Did you know?

Today I found out that the word for pomegranate in Hebrew, rimmon רימון, is also the word for grenade.

I also found out that in a variety of languages, pomegranate and grenade are the same/similar word.

According to {Wikipedia}, its all the fault of the French.  They named the military grenade after the pomegranate (because of its shape) and the name seems to have stuck.

*image from Wikipedia

*image from Wikipedia

I resorted to Google Translate to test this out (keep in mind that Google Translate is not always the most accurate so please correct me if there are any mistakes).

  • In Afrikaans it is granaat for both words.
  • In Dutch it is granaat and granaatappel (grenade apple).
  • In French a pomegranate is a grenade, end of story.
  • In German it is granate and granatapfel (again, a grenade apple).
  • In Haitian Creole both are grenad.
  • In Hugarian a grenade is a gránát and a pomegranate is a gránátalma (once again a grenade apple).
  • In Latvian you have granātābols and granāta (you guessed it, grenade apples again).
  • In Norwegian can you take a guess? Granat and… granateple (in case you missed it that would be a grenade apple again).
  • In Polish you get a granat for both.
  • In Russian you have гранат for a pomegranate and граната for a grenade.
  • In Spanish they are granada.
  • In Swedish we have the ever original granat and granatäpple.
  • In Welsh they are grenâd and pomgranad (and are surprisingly easy to pronounce!).

There you have it, your useless fact of the day.

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Keeping Kosher: Almost a year down the line.

Yesterday on FB, Angel asked if our new Israeli apartment was {already kosher} when we moved in.  She remembered what a huge process it was when we initially decided to make our {home (in SA) kosher}.

First off, its been almost an entire year of keeping kosher.  Im so impressed with us.  Mostly its been easy, some days its been a challenge but all in all its been a fantastic journey so far.

Now, almost a year down the line, we are living in the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland. This definitely makes keeping kosher so much easier.

Firstly, no, apartments here are not automatically kosher, you still need to make the counters and sinks and ovens/stoves* kosher.  Even if the previous tenants were kosher. Rather safe than sorry.

As for buying kosher products, a large majority of stores/supermarkets/butchers in Israel are kosher.  There are a few stores that are not kosher and that sell non-kosher meats such as pork and shellfish which is also not kosher, and these stores are also usually open on a saturday (shabbat) while strictly kosher stores will be closed over shabbat.

For example, the {local supermarket} down the road from us is kosher.  They close on shabbat and all the products they carry are kosher.  This makes keeping kosher so much easier than in South Africa.  In SA there is one store that is strictly kosher, aptly named {Kosher World}, and quite a few of the big supermarkets like PnP and Woolies stock kosher items (sometimes in specific kosher sections) but you have to check each item to make sure it is a kosher product.  There are also a few strictly kosher {delis}, {restaurants} and {butchers}, mostly in Jozi.  But the percentage of kosher to non kosher items/stores/places to eat is not in your favour.

On the subject of kosher butcheries, in SA, kosher meat is very expensive, especially kosher chicken.  Here, since everything is kosher, I don’t seem to notice the price as much, it is what it is, except to say that beef is way more expensive than chicken.  This is because 99% of beef is imported into Israel, cows in Israel are pretty much dairy cows (as an aside, dairy in Israel is UNBELIEVABLE! Cheese, cheese, cheese, all the yummy cheese!).

Chickens here are cheap and huge and yummy.  I bought a whole chicken to roast last night, 1.8kg for about ₪32.  Thats R96.  The same kosher chicken in SA would be on average R135.  I spiced it with salt and pepper and roasted it for an hour and a half, it literally fell off the bone and it was so yummy!

I cant wait for our first {Pesach}, stores here will only stock items that are kosher for Pesach, everything else will be removed from the store or covered up, so you know that if it is on the shelves you can eat it.  I’ve also been told that the bakeries here make the most amazing rolls and breads that are totally pesadik (kosher for Pesach) and that you cannot even tell that they don’t have yeast and flour and other non pesadik ingredients.

Oh, Angel mentioned my cutlery and crockery.  Since all that stuff was already made kosher last year, we don’t have to make it kosher again.  Once our lift arrives (its actually on the water, finally, and should arrive at the end of March) we can just unpack everything into the kitchen.

