|Volume 1, Issue 2||
November, 1997 Cheshvon, 5758
It feels good to finally be getting out some news to all of you. I actually wrote a few pages several months ago, but never completed the letter. I kept getting distracted by my beloved little ones, the phone, or whatever. Let's see how far I get this time...
Simcha Layah with Sleeping David and Hannah
Hannah is now a year old. She was an early walker-since the beginning of 10 months. Now she's starting to run, and boy, is she quick! She says a few words such as "this," that," "sit," "hot," "yes," and "Abba." Oh, and of course "Hi" and "ba-bye." She is as cute, curious, and playful as a kitten. She loves to cuddle with us. She has never had "stranger anxiety." She'll go up to a guest in our house and ask to be picked up. Hannah adores her older brother. David loves Hannah, but also suffers from bouts of jealousy. Poor little guy. Even though we try to shower him with love, attention, and affection, people often overlook David when they see little Hannah's smiley face. He used to be the little one who got so much attention by his beautiful light blue eyes. Hannah, by the way, has brown eyes. Actually, they were hazel up until very recently. The two siblings are quite different from one another in both looks and personalities. Fortunately, despite some jealousy on David's part, the two are special friends. Hannah really adores her older brother, and of course wants to participate in whatever he is involved in. Although David feels good about this attention, it also can become annoying, if you could imagine. But, thank G-d, David sometimes has a lot of patience with her, and they are able to play nicely together. It was so cute when Hannah began walking with more confidence-the two little ones would walk all through the house, hand in hand, out into the courtyard, and back in the house. What a treat for me to watch! They have even taken turns pushing one another on a toy car. David really looks out for Hannah. If she falls down and gets hurt and I am in the other room, David comes running to get me, "Ima, Hannah fell! Go pick up Hannah."
Hannah, Walking on the
I don't give Hannah so much solid food yet. She often gets sick (usually all over me!) from eating solids. Her digestive system needs to mature more. So she's still mainly nursing. David feels sorry for Hannah when I give him a snack and not her, so he shares with her! He knows her favorite food is barley, so whenever I give him something with barley in it, he calls out to her, "Come, Hannah," and he spoon feeds her!
Today, when David came home from school, Hannah greeted him as a puppy would when seeing his master upon his return home from work. She squealed with delight, ran over to him, and gave him a full hug, and then proceeded to climb all over him. He liked that.
When Hannah awakens from a nap, I call out to David, "Hannah's awake!" David says, "O.K.," stops whatever he is involved in, comes into the bedroom, and climbs on the bed to play with his sleepy sister. May they always be this close!
Hannah, with Chayim
Chayim has been learning full-time in Yeshiva since just after Passover. He plans to complete a year of full-time learning, and then carry on with the learning on a part-time basis. He works a few hours a week in the offices at David's school, computerizing the fund-raising efforts, records, and correspondence of the Tzfat projects of the Breslev Chasidim. He also does computer consulting work from time to time, including the construction of an internet web site for our Shul (www.kosov.org.il).
David Turns 3 This Month
David with his Light Blue Eyes
A very important day in a Jewish boy's life. We follow the custom to have his first haircut at age three. (Just as we do not use fruit from a tree until it is three years old, so we wait until three to reap a boy's first crop of hair.)
David, Undoing his Shoe Lace
David already began elementary school this year. We thought he would be in pre-school for another half year. But all of a sudden, David decided he didn't need diapers any more during the day-which meets the criteria to allow him into the school. He is one of the youngest in his class. His favorite part of the day is the bus ride to and from school. He has already learned several letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The school is all in Hebrew, and we speak English in the home. David understands a lot of Hebrew, but doesn't really speak it yet. When he does, he can teach it to us! Our Hebrew doesn't seem to be getting much better-everyone speaks English!
I just started putting Hannah in a play group for about 2 hours a day, 2 or 3 days a week. She really enjoys it there. This enables me to attend some inspirational Torah classes that are held for women in the community. I was unable to continue attending classes at the end of the last session, because Hannah kept wandering off and climbing the steps. When I blocked the steps, she'd scream!
Simcha Layah, Cook
I've sort of stumbled into an unexpected business avenue. People here in Tzfat seem to like my cooking. I have done several catering jobs-usually for around 50 people. I have had to turn down a few jobs because of too little notice, or already being over-booked. I was hired to prepare salads and other prep work in a new meat restaurant here in Tzfat. I worked there until the owner became very ill with Hepatitis. Thank G-d, he has made a complete recovery. However, he lost a lot of business during the peak of the season, and could not afford to hire me back. I originally told him I would only work for a salary higher than most, because I get the job done much quicker than most. All that restaurant experience I had as a teenager actually pays off!
