Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another difference between the schools in NY and the schools in Israel

Wednesday we (the entire country of Israel) had a missile drill. There was a national exercise in case missiles are shot all over the country; it was also a test to see where people heard the sirens and where they didn't or it was difficult to hear it.
There were two sirens-- one at 11 am and one at 7 pm. During the 11 am siren, I was at work in one of my schools. We took all the kids down to the miklat (shelter) and they were down there for 10 minutes. During the 7 pm siren I was in my apartment and briefly contemplated going down to the miklat to see how it looked all cleaned out. I nixed it, because I'm sure it just looks empty. In addition to the purpose of the drill was to see where sirens could/could not be heard, it was also to make sure people know where a close-by shelter is.

There was also a shelter drill in one of the schools I worked in in NY. It was pretty simple-- they rang an alarm/bell, and everyone went to stand in the hallway, facing the wall. Theory being it was away from windows. It was also that you could do a specific number of shelter drills in lieu of fire drills.

Speaking of, they don't seem to have fire drills in the schools here, nor are smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors standard in apartments/houses in this country. But we have national missile drills. WTF?

Saturday, June 18, 2011


OT in the schools here is very different than OT in the schools in NYC. For starters, there is more than one kind of public school here. And there are separate schools for special ed as well. As in, their own building.

But the most annoying technical thing (besides figuring out which kids should be getting individual OT), I find, is the paperwork. Every kid gets the Israeli equivalent of an IEP at the beginning of the school year and a full report at the end of the year. That's right, it's like doing a triennial review for every kid every year. Now, which kids get the reports depend on the school. For example, in one school I have two classes that I see only a few kids in each class 1:1; I am responsible for reports on all the kids in the class anyway. In another school I have one class session that each child gets a certificate about what they worked on in the class session and how they did, and the rest of the time see kids in small groups or 1:1 and write a report for each kid. It comes out to about 40 reports total, plus the certificates. In Hebrew. More on paperwork when I'm not about to pass out and can't focus.

INSANE. And I used to think that IEPs sucked. I really long for the days when I was a DOE therapist and had much of a more functional schedule.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Interesting birthday cake

I enjoy baking. We know this. And cooking, too, but baking is really my thing. I'm into pretty cakes and cookies and decorating and all that stuff.

My latest cookie accomplishments were Israeli flags and various "boy cookies"-- aka, teddy bears and baby carriages in shades of blue. I think those are the latest. Latest cake accomplishments were a multi-color celebratory cake and a grenade cake.

Now for those of you not in the know, there are different kinds of genades, some more fun (shall we say...) than others. Of course I didn't know that people have preferences for favorite kinds of grenades (although people have favorite foods, why not favorite grenades?) so I made a traditional hand grenade. I will advise people that flashbangs (stun grenades) are much simpler to make. Here's how:

1. Make the housing (the case): Take a toilet paper tube and cover the ends so the tube is closed at both ends
2. Color it black (this can be done in a variety of ways, but I think the easiest would be to color it with a marker and then saran-wrap (plastic wrap) it so the color doesn't get on the cake. I suppose you can also dye it with food coloring, but then it would be significantly wet).
3. Make the top (the detonation assembly): This I made out of batzek sucar, which is kind of somewhere in between fondant and marzipan but not exactly either, and painted with food coloring.
4. Don't forget the pin! I used a keychain ring attached with the batzek sucar.

Next time I will plan better. Although the cake tasted good, the decoration definitely needed more planning.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shavuot-- aka, the holiday that vegetarians and those that do not like to be meat appreciate

Shavuot is the holiday that comes at the end of the counting of the Omer. People stay up all night learning and pray as early as possible. And in Jerusalem many people walk to the Kotel, the Western Wall, to pray there. That custom comes from a few sources, one being that once the Old City and the Western Wall were were liberated, Shavuot was the first time we were able to go there, and there is also a concept of making a pilgrimage to the Temple 3 times a year (Pesach/Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot). Between these two, it's become a tradition on Shavuot to go to the Kotel on Shavuot morning after staying up (or not) learning. My favorite part of Shavuot morning is after davening. At the Kotel plaza, there are people making kiddush and giving out small packages of food (muffins/cake, a drink, etc.). And you leave the Kotel, by all the construction (ok, maybe less so now) and the beginning of Yafo, there is also-- you guessed it-- someone (a few someones) making kiddush and giving out cake and stuff. This country is amazing in the way that people take care of each other and how on major event days, someones are looking out for the rest of the population somehow.

Another tradition is eating dairy, for many reasons (see the link for Shavuot above). So I made lots of dairy. I ended making dinner last minute, so I made lots of dairy. Aside from challah (which is not dairy and I love to make), I made a dairyfest: cinnamon cheesecake with nutmeg in the crust, lasagna, a dairy noodle kugel, and pizza. And then I went to lunch by a friend of a friend and-- surprise! Dairy! I like dairy. Dairy makes me happy. Except when I'm meat (hence the reason I don't like eating meat).

Usually (like I've been here so long...well, usually what I do when I'm in Israel-put it that way; I've been here for 3 Shavuots) I stay up all night, go to the Kotel, and then go back to wherever I'm staying and SLEEP. This year I had a friend over and she didn't feel great, so we stayed home. I stayed up most of the night and learned, davened, then went to sleep until the afternoon. In the afternoon we went to a NBN unofficially singles event ("This event is for singles and young couples in their 20’s & 30’s", which means it's a singles event). On one hand, it's another singles event. On the other hand, I see a whole bunch of people at once and then I'm "yotze" for a whole year. That's convenient.

What I used to do for Shavuot was determined by where I was. If I was upstate, after we finished dinner I would go down the hill (with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and enough other candy and cheese balls to last through the night, sit at the back of the nightclub (the nightclub is really an auditorium-like space with a stage that serves as the shul for the main minyan on Shabbos in the summer) and learn with Chari and maybe a few others, take plenty of breaks in the middle, pass out for a little while on the benches, get up, then daven and go back up the hill and sleep. If I was by a friend's, we would usually go to her shul, learn, eat, daven, then go back to her house and sleep until the afternoon. And then in both scenarios, have a regular second dag of Yom Tov.