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Monday, December 10, 2012

Get off of my cloud

The Rainy season has started.  This is not the misty wetness I thought we would have, but skies open pouring down rain.  Not sure it matters much if you have umbrella and rain gear because if you're outside you're going to get wet.   We got a head start on Hanukah break and headed up North on Thursday.  The kids were so disappointed to be missing an extra two days of school.  Now that we're in a much smaller country our road trip was only two hours long.  Road warriors that our children are they were already asking the "are we there yet" that every parent so looks forward to about an hour and fifteen in. The good news though is we were only 45 minutes away.  I tried reminding them that when we used to drive 10 hours to visit family in Chicago it took 5 times as long.  Short as the journey was the landscape completely changed.  We drove into the Western Galilee and were just a few miles from the Lebanon border.  The further North you get you start to see the signs have increasing amounts of Arabic writing.  

The panoramic views did not disappoint.  We even got to take the kids ice skating!  Lots of outdoor hiking and enjoyment.  Unfortunately the game station and dvd player at our rental did not work.  At first the kids were disappointed but the place was completely stocked with board games from my childhood.  We actually ended up having a good time going old school and playing "Clue" and an Israeli version of Uno--"Taki".  Saturday night after Havdalah (religious ceremony making the end of the Sabbath) our kids started yelling "Happy Hanukah".   They were seriously pumped.  We lit our Chanukiahs, played dreidel with our gelt and then walked around the neighborhood to see the lit up menorahs.  It was truly a first.  People we met over the weekend even brought us homemade sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts traditional at Hanukah time).

Sunday we visited a nature reserve at the Northern tip of Israel.  We were closer to Beirut than Jerusalem.   In the 1940s, the British dug a tunnel through the mountainside and built a railroad to connect Haifa and Tripoli.  This took 10,000 workers over a year to complete.  My children stood at the site eating ice cream.  Sometimes you're digging the holes and sometimes you're eating Nestle but the human chain keeps going.  We took cable cars down to the site and then walked through tunnels that were formed by thousands of years of rainwater and the lapping of the waves.   The picture you see shows the border of Israel at the site.

Next we motored on in the Merdinger-mobile to a little Marzipan museum.  We stayed longer than we thought we would at Rosh Hanikra and so when we called the museum to verify they told us not to bother since we would be arriving with only an hour and you need a minimum of two hours to really enjoy the museum.  We pressed on and arrived at the museum with only 45 minutes until closing.  Well dear readers I suppose my children were not sophisticated enough to need the two hours it apparently takes most to enjoy this museum.  It was about the size of my parents dining room.  Don't get me wrong they expanded their dining room and it's pretty good size but it took my children about 15 minutes to enjoy all the marzipan creations.  Next was a 10 minute movie (actually about wine making---later the employees asked us "Why didn't you tell us we showed you the wrong movie?"  Hmmm, what is the right answer to that one?).  But not to worry because they more than made up for it with the 25 minutes they had in the gift shop. All sorts of chocolate and truffles, almonds and sugary goodness.   It might have been the driving or the altitudes but I think I saw a costco on the way home.  Any readers from Northern Israel out there?  What is Cost-365?

Today we went to Hashmonaim for Nehemiah's first baseball game.  It was a bit of "Bad news Bears" minus the alcohol and the profanity.  Plus the kids all had names like "Ezra, Chaim and Nachshon" but you get the idea.  Our team actually won the second game with Nehemiah even scoring one run!  After the game we found out that the umpire was the son of our former Rabbi from Kansas City :)  We spent the afternoon getting Happy meals at the Modiin mall and sampling from the sufganiyot bonanza that was occurring on the first floor.  Seriously every variation on the theme of filled doughnuts that you can imagine.  Plus we were there for two menorah lightings.  I won't say it was like Rockefeller Center tree lighting but there were well over one hundred shoppers standing and watching and then singing Hanukah songs together.  Young and old, secular and religious all joining in together.

I wish Bubbie were here to make her famous latkes and potato knishes because we are definitely missing those this year.  Final thought:  people tell you that your kids will know Hebrew by Hanukah.  One mom told me "yeah that's true they'll know Hebrew by the third Hanukah".  OK, so hopefully it won't take that long but their knowledge of Hebrew does not come by the first Hanukah.  I think what does come is the removal of the first layer of resistance to such a big change.

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