Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sitting Shiva, Showing Home Movies and Other Tips

I'm almost finished sitting shiva for my brother. Just over two hours left. Soon I'll change back into my shiva "outfit," the same clothes I've been wearing since leaving for his funeral. Except for Shabbat, I've been wearing the very same outer clothes, skirt and two-layer top. The outer shirt was ripped at the funeral in one of the Jewish customs.

When we sit shiva, weeklong Jewish mourning, one is supposed to ignore the usual dressing and grooming care. No hairbrushing or clean clothes. Also no bathing. Yes for sure, I'm looking forward to taking a shower, shampoo and putting on something clean!

The night before my brother's funeral I was at my New York daughter's, and she took out a set of DVDs that my brother had made from our old home movies. We watched a couple of hours worth. She gave me the package, and I took them home. Yesterday I decided to put them on to watch and turned off the sound. The sound was just some musical accompaniment the "film to DVD" place had added. In the 1950's and early sixties, home movies were silent.

So, in addition to the little album my eldest daughter had made before I left Israel for the funeral, I now had moving pictures of my brother and our family life way back when to show those who came to לנחם linachem, comfort me. These family movies were from about 1956-1960, if I'm not mistaken. There are additional DVDs that follow my parents and us well into the early 1980s when we moved to Shiloh.

Here I am riding my bicycle near our last* Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY apartment, 67-62 Springfield Blvd.
I moved the low chair I had been sitting in to a place I could also see the screen, and I'd talk about my brother and the world in which we grew up.

One advantage of showing the home movies over the picture album, which people continued to look at especially since it included photos from his entire life up to a few weeks before my brother died, was because pretty much everyone in the room could see it at once.

Few of those who came had any real idea of what it was like in a place like Bell Park Gardens, which was such an important formative part of our childhood. My brother was ten when we moved to Great Neck. Seeing us and it, in faded color, brought my stories to life far superior to even the most descriptive words.

And for me it was very meaningful and comforting to see my family, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and the locations which loved and shaped us all.

*We lived in three different apartments in Bell Park Gardens from December 1949- August 1962.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Peculiar Viewing Statistics; False I Guess

A blogger I had helped set up told me about this phenomenon a year or so ago, and now it is happening to me. Suddenly my "stats" are showing an obviously false number of "visitors" from Russia and other places.

Here's this morning's stats from this blog:

Pageviews by Countries*

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
EntryPageviews
Russia
2369
United States
495
France
367
Mauritius
117
Germany
98
Israel
76
Ukraine
25
Australia
19
Canada
12
China
12

And here's this morning's stats from Shiloh Musings:

Pageviews by Countries*

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
EntryPageviews
Russia
10025
United States
2475
France
472
Germany
382
Israel
286
Mauritius
119
Ukraine
73
Canada
60
China
47
Australia
45

There's no way that it is accurate. The numbers just don't make sense.

I guess at some point this will end. Does anyone understand how it happens? Have you experienced anything like it?

* for the week

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bereavement Upgrade


Apparently there was a time, and there still are a small list of airlines, when it was possible to get a discount on flights when off to a funeral of a close relative. The travel agent who booked the flight to and from my mother's funeral didn't get me it or mentioned the possibility, but the new agent I've been using did.

My original booking was for a seat towards the very end of the plane, about row 57, but at the gate my boarding pass was taken away and a new one issued for First Class. In the end I found myself in the first row of Business Class which is just as good, as far as I'm concerned.

On the El Al plane I flew on, both of those sections had the same fantastic seats. They were fully adjustable from seated to fully reclining. I was most comfortable in the "relax" position with my feet higher. There was a slight difference, from what I could see, in the food, but in all honesty Business Class was all I needed.

In First Class, each row is separated for more privacy.
On the trip back, I was in a regular row/seat. B"H, the seat next to me ended up unoccupied, which is always nicer.


And as you know, I'm now back home sitting shiva for my brother until Thursday morning.

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Calm of Death," 52Frames

Even before my brother had passed away, I envisioned using a picture of the cemetery for the 52Frames challenge, "Calm." I imagined myself taking a picture of the cemetery with my phone at the time of his funeral, even though I had no real proof that he'd pass away that week. And I didn't know if I'd manage to send off the photo, even if I had a chance to shoot it.

In my mind was also a competing image, one I imagined photographing from the plane, on my way to my brother's funeral.


And as you see, I did photograph the sky and clouds as we flew over Europe. But I was bothered by the flashes, and I had no way to edit the photo.

