike with our neighbor Miri. While I was riding I fell onto the street. Then I went to Savta's to do my homework. It was a very fun day.

Stinky Israeli Floors

I cannot stand Israeli floors, or at least the floor in my house. The tiles are light beige and they are impossible to keep clean. I have definitely become a sponga pro. I have a real system to cleaning my floor which I'm constantly washing. I should really take a picture of it after shabbos to post here. I am told that all floors are like mine but yet I have never walked into anyone else's house and been disgusted with the state of their floors. In our house if you spill something, splash a few drops of water etc. forget it ... in a few seconds the clear spot will become gray. All of our neighbors opted for a darker tile which really makes a big difference. Anyway, enough kvetching.

Today I got together with Nechama in Tel Aviv. I picked her up from work and drove to the restaurant. I had such a yummie dish (grilled veggies over pasta) and of course an ice coffee (light). It was very enjoyable meal, besides the smelly old Israeli men sitting at the table next to us.

Rivka, Zvi and Leora had very positive experiences at school today. Rivka did very well on a chumash test (refer to her blog). Zvi made a new friend and Leora picked up some more hebrew. And let's not forget about cutie Yeshaya. He is just something. His english vocabulary is picking up tremendously (and he is even picking up some hebrew too). He is just a little parrot. To top it all off, today we have started toilet training him since he has shown interest. He is now asking to sit on the toilet and has been very successful (I'm sure that the candy bribe has something to do with it).

I just wanted to wish a happy birthday to Eli G. whose birthday is today. I am proud of myself that I remembered after all these years. (you reading this Eli?)

Cute little exchange

The Dresslers (friends of ours from Baltimore who made aliya a few weeks ago) posted about a cute little exchange they had with their daughter one day after gan. That reminded us of Leora's comment one day last week. As mentioned previously, she cries and screams every day when we bring her to gan. She comes home in a great mood and has a good time there but she just gives a really hard time about going. The teachers claim it only lasts for 10 minutes so that's good. Anyway, she came home the first or second day and told Shira that the teachers keep telling her that she should die. Of course all they were saying was "ENOUGH."

School on Sunday

We had a great Shabbos. The kids really enjoyed playing with all the different neighbors and seemed to genuinely have a nice time. Shira's brother, Eli was here for Shabbos and also her friend Adina from Chashmonaim. The kids had a great time with them (as did we) and we had two families with kids for lunch, including one kid who goes to gan with Leora. A boy from Zvi's class ate lunch at a neighbor and the Boutel girls down the block adore Rivka and constantly come over to play with her.

We managed to get them to sleep at their normal bedtime last night (well actually I just got them into pajamas and Shira got them to bed while I was at shul) but we still had trouble this morning. It's not easy getting them to bed at their normal bedtime when it's Shabbos still but we managed. The good news is that we change the clocks next week and then Shabbos will be over before their bedtimes and we won't have that issue anymore.

I wish I could say the only reason Zvi and Leora didn't want to go to school was because it was Sunday but we've had the same thing every other day of the week also. They'll get used to it soon but until then the mornings will continue to be filled with excitement.

I finally got a bike

Today we had school but it was only half a day. It was not the funnest day but it was o.k. (one of the reasons why I did not like school today is because the bus came 20 minutes late to bring us home). The best part of the day was after school when the whole family went to Country Center (across from my Savta's house) and bought a bicycle for me. It's blue and gray and is really pretty. I came home and rode it for over an hour and had so much fun! Shabbat Shalom l'kulam.

The Debate - Fridge or Freezer

We are planning on having a lot of company over the chagim (Yom Tovim for those in the US/Canada) and definitely do not have enough space in our current fridge. Initially we thought to buy an extra fridge because then we'd have more freezer space too. But when we thought about it we realized that drinks take up a good chunk of space and if we just put the drinks in the freezer before the meal, we'll have plenty of room. Our decision was made we were going to buy an extra freezer. This however is not that simple. It should be, but it's not. Let me back track a minute and tell you a quick story that happened with a fridge we were going to buy. Since the fridge was located in Tel Aviv, Nechama ever so graciously went over to the sellers house to check it out. She gave a good report and we were ready to go. A couple days before the the pick-up date, the seller sends me an email that he is no longer selling it. I'm upset but what can I do. Now we're back to the part where we decided we need a freezer instead. I was a referred to this wonderful second hand website that sells second hand items in Israel. I was very proud of myself that I was able to navigate it despite the website being completely in Hebrew. I found a freezer in our price range and made the arrangements to pick it up today. What do you know, this seller backed out too claiming she decided not to sell it after all. Why the heck did she post it then. I was really upset now (steam coming out of my ears upset) and made it my mission to find and buy a freezer today and guess what, I did!! The sellers turned out to be really sweet people in Petach Tikvah and we did not feel comfortable bargaining them down on the price, so we paid them their asking price. We felt it was fair. We are now the proud owners of a new (used) freezer and we have room for all of our food.

