2017 is here

The last few days of 2016 were filled with “I can’t wait for 2016 to finally end! 2017 can’t come early enough!” 

So 2017 came, and the first news item was at least 39 people being killed in a terrorist attack at a New Year’s party in Istanbul, Turkey.

Obviously, no celebrities have died yet. There will be celebrity deaths–our childhood icons are growing older each year–but 2017 is already proving to be no better than 2016, the year that began with a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, killing two and injuring 8. 

What can make 2017 better than 2016? Us. A year’s worth should not be measured in the number of famous people who die, but in what we do to make the world better. Let’s not allow terror to rule this year. Celebrate the accomplishments of people around us. Let’s live with a fullness of life. 

A Friday in Ireland

„His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.”

My husband was reading to me on the couch, his head resting on my lap. It wasn’t anything very intellectual, uplifting, or edifying, just a Jo Nesbo novel we had picked up earlier that day—just after we got married. It was the first thing we bought as a married couple.

It happened so fast, so simply. Two witnesses. The Registrar. Less than 15 minutes. A few kind words and—surprisingly—a few quotes from the Bible and that famous line by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a song quietly playing in the background by Joshua Radin.

“Alone we are fine
But when we are two
We are eternal
The moons aligned
Our separate lives
Here become one”

We didn’t even have ties, just the two Oxford shirts we had picked up a store on Patrick Street the day before. My socks were mismatched, and my coat was still at the dry-cleaners. This wasn’t like how I had imagined my wedding to be. I always envisioned nicely tailored tuxes, a chuppah, decorations, family and friends, a nicely catered dinner, and live music. We even had a jar of change to hire a certain Israeli singer. Kevin and I enjoyed looking for ideas for invitations, party favours, and centerpieces. We had a paylist we kept adding somgs to that would be playing at our wedding. We wanted to serve gourmet burgers, fish and some vegan option for dinner, and have a non-wrecked cake.

Instead we celebrated with gingerbread lattes from Starbucks. We walked along the River Lee, sipping the overly sweet coffee with milk foam so over-steamed it was hard, and it really felt like the best meal I’d ever had. It was so good, in fact, that after getting home I washed and saved our papercups. And by home I meant the hotel, because we splurged and spent two nights in a hotel downtown, rather than the bunkbeds at my uncle’s farm.

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside”

Patrick Street was decorated for Christmas. The Bavarian candy coated nut stand smelled like childhood holidays. Some school choir was performing Christmas carols, and the various shops all played Christmas music. People were rushing around us, doing their shopping, while we quietly strolled along. And then, from amid the sea of Christmas music, we heard a song, one that we had saved on our playlist, one that always reminded me of my wonderful friends, one that Kevin loves playing on the piano and singing to us. It was Magnetic Fields’ The Book of Love. Kevin pulled me close and kissed me, in the middle of Cork’s busiest street.

Just a few short hours later, we were listening to our playlist as Kevin read to me from a Scandinavian crime novel, still wearing our new shirts, with a bottle of wine waiting for us. Kevin stood up to open it, and And then again The Book of Love. This time it was Peter Gabriel’s wonderful cover. As he hugged me close our hearts beat in unison and we started to dance. Our first dance.

It might not have been a big, perfect event. It might not have been very romantic. It might not change much in our day-to-day life. It, however, was an overcast Friday morning in Cork, when Kevin and I got married. 14 years. It’s more than just a piece of paper. It’s a page in our book of love.

Quotes in thispost are from Song of Solomon 8:30, Joshua Radin (Lovely Tonight), Lin-Manuel Miranda

Boring in Israel – 60 years

It was 60 years ago today that my grandparents made the decision that they would leave Hungary. 

It was the middle of the the Suez Crisis, and my grandparents were already packing, ready to leave to fight for Israel. The original idea was that they’d eventually return. It was also the middle of the Hungarian uprising of 1956, and many people had the hope that a country freed from Soviet rule will transition into a democratic state, and my grandparents wanted to be a part of that. As they had been part of the birth of the State of Israel, they wanted to help build a new Hungary. However,  after they arrived in Israel the news reached them of the death of Imre Mező on November 1, and the circumstances of it. Mező, a Communist leader, was among those defending the party headquarters, and he was one if those people who exited the building under a white flag to surrender the building to the revolutionary forces. All three of them were shot to death, most likely by revolutionaries. 

Grandpa, himself a socialist with communist leanings, an acquaintence of Mező and a supporter of Imre Nagy’s politics couldn’t reconcile the events and actions of either side with his personal values. Something broke in him when it came to the country that rejected him again and again. After November 4, when Soviet troops invaded Hungary again as the Western powers were tied up in the Suez crisis, any real chance to return was no more. It took nearly 50 days for my grandparents to return to Budapest again. It took them 25 years to be reunited with their then 13-year-old son, who opted to stay behind with the Christian couple who had rescued him as a baby when his parents were deported. 

So while today is boring in Israel-hospitals are always boring, aren’t they?-60 years ago today it was anything but.

