Report #10 - July 1999 - Yishuv Alon, Israel
This report is the very last one and was never sent to the public.
It summarizes the very last month and various other things that would not be
interesting enough for a wider audience.
Yair has a real girlfriend named Chen. He has been going to her house after school or vice versa for 2 weeks or more every single day. She wants to "sleep with him" and wants him to take a shower at her house. Her mother says that she loves him dearly but she must remember to tell her when she is coming over, and not just come to us straight from school which she often does. She is a sweet girl, from a Sepahrdic dark family, who ironically were the most active Barak, Israel One supporters on the whole yishuv. Chen is dark with dark brown eyes, and dirty black hair. She has pidgeon-toed feet, and some people think she is a little dim. But I like her and she seems smart enough to understand Yair's pidgeon Hebrew! Her parents are a bit strict but loving and she has 3 much older brothers.
Yair routinely now walks around the yishuv on his own, comes back on his own, goes to friends... This is contrast to the general advice of taking a gun on any hiking trip.
Zosh has finally integrated fairly well into his class. He recently went to a birthday party with Paz, and Lilach and Renana to Kfar Adoomim altogether, and he did not need or ask one of us to stay with him. He has 3 real friends in school, Paz, Lilach and Shlomi. He learned how to read Hebrew, but not quite as well as most of his class, but he does fine as expected. Better than all his class, he has simultaneously learned to read English, by practicing weekly with us and with Ilana, a South African immigrant who teaches him English 45 minutes, twice a week. He likes her a lot and vice versa. I think she has helped him quite a bit more than I could ever have. He went on his first REAL playdate with a boy, when he went to Shlomi's after school. I was very proud of him.
He has since visited Shlomi many times, and Shlomi taught him to ride a bike. He even lent him a bike and a helmet to take home in a very generous way. I was proud again of Zosh.
It feels that just as the kids really integrate and lose the stigma of newcomers (after 8 months) it is almost time to head home. Too bad they do not have another year to enjoy the friends they have made and reap the rewards of their well earned efforts this year.
Yair's Hebrew has gotten very good relative to a 5 yr old. Outside of grammar
errors, he can converse fairly well in Hebrew, and improves his vocabulary continuously. He proudly proclaims in Hebrew how "Ani YaHol Lehavin Hakhol". He pretty much can. Zosh, is just as good receptively, but not as forthcoming with his productive language. It is hard to know then just how well he could talk if he tried all the time.
Yair's birthday party in school was quite a ritual. It went on for more than an hour of songs, dances, rituals, etc where his friends even lined up to bless him. Andrea made a castle cake which was well received. He was gleeful. There was a big mural he drew during the "story", and a scrapbook of picture his friends made to take home as souveniers. His gannenet Yafa is really special. Her helper Ala, thinks Yair is some kind of math genius and has really enjoyed working with him on math related games.
We visited a cool "games" center in Tel Aviv, open free to the public since 1981. The idea is to promote good relations between parents and kids, and to help kids learn in a fun environment. They have most games but not Go! The games include board games, fooz-ball, infant toys, dolls etc. It is located in an old industrial/residential area of Tel Aviv, near the Ayalon, North of Laguardia.
Andrea and I went a hike (w/o a gun) down Wadi kelt and missed the monastery by about a kilometer or less... It was 3.5 hours total and about 15-18 kilometers roundtrip. It was lots of fun and a fitting show of comfort with the "dangers" of the wadi from a long year living at the top. Since Hagit was killed two years, many children are not allowed down the wadi by themselves and most people do not go without a gun. It was challenging but not very hard, and we downed 750 ml each of freshly squeezed OJ at the Maayan at the end, served by the resident Romanian caretaker who knew just enough Hebrew to serve us. We saw some strange fortifications on cliff outcrops, surrounded by mesh wire and old mattress skeletons...
Charlie and Audrey came to visit us in Alon the 2nd to last Shabbat ---
Adela stayed home for a party, but Gavriel came and we all had a nice relaxing time. The whole house was available for them since Julie et al had already left.
We took Shelly, Dov, Gloria and David out to Hyatt buffet -- was a lot of fun and they appreciated it.
We have a nice plan waiting to do with the Schacts when they come, and Zosh will
finish school a week early. A few places we went with them, we had not done before... We went with the Shachts to the Old city ramparts. The kids RAN the whole way, and we went from Shaar Yafo to Shaar Tziyon. We went to Hof Nitzanim, a pretty beach, and to Kfar Hashmonaim. Kfar Hashmonaim is run by an eccentric named Zohar and is pretty much a one man show though worthwhile. We baked pitot and stamped coins, visited caves and old stone homes, ate mulberries off a tree and fed his jackass. Nitzanim deserves its reputation as a great beach. The sand is clean and smooth, restaurant is nice, and the water is really warm in the summer. Yona was quite brave about it all going up to his neck and laughing with the waves. Zosh and Yair played in the water and sand the whole time.
I finished up at the university by saying goodbye to everybody, printing out my last paper, taking some pictures of Ima and Yona on campus, seeing Raima, Lucia, Avinoam, and leaving copies of the paper with Tzvi and Avinoam. I shared my last lunch of shnitzel ala usual with Andrea and Yona.
My talk at JCT went very well, and was uneventful. I met Prof Domb, editor of a Journal on Torah and Scholarship who solicited a promise from me to write an article.
