40 – Nahariyah and Grandma

A 30-minute drive from my current digs brings me to the  beach town of Nahariyah. 54,000 Israeli’s currently call Nahariyah home. I’ve discovered those who don’t speak English speak Russian, as the area became a popular landing point for Russian immigration.

Tragic events of 1979 link then with now for this resort, seaside town just 10km (6.2 miles) from Lebanon’s border. Wikipedia‘s version reads like a Patrick Clancy novel, but far worse than a terrific imagination, it Happened.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_Nahariya_attack 

Then. Now. Forever?

I finally dedicated a morning to visit 3 of the 4 landmark/historic places listed online. The first was closed, with a sign telling me that much and more, but the more was beyond my language skills. I drove on to the next: the Lieberman House Museum.

What did I know in advance? Only that it was listed with the others as a site to visit when in the city. Google “What to see in or near (Your City)” and see what you find. Perhaps something for an outing. Let me know!

It seems Nahariyah owes its foundations to a handful of visionaries and many hardworking pioneer families, most formerly middle classes of Europe, beginning new lives far from all they’d known. The visionary founders, experts in their respective fields – agriculture, city planning, finance, land management -endured conflicts not unlike today’s leaders. Disagreements, ego, competition, and whatever else complicated the effort. A lifetime of working with skilled professionals in several different arenas leaves me convinced there are predictably challenges among any group, doing most anything. What’s your experience?

the whole story is here:   http://museum.rutkin.info/en/node/27   

The timing was crucial, as foresighted Jews who were and able to escape Europe in the mid-1930s arrived. Learning agriculture, climate and endless adjustments of an international move, they were the embodiment of centuries of prayer to return to the Land. They received none of the assistance I received in 2014. I can only imagine how very very difficult.

I studied the visionaries faces, read their bios, and imagined them finding commonalties and differences as they collaborated to establish Nahariya. Never a team person as a child, I learned in professional arenas to collaborate, follow the leader, and disregard the irritants that accompany every group effort. Years later I enjoyed teamwork singing with Sweet Adelaines choruses, 70 – 170 women, ages 13 – 85, as well as smaller bands. All had challenges, but were functional because unified by common goals.

What teams are landmarks in your experience?

How were you stretched?

What did you learn?

I read Nahariyah’s story and studied photos, taking in all of the tiny Museum’s first floor in 20 minutes. The first few years of the settlement went well, with great crops and growth, but then the crops struggled the pioneers were forced to explore other options. Some built guest cottages and tiny hotels, earning the settlement a Honeymoon Stay reputation. Others opened shops to train hairdressers, or made clothing, furniture, and other specialty items. Surely they would not have ventured in new directions had their initial agriculture plans succeeded perfectly.

How adaptable are those who succeed! Whether finessed or clumsy, it seems the goal is to maintain vision while adapting, changing methods and strategies whenever warranted.

Fifteen noisy tourists had arrived after me, looked over the first floor displays and climbed the stairs to the second floor, so I waited. Their voices carried through the floor so loudly, I absolutely did not want to be beside them, and later was grateful I’d been patient.

The 2nd floor was at a glance, a disappointment. Nothing of interest. Black and white photos of the 1930s and 40s hung on the walls, and in a corner by the window stood 2 mannequins with women’s regional attire. I took a quick look, shook my head and glanced at the stairs I’d just climbed.

I shrugged, and stood.

Waiting.

A scratched and chipped sculpture of a woman’s head was on a stand in a corner. It called to me, so I approached. Nearly lifesize, and not especially impressive, I looked more closely. My fingers wanted to touch it more than any other sculpture before which I’ve stood.

Confession Alert: I touched it.

Museum behavior like that can get a gal in serious trouble, but they must have not had video surveillance because the authorities were not waiting for me when I eventually descended the stairs.

My fingers traced her eyes, cheekbones, her lips, over and over. Tears filled my eyes.

What’s this about?

I was touching my grandmother’s face. How long has it been, or did I ever touch her face like that. Perhaps when my hands were tiny, the size most grandmothers wouldn’t push away. I don’t remember her ever pushing me away.

