what the hashtag is it all about

what the hashtag is it all about

I started an Instagram account because I wanted to follow some photographers who had been mentioned in a few places. Or maybe it was a contest for travel that I wanted to enter. Or some combination. And I started also because it was a distraction from my lost and broken camera. For whatever reason, you can only post via smartphone, so I would take my photos and post them along.

Only a few people saw them at first, which made sense, slow learning curve and all. Part of which consisted of me applying hashtags to my photos. I don’t know what draws people to different sites. Me? It’s when a general site features a photographer who I admire, so then I follow that photographer as well. But the hashtags turn out to be fun, especially doing them in English and Hebrew. After all, I found this photo of the outside of my house by searching for #tzfat, or was it #צפת?

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Looking back at my work, I think I have improved. But, as here, what is appreciated by the public is not what I value the most. That’s okay, since I do know that the game on Instagram is to “follow” someone in order to draw them to follow in return.

I am following the advice given freely by who knows who to do something artistic every day.

Wait a sec–

Oooh, I like this one:

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep
Scott Adams

The next step is that I sometimes have chosen to showcase some of the Instagram photos on Facebook. And that’s where the title of this post comes in.

This is the response to a photo of us with our Israel kiddies that I sent my father:

Very good photo and a very good print.
I forgot to ask.  In your last letter, Why did you need so many #   #   #  ?  Take care . Love, Dad
I will mention here that my father is (poo-poo, kanna hara) 91 years young.
He gets overwhelmed with computers and technology on a regular basis. He also has more confidence that I will know how to fix things than I do, especially since he is working on a 9 year-old Mac, and I do PC. I wouldn’t even start to tell him how I downloaded it from a WhatsApp group photo. I guess I’m somewhat amazed that I can figure these things out, to a point.
My father also claims that every single ad in the LA Times is about hearing aids, which frustrates him to no end because his doesn’t work effectively, and his doctor says there’s nothing to be done about it. I cannot effectively prove to him that the reason he is noticing the various ads is due to his frustration, not the reality. So I understand that what is salient to him is what he cannot control. So we look for things he can control; being with people, enjoying people.
We ran into our neighbor Ima Esther yesterday on our way to a meeting. You don’t tell Ima Esther that you are late; you stand patiently while she tells you about her daughter who finally got permission to move away (not really sure what was the delay and where she went, but I didn’t want to start asking questions that would make us later than we already were), and a few other things. Her often-repeated phrase is ?מה לעשות; What can you do? in the most existential Camus (North African, after all) manner.
Que peut-on faire?
But here, of course, is the point:

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Because the 84 year-olds and the assorted under-the-attachment to technology kiddies will show you in a heartbeat what really matters. But you need them both.

On my way back home today, I was stopped by an older man who was whistling. He asked me,

“Is it okay for me to ask you a question?”

“Of course,” I answered, just a bit skeptically.

“What happened to your smile? Did you lose it?”

Of course, I smiled in return. It was a lovely way to get me to react, as opposed to how others have tried to impose a smile on my face in the past…

I told him I would be very happy to let my father know what he said.

He added, “After all, it says

Serve G-d in happiness; come before Him in singing.

 “עִבְדוּ אֶת-ה בְּשִׂמְחָה;    בֹּאוּ לְפָנָיו, בִּרְנָנָה

And he went whistling along the path.

what did they say about not going home?

what did they say about not going home?

Don’t burn bridges. Maybe that’s what they should say. I haven’t, I think. I remember someone who thought he was moving away opening his mouth in public about what everyone was doing wrong and how he knew what they should be doing, losing any respect I had for him, which was none by that point, but losing any credibility to boot for anyone else. And yet…

You can’t go home again, wrote Thomas Wolfe. I never read it; have downloaded it onto my kindle for a read.

But we didn’t go home, since that isn’t our home anymore. We were asked if we were going to go by our old house. Why, we asked? It’s not ours and it holds no interest to us. I took ISHI to my old house in Baltimore when we were there back in May? June? So long ago. It was curiously small, but I was smaller then, too. A good lesson when thinking about space requirements for children, perhaps?

