The Jewish State of education.

I feel a parental rite of passage has been reached tonight: next year’s daycare decisions. And so I begin the rant that I know others have had and yet here I am, new parent, new experiences, joining the fray.

Someone explain this to me:

This is a family-friendly country. Walk anywhere and easily spot a pregnant woman or a mother with a litter, big or small. Even take Charedim and Arabs out of the equation, and you’ll find tons of trendy maternity shops and baby stores in shopping centers across the country. Within the government’s basic health basket, couples are entitled to receive unlimited fertility treatments until they birth two children together - that’s to birth, not just to try.

Unfortunately, it is also a country where most parents have to work; the option of one stay-at-home parent is just so preciously rare.

Then why is the daycare situation so… dire? Why is it so troubling to get your toddler into a structured situation? Why are there three weeks in August when all baby daycares go on vacation at the same time? Why are there no long-term subsidized summer activities? Why does school let out at 1?

Money, money, money. Yes, I know. But it’s a deeper argument than just that. This is a place where so much creativity is utilized in making successful the medical, agricultural, technological, and military fields… Why not the very core of everything, our children’s education? I’m not just looking at you, Israeli government. I don’t think change must only stem from the corruption upstairs.

And my final question: As the Jewish state, founded on somewhat traditional (ok, touchy) Jewish principles, why would this country not work harder for a strong, successful education system for its children? For our children’s futures? Isn’t that something all strains of Judaism actually agree on, the value of education (never mind the details)?

We, the so-called People of the Book, can’t get our educational act together?

I don’t know yet which is worse: Paying through the ass for a Jewish education in the Diaspora or paying nothing for a sub-par education in Israel.

Old school.

Lately it seems like so much of old school life is stopping by to visit; I blame the gosh-darn social networks on the inter-thing.

It hit me yesterday that I’m at the stage in life where at any point, I can bump into a kid I was a camp counselor for, 12 years later when they are no longer 4 years old and they are strewn across a Facebook profile littered with txt speak.

Yikes. Old much?

Or I get tagged in photos so old they must have been scanned into the computer because there were no consumer digital cameras in the mid-90s. Standing around with a couple of high school sophomore boy friends on some Brooklyn street.

Then of course, there is getting friend requests from high school classmates I never would have remembered existed if I never went back and skimmed my yearbook (where is that thing, anyway?).

It sure is nice to have it all out there, stopping occasionally for a cyber tap on the shoulder instead of crashing into me at a high school reunion.

Koala update: Nine months.

At this point, the growing happens behind my back or out of the corner of my eye… I have to catch it when I can. Kind of like I’ve had to do since Koala discovered the stairs two weeks ago.

From the kitchen, I can suddenly turn around and see that Koala is reaching under the couch to get a ball. He looks like a kid.

Or I catch him peripherally, grabbing at the photo albums and I’ll turn and say, “no,” in my fancy stern mom voice. He’ll turn and look at me curiously. A few seconds later a cheeky grin spreads across his cheek-y face.

That cheeky grin. My favorite new thing? Koala knows how to make me laugh. And he uses it. Chances are, he grew to know my laugh while in the womb and is getting me back for all the bouncing up and down I caused him those 39 weeks.

My second favorite new thing? His relationship with Cheerios. The fact he always smells like crackers now. Baby soap and crackers.

Another favorite new thing? The sounds he makes. Especially when he yells at a wall from an inch away.

Or make that the internal rhythm he discovered a couple weeks ago, expressed in the form of a baby booty shake.

Expressive, he is. Koala arguably said his first word this month. During bath time, which is by far his favorite part of the day. He tried so hard, anyway. Da. Duh. Dththth. Duh. Dth. Duch. Duck! The mini rubber duckies he plays with in the bath were so appreciative, too.

My boy is nine months old, and so is my state of motherhood. And as such, I think this week I have truly begun to lose it. Not my mind, but my energy. Any adrenaline or freshly baked maternal excitement that’s been keeping me going the past months has drained, cooled, conked out.

How do all you working moms out there do it? How do I work two full time jobs, one that entails a nine-hour day and the other which requires 24?

I feel spent, and I join my parental peers in the perpetual search for the holy grail of parenthood – an endless, renewable energy source.

In the meantime, I look forward to Koala pitching in on the “Bring your baby to work” days.

The baby leaves of Israel.

Today’s Hebrew lesson: עלי בייבי

Not a hard term to learn in Hebrew. It means ‘baby leaves’ – you know, those tiny bits of greenery you put in salad that cost more than the other vegetables combined?

It’s also a term I made up for a certain type of middle-aged Israeli woman – you know the one. She has spiky dyed-red hair, her tight pants are sitting just slightly too high and her shirt is cut more than slightly too low. There are definitely sequins across her chest and they may spell a misleading English word that starts with an ‘S’ and ends with ‘exy.’ She could be high-pitched and whiny or she might sport the smoker’s voice.

And most of all… You see her at the supermarket. She is standing near you, in the produce aisle. She picks up a plastic bag of something; pretty soon you know exactly what it contains.

“…איזה יופי! אוי, מוטי, בוא תראה – עלי ביייייייבי”

That’s right. She just עלי בייבי‘d you.

The Google is Us.

A friend sent me Gdumb and so inspired me to play around a little bit with the Google suggestions-as-you-type feature. I explored the big three topics an Israeli Jewish blogger such as myself might feel connected to:

Image 1: Israel

I know I’m American, and I know that makes me a candidate for being dumb about geography, but I also haughtingly enjoy pointing out that I was a snotty Poli Sci major in ‘uni’.  Which is why I can chuckle as I smoke my pipe by the fire while looking at this:

Europe, eh? Then why are our EasyJet flights so expensive?

Image 2: Jews

I have some non-Jewish friends who would probably agree about all of the above. I have even more Jewish friends who would.

Alanis, sum that up for me: “I’m liberal, but hated… I’m successful, but cheap… I’m rich but I’m circumcised, baaaaby…”

Image 3: Aliyah

Ok, I said Israel and Jews, so… Finally, the ego-driven portion of this experiment:

No kidding, over one million results for ‘aliyah israel blog’? There are that many of us “I made aliyah, let me tell you my story whether you like it or not, hey wait, where are you going, I said I’m special because I picked up my Western life and moved to the Middle East” bloggers?

Stam.

Old school Israeli phonage.

Spotted in Ashkelon: Anyone remember these? A little younger than the Asimon-eating public pay phones, the Telecard-eating phones were a classic by the time I first started coming to Israel in 2000.

No, I didn’t bother to see if it still worked. Remember the one-in-a-million magical Telecard that would never run out?