Years later, I did caress her face, but it wasn’t clear then that she recognized . . . herself or anyone. My fingers, now on the keyboard, remember and pull my heart back to that non-descript corner’s humble sculpture. I’m stirred by how real she was to me in that moment, and now.

Her love, imperfect as it was, but passionate for me, filled me with memories. Sleeping in her bed with her, pet name for me only, Matzo Ball soup, her cookies (I have her cookie jar, but never has it produced for me any of her cookies). Her eccentricities!

She once shook her finger in the face of a beau who towered above her, warning, “If you hurt her, I’ll kill you.” He nodded and said, “Yes Ma’am.” I wonder these many years later whether she would have killed him, had she know how that went.

Why that sculpture? I don’t think the face was so like hers? Was it a memory I needed refreshed?

I was refreshed.

I’ll return to Nahariyah for the other places yet unseen, as well as continue to walk her beach when the evening’s cool the humid heat, but Nahariyah will forever be sweet to me for the experience of Grandma.


Silly pictures and games with sounds help me begin to learn new words. With repeated use they become what they mean and the association drops. Do you have a story from using similar techniques to learn professional vocabulary or hard to remember names?

  1. Imagine a park or beach scene with colorful kites flying, their colors a kaleidoscope:  קייץ  is pronounced “kites”  and means: summer (easy enough so here’s another)
  2. How do vegetarians feel about meat?   חלבון  sounds like “Hell-bone” and means: protein. It kind of fits, if you think about it.

They say learning is good for your brain, and now your brain has had some exercise. Besides new information here and there, I hope this blog overall  stimulates your heart. Has it?


You cannot even laugh when you want to laugh, and you want to tell me that I’m in prison and you’re free?   Natan Sharansky

Is the name Natan Sharansky familiar? A Russian Jew who agitated against the USSR regime, he was convicted by political court for spying for the CIA, despite U.S. government efforts to prove otherwise. Sharansky spent 9 of a 13 year sentence in USSR prisons (1977 – 1986). Relentless protests and appeals led by his wife, Avital, combined with the changes in USSR’s regime and finally resulted in his eventual release and immigration to Israel.

I took the opportunity to see him interviewed in Jerusalem in May. He told the audience of more than 300 about taunting his captors by telling them jokes about the Communist Regime, and that they wanted to laugh, but didn’t dare. How much freer he was, as a prisoner, than were they.

His quote above rang within, and I scribbled on a scrap from my purse, in the dark. I think a lot about freedom. FreedomS, that is. There are so many kinds I’ve experienced in a lifetime, and yet have often felt bound, nonetheless. Those binds are wrong lessons learned and fears that I no longer want to rule my life. Many have been shed, but it’s an Onion Phenomenon – always another layer.

This link has several good video clips of his interview (simply scroll down a few paragraphs into the article)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/at-toi-event-sharansky-talks-of-freedom-and-how-israel-went-wrong-propping-up-a-dictator/

Recent news about Otto Warmbier’s return and heartbreaking death brings to the forefront that some things remain the same, always. Absolute power. The fragility of our lives. A family’s grief. What can others take from us? Sometimes, we only think they have power, and yet other times they really do, and can take those we most love.


Animals! I prefer people

I came home one evening to find a HUGE roach on my bathroom floor – this guy was easily 2 inches long. It took a lot of “whapping” cuz he moved fast, but I finally got him with the bottle-bottom of toilet cleaner stuff. Then the dogs in the neighborhood barked all night. Big, deep, barks and barks and barks. Then leaving for the morning, I encountered a SNAKE easily 3 feet long and a fatty, too. The last snake I met was on a Colorado hiking trail, an angry rattling rattler and we hikers and bike riders lined up giving him his due respect, AKA “distance!”  After about 10 minutes, he calmed himself and slithered off of our trail. I greeted the snake here with a startled scream and my hostess’s daughter, around 10, came running, then explained something about another snake shorter but still plenty long, having recently been sighted. She said more but that’s all I could sort out of her rapid Hebrew. I walked to my car still shuddering, thinking how fat he was. Shuddering, until it occurred to me, they eat mice. A good thing. He looked like he had eaten many many mice. Finally, most evenings I walk the nearby lake, smelling like the repellant to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Addendum: Several days later my hostess explained Fat Snake was actually some sort of legless lizard. Neither would be a friend of mine, but I hope they keep up good appetites.

