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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mimouna

What is Mimouna, you ask.

Mimouna is the Moroccan holiday that Moroccan Jews celebrate on the night after Pesach ends. They whip out their hametz utensils faster than I thought was possible and start making "muflettas", basic flour & water pancakes with syrup on them. Not low-cal.

Anyway, my Moroccan neighbors entertained everyone last night to a Mimouna, and banged away on their drums till close to 2:00a.m. I am completely exhausted now. I keep thinking, naively, I guess, that if I just can explain to them that their celebrations with their drums keep us awake all night, they'll stop, but so far, as nice as I try to be about it, it's like talking to a wall. Oh, they listen nicely, but then go ahead and do whatever they wanted to do anyway. Very annoying...I've GOT to find some good earplugs. On the plus side, they're perfectly pleasant, helpful neighbors, and considering the terrible neighbors that some people have, I have little to complain about.

Plus, even though I don't have much in common with their celebrations, and don't really know their guests, they always invite me.

The rest of Pesach was a LOT of work, but the kids all had a nice time, so it was really nice. I had to constantly think about food, the next meal, etc. But except for the grumbling about the dog situation (in addition to our 3, Ariella's dog Lucy was in our yard until Tuesday evening, causing everyone to scream at me, and our guests brought along their own dog for their stay), it went smoothly.

On Monday, we went up to the Golan for a hike. We started at a point where there was once a Jewish village in Talmudic times, with a synagogue which is presently being restored. Then we walked for about an hour down to a spring and hung around, playing in the water for awhile. All the kids had friends with them of their own ages and temperments, and no one kvetched even once about the walk.

Tuesday I spend the entire day cooking for Tuesday night's Yom Tov (holiday) dinner. Thank goodness that I had my food processor! I wasn't going to make any meat...just gefilte fish, chicken soup, salads, and an eggplant casserole, but in the end I did cook up some chicken breasts, and it disappeared!

Wednesday, the boys took over the barbqueing, and we had "on-the-fire", as they say in hebrew, for the holiday lunch. I had enough meat there for, what I was sure, would be days of leftovers. There too I was in for a suprise -- myself and 9 children, one of whom is a vegetarian, completely finished a kilo of turkey meat, a kilo of hamburgers, and 2 kilos of chicken wings. WOW!

Now we're back to regular, though I have to completely wash down the house in the next day or two. I realize that I need to start thinking about a screen door, since the noise of the front door opening and closing is very annoying, so I hope that my rental takes off a bit.







The rest of Pesach was

Sunday, April 16, 2006

WWIII

Avishai is about to lynch me over the continuing presence of Lola.

Yochi is about to lynch me because I agreed to babysit Ariella's dog, Lucy, for a couple of mornings (it was a compromise...Lucy will stay here for the mornings, and head over to Yoni for the afternoon and evening).

Ariella is upset because she can't go anywhere without thinking of a solution for Lucy, and in my desire to try to not push her away entirely, I want to help, where possible.

Margalit wants to help Ariella.

And I, personally, don't want to go home today, and face all of this.

An interesting aside....weight watchers in Israel put out a special page for Pesach, which shows the number of points for the various Pesach foods. Only in Israel.....

We had a great Seder with our neighbors. And a pleasant Shabbat. Now I have to start lining up guests for the second yom tov.

And cooking.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Calm before the Storm

Tonight is Seder night, the first one that I've ever led. Last year we were on our own as well, but we were invited out. This year, though we were again invited, we decided to stay home and do our Seder with another family with kids our own kids' ages. So, since I'm the "hostess" and the other family is also a single-mother and her girls, I guess I'm basically the one who will manage the order of things.

I've been scanning the internet for weeks, trying to find interesting vignettes, thoughts, ideas, inspirations, insights....whatever might make the Seder intersting, and take us beyond where we used to be, which was simply taking turns reading the various passages of the Hagaddah. It used to bother me terribly, but in the interest of not starting WWIII in my house, I never said anything, just tried to add something here and there, with which I was met with stony stares. I wish that it wasn't so late in my childrens' lives to start to do something meaningful for the Seder, and that they'd had one of those Seders that I read and hear about, where the leader of the Seder keeps things active and alive. But we can try to start somewhere.

