Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Battles in an Ancient Land

The sun has set on Modi’in, and now, in the Israeli darkness, we head off toward Jerusalem.

But we are not there yet. First, we ride on the 443, a road that connects Modiin to Jerusalem, passing within a short distance of Ramallah. There is no speed limit on the 443 after sunset. Your only limit is the car in front of you and the power beneath your hood.

Music is blasting. Tonight its Bon Jovi, and Living on a Prayer shakes the car, as it flies through the night on the way to a modern day battle.

It is Wednesday night, and our destination tonight is Kraft Stadium, a football/soccer facility built by the Kraft family of New England Patriots fame. In the ancient city, where every path can tell tales of history, where battles were won and lost; Jews, Romans, Christians, Moslems, Turks, Crusaders; they have all fought here; died here; Won battles and lost wars; and tonight a modern battle is about to be waged.

It is Women’s American Flag Football night at Kraft Stadium, and Zion Tours is Playing the Eagles. Veev plays receiver for Zion Tours. Her team is a mix of young and old. Three teenagers on the team mix together with women, primarily in their 30s, but reaching as old as 60.

The team is 1-2, and tonight, they are playing a team comprised of girls in their late teens and early twenties. Girls on the precipice of their lives, meeting women who have already waded through early adulthood and womanhood.


At its very core, football is a man’s game. 350-pound behemoths battling over a line of scrimmage, trying to squeeze out an extra yard from each play. It is violence mixed with grace, punctuated by, in the words of William Safire, committee meetings.

But this game, flag football is different. Players try to move the ball, earn first downs and score touchdowns. They pass and run, and occasionally, do something remarkable. The ball is smaller, to fit smaller hands, and the field is shorter, only 60 yards instead of the traditional hundred.

The potential for violence is there, but it is deep beneath the surface. There were two injuries. Nothing serious. A smashed nose and skinned knee. A few collisions at high speed sent some of the players sprawling, but they got back up and continued to play.

It is, of course, not the same game we watch on television, but similar. Referees make calls and players catch balls, drop balls and make plays.


On this night, it is youth that rolls through the experience. The Modi’in Mommas, as they are affectionately known by their husbands and fans, have trouble making plays and completing passes. The quarterback dislocated her finger, although who really knows if it would have made a difference. Certainly she wasn’t blaming the loss on the injury.

At halftime, the Eagles lead the Modi’in Mommas 13-0. Later, trailing 19-0, the Modi’in Mommas have a chance to score a touchdown, when the ref mistakenly blew the whistle ending the play. A few minutes later an interception is run back for a touchdown, and women of Modi’in head home after a 25-0 loss.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shvita and Other Israeli Treats

When we landed, on October 21, 1987, there was a port strike. Having just arrived for our year in Israel, my family and I waited next to the conveyor belts for each of our boxes to come out. If memory serves, it took close to two hours as the workers put out one every 2 minutes.

Today there is a general strike here, and to my knowledge, I have never cared nor noticed whether the workers were striking, or not.

Here's how the Shvita affected me today:

I tried to call the elecric company, but it was closed for the strike.
I might have to go in to substitute for my Gan daughter's aide, as she might still be striking.
No mail.

In other news, I have had a sinus infection for the past three days. Today I found Kleenex with lotion in the supermarket. When I got it home and cracked it open, I almost cried when I blew my nose (which would be OK since I had a tissue). Ah, the little things.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Revisiting September 26, 2005

In late September 2005 I wrote a post where I discussed a shuir I had attended, probably the previous evening. Without getting into too much detail, I wrote that "The party line at Yeshiva was that there was one acceptable use of one's time, that of learning Torah. Sure, there were times when you might not be able to learn, but that was not fulfilling Hashem's plan." If you want to read the whole post, you can click here

An anonymous commenter who is new to the blog came across my post the other day, and left a comment, saying the following:

"Monday, September 26, 2005
Things they would never say in Yeshiva"

I just came across this blog, and in particular the above mentioned post from last year.

I don't know anything about your blog and what its MO is, but I do have to comment on that ball playing issue you mention in that post.

I actually have a picture of R' Bakst ZTL, playing ball baseball glove and all). He was in his 50's or 60's (he already had a beard). I also knew him personally and know his views quite well.

Sorry about the outdatedness of this comment, but as I said before I just happened upon that post.

Anonymous brings up a number of interesting points, which I will go through.

Since you don't know anything about this blog, here is some background. There is no agenda to this blog. There are few posts that actually have substance, although there are plenty of amusing stories (both fact and fiction) from my yeshiva days. There are times when it is decidedly negative toward yeshivas, but that was the experience that I had in yeshiva. I do not pretend to represent anyone other than myself here, and the truth is that at this point in time, posts about yeshivot are few and far between. Nowadays, the blog's focus is usually on our move to Israel, and our experiences in Modiin.

