Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy Three Year Aliyah-niversary To Me

And Eden, Shirah, Shira, Rachel, Michael, Michael, Erica, Dara, and everyone else on "the singles flight."  And happy anniversary to Eli and Avi- I'll always remember your anniversary :)

Can't believe it's been the years already. I need to write a proper post. Tomorrow-ish, when I'm more awake.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I really need to update more often. OR, Having an Oleh Day When You're Almost Considered Not an Olah Chadasha

I kind of feel guilty about not blogging or updating as much as I used to. But this is an aliyah blog, so...I don't know...maybe if I let it evolve into a "living in Israel" blog I'll be inclined to update more frequently?

Today was an oleh adventure day. Actually, Monday was too. Start with today.

Over Chanukah I went to Mas Hachnasa, one of the government offices that deals with taxes. I work at more than one place (one place is a regular position, and the other is coverage), so I had to do something known as a "teum mas," which means "coordination of tax." I don't tltally understand it, but I think that it's something like this: If you make up to a certain amount (somewhere around 5000 shekels/month-- don't think in dollars; it's more depressing than thinking in shekels) from your first job, your salary is taxed at 0%. At your second job, if you make less than at your first, that is taxed at a higher rate-- possibly also up to a certain monthy salary amount. There's also something in between (probably a bunch of somethings in between), up to 48%. If you do not do this teum mas, you automatically get taxed 48%. You WILL get back, but only after you do this teum mas. When you do the teum mas, you declare one place of employment as your primary employment and the other(s) as secondary. Like I said before, the salary at the secondary place of work gets taxed at a higher rate.
Now there's something else-- another office-- Bituach Leumi, which is National Insurance (like Social Security in the US). If you have only one job, then you do not have to do a teum bituach leumi-- coordination of the national insurance (like the teum mas, but for National Insurance). If you have additional jobs, you have to give in a form to coordinate the bituach leumi from both places of work. You NEVER hear about this form-- unlike teum mas, which you hear about frequently.

So...last week I did teum mas. And since I worked at Misrad Hachinuch, that was considered my primary income-- and so my current jobs were considered secondary places of work, which meant they would automatically be taxed at 48% unless I had done teum mas. I didn't realize this, because I told the rep that I was no longer working at Misrad Hachinuch...apparently she did something wrong, because I got slammed by Bituach Leumi.

Sooooooooooooooo...I figured that I had to do this teum bituach leumi, which I had never heard of. So begins today's adventure...

8 am: Bituach Leumi. Get told that I don't have to do teum bituach leumi, because according to my paycheck (which includes the breakdown of how much I got paid and how much I paid to who/what/where), I was paying the correct amount. And was told that I did teum mas wrong-- or they did something wrong. And that if I can't get teum mas to fix it, then in March I can apply for a refund (which I am entitled to)

9 am: Mas Hachnasa: Fortunately I had the papers they gave me over Chanukah, as well as my paychecks. So I got there and was told that the teum mas that I did over Chanukah was correct-- and that starting 2013, I should just make my primary workplace what it was. I explained that it IS my primary place of employment-- I was no longer at Misrad Hachinuch, and hadn't been since the end of August. So there was only one additional place of employment-- not the two they had originally written down. So the rep said, "Do you have an authorization of termination of employment?" I said no, I didn't know I had to get one. I could, but it wouldn't be until the following week. So he asked another rep who was in the next cubicle and he was like, "So do feuhfnljkewfhj-- what's the problem?" So they went back and forth and eventually gave me a new paper for Misrad Hachinuch and a new paper for my current place of work. So now Misrad Hachinuch is no longer a place of employment, and my current place of work, with a regular position, is my primary place of employment and the coverage is a secondary place of employment.

10:15: Histadrut Hamorim: The Teachers' Union (there are two; this is the one I belong to). Back up to Monday...

This past Monday I went to Misrad Hachinuch because I had to bring them the aforementioned teum mas paper, and to find out why I was getting negative paychecks. Turns out they want money back.   Last year, in the middle of the school year, they decided that this school year would start on August 26 instead of September 1. But wait! They paid me for all of August (including August 26-31), and now they want that amount back. I spoke to the woman who is apparently in charge of the finance department and she was not very receptive. She kept saying, "Well, you didn't work those days and we paid you for them, so you owe us money." She seemed to be oblivious to/ignore/not understand the fact that the paycheck I receive is in proportion to the number of months I work during the school year. She agreed with me that if I worked only in June that I would get paid in July and August 1/10 of my salary-- corresponding with the number of months that I worked during the school year. She then said, "Go talk to your union." And so today I went.

...back to today.  I went to the Union, and there is one guy who handles all these things. Yes, one. And I have never had to wait more than 20 minutes. Today apparently people made appointments. Unfortunately I couldn't wait, because I had to go to one of my schools from last year to sort out hours that I never got paid for at 1 pm-- and the woman who handles THAT had to leave early today. So I made an appointment for next Thursday (because I have to go back to Misrad Hachinuch on Monday, to give them the teum mas paper, and the only afternoon/evening that the Union is open is Monday, from 3:30-5 pm. Yay! (not)

...insert shopping at the shuk...

1 pm: Former school, to get hours sorted out. Fortunately that got done quite easily and I was out by about 1:45.

