Odds and Sweet Ends

This may be my last blog (or next-to-last) from Israel -- my abridged 3-month Sabbatical is coming to a close and Pesach is near. Marian and Ranana have arrived and we are preparing for Pesach. Here are a few things, and some pictures, that I am sure you will enjoy: Pesach My formal classes ended on a Thursday, two weeks ago; at night we made matzah, from scratch. Enjoy the photos, which are in order. The she’murah (guarded) flour had to be precisely mixed with a certain measure of guarded water -- then hand mixed and kneaded, then sent to a pounder, then to rollers, then to those who perforated the matzah, then carried on wooden rods to the ovens -- the whole batch, yielding several block

Israelis - Hot, Cold or Somewhere In Between?

Israelis are by-and-large “reserved.” In St Louis, people usually wave, say hello, and respond with a smile. Some Israelis stare a bit -- I sometimes feel I am being scrutinized by El Al’s security; most others look down or away, avoiding any semblance of eye contact. When I pass someone walking to the Yeshivah, even a boker tov is, at best, “reservedly” reciprocated. At the shul where I have davened -- it was only after 20-25 times at shacharit, minchah, and arvit -- did anyone in the small group come over to greet this “stranger,” and awhile after that that I was offered an aliyah. The few that have belatedly come over are always Americans. At services on the other side of Efrat, it

Israeli Politics

I take this opportunity to explain Israeli politics as I see them. Recently Israel’s police department recommended that the chief prosecutor indict PM Benjamin Netanyahu on several counts of illegalities: regularly receiving expensive cigars, champagne and other gifts from businessmen in return for favors; and, separately, for trying to improperly influence newspaper reporting on his government. The nation is waiting to see whether Netanyahu will be indicted and if so whether he will be convicted. This may take a while. Perspective # 1: Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, was forced from office in 2009 after police launched an investigation into allegations of corruption, and he later

Tu Bi-Sh'vat & Purim, Israeli Style

I wasn’t sure what to expect. How would the yeshivah in particular, and Israel in general (at least in Efrat), celebrate Tu bi-Sh’vat and Purim? How different would it be from my American-Jewish experiences, and particularly those in St Louis? A Tu bi-Sh’vat seder was informally organized by a few of the dozen students in my class, and it was much like ours. The table was filled with an array of various fruits and wines, along with some harder liquor (see pic) But there was no formal seder and dinner was soup -- a tasty sweet potato version, prepared by Avraham from Brazil, one of the students; he is a chef who also cooked for one of the sheva berachot celebrating Micah and Alyssa’s wedd

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