Monthly Archives: February 2012

Availability of organics and green products in Israel

>>Sorry to open a can of worms (and feel free to ignore the question if it’s too complicated)– what is the organic situation in Israel? My friends in Jerusalem subscribe to an organic CSA for weekly produce delivery, do you have any options like that up north?<<

And from someone else a few days ago:

>>  Is organic produce available and how expensive is it? We shop here at Trader Joe’s where the organic produce is relatively reasonable.

We get our natural household products without the sulfates, parabens, phalates, etc. from places like Whole Foods. Are such products available over there? Are they exorbitantly priced?

I am wondering if dairy products are healthier over there. (Does the Israeli government allow bovine growth hormone to be used?) My kids don’t drink milk (only rice milk) b/c of the toxicity. Can you get raw milk there any easier than over here?

In general, from my research over the past year and a half on all health fronts, it seems that our wonderful U.S. government is literally the worst in the world when it comes to protecting the health of its citizens. Whether it’s the food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, or the cancer industry, healthful information is deliberately hidden from the public, while any and all toxic substances are allowed to pass, as long as it will be profitable for them. I know that the Israelis in government are no saints but the question is, are they any better than the U.S.? I hear they are trying to get a law passed now over here to somehow shut down all health related websites so that we will no longer have any way of accessing info on health.<<

Organics – as I’ve written before, my budget unfortunately doesn’t have room for the extra cost of organics.  In the past I’ve bought them when I could find them at a comparable price (eg salvage/discount stores).  The only vegetables that we eat that I’m sure are organic are the things I harvest myself from local vegetation/fruit trees.  So I haven’t yet found a local source because I haven’t looked.

However, I have seen notices of people posting about organic produce in various communities, and am sure this isn’t  something that is difficult to do, as long as you have the budget for it.

Natural health products – I’m not sure what you use in the US.  I use baking soda and vinegar for just about everything, and don’t buy any ‘green’ products. I found a place here where I was able to buy a 50 lb sack of baking soda, which was great since the teeny tiny containers they sell here are something like 40x the bulk price.  I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for quite a while,  but since all of the necessary ingredients aren’t available for purchase locally, have been buying the regular detergent and sometimes I add baking soda for an added boost.  We use baking soda for toothbrushing and deodorant (works better than anything else I’ve ever tried!) and use regular shampoo without artificial colors added.  There are health stores where overpriced ‘green’ products are sold, just like in the US – pretty much anything you would want here, I think you can find.  There seems to be a lot of interest in the alternative health realm; to me it seems like more interest and openness than the US.

Raw milk – someone told me about raw cow milk, but it seems much easier to find raw goat milk.  (Which is pretty understandable, being that this  country is so tiny and cows take up much more space than goats.)  I’ve been in touch with a couple of people about this and found sources about a 40 minute drive away, but not having a car makes this very difficult to arrange, particularly since those raising goats are usually living in areas with irregular bus transportation.  It’s  not realistic for us to take a bus to get the milk, due to cost and difficulty in bringing home an adequate amount for our family.  The other option is renting a car for the day to get the milk, which also makes the cost shoot up (not to mention gas that costs $8 a gallon!).  So we’ve pretty much cut out dairy, and the answer to how healthy the regular milk sold in the store is, I don’t know.

So basically these are lots of questions I’d also like more details on but don’t know the answers to. :)  However, I’m sure some of my readers do, so please share relevant details, suggestions, and contact information for people in the comments!


(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.)

4th Annual Torah Home Education Conference – May 6, 2012

Before we left the US, a number of people asked me what would happen with the Torah Home Education Conference, which I founded and organized for the last three years.  Initially, I wasn’t sure if I would continue to arrange it from a distance, leave it to others to pick up the ball and run with it if they were interested, or if it would continue at all in my absence.  After a LOT of thought, I decided that the conference had to continue, not as my individual effort, but because others felt there was value and were willing to put in the work to make it happen, and if it there wasn’t enough interest on the part of others, then it would have to fall by the wayside.

And so I’m delighted to say that a group of women have come together to keep it going, and I’m staying very much in a side role.  They have been busy putting together a great day for you!  The 4th Annual Torah Home Education Conference will be held in the Baltimore area on May 6, and the schedule is packed with great speakers and topics that are sure to give just about every current or prospective homeschooler something to think about and be inspired by!

I’m sharing the schedule below, as well as other relevant details.