Enough already.


Note the Hebrew letters for spelling play, and the don’t-litter sign

“Ready-set-GO”            “One-two-THREE”

Which did you hear as a child?

In Israel, it’s

שלוש-ארבע-ו

(translated) “Three Four And-


>http://www.fandango.com/thezookeeperswife_188135/movieoverview Zookeepers Wife – a must see movie – especially you animal lovers; Holocaust era but no camps or that kind of despair


A Loving Moment in the Sheltered Workshop

The woman from Ethiopia immigrated to Israel with family more than 25 years ago. A grandmother of several, she is blind, welcomes conversation and is quick to say she is grateful to work. Besides 2 languages from her nation of origin plus Hebrew, she speak some English. Most days she strings ceramic shapes with assorted sized beads into simple decorative mobiles. Someone arranges, from left to right, the color sequence and unless one of the handmade shapes was not made correctly and is without a tiny tunnel for the wire, she works independently.

A week after our initial meeting, she recognized my voice as soon as I spoke. “Linda, is that you?” Please don’t ask me if I remember her name.

One recent morning, she worked beside a younger woman, wrapping for store display darling ceramic catch-alls, tiny soap dishes in the days before liquid soap. Downs Syndrome does not interfere with her intense concentration to the task at hand, filtering out a bevvy of distractions that take down most other workers. She never, absolutely never, seems to be told to get back on task, as do so many others. As the expert at our project together, she told me when I’d not met her expectations, but otherwise keeps to herself while working.

At one point the Ethiopian woman coughed, lightly, a suddenly dry throat. A moment passed, and the younger woman with Downs syndrome asked if she was alright, then whether she wanted “something cold.” Without waiting for a reply, she left her own work and returned several minutes later with a glass full of water.

The simple gesture made my day.

What have you seen in the way of kindness that took your breath away?


May you draw closer to those you love, and may they become more sure of your affection for them. I’ll be visiting friends in Colorado and California in August and hope to manage the same.

39 – Day One Day Two and lunch


Greetings from Maalot-Tarshika, in Israel’s north, midway between the Sea of Galilee and Lebanon. My studio apartment for longer than usual (7 weeks), overlooks beautiful Lake Montfort


First and foremost, as Father’s Day approaches in the U.S., check out what Elie Wiesel’s son, Elisha, has to say about his famous father’s parenting. http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/lessons-from-my-father/


Day One

Like many, this particular day began with a wisp of a plan: to buy tickets for 2 performances. Uncertain about best seating from the information on the websites, I opted to check out the venues and purchase tickets on site. A simple 10 minute drive to one and a 30 minute drive to the other. What else would the day bring?

The first, Kibbutz Ga’aton, is known for its well-respected dance company that performs worldwide, each coveted position earned through tough competition.

Contemporary Dance, to be precise. Here’s an example  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_GwuNoQ7cM 

Those of you who know me well won’t be surprised that I love its intensity. “Modern Dance” was the only gym class I liked in high school and I would loved to have had the skill to pursue it.

If the genre is unfamiliar to you, here’s a good explanation. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-modern-dance-1007279 

More dance to watch from Israel:

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-itm-001&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=itm&p=modern+dance+in+israel#id=3&vid=2c048be91ed193f2ea9903862fd9f0d5&action=click

back to Day One

Searching for the office to purchase a ticket, I happened upon a group of 30 dancers sitting on the floor in a circle of a rehearsal room. After one young man told me how to find the ticket sales office, I did one of my favorite things to do in life: I told them how amazing they are.

