Monday, August 31, 2009

Passing along emails

I'm generally not a fan of passing along emails, but every once in awhile, someone sends me something that's especially worthwhile. The following message is one that everyone should take seriously:

Please read!!!
If you are an owner of a dog that belongs to a 'dangerous breed' category and you also have a child or a visiting small child please take this as a warning.

Don't leave your dog with a small child unattended under any circumstances!!!

Only one little moment was enough for the following to happen.
See the photo below .....

Sunday, August 30, 2009


For a full year, I've been using my son's upcoming wedding as a border, as in "we'll xxxxx After The Wedding".

Well, the wedding has passed, and I need to regroup and:
1. Diet
2. Do some home repairs (I mean, com'mon, a bit of paint would make a big difference on the walls that have had posters torn off of them, and after that, I can worry about polygogging -- patching -- the roof. It won't rain too soon, will it?)
3. Upgrade the ol' computer (considering that I do a fair bit of work from home, not to mention the kids' use it a lot, it's ridiculous that it moves as slowly as it does)
4. Diet
5. Get back to daily walks (I know two pooches who will be pleased with that resolution)
6. Get back to genealogy research
7. Get rid of all my old clothes that have stains that I never see until I'm out of the house, in the sun, and it's too late to turn back and change

That's enough to get started.

The kids go back to school this week. Hagai has decided to return to his conventional high school for 12th grade. He had enough of riding horses and having puppies follow him around the hallways of his "alternative" farm/school. He's thinking of adding Physics to his curriculum, and doesn't envision any difficulty in catching up with the material that everyone else has been learning for the past 3 years, and he probably won't. Intelligence is NOT his problem. Fitting into The Box is.

Gal is starting Junior High School. She's going to the AMIT school to begin with, and may transfer to the Ulpanit (more religious school) after the first few weeks. It's up to her -- I'm not sure whether to encourage her to switch or not. On the one hand, I'd like to see her in a framework with girls who are more committed religiously than the regular AMIT kids tend to be. On the other hand, if she feels pressured to conform (which the Ulpanit is famous for), she may just chuck the whole thing.

I did go out and spend 500 shekels on new Ulpanit-appropriate clothes, so I guess that I'm not giving up all-together......

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary, How does your Garden Grow?

In my case, it's not my garden that's growing (though the window box with the mint is doing nicely, thank you).

It's my family, and not only are new sprouts sprouting, but old branches and tangled leaves are becoming intertwined with the trunk that we once thought that we knew pretty well.

Growing up, my father's maternal side of the family was pretty tight. Seven siblings had come from Belerus (Bobroisk, near Minsk)during WWI (they had to travel through Japan, because the Atlantic was closed to civilian shipping) and most lived in the Detroit area. Cousins grew up near each other, and till today, there's a family newsletter that comes out fairly regularly and a family reunion every few years.

My father's paternal side was looser -- my grandfather came from Lithuania (Birzai, we believe) with his sister and a cousin. There was some contact between the cousins on that side, but as the first generation has grown older, the connections are lessening. Even more frustrating is the fact that two sisters were left behind in Lithuania, and we know almost nothing about them, their families, or anything about them so that they can be memorialized, as they almost certainly were killed in the Holocaust.

My mother's maternal side was similar to my father's....The Aunts made sure that we cousins all had ample opportunity to socialize and feel the importance of family, and I even had one cousin who was my age and who I was very close to as I was growing up.

My mother's father came to the states from England in 1918 (or thereabouts). His wife, my grandmother, was the family correspondent, and the decades that she wrote and kept in touch were rewarded in 1977, when I first met my aunt and her family while visiting England. They wouldn't have known me if I would have fallen on them otherwise, but just the knowledge that I was their cousin was enough for them to welcome me into their home, their lives, and their family. We've remained in touch ever since -- some of the family came to live in Israel before I did, and for a long time, they were my only relatives in Israel -- they made a big effort to come to our family affairs, important, since no one else really could.