So, do you have any questions? Please ask in the comments and I will try my best to answer them.

*Most apartments in Israel do not come with a stove/oven included in the rent.  You usually buy your own and take it with you when you move.  Our landlords were very nice and bought a brand new oven/stove unit and included it in the rent.  Of course this means if we ever leave this apartment we would have to buy a new unit or possibly buy this unit from our landlords.

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About that time my kid performed in a concert. In Hebrew.

Aaron and Faith started school about 2 weeks after we arrived in Israel.

Neither spoke Hebrew, although Aaron had been learning the alphabet and some basic words when he was in Grade R.

Earlier this week Israel celebrated {Family Day} and Aaron’s class held a concert and dinner after school.

We each had to contribute a food or drink item (we got sliced veggies) which we sent to school in the morning.

The concert was held in the classroom and the teachers and children had transformed the room into a stage and dining area.  We were directed to our tables, with seating charts, and sat down to wait for the show to start.  The children all stood up in groups of 4 or 5 and each child recited lines they had been given.  In between the kids talking they sang songs and danced.

family day

Aaron was part of the last group to stand up and speak.  He was awesome. He spoke clearly and with confidence. In Hebrew.  My heart almost burst right out of my chest! I am so very very proud of how far this child has come in the last 6 weeks.  He is making friends, doing school work and standing up in front of a room full of people and speaking in Hebrew.

After the concert the children served us the food that we brought and then sat down to eat with us.  They also made cards and small gifts for us which they presented when it was time to go home.

I cannot express enough how amazed and proud of my kids I am!

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Beanies and gloves and scarves. Oh my!

The majority of my Facebook and Twitter time lines are South Africans.  This means I’m seeing a lot of shorts, t-shirts, swimming pool and {braai} (BBQ/grill) pics.  I keep thinking to myself, sheesh, are they not cold? I’m freezing! Then remembering they are all in the Southern Hemisphere and experiencing the hottest summer in ages.

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Which means I am in winter. Cold, miserable, rainy winter (to be fair it hasn’t rained that much but when it does its nasty!).

If I hailed from Cape Town, maybe it wouldn’t be such a shock to my system.  Winter here is very similar to a Cape winter.  Lots of wind, days of rain, biting cold.  I’m not used to that.  {Jozi} winters are mild and sunny and dry.

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In 35 years I’ve never had to wear a down jacket (or a jacket of any kind!) or a beanie or a scarf and definitely not gloves and yet that is what I leave the house in most days. And I’m still cold to the bone and cannot wait for a steaming hot bath at the end of the day.

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Having had a bitch and a moan, at least I can say that winters in Israel are relatively short (also very green and pretty, see the rain I mentioned above). Spring lasts only a few weeks and then we are in for some super hot, dry weather.  Thank heavens for air conditioning!  I cant wait though, I’ve always loved Israel in summer.  I find it invigorating. I’m looking forward to longer day light hours and hot nights and braais on my balcony.

*Photos by {Paul Jacobson}

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Lady in Red!

Or I may have a slight obsession…

image1

 

Boots, glasses, scarf, beanie, headphones…

Ummmm, I can stop anytime. No, really!

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What I (don’t) miss.

I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa.  In 35 years, the longest I lived away from Jozi was when I was 19 and I lived on a Kibbutz in Israel for 8 months.  In fact, the only country I have been to outside of South Africa is Israel.

Uprooting your life and moving countries is hard.  You realise that there are things you miss that you never thought you would miss and there are things that just don’t make a difference.

Here are my Miss/Don’t Miss lists.

I Miss

  • My mom, desperately! We used to see each other at least twice a week.  Thank heavens for Skype!
  • My friends. Again, thank heavens for Skype, Viber and social media.
  • My car. I enjoy being able to walk around and to take reliable public transport, but a car would be nice on weekends.
  • My old job. I really, really enjoyed what I did. And the people I did it with.
  • Aletta. I miss our conversations and the great hugs she gives. I miss hearing her interact with the kids and listening to her sing songs with them. I miss having a babysitter available at night and on weekends if we needed.
  • Pap and Gravy. I have no idea if there is an equivalent to Mielie Pap here.
  • My dogs.  I really, really miss them but they are happy and settled and being totally spoiled by their adopted mommy and daddy in Kimberley and that makes my heart happy.
A very happy, and spoiled, trio of pups.

