The Future of TV

The MythTV menu (default blue theme) Taken fro...Image via Wikipedia
During a recent bad experience with Comcast here in the States, my wife and I came across a dilemma that we know we will soon face in Israel, and that is the world of TV viewing.

We are both hockey fans, and we ordered the NHL Center Ice package back at the beginning of the season. The service was wonderful, and for about $40 a month, we were able to see most of the games that were being televised. Ironically, one of the games they decided not to show was the one where our favorite teams played each other.

At any rate, while the service was good, the accounting on Comcast's part was very shotty, so we ended up arguing with them on exactly how much we owed them. While the contract stated we were to be billed monthly, Comcast continually attempted to bill us for the full amount.

This led to us being without service for two days as we tried to find a representative that could intelligently talk about our account and the plan that we had purchased and paid for.

We know that we will face a different situation in Israel, where what we deem the "local media outlets" will no longer be local. We want to be able to view world programming, and retain those things that we like, as well as keep our music and film collections intact.

We would like to be able to view streaming video and podcasts, as well as get RSS feeds of our favorite blogs and info from our friends right there on our TV.

It is also understood that we must learn to live in a small amount of space very happily, which leads to attempting to consolidate and make everything more efficient.

Enter MythTV.

Being a Linux geek, I have known about this technology for quite a while, but have never actually worked with it. There is a report going around somewhere that a large number of people are dumping cable and satellite companies for online viewing. I can certainly understand. With the advent of grid computing and the ability to find much more interesting viewing material online than on the tube (with the obvious exception of NHL Center Ice, which I can also purchase online...) it makes good sense to go ahead and prepare for it.

I'm not entirely certain about the HOT procedures, but the channels look pretty good. Some of them I like better than here. MythTV can handle them there, too.

I plan on putting in in a rather small case, but a very potent system, which will save space, but have as many functions as a Ginzu knife. I promise to tell more about this whole process, but you will have to go to my main blog for that.

The primary gist of what I am saying is three things:

  1. Comcast sucks.
  2. We need a transferable entertainment system.
  3. Baruch Hashem for letting me be an open-source geek.
That's it for now. Shabbat Shalom!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


A New Temporary Shelter

ShalomImage via Wikipedia
We have officially found ourselves a new home, and that is Congregation Shema Yisrael. After the insanity of the past week or so, we do have this bright point in our spectrum. It is a multi-denominational shul, so I guess in English what that means is that we have a home that is much like Abraham Aveinu's tent, open on all sides.

I like that.

Life is too short, and there are too many mitzvot to perform, people to care about, and study to do to allow silly things to get in the way. If some groups want to paint themselves into a corner and try to exclude as many Jews as possible from getting into, or being in their "club", then so be it. We prefer people. We have everybody here, it seems. Orthodox, chassidic, Conservative, Reform, Renewal, Reconstructionist, it appears that everyone is represented.

The people here are wonderful, and we hope to add to that, to help build a welcoming atmosphere that continues to be possible well into the future. They have some very good plans of what they want to do. I was also honored to be allowed to sit in on the latest board meeting, and I can tell you this, these folks have the whole point right, and they are looking into a direction of tikkun olam that I honestly believe Hashem will make flourish.

Yes, we are still making aliyah.

The timeframe is still similar, if not the same.

But we have a point, no time will be wasted here, and it appears to be a very wonderful path that we are on, and the companions are top class. What more could you ask for?

More about that will be discussed on my other blog, Journeying Yid, as this remains the story of our path to home, our Journey to Eretz Yisrael and what shall be laid out for us there.

Nefesh B'Nefesh has actually blessed us in a great way. Perhaps we were asleep, and simply figured that the fix to our problem was just to go back home. But there is time before this happens, and much like the rabbinical refutations given a potential convert, our own "take a moment to think" moment with NBN led us on a more concrete search for community, for a more intimate inclusion with fellow Jews that will also affect where we potentially live in Israel.

Since my last post, I have also made another new friend, Rabbi Lazer Brody. His input has also assisted to meld our opinion on where we sit in the aliyah process, and what must be done.

