The driver's side window on my car broke – not the glass, but the motor that raises and lowers the window.
But to make matters worse, I found out that the window was not working when I was trying to close it. So now, the window is open all the time.
Thankfully, though, it's only opened a few inches, but the noise of the wind when I'm driving down the Golan on highway 87 is surprisingly louder than I would've thought.
It sort of makes it feel like I'm flying one of those old open aircrafts. "What's that you say, it's pretty loud in the cockpit!"
Nevertheless, I'd rather not complain and just think of it as free air conditioning… that is, until it gets fixed next week.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
The driver's side window on my car broke – not the glass, but the motor that raises and lowers the window.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I am not so sure if people are aware, but my previous post, What's not normal about the Golan?, made it to the headlines of Global Voices - an international, volunteer-led non-profit project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
Amira Al Hussaini wrote a small piece called Israel: What’s Wrong With Golan?
Click on the link above and you can see what she said plus my comment back to her (and other comments, too).
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Chave, my wife, received a phone call today from a customer service center in Jerusalem.
The background is that someone sent us a large package from abroad and it was supposed to be delivered to us. The thing, though, is that we live in the Golan Heights. And I don't think this gift company, nor the shipping agency, took the Golan into consideration when they claimed that they would send items to anywhere in Israel free of charge.
So the agent asked Chave where we could pick up the package.
"What do you mean? Send it to our home," was my wife's logical response.
The customer service agent got pushy and tried to get us to pick up the package somewhere else and asked for a "normal" location.
Can you believe this chutzpa? First of all, they said they send it to anywhere in Israel. Second of all, the Golan is as blue and white as any other part of this country - and I hope it stays that way for ever.
In the end, I think they are going to send it to the main post office in Qatzrin.
Go Chave! Go Golan!
Monday, May 28, 2007
This morning, I managed to not only turn my alarm clock off at a ridiculously early 5:35 a.m., but I finally got the strength to get out of bed and trudge my way to synagogue for morning prayers.
It's funny, because while I am positive that I hear the birds loud and clear in the Golan, I somehow forgot how amazing it is to walk around before most people get up and hear the birds chirping away.
I hope I'm up to see it again tomorrow morning, too.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Last Thursday was the official opening of the Golan Trail - a wonderful 90 mile trail hugging along the eastern flanks of the Golan Heights, which according to a Haaretz article,"will allow people to get to know the real Golan, with its streams, ruins and interesting tells."
I first noticed the build-up for the inaugural hike a few weeks ago, when I saw an ad - like the one to the left - in the regional newspaper. It was then that I decided that I would take off a day of work and join the festivities.
Ultimately, it was a great move. But if it were not for the fact that I got lucky - two times to be precise - it may have been disastrous (I've marked the points on the map with arrows).
I took Hadas and Natan with me. Chave was going to come with Yair, too, but in a last minute move, we decided that I'd fly solo with our two older children. So, here's the happy recap:
If you look at the map, you'll see that there were three hikes to choose from, all of which began from point number 1. Technically, this meeting point is not on the Golan Trail, which is marked by the green/blue/white trail marker (green for the forests of the Golan, blue for the Kinneret, and white for the snowy Mount Hermon - there are still some patches of snow on its peaks).
From there, we got bussed over to point number 4 - the starting point of the short 5 mile hike. After snaking its way up on a dirt path, the bus dropped us off by the massive 100-foot tall wind turbines (10 in all) and pulled out. I got the backpack carrier out for Natan and he started throwing a tantrum.
Oh this is going to be fun, I thought!
Trying to remain as calm as possible - and I think I did a pretty darn good job - I tried coaxing him into the auto-piggyback holder. I think he quickly got the message that there two ways back for him: by foot or on my back.
Thankfully, he climbed in - this was the first time I got lucky.
After listening to a little speech about the wind turbines and how they produce clean energy, we trekked down the path.
People passed us. And more people passed us. And again, some more people passed us.
I, of course, did what any sane father would do - I bribed Hadas and made sure that she was fully aware of the fact that I was going to buy her (and Natan) the ices/ice cream of her dreams when we finished the hike.
But after hiking for around an hour, she was getting restless... and I began having visions of me carrying Hadas, while schlepping Natan on my back for a good chunk of the hike.
This happened just before we crossed over highway 98 and I told her that when we hit the road, I'd pick her up for a bit.
Thankfully, just as we hit the road, the last bus was ferrying back to the starting point. Cha-ching - this was the second time I got lucky!
After getting back to the parking lot, I noticed they had set up a rock climbing wall/zip line. They also had an Army band getting ready to jam and I am sure more fun was on the menu, but my children (and I) had enough and headed for the real festivities - ices in Qatzrin!
Hiking along the Golan Trail with my two eldest children.
The final view of our hike: vineyards and wind turbines in the distant.
Hadas: a happy camper with a treat that puts a smile on even the most tired hikers.
Natan: need I say more?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
And it's really not that funny… but if you are ever in a bind and need to tell a joke, try this and let me know how it goes down.
It's the middle of the night and a boy [Natan] asks his father [me] to get a tissue from the bathroom.
Before the father goes into the dark bathroom, he sees a shadow on the toilet seat; startled he turns on the light.
The light goes on with flick and presto, there's a frog sitting on the toilet seat!
Yep, that's about it. I told you it is really not that funny, but it did happen to me last night. Gosh, I love the Golan.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I can't be 100% certain about this, but with the latest craze on our moshav, I'd say that pogo sticks are back in style - just like razor scooters were a few years ago.
Or is this only a Golan thing?