The recent (last week) wedding of my son has made me reflect on family connections and their importance. A number of cousins turned their lives upside down to come and celebrate with us, and it's given me a whole new outlook on the concept of family.

I'd dabbled in genealogy in the past and even tracked down some information. Mostly, it's my cousins (some of whom were at the wedding) who have done the massive research that is allowing us to slowly put the pieces together that allow us to learn about our roots and heritage.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One Down, Four to Go

So, did I mention how great the wedding was? I can hardly believe that it's over!

To recap, my son, Avishai, married his young lady, Leibat, on Wednesday, at a lovely garden wedding hall just north of Tzfat. The couple organized everything, choosing the place, food, 3-piece group that played during the reception....everything. So I didn't know exactly what to expect, just that I was responsible for getting my other children (and myself) outfitted, made-up, hair-styled (DON'T get me started on that.....I caved in) and there on time.

What can I say? It was so great! Very mellow, great vibes, everything went smoothly (I did have a moment of blanching when the rabbi, under the chuppa, explained to everyone that the ketuba was to protect the woman in case of a divorce -- being a full month after my divorce, I thought that that was a little iffy, but the rabbi couldn't have known)and terrific melding of all the different groups.

Avishai and Leibat left for a week in Rhodes on Thursday, so the Shabbat was with Leibat's family and my relatives who had come for the wedding -- my mother and brother from Detroit, my other brother and his family with our niece and her husband and baby from Jerusalem, cousins from Rananna, cousins from LaPorte INdiana(!) and my newfound cousin from New Zealand(!)

That story deserves its own posting, but it should be said that family is family, and this cousin and his wife, whom none of us knew about until about a year ago, melded into the family like butter on toast, and it was exciting and wonderful to have him join us. (And I'll be that he'll have a lot of stories to tell when he gets home!)

Tomorrow, back to the real world. I"M NOT READY!!!!


Monday, August 17, 2009


Tomorrow is my oldest son's wedding. I've taken the week off to get ready. Most of the work involves preparing for the Shabbat after the wedding -- the bride and groom are leaving for a week away, but many guests will stay over and we'll do Shabbat together. So I've been madly cooking and freezing for weeks, and ony hope that everything works out well. I don't know if there's just so much to think about or what, but I've been sleeping A LOT lately.

Three nice young people rented my guest room for 2 nights, as a surprise -- I hadn't been expecting anyone this week. They told me that they'd be back last night at about 7:00p.m. after a day at the Kinneret, but when I went to sleep at 10:30p.m., they hadn't come back yet. So I worried -- had something happened? Were they OK? Talk about needing to get a life! But I guess that once a mother, always a mother.

As of this morning, they're back. For anyone who wondered....

Woke up this morning to find a couch pillow had gotten in a fight with Mika, and lost. Pillow stuffing was all over the floor, and Mika was laying there like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. I think that the time has come to chain her to a central spot at night -- as it is, I have to put our shoes and my hats up high before I go to sleep, and make sure that all newspapers are out of reach of her mouth. What else?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Klezmer etc

By Friday of last week, I was almost delirious in anticipation of a Shabbat when I could do zero. Between work (the 3 weeks following Tisha B'Av are the major vacation time for the religious public; August is the major vacation time for most Israelis, and Klezmer week brings thousands of extra people to Tzfat, where the Festival is held -- at the Tourist info Center where I work, I didn't stop talking for a moment!), my own rental unit (full, full, full, though I had to keep running home every day to clean it and get it ready for the next guests), selling beer on the street (a friend's Dancing Camel, which he brews in Tel Aviv and which I'm supposed to be marketing in the North -- no time, which is too bad, because it would be a nice sideline, but in the meantime, I sell it from my house) and just trying to keep some sembelence of a home/family life, I was EXHAUSTED.

