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Things I’ve Learnt During Chanukah 5774

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  • I had a dream that I was singing. At an X Factor audition. The judges were actual X Factor judges: Ivri Lider (Israel), Róbert Alföldi (Hungary), Mika (Italy) and Gary Barlow (UK). I got four yeses. This dream taught me that I am watching too much X Factor. But there is no such thing as too much X Factor.
  • Three days of latkes are more than enough for me. But I could eat sufganiyot every day of the year with my chocolate milk or coffee or tea. Currently I am making sweet potato latkes for my yam fans.
  • It's kind of funny to watch speculation about the Mayan calendar ending a year after the end of the world.
  • Christmas M&M's are sold in Tel Aviv.
  • I am really, really bad at Rock Band. No matter what instrument I have, I suck. I am, however, pretty darn good at playing some of those songs for real. Not that it would help my non-existent coolness factor.
  • I crochet very, very slowly. If I wanted to pay myself US minimum wage for my ultra light, 2 m scarf, it would cost around $80. And it has several knots and what not. There is, however, a forum friend of mine, who does awesome crochet jobs and fast. She also has reasonable prices, so I just love to hang around her Etsy shop and her blog. That turkey hat? Simply awesome.
  • Amazon keeps telling me to buy awesome Black Friday deals (even though it's already Saturday), and then gives me links to products that do not ship here. Weird. By the way, Amazon charges me an average of $3 more for Kindle books than Americans, and I find it annoying. To support my reading habit, and the $3 penalty for being Israeli, please consider using any of the Amazon affiliate links I have on my sidebar to do your Amazon shopping. I get a small percentge of whtever you buy within a set period of time after you click through any of my Amazon links.
  • Mentioning Amazon, I think I decided I am done with Jo Nesbø translated to English. Somehow the books just drag on, painfully chapped and slow, while the Hungarian translations seem to flow. Infound the same to be true for several Scandinavian books, so it might just be tradition in translation.
  • Congratulations to those friends, like Jen, who won/are winning NaNoWriMo this year!
  • It's next to impossible to leave a comment on a Blogspot blog from my iPad. As soon as I hit backspace, I can't type in the comment box any more without doing lots of woodoo with the drop down of the commenter identity… If it lets me do that at all. Same thing if I move the cursor. So it's not that I don't love my Blogger-using friends, I just can't comment on your blogs. Fortunatelly Disqus and WordPress work just fine.

Bits and pieces – Quotes from Ein Bokek

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  • “Dad, there is a sheep in your bed.”
  • “I think Dead Sea water weighs more than tap water, because the tourists peed in it.”
  • “We have a gluten free Yom Kippur.”
  • Son 1: “The littles are watching Van Helsing.” Son 2: “Good, at least it’s not Dora!” (We changed the channel, though.)
  • “Kevin, stop rampaging, I’ll wash the coffee cups.”
  • “We are below sea level. Not this sea’s level, mind you.”

 

Random Thoughts

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  • I think this was the last ime Rosh Hashanah came this early in the Gregorian calendar. Because of changes (I think having to do with the no leap year in 2100, but most likely I’m wrong) in the calendars, it can no longer fall before September 6, so our September 5 was a special thing this year.
  • I made my first ever Pioneer Woman recipe the other day! I used her chocolate sheet cake recipe, aka Texas Sheet Cake and it was fab. Today I made one of her quiche recipes, but it wasn’t that popular. I saw she ad another one, so I might try that next. It’s just we are all very fond of mushrooms, so a quiche without mushrooms is like… Not good. But the pie crust was perfect, and the texture was awesome. Will continue working on it!
  • My kids have this idea in their head that if I’m around I will parent them. Kind of a weird concept, if you ask me. Ok, I’m kidding. But here are moments, like yesterday when the only way I can handle my Energizer ( or Duracell) bunnies is by ordering them into the pool, and letting them play for an hour or so. So yesterday aftnoon was spent in and around our pool, and we had a blast. I’d like to point out my 92-year-old grandma playing waterfights in the pool with my kids, nieces and nephews and having a blast.
  • That reminds me I read an article about Holocaust survivours living longer than members of their generations. My grandpa died at 94, his father at 91, and his mum at 97. So that seems to be true in my family.
  • Rosh Hashanah ended up being rather stressful. I got home on Tuesday, and Wednesday was Erev Rosh Hashanah. We ended up having my parents over in addition to the already big list. We had all three soldiers, two of the lone soldiers who often drop by, my grandma, Kevin’s parents and three of the kids’ boyfriends. Add my parents and the kids still at home, and it sent my anxiety level through the roof. I had the worst stomach ache, but then when I saw I was ready with everything, things got better. The second night Kevin’s brother and family annunced they’d drop by, and not to worry. That is when the cake baking happened. They brought falafel and turkey patties, so we had a nice time making random burger creations.
  • There is a new Richard Castle book coming out, the fifth Nikki Heat novel. I’m getting excited! Seriously, what’s not to love about a detective duo named Malcolm and Reynolds, and references to Storage Wars?

 

They Dreamt, Too

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I got a photo in my email from my great-aunt Lina.

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My great-uncles Benjámin (Béni) and András (Bandi) and great-aunt Katalin (Lina) cca. 1942

The picture is of the three youngest children of my great-grandparents: 16-year-old Béni, 15-year-old Lina and 19-year-old Bandi. The youngest three of 8 children, the only ones still living at home. Lina and Béni were students at the Jewish high schools, Bandi, unable to attend university because of the laws limiting Jews’ rights at that time, was a labourer at a pharmaceutical factory.

