Thursday, April 26, 2012

Frodo and Sam Get Lost in the Forbidden Mountain

Oh, boy.

We had a lovely Yom Haatzmaut until about 4:30 today.  Then it went downhill. Literally. 

Last night we saw fireworks and had a nice festive dinner, and then this morning had a festive breakfast (I mean we are Jews, so celebrating = eating, right?).

Then this afternoon we ventured out on our first semi-long trip to ANOTHER PART OF ISRAEL.  See, as you can probably tell from previous posts, I am basically terrified of driving into Jerusalem or any other city I'm not totally familiar with.  Modiin?  No problemo!  Herzliya?  AAAHHH!

OK, I'm all right now.  Deep breaths.

So today we had an invitation to go to Efrat for a simcha!  An engagement party!  And we'd get to see our old friends who made aliyah many many years ago but with whom we are very close nonetheless.  We were excited about seeing them, celebrating with them, etc.

This morning we went over the directions twice, looked at it on every conceivable map known to man, and asked others for advice.  Then it was time to go.

With hands shaking we drove towards Jerusalem like we were told to.  Everything was just dandy - we found the Begin highway, lalalala, we are such great Israelis, we are golden!

And then - Mr. GPS kept "recalculating", we couldn't find the street names on our Google directions, and our big fat fancy book of maps was useless.


We drove around and around until the GPS man started talking to us again and told us to go down a certain road and make a left.  We did.  And then - well, let's just say Mr. Tolkien ain't got nothing on us when it comes to windy roads, mountains, and freaky journeys.

We ended up going up and down mountains around Jerusalem on two lane roads - the kind where you DO NOT look to your right because if you do you will notice you are driving on sheer cliffs - like the kind where one false move and....well you get the idea.

We drove and drove - the 1 hour trip was now a 2 hour trip. And the road just didn't end.  We were happy to see other cars, and hoped that they were not filled with sketchy looking people - most were not. But the mountains!  I mean to the left it was sheer rises of trees and foliage - you couldn't see the top - and to the right was a sheer drop.

FINALLY we saw civilization - parks where people were having their barbecues for Yom Haatzmaut, etc.  We felt better.  And then - yay - a sign!  For Efrat?  Nope.  For Beit Shemesh. Yay - we know Beit Shemesh!  It is our friend!  Let's go there!

So we drove to Beit Shemesh and from there to Modiin.

Missed the party. When we saw the hills of Modiin we felt like Frodo and Sam when they saw the Shire again. 

So Frodo and Sam are home - and we are not sure that we are looking for any more adventures any time soon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No title for this one because there are no words.

Today I attended my first Yom Hazikaron ceremony as an Israeli.  

It is hugely different to be commemorating this day as a citizen and not just as a Jew.  Standing there under the bright blue sky, the breeze, and the butterflies and birds flying overhead, in the Modiin cemetery where the chayalim are buried, I had so many feelings whirling around at once that it was hard to keep them straight - gratittude that I was able to become an Israeli, gratittude and deep sadness for the soldiers that gave their lives, pride in the young people who serve proudly, fear and incredible pride for my own grandchildren who will one day become members of the armed forces, etc. 

It was hard to sing Hatikvah because of all of these deep emotions which had welled up inside of me.  I kept thinking of, and thanking, my parents, a"h, for whom Israel was a symbol of strength and solace.

But most of all, I felt an incredible sense of belonging, and of being in the right place, finally, after all of these years.  No matter how many times you visit (and visiting is great, don't get me wrong) when you are a citizen and this is where you live it feels altogether different. 

When we arrived in Ulpan, our teacher had already lit a yahrzeit candle.  We spent the first few hours in Ulpan studying the wars since 1948.  We also learned that to date almost 23,000 people have died defending Israel or as victims of terror.

Hashem Yikom Damam.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Doing It Right

Maybe it's because I am a post-war baby, or probably more because I grew up during VietNam, but I have always felt very emotional about veterans.   Just the whole thing of young men and women putting themselves in harm's way to protect the rest of us - it always makes me very proud and a little awe-struck.

