Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Decorations

PHD's mom lives in an independent living facility. They just finished decorating the facility for the holidays. We walked in to visit her and were immediately looking at an enormous Christmas tree with these golden reindeer on the side. LO ran over to them, turned around to look at me and wide-eyed she said, "Oh my gosh - not only do they have a Christmas tree but they are worshipping the golden calves too!" Oy - only my kid could have come up with that.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Woody Allen Shabbat

I can only describe this past Shabbat as feeling like we had walked into a Woody Allen movie. Our Rabbi is in Israel for the month and so we decided to do a little shul hopping. For our first Shabbat away from our own shul, we chose to go to the shul of the other Rabbi who performed our wedding service.

We had just walked through the door and I turn as I can hear someone coming in behind me. Who is it? Why it's my therapist of course. It was surprise to see her there and it felt a little odd, but we took it in stride - we did the formal introductions of our respective spouses and then I didn't speak to her the rest of the evening.

Then we head towards the sanctuary and a woman enters and PHD whispers to me, "That's M". M was PHD's girlfriend many years ago. They dated for over 7 years but obviously things didn't work out. She came over to us and said congratulations on the wedding and we exchanged pleasantries and she went on her way - or so I thought. She actually spent the entire service giving me a dirty look. Talk about feeling uncomfortable.

All I could think to myself was, "What next?" I shouldn't have thought that. Next was my physician. The one I have been avoiding because I have physician-phobia.

So let's re-cap...
1) My therapist
2) PHD's ex-girlfriend
3) My physician
4) The Rabbi who performed our marriage and did our pre-marital counseling

How much more Woody Allen could it have been? I guess that will teach us to leave the comfort of our own shul!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Long voting lines = absentee ballot for me

After several attempts to vote early, I finally gave up on the long lines. I am of the opinion that waiting 3 to 4 hours to vote is ludicrous. (BTW Kendall, the area mentioned in the article, happens to be the suburb of Miami that we live in.) I don't think Florida will ever be able to shake the whole voting nightmare thing. And I wonder if my absentee ballot will end up being a part of another voting nightmare...only time will tell.

And if you are wondering who I voted for...all I will say is that I stand with Israel.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Couldn't you just eat her?

I visited with my sister this weekend and got to see my new niece...isn't she the cutest thing? She almost makes me want to adopt another...I said almost! (Cause you know LO would never stand for that!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My little lulav shaker

Whew! We made it through the chagim! Here's a picture of LO at Hebrew School - that poor lulav had to endure a whole slew of kids shaking it like CRAZY. I was sure we would be looking at an un-kosher etrog before it was all over but miraculously the pitom survived!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hectic Holidays

As I am sure they are for most, the holidays have been pretty hectic for us. We didn't help any by having our honeymoon end erev Rosh Hashanah. Thankfully we had many offers for meals and Rosh Hashanah seemed to take care of itself for us. We've been invited for a pre-fast dinner and a break fast so that is all taken care of. (Never mind that I never remember to wean off the coffee and diet coke or that I can't seem to find a CLEAN white shirt anywhere.)

And just when we thought everything was taken care of...we got a lovely surprise yesterday by the early arrival of some relatives from Israel. They are staying in West Palm Beach which is about 100 miles north of us, so I had to find last minute Yom Kippur seats for them. Remember when LO went to Chabad on her own? Well her connections there helped me find seats for the family within a few e-mails and phone calls. Yay for LO and the Chabad! (And special thanks to the Rebbetzin at the Jupiter Chabad and the Rabbi at the West Palm Beach Chabad for their help!)

As our Rabbi always says, "It's all good."

G'mar Chatima Tovah - wishing you all a peaceful, easy and meaningful fast.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My Bat Mitzvah Lladro

PHD and I were walking through Macy's the other day and we saw that they were having an event where you could get your Lladro pieces signed by Rosa Lladro. We laughed as we both agreed that people that spent money on these things were meshugganah. And besides we both said, "They're kind of ugly". However, many years ago, PHD was in Spain and a friend of his asked him to buy a Lladro chuppah. (I have yet to find a picture of this on line.) PHD said it was lovely and he wanted to show it to me. We walked through the Lladro section and couldn't find it and so we looked through the catalog. We never did find it but instead we came across this. "Oh my gosh!" I marveled. "She has black hair and she looks Asian!" Can you guess what happened next?

(If you guessed that PHD bought the figurine for LO, you were right. We left the store shocked...did we just spend hundreds of dollars for a piece of porcelain for a bat mitzvah gift for LO who won't be a bat mitzvah for TWO YEARS?)

