Soldier-son headed back to base this morning. It's always difficult to see him go, but after our discussion about what he actually does on base, I don't feel as sorry for him as I used to -- he takes shifts watching the computer to watch for any breaks or irregularities in the fence that separates much of the West Bank from much of Israel. If anything happens, he alerts the nearest patrol which goes to check it out, but for most of the time he can read, play his guitar, do stuff on the Internet, etc. He's a true Renaissance Man (he's the one who wants to do DNA studies after the army, and after a hoped-for trip to New Zealand).
Speaking of New Zealand, my cousins Geoff and Jenny are back in Israel after close to a year of travels but they'll actually be heading back to NZ in November and will be traveling around with other mutual cousins, Their apt that they bought in Tzfat is almost built and soon they'll be settled here. These are people that I didn't even know existed five years ago but once the Jewish Genealogy website introduced us, it has seemed like we've always known each other.
Geoff has succeeded in tracing back a good portion of our family tree. He's traced back one ancestor to early 18th century England, meaning that this man was probably one of the first Jews to return to England after Cromwell invited the Jews to return (they had been expelled in the 13th century). Most returnees were from Amsterdam so, as my brother (who's married to a Dutch lady) noted, we're kind of Dutch. Must explain my nervousness about money issues.
Another relative that Geoff traced back was a bit of a scoundral -- he was convicted of stealing some shirts in London in the 1850s and shipped off to Australia on a convict ship. Geoff has actually managed to find some of his descendants from Australia (the guy married a second time in australia -- never got a divorce from wife #1 either) and one of them now lives on the Golan Heights!
The holidays are officially over and my quest for a new professional life has begun. I'm convinced that I can find interesting and meaningful work that allows me to use my skills and knowledge and, I hope, just enjoy working. I have so many ideas of things that I'd like to try. For one thing, I'm looking forward to trying the online teaching -- I'm supposed to begin in early November, after the course finishes. The concept is perfect -- to teach about Judaism in an interactive and engaging way. For anyone who suffered through Hebrew school, like I did, the idea that kids can learn more than I ever did while actually enjoying the process provides a glimmer of hope for Jewish education. I'm a bit nervous about staying up until 2:30a.m. to teach on American time, but it's worth trying and, I think, will be fun for both me and the kids.
I'd also like to make my guestroom more active. As it is, people just stumble onto me through hook or crook -- I want to try to actually market the guestroom properly. I've listed as a Safed Guesthouse with Trip Advisor and hope to market the room that way. One of the most frustrating parts of this guestroom is that when my kids are home, the family needs the room so I can only rent out on one Shabbat out of two, pretty much, and almost never on the holidays, and that's when everyone wants to come. And, of course, there's the matter of the critters -- I have to be sure that people know about the animals before they come -- my guest room isn't a solution for anyone who's scared or allergic to animals (even the kitty -- to my surprise, there are people who are scared of a small cat).
I've also been spending some time taking photos of Tzfat and am thinking of selling post cards. No one else around here has postcards for sale, so, why not? Aside from the fact that my idea of photography is to let the camera do my work for me.