So it's always bothered me that so few in the US really handle Veterans' Day with all that much thought - I mean it's a great day for sales, the US Government and some city and state governments shut down, and there are always specials on TV, but for the most part life goes on as usual.

Not so in Israel.  Here they do it right.

Tomorrow is Yom HaZikaron - Veterans' Day in Israel. It begins tonight with a siren at 8:00 pm and tomorrow everything, and everyone, pays tribute to the fallen soldiers.  Stores are shut, movies are shut, the TV channels are not allowed to show anything light, and even the radio stations play different music (such as I described for Yom HaShoah).

Tomorrow the Ulpan will be going to the Modiin Cemetery to pay tribute to the soldiers buried there and participate in a tekes (ceremony).

In the meantime, you can feel the curtain of sadness drop on the entire country as today progresses into tonight. 

I don't think there are any words that can comfort the families of the fallen, anywhere in the world, but at least here they are paid the respect that they are due, by the entire nation, for this one day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Test, Siren, Husband

Yesterday in Ulpan our teacher told us that we'd have a test today.  We spent half of our class yesterday learning words you need for the bank - deposit, interest, loan, overdraft (very important to know that one), etc. etc.  We learned six new verbs and added them with great ceremony to our sheets.

Have I not told you about the sheets?  Well, this is worth a digression.

At the start of Ulpan, we received a sheet titled "Daf Poalim" - Verb Sheet.  It is a table ("tabla" is the very difficult Hebrew word for this) with a column for the infinitive, the gerund (come on, you know what that is, don't you?  it's the noun that is created from the verb!), the present, past, and future, the root, and what "family" it belongs to.  We have been in Ulpan for 2 months and we now have 81 verbs.  I know, I know, you're so impressed you can hardly speak.

We also have sheets for Adjectives, Opposites, and Prepositions.  Each new word is added and a consecutive number is assigned to it.  Chaos such as the modern world has never seen erupted the day we realized that we didn't all have the same numbers for the same verbs.  Oy va voy.

So the teacher ran to the xerox machine clutching one person's perfectly numbered sheets and then we all continued with the same numbering.  Whew!  Now, each time she annoucnes a new verb or adjective, we rush to our sheets, pull them out and everyone HAS to agree that we are now adding Number ____. 

OK, back to the test (but you have to admit that digression was worth it, wasn't it?)  So today we had the test.  She hands out the sheet and tells us to close our books - hmmph, there goes our chance of an open book exam.  The first part of the test was, as she promised, about the verbs we had learned the day before.  But the SECOND part of the test was about the nouns we had NOT known would be on the test.  NO FAIR! 

We all (well I) flunked the second part of the test, but then we went through it together.  Our teacher is super sweet and super supportive, and she realized she'd kind of tricked us. And, of course, I did something really dumb, which only topped the really dumb thing I did yeterday.

Yesterday's dumb thing: Yesterday I mixed up two words - I wanted to say that something was "free" - chinam - but instead I used the word "cherum" which means emergency.  So I said that I had emergency checking. The teacher kept giving me this weird look.

Today's dumb thing: Today, I couldn't remember the word for savings and mixed it up with the word for princess, so I told everyone I have a princess account in the bank. 

Today was also Yom HaShoah.  Living here, and not just being here for a visit, makes everything so much deeper.  At 10 AM the two minute siren went off.  We all stood in class silently, as did everyone, everywhere in the entire country.  Knowing that this silence was happening all over the country was staggering.  Last night, the Comedy Channel and other cable channels went off the air for 24 hours in observance of the day, and most of the channels only showed Shoah-related movies, and the radio started playing only serious music, no rock music at all. Next week is Yom Hazikaron, the day the country mourns its fallen soldiers, and the entire Ulpan is going to visit the Modiin cemetery area where the fallen soldiers are buried.