8:15 – 9 am Registration

9 – 9:10 – Opening remarks

9:15 – 10 am – V’shinantem L’vanecha – Defining Torah Home Education – Mrs. Susan Lapin

10:05 – 10:50 – Parallel workshops:

a) Practical Preschool and Early Education Years – Mrs. Jennifer MacLeod

b) Reaching Bar/bas mitzva – Homeschooling Older Children – Mrs. Shoshana Zohari

10:55 – 11:40 – How to Homeschool, Do Housework, and Prepare for Chagim with a Smile – Mrs. Jennifer Green

b) Gishmei Brocha – Involving Your Family In Money Management – Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz

11:45 – 12:30 –

a) Integrating Kodesh and Chol, Two Sides of the Same Coin – Mrs. Deborah Beck

b) Focusing in an Age of Digital Distractions – Mrs. Robin Alberg

12:30 – 2:30 – Lunch, Vendor Time, Displays, Facilitated Discussion with Mr. Max Masinter

2:30 – 3:15- Raising Independent Learners – Mrs. Evelyn Krieger

3:20 – 4:05- Veterans Panel with Amanda Keefe, Chana Cox, Susan Lapin, and Rebecca Masinter

4:10 – 4:55 – Advancing the Relationship between Homeschoolers and the Community – Rabbi C. Friedman

5 – 5:15 – Closing remarks

Gila Haor, a special educator, will be available for consultation throughout the day of the conference.  If you’re interested in reserving a slot, be in touch with her at

The conference planners are doing everything they can to welcome participants to the Baltimore area and make your stay comfortable.  If you’ll be spending Shabbos in Baltimore prior to the conference, hospitality is being arranged – Tova Brody is taking care of this, and she can be reached at 410-504-7798 or

Child care will be available for your young children during the conference, as well as activities for your older children – specify what your needs are when registering.  Mrs. Alisa Mandel is once again taking care of this (thanks for your continued help, Alisa!), and you can contact her at 410-963-2977.  If you have teenagers who would like to attend the conference, there is no charge, though donations are appreciated.  They will need to registered in advance, though, at

This is the only conference geared to Orthodox homeschoolers in the entire world – yes, literally!  Every year, people have traveled from all over the US and even Canada to be there, and felt it was worthwhile.  Don’t think that you’re a four hour drive away and it’s not  worth your time.  You just won’t have anywhere else to access this wide a group of Torah home educators any other day in the year, anywhere.

If I sound passionate about it – I am!  I’ve put so many hours into planning this for the last few years because I know, and have continued to see, how important this kind of support is for people.  The current planners share this passion and are putting in so much time and effort to make it a great conference that you will benefit from in multiple ways.  People have told me that being at the conference was a key factor for them choosing to homeschool, continuing to homeschool, and refreshing and reinspiring them when they felt burnt out.

Usually I end off my announcements about the conference with my hope to greet lots of you there in person, and my only regret about this year’s conference is that I won’t be there.  :(


Keeping my ‘side of the street’ clean

Last week I shared about an unpleasant experience I had, in which someone said some insulting things to me.  (I’ve edited last week’s post to remove any mention of this incident, to protect the privacy of the person involved in case there are any local intrepid sleuths who will work out his identity based on clues in what I wrote. :))

I thought a lot about what was said to me and where it was coming from.  My dh, who is Mr. Wonderful Character, easy going, and doesn’t let things bother him, told me that the person has an ego issue and has shown himself in every conversation to be easily offended and hard to please, and to stop looking for what my part in this was because I didn’t do anything wrong.  But I wanted to clear the air with this  person, and felt I had to honestly consider his feelings in order to do that.

After trying hard to put myself  in his shoes and see it from his perspective, I thought perhaps I could have sounded as if I wasn’t valuing him enough for his efforts.  I decided that when I saw him again in person, I would apologize for any slight and let him know how much we appreciated what he’s done  in a given area.  Today I happened to see him again, so I went over to him and asked him if I could speak with him a few minutes.

I told him that I realized I had said something that might have given him the impression we don’t value his input and help fully, and that I wanted him to be aware that we are very appreciative of his concern and time.  I apologized, then when I paused, he coldly said, “Okay, fine.”  And turned away without a further comment.

I was a little surprised, honestly.  Though I certainly didn’t expect an apology from him for the harsh things he said,  I expected a bit more of a response than this!  In order to keep myself from falling into negative thoughts about him, I had to remind myself of my goal in speaking to him.