Another fun day at school

Today was such a fun day. We had English, Torah, Chagim and a fun thing that I don't know what it is called so I will say what you do all you do is play fun games on paper. The most fun part about the day is that my friends make me laugh like crazy ( well some of the time I liked it some of the time I did not because today i fell on the floor and I banged my head on the corner of a table) When I came back from school I did my homework for a hour and a half. After that I rode on Zvi's bike. Then it was time to get ready for bed.

He fooled them again

Every year we go through the same thing with Zvi. He hates going to school. This started the first time he started going to school when he was in pre-Nursery in Yeshivat Rambam in Baltimore and continued in TA in Nursery, Kindergarten and 1st grade and has picked up with a vengeance here. I've had to physically force him onto the bus in the morning and he's gone on literally kicking and screaming. Not surprisingly, we got a phone call at 11 this morning from the school that Zvi is sick and needs to come home. Shira told them that he didn't want to go to school and he does this all the time but they insisted that he had bad diarrhea and he had to come home.

We were in Petach Tikva getting a new freezer for yom tov (maybe Shira will blog about that later) so Shira said we'd be there in an hour. Then we got nervous trying to figure out how the teacher knew what was wrong and that maybe he'd had an accident. We got to school and we saw the principal who pointed out Zvi's teacher so we talked to her. She told us that Zvi was doing well despite not understanding a word she said but that he was really sick today. We told her that he's a good faker but she insisted he was really sick because he kept leaving class to go to the bathroom and he was embarrassed to tell her what was wrong. We went to Zvi and congratulated him on faking them out and he laughed. He said he only told them his stomach hurt and he claimed it really did. We tried convincing him to stay in school but he really wanted to come home so we agreed to take him home this one time. (I showed this entire post to Zvi before publishing it so he would know what I was writing about him and he wanted me to add that one time when he called home sick he really was sick. That was during camp this past summer and he had 100.4 fever. It's amazing that even he admits that he was only really sick one time because he's probably called home at least 30 times over the last few years.)

I pointed out to him that he always gets one free pass a year but we're not doing this again. He knows I mean it because last year he tried a few more times after the initial fake but it didn't work. The funny thing is that he really seems to be enjoying school especially when you consider the fact that he doesn't understand the language. He complains about going in the morning but after school he admits that it wasn't so bad. So far bla"h his adjustment (and really everybody's) has been much better than I anticipated.

Location, Location, Location

We are living in Modiin which is right between Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv. We can get to each city in about 20-25 minutes and it's very convenient. We are in the neighborhood of Buchman Darom which is a very new area just south of Buchman which is at the edge of Modiin. We're actually right at the beginning of Buchman Darom so we're just as close to people in Buchman as we are to people in "Darom." Basically we're less than a ten minute walk from anybody we know in Modiin besides my parents (although Shira claims she can do the walk in 15 minutes).

Buchman Darom is at least half American and an even higher percentage dati (religious). One problem with it is that it's so new that there isn't even a shul in the neighborhood. They're going to build three shuls right at the end of our block but in the meantime there is a shul at someone's house - we've been davening outside but we're switching houses this week and I think it moves inside. People only started living in this neighborhood about a year ago and our development is brand new.

There is a long driveway (it's the first driveway on the left on Esther Hamalka which is the road leading into Darom) with six attached cottages.
We are in the fourth cottage and were actually the second ones to move in. Last week, the final two families moved in so now our driveway is full. The family immediately to our left are brand new olim from LA and the family to our right and the one in the first cottage made aliya last summer. The other two families are Israeli but seem to have pretty good English. It worked out really well for Zvi because there are about 4 boys around his age and he's been having a good time with them. He went bike riding with them the last couple days and they even put up a basketball net. There aren't any girls even close to Rivka's age. Most of the girls in her class live in Chashmonayim which is a 15 minute drive from us. We drove there on Sunday and Monday after school so she could play with friends (she makes friends very quickly) but it will be harder for Shabbos. Lucky for her, Daniella Meltz, a very good friend of hers from camp last summer is moving right down the block from us. She's also meeting other girls in the neighborhood and if there's one thing I don't have to worry it's Rivka's social life. There are also a couple girls a year older than Leora on our driveway. The next issue is finding a way to entertain Yeshaya all day.


In Baltimore laundry was my job in the house. It wasn't a big deal ... at some point in the morning I put the clothes in the washing machine, switch the loads a couple hours later and then fold it while the kids were getting ready for bed. I got a lot of credit for doing this chore but I really didn't mind it and didn't take up too much of my time.

