The Cousins Visit

On July 19 we got in the car to drive to Ben Gurion Airport to pick up Jill, Dante and Paris who were coming for a 9 day visit. We had a great time travelling all over the country, seeing the sites, eating great food and having lots and lots of fun.

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Here are some highlights of our adventures:

Shabbat July 19 – After we spent far too long on line at AVIS we drove home, rested and got ready for sunset at Hof HaTzuk – a great beach just North of Tel Aviv followed by a yummy dinner on the Namal (the Tel Aviv port).

Sunday July 20 – Headed up North with our first stop at Tzuk Manara in the Upper Gallilee but they weren’t open yet so off to the Dan river for some rafting. After lunch we returned to the cable car at Tkuk Manara and then some alpine sliding there. Dinner was right on the Dan river at Dag al haDan – yummy. Then on to Kfar HaNasi, a kibbutz where Jill had lived “a long time ago.”

Monday July 21 – First off to Rosh Pina a small town next to the Kibbutz with a beautiful artist’s quarter / old city. Dante found a beautiful painting. After lunch we ventured into the Hula Valley for a 10 K bike ride in a nature reserve. We then drove up to Tzfat and walked around the old city and had a yummy dinner of Yemminite Pizza. Aliza, Gila and Nomi returned to Modi’in and Jill, Bradley, Dante and Ela returned to Kfar HaNasi.

Tuesday July 22 – We drove further North onto the Golan Heights for a hike at Tel Dan including a stop next to a really cold water hole. On our way to Tel Aviv we stopped for lunch at a Druze restaurant with a spectacular view of the Heights. Three hours later we were in Tel Aviv shopping at Nachalat Binyamin. We had a great dinner afterwards at Manta Ray next to the beach.

Wednesday July 23 – We conquered the Old City of Jerusalem. We started in the Jewish Quarter then met up with Uri to see the Christian and Muslim Quarters stopping for a hummus lunch in the Shuk. Then off to Hezekiah’s Water tunnel, the Western Wall and the tunnel tour underneath the wall. We walked out of the Old City, stopped at a great, not so little shop in the Shuk owned by new friends of ours, and then walked into Modern Jerusalem for a Shwarma dinner before heading back to Jaffa Gate for the Light Show.

Thursday July 24 – More modern Jerusalem including a scavenger hunt at Machane Yehuda – lots of yummy treats. Afterwards Jill, Aliza, Dante and Paris met up with Uri to visit Yad VaShem. After a quick pit stop in Modi’in the Crew ventured to Jaffa to Na Laga’at (a center for the arts for blind and deaf people) to have dinner at Black Out (a restaurant where you eat in the dark) followed by seeing the play Not By Bread Alone.

Friday July 25 – We woke up early to head South to Masada, the Dead Sea and the desert. Jill, Aliza, Dante and Paris hiked up the Snake Path. We explored the journey of the Zealots after the fled the Destruction of the Second Temple pursuing the question – did they come to live or to die? The Cable car became more popular on the way down and then we were off to the Dead Sea. Lots of somewhat painful floating and mud bathing following by swimming and chillin’. Then back in the cars for our trip to the Beduin Tent – Chan HaShayarot where we were having dinner and spending the night.

Shabbat July 26 – A quick breakfast and then we climbed aboard our camels for a short desert treck with beautiful views. Then we met Boaz on the edge of the Ramon crater for a session of rappelling into the crater – lots of fun. We met our next guide for a three our hike into the crater – discovering hidden sources of water and many things to do with desert poop. Jill and the Boys ventured back to Modi’in and Bradley and the girls headed to Kibbutz Urim for Shavuot.

Sunday July 27 – Jill and the Boys drove (all the way) up North to Rosh HaNikra and then went to the beach up there followed by a return trip to Tel Aviv for more exploring and dinner. Bradley and the girls swam on kibbutz and then took part in the Shavuot ceremony of the offering of the first fruits including dancing and a tractor parade.

Monday July 28 – Can’t believe 9 days went by so quickly. The girls LOVED sharing Israel with Jill, Dante and Paris. We all had a great time!


