Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yom Ha-Matzmaut

Thanks to everyone who left heartfelt birthday wishes for Momz on the last post! She really appreciates it. And for those of you who didn't - it's not too late! Post a birthday wish now! Or, you can just live with the guilt. Your choice.

On Tuesday night, we went to the shul for their "tekes" between Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'Matzmaut. Apparently, an email had been sent out earlier that the children were going to be performing a song/dance/flag routine, and just as apparently, we missed it. Right before the tekes started, I saw all the kids sitting in front and sent Ariella to go sit with them, figuring the kids were getting a good spot for the show. I didn't realize they WERE the show, and when they got up and started doing complicated (well, for 6 year olds) moves with their hands and feet and turning around and waving things, Ariella hastened back to sit with us. (I, of course, felt racked with guilt that my daughter had been left out; Ariella was perfectly contented to sit on Donny's lap and watch. What's that about projecting feelings from your own childhood....?)

So the tekes, even Ariella-less was very nice. Then they did a whole candle lighting ceremony, and sang HaTikvah and Ani Ma'amin (for some reason this has made it into the canon.) Afterwards, there was ma'ariv and then everyone was going to the big citywide celebration at a nearby park. But, as Ariella pointed out, if we want to go to the park, we were going to have to do the davening first. As it was already late, we went home, put the kids in bed, and then watched the fireworks from our mirpeset.

Wanting to get to the bottom of this email situation, we looked in Donny's account (where the shul emails are sent) to find the one that had invited the kids to be part of the tekes. When we did find it, it was unclear that having read it before would have enlightened us at all. It was a short and cryptic note involving the word "practice," but no indication who was to be practicing, or for what. Anyway, I decided for the sake of my pride and honor - ahem, I mean Ariella's pride and honor - that I should be on the email list so as to avoid future mishaps. I went to the website,, and attempted to register. The website is for shuls all over the world, and you find yours and sign up for updates. However, the hour being late, the website being Hebrew, and me being impatient, I didn't read the page carefully and ended up starting a new synagogue. Membership is 50,000 shekel. Or dollars, whichever you prefer. Seats for the High Holidays are included in the dues for the first ten members! So sign up today! At the moment, we lack a building, a rabbi, and a Torah, but shuls have gotten by with less. Contact me for more details about donation opportunities. (For 10,000 shekels/dollars, Ariella will draw a picture with your name on it and hang it on our Wall of Honor In Our Dining Room.)

On Yom HaMatzmaut, we had a very busy day. In the morning, we went with some friends to Latrun to see the tanks. It was a lot of fun, but unfortunately every other Israeli who was not scarfing down early morning BBQ (and here I refer to my brother-in-law, Elie), had the same brilliant idea. So it was quite crowded. (Day off + free activity = thousands of Israelis piling in). We hung out for a while, then we all headed back to Modi'in for a BBQ. This was our Lunch BBQ. It was at our friends' house, with a few other families, and the kids had a great time. Yaakov found Thomas trains and Ariella was attempting to teach everyone Monopoly.

We returned home for a brief rest, and then went to Beit Shemesh to have Dinner BBQ with the Kleins+. (That would be Leezy and Elie, Elie's parents, who were hosting, and Sara and David, aka the parents of the Four Boys.) Yaakov and Maor (Boy #4) became quite chummy, banging airplanes and cars around the house. Maor now refers to Yaakov as "Friend." Yaakov did not want to leave, what with airplanes and Friend, but Ariella was turning into a one ginormous mosquito bite. Plus everyone had to be up for gan the next day. So we said our goodbyes and headed back to Modi'in. We even saw some last-minute fireworks to complete the day.

Today, in very exciting news, I am officially open for business. I have registered as an "osek patur" in order to get paid for my writing/editing jobs. I feel very legal. Nafi (closely related to Crazy Uncle Nafi), was extraordinarily helpful in getting the proper forms, going over them with me as I filled them out, and today we went together to Ramla (NOT to be confused with Ramalla - that would have resulted in a very different blog post) to go the various misradim and take care of business. All was going swimmingly. First, we went to the Certificate Guy. I call him that because he issues a Certificate saying that I am an osek patur (which basically means I make little enough to not have to charge/pay VAT.) Since the forms were already filled out, no prob. He entered in the info, printed out my certificate...and I noticed it had Donny's name on it. We showed it to him, but he said that was correct. Based on the teudat zehut number on the form. Yes, folks, I put in Donny's TZ number instead of my own. (Nafi tried to make light of it. "I'm sure this has happened before, right?" he said to Certificate Guy, who was really a very nice man. "Nope," he replied. "Never happened. "I've never seen that before in my LIFE," came a voice from the cubicle next door. "Well," Nafi said brightly, "Now you can say you've seen it all!")