I found that I wanted to buy very little; what did I bring with me on return? Sunscreen. Brita water filters (only because we were in Target, buying some other things with my father for his house, for the great-grandchildren). And pillowcases to match a set at home (yes, Target). Oh, but I must mention; a new camera and a new phone. Fixing things that are broken can be a good thing.

I bought a necklace only because a favorite one of mine that I always were for traveling broke. It had broken when I came to Israel in the summer; I had just gotten it fixed here, but clearly it wasn’t a good job, and then it got lost.

Things break; what remains?

I went back to the states and saw family and met our new granddaughter and caught up with old friends. I can’t tell you how much the hugs were worth; priceless, as the ad says.

I didn’t just not go home; I went back in time. I met up with an old friend I hadn’t seen since the beginning of college, back in 1970. We are not young, and that was just fine, since we don’t have to pretend to be anything else but what we are.

Otherwise, it’s a false screen separating us from our own reality.

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See how I did that? A chance to show off my new camera! Taken at LACMA by the ticket booth on a rainy LA day
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And let’s say this is symbolic of my trip back to the states

So really that was what I learned the most about going back; it’s what I take forward that matters. What we can take with us is the care, the love, the connection.

Perhaps it can never be the same because, after all, we are not the same.

And as I write this, I hear the tour guide outside our window, giving his nightly tour of Tzfat, even in the aftermath of enormous rains. He is not having them sit down in the amphitheatre next to us, per usual; he is standing outside our window instead!

Oh, home sweet home!

the power of invisibility

for good and for bad.

I realize now that the same way I needed to have a physical barrier protecting me from the world to keep up a literal facade of privacy in our old American home is why I can be so comfortable being on a main thoroughfare of Tzfat today.

Yes, the physical was a row of trees, and nothing is so main in Tzfat, but the point is that I was supposed to be somebody there as the rabbi’s wife, and now I am comfortable being nobody. Privacy is over-rated, especially since it’s impossible.

But invisibility?

I recently finished reading what I thought would be a lite book that would be a pleasant interlude from this awfully brusk world. I am pleased to say that it was lovely and important enough for me to look for more of the author, Jeanne Ray, for further reading.

The book is called Calling Invisible Women. I won’t give away the plot, but you can figure out that it has something (or a lot) to do with more than one woman feeling/being invisible. It’s quite a delightful exploration of a category of women who may feel put aside, as they get older, not really visible to their families, disappearing into their roles as mothers/wives/caretakers. But she develops the story well to be one of empowerment, so bully for her.

I was happy to have it turn out that way, since I have been feeling very invisible, as a woman of a certain age, and having done this move across the world, out of my comfort zone, re-establishing myself, and yet…

My SIL was concerned for me, after this election mess in the states, that I was going to be as depressed as all these other people, mourning and a’cryin’; I had let him know in no uncertain terms how this new president-elect is a bully of the worst kind, and that the US and the world deserve someone who is a better person. I still feel that way, but I’m also glad I am here in Israel and not living in the states anymore. I was not going to let it bother me, because that would mean he won. And so I will not let his way take over my consciousness.

I thought it was more than unnerving, however, that the glass ceiling remained intact on the commemoration of Kristallnacht

and Lam Woon-kwong from the South China Morning Post writes:

Seventy-eight years on, right on US soil, the candidate who openly exploited racial and religious conflicts has just been elected president. It does beg the question: have we learned from Kristallnacht?

Perhaps more than invisibility is the danger of not being heard. And the combination of both is overwhelming. The they say that people voted for this guy because they felt they weren’t being heard by the establishment. Pity those who think it’s going to be any different now. And people justifying the rioting because they are different from the other side, who promised to riot? Really, this is the only way they think they will be heard?