I am truly surprised that there is a picture of Rav Bakst wearing a baseball glove. I knew him long after his playing days were over, as I met him in the early 80s when my family would daven at the Yeshiva, and was in his Yeshiva in Detroit from about 1986-1989.

While Rav Bakst may have played baseball in his earlier Detroit days, by the time I arrived in the Yeshiva, playing sports was tolerated but hardly encouraged and frequently discouraged. Whether that was a policy encouraged by Rav Bakst or just vigilante Rabbinics by his staff is immaterial; students in the yeshiva, as well as other yeshivas I attended, were generally discouraged from participating in any activity that did not involve learning in the Beis Medrash.

What was so surprising and refreshing from that shuir that I mentioned in the September 2005 post was that Rabbi Klein, who I believe was in the Kollel at the time of the shuir, and quite clearly has a black-hat yeshiva background, had no qualms about telling the shuir how he felt about non-torah learning activities. Whether he would say the same thing to 15-year-old high school students is debatable, although my experience with Rabbi Klein leads me to believe that he is considerably more realistic about the nature of boys and the role yeshiva should be playing in their lives.

Since this was brought up, here are two more cents of mine. I think Yeshivas do a lot of damage to students when they create unrealistic expectations regarding the quantity of torah learning that is expected from students in yeshiva, and the premium that they place on learning Torah above anything else. While it is possible that attitudes have changed, I suspect that walking into any general studies classroom in most black hat yeshivas would demonstrate a profound lack of respect for the materials and teachers. Among other things I witnessed in the general studies classroom when I was a student were racist remarks written on the blackboard by a top gemara learner in the class directed at a black teacher, firecrackers and cigarettes lit in the middle of class, and students running to Rav Bakst to complain about reading Shakespeare because the play we were reading contained the word breast (in a non-sexual reference) in the dialog.

What I am trying to say here, after all this, is that I regardless of any picture or activity that Rav Bakst participated in during his earlier days in Detroit, the message sent out to me from the yeshivas I attended was that anything that didn't involve Limud Torah was a complete waste of time, while the shuir I discussed in that post had a different perspective.

I know I'm a Week Late But...

This is what happens when Veev goes to bed early and I am left on my own with nothing good on TV.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Actual conversation in Hebrew this morning:

Me: Wish me a Happy Thanksgiving
Owner of the Cafe where I learn every Thursday: What's Thanksgiving?
Me: It's a very important holiday that's celebrated in America, it shows thanks.
Owner: For what? What did it come from?
Me: When the Olim Chadashim came to America, the Indians were kind to them, and they all had a great feast.
Owner: (Pause) Weren't there wars between the new guys and the Indians?
Me: (Longer pause) Ummm, you're right.
Owner: Soooo.... what are you giving thanks for?
Me: Um, turkey.

Happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Follow up to "Be a Weiner..."

Either I was listening to an ad from a different lottery organization, or they have changed their campaign.

This morning in the car I heard something that goes like this:

Play the lottery. Will you win? Halevai! Phoo, phoo, phoo.

Cracks me up. I guess any country where a common slang word among even unaffiliated youth is "Tachlis" could have this commercial.

Aruchat Yeladim

I don't know where she comes up with this stuff, but Veev thought it would be a good idea to have an Aruchat Yeladim. That is, a meal planned, prepared and served by the kids.

Once a month, she said, where the kids are in charge of dinner.

That meal, for this month, was last night.

My oldest was in charge of cooking. My littlest was in charge of cutting vegetables. And my middlest was in charge of something, I'm sure, although I have no diea what it was.

They made Mac and Cheese, a meal I am not particularly fond of, but the kids really enjoy. And they served pop, which we rarely have during the week. ALong wiht salad, dressed with dressing my oldest made. And there were pickles, full sized, not cut up the way that Veev or I would serve them.

I think it was a worthwhile thing for the kids to do. Except for one minor thing.

The salad had no flavor, and the Mac and Cheese was really bland. But the Pickles were excellent.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Women's Flag Football

Veevs Believes that I am not posting frequently enough. Especially considering that I spend a ton of time at work.

So here goes nothing.

Veev, as you may know, plays for Zion Tours in the women's flag football league. She is a receiver for the team, and her team is 1-2 after three games, with a bye this week to help them rest up for the remainder of the grueling season. Most of the girls in the league are 18 and 19 year old seminary girls, but Veev's team is comprised of several women in their 30s and 40s. Needless to say, they are not quite in the same shape as the young girls, and they all themselves the Modi'in Mommas.

I, as none of you know, dabble in fantasy football. In truth, I hate fantasy football, because who do you root for when your beloved Lions lead by two and your fantasy team's field can get you the win if he hits the field goal, but it will beat your Lions.

Still, I signed up, and first week of the season I won my game because my idiot kicker beat the lions on a last second field goal.

So I was sitting yesterday in shul, thinking to myself, what if I went to JJ in front of me, and told him that his wife was on my fantasy team. What would happen?