The goal wasn’t to manipulate him with kindness and make him like me. It was to take responsibility for my actions, and to be sure to keep ‘my side of the  street’ clean.  I can’t do anything about what he said, how he chooses to respond to me, or if he wants to stew in hostility against me forever.  But I’ve cleared my emotional side of things – I was careful in my original conversation about his feelings, had no desire to be hurtful, and apologized for any unintended slight today.  And now I’ve done my part.

Though I apologized because I thought it was something that would be of value to him, it was really me who benefited from the apology – now I can have peace of mind about the situation.  I don’t want to know that someone bears a grudge against me and speaks badly about me to others, without knowing that I’ve done my best to right the situation.  He can choose to hold on to his hostility (and apparently this is the choice he’s making) but it doesn’t mean I have get sucked into it – now I can let go of this scenario so it’s not taking up space in my head.  Which gets overly crowded without all of this drama.  :)


A great new toy – refrigerator box!

A week and a half ago, I took ds4 to a playdate at a friend’s house, and as I entered the building, noticed a refrigerator box by the entrance.  When I got upstairs, the mother of his friend told  me she brought it there and was waiting for her husband to bring it upstairs for her kids to play with.

I thought that was a great idea – in fact, my first thought when I saw it was how nice it  would be for the littles to play in!  We don’t have any toys now that we moved  – we just brought some board games with us – but even if we had loads, the creative play and fun potential for little kids and boxes is immense!

A few days later, I saw another box but there was no way for me to get it home.  And then, that night dh mentioned he had seen a great box and wanted to bring it home for  the kids, and it was the exact same one I had seen.  Neither of us had mentioned the idea to one another, but we were obviously thinking along the same track.

On Thursday I was doing my weekly produce rearranging after my food delivery arrived, and put aside three extra cartons for the littles to play with.  They had a great time on Shabbos with them, and I mentioned to dd15 how I’d love to find a refrigerator box for them.

This morning, I heard some noise outside my building, and when I looked to see what it was, saw a moving truck, and some men were bringing a new refrigerator to my building!  They had just taken it out of the box which was sitting right next to the entrance of my building.  I ran downstairs before they had a chance to throw it away, and asked if I could take it.  They agreed right away, and with only a flight of stairs to bring the box up, it was now very doable for me to bring it home!

A bonus of this box over the others I saw is that it still had the bottom piece on it – this piece is heavy plastic covered with styrofoam, which makes a sturdy door when the refrigerator is laid on its side!  I’m looking forward to the reaction of ds5 and ds4 when they get home – I think they’re going to love this.  The biggest issue I have is where to keep it – I have space in my living/dining area, but it doesn’t aesthetically enhance the look of the room.  :)  I think I’m going to switch a couch and the place where the box is right now to remedy that, so the box won’t be the first thing you see when you walk in.

Have you ever thought how amazing it is, the many things that come our way just when we want them?  Do you think that’s a coincidence?  I don’t!


School participation takes a lot of time!

One thing I’ve appreciated about not homeschooling right now, is that I’m less torn between what I want to do with the kids and what I need to do otherwise.  I have more time available.  But then I started thinking about all the time having the kids in school entails, and that isn’t insignificant.

First of all, there’s the daily effort of getting them ready on time, sending them out happy even when they’d rather stay home.  (For ds4, this is a huge daily effort – he would almost always rather stay home.)  Then there’s taking them to and from school, helping the older ones with homework, and being emotionally available to support them when they get home.  If they want to have a playdate, that’s something else to facilitate.

As new immigrants, our children need a lot more help and support than children who grew up with this language – someone who made aliyah two years ago told me that every new immigrant is a special needs student, and though that doesn’t sound so pleasant, it’s pretty accurate.  This means me working with them daily on Hebrew reading and language, and translating the homework they bring home before they can even start answering the questions.  Being a new immigrant also brings with it the need for a lot more advocacy on my part with the schools they attend – last week I had appointments with the principal of the girls’ high school as well as the principal of ds9.

Then there’s the regular stuff.  I need to register ds4 for next year’s kindergarten this week, and since the mandatory education law passed regarding three year olds and up, this means taking care of the paperwork at the city municipality.  On Sunday evening, I’m attending a parenting workshop arranged by the administration of ds13’s school.  On Monday morning, I’m taking ds5 to a school psychologist to be assessed for readiness for first grade, which is mandatory before he can be registered.