Although I have no way of knowing whether these are the same dancers, dancing in this Company means they are the caliber of those I had previously watched, when by chance I first visited Ga’aton. The word “Dance” on the community’s sign had caught my eye, and curiosity led the way.

I explained to the group, “Last September I happened into the back of the large performing hall for what seemed to be a final rehearsal for a performance. What you do is amazing. Your skill. Strength. Focus. Your dancing gives me joy.”

I love making deposits of affirmation like that. Love Love Love it!

I Wish, and watch always for opportunities. Words like that must, of course, be genuine. 110%

Jaws dropped. Eyes opened wide. Who is this strange woman? A few glanced at each other and smiled. Then I asked if they all spoke English, thinking too late about the language issue. They all nodded, and I thought, “Of course, it’s the common language for all international programs.”

Leaving grins and the love of gratitude, I strolled through the shaded park-garden in the center of the community, and purchased my tickets. Paying cash, I asked about a receipt but was instead assured my name would be on the list for admission. Ok, then. Her name was Simon. The concert is Saturday, June 10.

Ga’aton’s Dance Company does so much international touring, it’s rare to catch a local performance and I’m thrilled the timing coincides with  my stay in the region.

On I drove to the second, Kibbutz Eilon, renowned for world caliber violinist training. http://www.keshetei.org.il/abouts_EN.asp  After purchasing the ticket, navigating the exchange in Hebrew, my hunger reminded me to think about lunch.

In the northern hills of Israel, make-do options for food can be found, but always I want the adventure of eating, not just make-do. I took a chance and followed Waze’s navigation (is it used in the U.S.?) to the nearest “food” place. It turned out to be a pizza and beer joint with mini-market groceries. Ugh.

Opting to hold out for great, I chanced throwing the dice a second time and followed GPS to the next closest. Fifteen minutes of winding through hills found me in a teeny-tiny village called Shtula, on the Lebanon border. The best way to describe it is to tell you that the most recent data I could find (from 2014) indicated 265 residents. It doesn’t look like it’s grown.

There was no signage, but Waze said I’d arrived, so I parked and peered into the windows of what appeared to be a community hall. Round tables with white tablecloths were beautifully set in a large dining room that could have seated 200, but no living being.

I tested, then pushed the door open, thinking, “Perhaps preparing for a wedding reception or BarMitzpha party” just as a woman entered the dining room. In jeans, 30-ish, pony-tailed hair, she was busy setting tables, but welcomed me into a small room off of the kitchen in response to my question, “Are you open?” When she paused from scurrying, I explained that I was looking for a vegetarian lunch.

A man about the same age entered, impressive camera in his hand. That’s when I noticed the white light-reflective boards used by photographers on a table. They weren’t really open for business.

The woman suggested something I didn’t understand (there are just so darn many food words to learn!) and then brought out a delicious looking, artfully designed dish of grapeleaves (dolma) and onion-wrapped rice. Delighted with the adventure of the unknown, I asked for a smaller portion and sat where she motioned, feeling like family, sitting just outside the large kitchen rather than in the formal, prepped for photos, dining room.

The photography session continued and my hostess/chief/waitress brought dish after dish from the kitchen. Some photos were of a round table, filled with platters of wonderful looking food, family style, and each dish was also photographed alone. The photographer’s “eye” was good for balance and color. Even the meat dishes looked appealing!

https://www.facebook.com/pg/hemdathagalil/photos/?ref=page_internal

Meanwhile, food began to materialize on my table: a wonderful humus plate, dolmas as promised, raw and pickled veggies, Kurdish pita (a potatochip-crispy, paper-thin bread). My feast ended with generous slices of perfectly sweet cantaloupe and Kurdish tea (cinnamon-y wonderful).

Offering imperfect Hebrew, smiling a lot, and sharing my food, I managed to charm my hostess’s 4 1/2 year old into sitting with me. The tea party atmosphere and novelty of me made my food more appealing than the yogurt cup with which she had been toying.

After the adventure with lunch, I drove through town and found a huge chicken coop. Check out the utube I found for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfINrR_BdFU  I’m confident there are more chickens in Shtula than people!

