First, in response to Leezy's question: Yes, they did do projects out of recyclable materials at SAR. I think what I was trying to say was that here, it's out of necessity. At SAR, they had the means to buy the newest, state-of-the-art art equipment, in addition to using boxes and paper towel rolls, etc. Here, they really have to make do with what they can get for free or donated. (There was a looooong list sent home at the beginning of school asking for all kinds of supplies and services to be donated to the gan.)
**** Public Service Announcement ****
Jonathan, if you are still reading, Leezy would like to know how to use citric acid to clean her urn. She asked this question in the "Comments" section but since you don't even check your own voicemail, you probably aren't checking the comments on this blog. So if you are reading this, please get in touch with your sister and help her with her urn.
**** End of Announcement ****
Also, 30 million poofahs are hereby awarded to Saba, for noting the use of citric acid in stuffed cabbage. This is an authentic recipe, in that his mother made actual stuffed cabbage and used actual citric acid in it. Correct me if I'm wrong, Momz and Jonathan, but I don't believe you have ever actually made "lollipops" or "paneer." So Saba gets an extra 5 poofahs.
One more item to take care of before we can move on:
Leezy asked a number of questions in the Comments section. Normally, I would answer these personal questions in an email to Leezy. However, since she posted the question in a public forum, I will answer them here, plus you all know so much about my personal life anyway, boundary lines are disappearing like crazy. So here we go:
1. We took care of your citric acid question above.
2. We do have skype! And a webcam! Look us up - I am gila.rose. Original, no?
3. No, I can't tell you any more about Shabbat! I've told you all I know! We are staying at a very nice (at least I hope) family and once we've gone, I will surely have more information to share. For now, it's just Kiryat Motzkin. Shabbat. Roses.
4. Donny and ulpan: Donny is doing ulpan "on the job" which means he's not really doing ulpan since everyone at Microsoft speaks excellent English, and furthermore, they all want to practice their English with him. However, there are many situations during which he is called on to speak Hebrew; we called these moments "ulpan by accident." For example, the people at work who deal with the car leasing program and the cellphones spoke only Hebrew, plus a few people at work have taken it upon themselves to be Donny's ulpan teachers. So his ulpan by accident seems to be working so far. The aliyah people have discussed opening up a night ulpan, but come on, who is going to come home after a long day of work and voluntarily spend more hours sitting in a classroom practicing their hifil and hufal?
Now to the planting.
On Sunday Ariella came home from gan with a very wordy notice and a business card from a nursery (plants, not children), offering 10% off for Gan Shoham families. I said to myself, "Gee, I should really read this note and see what it's all about," at which point I put it on the table, promptly forgot about it, and ate a Milky. Also on Sunday, there was a note taped to the gan door also having to do with planting a garden and a meeting that was happening on Friday.
On Monday or Tuesday, I said to myself, I really should read this note now. Maybe there's something I have to do. But the gan method for letting parents know about important upcoming events is to plaster a sticky note to the children's shirt, with a message scrawled on it. For example, before Yom Kippur, there was a sticky note that said make sure to bring in coins the next day for kapparot. So I figured if there was something I needed to do, buy, bring, or boil (you never know) I would be apprised of it via the very effective Sticky Note Method. I skimmed the sheet and saw it was something about planting, a nursery, the environment. It seemed very flowery (pun intended) and not too important. I surmised: They're starting a planting project in school, there's an optional meeting about it on Friday, and they're giving us a gift of 10% off at a nursery if we want to do planting with the children at home. B'seder, I thought, then promptly forgot about it and ate a Milky.
