Eschatology i/ˌɛskəˈtɒlədʒi/ is a part of theology concerned with what are believed to be the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the “end of the world” or “end time”.
For the last couple of months many of my Christian friends have been preoccupied with the eschatology of their respective religions, and while it originally seemed to be a Protestant thing, linked to the Left Behind reboot (wasn’t one series of awful films enough?), recently Catholic family and friends have joined in. Jewish holidays coinciding with “blood moons”, natural disasters that have always happened being a sure sign of the end times, and various other “signs” keep people busy. The common theme: let’s move to Israel for the Second Coming/Rapture! Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t.
Immigrating to Israel is easy if you are Jewish, and very difficult if you are not. Coming as a tourist and staying beyond the period allowed without a specific visa is illegal, and makes you an illegal alien. Funny enough, quite a few people I’ve seen talking about making a move to Israel are the same people who are calling for harsher treatment for illegal aliens in the USA. Illegal aliens tend to get deported and banned from the country. Also if airport immigration folks suspect someone wants to illegally move to Israel, entry to the State of Israel is denied.
Let’s imagine you decide to very unbiblically break the law and stay in Israel longer than justifiable by being a tourist, you better have a lot of savings that will cover your rent and living expenses, because you won’t get a job. Even if you legally arrive in Israel, you have to be prepared for a career change. The lady who cleans at my parents’ place? In her native Soviet Union she was a civil engineer. Her degree is not accepted here, and she has been cleaning houses for the past twenty years.
As a matter of fact, among Israel’s first generation immigrants the poverty rate is a lot higher than amidst the rest of the population. It’s not only because many immigrants are ultra-orthodox with large families and no marketable skills.
The standard of living in Israel is very different from the States. First of all, housing. There have been lots of articles about the disappearance of affordable housing in Israel’s urban centres, most specifically in the Tel Aviv area. The cost of rent/ income ratio is a lot higher than in most of the USA. When we rented a 3 room apartment (living room, 2 bedrooms) that was 72 square meters (775 square feet) for NIS 6900 per month (about $1800-1850) and that was a wonderful price for our location. Kevin’s brother is renting a similar sized apartment in Jerusalem for 4250 shekels, or around $1150 per month. Yep, forget about a bedroom for each of the kids… be happy if you actually get to have one.
Once you find your apartment, you might realize that Israelis love tile and seem to have never heard about carpets. We also seem to have an aversion to heating and air conditioning being a part of the apartments. Get your space heaters or mobile air conditioning units at one of Israel’s many stores…
…after you show your bags to security. People are less concerned about people smuggling stolen goods out of stores than someone taking a bomb in to commit a terrorist attack. It is very much a part of Israeli reality, and honestly, no segment of the society, Jews or Arabs are completely safe at any time. Our kids know how to correctly put on gas masks and what to do during rocket attacks.
I just bought gasoline. I know my friends in the States complain about the rising gas prices, and it can get as high as $4 per gallon. Well, I paid NIS 7.60 or $2.05 today. For a liter, not a gallon. That comes to NIS 28.76 per gallon, or $7.76. I blame Moses: had he added a few more months of wandering to those 40 years, he would have been able to lead the children of Israel to a land that maybe is not flowing with milk and honey, but is rich in oil.
Of course you shouldn’t be too sad about the super high gas prices, because if you move to Israel you likely won’t be able to afford a car anyway, and would end up riding public transport. Which doesn’t work on the Shabbat and Jewish holidays. And the Shabbat is Friday evening to Saturday night. Because Sunday is a business day. There might be some Christian communities where Sunday is a day of rest, but they are few and far between, and they tend to be Orthodox or Byzantine Catholic anyway. Schools are in session from Sunday till Friday, so it’s kinda hard to have family worship on Sundays at a large church community.
We don’t have Starbucks. We used to, but the chain selling overpriced overwatered and oversweetened coffee flavoured to taste like anything but coffee (mmm, Starbucks, how I love thee) left Israel a while ago. We have our own chains, but we do not have Starbucks. And most of us drink instant coffee at home.
No one wishes you Merry Christmas. Plus Christmas is a regular business day. So is New Year’s Day. And Easter. Especially Easter. It’s Sunday, the beginning of the business week! No matter how much people want to convince themselves that Christianity is an important part of modern day Israel… it’s not really. Arab Christian populations are shrinking, due to conversions of Islam. Nazareth, once a Christian centre, is now predominantly Muslim. But if you want to come to be here for the rapture, they are likely not the “right kind” of Christians anyway.
