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A Bus Trip to Kiryat Shmona

Naharyia, Israel: For quite some time, I had been hearing about the cable cars in Kiryat Shmona, reputed to be the longest cable car ride in Israel, and yesterday, I went to see for myself.

In Rosh HaNikra, only seven miles from Naharyia, there is a short cable car ride that takes a dramaticly steep downward journey to the caves carved out by the crashing waves of the Mediterranean, but today I was determined to ride the cable cars at Kiryat Shmona and enjoy the scenery on the way.

I hopped a bus to Akko, from Naharyia, and at the bus station where I had a planned meet-up with friends. We boarded the express bus #500. The express part of the trip was only to Carmiel, and from Carmiel to Kiryat Shmona, it was supposed to be a local bus.

This description turned out to be oxymoronic. While it was true that the bus did not make any stops from Akko to Karmiel, the entire ride to Karmeil, was one of stop and go and, when finally going, it was at the recklessly high speed of five to ten mph.

Eventually we finished traveling that bottle-necked part of the road and began the non-express part making many very quick stops and moving over the highway at a good speed. The entire trip was supposed to have been one hour and forty-five minutes, but it took us two and one-half hours to get there.

By the time we arrived, we were starving. With our broken Hebrew, we asked a woman in the street about where we could find a kosher restaurant. She directed us to a fancy restaurant, but while we were waiting for that restaurant to open we strolled around the area, and found another restaurant, Mama Chalsa, and the would-be diners waiting for the restaurant to open, declared Mama Chalsa’s food to be the best. The restaurant has a kosher certification of “mehaderin.”



The menu had a priced-fixed businessmen’s luncheon. It came with fourteen different “saladim” dishes, all delicious, hot freshly made rolls, drinks, plus the main dish. We selected the salmon steaks, talipia filets and beefsteak.


From there it was a short walk to the cable. Rivka and Ariel are aboard the cable car, above, as we await take off.


The cable cars travel in threes. At the top of the summit are hiking paths, a restaurant, a climbing wall and play cabins for children, a hotel, and a restaurant.

Also on the premises are a roller coaster ride up and down the summit, rock climbing, and two very large trampolines.

We thought we might see some migrating birds there, as Kiryat Shmona is in the Hula Valley, but we did not. We did, however, see lots of cranes in the olive groves both on the way to Kiryat Shmona and on the way back.

img_4707img_4705  Our trip back turned out to be another adventure. We took the #500 express bus again, and again the bus zipped through the larger leg of the journey, making brief stops, but when it came to Carmiel it was lurch and throttle all the way. It took almost three hours just to reach Akko. When we reached Akko, but were still at least a mile away from the central bus station, the bus drier was stopped by a policeman.

Immediately most of the IDF passengers got off and began walking towards the center of town. We waited while the policeman castigated the driver until finally, another bus #500 showed up, and the bus driver waved us over to get on that bus. We were worried about the first drivers future with the Egged Bus Company. We had thought he was not only a very good driver, but that he behaved in a very professional manner.

We arrived back in Naharyia tired and satisfied. Satisfied only until it is time for another adventure.







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Still Moving and Why Is There a Chicken in My Bedroom? ©


For two weeks I have suffered the agony of downsizing. Actually, to refer to it as downsizing is like referring to a hot air balloon ride as a walk down Park Avenue. For instance, I had sixteen closets in the large house. And everyone one of these closets are extra-large. Here I have two small closets, two even smaller closets and one decent sized closet.

My serving dishes, which I could easily stuff into my cabinets are now decorations on top of the bookshelves.

I got a mover to move the large items, like filing cabinets and beds, but everything else I moved myself That includes all the clothing, kitchen dishes, pots and pans, end tables, small desk, two nightstands and about 800 books. I knew that I could pack up dishes without any cushioning and get them there in one piece. That would take less time than wrapping everything in newspaper, unwrapping it and crying over what was broken after it would be delivered by my mover. My back paid the price.

My mover did not disappoint me. Despite my warning him not to turn anything upside down, I found all the cedar shavings moved from the bottom of my mother’s hope chest to the top of my clothing. Worse, the files in the filing cabinet are so jumbled that it is impossible to open the doors. I have no idea how I will ever access them.

Two Fridays ago was my first night in the “new” house. I gave myself an hour to get ready as I was, thank G-d, invited out for meals. I went to take a shower and there were two problems. No shower curtain and no hot water. The shower curtain I could call myself names for forgetting to bring one over, but, to my immediate gratification, I could use my most colorful four letter words to blame the “gentlemen” who installed my hot water heater.

I took a sponge bath in cold water, grabbed something to wear from a pile of clothing (the racks haven’t been hung in my closet yet and my dresser had to be tossed as it would not go up the stairs.

Ah, but as with all things in life, there has to be some good surprises too. And there were!!! I realized that my bathtub has a Jacuzzi. Since my back may never recover from all this moving, at least I can soak in with eight jets pulsating against my weary body. I discovered that there is hot water, it’s just that my bathroom cold water faucets are the source for the hot water and the hot water faucets are the source of an ice shower.