A very happy, and spoiled, trio of pups.

I Don’t Miss

  • Load-shedding. Looking at all the tweets and FB posts and talking to my mom makes me realise how much worse it has gotten.  I am so grateful that we don’t have to deal with that anymore.
  • Driving. I know I said I miss having a car but the commute to work is so much less stressful when you are not the one driving.  I just sit back, close my eyes and have a snooze.  Also all my kids friends live within a two block radius of us so no schlepping to play dates either.
  • Aletta. Again, I know I said I miss her, and I do, but I don’t miss having someone else in my house all the time.  I don’t miss having to discuss meal plans and grocery lists.  I don’t miss having to wear clothes all the time. I don’t miss sorting out misplaced clothing, I mean really, Faith is a lot smaller than I am, those socks were not going to fit me.
  • Roadside beggars. So far I have not seen a single beggar.  There are people in the main centers like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem who will ask for money, usually for a charity or religious organisation, but road side beggars are non-existent.
  • Busy weekends. Friday mornings are a bit busy since the kids are at school and we do all our errands in the morning but from the time we fetch the kids to the time we go to work on Sunday, its quiet.  There is no rush.  We go for picnics in the park and we take a slow walk to wherever we are going.  We sometimes get invited to someone for Shabbos lunch and we mostly eat and sit back and chat and relax until its time to walk home again.

There are probably a dozen other things I miss and don’t miss but these are the ones that jump into my head right now.

 

 

 

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You say rude, I say cut the bullshit.

Israelis have a bad rep as being very rude and abrupt people.

While we have encountered a few genuinely rude people (of which every country has their fair share), in general we have found Israelis to be friendly and helpful and a fun loving bunch.

I think the problem is, that what people perceive as rude, is actually a dislike of bullshit.  Israelis are direct and to the point. Ask a question and you get an answer not a whole story to go with it.

Relaxing at the park on Saturday

Relaxing at the park on Saturday

As in any country where the language is not your own, if you immediately start gabbing on without at least trying to make an effort to speak the native tongue then sure, the person you are talking to is going to be a bit rude, you’re not speaking their language!  That being said, I always attempt to speak a bit of Hebrew first, followed up with the Hebrew for ‘I don’t speak Hebrew, do you speak English?’* and the vast majority of people will switch to English.  They usually apologise for their own lack of English and then we have a conversation. Some of these conversations have been the best ones I’ve had with Israelis.  People are naturally curious creatures, they want to know why I am in Israel, what made me decide to come here, how long have I been here, where do I live, can they help me in any way at all?  Yes, you read that right, can they help me in any way? Perfect strangers offering to help me beyond the small slice of time we are occupying at the moment. Rude? I think not.

Something that has taken me a while to get used to is getting on the bus. You all stand around waiting, the bus arrives, the driver randomly stops the bus a  few metres up or down the road from the stop, you jog to catch up to him and then everyone just piles into the bus, no line, no waiting for the lady with a half dozen packets or the soldier who looks dead on his feet. You just climb on board all willy nilly. So yup, there’s a little rudeness for you.  I no longer stand at the back waiting for my turn, I jump in just like everyone else.

Daddy's girl

Daddy’s girl

Something that has totally blown me away though is the utter acceptance by the parents of the kids Faith and Aaron go to school with.  I lost count of how many phone calls and text messages I received in the first few weeks the kids were at school.  Not only inviting the kids to play dates but just to say hello and offering any help they could give.  The parents are always happy to have the kids come over to them and to help us translate messages from the schools.  Aaron has a class trip this week and the parents need to get there by car (kids are going on the bus) and since we don’t have a car one of the parents has offered to take Paul with them.  The most amazing part is that nothing is expected in return.  When we mention that we have no furniture and the kids games and toys are not here yet they immediately reassure us that its OK, their kids will come play at us eventually and for now our kids are more than welcome at them.

In my experience Israelis are outgoing, friendly people, if a little rough around the edges.

*I am starting to change this phrase to the more accurate, ‘I only speak a little Hebrew, do you speak English?’

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When good translations go bad.

One of the benefits I get at work is a food card.  On the 21st of each month a balance is loaded and I can spend it on certain restaurants that will then deliver to the office (or I can go out to one of those restaurants if I would like).