In addition to having to spend another ten minutes filling out a new form and waiting for Certificate Guy to re-enter all the info, I now have to live with this mistake for the rest of my life. Nafi will never, ever, let me live this down. He is probably preparing jokes and comments right now, as we speak, to have at the ready the next time we see him. Oh well. After all he did to help me, it's the least I could do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I would like to take this opportunity to wish a very happy birthday to one of our earliest Loyal Readers who is turning the big Double 5 today. Hailing from Baltimore, MD, she is a sage parent (who we never left alone so she could read the paper), super-grandchild-spoiler ("I think they need some more toys."), patient wife of Dadz "Help! The phone is beeping! What do I do now?" Leibtag, and most importantly, Commenter Extraordinaire, the one and only, you love her, I love her - MOMZ!! So please, leave a comment below to send your birthday wishes to MOMZ. She'll be sure to read them; it's on her to-do list.
(Momz To-Do List
1. Watch videos of Tani on Facebook
2. Repeat
3. Check blog for updates/comments
4. See if Elie uploaded any more videos of Tani
5. He didn't; watch the old ones again
6. Buy presents for grandkids
7. See if El-Al will believe that Dadz has an invisible friend, Steve, who MUST travel to Israel with him, and who NEEDS to bring 2 heavy suitcases with him because there is NO WAY us two old rickety folk can bring all this stuff in May.
8. Ask Steve is he's up for the trip.
9. More videos? Yes!!!
10. Check blog again.
11. Work.....? Hmmm....what is that again?)

So you see, your comments will definitely be read and appreciated by MOMZ.

In other celebratory news, Donny has returned to the homestead! Ariella and I picked him up from the train station Monday afternoon, and then we all went to get Yaakov. Poor Yaakov was very confused. He always runs to me for our Afternoon Hug of Reunited Bliss. He started running towards Donny, made an abrupt right hand turn, and flung himself into my arms. From this safe perch he eyed Donny warily for a few seconds, then convinced that this was indeed his missing father, lunged out of my arms and into his father's, and lay there for a few minutes, soaking it all in. Then we returned home, presents were distributed ("I'm practicing," Ariella told Lisa on Shabbos, "saying to Daddy, 'How was your trip?' first."), and we all ate dinner together.

Today is Yom HaZikaron, and I refer you to a superb essay written by my mentor and sister-in-law-in-law (what do you call the sister of your brother-in-law?) Sara Eisen, written on her blog

Tomorrow, Wednesday, is of course Yom Ha'atzmaut and we will be sending dispatches from the homeland as the celebrations continue.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Birthdays and Balsams

We celebrated Yaakov's birthday in high style. I spent most of the morning baking and frosting his birthday cake which we were going to take to the Balsams for Shabbos. I was determined to make a frosted layer cake, even though I didn't have the right pans, and the cakes were falling apart as I removed them from the pans, and I kept saying, "Well, I can always put the messed up side on the bottom," except then I realized that there is only one bottom, not three. In the end, it looked really nice, thanks to Ariella's careful placement of the sprinkles.

After gan, we went to celebrate with ice cream. Normally, we drag the Sassoons along with us on these celebratory ice cream outings, and I was considering calling Jenny and saying, "Hey, why don't you just take all 3 kids, hop on a bus to Jerusalem, and from there catch a bus to Modi'in, then get off in the middle of the highway at the Shilat bus stop, and I'll pick you up at Shilat, but since, unlike those clown cars, we can't really squeeze two adults and five kids into our little Ford Focus, I'll first drop my kids off at the ice cream store , leaving Ariella in charge, then swing by Shilat, pick you up, and we'll all have ice cream together! Then just do it all in reverse to get home! Doesn't that sound relaxing and fun????", but I thought if I mentioned that plan Jenny would suddenly remember she had an appointment to get her tooth removed with a straw. So it was just the kiddies and myself. I got one of those awesome "fro-yo" things with the frozen yogurt (hence the original name), mixed in with stuff. It was delicious. Ariella and Yaakov got gum-flavored ice cream, then decided they didn't like it and shared a chocolate ice cream. The best part was they didn't like Mommy's ice cream, so I got it all to myself! ("Leave Me Alone So I Can Eat My Fro-Yo.")