I got in to the tub about 11pm and promptly fell asleep. When I woke up, I thought something is missing. Yes, some bubbles. I found a bottle of baby shampoo, left over from when my son came to visit with two of his children, and poured in a capful. The bubbles grew, and grew, each bubble giving birth to an awesome amount of baby bubbles until they threatened to overfill the tub.

I pushed the off button of the Jacuzzi. And again, and again, and again. The jets kept creating bubbles and I was panicking. The twelfth jab worked.

Now, the only thing missing is a refrigerator. My online research and telephone calls finally turned up a black 30 inch refrigerator. My trusty mover delivered it, removing lots of paint from the newly painted door frame and plugged it in. It worked for one day.

Every day I am moving items and every day I am showing two houses that I am trying to rent. As I was moving things from the minivan to the house, I kept the doors open. I received a call from a potential tenant asking me when I would be the house. “Just as I said, 4pm. Why, what time is it now?”


“I guess I had better hurry.” After a quick trip to the bathroom, and five minutes of panic searching for my keys, I was ready to leave.

I went to the driveway opened the driver’s seat door and discovered a pitbull sitting in the passenger seat. While he looked somewhat friendly, I had visions of myself lying on the ground with my throat being ripped up. However, I had an appointment and I was not going to drive to the appointment with a pitbull passenger.

“Out, Out” I screamed. He found that funny and raced from the front of the minivan to the back. Finally he got out. “Whew.” I had already closed all the doors except the driver’s door and rushed to the van. The pitbull was faster than me and was sitting in the passenger seat again while I had only one foot in the door.

I went to the middle of the yard of my neighbor and yelled, “Out, out damned spot” over and over again. The dog ran out and I rushed in. This time I beat him. Yeah!!!

However, this dog had the last word. He attached the van as I was backing out, continually clawing the exterior driver’s side.

On the way to the appointment, I was doing a tally of the pluses and minuses of my new dwelling. Plus, I have a Jacuzzi, a very large bedroom on the second floor even though all the other rooms are postage stamps, no big lawn to mow, smaller heating bills, lower taxes and no mortgage payment.

My minuses are no heat in the only large room in the house, my upstairs bedroom,  a new refrigerator that only blows hot air, a pit bull neighbor (not sure who his owners are) but since I called the police and hopefully the dog was arrested, I am afraid to meet them. I’m sure all the neighbors heard me screaming and witnessed the comedy.

So, why is there a chicken in my bedroom? I could not make salads, which is what I prefer to eat, because salads cannot last without a refrigerator, so I made some barley with vegetables and purchased a rotisserie chicken. After serving half of the chicken Friday night to my one guest and myself, I put the rest in the cold bedroom in the hopes it would not spoil. So there you have it, that is why there is a chicken, now half a chicken in my bedroom.


My Dog Ate My Homework …or maybe it was the goat

(I flew from Israel to NJ and after a short visit with family, I flew to Cincinnati. Currently, I am enrolled in an online course with a great teacher, Dr. Joy Greenberg, but this week  I didn’t do my homework.)

You probably won’t believe that my dog ate my homework since most of the world does their writing in a computer. And, I don’t even have a dog. But I will be happy to explain why a mature seventy-four-year-old woman feels compelled to take a young teen’s subterfuge.

My system has suffered a shock. After three months in Israel I feel like a stranger in my Cincinnati home and I have not adjusted to dark, cold mornings. I will give you an expose on one and a half of days of my week here and you will understand why I had a meltdown. My first appointment on Wednesday was at 7:30am. It was a dark and rainy morning (sometimes trite works) and I could not read the street signs. I was late to meet the gentle jolly giant who was going to give me a quote on moving everything from the inside one of the rental houses that I manage, to the driveway under the watchful eye of the County bailiff.

I was in the process of evicting three generations for not paying three months’ rent. Their eviction date was Friday, but on that day Ashley asked us to wait for Saturday. “Okay” I said. She called on Sunday and asked for Sunday. “Okay I said, but no more than that.” When I called Sunday evening she asked for noon on Monday. Finally, at 2pm she said I could pick up the keys.

“Did you only have one key?” I queried.

“Yes,” she answered, “My son broke off the other key in my car’s ignition.” Then I was treated to a harangue in exchange for my allowing them to live in the house rent free for three months and not having the bailiff come and throw out their belongings on Friday.

Her “facts” began with “I wanted to pay the rent, she said, “and I wanted to speak to you woman to woman, but I was told you were out of the country.”

“I was.”

“Dorothy said you wouldn’t take the rent.” That was news to me. Since tenants deposit the rent directly into the company’s bank account, I wondered if a pack of wolves kept her from entering the bank.


She had moved in six months ago. Part of her stability factor was that she had won $40,000 in the lottery. At that time, I suggested that she and her mother clean up their credit and get a mortgage. Then instead of paying rent of $900 a month they would pay the bank approximately $300 a month which would include their taxes and insurance.

So, I asked her why she hadn’t purchased the house. The purchase price is $69,000. With $40,000 down it would have been easy to get a mortgage.

We can spend our money however we want,” she retorted.

 “Yes,” I said to myself. “And you can also get yourself evicted.” I speak to myself a lot when I engage in conversation with my tenants.

She told me she still had stuff in there and would leave her boyfriend in the house so that she could re-enter and that she would lock it up using only the doorknob locks. “Okay,” I said. Please remove the garbage and sweep up when you finish.”

