Merry Christmas?

Please don’t shoot the messenger, but I almost forgot it was Christmas. So to all my dear friends who celebrate this very festive holiday, “Merry Christmas” and forgive me for not getting any cards or emails out. It simply slipped my mind.

How is that possible, you’re surely asking. Well, without the constant reminders on the radio, TV, lights up on all the buildings, Salvation Army Santas, boy scout tree sales, reminders to change to your snow tires, inflatable plastic Santas, Rudolphs, snoglobes, Frosty the Snowman/Snowmen . . .) it’s relatively easy to lose track of the day. And in Afula, there is no evidence of Christmas. None, at least none that I’ve seen. Were I to drive up to Nazareth, I would surely see colorful lights, banners, etc. But I didn’t see them here. Only the one big Santa that I included in my last blog, stuck against a wall in the labyrinth of the Old City streets as I walked to enjoy the Hanukkah menorot set outside the homes.

So when my friend, Laura, asked me if I wanted to see a movie and find some Chinese food to keep up the tradition, I was confused for a moment. Then I remembered. It must be Christmas, since this is how all my Jewish friends have “traditionally” spent Christmas Eve in years past. Why? ask all my non-Jewish friends? Simple. They are the only two places that are open on Christmas eve. If you ever need a minyan, go to the movies or the local Chinese restaurants on Christmas Eve an you’ll find more than enough people to suit your needs.

Laura threw down the gauntlet of challenge. Movies? In Afula! Yes! There is a theater in the local mall and the Hobbit was playing there (in English!). But the movie began at 5:00 and I would be at work at that time. We had a lovely couple from Connecticut coming with their family to see the Center. So that wouldn’t work. And as far as we know, there are no Chinese restaurants in Afula. But  there is Ata, the sushi/Japanese restaurant. We’re halfway there. Almost. Well, halfway is better than none, so we all met at 8:00 at Ata, had a relatively lovely dinner (it’s no Sakura, but it was still fun to be out). Interesting restaurant (part of a chain). They have videos on the walls that show you how to eat with chopsticks and the only English-language menu is broadcast on a little video monitor on the wall at your table, the same place that the old push-button music boxes used to be. Does anyone reading this remember those? I used to love the clicking noise those pages made when you’d flip  through the little metal tabs that stood up, outside of the rounded glass window that protected the pages listing the selections. Click, click, click. Different than the click click of my keyboard. Not plastic. Clear, crisp, “snap” of aluminum. It was a very comforting sound. It always presaged the advent of your favorite musical selection. The memory makes me smile.

So Christmas eve came and went. Yesterday was Christmas and I waited until the evening so that I could call my friends in America to wish them a happy holiday. My children were spending the evening with our dear friends, the Lovely’s, and it made me a bit sad to know I’d miss the fun and incredible meal that Katie spent the day creating. But I was able to speak to almost everyone and that was good.

Now the countown begins for the arrival of my children. Max on Jan 6th and Zoe on the 23rd. They’ll have a few days of overlap, and I am excited, nervous, and a bit scared as to how we will all feel, the first time together on different soil. My need and decision to make this tremendous change in my life means that my kids don’t really have a “home” to go back to. The remnants of the home are stored in Fran’s basement, the rest scattered between friends and those people unknown who found great bargains at my tag sales or through their subsequent sale at Goodwill. I believe I might have mentioned how Zoe once went to the new Goodwill in Westport and came  home with something that I had dropped off there two days before. Pretty funny, huh?

Both children have temporary homes and longstanding, opened-ended invitations from many of my dearest friends to come and stay whenever they need. Zoe has been the guest of Jackie Eskin and Art Finkle, their adopted daughter for this last year of Zoe’s school term, and I am always so grateful for how they stepped up, early in the game, to offer her a home. There are few people who would be willing to say, “Sure. Zoe will stay with us. It’s what we want to do.” and mean it without any hesitation. There are a million ways to help someone. And Jackie and Art found one of the most important, supportive ways to make this life-challenging upheaval do-able.

It’s approaching 6 months since I’m here. The language is beginning to come, slowly, slowly. I can form the sentences in my mind, but getting them out of my mouth is still an issue. What comes out is a jumble to Russian, French, Hebrew, and Italian. Were I able to speak in tongues, I’d be set.

Once the 6-month mark hits (January 3rd), I’ll be able to present a better assessment of what it’s like being here. And I’m sure those thoughts will become clearer once I spend time with my children in my new home, hoping that at some point they will feel that this is their new home. Or at the very least, a cool place to come and spend time with their mother.

