Thursday, November 22, 2012

Life goes on

In process
Code Red has moved on too.

Life does go on as made sparkling clear by my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Between the posts about missiles falling and where, Israeli Air Force strikes, meetings with UN officials and heads of state, and images of children running to bomb shelters, houses turned to rubble, blown-up buses and Hamas thugs dragging suspected collaborators naked through the street from the back of a motorcycle, I discovered that the Twinkie factory closed down and lots of people were freaked out. And I guess General Petreus had an affair. Shocker. And a lot of people are  feeling the Thanksgiving spirit, grateful for health, family, friends. The Very Brady Christmas special aired on Wednesday. Traffic in LA is still awful. Shocker. A few friends got haircuts. Pretty good ones too. A few went to Disneyland. Some of you read some good books or made a new apron or baked cookies (in your new apron). One of you chipped a tooth. Ouch! A few of you had dim sum (and my heart ached for California). And Fiona Apple cancelled her tour to be at home with her dying pit bull.

The rest of this post is at The Times of Israel.

Happy Thanksgiving America.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Parenting in the Middle East

Code red alpaca. Sorry, you weren't doing it for me. You will rise from the paint again. Have no fear. #codered
I went code red on one of my paintings this morning.

I've spent the last few days painting in my kitchen and listening to the radio. They're playing requests all day long from southern residents. And sporadically throughout the day you hear the override system announcing a code red and a location. Code red - Ashkelon. Code red - Ashdod. Code red - Beer Sheva. All. Day. Long. We have been lucky and our daily lives have not changed much since we live near Jerusalem. Trips to Tel Aviv have been postponed and plans for get togethers in the South have been cancelled. But we are not running under our staircase every fifteen minutes and for that I am grateful.

The rest of this article is posted at the Times of Israel.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The honeymoon is over

Hoffman was right, whatever that means
I guess Hoffman was right, whatever that means.

We arrived in Israel a year ago. Today. A year ago today. I remember thinking to myself in the days leading up to our departure, I wonder how long we have til there is another "incursion" in Israel. Another operation. Or assault. Or war. I wasn't worried. If I was worried I would not have gotten on the plane. I had always felt safe in Israel. Though the years I spent here were always just before or just after a major something or other.

Anyway, I have the answer. A year. It took a year for something to escalate to the point where my people in America are emailing me to be sure I'm safe. I guess the honeymoon is officially over, thank you very much Hamas.

It's really been far less than a year, since missiles have been falling on southern Israel every few months, even weeks, since we arrived. My in-laws live in the south as do many of our friends. I used to live there too. But I have kept the radio and the television off. And it is only today, now that Israel has finally retaliated, that we have made the mainstream news. Because the 2,000 rockets that were fired from Gaza this year alone were not so newsworthy. Maybe if they had better aim. Or if we didn't have the badass Iron Dome anti-missile technology. Booyah!

But as bad as it is (and it's bad for our residents of the south), I went to the mall yesterday to mail some packages at the post office and buy my daughter some leggings for winter. The mall was bustling. And I heard as much Arabic as I did Hebrew. Let me just say this, for my left leaning Californians, if a Jihad attack of this magnitude had happened in the US you can bet that no one with a hijab would leave the house for a month in fear of random retaliation. Not true at the Mall of Jerusalem. It's business as usual.You can be full on burkified and still buy your daughter leggings for winter. I'm starting to ramble.

I have refrained from posting much on Facebook even though I know the news that most people will hear is not the whole story. I don't have the whole story either. I don't know what it's like to live in Gaza. I feel compassion for those in Gaza who just want to live their lives and hate the violence as much as I do. I have to believe those people exist. I wish we heard more from them and less from the militants and cyber bullies you hear from on twitter. Boys on both sides, come on. Spare me your my dad can beat up your dad bullshit. It's embarrassing. I do have some idea about what it's like living in southern Israel with reports from my people there. Cloudy with a Chance of Missiles, by my friend Faye Bittker, sums it up pretty well.

But back to my life. Today Mr. Rosen and I decided to celebrate our anniversary anyway by having breakfast together in Mahane Yehuda, the open air market in downtown Jerusalem. Which was also bustling. I had a cheese bourekas with sliced egg and tehina and Mr. Rosen had the spinach one with spicy sauce. And we had sahlab, a warm orchid milk drink topped with peanuts, coconut and cinnamon. Then we bought fixings for a delicious shabbat dinner tonight with Mr. Rosen's parents, (who are hoping for a siren-free night's sleep) including some goods from the Persian spice cutie pie who can always get me to try something (an then buy it) just by cocking his head to the side and winking at me. Mr. Rosen fell for it too. We even went ahead and bought a "shuk bag". One of those rolling bags you absolutely need if you're schlepping 20 kilos of food home from the market. So I guess that means we'll stick it out for at least another year, since now we have a shuk bag and everything. Stay tuned.