Hashem has laid this all out in this manner for a very good reason, and even when it appears to immediately fly in the face of logic, time and again we find that things are exactly the way they should be, with the appropriate path rising in front of us.

While another goal has came to light once again, which I will delve into in the aforementioned blog, we see the good in what seems at some points inconvenient or counter. I should also take this point to explain that our lives in the past few weeks have been in an uproar. I owe someone some books I promised, and it is about like the box of salt that took me two weeks to finally pick up. I see it, I think, "I'm supposed to do that today" then I come home and have a "d'oh!" moment.

I promise, they are headed your way.

For now, NBN has some wonderful webinars, and we are going to begin watching them and getting our ducks in a row, both here in our congregation and helping them grow and as a unit build vitality and community, as well as hopefully, G-d willing, carrying that light over to Eretz Yisrael.

P.S. - Ira- Six Degrees time. One of our rabbis is Jeffery Salkin. He is also a classmate of my  rabbi from Anchorage. :) Woo-hoo!
Enhanced by Zemanta


Nefesh B'Nefesh, Swing and a Miss...

Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean sea in t...Image via Wikipedia
So, we had our first meeting with our friendly Nefesh B'Nefesh representative. When we got to the shul where the meetings were being held, we had to call a number in order to gain entrance, and finally found the room in which the interviews were being held.

But before I go any further, I have a story for you in order to properly set the stage for our experience:

In the mid-16th century, a Marrano Jew from Portugal moved to the holy city of Sefad. Deprived of the opportunity to do so in his youth, he was overjoyed to finally be able to practice the religion of his ancestors openly.

Years later, he heard a talk by the rabbi of the synagogue he attended about lechem hapanim, the "show-bread" which was offered in the Holy Temple each Friday before Shabbat (see Leviticus 24:5-9). After discussing the various laws and procedures governing the preparation of this offering and touching on its mystical significance, the rabbi bemoaned the fact that, because of our sins, we no longer had this ready means to propitiate G-d.

The Jew took these words to heart. When he arrived home, he asked his wife to prepare two special challahs on Friday. He related to her all the details he remembered from the lecture on show-bread. She should sift the flour thirteen times, knead it while she was in a state of ritual purity, and bake the dough very well in their oven. He told her that he wished to present these loaves as an offering to G-d; hopefully He would consider them an acceptable sacrifice, and eat them.

His wife loyally fulfilled his request, and early that Friday afternoon, when no one was likely to be in the shul, the man brought the loaves there under his cloak. He prayed and cried that G-d should look upon his offering with favor, and eat and enjoy the lovely, freshly baked bread. He went on and on, like an errant son begging his father for forgiveness. Then he placed the loaves, wrapped, in the Holy Ark, beneath the Torah scrolls, and quickly left for home.

The shammash (caretaker) of the shul arrived later that day to complete the preparations of the shul for the holy Shabbat. One of his duties was to check that the Torah scroll was rolled to the proper place for the reading the next morning. When he opened the Ark, he was surprised to see that a package had been neatly placed inside. He opened it, and there were two fine-looking challah loaves! He had no idea where they had come from, but he didn't think too much about it; he simply decided to take them home and eat them -- after all, they looked and smelled delicious!

And they were delicious. The caretaker was delighted with this unexpected fringe benefit of his job.

That evening, the Marrano waited impatiently for the end of the prayers. When everyone had left the shul, he approached the Ark in great trepidation, and swung open its doors. The loaves were not there! He was so happy. He hurried home to share his joy with his wife. He innocently proclaimed that G-d had not disdained the poor efforts of such insignificant people as themselves. Indeed, He had accepted their two loaves, and eaten them while they were still warm!

Therefore, he exhorted her, let us not be lazy, for we have no other way to honor Him, and we see that He loves our bread. Every week we must try to give Him this pleasure, with the same care and devotion that we did this first time.

His wife was swayed by his wholehearted excitement, and gladly cooperated. Every Friday morning she faithfully prepared two beautiful loaves, paying careful attention to every detail, great and small, and every Friday afternoon he delivered them to the shul, and earnestly prayed and pleaded with G-d for their acceptance.