At least I don't dread it anymore.

So I'm the only one up in the house now, which is lovely. I started the soup and the strawberry jam, a staple of our Pesach (I mush up fresh strawberries with a bit of sugar and simmer it on the stove for hours...it's something that the kids look forward to, and makes eating matza much easier.

I'll also make "matza granola", which I munch -- baked matza crumbles with nuts and honey. I think that keeping to my 20 Weight Watcher's points this week is going to be impossible, but maybe I can keep from gaining!

Time to go cook.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Those darned coincidences....

Just finished the hardest job of the year -- the pre-Pesach shopping expedition. In previous years, I'd left work early, but this year, I really couldn't do so, so had to make do with heading off to the store at 5:30p.m., after a full day of work and a trip to the shuk (open-air market).

First of all, we don't eat Pesach food made with Kitnyot, grains which may, it is thought, be ground up into flour. This includes everything made with soy oil, so every product that I buy has to be checked carefully to make sure that it's kitnyot-free. (And then, I bought a few basic kitniyot products for Yochi, who is vegetarian and needs SOMETHING in her diet besides potatos, matza and eggs).

Then, standing in line FOREVER, with dozens of other shoppers, some with their children, and others with their nerves. While I was standing there, staring at nothing, a man came around, asking all the male shoppers if they had prayed the evening service yet -- he wanted to form a minyan, a quorum of 10 men, for evening prayers. Only in Israel....he asked each man, whether or not they looked religious, whether or not they had already prayed, and not a single man took offense. And then, when the 10 men were gathered, they went off to the back of the store, leaving their trollies and their places in line to be guarded by other shoppers, none of whom took advantage of the situation.

It's simply terribly wearing, checking each item, filling up the cart, then unloading it on the conveyer belt and bagging everything up at top speed, because 10 other people are all waiting behind you. And just as I started the bagging and told the woman that I needed a "mishloach" -- a delivery, she announced that there would be no more deliveries that night. So there I was, with all my bags, stuck.

And then, again, another "only in Israel" story...I began chatting with the woman in front of me, who was American with her baby and Israeli husband. She told me that they were in Tzfat for just a short time, staying at her friends' home while they were getting ready to move, and suddenly, it hit me,and I said "you're Rivka!" Rivka is a young woman who I'd never met, but through e-mail correspondence, was aware that she, a Livnot alumni, had recently made aliyah with her Israeli husband and their baby, and were living down the block from LIvnot for a few weeks while her husband was job-hunting. He had just found a job in Rehovot, and I actually had, again through e-mail, put her in touch with a friend in Modi'in, which they were checking out.

So in the end, they schlepped me and my bags home, which was a big pain for them, since it took them out of their way, and their small car barely held all my shopping bags. Bless them! And thank goodness for....coincidences?

Right now, I'm so sore from carrying everything home and worn out from putting everything away that I don't even have energy to eat. But, once again, you gotta do what you gotta do...plus I have too many leftovers to dump.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ah, yes. Now I remember why I so rarely post pictures. They take so darned long to upload! Aside from that, when I do it at home, I've got the peanut gallery standing around, criticizing and commenting on the pictures that I choose to post. "Why that one? What's she putting up on her blog? HA HA...she has a blog? Don't use that picture, I look stupid in it. Use the other one of me...."

It's been raining on and off intermittedly throughout the morning. I'm hoping that the shuk is open and thriving, because I promised the kids that we'd go this afternoon to get sandals. I have to get Margalit another pair of shoes, too....Lola chomped on her other pair. I really feel that a family with pets is a healthy thing, but sometimes....

Margalit happily went to her karate class this morning, which was nice, because it's been so hard to get her to the classes that she's missed a lot, and I'm paying a LOT for it. The classes are usually on Wednesday afternoons, but because it's Pesach vacation, they are doing one class during the morning.

