Back to regular life.

Back to work, back to chol, back to regular life in Israel. In case you’re having a hard time adjusting, here’s a reminder of what reality here is like:

A Rabbi had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession.  Like  many young men, the boy didn’t really know what he wanted to do, and he didn’t seem too concerned about it.

One day, while the boy was away at  school,  his father decided to try an experiment.  He went into the boy’s room  and  placed four  objects on his study table:
– a Bible
– a silver dollar
– a bottle of whiskey, and
– a  Playboy  magazine

“I’ll just hide behind the door,”   the Rabbi said to himself, “when he comes home from school this afternoon, I’ll see which object he picks up.  If it’s the Bible, he’s going to be a Rabbi like me, and what  a blessing that would be!  If he picks up the dollar, he’s going to be a  businessman, and that would be okay, too.  But If he picks up the bottle, he’s  going to be a no-good drunkard, and, Lord, what a  shame that would  be.  And worst of all, if he picks up that magazine he’s  gonna be a skirt-chasin’ bum.”

The Rabbi waited anxiously, and  soon heard his son’s footsteps as he entered the house  and headed for his room.  The boy tossed  his books on the bed, and as he turned to  leave the room he spotted the objects on the table.  With curiosity in his  eye, he walked over to inspect  them.  Finally, he picked up the Bible  and placed it under his arm. He picked up the silver dollar and dropped it into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink while he admired this month’s  centerfold.

“Lord have mercy,” the  Rabbi disgustedly whispered, “he’s gonna be a member of the Knesset!”

The five senses of Sukkot.

Sukkot gets a bad rap.  It’s tough because it comes right after the High Holies of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, so people get sick of the physical aspects of the season, eating feasts and lying low.

But Sukkot has so much to it; the holiday is part of the Shalosh Regalim (three pilgrimage festivals). While it may not be as easy to identify with the spirituality of this holiday as it is for the other two, Pessach and Shavuot, as well as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Sukkot does have this amazing ability to stimulate all five senses – the power to bring holiness to your physical being.

This is especially true here in Jerusalem. It might be why I appreciate it so much, now more than ever.

Sound: As soon as Yom Kippur goes out and the fast has been broken, you can hear the banging from down the block. This year is the first year I’m spending Sukkot in my neighborhood of Katamonim, and to hear all the noise coming from my neighbors was, for once, a proud thing for me. Nothing is more pleasant than hammers against nails and wood on Motzei Yom Kippur.

Sight: Then, to wake up the next day and see all the sukkot started the night before – and to watch families decorate them – is a powerful thing.

Taste: At each meal over Sukkot, we are still dipping our challot in honey, carrying the sweetness of the new year to the end of the holiday period. By now, the honey has become normal on the taste buds, and hopefully it will stay that way for the rest of the year.

Touch: I love the way the lulav feels against my finger tips… It has this magic of being soft and inviting and sharp and distant all at once. It is how I imagine God on Yom Kippur, and it’s nice to have some linkage between the holidays.

Smell: There is nothing in this world, created by God or not, that smells better than the first etrog you put to your nose around September.

Chag sameach everyone!

Learn to read in Hebrew for free.

UPDATE (2011): Found another excellent resource for learning Hebrew online for free…

I just came across the website of the National Jewish Outreach Program, which I’ve never heard of before. It seems like a great resource though, for North American Jews who want to become more affiliated and educated in their Judaism.

What caught my eye, though, was this: Read Hebrew America/Canada. The free Hebrew reading course is described as such:

READ HEBREW AMERICA/CANADA (RHA/C) is NJOP’s mega Hebrew literacy campaign to win back the hearts of North American Jews. The Annual RHA/C will take place during the months of October and November! RHA/C invites tens-of-thousands of Jewish adults into synagogues and Jewish centers throughout the United States and Canada to foster Jewish identity and create awareness about the importance of Hebrew literacy by running Hebrew Reading Crash Courses Level I or II or One Day Reviews.

If you can’t make it to learn with the course, try getting familiar with the aleph-bet on your own; there is an interactive aleph-bet to learn the Hebrew letters. If you are making aliyah soon and have absolutely no background, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself a bit before the leap.

The site has some other great features like:


Brought to you by…

If you want to find the best reading Lesson Plans, the internet is your best choice. Whether you are looking for Reading Comprehension Lessons, or you want to find a specific reading Curriculum, let the internet guide you. No matter what age or level of reading you are in, you can always improve your reading skills. Learn to read today!

Offering my wedding wares.

I was remembering my wedding – how long six months can feel, how quick six hours can pass… How I missed the people who weren’t there, but moreso, how I enjoyed the people who made it to be there…

It occurs to me, since I like giving advice – actually, passing on knowledge (maybe it’s an eldest child thing) – I should publish the information I collected over six months – research, essentially, for having a wedding in Jerusalem, and also, pieces of advice I was given or formed on my own.

Eliesheva’s Wedding in Israel guide.