I, too, recognize my need to be heard. I have used blogging as a way to get responses. When I was posting as an angry woman with my first blog, people responded. When I tried my hand as a wise woman, some still did. Now, as someone who has tried to move into another country, change perspectives by literally changing my life, not so much. People sometimes like my photos; my Instagram account gets likes from people all over the world; but here, again, radio silence. I guess it shouldn’t matter, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t.

Today, someone who knows us here expressed awe of us getting things done on the outside,whereas she sits inside an office, feeling powerless. Of course, this is when I get lumped in with my husband, who is the do-er. I am the power in the booth, perhaps. But it’s not my voice that gets projected. So is this true power or not? This remains open-ended.

Sort of like why did this bird not cross the road?

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why doesn’t he join his friends and family?

sometimes, backwards

I wrote about the need to recalibrate a while back here. We got a real-life example of that the other day in Jerusalem while trying to park. We were meeting a friend for lunch before heading back home. She suggested going to Café Greg in the Mamilla Mall, which was just fine with us. Since it is never clear how much traffic there would be, even in the relatively short trip from our daughter’s house in Efrat, we left a bit of time for the just-in-case. And, if we didn’t need that, we  could use the time to walk around, since that’s always a nice idea on a nice day.

Of course, or why would I be writing this intro, we needed the extra time.

We went up to the largest parking lot at the mall, which has little lights next to the spaces indicating whether they are open or taken. So we drove around and around and around to the various levels, looking for those little green lights. At one point, probably on the third floor, we saw lots of green coming at us from the opposite side of the floor, so we continued on to get to the other side.

Like the proverbial chicken.

Except that you couldn’t get there from here.

[Which way to Millinocket]

Ayup.

The way to the other side was blocked off. At the end of that way was a carwash. That would have been great, since our car had not lost its three-month collection of dirt from the downpour of the day before, but the guy said it would be an hour wait. With nowhere to park. And a dead end.

So…the only way to move was backwards.

But by this time, there were at least a dozen cars behind us. It was time to take things into our own hands. I got out of the car and waved at them to back up, go up the ramp and not make the same mistake we made. Those cars that were past the ramp had to back up. Some people, like the woman behind us, probably not confident in her ability to back up that far, turned her little car around and went backwards forwards.

And no one blinked. That was what you do, if you have to. We, meaning ISHI, backed up forwards. I directed traffic.

As if…

כאילו

We ended up leaving that parking lot (first hour is free! That should have been our warning sign), going to the one next door, and then being directed to the first one, the oldest one with no green lights and plenty of places to park.

And we even had time to shop for gifts for our new granddaughter before going to lunch.

So what did I learn from this, since everything must be a learning opp?

What would you think?

 

sitting on the balcony this year. now.

One of the things that I bought before we came to Israel was outdoor furniture. We had been negotiating for a place that had magnificent views with an extensive patio. Even though the place didn’t work out, it became clear to me that this was important for me/us to have a place with that kind of feature; to be outdoors and be home.

What I didn’t know was that we were going to have this experience of being in front of this plaza, with all the comings and goings that come and go in Tzfat. We rented here as a placeholder, literally, and we are taking advantage, even as we look for the next place to go. But while we are here…

My cousin came to visit us for the end of the holidays. I took her up to the top patio on Monday afternoon, and we sat. Of course, we talked, but moreso, we sat and enjoyed. Watching the passersby, watching the children playing below on the plaza, not having to pay attention to anyone or thing but to enjoy it all. Watching the colors gather in the sky, as sunset approached. Taking it all in. Now.

I started singing

עוד תראה,עוד תראה, כמה טוב יהיה בשנה בשנה הבאה

Just you see, just you see, how good it will be, next year, in the next year.

but in my head only. And really, the song started singing to me; I didn’t purposely bring it to mind.

This is one of the old Israeli classics I feel I’ve known forever, and that’s pretty much because it’s pretty old, from 1968.  Here’s a video from somewhere back then, sung by the duo Ilan veIlanit, who popularized it.