When I went back to that evening to ensure that the house was locked and that she kept her word, I found six mattresses, one overstuffed chair, a dresser, microwave, about 20 bags of garbage, a partridge in a pear tree and hundreds of black fingerprints on every white surface. Since she not removed everything, I could not legally take possession of the house and had to make an appointment with the bailiff and remove everything, minus the fingerprints, outside under the bailiff’s watchful eye. She could have claimed that I locked her out since there were no witnesses to her handing me the key.

I rushed back to my home where I have a crew fixing it up and getting it ready to sell. My house is much like the shoemaker’s daughter’s shoes and is the last to get attention.

I recently purchased a much smaller home and will be moving on Sunday. I must be a glutton for punishment because I just moved from one apartment to another in Israel. The house I am presently in is 4000 square feet, including the finished rooms in the basement and the two plus garage filled with things that neither me or my husband never threw out and materials for my rehab business. My new home is 1050 square foot house. My husband volunteered to fly in and help but I reminded myself about the old but true joke:  When you have asked your husband to do something, do not keep reminding him every six months. I knew I would have less aggravation if I just did it myself.

From there I rushed to the dermatologist for my yearly check up. When she finished, I told her she could also examine my scalp since I no longer have hair. I unwrapped my scarf and as she was examining me, my phone rang. It stopped and rang again. And then again. I thought Dr. Fu would give me a karate chop, but she said, “Your head wrap is very creative. Better answer your phone,” and I could see she was smiling even though she wore a mask, and waved as she left the room.

The phone call was from Tony who was sanding and varnishing the first floor floors of my new home. He was upset because the painters were still working upstairs and they refused his request to leave. If he finished varnishing on the first floor, they would be trapped upstairs for a day, or the bigger possibility is that they would walk on the wet floors and destroy his work. “I will be there as quickly as I can.” I got lost but finally arrived a half hour later.

Now it was the painters turn to complain. They wanted to finish.

“Sorry, you told me you would be finished yesterday.”

“We had to plaster yesterday and we could not make the plaster dry that quickly.””

“That I understand, but you told me you would finish yesterday and I made the floor schedule based on your promise. Now you have to come back on Thursday.” They were supposed to have finished their work two weeks ago, but that’s another story.

Zip ahead to Friday. They did not show up on Thursday and now that the carpet guy was laying the carpet on the second floor, they wanted to paint the steps.

 “No thank you,” I said. However they wanted to get paid so they left for an hour and came back to paint the steps. Net result was that I had to pay the carpet guy and could not go upstairs to see if they did a good job. 

Back to the past; it is still Wednesday. I rushed over to Home Depot to pay for a water heater and whatever parts necessary for installation. The hot water heater decided to sacrifice its life the day before I left for Israel.

I rushed home for a bite to eat and then drove to my oncologist’s office. I waited an hour in the aptly named waiting room before I was shelved in the examining room. I usually spend an identical amount of time in the examining room. I had already answered my emails, so I decided to do my exercise routine. Fourteen minutes later the doctor came in and found me on the floor doing a child’s pose yoga stretch as I finished my fifteen minute work-out routine.

The doctor was excellent at hiding her amusement. “How are you feeling?” she asked. That was an improvement over the question than I got on my last visit three months ago. Then she was only interested in who I would be voting for. I had turned the question back on her. She interrupted her writing, almost jumping while turning to face me, leaned in close, and trumpeted, “Maybe Trump!” Fifteen minutes of political discussion ensued and she was ready to dismiss me. “Wouldn’t you like to examine me first?” I demanded to know.

Today, I wanted to steer the conversation so I quickly answered “Crappy” Then I gave her my list of complaints. 

I received her usual answer. “You had a bad cancer.” In other words, we saved your life so suck it up and stop complaining.

My phone rang incessantly that day with people asking about the two houses we have for rent. The most popular question was “Do you accept Section 8 (welfare).” My stock answer is “No, we do not because it is impossible to deal with their beaurocracy.”They all argue with me and so I parade out my litany of woe, “Section 8 once threatened not to pay me because the tenant did not keep her bathtub clean, I have a tenant whose rent they have not paid since June because they insist that the address the tenant lives at is non-existent, despite the fact that he, and nine other tenants receive their mail at that address, with a few more choice examples.

One young woman called and wanted me to explain exactly where the house was located. It had said so in the ad, but I patiently gave her landmarks. Suddenly I got a dial tone. I called her back and said, “I believe we were disconnected.”

“No,” she countered. “I hung up.” And she hung up again.

Another wanted to know how large the basement is. No one ever asked that question before, so I asked her what she planned to do in the basement. “I’ll call you back” she answered. That left me wondering if her plan was to raise pit bulls there or grow pot.

I just love my tenants. One recent tent moved into a very large two bedroom unit. We had torn the bathroom apart and put in a new toilet, new shower, built in a linen closet, installed a new sink and cabinet to house it, a new tile floor and painted the walls and ceiling. My project manager informed me that day that she wanted us to tear the bathroom apart and build her a larger shower. She told him that we should be happy to do this since we had just received the first month’s rent of $625, and $625 security. Now, this woman was large when she came and looked at the apartment and decided to take it, but she didn’t get any larger in the month that she was there.