Our lives as a family have never been exactly “status quo,” and we have been thrown more obstacles than we’d like to remember. In a way it has made us stronger than many families, and most definitely more appreciative of what we have. It has taught us all the difference between covet and need, and has made us appreciate what we have with each other—the intangibles—so much more.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, the end of the Gregorian year still demands that you think back of where you’ve been the last 365 and what you would like to do with the next. Surely I never would have thought I’d be writing to you from Israel. Never. Ever.

And that just goes to prove that you never know what will happen tomorrow. Carpe Diem.

 

 

 

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KG: Heading Back Up North

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Ahhhhhhh. This is the life. Did I tell you how much I love Jerusalem? There is absolutely something magical here. Even the sun feels better. I’m going to hate to leave JillfromJerusalem’s house this afternoon as we head back up to Afula. I love Afula, don’t get me wrong. The people are kind and gentle, the landscape is lovely, and I love my home. But there is a different atmosphere here in Jerusalem and it’s just so nice to come and visit.

Last night was our last night in Jersualem during Hanukkah. JillfromJerusalem had an absolutely fabulous party. We had latkes (I love them! Who knew????), salad (don’t love that, I knew!), lasagna, and other goodies. We lit candles, sang songs, ate, and  I got good scratches all around. All I have to do is look at these people with my big black eyes and boom, baby! Instant scratch behind the ears. These humans are soooooooo easy to train!

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I guess I need to keep reminding myself that it’s also Christmas time. Walking around the Old City you do see many signs of Christmas. There are some small lights, little fuzzy green things that look like trees but really aren’t (don’t worry . . . I don’t mark them). And then there was this really, really big guy who seemed so lost. He was just standing there, wearing his  pajamas and a sleeping cap (it’s cold on the streets in Jerusalem at night) and had his hand raised as if to say hello to everyone. JillfromJerusalem went over to try to help him, I think. But he just stood there. I don’t know. Maybe he was shy. Maybe really lost. Not sure. But he looks so vaguely familiar . . . . .

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Anyway, today we’re going to buy JillfromJerusalem a new refrigerator. Israel is really smart. They want to reduce their “energy consumption” and so they make an offer— trade in your old refrigerator and get more than 1000 shekels off the price of a new, more energy-efficient one! So we’re heading out to be good consumers. I know there will be a lot of walking involved, so I’m going to take a nap now and store up all my strength for the afternoon of sightseeing. Yesterday we saw how close we were to one of our neighboring countries, Jordan. If you squint and look up to the left at the thing, long wall (it looks like a beige band) and look past to the mountains, you’ll see Jordan. Don’t think we’re walking to there, but sometimes we just seem to walk for days! So you never know!

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Anyway, I’m going to take another nap cause writing this was just waaaaaaaaay too exhausting. You know, it’s hard being a correspondent.  It’s just murder on my paws!

So, KG signing out. Next news will be from Afula!!!!! I’m looking forward to returning back home and my bed on the terrace under the hammock that Ellin has finally figured out how to hang up! L’Hitraot!!!!!!

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KG and Hanukkah in Jerusalem

Wow! Can you believe it? I’m staying with JillfromJerusalem for a few days and we just saw Hanukkah in the Old City. I’ve never seen anything like it before. That’s because I’ve never been to Jerusalem during Hanukkah before. So I guess that makes sense, even to a human, right? Ellin wanted to spend some time with her friend during the “hofesh” (holiday). Doesn’t “hofesh” sound like something I’d say? Anyway, she drove to Jerusalem today, saying her Shehechiyanu prayers the whole time (first time she drove to Jerusalem. She’s driven back from Jerusalem when she got the car, but never to Jerusalem.). I thought she was going to hyperventilate when we approached the outskirts of the City. Something about all the hills and the breathtaking view. Me, I was just pissed that I couldn’t stick my head out the window, so I kept pawing Ellin while she drove, hoping that the very least she would pet me. But she said, “No, Rocco. This is a very curvy road and I have to keep shifting between 2nd and 3rd gear, so I can’t pet you. You’ll have to wait.” What a grouch!

Anyway. Where was I? Right. In Jerusalem. During Hanukkah. We had a quick bite to eat and then we headed off to see the sights. The winding streets of the Old City were amazing. There were special tours everywhere for people to see all the Hanukkah menorahs that were out in the alley ways and in the windows. It was so beautiful. and so special. I had to make sure though that the pompom of my tail didn’t catch fire and make me look like one big shammash so I had to be careful how I sashayed through the alleyways.  JillfromJerusalem told us that the menorahs are supposed to go on the left of the doorway, opposite the mezuzah, so that your entire doorway is covered with blessings. Isn’t that beautiful?