Monday, September 29, 2008

L'Shanah Tovah

We just got back from our honeymoon and are rushing to get everything done before the chag. But quickly, I wanted to write a quick post to all of you...

For those of you who's address we don't have...this is the picture we sent with our Rosh Hashanah cards this year. You can see previous years' pictures here and here (geez is she growing up fast!)

Wishing you and your families L'Shanah Tovah. May the year bring us all good health, love, and happiness.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wedding Day - Part Two

PHD's 93-year old Mom accompanied him to the chuppah. I loved the look on her face all day as she was simply kvelling the entire time.

My Dad and LO escorted me to the chuppah while our Cantor sang (so beautifully). When we reached the chuppah, LO and I started to circle PHD. I don't know what goes on with other brides when they are doing this, but from fasting - I got dizzy! (Plus - how come no one told me how hard it is to navigate with a veil on?) So...I am guessing I looked a little drunk on the last few circles (the videotape will soon tell). PHD didn't help - he keep giggling and saying silly things. Best of all...on the 5th circle, LO said loud enough for all to hear, "How much longer do we have to do this?" Everyone (including myself) couldn't help but laugh. It was so sweet to have LO circle with me and so perfect that her little personality came right out during it all.

Rabbi D started the service. He is our Rabbi and the more traditional of the two and did most of the Hebrew. Rabbi M's job was to explain what was going on in English to those not familiar with a Jewish wedding (and that would be my Chinese gentile family members!).

Rabbi D did the kiddushin and PHD must have been nervous because he almost drank all the wine in the cup! Next we exchanged rings. (At this point LO looked perplexed as I put up my right index finger for the ring. She said, "Wrong finger!" I shush'd her. So when PHD placed it on my finger, LO exclaimed, "See - it doesn't fit on that finger!") From that point on, knowing that by Jewish law we were fully married, I could not stop smiling.

Next Rabbi D talked about the ketubah and it's significance. As he spoke about how the ketubah protects the woman, LO kept giving PHD looks like she was saying, "You got that - you better take care of my Ima!" It made me giggle. Rabbi M read the ketubah and he also talked a little bit about us. He explained that we had met at Shul on Shabbat (which is why the kippot that we gave out at the wedding say "Shabbat Shalom" inside in Hebrew). He explained how much we love Judaism and how important having a Jewish home is. I had no idea what he was going to say, but his speech was so lovely.

Next Rabbi D handed me and PHD each a candle. The Cantor sang as he lit each candle. When the Cantor finished singing, together we used our candles to light another candle joined as one. Rabbi D then spoke of the Baal Shem Tov's beautiful metaphor of souls as flames of light as he lit each candle.

The Cantor sang the sheva brachot, stopping after each bracha to allow Rabbi M to give the English translation. I had originally asked that only the Hebrew be read but in hindsight, the way they did it was really beautiful and more meaningful for my family since they could understand what was going on!

We drank the second cup of wine and Rabbi M said to PHD, "There are only two things left to do. One is to break the glass and the other is to kiss your bride." Thanks to the horrible colds we both had, we had not kissed or even held hands in over a week, so after he said "kiss your bride", PHD and I both did a little happy dance and had everyone in the sanctuary laughing. Rabbi M explained the symbolism of the glass and then PHD broke the glass (we saved the glass for this mezuzah) and then we kissed. We hugged as many well-wishers as we could before heading off for a few moments alone and a little snack!

I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. For all of you who assured me that all the pre-planning stress would be worth it and that everything would be just fine - you were right - THANK YOU!

And now, all we have to figure out is are we now Dr. and Mrs. Orieyenta or Dr. and Mrs. PHD? :)

We had a professional photographer so more photos are sure to come. We leave for our honeymoon around 5:00 am tomorrow - won't be back until Erev Rosh Hashanah!

(For those are you who are wondering...I did end up inviting my mother. On Shabbat morning, I had what I call a "Yom Kippur" moment and I really felt like it was the right thing to do. And it was fine as she was on her best behavior.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wedding Day - Part One

Filled with excitement, I hardly slept. I kept waking up just about every hour. At around 6 am, I gave up and decided to take advantage of the fact that the sun had not risen yet and have a nice BIG pre-fast cup of COFFEE. This would help me avoid that caffeine-withdrawal headache that accompanies so many of my fasts.

