There's a joke that makes the rounds which recent experiences have brought to life. First, the joke:
An American, a Chinese, a Russian and an Israeli are all loitering on the street corner when a reporter comes up to them and asks, "Excuse me, what is your opinion about the meat shortage?"
First, the Russian asks, "What's an opinion?"
Then the Chinese inquires, "What's meat?"
The American follows up with, "What's a shortage?"
Then the Israeli queries, "What's 'excuse me'?"
Now, we have found that the "What's 'excuse me'" is an untrue stereotype. Israelis are actually quite warm, and not lacking in courtesy and care (though social mores are sometimes different from the U.S., in both directions).
However, we never fully understood the American part, "What's a shortage?", until we got to Israel. Lesson number one was the Fiber One shortage. Now, to the best of our knowledge, there is a Fiber One plant in Israel. But one fine day several months ago, no Fiber One on the supermarket shelves. Anywhere. Michael asked the manager of one of the big stores, and he said "There's a shortage from the factory. There is no Fiber One in Israel until the shortage ends."
We scratched our heads (was the Fiber One factory under siege? On strike?) and gloomily substituted Frosted Flakes (or Frosties, as they call them in England and Israel) for our healthful Fiber One until the five week shortage finally broke.
Then, of course, was the Bran Flakes shortage. You must understand that Israelis love Bran Flakes. There are something like twenty different varieties. But one day, this Israeli staple had disappeared until-- the (choose one) strike/siege/extended factory vacation ended.
More recently (and still ongoing, though there are rumors of an end) has been the great brown sugar shortage of 5773-5774 (or 2013). One day I sent Michael to the store with brown sugar on the list, and he came back with "golden sugar," subtitled "brown sugar with a fine taste." Let me tell you that golden sugar is brown sugar only if you define brown as "not white." No offense to golden sugar, but the color is not brown. The texture is not the same. It doesn't taste the same.
The other day, Michael discovered that the brown sugar shortage has been going on for about a month, and appears to be nation-wide. I wonder whether this one is not an Israeli thing, but is connected to the giant molasses spill near Hawaii a month ago. Oy.
In other news, almost overnight the weather here has changed. Now mornings are cool and evenings are (according to Michael the perfect temperature) a bit chilly. Air conditionings have been switched off but I think the hot water heater may need to be turned on soon. The hot water heater is solar powered. It actually feels like fall but without the pretty colored leaves that we used to see. Granted those leaves would end up on your lawn and it was the work of Sisyphus trying to keep the lawn clear.
Meanwhile, I previously mentioned that my "observation period" in the ED had been delayed. I should clarify a bit. There is something of a physician shortage here and one of the initiatives underwork is that North American doctors are sort of "fast tracked" to start working. I won't rehash the difficulties I personally faced having to obtain my license from the North American state of Kansas (apparently not as well recognized as Dorothy and Toto would like to think!) but now in order to get my "specialty recognition" I need to be observed for 3 months in the ED. Three months is considered the minimum amount of time required and is generally granted to those who are board certified in their field in North America. It's not a lot of time especially considering that in the reverse, physicians moving to the U.S. generally have to do their entire training over. However, the observation period does have to be consecutive and I just learned last week that I have to give proof of my childhood immunizations. If I'm out in left field, someone please let me know, but I don't have my immunization records. Granted, I was born in a time when parents remembered what the different diseases looked like and were afraid and wanted to protect their children and so we all got vaccinated. But the proving of it is going to entail several stops at different health clinics in different cities in Israel. I must: 1) Get my blood drawn for antibodies to prove that I did receive certain shots 2) For the shots that can't be proven via lab go to the ministry of health and get boosters. Not sure if you would call 15 months the "fast track" but here I am. So I'm not taking it on the chin, I'm taking it in the upper arm--a few times!
While we're on the subject of vaccinations, there was polio found in a water source in Israel and so it was recommended that all children under age 10 receive the live vaccine. (The age cutoff is calculated based on the time period that live vaccine was stopped and assumptions about hand washing---polio being spread via the oral-fecal route). The majority of parents seem to have complied but there are quite a few that can't decide. I am not sure when the anti-vaccination campaign got so strong but it's just so ironic to me that the parents who are so against it would have been the same group to receive the live vaccine when they were kids because that's what they were using both in Israel and the U.S. until the early 2000's.
Anyway, since I'm mostly spending my time driving around getting needles in the arm, I decided I should take another ulpan (Hebrew course). So, I contacted my local ulpan (joy= we live in a city with an ulpan!) showed up today as instructed and was promptly told they had no space for me (oy= the ulpan is full). Sort of ironic because the woman at the hospital who put the final touches on my paperwork (that will now take 6 weeks to process) repeatedly told me that I needed to work on my Hebrew. Well geez people, I'm trying. She was actually quite opinionated on the subject---maybe I could get her to call the head of the ulpan here and pull a few strings. So now the coordinator of my ulpan last year is sending proof to this ulpan that I actually didn't receive all the hours I am entitled to as an immigrant and this apparently will create a space for me in the class.
And on the home front, classes have started in our own little ulpan. Apparently, convinced that Michael and I have been derelect in our duties to teach Ariella English, Lital has started a homeschool of sorts. It sort of reminds me of Sarah and Scott G. back in the day. She has set up a homeroom in Michael's office, complete with workbooks, worksheets and a curriculum (my favorites being "Computer Tusday"--hopefully that's not just them watching funny youtube videos and "Sport Wensday"---hey it's important to know how to say "not fair it was my turn" in English). To make the special school truly authentic, Lital even gave herself a day off each week, as Israeli teachers work five days a week, even though the children are in school for six. (Figure out those schoolhouse logistics!)
Let me end by re-visiting my upcoming vaccination schedule. If you have plans to be at the Department of Health in Ramla on the third Wednesday of the month between 7:15 and 7:40, I will see you there!