Knowing what I say to my project manager will not get repeated, I glibly answered, “Ask her to consider showering at the car wash.”

Without even time to eat dinner, at 7pm I left to pick up the leader of a tahara team and drove to our local funeral home. She and I were booked to two tahara and we had two women to help with the first one and two other women to assist with the second one. Both tiaras were more difficult than usually.

When I came home from doing the taharas at 10:30pm, I was ready to collapse but pushed myself to do one more thing towards the move. I had packed twenty-one boxes of books but I wanted to do one more thing. Aha, I spotted a bottle of wine, three quarters empty. “If I drink the rest of the wine, I will have one less thing to pack” I said to myself. That was my last work for the day.

The next day I woke up and checked my bank balance. I discovered that the bank cashed the $75 check I gave the hot water installer but subtracted $750.

I zipped over to the bank and asked them to immediately look into this to discover if they actually paid him $750 or if they made a posting error. They had paid him $750. I demanded an investigation, but decided to play dumb with the worker and wait to see what would transpire. He was doing a thousand dollar job at a different house and, worse case scenario, I would subtract the overpayment and wave goodbye.

He called me an hour later and asked me to meet him at Home Depot so I could pay for the supplies for the tenant that needed plaster work. Then he confessed.

“Why didn’t you tell the teller?”  I asked.

“At first,” he said, “I thought the bank would eat it and the bank always screw me so, let them eat this. But then I realized the bank would take it from you. I am honest so I am returning the money.”

“I already knew” I said. “I was waiting to see if you would tell me.”

As you have gathered, the dog did not eat my homework. I am just too worn out and two hopped up getting through each day to concentrate or even have the time. Next week, it will be different. I am determined.

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Israel’s Ancient Roots are in Samaria

I was watching a movie at Old Shilo with a group of Christians. The actor leaned into his wife and said, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” I Samuel 1:8

The women erupted in laughter and for the first time on my tour of Samaria, I felt that the group wasn’t split into 50 Christians and two Jews, but a split between men—with big egos—and women with a sense of humor about these men with big egos.

The words were spoken by Elkanah, the husband of Hannah in a movie recreating events from Ancient Shilo. For 369 years Shilo was the spiritual and governing capitol of the Jews. This is where the High Priest Eli dwelled, where Joshua ruled and where the Tabernacle rested. Ancient Shilo is in Samara, known to most of the world as the West Bank.

This is where Hannah prayed for a child and her lips mouthed fervent prayers but her words were not audible. The High Priest, thinking she was drunk, asked what she was doing. She answered that she was praying for a child. He told her that her wish would be granted and, indeed, she gave birth to Samuel, the last of the Judges. Hannah’s manner of praying became the template for Orthodox women’s prayers.

But let’s backtrack to find out why my husband and I were the only Jews and only Israelis on this bus of Christian tourists. It was simply a mistake. When the mistake was pointed out to us two weeks before the tour, by the leader, we decided to stick to our original plan. We wanted to see more of Samaria and we especially wanted to see Ancient Shilo. I was curious about the group CFOIS because the leader is the daughter of a friend’s friend in Chicago. But now that I was reminded that it was a Christian group I was also curious to find out who are these people who want to support Israeli settlements. By the way, CFOIS stands for Christian Friends of Israeli Settlements.

So, when the chag of Sukhot was fast approaching and we were still planless I immediately ran this offer by my husband and he seconded the emotion, “Let’s go!”

The night before we contemplated who would be on the tour with us. We expected to be surrounded by American tourists. Not so. There were a few Americans, but the other tourists were mostly from Singapore, Australia, England, Germany, Holland, South Africa and the Philippines.

Our tour guide, Moshe Gabay, was born in Switzerland and immigrated to Israel when he was 19. His personable presentation, his great knowledge of the area, and his concern as a host made everyone feel welcome. What really surprised me, though, was the enthusiasm these Christians vociferously demonstrated with their shouts of Hallelujah and amen when Moshe spoke about why Judea and Samaria belong to the Jews biblically and why great parts of it need to be incorporated into Israel so that Israel is not defenseless against its hostile neighbors. Our first stop at Alfei Menashe demonstrated this more powerfully even than his words.

On the way, Moshe entertained us with stories. He told us all about a new textbook in Holland that states that Israel refused to come to the negotiating table with Jordan after the 1967 war. In fact, it was Jordan that refused to come to the table. When this error was brought to the attention of the publishers of the textbook by Moshe’s brother-in-law, a teacher in Holland, they agreed he was correct. They also made it clear that they had no intention of changing this incorrect statement. This small reminder of the bias of the entire world against Israel and Jews is screamed at us from headlines of most newspapers, especially “The New York Times” and shouted at us by CNN and BBC on a daily basis. This made those “Hallelujahs” and “amens” so poignant, that I had to fight back tears.

At Alfei Menashe, from our high location, we were able to see Tel Aviv and Haifa without the aid of binoculars. Alfei Menashe is geographically 1.2 miles beyond the Green Line at the point where Israel is the narrowest: 15 km (9.3 mi). This scenic peaceful view blew up any fantasy one might have that Israel could just hand over this territory and survive.


Moshe Gabay explains the danger of protecting Israel against our enemies where the country is less than ten miles wide.

