Rav Lau

This Shabbos Rabbi Dovid Lau made a Bar Mitzvah for his son so his father, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau was in town. He spoke at our shul between mincha and maariv and we had about 500 people there to hear him. It was an impressive crowd and he spoke well.

This was the first late Shabbos of the year which meant that we still got in naps even after a long lunch at the Baks house. We weren't up too late on Friday night either since we had no company. Erev Shabbos was actually extra long because it was a rare Friday when we didn't have a baseball game. Instead we went to Yerushalayim for a game on Thursday night. Zvi had said that he would blog about the game (I'm not holding my breath) so I won't write about our Cheetahs' second victory in a row.

My trip to Sderot

A few weeks ago I posted a letter that my sister wrote after her visit to Sderot. Today, I was finally able to join her on a trip there. My little sister raised $10,000 from her shul and the people of Los Angeles to buy things for the people of Sderot and she told them that she'd personally deliver it. Zach, one of the sons of the major donor is in Israel studying for the year so he wanted to go also. Amy drove Aliza, my mother, Zach and me down to Sderot.

We stopped at a toy store and bought lots of games and some stereos to bring to an elementary school. Aliza had plans for the rest of the money but we didn't personally deliver those things. The school was very appreciative and the principal was kind enough to give us a tour.

The school has a protective cover over it so that when a qassam rocket comes it will hit the cover and not hurt anyone in the school.

So they're safe when they're in school. The problem is that you can't expect the kids to stay inside all the time. The principal said that during the peak, they had to keep the kids indoors for three consecutive weeks and everyone was going crazy. The problem is that when they're outside and the siren goes off they all have to run inside as quickly as they can. There is a shelter (decorated by the kids) near the playground but the kids are instructed to go inside the school building.

A few weeks ago a rocket landed about 100 feet from the school building. Here is the hole that is left and some holes in the railing from the shrapnel.

Nobody was hurt by it but the kids were very scared. Three kids had to go to the hospital. The principal said that the whole building shook and they were all sure that it hit the building.

It was very interesting to go there and amazing to see these people who live in this kind of danger every day.

Israeli wedding

Last night Shira and I went to Shoshana Peerless' wedding. The Peerless are my parents closest friends from Dayton and later Ramot. Mrs. Peerless (who now insists that I call her Jo Ann but I can never get used to that) used to joke that I was really her son. They also have four daughters just like my parents but they don't have any sons. My parents both have darker hair and Mrs. and Rabbi Peerless have the same color hair as me so the joke was that there was a mix-up and I was really their long lost son (the fact that I was born before they got married didn't phase them). Shoshana is their oldest daughter and is best friends with my younger sister. We moved away from Dayton when they were in first grade but they've managed to remain friends through the years. Aliza flew in from Los Angeles without her 5 daughters and husband just for the wedding.

The wedding was in Mitzpe Yericho and we drove there with my parents, Amy and Erick and Aliza. Then we all sat at one table together with Eric and Ethel. I was trying to put my finger on the difference between American weddings and Israeli weddings and I think I figured it out. I think that when people go to weddings in the US they're going to a fancy affair like a banquet. In Israel it's not like that. People don't get so dressed up for weddings and I think the primary goal of the attendees is just to have lots of fun. I'm not saying that people in the US don't have fun at weddings but it just doesn't seem to be the number one purpose of the wedding. I think it's even evident at the chuppa. In America, it's a long drawn out process with people walking down the aisle, slow music and everyone very quiet. In Israel, lots of people stand, nobody walks down the aisle and people are very, very close to the chuppa.

We definitely had fun last night and tonight we're making sheva brachos at my parents house and I'm sure we'll enjoy that immensely too.

Purim Meshulash

This year, people in Yerushalayim had a three day Purim:
  • Mikra Megillah is done on Thursday night and Friday morning, as in the open cities; Matanot La-Evyonim are given on Friday.

  • The reading of Parashat Amalek and the insertion of Al HaNisim into the Shemoneh Esray and the Birchat HaMazon are done on Shabbat, their regular Purim in ordinary years.