For Shabbos, we headed over to Chashmonaim to visit with Lisa and Crazy Uncle Nafi. Now, many of you may know that Nafi is crazy, but not many people have been privileged to witness Crazy Uncle Nafi in action. We first caught a glimpse - well, it was more of a full-fledged assault - of Crazy Uncle Nafi at the seder, when, during the whole "every generation should see itself as the one that left Egypt," he grabbed the children and ran out to the hallway, simulating the Exodus. Many thousands of years ago, our ancestors, too, grabbed their shrieking and giggling children and ran out into the hallway with them. On Friday, during Yaakov's second birthday party (and that was where the cake came in), he did not disappoint, and the children found it HYSTERICAL when he pretended to be VERY UPSET with whoever ate HIS birthday cake. The children were so entertained and enthralled that Lisa and I briefly considered running upstairs and taking NAPS.

All in all, Shabbos was very fun. Lisa and I got to shmooze and drink coffee and the kids got to play together (and the 3 big ones played nicely for the most part, and at least had the decency to take turns being insulted and stomping off in a huff.) The "baby in Lisa's tummy" did not go unnoticed by my children, as Ariella pulled me over in the afternoon and quietly asked me if the tummy was that big even without the shirt. I assured her that the size of the shirt reflects the size of the tummy underneath.

Now we await Donny's return, which will be, please God, tomorrow afternoon. It was none too easy breaking up fights all by myself on Shabbos (and on Friday, Thursday, Wednesday.....)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Games, Letters, and Birthdays (well, just the one)

Tonight, Ariella decided we should play Chutes & Ladders. Now, if there is a more pointless, long-winded, mind-numbingly endless child's game out there, I would love to know what it is so I can stay far, far away from it. Chutes & Ladders, along with CandyLand, form the bane of my game-playing existence. Occasionally, Ariella breaks out Monopoly, but usually by the time the properties are purchased and the game is starting to get interesting, she declares she's bored and she's had enough. Also, she cries when she lands on "Income Tax." Then again, so do most of us. Anyway, I am devoting a chapter in my book on child-rearing (for you newbies, that would be "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper") entitled, "When You Feel Like Wringing Mr. Mint's Neck With His Own Candy Cane." Luckily, during Chutes, Ariella counted incorrectly (you know it's bad news when you're thankful that your child is demonstrating poor counting skills) so she won pretty quickly.

Yaakov, in the meantime, was playing with his Yaakov letters. For some reason, all we can find are the A, A, O, and V. We're not sure what happened to the Y and K. I guess we'll find out during Pesach Cleaning 2010. However, according to conversation I had with Yaakov, it didn't seem to matter that some were missing. I pointed to the A. "What's this letter, Yaakov?"
Now to the other A.
"That's shay."
The O.
And the V.
You guessed it - "Shay."
Well, it sure makes learning the alphabet easier! Sing the new ABC's - I mean ShayShayShays - with me! "Shay, shay, shay, shay, shay, shay, shay...." See what I mean?

Yes, this is my little boy who is turning three tomorrow. Doesn't know his "A" from his "Shay" (but, he does know his "Shay" from his "Shay"), sees absolutely no reason to give up the convenience (for him) of his disposable, portable toilet, and still believes with absolute conviction that he can fly. (Like Buzz).
But we'll keep him. Because he gives the best kisses, because he frequently declares his love for "Daddy Mommy and Lala," because he is absolutely adorable when he gives emphatic, long-winded explanations for everything under the sun ("because at gan [garble garble garble] shnitzel [garble garble garble], then we go to the park [garble garble garble] because I need to do it. Okay, Mommy?"), because he cracks me up when he finds something and says, in a sing-song voice, "M-o-o-m-m-m-y! Look I f-i-i-i-i-nd!" And because he believes, with absolute conviction, that he can fly.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Everyone's trippin'

First of all, welcome to Loyal Reader #17, Elana! Glad to have you with us! And thank to Elana, Sharon, and Risa for their comments regarding Biur Chametz Around the World. Elana - next year, please send one of those 7 year olds over here - we need some serious help, fire-wise.

In other news, Donny's trip is going well. And here I refer to his successful purchasing of the rest of the books in the "Outlander" series for me. Yay! As we tearfully parted goodbye on motzash, I pulled Donny close and whispered in his ear, "Don't even THINK about coming back without my books." So all is well on that front. It seems he has had more trouble checking off Ariella's wish list, as the stores in San Fran are on the more upscale side. While I'm sure she and Yaakov would have fun tossing around a Faberge egg, she is really looking forward to more Leapster games, so Donny may have to take a trip to the seamy side of the city, in search of cheap electronics stores.