And every Friday the caretaker would come along and happily eat the delicious challahs, and every Friday night the Jew from Portugal ecstatically informed his wife that once again their meager offering had been accepted.

So it went, for many weeks and months.

One Friday, the rabbi of the shul stayed much later than usual, until the afternoon. It was the same rabbi who had given the speech about "show-bread" that had so inspired the Marrano from Portugal. He was standing on the bimah (reading platform), reviewing the sermon he planned to give the next day, when, to his surprise, he saw one of his congregants enter carrying two loaves of bread, walk up to the Ark, and deposit them inside. He realized that the man was unaware of his presence, and he heard him utter fervent prayers for G-d to accept his offering and enjoy the challahs.

The rabbi listened in astonishment. At first he was silent, but as he began to understand what was going on, his anger rose. Finally he was unable to restrain himself any longer, and burst out in fury: "Stop! You fool! How can you think that our G-d eats and drinks? It is a terrible sin to ascribe human or any physical qualities to G-d Almighty. You actually believe it is the L-rd who takes your measly loaves? Why, it is probably the shammash who eats them."

At that moment the caretaker entered the shul, blithely expecting to pick up his challahs, as usual. He was a bit startled to see the rabbi and another man standing there. The Rabbi immediately confronted him. "Tell this man why you came here now, and who has been taking the two challahs he has been bringing each week."

The caretaker freely admitted it. He wasn't embarrassed at all. He couldn't understand why the rabbi was so agitated, and why he was yelling at the other man who looked so unhappy, whom he knew to be an unlearned but sincere Jew.

As the rabbi continued his rebuke, the man burst into tears. He was crushed. Not only had he not done a mitzvah as he had thought, it seemed he was guilty of a great sin. He apologized to the rabbi for having misunderstood his lesson about the show-bread, and begged him to forgive him. He left the shul in shame and despair. How could he have been so wrong? What was he to do now?

Shortly thereafter, a messenger from the "Holy Ari" Rabbi Isaac Luria strode into the shul and approached the rabbi. In the name of his master, he told the Rabbi to go home, say goodbye to his family, and prepare himself; because by the designated time for his sermon the next morning, his soul will have already departed to its eternal rest. Thus it had been announced from Heaven.

The rabbi couldn't believe what he had just heard, nor could the disciple explain it to him. So the rabbi went directly to the Ari, who confirmed the message and added, as gently as possible: "I heard that it is because you halted G-d's pleasure, the likes of which He hasn't enjoyed since the day the Holy Temple was destroyed. That is what He felt when this innocent Marrano would bring his two precious loaves to your shul each week, faithfully offering them to G-d from the depths of his heart with joy and awe, and believing that G-d had taken them, until you irrevocably destroyed his innocence. For this the degree was sealed against you, and there is no possibility to change it."

The rabbi went home and told his family all that had transpired. By the time of the sermon the next morning, his soul had already departed to hear Torah in the Heavenly academy, exactly as the Ari had said.

My english name has always been a source of contention because it is so "goyish". I have a difficult time getting rabbis to call me back. Jewish organizations tend to ignore me. Let me correct that. If I am trying to make a fiduciary donation, I have no issue getting a response. If I want further discussion on halacha or help with observance, forget it.

As I mentioned, I consider myself a chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I have not, however, been able to get a chabad shliach on the phone. Ever. They ask my name, I give my name, and the conversation's over.

When I wanted to negotiate for tefillin in 2006 to become more observant, no call back. But I received a nice letter thanking me for my donation to that same center. So much for the Mitzvah Tank.

Chabad at 770, totally different matter. They do not hesitate to take my letters to the Rebbe. They have checked to see how we were doing, everything I would expect from the Rebbe himself. But by then, Hashem had already provided for the tefillin, and I wear them for Shacharit.

So the representative we met first seemed annoyed that we were not leaving this year, and then proceeded to try to find every way to discount my wife's Judaism. She appeared to want to deny mine as well, and seemed a bit miffed that I had a document signed by a Beit Din. She also was visibly irritated that we consider ourselves chabadniks.

I explained that we are unaffiliated. That didn't go over well, either.