The lookout has a stone memorial plaque, one of the hundreds all over Israel honoring those that sacrificed their lives for their country.

Next stop: the home of Sonda Oster Baras, an attorney in the US who came to Israel years ago and practiced law here before her passion of presenting Israeli’s case to Christians became her full time vocation.  . Her living room tables were set up with snacks and drinks and Sondra welcomed all to take our goodies into her sukhah where she spoke about CFOIS and their support of the settlements in Judea and Samaria. Afterwards someone in the organization made a pitch for donations. I was suddenly beamed back to one of my first visits to Israel as an American on a Jewish National Fund tour. That tour’s destinations were mostly JNF projects and they cheerfully solicited donations to enable them to build more projects just as CFOIS was now doing.


Sonda Oster Baras hosts the tourists in her sukhah in Karnei Shomron

We visited several settlements high in the mountains. From the lookouts Moshe pointed out the hostile Arab villages around us including Jenin. Jenin is the home of the Hamas murderers of Eitam and Naama Henkin; murderers that gunned down this loving couple in front of their four young children in Samaria the day after our tour. The children were spared only because one of the terrorists so intent on killing, shot the hand of one of his fellow terrorists by mistake. The five terrorists then aborted the attack to take him to the hospital, where he was later arrested.

We visited several yashuvs (settlements) including Rechalim for a wine tasting which also included imbibing two ounces of pure olive oil. Our hostess explained that olive oil is a great health tonic and especially good for hair growth. While I love olive oil on salads and fish, I drank this only because I was worried that if I didn’t drink the olive oil they wouldn’t give me the wine, much like my parenting: you don’t eat the main dish you don’t get dessert.

At the end of the tasting, I was faced with a personal financial predicament.  Being on a budget, I usually spend between 30 and 40 NIS ($7.50 to $10) for a bottle of superior wine for Shabbat (yes, wine is very inexpensive in Israel) and about 25 NIS ($6.50) for wine to drink during the week. Here their wines were 135 NIS ($34). My passion to support those businesses in the Shomron (Judea and Samaria) won out and I purchased a bottle of Merlot and a bottle of Shiraz plus a nifty bottle stopper for the bargain price of 15 NIS. We wandered around the yashuv which was the poorest one I that we saw that day. In Israel there are playgrounds for children everywhere. Here too, but they were shoddy. Most of the housing looked extremely uncomfortable. There are only about 40 families living there. At grape picking time the yashuv is short on labor. Moshe Gabay brings in Christian volunteers from Europe to help harvest the grapes.

As we started to re-board the bus, several of the Filipino women asked me to pose for photos with them. I felt like a local dignitary.

Our next stop, and the one we were most excited about, was Ancient Shilo. Ancient Shilo was dressed in circus finery celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukoht). There were at least 30 booths hosted by craftsman for tourists, mostly for children to make replicas of the pottery and jewelry found there. Other booths featured entertainers wearing the garb of that time. We saw dozens of children sporting colorful tunics that they made in one of the booths. After spending a little time in their tourist shop, my husband purchased a beautiful handmade replica of the breast plate worn by the Cohan Gadol (the High Priest at Ancient Shilo and the First Temple) for my upcoming birthday. Their plate had 12 jewels and the jewels would light up in a pattern for the High Priest to decipher the answer to the question they presented to G-d.

Our last stop was Maale Levona where they have about 120 families and a petting zoo. This yashuv is also in a strategical place in the Shomron needed for the protection of Israel. The zoo has a double purpose. It is not just for the children that live there but special needs children come to this zoo as petting animals is very therapeutic.   CFOIS is helping to fund this petting zoo, and more importantly, is now collecting monies for security cameras and other equipment that will help the residents protect themselves against attacks by Arabs.


Waiting to be petted

On our way back we were forced to take a detour. Our guide suggested that this would bring us back to our starting point faster. There had been more traffic than anticipated and we were running behind schedule. The next day we discovered that the detour was probably imposed on us by the police because of rock throwers.

On the festival of Shemini Atzaret, the festival at the close of Sukhot, we begin to pray for rain. So on our way back when we were pelted with rain that started even before we began to pray for rain, we took it as a good sign. As for me, I took great heart in knowing that amongst all the BDS supporters, rabid reporters of twisted news always in favor of the Palestinians such as BBC and CNN, that there are good people who understand what Israel is going through and support Israel with their hearts and their pockets.

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Rosh HaShannah Greetings

The sun is surrounded and trapped in a khamsin looking more like a stubborn, fading moon that refused to exit after a bloody sunrise. (A khamsin is a dust storm from Africa.)

