Just another shabbos in the Greenstone home


This shabbos was the fourth week out of five having sleep-over guests. My friend Faigy Ort (nee Shwartz) and her four children came for shabbos as they had the Fishman Bar Mitzvah. Faigy and I go way back from Camp Heller "Spat"days and our year in Israel (she was in Michlalah and I slept on her floor many nights). The Ort family is also here for a year from Bergenfield although Chesky (the husband) commutes one week a month back to the US. They actually were the inspiration for us coming for a year. One day I was speaking to my friend Hindy. She casually mentioned that Faigy and family were coming to J"M for a year. I quickly hung up the phone and called to David. I said "let's go to Israel for the year" thinking it would take a lot of convincing but he surprised me and said "okay" (he's not a man of many words). So that started the ball rolling for our fabulous year here.

The Ort's ate over Friday night and our kids hit it off. We all went to shul for the Fishman kiddush and the Ort's stayed there for lunch. We went to the Hellersteins and had a very enjoyable lunch with the Shreibers who made aliyah from Florida. Funny thing is is that both the Hellersteins and Shreibers know several of my brothers. They came to the conclusion that the Spodek clan is definitely and eclectic bunch.

Amy's trip to Sderot

My blog posts have gotten so boring that I decided that I had to get a guest to write some of the material. As luck would have it, my sister sent me an email this morning about her trip to Sderot last week. My friend Aryeh has made a couple trips and arranged supplies for the people of Sderot but most of that was before we came to Modiin. We haven't gone to Sderot at all and really haven't done much for them besides occasionally buying challot from their bakery. I figured that I'd share this email so people can learn about ways that they can help.

Every week, the women in my yishuv bake cakes to bring to Sderot (that is, the women who know how to bake, do so). Two local coordinators collect 30-40 cakes, and a box of candies from one of the nursery classes. Two or three cars drive down to Sderot to deliver these cakes to the local residents. I know, bringing cakes to the local Sefardim there is something like bringing coals to Newscastle. More on that later.
As can be expected on Friday mornings, the men are the ones who usually drive down to Sderot to deliver the cakes. However, last week, our local coordinator told us that there was only ONE volunteer to go there. I told her I'd be willing to drive down with another woman. I finished cooking Shabbos by 8 am (it's easy to do this when you're unemployed), and Erick volunteered to tie up all the loose ends. I met up with Smadar, a teacher on sabbatical, and we went to pick up the cakes and the candies.
Driving to Sderot is like driving to a foreign country. As you approach Sha'ar HaNegev, you roll down your windows, so you can hear if the siren goes off. We were also told to unbuckle our seat belts, so we can jump out quickly to grab shelter if there is a need. Fifteen seconds is all you have. Check out this link (there may be some inappropriate scenes there).
Smadar has a daughter, Reut, who lives in Netivot, but teaches English in the local religious high school. She asked us to stop there first. It turns out that the teenagers are the most neglected of the local population. The little kids are popular stops, homes that have been hit by rockets are also hit by visitors, and the elderly also get a certain amount of attention. So, we were happy to stop there. We visited with the principal, who told us that we should be careful to address the children's heroism, and avoid making them feel that they were recipients of zedakah.
We then went into the 12th grade English class, and gave them one of the cakes. The teacher had a list of vocabulary words on the board, so after the principal introduced us, I told the kids that I had come to teach them a few words in English which they had de factor taught us, and I wrote the words "heroism", "admiration", etc. on the board. They were delighted.
Then we went into the 7th grade class. The boys started clapping their hands, and we insisted that we should be applauding them, and not the opposite. We spoke a bit about how proud we were to see them, and how all the kids in our neighborhood learn about these heroes - them. We asked them if they would agree to take the candies, so we and the kids who prepared them could feel part of their bravery. They agreed to take them :-)
By the way, the principal told us what heroes these kids are. One of them lost a leg one year ago, much the same way as Osher Twito did two weeks ago. On Saturday night, he went to the hospital to tell the family that there is hope.
Then, we met up with Shlomit Eckstein, the local coordinator. She told us that she always points visitors to the house that took a hit that week. Upon seeing my surprise, she explained that every week there is a hit. We drove over to the house, and started knocking on the doors in the building. The dialogue basically went, "Hi. We are Smadar and Amy from Nof Ayalon, and we just came to show you our thanks for being in Sderot by bringing you a cake." It turned out that many of the families were from the garin torani, which means that they are there for idelogical reasons a priori.
Some people clearly wanted to talk. We sat with them for a while longer, and really learned a lot about what they are going through. One woman said, "Yes, we have a shelter in our house. But, you cannot live in your house all day. You need to go out, shop, play, talk to people. That's the danger!"