Boring in Israel -Wow, that didn’t last long

So things got crazy here. I have posts written on my phone, where the app refuses to connect to publish my posts. 

Sukkot this year didn’t work out as we hoped. First out petrog (our etrog gets treated like a pet) was lost on a bus. Kevin came home from school with a nasty cold and by the time he got through it, some of the kids got it, and from the kids I managed to catch it. Mine turned into pneumonia, so I have had the opportunity to test how much hospital food has improved. I hope to be discharged soon, and then hopefully share my thoughts on the whole UNESCO fiasco, SNL, and Jack Chick.

Boring in Israel – Erev Yom Kippur

Erev Yom Kippur means the night of Yom Kippur. Jewish days begin at sunset and end at nightfall, so they overlap a bit, and when we say that we fast for a day on Yom Kippur, it means about 25 hours. When we talk about the longest day (incorrectly), many people mean Yom Kippur. LDS people shouldn’t laugh: when you do it only twice a year, it is a much bigger challenge!

(Now when I mean we incorrectly refer to Yom Kippur as the longest day I mean that the longest day is, in fact Rosh Hashanah: a holiday that is two days both in eretz and in the diaspora.)

By the time this post appears, Yom Kippur has begun here. We have left for the synagogue, and some of our older kids are out riding bikes. We have carefully turned on the radio and left it on–a modern day “tradition” that began with the Yom Kippur War. Statistics say that more than half of Israeli Jews fast on Yom Kippur. A smaller percentage attend synagogue. On the other hand, many secular Israelis use this day, when you won’t see a car on the roads, to go on bike rides throughout the city. We do both, at least some of us do either or both things.

Have an easy fast!

Boring in Israel – Getting Ready for Yom Kippur

On previous years I posted about Yom Kippur more in detail. I have also said it is my favourite holiday. It still is, and I’m still not religious. I plan to fast this year, as most of our kids and Kevin as well.

I’m still not religious. I still don’t believe in any supreme being. But I am Jewish. I am my people. Yom Kippur is mine.

Every year there is a moment when I remember this wonderful piece by Vanessa Hidary during the days of repentance.

Not only because Yom Kippur is mentioned, and it’s on a Tuesday. It’s because someone will question my reason for observing it. Even if I don’t do it perfectly.

Boring in Israel – Sundays Are Busy

Ever since every second Sunday morning we started taking one of our boys back to Jerusalem for school, Sundays have become very busy. I usually get up around 4:30, and get ready to drive the boy back to school. We get there a bit after 7, and I head back to TA. If I don’t have anything urgent in the mornings, I might stop at the shuk or one of my favourite little shops in J’lem. Today I did that, as I had till noon as free time.

I had also promised a friend to do a small thing for her next time I was at the Kotel, so I stopped there, too. I am not sure when the next time is to clean the notes out of the cracks of the wall, but her intention is now there.

Rushed back to TA, went to my classes, went home, did laundry, made dinner (breakfast for dinner is a favourite around here), started a slow cooker meal for the kids for tomorrow and then I finally sat down to type a rather boring post.

Boring in Israel – Theatre

If you talk to me with any regularity, you know that the only reason why I wanted to go to the States the past year was to see Hamilton. When in Hungary I try to take advantage of same day half price theatre tickets. Here, however, the last time I went to the theatre was when Next to Normal was playing here in TA  four years ago. Ok, I went to matinees with the kids like Peter Pan and Aladdin, but all of those plays had one thing in common: Harel Skaat.

When we went to see Les Miserables the other night the pattern wasn’t broken: in this version of the musical both Harel Skaat and Amir Dadon have great roles. Now I had never seen Les Miserables before. I played Gavroche as a kid in community theatre productions twice, but I had never seen the whole play before. I haven’t seen the movie either, though I have read the novel multiple times.

What made this show different is that… I understood quite a bit of it. Only eight years after making the move here, I can finally enjoy a musical in Hebrew. So in a few weeks we’ll see Evita. Evita doesn’t have Harel Skaat. It has Ran Ydanker, though. 🙂

Boring in Israel – When Rockets Fall

I was not really going to write about it, at best I was going to link an old post from Operation Protective Edge, because this series is about Israel, and because I like that post. So go click that link. Then come back, because what happened yesterday needs a few words.

By yesterday I mean today, because I’m writing this post on Wednesday. As I was standing in line for coffee (maybe I should rename this blog kosherkoffee) during one of the breaks, I saw the details of the rocket attack of Gaza earlier today. The first news only said that the rocket was fired from Gaza and landed in the Israeli city of Sderot. Sderot is a city close to the Gaza border. Once a rocket is launched, residents have about 15 seconds to find shelter.

Today’s rocket didn’t cause damage. Two people were treated for shock. The rocket landed by an elementary school.

Let’s review that again.

The rocket landed by an elementary school.

Because, as so many anti-Israel Facebook activists claim, Hamas doesn’t target civillians.

An elementary school. Where our children use earthquake (and mostly) rocket-proof desks so they have somewhere to hide when the rockets fall.