Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Down with The Succah and Up with The Laundry!

I try not to do laundry during the "intermediate days" aka Chol Hamoed of the Succot and Passover Holidays.  Gd willing I'll have a few batches of clean and dry laundry by the time I leave for work.

We planned the house with this merpeset balcony/terrace that has four clotheslines which can hold a couple of loads of wash or more, depending on the type of wash of course.

Monday, October 5, 2015

And Now for The First Time in Months...

The fan is silent. I turned it off right after Simchat Torah ended. It's suddenly chilly outside. We don't have an airconditioner, and fans take ages to cool the room, the large open-plan L shaped livingroom-diningroom kitchen. So, I turned it on rather early in the summer and haven't turned it off, not even when we've gone away for Shabbat.

Our house was planned and built to keep in the heat during the winter, so it can get awfully hot in the summer. I keep the shades down and windows, which face east, as open as I can considering the badly planned "double windows" we have.

We didn't even have the fan and shades in the early years we were in the house, when the kids were little and lived at home. I don't know how we survived, but in those days nobody had airconditioning, so I guess we were used to the heat.

I guess we really ought to get airconditioning, which also will provide a more efficient way to heat in the winter. Any recommendations?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Next is Olive Season

As I've written before, we, that's my husband and I, are the world's worst gardeners, but even our garden has two types of food-bearing plants/trees/vines native to this part of the world. Both are used for various religious ceremonial and food purposes. And both of them require little or no care. I've written a lot about our grapes, but less about the olives.

The olive tree was planted by the Shiloh "town planners" before we chose this spot for our house. It was planted on the side of the path which goes from the street to the top of the hill, where later on, after we had already built and moved into our house the neighborhood shul was built.

Olives are a strange tree; the fruit/olives come out every fall, but there's a two year pattern. One year there's a rich crop, and the other year a lesser crop.  This year looks pretty good:

And in case you're asking, the answer is no. We don't do anything with our olives. Usually neighbors ask if they can take some for olive oil, and we say "yes, especially if you bring us some." This crop has the holiness of the shemitta year.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Grandkids Visited

OK, I must apologize for not posting a picture that shows how gorgeous my grandchildren are. I'm not supposed to, so here's a picture that shows some of them sort of. Even this shot shows them to be adorable, right?

One thing for sure is that they love the playgrounds near my house!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Succot All Over

One of the great beauties of the Succot Holiday in Israel is that there are public succot all over for those who want to observe the holiday by eating in a succah. At least in Jerusalem it's very easy to find restaurants with succot for their customers' use.

Here are some photos I took this week:

At the Kotel

At the Kotel

Jerusalem Municipality 

At the Ammunition Hill Light Rail stop
Rami Levy, Sha'ar Binyamin

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Working Poor, Me!

Israeli income tax isn't done like American. I grew up with an accountant (later CPA) father whose annual calendar/schedule revolved around April 15, the official deadline for submitting tax forms. He was a one-man business most of the year. The only time he hired anyone to help was before that deadline during "tax season." While two of my mother's nephews were in college, they were trusted and hired as my father's assistants, and one of them even became an accountant, too.

In Israel, if you're an employee with just one job, you don't have to fill out any forms besides the once a year one in which you submit to the authorities via the employer saying that you have only one source of income. Taxes are calculated at source by the employer.

A few years ago, I discovered that by filling out a simple form in the Post Office, I, as a part-time minimum wage worker could get a bit of extra money. It's known as the "negative income tax." The first time I read the letter from the tax authorities I thought it was a trick, but my daughter told me to take care of it. It's no joke. So now I make a point of going into the post office with my Teudat Zehut, Identity Card and checkbook. Yes, that's it. The clerk fills out the form. Once, in the Ofra post office, he insulted me by saying that I do not look like the picture in my I.D. But after an unpleasant delay, he realized who I am and said he knows my daughter and did his job.

Pisgat Ze'ev Post Office, while waiting on line

This year, actually two days ago, right before the deadline, I finally took care of it. This time there was a complication with my bank account, because the branch we had been using for years had closed. That meant that although my checks (from the old one) are still good for paying, the bank computer didn't recognize the old branch and account numbers which the clerk had copied from the checks. Luckily my husband was home and after going through all sorts of papers found the new numbers. The clerk was extremely nice, patient and tolerant of the situation.