My wife is Jewish, by blood. She tried explaining that her distant maternal line came from Jever, Germany, and had to change their name. The actual quote was, "Any anti-Semite can prove they have Jewish blood."

It was supposed to be 45 minutes of information on planning our Aliyah. What we got was 35 minutes (yes, she was actually watching the clock to get rid of us) of an inquisition on why we aren't Jewish, and allusions to why we would not be able to make aliyah.

We told her it was not a matter of "if", but a matter of "when". Our enthusiasm was not shared, and we are still uncertain why.

Very surprised, to say the least.

Can someone please explain to me why we are so intent as a people to cut the legs out from under each other?

Perfect example follows. We leave the synagogue confused as to what just happened, when an older gentleman pulls up. He is visibly crying, and he has asked the shul for someone that speaks Russian. I speak a little Russian, but the synagogue basically blew him off without even attempting to help.

He needs a rabbi or a synagogue where someone speaks Russian, so I call chabad. Anyone who knows anything about Lubavitcher history understands why I would call Chabad. I get a lady on the phone. She says nobody is there to speak with him and tries to shoo me off. (Like they did when I inquired about mezuzot for our home). She says a rabbi will call. She wants my last name, but I know if I give them that, he'll never call back.

I still don't know what is up with the old man, but I think, "What would the Rebbe do? How would he handle this?" Then I remember that right down the street from where we are is a judaica shop that has Eastern Europeans in it. So I lead the old man there, and I go inside and let them know that the old fellow is looking for someone that speaks Russian, he's upset, and do they know anyone?

Finally, a little ahavat Yisroel. The proprietor takes him two doors down to a Russian lady, and I am on my way.

Why is it that two synagogues gave less of a crap about the state and welfare of a fellow Jew than a few individuals? I'm really, genuinely asking this, not trying slam anyone. Is it an American Judaism thing? The theme appears to be that of a cultural club. If you don't fit the mold they want you to fit, then off with you. I don't seem to have this issue anytime my Hebrew name is used.

I have heard this complaint in areas with poor Jews, or those disenfranchised by distance. We have not located a synagogue to attend because we complied with no driving on Shabbat, and we have trouble getting responses out of synagogues in the "big city".

Non-Jews have zero difficulty identifying me or my wife as Orthodox Jews on sight.  Only other Jews want to argue about it. And I'm not counting my Israeli friends in this, it truly appears to be the Borsht Belt thing.

However, we located a new synagogue that seems to fit our bill. I know that when I was looking for a shul to attend a few months ago, this one was not listed. It's new. It is based around ahavat Yisroel. It believes, as I do, a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. It does appear that we will now have to drive on Shabbat, but since we have a few years until Aliyah, it should be the kind of place that we have wanted to attend.

Except we aren't going to ask anymore. We're just going to go there. And they will have to put up with my kids.

Bottom line, I forgive the representative for her treatment, her misguided assumptions, her refusal to take us seriously in any way.

We got a few things from this, and I suspect our trip might not have been to meet her at all, but to help some elderly Russian Jew and find a new congregation.

I anticipate a very different reaction the next time we deal with Nefesh B'Nefesh. There will be nothing for them to doubt. Until then, some folks need to realize that some Jews have goy names, and might not enjoy that fact. To dismiss them and treat them as substandard falls under the negative commandment "do not oppress the stranger (Ger)".

Even with the minuses, I think today will end up in the plus column. And we got some direction, even if indirectly.
Enhanced by Zemanta


On The Diving Board

30sec exposureImage via Wikipedia
First off, to answer a question:

What is the voltage in Israel?

Voltage: 230 V; Plugs H & C. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

So that's one question off of the list.

We have our first meeting with Nefesh B'Nefesh tomorrow morning at 10am. Sure, I'm a bit apprehensive, who wouldn't be? We are making a big decision here, even though we are certain that we are doing the right thing, and we are excited about it, you still have that first part of the plunge where your face hits the cool swimming pool water at about 40 miles an hour.

This is pretty much that part.

It's where everything starts, though, and without it, we can't really get there from here. We have already begun some of the cleaning and sorting of the house already, even though we won't be actually going to stay for another 2 years. (Unless things go really south, in which in might very well be next year, after all).