LO woke up a bit later and then we were off to run errands. Once those were all done, I dropped LO off at Hebrew school and headed to pick up my Dad and his wife. (I had completely forgot about fasting when I invited them to breakfast!) I made a bagel for post-fast while they were eating hoping this would help them not feel uncomfortable that we were not eating. We spent a little time visiting and then I dropped them back at their hotel, went to pick LO up from Hebrew school and then headed back home. It was at that moment when I panicked and realized that the flowers had not yet been delivered. My panicked state was all for naught because when I walked in the house, there they were. (This is my bouquet. LO's was a miniature version of this one.)

We spent the next hour packing stuff in the car and trying to be sure not to forget everything. Just as we were going to get in the car, LO asked me to print her homework for her! She was going to spend the night at a friend's house after the wedding and would need her homework! Umm...talk about bad timing. Despite her lack of a printer and our laziness to hook her up to our printer, we managed.

And finally we were off to the Shul!

Remember my chuppah nightmare? In the end we decided to go with the chuppah that belonged to our shul. (Remember that it was not in the best of repair, but I decided to have faith that it would all work out somehow.) I kept talking with out Temple Administrator and he told me several times that he was going to do a trial run and set the whole thing up but with the High Holidays just around the corner he just got too busy to ever do it. He asked that PHD arrive early to the Shul on the wedding day to help set it up. When we got to the Shul (late of course) I went into the sanctuary and the chuppah was all set up and way more beautiful than I could have ever expected. I was so excited that I was literally jumping up and down...and what else did I do? I of course took a picture with my phone and uploaded it to Facebook.

While PHD was working on getting everything set up, I went to the library which I planned to use as a dressing room. When I got there, I was greeted with a broken doorknob and so we were never able to get in there! I headed to the kitchen where my friend was baking challot for us. She also happened to be the person who was going to do LO's hair and who was going to help me with my veil. We decided it was apropos that she would help us get ready in the kitchen since she and I became friends when we were baking challot for the high holidays there years ago.

I searched for a quiet place to do some last minute davening and from that point on, things seemed to be happening at warp speed. LO and I headed off to get dressed. Then we ran back to the kitchen for hair and veil. (This is when we realized that we left all the hair stuff at home. Thankfully I had remembered the most important thing...the veil!) I had forgotten to do the corsages and boutonnieres for everyone so I had to run and quickly give those out and then run to the office to sign the ketubah. It was simply CRAZY! (Oh yeah and I decided I had to take a few pictures here and there in the middle of all of it!)

On to the bedeken. The Rabbis (Yes, plural. One who is our Rabbi and one who is PHD's very good friend) gathered my Dad and PHD's Mom. And along with LO, we all recited the blessing for the children. It was one of my favorite moments of the day to have my Dad blessing me, PHD's Mom blessing him and me and PHD blessing LO. PHD and I looked at each other as my veil was placed and I don't think I stopped smiling from that moment on.

And then it was time...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wedding Day Tehillim

Photo by Hasan Sarbakhshian

With the frenzy that must always occur in the days leading up to a wedding, it completely slipped my mind to ask if anyone wanted me to daven for them. Thankfully someone reminded me! (Thanks Hadassah!)

If you would like me to include anyone in my tehillim on our wedding day, please leave me a comment or e-mail me at orieyenta@yahoo.com with names.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Chuppah here we come!

Baruch Hashem. Six days. It seems like a million years since the day this happened (the good friend in that post was none other than PHD).

I can't believe it. We didn't get a hurricane. My cold is almost gone. Hopefully the cold that I managed to give PHD will be gone before Shabbos. And even more so I am praying that LO won't get it as well. Everything on my gazillions of checklists is complete except for going to the mikvah and buying kiddush wine.

Life is good.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

You eat shrimp?

We were visiting PHD's 93-year old mother at the independent living facility where she lives. We happened to see a friend of ours there who's mother also lives there. (This friend also happens to be a Reform Rabbi.) They were sitting in the dining room and motioned for us to come and sit with them while they waited for their food. We sat, talked about the wedding, talked about LO starting school, etc.

Then the food came.

The server placed a plate of chicken and shrimp in front of our friend.

Before the plate was completely on the table, LO exclaimed, "Rabbi, how could you? How can you be a Rabbi and eat SHRIMP? Oh my gosh - you are going to have to fast for a lot of days for Yom Kippur...." This went on and on until I literally had to tell her to stop talking.

Oh yeah, that is my little kosher police. Gotta love that.

(But I guess that now might be a good time to explain the differences in observance level for Reform Jews and the more observant ones.)