It's been a day. Now on to cleaning and cooking seasonally/dead stuff.

But wait: Three exciting links. Thank you to Ronit (Robin) Unger for the first, where I got to the others:
From BatAliyah: Food Shopping in Israel
From Marc Gottlieb: Chicken Chart (I'm a fan of the alliteration), Meat Guide, and Spice List

I have my own weigh-ins on shopping, cooking, and adapting foods/recipes. More on that in my food blog...whenever I update that...

Anyone want in on making a guide for new olim? Any new olim want to know about specific topics?

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's after Thanksgiving. Post as promised.

So Eli came home Thansgiving night-- in time for leftovers :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2011

One pie is done, the other is finishing up.
My floor is drying after spilling water all over it.
I really need to change my clothes because water splashed on them and now they are wet. On the up side, I did take off my wet sneakers and socks so my feet are no longer going squish-squish.
Eli's coming home for Shabbat (or at least he's supposed to)!
My feet are dry.
My kitchen floor has damp shmattes [rags] on it. I should probably move them. ...nix that...I stepped on the floor and my feet got wet. Shmattes will wait. I guess so will the pumpkin pie.
Ow-- I bumped my knee on the computer. Not cool. Especially since there was a wet spot right on the knee of the jeans where I bumped my leg. Not cool.

...more later, after Thanksgiving dinner...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Definition of "Ceasefire"

Ceasefire. Noun. \ˈsēs-ˈfi(-ə)r\ We cease and they fire.

A ceasefire was declared at 9 pm, Israel time. Since then the follwing has occurred:
9:00: Siren sounds in Be'er Sheva and in the regional councils of B'nei Shimon and local areas
9:30: 2 rockets exploded in Eshkol
9:05: 4 rockets shot towards Be'er Sheva; three exploded in open fields
9:12: A rocket exploded in the yishuv Sha'ar HaNegev; no injuries
9:17: Spokesperson Unit of the IDF: We have stopped firing into Gaza. We will open fire only if our forces are endangered.
9:18: After the ceasefire, sirens were heard in Sderot, Sha'ar HaNegev, and Chof Ashkelon
9:26: After the agreement, two sirens were heard in the Regional Council of Eshkol
9:26: A rocket exploded in Sha'ar HaNegev
9:32: More sirens in Eshkol and the Regional Council of Chof Ashkelon
9:38: Three explosions heard near the yishuv of Sha'ar HaNegev; there were sirens there
9:42: The firing continues from Gaza: Sirens in Sha'ar HaNegev and Chof Ashkelon
9:44: After 9 pm: three rockets exploded in Eshkol, no injuries
10:00: Sirens in Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi, and the surrounding regional councils
10:08: Rocket fired over Ashdod
10:308: Sirens in Ashdod and Gan Yavne
10:41: Rocket exploded in an open area in the Regional Council of Be'er Tuvia; no injuries

Need I say more?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updates, Operation Pillar of Defense, Day 7

Taken from an email I sent. I just have no energy to write another update.

Hi everybody,

More updates...there was another siren in the Jerusalem area today-- rocket fell in Gush Etzion. The Iron Domes are doing a great job of protecting the areas where they are stationed, but there are so many rockets; there were some hits today that caused both damage and injuries (mild to serious) and apparently it looks like fireworks in the South (at least according to my husband-- I'll take his word for that). There was a direct hit on an apartment in Rishon L'Tzion What else? On the road by Beitar there was a rock-throwing attack (NOT a shooting attack, as originally stated) on a car that wounded one woman; she was taken in serious condition to  Hadassah Ein Karem. Also a chayal, Joseph Fartuk, was killed by a mortar shell; Baruch Dayan Emet. I think those are the major things over here. 

Despite talks of a ceasefire, it does not seem like that's going to happen tonight (considering the 6 pm and 9 pm deadlines have passed...the next deadline is midnight...), and apparently residents of Be'er Sheva (and possibly Ashdod) are demonstrating against a cease-fire. Schools within 40 kilometers of Gaza are still closed until further notice. 

There was a pro-Hamas rally at Hebrew University...which broke up when there was a tzeva adom. Point taken?

Things are still open in the South, though. There is a new idea being sent around via Facebook and I will copy it here: The idea is to order a pizza from Pizza Roma in Ashdod 08-866-7000. They will send it to a family nearby. My mother-in-law ordered a pizza from there (I explained the plan). He delivered it to a family who he thought needed it -- the mother was a teacher in the school that was hit by a rocket. The pizza man called me back after he delivered the pizza and the family was so uplifted to know that someone in America had thought to order them pizza. He said he himself decided to send a pizza to a different random family.

There is another store in Sderot that is also interested in getting orders (08-661-2007)...and I am sure there are more.
They are expecting calls.

I think that's about all the latest news. You can keep checking out updates on if you read Hebrew. If not, is in English (that's Arutz7)

Again, thank you for your tefillos and prayers. Please continue to daven for the safety of everyone here and for Israel.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Being Taken Care Of

One of the amazing things about Israel is the caring; as much as there are internal politics, there is underneath is all an amazing sense of caring and family.