In other news, I chaperoned a school trip yesterday! All of the ganim in Modi'in are going this week to see a play at the Cultural Center. On Sunday the ganenet called me and asked if I would come. Apparently, they require two parents per class, and Ariella probably told her teacher, "Oh, call my mom. She sits around all day and does nothing." (Although as I'm sitting here and blogging at 10:30 in the morning, maybe there's some truth to that...) So I went to school, and the excitement in the air was palpable, in the form of kids shoving each other, crying, or running around in circles shrieking. Morah Maya paired up the kids, girl boy, and Ariella was unfortunately paired with her mortal enemy, Yoel. She refused to hold his hand (and after seeing where he put it, I didn't blame her) but eventually was persuaded to do so when I told her I would hold her other hand. We boarded the buses, no small feat with 3 ganim of over 30 students each. As it turned out, there was not enough room on the buses for all the necessary parent chaperones. I volunteered to drive, and said I could take two kids with me. The teachers looked at me in horror. "ASSUR!" they gasped. Ok, ok, calm down, ladies. So I drove one of the teachers and we met the bus there. It took a looooong time to get all the kids inside and seated, but finally the play began. You will be very proud that, aside from a word here and there, I understood the whole thing! And it was told in verse! Granted, about 3/4 of the play was wordless dancing, but STILL. When we used to watch plays at SAR, they tended to be about 15 minutes too long. This seems to be a universal truth. The play would have been excellent at thirty minutes, but at nearly an hour....well, you could actually feel the restlessness of the natives. All in all, though, the fifty million kids that were there were very well behaved. We returned back to school, and I made Ariella the happiest girl ever to live by taking her home with me a little early.

This Friday she has a trip as well. In a "This Would Never Happen in America" moment, we got a note on Sunday. Handwritten (which meant the teachers wrote this 32 times. Like the teachers walked into gan that day, smacked their forheads, and said, "Oh YEAH! We have a trip on Friday. We should probably, like, tell the parents! Especially since we're making them come! Let's write permission slips! Thirty-two times!"), it said that the class was going to Ein Yael on Friday. Each child needed to go with a parent, and everyone was driving themselves and meeting there. This posed a bit of a problem for me. Let's do the math:

Two parents - one parents = one parent
One parent + trip from 8:00 - 1:00 with one child + needs to pick up second child no later than 11:45 = ain't gonna happen.

I explained this to Maya. She said, Oh, you can join up with another family and go with them. I tried to explain further that the problem was not the driving itself (although, in another famous equation, Gila + driving to Jerusalem = bad news), but that I couldn't actually come. No, you have to come. All the parents have to come. I tried again. I CAN'T come. Physically impossible. There's another one of these short people who calls me "Mommy." He needs me on Friday also. Finally she relented and said, Hey, Ariella can just go with another family! Brilliant! So Aiden to the rescue!

And now I return to making my meatballs. (Donny away = making dinners that I like.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Donny's Trip

Donny has been packed off to America, and the kids have been packed off to gan. Almost lost my legs in the process this morning. (Yaakov was fine with going to gan, but not too keen on me actually leaving him there. However, Ofira managed to detach him from my knee and I made my hasty escape.)

For those of you who are wondering about Donny's itinerary for the trip:

1. Saturday night, midnight: Flight departs. Before going, check that Ariella's PRESENT list is included in carry-on. (Each item is written on a separate piece of paper, for convenience.)

2. Saturday - Sunday: Travel for approximately 23 hijillion hours.

3. Sunday morning: Arrive in San Francisco (and only 6 hours after he left! Cool!)

4. Sunday afternoon: Buy PRESENTS for Ariella.

5. Monday - Friday: Do stuff. Something to do with work.

6. Shabbos: Spend in beautiful Seattle. Make sure to pack Ariella's PRESENTS before getting on flight.

7. Sunday morning: Flight departs.

8. Sunday - Monday: Travel for 23.5 hijillion hours. There's a stopover at some point.

9. Monday afternoon: Arrive back.

10. Monday afternoon, a little later, but not too much: Give Ariella her PRESENTS.

And so we are on our own until next Monday. Yaakov is now the man of the house. God help us all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pesach - The Final Frontier

Welcome and Dedications:
Welcome to LR #16 - Shoshana "I Finally Got Enough Shout-Outs so I Joined" Bender! I would also like to doubly dedicate this post to Ahava "More Content Less Poetry" Leibtag, and Sharon "I Told Sharon I'd Dedicate a Blog Entry To Her" Sturm.

