Once you delve into the world of the High Holidays and Sukkot, nothing happens here in Israel until after Sukkot. So now, that it is after Sukkot, I thought I would let you know what is going on with us.
The High Holidays were actually very nice and mellow here. I enjoyed (and that is a big deal) tefillot. The holidays which in the US are seen as so serious and sad, here are solemn yet joyful. The tunes are uplifting and the fact that the whole country really shuts down lends a sense of vacation and rest. All of Israel stops on Yom Kippur especially, Rosh Hashana is seen as vacation time for the Israelis who aren't observant. Many go abroad or vacation here at the beach or by hiking, etc. Yom Kippur though, literally everything stops. No one drives and the streets are full of kids on their bikes, scooters etc. At shul, I have never seen kids eat so much, constantly shtupped by their parents with food, I guess so that the parents can sit in shul all day and the kids will play outside. It drove Avi crazy and I can't really say that he was a pleasure while fasting, even though he has plenty in reserve :)
The day was short and even though I missed my Torah reading (for which I have still another whole year to atone), I did make it for my Mincha reading later in the day. The fast was over at around 6 pm.
Sukkot was an entire 10 days off of school and ulpan and work for me. I accepted a job teaching English to high school boys in a Moshav called Nehalim, about 5 mins. south of Petach Tikva. They make goat cheese, etc. there but I haven't been yet to that part of the Moshav. The job is 20 hours a week, I don't work on Tuesday and Fridays. It is only a 20 min. ride from Modiin by car, but at least an hour and a half by public transportation. Therefore, we are now in the throws of buying a car.
Cars in Israel are expensive and even used cars really hold their value. This along with the fact that gas is also expensive, but yet, everyone drives around here and most of the cars are 2006 or newer. This is because many people lease and/or get cars as a benefit from work. Car insurance is not super expensive. They are now selling the prius here and I have seen some Honda civic hybrids, but most everything else is a plain old car. Ironically, the Mazda MPV is one of the most sought after cars here. There are other cars with 6 or 7 seats that are essentially mini minivans. The Mazda 323 and Honda Civic are considered family cars here, even with the tiny back seat. Which is why, we are probably going to opt for a 6 or 7 seater since listening to everyone complain about who sits in the middle is more than Alex can take.
Back to sukkot. Everyone really does take off at least a few days during the sukkot holiday. In the US, only the week between xmas and new year's is similar. The thing that struck me though is that the holiday is not based around consumerism, but around a sense of being with family, friends and enjoying the sights of Israel. The kids all went on a tiyul (trip) with their youth groups and came home filthy, tired, smelly, etc. They all had a good time, although Penina is now backtracking on that saying it was just too dirty for her and that just isn't her thing. Although, it seems to be fine when her room is dirty, and of course, I did point that out. She often does that, confesses to having enjoyed something and then later will come back and say she didn't so it is hard to tell what she is thinking. She continues to go to regular school and Alex and I are going to try and meet with her teacher to see how she is doing there. Yael continues in ulpan and last night read to me in Hebrew without vowels and was really impressive. Both Yael and Penina are hesitant to speak Hebrew but Avi goes full steam ahead, sounding like an Israel with his accent and his pronunciation of the letter resh (r sound). Resh (r) of course, marks you as an American if you say it like a letter r, which of course I do and will continue to do so, since at the age 40, I am not willing to make that change. Other things are more important although my students think I should work on it, so we will see. I told them that if they learn to say th correctly, and not as a "z"sound, I would work on my resh.
Alex is working from the house from about 2 - 10 pm. He seems to be enjoying it and is attending ulpan in the mornings. I still haven't figured out if I can do ulpan but I know that I will learn plenty of Hebrew while teaching English.
Yesterday, we had Penina's birthday party for her friends from school. About 5 girls from her class showed up, not having RSVPd, since that isn't done here. They didn't want to do the facial which upset her and seemed to be speaking Hebrew a mile a minute so it was difficult for her. Her good friends, Atara and Shikma were here also and were willing to try everything. It went better as it went along and we had pizza, did nails, made colored bath salts to take home, and then let them watch a movie for the last 1/2 hour. She got nice gifts and I think in the end was pleased for how it worked out. It is hard for her not to be in charge.
So, we are now waiting for normalcy and some sense of a routine to kick in. I am hoping that Avi will be able to go to his school on this Friday. There is of course, requisite paperwork to get done, but it is time and he needs to be able to begin that. He has moved up a level in ulpan but is going to have to prove himself if he wants to stay there.
We did take two trips during sukkot. One to Neot Quedumim, a nature preserve close by and the other to another archaelogical site in Jerusalem called Ein Yael (spring of Yael). At both places, we saw pomegranate trees, fig trees, grape vines with grapes, loaded Date palms and of course, sukkot. As well at Ein Yael they ahd a reconstructed Roman market that had people dressed as Romans and showing how things were made then, such as iron working, leather working, yarn dyeing and cloth weaving, etc. There were also animals to pet, make your own pottery and pita, etc. Afterwards, we went to the mall which is very close and ate at a famous dairy restaurant called Yotvata.
That's it for random ramblings for now....more to come on the Car and Avi's school when they happen.