It's a theraputic karate class for kids who could benefit from occupational therapy (she's ADHD/ADD...don't know exactly which) but who do their therapy in a group setting. The organizer, a friend of mine, is an occupational therpist, and works together with the actual karate teacher. They've been doing these groups for over 10 years now. Avishai was in the first one, and I think that he was about 8 when he started. The groups combine kids with difficulties together with kids who "don't have issues", and it's very successful. There's a lot of literature about the success of karate for special-needs kids, as well as kids with mild "issues".

But the stress and fruatration of making sure that Margalit gets to her group is beyond me, and I won't be signing her up again. Yoni took her a few times, but then kind of forgot about it, and other than that, I'm dependent on neighbors, who are sometimes not here, sometimes their child doesn't go, sometimes their child is sick.....when I think of what I could have done with the money otherwise, I get sick too!

Throughout the winter, I've been putting aside money for Pesach -- a couple hundred shekels every few months. So when I arrive at Pesach, I don't panic when I see the money flowing through my fingers. Not much, anyway. The work project outside my house is a mess, and I'm worried about how I'm going to be able to rent out my guest room this summer. I'm counting on that money for summer pool expenses, Yochi's trip to Palm Beach (as a representative of Partnerhship 2000 teens), and maybe some weekend camping trips of our own. Is it so wrong of me to want to have some "extras" in my life? Sometimes, I feel guilty for wanting them, and sometimes, I feel guilty when I have a bit of extra money, and I don't have to save and scrimp for everything. I've become so used to watching every penny -- I really try not to buy anything that's not absolutely essential.

Aw, what the heck. I feel guilty, no matter what.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

D-Week

Hagai and Uriel Glazer barbquing for Purim


Margalit clowning at Purim


Yochi and Hagai, Purim eve
It's D-Week, the week before Pesach. It's not that there's SO MUCH left to do, it's just the organization and scheduling of everything. For instance, when will I put all the chametz stuff away and take out the Pesach stuff? The kids want it to be as last-minute as possible, so that they can continue to eat chametz as long as possible. I, on the other hand, would like to have done it yesterday.

In general, a few days before Pesach, we put everything chametz out on the porch, including the toaster oven, and just eat there. But it's still cold and wet, and who knows what it will be like next week! What a drag.

And then, there's the last Shabbat, Shabbat HaGadol, when a number of friends and neighbors have the Shabat lunch in a local park. About 20 families/singles join together, and it's great fun. It also eliminates the need to cook for that meal. But the weather.....who's great idea was it to have Pesach in the spring anyway?

At least I'm not back in Detroit, where April can still mean snow. I don't miss THAT at all. And one way or another, it'll work out. And I've been spending a lot of time gathering tidbits, stories, antedotes, and just general knowledge for the Seder so that we can have a meaningful one...not just read through the Hagadah. There's so much information out there today on the internet, it's wonderful. I have craved that during the last few years...a Seder that brought in some deeper meanings and thoughts, not just the hagadah text. Of course, it's draining, doing the physical and spiritual preparations for Pesach, but I hope that my children will feel something from it.

Tomorrow the "hagala-mobile" arrives in my neighborhood. "Hagala" is the process of kashering a utensil by immersing it in boiling water, and some people kasher quite a bit of their Pesach utensils in this way. I just have most of my Pesach stuff separate, but I do boil my silverware at home before Pesach. Tomorrow, however, I have a few things that I'm going to take to the pre-designated place where they (representatives of the local rabbinute) will be setting up a huge pot of boiling water for anyone in the neighborhood to come and immerse their pots/pans/whatever. I've often wondered what tourists, who are wandering through the Old City, must think about the sight...when I think about it for any length of time, I just come up with the conclusion that we Jews are NUTS!

Finally figured out how to download my pictures into the computer, so I can finally post! The ones at the top of the page are from Purim.