  • Seudat Purim is served and Mishloach Manot are exchanged on Sunday, the sixteenth of Adar.

It was more than 90 degrees here today - not something we're used to from Baltimore so we spent some time in the park. Then we drove to the Callens (Shira's cousins) to join them in their Purim seuda in Ramot. We had a nice time but I managed to stay sober through yet another Purim seuda.


Purim is very different in Israel than it is in the chutz la'aretz. This year was different anyway because it was on Friday but it's just great to see everyone in the entire country dressed up and partying in honor of Purim. It is a little strange to see some 13 year old girls dressed up in ways that would make Elliot Spitzer proud but it's great that everyone celebrates the holiday in some way. There was a big parade in Modiin but we just ran out of time and didn't even have a chance to go.

I went to an early, fast megilla reading and then Shira went with the girls to a 7 AM reading. After megilla, the kids and I started our trip to deliver shaloch manos. It was a little sad because very few people were at home. Some people were at the parade and others were out delivering their own packages. This is outside Yeshaya's ganenet's house.

He was very upset that she wasn't home but we did go back after our seuda after she had returned from the parade. Leora was lucky because her ganenet was at home and she was thrilled to see her.

We drove in circles in Hashmonaim trying to find all the kids' friends and after we found most of them we returned just in time to get to Saba and Savta's for the Purim seuda with Bubbie and the Fredj's.

We spent Shabbos in Zichron Yaakov and again had a great time with the Hagege's.

Pre-Purim Festivities

Today is dress-up day at all the schools and ganim. The kids were all dressed by 6:30 and just waiting for Shira to get up to put on the make-up. Yeshaya thought he could handle the make-up himself. Here's a picture of them all ready for school today. Nobody brought books or anything to school as it's just parties and then they all get out early

Opening Day

Friday was the first regular season game of the season for Zvi and our Modiin Cheerfully Changed Cheetahs. We were playing Rechovot who was obviously smaller, more Israeli and less excited about baseball than we were. We expected to win but in the top of the first inning they scored a run and we were losing 1-0. In the bottom of the inning the first three guys (including Zvi) singled so we had the bases loaded for our cleanup hitter, Noam Wine. He popped out (he would make up for that later in the game by homering twice). After that out though our team came alive as four of the next five batters got hits and we took a 6-1 lead. We ended up playing 5 innings and we won 18-1. Zvi had three hits including a "homerun." Our defense was really good as we only made two errors the entire game and the kids all had a great time. I'd like to think that we won mostly because of the manager ;-)

My parents came to cheer on Zvi and took a couple pictures of warmups.

Friday night we had the Turks for dinner and had a really nice time with them. Then, for the first time all year, we walked to my parents for lunch since my cousing Tova was visiting from Cincinnati. The walk took a lot less time than I thought it would - less than 15 minutes from shul to their house. We hung out there all afternoon and had a lot of fun playing ping pong and card games, going to the park and eating lots of nosh.

Day off for the bigger kids

We promised Rivka and Zvi a day off because of their amazing report cards. Also, Leora had missed a half day of school to go to Yerushalayim a couple weeks ago with Shira and my mother-in-law. So I had to come up with a plan of what to do with the kids. I'm always nervous coming up with a plan because I want it to be something that they'll enjoy. I kind of wanted this one to be somewhat educational but I really wanted them to have a good time also. We were also bound by time because Yeshaya is only at playgroup from 8:15 until 12:15 every day. We decided to ask the Mayers if Yeshaya could go there for an hour to play with their son Ami. They're best friends and love playing together. They have similar personalities and even look almost the same. Ami has come to our house before and it was incredible how nicely they played together. So that gave us an extra hour to have fun.

Shira and I still had to come up with something to do. We asked Rivka and Zvi but they didn't really have any great ideas and they seemed to nix anything that we suggested. Rivka's ulpan teacher recommended Park Canada, Amy suggested Maalit Yerushalayim and my mother thought going to a park and looking at all the flowers blooming would be a good idea. We decided against all those for various reasons and settled on a day at the Old City of Yerushalayim. I sent an email to the kids last night with our schedule and when they woke up and read it they were excited.

