Sunday, April 28, 2019

Shopping, Something I No Longer Do for Fun

Shopping is typically an excursion enjoyed by most around the world. It’s a time to get out of the house; breathe the air, and search for deals. Even grocery shopping was exciting and full of possibilities… then I moved to Israel.
I’m sure you have heard some of what I’m about to say before, but it bears repeating. Most Israelis are lovely, kind, generous and intelligent people. My gripe isn’t with them! I find the culture, to put it tactfully, fascinating. When you enter most stores in America, they offer some standard level of customer service; sometimes to an aggressive degree. Here in Israel however they leave you alone, literally. I’ve walked into stores to find no staff members around; even the cash register is unmanned.
This was not the case with my last shopping experience. The grocery store was so crowded I didn’t think I would make it out. Which brings me to my four rules for safe grocery shopping in Israel (besides for ordering online). 1. Always go before ten in the morning. 2. Never go three days or less before a holiday. 3. Check to make sure the cart works before pushing it inside. 4. Take another person with you if you must break any of the above rules. Well, I went shopping at ten thirty, three and a half days before Pesach (Passover) with a cart that had seen better years. The only rule I kept was the fourth. I took my husband Michael with me. Together we squeezed through packed aisles picking up all we needed for the upcoming holiday. We grabbed seven packets of chicken, ten cartons of eggs, four ketchup bottles and two tons of oil, it is Pesach after all. Then a woman asked me to help her find an ingredient she was having trouble recognizing in Hebrew. I proudly translated the word for her and led her to the aisle it was on. I don’t normally get a chance to show off my Hebrew knowledge (which is limited), so I kind of strut when I do.
We stood in line for twenty minutes, relatively short considering I’ve waited an hour the time I shopped a day before Rosh Hashana. When our turn came Michael packed the groceries while I unloaded the cart. In Israel, there are generally no baggers, so you either pack the groceries yourself or bring a friend. Michael happens to be a master packer and not before too long our cart was ready for home. We thought the hard part was over, but as we should have known by now surprises always await the shopper who breaks the rules. We waited in line for the elevator because we were parked two parking lots over from the grocery store. As we got into the elevator which held only one grocery cart at a time the back of our cart fell right off. Half our groceries’ fell onto the floor in a devastating crash. We scrambled around for lettuce, wine bottles and cans of olives. Luckily nothing broke during the fall and some miracle saved the eggs. We shoved whatever didn’t fit into our hands with our feet back into the elevator and headed down to the level of our car.
When we exited, the cart broke again. Learning as we went, Michael now held the back of the cart with his knee so nothing could escape a third time. We tugged the cart over to the car like circus clowns and acrobatically unloaded the groceries. When we were finished, we gave each other a high five for surviving another holiday shop. Then Michael shoved the cart off the hill behind Shilat to “Azazel” (a scapegoat bearing the sins of the Jews during Yom Kippur) where it could rest in eternal peace and bring no more grief to fellow humans. It had a good life, we were sure.
We arrived home to discover about five items we had forgotten at the store. Oh well, we can live without soap, milk, and toilet paper, can’t we? We will have to, as I am not going back to the store, any store, until after Pesach. So now you see why I stay out of stores as much as possible. My wallet is very grateful. Now Pesach is over and all the food that we bought for the holiday has been eaten. Which means one thing… I have will to go shopping.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

When Things Crash

Thursday night, my husband and I watched the landing of the Beresheet spacecraft. We looked on as the Prime Minister and his wife joined the heads of the mission in the control room. Crowds had gathered to watch live via satellite, thousands of people around the world waiting to see the Beresheet spacecraft land. Instead, engines failed, and the spacecraft crashed onto the surface of the moon.
There was no crying or finger pointing; instead, the Prime Minister congratulated everyone on their efforts. An award was even given for the picture shot while successfully orbiting the moon. This is the secret of failure; it leaves behind lessons. Lessons that can only be learned from failing.
Yes, I fear failure. This fear has kept me from doing a great many things. But that is because I am simply looking at the end instead of the journey. Many things do not have favorable outcomes, but they have wonderful journeys.
I will never forget one of my biggest failures. I ran a four-hundred-meter sprint when I was fourteen years old. The gun went off, six of us ran, five of the runners finished before I was halfway around the track. I heard a voice from the stand shouting enthusiastically “keep going!” I ran as fast as I could off that track. My father was waiting for me at the finish line beaming. I asked him how he could smile when I came in dead last. He held up his wristwatch, “look at your time, it’s a personal best.” And it was, by almost a half-minute.
Who are we competing against if not ourselves? It’s when we stack ourselves against others that we feel like failures sometimes. We forget about our personal strides and accomplishments. Worst still, we forget about the lessons from the journey.
Yes, Israel may not have succeeded in landing on the moon this time, but they most certainly didn’t fail. And just because the outcome isn’t a success, it doesn’t mean the journey is a waste. Thank you Beresheet for teaching us all to shift our perception of success. One day Israel will have a successful moon landing. There is talk of starting a second mission. Failure is just a step in the journey of success.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Oh, the things I will find