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Tooth Fairy doesn't work on Shabbos

When I picked LO up from school on Friday she eagerly showed me that she had lost a tooth. She was very excited because as I've reported before, the tooth fairy at our house pays BIG. However, with Shabbos here, there was no further mention of it and it totally slipped my mind.

On Shabbos morning when I went downstairs LO (with the saddest face in the world) said, "The tooth fairy didn't take my tooth." Having not had an ounce of coffee yet, I gave her all sorts of lame excuses, none that she seemed to buy, but she eventually just went back to her room. A little while later she came out and said, "I know why the tooth fairy didn't take my tooth! The tooth fairy doesn't work on Shabbos!" Geez...why didn't I think of that excuse?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Visiting with the Bogners

Ok, so I thought I would take a break from kvetching about wedding planning to get back to the fun stuff in life...talking about our trip to Israel.

When I last left off, we were headed to visit with the Bogners.

Last year when PHD went to Israel, I was most certainly jealous when he got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Treppenwitz before I got to meet them. For this trip, every list I had made of things that we absolutely had to do while we were in Israel had meeting up with them at the top. My wish was granted and we FINALLY got to spend some time with them.

We made plans to have dinner at their home. Zahava came to pick us up at the coffee shop that they met PHD at last year. This was our first opportunity to meet the little boy we have heard so many wonderful stories about...

Unfortunately for us, he was having a little schluf. (I was a little nervous he would wake up and be freaked out by the two Chinese gals in the back seat with him, but my fears were totally unfounded.)

Zahava gave us a wonderful tour of Gush Etzion complete with some history about each area she drove us through. I can't imagine that anyone could have given a better tour than she did. She most certainly could give some tour guides a run for their money. (As an added bonus she brought us to the Naot Factory Store in Kfar Etzion when I proceeded to contribute plenty of money to the Israeli economy.)

Then it was off to their home in Efrat where we got to meet the rest of the family and were treated to a delicious BBQ.

We got to hear Gili play his new guitar (and wow does he have a nice voice).

And even Yonah chimed in with the sweetest version of the Beatles' song Lady Madonna.

It was a lovely visit and one of the highlights of our trip. I feel blessed to have had this opportunity and to know this family.

A postnote: LO has talked incessantly about our trip. She mentioned that she liked it at the Bogners and that she thought, "the boy was NICE". I said, "Yeah - Yonah is cute isn't he?" She said, "Is Yonah the little boy or the big boy?" I replied, "The little boy". Her response? "Oh, he was nice but the big boy is REALLY NICE." Zahava thought Yonah might have a little crush on LO and it looks like LO has a little crush on Gili!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Here comes Bridezilla

I am thisclose to becoming Bridezilla with this whole wedding thing. Just when I think the whole wedding planning thing is under control, something comes flying out of nowhere and hits me in the face.

You may remember that we wanted a very small, very simple wedding. We would have been perfectly happy having nothing more than the required minyan to say the Sheva Brachot. And then we seemed to have gotten caught up in sharing our joy with our friends and family and very quickly, our nice little minyan blossomed in THREE minyans. And now with some guilt from assorted family members including this whole issue, we are on the verge of FORTY people.

Yes, I know that 40 people is not a lot for a wedding and I should be happy to be sharing our simcha with everyone...but I am not. This is not what we wanted.

In the end, I am sure everything will work out just wonderfully and the wedding will be beautiful. But I have to admit that now I understand why some people just run away and elope. (I'm just saying!)

Ok - breathe in, breathe out - everything will be fine.

Wishing you all a beautiful and peaceful Shabbat.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chocolate Ice Cream

I had insomnia the other night so I went as downstairs. Of course I had to go in and check on LO because she is so darn adorable when she is sleeping. (Oh, alright, she is pretty darn adorable when she is awake too.) I kissed her on the forehead and started to leave her room. Just as I reached the door she started talking...

"Yes - I'll have some chocolate ice cream and cookies. Oh and I'll have manicotti too."

Yep - talking in her sleep....about food. That's my kid. (Guess she was having milchig!)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I need chuppah help!

Want to help me with a decision? The chuppah (which I thought would be the least of my problems) is turning out to be a bigger issue than I expected. One Rabbi has the portable poles but no tallit for it. Our Shul has free standing poles - but two are in the Rabbi's office serving as flag poles and one is broke. I can rent one for $175 but again, no tallit. So...I am in the market for a tallit.

Yes, I am kicking myself for not buying one while we were in Israel. However, I found www.tallis-n-tefillin.com where I will be able to purchase one at a reasonable cost. The man who owns the site is in Ft. Lauderdale (so this is basically local) and he has been very kind in answering all my questions. Here's my problem...I'm at a loss of what to buy.

