With balmy weather and overcast skies, it looked as if it was going to rain today in the Golan.
And then, while I was hanging out on the front lawn this afternoon, I heard a little faint noise that had the sound of 'you'd better pay attention to this' written all over it. Yes, it was water, but not from the sky.
I know the sound of gushing water quite well, and here it was again... Natan decided to play plumber with the house's main water line. While having fun he somehow managed to undo a little hose, which turned on the water.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because apparently it was a timing switch that he touched. See, two seconds after I got there, the garden's sprinkler system went on!
The only problem was that I had no clue what to do. There are a bunch of pipes and hoses and timer switches. Chave's standing there, we're telling the kids to get off the lawn and I can imagine the Rabbi calling me into his study saying, "Shmuel, you know we don't water lawns on Shabbat!"
Thankfully my neighbor's father was there watching/laughing at the whole scene and he managed to turn the water off.
Just your routine Shabbat afternoon.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
With balmy weather and overcast skies, it looked as if it was going to rain today in the Golan.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
I have a story for the ages. It begins when I moved to the Golan, fast forwards to today, goes back in time, comes back to today, and even goes into the future.
The story is about a soldier who died in battle and of a boy who helped perpetuate his memory 25 years after the soldier died. I spoke with the boy’s mother last night in effort to get all the facts straight.
August 2006: When we moved to the central Golan Heights, I noticed that approximately a half-a-mile before one reaches the entrance to my moshav, there is a little wooden sign hanging off a five-foot rod that is shaped like an elongated number seven.
It says something in Hebrew and has an arrow pointing into the fields, and if you ask me, I never really paid attention to what it said. Not thinking it was out of the ordinary, I’ve just taken it for granted and assumed it was someone’s workshop or something to that extent.
April 2007: Monday was Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day), and last week, the local Golan weekly newspaper, listed the fallen soldiers who came from the Golan. On the list was our moshav, and there were names that I recognized and names that I didn’t.
One of those names was Moshe Zimmerman.
October 1973: Six years after the Six Day War, which led to the capture of the Golan Heights, the people of Israel were solemnly standing in synagogue on Yom Kippur when the Egyptians (in Sinai in the south) and the Syrians (in the Golan in the north) simultaneously launched a surprise attack.
Israel lost a lot of soldiers on all fronts, including the Golan. When they say the Golan is planted with blood, it is sadly true.
The day after Yom Kippur, October 7, 1973, a solider by the name of Moshe Zimmerman went to fight with his comrades as part of an artillery unit. Sadly, he was hit by gunfire in a battlefield not too far from my home and died.
August 1999: Fast forward now. Twenty-somewhat years after my moshav was founded and relocated to its permanent location, a group of teenagers went out hiking.
Cycling, hiking, swimming, and even me taking my kids to the forest at the front of the moshav is very much commonplace. So there was nothing strange about a bunch of teenagers going hiking in the fields outside the moshav.
But on that morning, something was different. As they were nearing the end of the hike, one boy saw something peculiar sticking out of the brush.
He had been through the area many times, but never noticed it. Hiking through the high grass, he came closer and found a hewn stone. He cleared it away and it was engraved with the following:
in the Yom Kippur War
First Sergeant Moshe Zimmerman
11 Tishrei 5734 – October 7, 1973
Some of these monuments are known, but a good lot are lost amongst the vast fields of the Golan Heights. The army was contacted about this find, but at first they did not want to divulge the whereabouts of the Zimmerman family.
This is the army’s policy, understandably, and they keep the lives of the bereaved family private. However, after revealing the story of how the stone was found and the information written upon it, the army agreed to contact the Zimmerman family.
October 1974: One year removed from the loss of their child and brother, the Zimmerman family was escorted in armor personnel carriers by the Israeli Defense Forces to the approximate site of where Moshe Zimmerman fell in battle. The army showed them the monument which confirms and attests to Moshe’s braveness and self-sacrifice.
Seasons came and seasons went, and by the time the next year came around, the location of the stone was lost. Thus, the point of where First Sergeant Moshe Zimmerman gave his life for our country was lost, as far as the family was concerned, forever.
May 1999: I’m not sure if it was exactly May, but a few months before the monument was rediscovered, Moshe’s father passed away. Before he passed away, he mentioned how he regretted that not enough was done to know where Moshe’s monument was.
September 1999: After the army contacted the Zimmerman family, they were excited to say the least. Excuse my cliché, but it was like finding a needle in a haystack, only this needle was a holy solider who gave up his life for the people of Israel. The family came to our moshav and to the monument, where Moshe’s brother said the Kadish prayer.
Since then, the moshav has planted an olive tree overlooking Moshe’s monument. And every year when Yom Hazikaron nears, the people of my moshav clean up the area and decorate the monument with flowers and raise the flag of Israel over Moshe’s monument.
Then, the family and the moshav meet for a ceremony honoring and preserving Moshe’s memory, where songs are sung, prayers are prayed, and tears are wept. In every respect, the people of my moshav have adopted Moshe as its own – and Moshe’s family has adopted us, too.
The Future: As was done earlier this week, my moshav will continue to remember Moshe and all the other great soldiers that fell in the Golan and the rest of Israel.
Finally, the word carved into the wooden sign on the side of the road says L’andarta – “to the monument.” I will never forget you Moshe Zimmerman. Without your sacrifice, we would not be here in the Golan Heights.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
When I wrote about my fruit garden not too long ago, people asked to see the fruits of my labor -- and by labor, I mean picking the fruits!
So without further ado, let's see the fruits of the Golan.
A week ago, Hadas, Natan, and I plucked 81 lemons off our lemon tree leaving it bare, save for the leaves. We tithed them according to tradition and then gave some out to friends.