We are already also working on getting finances and such in order to help us with our prepwork. Then there is the whole learning Hebrew thing. I have started working with my software at work, translating it into Hebrew. Hopefully, (and the prospects are good) I will continue working with this and hopefully my current company once we make Aliyah.

It would certainly be beneficial for both of us.

But at the moment, it's time to officially kick all of this off and get the ball rolling.

I'll let you know about the meeting tomorrow. Right now, I have to go make a tooth disappear.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Wherever Shall We Go?

Collage of Tel AvivImage via Wikipedia
At the moment, all that we know is that we are moving to Israel. We are making Aliyah. We originally thought 2013, and that seemed to be the plan, but it appears that we may be moving that date up a year to 2012. Between the recruitment posters here in the US for "internment specialists" and the basic political ribaldry we've seen from our president, coupled with various other familial factors, the longing for home is getting stronger and much more pertinent.

Now comes the question... Where are we going?

We really don't know. Somewhere around Tel Aviv is the hope, as while we at least attempt to be Orthodox, I work in the technology sector, and our outside viewpoints run liberal to secular.

For example, part of the draw to come home is the ability to pray Shacharit, Minchah, and Ma'ariv without stepping on an employer's toes, like here in America. I manage to sneak Shacharit in with my tefillin, and all seems to be well. But I must work during Minchah, and by Ma'ariv, I'm making dinner and fighting with children while my wife tries to get a breath in.

We could finally attend a shul. The closest one here is about 20 miles, and I'm not driving.

We would finally have a proper Jewish community, and actually know someone else that is Jewish. Here, we're on our own. We want to keep shomer kashrut, but given how far we are from kosher meat, time and price constraints, we end up with "That's a cow. I'll have to kasher it and eat it anyway..." or "Any pig with that? Can't eat it." and "No. You may NOT have a cheeseburger!"

Let me explain that last one. We have children coming from a secular upbringing (I won't go into details) and are moving to a more frum, beneficial lifestyle. We also have a developmental issue or two (I will hold out on that for the moment as well) to mesh through, so they have a bit of difficulty understanding what the big deal is between cow, American cheese, and big red wig-wearing clowns.

We need to have beach accessibility to help make my wife happier, as well as all of us, really. We're not really the settler type, not haredi either. Yerushalayim is a nice place to visit, but we aren't looking to live there.

This will be our home for the rest of our lives. That is at least the intention. I will eventually get over the fact that I like the "Jewish Jordan" and the Haifa Heat, and end up cheering for Tel Aviv, or wherever we end up.

We will still be hockey fans. I don't think that can change.

But those of you in the know, help us. Throw us a bone, here. Where is a place that we can be observant, but still not have an uprising if the neighbors are gay?

I ask that question in particular because we, while wishing to adhere to a more Orthodox lifestyle, also realize the realities of life and culture both here and what we have heard from Israel thus far. Perhaps the word "metropolitan" comes to mind.

We adhere more closely to Chabad, consider ourselves chabadniks, even if on the fringe, but also have the social open-mindedness of Renewal. With that said, we don't consider Rav Zalman Schacter-Shalomi to be our rebbe. The Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Schneerson zt''l) is our Rebbe.

We do want a mikvah in the vicinity. We don't have that here, either.

I wear a black fedora, sometimes a black driver's cap, but I don't necessarily dress like a "penguin" (I use that term lovingly. Sometimes I do, as wardrobe permits. But my wardrobe is not exactly "updated"). I wear a big blue and white frik knit kippah. I'm neither Breslov nor Samaritan. A friend of mine in Yerushalayim wears one, I liked the way it looked, and now I have one that is soft and feels comfortable. My infant has one almost exactly like it, and he is adorable in it. I read somewhere that it also has to do with Zionists, and obviously we are that, or we wouldn't be making Aliyah.

Holon has been mentioned, Beit Shemesh as well. We are a family of five, with a probability of one more. At the same time, we need to get to where startup and techology jobs reside. I want to bring mine with me, and I believe that I can build that groundwork in the next year, but I have to be prepared in the event my employer vetoes my vision.