I know what you're thinking, I should ask PHD. Well, I did. He thought we should borrow one from a friend but I don't want to be responsible for someone's tallit. I am too worried about ruining it as we would use the tzitzit to tie the tallit to the poles. He also thought of using an Israeli flag. While I love Israel as much as he does, I think this is tacky. I could go to the fabric store, buy some fabric and make one (since I am crafty that way) but to be honest, I have too many other things to worry about without adding a sewing project in. So...I am going to buy one despite the fact that PHD thinks I shouldn't spend the money on something we will use only once. (I told him we should be glad we would use it only once and that I would save whatever we bought and give it to LO when she gets married so she doesn't have to go on this search.)

So...pretty please with sugar on top, help me choose...white with white stripes? white with blue stripes? white with black stripes? Want to pick for me? I'll be your best friend. Have a better idea? I'm all ears.

Yes, I'm frazzled with all this wedding planning. But I am thankful to G-d that my biggest problem of the moment is that I can't decide what color tallit our chuppah should be. We should all only know of such problems, right?

Hope this finds you all enjoying the meat-free, dirty laundry days. :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Israel Pictures - Part 2

Our trip continues...

We took a bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The bus ride itself was uneventful but I must say that getting on the bus was quite a challenge. As the bus pulled up a whole crowd of people rushed toward the door. (PHD had warned us about this, but no amount of warning could have properly prepared us for this.) I held tight onto LO so as not to lose her in the crowd. PHD was pushing his way towards the door and we tried to stay as close as possible. For LO this must have been frightening as I looked down at her and could see that she was smashed in the crowd. She cried out, "Abba, Abba!" And what happened then is what I imagine it was like when Moses parted the Red Sea. The area around her mysteriously opened up and everyone let us pass so that we could join PHD as he was getting on the bus.

We visited the Kotel every day that we were in Jerusalem except one. LO loved praying there and she loved giving tzedakah to the ladies that were sitting alongside the wall. She was also thrilled the moment one of those ladies tied a red string around her arm. I explained that these red string were supposed to have come from Kever Rachel. From that moment on, she decided that Kever Rachel was somewhere we needed to visit. (We didn't make it this trip but I have some offers to take us on our next trip!)

As for me, I have always viewed the Kotel as a holy place and wondered how I would feel when I finally saw it in person. I was surprised to find that I was not overly moved when we arrived. But a bigger surprise was in store for me. We walked up to the wall to pray and when I put my hand on the wall and started to pray I was overcome with so much emotion that I started to cry. There is no way to describe that feeling nor do I think I can ever forget that feeling. It was absolutely an amazing experience.

PHD was not so lucky though. Just as he started to pray, several men tapped him on the shoulder asking for tzedakah. It reached a point where he was actually unable to daven. I would have never believed this had I not witnessed it with my own eyes. Religious men not allowing others to have their own personal time with Hashem. Shame on them.

This picture is for Z and Chiab. Somewhere in this picture is the note that I placed in the wall with prayers for you both.

Our visit happen to coincide with French President Nicholas Sarkozy's visit. The rental car agency we rented a car from was outside the King David Hotel. Little did we know that the day we went to pick up the car that they would close the road until he left the hotel.

As we were headed to Masada, LO and I were THRILLED to see actual live camels on the side of the road. Of course I needed a picture of her with one. We hopped out of the car into the BLAZING heat and headed towards one. It made a weird noise and this is how LO reacted.

This is LO as we started our tour of Masada. She looks quite happy to be there doesn't she?

This is LO towards the end of our tour of Masada. Need I say more?

From Masada we headed to the Dead Sea. I can't tell you how many times I made PHD stop the car so I could take pictures. So breathtaking.

We're Miami girls and we are used to the cool Atlantic ocean. Imagine our surprise when we put our feet in the Dead Sea and felt that hot, oily feeling water.

On the way back from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, this is what we ran in to. The road was closed. We were told it was because some people had snuck in from Jordan. We had to take a VERY LONG detour back to where we came from and up through the Zohar Valley which made us none too happy but...

had we not detoured, we would not have seen this beautiful view.

The detour took us through the West Bank and we got our first glimpse of the separation barriers.

Next up...a visit with one of our favorite bloggers and his family.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Israel Pictures - Part 1

I've written pages and pages of stories and details of our trip to Israel. If I posted it ALL here, you would all probably be sleeping, so instead I decided to do sort of a highlights of our trip with pictures. Enjoy.

