Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Mixology for the Heart and Soul

26 Av 5779.

Jonathan Friedlander is a genius. And he knows how to help others bring their particular genius to the surface, and set it to music.

I love the vacuum cleaner microphone.
The Eastman clan has enjoyed playing music together for as long as the lads could hold instruments (or even faux instruments).

We've jammed together for weddings (sometimes to the chagrin of the in-laws, as they had to become accustomed to the "Irish set," which has no Jewish lyrics. At all. But it has a lot of loud, joyful music "fer dancin'," as Aryeh likes to say.

Over the years, as the boys have grown and begun lives away from the family mansion flat, opportunities to play together naturally have diminished. Fortunately, our young men have married understanding ladies; so usually once a month, Aryeh and David drive to Neve Daniel to practice with the old parents.

This year, I asked for the guys to help me with a tikkun. My dear mother had a wonderful nightclub singing voice when she was young; and even as she aged, her lullabies added sweetness to our world. But I never recorded her. I miss her, and I miss her voice.

About six months ago, the guys agreed to submit to a professional recording session. The trouble was finding an affordable and agreeable studio. After all, we were not going after a gold album. We just wanted to have fun together, and to trap that fun for our grandchildren.

Our success started with Drumbite, my personal favorite music store in all the world. This is because unlike at other music stores that focus on guitars and pianos, owner Assaf Kraus is a drummer -- so drums are not an afterthought. He has knowledge to share, along with drums and cymbals and percussion toys of all kinds. He also is wise enough to treat other instruments with reverence as well. You can find gorgeous guitars, wind and brass instruments and keyboards at good prices at Drumbite. The service is exceptional and friendly, and their English and Hebrew are superb.

Assaf works closely at his establishment with a couple of sound engineers, each of whom has studio space and access to the instruments in Assaf's store. With Assaf's guidance, we made the acquaintance of our newest best friend, Jonathan Friedlander of Mixedbyjon.com. Jonathan is American by birth, so English is no problem. Neither is understanding American music of all kinds, as well as what his clients want. It didn't hurt our session any that Jonathan is also one of a family of brothers. He understood completely the raucous banter and humor between our sons, laughed at the right places, and even joined in. He even gave us our impromptu name, after several jokes including the word "intonation." He said we should call ourselves "Eastonation." Jonathan is nothing if not full service.

Throughout the day, Jonathan did his mixing and mastering magic to make sure that levels were compatible and that what we presented sounded if not Grammy Award worthy, it was at least pretty darn good. The end result was as professional as it could be (given the silly characters he had to deal with). The Dearly Beloved and I are proud and happy. Mission accomplished!

On one end of the spectrum, Jonathan has earned at least one gold record for his recording and mastering craftsmanship for a famous hip-hop artist. And on the other end, he made the Eastmans shine, and kept the entire 32-song, eight-hour enterprise within budget. We had such a good time, the boys said that this was our new "white water rafting" family adventure, which I think means we'll be doing this again. And again.

Both Drumbite and Jonathan can be found at HaHavatselet St 6, Jerusalem. We heartily recommend both Assaf's store and Jonathan's expertise. If you play music, why not get a beautiful recording of it?

Do it for your kids and grandkids.

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Month of Vacation in a Week

5 Tamuz 5779.


Last week was one for the books -- a whole summer vacation in just a few days, Israeli-style.

Yom rishon (Sunday) was lit and colored by the Jerusalem Light Festival.

After an enjoyable meal with friends at a restaurant in Mahane Yehuda called Ishtabach serving fascinating Syrian meat dishes inside delicious pastry, we walked through the holy City to join the "blue route" of the tour. (There are also a green and red route, which may be interesting if we ever attend more than one evening.)

Each year, this well-attended event seems to get better and more creative. This year there were people dressed in mosaics of mirrors, fairy princesses and unicorns laced with lights raised above the crowd on stilts, explosions of light in the sky above, groups of young musicians playing jazz that would make their grandparents proud, and the trademark stories projected on Old City stones.

You say APC, we say Warrior Taxi.
On yom sheni (Monday), the Dearly Beloved and I enjoyed the IDF Tour at First Station in Jerusalem. We didn't expect much. A few tanks, maybe; a little history about the military's contributions to building and protecting Medinat Yisrael.