I was just thinking of what it means to be living in the country that so many refugees had fled to during the war, and so many others dreamed of coming to.  I felt so lucky and so blessed.

Oh, yeah, Husband!  Bern returned!  Yay!  He can finally see our apartment, our new car, and we can start our real life.  We met him at the airport (unfortunately he returned the same day about 5,000 yeshiva students also returned, so it was forever until he came out), and it was quite festive.

This Shabbos is our first together in our apartment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Very Israeli Day

Here's what the past 24 hours has brought:

1. Chefetz Chashud - Gila noticed (yay Gila!) a suitcase sitting in front of our building.  Just sitting there.  She called the emergency number and the police came by.  It was nothing, but for a few minutes there....

2.  Carwash - yes, I did it.  I asked around and found a carwash in back of some other store.  In a small country, EVERYTHING is in back of something.  Asked the guy for a "club card" and got my car washed and also learned that I should tip the car drying person and did that.  Have no idea if I tipped him too much or too little.  Well, he didn't run after me screaming and shaking his fist, but he also didn't tear off his Car Wash shirt, scream "I'm quitting!" and run away laughing.  So maybe it was just the right amount.

3.  Spitting and bagging - groceries, that is.  No, I didn't spit on the groceries.  Every time I go to the store I get nervous at the bagging part.  You have to do it yourself and those darn bags don't always open so easily.  So I have learned to lick my finger and thumb in order to get just the right kind of grab on that little bag so it opens.  Isn't that pleasant?  But it is never fast enough and no matter how small my order I am always muttering under my breath and huffing and puffing trying to bag as fast as possible while the impatient cashier and the customer behind me looks at me like (here we go, you should be used to this by now), I'm an idiot.

4. Two long awaited phone calls.  I got a call in Ulpan from the a/c fixer guy who has yet to put a vent cover on the vent in my bathroom, leaving a lovely gaping hole in the wall.  He finally called me and he only speaks Hebrew.  What luck, I was in Ulpan so the entire class could hear me bungling the Hebrew.  Afterwards (yes, after, so that didn't really help me) the teacher told me what the words were - but she was so nice about it and said that if anything like that happened again I should call her.  I asked her to move in with me for the next five years.

The second call - you are going to love this - was from the Post Office.  About a month ago I contacted them to ask them to deliver gask masks to me.  Right after I filled out the form on the internet I got a phone call (wow! efficient!  they must be worried about us really needing these things!).  The woman spokeveryfasthebrewandIcouldn'tunderstandawordofit.  So I asked if I could speak in English.  She said that "someone would call me back."

That was four weeks ago.  I got a call back today.  "Hello!  I am from the Post Office!  I am calling you about your gas masks!  I am speaking English!"  Seriously, that is what she said.  All I could think of was that thank God there hadn't been a war.  I informed her that I had gone to Holon all by my little self (well, with friends) to get my own darn gas mask.  "Great!" she said.  Oh brother.

5. Flag for Yom HaAtzmaut.  Everyone puts Israeli flags on their cars.  I was leaving the supermarket and the man (who for some reason no one has figured out is hired to stand there and stamp your receipt before you leave) pointed to the bin of flags and said that they were only 4 shekel!  Now I knew that Gila had already purchased a flag for me so I said no, I already had one.  Then he got the saddest look on his face, "Gveret, rak arba shekalim!  Arba!  Arba!"  I mean what a show.  So of course I bought one.  I had to make the Receipt Stamper happy.

6. Ulpan / Yom HaZikaron:  We were told today that on Yom HaZikaron the entire Ulpan will be going to the military section of the Modiin cemetery to have a tekes (ceremony) near the graves of fallen soldiers from Modiin.  That really touched me. 

We are coming up on a very big week for the entire Jewish people - Yom haShoah, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom HaAtzmaut.  I'm ready -with a clean car, bagged groceries, gas masks and a flag.  Very Israeli.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Back to Ulpan - Oy

Yesterday the entire country of Israel went back to school, including me.  Ulpan started back yesterday (even though "isru chag" was Shabbat, it still counts as "isru chag" somehow - um, no I don't get it either.)