Palmach Museum - This is located at the University of Tel Aviv. It's unusual for a museum in the fact that there are no artifacts or displays. You go to a series of rooms where they present the history as though you are actually experiencing the history while it happened. If you have never been, I strongly suggest it. If you ask LO what her favorite places in Israel were, this one is definitely on the list. At the beginning of our tour, a guide came and gave a little history of who the Palmach were. In the middle of this history, LO tapped me and with a very sour look on her face she whispered, "Ima, this is JUST like school." Knowing that there was much history to be learned on our trip - this was certainly a scary way to start. However...at the end of the tour, she again tapped me and exclaimed, "That was AWESOME! It was like Disney World except in Hebrew!" Maybe they should market it that way.

Shuk Carmel - PHD loves to go to the shuks. Our visit to Shuk Carmel was just one of almost a dozen shuks that we went to. We loved listening to the vendors shout out what they were selling and how much it costs and then trying to figure out what they were saying. I think LO's favorite part of shuk shopping was the fact that she got to sample all kinds of foods.

Shawarma - On the Shabbat before we left, we had lunch with our Rabbi. One of the places he told us not to miss was a shawarma place in Tel Aviv. Since I couldn't write it down, I had to remember the place in my head. What I remembered was Ben Yehuda and Boker Sov (yes - Boker SOV like Boker Tov with an "S"). We walked quite a bit down Ben Yehuda and asked quite a few people where Boker Sov Street was. Most just looked at us with blank stares. Just as we were about to give up, someone said, "Do you mean Bograshov Street?" We were only a half block away. And here is we received quite a pleasant welcome from our Rabbi's favorite shawama stand. And oh was it yummy.

The Golan Heights - PHD's cousin Toli arranged a day trip for us to the Golan. We went to the Golan Archaeological Museum, a winery, the Mount Bental lookout, and a pick your own fruit place. We learned about Gamla. We saw Lake Kinneret. We picked and ate as many blackberries as our stomachs could hold. We even got to see the world's largest Israeli flag. At the gift shop at Mount Bental, we purchased a beautiful necklace for LO that has the blessing of the daughters on it. (We plan to give it to her for her bat mitzvah.) We spent some time chatting with the shopkeeper. We explained that we say this blessing over LO on every Shabbat and that we have said it so many times that even LO knows it. LO then came over and recited the blessing for her. The smile on the woman's face was priceless. We talked about how LO knows so many of the prayers from going to services so often and LO recited the Shema and the V'ahavta for her. The woman told us that it gave her goosebumps and she was so filled with joy that it looked like there were tears in her eyes. She then leaned over to LO and said, "You know what? You just made my day." That almost made me cry. That moment made me so proud to be Jewish and feel so blessed to be in Israel.

(more to come...)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Jewish Guilt

So the time has come for me to mail our wedding invitations. Like so many couples do, we have had an ever-changing list of who is invited and who is not invited. I would love to invite our entire Shul - of course I would have to win the lottery to afford that but it's still a nice genuine thought of mine.

Since we've both been married before we agreed that we wanted a small ceremony. Originally we had planned for a minyan. That minyan has blossomed into three minyans. And I'm ok with that. And I am ok with the Jewish guilt I feel about inviting some of our Shul friends and not others.

So the list is FINALLY finalized. The invitations have been beautifully addressed and now they are sitting on my desk waiting to be mailed.

And then my sister calls to lay on some guilt. You see, I am not inviting my mother. My mother and I do not have a wonderful relationship. Actually, we don't speak at all. My sister is sure that years from now I will feel guilty about not having invited my mother. And of course the guilt has already settled in and I am doubting my decision since she is my only mother no matter what our relationship is like. What do you all think? Invite her? Don't invite her? Oy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bed Jumping

After 3 long very hot hours at Masada and a quick dip in the Dead Sea, my kid will apparently do anything for a laugh.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

We're back

We're back and have so much to share about our trip. I took over 1000 pictures and the task to go through them is a little overwhelming at the moment. I promise to share soon.

The trip was amazing and made us only want to make aliyah even sooner. I am not sure I can put into words how heavy my heart felt as we were in the taxi on the way to the airport.

For those of you who asked me to daven at the Kotel for you - please know that we went there several times a day for several days and I prayed and put notes in the wall for each of you.

I am off to start unpacking (ugh!) and to try to keep LO awake - she is definitely losing the battle over jet lag today. For now, I'll leave you all with our new favourite song that we can't seem to get out of our heads (PHD's cousins sang it over and over while we were there)...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shalom from Israel

I don't have a load of time to write but the trip so far has been amazing. When I wake up in the morning, I feel so blessed to be waking up in Israel. LO loves it here and has already said she doesn't want to go home. We head to Jerusalem in the morning and will see the Treppenwitz family on Wednesday and Gila when we return to Tel Aviv. Life couldn't be better.