Before flying to my brother's funeral, I sent in a very different photo.

Between Takes
There's a calm on the movie set when we're not needed. Yes, I was on a movie set this week, as an "extra." It was a TorahLive.com production.

Finally, I went with my emotions, rather than anything else and chose this one:

"Calm of Death"
I just took this photo at the cemetery after my brother's funeral. Death is a reminder that we have little real control. In the end no matter who or what we were, rich or poor, successful or not. 
There is a certain calm at a funeral, as if we are all under a heavy blanket, a strong embrace.

Location: Long Island, New York
Did I choose right? What do you think?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bucket List, In The Movies


my brother, the loving uncle, 1973

with Sharon Katz
During the time I knew that my brother was dying, I became more aware of my own mortality, a feeling many have in similar situations. So when an email arrived from my dear, inspiring and amazing friend Sharon Katz arrived asking me to be an "extra" in a film for Torah Live, I jumped at the opportunity.

I'm completely convinced that my name was on the list by mistake, especially because of the logistics of my getting from Shiloh to Efrat on time for morning shooting, but I decided to go for it. When you want something, things can work out, and they did. I had actually been accepted for two days of filming, but had a very strong feeling that my brother's life wouldn't last long enough for the second, and I was right.

on the set, being filmed


To be honest, I have always been interested in performing, though dancing had been my specialty when I was young. All aspects of the production interested me. Being that all of us actors in the movie are amateurs, there were none of the ego problems or competition one hears about in the real acting world. I wonder if I'll be called again...

And if you think that my bucket list has been completed, you are wrong. I have lots more I want to, Gd willing, do before kicking the bucket.

לעילוי נשמתו
 צבי הירש בן זיסקין

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In Mourning...

I'll be taking a break from my regular schedule, since my brother passed away yesterday. Others may be posting on the blog. I may or may not or on different topics.





My brother didn't marry, so the mourners are me, my sister, our children, grandchildren and lots of loving cousins and family friends. The funeral will be in New York, and then next week I will return to Shiloh to finish the shiva.






my brother, the loving uncle


My brother lived in Israel for quite a few months in the early 1970's and learned Hebrew in Moshav Argaman, when it had a "kibbutz ulpan" set up.

May he know peace...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Where You can Buy and Eat a Sandwich with Dignity

There's a downside to a lot of the places where they sell inexpensive sandwiches in Jerusalem, no place to sit and eat them comfortably. Sometimes you're offered an option when paying.
"Are you eating here, or is it to go?"
According to your answer is the price. You pay more to sit at a table and feel like a mensch when eating. The other night, when I had to grab a dinner in Jerusalem. I didn't feel like having a proper restaurant meal, and when I checked out a number of the inexpensive salad places that offer ready-made ones, and/or ready-made sandwiches, even discounted, because of the hour, since they hadn't been refrigerated all day, or who knows how long or since they had been prepared, I got nervous. I remembered that the Sambooki on 28 Jaffa Street towards the Safra Square Jerusalem Municipality had good prices, so I meandered over to it.



I entered with the good intentions of getting a salad, but somehow I ended up with a bagel sandwich, even though from the size and shape, I could see that it wasn't a real bagel. For ns19, it was fine. Especially because you got three proteins and unlimited salads inside. Everything seemed perfectly fresh.

And there was no price differential for sitting. I got my tuna plus sandwich on a real plate with a real fork. And I sat comfortably at a table instead of having to find a bench someplace or walk around eating. As you can see in the photo on the right, they even have newspapers for people to read as they eat. The peace and quiet were perfect for my needs that evening.

I've been there before with friends who also felt that for the money it's a find. It's busier early in the day, and they began getting ready to close when I was there. Even though I noticed the "pre-close" activities, there was no pressure on us diners to hurry.

So even though the price was street food, I was able to eat with dignity. Sambooki is part of the Cafe Ma'afah Neeman chain of kosher bakeries and dairy restaurants.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Fun!


How did we get through the summers without convenient swimming pools?

When I was a kid in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, it was so complicated to get to a pool or beach. We had these small blow-up wading pools and sprinklers to run under. Day camps didn't have pools either. Only sleepaway camps had pools and lakes, depending on the camp. And of course, it rains in New York in the summer.

And when we moved to Great Neck, a large reasonably priced public swimming pool was built. My family joined. At least I was a teenager then and could go without an adult. I'd cycle the two miles to get there and back.

