I've said it a million times before. I love my iPhone. Until I moved across the globe I never really had a need or desire for a smart phone, but since I've been here, it's become a crucial part of keeping in touch with everyone back in the States.
This might just be the coolest app offered yet!
The iKotel: Bringing the Western Wall to the iPhone
by Elad Benari
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation has launched a brand new iPhone application that brings one of Israel’s most precious sites, the Kotel, right to users’ phones.
The new application allows users to watch the Western Wall Plaza live on their phones at anytime, take a virtual tour of the Western Wall tunnels, and send a note to the Kotel through the iPhone. The application even features a compass which is pointed towards Jerusalem, a particularly useful tool for worshippers.
The Western Wall rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, welcomed the initiative and said: “The Western Wall has been in the heart of every Jew in the world for 2,000 years. It is only natural that in the technological age there will be ways to express the love and devotion of the Jewish people to the Western Wall and to Jerusalem. We hope that the new application will strengthen the younger generation’s bond to the Kotel.”
The application is available in Hebrew, English, and Russian, and may be downloaded free of charge from the iTunes store. Welcome screen:
"R!" "R! It's time to get dressed." "R!! Please answer me when I'm talking to you!" "My name is not R. My name is Black Chest."
"Black Chest? Why Black Chest?" "You know, like a pirate." "You mean, like Black Beard?" "Exactly, but I don't have a beard, so I'm Black Chest."
Or later the same day, on a walk with B to the merkaz he says to me, "I'm having a vision." Startled, I reply, "Wow, a vision of what exactly?" "You know, where you divide one number by another: A Vision."
Along the same lines last week he came home from school and told me his test was on "Divination". "WHAT?" "You know, multiplication, divination."
And so begins the long slow dance of forgetting our English...
I would be remiss if I didn't jot down just a quick note about today.
Today is one year since TPH's grandfather AH"S (Grandpa W) passed away. As I type, TPH, A and B are at Saba's house for the Yartzeit Seuda. Not only do we miss Grandpa W, but it's an important milestone for us as well. One year ago, TPH escorted the aron on the flight to the levaya (funeral) in Israel. And one year ago, TPH made his decision; it was time for him and his family to return to Israel.
I don't want to sound like some cow-towed wife who follows her husband around the globe at random, but since the very first time I met TPH there have been two things about him that have stood out above all others; his tremendous kindness and sensitivity towards others, and his unequivocal love for Eretz Yisrael.
Besides these, TPH is smart. So smart in fact, that he visited schools while here for the shiva without telling his wife. So smart that he met with principals and other families with kids our ages. So smart that he applied to said schools and got accepted. Then he came home and started the not so long process of selling that wife on the idea of moving back.
So, it's been one year today since this whole craziness began.
We miss you Grandpa, and thank you. In your merit eight of your children and His have returned home.
Blogging is not something that can be done on command. Ever.
Having a husband that works from home is 90% Awesome and 10% Not Awesome. Take for example, the fact that he can dodge out several times a day to drop off and pick up R from gan. Awesome. Or, that when we are having a homework meltdown or episode, or simply have four kids who need help at once, he can jump in when needed. Very Awesome. Or, when scary Arab looking man is at the door (plain old Sefardi water guy) I can panic and send him to answer it instead. Totally Awesome.
But then there are the times when he is trying to work, and small people with red hair cry incessantly by his locked door to be let in and played with. Not Awesome. Or when he has a conference call and we have to tiptoe around so he can actually hear what the other parties are saying. Not Awesome. Or, my least favorite of all, when my laptop is in the shop, and somehow it is MORE IMPORTANT for him to work than for me to check FaceBook or blog at my own convenience! Not Awesome at all. Hmpff.
So, during this time of withdrawal computer repair, I have concocted several sneaky ways of getting him off the computer for 3-5 minutes at a time. Like, "TPH! The toilet upstairs has a leak!" This usually gains me 2 minutes, enough time to update my status and quickly return his settings to normal, until of course he realizes the toilet is functioning perfectly fine. Or, "Could you PLEASE go and get some milk?? Diapers? Eggs?" is actually a pretty good one, and will give me a full half an hour to myself.
Only those of you who have computeritis like myself know how serious this can truly be. The day starts off fine, with a perky, "I can SO do a day without the computer!" attitude. Until about lunchtime.When I start to shake and get that scary look in my eye he'll mope out of the room to give me a few minutes to fuel my addiction.
So, during those rare times in the past week or so where he's given up his favorite toy, I have had to force myself to write, and on command! And as you can see, it is not pretty.
We are closing in on six months. Six short months after taking the plunge and moving to Israel with our 6 kids, leaving friends and family far behind. I've been thinking lately about how some things have changed in these six months, and how some things are very much the same:
We no longer kvetch, cry or stamp our feet because we have no car. We take the bus, taxis, or train, and get much use of the delivery options the stores have to offer.
I never, EVER would've thought it possible to live 6 months without a clothes dryer. Not only do I still not have one, I am thinking that I may try to make it through the "winter" without one.
Car seats seem optional.
The kids no longer run terrified into the house when someone stops to ask them directions. Now they smile and give beautiful directions in Hebrew.
We are praying for rain, and not praying for the rain to stop.
We still miss our dogs.
We have been to the Zoo in Jerusalem 4 times.
The 25 minute walk up to school is not only doable, it's "fun!!!".
N knows how to fully operate Skype. He needs Bubby, and he can dial her right up.
My kids prefer Israeli ketchup.
They can also now tell over much of the Parsha at the table.
There are only 3 months left to Ulpan. (Hebrew classes specific for new immigrants.)
We still miss our Sundays.
