First of all, for those of you who were wondering, Ariella's first experience of being Ima Shel Shabbat was a rousing success. She was soooo excited after gan about how she got to hand out the siddurim and give out her cookies. Plus, of course, wearing the Shabbat crown. Meanwhile, Yaakov is corrupting the youth of Israel one by one. On the Fridays that he has gan, they make challah. Ofira, the ganenet, told us that the first time they did this, Yaakov announced: CHA-lah! Now, all the kids call it CHA-lah instead of cha-LAH. Just bringing a little bit of America to Israel...
Anyway, we then got in the car and drove to Hoshaya. And drove. And drove. Hoshaya is beautiful, but very far away, even from itself. We eventually arrived and Sharon and I had a joyful reunion. (History lesson: The Sariels were in Riverdale for 2 years and Sharon and I taught 3rd grade together at SAR while they were there.) Donny went out for a quick tour of Moreshet, a neighboring community, before Shabbat. Friday night the kids and their bag of candy went to shul with Donny, and Yaakov took great pleasure in running wildly through the streets. He sure does like to run in streets, that boy.
[For those of you who would like a Sariel update: Sharon took off last year to be home with her baby. Now she is teaching first grade at a school in a nearby yishuv. Eli is teaching in a bunch of places and working on finishing his PhD. The kids are in 3rd grade, 1st grade, and gan, plus the baby. Eli makes an effort to talk to the kids in English so they won't forget it. They understand English pretty well. Sharon and I reverted back to our old standby - she spoke in Hebrew and I spoke in English. They are currently renting out what amounts to someone's attic in Hoshaya and looking eventually to move to a different community up north into a bigger space.]
Friday night Yaakov ate his weight in meatballs, we caught up with the Sariels, and then went back to the apartment we were sleeping at. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door, and in walked some long-lost Leibtag cousins. They spell their last name a little differently: A-S-H-K-E-N-A-Z-I, because Ashkenazi is, in fact, their actual last name. We were trying to figure out the family connection; apparently there was some remarriage a few generations ago and the Ashkenazis are step-cousins. The husband, who is the one who's related to us, remembers going to Akron for a Leibtag bar mitzvah many years ago. The husband and wife and their kids lived on a kibbutz for 20 years and then moved to Hoshaya. It is always fun to meet olim and hear their stories, and it is also fun to meet long-lost cousins, so this was double fun.
Shabbat morning, Donny davened at the 7:30 minyan and then we took the kids to a park for a while. It was really beautiful there, and the Hoshayans use the "small stone" motif for their parks instead of sand, and the kids enjoyed putting the stones on the slide and then sliding down. The Sariels had another family of olim for dessert, and another family for seudah shlishit, so we really got to talk to different people and hear their impressions of Hoshaya.
Bottom line: Hoshaya is gorgeous (have we mentioned that?) It has a really nice community feel, plus the streets are closed on Shabbat. But, it is very far away - it is still an hour to Haifa, but by car fighting traffic instead of on the train asleep. We got a taste of this traffic on motzei Shabbat:
The city planners decided to install traffic lights in the middle of what is basically a highway. So twice we were stuck in traffic for 20 minutes because of traffic lights. Not pleasant. Also, Hoshaya has little to no amenities, in terms of doctors, supermarkets, etc. And there are very few English-speakers there. Donny has suggested we stop checking out communities because every time we go for Shabbat, we decide it's very nice, but no thanks.
Yesterday, I returned to Supersol to retrieve my credit card papers before they could start charging me fees. Apparently, and I'm sure this does not come as a surprise, they charge ridiculous fees just for the privilege of having a credit card. So I got my papers back and left quickly. Then, I went in search of a dry-cleaners. Luckily there is one not so far away, in Kaiser. I made it there without incident, but when it was time to go back, I looked at the map and decided the easiest way was to simply turn around and go back the way I came. I do this often. I don't like trying new routes. The streets are very windy and turny in Kaiser, and I was afraid if I decided to try something "new" I would end up completely lost and having to click my heels three times and wait for a nice old man in a hot-air balloon.
Later in the afternoon, I took the kids for flu shots. It was actually easier than I thought. We got to the Maccabi building at 3:50, because they reopen at 4:00. We were the only ones there. At about 4:05 I knocked on the "flu vaccine" door. A nice lady answered, but got very distressed when she saw I did not have the correct "pinkas." (Remember that word?? One of my all-time favorites!) Anyway, at tipat chalav, where they do well-check ups and all the other vaccines, you get a "pinkas chisunim" - a booklet of all the vaccinations. I only had the vaccine sheet from America. Luckily, she was able to decipher it and told me I should get it transferred to the PINKAS next time I go to tipat chalav. I agreed that I should definitely get the correct PINKAS! Because there's nothing like a good PINKAS! She gave the kids shots, it was all over in about 5 minutes, and then, to reward the kids for their Bravery and Honorable Conduct in the Face of Adversity, I took them to Big Apple Pizza. They each had a slice, some chocolate milk, and then played for a while. (The pizza store has a big outside play area with cars and a seesaw, etc.) I think they would say it was worth the shot.
I apologize to everyone, especially Sharon Sturm, for not having posted earlier.