Here in Shiloh, we have a pool, we've joined just a couple of minutes' walk away. My daughter has the same distance to hers, so the grandkids can enjoy swimming.

In good health!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fighting Those Creeping Kilos/Pounds

my scale and my clothes don't lie

photo credit
Here I am about seven years after my big weight loss of thirty plus pounds, fifteen kilo, and I must admit that about a third of the weight has found me. One of the problems is that I've lost the motivation, the self-disciple.

Weight Gain During Menopause
And even worse is that my body shape is changing, more "apple" than "pear." That can happen even if weight stays stable after a certain age.  I've noticed it with some of my friends.

It's not that I've gone back to the diet/way of eating that facilitated all that weight that had over-padded/packed my relatively small frame, but I now eat things I shouldn't and enjoy dessert when it's offered. That wouldn't be a problem if it only happened once a month or less frequently, or even bi-weekly, but it seems that there are occasions weekly or even more often when I'm offered an irresistible dessert, or something of similar calorie danger.

I guess motivation has taken a nosedive... I probably need more sleep, too. All the studies say lack of sleep makes us hungrier, and even worse, reduces our self-control aka impulsivity problems.

Just to keep you in the loop....

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Great Neck's Cafe Kriza, Even Better than Before

Rather deja vu...
My parents officially left Great Neck in 2010, moved to Arizona and sold their house. From October, 2009 until June, 2010, my father lived with us in Israel. You can read some of the posts I wrote about that by clicking  saga of taking care of my elderly fatherUnexpectedly, a few weeks ago, I found myself again visiting a family member in the hospital rehab in Manhasset and then in Great Neck needing a kosher restaurant, though not in the whacked out jet-lagged state I had  been almost seven years ago when I first discovered Cafe Kriza.
Lucky Turn, Found The Perfect Restaurant
Salmon, 2009
Salmon, 2016
This time, I arrived in better shape and not alone, and I had already checked the kosher restaurant scene on Middle Neck Road and was glad to see that Cafe Kriza was still there, open and kosher. One thing was the same. I ordered the same meal, Salmon, not that I was aware of it until now when I checked the old blog post. I remember enjoying my meal in 2009, and I enjoyed it this time, too. Both times I requested extra salad instead of the potatoes or rice, which came with the fish. My eating partners were all happy with their selections.

Besides the food being excellent, it's a lovely looking restaurant. I wonder if I'll ever be there again... If you go, please say that I recommended it, thanks.

I enjoyed the lemon in my icy water.
 CAFE KRIZA     45 Middle Neck Road     Great Neck, NY      516 829-1039     www.cafekriza.com

Friday, July 15, 2016

Strange Creature

I'm no expert when it comes to flora and fauna, neither the natives to this part of the Middle East, nor New York, my old stomping grounds. I never actually learned the names of what one can find here, and I forgot the names of those in New York.  Generally things look pretty familiar, but yesterday I saw a creature that looked like it came out of a science fiction or monster movie with prehistoric dinosaurs, whether you believe they existed or not.



I was waiting just a few doors from my house for a friend who had told me that she could drop me off at work, when I glanced at the greenery and saw this green thing. It's a few inches long. Just then, of course, I realized that in my rush to  leave I had forgotten my camera, but B"H in today's modern world there's always a phone that can do just as good a job.

Nu? Does anyone know what it is? Please comment if you know the name or have seen such a creature, thanks.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Light at The End of The Tunnel" 52Frames "Low Key"

I'm learning all sorts of new terms and techniques as part of 52Frames, the facebook based photography group I joined a few years ago. I've really always loved taking pictures, and when I look at some I took as a very young child, I can see a similarity in composition to those I take now. Of course, in those days, I  had a simple film camera and only got black & white film. There was no such thing as "wasting a shot." Each one had to be perfect, or my parents would threaten that they wouldn't pay for more film and developing costs.

Today people just shoot and shoot some more. I get dizzy when I have to choose between many photos. Even when I take a lot of photos of the same scene or theme/challenge, there aren't all that many, not the dozens others take.

"Low Key" means dark in layman's terms. It can have something lit up, but that must be a relatively small percentage of the view. I ended up with two similar photos that fit the bill and didn't have the patience nor visual skills to choose, so I asked for help from the 52Frames Photographers facebook page. That's how this was chosen:

"Light at The End of The Tunnel"
I tried to escape the summer's heat by going inside the Walls of Jerusalem's Old City this week and in one of the covered areas, I shot this photo.