We were quite surprised by the hour-long interactive program aimed, we were sure, at persuading young people that their future required military service might be more fun than burdensome. There were stations with computer consoles beckoning young competitors to polish off enemy ships, opportunities to virtually see and feel flight and parachuting and undersea combat. The room was filled with budding heroes proving to their parents that time on video games such as Armored Brigade and Warhammer is not entirely wasted.

I was surprised by how deeply moved I was by the short film about the IDF's role in the creation of the State, as well as its many necessary wars and operations to defend our home. Even though I know the history, the video was well-made, eliciting all my emotional support for the job our boys and girls must continue to do.

After the show, we had an excellent meal at Lehem Basar (aka Meet and Eat, illustrating once again that literal translations often miss the mark). We have found that the secret to dining out on our budget is to always choose the business lunch special, and sometimes to take advantage of the only-in-Israel option to split a meal. (I say "only" without knowing if this is allowed in other countries. My experience is that in the US and Germany, we were not allowed this privilege.)





Over yom shlishi and yom revi'i (Tuesday and Wednesday), I had the last-minute pleasure of going to the Galil with gal-pals and staying at a cabin in Yavniel.


What a beautiful and inspiring adventure! We hiked along Nahal Amud -- something my body reminded me for a full five days after the one-day outing it hadn't done in decades! -- and enjoyed the cabin, pool and lovely catered breakfast like wealthy college girls. Every few years, a girl's gotta experience a little luxury...

Enough already, right? Not a bit of it.

We met our dear mehutanim on yom chamishi (Thursday) for lunch at Pat Bamelach Bakery and Restaurant in Efrat to catch up on our summer travels and adventures, and to share stories about and photos of our kids and grandkids. The food was excellent, the company, as always, divine.

We capped the evening and the week with a trip to Tekoa for the annual Beer Festival. Being aware of the need to conserve funds, the Dearly Beloved and I were satisfied to "spend" only the complimentary first beer chits that came with the exorbitant entrance fee (and we split the free beer our hostess/driver chose not to drink). It was a fun evening with music surprisingly not-ear-splitting, due to the layout, and a very Woodstock feel, with huge mats spread on the ground for sitting, and booths pitching homemade crafts and food.

There were families everywhere, many young people and older folk communing together -- exactly what we've come to love about the atmosphere of Tekoa. A special bonus was meeting friends who have been only virtual for a few years. Though I love the access to the world the internet provides, it is always special to meet "old friends" for the first time in real life. As entertaining as the festival was, the best part of the adventure was visiting our hosts in their home, shmoozing over their kitchen counter. A reminder that one needn't go far from home to participate in what matters most.



We had a quiet at-home yom shishi (Friday) and Shabbat to recuperate from our adventures, even though our "at-home" on Shabbat included an excellent English-language shiur across the street and an open-house visit to share the joy of friends in their new home. May they enjoy their time in this new apartment in good health, surrounded by people who love them, for as long as it suits them!

Of course, we spent our entire monthly allowance (and then some!) for entertainment in one week. Let's call it this year's summer vacation. Time to settle down, and get some work done, and shepherd the shkalim.

Besides -- I enjoyed the Yavniel adventure so much that the Dearly Beloved was prompted to say, "Feel like going to the cabin for your birthday?"

Well -- YESH.

Glossary:
Medinat Yisrael - the State of Israel / Lehem Basar - literally "bread meat" / Nahal - stream / mehutanim - the other set of parents of our married children / shiur - Torah lecture or class / shkalim - shekels / YESH - Israeli slang for the American slang expression, "heck, YEAH!"

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Where You Can Let Your Hair Down

Last night, I went on a "Women's Night Only" date with a gal pal. We were promised cocktails, wisdom about creative hair-styling, and a play billed as "the funniest play ever to make you cry."

I fell in love with Steel Magnolias thirty years ago, when Robert Harling's movie inspired by his beloved sister came out with a cast including Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts. The movie was funny, witty, a little bit raunchy, and sad enough to make an armadillo cry crocodile tears. Having lost my dear Mama to diabetes back in 2002, I have always felt a keen affection for the tenderness of this play and its handling of this disease, and how it affects all of those around the sweet, suffering soul.

When I heard auditions were coming up for a local production of this marvelous story, I was tempted, for the first time in my adult life, to give it a try. Happily for me (and for the audience), being a Mrs. Coach of American football kept me too busy to even think about all the back-breaking rehearsals necessary for a play. (Indeed, during intermission, I heard more than one audience member wondering how the performers could remember so many lines!) So I looked forward to attending the production from a first-row center seat instead.