Less then a week before Rosh HaShannah we were forced to move. The mover gave us an estimate at 1pm on Monday afternoon and at 5pm on the very same day brought boxes. He was supposed to come at 8am the nest morning but I asked him to put it back to 9am. He agreed. Tuesday morning at 7:30am the mover, with three helpers, was knocking at our door.
Hours later, hot and tired and surrounded by boxes in our new apartment, we didn’t know if we were too electronically challenged to work the remote or if the A/C didn’t work. It was about 90 degrees. We opened all the windows and the next morning everything, including Mick and I, were covered in fine red silt.
Our landlady came by to see if everything was alright. She wanted to know why we didn’t clean before moving and I told her we did but with all the windows open, it was a worthless exercise. Before she could ask why the windows were open, I smiled and said, Ruthie, are you hot? She looked at me with an expression of gratitude that we will turn on the A/C for her. I hand over the remote control. She presses every button and to her astonishment nothing happens. Mick and I look at each other relieved. We might still be hot and tired and covered in dirt but at least we were not too hopeless to turn on the A/C. Ruthie calls a repairman.
We have no wifi, we are surrounded by packing boxes, and soon depart for the center of Naharyia to eat, use the restaurant’s wifi, buy new mezzuzot, and fruits and vegetables for Shabbat and the New Year.
The owner of the fruit store is taciturn. I usually wait for him to look at me and then while his eyes are locked into mine, I wish him a gusty boker tov (good morning). Today, he wears a big smile, reaches for my hand and wishes me a L’Shannah Tova (may you be inscribed for life in the coming year), and L’bracha. (a blessing)
At the mezzuzot store, the owner Yossi tells me he has had time to check only two of the five mezzuzot I ordered but tells me to take them anyway and to come back on Sunday. When I try to pay he tells me to wait until I come back. “I won’t lose any sleep”, he tells me.
On line at the grocery store I examine a jar that says dates, but it is in liquid form. I ask the woman in front of me if it is date honey.
“No. But you must buy it. It is delicious and on sale.” She asks if we have the store’s discount card and when I shake my head, no, she tells the cashier to use her discount card for our groceries and then wishes us a LShannah Tova and showers us with blessings.
I went to Cofix to buy freshly sqeezed carrot juice for five shekels ($1.25) and while waiting I see two very young Chassidic boys. With their very young eyes they swallow everything in front of them and when the cashier places a coffee milkshake on the counter for another customer, not only the eyes drink everything in but a thirsty mouth descends on the straw. The cashiier snatches the drink back and looks to see if the intended customer saw this partial theft of his drink. He didn’t. She throws the violated straw out, places another straw in the drink and smiling widely, hands it to the unsuspecting customer.
Aah, finally time for Shabbat. Since our stove top and oven are not yet hooked up, I cooked on our two burner hot plate and we readied for a quiet evening alone Friday night and for our luncheon guests the next day. I suddenly remembered right before candle lighting that we had been unable to reach our guests to tell them we moved. I wrote out a note and put a piece of tape on the top.
The next morning I walked down eight flights of steps, two blocks to the old apartment, up seven flights, posted the note on the door and then retraced my footsteps with my grand finale of collapsing on our couch. We were so happy when our guests arrived and thanked us for the note.
For those of you not living in Israel, we hope you too will sometime soon enjoy the warmth of the people here, the feeling of being close to G-d and the beauty of the land.
Wishing you a year filled with joy and good health followed by more of the same for years to come.
Below is the view from our living room window. In the distance is Lebanon. From our bedroom window, at night, we see Haifa all lit up.


Back in Israel – My Misadventures

Mick and I have two teenage boys visiting for two weeks so I am half working and half entertaining.

Last Monday I and the boys arrived at the Ghetto Fighters Museum after waiting for a bus in the hot sun for twenty minutes. It is the height of tourist season so I was shocked when we were told that their staff is on vacation and they are closed! Our first day of vacation dwindled into a shopping day. We picked up a few necessities for the boys, some guitar accessories for Eliav and lots of groceries, and trudged back home.

I was determined that Eliav and Eviatar, who spent last summer running in and out of bomb shelters should have an enjoyable summer this year. They live in Yavne, next to Ashdod, which was the target of a steady stream of rockets from Gaza. Sandwiching activities in between getting my citizenship papers, driver’s license, purchasing an apartment, and trying to restock the refrigerator and empty cupboards, was not an easy task.

Eliav, at 14, is the senior of the two boys. His favorite words are “Noooooooo” and “Whaaaaat” Eviatar is 12 and has suddenly realized that he has hair. He totes around a brush that is almost as big as he is, stuffed into his right front pants pocket.

The weather is stifling hot here and every day seems to bring a new misadventure. Before they arrived, I had gone to the Department of the Interior in Akko twice. It entails taking two buses and milling around with throngs of people, hoping that your problem will be addressed on that day. The employees had been on strike for two days but they are behind two months. I cannot wrap my head around this fact but it was repeated into my “I don’t believe this” face numerous times.

When I went to see my attorney about the purchase of an apartment, he wanted to see my citizenship papers. I explained that I would not have them until August 13th. He said “If you want to be an Israeli then you must begin acting like an Israeli. Go to Akko and tell them you are a Jew and you want citizenship NOW.” He reminded me that I am signing a contract on the following day and “if you don’t have your papers you will be facing huge complications.”

I went back to Akko with Eliav and Eviatar in tow. After standing around for an hour, with about 200 other hopefuls waiting for various needed documents, I saw my case worker. He looked at me incredulously and said “Joan?”.

“Yes, Ner. How are  you?”

“Why are you here? I squeezed you in for August 13th. Other people have to wait until October.”

“My attorney said I must come back here and not leave until I have my citizenship papers.”

His face changed from incredulous to anger, “I do not work for your attorney.”