We dusted off our brains, picked up our notebooks and trudged back to the classroom.  We enjoy our teachers, both of them, even though their styles are a bit different.  They are extremely serious about our learning Hebrew as deeply and quckly as posible and encourage us to study, study, study when we get home.


None of us studied over the Pesach vacation, and we all spent time with fellow English/Spanish/French speakers, so you can be sure the rust was inches deep on Sunday morning.

But no matter, we dove in full of hope and enthusisasm.  After all, we only have 3.5 months left of Ulpan so we all want to learn as much as possible. Becasue after that we will most likely retreat to our little safe havens of English/Spanish/French and try to speak as little Hebrew as possible in our daily lives for fear of sounding (say it with me now) "like idiots."

It was going OK - we were talking about what we did, the tiyulim we went on, who we were with for seder, etc.  Then our teacher decided to test us.

NO FAIR said the 10 year old within me.  Well, it wasn't a serious, official test, but she announced that she was going around the room to ask us verbs that we've learned.

We have officially, in writing, learned over 70 verbs.  We have memorized probably 3.  I mean, those of us who don't go home and study at night.  I mean after al we are Kitah Gimel (Level 3) so some of these words we know already, but some are just pure craziness.  There are some words with similar sounds like l'hofiya and l'hafriya - I mean really, isn't that silly?

And some words have so many tofs and vovs in them you can't even prounounce them.

And some you don't need - I mean instead of having to memorize the one word "to disturb" I could just as easily say, in about 10 words, "to do something or make a noise and make you stop what you are doing," right?  I mean, we CAN work around the darn vocabulary, can't we?

So the teacher announced that she was going around the room to ask us verbs.  All of a sudden you hear the unmistakable crinkle crinkle click click of notebooks being opened, pages being turned and 12 students looking in panic for their verb lists.

We whip out our verb lists and think, "OK, she's on person #2, by the time she gets to me, SURELY I'll have all of these verbs memorized, no problem!"


Many of us did not know our words.  Then we got a bit of a lecture about studying.  We all looked appropriately sheepish.

Then she did about an hour on something which she introduced as "not really important" and that "you won't ever really use" but "you should know it."

Now I don't blame her, she probably has a curriculum and has to stick to it.  But seriously, telling us it is something we won't use?  Do you think that's going to make us listen harder?  That's precisely when I can actually hear clicking noises coming from people's brains as the "off" switch is hit.

So today I got up my courage and asked if we could have a couple of sessions on words we really need in our daily life - for shopping, the bank, the various government offices we have to deal with, etc.

I got a look of utter stupefication.  "Really?  That's what we teach in Kitah Aleph.  You want to know that?  Well, OK, if that's what you want, we will teach it to you but really it is what we teach in Kitah Aleph."

Excuse me, Ulpan Directorate, but all immigrants need help like that.  What, because my Hebrew is better I'm supposed to know the words for "free checking" and "please can you fix my window and can you come now becasue the rain is pouring in?"

It seems that she and our other teacher are going to "discuss' the "possibility" of teaching us these below-level lessons and see if they can fit it in.

In other news, I went today looking for a carwsh.  Cars here don't just get dirty, they get disgusting.  The thick dust and lack of moisture in the desert air makes for a very ugly car.  Also, very often there is some kind of "dirt rain" that comes down sometimes that is literally globs of dust mised with water.

So I went to the big Modiin mall looking for the carwash which I heard was in their parking lot.  I found it.  I drove by, I asked the guy in very broken Hebrew if I could get a car wash and he mumbled something about "shaatayim."  Now that either meant I couldn't get it washed for two hours, I could leave it and come back in 2 hours, or I could wait 2 hours to get in line and THEN wait 2 hours for the cleaning.  Never mind, I drove away.

Then I drove to another carwash and the line was going around the block, so forget that.

I'm sure you're all anxious to hear whether I find an available carwash, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, I gotta go study my verbs......