A couple of asides, before I speak about last night's performance. Remember the TV show Cheers? Remember what made it such a hit? It wasn't just that it was funny and witty and sometimes sad. It was that we all wanted to find a pub just like that, "where everybody knows your name." Where when you walk in, just a regular "Norm," everyone greets you, and is happy you showed up. I think that is part of the allure of Steel Magnolias: during much of the movie (and through this entire production of the play), the action takes place in a local hair salon, where everyone knows everyone, and is invested in each other's lives. Where all the ladies can "let their hair down," and be absolutely real with one another.

One thing that matters a lot to me in any story is that I like the characters. Not all of them -- bad guys are bad guys -- but at least some of the characters must be likable, and all of them must be believable. I can't watch or read a story unless the characters matter to me.

I purposely avoided watching the movie again before seeing the AACI J-Town Playhouse Theater Project version of Steel Magnolias. Just to give the local talent a fair chance.

These ladies came through, with flying (pink! Did I say pink??? Yes, PINK!!!) colors. I liked them. I believed them. They made me cry, and laugh, and guffaw... and cry. I wanted to hang out in Truvy's beauty parlor, and swap stories and barbs with these lovable and sometimes contrary women.

Thank you to Sorah Grotsky, Abigail Ellis, Tova Rubenstein, Talya Bem, Miriam Metzinger, and Andrea Katz, for a lovable, endearing onstage presence. Thank you to Shiri Berzack & Co. for everything backstage that made this sweet and sad and funny little story work.

There are still tickets available for remaining performances, but they're going fast. And lest you think this is "chick flick" material, let me tell you that Mr. Harling's witty, daring, funny, and touching material will appeal to women and to men.

May Robert Harling find comfort in having touched so many hearts in his effort to honor his dear sister Susan.

One way to get ticket information for remaining performances (March 23, 27 and 28)! Click here! https://www.facebook.com/events/207038796918030/


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Israel: Where We All Have Something to Give

6 Adar I 5779.

There I was, enjoying my very rich and busy retirement – publishing books, babysitting delightful grandchildren, playing “Mrs. Coach” to an adult American football team, participating in classes in Torah, Hebrew, painting, yoga and music – when Andy Armon’s letter appeared in the Neve Daniel chat list. She was seeking volunteers for a new program to help young ladies at the Orot Etzion Girls’ School to improve their English conversation skills.

I am very shy where public speaking is concerned. I have never been trained as a teacher. I am only a “boy mom,” meaning I’m learning about dealing with the personalities of girls fairly late in life, through my granddaughters. And I’m happily busy, meaning I’m not looking for more to do.

But I like Andy, and I respect her efforts at helping the community. And a little tzedakah b’guf seemed like a good idea – and it happened that Thursday mornings were free. I couldn’t talk myself out of it.

I am so glad I couldn’t. I’m having the time of my life!

The program doesn’t require the structure that scares people away from “teaching.” It’s more like mentoring. I volunteer for two sessions: I work with one 5th grade girl who has very good English that just needs a bit of polishing; and I have a group of six 6th grade girls who have very little English but lots of enthusiasm. My job is to get them to speak English with increasing confidence. No one is expecting me to make them fluent. I just have to help them to get rid of the fear of looking foolish, and to simply be willing to try.

Much like what I went through in ulpan. In fact, my Hebrew ulpan experience helps me to understand and to help these girls. I know exactly what they are feeling. They listen to my poor Hebrew as I try to explain difficult concepts; and they are receptive to my lesson that just as they don’t laugh at me, I won’t laugh at them. Week by week, they are gaining courage, and even some proficiency. (They are very proud of knowing when to add “s” to the end of a verb, and when not to, something that often stumps even adults.)

We have fun together playing word games, singing songs, playing “grocery store,” reading easy stories. For this exercise, I am permitted by the program either to use the book provided, or to come up with my own plan. I’m rather proud of this: I have taken an easy Hebrew children’s book and translated it to English for them. First, we read the Hebrew version. It is full of moral lessons, and the girls happily debate where they stand on the issues. Then, we painstakingly make our way through the English version. As I remind them that they already understand the story, they gain faith in themselves, and struggle on. Last week, I said that I look forward to when we can debate this story in English. Unexpectedly, my initially most reticent student led a discussion in very simple English, wherein each girl stated her case! I am so proud of my girls!

