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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How do you say Lego in Hebrew?

A couple of days ago N and M were on a morning walk when N spotted an extremely colorful butterfly fluttering in a bush.  "Abba," he cried out "look at that amazing butterfly."  And just as Michael looked over a bird swooped in.  "Seriously?!"  N asked.  "Even butterflies have it rough?"

And so it seems, with news of shootings at the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish nursing home in my hometown of Kansas City, and the father of a 3rd grader in N's school shot dead by Palestinian terrorists on his way to Passover Seder.

This particular butterfly made a narrow escape.  "I guess that's why they flutter in different directions--it's a defense mechanism," N suggested.  And so it seems.

With all the fluttering here I've certainly fallen behind on my blogging.  So a 30-second catch up.   Passover.  We cleaned, we ate, we hiked.  Seriously, we had a fantastic time.  The kids get the week before Passover off so there are all sorts of attempts at activity to keep them entertained.  L got to participate in a netball camp (I had never heard of the sport but her Australian buddies were quite familiar), A had chicken pox so stayed home and N went on a Bnai Akiva trip to the Kinneret.  A's entire Kindergarten class had been vaccinated but 1/3 of them came down with chicken pox.  Fortunately, because of the vaccine she had an extremely mild case.

We celebrated our Passover seder with friends of a very creative bend.  There were costumes and characters, good food and interesting insights.  Walking home, N told me that he wouldn't compare it to being with his grandparents or the D family (shout out to Hannah--my kids wanted to go for pizza with you after chag was over!) but that he finally felt like we were home.  A bit of my heart might have actually melted in that moment.  There might be those who move here and miss the second seder or the extra days of Yom Tov (Sabbath-like part of the week long holiday) but I'm not one of them!

This year we visited the city of Beer Sheva  couple of times.  Once for a festival with a large group of Olim and once on our own to visit the new science museum for kids.   Beer Sheva is about an hour away so it of course took our family two hours and a stop to get there (for our gang, more than 15 minute drive = road trip).  The museum was amazing.  Our kids had a blast.  One of the guides told me that I should really take A to the "Lego exhibit" as it was only there for a short time.  When we got to the exhibit it turned out to be a tent (outdoors) with a bunch of Lego inside that kids could play with.  Reminded me a bit too much of my living room so we skipped that one.   We also toured the Ayalon Institute, the site of an underground factory where Jews secretly manufactured bullets that were used to secure Israel's independence. If you are planning a trip to Israel, I would definitely put it on your list.

We even spent one day at the beach, though it is definitely early in the season.  The tides were pretty strong, so we mostly hung out on the closer side of a sand bar.  What we at first thought might be a plastic bag turned out to be jellyfish.  The kids asked a man standing there (in Hebrew) if the jellyfish could still sting, as it no longer appeared to be alive.  He answered in English and told them he was only visiting from Canada.  They spoke a few minutes (in English) and when he asked them where they were from, they replied "Modiin."

Lital came up with an intra-family mail system.  She created a mailbox from an empty kleenex box.  Quite creative.  She then proceeded to explain the 37 steps necessary to send mail.  One of the things I can't figure out is when my kids invent these games with so many rules and regulations, is it a byproduct of having moved to a bureaucratic country or just their nature.  Anyway, after convincing her that just putting the person's name on the letter could also work, we have had such fun.  I recommend every family create a mail system.  We have been pleasantly surprised by many of the letters.

And almost the moment Passover was over, Israeli flags were getting hung all over town for the upcoming Independence Day celebration.  It seems that one celebration just flows right to the next.  Our courtyard of dreams organizes a presentation that blends Memorial day into Independence Day.  One literally ends as the other begins so all 3 kids have dance/play practice this week.  The songs A has been singing from her Kindergarten are so cute.  On a sad note, they also get introduced to Holocaust remembrance at a young age.  I think the schools do a very good job presenting it but it is of course rather emotionally overwhelming, for any age, and all the more so for young children.  L drew a picture in art of Jewish people hiding behind bushes, and under water (with breathing sticks) and scary men with swords trying to find them.  A woman in the center is holding her baby and L explained she has a scared look on her face because she is realizing that she is too late to hide.

Meanwhile I am 2/3 of the way through my observation period at the hospital.  A colleague mentioned that my Hebrew is really improving but I fear that I may never master the language.  It still seems so daunting.  Thank goodness my broken Hebrew is spoken with an American accent so I get some cred.  It's pretty interesting how patient people actually are.  The vision of my late grandfather who died in NY without ever learning English is so different to me now.  But I plod on.  Many times in the ED it is a group effort, with patients who are waiting (everyone is always waiting a very long time) pitching in with translation.  Like a crowd-sourcing live "google translate" button, but one that gives real words instead of the strange translation google often provides.  Today I told a resident that I would go in to see a patient with him because the patient was in somewhat critical condition,  and I feared losing time to my efforts to understand and be understood in Hebrew.  The irony of it was that when we entered, the patient told us that he "only speaks Russian."

Tonight I head out to visit my dad.  His chemo has apparently stopped being effective and I want another visit.  Distance from family is a hard part of aliyah.  N told me that he didn't think I should take this trip because since I am already planning to go back for work this summer and will see my parents at that time, he felt that this trip was making the statement that I didn't think my dad would be there in the summer.   We video chat a bunch, but the last time the kids saw my dad was last August.  Let's all pray that they will see him again this summer.