Chanukah 5771 roundup.

Well, that escalated quickly.

I thought Chanukah with a non-infant kid would be more fun, but I guess Chanukah with two non-infant kids will be more like it. Except for when there’s no school the whole week and I want to rip out my hair like I see my coworkers doing.

But the 8 crazy nights, and days, went by pretty quickly. By the eighth night, holding (and breaking) an unlit candle didn’t suffice and Koala just wanted to touch fire.

We saw party Koala in action, too, as he had two birthday parties this week and a Chanukah party at gan. He likes boons (balloons) and he loves crowns (Chabad gan loves crowns). But mostly, he likes eating. And I learned a valuable lesson that either people have to put out food right away when throwing parties for kids, or I feed Koala before he walks in.

In sum, it goes without saying that he loves a. donuts, b. fried potatoes, and c. fire, if only he could get his little fingers on it.

Happy Chanukah!

What have I done?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t freaked.

Though the truth is it’s only starting to dawn on me how awe-some and terrifying it is.

I’m beginning to comprehend what I’ve done. It really is dawning; first the expectation of the rise, and then the initial tips of the rays. Pretty soon I think I’ll need the sunglasses.

With Koala proving to us more and more – by the day – how much his toddler vocabulary includes Hebrew words, I find myself stepping back and holding on to the counter for stability. I’m raising my child in Israel. Another country. Not where I grew up. Not where English is society’s first language.

It took an Israeli friend at our house on Shabbat to realize this. Sure, the huz and I  have joked about his sudden bursts of ‘mayim!’ or ‘dai!’ but when a fellow native speaker hung around him this weekend, we started to realize that a lot of the gibberish we take for granted was actually Hebrew words like ‘rega’ or ‘sicah.’

And all the questions I used to casually wonder about come crashing down on me…

Will he have a thick accent in English? Will he be able to fully express himself to my parents? Will he shun everything related to my home-culture? Will he embrace it too much?

When I mentioned the weekend as a humorous anecdote to Koala’s ganenet today, she looked at me quizzically and replied, “Ma at rotza? Hu Yisraeli.”

As he tackles more and more words, I come to realize more and more I’m an immigrant parent.

Fire preparedness.

No winter, an idiot burning trash, a dry forest – Haifa has way too much light this Chanukah.

The news has become international that for the last 24 hours 5,000 acres of Haifa (Carmel) is drowning in the worst fire in Israel’s history. Israel is great at being prepared for terrorist threat, thorough in airport security, braced for most impact… But fires are not our thing. This is a place where buildings are made from stone and what forests we have we are lucky to have.

Which is why we definitely need help. Without a winter this year, with no rainfall, the forests are dry and the conditions are ripe for exactly what happened. And have you seen the aid roster? Britain, France, Romania, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia, Azerbaijan and Russia… Ok… Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. It must be 2010.

Meanwhile, back in Tzur Hadassah… where we’ve averaged a handful of mini forest fires per week for the past month. We get an email this morning from the Va’ad:

All firetrucks and fighters have been deployed to Haifa (all being all two for our forest-heavy area). Any male over the age of 18 who is able, should be prepared to join the team to put out a fire here if necessary. Wear appropriate clothing, bring wet rags, and blankets to put out the fire. This is the status until Sunday.

What is this, 1852?

Priorities are priorities, and perhaps firefighting is just not one in this country. But considering the drought we get, the precious status of forest, and the poor education of fire safety to the general public, who by the way, are either obsessed with igniting bonfires, barbecues, or their trash, I think it’s time Israel took a little responsibility and taught our citizens proper outdoor fire safety.