After our classes (which are currently 30 minutes and 50 minutes in length), we volunteers meet, each week, to share concerns and ideas. I have gained so much wisdom from these fellow volunteers. Very often, next week’s plan starts with something learned during this meeting. Best of all, the girls, the English program teachers, and especially Andy and Yael Ben-Pazi, the principal, are so supportive of our efforts.

I love this program. It is very rewarding to give back to a community that patiently helps me with my Hebrew. It feels good to be respected for something that is part of the definition of who I am: an English-language-proficient Anglo with a lot to give the next generation in Israel.

Glossary - tzedakah b'guf: charity through deeds rather than money; ulpan: intensive Hebrew language class



Sunday, July 22, 2018

From the Fruits of Our Deeds

Night:

Flames. We are marched from our homes, still in our Shabbat clothing. Stupefied, not yet aware that this is real, we gather in the shul
We pray
How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How she is become like a widow!
Kinot. Tears.
Crying, not greeting one another, we slink to our homes to not eat, not drink, not be entertained, not laugh, not make love

Morning:

We mourn.
Not just destruction of a building, but of an ideal
We have built our own jail with angry hands, raised as fists against one another
Because we still speak ill of one another
Because we still cheat one another
We look for hurt caused against us by a brother or a sister to justify our rage
We cause each other to fear saying anything, lest it be judged negatively
We burn our shuls down with chatter between the pages, during the prayers, over the words
And we justify and rationalize everything:
“I don’t want to speak lashon hora, but…”
“Sheltering money is an investment. It’s not actually theft. It’s my money, after all!”
Once sensitive to the plight of the downtrodden, we hurry past the beggar without as much as a smile of apology.
We destroy our own Holy Temple again. And again. And again. Year after year. Word after word. Deed after deed undone.

Chatzot:

We are wrung out, sad beyond words, beyond tears. Our contumely, our culpability in the destruction of others and of ourselves, disgusts us at last. We are ready for the chair.

Afternoon:

So tired. Hungry. Thirsty. Contrite.
Finally, we feel what we have lost.
A sliver of silvery light seeps sweetly into our souls…
We begin to yearn
And the yearning repairs us
Repairs the rent fabric of the universe
Slowly, slowly, we remember
Ancient history, when 600,000 people packed into a holy space
Worshipping together
Dancing
Singing
Not one complaining –
Not one!
That there is not enough space for ME, for MY worship, for MY experience.
It was all about each other.

Night:

May it once again, today and forever, be about each other.
Together, we will rebuild, with these freshly-washed hands.
Together.

RE – 10 Av 5778.

Monday, April 30, 2018

A Fly and a Cockroach Shake Hands

I love the way my friend Rachael Welt sees the world, and the way she tells stories.

We learn together once a week, and our conversations always weave our Torah learning through the text of our life stories. Today’s stories illustrate one of my favorite principles.

"This is what the Holy One said to Israel: My children, what do I seek from you? I seek no more than that you love one another and honor one another; and that you have awe and reverence for one another." -- Tanna d'Bei Eliyahu Rabba, 26:6

Rachael recounts a recent trip to the Mahane Yehuda shuk.

“I have never seen at one time so many people using walkers, walking on crutches, walking with canes,” she said. “And the shuk was packed with people. And of course, walking behind all these people with walkers and so on made it very slow going. Still, not one person started screaming ‘Why are you moving so slowly? Why did you come to the shuk? Don’t you know you could fall down? Why don’t you move out of the way?’

“This is the shuk I’m talking about, where people regularly yell and scream at each other – and not one person rushed these people. Not even the shuk workers with the heavy pallets they carry everywhere. Those guys never have any patience! But that day, they did. Everyone waited patiently for the old and infirm to make their way through the shuk. It was amazing!”

Rachael’s face glows when she tells stories about the good in her fellow humans.

She tells another “only in Israel” story.

“I was in Jerusalem, getting the car repaired. I was feeling a little faint, because I hadn’t eaten enough before leaving the house; so I decided to go to a nearby supermarket. As I started in the door, the guard, a man in his sixties, put up a hand and stopped me. ‘We don’t open until ten,’ he said to me. I checked my watch and saw there would be a bit of a wait. And then I saw the line of people with shopping carts. I’m thinking, I don’t need a big shopping cart. I only need a few items.” Nonetheless, she joined the line, prepared to wait with everyone else until the guard allowed entry.