For discussion: After Pesach, our reward for a month of scrubbing, shopping, vacuuming, emptying, schlepping, shopping, cooking, boiling, shopping, and then more cooking is....more cleaning, emptying, shlepping, and shopping! PLUS, the laundry that piled up because we're not allowed to do laundry on chol hamoed because it's really a chag and we should be relaxing, in between the cooking and shopping, of course. PLUS PLUS, all the pre-Pesach adrenaline that got you through scraping your sink with toothpicks at midnight is totally, completely, gone and all you really want to do is sleep to recover from this Holiday of Freedom, but your kids' sugar cereal level is quite low so off you go to the store!

A few more observations:
1. It is weird that for us, Pesach is now but a distant memory (well, except for the 4 boxes of matzah we have left over and the myriad jars of jelly that I kept buying for some unknown reason, perhaps guided by the Ghost of Fried Matza Past), the children have fortified themselves with endless bowls of cereal, I just finished a delicious lunch of pita and chummus (chametz WITH kitniot, can't beat that!), I am updating the blog....and many of my Loyal Readers are just waking up, facing one final day of Pesach rolls and kosherforpesachl'lochashashkitniot mayonnaise.

2. IF right after Sukkot the sufganiot come out to play, and IF right after Chanukah the oznei haman are seen frolicking on bakery shelves, and IF right after Purim the boxes of matzah start lumbering in....then what, pray tell, happens right after Pesach? I'll tell you - charcoal! That's right, on our trip to Cereal Heaven - I mean Supersol - the newest "for sale" item was large bags of charcoal. Why? Yom Ha'atzmaut, silly! The mitzvah d'yoma on Israel's birthday is BARBEQUE!

3. Motzei Pesach: An hour to take apart what it took a month to put together. Or, is it an hour to put back together what it took a month to take apart? Discuss. (And yes, it does take more than an hour, but you get the idea. Poetic license and all.)

As for the rest of our Pesach, we enjoyed it greatly, thank you very much. On Monday, we went up to Tel Meggido, which is an archaeological site (of course; this is Israel. Everywhere you go you're stepping on shottery pards and a mikvah.) Tel Meggido is northish, which meant we were stuckish in some traffickish getting there. We had a good time, probably Donny and I more than the kids because we're geeks about ancient historical sites and Ariella kept looking longingly down at the roped-off ruins of the palace, seeing a playground that was cruelly made unavailable to her. However, we were able, in full view of the ancient altar, located in the ancient temple, to change Yaakov's ancient diaper.

After hanging around for a while, we decided to go exploring in our car for more Fun. Following signs for a "Park" we met a man who said he knew the way to the Fun and we could follow him. After an hour of driving down a dirt - no, no, dirt is too refined for what we were driving on....After an hour of crunching on small stones and rocks, on a pathway no larger than the size of our dining room chair, we arrived at a....waterpark. Seriously. Smack dab the Midst of Nowhere, at the corner of Where the Hell Are We? and Dirt, was this waterpark. However, it was clearly closed down and fenced off. (Wonder why they couldn't attract any customers? Could it be the flier that said, "Turn left at the 438,975th rock, drive for about 60 bajillion blades of grass, and you're there!"?) We did eventually make it to a very nice playground area where the masses were, of course, grilling.

For our Chag Acharon, we had Yael and Yossie, with the indefatigable Hanani. A fun time was had by all, especially at our Final Matzah Fest, held Wednesday afternoon, at our dining room table. Finally, chag was over, the Pesach stuff boxed up, and our ROY (rest of year) goodies brought out of hiding. ("Boy, was I cramped!" they complained. "You think you were cramped? Try having Fleishig Ladle in your side for a week!" "Oh yeah? Well, let me reassure you that the handle of Mr. One Third Measuring Cup ain't made out of cushions." And so on.) Today was the post-Pesach shopping fest, which, on account of my good behavior, I got to do with BOTH kids! But they actually behaved very decently; perhaps it was the promise of the upcoming Cereal Fest which spurred them to such lofty heights.

And now, dear Readers, we have concluded the Festival of Freedom, of Unleavened Bread, of Passing Over, and lately, of Jelly. The staff of aliyahbyaccident wishes you a happy Isru Chag and a Shabbat Shalom.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I interrupt my frying of matza meal pancakes to update the blog

Pesach: so far, so good. I found it was quite easy to dispense with that second seder. You'd think, after nearly thirty second seders, I might miss it just a tad. But you'd be wrong.