English is spoken by many, but it’s not the preferred language. When you want to accomplish something you need Hebrew, Arabic or Russian. Yes, Russian. The Hebrew for Christians course does not help when trying to buy a cell phone. Trust me. I know.
Today is the birthday of poet Vanessa Hidary, also known as the Hebrew Mamita. One of her most famous poems is the one below:
I first saw this recording about four years ago, and it really spoke to me. The lines, “You don’t look Jewish. You don’t act Jewish.” have echoed throughout my life. So have “You don’t look gay. You don’t act gay.” But I am. I am Jewish, and I am gay.
I pass as a gentile. I pass as straight. For centuries that was a tool for survival. Assimilation could save people from Anti-Semitic attacks, but at the same time assimilation is leading to the disappearance of our people. Passing as straight spared people from prison, castration, even execution. Passing as straight forced people to live a life of lies.
Today the message sent by Vanessa Hidary reminds me every day: I can’t not look Jewish, I can’t not look gay. I’m Jewish. I’m gay. And I’m not invisible.
I decided Benedict Cumberbatch needs to make a recording of reading the Bible. Wouldn’t that just be awesome? I think it would be a narration that could keep my attention. Plus, after narrating “Did God Create The Universe?”, where Hawking’s conclusion is “no”, it would be awesome hearing Cumberbatch say “Let there be light!”. It would seriously be an awesome project. I would love to hear him read psalms and the Song of Songs.
How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.
As some of my readers know (Waves at all four of you), our income dropped significantly. One of the results was my changing coffee habits: Every other day morning coffee at Aroma was replaced by once (or at most, twice) trips to Cofix, where every drink, cake, sandwich, and salad costs ₪5.00. At home my usual high quality, fair trade, somewhat fancy coffee beans have been replaced with the cheaper local brands and (gasp) instant coffee. I am still a fan of American style over-flavoured coffees (that I like to refer to as dessert coffees), so I make my own. I know I have written about that before, but now there is a post on my new food blog (that I hope to keep up with for a change) about how to make good pumpkin spice latte at home for pennies.
A while back the Priest’s Wife posted on Facebook about the content of PSLs sold at Starbucks and McDonald’s, and the infographic immediately discredited itself by asking “Where is the pumpkin?” Pumpkin spice lattes are not supposed to have pumpkin: they have pumpkin spice. Regardless of the absolute stupidity of the graphic shared, anyone can make much better coffee drinks at home.
With the new Left Behind movie coming out, Netflix was pushing the old Left Behind movie in my face. I gave it a try and I was “OMH, what a craptastic movie!” and I actually liked the first three books. I am a sucker for conspiracy theory novels. Then I realized that the author actually believed what he was writing about. Even if we set aside the fact that when the messiah prophesized about in the Bible finally comes, he will fulfill all of those prophecies in one coming, not too, the rapture theology is still unbiblical. Unbiblical it may be, the movies could have been good. It is due to some unspoken rule that Christian cinema is usually subpar to other low budget, independent productions. I have no idea why.
When I first became LDS most of the Mormon cinema was Church produced videos and movies, like Legacy, Mr. Kruger’s Christmas and Johnny Lingo. While Mr. Kruger’s Christmas was quite good, and Legacy was less cheesy than expected, and Johnny Lingo with his 8-cow-wife was quotable, these films were… erm… not very good. Then came Richard Dutcher and made God’s Army, and then Brigham City, and others followed with The Singles Ward, The R.M., and many new movies… that were actually good. They were LDS in theme and values, but they were good. Other Side of Heaven was even made by Disney, and people outside the LDS circles were watching it.
I do believe Christian cinema can be good, too. So far Left Behind has been a disappointment. Besides, it’s not Biblical.
So it’s Sukkot. Sukkot is celebrated by building a sukkah, or temporary abode, where people are supposed to spend as much time as possible, but definitely eat as many meals as possible. Of course the day of the first evening of Sukkot the first rain of the season came. Our sukkah leaks. Of course. So the first night our dinner was… interesting. Luckily mostly everything dried. Because after all, it’s Israel, and it’s warm. So now we are enjoying our time in the sukkah. Luckily the cold porcelain decos I made for Independence day with the kids and recycled for Sukkot didn’t get wet.
As I said the first rain came, kind of early, kind of, to me, unexpectedly. I am Irish, and I love rain. I was sitting outside on my lunch break, with my sandwich and with a big jug of grapefruit juice, listening to Ivri Lider’s New York BaShemesh (New York in the sun) when the first drops of rain began to fall.