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The All Hebrew Meeting

Last night we had a Va'ad HaBayit meeting.  A Va'ad HaBayit is, literally, a committee of people living in the building. 

Just as an aside, I spent many, many years running meetings, and I think I did a darn good job - I always had an agenda, stuck to it, and got out fast.  I am used to speaking up at meetings, listening well, and giving an opinion if I think it will add to the discussion.  Then comes living in Israel.  I no longer have that feeling that I can and want to contribute - simply because the well formed ideas in my head come out sounding like pig-latin when I try to express them in Hebrew.  Even normal Hebrew words get stuck as they try to escape my mouth.  For someone who made a living in communications, it's a little frustrating. OK, I feel better now, that was a very satisfying kvetch.

Now comes my first all-Hebrew meeting in Israel.

Just to explain, for msot residents of multiple-resident dwellings in Israel, our buildings are our own - there is no management company handling the neighborhood.  The residents in each building are responsible for the elevator maintenance, outside areas, indoor common areas, electricity for the lights, etc.  So each building has to have a committee of residents, and each dwelling has to pay a fee each month to take care of all of the common needs.

Donny, as is his wont, took matters into his own hands when we  moved in and figured he'd better get moving on the Va'ad HaBayit.  He is a natural laeder and very thorough (those of you who know him will be making cracks about 'understatement of the year' now).

So Donny did due diligence and figured out a fair fee for the VH, considering all of the recurring costs.  This also means that he and Gila take responsiiblity for the financial management, and Gila is handling this with Lisa, another resident/friend.

So about a week ago Donny sent out an email (yes, in Hebrew) informing everyone about the monthly fee and inviting us to our first meeting which was held last night.

I knew that the meeting would be in Hebrew, and was interested to see how much I'd be able to follow.  Here's what I think happened:

1. There was a discussion about why the lights in the parking lot had to be on ALL night.  Wasn't that a waste of money?  Finally one resident convinced another that, um, if the lights are off the cars will be stolen.  End of discussion.

2. There was some discussion about the cleaning of the building.  If I got it right, someone is either going to have their children do it or we are hiring a company or we're going to let the dirt build up, or something else.  I got lost on that one.

3. We are not going to do anything about the garden areas of the building - maybe we'll wait until later in the year.  OR  we are going to do something right now and not wait.  Either one.  Not sure.

4.  Donny and Gila served wine and cheese.  Some people liked OR did not like the wine and / or the cheese.  Not sure there either.  There was smiling and laughter but maybe that's just because a lot of wine was being consumed.  (Those of you who know Donny will now be nodding your heads).

5. The monthly fee is either just right or too high.  One person started out thinking it was too high but in the end convinced everyone else it was not too high.  OR he is moving out tomorrow because the fee is too high..  Not sure there.

6.  The kablan (builder) has cheated all of us in one way or another.  Got that perfectly clearly, no mistakes on that one, and we all agreed.

So, I may or may not have understood, but the important thing is that I did not have to speak very much.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pesach Review

One seder - here's why I like it -
1. You put all of your energy into the seder, and don't think, "Well, tomorrow night I'll be less tired/ have more to say/stay up longer."
2.  When it's over you feel a little sad becuase it's a whole year untl the next one.  I don't know about you (especially the women), but after the first seder I always said to myself, "Oy I have to do this again tomorrow night....:"

Kids and grandkids nearby.
Leezy & famiily are camping out with me this week.  This is super fun.  I get to watch the little guys do their cute/fighting/talking/singing/giggling acts, I get to cook for my kids again (yes, I said that and yes I meant it).  With Gila & co. living downstairs, the cousins are having a blast running up and downstairs to see each other and hanging out on the mirpeset throwing things up / down, not to mention the sisters loving being able to d the same.

Chol Hamoed:
Nice that there is an extra day.  Amazing that the entire country is on vacation and everywhere you read about parks,, malls, museums, factories, you name it having special Pesach events - many for free.