Now we come to Thursday. Ariella comes out of gan with a scrap of paper with something scribbled on it. Uh-oh, I start to think, a small scrap of paper - that means something important. This whole planting thing is probably not what I thought it was. Meanwhile, Morah Maya (who I swear has the fastest Hebrew this side of Kvish Shesh. It's not only my pathetic Hebrew - when I talk to Yaakov's ganenet, she has much clearer Hebrew and I never have trouble understanding her. With Maya I feel like I'm running a race and always losing) runs after me. "Did you buy her plants?" Huh? "Didn't you read the note we sent home this week?" she says, aghast. And now I had to admit that I only read part of it. "Ahhh," she said, her eyes alight with understanding, "you didn't understand it." I couldn't explain that I figured it was one of those random notices, like kids get by the pound at SAR. ("The PTC is sponsoring a speaker!" "Buy flowers to support Israel!" "Be part of the chocolate sale!" You know, the notices that the very good and involved parents read and act upon, but I just throw out?) So Maya starts to explain inveryrapidHebrew that the children and parents are going to be part of a planting project ("pro-yekt") tomorrow and chaval if Ariella can't be part of it. I needed to go to this random nursery in Shilat (a shopping center a few minutes away) and buy the necessary items, and then a parent (I hereby nominate Donny!) needs to come in on Friday and do the planting with the child.
Yonah Wolf, father of Aiden, Ariella's best buddy in school, was also there. I looked at him and said, "So, wanna ride to Shilat?" We then got the kids in the car, ran back home to get the business card with the 10% off on it (a gift - yeah, right), and then headed out to Shilat. Shilat is a very strangely set up shopping center. There is a main area, and then there are tiny little dirt roads shooting off in every direction, with little random shops down each one. Imagine the parking lot of 7 Mile on a Thursday night, with twice as many cars and half the space, and dirt instead of pavement. So of course our nursery is not in the main, easy-to-access area, but down a dirt road, filled with tiny, narrow, two-way streets complete with trucks bearing down on you from the opposite direction and honking at you to get out of the way, but where can you go because there are cars driving behind you and cars parked on both sides of the road and you have to drive backwards up a windy hill all the while using one hand to talk to Lisa so she can tell you where the heck this nursery is, and eventually you find it.
We went in, found the things we needed to buy (4 potted plants, 3 bulbs, 2 of which need to be soaked overnight before planting. Being a parent in Israel is definitely a full-time job) and left without incident. Of course when I got home and looked more closely at the note, I saw that I was supposed to take Ariella on a tour of the nursery and:
1. Ask Ariella questions about the kinds of plants, how they are grown, note the similarities and differences, and then write a 10-page term paper complete with a bibliography and fancy cover.
2. Take a picture of Ariella at the nursery.
3. I did neither #1 nor #2.
First, I would like to suggest to Nefesh B' Nefesh that instead of finding me an adoptive family, find me a fellow Gan Shoham parent who speaks some English and can help me navigate the ins and outs of this school. I think that would be far more helpful than finding people to invite us for lunch on Shabbat. For example, an adoptive gan mother would have said on Sunday, "By the way, make sure to read that note carefully because there is a planting project on Friday - if you have any questions, call me." They could also help parents acclimate to the culture and expectations of the child's particular gan. Like, "Don't send noodles for aruchat eser." So now Nefesh B'Nefesh has my two-cents, or approximately 9 agurot.
There are a couple things about this whole incident that are jarring to someone who is used to American Jewish day schools. There is a level of involvement that I am not used to. In SAR, maybe the parents would have been asked for a few dollars to help offset the cost of a project, but probably nothing would have been expected of parents except to show up and help plant. Obviously, this is because tuition at SAR is many jillions of dollars more than at Gan Shoham; I understand why the gans need to do what they do, it's just that I'm not used to it. Also, there is this strange phenomenom in Israel of Fridays, where parents are home and kids are in school. So any parent activity is naturally going to be on a Friday, which to parents working full workweeks is akin to asking them to come in to school on a Sunday. Of course we want to participate in the projects and parties, but I can foresee that it can get annoying when you keep spending your one errand-and-taking-care-of-stuff day at your child's school. When Donny mentioned to someone at work how he likes the whole kids in school on Friday thing, the response was, "Just wait until the Friday activities start." Ahhh, now we are enlightened Israeli parents.