When the next song on my playlist was Geshem (Rain) I couldn’t help but stay in the rain, grinning, enjoying my Irish moment while getting soaked for the first time in years in the rain. It was the perfect moment for me, a son of the rain, a son of the desert.
When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, And He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, And brings out the wind from His storehouses.
Is it okay to root for the same contestant in two different talent shows?
Some 7-8 years ago Hungary’s iconic rock opera, István a király (Stephen the King) turned 25, and while the original singers had been performing it constantly, it was time for a brand new cast. Seeing the success of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do public television decided to go against Megasztár, Hungary’s American Idol clone, and search for the new cast in a television show.
József Wunderlich was around 18 at that time. He was one of my two top picks for the lead role (eventually it went to my other top pick, and József got cast in a minor role). Here is a duet of my two top picks from the final of the Társulat. Pál Feke is Death, in black, József is Rudolf, is in white, and they are singing a song from the musical Elisabeth.
At the time Pál Feke was an established musical actor in Hungary, and he took a great risk entering the competition, which he eventually won. József was freshly out of high school, a literal unknown. Now he has graduated from Hungary’s university of performing arts, theatre and film studies, and he has starred in numerous musical productions.
Yesterday was the final casting episode of the 5th season of X Faktor in Hungary. Wunderlich József was one of the contestants. Because of the TV channel’s outdated ideas about youtube, I can’t embed his performance, but you can watch it clicking here.
Can I just say I know who I want to win this year?
Shana Tova, my dear readers! It is finally 5775! As you all know, I am not keeping kosher, but I made a resolution to avoid (knowingly) eating pork and non-kosher seafood for 5774. It was a long, long year. Quite literally: this was one of the longest a Jewish calendar year could be, with a leap month. In the beginning it was difficult, but got easier as the year progressed. A reliable supply of turkey bacon and coconut oil made things a lot easier.
Rosh Hashanah is often called the Jewish new year. I have explained two year ago that we have three other new year celebrations as well. Rosh Hashanah marks the “anniversary” of Adam’s creation. Please don’t take that very seriously from my mouth: I’m an evolutionist, and I firmly believe that if G-d exists and He chose to reveal how the world was created to someone in our time rather than to some semi-nomadic Bronze age shepherds, we’d get a very different impression of creation than the two differing accounts in Genesis.
Now back to Rosh Hashanah. In our congregation the new lay leadership takes over on the first morning of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the holiday that is two days long both in the Diaspora and in Israel, and there was alsways doubt when the new year, with the new leadership begins. It doesn’t help that Jewish days overlap for about an hour, thus the years as well. I was part of the leadership in 5773 and 5774, but I didn’t “run” for a position in 5775, because of a conflict of interest: Kevin is now hired by the lay leadership of our congregation. I was quite surprised that I was still nominated… to the women’s committe. Talk about gender equality! I didn’t get the position, but I am volunteering to assist the lady who was actually elected. I worked with her the past two years as she was in charge of our internal audits.
I just signed up for Kindle Unlimited because they offer a 30 day trial, and unlimited access to over 700,000 Kindle books for $9.99 per month. and I can read these books on my Kindle, my iPad, iPod, Android Phone, and my laptop. The free app is available here (and if you sign up for it, I get a bounty): Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices but even if I didn’t, I’d highly recommend it. While my preferred way to read e-books is still my Kindle Paperwhite (available for $119) I love that my various devices synchronise where I am in a book, and I can easily switch between them with the app.
In the past 24 hours since signing up I found several books to use for homeschool, and yeah, not having access to a huge English language library, this is just plain awesome for us. If I read one book per month, then I’m already doing great for my money.
Back to Rosh Hashanah. Kevin’s brother’s family came to TA from Jerusalem for the long holiday weekend. It is always nice to see them. Adding their four kids to our crowd means no extra work, and our kids love each other. Having them over involved special holiday activities, like explaining fractions to our niece, and then today reinforcing the same lesson using oranges and apples. Then we ate all the oranges and apples. Isn’t homeschool awesome?
While my BaIL (brother-almost-in-law) was here, the details about the visit of two of their siblings over winter-no-not-Christmas-we-are-very-PC-but-it-happens-to-be-between-Christmas-and-New-Year’s vacation. We are excited, as they will arrive with their spouses and combined 5 kids on December 21, and leave only on December 28. This year Chanukah ends on December 24, so they will be here for the second half of our kids’ Chanukah break. They will split time between TA and Jerusalem, with a big Christmas celebration in Jerusalem. We were invited for that, but we politely declined, and I think all sides feel some relief about that!
I’m absolutely amazed by the versatility of my slow cooker.
