An Israeli friend took Suzy and Marv out to a non kosher restaurant here in Jerusalem. Suzy keeps Kosher at home and tho she eats in all restaurants she does not eat shell fish or pork. Because shrimp was on the menu, she asked the waitress if the meat sauce on the pasta was beef. The young woman looked aghast and replied, "we do not serve pork!"
At our grandson's wedding, Mona ordered chicken and Betty ordered "steak" as offered. The waiter put a chicken breast in front of her and she commented that it was not steak. The waiter had no idea how to reply as the menu in English was a choice of chicken or "steak"! It is not easy to get chicken breasts here as they are considered dry and used mostly for shnitzel. Breaded and fried chicken breast is really yucky!
In Hadera, our cousin's son Oded brought his longtime serious girl friend to meet us. They had met in the army and she was not due out for another month. They told us that when Amy gets out of the army she plans to move into his apartment with him. She commented that the reason "girls like the army is to find a husband"! I replied that in my day we went to college to get an Mrs. degree!
I went to the beauty shop to get my hair cut. The beautician who has been cutting my hair for several years commented how wavy and curly my hair has gotten. I told her it is called cowlicks when the hair turns in different directions. Her next client chimed in with, "I am from Oklahoma and cowlicks are what happens when a calf is born and the mother licks it and causes the hair to go in all directions!" She also said that when she sees the boys with the hair combed to a point on top she thinks of the newborn calves! Don't know about any of you but I had no idea and loved hearing this from a Hebrew speaking American who has lived in Jerusalem for 43 years!
A tour group has been here this week of over 25 rabbis from the Greater Bay Area including as far away as Davis. All denominations are represented from Kehila to Beth Jacob and everything in between. We had breakfast with our Jewish Federation director Rabbi Jim Brandt and he told us the group would be dining at Ticho House that night. We dropped in and found Rabbis Chester, Graetz and Dardik, Doug Kahn, Counsel General Akiva Tor and Rabbi Greg Wolfe from Davis among others. We have known Greg since before he was born and had not seen him in years. Needless to say it was a warm reunion. Being orthodox, our Rabbi Dardik cannot hug a female other than his wife so at his behest I got extras from Greg and Herbie! Reporter Dan Pine is "embedded" with the group so all you Bay Area folks can expect articles in the coming "J".
A couple of Fridays ago we were walking on Emek Refaim with Jennifer and Simone and happened upon a cemetery. I had heard it existed but had never seen it before. It is only open to the public on Fridays for a few hours and the caretaker is only too happy to tell stories about the famous people buried there. It is the only known Catholic and Jewish cemetery and dates back to the 1800s. We saw names from numerous countries including the US, Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, and several in Asia and Africa. One day we shall return to hear the stories as I am sure some are quite fascinating!
Always a small world story or two when here. Some of us found a wonderful craft store in Machane Yehuda, the shuk that until a very short time ago was all food oriented. Now there are boutiques, a wonderful ceramic shop and the craft (mostly jewelry) shop both the latter cooperatives but opened by the same couple. Suzy ordered a bracelet while here and it was not ready when I went so the owner Doron delivered it to the house. When I had given him the address he said he knew our neighbor down the alley whom we had not seen this trip but when he arrived he was incredulous! About 12 years ago he worked for the contractor who renovated our house and had put our roof on! Says he much prefers physical work to helping in the shop.
Once again we spent a few days at Mizpe Hayamim, the spa up north in Rosh Pina. Our Connectiut friends Joan and Bob Mann who had originally recommended the spa a few years ago, told us friends of theirs would be there at the same time. We ended up spending several meals with this delightful couple. She is NY Italian Catholic, he is an Israeli food scientist and they live in NJ. When they told me they meet for dinner and shmoozing in White Plains (it's half way) I laughed as there are not a lot of restaurant choices there. They meet at the Cheesecake Factory because it lets them spend the evening visiting! So the four of them will meet us there next month but we will probably bring in food since we are "kid sitting" with the Lang grandchildren.
We took time off from getting pampered and walked 8.5 k or 5.3 miles around Agamon Hula Lake at the Bird Sanctuary where there were 100,000 cranes waiting to be fed. This Crane Project aims to prevent damage to agricultural fields and reduce the amount of crane wintering in Israel, while protecting natural assets (with no physical harm to the cranes).
The Crane Project maintains a delicate balance - for the cranes to continue migrating to Africa, they must be allowed to rest and refill the energy reserves required for the remaining voyage. At the same time, they must be denied a long-term stay by controlling their food sources. Peanuts are the staple food!The sanctuary is the stopping off place for the migrating birds between Europe and Africa. I am attaching a few pictures of this beautiful area as it is not far from Mt. Hermon partially in Lebanon.
We also walked around the nearby artist's colony of Zefat. Being a bit hungry late in the afternoon we happened upon very yummy looking Yeminite "fast" food. The owner is not only a great cook but a guru in the community. Everyone knows him. He offered Herbie a job as a sous chef and made sure he wore the proper head covering. Herbie took this new profession very seriously!
Speaking of the Langs, 17-year-old Benjamin who was born in Haifa, will be joining the Israeli army in the not too distant future. Since he wants to be in a special unit he will be coming here in February for a week of interviews. He graduates Ramaz in Manhattan in June, the same week Daniella graduates middle school and Simone becomes a bat mitzvah. Then they will all return permanently to Israel in mid August. Philippe will be COO of a software company in Tel Aviv, Jennifer will either teach yoga in the house or open a studio while continuing her wonderful freelance writing and the girls will start new schools. They are looking to either rent or purchase a home in Rananna where they spent a year and several summers in the past. It is about an hour from Jerusalem, north of Tel Aviv and directly east of Herzilya. I guess we will be spending more time in our home here!
On our way home tonight after Shabbat, Sara Batya drove Zalman and Rivi to their apartment. It is very "compact" (read small) and they are very happy. Ah, to be young and in love! Now if she would only learn English...
Hope you have enjoyed my blogging. I promise to only do it from Israel to show everyone, just as the wonderful weekly newsletter Israel 21C does, that all is not as is reported in the newspapers and on television. It is totally comfortable to be here and a great place to raise kids. I want to leave you with one observation I made during the wedding festivities. Every time I sat on the women's side of the mehitzah, I realized that all these young women, some wearing sheitels or wigs, some with their heads covered with tichels or scarves as Sarah Batya usually wears, all clothed modestly, are the happiest women I have ever encountered. Mostly I was with younger women but no matter the age they laughed and smiled and talked about their children, grandchildren, who's offspring married into what family, etc. There wasn't a complainer in the group. Maybe there is something to be said for living a life of strong religious beliefs and praying several times a day. It isn't for me nor is it for most of my friends but...