Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dames of the World: Unite, and DANCE!

Yom revi'i, 25 Shevat 5774.

I live in a remarkable part of the world, in a remarkable country, in a remarkable community, surrounded by remarkable women. And some of the most fun I've had with these dedicated, generous (in time and money), totally joy-filled and life-embracing women has been around a wonderful project called "Dames of the Dance."

To quote my friend Varda Epstein, who wrote about Dames of the Dance for the Times of Israel last year, "Dames of the Dance was born in 2007, as a remedy to local poverty. As Sharon Katz, founder ... and producer of Dames put it, 'We give women a safe environment in which they can try their wings, expand their creativity and express themselves freely.'

"Katz had learned that contrary to the stereotyped image of Efrat and Gush Etzion as wealthy communities, there were some 360 resident families living below the poverty line. It was unacceptable to Sharon that people in her neighborhood would go without while she did nothing. She thought about all the talented women in her regular dance class and knew that her 'sistahs' would be glad for the chance to do a good deed."

Dames of the Dance programs are always entertaining and lively, with varied styles of dance, beautifully choreographed and danced by talented women and girls of all ages. The emcees balance humor gracefully with message. I have rarely missed the yearly adventure, as it is a highlight of my year -- and I look forward to seeing dear friends on stage, and in attendance.

Here's the info on "DAMES of the DANCE 7 - CELEBRATION", an evening dedicated to TZEDAKAH and filled with fantastic dance troupes. See you there!

** Tickets - 
Checks should be made out to the Gush Etzion Foundation

** Thursday, February 27, 27 Adar A, 8:15 PM, Matnas Gush Etzion
** Monday, March 3, 1 Adar B, MATINEE, 5:00 PM, Matnas Efrat
** Thursday, March 6, 4 Adar B, 8:15 PM, Matnas Gush Etzion

** For fun, here's a DAMES parody I think you will enjoy. Dames of the world -- UNITE and DANCE!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Where everybody knows your name: a delightful bed and breakfast in Tzfat!

Yom sheni, 19 Shevat 5774.

The Dearly Beloved and I rarely get a chance to travel, even in Israel. Work, the costs involved, not wanting to miss the soldiers when they're home, our intense affection for our own beds. You know the drill.

We had the opportunity to spend just one night and a few daytime hours in Tzfat, at the bed and breakfast of our newly-married friends Miri and Dave. Simcha Leah's Bed and Breakfast is everything the Dearly Beloved and I want it to be: affordable; quaint and charming; centrally-located; clean and quiet; well-appointed with what we consider necessities (meaning decent beds, lots of blankets in the winter, our own fridge and microwave and kum-kum so we can hide from the world, wifi for when I get tired of hiding from the world). Miri and Dave have made Simcha Leah's all of these things, and so much more! They clearly asked themselves, "What would make us comfortable, if we were away from home?" Then, they proceeded to make it so.

Warmth of every kind: an urn, kosher lamp and plata for Shabbat; a microwave and kum-kum; cozy blankets

Varied reading material; control of the temperature; plenty of hanging space for clothes

Next time, we'll stay long enough to try out some of those board games!

A full-size fridge!

Fruit, nosh, tea and coffee

Wonderfully comfy beds and thick comforters

Even the bathroom is charming and homey.

Just like fancy spas, they even thought of shower slippers.

While the building itself is 300 years old, the room is spacious, with lots of light and color, and with comfy twin beds (long enough for the Dearly Beloved's over-six-foot frame). One can request additional bed options. The fridge is full-sized; and the microwave and kum-kum are in great working order. The water for bath or shower is nice and hot. All the basics are there. The mazgan kept the room nice and cozy, and we ended up not needing the extra blankets. The fluffy down comforters were more than enough.

The walls are decorated with some of Dave's beautiful photographs. We encourage him to add discreet price tags to the photographs, as tourists who know fine photography may be interested in purchasing some of his work (one of our favorites of which you can see here).

We wandered around town in the fog and rain, enjoying Tzfat in its misty, mystical glory even when wet. Miri's son Adam took us on a brief tour, and dropped us off at a very affordable sushi place. When we returned, the too-long skirt I'd worn was soaked for the bottom 10 inches... and Miri tossed it in the dryer. Talk about full service!

After a cold breakfast of yogurt, granola and different kinds of fruit, we headed home... but we plan to return to Simcha Leah's many times, to check out Tzfat in even better weather. Miri and Dave make Simcha Leah's feel like a home away from home.

Below, the Dearly Beloved tests out his new birthday present to show you some of the other lovely features of the room.

For prices and other details, or to make reservations, click on the link here:

"Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came..."  
-- from the "Cheers" theme, by Judy Hart Angelo and Gary Portnoy

Tzfat: Safed
Kum-kum: In my humble opinion, the first purchase an oleh (new immigrant to Israel) should make after landing: a super-fast electric water-heating kettle for tea and coffee. Don't they have these in America yet???
Plata: an electric warmer for food on the Sabbath
Mazgan: An electrical wall unit used for both heating and cooling