Ellin was a picture-taking fool, and tried to photograph every menorah she could find. She also found a bride in the streets! And one place, we came across a guy lighting the candles and playing guitar. It was wonderful. Magical. Mystical. Unique. Unforgettable. Inspiring. Illuminating. At least, that’s what I think Ellin said about the experience. Me, I just thought it was totally cool.

So enough gabbing. Here’s a gallery of pix that Ellin and I thought you’d like to see. I wasn’t able to put the video of the candlelighting in the alleyway, under the archways built during the occupation of the Ottoman Empire, singing Hanukkah songs on here. But I’m going to sneak into Ellin’s Facebook account and see if I can put it there.  Man! This evening  was just the bomb! Here’s the gallery of photos. I’m sure there’s a better way to put them all up nice and neat, but my paws are just too big for this little keyboard. And I hear Ellin coming in, so I’d better scoot! Have fun and greetings from Jerusalem on Hanukkah!!!!

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KG signing out.

 

 

KG is BACK!

OK. I’m grabbing the keys while I can. Ellin is such a hog sometime (can you say “hog” in Israel without getting in trouble with the kosher police????). Anyway, she has been so busy lately, and I know shes got lots to do, so I’m going to update you all on what’s happening here.

First, I met this gorgeous Cocker Spaniel. (Isn’t that a perfect name for a dog? A “cocker”? I love Yiddish!). I’m not sure what her name is, but she let me sniff her. And it wasn’t even our first date! She didn’t run away or anything and I didn’t try to bite her, so I guess that means that her human will let us “talk” again next time we pass. Wow! I can’t wait to see her cute, honey-colored floppy long ears and those big  saucer eyes. What a looker. Eeyore Gershberg, don’t be offended. You’re still my first love and will always be so. I just get a little “doggy” sometime.

So this week is “hofesh,” or holiday, although Ellin still needs to work. Funny, she never complains about work. She seems to love it. And I know that she loves the kids because for the past week she crocheted 40 little bookmarks that look like bookworms. She pasted googly eyes (just like those on that cute Cocker I was telling you about), and then wrapped them each up like a New Year’s fire cracker and attached a bag of gelt to each one. She had fun and the kids, who had seen her working on these throughout the week, finally understand why she wouldn’t tell them what they were! I know she really wants to teach some of the girls to crochet and knit. She says that many don’t have moms to teach them these crafts, and that handcrafts are a good way to distract yourself if you’re angry or lonely or sad. I tell her, forget it. Go chew on a big bone instead, but she just can’t relate. Sometime it’s hard to deal with Ellin’s short comings, but I love her still.

Bookworms! Hard to use with a Kindle, but still kinda cute, eh?

Bookworms! Hard to use with a Kindle, but still kinda cute, eh?

Today she was running all over town: Going to the shuk and getting fruits and vegetables that she kept waxing poetic about. I just don’t get what all the hullabaloo about fresh stuff is . Me, I’d rather go through the piles of bread and tossed sandwich ends that I find on my daily walks. So much tastier . . .they’re aged just to the right degree. I so hate it when Ellin pulls those luscious morsels out of my mouth. I love her too much to bite her as she shoves her fingers between my teeth to yank out these delicacies, but hey. She’s my human. What can I do? Today she went nuts because the shuk had strawbetties or something like that for the first time. I remember those things vaguely.

Ellin's strawbetties. For the life of me, I just can't see what she's so excited about, can you?

Ellin’s strawbetties. For the life of me, I just can’t see what she’s so excited about, can you?

Emma, my dear, departed first doggie companion, used to love to eat the ends when Ellin would wash and cut them. Me? Again. I’d rather forage. Makes me feel like a real he-dog. I picture myself searching through the vast spans of empty lots that Afula has to offer, fending off stray felines (is there any other kind?), sniffing around for the sublime aromas of what you humans are stupid enough to toss away, and pretend as if I’m marooned on a desert island, having to fend for myself. Me! SuperPoodle!  Dog vs. Wild! Maybe one day I’ll star in my own show on Animal Planet. I can wear all these really cool looking bandanas, braid my poof in cornrows, and look really intelligent when I look into the camera and growl, “always follow the river to find your way out. . . .stay away from bear pee . . .watch as I show you how to make your own doggie hammock strung between two fire hydrants, etc. Wow! That would be so great, wouldn’t it?

