Koala update: Ten months.

Koala is ten months old and both his life and mine are starting to fall into place.

While Koala does not sleep through the night at this point, he does have a bedtime and he does collapse into it every night, for which I’m grateful. Having a routine is not one of my fortes, but it does mean knowing at a certain time of night we can commence the next part of the day (working from home, eating dinner, cleaning up) while Koala soundly sleeps in another room.

And, yes, I do a lot of nursing overnight. I’ve pretty much always nursed on demand and being away from each other for 8 hours of the day might mean more frequent night feedings, and I’m ok with it… to a point.

On the flip side, Koala has managed to find himself in a situation where his four upper front teeth are coming in at the same time. Is that like having triplets, where it’s really painful but you get ‘em all out of the way at once? It’s actual torture to watch (though it’s worse to go through, surely). Two of the teeth are in and two have just cracked.

But it’s not all teeth and sleep over here…

This month, Koala decided to buck up and walk some. A few Thursdays ago I was working from home and Koala was kvetching for attention. He’s at the point where I can’t work on my laptop sitting on the couch because he stands up, leans over and presses the keys (and closes programs!). So I looked around to find something new to distract him with and voila! In the corner was the lawn mower-esque walker we got when he was born, then dismissed as a present useful only in The Future.

The Future was this past month, because for fun I stood Koala up and put his hands on the handle and guided him while holding him steady. We took a few steps together, which was nice and patronizing (apparently). I let him sit back down and went off to get the camera because I thought a photo of him leaning on it could be nice for the grannies, but when I got back he was walking with the walker. By himself. Like a drunk person. But still.

Within a few days he was going from couch to coffee table to potted plant to couch. Anything that can be pushed (and makes a scrape noise against the tiles) is fair game as mode of transport. Koala is on the go.

So, yes, now there are plenty of photos and videos portraying thanks mama but I can do it myself.

In other news, Koala fell in love with a blue balloon that still limply floats through my salon, covered in drool, dust and some kind of white balloon decay.

Also, I’m pretty sure he’s learning to pose for pictures.

Camels and TV channels? Hasbara misses the point.

Israel’s new Ministry of Hasbara and Diaspora is not a shocking development, though probably ten years late. The thing is, it seems it’s completely missing the point. The heart is in the right place, but the message is… a bit off.

The videos on the homepage: Do British people honestly think we ride camels? Who cares if the Spanish don’t think we cook in indoor kitchens? The only one of the video examples on the new government-funded hasbara website that might actually make sense is the French woman reporting on gun shots heard all over Israel all the time. Acceptable, as it’s what a lot of people abroad (Jewish or not) truly tend to think after watching news coverage.

Then there are the tips offered when speaking to non-Israelis on your travels. Connect to someone by using broad hand motions, wavering voice tone and good body posture when speaking about Israel to someone else.  Ok, I’m simplifying it, a lot of the advice makes sense – body language is important. But. It’s a shame there is no mention of learning about the other culture before you go; studying the etiquette and ways of that region so you don’t make a wrong gesture or tone of voice and offend your hosts. I find that cultural-awareness and respect for other kinds of people is a problem, even inside our borders.

But the biggest thing the campaign completely misses: Derech eretz. Remembering who you are wherever you are, minding your manners and being a good example. Israelis have a reputation for traveling with no etiquette, no empathy and no concept that everyone is watching and making judgments. When you’re a guest in an another country, you have to play by their rules, or, yes, feel unwelcome.

And I don’t know that jumping on every native, waving your hands in a loud voice, talking up your own country is going to do just that. Maybe the best thing is to be a polite, appreciative, curious, memorable person who sets a great example of what Israel is deep down.

Look who's moving to Tzur Hadassah.

Somewhere deep inside, I knew this day would come.

Tzur Hadassah is getting a ‘commercial center’ – which is basically a supermarket and an ATM – on Rechasim street.

I am not for this in any way, but I suppose my opinion isn’t worth much since I moved here two years ago and I don’t own property. But still. It’s unnecessary. We have a big-enough rip-off makolet and supermarkets all around us in Beitar Illit, Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem. I don’t see the sense in destroying trees and neighborhood peace to create an overpriced Mister Zol.

The worst part is, they decided to do it on a peripheral, dead end street. I don’t get that. If they want to build a community center eventually, and there is already a school in the middle of the horseshoe that is the yishuv’s layout, why not make everything commercial in the center, too? Why disrupt  peripheral residents with a supermarket?

It’s only going to get worse; the ‘nature preserve’ across from my building is slated for construction as well (housing, though).

Maybe it’s time to look for a new small yishuv?

I took these photos less than a week ago and the building has already progressed significantly:

Hopefully a happy יום המשפחה (Family Day).

Five years in Israel, and this is the first one where “יום המשפחה” or “Family Day” has caught my attention. Well, it figures.