I love dried vegetable mixes, but I don’t like the amount of salt that the commercially sold ones generally have. Some of those seem to have more salt than the Dead Sea! A friend shared how she makes her own mixes, using her oven. Now oven drying vegetables would be too hot here now, so she suggested I try my slow cooker… and it worked! It might not be as brightly coloured as the stuff bought at the store, but they taste really good and they rehydrate well. I use the ground one in my home made ramen, or when I cook pasta, for some additional flavour.
On the crunchy parent theme: after trying everything I could to get rid of dandruff, Jill gave me the solution: weekly or biweekly coconut oil treatment. It seriously works. I love it. Of course it comes back, so I have to do it again, but I am currently very excited to have my scalp under control. Plus my kids’ hair loves coconut oil. Another trick for awesome hair, from a less crunchy source, is drinking diet meal replacement shakes for a snack/making popsicles from them. The one we prefer is loaded with vitamins and minerals and it works wonders on our skin, hair and nails. Also the one we prefer is not sold through an MLM and costs about $10 for a box of twenty meal replacement shakes, that we stretch into 40 snacks.
So, my goal of posting every week of the year fell through. With everything going on this summer, I just felt pretty burnt out for blogging that while I have ideas of what i wanted to write, I never did. So the numbering in the post titles is now CW–calendar week–instead of the number of the post this year.
So m kids started school again. Ezra and Shiri are enrolled in school, and they started Kitah Alef (first grade) on September 1. In Israel, like in much of Europe, kindergarten is not part of actual school, so school starts in first grade. The twins are loving school life. I think part of the reason is that to help kids process the events of this past summer, transition weeks were inserted in the curriculum. Several of the kids in the school come from as far south as Ashdod and even the kids from the TA area had some traumatic experiences. My “grandson” Harel started gan, and he is loving it as well. so everyone is happy with school. Except Kevin's mom, who helps with homeschool this year. Her beggest complaint? By the time she goes over to ours after her morning job, most of the kids are already done with the work for the day. It really shows most of the kids don't share my DNA: they are morning people.
Mentioning DNA, my family just grew considerably. Apparently Ashkenazi Jews are all 30th cousins,mwith genetics that are alike to 4th and 5th cousins, due to having the same 350 people as our ancestors–with a small handful of European women as our ancient mothers. I thought that our family reunions were huge, but really, they are nothing compared to all the Ashkenazi Jews. And you know what's awesome? Every time someone of Ashkenazi Jewish descent accomplishes something, I can say, “Yeah, we are very proud of XY's Oscar/Emmy/Nobel/Grammy, she/he is my cousin!”
I really had these 7 ideas to post about this morning, but I really have no idea what they were. I think I am still sleep deprived from the war period, and from still not being able to sleep well. Actually all I an think of right now is, “G-d, I'm so damn tired.” So so so very tired. It's Thursday, I should be flying home, but it's also 9/11 and I can't. It has been a busy ten days, with some great accomplishments, like starting to verbally communicate. Not that most people can understand even a third of what I'm trying to say, but hey, turning it into twenty questions helps!
It's raining like mad. I had a coffee of the balcony, left my empty cup outside and this is what I came back to a few minutes later:
Yesterday I saw some animals paired up, waiting at the boat stop by the Danube. A friend thinks the weather is a publicity stunt for the DVD release of Noah, and she expects Russell Crowe to show up any minute now. Apparently I was the only Israeli at the guest house who slept through the night.
A new love for me: Magyarvista Social Club. Magyarvista is a village in Transylvania (Vistea in Romanian), and the band plays Hungarian folk music inspired songs. They rock my socks. I have this thing for world music, and MVSC fits my collection of songs nicely. Like Idan Raichel (happy birthday!), they are not playing world music, they are playing music based on their culture… So it's foreigners, who label it world music!
Here is another video, which also proves the existence of overweight Europeans (as Jill pointed out).
This one is a Hungarian folk ballad with some jazz protestations against burning the wife of a mason and using her as an additive to the cement.
One of my dear friends, Jill, is considering putting together a homeschool unit on all things Jewish, and this has inspired me to move the direction of my e-book a little bit… And I'm inspired once again. Parallel to that, I'm writing a collection of short short stories, which happen to be short. Next week i'm planning to share a sneak preview if anyone is interested.
