We had a lovely Shabbat in Kiryat Shmuel, which I found out is NOT the same as Kiryat Motzkin. I guess using them interchangeably is sort of like being one of those New Yorkers who think Baltimore and Silver Spring is the same place. Anyway, our hosts, the Hershtals, have a very cute house in Kiryat Shmuel. Donny and I slept in the guest room downstairs, and they planned on the kids sleeping on a futon mattress in their kids' room (they have a 5 year old boy, a 3 year old boy, and an 8-month old girl, who did not get to be part of the fun.) I wasn't sure if the whole concept was going to work, but by the time 8:00 rolled around, the four big kids were all BFFs and happily tramped upstairs for their first ever sleepover. Ariella and Yaakov were pretty cute together on the mattress; of course, Yaakov was the last one asleep and fell asleep on, you guessed it, the floor, wedged between the mattress and a bookcase. (We moved him, not to worry.)
One of the big plusses to Kiryat Shmuel is the playground that we visited on Shabbat morning. On the ground, to cushion the inevitable falls, was that fancy rubberized stuff - NO SAND! Score one for Kiryat Shmuel! Shabbat afternoon, the Hershtals invited many of other Anglos over so we could meet more people. (KS is the kind of place where when we asked how many English-speakers there were, the Hershtals responded by listing every one of their names - i.e. not a lot.) The people were incredibly nice and friendly. The downside to KS is that it's very far away - it's on the train line to Donny's office, but it was a solid 2 hours from Modi'in, because it's north of Haifa. The housing market is also kind of small, especially for the kind of American-sized mansion we are looking for. So there is a lot of potential, but the verdict is still out.
On Sunday, we received a call from our favorite Australian sister, Leezy! Even though with the time difference I think it is, in fact, already 2009 there, she was able to find a few moments to call us. I even got to hear Dov "Dahv" Bensky in the background. For those of you keeping track, it has been 4.5 years since we last saw Leezy. There also currently exist a nephew and niece which we have never laid eyes on, except in Facebook pictures. This is sad. We miss you Leezy!!!!!
Some funny Ariella stories. Yesterday, for the first time, she wrote the entire aleph-bet! I was so proud of her, because in September, she recognized only a few of the letters, and couldn't write them at all. However, her "hitkadmut" in Hebrew comes along with a little backsliding in English - after writing the aleph-bet, she decided to write her ABCs. She has known how to write the alphabet for at least a year and a half, and even started to read a little over the summer. However, when she wrote the alphabet it was...backward. Not only were the letters going from right to left, but some of them were actually mirror images. Oy! I need to start a little English chug with her before things get too bad. Speaking of chugim, she started attending an Ivrit chug last Wednesday. The chug is especially for new olim in gan chova. She LOVED it, because now she has ulpan like Mommy, and it is even in my ulpan classroom.
Another funny story: On our Pesach tape (it is ALWAYS Chodesh Nissan in our car), they include the song, "Go Down Moses" with an introduction about how it is also a song about slavery. Ariella started asking me about the slaves, and I explained to her how the black people were slaves, and they sang this song because they wanted to be freed just like the Jews had been freed. Silence. Then, "So first the Jews were slaves to Pharaoh in Mitzrayim and then the black people?" No, the black people were slaves in America, many many many years later. Silence. Then, "So how did Pharaoh get to America?" Oy vey. Historical context is lost on the very young. (And on many third graders, I might add. "So, is King John still alive today?" one child asks. "Yeah, he's about 80," responds another.)
Many of you in America have probably been inundated with Christmas advertising since about mid-August. Well, it seems we have a similar problem here. The week Sukkot ended, I was in Supersol. Guess what they had out? Sufganiot! I thought it was just a one-time thing, but they've had them out every time that I've been there. I guess people all over the world just want to look forward to the next party.
In another Supersol episode: Last week, I wanted to buy ground meat. There was a sign at the meat counter which said if you want ground meat, "ana panu laktzav." I puzzled over that. Ok, ana = please. Panu = turn. Katzav was stumping me. I remembered the word "katzav" from the back of our Kokoman cereal. We looked it up one Shabbos - it meant "dance" in a hip-hoppy, rhythmy sort of way. Clearly, there was only one thing to do: Turn around in the aisles, dancing rhythmically, preferably flapping my arms and singing (I made up that last part, but I figured it couldn't hurt) and then they will give you ground meat. Luckily, I tested my luck and just asked the butcher for ground meat instead. It worked, and he didn't even give me a dirty look when I didn't break into a dance. When I went home later, I re-looked up "katzav." It turns out that "ketzev" means rhythm. "Katzav" means...butcher. Logical, but much less fun.
Today in ulpan, I was able to show off a little of my "Israel at 60" knowledge. Thank you, SAR! We were reading a text ("text" in Hebrew) about Theodore Herzl ("Hair-tzel" in Hebrew). I would just like to publicly thank whoever was involved in the "Personalities" group of the "Israel at 60" project at SAR (Full disclosure: I was one of them) because I sure knew my stuff! That "Personalities" group did some comprehensive research, and here I am referring to the four facts that I put on the back of Jeopardy game cards. In addition, in the book today, there was a picture of Herzl, and I was correctly able to label the picture as "Herzl" and not "Chana Senesh" "Nechama Leibovich" or "Rav Kook."