On Tuesday, I have another parenting class to attend.  This one is a result of the meeting with ds9’s principal last week (which went very well).  A concrete result of our discussion is that  ds9 will be able to participate in a special program to facilitate his absorption, but this is generally only open to children who come from difficult home situations or have emotional difficulties.  A mandatory component is that I have to attend weekly parenting classes at 6 pm every week (since it’s scheduled during dinner hour, it’s almost like testing how dedicated a parent you are to see if you show up!).

This week also marks parent teacher conferences.  I’m scheduled for a meeting with dd11’s teacher on Weds. morning, and a meeting with ds9’s teacher that evening.

For years I’ve told people that homeschooling doesn’t take nearly the time and effort they think it does.  I think a difference is that when you’re homeschooling, you’re being proactive and generally avoiding a lot of issues that would otherwise come up.  (For example,  ds9 is being bullied – this wouldn’t be an issue at home.)  Once your kids are in school, you’re often reacting to the factors surrounding them – peers, teachers, academic expectations.


Cost breakdown of weekly grocery shopping trip

This week I did a biggish shopping trip – nothing major compared to my big stock-ups in the US, but I got a nice amount of staples for this month.  Since I spent a  little over 500 shekels, this trip comprised about 1/4 of our monthly food budget (which is 2000 shekels), and people have asked me for more specifics of what I buy and how much I pay, I’m sharing the details of my receipt here. 

This is the store that I get the bulk of  my vegetables, grains, and beans from.  I was delighted when in December they began offering home delivery, since it was physically very exhausting for me to bring home even enough food for a week for our family by bus.  Then I switched to calling a taxi to bring my order home, but I still had to pack up the groceries (cashiers here don’t bag your groceries unless you’re paying for home delivery), load them in the taxi, unload them at home, and carry them up a flight of steps to our apartment.  I’m not complaining, just explaining why it was a real physical effort to go shopping in the past at this store, particularly for the quantities we need.  But now for just 15 shekels, I can have my order packed up and brought into my house!  While I used to go every week and would consciously think about the weight of every item I wanted to buy, knowing the physical effort involved, now I can make a big order once or twice a month and not have to deal with it – I LOVE this! 

Here’s what I bought:

  • red lentils (8.99 shekels kg x 3.94 kg) – 35.42
  • dried chickpeas (9.99 shekels kg x 3.065 kg) – 30.62
  • buckwheat (12.99 shekels kg x 2.475 kg) – 32.15
  • quinoa (18.99 shekels kg x 1.100 kg) – 20.89
  • black eyed peas (10 shekels kg x 2.085) – 20.85
  • split peas (11.99 shekels kg x 4.85 kg) – 58.15
  • rice (6.99 shekels kg x 5.165) – 36.10
  • brown lentils ( 7.99 shekels kg x 3.125 kg) – 24.97
  • popcorn (6.99 shekels kg x 2.130 kg) – 14.89
  • navy beans (7.99 shekels kg x 4.070 kg) – 32.52
  • coarse cornmeal (2.77 shekels -500 grams x 8 pkg) – 24.26
  • broccoli (4.99 shekels kg x 3.465 kg) – 17.29
  • avocado (4.99 shekels kg x 9.425) – 47.03
  • granny smith apples (4.99 shekels kg x .460) – 2.30 (this was snack for ds2 who was with me, plus some to share with his siblings when they got home)
  • fennel (4.99 shekels kg x 1.080 kg) – 5.39
  • 2 large heads lettuce (2.99 each) – 5.98
  • cucumbers (3.99 shekels kg x 1.015 kg) – 4.05
  • tomatoes (1.99 shekels kg x 3.140 kg) – 6.25
  • 3 –  1 kg containers of prepared hummus (9.99 ea) – 29.97
  • 6 – 580 gram cans tomato paste (4.99 ea) – 29.94
  • 2 – 540 gram cans sliced olives (7.99 ea) – 15.98
  • 1 – kg sugar – 4.99
  • 1 – 150 gram container powdered ginger – 6.99

My intent for this trip was to get enough staples to last through the end of the month; this was 77 pounds of grains/legumes and I think that will be enough.  The grains are purchased from the bulk bins; there’s someone who works there, and I tell her how many kilograms I want of each item, she bags and prices everything for each customer.  That’s why the grain/legume amounts aren’t in standard bag sizes of 500 grams or 1 kg.   This is cheaper than buying the prepacked bags of these same items, usually about 20 – 25% cheaper.  Someone  last week said about a 6 shekel item, ‘Oh, it’s only 2 shekels less like that”, and I explained that paying 4 shekels a kilo instead of six was a savings of 30%!  Small sums add up, though people often get stuck on the tiny amounts saved instead of looking at the overall picture of how much is saved in a month when you buy everything at discounted prices.