We were standing outside of Ner’s bosses’ office. The boss wanted to know what was going on. Of course I understood nothing of the litany Ner rained on his boss. Ner told me to follow him. I did. He spoke t someone, then he brought me back to his bosses’ office to wait in line and he left for the day. I was inserted exactly in the same spot in the line when he took me off the line. However, the people behind me took issue. The boss beckoned me in and spoke to them in Hebrew. He then asked Eliav to close the door.

It took two hours to get my papers and thankfully Eliav was able to fill in some words that Eddie spluttered for and was able to help him with the transliteration of my name. In the middle of the process it dawned on me that today I am an Israeli. I beamed at the boys. “I am an Israeli!”.

We went to my favorite fish restaurant in Akko to celebrate, but that day was shot.

The next day I had to go to Haifa to deposit some checks. On my last trip to Israel, without papers, I was told I must go to Haifa and could not open a bank account locally. So the three of us first went to the attorney so he could photocopy my new papers, to Haifa to make a deposit and then, something actually fell into place. The Haifa Zoo was only a block away.

We spent a pleasant afternoon checking out unusual animals and taking lots of photos. We returned home hot and tired but we did have fun.

E&Ezoo copy

The next day I had to go to the bank again, this time a local one to draw checks from the bank in Haifa for the first step in the closing. The closing takes place in three or four steps and takes about six months. That way the seller has time to find another apartment and is getting partial payments so they can make a down payment on the property they are purchasing. After spending over an hour at the attorney’s office going over the contract, another hour and a half at the bank getting checks, we were free to have another adventure or misadventure..

To be continued


Cancer Chronicles 10: I am out of cancer jail

I am out of cancer jail. Thank you HaShem.

I am out of cancer jail. Now I am free to travel. No more surgery. No more weekly and sometimes daily doctor appointments, no more being in bed for days or weeks after chemo, no more radiation five days a week.

I am out of cancer jail. Thank you HaShem

I am celebrating my freedom. I just returned from visiting my children and grandchildren in New Jersey. How great to hug and kiss my grandchildren and children. How beautiful to sit at a Shabbat table with my family and to have a visit from Miriam whom I haven’t seen in months.

I am out of cancer jail and will continue my celebration this Thursday when I depart early in the morning for Hollywood, Florida to visit my close friend Esther and her husband, Rabbi Lustig and to attend the Balk wedding.

When I return to Cincinnati there will be a flurry of activity to take care of last minute problems, setting everything in gear for my business to work without my physical presence for three months, working on all that I need to complete so that the IRS will not be looking for me on my return, and gift shopping for some special children in Israel.

I am out of cancer jail. Thank you HaShem.

*HaShem, in Hebrew, means the name. This is the manner in which Orthodox Jews address their maker in order to show respect and not misuse his name.


Cancer Chronicles 9 – Moving Forward

I was sitting on the floor of the family room teaching Mick a few yoga stretches. I felt normal. Feeling normal for me is like sighting a heron in my backyard in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mick’s clumsiness in trying to do the stretches made me laugh, something else that has been rare. Unfortunately, my normal range of emotions towards Mick have been more like grumpy, cranky and disapproving, sometimes for a reason and sometimes just because.

The phone rang. It was Miriam inviting us to come for a Friday night meal the Friday after the one coming up. “If you had called me a day earlier, the answer would have been ‘no’, but I think I can do it.”
Of course, the days ensuing gave me plenty of reason to examine my sanity. For two days in a row Mick and I had walked the Kenwood Mall after radiation and, with a minute’s rest at the beginning point, I was able to do two rounds which would be equivalent to walking from Miriam’s to home. On the other hand, for the past three months, the longest I have lasted at a Shabbat table was about 45 minutes. When my son and his family visited on Thanksgiving, after eating a little, I stretched out on the floor and my son, David, came and lay down beside me. We were soon joined by my grandchildren. All the other Friday nights, after being at the table for about 20 minutes, I would recline on the couch for 10-15 minutes, go back to the table for maybe another ten minutes, and then to bed.

Chemo kept me from sleeping. Since I have been taking radiology, I have noticed a change. I am sleeping at night and instead of walking around like a zombie during the day, I am sleepy still but not exhausted. In the evening, instead of going to bed at 4pm I am simply taking another rest and then up for a few hours in the evening.

After acupuncture, I am generally in deep pain and try to ease out of it by soaking in a hot bath, lying in bed, doing stretching exercises and asking G-d to make my pain pills effective. I was to have an acupuncture appointment that Friday. I changed it to Monday and pep talked myself throughout the coming days that I would make it to this Friday night dinner and have the strength to sit at the table for the required time.
My husband was fearful and kept telling me not to push myself. I felt badly for him spending Shabbat after Shabbat alone while I sank into the comfort of our bed and he bent over the Chumush with some back up books from the sages, as he tries to discern the mysteries of the week’s parsha, alone.

Our friends Jeff and Debbie were also guests at Miriam’s and I asked Debbie to pick me up. She showed up at 4pm and I was worried that I would be worn out before I reached the table. I coaxed her to stay and visit before we left the house. It was great to catch up with her and just schmooze.

At 4:30pm we went to Miriam’s and Mick went to shul. Debbie volunteered to pick up Miriam’s mother-in-law and married myself to the curves of the sofa.