So we left this morning just after dropping off Yeshaya and parked near the Kotel. We davened quickly (or the others did I had already davened) and then went out for breakfast at Bonkers Bagels. Then we went just across the road to the Burnt House Museum. It's a tiny little museum but they have a really good 25 minute 3D movie which the kids really enjoyed. The original schedule had us going to another museum but Shira had the idea of changing it to go to the shuk instead. We bought some shaloch manos packages for the kids to give to their friends and also got some other goodies like hamentashin, candies and ice coffees. Then we were approaching our deadline so it was time to head home.

We dropped the kids off at Bubbie's so they could spend a little time there and then we went to pick up Yeshaya from his friend's house. He had only been there for a half hour and was NOT happy to see me. The Mayers agreed to keep him for another half hour. I went to mincha and then picked Yeshaya up from Mayers, Rivka and Zvi from Bubbie's and Leora from gan. They came home watched a movie and went grocery shopping with Shira. Zvi and Rivka both had great days and even learned something about Yerushalayim in the process. I'd call this day off a success!

The first picture is in front of the Burnt House Museum and the second is in the shuk. We chose to take the picture in front of the fish in honor of our newest nephew, Roi Nun (nun means fish in Aramaic). Mazel tov Aaron, Aviva and Deyah!

Five straight days

We are extending another Greenstone record in our house today. This is our fifth straight day without having on the air conditioner or the heat at all. I'm pretty sure that we've never done that before in our 10.5 years of marriage. The weather has been beautiful and we can keep the windows open. In Baltimore, even when it's great weather, we can't keep the windows open because I get killed by allergies. I've been hit a little here but it's not bad at all. It gets a little hot in the afternoons but we've managed. I think we'll probably turn on the a/c today or tomorrow but we'll see how long we can keep the record streak going.

Today is Zvi's Hebrew birthday and yesterday was his English birthday. We were supposed to have a Shabbos with no company but Adina B. just came back from the States so we had her and she no longer counts as a guest anyway. At the last minute Rivka decided to go to Nof Ayalon to my sister's with my parents. We ate lunch at the Wines with the Zaks' and then we all had dessert outside with the other neighbors in our driveway. The Butels had a big cake in honor of their 9th anniversary and it was also Zvi and Liron Wine's birthdays.

Cheifetz Chashud

As I'm sure many of you have heard, last night at 8:30 pm terrorist entered Yeshivat Mercaz Harav and started spraying bullets. Eight students were murdered and 11 injured. In addition, Sderot, Ashkelon and other parts of Israel have been dealing with the constant barrage of rocket attacks. As Israel tries to defend herself, the world tells her to use restraint or worse condemns the counter terrorist missions. People are starting to feel the strain of the situation, they are our brothers and sisters out there getting murdered. We feel their pain and their loss, but yet somehow we have to put it in the back of our minds and move on with every day life. Last night things really hit home for us. First the attack on the Yeshiva students who were sitting and learning. Innocent lives snuffed out in a second for what? I went to sleep last night with heavy thoughts on my mind. You could imagine the jolt of fear I felt when I was awoken after 1 am by the blaring lights of a police van in the parking lot not 200 feet away. The policeman came on his loud speaker and said something that I could not decipher. My heart was racing but as I looked around everything seemed calm. The police man that I could see was smoking a cigarette. The next to wake up was Zvi and then Rivka (David had fallen asleep working in his office and did not hear anything as he works in the mamad). There was a loud BOOM. Car alarms were set off and people started gathering around. The "party" lasted another 5 minutes and then all was quiet again. I explained to the kids that some alert person found something suspicious and the police came and blew it up in case it was dangerous. They had experienced this before and were not afraid. We all went back to sleep after that.


