Archive for October, 2010
We were at Home Center (a home goods store – the Hebrew name is הום סנטר rather than what you might think it would be, something like מרבז הבית) on Friday, looking at different options for curtains to hang in one of the rooms for our house. Predictably, it is hard to choose among all of the different color/fabric options. We had a helpful sales lady who was giving us advise (based on what she was wearing, almost certainly not what would be labeled as “religious”).
As we were vacillating between the different options, she said: הקדוש ברוך הוא לא ברא את העולם ביום אחד – God didn’t create the world in one day – it took him seven days. So there is no need to feel that you have to choose today. And as we were leaving (in the end, we postponed the big decision for another day) she gave us a blessing and wished us a Shabbat Shalom. (Only in Israel).
Since making aliyah, I have discovered a big cultural difference between Israelis and non-Israelis when it comes to resting on Shabbat – many Israelis hold it as their sacred right to sleep on Shabbat day from 2pm to 4pm. From what I heard, there used to be a law that prohibits making noise outside between these hours. (I have seen signs in some parks in Yerushalayim to this effect – the park is closed between these hours). And though this law doesn’t exist in many places (such as Yad Binyamin, where I live), many people still pretend that it does, and claim this period of enforced silence as one of their sacred rights. If you have kids, you still go to sleep between these hours, and the kids just fend for themselves and learn to play quietly.
Don’t get me wrong – I like to sleep on Shabbat as much as the next guy. But with little kids to supervise and entertain, it often just does not happen. We have yet to have a Shabbat where all three kids slept at the same time, and when one or two of them conks out, it could just as well be from 1-2 or 10:30-11:30. And in my opinion, it is not fair to force kids to stay indoors for such a long part of the afternoon, when they have lots of energy to get out and they have been inside for most of the week.
This past Shabbat, at 3:30pm I let the kids go outside to play in our back yard. We had guests over for Shabbat (with three more little kids), and they really needed to get out. It has also been over 90 F for throughout the main daylight hours since last Pesach, and this was one of the first days in the Fall where the weather was even remotely Fall-like. So the kids went to our back yard, and started playing there – 3-5 year old level activities, running around, talking, pretending, making some noise, but definitely a reasonable amount of noise for daytime hours.
Our back yard adjoins all of the back yards on our block, so when you are back there, you are looking at the backs of the houses behind us. So one of our neighbors goes out onto his mirpesset sheirut (place to hand laundry off of the second floor) and called out to me, saying that he (or his wife was trying to sleep), and our kids were making noise (the implication being that they should not be outside). I made a face, said back “well, where should they play” to which he kind of shrugged and didn’t say anything. I then brought the kids back in (since you do want to stay on good terms with your potential very long-term neighbors).
In my opinion, daytime is for being awake, and night time is for sleeping. It is nice to sleep on Shabbat, but to prohibit other people from taking part in regular daytime activities (like playing outside with a reasonable level of noise) seems to me to be pretty selfish. (There is also a park across the street surrounded by the back yards of a bunch of houses, where adults in the houses have been known to yell at kids playing quietly without making any noise in the park at 2:30pm on Shabbat, telling them that the park is closed! – which of course, it wasn’t). In speaking with other non-Israelis (not just Americans), it seems that the opinions on this are really divided between your country of origin – native Israelis take it for granted that that is quiet time, while non-Israelis don’t. I do intend to speak to the local Rav to find out his opinion about how to handle the situation (since there is nothing illegal about playing outside between these hours in your own yard, and while stealing someone’s sleep at night is very bad, it is not so clear how this would apply during the day), but for now, it is kind of annoying to have to deal with this.
Today’s Arutz Sheva email had three aliyah-themed stories, all playing along the same theme: the Jewish Agency (the government sponsored organization whose mission statement used to be directed towards encouraging aliyah) doesn’t really care about olim from North America (read: the US) anymore. And Nefesh b’Nefesh does.
A different kind of “aliyah revolution” is in the making, and according to aliyah activists as well as officials of the Absorption Ministry, it’s a regressive revolution, one that will damage – perhaps severely – the aliyah effort, especially from North America.
At a meeting this week, the Jewish Agency ratified a plan it approved last summer that would change the focus of the organization from encouraging aliyah to encouraging Disapora-Israel ties – in the hope that education on Israel would lead to those inclined to do so to make aliyah…
With the shift in focus, though, a number of programs that had been in place to provide assistance to North American Jews to make aliyah have been off-loaded from the Jewish Agency. Some of these programs had been moved to the Absorption Ministry. A veteran of the aliyah movement told Israel National News, that one result will be that North American Jews seeking to make aliyah are destined to “fall through the safety net” of aliyah, getting shunted aside by both the Jewish Agency and the Absorption Ministry.
It’s kind of chaval. However, remembering our aliyah (almost five years ago, when we still had to go to the Jewish Agency and open a tik, and we actually signed paper forms from Misrad haPnim) I don’t remember the Jewish Agency doing so much to help us. Much more came from Nefesh B’Nefesh and from our the person in charge of helping olim in the yishuv where we first made aliyah (Kochav Yaakov – thanks Veronique!).
Israel National News has been informed that a program that retrains licensed teachers from the United States who make aliyah for work in the Israeli school system has been canceled, jeopardizing the prospective immigration of possibly hundreds of teachers in the coming years.
According to aliyah aid group Nefesh b’Nefesh, the closing of the “Morim Olim” (Immigrant teachers) program takes away what had been a valuable resource that teachers who wished to immigrate to Israel have used in the past to get themselves acclimated to the country. The closure of the Morim Olim program program, says Yael Katsman of NBN, means that “there is no longer an address within the system for teachers’ questions and concerns, and assistance in helping them find jobs.”…
A higher-up in the Education Ministry who spoke anonymously to Israel National News hinted at this as well, saying that “there has been a lot of back and forth here in recent months, and money is definitely not the only reason for the program cut.”
If this was done for political reasons (as the article implies) then it is another chaval. From what I have heard, Israel is not exactly overflowing with qualified English subject teachers, and the more that Israel can do to encourage skilled English speaking teachers to make aliyah and to continue here in their profession, the better off it will be (for both the olim, and the students who benefit from their experience).
3) Nefesh B’Nefesh Focuses on Careers. Read the story for a good PR piece on how NBN is helping olim with their klitah both before and after aliyah. At least someone still cares about the American olim.