Like the Rabbanut… on Facebook.

A couple months ago, out in Jerusalem, we noticed that kashrut certificates for restaurants seem to have been updated:

Hmmm… I didn’t even see it at first, but that ubiquitous blue F doesn’t stay out of your eyesight for too long.

The Jerusalem Rabbanut on Facebook – how kosher can that be?

So – would you like the Kashrut branch of the Rabbanut of Jerusalem… on Facebook?

Of course, you kinda have to if you do want to “ask questions and get answers online” since…

‏הרבנות ירושלים only shares some information publicly.‏ ‏If you know הרבנות ירושלים, send him a friend request or message him.‏

Can’t even make a proper Facebook Page, Rabbanut. Maybe that’s why you only have 53 friends.

Or maybe because everyone in Jerusalem is only eating Badatz these days.

The time I taught Koala about the atmosphere.

I left at 1:50pm to pick Koala up from gan, which ended at two.

Only by the time I had parked across from the gan’s front yard, and noticed the street was lacking other parked cars, and the yard was lacking children and laughter, I knew something wasn’t right.

And it was Koala’s face. Buried in the shoulder of the saya’at, eyes faintly red, the saddest frown I’d ever seen in my whole life. Staring out absently into the street.

I had done it. His first week of ‘big gan.’

I scooped him up when I got to the gate and I could feel his whole body lean into mine. It was clarified for me then that gan had ended thirty minutes before.

“Everybody went home,” he whispered to me.

“I know, I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry…”

“Why did you leave me?”

I’ll never forget his face. A little three year-old with his whole world come apart.

I’m not really sure how, but after we got in the car and started going, the topic changed to spaceships. “What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s an airplane that goes… higher than the sky… so high, it’s not blue anymore – it’s black!”

“That’s my favorite color!” Koala was ecstatic.

We got home, and I drew a picture of outer space.

Then we watched space shuttle lift-offs on YouTube, counting from ten, and drank juice.

Still innocent (phew).

So Koala was standing next to the shower while I was taking one (he didn’t want to be alone since he’s suddenly scared everyone is going to leave him).

I started shaving my armpits. He asks me, “Whoa, what are you doing?”

So I answered, “Shaving.”

Then with this really confused look on his face, he looks back at the sink, touches his face, and says, “Abba does shaving.”

And then I got all weird and was like, “Uh… yeah, girls and boys shave in different places…”

So Koala goes, ‘”Yeah, boys by the sink, and girls in the shower.”

Fifty-Two Frames: Natural Framing.

America loves water parks. And New York City loves water in local parks. And we love taking advantage of it.

Since I’ve been visiting with kids, we’ve discovered two awesome local playgrounds featuring water play on Staten Island. I’m sure there are more, and sometime when we go back, I’ll find out.

Week 34: Natural Framing

About to get framed…

Koala update: You have an American mom.

I grew up with this perception of the Israeli kids in school being pretty laid back, coming to school with their lunch packed casually in plastic bags. I thought it was really cool… because I was a kid, and anything I didn’t get to do was cool. Even if every year my mom took me to pick out whatever Hello Kitty, Lisa Frank, or My Little Pony lunchbox I wanted.

Fast forward to 2012. My son is three years old and starting his first year of official gan (gan trom trom). It’s the first year I’ll have to pack an ‘aruchat eser’ for him every day. That’s the 10am meal 3-5 year olds eat at gan because they don’t get a lunch until they leave at 2pm. I know right? I wouldn’t make it that long, either.

In so many ways, I’m already ‘that American mom’ since my kid always comes to gan dressed in clothes some of my neighbors go to work in. I make my kid say ‘please’ all the time. And I plan to send him in with peanut butter and jelly at least half the time.

Anyway, despite Koala’s abba bringing it up several times, I forewent the lunchbox option because I knew in my bones he’d only be starting out at the extreme end of Americanness. And any day now, that would start to matter more. And I remembered those chilled out Israeli kids with their plastic bags.

So I sent Koala to his first day with his Emek cheese sandwich and apple slices packed in a plastic Mister Zol bag.

When I went to pick him up, I was thrilled to hear he had a great time (!איזה בוגר). I was less thrilled that he was munching on a piece of sour apple taffy, his teeth highlighter green. But he was happy to show me around, and where he had eaten his aruchat eser.