Some other highlights of our first Passover as Israelis:

Biur Chametz
As all you Bawlmoreans know, biur chametz is taken very seriously in the city. Every year, the same member of the community takes it upon himself to organize the mass Burning of Leavened Stuff at the Glen Avenue Fire Station. He also, frequently and with feeling, cries out, "Thank you for not burning plaaaaaastic!" In Israel, or at least in Modi'in, it seems as if every year the chevra wakes up erev Pesach and says, "Heeeeey! Wait a minute. Tonight is PESACH! I still got some chametz in my house. I know, I know! I'm gonna BURN it! Yeah, that's what I'll do! Gee, how to do it, though." [Moment of thoughtful silence, broken only by the sound of crunching Bissli.] "Well, guess I'll grab a match, find a random patch of dirt and burn away! Yeah, that's it!"

I had actually attempted to find out ahead of time (silly me) the info for biur. I posted twice to the Modi'in email list. The first time, I didn't receive a single response. (This is a community that will respond to, and argue about, just about anything. Election candidates, doctors, restaurants, electricians, testing dog poop for got a question, about twenty people will have an answer or opinion.) The second time, I got some vague responses that generally amounted to "Every man for himself." So after our final pre-Pesach shopping trip Wednesday morning, Donny said they were burning some chametz right across the street! So I quickly gathered our stuff, removing the plastic bags and wrappings - I am a Baltimorean at heart - and we set out the door. Sure enough, right across the street on Yigal Yadin were some roaring fires. Three, to be exact. There was the Ashkenaz fire, the Sephardi fire, and the Teimani fire, and under no circumstances would they ever join together as one. We picked the Ashkenaz fire and asked if we could join in. They heartily welcomed us, and within ten seconds had disappeared. We soon figured out why. We started burning our chametz - well, considering the amateur nature of this fire, it was more like "smoking our chametz" rather than "burning." Then we looked at each other. "Now what?" Do we leave this fire unattended? That did not seem prudent. Clearly, the people before us were simply waiting around for suckers to come and take over their fire. So we would have to do the same. Pyro Tag! In the meantime, Donny summoned his best Bert Miller and tried to stoke the fire with bits of paper bag to get some flame going. Finally, with the aid of the paper bag and some wind, we got our flames. The chametz was burning nicely. Then, a man drove up on his motorcycle and asked if he could join in our fire. Aha! Our sucker! At this point, our chametz was nearly burned to a crisp, thereby fulfilling our "k'afra d'ara" obligation. And then, Mr. Motorcycle - the horror! - threw a frozen pita into the fire, nearly causing all of Donny's hard work to fizzle out! He was not happy when Donny politely requested that he wait a few minutes before dumping in the rest of his Frozen Fire Killers - he was gazing longingly at the Teimani fire a few feet down, mentally kicking himself for joining up with the crazy Ashkenazim. Then, another man arrived with his daughter, and - are you sitting? - threw into the fire - I can barely write this - his plastic bag of chametz! Hello!!! Thank you for not burning PLAAAAASTIC! Our chametz was now most definitely bits of sulphur, so, feeling bituled, we grabbed our children and ran as quickly as we could, leaving Mr. Frozen Pita and Mr. Plaaaastic Bag to gaze doubtfully at the quickly dissipating fire. Yes! They were It!

Matza Meal Pancakes
We had a very wonderful seder with the Balsam clan. Kids and grownups alike had a great time and we felt very fortunate to spend chag with Lisa, Nafi, Meira, Moshe, Michali, and Lisa's Chicken Soup. Moshe summed up many people's feelings about Pesach food. He was huuunnnggrrry, and I offered him a roll. His face lit up. "Yeah!" he said excitedly. I reached for the bag of Pesach rolls. His face fell. "Oh. No thanks," he said sadly. Ariella played with Moshe and Meira, and Yaakov and Michali spent most of the afternoon "shotting" each other with the toy syringe, very nicely taking turns being "doctor" and "patient." Anyway, for lunch, I had decided to make matza meal pancakes. To make a long story short, I used waaaaaay too much matza meal, so by the time I was done adding various liquids to make it batter-y, I could have given a pancake to each Jewish man, woman, and child passing through the Red Sea. And even had enough for most of the Egyptians. Not that I would have given them any of course. Although it might have made an appropriate 11th plague....But I digress. Anyway, I spent all morning and most of the afternoon frying, frying, frying. There should definitely a biur after Pesach for all the Pesach food no one will touch come sundown on Wednesday.