After being woken up by Code Red alarms at night, the next one came during my lunch time. We were ordered to stay in the shelters for an undetermined period, and because I had a late lunch break to start with and I was hungry, this is what happened:
a slice of pizza, a cup of apple juice, and a good book. I had just bought Steiner Kristóf’s book on iTunes ten minutes before the alarm, so I spent the next 30 minutes starting to read it. I had bought his first book when it came out, and I loved it. Unfortunately the other day I left it at Cofix (the place with the NIS 5 coffee and sandwiches–that’s like $1.45 for US folks) and when my sister called they said they couldn’t find it. Luckily, Kevin is in Budapest, and he found the book sold by one online shop. He ordered it, and he was told that it would be there by Thursday. Then an hour later he got a call that they were out of it, and the book is out of print, and sorry. Kevin had bought the two other books as well, but he told me, “Go ahead, buy them in e-book, because it will be a while before the kids are finished with them.” So I bought the only one I haven’t read, and now I’m spending my shelter time becoming a reader again.
Apparently if someone becomes part of the armed forces, people start asking them what they need. I have been asked that in the last month or so a lot of times.
To answer shortly: I don’t need anything. There are things I’d love, but those are just luxury items (like iTunes films and new socks and candy). But if you’d like to help other Israeli soldiers, you can send them hamburgers and cola, donate to the Libi fund to sponsor various projects that make our lives as soldiers easier, or partner with the Friends of the IDF. My personal favourite is the first option.
In my post about Autism and I, I mentioned that I was a difficult person. Jon commented that he didn’t think I was difficult, and that reminded me of something that happened before the madness in Israel began.
Kevin and I were trying to catch up on The Big Bang Theory. I hate to admit, but I’m a season and half behind. We were a few episodes into our marathon, when I remarked how much I loved Leonard, who is my favourite TBBT character. Kevin replied, “I’m glad, because I am Leonard to your Sheldon.” It made me laugh, because it’s very true. While I’d like to think I’m not as difficult as Sheldon, it is true that I can be difficult to live with.
You know adoption is close to my heart. I follow the adventures of other adoptive families, and the Rieben family is currently in the process of bringing three older boys (ages 5, 12 and 12) home from Bulgaria. Adopting not one, but three kids at the same time is costly, and they have started a new fundraiser to help with those costs. The dad is currently in country for the first trip, which means their boys would likely be home in 4 to 6 months!
I already participated in their fun fundraiser, and so have my two internationall adopted 5-year-olds. Join us to help the boys get home! It’s easy, and while the Riebens have an FSP, there is a way to contribute without the involvement of any grant organizations. Click here to find out more!
That, in turn, reminds me of another recent conversation, this time with Jill. I’m sure every adoptive parent has seen at least one post online what not to ask/tell adoptive parents. On top of the list is never to ask them how much their kids cost. While it’s not the most appropriate question, it usually doesn’t upset me. I either give a detailed list of costs from adoption fees to tuition, lunch money, swimming lessons etc, or let my internationally adopted daughter answer. Her standard answer? “I was free, but the process cost $37 000.”
For some odd reason this week I have been talking about how to prepare food more than I normally would. From chicken steak to challah pudding to tahini based desserts I have been discussing recipes and how to’s. I even joked about writing a cookbook, with vague measurements. But then I already have writing projects that are taking forever to finish, plus most of my food doesn’t photograph well (though tastes really good).
So what are your favourite dishes to fix? I am actually looking for a favourite spice mix for roast beef that you put together, and doesn’t involve canned or powdered soups. I am willing to share how I make steaks/chicken steak that is better than what I get at some of the nice restaurants here. I’m not even kidding. Also, yam/sweet potato recipes are welcome. I hate the stuff most of the time, but I’m willing to give it a try, because my family like it. Are they the same thing, anyway?
I liked his dramatic roles better than most of his comedic ones. Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, and Good Morning Vietnam are three of the limited number of movies I actually own on DVD. One of the three Disney movies we have is Aladdin. And before Harel Skaat, Robin Williams was, and forever is, Peter Pan.
Since his passing I’ve heard and read several stories from friends meeting him. In all of these stories the common thread was his kindness and humanity.
Now I wonder, as tragic as his death is, will it further his legacy? I feel like many people who don’t understand depression suddenly realize that if the funniest man on earth could be depressed, maybe it’s more than just attitude, more than just trusting G-d.
And now, the Westboro Baptist Church sealed it: Robin Williams was a great man, a man worthy to be seen as the enemy of those whose whole world, belief and life is built on hate.
Shabbat Shalom! This is my last Shabbat before my kids and Kevin come home! I really miss them all. Life can be too quiet even if it means lack of sleep for the rest of the year! In September I’ll have another long weekend, and we are planning a quick trip to the Dead Sea during those three days. I can’t wait to be all muddy!