The entire country is decorated for Pesach/Yom Haatzmaut.  In Modiin every intersection is decorated with lights, streamers and flags in anticipation of Yom Haatzmaut.  The city does this before Pesach to celebrate the chag and to get everyone geared up for YH.

I know it's spring in many places in the world, but after the dreary, cold, bone-chilling rains of an Israeli winter (everything here is made of stone so cold is much colder and I'm not just kvetching, it's true), the warm sun and warm breezes are beautiful.  Soon enough this will turn into unbearable heat, but for now it's nice.

Israelis love flowers - and Modiin is a very nature-happy town (we will even have to start separating our garbage into wet and dry garbage in the next few months - eww).  It's very big on flowers so every corner has a gorgeous display of all types of colorful flowers.

Still an issue - so much has kitniyot - you have to look at each and every package - even packages of hamburger patties, hot dogs, etc.  But somehow, we are managing not to starve.  That last sentence was sarcasm.

All in all, it's beautiful, and I feel very blessed to be experiencing my first Pesach as an Israeli.

We were here last year for Pesach, but this year I don't have to leave.  

Friday, April 6, 2012


This morning I went out to the local grocery to get the "last few things" before yom tov begins. 

Last night I woke up at 3:00 am and thought, "HOT CUPS!  SMALL ZIPLOC BAGS!"  and couldn't get back to sleep.  You know, every day during the week before Pesach you say, "I'm NOT going to the store today, I'm just NOT."  And then, there you are in the middle of making matza balls and you realize you forgot the __________ [random ingredient[.  So off you go.  Whip out that credit card.

Today it was the small ziploc bags which were totally essential for Pesach.  I had the hot cups, it turned out.  And I wanted to get a newspaper.  Two good reasons to go to the store.

As I drove out I was unprepared for what I saw.  Nothing monumental, nothing dramatic.  Just groups of people all over the neighborhood burning their chametz.  I probably saw five different groups.  All over the place you saw fathers walking with their children, chametz in hand, to find the neighborhood fire.  And maybe I'm just projecting this, but they had the happiest smiles on their faces.  They were really excited about Pesach.

People were standing together in big and small groups burning chametz - those with kipot, those without, kids running around, all excited.  People were shaking hands and wishing each other a chag sameach.

Now I know this is done in other cities outside of Israel, and I don't know if I can describe this correctly or with enough passion, but many, many of the people I saw were olim like me. That means more than I could even say.  Knowing we had all come here for the same reason, to gather together, literally from around the world, and live as Jews in a Jewish nation - wow.

Double wow.

Chag kasher v'smeach, everyone - and think of me when you make that last trip to the store...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Don't Answer the Door

Yesterday there was a knock at the door.  Thinking it was someone I knew and was expecting I opened it with a big smile.

It was a man. Speaking Hebrew. I did not know him.

After his first sentence, I responded with my famous, ever-popular retort, "Mah?"  Now somehow from the way I say "Mah" and probably from the profoundly empty look on my face he figured he'd better slow down.  So he asked if I have a television.

That's right.  "Yesh lachem televizia?"  And then he showed me some kind of ID.  Now I've read enough to know that you don't let someone in your apartment just because he has an ID.  I mean he could have faked it.  So what did I do? 

I let him in my apartment.  As I did I saw in my head about 50 headlines in tomorrow's newspaper about the stupid woman who let some guy into her apartment because he had an ID.

These are the thoughts that were running through my head:

  1. He wants to steal my television.
  2. He wants to steal other things.
  3. He is from the cable company, but then he would have known I have a TV.
  4. He wants to take my television away for some reason.

See none of these are happy thoughts.  When I answered in the affirmative, he walked, nay, strode, into my apartment and said, "Ayfo?"  [where is it]  And he showed me the paper that had my name on it, my address, and my identity number.  I felt a little better, thinking this is something official, I just don't know what.

Me, being a modern gal all into women's rights and standing up for myself, answered his question by meekly pointing down the hall.  I think I set the women's movement back two decades at least.