In case you missed the memo, Eli (and another approximately 75,000 other reservists) got called up on Friday. Yesterday was Sunday, the first workday of the week in Israel. Of course everyone was talking about מבצע עמוד ענן (Operation Pillar of Defense) and I told a couple of teachers that Eli had been called up. One of them, who already had a family staying with her, told me that I was welcome to stay by her (on top of the family she already has over, plus her own!)

Today I went to the woman who handles the timesheets and salaries and told her that I had forgotten to sign out and in on time, and she says, "I'm not interested in that; I'm interested in how your husband is doing. Were you able to talk to him today?" Only after I told her did she tell me what to do about my timesheet. I hadn't told her anything-- I didn't even SEE her yesterday, but I'm pretty sure the entire school knows whose relatives have been called and when.

Among the therapists--my husband, another OT's husband, and a third OT's two nephews, a speech therapist's husband, and more.

Since people found out that Eli was called I have been literally flooded with invitations to friend's and co-worker's homes. Just amazing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

War as the Wife

So remember how I wrote a few days ago (ok, four to be technical) that we didn't know if Eli was going to be called up? Well that question has been answered with a resounding YES!

That was Friday's adventure. We went away for Shabbat to my family and a few minutes before candle-lighting (to welcome in the Sabbath) Eli got a call on his phone from his commander that, from his end, went something like this:
-I'm not home; I don't have anything with me.
-Ok, I need to get my stuff.

I knew that it was his commander-- no way was that a friend. So we raced back home (even made it back in time to light Shabbos candles in our home (although we did ask Eli's mom to light candles for me in case we didn't make it in time to light, because you cannot light a fire on Shabbat)) to get him ready to leave. My family wanted me to stay and I did too, because I knew that the mom knew about what I was feeling, but there was no way in hell I wasn't going with Eli. So I went with him; on the way out the dad brought out the pans of apple-pecan and pumpkin-cinnamon buns we had brought and threw them in the backseat, saying, "You take them with you."

The house is now a mess-- Eli went to his parents' house to get a big army bag to take, as well as some uniforms, equipment, etc., and I stayed home to get stuff ready for him by us. On the way home we made a list of things he needs and attempted to go according to that; we forgot the Band-Aids but remembered the ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin). At least he has enough socks and underwear. And a sewing kit (which apparently came in handy when his pants ripped. Oops).

His mom sent his sister over to be with me, but I really just wanted to be alone so I could concentrate and just get what Eli needed ready, so I sent her back. I felt bad, but I needed my space and time without having someone else there to think about, to tell what to do, or whatever.

He came back from his parents' house plus snacks and minus a few things he needed; we thought they were in our apartment, but they weren't, so I went back to his parents' house where his brother helped me find some thermal shirts and more uniforms, and Eli stayed at home and continued getting ready.

I went back home and continued packing him up while he took a quick shower and got dressed to go. He got a message from his commander and then coordinated with someone else in a parallel unit who he traveled with.  By about 6:30  he was packed, and I got changed into Shabbos clothes and we went to his parents. Sang Shalom Aleichem (the song to welcome in the angels who escort people back from shul [synagogue]) and Eli's dad made kiddush [the blessing over the wine at the start of a festive meal] and gave him a bracha [blessing] while everyone else went to wash their hands before eating.

First course was fish, but Eli had to leave so he skipped the fish and his mom made him a plate with food; he ate very little and then had to go. As he was leaving, a neighbor came out and gave him a bracha. His mom gave him a hug and a kiss and then we walked to the car where we said goodbye. It sucked.

His mom insisted I sleep over that night; I did-- it was easier than arguing. Didn't eat-- I really had no appetite. I brought pajamas (aka Eli's, because his sweatpants are comfy) but forgot my toothbrush...oops.

In the morning I went back to my apartment and brushed my teeth and found the mitpachat [scarf] that I wanted to wear and then went back to his parents' house and we all went to a friend of mine for lunch. In the afternoon I slept by his parents and went back to my apartment right after Shabbos was over, made Havdalah [the ceremony that ends the Sabbath and seperates it from the rest of the week] by me and attempted to sort out the mess we made. It's a work in progress.

I sent my family and some friends an email breifly explaining what happened over Shabbbos, and then stayed up until it was after Shabbos in NY to call my parents' house so they wouldn't read the email and freak out, or read Eli's mom's blog and freak out. Of course my sister called me at 1:28 in the morning to check on me...I did say they could call at any time, but seriously? Don't call at an ungodly hour in the middle of the ight to CHECK on me. I'm fine. Assume I'm sleeping and would like to stay that way until my alarm wakes me up at 6:20. Please. Thank you all, have a nice day.

Eli's family is being really great and making sure I'm okay, but I really just want to be left alone. I have other friends and family, too, who are also fantastic. But just...unless I ask, leave me alone. I really know how to ask for help when I need it, and I know I can go over to any of my friends whenever I want, but for now-- just leave me alone.

It's kind of like over the summer, when I was in NY and Eli was here. It sucks, but we will get through this.

His mom asked me not to read her blog, because then I'll know she's scared. Of course she's scared- we're all scared. Welcome to life in Israel in the middle of a war...

