This year I wanted to do some serious research for my blog so I decided to conduct an independent study on where to find the best sufganiyot (Hannukah doughnuts) in Modiin. I knew it wouldn't be easy because there are so many fantabulous bakeries here and only 8 nights, but I felt that in this time of dedication (read another blog for the Hannukah story) I could show some dedication of my own. After all, if you find yourself in Modiin some Hannukah I want you to get the absolute best sufganiyah out there. I really only had your best interests at heart when I started, but dear readers I quickly learned that it was no mission for amateurs. I mean I can put away some chocolate chip cookies and I can eat a pint of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream like nobody's business but these doughnuts were an entirely different matter and I'm sorry to report that I had to abort the mission after only three nights. Sometimes, as it turns out, there really can be too much of a good thing.
And how do you burn off the calories from little fat bolus donuts? Local runs in Modiin! Last week Nehemiah ran in a local race. Modiin has a yearly 5/10K, with shorter races for kids. He qualified to run the 1500M on behalf of his school, instead of having to register independently. It was a lot of fun. There were 500 runners in his age group. You might be asking how I burned calories standing on the side lines, so let me tell you-- since none of the parents knew where the finish line was, we cheered our kids on at the beginning, walked half way to the point that we thought was the finish line and then turned around and walked back to the start since it turns out the start and finish were the same place. We had to move kind of fast too because this is only like a 7 or 8 minute race. Afterwards the kids played in the olympic village the city set up. All in all, lots of fun.
Poor Michael injured his foot so even though this was to have been his first official 5k it looks like he is sidelined for a bit. No worries, he is shadow boxing while he waits for his foot to heal.
Last Friday, our neighboring city (the border of which is one block away from us) had their own race. This was just a show up and run deal, and N and L both ran and then played in their bouncy/craft/play area. The girls designed dreidels and N and a buddy made their own fun.
Now the kids are on break from school to celebrate Hannukah. We planned some day trips and part of the blog experience is chronicling them so we can look back and say "Hey, remember that time we went to the Alexander River to see the sea turtles and that guy rode up on horse back, tied up his horse and walked away?" Yeah, that actually happened while we were at Nahal Alexander. I thought it was more a beach where we could swim but it was actually a big grassy park and you can watch the turtles come up on on the banks of the river. Not sure where he came from.
We took a day to harvest fruit for poor people. We joined up with an organization called Leket Yisrael. We learned there that 1 in 4 Israelis lives below the poverty line. Fortunately, great organizations like these are working hard to help. One of the many ways they help is to have actual fields where they grow fruits and vegetables that are donated. Our day we were assigned to pick clementines. Our group was about 50 people, some from a bat mitzvah group that do mitzvah projects each month in preparation for becoming bat mitzvah, others from a school group from a town in the South, and a handful of families like ours. We worked for about 90 minutes and the leader told us that we picked about 1000 Kilos of fruit, or about one ton. He told us this would be donated to about 250 families. We felt really good about that. The other thing that we felt really good about is that sometime during the harvesting there was an invasion of the body snatchers. I don't know if was the manual labor, or hearing about hungry children, or knowing that our work made such a difference, but our children spent the next several hours playing so nicely and treating each other with such love and respect, that I felt like we had become a family from an old-style TV show, like Leave it to Beaver, or the Brady Bunch. I did not want to change the channel.
I'm not really that familiar with Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the film), so I don't know how to wrap up the analogy, but basically in the movie you're totally rooting for the "good guys" to get back to themselves but in this version I was rooting for my kids to keep up the charade. Anyway, by morning the 'pod people' seem to have left and our children were back. Today we went to the old city of Jerusalem on a tour organized by our city. It was great because we went by bus, so there was no need to worry about parking etc. Ariella sang songs about Jerusalem the whole way there. She wanted everyone to join in but it was a group of Olim and she couldn't understand why they didn't also know the songs from school. At one point she switched to "Adon Olam," because she said every little kid learns this one. She was a bit confused as to why the announcements on the bus were being made in English. Our first stop was the generations museum outside of the Kotel (Western Wall). Apparently it took the artist 6 years to create the glass sculptures that he uses to depict the generations over thousands of years that have been in or have yearned to be in Israel. Nehemiah got pretty excited when he saw his name etched on one of the sculptures. The tour is done with a headset that is programmed in many languages. Ariella chose to listen in Hebrew but I chose English. She turned to me and told me that if I want to learn Hebrew I can't just to go to ulpan-- I have to also choose Hebrew.
Afterwards, we took a tour through the tunnels underneath the Kotel. Nothing like thousands of years of history to put things in perspective. What an awesome feeling to stand in such archeological sites and feel so connected. And to be reminded how glad I am that I wasn't born a Roman soldier. King Herod (who made a number of additions to the Temple area) did not mess around. I'm not sure when it developed, but there is a custom to write a note and leave it in the wall with your prayers. Lital put a note in asking for my dad to get better. It was very sweet.