At the end of the day, we (mainly Chave and the kids) squeezed around 25-35 lemons and froze most of them. Let me warn you though, these are not your regular freezer ice cubes, nor the sweet lemonade chiller - these are the real deal, 1.5-2 lemons per cube, sour suckers!
And while the lemon tree works on rejuvenating itself, let's move over to our magnificent fig tree.
I mentioned how the weather has been topsy turvy here. (This morning there was a cold wind only to be followed up with a hot summer-like afternoon.)
And when I took this picture, it was the morning after a very late spring sprinkle - you can clearly see droplets on the fig. (I sure hope it doesn't rain on Israel's Independence Day this Tuesday.)
You can see the fruit is not 100% ready yet; although, Hadas has picked up a habit of picking them anyways.
As always, I will try to keep you posted on the fig tree's development.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
No, I'm not a financial planner -- so no advice regarding financial compensation.
This morning on the way in, Shmuel (remember there are two) and I could not believe our eyes...
On the other side of the road there was a massive eagle (or maybe it was a hawk). That's right, a massive bird of prey lounging around on the asphalt of highway 87 just before the entrance to the Yehudiya nature reserve!
I was driving and deemed this very turn-around-worthy. So without any notice to my buddy, I veered to the right and did a massive 180. Now, this might catch the city folks off guard, but I assure you it was a safe maneuver.
As I was doing a U-ee, I told Shmuel, "get my camera out from the back!"
Can you believe it? Here we are in the Golan Heights - Israel's nature wonderland - we see a bird of prey sitting on the road, and (and this is the kicker) we had a camera!
Unfortunately, birds don't work for us. And this one flew off before we could get a proper photo. Yet, we did manage to salvage the situation with the picture above.
With the camera out, we turned around and continued on in to work lamenting our lost opportunity. However, get this - 100 yards down from the eagle sighting, we spotted 3 great white storks.
Talk about compensation! And we got there in the nick of time, because they took off right after we got there.
I'm not an expert on migratory routes, but doesn't it seem that these birds have been here forever? But hey, I'm not complaining; nor should you because we were able to snap these great shots just a few hours ago.
Three great white storks preparing for their morning takeoff.
Houston, I mean, Golan, we have takeoff.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The Golan, like all of Israel, is slowly thawing out of the cold, rainy winter season and coming into the dry, sunny, blistering hot summer months that lie ahead of us. And as is the case every year, it seems this process takes time - even if, at the height of a season, we subconsciously think otherwise.
Some days the temperature goes up, some days it goes down; sometimes clear, sometimes foggy; sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy (as was the case an hour ago).
Nevertheless, this leaves me wondering... am I the only one who wonders what type of clothing to wear in the morning?
I know it doesn't make that much of a difference, as I am in an office building all day, but I wake up and it's cold outside and dress as if I'm venturing out in a New York-style blizzard!
Yesterday, for example, I remember thinking it would be cold and wore long sleeves, only to be hot. And now, I sit here on a cold Golan evening, wearing a sweater over my polo shirt.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Okay, it's after Pessach and while it might seem to the public that I've come down with a serious case of writer's block, I want to clarify and state that I'm just blogging at turtle speed.
See, I even found a turtle last week with the kids when we went for a walk in the forest. Click on the picture to get a better view. I think I contracted "blogging at a turtle speed" (medically known as BATS) from him.
Yes, we brought it home for a while - Hadas named it Yaffa.
But, no, we brought it back to its home. I feel quite good about my, "if we find it in the moshav, we return it" policy. So far, we've been fortunate to find many interesting creatures. And I think it's a credit to our policy that more animals keep coming our way.
In any event, I've also been quite busy and have also volunteered to help out with the 2007 JIB Awards.
If you haven't taken the time to nominate anyone, it's not too late - just please do not nominate me for anything (seriously). I really think these awards are being conducted with dignity and will show who's the crème-de-la-crème of the JBlog world.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Who knows about my lemon tree?
No, no, it's a real tree in my backyard. But with the temperature looking towards the high-end of the mercury stick, it's the end of the lemon season.
So we're going to pick all the remaining fruits, tithe 'em, juice 'em, and freeze 'em. This way, we'll have 'fresh' lemon juice at our disposal until the yellow bulbs ripen again.
But this got me thinking... if there no lemons to pick, what can I pick.
Alas, not to worry. Just the other day I saw figs protruding from the end of the branches on my fig tree. Although, I have to admit, I am a bit weary of the fig tree in the back of my garden because it does do a pretty darn good job of attracting bees and wasps.
Anyways, it does yield some high-end figs.
Monday, April 09, 2007
It seems that every year more and more things get tacked onto the ever growing Kitniyot bandwagon; with that in mind, I think the subject of this blog post might just catch on like wild fire. So if you plan on blogging over Pessach 2008, make sure you are of Sephardic descent.
Having said that, you now know why I refrained from blogging over Pessach.
No, seriously, it had nothing to do with Kitniyot, nor did it have anything to do with what my good friend at hubscubs wrote. In all honesty, I had absolutely no time to blog.
Although, I am proudly blogging now, on what is known in the Diaspora as "the 8th day of Passover" (Biblically known as Isru Hag, aka the day after Pessach).
Anyways, Pessach in the Golan was stunning. This is the prefect time of year to visit and the place was buzzing. As a frequent driver of the Golan's quiet roads, I sensed its asphalt was getting a good rub.
Oh, and yesterday, on the approach road to Qatzrin, a great big grey wolf darted across the road. Must've gotten startled by the tourists, cause I've never seen one of those in broad daylight.