Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Northern Lights and Reflections: the War and Alternate Universes

It's been over two weeks, soon approaching three weeks.

I'll start at the beginning.

No, actually, I can't start at the beginning - I'll have to start in the middle.

In the middle of davening on Shmini Atzeret, I went outside of our shul and unwittingly stepped into an alternate universe. But it took some time until I understood that.

Our shul is the tiniest shul in town, and we meet inside a bomb shelter, so we were literally inside shul with our heads underground on October 7, when the world changed. 

We didn't know what was going on in the south. We were just focused on the Tefillot, our singing, dancing with the Torah, and being happy that we were able to celebrate another Simchat Torah with our Or Hatzafon family... Inside our shul that day, we were in our normal universe.

I went up the stairs and outside into the courtyard during Yizkor, and someone came over and told me that something was going on in the South, so we should just be aware. I said thanks for telling me. He said, lots of people are being called in but we don't really know what's going on. My normal universe shook a little, or so I thought. I didn't understand yet that we had actually entered an alternate universe.

Then a couple of minutes later, someone told me that the town security team asked him to instruct us to leave the miklat (bomb shelter) unlocked after we finished our davening. I was a little surprised because what does something going on in the south have to do with leaving our bomb shelter in the Golan unlocked? Feeling like my normal universe was shaking, I didn't really know what to think.

So I went back into shul. We finished our Tefillah and had a small kiddush together (cake and ice cream!) and then we locked all the shul's most valuable items up into the closet in the shelter, and left the shelter open. That felt really strange and unsafe, and I was kind of wondering what universe I was actually in.

I told myself that there have been other times when local residents got a little jumpy and didn't like the idea of a closed shelter, so the powers that be must be trying to avoid that, and leaving the shelters open was just a precaution they chose to take, in order to keep from having to field complaints. After all, we hadn't heard any sirens and it didn't seem possible that an uptick in the south would really impact us... The normal universe and the alternate universe are really at odds, and my brain was working very hard to convince me that I was still in my normal universe.

On our way home, we saw a friend who'd been checking the news and he told us that there's been a horrible massacre at the border of Azza (Gaza), and it looks like we're at war. He told us there are hostages in Azza (Gaza), including children, he told us no one really knows how many people were killed, but it is BAD. And then he told us it looks bad on the Lebanese border too. We were shocked. And really confused, but now we knew for certain that we weren't in our normal universe, and we had, in fact, stepped into an alternate universe.

In this alternate universe, our existence as a Jewish State and as a nation is being threatened by Hamas. Our lives have been radically changed overnight. Our country is at war, our business is effectively closed, and our safety feels tenuous.

And in this alternate universe, there are over 200 hostages being held by Hamas. Hostages are being held by terrorists who savagely murder our people and openly declare their goal to destroy every Jew. 

I cannot imagine the hell they are being subjected to, because that's actually another alternate universe, one that should not actually exist.

Please daven for ALL the captives. It doesn't matter who has what passport - we need to bring them all home. My heart is broken for them.

Find out more about each person behind held by Hamas. If you can manage the Hebrew, watch this series.

Each and every one is important, and a world unto themselves.

Help get them out of their hellish alternate universe.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Stay at Home Fun with Bagels & Locks Studios!

This #stayathome thing is really hard.

We've been basically self isolating because of some of our family members' pre-existing conditions and we are trying very hard to avoid exposure to the novel Coronavirus.

That being said, it's hard to stay at home for all this time. 

We have not had the complicating factor of our work outside our home, because our family business, the Safed Puzzle Room, being part of the tourism and entertainment sector, is closed. Unfortunately, this translates into actual, real, serious financial issues for us.

But instead of wallowing in self pity, we allowed ourselves a short period of time to absorb the shock that our business will likely not survive the pandemic, and then we decided to pick up the pieces.

So we worked night and day and day and night, and we created an amazing (if I may say so myself) online Israel-themed game that families, couples, and groups can play from the comfort of home: IsraelQuest: Challenge One, under the umbrella of Bagels & Locks Studios. More games are in the works!

I don't want to give the game away, but let's just say it's SOOO cool and fun for experienced puzzlers and escape room buffs, as well as for novice players and kids. You can choose from 3 options: IsraelQuest: Challenge One (for adults and teens 14+, novice or experienced puzzlers), IsraelQuest: Challenge One Jr. (for kids age 9-13 or novice puzzlers), or IsraelQuest: Challenge One Pro (for experienced puzzlers age 15+). And the price is amazing - it's currently available for an introductory price of just $10 (instead of $14.95) -- this way it's truly accessible to all! And best of all, you can play the game whether you know Israel well, or don't know anything about Israel! It's really that versatile.

Be sure to let me know when you've played, I'd love to hear what you all think of it!
If anyone wants to review the game, please reach out to me privately! Thank you!

Want to help out? Click on one of the share buttons on this page and share with your network! 