I end with the prayers for Israel and for the Welfare of the Soldiers of the Israel Defense Force:
Prayer for the State of Israel:
אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם, צוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹאֲלוֹ, בָּרֵךְ אֶת מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, רֵאשִׁית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵנוּ. הָגֵן עָלֶיהָ בְּאֶבְרַת חַסְדֶּךָ, וּפְרֹשׁ עָלֶיהָ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ, וּשְׁלַח אוֹרְךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ לְרָאשֶׁיהָ, שָׂרֶיהָ וְיוֹעֲצֶיהָ, וְתַקְּנֵם בְּעֵצָה טוֹבָה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ. חַזֵּק אֶת יְדֵי מְגִנֵּי אֶרֶץ קָדְשֵׁנוּ, וְהַנְחִילֵם אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְשׁוּעָה וַעֲטֶרֶת נִצָּחוֹן תְּעַטְּרֵם, וְנָתַתָּ שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם לְיוֹשְׁבֶיהָ. וְאֶת אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל פְּקָד-נָא בְּכָל אַרְצוֹת פְּזוּרֵיהֶם, וְתוֹלִיכֵם מְהֵרָה קוֹמְמִיּוּת לְצִיּוֹן עִירֶךָ וְלִירוּשָׁלַיִם מִשְׁכַּן שְׁמֶךָ, כַּכָּתוּב בְּתוֹרַת משֶׁה עַבְדֶּךְ: "אִם יִהְיֶה נִדַּחֲךָ בִּקְצֵה הַשָּׁמַיִם, מִשָּׁם יְקַבֶּצְךָ ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ וּמִשָּׁם יִקָּחֶךָ. וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יָרְשׁוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָ וִירִשְׁתָּהּ, וְהֵיטִבְךָ וְהִרְבְּךָ מֵאֲבֹתֶיךָ" (דברים ל,ד-ה). וְיַחֵד לְבָבֵנוּ לְאַהֲבָה וּלְיִרְאָה אֶת שְׁמֶךָ, וְלִשְׁמֹר אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָתֶךָ. וּשְׁלַח לָנוּ מְהֵרָה בֶּן דָּוִד מְשִׁיחַ צִדְקֶךָ, לִפְדּות מְחַכֵּי קֵץ יְשׁוּעָתֶךָ. הוֹפַע בַּהֲדַר גְּאוֹן עֻזֶּךָ עַל כָּל יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵּבֵל אַרְצֶךָ, וְיֹאמַר כֹּל אֲשֶׁר נְשָׁמָה בְּאַפּוֹ: "ה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֶלֶךְ, וּמַלְכוּתו בַּכּל מָשָׁלָה". אָמֵן סֶלָה.

Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the first manifestation of the approach of our redemption. Shield it with Your lovingkindness, envelop it in Your peace, and bestow Your light and truth upon its leaders, ministers, and advisors, and grace them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in a mantle of victory. Ordain peace in the land and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness. Lead them, swiftly and upright, to Your city Zion and to Jerusalem, the abode of Your Name, as is written in the Torah of Your servant Moses: “Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And the Lord your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers.” Draw our hearts together to revere and venerate Your name and to observe all the precepts of Your Torah, and send us quickly the Messiah son of David, agent of Your vindication, to redeem those who await Your deliverance.
Manifest yourself in the splendor of Your boldness before the eyes of all inhabitants of Your world, and may everyone endowed with a soul affirm that the Lord, God of Israel, is king and his dominion is absolute. Amen forevermore.

Prayer for the Soldiers of the Israel Defense Force
מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ אֲבותֵינוּ אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקב הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת חַיָּלֵי צְבָא הֲגַנָּה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וכוחות הביטחון, הָעומְדִים עַל מִשְׁמַר אַרְצֵנוּ וְעָרֵי אֱלהֵינוּ מִגְּבוּל הַלְּבָנון וְעַד מִדְבַּר מִצְרַיִם וּמִן הַיָּם הַגָּדול עַד לְבוא הָעֲרָבָה בַּיַּבָּשָׁה בָּאֲוִיר וּבַיָּם ובכל מקום שהם. יִתֵּן ה' אֶת אויְבֵינוּ הַקָּמִים עָלֵינוּ נִגָּפִים לִפְנֵיהֶם. הַקָּדושׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יִשְׁמר וְיַצִּיל אֶת חַיָלֵינוּ מִכָּל צָרָה וְצוּקָה וּמִכָּל נֶגַע וּמַחְלָה וְיִשְׁלַח בְּרָכָה וְהַצְלָחָה בְּכָל מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם. יַדְבֵּר שׂונְאֵינוּ תַּחְתֵּיהֶם וִיעַטְרֵם בְּכֶתֶר יְשׁוּעָה וּבְעֲטֶרֶת נִצָּחון. וִיקֻיַּם בָּהֶם הַכָּתוּב: כִּי ה' אֱלהֵיכֶם הַהלֵךְ עִמָּכֶם לְהִלָּחֵם לָכֶם עִם איבֵיכֶם לְהושִׁיעַ אֶתְכֶם: וְנאמַר אָמֵן

May He who blessed our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and the security forces who keep guard over our country and cities of our Lord from the border with Lebanon to the Egyptian desert and from the Mediterranean Sea to the approach to the Arava, on land, air, and on sea, and everywhere that they are.
May the Almighty deliver us our enemies who arise against us, may the Holy One, blessed be He, preserve them and save them from all sorrow and peril, from danger and ill.
May He send blessing and success in all their endeavors, may He deliver to them those who hate us and crown them with salvation and victory, so that the saying may be fulfilled through them, "For the Lord, your God, who walks with you and to fight your enemies for you and to save you", and let us say, Amen.

