It's amazing how children understand hierarchy. Perhaps, they really grasp this concept, and us, as adults, have the distorted view.
Hadas finishes school early at 1:20pm, albeit that most of the class remains till around 3:30pm. The extended day, in our opinion, is too much for her and is really intended for the older children. Her large class has 35 children (typical of Israel) in three age groups: 3, 4, and 5 year olds.
As such, they have four teachers who alternate days. The three fully certified teachers work either four or five days a week (school is Sunday - Friday), while the fourth teacher - the assistant - is on hand everyday.
Ask Hadas who's the boss and she'll promptly tell you that it is the assistant! She's the one who makes all the big decisions. She says which games to play, she says which art projects to do, and most of all - and get this - she's the one who tells the other teachers on which days to come.
Friday, September 29, 2006
It's amazing how children understand hierarchy. Perhaps, they really grasp this concept, and us, as adults, have the distorted view.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Finally, I fixed my daughter's bike.
A few months back, we bought her a bike, but there was a problem with the training wheels, which in turn, prevented her from grasping how to pedal a bike forward.
Well, not anymore.
Beware, because Hadas is a cruising around on wheels of her own... to the park... the mini market... and even to school. And get this, soon, we'll let her ride to school by herself.
I mentioned that she's only 3 1/2, right? But, no, I'm not crazy... this is just one of the things you don't need to worry about here.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
There is a little known fact - or shall I say crazy thought in my mind - that the Golan Heights looks like an inverted shofar, making it a perfect place to be for Rosh Hashana 5767.
The prayer services were delightful; there was a lovely, yet solemn, atmosphere. It's amazing that the songs of Rosh Hashana, be it the traditional High Holiday tunes or the melodies of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, are so well known throughout Ashkenazic Jewry. So no matter where you are - Jerusalem, New York, or even a remote community in the Golan Heights - you can be sure that you'll know most of the Rosh Hashana tunes.
Today, we ate lunch by our neighbors. They have a pomegranate tree in their backyard. And let me tell you, eating pomegranate while seeing the tree - as opposed to the package and label - makes the fruit so much better.
Finally, kudos to my daughter Hadas who stood, sat, lied, rolled, and climbed by my side for all 100 shofar blasts (the shofar blower was perfect, so it really was just 100 blasts). I was shocked that she remained silent for over an hour - I got to get her something special.
The map was taken from www.golan.org.il and customized to the specifications of this blog.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Last week I mentioned how my two older brothers came to visit me after one of my younger brother's wedding. The day after we were all pretty tired and took it easy and went to visit my community's dairy farm.
No reservations, no phone calls, no nothing... we just drove to the other side and popped in for a quick visit to one of the largest dairy farms in the Golan Heights. And with 800 cows milking three times a day, you have a good chance of seeing the action. We did!
And the kids had a great time "feeding" the cows, or shall I say ruining their food. My kids and niece had a field day throwing hay into the mud, even though the cows, as stupid as they are, wouldn't touch the mud covered hay.
We also saw cattle and horses, which made one of my brothers suggest that I open up a dude ranch and charge admission and sell food and of course those silly over-priced cowboy hats.
Dude ranch - what do you think?
Thursday, September 21, 2006
When my brothers came last week, we took the wine tour at the Golan Heights Winery, which of course ended in the tasting room.
The tour through the winery includes a professional video and even trip to the empty bottling room - bottling commences mid-November and concludes in the summer.
A real pleasure for someone who from time-to-time appreciates wetting his palette with a little smattering of fine wine.
In addition to that, my brother Daniel and I also had the privilege of walking out of my community and seeing one of the winery's vineyards in full form. It's harvest season now and Chief Winemaker Victor Schoenfeld is out in the vineyards calculating the perfect time to pick the grapes.
I don't know much about winemaking, but as a wine connoisseur in training, I can say this year's vintage looks great! So, when you're sitting back sipping and enjoying a 2006 Yarden Merlot, remember where you read the first review.
The image was taken from www.golanwines.co.il and customized to the specifications of this blog.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I'm sure all parents of young kids will agree, kids say clever things. But I'm going to be bold here: barefoot kids say the cleverest things. This theme could go on to no end, or when the kids grow up and you just want to shut them up.
Since I'll probably get to a part 2 before that happens, I'm labeling this post part 1 of an exciting mini-series.
Ever since we moved to the rural Golan Heights, my kids have really adapted to the country lifestyle. One thing that stands out in my mind is the shoes. I don't think there has been a time yet that they have walked home from the park with shoes on... we'll see what happens when it rains. By the way, I think this is why they're so, so clever!