The {10bis} site is obviously in Hebrew so I need a little help from the translate function in Chrome.

Most times it gives a pretty decent translation.  But not always.  Take today’s translation for example.

my lunch choice today

 

From the top:

  • Couple = Pair
  • Psychic = Medium (I cant stop snort laughing)
  • Psychic Wall = Medium Well
  • Visit = Beef
  • Miraculous extra charge = I have no idea, and no one else can figure it out either!
  • Plug-in = extra/add on

All the giggles!

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These boots were made for walking…

…or not.

We don’t have a car. This is not an issue.  With excellent public transport (trains and buses) and most things well within walking distance, we don’t really need a car.

That being said, my poor takkies (sneakers/running shoes) are taking a beating.  And don’t get me started on walking in my boots or ballet flats.

And my feet! I gave calluses on calluses.

On Friday Paul and I walked around running some errands.  Everything was within a kilometer or two of our house, but everything was in different directions.  We walked over 13km and only took the bus in the afternoon when the kids were with us.

Yesterday there was a kite festival in Modi’in.  It looked like fun so we decided to go.  We mapped out our walk on Google Maps and in theory it was a 35 minute walk over 2.8km.  We have a cram (Crappy pRAM) that we push Faith in, there is no way we would walk anywhere further than 500m without Faith being in the cram, she is slower than a turtle walking behind a snail. Going backwards.

Things started looking wrong when Google (bless it) decided to take us up a rather long flight of stairs instead of on the road.  We changed over to ‘car’ mode and the directions switched.  To a road on a very very steep hill.  I did get to take this awesome pano of our beautiful city though.

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Ultimately it took us about an hour and 4km of walking to get there.  But once we were there we had fun.  we bought kites for the kids and some popcorn and drinks and spent a good hour or so flying kits.

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The walk back was about 4km too but Paul managed to find a route without Mount Everest in it.

In total we walked almost 8.5km yesterday.

Most of the time I dont mind not having a car.  The last two days though… Yup, I would have LOVED a car!

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It’s actually pretty easy being green.

With the limited resources the country has (you know, being a desert and all), Israel is all about doing things the most economical way possible.  This has led to quite a few fantastic inventions, specifically in agriculture.

Drip irrigation is one. Technically around before Israeli Statehood, it has been updated and perfected by an Israeli engineer, Simcha Blass.  There is even an Israeli developed kit call <Tipa> that is used in South Africa as well as other African countries such as Kenya, Niger and Senegal.

You see drip irrigation everywhere.  People’s gardens, flower beds along the road and even trees all have irrigation pipe wrapped around their bases.

Photo taken by Paul

Photo taken by Paul

Another great invention is <reusable plastic trays> developed by Tal-Ya Water Technologies, where the plastic trays collect dew from the air and use that to irrigate the plants.

Keeping Israel green and sustainable also involves people on an everyday level.  There are recycling collection points on nearly every main intersection and outside schools.  The main things being collected are plastic and glass (you can also take certain empty bottles to the grocery store and exchange them for a small refund).  Interestingly there are also many collection points for old clothing.  You pop the clothes in the collection bin and they are cleaned, sorted and distributed to those that need them.

Another thing that is big (especially in Modi’in) is bio-degradable waste.  We have a small brown bucket under our sink, any fruit or veggie peals, egg shells, wood, grass/leaves and any leftover organic matter is collected into the brown bin and then that gets thrown into the big brown bin in the communal rubbish room. The large bins are then collected and the contents used for composting.

My favourite thing though is the solar geyser. Most houses have them, especially new houses as it’s a building requirement. The geyser does come equipped with an electric element for those cold, cloudy, rainy days when the water temp needs a boost.  Ours is on a timer set for about half an hour prior to when we usually bath/shower.  The best part is that in summer we will be able to switch off the electrical component and use only the solar side.  Even now, in winter, the difference in water temperature on the days when it is not overcast is amazing.  On rainy days I have to switch the tap to the hot side as far as it will go and the water is hot but not boiling and we have to be careful we don’t run out of hot water.  On days when the sun is shining I have to put the tap in the middle of hot and cold and even the water is sometimes too hot and I have to run in some cold water.

I’m loving how being eco-conscious has become such a natural way of life for us. Israel definitely makes it easy to do.

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