Follow Bagels & Locks Studios on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And of course, play the game! (And Virtual Hugs are welcome!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesdays in Teverya (Tiberias)

Now that I don’t live in Teverya, I do find that the occasional full day of errand running and taking care of business there can be great. Exhausting, but great.

Not only do I get things done that I need to do (like see a medical specialist and buy shoes for my kids), I also get to bump into random people.

Last time, I bumped into other NBN olim, and some old friends, this time I bumped into a cousin from Jerusalem.

I also get to talk to shopkeepers – I spoke with the owner of a bakery who lamented the fact that Teverya is being underdeveloped and overlooked and that all of his children have chosen to go live closer to the center of the country. This made me sad, but I was so glad to get to hear the perspective of some of the "real people of Teverya".

Today I wanted to shop at the mall. The air conditioning lured me in. Plus the promise of so many stores in one place...

But it wasn’t to be. We had a really hard time finding what we needed, and in the end, the shopkeeper at the last shoe store I went to listened to my complaints about not being able to find suitable shoes for my teenage son, and she told me to go to her branch in the lower city of Teverya. But she didn’t tell me WHEN to go.

Now, I have noted with frustration in the past that it seems that some stores in Teverya just randomly neglect to open again after the 2-4 siesta break. I marveled at their ability to not worry about losing business by not bothering to reopen... So I wasn’t completely surprised to discover that the shoe store we were headed for was closed.

And then, while I was talking with my son about it, we passed store after store in the lower city of Teverya that had not bothered to reopen after the 2-4 siesta! It seemed like they thought it was Friday afternoon!

And it turns out, there is actually an historical reason the stores don’t reopen. My son had heard about it from a tour guide one day...

We found out that for a period of time beginning in 1931, stores in Teverya all closed on Tuesday afternoons because there were planes coming from Athens and Cyprus landing on the Kinneret to deliver mail and passengers (who would reboard in Tzemach for other destinations), and refuel on the way to Bagdhad! How utterly fantastic that all of these shopkeepers keep alive the memory of this spectacle by not doing business on Tuesday afternoons! I wonder how many of their grandparents and great-grandparents actually remember going down to the watch the planes?

And when I say it's fantastic, I mean, it's somewhat exasperating and annoying. And a little bit cool too.

So - you have been warned - Tuesday afternoons in Teverya are for hanging out at the lake. NOT for shopping!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jamie's Prematurity Story

My husband and I made aliyah shortly after getting married and I was pregnant with my first due to give birth in Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Karem September 15th. During my 31st week of pregnancy I suddenly felt tightness in my stomach but just brushed it off like it was nothing...

We decided to go check it out soon after just to make sure indeed it was nothing...on the way to the hospital my stomach was tightening and loosening with no time in between...putting 2 and 2 together it was contractions...

I was almost fully dilated by the time I got to Hadassah and was was told I needed an emergency c-section. They pumped me with a drug to help mature my babies lungs but warned me it likely won't take effect because they were performing surgery at that moment. I've never been so terrified in my life - not for me but for my helpless baby being ripped from me too soon...

I was completely under with general, so I didn't get to hold my baby which I wouldn't have anyway even if I wasn't under because she was born in a dangerous state of respiratory distress. After experiencing hell and back in the NICU, I got to hold my baby and then a few weeks later she was breathing on her own and out of the incubator. and by 6 weeks she weighed 2.2 kilo!

I brought my baby home and she's a healthy 5 kilo now, EBF and beautiful. Baruch Hashem for Hashem's miracle babies and koach that us Mamas need to have throughout it all.

 Here is collage I put together shortly after she came home, she's much bigger now

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cross Posting from Frugal and Kosher

I published this on my other blog, but since there are SO many venues for Science Night in the North, I figured I'd cross-post it here as well.

I hope this is helpful information!

Science Night - Free events!

--- Retrieved from http://www.kosherfrugal.com/ ---

This year's Science Night is Thursday, Sept 12, 2013, and there will be free events all over the country! These events are designed to make science fun for all, so it's sure to be a night of somewhat geeky fun. PERFECT.

So here's the info you need:

Events will take place at 14 different locations around the country, and all are free.

MadaTech in Haifa will have special programs from 5pm - 10pm

The Technion will have programs for age 9 + (advance registration required)from 4pm - 10pm

Haifa University will have programs from 5pm - 10pm for ages 4+ (advance registration required for some programs

Migal (in Kiryat Shmona) will have free events from 5pm - 9pm

Tel Aviv University will have events from 4pm - 11pm. Advance registration is required.

The Hebrew University in Jerusalem will have events from 5pm - midnight. They will also run programs in Maaleh Adumim at 5:30 pm

The Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem will have events from 4pm- midnight

The Open University will have events at the Raanana campus, from 4pm - midnight. Advance registration is required

The Weizmann Institute will have events from 5pm - 10pm

Ben Gurion University will have events from 5pm - 11pm. Advance registration is required for some events.