Natan, my 20 month old son, is developing his unique toddler lexicon. Usually, it's a double enunciation of a consonant of that appears in the word. Chu-chu = Humus (the quintessential Israeli condiment), Ma-ma = Ima (mother), No-no = no (a no-brainer), and Cha-cha = Minha (the afternoon services).
Every afternoon, someone gets on the PA system and announces that Minha is about to begin. Even though I'm usually at work, my wife tells me that everyday, without fail, Natan reacts to the notice the same way, "Abba Cha-cha, Abba Cha-cha."
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Just in. There was a baby lizard on my bedroom wall.
My wife called me in to inspect the wall-climbing creature and when I realized that it was a harmless baby lizard - it could have been a scorpion - my first reaction was to capture it. And I did!
Living in the Golan in an old house, we get plenty of unwanted visitors. Even my 3 1/2 year old daughter knows about and can play the catcher/trapper/killer creepy crawler insect game.
Anywho back to Lenny Lizard. The truth is, I just gave him that name now. I let him loose five minutes ago. And I know, my father would say something along the lines of, "You should've kept him as a pet."
But let's face it, being in Israel we see plenty of lizards, so why do I need one in my house inside a cage.
I have a confession to make: I do not live in the northern Golan Heights.
However, last week, two of my brothers along with one of my sister-in-laws and niece came to visit. It was pure bliss having real New Yorkers around. And one day we went up north to get a close view of Har Dov and the Hermon. Well not really, we went fruit and vegetable picking in Sha'al and to the deer farm in Odem, and let me tell you, the roads in the northern Golan Heights get even smaller.
The roads are so narrow that at some point my right tires treaded on the side of the road to make room for a passing truck... going the opposite way. But I must say, it's safe... probably... I hope. I mean why else would there be a traffic circle in the middle of the highway!
Monday, September 18, 2006
Well, I've been here in the Golan Heights for just over a month now, and boy, what a difference a month makes.
Originally, my wife and I were supposed to move on the 14th of August, but that was pushed off two days because of the war. And then shortly after the war (and our move), talks of giving back the Golan resurfaced.
Nonetheless, one month later and I am happy to report from the Golan that life is peaceful here and without looking at the news, one would never know there was a war nearby, or a hostile country for that matter.
The summer is waning and giving the occasional flicker like a candle about to be extinguished and the Selihot (repentance) services began this past Saturday night, which means that Rosh Hashana is imminent or this Shabbat, whichever you prefer. And later this week, we will also celebrate - or lament - the last day of summer.
I, myself, am eagerly awaiting the cool to frosty cold months that lie ahead in the Golan Heights.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Alright, so I have not written in nearly a week - one of my brothers got married a few nights ago in the center of Israel. Mazal tov!
And for all those folks who are under the assumption that Israel is a small country, think again. I drove 210 kilometers for the wedding. Each way! For those of you who have no clue what a kilometer was, and, yes, I admit 10 years ago I had no clue, 210 kilometers is 130 miles and some change.
That's longer than New York City to Philadelphia. So remember, Israel, while it is dwarfed by the US in size, can feel like a pretty big country - that is, if you live in the Golan Heights.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
The asterisk denotes American football and in no way should be confused with soccer.
If you are in the US and have no clue that this is opening weekend in the NFL, then, being that I am writing from the Golan Heights, this post will be ironic. This past Thursday, my beloved Miami Dolphins started their 2006 season.
It's been 11 years since I was in the US for an entire NFL season, and although most of the players have retired since I avidly watched every weekend, still, come the beginning of September and I have great hopes for the Miami Dolphins. It's nostalgic.
And there has got to be another football fan in the Golan. Who knows, maybe even a fellow fish fan. But until I meet one, I'd like to be enshrined in Canton as the lone football* fan of the Golan. By the way, if you did not hear, the Dolphins lost in Week 1.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Shabbat's coming in in under an hour, so there's not much time to write and reflect... and my son just flipped his plate onto the floor.
Being in the eastern most point in Israel, the sun sets here first, so let me be the first to wish you Shabbat Shalom from Israel.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Qatzrin - I love spelling that with a 'Q' - the so-called capital city of the Golan. And by 'so-called', I'm really referring to its city status; hands-down, it is the capital of the Golan. However, Qatzrin, is not technically a city by population size. Around 6,500 people live there, which I think is around 18,500 people short of a city.