Before we moved we found a lady who was moving back to the States and who was selling a lot of her junk including her old washer and dryer. We bought a bunch of stuff from her and paid quite a bit to have them shipped from Zichron Yaakov. When we got the washing machine it was broken and we had to pay a couple hundred shekel to get it fixed. After it was working Shira did the laundry for a while. I'm not good with new things and it was hard with my work schedule.

Now with the kids in school, I have more free time so I decided that I'd try to figure out why Shira was complaining so much about doing the laundry. Now I can't understand why she was complaining so little. What a pain! The washing machine takes over an hour to wash the clothes and doesn't get the stuff very clean and the stuff comes out soaking. Not just wet but dripping wet. Then the dryer takes forever. For some mysterious reason, the dryer shuts off every five minutes for about five minutes. It takes about 3 hours for the stuff to be completely dry in the dryer. So we try hanging it outside first and then putting it in the dryer. I'm not sure if it's worth the effort. We're getting used to it and soon it will become part of our routine but for now it's one more thing to which we're trying to adjust.

Aruchat Eser

Meals in school work a little differently in Israel than in the US. Rivka and Zvi get a hot lunch in school so we were very excited that we wouldn't have to make lunches for the kids this year. The first few days they get out at noon so we figured there would be no hot lunch but they'd just eat when they got home. We sent them with a snack and water and they were happy with it. We insisted that they eat a big breakfast and they agreed.

Then Zvi was sitting in school and all of a sudden everyone pulls out a sandwich at 9:30 in the morning. He couldn't understand what was happening. It didn't bother him too much since he wasn't hungry at all but he found the whole thing odd. One of Rivka's friends gave her some food so she wouldn't feel left out and they both survived without a sandwich. Luckily we knew to send Leora with lunch (we actually didn't realize that she'd be getting a hot lunch at gan so we sent what we thought was her lunch but it was really aruchat eser). Now, we send everyone with the sandwich, snack and drink each day but we have a hard time convincing them to eat breakfast. They argue that there is no point if they're going to eat soon after they get to school. Hard to argue with the logic.


Yesterday was my first day of school. My teacher and class are really nice. Now I am going to say what we did the whole day.
  • Davened
  • my teacher told us a story
  • we went on a little scavenger hunt
  • we had aruchat eser
  • we made a cover for our notebook
  • we wrote stuff in our notebook
  • we had recess
  • the teacher explained homework
  • then it was time to go home and it was only 12:00 (on Wednesday we start staying until 4)
Doesn't it sound like a fun day ( to tell you the truth it was a really fun day but it was very hard)!

They're off

Rivka, Zvi and Leora went to school for the first time in Israel today. I drove Rivka and Zvi and it took us forever to get out of the Buchman neighborhood. Once we were on our way though it was a fast drive. First I brought Zvi into his classroom while Rivka waited outside with Yeshaya. There were a couple American boys in the room and he sat next to one of them and seemed OK. I went back out and brought Rivka to her classroom. Her teacher was already in there talking to the girls. I told her Rivka didn't know Hebrew and she reassured me that lots of girls didn't and Rivka would be fine. Shira brought Leora and she said that she was very good also. Hopefully, Rivka and Zvi will blog to tell us about their first day later. Here are pictures of each kid ready to go.

Full House

Shira's shirking her responsibilities so I'll have to catch everyone up on our last couple of days. We basically did nothing on Thursday and Friday. Thursday morning I took the kids bowling while Shira went grocery shopping with Yeshaya. Then Friday I took the kids to Bubbie's to hang out while Shira cleaned the house for Shabbos. After having a cleaning lady for the last couple of weeks we decided we'd take a week off to save a little bit of money. Shira cleans much better than they do in half the time but it's a lot easier when they come.

We had lots of excitement on Shabbos. My parents, my grandmother and her helper, two of Amy's daughters and two of Ethel's kids were here for the entire Shabbos. Packed house! We had enough beds and mattresses and more than enough food. This was our first time eating at home for Shabbos lunch in a very long time (we'd eaten out our first five weeks here and our last few weeks in Baltimore). It's always nice to be home to eat Shira's Shabbos cooking and she didn't let us down. Then Shabbos afternoon the Baks came over to visit a little. It's great having people pop in on the long afternoons (last week JJ came over).

The tough part was getting the kids to bed at a reasonable hour since they start school tomorrow. We had no chance until after havdala but they all seemed tired enough that they didn't really fight us going to bed right after havdala even though some cousins were still here. Hopefully tomorrow will go well for all the kids despite the fact that they won't really understand anything their teachers say. Good luck kids!