My work turned out a success this year. In the end, I published (sent out at this point) 5 papers.
1-2. Historia Mathematica -- A critical edition
3. Math teacher -- Gems (final version pending)
4. BDD -- The Mathematics of Ralbag.
5. Kluwer -- with Tzvi, on Square roots and Cube roots of Ralbag and Ibn Ezra.
I worked very steadily all year with special ardor in the months Jan-March. April - June have been more leisurely and recovery time and taking stock. Still two of the five papers were finished in this later period and revisions on the real serious HM papers were done.
We packed up my office for the most part as Julie gave away the office furniture and ordered new closets which will be put in soon. I have all but finished my work here except for the talk at Mahon Lev in mid month so I am glad to put everything away. I gave a lot of my stuff away, Mankala, maps and a science book to the Calbo's (who lent us the car seat all year), my black paper clip dop-kit to Paz who I like so much. She has been a super friend to Zosh, something he needed greatly, and she is a very sweet girl. She sometimes gets nervous at field trips, and cries about her tummy maybe hurting and noone around to help her... but I hope one day she comes to visit Zosh again. I would be very happy if Zosh found a wife like her, despite the Hiloni implications.
I have been indulging a passion/addiction/pleasure of a subscription to OKBridge and playing a LOT. Maybe average 3-4 hours a day for the last 2-3 months of our stay. I still have gotten my work done (the demand was less after the big paper was finished), and I still get my share of the work around the house done, but I have been neglectful of myself and family because of it.... Nevertheless it has been a reward to myself for a year of hard work and a job well done.
I still read Torah a lot, and people seem to appreciate it. If we were interested in moving here through the back door, that skill would certainly help us out.
Still trying to run, sometimes while pushing the baby Yona in stroller. Andrea and I are about even so the run is at least good company, but I need to keep practicing to get back in shape after a year of terminal watching.
Paritskys are out of here in 1 week, and the Schachts here in two. It all ends very quickly.
I saw M. Kellner last week in Haifa; was uneventful and fun mainly to see the ugly tower on top of Haifa Univ.'s campus. He was engaging and pleasant. He told me of his own history of aliyah and how his wife was a reluctant by loving partner.
Andrea and I have been spending this last month or two trying to study through all the Neviim Rishonim, from Yehoshua through Melachim II. We are half way done, and it is very fascinating and exciting both as historical and tragic literature as well as Biblical study with the Geography coming alive as we live in the midst of these ancient places. This stuff is an automatic super teach for kids... I am amazed and appalled that it is not taught more freely in the US day schools.
Since Julie and co. left, the house is bigger quieter more lonely and harder to keep clean. I have become happier and more used to a simple life with fewer possessions.
Although the yishuv has a weekly newsletter, important announcements are posted on the entry gate, where they are spread word of mouth around the yishuv and are well known by all, long before they appear at the end of the week in the newsletter. For example, the decision to have a Rabbi come on a year trial was made and he will be paid half salary as well as have his caravan paid for the year, so his housing expenses are covered. He had come as a guest on Shavuot and gave a talk about the "role" of a Rabbi in a mixed yishuv... I suppose it was well received... To me he seemed completely mediocre and unnecessary albeit a fine man... just goes to show how much some people feel a need (zakuk) for spiritual leadership.
Today I saw some folks in the wadi by the road, filming a movie with a Jesus look alike walking up the road in a white robe. Further up the road, some camels hung around all day.
Also recently -- lots of Jet movements and tank maneuvers...
A boy, Tsuki, son of Menachem and Dina Freed, was Bar Mitzvah, on Monday this week. He read beautifully from Torah, was tenth for a minyan, which has suffered for a tenth all year, and was modest and nonchalant.
We had a special good bye day for Zosh in school on his last day. He was very excited. The class spur of the moment tried unsuccessfully to lift Zosh on their shoulders. This resulted in everyone falling down laughing. The class presented him with stickers and with a book of drawings they had done. They
offered him blessings in a mildly self conscious manner. Zosh hung on my fingers while they did this. His teacher Nitzanit took a picture with him, and he seemed truly sad to say goodbye. This follows up his writing "I wsh I cud sta in Jrshlm" for his English teacher Ilana, whom he loves dearly. We gave the kids rulers and cookies and candy and mitz petel.
Yair brought his whole class to our apt where we gave out snacks and toys to each kid. The boys were generous about giving away all their little zoo animals one to each kid, but they cant bring it all home and they knew that. Yair and Zosh had really integrated by the end, and it was wonderful to see.
Last Torah reading day, I read PinHas, and got shlishi aliyah. Worked out final heshbon with Hezi and kindly was offered the last milk by Doron Ben David, when he sensed that perhaps I had no milk in the house.
The last minyan day was the hardest ever to get a minyan, we finally got 10 at 6:40! This is very late, when minyan is supposed to start at 6, and typically we get a minyan by 6:20. I gave my skinny pants to David Lax, who was happy to take them. I said goodbye to the Makolet. The kids made it to minyan at the end on their last day, in time for chocolate milk.
We will do one last Kef Tzu-Ba while Andrea and I deliver the bags, and then we join Charlie et al for last good-byes, and off to the airport for a late (1am) flight.
Shai and family,