Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Israel Sliding Into Recession

Until now it had just been headlines in the paper but my foray today into two local towns brought home the fact that Israel is sliding into recession, alongside the rest of the world. For a while it seemed to be defying the trend, with little visible sign of an economic downturn. Now though, the reality is kicking in.

Today I ventured out to two local towns. It was a beautifully, hot, sunny day. The palm trees were waving in the gentle breeze and life appeared to be going on as normal. Music could be heard from various shops and buses; people were busily going about their business, perhaps on work or shopping activities; motorists were impatiently jamming their horns.. all seemed to be as it always is. And yet…

Whilst visiting the first town I noticed that a café I frequented had shut down and now had a man selling soft furnishings within the stripped down shop. It resembled a market stall and was selling seemingly cheap but quality-looking goods.

At the next town my favourite ‘tastes like home made’ cous cous café was closed and had been replaced by a makeshift falafel stand. Again the shop resembled a carcass, having been stripped down of all assets, giving it the feel of a squat.

The slowly emerging gaps along the high street and the emergence of ‘market stalls’ in vacant lots perhaps made me observe my surroundings more carefully. I was sad to see several people rooting through the rubbish bins (trash cans). These were not traditional ‘vagrants’ but were quite well dressed.

There were quite a lot of buskers on the street too. I passed one man who, farcically it seemed, was playing a violin with a music stand and sheet music propped up next to him. He screeched away at his instrument, seemingly incapable of playing a note. As I walked passed I thought it quite comical that he had taken the trouble to have the music stand next to him – perhaps to give him the air of a professional! However, my eyes gradually drifted to his hands and I noticed him awkwardly holding one hand against the wrong side of the bow. I thought this strange and then wondered whether his clumsy position might actually be the result of a stroke.

By the time I had taken this all in I was some distance away from him and my initial amusement had turned to pity. My short trip out had certainly turned into a depressing eye opener. But for the grace of G-d go I.

Sharona B

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pesach Reflections

This pesach seemed to whizz by. We had a nice mix of going out to friends, venturing out on trips and spending time at home. We had seder by the Rabbi, which was most memorable due to the super strength maror which literally reduced us all to tears. I think steam was almost visible spouting out of our ears, in true cartoon fashion.

The kids had a great pesach break. Israel offers a wide range of chol chamoed family activities. Ours decided on a trip to the desert and learned a lot about the terrain – from identifying trees with hidden reserves of water within their branches to a bumpy camel ride.

I have decided that the magnetic messages we put on our fridge are a great barometer to life in the Benjamin house. They tend to sum up how we feel. We only have one of most letters so we have to be quite inventive in what we say. During pesach, this is what we wrote:

This week the fridge reads:

I will post up our fridge messages in my blogs; they probably say more about us than anything else I could write.

So, back to normal now. The kids are back at school and it is a return to the daily grind for us. When I dropped my daughter off at nursery today the pictures of matza and wine were down and up in their place were blue and white balloons in readiness for Remembrance and Independence Days. With hardly time to draw breath we seem to be moving on to the next holiday already. .

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pesach's A-Coming

Nearly there…. oven scrubbed, fridge dismantled, defrosted and de-chametzed, house starting to take shape. The pesach cleaning seems to be on schedule and, as fatigue starts to kick in, the end, thankfully appears to be in sight.

I’m looking forward sitting in my clean house without noticing a cobweb, some crumbs, some net curtains that need a clean. It will be nice to be able to sit down without subconsciously making a mental checklist of all those things still left to do.

Whilst my head has been full of the bigger picture it was interesting to find out via an email group posting, the answer to one of pesach’s timeless quandaries.

HOW TO CUT A MATZO IN HALF http://fun.mivzakon aspx?http: //www.mivzakon. es/matza. wmv Obvious when you know how!

Wishing you a happy and kosher pesach.

Sharona B