Both a women's Yeshiva and a men's Yeshiva have approached me to cook for them. I'm nervous about that kind of commitment, because it's a lot of hard work, I'll most likely get complaints, and I don't think that kind of work really pays. There is a new art gallery café that is supposed to open up soon near our house. I would not mind working there if the conditions were right. People have asked me to start an official catering service, but I don't want to do it by myself-I'm too insecure about my cooking and do not want to put pressure on my family. I'm looking into a partnership. Until then, I agreed to start cooking for the women's Yeshiva on a trial basis.
Bed & Breakfast
In the mean time, our Bed & Breakfast has reeally done well for us, thank G-d. We had almost every night in August full, and a steady flow of guests in other months. There are times when a long time goes by and no one is in the room. I appreciate the break once in a while, but miss the money. The truth is, although we like our privacy, I also really like the work. So many times, it's such a rush to quickly clean the room for people who just left in the morning, and get the room ready for the next people coming that afternoon. We've met so many interesting and nice people from all over the world, including India, South Africa, and even Alaska.
Over the past several months, we've hired someone to fix our roof, repair and paint the walls of our living room, and have custom bookshelves built. Finally, we now have pictures on our walls. I'm still dreaming about how, one day, my modern kitchen and bathroom will look. Some day ...
Although our home needs work, nevertheless, we are so appreciative of our home. Outside our kitchen windows, we see olive trees, Mount Meron, and breathtaking sunsets each evening. We enjoy our sunny courtyard where David rides his bicycle. I experimented with growing vegetables and flowers in our garden this past summer. A mother cat gave birth to five kittens in a corner of our garden. We were all there to see. We let them live and grow there for many weeks. I think Hannah thought she was a kitten too, for she would climb into the garden to frolic with them! We felt honored that the mother chose our garden to birth her babes.
The grapes grew in very large and sweet this year. The grapefruits are not so large. We don't know how to properly care for that tree. Also, we need to chop down our pine tree, for it is interfering with proper growth of the pomegranate tree. They were planted too closely together. I was pleasantly surprised last spring when I noticed these delicate pink blossoms floating into our courtyard, I suspected almond blossoms. That's what they were! Across the alley from our front gate is an almond tree-how nice!
The English-speaking population continues to grow here. I joined a recent newcomer to Tzfat and a small group of women yesterday on a nature walk. She is an herbalist, and pointed out various herbs and weeds along the way and what their therapeutic purpose is. We all had a good time and learned a lot. I had no idea before, that exotic and very expensive pine nuts come from ordinary pine cones! We also crushed a few blackening olives and rubbed the oil on our hands. It was surprisingly light and sticky, compared to bottled olive oil. The fruit itself was dark pinkish.
Every Saturday I have an open house to women in my community to join me in the third meal of Shabbat. It's a very special time for us. They help me use up my leftovers. We sing songs, shmooze, and give over talks and discussions on the weekly Torah portion.
Now that Shabbat ends early during the colder months of the year, there are frequent Melave Malkah's we can go to. Melave Malkah means "escorting the queen." It's a way of prolonging the Shabbat atmosphere a bit longer before the departure of the Shabbat queen. When a Melave Malkah is held at our shul, the Kosov shul, we enjoy the warmth of the wood stove on a cold and often rainy wnter night. Sometimes, the men roast potatoes wrapped in foil in the stove, and pass them out to everyone. Now, that's a treat! Melave Malkah's are especially enjoyable when there is live music. There are so many talented musicians in this community, and when they get together-wow! My favorite trio here consists of guitar, flute, and violin.
Each month, women gather in someone's home for a Rosh Chodesh party (the new Jewish month) Oftentimes, the party has a theme. This month, the theme is "Health, Beauty, and the Safe Use of Herbs." Everyone is supposed to bring a healthy snack-right up my alley.
Physically, it can be difficult living here in many ways-we don't have a lot of money or a car. Material goods are expensive, poor quality, and difficult to find. The medical system is backwards, not to mention the political scene, etc. However, spiritually, we are so blessed to be able to dwell in such a holy place. A beautiful place. To walk on the same paths of the righteous men of long ago. We are where we want to be in the world-where we belong.
That's all for now. Until next time, we wish onto all of you blessings of happiness, success, and good health.
Simcha Layah, Chayim, David, and Hannah
This Page Last Revised:
January 15, 1998