As we walked around, we could smell these savory smells of Friday morning cooking. Like I said, bringing cakes to these people felt almost humiliating, until one woman told us that these cakes are the tastiest that she has ever had, because they come from the heart. I think that even a big bag of popcorn with a nice note would be equally as effective.
My key takeaways:
1. In talking to the local residents, we need to impress upon ourselves and them that we are not giving to them because they are poor or needy. Rather, we are trying to share in their very heroic acts in a way with which we feel comfortable. By taking from us, they are actually giving to us.
2. Write letters to the locals, expressing your appreciation and admiration for them. These letters could be in English (maybe even to Reut's class). You can send candies
3. If you can, visit them.

Shabbos Ima

On Friday Leora was the Shabbos Ima in gan for the first time since she switched ganim. She was very excited for it and enjoyed it a lot. This was in contrast to the time she was Ima in her old gan when she still wasn't thrilled about going despite the fact that she was going to be Ima. Last week, she had a presentation one evening where they sang songs and put on a show for the mothers. Men weren't invited but Shira said that she did really well.

We had to buy something at the shopping center next the bigger kids' school on Friday so we stopped in to say hello. It's nice to see how many friends they each have in school. We also spoke o the principal for a few minutes and he told us that he's impressed with the kids.

Rivka had a friend from her class from Chashmonaim here for Shabbos. Her family also came for the year but they made the decision recently that they're staying and now they're looking to buy a house. My parents and grandmother and her metapelet were also here for Shabbos but we didn't have any other company for the meals. Zvi went to the Neustadters for lunch so it was pretty quiet. On Motzei Shabbos we went to Beit Shemesh for the Shlocker bar mitzvah and my mother babysat.

Man, these blog posts of mine are getting boring. I need to start thinking of ways to make them better. Maybe we just need to actually do something.

Still Got That Eighties Touch

Okay, so you might think I'm pathetic but I LOVE eighties music and boy did I choose the right country to enjoy it. All they ever play on Israeli radio is eighties songs. My exercise classes are mostly to the beat of eighties music. I am just in heaven!!!

When I was younger my mother always told me never to sing on a date because I'd never get married. I think that she was just trying to save me the embarrassment of a bad voice. I was lucky though, because David is tone deaf so nothing sounds good or bad to him. Since David suffers from this "disability" he never could appreciate music. When we got married I would always listen to the radio but he asked me that when we have kids to limit the music. I didn't realize to him all he was hearing was words, not sounds. Well, as time went on and we added children to our family, I forgot about our little agreement. The kids were and have been exposed to some great music. Problem is, is that I think David may have been right. You see, one day I was driving around Modiin with the kids listening to some music on the radio. I wasn't really paying attention to the words, and actually I wasn't really enjoying this particular song either. Suddenly, Rivka turns to me and ask are they saying "do you want a piece of meat?" or "do you want a piece of me?" I burst out laughing but then realized that perhaps David may have been right. Needless to say, the kids went around the whole night singing "Do you want a piece of me".

However, there are some good points to exposing the kids to eighties music. They think they have the super coolest mother in the world. They are just in awe that I know almost every song on the radio and can name that tune after just a beat or two. How many people can say that their 2 year old knows the course to Phil Collins "Billy don't you lose my number"?

One night Rivka and I played a game. She would throw out a word and I had to come up with a song that had that word in it. She thought I made up half the songs, but I really didn't. She still thought that I was cool though.

A Visit With Our Cousins

As mentioned in several blogs we have a lot of family living in Israel. We have mostly talked about our parents, grandparents, siblings and first cousins but we also have a whole bunch of second cousins too. I happen to have two second cousins my age living in Israel. One of them is my cousin Nechama Feintuch Cohen. Over the years we have kept in touch on and off and see each other every once in a while. When Nechama and her husband Yair were engaged they came to spend a shabbos by us in Baltimore. Although Yair only speaks hebrew we really enjoyed getting to know him. When it came time to sign a lease for our rental in Israel, Yair came through for us with his legal advice (he's a lawyer). This Sunday Nechama and her two boys, Hillel and Eitan came to Modiin and were later joined by Yair. We had a very nice time.