Shabbat with the Kleins
For Shabbat, Leezy, Elie, and Netanal "Tani" Klein graced us with their presence and their strawberry mousse. Tani has figured out the meaning of life: "Because it's Pesach and we eat matzah." He was able to explain nearly everything with this simple answer. "I am putting this toy on my head because it's Pesach and we eat matzah." "I am going to sleep now because it's Pesach and we eat matzah." He was also able to fix many things in our apartment with his toy stuffed monkey. Let me explain how this works:
1. Step onto the stepstool, facing the wall.
2. Holding monkey by the tail, announce, "Gila, I am going to fix this!"
3. Whip monkey over your head, sending him flying backwards through the air.
4. Squeal with delight.
5. Repeat.
So thanks to Tani, everything in our apartment is now working again!

Tiyulim with the Israelis
Today, we went to Beit Guvrin and went spelunking with the kids. They had a wonderful time. Caves are great for two main reasons:
1. They are cool. Literally. Since Pesach announces the beginning of kayitz zman, it was quite warm outside. So it was nice to hang out in the cool depths of the caves.
2. You can play a wicked game of hide and seek in them.
So we spelunked, we ate our kosherforpesachl'lochashashkitniot potato chips, we hiked, we picked many, many, many flowers, and Yaakov collected enough pottery shards (or, as I've been saying all day, "shottery pards." Time to lay off the wine.) to recreate a jug, bowl, spoon, model of the Temple, whatever you want. And we spent some time observing
Israeli Tiyul Protocol
1. Pack many things - children, cooler, grill, matzah - into a car big enough for a shottery pard.
2. Drive for some undetermined amount of time.
3. Park on the side of the road, next to a random hill, mountain, field, backyard, etc..
4. Exit car.
5. Begin hiking, aimlessly wandering around.
6. Sit.
7. Grill.

Also, Israelis descend upon the first thing they see. We American-bred day-trippers know that you never park at the first spot - you drive around because it'll be less crowded further down. Israelis heartily disagree with that notion. As we exited Beit Guvrin, we noticed about 100 cars all smushed together at the entrance, people milling about aimlessly, bumping into each other. Some had actually settled themselves on a picnic bench behind the drive-through ticket booth and were setting out their spread. The problem, of course, compounds itself. As other Israelis enter, they see ALL THESE people. They think, "Hey, this must be the place to be! Everyone is here! Let's get out of the car and mill!" We noticed a similar phenomenon at the parks we went to on Friday and the on the way home from spelunking. (I LOVE the word "spelunking.") There were dozens and dozens of families practically on top of each other, grilling, milling, you name it, and a few hundred feet away, it was empty. The mob mentality prevails strongly in this country.

I will keep you updated as we continue our Excellent Pesach Adventures!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chag Sameach!

(And kosher, too, if you can swing it. )

A final Pesach poem:

It's finally the seder
The maror is grated
You're munching on karpas
To keep you quite sated
(Ed. note: Don't worry - make sure to only eat a k'zayis - we just eat lots of k'zayises)

Retell the story
Of the Jews and Moses
(Just try to keep your face
From falling in the charoses)

Chag sameach to my readers
To entertain you, I’ll keep tryin’
And l’shanah haba’ah
( accident or otherwise)

From the staff of aliyahbyaccident

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pesach! Pesach! Pesach!

Well I, for one, am following the psak of NYFunnyman, who said that it's a machlokes rishonim whether my pot needs libun or not. I am going to go with the rishon who said "It does not" whomever he may be. Thank you, NYFunnyman! And thank you, anonymous Rishon.

Pesach preparations are in full gear, traif kitchen or not. Ariella continues to bring home beautiful art projects from her kaytanah, and Yaakov is learning lots about "Moshe hakatan." So far, we understand that:
1. Moshe was small
2. We eat matzah cereal on Pesach
3. He was in a tayvah
4. We eat matzah cereal on Pesach
5. The tayvah was in the water
6. We eat matzah cereal on Pesach
7. Moshe took the Jewish people out of 'rayim (because Yaakov only knows the answer when prompted by "Mitz...")
8. Also, we eat matzah cereal on Pesach.

So the learning is in full gear, here in the Rose household. Tonight we douse our house in boiling water, and tomorrow the cooking begins! Yay!