What used to be Mother’s Day here in Israel evolved into Family Day, including celebration of mother, father, grandparents, or whoever is taking care of you. It’s not a Hallmark holiday; there are no commercial gifts given. Children experience the most significant portion of the day at school, where they create paintings or art projects reflecting their families and in some cases, share photos of their families.

From what I gather after reading up, Family Day has actually turned into an inevitable problem. Israel is a place where getting married – even to a member of the opposite gender – can get very political very fast. Civil marriage is a sore topic and even two born-Jews trying to get married can run into issues.  Plenty of Israeli couples opt to not marry at all but remain ‘domestic partners’ with their own marriage contracts. Others are same-sex couples raising their families, born from a buffet of alternative methods. The divorce rate in Israel is sky-high, so single-parent families could arguably be ‘the norm’ in many communities.

So the inevitable problem of Family Day in Israel is when kids pay for not belonging to a ‘normal’ family. The most unfortunate thing is when kids are the ones who pay the price of ignorance, intolerance or insensitivity by being singled out, made to feel like less and mocked. Where is the education of children in tolerance and diversity? The concept of diversity being ok is so lacking across the societal board here, despite being such a multicultural society with a rainbow of histories and backgrounds… Why not start teaching children about it with Family Day?

Kids were only born; they didn’t commit to their same-sex lover or divorce their incompatible spouse. They didn’t feel like victims of the Israeli marriage laws and settle for living together unmarried. So why make the kids feel ashamed? Why leave children to defend societal non-norms and marital evolution?

Way to turn a happy occasion into a depressing State of family affairs.

Here’s a little piece of trivia, then. Israeli Family Day is held on ל’ שבט every year; random, no. It’s the yirzheit of Henrietta Szold, the American woman who founded Hadassah and started the first Youth Aliyah projects. She was known as ‘the mother of children’ for her work in starting the Zionist organization in Palestine that saved 22,000 Jewish children during the Holocaust.

Of course, Henrietta Szold had no children of her own, but hopefully she felt fulfilled, connected, loved and cherished by the thousands of children she touched with her work.

I wonder what she’d have to say about alternative families.

Take your coffee with extra חחחחח.

You know you’ve been here a while when you get all the jokes at a Jerusalem Anglo comedy show.

Presenting… HaHaפuch! Tonight was the group’s opening night; you may have already heard it of it from such performances as Facebook and YouTube.

How about a little description?

Our comedy troupe provides the other side of Israeli life, the daily dramas of bureaucracy, cafes, traffic jams, political troubles and more. And we do it through humor using improv, sketches, videos and music to let the world know that it’s ok to laugh at Israel and in fact there are a lot of funny things happening here.

Have to say, I was really impressed with the fact that with all the funny things we see and hear as immigrants in Israel on a daily basis, there is yet more that can be shared over improv, sketch and video comedy and still be hilarious.

The group aims to perform once a month, so stay tuned for its next showing.

As HaHaפuch says: Remember, Israel is funny. And if you don’t think so then you haven’t seen our show.

Teaching tech, by Israelis.

Came across this post from TechCrunch and thought it was only fair to share, considering my thoughts on Israeli education a few days ago:

Israel’s Time To Know Aims To Revolutionize The Classroom

This is the story of Time To Know, an enigmatic Israeli startup that has somehow managed to remain under the radar of Israel’s tightly knit startup scene…

…The basic thesis Time To Know is operating under is that today’s current classroom is following a teaching paradigm designed in the industrial age, i.e., a teacher standing in front of a class, a blackboard on the wall and students at their desks. Think of it this way… Imagine time warping a teacher from the 1800’s and implanting her in a classroom in 2010. She could basically hit the ground running with little to no adjustment in teaching style. Quite scary when you think about it.

And what TimeToKnow is about:

Time To Know’s breakthrough solution, created for one-to-one computing classrooms, includes an interactive core curriculum aligned to your state’s standards and a powerful digital teaching platform with robust teaching and learning tools.

Time to Know’s proven solution empowers students toward greater achievement and deeper learning.

Whether the idea can be successful is a healthy debate… But what we all have to admit is technology geared towards more effective teaching, learning, education – that’s a good start. Now that’s the kind of thing I would have expected.

Are my expectations too high? Not for the private sector.

Go hi tech!

Thank you for not smoking. Seriously.

I work in the Israeli equivalent of a big, fancy office building. That basically means it was built to be big and fancy, but it’s half empty and constantly under shiputzim (renovations).

My daily exercise consists of taking the stairs as opposed to the elevator to get to my office, so the ‘no smoking’ signs stuck in the stairwells are already a subconscious part of my climb.

Despite a ‘no smoking indoors’ policy, officially and non-profit stickerly, the stairwells always reek of smoke.

So today I wasn’t necessarily surprised to see that someone had taken it upon themselves to deliver a stronger message:

Hey, this is Israel. It takes more than soft diplomatic words to get what you want ’round these parts.

So would you please stop murdering the pregnant women and their unborn children with your nasty, poisonous, teeth-yellowing habit?