It would be nice to finally get a decent education, both secular and yeshiva. Eleven year old boys in Ramle probably know more Talmud than I.

So what are the sections of the Tel Aviv area, Sharon district, etc. Anybody? Anything?
Enhanced by Zemanta


The Skinny (as it were) - Who We Are

Heroes of IsraelImage by Templar1307 via Flickr
I have had the good fortune of making new friends on Facebook. However, perhaps it would be a good idea to properly define who I am and where I am going with all of this. My wife has her own blog, with her own viewpoints, that you can find here , so I will let her tell you her side of the story.

I was raised a hellfire and brimstone Baptist. It wasn't too comfortable, as no one wanted to answer any of my questions as a kid. But my father always had things like the Haggadah and a Machzor around, which led to some confusion.

After a nice twisted journey, when I was 18 I decided that Judaism was the path I needed to investigate. I was drawn to it. I was drawn enough that at one point I thought of going to Israel to join the IDF. Thus, I began my conversion process. That was in 1990. As a soldier, I was in the Persian Gulf War. I would not actually begin the core of my conversion and complete it until 1992 (or was it 1993? I'll have to look... ed. It was actually June 6th, 1994). My mother was not amused. She said she would rather I tell her I was gay than tell her I was Jewish. She also said I was going to hell. My father, not so very upset. He also refused to state a position in the matter.

Ironically, the mikvah from my conversion is no more. I remember it very well, and the rabbi that managed my conversion is one that I have great affinity for. He was and is a very incredible man. As for the mikvah itself, you can read quite a bit about it in the Chabad site and a book I have about the Lubavitch-Chabad movement.

I was in Manhattan when the Rebbe was in the hospital. I remember the mass of chassids lining the streets, praying and hoping for the welfare of the Rebbe. It blew me away that people could be so close to a single person. But why? What was the point? Someone back home told me that they all think the Rebbe is Moshiach (I now know this to be utterly false).

I ended up drifting for a while after returning to Georgia, and I always felt at odds when meeting Jews more observant than I, like I was the one stealing cookies or something, maybe in some manner shoving the heavy lifting onto someone else.

But in 2006, I attempted to return. By 2007, I had drifted off again. I simply didn't understand things. I was lost, so to speak, and not in a religious sense of the word. I had a son, and an ex-wife who is a complete nutjob. What I lacked was any true connection to anything remotely divine, or the context in which to put it.

It was all about me. Anyone knowledgeable in kabbalah can see where that plan falls flat.

I gained custody of my son in 2008, and later that year met Eliana. It was perfectly matched from the beginning.  We had been reading some from the chabad site, and with the recession and everything, Chabad was asking for help, so we donated. The offer was made to send a letter to the Rebbe's Ohel on our behalf, which we took up.

Let's just say that I no longer have the slightest doubt in what a letter to the Rebbe can do.

The path to pregnancy, becoming a ba'al teshuvah, along with my wife joining me, our marriage, my newest son's birth, all of it is a string of carefully orchestrated events beyond my vision.

I finally got my first pair of tefillin last year. And then I was fired in July. As I was unemployed, trying to find a new job, as well as keep the family fed and with a roof over our heads, we still tried to help others and I, of course, wore my tefillin every morning, and the lines of prayer regarding gaining our food with honor rather than disgrace really meant something.

My current job is one that I truly love. I love the software we work with, the company itself, the whole thing is one in a million. It also pays much more, which allows us to kill some of our debts from before. I don't know if my position will transfer after we make Aliyah, but it can. Since I work for an open source company, there is no limit to my abilities and contributions to this in the future.

At current, we live in a rural extension of a major city in Georgia. We have no local synagogues, don't know any Jews in our area, and even though we view ourselves primarily as Chabad, we don't know any of the chabad rabbis in that major city.

We made the decision for Aliyah based on several factors. One of them is that Israel is a land of Jews. Of course, we have the problems with the surrounding nations, but at the end of the day it helps if everything has a purpose.