Bar Ilan University will have events from 5pm - 9pm

SCE will have events in Be'er Sheva and Ashdod from 4pm - 9pm

The Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute (Eilat) will have events from 5:30pm - 10pm

Moona (in Sakhnin) will have events from 5pm - 9pm

Hope you can find your way to one of these events!
Let me know if you went, I'd love to hear about it!

If you found this post informative/useful/important, etc, please follow this blog (links on the right!) and find us on Facebook!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Elul Thoughts

We recently moved. We debated and debated and thought long and hard about this move. In the end, we jumped in and bought a house. In the Golan. And we really do love it here. Only there is this issue - that we're really quite close to Syria. I would minimize this issue, but they've been involved in a very bloody, terrible civil war, and are posturing now - threatening to send missiles to Israel. And we all know that they have Weapons of Mass Destruction.

So we have our gas masks, and we sort of know how to use them, but we don't want to ever have to use them...

The threat of war in the week before Rosh Hashana makes me think that this may just be our wake up call. 

It's time for all of us here to remember why we're here - whether we sacrificed much to come to Israel, or if we were born here and this is just "home" - there's a reason we stay here and are loyal to this little country in the Middle East. It's our homeland. And we must remember that this is the homeland of ALL Jews, no matter what type of head covering or, perhaps, no head covering. We are all here in our homeland, together. 

Now, it's time to set aside our differences, stop the bickering, and try to find a way to implore Hashem together - in all our many ways we daven - to watch over us and protect us.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

So misguided

Recently, someone was posting pleas for Hachnassat Kallah everywhere in the social media world, at least in the social media world I am part of.

I understand that Hachnassat Kallah is a very important mitzvah, it really makes sense to help those less fortunate get on their feet at the beginning of their married life. Especially in the case of a bride or groom without family support.

However, this plea really struck me as inappropriate. The writer says that they don't have beds, enough money for food monthly, or "even" a HAT to wear to the wedding!

This plea just turned my stomach. It made me think of how messed up people's priorities are. They are arranging for a HUGE wedding, with a band, and catering, and wanted a special wedding gown, a special suit and hat, presumably because that is the cultural norm. It seems to be expected that couples (or their parents, or a benefactor) will go into debt to throw a party beyond their means... Not only that, but then they refuse to accept used items, for couples who don't have enough to meet their basic needs on a daily basis.


When we first got married, I accepted used items. I still do. Without that, we'd be in trouble, as it is really hard sometimes to make ends meet, even with gainful employment. Especially in Israel.
When you tell us that the Chatan learns half a day and works half a day and cannot afford food for his family, does it really make the case that we should all give him money? Just so he doesn't have to accept the indignity of working full time?

Why not sponsor a modest backyard wedding, with homemade food, a very small crowd... and help the Chatan find a full time job? And with all the money saved - a lavish wedding costs a TON - help them get on their feet? Who needs flowers? There are so many ways to make a "simcha" on a budget, and this organization, instead of trying to turn that into a dignified answer for people who don't have a lot of money, has chosen to make it their mission to help destitute people look like they are "keeping up with the Cohens"! So misguided, in my opinion.

I was reminded of this article on Orthonomics, and I think it would be great if our communities could re-examine the way we celebrate smachot.

Here is the basic text of the plea - it is bound to be replaced with another "current couple in need" at some point soon.

Currently, while they have a hall, catering and music, they have absolutely NOTHING ELSE! They lack even cutlery and crockery for the food! There isn't a photographer at this point in time either!

The bride has nobody to drive her to the Chuppah, no proper wedding dress, nobody to help her with her make-up on the big day and not even a pair of shoes appropriate for the wedding day! There are no flowers! She has no special bridal chair to sit in! She lacks a veil! In short, there are some serious basic necessities missing to make this Simcha even the start of a true wedding Simcha! In addition, the guests - mainly the Avreichim of the Kollel - have no way to get to the wedding. They require a bus to take them through and we have no way at this stage to assist them with this!

The couple lack beds for themselves, a stove, fridge, washing machine. But more, the Chatan does not have enough for a Tallit or even a hat! The Chatan learns half day and works half day but his salary does not provide enough even for food each month! They lack the basics in clothing and by no means have the ability to purchase new clothes for the wedding!!!

We accept ANY new items to assist all our couples - which are passed on directly to the couple. Financial donations may also be given. Money is not usually given directly but rather used to purchase the items the couple actually need - and which are then given to the couple directly - much to their delight!!!

If you are able to give ANYTHING to this couple (items or Tzeddakah), you will be truly taking part in a very special Mitzvah assisting a special couple! Financial donations can be done directly on the website below. Anybody who has a wedding-service they could provide - see services that are needed as above - including just coming through to dance(!) is asked to please contact me as well. Money is not the only thing needed here. There are real items and services that are required to make this wedding a success! Those who can donate services or items please contact us immediately