Rocco’s Scared of Ghosts (and other updates)

It’s a bit hard to concentrate right now because I’ve got this big, black, curly-haired dog camped out on my feet. Well actually, he’s shivering on my feet. It’s a blustery day outside, which means that there’s a breeze in the apartment and the doors creak and slam if I don’t shut them properly. And obviously Rocco doesn’t like that one bit. His usual gentle paw upon my arm has grown ursine, as he almost drags me down to his level with each pleading attempt to stop the scary noises. “It’s only the wind, silly,” I tell him. That does little to reassure him that all is OK. I’m sure he’ll be fine soon.

 

Rocco and a St. Patrick's Day hangover (that was his Purim costume!).

Rocco and a St. Patrick’s Day hangover (that was his Purim costume!).

So, OK. You can say it. “Where the hell have you been, Ellin?” Well, frankly, I’ve been right here. Except after almost two years, I suppose everything new doesn’t seem so remarkable anymore. Not that I don’t still love it here, but I’ve grown rather used to things and therefore don’t “remark” about them. But here’s a cute one — Today, on my walk with Rocco I passed four strong, healthy guys all decked out in rock climbing gear. I couldn’t figure out what they were doing standing around the Bank Hapoalim building (4 stories tall). But then I looked up, saw the ropes, and down, saw the pail and squeegees, and it all became clear. They were there to wash the outside windows. But of course! We have so many well-trained athletes in Israel, we might as well put them to good use. And who said you can’t have fun cleaning for Pesach?

Speaking of Pesach, I hope you are all well and for those who do celebrate that you are not totally exhausted from the Pesach preparations. Here in Israel, all the windows shine, old couches and mattresses have been tossed outside for the garbage collectors, and the rubbish bins are filled to capacity with cardboard boxes from new sets of dishes and pots and pans. The restaurants will soon close for an overnight metamorphosis into “Kosher for Passover” (even the bakeries and coffee shops!). Big heaps of bread are dumped outside, giving “manna from Heaven” a different meaning for all the feral cats and dogs in the area, of which there are many.

But for those of us at 47/14 Rehov Gilboa in Afula (where I live), things are all good. Want an update? Sure! Why not:

– Zoe has now cut her hair rather short and is beyond gorgeous. I’ve heard people stop her on the street to tell her so. I’m not surprised one bit! She’s presently working in a Five-Star Hotel in J’lem as the receptionist. She works full days (odd hours) and 6 days a week. She also found herself a great apartment share until the Fall, at which time she will either be going into the Army or beginning her school studies. Still not sure which, but she has gone for her first army call-up. I would like to add, however, that Zoe did all her training and apartment search in Hebrew. Wish everyone in Ezra Academy could see her now!!! I can’t even keep up with her when she speaks . . . its so quick, fluent, and I understand her accent is dead-on. She’s doing fabulously and I’m beyond proud of her accomplishments. As my mother used to say to me, “The sky’s the limit, kiddo!”

I know you can't see the short hair, but the smile says it all.

I know you can’t see the short hair, but the smile says it all.

Max is about to graduate (I know that this isn’t directly Israel-related, but since it relates to me and I’m in Israel, it’s fair game.). Yankee Stadium is the venue and I’m very excited. I’ll be there! Just as soon as I can find a cheap flight (and maybe one that will let me stop in Paris for a few days????). Max is working really hard at his music and will have a recital in early May that I will miss. But the Max Yassky Fan Club will be there to support him. Max, I know you’re reading this— You’re amazing, brilliant, and strong. I know I’ll hear great reports of your music and could hear it myself if you’d only fix your G-D SKYPE and turn it on during the 45-minute recital! Bam! How’s that for Jew Guilt sent all the way from your Jewish Mama in Israel? But I LLLLLOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEE you!!!

Back in Afulaland, things are good. Shlomo, my boss, and one of the 36 tzadiks on Earth, will be stepping down from the Emunah Center this summer. He’ll still be working with the Emunah Center, but with Emunah as one of his clients, when he steps out on his own and opens his own fundraising company. I’m excited for this opportunity for him and so grateful that I’ll still be able to work with him, because finding something to laugh about with him each day, plus his incredible insight into how to handle new challenges, is something I greatly look forward to and cherish. But, that means there will still be some changes for me, and hopefully I’ll find this new challenge as something new to embrace and grow from. (That’s shorthand for getting my rear in gear and ramping up my Hebrew!).

This is my next big challenge! Memorizing this chart and learning where and when to use them!

This is my next big challenge! Memorizing this chart and learning where and when to use these words!

 

Otherwise, life is good. I participated with some friends in a 13 K walk in the Gilboa the other day. I make it more like 14K, since you had to walk to and from your car somewhere out in the fields. Frankly, that last 1/2 K was the hardest part. But I did it! Ta da!!!!! And now I’m leaving my car at home and walking to work everyday. I’ll do that as long as the incoming heat doesn’t reduce either me or Rocco to a puddle. I’m even thinking about joining the “country club,” which is what they they call the town gym. In all sincerity, even within the confines of Fairfield County, I don’t think there’s something as updated, big, and beautiful!!! So for about NIS2200 a year, I can swim in one of the 2 pools, work out, take classes, and do something with my evenings, rather than plop on the couch with Rocco and flip through the TV’s channels. It would be good for me.

 

How's THAT for a view! And it's only 10 minutes from my home!

How’s THAT for a view! And it’s only 10 minutes from my home!

I have also been spending time with new family that I didn’t know I had here (Yassky side). Iris and Benny have become good friends and I love being with them, their children, and David, the new grandson, who is BEYOND gorgeous!  Next Thursday I’m going to Tel Aviv to meet with Kobi Yasky, the son of Avraham Yaski (note the intended different spellings of the name), who was the architect of the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv. Leave it to cousin Evan Yassky to reach out to Kobi after learning of Avraham’s passing . . . so now I get to meet Kobi and his aunt (Avraham’s sister) next Thursday. I’m very excited.

And finally, as for Pesach, I want to wish you all much happiness and hope that you’ll all be surrounded by loved ones and copious amounts of delicious and traditional food. For those of you who often graced my Seder tables, I do miss making 60 matzah balls in advance, giggling through the storm of mini-marshmallows that we’d whip at each other when we’d read the “Hail” portion of the 10 plagues, and the giggles that would come from 4 cups of wine. Although truth to tell, I was always gone by the end of the 1st cup —a cheap drunk for sure!. Does anyone remember about 11 years ago when Rocco ate the entire 10-pound brisket that I had prepared for Seder? That was the night when you only got chicken, instead of chicken AND beef.  I just can’t look at brisket without laughing.

I’ll be spending Seder this year at Kibbutz Mizra, one of the most beautiful kibbutzes up North, which specializes in processing pork. The irony is NOT lost on me. I am looking forward to spending it with my new and dear friends here. And did you realize that Israelis laugh when they learn that we do two Seders and basically have an extra day of Pesach? They think that’s the most ridiculous thing they’ve every heard of.

I’m sorry for the long lapse in writing and hope you’ll forgive me. I’m hoping that I’ll jump back in to sending out my missives. I’m still happy here, I still miss my family back in the US and my dear friends, but this is a good place for me. Come visit! Come share!

 

Much love, and have a Ziessen Pesach!!

 

Ellin (and, of course, Rocco.

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