 Beautiful Nachlaot neighborhood, Jerusalem

Street art, Jerusalem
She needs a better shuk bag.

My spice guy.

Nachlaot neighborhood, Jerusalem
local color

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Banana Rye Bread

Time to make banana bread
exhibit A

Tonight I'm participating in my first art exhibit in Israel.  Some local wineries are supplying the wine and the artists are bringing the rest. So this morning I set out to make two loaves of banana bread. After I converted 12 tablespoons of butter into grams (170!) I went to the cupboard to get out the flour. Alas, I only have rye flour.

Rye flour? Who the hell buys rye flour?

I do. And do you know why I buy rye flour? Because I have the Hebrew reading skills of a first grader. I go to the super market and invariably come home with things I don't want. And in many cases, like this, on the back of the package it actually says what it is in English. So now I am functionally illiterate in two languages. I have bought "sweetened" plain yogurt (if I wanted it sweet I would buy cherry pineapple or guava or any number of amazing flavors they have here). I have bought perfumed wipes (the ones that smell worse than any child's poop ever could). I have bought farina (cream of wheat) when I wanted flour (obviously my biggest problem is wheat derivatives. In my defense, all the packaging looks the same with a giant wheat stalk on the front). I have bought spicy tomato sauce and made lasagna my kids wouldn't eat. I have bought non-virgin olive oil (I like to call that slutty olive oil). I have bought cooking cream instead of whipping cream. I have bought what looks like a stick of dried salami but is actually all wet and bologna-like inside. I did that twice actually.

Last night I went shopping with a friend of mine, another American who moved here eight years ago. And she told me how her first year here she would have panic attacks at the cheese counter trying to figure out what to buy and how to order in grams. In Hebrew. That resonated in a big way. I'm getting better but I still mostly buy my deli meat and cheese pre-packaged.

Being an immigrant is rough going sometimes. Ending up with the wrong food is aggravating but mostly just funny. Ending up paying banking fees you didn't know about, or inadvertently signing up for the most expensive telephone service is both aggravating and costly. I'm lucky because I have a native husband and most people here speak some degree of English. A lot of people around the world are not as lucky and end up having to eat banana rye bread. Or worse. Banana farina bread.

Ever been tongue tied at a cheese counter in a foreign land? Brought home sour cream when you wanted cream cheese? I feel you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Definitely in the cards

I'm sure by now the Christmas season is in full swing back in America. Here we're all still kind of recovering from a dizzying fall holiday schedule and since Hanukkah is not as commercial in Israel as it is in the States, we are kind of resting on our laurels until it's time for Passover in April. But America is never far from my heart, especially when there are so many hilarious presidential campaign videos to watch on Facebook. So to get in the (holiday) spirit, I made some holiday cards! And by some I mean very few so grab a little box of eight while I still have stock. You can even order a combo set with some of each. Shipping is free but keep in mind, shipping from here takes about three weeks, so if you want your Hanukkah cards in time for an early Hanukkah (December 8th!) best to order quickly!

Friday, November 2, 2012


East and West
Shalom, mixed media.

It's been a year since we left Mountain View, our home for eight years and the place where our three kids were born. I remember the days leading up to our departure. All of the stress and running around. Packing and putting all of our stuff in the container. Selling whatever wasn't coming with us. Tying up all of the loose ends. Closing accounts. Collecting paperwork. Trying to sell our car at the very last second. And all the while trying to keep life as normal as possible for our kids. And trying to pay just a tiny bit of attention to our NEWBORN. Remember him? He's paying us back now for our neglect back then. We even trick or treated on our last Halloween, which was frankly the very last thing I wanted to do.

And then on November 1st we bid shalom to the Bay Area and drove in our rented van down south to Grandma's where we'd stay for a week before heading out to New York and finally Israel. It was a time of many goodbyes and many hellos and many times we didn't know if we were coming or going. It was a very unsettling time.

But now we are settled in so many wonderful ways. We have a community of friends. We have happy, adjusted kids. We have a quirky house big enough to host our many, many visitors. We have satisfying work. And I'd say, despite our every day struggles to reconcile our western mentalities with the reality of life in the Middle East (and I'm not talking about the threat of war with Iran or suicide bombings. I'm talking about things like terrible customer service, bad driving and the ubiquitous issue of littering) we're basically at peace with our decision to live here.

Shabbat shalom.