When Barbara and her daughter Leora showed up, all attention was on the beautiful and animated Leora who was visiting from NYC. Poised to make an important decision about her teaching internship she went into great detail explaining all the pros and cons of making her decision which involved not only a lot of traveling but possibly precluding taking necessary Master’s courses. I was mostly quiet but loved the way the women were so involved and supportive of Leora’s decision making process.

Miriam’s mother-in-law, Esther, who is 86 years old and looks 20 years younger, always appears to be on the brink of receiving a pleasant surprise that will make her life even better. I silently wished that we all reach that age in that same good health, with that same wonderful disposition and that contentment mixed with excited anticipation.

The men came in from shul and we gathered at the table. And although I have been at this very same table before, and at many other similar tables, this table seemed special. I looked at the three other couples and recognized how devoted each husband is to their wife. Menchem walked the length from the head of the table twice to make sure that his wife had the first cup of wine from the Kiddush cup, and the first slice of challah, instead of passing it down the table. The conversation went from one subject to another but frequently it revolved about asking about someone’s progress or plan and how they were faring. You could feel that everyone cared about the answer to these questions. The men sang Shabbat songs and they sounded sweeter and stronger than usual. Miriam is a great cook and the food looked and tasted delicious and the dishes were abundant and varied from creamy, rich carrot soup to sweet squash kugel and bean dip to fresh salmon.
Rabbi Balk is graduating his chaplaincy class on Monday and beginning a new career, just as his youngest daughter is poised to begin hers. Jeff and Debbie, recent baal teshuva, are eager to lap up and treasure every new revelation of Torah, or customs and laws. I shared some business news, amazed that in my weakened state my life continues to be exciting and adventuresome.

Being out with others, all who live an observant Torah lifestyle, who care about their spouses, their friends, their community, felt like coming in from a storm after getting my feet drenched, and then sinking into a hot bath and a steaming room, enveloped in warmth.

I lasted until dessert and then announced I needed to go home. Barbara wrapped me in a warm, supportive, hug, as did Debbie and Miriam. Leora, with great sincerity, wished me well, and Menachem walked Mick and I out the back door to show us the short cut.

I had the right amount of energy to walk home and get into bed and I felt like this was a new beginning, a hopefully beginning, to leading the life I had before cancer. What a glorious Shabbat.

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Cancer Chronicles 8 – Twinned and Untwinned

In the beginning of my cancer treatments, Mick was my project manager. He doled out my medicines, collected copies of all my tests, asked the appropriate questions and advocated for me.

When we were home, everything was exactly as it was before I got cancer. I cooked, I waited on him.
When I was feeling really sick and could do nothing more then lay in bed, he was also laying in bed.

One Friday night, a friend cooked for us, and she is an excellent cook. When I am feeling well, everything she makes is delicious. Days before I had finished a chemo treatment and for a week after each treatment I cannot taste salt (which I thrive on) and most foods taste like metal. Only the sweet foods tasted normal to me. Whatever I did not eat, Mick didn’t eat either. One of the side dishes was an apple crunch. Of all the wonderful food my friend had prepared, that was the only dish that appealed to me. I had a little, and exhausted and weak, I left the table before the end of the meal and went to bed.

At 3am I woke up and envisioned the apple crumb dessert. I looked all over the kitchen and in the refrigerator. It was nowhere to be found. In the morning, I asked my husband where it was. He flashed me a big smile and said, “It is in my tummy.” I was beyond furious but bit my tongue.

The next week when food tasted more normal, I had a yen for salads. I think most salads are boring, but a little radicchio and arugula really give salads a kick. Mick had planted some in our garden. I went out to the garden to look for the radicchio. It was all cut to the bottom. I asked what happened to it. He explained that he had juiced it. “Why?” I asked, “Did you discover some healing qualities that would benefit you?” The answer was a resounding no. Again, I was angry. Again, I bit my tongue except that from then on, whenever there was something that tasted good to me I ordered him not to touch it.

I could not figure out why my normally considerate husband ate only the foods I like and why when I needed him the most, he was always sick.

On our next visit to the doctor, when she told me to take a deep breath, I was looking at Mick and noticed that he took a deep breath. The proverbial light bulb went off in my head. My husband so identified with me that he became the patient.

After an illuminating conversation, wherein I was the illuminator, things changed and my husband once again became the considerate and helpful husband that I had envisioned would be at my side through these trying times.

We only ran into one amusing problem after the “enlightenment.” My last chemo treatment, left me with no strength to fight off any illnesses and I developed a severe case of sinusitis and lost my voice. I needed something to drink. I banged on the nightstand. No response. I banged on the metal lamp. No response. I slammed the nightstand drawer back and forth. No response. Then I called his cell phone thinking he would see my number and come into the bedroom. His cell phone rang loudly in my ear because it was in our bedroom instead of with him. Finally, I picked up my Ipad and emailed him and SOS. Finally he came into the bedroom to see what I needed.

This has been an amazing journey. Mick and I enjoy doing many things together, but we are also very independent and spend lots of time apart (him in Israel and me in Cincinnati) so this has been an amazing journey where we have spent so much time together. I have learned to depend on him, and he has learned to be there for me. When one marries this late in life, it is impossible to know in which direction a marriage will go. Happily this one is thriving.