One of my closest high school friends came to Israel for a week with his oldest son to celebrate his nephew's bar mitzva. I'm notoriously bad with calling people and getting together but he called me twice and offered to come to my house to visit. It's a little ridiculous for him to waste a morning shleping out to Modiin when I could go visit him in Jerusalem so I said I'd meet him there. I was going to take a bus but then Shira had the brilliant idea that Ephi could take a duffel bag back for us so I drove there with the duffel. We went to Center 1 for lunch and had a nice time. It's always good to spend time with him. He also told me he saw another classmate of ours who lives in Yerushalayim who I haven't seen since the year after we graduated. He got me his phone number so maybe I'll actually call him one day.

Shira was home all alone today for almost three hours. I realized that is a very rare occurrence. I'm home almost all the time and if I'm not home then usually there is at least one kid here. That might be the longest amount of time that she's been home alone since we came to Israel. That might not interest anyone else but it's one of those little factoids that keep me entertained.

It's Summer

It was about 78 degrees Fahrenheit (we're coming back to the States so I never felt the need to think in Celsius) today and we're enjoying it. We knew it was supposed to be hot so we all dressed the parts. Zvi wore shorts today to school which isn't really that surprising considering he wore shorts on Monday also when the high temperature was probably in the low 50s (at least he brought pants to school that day and admitted to me that he put them on for some of the day). Rivka wore her white spring skirt and Yeshaya and I wore short sleeves. Leora wore her crocs without socks but she still wore long sleeves (she couldn't find a short sleeve shirt that she liked).

Shira and I walked to pick Yeshaya up from his playgroup (a 5 minute walk but I usually drive). Then we picked Leora up and went to the park with both of them before stopping at Bubbie's house. When we came home Shira sat outside with some of the neighbors while all the kids played out there.
We also packed up a duffel bag full of winter clothes to be sent back to Baltimore. The Dresslers are going back to Baltimore for a week or two and agreed to take a duffel bag for us. We came with 17 pieces of luggage but we're probably only going to be allowed 12 going back. We sent one duffel with Adina and now this one with Dressler. We have friends coming Pesach who will take a duffel or two for us and then we should be fine (as long as Shira doesn't buy too many new things!).

Globbing For Charity

"Globbing for Charity"

Our friend Diana has a unique idea to raise money for a worthy charity. Part of my job is to write an entry and she will donate $1 for every blog the word glob or globbing is mentioned in.

Good luck Diana and happy Globbing. Sorry no pictures at this time but we'll let you know when we add them.

Party of Boys

We celebrated Zvi's birthday yesterday (his actual birthday is on Shabbos) and he had 12 boys over for the party. They were all American except two Israelis who are live near us and are in his class. We tried to talk some Hebrew and to encourage the kids to talk in Hebrew but I think that the kids were a little uncomfortable. We had some races, ate pizza, decorated and ate cake and played soccer. It got hectic and a little wild but I think that all the kids had fun. Rivka was smart and went to a friend's house so she wouldn't have to deal with all the boys.

It's been a long time since I blogged so I'll just post some highlights. Last Sunday was my birthday (thanks to all who called and emailed) and we celebrated by eating Chinese at my grandmother's house with my parents and mother-in-law. On Monday we went out for lunch with the Baks since Tzivi's birthday is just a day after mine (I was born on Taanit Esther 5735 and she was born on Purim).

Leora has a friend of hers at our house who doesn't speak a word of English (actually, she was proud of the fact that she knew "yes" and "no") and Leora is adjusting and playing really nicely with her. Rivka and Zvi have both had non-English speakers over a couple times and we were very proud of the way they interacted with them but this is Leora's first time. It's amazing how much Hebrew Leora has learned since she switched ganim.

On Shabbos we had my mother-in-law, Danny and his family and Eli. It was our 5th Shabbos in a row with sleepover guests. This Shabbos we are planning to be home to enjoy a nice quiet Shabbos. We love having company but we're looking forward to not having to entertain one time. On Motzei Shabbos, I drove my mother-in-law to the airport. I ended up taking three other people from the neighborhood who were also flying to the States then. All four of them were on different flights but the times were close enough that it was worth it for them all to come with me.