The only bad thing about Shabbat is that it ends, and then the treadmill starts up again. Everyone asks how I'm doing, as we prepare for my son's wedding this Wednesday. I have a bunch of lists, and as long as I stay on top of my lists, I'm fine. The major part of the preparations involve the Shabbat following the wedding, when my out-of-town family will be staying over, and I'm preparing Shabbat for them. So much food! Plus, I invited my new in-laws (the bride and groom are slipping away for a week in Rhodes, so we'll all be there without them) to join us, so I want to make a nice impression. I know that everyone will help out, but I'm trying to cook and freeze as much as I can beforehand. Tomorrow will be a busy day because I'll be shopping, and then have to get everything to the Livnot campus, where we'll be doing our meals and where the guests are sleeping.

I have been considering opening 2 of my old pensions which have relatively small sums in them, but would be helpful now. It involves a ton of paperwork to do, but would give me a few thousand dollars to give me some breathing space -- fix the computer, buy some paint for the bedroom, pay the kids' school bills for the year, etc. My natural inclination is to be cautious and save, but there's something in me that says, "you know, you could drop dead tomorrow and then how much would you enjoy that money?" Natural inclination is loosing out here.

Friday, August 07, 2009


I've lived in Tzfat for 24 years, and have heard, often, that so-and-so is going to a "henna". But I never had much of an understanding of what it was until last night, when my son's in-laws-to-be hosted a henna for their daughter and her intended (my son).

We were invited to a local restaurant where we (the families of the hatan and kallah -- bride and groom -- took the obligatory pictures, and then mingled with the arriving guests as they began to arrive, with Avishai and Leibat greeting everyone at the door. Since the "mechutunum" (in-laws) come from not-small families (Leibat's father is one of 10 siblings, and her mother is one of 4) we were, as one can imagine, completely outnumbered. The Rappeport extended family in Israel is quite small (my brother and wife/kids, a niece and her husband/baby, and some scattered cousins in Tel Aviv) and they couldn't come anyway, so we invited some neighbors who are like friends, and just gave outselves over to the fact that the evening would be mostly Dahans.

When everyone arrived, we sat down to the first course, home-baked pita bread and some amazing salads (I HAVE to learn how to bake a mushroom like that!). Then, the party started. Avishai and Leibat made a formal entrance, and the music began, with everyone dancing to a mix of Moroccan/Tunisian music (her parents are Moroccan and Tunisian....I don't remember who is what, and I'm not sure what kind of music it was, but it was lively and fun!). I was quite suprised at how great my kids danced, especially Avishai, who can boogy Sepharadi-style with the best of them.

After a LOT of dancing (my feet were killing me....wrong shoe choice) we had the main course, which was delicious. Then, the main ceremony started. Avishai and Leibat sat on chairs in the middle of the room, and her mother and I gave her jewelry which we'd bought for her (in our case, Avishai picked everything out). Then we all went outside and took platters of cakes which had been prepared, and to the accompaniment of more music, brought them in, held high, like an offering to the couple. At the head of the procession was a bowl of something that looked like chocolate pudding with candles stuck in the middle of it.

After a LOT of more dancing, this time with the platters of goodies, (and this time, I took off my shoes) Leibat's aunt started scooping out the "pudding" and placing it on everyone's hands, Avishai and Leibat first. The "pudding" was henna, a kind of dye, and it's supposed to signify good luck. Then, everyone got henna blopped on their hands, and after a lot more dancing, the henna ended.

I asked Leibat's mother about the significance of the henna ceremony. She said that she didn't know a lot about it -- it's a type of engagement ceremony. I know that Moroccans and Tunisians do it, and Yemenite Jews as well, often with entire traditional costumes which the bride and groom wear, with the bride DRIPPING with gold jewelry (borrowed). Some families do the henna just with the bride and her mother/sisters/other women, closer to the wedding. In our case, because Avishai and Leibat will observe the tradition of not seeing each other for the week before the wedding (and because next week is Klezmer Festival in Tzfat, when the logistics of getting in and out of the city in the evening hours are impossible) and they wanted to do a mixed men/women ceremony, they did it like this.

There will be professional pictures coming, but in the meantime, I got a few snapshots to share.

Now, if one of my kids marries an Ethiopian Jew, I wonder what to expect then?