Suggested Tehillim [Psalms] to recite on behalf of the soldiers are: 20, 83, 91, 121, 130, and 144

Please continue to pray for Israel, the soldiers, the people who are living here under constant threat, and for peace.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

War as a citizen and not a tourist

As I posted on Facebook...Joy...

Don't know what this means practically for me. No idea of Eli is going to be called-- last time they called up reservists from his unit as sort of backup, to prepare things so the guys who are doing regular service have them ready.

I've gotten a few messages from Magen David Adom-- one said they're not calling in my region to assist in the South, and about a half hour ago I got a text message from the volunteer coordinator in my city that they are sending people, and if you can go even tonight, to let them know. Not a clue what's going to happen.

Well, I guess there's a first time for everything.

In the meantime-- pray.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Seating and Public Transportation

There is a sign on the Egged buses (and the buses of some other bus companies) that says (approximately) that any passenger is entitled to sit wherever he/she wants, excepting the seats that are marked for disabled passengers. Harassing passengers about this can be considered a criminal offense.

About three years ago I was traveling on a bus to a very religious city. I was sitting in the third row and there were still quite a few seats empty right around where I was sitting. The man turned his head away and said to me, "The first three rows are for men only." I said, "Ok, I'll move," and I moved one row back. As the bus continued on the route, it got more and more full. I gave my seat to a pregnant woman, and there were no other seats left besides...a few in the first three rows. So I went and sat back down and lo and behold, nobody said anything to me.

Fast forward to last week. I got on a bus and there were many charedi [ultra-religious] men sitting in the two-seat sets, each with the other seat next to them empty. So I picked one and sat down; the man sitting next to me got up and moved. 
Before I sat down I had mixed feelings-- Should I sit down next to one of these men? Which one? Are they going to move? If they do, it's because of me-- is that right? Not every charedi man gets up. I can't sit farther back, I get nauseous. Should I stand? But there are seats.

On one hand, I sat down and the man moved. On the other hand, there were plenty of other seats available; they just happened to be next to someone else. The man had at least three other seats that were available. 

It's always a dilemma when I sit down next to a charedi man. I find that the emptier the bus, the more likely they are to move. On a packed bus there are either no seats available, or the man stays put. I never know what to do, but I know that I'm not going to stand when there are empty seats available because someone doesn't want to sit next to me. If a smelly person sits next to me, I can move-- did that person make me move? No, but I don't feel comfortable sitting next to him/her, so I move. I feel the same about this-- if someone doesn't want to sit next to me, he/she doesn't have to, but I have a right to sit where I want on public buses.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lauren- 1!

Yes! I beat Egged!
I spoke to Misrad Hatachbura and lo and behold-- at least one more school that should have been on the Egged list from the start is on it! Yay!

What else? The chagim are over, and life is returning to normal in Israel. Things are open again on a regular basis, and the stores are gearing up for Chanukah soon (a month).

Work is getting into a routine. I don't want to work during Chanukah, so I'm adding in days/hours here and there so I won't have to work and the residents get the hours they are supposed to.

Not too much else going on. More when...there is something to say.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Egged and the Student Plus RavKav

The bus system has a very nice thing known as a student bus card. However getting this is often a hellish experience, and the process taking 12 hours (note: this can be spread over more than one day) is not unheard of.
What Egged does it they set your RavKav card (semi-permanant bus pass that you charge with rides) as a student plus card, so you can buy student-price bus tickets.

This year Egged started something new. Instead of needing just a verification of studies (called an "ishur limudim") in order to set your RavKav (bus pass) as a "Student Plus" card, they now want a valid student ID card. They will also take an ishur limudim from this year provided that you have a student ID that was valid last year and both of these two things are from the same institution.

What do first year students do? And what do student whose universities are not listed on the option list do? Stay tuned for when I call Egged...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Racism (aka, here we go again): Part II

After the previous blog entry that I made, there were more comments made. I can no longer access the note, because the author has since blocked me on Facebook. Her last comment was this:

M: "[me], there is no claiming--it is a bona-fide fact. The old "land without people for a people without land" rears its head again. The concept that a place cannot exist unless it is an established, fixed nation, is a modern and Western idea. Yes, the British came, drew in boundaries, drew some maps, and said "THIS IS PALESTINE," but that does not alter the fact that a people had lived there in a settled state for centuries prior. What is a country, other than a collection of people with a similar cultural identity? Which is precisely the thing that Israel tries to tell the world--that we are just like Jordanians, or Lebanese, when we do, in fact, have our own culture and can't simply assimilate where we're thrown (the refugee camps in both of those countries are more than ample evidence of this). To deny an entire population an identity is a denial of humanity--and it is something that I would never even fathom doing. How can there be respect between two people if there is an insistence that their family's past history are merely "claims?" And it is precisely this lack of respect that forces me to block you, [me]. I don't mind disagreements--I WELCOME them, I want to talk these things out--but I cannot continue a relationship with anyone who clearly has very little respect for me, my family, or my life's journey. Adieu, adieu."