As I begin to clean for Pesach (Passover) I’m coming across some very strange things. Old lunch boxes with rotting bread, a photo from my wedding album that the kids swore they never removed, and the shopping list that I wrote for Rosh Hashanah tucked safely in the drawer I never go into. These are just a few of the things I have uncovered on the search for Chametz (leavened bread and associated crumbs). And there is more, so much more….
When Purim ends, we all have approximately four weeks (now two) until Pesach arrives. In those four weeks we must search every drawer and corner from crumbs. We sweep, dust, scrub, wash until we are relatively sure none of the forbidden food (chametz) is left in our house, car, yard, or on any property we may own.
When searching for chametz, I come across much more than crumbs. I come across things I didn’t know I owned, or more honestly, had forgotten I still owned. I come across skirts and shirts I thought were lost, CDs and DVD’s I may have repurchased. Does anyone want a copy of “Phantom of the Opera,” or Sesame Street’s Numbers Jungle, that I believe came out in 2009?” Then I enter the girl’s bedrooms….
Since this isn’t my first time cleaning their rooms for Pesach, I come prepared. I bring with trash bags, gloves, bleach, goggles, paper towels, face mask, and a special waste bin for dredged material. Wish me luck, I’m going in! I start by pulling back the bed. What do I find? Candy wrappers, a half-eaten banana, stuff animals covered in slime, an opened water bottle that has soaked a few stained Pajama shirts, a school book covered in slime, soaked pictures from my family albums, a few spoons, scissors, crayons, my husband’s work headphones and a bottle of glue to make more of, you guessed it… SLIME!
For the record, I have a ’no-eating’ policy in the room. I also have a no-slime policy in the house. We also have a no-touch policy when it comes to my husband’s work desk and our photo albums. As you can see, our children make it a policy to ignore our policies. Am I the only one who’s kids ignore the house rules? Please say no. I’m alright if you lie.
The first thing I do after I discover our possessions behind the beds is to call my husband. I need a witness to attest to the mess I’m about to clean up as well as someone to scrape the pudding off the wall. We scrub, wash and scrape, then push the bed back against the wall. One side down. I think this calls for a celebration. I take a nap.
When the kids get home from school, I sit them down in a line on the floor of their bedroom. I hold up the slime-covered teddy bear and bag of candy wrappers. Fingers are pointed, the cat is blamed, the ‘slime’, they claim, is in fact dried icing from my birthday cake they helped their Daddy make last June. I hold up my hands and give them each a magic erase sponge to wash their fingerprints and ‘I never draw on the wall’ creations off the wall and point to a trash bag. I tell them I won’t ask questions if the trash bag is full when I return.
I leave the room and go work on some draft edits. I hear bangs, shouts, a crash, more shouts, another bang, some crying, then the door opens… “Mommy, we’re done.” I inspect the room. Besides the broken picture frame and a laundry basket filled with (what I suspect is clean) clothing, everything appears in order. I check their drawers, closets and toy bins; all clean albeit slightly wet from the sponge. My girls have made me proud and have earned the right to continue living in the house.
That night we go over the rules. No food in the rooms, no slime anywhere in the house. My girls nod and agree. The next morning, I dump out the laundry basket of (mostly clean) clothing and find my favorite scarf at the bottom. At least it isn’t food, we are making progress. Then I gather the strength to do the living room. I find Monopoly pieces behind the couch along with a years’ worth of hair ties. I find the twenty shekels note I left for myself last year when I cleaned for Pesach; not really. The only gift I find is an old pudding cup. But I should leave a twenty shekels note! Imagine the joy I would have next year when I found it?!