*** This blog post is dedicated to Ahava "Register And Stop Posting Comments Anonymously" Leibtag. For her braveness in starting her own business and in getting her allergy shot. *** (If you are interested in a post dedication, leave a comment at the end of the blog.)
Today was Chag HaBechirot. Ariella and I celebrated by sleeping on the couch together. At least this time, I got the big one. And thank God she felt much better when she woke up. We had a hearty breakfast of cereal. Eventually even Donny stumbled out of bed, showered, ate, and then we got ready for our Day of Democracy. The voting system here is highly advanced and technical; I don't know if I could even explain it to laypersons such as yourself. You know how back in like sixth grade, if you were having a class vote, the teacher would tell everyone to lay their head down on the desks, close their eyes, and raise their hand for the choice they wanted? Well, voting in Israel isn't quite that sophisticated yet. Basically you go into the school, and they tell you which room to vote in. I think more thought and analysis went in to figuring out which room each resident should go to than the voting process itself. Once you get into the right line, you wait your turn. Then you go into the room, two people at a time. They find your name and take your teudat zehut (This way, Comrade.) You then go to a desk, on which they have erected a large cardboard box. So that you have some privacy, you understand. Behind the cardboard barrier is another cardboard box, this one with neat little compartments and filled with slips of paper. On each paper is written the symbol for the party. (It's not bad enough that there are approximately 300 hijillion parties, but each party has a code consisting of a letter or letters. So you have to remember your party's code, although luckily they wrote the code AND the party on the slip of paper. And of course, to the average idiot, such as myself, there doesn't seem to be much logic behind the symbolism. The "lamed" party is not "Likdud" but "Yisrael Beteinu." Likud is, naturally, "Mem Chet Lamed." Ichud HaLeumi is "tet." And so on.) Then you take the slip of paper of your choice, put it in a hermetically sealed envelope, which you hermetically seal by ripping off the backing of the sticky part and sticking it shut, and then put the envelope, now very tightly and hermetically sealed, into ANOTHER cardboard box at the front of the room. This box has a convenient slit at the top for your envelope. You have to be very careful to put ONLY ONE slip of paper in your envelope or they will NOT COUNT your vote. That would be like trying to vote Republican in New York. There were a few things that bothered me. One is that I felt it was kind of wrong of Meimad, the Green Party, to be using slips of paper. At the very least their slips should have been made out of paper that is a mininum 60% post-consumer recycled product. Also, there was a pencil on the desk behind the voting booth, such as it was. What is that pencil for? I asked myself. Donny, who had voted in the municipal elections in November, never said anything about writing something. Not wanting to ask a question and get myself in trouble - maybe they'd rip up my teudat zehut, or make me cut up slips of voting paper - I sent Ariella over to Donny's desk to ask him. He did not seem to think we needed to write anything. Should I sign my name on my slip? Certify that I am the person who is voting, and I choose Likud? (Yes, we voted Likud, aka "Machal" and we are Israelis so there is no such thing as "Not your business" so I don't mind telling you.) Should I write a little note of encouragement to Bibi? An email address? A poem? (There once was a family from Dimri/Whose building lit up oh-so-shimmery/They went out to vote/Should they have written a note?/And then they had quite a dilemma-ry.) In the end, I wrote nothing and hope that my vote is counted. It's kind of cool voting and knowing that your vote actually means something, since Israel thank God does not have an "oo-nee-ver-sita electoral-eet."
Anyway, after voting we headed out to Maale Adumim for our monthly (in theory) get-together with the Sassoons. We met at the famous Maale Adumim Mall. They had a little kiddie play area, plus a show for kids, so Jenny and I bought sandwich makers and talked and the men parented. After an hour of playing/show watching, the kids were getting antsy. We went to the awesome bread bakery and bought these warm bread thingies with melted cheese in the middle. Mmmmmm... The only downside was that there was nowhere to sit, so we attempted to go outside to a little park. However, it was a very windy day and from the time it took us to go outside and cross the street, Yaakov practically got blown away and Robbie's glasses were thrown from his head and shattered on the ground. We thought, hey, here's a great idea! Let's eat INSIDE the mall! So we did. We headed back home around 1:30, and had enough time to rest, an important component of a vacation day. Around 5:00 we headed over to the Balsams for dinner. And a surprise show. After eating, the adults were herded into the bedroom on the main floor at Nafi and Lisa's house. We were told to sit on the bed. The lights were dimmed. The music turned on. Ariella gave us all cards. Moshe took them back. Meira put on a winter hat. Yaakov told us all to "Stop talking guys!" And Michali wisely decided to sit on the bed with the grownups. When it became clear that the children intended to go through every single song on the disc "Meah Shirim" (for those of you who have not just finished ulpan, I will tell you that "meah" means 100), we decided to end the show with the promise of cookies in the dining room. We then returned home, shoved the kids in bed, and here we are now. A Happy Election Day to all.