He went into the room with the television and looked at it.  He started talking and waved a paper at me - he had a stack of them with different people's names on them.  I did not understand one word he said.

He asked me when we moved in.  That I could answer, so I told him. 

He filled out something, tore off a form and handed it to me.  Then he pointed at the bottom of the paper and used one word I definitely know - "l'shalem" [to pay].

Then he asked me to sign something and looked at me seriously - that made me really nervous.  Then he said shalom and left.

I sat down, shaking with nervousness about this.  What did I just sign?  I could just hear my kids asking me why I didn't ask them before I signed this - and having to go from court to court and office to office to undo whatever horror I'd just brought upon myself.

OK, I'm going to read the letter.  Calm down.  I look through the letter and see the words for "law" and "lawyer"!  Oh no, I think I've just signed some kind of agreement and someone is going to sue me or I am going to have to sue someone else.  I hear my husband saying, "You can't just sign things!"

More and more nervous.  OK, it seems to say I have to pay something, but why.  Start translating (yay Morfix!).  The letterhead is from the Ministry of Broadcasting.  Hmmmm.  I read some more and then Gila arrives and I ask her if "THE MAN" came to visit her too, but she'd been out.  I show her the letter and it seems that all is ok.

This is just the man who assesses your TV so that you can.....

....wait for it....


Yes, there is a television tax!    Lucky for us our TV and apartment are new - apparently, if I read it correctly (stop laughing), if you have had your TV since 2005 you have to pay over 4600 shekel - our fee was 221.  I'm sure I read it wrong, that can't be, can it?

Anyway, I go to the website and, like a good citizen, pay the tax.

If someone comes in tomorrow asking if I have windows......

Monday, April 2, 2012


Ok, full disclosure.  I do not like macaroons.  No, let's be honest, I hate them.  I have never liked the taste, and there is something slimy about them that makes me shudder.

BUT - I always buy a can of macaroons for Pesach.  Because, I mean really, what is Pesach without that can of macaroons that sits there the whole week with no one touching it.  I remember the year they came out with chocolate macaroons for the first time.  Wow, we thought, now THAT is going to be different, THAT will be tasty.  Or the year they came out with chocolate chip macaroons.  I defy anyone to find what could technically be called a chocolate chip in those babies.  Chocolate dust, maybe.

Alas, those delicacies were no better than the originals.  One thing they were great for were as snacks for the kids (hey, what do they know) when we'd go on chol hamoed trips.  They pack well, never get stale (because they are created stale) and kids will eat them because they are sweet.

So goes the tradition of buying macaroons every year. 

Today I went to Rami Levi (home of very cheap food) to do a hefty Pesach shopping.  Right there as you walk in they had tons and tons of macaroons.  I happily walked over to pick up my requisite box and guess what - they were only OK for "ochlei kitniyos" (people who eat kitniyos).

No, I thought, this can't be.  I picked up another box - same thing.  Then I looked at the cookies - I mean we always buy at least one box of the Pesach cookies as well - and sure enough, only for people who eat kitniyos.

So I shall have Pesach 5772 without macaroons.  It just doesn't seem the same.  I am sure I could find a store somewhere that sells American macaroons for like $75 a box, but I am not that devoted to tradition.

Oh, and remember the saga about the margarine?  Today someone posted a note on the Modiin list serve that she still has the non-kitniyos margarine she bought last Pesach in the freezer because it was so awful her family forbade her to use it. 

So, let's see.  No margarine, no macaroons, no boxed cookies.  But don't worry, folks I will carry on with fortitude.  It's the way Israelis deal with Pesach. 


What we DO have here are billboards wishing everyone a chag kasher v'sameach, radio announcements offering chol hamoed activities, and, most beautiful of all, streets lined with Israeli flags in anticipation of Yom Ha'atzmaut.  Those went up suddenly in the last few days.  Every street is festooned with beautiful Israeli flags.

Somehow the macaroons don't seem to matter very much.