Three months ago This American Life aired a story about Apple (and other electronics companies) and the way the labor practices of their partners in China.

The story exploded into the mainstream media. I am sure everyone has heard at least a little about it. The person who created the story for This American Life has been performing the story as a monologue since 2010.

This past week, This American Life came to learn that most of the story it aired was fabricated especially the most powerful parts. This American Life issued this retraction.

My question (to myself and to you) is what it is about our relationship to China and these other big companies that made this story so compelling. Why did we want to believe? Why was it so easy and gratifying for so many to bash Apple|?

Breaking News

Only moments ago we heard a shriek from the bathroom and came running in…Gila had discovered that she had…lost her FIRST TOOTH!

The actual moment escaped her. Abba retraced her steps (back to the sink where she had been brushing her teeth) to find the evidence.

Another milestone!


Can a dog be Jewish?

Yesterday, I interviewed Ela and Gila about their Jewish identity as part of an assignment for one of my classes. I thought I would share the interview transcripts with you. The questions are based on research that tried to compare Jewish children’s identity formation with Piaget’s theory of child development. Here are the questions:

  • Is your family Jewish? Are you a Jew?
  • Are all boys and girls Jewish? Why? (Or why not?)
  • Can a dog or cat be a Jew? Why? (Or why not)
  • How do you become a Jew? (For small children – what makes you a Jew?)
  • What is a Jew?
  • Can you be Jewish and American at the same time?
  • How can you say someone is a Jew?

Interview with Ela:

BWS: Are you a Jew?

Ela: Yes.

BWS: How come?

Ela: Because my parents are Jews.

BWS: Any other reasons why you are a Jew?

Ela: No

BWS: Is Your family Jewish?

Ela: Yes

BWS: How come?

Ela: Because probably their parents were Jews.

BWS: What makes your family Jewish?

Ela: Well…I don’t really know.

BWS: Guess.

Ela: Probably their parents were Jewish and they decided to be Jews and they decided their children should be Jews.

BWS: Why?

Ela: Well I don’t know, I can’t read other people’s minds.

BWS: Are all boys and girls Jewish?

Ela: No.

BWS: What else are they?

Ela: There’s Christians, Muslims, and lots of other religions. But not everybody is Jewish.

BWS: Can a dog or a cat be Jewish?

Ela: Yes.

BWS: What makes a dog or a cat Jewish?

Ela: Well…if their owner or family decides that the dog should be Jewish or, well, they can make the dog not with any religion at all but if they want to they can make the dog Christian or the cat Jewish. Well, I guess.

BWS: How do you become a Jew?

Ela: I think if your parents are Jews and they want you to be a Jew, then you will become a Jew. But, if you are a grown up and you want to change your religion then you could.

BWS: How?

Ela: If you just like choose, lets say you are a Jew and then you get married but your husband is a Christian, then you and you are dating this man who is Christian and so then before you get married, when you get married, or something then somehow, well yeah, you can come to a Mikveh or something like that and you could change your religion, yeah.

BWS: What is a Jew?

Ela: A Jew is somebody who keeps Shabbat and does it every week and who celebrates all the Jewish holidays and but a Jew doesn’t really have to live in Israel to be a Jew and Jews would go to Temple sometimes probably in their life well they don’t really have to to be a Jew but yes they would definitely celebrate Shabbat definitely and Chanukah and they would celebrate Purim and lots of other holidays.

BWS: If you didn’t know someone, how would you tell if they are Jewish?

Ela: Probably if they were boys, young boys and they would probably be wearing a kippah or something and you can tell if there is guys with a black suit and a top hat and I’m not sure if you can tell a lot of other things.

BWS: What are ways you could see someone and tell they are Jewish?

Ela: You can tell if a lady was wearing a short skirt that just touches her knees.

BWS: Anything else you could see them doing and you would say – they are Jewish?

Ela: I don’t know.

BWS: Can you be Jewish and American at the same time?

Ela: Yes.

BWS: How come, how?

Ela: Because I am American and I am also Jewish.

BWS: Is there ever times when they compete with each or doing one makes it hard to do the other?

Ela: I’ve never heard of that.

BWS: So its easy to be American and Jewish at the same time?