Camera: Canon IXUS 145 Canon IXUS 145
Aperture: f/3.5
ISO: 100 and below
Location: Jerusalem Old City, Israel

Which would you have chosen? Here is the other:


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On My Mother's Yartzeit

As per Jewish custom, I have a 24 hour light burning in her memory.
I have no set custom as to what to do on these memorial days for her. When my husband has them for his parents, he brings herring and maybe schnapps to synagogue in the morning to make a "Lechaim," in their memory. But even though I do pray the morning (and also afternoon) prayers, I do it all quietly alone at home or wherever I happen to be.

I don't really do anything special to commemorate my mother, and I'm still in the first year of mourning for my father, who passed away just a few days before Passover.



In a sense my whole life is a reflection on my parents, for good and for bad. We all are the results of how we are raised and what we make of it.

Even though both of my parents ended up extremely dependent in the period before they died, I still think of them as a generation of giants. There's nothing I can do or accomplish that can compete with the powers they had. We were taught to treat them with awe and respect. And from what I understand, their parent, too treated them that way. They were the "American generation," the first in their families to be born and raised in America. They paved the way. They were also very strong and influential grandparents, in a way I can never be. And in a sense I wouldn't want to be, since I had to stand aside when my parents (and in-laws, too) visited and were with my children.

My mother always encouraged my love for dance, and there was a summer, when I was twenty, when we actually worked together teaching an exercise class for women. Other women in a nearby community had requested that she give a summer class. I had just taken two years of "Dance Movement" lessons with an excellent, innovative instructor, Allan Wayne, in Manhattan, so she told them that she needed me to demonstrate the movements.

Basically, the truth is that I was the teacher. My mother would point to me and tell the women in the class to "follow" what I was doing.

And in many ways, after the original shock of hearing that I was going to live a Torah aka Orthodox Jewish Life and then move to Israel, she became quite supportive. And as the Great Neck Synagogue became more of an Orthodox community, she enthusiastically joined in the various chesed activities like comforting and bringing food to mourners besides running the Sisterhood Gift Shop and more.

My mother loved and participated in all of the arts, was a paid member of lots of museums, a docent in the nearby Nassau County Museum, performed and was stage manager in the Fresh Meadows and later the Great Neck Community Theater, loved dance and shows etc. She also tried her hand at painting. And she absolutely adored her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

לעילוי נשמתה
שפרה בת אברהם וחיה ריזיה

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Street Art- Decorating the Neighborhood

One night when I was walking around the neighborhood I saw that someone was starting to paint the shelter that is now used as a Shabbat synagogue, the Senior Citizens activities and a few other things. When I passed there again a few days later, in daylight, I discovered that some serious mural painting had been done. 

The painting of buildings and store shutters, like in Jerusalem's iconic Machane Yehuda, is a very popular genre of public art here in Israel. 

There have been other buildings so decorated in Shiloh, but these pictures are different from the "fun stuff" usually seen here. I'm not quite sure what the artist had tried to portray. Is it Ancient Biblical Shiloh, Jerusalem or just total fantasy?




The new storeroom next to the shelter was also painted as you can see.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hard to Recognize Our First Home in Israel, So Changed!


When my husband and I first made aliyah as newlyweds, we lived in Jerusalem's Old City. The term "Old City" was in our address. In 1970 there was no "Rova Yehudi," "Jewish Quarter." The few Jewish families and Jewish institutes were scattered around among the Arabs, sort of like the Jews who live in what's known as "the Moslem Quarter" today, with one big difference. We had no security in those days.  Life was much safer before this "peace" business began.




We lived in the Maon Betar, with students, mostly post-army. They were from all over, Israeli-born, French, South America etc. We had a small apartment, and my husband was responsible for upkeep. Others shared large and not so large rooms. It was on the corner of Rechov Hayehudim and Rechov Plugat Hakotel. We had our own kitchen, but the others shared one downstairs. There was a time that the army used it for soldiers visiting Jerusalem, and our youngest was there. Now it's used by the Netiv Arye Yeshiva. I haven't been in there since 1971.


When we were in the neighborhood the streets/paths were just mud, dirt. Towards the end of the time we lived there, those mud streets, not for vehicles, were dug up to modernize the infrastructure. There were also Arab squatters in the homes, which were Jewish. During the Jordanian Occupation, 1948-1967, Jews were not allowed to live or even visit.

Now it's a light, lovely neighborhood with lots of Jews and Jewish business.




Yes, it's right near the "Wide Wall"