They had their dreams: Béni wanted to return to the Piarist high school where he had been educated before the war, to become a mathematician. Lina dreamt of a career in music, and Bandi, oh, handsome and smart Bandi wanted to become a doctor like their father. He wanted to charm ladies, get married, raise a family. Béni wanted to go to the cinema, to the dance hall, and to enjoy the summers by the lake Balaton, maybe to make aliyah and help build a Jewish state in what then was the British Mandate of Palestine. Lina’s hopes were that their father would let her go skating with the handsome boy from Bandi’s graduating class.  She wanted to travel to Paris and Rome, to see Toscana and the Greek Islands. She also hoped that with all the older children living elsewhere, she’d finally get a room she didn’t have to share with her brothers.

Instead of getting her own room, Lina soon found herself living in an apartment in the Budapest ghetto, with 21 other people. Her brothers taken to forced labour, her family was torn apart. News of deportations from the countryside reached Budapest. And one day they came for them.

Three years after the photo above was taken Béni and Bandi were dead, killed simply because they were Jews. Their sister Böbe and their eldest brother were also killed. Béni’s grave has never been found, the others perished in concentration camps, their bodies cremated. There is nowhere to leave a stone for them. There is nowhere to visit them. The handsome boy from Bandi’s class is buried in a mass grave somewhere far from his home.

They are remembered today by those handful of people who knew them and who are still alive. For the rest of us their memory is a lot less vivid: we know their names, their faces, the stories we were told about them. We might be so lucky as to have read their own words, their own thoughts. But they are becoming history, numbers in a statistic about those killed in the Holocaust.

Béni and Bandi. The handsome boy Lina had a crush on. The Roma family who sold wooden products to my great-grandparents. The young Communist from Grandpa’s office. The middle aged gay lovers who frequented the Operetta Theatre. The young cousin of the pope emeritus, who had Down Syndrome. The Blessed Sára Salkaházy, who stood up to the Arrow Cross militia… and millions of others, viciously killed for being Jewish, Roma, Communist, gay, disabled, or helping any of those people. Let’s remember them tonight, and tomorrow as the sirens sound all across Israel.

From sunset today till nightfall tomorrow it’s Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Loving Them

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I spent yesterday morning trying to get Yonah get over his first major hangover while also trying to help my daughter figure out alternative feminine hygiene products.

On Friday there was a birthday party at our congregation, that involved several February birthdays. Yonah was one of the birthday people. Another was a lovely Russian, Gavriil, who, like many of our Russian friends, likes to use vodka to celebrate. Good, quality, very nice vodka. Not too much, just enough to have a good mood, and get Yonah tipsy. We really can’t blame him for Yonah trying some other alcoholic drinks, not knowing that sticking to vodka would have been his best bet. So my boy came home delightfully tipsy, and I learnt a whole lot of the content of certain corners of the Internet than I ever thought I would. Our Yonah is a chatterbox when slightly intoxicated.

Saturday morning he learnt how to cure a hangover. The first step is: make sure there is Aspirin in the house where you are planning to wake up. We never have Aspirin at home. Aspirin makes me and my biological offspring sick. So I always forget to buy it. The older boys of legal drinking age have a little first aid box of their own, but they, too, were out. Of course it being the Shabbat nothing nearby was open to get the magic pills. So lots of water, eggs and orange juice was his therapy. And he wanted to know what he was babbling about the night before. He was also very apologetic and wondering if I was eternally embarrassed of him.

“You must regret adopting me.”

Oh how wrong he was. Before I could have explained that to him, his sister stormed through the door with her son on her arm, and as a greeting she said, “Dad, you have to help me pick out some menstrual cups!” After I found my voice after the initial shock, I just reminded her that she was just at her other family’s, where, you know, she actually has a mom and an older sister, and she could have stayed longer and ask…. and then she said, “I couldn’t possibly talk to them about topics like this!”

So I went on to making a very strong espresso for Yonah, find the last Advil Ultra Forte for him, while giving Bella ideas about what to Google, and listened to a rant about uncomfortable tampons, the never properly working tampon and condom dispensers–to which Yonah added that there is a tampon dispenser in the guys’ bathroom in this one club he has been with Yehiel–and that they never have change when you need it and did I know menstrual cups came in purple?

There I was, on the couch, between two teenagers, who have turned my world upside down, and who believe that I can fix all the hurt in their lives, simply because I’m dad, and I must know the best remedy for hangovers, even though I’ve never been drunk and I must know what the best feminine hygiene products are on the market, even though I’m a man. If I had the kind of power and knowledge they ascribe to me, I could make sure wrestling stays an Olympic sport!

Of course they are mad at me when I just don’t understand how hard it is to be a teenager, when I don’t want them to do something or when I want them to do something–sometimes the same thing in the span of a few hours. Of course they think I know nothing and I’m seriously outdated and hopelessly old, but they graciously forgive me for my shortcomings.  And then I find myself debating whether Mooncups or Diva cups are the better investment, and I find them curled up next to me on my couch as I read and they recover, and I am loving that they tell me about the weird stuff online, their desire to be crunchy, down to earth and hip mothers. I love it when they tell me their failures, and I love it when they stand up again and again. They think I did something to help. I didn’t.

They just let me love them.

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