And while I was looking for the best video, I also found a bit about why and how it was written:

Early in his career, Manor often wrote about peace and tranquility and, in 1968, he penned “Next Year” to express the joy of expectation following Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War. Joy turned to sorrow, however, when he lost a brother in the War of Attrition, prompting Manor to write“My Younger Brother Yehuda” in his memory.

One of Manor’s most famous songs was“I Have No Other Country” (Ein Li Eretz Aheret), which expressed the bitter divisions that emerged in Israel during the Lebanon War. “I have no other country/ if even my land is ablaze,” he wrote. “Only a Hebrew word penetrates my soul/ in an aching body/ in a hungry heart – here is my home.” Manor wrote in liner notes to a greatest hits anthology that the song “was adopted by everyone as a song of pain.”

This is Israel; holding joy and pain simultaneously. But here I am, holding the joy now. I have certainly felt the pain; it’s time for the joy.

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Next year

We’ll sit on the porch

And count migrating birds

Children on vacation

Will play tag

Between the house and the fields.

You will yet see, you will yet see

How good it will be

Next year.

things that might be going bump in the night

Or in the day

Two strange occurrences.

The first:

ISHI and I were sitting on our porch/Sukkah one morning last week, and one of us (I already don’t remember which one was paying attention first. I could make a good case for either of us.) noticed an odd thing on the little roof above the stairwell. Yes, I took photos, but let me explain it first.

Backing up just a wee bit for those not familiar with my title:

From goulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!

There was this odd cone-shaped item, with some kind of pictures and writing on it. Not English; not Hebrew. Bottom line–very suspicious. The kind of thing that if you saw it on the street, you would call over some security people.

חפץ חשוד Suspicious item

That’s one of the first terms you learn in Ulpan, Hebrew lessons, what you need to get along for living in Israel, real reality check.

We thought seriously about what to do. Was it something sent over to our porch that could blow up? Was it a drone? Could it be a spy camera? We were quite uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do.

I went downstairs to my kitchen, I think. ISHI started looking at Google. He found one word in English that he could look up. It was some kind of tea.

I was not sure that it made me more comfortable, because, after all, what was it doing there? Where did it come from? And don’t judge a bomb by its cover!

Until ISHI got a call from a friend…

“I have a strange question: did you see an odd paper package in your Sukkah?”

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He had been given this package by mutual friends who had been in India, brought back this package of tea that is smoked as cigarettes to remind him of the smells of India…

Oh.

Mystery solved. Gratitude!

Our friend just picked it up and we all enjoyed a cup of tea while telling our stories. He also told us a story about finding a drone in the Sea of Galilee while looking for branches for a friend’s sukkah.

My second story: while I was making challah the next day, there was a knock on the door. It was our next-door neighbor. He was holding a balloon.

“Is this yours?” I thought it looked like the statue outside our house; the ugliest statue in Tzfat and probably the whole world, the frightened lama. One “l”, you will note.

“It was caught between the trees in our yard. My wife thought it was a spirit; she saw it move back and forth and we couldn’t sleep.”

I did not tell him at that point that I had been told his wife had put a curse on the house across from us and she clearly knew from spirits.

But no; it was not ours.

He left it tied up in the courtyard for anyone to claim.

This remained a mystery that probably fizzled out on its own.

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An additional mystery: why  does the balloon look like this Marimekko print that I bought in Cambridge when I was a too young student that we hang in our Sukkah from forever?

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למה?

Why indeed…

Since למה means why.

Why does the Marimekko print look like the odd lama outside our house, which looks like the balloon?

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This, in a nutshell, is Tzfat. We are learning to enjoy the mysteries as they come.

so that’s how he knew who we were

Last Friday evening before Shabbat, running late as usual (that’s ISHI, not me), we walked out of our house in order to go to a different synagogue than what has become, in this short time here, our usual, we were stopped by a man.

“Are you ISHI?”, he asked. Um, why yes!

“We received mail for you, but we couldn’t figure out where you lived, so I took the letters back to the Post Office.”

Are you following? He knew who we were, but not where we lived.

He was French, by the way, but spoke to us in English. Not Hebrew. Also a weird thing.