Not only are the kids not nervous to go into the stores by themselves, but they stop there on the way home from school every day.
I no longer find it particularly remarkable that it's 72 degrees outside, and it's the end of December.
N somehow knows to say "Shalom" to Hebrew speaking strangers, and "Hi" to English speaking ones. Don't ask me how, he just does.
I will call the kids' teachers instead of doling out the task to #1 Hebrew Speaker: BAW.
We are almost unpacked.
We still miss our friends.
I can count on one hand the times I have worn my sheitel (wig) since I got here.
A had his first Hebrew speaking play date, and lived to tell the tale.
We still haven't set up our Wii, and we are still alive and kicking.
Mr. "Ma Zeh" is the least afraid of all to use his ever increasing Hebrew vocabulary.
I do still lose my breath every time I round the corner and come upon the Kotel.
There's been lots of talk of late of FB's privacy policies and the like.
I spent some time this past shabbos getting informed by a friend about their new policies, specifically involving photos. News to me is that once your photos are posted (and even if you delete them!) all photos are property of FaceBook. I have at present, 152 albums (not photos, ALBUMS!) on FB. And it has started to make me nervous.
There are things that I LOVE about FB: being in touch on a daily basis with friends I would've otherwise had nothing to do with in the past 20 years, being able to share life with close friends and family, even though I am half a globe's distance away from them. But all of this privacy business has been giving even me, one of FB's biggest promoters a moment's pause.
I'll be the first to admit that I use some of FB's features and it keeps me and my "friends" out of trouble. The HIDE feature allows me to block incoming updates from "friends" whose language is more than desirable, whose postings are blantantly boring and inane or whose shabbos menus are just making me want to shoot myself. Don't worry, I'm not feeling THAT snobby, I'm sure plenty of people block me, too! I mean, really, how many updates a week can you read about a crazy 2 year old?
This is not the first time I have been disenchanted with the big blue network. I have seen (and been involved in!) senseless fights, hurt families and friends, loshon hara and sinas chinam. I have also seen new friendships formed, old ones mended, a spreading of Torah and tremendous Kiddush Hashem. Over the years I have been struggling hard to stay on this side of the fence, and to convince others to do the same. And yes, it's been a struggle.
So, while I am still holding strong and posting daily, my faith in FB is starting to waver just a teeny bit.
I've been avoiding my blog. Not intentionally mind you, but it seems that every time I get a minute to sit down, too much has happened to report, and it's overwhelming.
So, just a quick catch up: Chanuka was beautiful! With different sets of family here back to back we were busy, busy, busy! Chanuka parties, W "shabbaton" (we counted 238 lit menorahs between our house and the Ws!), pool rental for all the cousins, Ammunition Hill on the first day of vacation! We love that place, we've been going there since before we even had kids. It's the mixture of the history and the pride in living in Israel, and the humility one feels when you can actually see how much others have sacrificed so we can live where we do today.
I'm sure most of you are well aware by now of the Carmel fire that spread through parts of Israel during the holiday, but I wanted to make mention of it here, for posterity. BH the fires have been put out, but they are now saying that this may have been the worse natural disaster Israel has ever faced.
Z arrived in the middle of Chanuka, and it was a great visit. It never gets boring to show "new" visitors all the sights and sounds of Israel. We did the Shuk, Old City, Kotel, and Malcha (KFC, baby!) all in one day. Traveling without a car is hard. We take buses, trains, taxis and mostly do lots and lots of walking. I came home that night and tracked our trek through town that day, and it was close to 3-4 miles. After dinner, we took the train home. By the end of a day like that, we were beat!
But up and out early again the next day with Z: showing him around the merkaz, and then some of the bigger kids took him on one of their favorite hikes, to Mearat HaTeumim, which we affectionately call The Bat Cave. The hike ends in a cave full of bats, which unfortunately was closed for the winter :(. Not to worry, BAW made Chinese for dinner; he made some and ordered some from the restaurant that opened ON OUR BLOCK!
The next day we headed with the Ws and Z to the Biblical Zoo in J-lem. Again, getting there was a pain (I drove BAW and 3 boys to train, then came back and picked up Z and 2 more kids, and 1 kid went with Saba)! But well worth the trip in the end. We came back and had pizza. I am confident that Z now thinks that we ONLY eat out. Z and D then headed out to J-lem to see the sights, while we called it a day and put everyone to bed.
Friday was more low-key as the kids were back in school, and I had lots of cooking to do. Shabbos was a bit of a let-down because we had grand plans to take Z out and show him around the neighborhood, but a very sudden, very weird sandstorm hit. Around lunch time (ok, that's 10am here, but who's counting) the sky suddenly got very orange and you couldn't see anything. The wind was blowing like crazy, and there was sand everywhere! Even inside R needed his inhaler and everyone else was complaining about sand in their throats and crunching between their teeth.
Sunday we headed out to take S back to school in Be'er Sheva. and the sandstorm just got worse and worse. There was very poor visibility on the highways, and at one point we went for Shwarma and couldn't eat normally because there was sand in everything. Well, that and because I put this ridiculously spicy thing on my shwarma, with no idea as to a)what it was, b)what it tasted like c)if it was poisonous, toxic or otherwise life-threatening.
S's school was surprisingly nice. Clean, nice campus, nice teachers, Rabbis, etc.
Sunday night the storm finally broke and we woke up to freezing, pouring rain! BH!! We've been waiting, fasting, praying! It has stopped now, and we still need tefillos, but BH there was some. We'll take whatever we can get.
Z left last night. I spent most of the morning cleaning and getting to things I've been neglecting for a couple of weeks. Today is Tuesday, our short day at school, so by the time I get everything clean, the Gremlins will be back to wreak havoc.