Between waiting my turn and the mess with the numbers, I spent a full hour in the post office. Gd willing within a few weeks I'll get my usual letter saying that I'm eligible for a sum of money which will be deposited in my account by the tax authorities. It will certainly come in handy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Succot at the Kotel

Yesterday, as I wrote last night, A Promise is a Promise!, I went to the Kotel. Here are a few of the photos I took. One thing I must say is that the atmosphere in the large ladies section was very nice and peaceful and polite. I'm not a "fan" of the Kotel. I feel much more connected to Gd when at Tel Shiloh, and I plan on going up to Har HaBayit again, Gd willing in the future. But due to the outrageous ban on Jewish Prayer there, it isn't all that fulfilling to go up. 

On Succot I always get sentimental when I see the Kotel's succah, because we used to take the kids for a succah "picnic" every year when they were young. I was sorry to see that there is no longer one giant succah. There are now two in a different location.

I walked my usual route down to the Kotel from Jaffa Gate. It's the way I've been walking since I was a student at Machon Greenberg in 1969.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Promise is a Promise!

The last time I was at the kotel, Western Wall, quite a few months ago, I found myself speaking to the woman manning the booth that lends scarves to women so they'll cover up for modesty's sake at the holy site. She said that they can always use more scarves. So I offered to bring some. And today I actually did.

She quickly added mine to the pile and graciously thanked me.

After I finished praying and saying Tihillim, Psalms, I walked out, and when I did I looked around to see if someone was wearing one of them.

Yes, I found one! It's the reddish brown. I'm relieved to have finally taken care of it. According to Jewish Law, promised, oaths are very important to keep. I tried to find someone going to the Kotel before Yom Kippur and didn't, so I'm really glad to know that it was done.

Breaking Rules for 52Frames!

This week's theme for 52Frames, that photography group I've been in for about two years, was "Breaking Rules." In art, it's quite often the unconventional, unexpected and superficially unacceptable according to the "rules" that ends up the most gorgeous and riveting. So this time they told us to throw all of the conventional wisdom away and just shoot something that breaks the rules.

At first I took a nice series of shots of the nighttime sky and view of Migron from Sha'ar Binyamin, purposely moving the camera to get swirls. Here are the two best after cropping:

I do like them, but I was convinced that "everyone" would take this easy way out. That's why I chose this shot of the pre-Succot  Arba Minim, Four Species Market, also taken in Sha'ar Binyamin. I shot the picture into the strong, pre-dusk sunlight, because I was attracted to the way that the sun lit up those green flags making them look like precious stones.

52Frames Week 39: Break the Rules
What do you think? Did I chose correctly?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Confession: I Did Not Decorate The Succah!

This year, I had even less to do with the succah, that traditional Jewish "hut" of sorts that is supposed to become our "home," or at least the dining room during the Jewish Holiday of Succot, which is exactly two weeks after Rosh Hashanah begins and half a week after Yom Kippur. It's a holiday that ends with a "whimper" in a way, because although there is close to a week of Chol Hamoed, which is a quasi-holiday time, there's no end of Holiday HolyDay, like for Passover. A week after Succot begins is Simchat Torah, which is a different holiday and does not require a succah. I hope I didn't confuse you too much.

When we had our house built we planned it with a nice merpeset, balcony/terrace for the succah, so it's not all that complicated to assemble. It was always my husband's job, and when the boys got older, they helped a lot. But now they aren't home. They have lives of their own, so my husband is back being completely responsible for it, but I am supposed to decorate it. But I did not have time. I was at work yesterday and barely had time to finish the cooking when I got home, and I also scrubbed the succah floor which was dirtier than ever before, since we had suffered from that dust storm that had lasted for a couple of weeks.

As you can see, we have lots of succah decorations we've collected over the years. It's just a matter of taking thumbtacks and tacking them up, but I couldn't. We were expecting guests who needed to eat.

The succah did get decorated. Guess who did it!

Yes, that's my husband!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Getting Ready for Succot!

The custom is to start getting the succah built after Yom Kippur, but many people start earlier, and some do it all at the last minute. There have been signs of Succot approaching for weeks in Jerusalem, Shiloh and Sha'ar Binyamin. Those are the only places I've been to of late.

I must admit that I'm very glad that building a succah is not my responsibility. I'm happy being responsible for all other aspects of the holiday preparations, cooking, even cleaning etc. At most I may decorate the succah, but even that isn't all that hard. It's just a matter of time. We have a big box of decorations that go up pretty quickly. Either I'll get it done, or I won't. And if you're curious, the best and cheapest (free!) decorations are old Jewish Calendars, which various organizations send out for free. Just use the pretty pictures. Here are a few photos of Succot preparations I've taken. Enjoy!

Like a "doll house," this is a child-sized succah!

reflected succah decorations

Chag Succot Sameach!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Late Summer Sky

Generally I think that the sky gets prettier in the winter, but I did take some absolutely gorgeous sky shots recently of sunsets.

What do you think?