We thanked him and we all went our separate ways.

Today, we went to the Post Office to retrieve our mail. In particular, our temporary passports.

From the Nefesh B’Nefesh website:

For the first 120 days from your Aliyah date you can enter and exit Israel with your foreign passport. After this time you are required to travel abroad with an Israeli travel document (Teudat Maavar). You can start applying for your Teudat Maavar 90 days after your Aliyah date.

Okay, so that’s what we did. And that went extraordinarily fast! We went to the office, thinking we’d have to spend hours waiting, and we were the next ones called! All exclamation points earned that day. Okay, so yes, after that, we lost a bit of time when we went to do another errand and our car died. But okay, it was not far from our house, so I could take the perishable groceries back, while ISHI waited for the mechanic to come and tell us it was the battery.

And it took us a few days to figure out (okay, so ISHI did this one) that it was a hidden blessing that this happened this way; near to our house, with meetings that could be changed and no one was hurt (except, of course, our pocketbook, but hey, not a good idea to anthropomorphize that, anyway). So as I told a friend later on, even if it is a wonderful thing to accomplish one goal per day, we were fortunate to do four things that day; get our Teudot, go food shopping, get rid of the genizah that had been piling up on our roof (that was the stop that stopped us), and get our priorities straight.

So of course, we had to have something else happen with those temporary passports, since they are only temporary.

Oh, this is what they say about getting a permanent Israeli passport, again from the NBN website:

After One Year of Aliyah

You are entitled to apply for an Israeli passport one year after your Aliyah, provided that you have resided at least 75% of the first year in Israel. If you have not completed this requirement you may return to Misrad Hapnim to apply for the passport once you have completed 75% of the first 3 years or 3 years of the first 5 years. All passports issued to Olim are valid for 5 years. After 5 years you must visit Misrad Hapnim to extend the passport for an additional 5 years. Please note: a passport extension is done on the existing passport and does not require issuing a new passport. After the second 5 years have passed, you will need to issue a new passport at Misrad Hapnim. The new passport will be valid for 10 years.

And now do you understand the Israeli mind better? I certainly don’t.

So back to this morning at the post office. No, they don’t have them. They don’t store mail there; they are only a passageway for the mail. Call the postman and find out what he thinks.

Guess what? Our postman answered his phone, was in fact at the  post office, and agreed to come upstairs where they do store the mail (!!!) and give us our mail.

It was registered. We had to present our identification papers (sort of like the American Social Security number) and voila! We were handed our new temporary passports.

I thought it would be a good idea to thank the man who had stopped us in the street. He had told us he lives at #18; we at #17. Our houses are not even on the same street, but yet they are. It’s sort of the houses that are attached in the back of the facing houses also are considered to be the same street.

No, it does not make sense. But it makes sense here in Tzfat.

We knocked on the door. Shortly, a woman called in a hesitant manner from her upstairs porch.

“Yes?”

Yes, in English, but with a French accent.

We told her we wanted to thank her and her husband for helping get our documents. She then told us the rest of the story.

She had been painting when the postman rang the bell and she told him to come upstairs. He told her she had to sign for the documents, so she did, not bothering to look at the address, for he must know it was for them, right?  She was so happy that their documents had arrived, which is what she told her husband when he came home. He mentioned that you have to go get your documents, so this couldn’t be theirs. They, too, are new immigrants to Israel, and they, too need these documents to travel. But whose were these? So they opened one up to check, saw my photo, and  figured they’d get them to us. They, like the postman, couldn’t figure out where we lived, and so he took them back to the post office.

But, then, on Friday night, when we passed by their house on the way to synagogue, and she saw me from her balcony, recognizing me immediately (she had said she was painting, so yes, perhaps she has a better visual sense than most), and telling her husband to run and catch us and let us know what was the story!

So that is why he knew to speak to us in English! And that’s why he knew who were were, but didn’t know where we lived!

Okay, that part is still not clear.

But you have to be open to  the miracles of connection.

Because connection.