This time, I bought a couple of the more expensive grains that I’ve been avoiding for cost reasons until now: buckwheat and quinoa.  By the way, I find it very funny that in Hebrew, it’s called kee-no-ah, based on the English spelling (instead of the proper pronunciation, keen-wa), so I have to consciously say the word incorrectly even though it’s an English word!  I added these grains in because I wanted some more variety; meals were feeling too repetitive to me.  I didn’t get a lot of them, just enough for to add a little something different to the menu.  I had oats and barley at home. 

As far as the vegetables, these are intended to last for a couple of weeks until my next trip, not through the end of the month.  However, this trip isn’t representative of my typical buying habits since I usually don’t buy vegetables unless they’re under 3.99 kg (except for avocados), and really try to stay closer to 1.99 shekels a kilo.  But I realized I haven’t been eating many fresh veggies, since the inexpensive root veggies that I’m buying at this season aren’t appealing when eaten raw.  And then I end up not having such a good breakfast (I try to have protein and vegetables for breakfast) since I want to make something quick, and instead end up eating grains for breakfast and throughout the day.  So call it a pregnancy splurge if you like, but the option is eating bread with hummus for breakfast, or what ends up happening more often is I don’t eat breakfast until lunchtime. 

When I shop at the other supermarket I go to, I stick with the loss leaders on vegetables, usually limited to 1.99 kg (.25 cents lb).  At this place, I get what is the best buy.  I was really suprised that tomatoes were so cheap- why should tomatoes be only .25 cents a pound in the winter?  They’re local, too.  The heads of lettuce were huge and looked beautiful, which is typical of greens in this season.  This produce is supplementing what I already had at home: carrots, onions, potatoes, kohlrabi, mushrooms, garlic, peppers,  green and red cabbage, clementines, and grapefruits.  So I have a decent variety of vegetables to use. 

I buy prepared hummus rather than make my own, even though I have a really good recipe, it’s not hard, and would save me money, because I don’t have an immersion blender or food processor to make it with.  So I buy it at the best price I can find it, and use this for the kids’ sandwiches for school every day, as well as for a spread on Shabbos.  I bought the sliced olives with the intent to add it to the sandwiches sometimes, but saw that once I opened the can of olives, they all got snacked away, so I probably won’t do that often!

For those who may be wondering, no, we aren’t vegetarian.  This shopping trip also supplemented the chickens, giblets, and liver that we bought last week (that order was also around 1/4 of our monthly budget).  We usually have a meat meal daily, for lunch; I use the chicken that we buy as an ingredient in a dish, which extends it significantly over serving each person his own piece of chicken (which I do on Shabbos).   We also buy about 7 trays of eggs every couple of weeks (a tray is 2.5 dozen), so that works out to about 32 – 35 dozen eggs a month (we used to buy 60 dozen a month). 

Dairy has become a real splurge here.  Last week dh picked up some milk and high fat yogurts for me to have for breakfast (because I seem to be reacting with indigestion to everything I eat, similar to what I usually feel in the ninth month of pregnancy, and I’m trying to figure out what proteins won’t trigger it).  But dairy products are expensive here.  For example, a liter of milk is about 5 shekels ($5.70 gallon).  Cottage cheese, and cheese spreads are sold in these little containers that are about a cup big, enough for one person, but are over 5 shekels each ($1.40 per cup), single serving yogurts are cheaper at 1.50 – 4 shekel each.   The  organic cottage cheese and sour cream I used to use as a staple, as well as the shredded cheese I regularly cooked with is definitely a thing of the past! 

Though prices aren’t low, I feel we still eat well.  It’s true that we have more beans and grains, and hardly any nuts, no raw milk or pastured eggs, but we still have plenty to eat!  My monthly budget is lower than it was in the US, and despite the higher prices here on every single category of food except produce, we’re managing just fine.  We were sent what we needed in the US to stick with our budget, and the same One who took care of  us there continues to send us what we need here in Israel!