I can't reply to her on Facebook, because she has blocked me completely, so I will reply here:

Yes, M, you are correct-- there were people who had lived in areas before the British came in and drew borders-- borders that created a country, including the people who were within the borders and excluding those who were not.
A country is not a collection of people with a similar cultural identity, it is a place created by borders. Take the country of America-- that is a country, however if you take one person from the following states: NY, VT, VA, FL, IL, TX, MS, and CA and look at their cultural identities, they are completely different. Heck, take one person from New York City, one from Mount Vernon, one from Woodbourne, and one from Rochester and they will have different cultural identities, yet Mount Vernonites are not declaring themselves a separate country or stating that they have a unique cultural identity and therefore cannot possibly be "thrown into" the surrounding cities or towns (delineated by boundaries). Sorry, that argument does not hold water.

No one is claiming that your family and its history are "claims," however the group of people today who call themselves Palestinians DID NOT EXIST-- yes, I said it-- DID NOT EXIST-- until after Israel was created.
There was a group of people during the Biblical times known as Plishtim, or Philistines, however they are not today's modern-day Palestinians.

M, I too welcome debate and discussion, and unfortunately that is not going to happen between you and me because you have closed that avenue of discussion. You claim that I have very little respect for you, your family, or your life's journey, however you seem to not be willing to accept historical facts.

I wish you good luck in your life and hope that eventually you will get to a point that you are open enough to see other sides that may not agree with yours.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Racism (aka, here we go again...)

A friend of a friend just posted a link to an article with the comment, "She says it much more eloquently than I ever could."

The article, found here, concerns the NYC MTA's decision to allow ads that say, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” to be put up in 10 subway stations within New York City.

I agree, the ads are inflammatory-- and are meant to be. I think there are other ways of saying things, and, no I don't believe that all Muslims are bloodthirsty barbarians (or savages, to use the ad's wording).

This is the discussion that followed on the comment thread (note: I have changed the commentor's names to first initials, except mine which I have labeled "me"); M is the friend of the friend:

D: Great article, THANKS!!!
D: Zionist racism -- a redundancy? -- is rarely confronted with such eloquence
M:  I agree. I'm terrible. All I keep thinking is that I'm tired being called all these stupid names because I basically exist. I've been really quiet about this whole debacle for that reason. I'm glad there are people who are much more level-headed than I am.

D: I just had an extended e-kerfuffle with a prominent "liberal" film scholar. The guy finally showed himself as a racist, claiming that the UN had been bought by Arab money. This profound neurosis runs deeper every day. It must be confronted, which I usually do by calling my interlocutor a twat.
D: We're about to nuke Iran and few people care..
M: If the UN had been bought by Arab money, the UN is sure doing a crappy job keeping up their part of the bargain, no?
S: It's appaling, this whole thing - I'm kind of surprised the MTA allowed these to be posted - I understand the free speech issue at play in all of this, but these are just plain horrible. Would the MTA let the Westboro Church post an ad, too then?
M: I do wonder if we really are gonna nuke Iran... the US has been threatening it for years now.  
M: Sara, the MTA had been fighting it for a while, and originally told the organization that they couldn't go up. It got taken to court and, in the words of the MTA spokesperson, "their hands are tied."
E: These ads are vile. I say this as a human secularist, as an American, and as a person of Jewish descent. There is nothing in them I can agree with or support. Yes, they absolutely have the right to say it, but freedom of expression is not freedom of consequence of expression. This is the very wrongest way to have this conversation. I agree that we owe ourselves, future generations and America a chance to have this conversation in a meaningful and hate-free way.
Me: While I agree with the right to free speech and that the ads are inflammatory, I have a very big problem with a basis of her article. Ms. Sarsour wrote, "Geller elaborated that there is no Palestine – a view not held by most Americans." Whether or not most Americans hold the view that there is a place called "Palestine," the fact is-- there hasn't been since 1948, when the British Mandate of Palestine ended. Just because many people believe something does not make it true-- the world isn't flat, is it?

My friend's father can correctly say he was born in Palestine-- indeed, he was, when the area he was born in was under the British Mandate of Palestine. No one born since May 14, 1948, can say that he or she was born in Palestine, nor can he/she claim to be a Palestinian-- can anyone born in Massachusetts claim to be British, because at one time Massachusetts was a British colony? No, because the British colony of Massachusetts no longer exists.