Ela: Yes, because if you speak English nobody looks weird at you in Israel and definitely in America. But you can live in America and be American and be Jewish at the same time.

Interview with Gila

BWS: Is your family Jewish?

Gila: Yes.

BWS: How do you know?

Gila: ‘Cause I know.

BWS: How? Tell me some reasons how you know.

Gila: When I was a baby I didn’t know. But I don’t remember who told me and I don’t know how I know.

BWS: Do you remember the first time you remember that we were Jewish?

Gila: Um-hum (yes)

BWS: What was the first thing you could remember?

Gila: That we had Shabbat, which is Jewish.

BWS: What do we do for Shabbat?

Gila: I can guess when we go to school I always know that my class is Jewish because mommy told me.

BWS: Are you Jewish?

Gila: Yes.

BWS: How do you know?

Gila: Because mommy told me our family is Jewish.

BWS: Are all boys and girls Jewish?

Gila: No.

BWS: How come?

Gila: Some people can be Christian. Some people can be Jewish some people can be anything.

BWS: Can a dog or a cat be Jewish?

Gila: I don’t think they can be Jewish. No.

BWS: Why not?

Gila: Because they are animals. Because they are not people and they don’t have anything to play with except for either, dogs have bones and cats have toys.

BWS: And they can’t be Jewish.

Gila: Uhhh-uh (no)

BWS: So, Only people can be Jewish?

Gila: Yeah

BWS: Not pets – Not animals

Gila: No

BWS: So if we had a dog or cat it couldn’t be Jewish if it was in our family?

Gila: It would just be a dog.

BWS: How do you become a Jew? What makes you a Jew?

Gila: I don’t know. Be Jewish.

BWS: How do you become Jewish, if you are not Jewish how do you become Jewish? What makes you Jewish – what makes a person Jewish?

Gila: I don’t know.

BWS: What are the things a person needs to do to be Jewish?

Gila: Work.

BWS: Work?

Gila: I don’t know.

BWS: There are no right or wrong answers – what do you think? Like if a person wants to be Jewish what do they need to do to be Jewish?

Gila: Make a bracha [blessing].

BWS: Make a bracha? Anything else, what do Jewish people do that makes them Jewish?

Gila: Do Shabbat – which is praying  to God.

BWS: Anything else?

Gila: I don’t know.

BWS: What is a Jew?

Gila: A person that is Jewish.

BWS: Anything else?

Gila: Who celebrates Shabbat.

BWS: Anything else that they celebrate or that they do that is special. Anything else that Jewish people do that makes them special or different?

Gila: They don’t go to stores on Shabbat only Christian people do and they don’t have to work on Shabbat or go to school because Shabbat is a special day.

BWS: Any other days that are special for Jewish people or things that are special for Jewish people?

Gila: Some days only sisters get to go to school not the little sisters and sometimes the little sisters go to school and the big sisters don’t.

BWS: How can you tell if someone is a Jew?

Gila: Well, I can tell because I always look on streets or sidewalks and I look for people that have long skirts long sleeves and black – and that s how I figure out they are Jewish because Mommy told me.

BWS: What else, what are other ways to see if someone is Jewish?

Gila: Sometimes I know from my class every day we do Shabbat and somebody gets to be the mom of Shabbat and somebody gets the abba of Shabbat and after Shabbat we do Havdalah so thats how I know we’re Jewish in my class and I know Ela’s class is Jewish too. Cause mostly people in Israel are Jewish.

BWS: In Boston how do you tell if someone is Jewish?

Gila: I don’t know. Its hard to tell.

BWS: Can you be Jewish and American at the same time?

Gila: Its hard.

BWS: You know what it means to be American?

Gila: Un-unh (no).

BWS: You know where we live when we are not in Israel?

Gila: We live in Boston.

BWS: Can you be Jewish and a person that lives in Boston at the same time?

Gila: You have to know if you can do that but I don’t know.

BWS: Are you American?

Gila: Yes

BWS: Are you Jewish?

Gila: Mmm-hmmm (yes).

BWS: So can you be American and Jewish at the same time?

Gila: Mmm-hmmm (yes).