General advice:

  • * Pack for the hotel the day before: water bottles, food, advil, a brush, etc.
  • * Hydrate the week before! Day before! But don’t overdo it day of; you’ll drink plenty while taking photographs (smiles hurt!).
  • * Bring socks, extra shoes.
  • * Have bandaids at the ready (oops).
  • * Sheva brachot cards! So easy. Photocopy-enlarge the brachot from a siddur and cut them up and laminate. Helps along the seven blessers.
  • * Make sure your ride has gas…
  • * Contacts? Bring extras and your glasses.
  • * Brides: Have something to hold on to (flowers) at the kabalat panim… You’re bound to be fidgety.
  • * Make sure someone is counting how many times the bride walks around the chatan… (oops).
  • * Let the adrenaline kick in and run with it. Love the adrenaline.
  • * Try not to spill anything on each other in the Yichud room (oops).
  • * Breathe when you’re dancing or suffer the wrath of side cramps or lost breath.
  • * There will always be silly mistakes; you probably won’t even notice. Get over that from the start (of wedding planning, if possible).
  • * Get into the calm mindset the week before; pump it up the day before.
  • * However you are is how the guests will react; stay fun and calm and that’s how the guests will feel…
  • * It’s just a party. A really big one. The marriage is going to last longer and be way more expensive.

Quick checklist (in not so much of a coherent order):

• Date selection (keep in mind shkiyah if you want a special Hebrew date)
• Venue selection
• Photography
• Videography
• Engagement party
• Engagement ring
• Guest list
• Flights for foreigners
• Décor design
• Music
• Dress
• Invitations
• Pre-invites for out of towners (advanced notice)
• Floral arrangements
• Make up/hair stylist
• Wedding ring
• Transportation to the wedding (for you and guests if it is far out of town)
• Hotel/apartment bookings (you and out of towner guests)
• Kalla/Chatan classes
• Rabbanut:

  • o 3 passport pics of each
  • o teudat zehut and sepach
  • o birth certificates
  • o ketubah of both sets of parents
  • o 600 NIS (40% discount if one is an oleh or student)
  • o 2 witnesses for each (who know you, male)
  • o a Rabbi conducting who is registered with the Rabbanut (or register yours)
  • o 02-621 4800/4811
  • o Rechov חובהצלת, #12, near Yaffo street
  • o Sun-Thurs 8:30-12:30/3-4:30

• Registry
• Birchonim
• Menu selection
• Appoint/hire someone a ‘wedding coordinator’ so your parents and friends can enjoy

I also highly recommend this website for wedding planning all over Israel.


Beit Shmuel: 02 6200 3405, 02 620 3403 – view of Old City behind, it’s outdoors on the roof (or could be inside)
BibleLand Museum: 02 561 1066 (Caterer: Shlomo at שק אירועים 0505234220
Achuza: 02 538 7151 gorgeous set up, Ramat Rachel feeling, might be less money, .
Har Tzion: 02 568 9555 really really pretty, local, different set up options.
Mul HaHar: Ilan: 0504005401 tayelet set up, chupah can go however you want, no minimum, great view behind you.
Novotel: 02 5320000 Idit – 0524470165, swimming pool, porch
Shulchan David – right outside Old City. Yehuda 050 521 7325/026732770
Ein Yael – (by the Zoo) 02 645 1866, outdoors, hidden, quiet
Shoresh – outdoors, pretty, there’s a website

Photography & video:

Sass Video – excellently recommended, great service, great product.
Dov Yarden – great work, great custom albums. 02 676 4223, 0545691123
Itamar Ben Harav: 0546472656


Ariel Goldsmith – 052 641 3326
Shlomo Katz – 02 570 9945, 054 316 9888 (Yedidyah, manager)
Adom Atik –
Inyan Acher –
Menachem Herman – 02 991 8314, 0524704063

Wedding Planners:

Shmuel Bloom: 0547587089
Shani Falik:
Adina Buchs – B’Rosh Shaket – 0523803048


Tamar: 02.538.8558
Elise: 054.498.4540
Aviva: 052.545.5895 or 02.654.1697
Chagit: 054.533.9051 or 02.561.7316
Esti: 054.747.1778 or 02.571.0777
Malka: 02.540.1745
Nora: 052.848.9964 or 02.624.6963
Dorit: 02.651.4840

Tel Aviv bridal:

*It’s all over Dizengoff street, starting from around the 190s. Hard to find classy + modest dresses though. Also a bit more $$.
*Veronic: – very talented, she can do chic modest dresses


* Shalshelet/Chasdei Yaela
King George St. They have more than 200 dresses that the bride can use for the minimal price of 400 -800 NIS + dry cleaning. Call for appointment: Racheli: 054-647-2611 or Naomi: 054-630-1189

* Gemach Shoshana
— established in memory of 19 year old Shoshana Zaguri z’l killed in a bus bombing
— to ease some of the financial pressures of making a wedding
— MODEST bridal gowns available
–located in Bayit Vagan
–Please call Paula Mazal Zaguri at 02-6411-795 or 0544-781-293 to schedule an appointment

* Gmach
Rechov Shmuel HaNavi.
For an appointment please call: Pesha Rosenson- 02 582 7936 / 052 478 3675
You may also call Rachel for an appointment: 625-7936 or 0546-472-611

* Wedding dress g’mach
With hundreds of beautiful wedding dresses to choose from. Call Tehilla at 0506 343942 or (02) 625 2924 or e-mail:

You can always email me for more or to get this in a readable format.