Saturday, November 27, 2010


I love Shabbat in Israel; it is quiet and peaceful all around. We actually live in a mixed sort of neighborhood - so the streets are not empty, but they are emptier. And everywhere you look, there are families spending time together. It's not a shopping day or a work day, it's a real day of rest. We spent our day davening, learning, reading, playing games, resting, and of course, eating Shabbat food and singing Shabbat songs. (What about you? Leave a comment about your favorite way to spend Shabbat!)

And now that Shabbat is over, my husband and kids get to go learn Torah in a group in the Holy City of Teverya. There is a weekly gathering at the Maimonides Heritage Center, a program for fathers and children to learn together as a group. They work on a different topic every week, and everybody walks away enriched and ready to have a week filled with good things. What a great way to spend Motzaei Shabbat in this city that used to be a major center of Torah (many Tana'im lived here)!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Archaeological explorations

The apple of Teverya's eye right now seems to be Park Barko, located south of the city right near the Kinneret (right near the Holiday Inn and Malon Hof Gai). It is a wonderful park, still partly under construction. It boasts open green spaces (where my hubby and kids tossed a ball around), a large ampitheater (to be used for concerts?), a nice playground for younger children (swings, slides, climbing structures, etc), a “park etgari” - obstacle course style playground – for older children (this costs 5 NIS per child for Teverya residents, 25 NIS per child for non-residents), and our favorite part: the ruins of the Ancient City of Teverya dating back to the 1st century C.E.
Oh, and ample free parking is available.

We really love the new park, and my kids love “time traveling” - with my youngest yelling “time tunnel!” whenever we enter the ruins. It's really a great way to spend the day, living in a land steeped in history...

My only question is, if this is Teverya's new pearl, WHY is the playground locked until 4 pm (sunset is about 4:35 this week)?!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Natural Bliss, part 3

I continued my quest for healthy food. I checked the natural/organic section at Rami Levy (supermarket that is commonly known to have the lowest prices in the country). I found a few items I am used to buying – organic flour, whole wheat pasta, organic corn meal, organic cane sugar, to name a few. I even splurged and purchased some, mostly in an effort to make myself feel better about the food I am serving my family, not because I thought the prices were reasonable. I also discovered that Rami Levy carries organic milk, 3% only(!) - where oh where is the fat-free milk in this country? - but for about 12NIS/liter. Slightly out of reach. No organic produce. I did find “Maya Teva” products in the dried goods aisle, which included flaxseed that says on the Hebrew label that it is grown without chemicals and pesticides (this information does not appear in English, so for people with limited Ivrit this would be difficult to understand).
They also carry 3 different types of eggs – conventional (about 10NIS/dozen), free range (about 20NIS/dozen), and organic (about 30NIS/dozen). I opted for the free range, and decided that I should continue my quest for affordable healthy food.

The next time I found myself in the center of town, I made my way over to the little Mazon Organi store. It turns out that it is practically brand new, and has a very clean look and feel to it, albeit small. I decided to buy a few things (organic eggs for 22NIS/dozen seemed a relative steal at the time!)... The proprietor is also an oleh (perhaps from South America somewhere, I couldn't quite place his accent), and is very friendly, though perhaps a bit desperate for human contact after sitting for hour after hour in his empty, pricey store...

I also checked out the natural section in Shufersal Sheli in town. I found organic oatmeal and pricey organic cookies and granola. To my surprise, I even found an all-natural whole wheat bread in the bread aisle! Overall, though, I was disappointed at the lack of selection and availability. By now I had decided that organic jam was no longer a necessity. I would settle for something that is 100% fruit...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Natural Bliss, part 2

After my first trip to a local health food store, I lowered my expectations before looking for the other two stores I had heard about. Both are in the center of town – one is under the building which houses HaMashbir, also named some generic “Teva” name that escapes me, and the second one is practically brand new, and located right near the Post Office; it is called “Mazon Organi” (Organic Food – not the most creative of names, but definitely to the point!). I decided to scout them out.

First, I visited the “Teva” store that is in an alley “under” HaMashbir. I walked past it twice before realizing that it was there. It too, was tiny, and it is stocked with a very eclectic collection of “natural” and “health” items, if you define that term loosely. Of course, most of their prices are exorbitant, and much of their stock has a thick layer of dust covering it, not to mention that I couldn't make out any order to their shelves... They have a wide selection of supplements and natural remedies, and they have a tiny refrigerated section (smaller than my dorm fridge in college). Apparently, one can place a produce order through them, but I didn't stay in the store long enough to find out how. I surveyed the place and dusted off a few bottles of cold-pressed oils to check prices, and went on my way...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Natural Bliss, part 1

Those of you who know me may think I am kind of obsessive about living a “natural” lifestyle (yes, I even bought chemical free mattresses – they are made out of cotton and wool, and covered in organic cotton!). I figured the Northern part of the country would be a really good fit, since there is less pollution, less congestion, and a much greater emphasis on nature. All of this is true, but the one thing I really miss is a good natural foods store (depending on the day, this might mean Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, the Buford Farmer's Market, or even SuperTarget!).
So, to put it mildly, I have been searching for the best way to find all the staples I like to keep in the house. First, I asked around and discovered that there are three health food stores in Teverya. This sounds so encouraging – I mean, a relatively small city, and enough people eat healthy to support 3 separate health food stores! Yay! What more could I ask for?
I found my way to the first one I heard about – a store across the street from Kever HaRambam (Maimonides' gravesite). (This store has some generic name like Chanut Teva.) I walked in, and discovered a store about the size of my walk-in closet in Florida. I seriously have more shelf space in my kitchen than this store has in its entirety. The proprietor smiled, and asked if I needed help; I told her I just wanted to look around first. I was disappointed in the selection and even more disappointed in the prices. I walked out without filling up my reusable grocery bags...
p.s. for those of you who are looking for an online health food store option check out the Organic Wholesale Club! They are based in the U.S.A., but they do offer international shipping! (Just watch out for customs limits...)

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Brand New Day

Gorgeous vistas greet me each morning outside my new home (in Teverya - Tiberias). I cannot deny the beauty of the city and the Kinneret down below, and the mountains to my North and East. We can see Tsfat, another holy city, from our Mirpeset (balcony). We can see the Hermon, at the border of this tiny, wondrous country.
Unfortunately, I haven't made the most of these morning views – generally I take it in while I hang up the laundry. But I have made a decision to make a concerted effort to allow the view to elevate my mundane morning tasks, and help me start the day with a feeling of wonder and awe. Tomorrow morning, I hope to start anew.