All in all, Day One was a success story, and I returned to my current home happy to have taken a chance. It doesn’t always work out this well, but it would never happen if I weren’t willing to chance.


Can you relate to someone whose dreams and experience are impossibly far from yours?

I don’t currently have a “home” anywhere. Nor am I searching for a place to live or trying to decide between favorites, but intentionally being untied. Staying in cities or villages a month or more, as though I were living there, gives me a sense of local flavors.

I’m currently beginning re-visits, with lists of “to do” from people who asked whether I visited Pki’in(?), learned the story of the statues, or folk danced where I’d found none. During this stay in Maalot, among many things, I’ll be checking out the nearby villages that are restricted to Christian Arab residents (legally). In one, the owner of a Belgium chocolate + coffee shop explained that his family had lived there forever and that he has 400+ neighbors who are relatives. Imagine!

I’m visiting friends I made in September, and bought a month membership at the gym again, things I particularly enjoyed. What began as a potentially 6 month maximum project is now looking like a 2 year plan, twice around this tiny nation.

Meanwhile, I am taking advantage of not paying rent, and traveling overseas as well. This past year to Ireland, China, Italy (search by country name for previous posts with reflections from those trips) and in the coming year: Switzerland, Poland, Japan, and Vietnam.

I’m learning that this structured “homelessness” is disturbing to many, and it is certainly odd for me. All my life, I’ve wanted every move to be the last, learning a new community, building new friendships, establishing new routines one last time. However, each of my lifetime’s 31 addresses were followed by another.

Moving to Jerusalem in November 2014 was the biggest, and still I searched for a neighborhood, even an apartment, to stay forever. It was not meant to be, and after 1 1/2 years, I cancelled my lease and packed into storage my tiny household, viciously weeding out unessential’s yet again.

Only this time, for the first time, the dream was not to move to the next place forever. Instead, I had a different vision: to become acquainted with the Holy Land’s regions, the people who give each area personality, her culture, music, great coffee, amazing food, historical and archeological sites, and whatever else presented itself. I wanted to know the land well enough that when someone said where they were born, I’d have a sense of that area, their roots, possibly even the specific city.

This quest has entailed a minimalistic lifestyle. For practicality, my wardrobe consists of the same “uniform” most days with variance only when clothes are drying or weather warrants a change. Shoes are cumbersome: running shoes, sandals, and another pair of sneakers for pilates/Zumba at the gym and Israeli folk dancing.

I stay in short-term rentals found through friends of friends or Airbnb or  Booking.com, most with minimal kitchen space and equipment, but enough to assemble serious vegetable salads and morning tea, and sometimes even stir-fry veggies with gluten free pasta – a feast.

Days are varied combinations of studying Hebrew and extracting conversations whenever possible, volunteering, taking classes, going almost anywhere I’m invited, and of course adventures like Day One. However, I’ve learned to schedule carefully because all things being new + communicating in a new  language is exhausting beyond words. I resist falling into routines or allowing too many favorites, lest I leave something undiscovered or explored by too often defaulting into a comfort zone.

Exhausting, but I love it! Forever? Probably not. But for now it’s my Journey and I’m learning and growing and happy.

The all too familiar ache of loneliness would visit if I were still dancing and singing and hiking and who knows what else in Denver, or anywhere else. I find or am found by new friends, and enjoy at least one encounter every day for which I’m grateful.

That I’m not intentionally not anchored bothers some, while others say “I’m impressed / Wonderful / You’ll know the country better than most Israelis.” I agree it’s not normal, but even missing conveniences of a home, this lifestyle is working for me. I’m thriving. I hope these reflections encourage you towards your challenges-for-the-good.

P.S. Another dream is finishing the novel I’ve begun, and that it will, well, Happen.


A Catholic Family’s Courage

SPOILER Alert: this is not a concentration camp story.

Lovely, articulate, and full of gratitude, Rachel Malmed spoke to a small group of American tourists at Israel’s Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, on Jerusalem’s 50th anniversary of liberation. I would have loved to take her to lunch to hear more specifics of her story, but happily can share with you her story.