It all happened around two weeks ago. There was a bar mitzvah here and after the services, I noticed the bar mitzvah boy jumping on a pogo stick. Nothing strange, because he's apparently into kinds of off-beat stuff.
But then I see all the 8-10 year old girls have them. It seems it's the in gift now; my neighbor's just bought one for their daughter's birthday.
And in fact, last Friday night on the way to synagogue, one of those girls let me have a hop. Here's what happened: My first go I nearly landed flat on my back (and that was after the initial jump). The next attempt proved to be a little better, but after nearly throwing out my back, I realized that I'm not cut out for pogo-ing.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Actually, I now have three of them.
Because we're renting, Chave and I decided to buy ceiling fans instead of an air conditioning unit. So on Thursday night, I came back from Home Center with three 42-inch ceiling fans.
The instructions were in Hebrew, but the box was marked in English with "Easy to follow instructions" (note how it doesn't say "Easy installation"). While I was flipping through the manual, I started a quick conversation with Chave that went a bit like this:
SHMUEL: Do you think I can get these fans installed?
CHAVE: I don't think so.
SHMUEL: If the instructions were in English, do you think I'd be able to install them?
CHAVE: I don't think so.
SHMUEL: Yeah, you're probably right.
So after that, I did what any man with a bit of pride would do... I called up a handyman and invited him to come over and install the trio. After two hours of labor (again, not me), we have fans in the home.
Now, on to the rain.
Last week, I wrote about the rain and said how I'd find out from farmers what the deal is. Well, for starters I could have written about it today, as it was pouring down on my drive to the office.
But apparently there's no way around it, the rain is bad. I was told that it rained about 5-10 millimeters, which, back in the former good days, was just enough to get an entire season's crop wiped out. Thankfully, they have ways to prevent that from happening nowadays and the farmers should manage.
I mention the 5-10 bit, because if it would have rained 60-70 millimeters, then it would have at least made a dent on the Golan's reservoirs and the rivers and streams that flow down to the Kinneret.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Ah yes, the philosophical conundrum that has been plaguing the wisest of men and women since the dawn of time.
[Screeching tires sound]
Whoa, wrong blog -- this is the blog about my life in the Golan Heights, which makes me ask: if it's May 10th, what in the name of lightning is going on outside? If you cannot see/hear it, it is raining out now in the Golan!
Yes. Rain. This is so odd, because in Israel it NEVER rains after the winter ends. So while this heat-breaking rain is highly reminiscent of a New York summer afternoon thunderstorm, it is totally unheard of.
In my 10+ years of being in Israel, I have never seen anything quite like this. Once May rolls around, Israel does not see rain for a good 4-5 months. I remember once when I visited New York in the summer and it rained -- to me it was like someone seeing snow for the first time. It just felt so odd.
Back to today. Chave told me that when she was walking home with the kids this afternoon it started to rain. This left Natan with one simple question: "Who turned it on?"
Now, I am sure the Kabbalists are working out their theories if this is a good or bad omen, but I will speak with some farmers over the next few days to ascertain the impact that this rain is having on the ground that (at this month of the calendar) should be totally dry.
Till then, make sure you have an umbrella!
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I love taking a hot shower. And let's be honest, who doesn't.
Conversely, a cold shower sends shivers up my spine - especially in the winter. But slowly, when the red begins to dominate the mercury stick, the sound of a cold shower sounds refreshing.
And with a heatwave in Israel now, including a whopping 100 degrees Fahrenheit - yes, three digits - in the Golan earlier this week, I'm starting to think maybe I'll have an ice-cold shower soon...
Because, like I said, it's blazing hot outside.
Monday, May 07, 2007
It's true. And I admit it.
From time to time I'll park my car on my front lawn.
But, in reality, that just makes me lazy. Like tonight for example; after work I went food shopping in Karmiel, came home late, and brought the groceries into the kitchen. Since my parking spot is around the other side of the house, it is just convenient to park on the grass near the front door.
So what makes me a Jewish hillbilly?
Well for starters, I live in the middle of nowhere. And I love that. I love the fact that I can lead an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle out in the sticks. You can't find that in Montana now, can you?
But the real reason, and this goes back to the front lawn, is Natan. He's a little over two and is in the early stages of trying to figure out the whole toilet training business.
When he has to pee, he takes off his diaper and runs out the door and relieves himself with the breeze on his behind. Now, I think that's real smart. First of all, I love nature, too (albeit in the woods and not on my front lawn), but I think he realizes the garden is a much bigger target than the toilet bowl.
I couldn't agree with him more and encourage him use the lawn as his urinal. And someone who advocates this kind of behavior, in my humble opinion, is a hillbilly.
Remember, learn from Natan and aim big -- just avoid the wet spots on the front lawn.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
This morning I got a call from an old friend of mine. I've been good friends with him since my yeshiva days, and since then we took different, yet similar routes in life.
I, you know, moved up to the Golan. And he became a rabbi and moved out to lead a congregation in Omaha, Nebraska. The obvious connection (and there are more) is that we've both take the off-beaten path.
But even with the ocean and a healthy portion of the American heartland separating us, we've remained close. So, he calls me this morning to tell me that he's in Israel leading a mission and his group is on its way to Gamla.
For most people, Gamla holds the distinction of being the home of Israel's largest waterfall (a 160 foot beaut) and, strikingly, a large group of birds of prey, including Griffon vultures. To others it is ancient capital of the Golan, until the Romans conquered it in 68 CE.
But for me, it is also the closest place to my home -- and that’s including other villages!