Loads of pictures and stories to come. Shavua Tov from Israel.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Israel - here come the Orieyentas!

We are so excited I can hardly type. Our bags are (mostly) packed although we keep adding more and more...the latest was a $900 stroller for one of PHD's cousins. (Did you even know that strollers could cost $900? What is up with that?) I have no idea how we are going to manage to shlep all of this at once but come Sunday, we are on our way!

We have plans to go to a million places plus plans to meet up with the Treppenwitz family, Gila, and maybe even Leah! Plenty of pictures to come for sure.

Wishing you and yours a blessed and peaceful Shabbat.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Kids or no kids - the wedding dilemma

Ok, I have a dilemma and I need your help. Since the wedding is getting close (3-1/2 months!) we have really gone into planning mode. We have always talked about it being very very small and to not have much more than a minyan. This becomes complicated since my family (meaning my Dad, his wife, my sister, and her husband) are not Jewish. But we decided that the minyan plus my goyim family would be fine.

Enter my sister and her 3 year old daughter and her newborn little girl.

I love my nieces as though they are my own children. Apparently PHD does not share this love. He is adamant that the kids don't come to the wedding. I can understand not wanting the newborn there but my other niece? I just don't get it. He says they will disrupt the wedding and since it's so small it would be a huge deal. I say that they would be fine.

Obviously I love PHD enough to marry him but let's just say that he is a tad on the stubborn side (ok maybe more than a tad) and when he makes up his mind about something there is usually no swaying him. He says I haven't given him a good enough reason to include my niece. I say that it should be reason enough that it's important to me that she is there.

Help me! What else can I say? My sister says she won't come if she can't bring the kids. PHD (as usual) is showing no signs of budging on this issue (he's even threatened to cancel the whole affair and just have us married with the Rabbi in his study).

I'm the one who will always give in to everyone else before taking what I want but I can't see a way to make everyone happy. Help!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We're not dead....yet

Thought I'd give an update in case there was anyone wondering where the heck we've been. My sister's baby will be 3 weeks old tomorrow and she is absolutely delicious. With all that black hair, I almost want to steal her for my very own (please note the "almost" in that sentence).

We celebrated PHD's Mom's 93rd Birthday yesterday. After the heart attack she seemed ready to throw in the towel but...we moved her to an independent living facility which we think is so nice we wish we could live there. The move seems to have given her a new zest for life and seeing her so happy fills my heart with joy.

PHD went to Honduras and made it home safely. I am still planning to use that trip as a bartering tool to take a trip to Hebron next month.

This week LO and I will celebrate "LO Day" - it's the 8 year anniversary of the day we officially became a family. (It's also the anniversary of our conversion so the date is always a double blessing for us.) I can't believe that it's been 8 years since the day that I first met her - thinking back to that sad tiny little girl they handed me, I would never have been able to imagine how much love could change a child's life.

As for me, I had to have a biopsy last week for a suspicious mass the doctor found. They botched the biopsy and it really was traumatic for me. The doctor called me yesterday and said she had good news and bad news. The good news is that what they did biopsy had no cancer it in. The bad news is that they biopsied the wrong place. I have to have another biopsy. I wanted to tell her that I would rather have undetected cancer than to let her touch me again. But I restrained myself and explained that there was no way I would do it before going to Israel. So the second biopsy will be in July. Please keep me in your prayers.

And finally - our trip to Israel is just around the corner. We are starting to really think of an agenda and are hoping to at least see Treppenwitz, Gila, and Jameel. My offer is still open if anyone needs us to schlep anything there or back for them, just let me know!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I hate field trips

(Bus rides make us meshugge!)

We just recently got back from a 3 day field trip to St. Augustine with LO's class. I usually avoid all the field trips since I just don't love the noise level. However, this one was over several nights, so there was no way getting out of it.

We obviously survived the trip but here is a little overview of what I will always remember as the "Punishment for Being Jewish" field trip...

