Archive for December, 2008

We’re fine

Posted By larry

Date: December 30th, 2008

Category: General

A lot of people have asked about our status.  Things here in the north are ok.  The conflict with gaza is in the south.  Nothing in Haifa has been disrupted and people go about their business as usual.  There have been a couple of demonstrations against the war but that’s it.  As long as things don’t spread more widely there’s no need for concern about us.

Pamploma… right here in Israel

Posted By rachael

Date: December 27th, 2008

Category: Rachael's blog

The running of the bulls doesn’t hold a candle to the chaos inside Israel’s only IKEA store on motzei Shabbat (the evening after the close of shabbat).  The line into the store extended into the parking lot.  Secular and religious Jews (and even non-Jews) scrambled over each other to get to the next sales bin, around the next corner.  We guarded our children’s lives from the stampede of Haredi Jews (I am not kidding) running through the store.  We had to scream at each other just to plot our next move.  You might think I am exaggerating but this really happened.

I went to a concert of orthodox cantors (with orchestra — it was cool) in the big auditorium in Mercaz HaCarmel.  Most of the audience was orthodox Jews.  The same thing happened!  It was a stampede at the box office.  I’ve never been in such close proximity with orthodox Jewish men — they usually avoid close contact (and certainly physical contact) with women.  I didn’t fear for my life… but there was such tension and anxiety about getting tickets that I feared a fight would break out.

Our ulpan is called Aba Hushi and is it named after the first mayor of Haifa.  Below are a few photos.

courtyard, Aba Hushi Ulpan in Haifa

courtyard, Aba Hushi Ulpan, Haifa

courtyard, Aba Hushi Ulpan, Haifa

courtyard, Aba Hushi Ulpan, Haifa

The building is in decay and the ministry of education is threatening to close the ulpan entirely.  It would be a great loss for the community if the ulpan (and the dormitories where some of the new immigrants live) were closed.  It is one of only two government-sponsored ulpanim in Haifa.  New immigrants from all over the world converge there, and since our only common language is Hebrew we end up practicing our Hebrew just to communicate with our classmates.  The quality of the teaching is exceptional.  It is a very special place.  A friend of our family works for the ministry of education and she has encouraged us to begin a letter-writing campaign.

Last Saturday Larry attended a wonderful festival called Chag HaChagim (the Holiday of Holidays) that runs every weekend in December.

Chag haChagim Festival, Haifa

Chag haChagim Festival, Haifa

It is a celebration during the Hannukah and Christmas season of the peaceful co-existence of Jews, Christians and Muslims in Haifa. There are concerts all over the city from different religious groups. Larry watched demonstrations of metal working, saw vast displays of sweets and bulk foods and listened to Guatemalan street music!

Chag haChagim Festival, Haifa

Chag haChagim Festival, Haifa

Starting in January our family starts flocking to Israel.  Larry’s parents and his sister Debbie (and her two children Becca and Lev) arrive in January, followed by my mother, my sister Devorah, her boyfriend Spencer in late February.  Debbie and my sister will be staying through April!  Ayla and Eli will thrive with all of the attention from family.  We are delighted.

Eli and I have the flu.  Winter isn’t easy, even in Israel.  But we are glad not to be in the cold and snow of New England.  We wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season and new year.

making orange juice
making orange juice
Eli and his beloved teacher Carole, Hannukah

Eli and his beloved teacher Carole, Hannukah

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Who knew it would be so cold?

Posted By rachael

Date: December 4th, 2008

Category: Rachael's blog

Winter in Haifa is cold!  60 degrees here feels almost frigid.  You can tell who the tourists are because they are the ones in shorts and sandals.  The natives are in boots, parkas, scarves and hats.  I had to buy a winter coat yesterday.  Larry says he’s happy if it never gets any warmer than this.

We moved apartments on Monday.  Below are photos from our old apartment.  Our new apartment is next door to Dick and Sue Rosenberg (close friends of the Rosner clan from Michigan City)!  Yes, we live at 42 Leon Blum on the 15th Floor right next to them.  We will be here until January 1 when we take the house on Yeshurun St.

Playground near 8 Caspari

Playground near 8 Caspari

The walkway to our apartment at 8 Caspari

The walkway to our apartment at 8 Caspari

Ayla’s Hebrew is astonishingly good.  She sings songs from gan with a native accent.  She speaks full sentences.  She has made a special friend named Ofri and she talks a lot about dancing and hugging each other and falling on the ground in laughter.  These are photos of Ayla with her beloved Dikla at a “m’sibah” (party) at her gan.

Ayla with Dikla behind her

Ayla with Dikla behind her

Ayla at Gan Pinuki party

Ayla at Gan Pinuki party

Eli is walking!  He also is speaking but ONLY in Hebrew.  He says “todah” (thank you) when we offer him food.  He asks for “nana” (banana is cognate in Hebrew, so perhaps that’s one English word).  But his teachers at gan say he understands everything and is responding back in Hebrew.

Eli bubbles at 8 Caspari

Eli bubbles at 8 Caspari

Eli and mommy at swimming lesson

Eli and mommy at swimming lesson

We visited with Yoni and Ryma (for the Tarler relatives:  Yoni is Ahuva’s younger son) a few weeks ago, and we went to a beautiful wedding last night of the son of Hank Shrier’s girlfriend Malka.  It was on a kibbutz on the beach north of Tel Aviv.

Yoni, Ryma, Larry, Eli and Ayla

Yoni, Ryma, Larry, Eli and Ayla

For Saturday:  A visit with Pat Sinervo in Rechovot followed by a trip to IKEA!  More from Larry soon — R.