Here, our taxes go to everyone else, and at the end of the day we could still end up scorned and on the street. Given the right sparks in political climate regionally and nationally, we could end up persecuted for our faith with no one to help since we are so isolated.

We have talents and abilities to further and share. Israel seems to be the most ripe and satisfying place to do this. We love our people, our faith, our land. It just makes more sense to actually be there and contribute.

There is really not much left for us here. The remainder of our families are Christian, or Pagan/Agnostic wannabes, and the only family members we truly trust or want to be around are my parents.

My father is waiting to leave the country as well. His intention is Latin America, however.

We want our sons to grow up with pride and be safe (as possible), to know that they can contribute, can be someone very special, and with the extra-familial factor you will probably hear from my wife at some later point, it will be easy to see why we want them around good people with decency and values.

I know the shortcomings, and we know Israel isn't perfect. But it is something we can help make better, and with Hashem running the show in the end, Aliyah is the only thing that truly makes sense for us, our family, and hopefully, for our homeland.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Water, Water Everywhere...

 So my lovely wife and I read one of Maya's posts over at How to Be Israeli about washing dishes "Israeli-style", primarily due to the water shortage there.

We thought, "How nice. How ecologically friendly. How delightfully, wonderfully responsible and sound!" Then we let the water run, because the pipes here are cold, and waited for our water  heater to ponder the notion of providing water even remotely above lukewarm sometime this century.

And then the water bill came. It was about double. Then the power bill came. It was about double, too. Finally the sweat came. Fortunately, that wasn't double, but still not very nice. I can't let the kids take all of the blame, especially for the water part. However we now have ways to deal with the issue.

The reason this is all important in the first place is that we are already beginning to save for Aliyah, and wasting resources just cuts into the quality of life and the ability to do the many things we will need to do later. The amount we lost on power this month alone would have paid for an Israeli drivers' license.

We both gasped at that realization.

We pulled two unneccessary light bulbs from their fixtures, one should not be needed, ever. I put in a power-saving LED night light that is activated by darkness in order to save power there. In the main bedroom where my kids love to leave the light on all hours of the night, I replaced the incandescent with another LED light bulb. The light is now much gentler, and it isn't as if they read in their bedroom, anyway.

Addressing the water issue, we bought a PuR water filtration pitcher and a much larger spigoted container. Before, there was a faucet-mounted filter, but we had expended the last filter, and the unit was beginning to break and shoot a little stream of water out that I had to cover with heavy tape.

Now, we have a full jug of clean water whenever we need it. I use that water now for my instant coffee (hey, I'd better figure out the logistics of this stuff now, right?) and I no longer have the unfiltered water I was using in the coffee pot before, and after unplugging the coffee pot that used to draw current, I'm missing that from the whole bill, too.

We located a glass bowl that I use to pull just enough of the cold water out to fill it and wash dishes in the sink. Except now instead of running the water forever to get it warm enough to touch, I just nuke the bowl of water for four minutes while I do something else.

Another final thing was to lower the flow of the water going to the bathroom sinks. We really don't need to use a gallon of water to wash our hands or brush our teeth. A little flow is fine. Before, it had almost enough power to blast paint off of a Hot Wheels car.

We have been putting a good deal of thought into the whole process, and learning more and more every day. Meeting the new people here of late has been wonderful as well. Where we live, we are far removed from any Jewish communities, and while Atlanta has several Chabad schlichum, we don't know any of them yet. We avoid driving on Shabbat, and there is a little nervousness about shabbat hospitality at the moment because, as you know if you've read my wife's blog, have a few behaviorial "speedbumps" with our children that we are working through.

I think for them this process will be good, and I know that they are more than able to succeed in a new environment, even though we anticipate it won't be easy. But we didn't sign up for easy, home is home.

I have tried to imagine what it would be like to get off the plane, and while I can feel a slight premonition of it, I'm just not quite there yet. But even that little bit is wonderful. Even with that, my wife is amazing at the way she tries to identify any issue, any crack in the armor of what is our shared dream, to try to ensure nothing blindsides us and shifts us from our goal and the life we want to share together, or the life, education, and a closeness to Eretz Yisrael we want our sons to experience.

How could you not be more grateful?