“People started to say to the guard, ‘Nu? It’s ten minutes to ten. Let us in already! It’s five minutes till. C’mon, let us in! See my watch? Let us in!’ But the guard had his orders, and he was used to this. He held his ground. ‘Ten o’clock,’ he insisted calmly.

“This one guy ahead of me, but still pretty far back in the line, decided he’d had enough. He pulled out of the line, pushed to the front, and tried to get by the guard. The guard stopped him, and the guy started yelling at him.

“The guard, still calm, said to the guy, ‘You know what? You’re a zvoov,’ a fly. And the guy yells at him, really angry now, ‘And you’re a juke!’ a cockroach.”

As Rachael tells the story, I am laughing a little, because I am convinced that these conversations, with this much invective, could never happen in America. People might yell at each other, but it is never this colorful. The two men went at this for several seconds, the guard speaking calmly, the enraged customer getting so upset, and louder and louder, to the point that Rachael was praying he didn’t have a knife. She could just see herself being witness to a terrible incident.

“The man kept yelling, and saying he was going to complain about the guard, and not only complain about him, he was going to write a letter, and he went on and on, getting more and more excited.

"The guard told him, without raising his voice, to step back. The man stepped back only a step or two. ‘Only this far,’ he said. ‘No further. I’m staying right here.’

“Suddenly, the guard walked over to the man, and stuck out his hand, and the other fellow took it. ‘Please forgive me, my friend. It will all be okay. I ask forgiveness.’ And the other guy calmed down. A moment later, at ten o’clock on the dot, the guard allowed the stream of people with their carts into the store.

“But that’s not the end of the story,” says Rachael, with her patented Rachael smile.

“Later, as I was going through the aisles, the guy came up to me. ‘You see?’ he said, ‘He apologized to me. He admitted he was wrong, and I was right.’ I said to him, ‘I think you were both a little bit wrong, and a little bit right.’ (After all, calling someone a fly was not a nice thing to do, and certainly calling someone a cockroach and threatening him is wrong.) ‘The main thing is, you made peace.’ I don’t think he really understood me, because he really thought he was right and the guard was wrong. But I saw that the guard kept calm, offered his hand, and the man took it! And the guard asked for forgiveness. What an amazing People!”

I believe that Hashem teaches us to see Him as a Parent so that we can know how to behave toward each other. As a mother, nothing makes me more distressed – dare I say enraged? – than when my kids are unkind to each other. Conversely, nothing causes me to feel more overjoyed and elated than when they get along and speak well of each other.

Rachael and I learned a lot today. But I am convinced that the holiest moments of our learning were when Rachael spoke aloud words of validation about the behavior of God’s children toward one another. If our learning together doesn’t bring Mashiach closer by itself, surely the stories of Jews rising above their pettiness to respect one another inches the Geula just a bit closer.


15 Iyar 2018.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ten Years!

20 Tishrei 5778.
A celebratory gift of 2007 wine
It’s that time again: our “aliyahversary” is today (and tonight, Hoshana Raba, on the Jewish calendar). After a decade, I can tell you that we are happier than ever, missing nothing of America except the people we love.

We came to Israel with very American teenangels; and now we have men who are husbands, fathers, part of the national brocade called the work force, and the equally important tapestry of the IDF reserves. We don't see them as much as we'd like  think "Cat's in the Cradle but when we do get together, we admire the lives they are building, and the women with whom they have chosen to build.

Ten years in Israel. Two shemita cycles. The first one was filled with our errors of confusion, after which I studied with a friend Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon's Shemita: From the Sources to Practical Halacha, which measurably enhanced my understanding of this special every-seven-year commitment to the Land.

We arrived with a rusty set of skills... and discovered new talents that blossomed into ways to make a little money and to enjoy our new lives. I remember saying to my beloved Rebbetzin Bracha Goldberger that all we had left to do in Baltimore was to grow old and die. But in Israel, even walking to the store, even doing laundry, would be holy and meaningful.

My favorite "Coach" photo, courtesy of Walla
Little did I know how much we might have to contribute to this wild, wild east. My husband is known to players and fans around the country as "Coach Eastman." I have blogged and written for various English-language sites, and with God's help, my first book will come out this month. Israeli young people and small children learn what we have to offer of music and art, English language, and snippets of grandparent philosophy. In Israel, we have become most fully ourselves.