Sigh.

After the shuk, Ellin went to the driving school to sign up for a lesson. 90 shekels for a 1/2 hour. I could have sworn she said that it was 110 shekels an hour last time she checked, but she’s still not Israeli enough to step up and say, “Hey! Really? That’s not what you said last time!” She’s too polite. She thinks it’s that her Hebrew is just not that good. (But I was there last time and the guy spoke in English, dummy!). Oh well. She’ll have to learn her own way. So tomorrow she’s going to take the class. Hopefully she can then take the practical test and get her Israeli  driving license. Very exciting! I can sit in the back with the wind blowing through my poof as we wind our way through the busy streets of downtown Afula. Only problem is that the back seat windows aren’t electric and I just can’t get my paws around the handles to roll the windows down?  So I’ll show her. I’ll really mess up the windows in the back with my black wet nose to show her my disapproval. Think that’s perhaps a tad bit passive-agressive? Who cares! We poodles are supposed to have  attitudes.

Wait! Do you hear that??? It sounds like someone upstairs is drilling right into the floor above us. Oh. I know what that is. It’s Nadav, the 4-year old who lives upstairs. He’s got a Bob the Builder set with a battery-operated toy drill. I think he goes around drilling on each square of the marble floor. Wait! Now he’s hammering! This kid never stops. Why doesn’t he just look out the window and watch the guys who are building a new apartment building right out there. That would be nice and quiet. But no. He has to pretend that he’s one of the crew. No wonder Panda (their big black and white cat) is always hiding. I guess I can’t blame her. But I swear. One of these days I’m going to chomp on that drill, I swear.

OK. Sorry for the loss of focus. It’s just so hard for me.

So that’s it. Ellin is about to send an email to her Aunt and  Uncle in Fair Lawn, NJ, telling them how great it was to see them all on SKYPE last night. It was their annual small family Hanukkah party and everyone was there (except  for Ellin and me). I was surprised that Ellin was so calm, but it could have been because it was 2:00 am and she was fast asleep when they called her. Or maybe she’s just a master of controlling her emotions! Who knows? Me? I was a blubbering mess. I really missed getting those special scratches behind the ear that my Max and Zoe give me, the way that Uncle Charles keeps telling me to sit as if I’d deign to behave like a normal canine.  I miss Aunt Marti’s laugh that is in the same register as as dog whistle. I miss Aunt Bev’s sweet pats on the head and Uncle Meyer’s look of disbelief that he has actually allowed a dog in his house! I even saw my nephews Avi and Ben. They looked great. And of course, Ellin’s cousin Abby, daughter of Bev and Meyer was there as well. Wanna see a picture? Good. Here it is. Ellin took a screen shot of them before they all ran off to eat pancakes.

The "mishpacha" or as I like to call it, the "mispoochkhah." Everyone is smiling and happy. Nice family, eh? I miss them all!

The “mishpacha” or as I like to call it, the “mispoochkhah.” Everyone is smiling and happy. Nice family, eh? I miss them all!

So that’s it. Ellin’s just finishing brewing some nana tea from fresh leaves she bought this morning and is about to come in and try out the Rosetta Stone in Hebrew. She is bound and determined to learn this language. What she needs is a cute Israeli guy to help her, but I think she’s a little shy to let friends know she’s ready.  All I can say is, “Wake up girl and smell the fireplugs! Your not getting any younger! And if I multiply your age by 7 for dog years then boy oh boy! You’ll be ready to date Methuselah!”

KG, your faithful, intrepid survival dog signing out.

Woof, ya’ll.

 

The Pictures Tell The Story.

First night of Hanukkah. First time being an Israeli citizen celebrating Hanukkah. First  time celebrating first night in a Kibbutz (Ein Harod).

I’m thinking of how many things are circular in my life. Like using this Hanukkiah to light my first Hanukkah lights as an Israeli. My mother must have bought this Hanukkiah in Israel 35 or 40 years ago. At least. We never used it. It hung on her wall in her house. After that, it hung on the wall in my house. And I brought it  with me to Israel. A long, long round trip. But worth it. Found the “right” kind of oil in the supermarket, found the extra glass bowls to replace those that had broken all those years ago in the local Judaica store. Tonight, I did something I wanted to do for years and years . . . light this Hanukkiah. And I did. Shehechiyanus all around.  Just me and Rocco. But Charles, Max, and Zoe in my hearts and thoughts.