Here are some delectable kosherbyaccident recipes for Pesach:

1. Mix together matzah meal, water, eggs, oil, and salt. Let sit. Form into balls. Boil. Tada - matzah balls!

2. Mix together matzah meal, water, eggs, oil, and salt. Let sit. Form into balls. Bake. Tada - Pesach rolls!

3. Mix together matzah meal, water, eggs, oil, salt, and sugar. (See? You gotta pay attention here.) Let sit. Fry. Tada - matzah meal latkes!

So you see, the varieties are endless. Meanwhile, the lack of anything to eat in the house has reached an astonishing new low. I keep buying one box of cereal at a time, because I don't want to have to throw any cereal out before Pesach. (Here, breakfast cereal cost roughly the equivalent of a nice pair of earrings. You can imagine the pain if you had to throw out half a box of gold hoops.) However, my children go through cereal like it's gummy bears. They inherit the ability to eat bowls and bowls of cereal from me, and I in turn have inherited it from my father. So every time I think, "OK, this is REALLY the last box," it's finished two days later and I'm off buying yet another box. Today, we only had enough Multi-Grain Cheerios for one bowl of cereal for each kid. So, I supplemented their breakfast Oreo cookie each. That's right folks, I am feeding my children cookies for breakfast. As a parent, this is a new low. As a kid, they've never been happier. (I did buy one last box - really this time! - of cereal, so rest assured that tomorrow they will not be dining on cereal. Instead, they will be eating Choco-Frosty-Sugar Puffs. Just kidding - I bought Oatmeal Squares.)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Blog for Shoshana and Rachel

Some Pesach Cleaning Tips from the Kids
1. After Pesach, be sure to pour ice cold water over the counters to un-kasher them for chametz. [Moshe Balsam] [I'm allowed to write cute things that Moshe says because Lisa hasn't updated her blog since circa 2007. So someone should write this stuff down.]
2. Also re the counters, be sure to get some help in carrying them to the mikvah to tovel them. [Moshe Balsam]
3. You don't need to vacuum under the couch cushions; there's no way the crumbs could get out of there. [Ariella Rose]
4. You also don't need to clean the car since we're not eating in there. [Ariella Rose]
5. After your mother has cleaned and swept your bedroom, including taking your mattresses off the bed and vacuuming underneath, make sure, that very night, to take a box of Oreos into your bed and insist on tucking them in next to you, very tightly. [Yaakov Rose]
6. Look, Ima, I put sand in my hair! [Netanel Klein]

And a seder question for the ages, submitted by Ariella Rose: "Why doesn't Hashem talk to people anymore?"
(If you know the answer (and not the Bais Yaakov "Because we're all horrible, wicked, and evil people and don't deserve it" line), or if, in fact, Hashem does speak to you on a semi-regular basis, please submit your comments below.)

This blog is dedicated to Shoshana B., who promised if I gave her more shout-outs she would join the Loyal Reader Club (I am not above groveling) and to Rachel, who said, "How come you don't blog so much anymore? You need to entertain me."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Traifin' up the kitchen

Welcome to Loyal Reader #15 - YCbook! Please reveal your true identity so we can properly welcome you to the Club.

So I really and truly traifed up the kitchen this week. I was being a good wife, making dinner for my man. I took out the milchig pot to sautee onions. I chopped the onions, added them to the sizzling oil, and started stirring. With my fleishig spatula. I did that for a good five minutes or so. When I suddenly realized what I was doing, I dropped the spatula in fright and frantically called Donny. (How was he going to solve this problem from the train? you wonder. Let's just say I'm not the most logical thinker during a crisis. In crisis mode, my brain has one track: Call Donny.) After I got off the phone with him, I g-chatted my brother, HaRav Aars, Shlita. For those of you not well-versed in Jewish kitchen law, let me sum up for you. Onions = screw everything up. Onions + hot + milchig + fleishig = just give up a move to a new apartment. HaRav Aars really did try. "Did you use the pot for hot milchig?" Yes. "Did you use the spatula for hot fleishig?" Yes. [Pause.] "Yep, you're in trouble." Basically, I have to now do libun or something, which I'm pretty sure involves spitting on Jonathan's shoe and then marrying him. While carrying a blowtorch. This is a crisis. CALL DONNY.

Anyway, you know how employees of the Gap get a discount on clothes? [Yes, you nod.] And you know how they can pass the savings on to their beloved relatives and friends? [Yes, yes, go on.] Well, I'm thinking there should be a similar deal for rabbis. You know, a "Get out of a traif kitchen free" card. And if the rabbi wasn't using it that month, he could pass it along to a friend or family member. So Aaron - stop hording your cards and pass one along to your sister. Don't make me use my blowtorch.