So many things happen and I make a point to remember to share them with you. And then I forget. And I get caught up in the next “adventure.” But that doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about you.
Like buying a new car (again). I am enjoying my “new” 2012 Peugot 207. It’s safe, it zips, it gets me from place to place, and even has a CD drive in it. I haven’t had a CD drive in a car for more than. . . . well, come to think of it, I don’t think any of my cars ever had one. So I’m spoiled now. I’ve got a hands-free phone, the beep-beep back-up warning, and cool roll-down windows so Kelev Gadol can stick his massive head out the window and let the beautiful Israeli wind stream through his curls. The reactions of passing drivers are quite hysterical. You’d think they’d never seen a giant poodle riding in a car before. Wish I could freak them all out and let him drive on my lap like one of those little yappy, drop-kick dogs. Wouldn’t that be hysterical?
And of course, this comes on the heels of finally getting my Israeli driver’s license. I believe it’s actually an “international” license. Look out, world. I’m a coming for your highways!!!
Speaking of cars, I was able to finally make it out to Netanya and find my American/Israeli CPA, who has helped me file my taxes for the 1st half of last year. Lucky for me, I was in the US for 6 months before making aliyah, so I was eligible for some tax break. Beats me if I understand which one, or why. But who cares. The amazing thing is that usually in the weeks preceding my visit to the accountant, my stomach would be in a twist and I would a mess. This year I just went with my “stuff” and that was that. What a pleasure. Everything was entered into all the right columns, the papers came to me and then were sent via certified, stamped, registered, belts-and-suspenders air mail to the IRS in the US. Fingers crossed that they get it.
Next big news is that I officially passed my Ulpan. Well, at least it’s noted that I officially took it. Not sure if I passed or not, but that’s really just a question of semantics. I’m beginning to speak more and more. And when I SKYPE with Zoe, I can have Google Translate in front of me so I can practice with her (her Hebrew is actually quite good!!!). I know I will get it at some point. I’m just horribly impatient. I have my workbooks and 501 Hebrew Verb book at my work office and so I can study a little each day. I’m also putting file cards with info all over the place. Kind of looks like CSI has been here, leaving comments at the site of any forensic evidence. The hopes are that if I look at these carads often enough, they’ll become ingrained in my head. Well, we can hope.
And speaking of languages, my new business, Go English Afula! has it’s first client! A mother and her two children have signed up for 5 lessons each. Very exciting. We’ll be launching our website soon and will have our brochures and cards ready to roll. Let’s hope we can get enough students for a good summer program. That would be great. But at least we’re moving ahead. This is, of course, in addition to the work I do here at the Center. You wouldn’t want me to get bored, would you?
Last weekend was the bar mitzvah of Eitan Kessel, the son of Shlomo, my boss. If ever there was a perfect “destination bar mitzvah,” this was it. All the children were away from the Emunah Centre and Shlomo and Rachel’s visiting family were able to stay right on the premises. The kids played on all the many playgrounds, the service was held in our small Beit Knesset on the campus (just perfect), and all the meals were served in the Hadar Ochel. I mean, what more could you want? It reminded of me when my parents brought their family to some hotel in the Borscht Belt for my brother, Charles’ bar mitzvah. Everyone and everything under one tent.
One extremely beautiful moment came during one of the aliyot (not sure which one . . . being on the women’s side of the mechitzah makes my mind wander a bit). Shlomo and three other men held up Shlomo’s large tallit over the reader’s desk and over Eitan as read from the Torah. This schul uses large tiks that stand upright on the reader’s desk, which is in the center of the room. The look of pride on Shlomo’s face was one that could only be described by the Yiddish word, nachas. In a sense, Eitan was “married” to the Torah under this chuppah. I’ve never seen this done before, but to be honest, I wish it was done more often. There was such a strong sense of belonging and attachment. While the experience lasted only a minute or so, it actually was one of the most profound moments in my life as a cognizant Jew.
And as Spring makes its very, very brief visit, I head out to the local flower nursery at Kibbutz Merhavia, which has a rather beautiful selection of trees and flowers. Yesterday I bought a “sweet” lemon tree. It had some of those tender, white blossoms that appear for just a week or so and fill the air with their scent that stops you in your tracks so you can inhale deeply and try to ingrain the memory of its aroma in your mind. If you remember from my writings last summer, I sleep outside on the patio during the summer. This year it will be like sleeping in the midst of a garden. I’m so excited. I’ll climb into my hammock, drag my kindle in with me, wait while KG gets settled on his bed below me, and then it will be off to sleep! Actually, it’s not a bad way to spend a warm night.
My final thoughts for this post are on the upcoming days of Pesach. Up to now, I haven’t been too bothered about celebrating the holidays away from my friends and families. It’s all been part of the adventure. But Passover has always been special and my favorite. Passover is when I would cook 60+ matzah balls, plan a large and sumptuous dinner, get out all my best dishes, and have a wonderful time being with best family and friends.During the past few years, my kids were an integral part of the planning, cooking, and table setting. It was really a family affair. I’d use my mother’s best antique Limoge china, starched white cloths, and old wine glasses. Flowers in the middle, and sometime even a flower vase that was made out of matzah!
Of course, at some point during the meal, all this elegance would dissolve into a momentary food fight as we would rip open our individual little sacks of mini marshmallows that have come to symbolize HAIL during the reading of the plagues. For anyone who has been at my home for a Seder, they will (hopefully) fondly remember the moment when someone says, “Did you say, ‘hail’?” That would be the cue for all to rip open their bags and begin pitching marshmallows at anything that moved or tried to duck. For the dogs, it was like manna from Heaven,snatching up maul-fulls of what they thought would be solid tidbits, but would soon confound them as their jaws would snap shut around the soft pellets. Have you ever seen a look of total confusion on a dog’s face? Feed them a marshmallow. Or Jello for that matter.
For those who can’t get enough sugar, the bobs of tiny white pillows floating in their Maneschewitz Concord Grape promised a sugar rush to beat the band. This momentary madness would also promise future smiles when engaged in a thorough cleaning of the couch including the moving of the pillows, which would inevitably reveal a stale, errant marshmallow or two, evoking a smile of happy evenings past.
This year I have been flooded by requests to come and celebrate with new friends. It was actually a difficult choice! I will be going to Kibbutz Ein Harod and celebrating with about 600 people. I’ve been told that the celebrations begin in the fields, where we “gather” items that will be used in the upcoming Seder. I cannot wait. I will take photos.
There is no second Seder, but there is still a big meal, and I will be going to Zippi and Moshe’s home. Zippi is the nurse here at the Centre, and she has invited me to come and join her and her family. I am thrilled. The last night of Passover will be spent with my good friends Nurit and Yankeleh, I always have fun being with them and am looking forward to going. But I will be thinking a great deal about Pesachs in years past, and not being with my family and friends. I think I’ll allow myself a moment or two of reflection, but in the end, I am still very content and often happy here.
So more to come, I’m sure. I can hardly wait.