One of the grands prepares to coach the old folks.
We came with limited Hebrew... and now have somewhat less-limited Hebrew. But the boys are fluent, so we're not complaining. We try to sort out our bills or long letters from Bituach Leumi (national insurance); and when we can't, our sons or their wives help us out. Next chapter: the grandchildren will translate for us. It's already a delight to hear the two-year-old moving facilely between little-girl English and Hebrew.

There are cultural nuances that we get that were mysterious when we arrived. I'm no longer unnerved by people yelling at me when I've made a mistake, understanding that the Israeli way is to ratchet up the vocal chords from zero to 60 in ten seconds, but to drop the tone just as quickly once appeased. The how and why and when of traveling is no longer a mystery. Buses and taxis are my friends. I know when to avoid the roads entirely, based on the fact that at certain times, the entire country is traveling. I understand that when the bus doesn't come, the driver is not being capricious. He probably has a full load of soldiers; and trying to climb our mountain just to tell us he doesn't have room for us is not good for the bus. (Someone will improve the electronic bus signs someday to pass on such messages.)

I have learned the best places to eat and shop for my needs and tastes, preferring excellent service and a good story, as long as these are within my budget. (Sometimes, the trick is to make the budget work, rather than finding the cheapest option.) I can argue with a bus driver in Hebrew, and occasionally win. I can give in Hebrew compliments to waitresses and shop clerks, and gratitude to soldiers, and receive the most beautiful smiles in return. I even have philosophical conversations with Israeli friends, though these are carried on in a chulent of Hebrew and English, with a soupçon of French or a Teelöffel of German for spice.

It's moving to see quotes from the Psalms in the grocery store.
My husband teases me that I will hunt down and photograph lizards and signs in Hebrew. True enough. There are so many varieties of lizards here, and much to learn from the signs, more and more of which I can understand. There is often humor in the simple phrasing that is worth understanding, as well as deep meaning and philosophy peculiar to Israel. The Dearly Beloved also has fun at my expense as I go around Jerusalem seven weeks after Yom Kippur and joyfully say "Melakam Sigd" to as many Ethiopians as possible. More smiles. (Truly, is there anything more delicious in this world than bringing smiles out of human faces?)

We have embraced the rhythm of Jewish holidays that make so much more sense here in the Land of their birth. And having the whole country more-or-less on the same holiday page at the same time is such a blessing, after years of being an afterthought in a tiny kosher section of Safeway and Wal-Mart. It rains most of the time when it's supposed to  even God doesn't like to be too predictable, I imagine  and there's no snow in the sukkah. Nearly everyone, nearly every car, stops for two minutes of silence to remember our fallen. Chanukah lights and Pesach decorations and children dressed as Queen Esther and Mordechai are prevalent throughout the country. There are hand-washing stations at the majority of restaurants; and even the less obviously religious don't bat an eye when seeing a fellow traveler reading prayers or Tehillim, or saying a blessing when leaving a restroom. "Homeness" surrounds and embraces.

Things that used to bewilder us now delight at best, or are quaintly annoying at worst. Why does every food package come in one-kilo bags, instead of in five-kilo bags? (No worries. It very seldom costs more in the smaller package.) Why can you get good service throughout the meal, but have to hunt down the waitress for the check? (Now that I think about it, what's bad about more time over the coffee and conversation at the end of the meal?) Why can't you walk anywhere in the country without meeting a beggar with his or her hand out? (It's a good reminder that I'm very blessed to have enough to eat.) Why do office supply stores and furniture stores also sell wine and other food products as special sales? (See what I mean? Quaint. Even adorable.)

I could go on for far too long... but you have things to do. I guess I'll close these thoughts with gratitude to Hashem. We miss our friends and family back in the States, and look forward to greeting you here whenever you can come. We are blessed to have electronic means of communication unheard of a decade ago, and these will surely only get more advanced. (Think a Princess Leia hologram visit, right in the comfort of your own dwelling.) And we have been blessed with friends here in Israel who are from many different countries and who speak many different languages. Their main common feature is that they fill up the extended family spaces for which our hearts have yearned.

Looking forward to the next decade and more, here at HOME!




Photo credits: really cute granddaughter, Nisan Jaffee; Avi and Ruti, Chanie Barami