In any event, Qatzrin is not a national capital. The closest national capital to me, in fact, is not even my capital. Damascus, Syria is approximately just another 30 miles up the road. The Lebanese capital, Beirut, is around 65 miles away. And Amman, the capital of Jordan, is 75 miles south of me. Finally, 90 miles away (as the bird flies, not as the car drives) is my capital – Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world.
What am I getting at? Well, radio stations of course!
You guessed it; I have a better chance of getting a foreign station than getting a broadcast from Jerusalem. Although the main stations in Israel come in at different frequencies across the country, nevertheless, I get good reception from foreign lands – probably more than I realize because most are in Arabic.
But hands down, the best station for music in the Golan can be found at 90.9 on the FM dial. This frequency brings in Radio Jordan, an English-language station from Amman. Truth be told, it’s hardly English. I can barely understand the DJ in the mornings. I think his name is Alan Bathani; he has a strong habit of slurring every second syllable. But in any event, he plays some real good tunes.
So next time you find yourself driving on a scenic road in the Golan Heights be sure to tune your radio to 90.9FM, Radio Jordan!
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
The title of this piece pertains to where we left off - driving - and the numbers are respectively 80, 90, and 100 kilometers per hour converted into miles. For those Americans, I've placed a chart below* so that you can be up to speed on the metric system.
The unofficial, unproven fact is, that there are not many... many... oh, I don't want to jinx this by spelling it out, so let's just say... many ( 0 !* $ patrolling the roads in the Golan. This, in turn, leads people to drive like they must have driven in Montana - reasonable and prudent - before they instituted a speed limit. (Or at least I pray that everyone's driving reasonable and prudent; over 280 people have been killed in road accidents in Israel this year.)
As such, one of my first questions here was, "What's the speed limit?"
I've spotted signs that indicate to drop to 60 km/h and signs shortly after that mark the end of a 60 km/h stretch. These can be seen before and after sharp curves or when you go on the Arik Bridge, the bridge that crosses the famous Jordan River. Getting back to the point, one does not see many speed limit signs nor ( 0 !* $.
So, I was told by several people the following: the speed limit is set at 80 km/h, but you can get away with doing 90 km/h, which is the classic Israeli 10% more plus another 2 km/h thrown in for good measure.
However, the problem is that I've been cruising at 100 km/h while folks are passing me at 110 km/h! The "highways" might be narrow, single-lane roads, but it's very easy to pick up speed.
The truth is, though, that on straight downhill road, e.g., on 87 going south towards the Kinneret, it is very easy to zip by at 120 or even 130 km/h, especially on a clear day when there is no one in sight. And that's without tapping on the gas pedal!
On the flip side, when you get stuck behind a truck - or even a tractor - chugging up the rugged terrain at 50-60 km/h and the only thing you can do is wait to safely pass.
In all cases, my word of advice for driving in the Golan: DRIVE WITH CAUTION... WATCH OUT FOR THE CURVES... AND TRY NOT TO HIT A WILD BOAR OR COW!
* Miles per hour (Kilometers per hour)
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
I drive a lot. Work is nearly an hour away in the Western Galilee. The roads in the Golan and leading to the Kinneret are so beautiful; either straight as an arrow or curved like bow. Don't be fooled by a map, though. Many of the roads, although considered national highways (e.g., 87, 92, and 98), are the same width as an American driveway.
One thing is for sure, these roads are remote. The – shall I say – less traveled roads.
And remote roads mean my community is in a remote part of the country. As one would probably guess, there are no jumbo stadium-sized malls in the vicinity. In fact, last week, on the way home from work, I went food shopping 40 minutes away in Karmiel, one of the big cities (Tiberius being the other).
Mental note: don't buy ice cream on a hot summer day.
Driving up the Golan that night, I was in the middle of no where. But unlike on a clear day, when you can see deep into the Galilee and up to Mt. Hermon, I couldn’t see civilization and civilization couldn’t see me. That is until I reached my community, which led me to dial 9 to open the front gate.
Nine is my speed dial button for the front gate, which closes at the end of each day.
In addition to dialing 9 to get into the community, you need to dial 9 to get out of the community – and not just when you’re driving. You see, I don’t own my home phone line anymore.
The community gives out phone lines to everyone; essentially, we’re like one big office. So when I want to call my neighbor, all I need to dial is their three digit extension. On the flip side, when I want to dial out, I need to press 9 to get an outside number.
No, I have not paid a phone bill yet, but will gladly keep you posted on exactly how paying bills work.