Month: April 2013

  • (This is a very moving letter.  I hope Israel never gets to the point that we have where solemn holidays become just a reason to picnic and party instead of being a time of remembrance.)


    Dear Lois,

    Last week we saw the last of the rains, later than usual, and today we are having hot, dry winds from the desert. This is a great opportunity to wash any sweaters or jackets which must be laundered by hand and have them dry quickly.   Mutty, Shira, and the children are heading to the Sea of Galilee for 2 days, and Chocolada has just realized that they have abandoned her here. A dog’s life.

    Our spring holidays are almost over:  we were at Mutty’s for the Passover Seder, and all of us were at David and Mia’s for a barbeque the next day. Holocaust and Heroism Day is a solemn day, as you can imagine. There are local ceremonies, and names of known victims are announced at the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and broadcast. A siren announces 2 minutes of silence. All pedestrians stand at attention; drivers exit their vehicles and stand outside. When I reached the library, situated in the clubhouse of the “Central European Immigrants Society” (they don’t use the word “German”), they were just ending a small ceremony and lighting candles.

    A week later is Memorial Day for those who were killed in Israel’s wars and for terror victims. Sunday night, the eve of Memorial Day, we went to a ceremony at the nearby neighborhood where Fridel grew up and where his father’s name is on the memorial . Children from all the neighborhood schools participated, as well as the neighborhood Rabbi and relatives of the fallen. Each community has such a ceremony. On Monday morning another siren, and ceremonies at all the Military cemeteries. We go to the town of Zichron Yaakov, where Fridel’s father is buried.

    Monday evening Memorial Day ends and Independence Day begins with fireworks. At a ceremony in Jerusalem the flag is raised from half mast, and is passed from one army unit to another until next Independence Day. On Independence day every National Park, beach and backyard is full of people barbequing, hiking, swimming, etc. Morning television features the annual International Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth. In the evening the prestigious Israel Prizes are awarded in the fields of History, Jewish Studies, Music, Art, Law, Science, and Life Work.  This televised ceremony ends the holiday officially.

    Each year the rightness of the sudden switch from  ”mourning to celebration” is debated. However, the consensus is that it is necessary to remember the terrible price that we have paid for our independent state.

    Last month we were in Tel Aviv, not my favorite place, for a study vacation. The highlights were a visit to the building where the State of Israel was declared in May, 1948, an exciting backstage visit at the Israel Opera and meeting three charming sopranos, and the modest house of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister. A theatre performance by the “Please Touch” troupe which consists of blind and deaf actors was unforgettable.  At the end the audience was asked to go up onto the stage and talk to the actors via their helpers. Everyone did!

    Love, Marsha

    View of Tel Aviv from Jaffa

    Declaration of Independence room, chosen because high windows afforded protection from bullets.

    Restored building on Rothschild Boulevard.  The city is encouraging restoration of period buildings.

    One of Tel Aviv’s parks.  This one features groups of columns.  Each group contains names of soldiers killed in a specific war.

    Metal images outside Tel Aviv Art Museum.

    Susan Dalal Center of the Arts, housed in a restored school building.

    “Grandma’s Ice Cream.”  It was good, too.

    Nostalgic Toy Museum.


    But to paraphrase W. C. Fields’ tombstone, “I’d rather be in Philadelphia”

    Several months ago my computer came down with a virus that wouldn’t let the firewall work on the anti-virus program.  I called McAfee and they couldn’t fix it.  They gave me a phone number of someone who could fix it, and it turned out to be someone with a heavy accent (what else is new?).  With my moderate hearing loss, it was fun and games understanding him.  He took control of my computer and took care of the firewall problem.

    Several weeks later I realized that I couldn’t update any of my software – a result of what the guy did to fix the firewall thing.  Soon I was getting messages that I wasn’t running genuine Windows 7, although I was.  Finally the whole computer went belly-up.

    Richard worked on it for hours and hours but ultimately we had to take it to a shop.  They wiped the hard drive clean, reinstalled Windows 7 and put all the files back in.  We had to reinstall all the programs ourselves, which was, of course, a problem.  Richard helped get the files connected to the various programs, and now things are back in good order.  Except I don’t have Publisher which for some crazy reason can’t be downloaded as part of Microsoft Office.  Computers are a tool of Satan.

    But I’m back, and will celebrate tomorrow by uploading a Letter From Israel.

    And yes, David, “I should have gotten Apple.”  Be quiet.

  • Michigan Tech’s Spring Fling was cancelled the other day (David was a prime organizer) merely because there were 40 inches of snow on the ground with another foot expected that day, the temps were in the mid-20s to mid-30s, and the wind was gusting up to 40 MPH. 

    What kinda buncha wimps are we raising these days? 

  • Headline of the day:

    “Acetaminophen Eases Existential Anxiety.”  Grabs your attention, doesn’t it?  Existential anxiety comes from thinking about death.  Where’s the Tylenol?


    According to World magazine, the council in a city in Britain had decided to make their roads safer by removing apostrophes from signs around the town. A study claimed apostrophes on signs confuse people.  The Apostrophe Preservation Society objected strongly, and public outcry prompted the council to recommend returning apostrophes to town signs.

    The Apostrophe Preservation Society, huh?  Where do I go to sign up?

  • Yesterday we saw people running from the explosions (and I probably would have been among them), but we also saw people running toward them – police, medical people, just-plain-citizens wanting to help.  They saw unspeakable sights but stayed to do what they could to help the injured.  Hospital personnel worked heroically to tend to the wounded as they poured into the hospitals.  Nurses, aides, orderies – all pitched in to help.  Many lives must have been saved by their quick work and dedicated service.

    Yes, there are many helpers in the world.


    This morning Sam was sorting through all the stuff that has accumulated in our ten-year-old car.  He came to me and asked if I had a large plastic container to put twist ties in to keep in the car.  I couldn’t drop everything at that moment and find something for him, so he went in search and found a gallon jug that he proclaimed to be perfect.  Off he went.

    As I was working away, the question occurred to me – why does he need a gallon jug of twist ties in the car?  So I went to where he was and said, “In 54 years of marriage, I don’t remember ever needing to have one twist tie in a car, let alone a gallon of them.”  Then I saw he was putting bungee cords in the jar.  I said, “Did you mean you wanted a jar for twist ties or bungee cords?”  “Bungee cords,” he said.  “Then why did you say twist ties?” I asked.  Mumble, mumble, mumble came the response. 

    And once again I said what I say every day:  “Do you ever listen to what you say?”


    Our weather forecast for the next week:

    Today:  Cloudy, chance of rain and snow showers.  High of 40, low of 25.
    Sunday:  Partly cloudy.  High of 47, low of 40.
    Monday:  Mostly cloudy, chance of rain showers.  High of 58, low of 40.
    Tuesday:  Mostly cloudy, chance of rain showers.  High of 52, low of 36.
    Wednesday:  Mostly cloudy, chance of rain showers.  High of 49, low of 38.
    Thursday:  Cloudy, rain showers likely.  High of 54, low of 32.
    Friday:  Cloudy, rain showers likely.  High of 53, low of 38.



    The mighty Wolverines have struck out

    Basketball is only a game.  Only spiritual things are eternal.  Nevertheless, I was rooting for Michigan last night in the championship game. I checked the score every few minutes and watched the last few minutes because that’s the only part that it’s really necessary to watch if basketball isn’t your game, and it isn’t mine.  All that running around and then everything stops every 30 seconds for foul shots or time outs. 

    All of Michigan is in deep gloom today, which matches the weather we have almost every day.  I do like it when events match the weather, don’t you?

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