The Spielberg Foundation’s documentary   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL9pqOwcHMY

And (translated)pages from Rachel’s diary beginning age 9   Holocaust Diary pdf.

Finally, Leon, Rachel’s brother wrote the story  https://www.amazon.com/We-Survived-At-Last-Speak/dp/1609620267/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496923285&sr=8-1&keywords=we+survived+at+last+i+speak


It seems that “Kindness” struck a chord in Post 38. One friend told how she and 2 roommates made lists decades ago of character traits they hoped to find in their future husbands, Kindness being agreed upon by all and at the top of one’s list. One roommate seems to have found kindness in her husband of 10+ years, while the other two continue the quest, living full lives in singleness.


This blog, written by my friend Yehuda Lave, has food for thought or a smile for everyone: http://yehudalave.bmetrack.com/c/v?e=B35680&c=8DE03&t=0&l=192A1079&email=%2FAyznM3%2BFTs%2Bn6mNCtRgZxaIw4W6c2hcNyIeD9VsXLU%3D 


Day Two

Day Two was unplanned except for a few things to research and to hit the gym. I googled art classes in the neighbor city, Kfar Vradim, just to double check the areas options before signing up for a Japanese Art class that would begin the following week in Maalot.

What surfaced? A well reviewed cafe/restaurant + sheltered workshop of various arts and craft items for sale. Having stayed in that city before and not learned of the facility, it seemed timely to go for a visit and meal, still hoping there might also be an art studio with classes.

New experiences are upper floors of a building constructed of preceding lessons. Surprised, I find myself more than comfortable –equipped – for some new moments at hand, as though the Present stands on the Past. Is it a function of age that makes this phenomenon more frequent these days?

The building complex was beautifully designed, welcoming, but I checked out the food first. I like to think I’ve mastered the art of strolling past diners without being terribly obnoxious about peering at their food. The cafe seemed worthy of the day’s lunch, and I proceeded to explore the rest of the facility.

Entering an open door, I was greeted by an attractive young man in a bright green T-shirt. His speech and demeanor suggested he was one of the clients, working there, and very capable socially. After my first few sentences in Hebrew, he switched to English, so I asked, “Why?”

Delightfully, he giggled and explained that I had an accent. Really? You think? He had my heart with his charm and verbal skills. Work stopped as several of the 8 other workers sanding wood for what I later learned would be lovely patio chairs, watched the conversation, tennis-match style.

In another room I found 3 seemstresses making skillfully designed and stitched dolls and zippered purse/pouches, and in another young men and women wove strips of fabric into plastic tote-bags, another painting ceramics from molds. There were several rooms with computers with sophisticated nonverbal systems used by physically disabled, non-verbal workers.

Products are sold online, clients receive paychecks based on their days at work, and that the funding is primarily government resources. https://visit.org/israel/maarag/israel-art-workshop-art-in-the-special-needs-community

The lunch, a vegetarian Israel-style Moussaka, was perfect, and I was able to bring half home for the next day. It’s a special treat to revisit a great meal twice and I’ll be looking forward to several other items on the menu for future visits. I spoke at length with the Manager of the program and now volunteer for a few hours twice a week.

Hopefully, living wisely today prepares us for tomorrows. Like flash-backs, my interraction with the clients at Maarag reminded me of experiences dating back decades. The visit was a penthouse on the tall structure of life, beginning while still in undergraduate studies at Cal State University Long Beach, and followed by assorted projects with sheltered work environments during my career. Consequently, it’s a natural and easy environment, although it certainly wasn’t in the  beginning.

Today’s challenges call forth lessons, successes, and failures of the past. Given the uphill climb of learning this language, plus culture, plus each new region, moments of competence are a refreshing aroma that I’m intent upon savoring.

Besides interaction and love, volunteering will be great language practice for me because their language skills are mostly simpler than the “man on the street” and their speech often a bit slower as well. We’ll all do our very best and learn together.

One day everyone gathered for a special musical treat. I hope this brings a smile.