The light is burning brightly.

The light is burning brightly.

At Kibbutz Ein Harod, we had 4 generations of one family lighting candles. Quite something. Children dancing, singing, performing. Small musical group wearing candles on their heads. Fruit and sufganiyot abound. NO PRESENTS!!! Totally American, I’m told!

Three of the four generations of the Perog family (Rotem was the Fairfield emissary last year!).

Three of the four generations of the Perog family (Rotem was the Fairfield emissary last year!).

 

 

And Hanukkah in Ulpan? It’s back to basics and make your own menorah. First, teach what the holiday is about. In Russian and in Hebrew. English? Not happening. Not in Merhavia. But it’s OK.

Judging the best hanukkiah. From oranges to herring, anything goes when it comes to creating one's first menorah!

Judging the best hanukkiah. From oranges to herring, anything goes when it comes to creating one’s first menorah!

Osnati (most beloved Ulpan teacher!) and Gregory (head of the Russians who are living/learning at Merhavia), translate the story of Hanukkah and teach the blessings.

Osnati (most beloved Ulpan teacher!) and Gregory (head of the Russians who are living/learning at Merhavia), translate the story of Hanukkah and teach the blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Russians, Americans and an Armenian walk into a Bar . . .

Well, we didn’t exactly walk into a bar, although after the day we had, we sure could have used it.

It was Tuesday, and the majority of my Ulpan class (the Russian doctors) were going on a tiyul (a trip) to Jerusalem. They were going to the Wall, to Yad Vashem, and some other places. For many of them, it was the first time going to Jerusalem. For many of them, it was their first dose of Jewishness. While I rarely pass up an opportunity to go on a trip of any kind, I didn’t fancy having to figure everything out in Russian, and having been to these places more than once, I decided to pass. I needed to take care of a bit of bureaucracy that has been hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles. It was the required trip to none other than (cue the creepy music . . . .) the Misrad Harishui (the Israel DMV).

Right. I know you all can empathize with me, even if you’ve never heard of a harishui. No need. Just put the words “Israeli” and “DMV” in the same sentence and it’s enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine, even the most hard-hearted, cynical person you could imagine.

Getting an Israeli driver’s license is not a difficult thing to do. You just have to know the steps to this dance, and know where the dance floor is. This is how it goes. Pay attention. It gets complicated, OK?

Step 1: Visit an Optician Affiliated with Marmanet or Femi-Premium. Get your Tofes Yarok, a green form printed by Misrad Harishui (Ministry of Vehicle Licensing). You will also be photographed, and you will have an eye examination. The eye examination costs 40 NIS.That’s the easy part. The rough part is trying to find where this little man and his tiny, closet-sized shop in Afula is. Funny. Israelis can target and successfully obliterate a moving car from hundreds of meters in the air, but they can’t explain where a specific building in town is. Allot at least an hour’s worth of time to find the office. Once you get there,try not to cry when you find out that it’s closed. Delve into your recollection of what the Hebrew abbreviations mean in terms of what day of the week it is, translate from  military time to regular 12-hour time, and then decide when you’ll find the time to go when they’re open.

Step 2: Fill Out the Hatsharat Briut. This is the back of the green form. It is a medical form that must be signed by your doctor. That’s right. That means that you have to leave work and wait to see your doctor for the 2 minutes it will take him/her to fill out the back of the form. In case you haven’t read any earlier postings wherein I speak about the stürm und drang of making a doctor’s appointment either online or by phone in Hebrew, go back and read those. Just thinking about going to the doctors makes me feel ill so I’d rather not revisit those experiences.

Step 3: Go to Misrad Harishui. Easier said than done. And that’s where the two Americans, two Russians, and an Armenian getting into a car come in. Instead of going to Jerusalem with the rest of our class, several of us decided to take the opportunity to go to the Misrad Harishui. What’s the big deal? you’re asking yourself. Bring a sandwich, a good book, and just deal with it! You’ll be out of there by Shabbas and it will be behind you. Right. The problem is finding the particular Misrad Harishui that we had to go to. There is one in Afula. It’s literally within spitting distance (if you’re standing right outside their door, that is), but no. We couldn’t go to that one. Why? Because. Why? Because it would be too easy. We are Olim!!!! That means, we have to drive to Haifa and find a tiny office in the middle of an industrial area packed with Zim Line freight trailers stacked four-high, roads that are currently only half-way constructed, and an address for the GPS that tells you how to get there. Except there is no there, there.