“One thing though, Ima…” started his ganenet. “It’s not good to keep the lunch in a plastic bag, tied so tight… the food starts to go bad… So maybe tomorrow,” she added reluctantly, “keep it open?”

“Oh, sure…” And then I followed the ganenet to where she was taking his plastic lunch leftovers off the coat rack, where it had hung between a dozen… tiny backpacks.

“So… everyone brought tikim?”

“…yes.” She smiled kindly. Of course they did. And I immediately understood I’d be sending my kid with a backpack tomorrow, too.

As I took Koala’s hand and led him to the car, my mind wandered to the fact that, despite  my ability to be adaptable and flexible – after all, I attribute my aliyah success to that – despite it, when we get home, the first thing I would do – as a proud American – would be to brush his neon green teeth.

Flight service feedback for United Airlines.

Dear United Airlines customer service department,

I never write letters like this, and I’m usually very easy going, but this experience left me pretty upset, and I figured the customer feedback will be valuable for United Airlines.

I was on flight UA84 from Newark to Tel Aviv which departed on Wednesday, August 22, 2012. I was at the back of the plane, row 35, the JKL side. One of the flight attendants was servicing this section and from the start, was fairly rude. I gave her the benefit of the doubt; maybe she was working overtime or was having a bad day.

But as the flight continued, it only got worse… She snapped at passengers with a tone of frustration after being addressed the first time. She seemed constantly on the defensive, even if no one started with her first. Or as if she was constantly being purposely annoyed, even when people made modest requests or had questions.

After a kosher meal mix up between my son and the young woman in our row, which she didn’t seem interested in pointing out while it was happening, I went back to clarify the mistake and got a curt ‘yes’ and her back instead of an offer to try and work it out. When my row-mate tried to ask for another kosher meal, she got a quick ‘there are no more.’ I found it all odd that there was no proactive offer to accommodate until a different flit attendant stepped in.

Other points throughout the flight displayed the same sour attitude. But what made me realize it was more disdain than frustration was when I heard her speaking with a passenger near my seat. To the best of my memory, I heard her answer him with, “They pay more to work this route.” The man answered, “Surely because of the long distance.” Her reply was, “Hong Kong is also a long distance. But *that* flight is just so different.”

It was difficult to hear a blatant insult, (spoken in the tone of an insult) delivered so casually to a customer. Is that acceptable practice?

Whether the assertion is true or not, I don’t care. I’m an American expat living in Israel. I completely understand cultural differences, and challenges for a flight staff. But it was inappropriate to speak to a customer about seemingly internal company matters, and loud enough for other patrons to hear it. If this route is so problematic for this flight attendant to the point where she is continuously rude and disdainful the entire flight, she should probably not be working on it.

I chose United this time, when I usually prefer to fly El Al (I find it more child-friendly and appreciate the staff’s service efforts) because the schedule was more convenient. I even paid slightly more to do so. While the flight got me where I needed to go, I can’t say I felt it was as pleasant from the staff treatment point of view (though other attendants were, in fact, helpful and even borderline friendly).

I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but as a marketing professional I do believe strongly in quality customer service making all the difference. I hope this helps improve your US/Israel program.




My firehouse.

For months, Koala and I have been discussing our plans for New York. For months, he’s been obsessed with firetrucks, firemen, סמי הכבאי and hoses. And for months, the top of the list was visiting a firehouse.

And I’ll freely admit, I was as, if not more, excited about this.

Firemen were always curious characters to me. When I worked at the Staten Island paper during my college years, I had a co-intern who discussed, and later became, a fireman.

Then September 11, 2001, happened. And I was working at that paper. And suddenly, firemen were everywhere. Even the ones who had died. And the heroes became super heroes to me. There’s a special place in my heart for the FDNY.

So we stopped on the side of Engine Company 166 in Staten Island, where Fireman Tom kindly (and really enthusiastically) showed us around, even as Koala was a bit… intimidated… after months of building up the occasion. And truth be told, I think it made me even happier.

Thank you, 166!

Little boy’s heaven.

Yup, this is the truck he meant.

Everything seems to be working.

Inspecting the goods.

An offer to change places.