Day 1
We got up at 4:30 am to be on the bus by 5:30 am. The bus drives to a rest stop on the turnpike for breakfast. Breakfast was anything you wanted at Burger King. (Thankfully, I had brought some fruit in my backpack.) Back on the bus for several hours we head to Ocala to Silver Springs. Lunch was a hamburger and chips. (Guess what we ate?) Back on the bus again for several hours we head to St. Augustine where we stop for dinner at Applebee's. (Guess what we ate? Or should I say guess what we didn't eat? Do you see a theme here?) Then back on the bus to go to the Old Florida Museum. Eventually we get to the hotel. It was just shy of 10:00 pm. Exhaustion doesn't begin to describe it.

Day 2
On the bus at 8:30 am. Off and running the whole day - you name it, we saw it. The St. Augustine lighthouse, the Lightner Museum, Ximenez Fatio, a tram tour, Ripley's Believe it Or Not Museum, the Oldest Jail, the Heritage Museum, ended the day with a walking Ghost story tour. We got back to the hotel after 10:00 pm. The highlights of the day: (1) Making an unplanned stop at a church on the tram tour. While the whole group went inside for a tour of the church, LO and I were left to stand outside in the blazing heat. (2) Dinner - spaghetti and meatballs with cheese baked on top. We were told to just take the meatballs and cheese out and then LO could eat the spaghetti. Yeah right. UGH!

Day 3
On the bus at 8:15 am. One parent and child are still not on the bus by 8:45 am. Turns out they were still asleep. Behind schedule we headed to the Oldest Fort, the Fountain of Youth, the Oldest House, and the St. Augustine Village. At the Fountain of Youth, we had altacocker guide who really didn't like children. One of the parents was making fun of him and said to me, "He sounds like all the other Jews." You should have seen the look on his face when I told him that we are Jewish. (Heh heh.) Lunch was provided but when I saw the Honeybaked Ham bags we didn't even bother. On the way home, the bus stopped in Melbourne for dinner. It was a buffet and I kid you not EVERY ITEM had some kind of pork or bacon in it. We got home at 11:35 pm - hungry after 3 days of eating nothing but fruit, chips, and ice cream. Days later I am still trying to recuperate.

Lessons learned?
(1) Never trust that a tour operator will make concessions for kosher food when requested
(2) After eating the same thing for three days at every meal, even ice cream gets old
(3) Adults kvetch WAY MORE than children do about being hot, having to walk places, and being hungry
(4) I still hate field trips

(Sorry for the boring post...but Jack insisted! And afterall, we're all here to please Jack aren't we? LOL)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Miami Beach Synagogue Vandalized

Since I made my blog private I don't have the readership that I used to but perhaps you all can get the word out about this - they certainly could use all the help they can get at this time...

Miami Beach Synagogue Vandalized


Police on Tuesday were investigating a fire that damaged a Miami Beach synagogue early Tuesday during Passover. The Chabad Shul, located at 2401 Pinetree Dr., was vandalized and its Torah stolen.

According to CBS4 Tiffani Helberg, detectives were told by congregation members that the Torah, a religious scroll of Jewish laws and customs, a centerpiece of its religion, was taken. Pieces of the Torah were found outside. Its value is more than $40,000.

"We could see all the prayer books there, all burnt up you can find them, but not one inch of the Torah remnants," said Rabbi Zev Katz. "And we found the pole to the Torah outside. Something strange happened; this is definitely criminal activity."The rabbi said he believed the fire was intentionally set, but Miami Beach fire officials have not confirmed it. The pole that holds the Torah found outside was brought to the attention of investigators as a clue as to what might of happened.A service on Friday at 7:00 pm will go on, and it will likely take place outside on the back lawn.

Congregation members have posted a $1,000 reward for information to find who might be responsible.

Click on Chabad House on Wheels to learn more and if you could help.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Uhh...that's not kosher

My company has flown in a candidate from Chicago to interview for a Vice President position. The headhunter said to be prepared because the man keeps "strictly kosher". Be that as it may, the department secretary came to me for advice on what they could feed him. I explained that in our area there are no kosher restaurants but that there is a kosher market where they could take out food for him. I also explained how they could not use the plates and utensils from our cafeteria. (I also offered to bring him to dinner in North Miami where there is a plethora of kosher restaurants as well as give suggestions in case he needed a shul to daven at. ) I left it at that figuring they would ask me if they had any more questions.

I completely forgot about it over the weekend until this morning when I saw a man with a kippah in our department. So I went to ask the secretary what they decided to do for lunch for him. She told me that they were bringing him to a restaurant and then she told me which one. She explained that they were "kosher style". I explained how this was NOT ENOUGH. I explained how they serve pork products there and how he won't even be able to drink a glass of water there. No one seems to care. I am so embarassed even though this candidate does not affect my particular work. I am almost tempted to give him my own lunch. Ugh.