D: Palestine was stolen via terrorist acts -- ask Rahm Emanuel's daddy, a former Irgun terrorist who shot babies. So you have old folks walking around with keys to their now bulldozed homes. Telling them to wake up and smell the coffee is just plain immoral. There are UN resolutions that call it illegal, too.
[note: D combined and deleted some of his original comments; each new comment is marked with a "-." the original of this was:
-Palestine was stolen via terrorist acts -- ask Rahm Emanuel's daddy, a former Irgun terrorist who shot babies.
-And so you have old folks walking around with keys to their now bulldozed homes. Telling them to wake up and smell the coffee is just plain immoral.
-There are UN resolutions that call it illegal, too.
-Marek Edelman fought Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto and, as a Universalist, claimed the PLO had a right to fight against Zionist oppression
-This issue ain't going away. Thank goodness for Israeli youth -- they're moving Left.]   
Me: There are lots of individuals that I can name who have argues on both sides, regardless of the issue.
In terms of infants-- would you like me to start naming the babies who have b
een killed in terror attacks?
 This was not meant to turn into a pissing contest of who has done more wrong to who and who is more in the right. I brought up a historical fact, and you turned it into "Here are examples of the bad Zionists who stole Palestine." I agree that there was a place called Palestine, however I also state that it no longer exists. Simply having existed once upon a time does not make something exist at this moment. To go back to my earlier example-- what about the British colonies that no longer exist as British colonies? Can I, having born in an area that at one time was under British rule, claim British nationality? Or if I was born in Turkey, can I claim to be Ottoman?

And what do you say to and about people like me, my husband, and the other medic on duty two nights ago who, when we got a call to an Arab village for injured people, got out of our nice warm beds and in the middle of the night went to take them to the hospital? The Red Crescent was supposed to take them (there is a Red Crescent ambulance station in that area, by the way) and didn't show up until 20 minutes after we got there (in our defense, we wanted to take whoever we could asap-- the patients wanted to wait for the Red Crescent, and then decided to go with us). We took those patients to the hospital of their choice. And when they got there and saw that there was no doctor on duty (don't ask me why), they decided they wanted to go to another hospital. And we took them.

So don't only thank goodness for Israeli youth-- thank goodness for the people who don't care if their patients are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Arab, Israeli, or anything else and treat them regardless. (you do know that homicide bombers and terrorists get treated as well, right?)

S: Yikes - that's really unfortunate, Margo. I guess it's nice to know the MTA tried...still doesn't really make it any better, though. I wish people didn't feel the need to resort to hateful name calling in subway advertisements as opposed to, well, an actual discussion. These kind of reactions harken back to New York a century ago, when instead of Palestinians, it was Italians and Irish...
[D posted and deleted the following comments; again, each new comment is marked by a "-":
-Lauren: you have a bizarre perspective. Operation Cast Lead? if you think the casualties on the Israeli side come anywhere near to the number o Palestinian dead, then you are, sorry, wrong.
-Your rage is irrelevant.]
Me: Daniel, I'm going to stop this now not because I don't have what to say or don't have facts to back what I say up, but because it's just going to turn into something ugly and hateful.

You have your opinion and viewpoint, I have mine, and neither of us are going to change the other's. So let's just stop, because this is not helping any progress.

D:  Lauren: you have a bizarre perspective. Operation Cast Lead? if you think the casualties on the Israeli side come anywhere near to the number o Palestinian dead, then you are, sorry, wrong. Your rage is irrelevant. People are tired of filtering discussions about war crimes through Jewish sensitivity. Be sensitive, be angry, be self-righteous. The occupation is going to end with or without your help. Israel is in the driver's seat, as the fourth most powerful military presence on Planet Earth. The idea of symmetrical responsibility is a fetid lie. Americans are sick of spending $10M per day on the longest-running occupation in the world. And, yes, young people in Israel are joining enormous protests against their government -- I'm with them.

My FB status:
[Lauren] would like to reiterate: Palestine no longer exists. It existed from 1920-1948; no longer. You cannot claim nationality or citizenship of a place simply because it USED to exist; I cannot claim British nationality or citizenship simply because where I was born was once under British colonial rule...

I debated replying to D with a list of babies murdered by terrorists, of names of people who "were on both sides" of a given issue, about the reasons for Operation Cast Lead and inform him exactly where the fire was getting shot at Israel from. I restrained myself. Not because I wanted to-- I want to rip him a new one-- but because there is no purpose in a one-sided debate. Someone wants to actually talk, I'm up for it. Someone wants to tell his side and insist he is right and throw out random facts-- wasting his time and mine.

I did like my point about someone being born in a formerly British area claiming British citizenship because they were born somewhere that USED to be under British rule. (British friends, field day with that one?)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cookies! And cooking/baking seasonally

See last week's post for details...

I baked cookies. Lots of cookies. Honey cookies, zebra cookies (chocolate with powdered sugar), and cheese danishes. Last time I baked the chocolate cookies I sent some with my cousin back to the army.

This time I made about 30 2-inch cookies of each honey and zebra (now made with real zebras! ...just kidding...) and probably about the same number of cheese danishes (half plain, half with raisins). We went to my [adopted] family for Rosh Hashana and brought the cookies over. We had wanted to pack some up beforehand for my cousin to take back to the army, but we didn't have good containers, so I just packed up the leftovers-- he's happy :)

And now on cooking seasonally.

Israel, like many other countries, grows fruits and vegetables. And like on other countries, fruits and vegetables have seasons-- meaning that sometimes they can be found, sometimes they can't, and sometimes they are more expensive and other times they are less expensive.

Eli and I like to make at least one vegetable dish for Shabbat-- we make a lot, and then we just eat it for the rest of the week. We generally go to the shuk [open air market] for some vegetables, spices, rolls, random other things. This is the conversation that ensues pretty much every week:
 -What vegetable do we want for Shabbos?
-I don't beans/cauliflower/sweet potatoes/roasted vegetables...I don't know, whatever they have that's not expensive
-Ok...but what do you want?
-I don't know, see what they have.
And that is how we decide our vegetable dish for Shabbos.