After reviewing all the possible scenarios in my head, I created this piece of work. Note, the sound is a bit off because thats what happens to flash when you put it on the web, but I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Tournament

After shabbat, when it ends early, we like to let the kids watch a movie. The problem is, with a four year old a seven year old and a ten year old, its tough to find a movie everyone wants to watch.

So I took sixteen movies, paired them off, and had the kids pick their favorite movie of the pair. The winner went into the next round. My Littlest had first pick, and chose Stuart Little over Scooby Doo's Greatest Mysteries.

Next, my oldest picked ET over Beauty and the Beast, and my middlest picked Monsters Inc over Dumbo. My Littlest then picked Scooby Doo and the Monster of Mexico over Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase.

The second bracket began with mty oldest picking the Sandlot over Pinochio. Fieval Goes west won out over Mulan. Spirit of the Cimmaron beat out Emperor's New Groove, and Shrek defeated Peter Pan.

The Semi Finals began with ET beating Stuart Little to go to the Final Four. Scooby Doo and the Monster of Mexico beat Monsters Inc for the second spot in the final four. Feival Goes West beat the Sandlot and Spirit beat Shrek to round out the final four.

Scooby Doo and the Monster of Mexico beat ET for a trip to the finals, and then, in the upset of the night, Feivel goes West continued its Cinderella run toward the finals with a win over Spirit.

In the Finals, Feivel finished off its Cinderella run, and was the champion.

Which is why we watched it even though my littlest cried and cried that she didn't want to see it. Because you can't question the perfection of the tournament.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


As I was leaving the house this morning, I noticed an arab worker roaming around the complex. He didn't look like he had anything of consequence to do here, but I didn't stop him and ask if I could help him out. And I didn't "think on it" too much after that until I came home from football practice. (More on that another time)

I was walking into the parking lot feelin' fine and I saw two arab men jumping over the fence of a neighbor's house. They were on their way out and pulling something with them. I should mention that most of the people who live here are gone from 7:30 AM until after 4. I didn't stop and ask what the hell they think they're doing, and I didn't call the police. I did, however, keep walking quickly and locked my door behind me immediately upon entering my house. I also haven't opened any windows yet in the house because I am afraid to.

What should I do? What would you do? I feel sick...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Bubby

My 90-year-old Bubby is going in for surgery next week for a lumpectomy. She has breast cancer and one lymph node is also affected. While she is technically a survivor (I'll go into that another time), this is serious and she needs Tefilot.

Please add to your list: Hinda Raizel Bat Sara

Thanks, I'll keep you posted.

43 Things

About a week ago I was in an internet rut, and looking for things to do. I got a few very helpful responses, but the best response came from Ezzie, with a cryptic comment that said Addictive. Turns out that the throwing paper into a basket game was a gateway game to Dots and Helicopter, all three of which I could easily pass through my day playing.

Last night, I googled Gilmore GIrls free downloads. Having not ever downloaded TV before, I thought that would be a good way to find out.

Before I get too into this post, i should tell you that Veev and I are huge Gilmore Girls fans. The show is possibly one of the worst, lightest, fluffiest shows on TV, a perfect way to relax and end the day. And of course, we get to hang out in Stars Hollow with Loralai and the rest of the nuts who live there. A very guilty pleasure show.

But I digress.

My Google search led me to a site called 43 things, where people create lists of things they want to accomplish.

Yes, there are 1,288 people out there with a ststed goal of watching every episode of Gilmore Girls. You can make comments on people's goals, set your own goals, and declare whether a particular goal is worthwhile.

If you are looking to get through the work day and laugh at other people's goals, I highly recommend the site.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Another Oldest Story

Our boy isn't exactly the biggest risk-taker (except in Shesh-Besh), and sometimes funny outcomes stem from this character trait.

I have always bought tear-free shampoo for the kids, but have always cautioned against getting soap in their eyes in an effort to teach them for "one day." One day, they wouldn't have "no more tears" shampoo and they'll need to know what to do. Last week we ran out of the shampoo we brought with us from the US and our oldest was the first to notice that the new one isn't tear-free. He started shrieking in the shower complaining that he was blind and needed me to run out and buy "normal" shampoo. I told him to get used to it, and that at 10 years old he should take a shower like a man. And then I left him to his own devices.

Next morning, I saw his solution. Goggles on the floor of the shower. :-)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Son is the Man

For those of you who have been following the Airtime saga since its inception about 10 years ago, you might recall that our oldest was deemed a "man" by his father when he urinated standing up for the first time. There was quite a decription written by Air at the time, and, should anyone be interested, I would be delighted to post it.

But today, our boy has embarked on a lifetime of adulthood. He changed his first lightbulb. He looked worried, very much like my father and my sister, when it came time to get up on the step stool, but after assurances from me, he took a deep breath and climbed up there to the top step. Lefty loosey, righty tighty, I told him, and hopefully it's one of those things he will one day say he learned from me.

The funny thing is, in my house growing up, my mother and I changed all the lightbulbs. So maybe he's the woman.