Over shabbos Zvi was sick with a fever and vomiting and got to miss two days of school. By the second day off he was really feeling better but David and I were glad we kept him home because he helped watch Yeshaya while we were recovering with whatever Zvi had.

On Friday Rivka and Zvi got their first ever report cards in Israel. They did so amazing and their teachers are so impressed by them. We are so proud of them and can't wait to reward them for their great efforts.

Several months ago we took Leora and Yeshaya for portraits. It is my tradition to take the kids for a yearly portrait around their birthdays. We found a place in Kiryat Sefer that is the closest to JC Penney's prices. The problem was that we ordered pictures according to American standard sizes and not Israeli. They had to custom order everything. Not as easy at it may sound. It took from Novemeber until now for the pictures to be ready but I think it was worth the wait.

Lots of Company

When we lived in St. Louis there was a single guy, Jarod Hershenson there in medical school. Right around the time that we moved to Baltimore, his fiancee, Jessica moved to join him there. They had both completed their second year of medical school. Two years later they graduated and moved to Baltimore where they both did their residencies. After three years there they decided to come to Israel for a year to study before Jarod does his fellowship at Ohio State. So they've been following us around for a while - St. Louis -> Baltimore -> Israel. They're living in Har Nof for the year with their three little kids without a car so it was a real shlep for them to come out to us by bus but they agreed to visit us for a Shabbos. Their oldest just turned four and their youngest is one and a half so their kids are really, really close in age.

Shira's friend Adina Bloomberg also joined us for Shabbos. Friday night, we had the Gelbergs for dinner and two girls who came to us through Anywhere in Israel. Shira's brother, Eli was supposed to come for Shabbos but we knew we didn't have room for him to sleep at our house so the Butels agreed to host him. He canceled around 11 AM on Friday and when I told the Butels Eli had cancelled they told me that their other company also cancelled. Shira realized that she had a ton of food so she called and invited the Butels also. So we ended up with 24 people for dinner on Friday night! Shabbos lunch seemed empty since it was just the Hershensons and Adina with us. We had a great time but it was nice cleaning up on Saturday night and being able to see our white floor again.

Not enough computers

We actually did things this week but we just haven't had the time to blog about them. Shira's computer broke last week which means that I've had to share my computer with her. This takes away from my free time on the computer and limits my ability to blog. It basically makes it impossible for Shira to blog since I'm always anxiously waiting for her to get off. It also means that the kids don't get to use the computer. I really don't like them using my work computer but I let them check email and stuff once in a while. We ordered a new computer to be delivered to Zale's house and Shira's mother is going to bring it to us in a couple weeks. We are all very excited.

Shira's brother, Avi sent some stuff for us with Tikki's aunt so we went to Tel Aviv to meet them on Tuesday. It was a gorgeous day so we walked along the boardwalk with Yeshaya. Shira had been to a milchig restaurant a couple times with Nechama in Tel Aviv and she really wanted to go again but she couldn't remember the name or where it was so we just came back to Modiin for lunch. Then yesterday we went to the Kotel for the first time in almost a month. We didn't have any kids with us and it was another nice day - a little cool in Jerusalem - so we walked from outside Shaar Yafo.

Today Rivka and Zvi have a half day of school. I'm not exactly sure why but when I asked the kids why they didn't seem to care. They're just happy to get out early. They're getting report cards tomorrow for the first time so maybe this is a pre-reportcard reward or maybe it's in honor of the second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon. Rivka is going to a friend's house straight from school and sleeping there. Maybe one day Rivka will start blogging again and she can write all about it ... maybe on our new computer.

Sunday morning bowling

Once a month the men of Modiin who don't work Sunday mornings get together for bowling. There is a nice bowling alley here and there are a lot of people who don't work Sundays. Some of them are unemployed but most are people who either work in America a couple weeks a month or work American hours in Israel. There are at least 20 people on the email list but I've gone twice now and we got 8 and then 5 guys there. It's a good idea and we have fun. Unfortunately I haven't bowled well either time but it's OK because none of the guys are exactly superstars.

And now for the obligatory Shabbos recap ... we had Shira's cousin Rena and her husband and her cousin on the other side, Malki for the Shabbos. For lunch, Zvi had a friend and Rivka went to a friend and we had the Adderabbi and his family. It was yet another nice Shabbos here.