I won’t burden you with the details of the two-hour car ride that should have taken us 40 minutes. Just imagine the fun of having a young surgeon from Siberia in the back having panic attacks because I won’t allow him to smoke in my car, telling me, “Don’t worry! Do not be afraid! I am with you.” Did you ever see the movie “The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” ? No? Well, this was just like the movie. Only better.

We took turns asking in every language we could muster how to find this god-forsaken place. I could do the English, French and Italian (Right. That means I kept my mouth shut). Laura did the Hebrew (she’s my friend from Westport). Daniel the Surgeon did Russian.  How he knew to stop the car when he saw someone whom he assumed (correctly) would speak Russian, I’ll never know. But in the end, we looped back and forth for two hours. We knew it was near the Canyon (the word for shopping mall in Hebrew), but couldn’t quite get to the mall. Finally, in a fit of exhaustion and near nausea from having to deal with the smell of the nicotine-starved  Russians in my car, I did the only thing that made sense to me. I found a cab. I pulled over (probably facing the wrong way, but who cared at this point). I asked the driver if he knew where this place was. Of course! He said. Just go blah blah blah. Make a smalla (left) then a  yamina (right) then two smallas (or is it two smallot or smallim? I don’t know or care at this point). Well, we were so close, but so far.

How much will you charge me to drive your cab to the Misrad  Harishui and let me follow you? I asked. You can only imagine the look on his face. Dollar signs (shekel signs) for pupils. But who cared. Forty shekels later we were there. It took three minutes. He must have laughed the whole way home. I could have cared less.

Exiting the car before I even parked were one of the Russians and the Armenian. Both of them men. Without giving it a second thought they headed to the post office that was attached to the Misrad Harishui. Because they knew something that we didn’t know. They knew that you had to bring a photo copy of your current driver’s license with you. It’s not listed on the Nefesh B’Nefesh instruction page, but they somehow knew that you had to have a copy. Of course, in Israel, you go to the post office to make a photo copy. Or to change your dollars or rubbles into shekels. Logical, right?

Did I tell you that Israelis don’t stand in line? You stand in a herd. Finally, we made it to the teller’s window, gave her our licenses, and were amazed that it was only a shekel. We’re almost home free! I shouted. Next time, I’ll keep my mouth shut.

Minutes later, we were inside. All DMVs are created in Hell, so all of them require you take a number. Why, I don’t know. Remember. Israelis don’t stand in line. And they don’t give a hoot what number you have. They wait until their patience has been spent and then rush up to the window and bully their way into making the clerk take care of them, just to get them out of their hair. Except even these Israelis hadn’t met our DMV teller. No sireebob. She was a page from an entirely different book.

Somehow, the two “boys” got her to take them both and stamp stamp stamp. Boom! They were done. Really? Was there anything that her computer terminal could access that the one from Afula couldn’t?  OK. Deal with it, Ellin. Move on.

Next, we three girls went up. Could you please take us, too? We asked? We’re all together. No! Of course not! You need a number! But you took those two on one number. Why not the rest of us poor olim? No. Get a number. We take numbers here. OK. We go back and wait on line to get the number. The guard gives us four consecutive numbers. I don’t know why four. We were only three. We went back to her. She looked at them and said they were no good. They were too early. She was now dealing with later numbers.

And then I head her say . . . .”And I’m going to be taking my break. I need to eat.”

Yes. She said it. It was in Hebrew, but I understood every blessed word.  I knew that if we didn’t get her to go stamp stamp stamp right then, we’d have to make camp camp camp and stay there over night. So in my best (worst) Hebrew I said, “It is so hard to be new olim in Israel. Thank you, Mrs., for being so kind. Please help us.” Smile smile smile. Pray pray pray.

Holy crap! It worked! I guess no one ever said thank you to her. Before I knew it, we heard stamp stamp stamp on two of our three papers. Poor Laura forgot to read the instructions in tiny tiny print that tell you to take your green form to the doctor, so she has to go back to almost square one and make the trip all over again.

But we did it. Two hours to get there. One half hour to get through the lines and the stamp stamp stamp. Forty minutes to get home. Just in time for my leg-waxing appointment. Didn’t even break a sweat.

Now all I need to do is find a driving instructor who will let me buy only two lessons and not bring me to an instructor for the practical test that will purposely fail me so that I’ll have to go back and pay for 6 more lessons so I can take the test again (think they’ve got a system going for the foreign guys?????).

But hey. That will be another story.