Deciding dessert and side dishes:
We decide our dessert and side dishes based on what is leftover in the house. That's how we came up with Dead Fruit Cobbler. We had peaches and nectarines that were going bad, so we made Dead Fruit Cobbler-- with the dying/dead fruit.

I feel like this post was jumping around a lot. Sorry. My brain is thinking very fast and I'm hoping this came out somewhat coherent.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Foodness, part II

So far:
-Meat (corned beef made by my mother; thank you Mommy)
-Stuffing kugel
-Honey cookies
-Challah (3 kinds- zaatar; pesto-nutmeg; oregano and rosemary)
-Dead Fruit Cobbler

Still have to do:
-Zebra cookies (chocolate cookies with powdered sugar coating/topping)
-Cheese danishes
-Clean/straighten up the apartment.


I'm in the mood to write.

I have the challah dough and the cheese danish dough rising outside, I started soaking the cauliflower (which I have to finish). I put away the roasted vegetables, and I guess I'll finish this later, after I have the cauliflower and stuffing kugels in the oven.

Then on to cookies...

Writing later.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"The chagim"

There is a time period in the Jewish calendar known as "the chagim," which is the pperiod of holidays that extends from the Jewish New Year (aka "Rosh Hashana") through Yom Kippur (aka "the Day of Atonement") until Sukkot (aka "Feast of the Tabernacles," or "the holidays where Jews build those little booths/huts in their backyards"). This is a period that is always in the fall, right after school begins. In NYC, school staff prays for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kiippur to fall on school days so they have extra vacation days; in Israel this is a period that causes a lot of backup. For example, deliveries.

I sent a lift. It's supposed to land a few days before Rosh Hashana; the guy already said to me, "Oh, nothing will happen with it until after Rosh Hashana." When I asked him if I could get it before Sukkot (about 2 weeks later), his answer was, "I'm not sure."

The chagim time period puts this country into a semi-slow-motion time period. While not everything comes to a halt, many things get considerably slowed down and it's perfectly accepted to say, "Well, it's the know, things are busy...after the chagim for sure." Well, what good is that when you need things before?

Good thing I brought a new shirt back for Eli for Rosh Hashana instead of sending it on the lift.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Honey, uh, did you get my gas mask?"

And his response: "Of course."
Add that to the list of conversations I didn't anticipate having with my husband.

As you can guess, we got gas masks. If you've been out of the loop and missed the news over the past months, Iran is getting more and more dangerous and unpredictable and this area of the world is getting more unstable. Rocket attacks are increasing again, and the Homefront Command (Pikud HaOref) is stepping up gas mask distribution. Just in case.

Back to Adventures of Lauren as She Goes to Get Her Gas Mask Kit.

The way it works: The post office is responsible for distributing the kits. The goal is to get them to as many people as possible, in the most efficient way. Therefore the post office has set up distribution locations around the country to encourage people to get their new (or first time) gas masks. If someone received a mask previously and had not returned it yet or did not have it to return, then he/she has to pay a 100 shekel fine in order to receive a new one. Eli and his parents and siblings had kits from before; his mom found all of them, so no fines :). I, on the other hand, never had one so I didn't have any to return.

Eli and I went with his mother, the old masks, and identification cards [teudot zehut] for the whole family (yay! *insert sarcasm HERE*) to the distribution center for our area and picked up our shiny new "protective kits" (aka, cardboard boxes with a rubber strap). For the uninitiated, gas masks come in different sizes-- small, medium, and large-- which were all conveniently on display. There was also a video running, showing how to put the masks on. Masks also come in baby kit. Baby kit is a little more complicated than the others, however babies can use bottles and pacifiers.

So Eli, his mom, and I went to the distribution center in a mall about a half hour away, and there were lots of people. They did it based on number (get there, take a number, wait/go off and do something until the 200-or-so numbers before yours are called...). We got 791. BUT (and here's a happy part) many people took two/found random earlier numbers, so someone gave us a number that was 120 numbers before ours-- and they were up to about 620. So we went from 791 to 671 in two seconds. We waited, we waited, then the security guard/person keeping order called our number (insert me meeting someone from my high school in between) and we went to get our shiny new kits! There was also a camera crew from somewhere filming this and this woman kept going, "Don't record me. I don't want my face on camera." And then as she was leaving she told the woman in charge, "I don't allow you to record me; I don't give you permission; Erase what you recorded." And it was amusing, because she was practically yelling at them.

Back to us. Eli's mom first gave in the old masks and the post office worker scanned them in (bar codes-- cool!) and gave Eli's mom new masks for everyone, plus her grandson (because he was listed on his mother's teudat zehut [identity card] and Eli's mom had it. And Eli got mine. Basically, if you're listed on a teudat zehut that someone brought to the distribution center, you could get one (even if you were not physically there). Eli, his mom, and I left with a bunch of labeled boxes in various sizes. Special.

Lest you think Israeli kids would have the patience to wait in line for more than a minute, fear not-- you are not wrong. There was an activity/coloring area for small children.

Adventures in the life of an olah...