Being paid well for blogging!

Last week someone emailed me to ask about starting a blog, and how to make a profit from it.  She said she was sure as a mother of a large family, I wouldn’t be blogging if it weren’t financially worth my while.

I emailed her back to let her know that I’m not a good person to ask about blogging for money, beyond to say that it’s possible.  I enjoy blogging because I enjoy being able to help others, and it’s also become an outlet for me to share about non-specific things that are part of my life, which I appreciate being able to do!

But it’s inaccurate to say that I don’t feel I’ve been compensated for the time I’ve put into this blog.  This week, I received a beautiful email:

>>I  wanted also to thank you for making such a difference in me and my life. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to meet you and that I was able to take that (parenting) class with you. I don’t like to be a burden on someone or to push a relationship where I know I would be only a taker and that is why I haven’t written or otherwise made contact. But I wanted you to know that you have made a tremendous impact on my life. I know that you know I grew up in a very unhappy dysfunctional home and I’ve had to work very very hard at building myself and trying to create a happy home. I never forget the people who step into my life, sometimes very briefly, sometimes for longer, and make impressions on me that I carry forever and help change me as a person and as a mother. You are one of those people!  Thank you!  P.S. I love your blog!<<

I wanted to post this here to publicly say thank you to this person, as well as to say the following: giving someone else the opportunity to be a giver doesn’t by default make you a taker – you’ve given me something special by allowing me a place in your life.

Thank you to all of my readers for being here, and especially to those of you who have written to me personally and said that something I’ve shared has been of help to you – your feedback is truly the best ‘salary’ for blogging I could have!


Conversations to enjoy, conversations to grow with

Today I went to the Ministry of the Interior to get a new identity card.  I can’t even guess what happened to my old one, which hardly ever is taken out of my wallet, but one day I went to a lawyer to sign on as a power of attorney for someone, reached in for it, and it wasn’t there!

I went twice before to the Ministry of the Interior to take care of this, but both times the gate was locked.  I called the local municipality, and the woman who answered told me the office moved.  I asked for the address, but she said she doesn’t have it – ‘next to a bank and opposite the phone company’ were the instructions.  I made it there, and was pleased that the  line was short and the person helping me was quick and efficient.

While I was there, I also needed to get some documentation for the girls’ high school about their entrance and exit dates from the country.  That was harder to take care of – the only dates that came up were for our visit last year, but the Ministry of Education needs proof that they are the children of returning citizens and have been living overseas for a number of years.  You’d think since I already have documentation from other offices, it would be enough, but no, every office needs its specific documentation in the way it wants it.

He managed to pull up the details for dd17, but for dd15 said I have to come back with her passport.  I explained to him that a child’s passport is only good for five years, and the old passport has to be given in when you get a new one.  So I can’t show the passport from when she was four years old that shows that she left Israel.  Don’t you think this information should be stored in some governmental office computer somewhere?  I’m sure it is, since we have the approval of their status and all of this had to be verified months ago.  But not on the computers at this office.

From there, I went to the girls’ high school to give them the documentation I managed to get. The principal saw me there and called me into her office for a chat.  She said another teacher has been trying to reach me, and then called that teacher in to join our powwow, and we all had a nice hour long conversation.  They were both very effusive about how special my girls are.  The principal said she was hesitant when accepting them because they had been homeschooled all of their lives, thinking they wouldn’t be able to transition well to a school framework.  But, she said, she was taken by not just that they adjusted well, but by their good character and the mature way they both think about things that is very different from what she’s used to seeing in high school girls.  (Her words, not mine.)  She said she sees that there was something special about their education based on the results she sees.  That was really affirming to hear!

We spent a long time discussing if when dd17 leaves school, dd15 should be jumped up to the eleventh grade.  There’s so much involved technically and it’s really hard for me to make a call on this since skipping her for the coming year means that she won’t be able to take her national matriculation exams and get the accompanying certificate.  I’m inclined to skip her since socially it will be drastically better for her, and I think school is mostly about friends and a social life.  But I don’t want her to be in a bad position after high school when certain paths will be closed off to her without this bagrut (matriculation) certificate (though she can make this up on her own, kind of like the SAT).  Her teacher maintains that it will be close to impossible for her to succeed in passing all the bagrut tests which are challenging even for native Israelis, so it’s a shame not to skip her to a class she could really enjoy being part of.  We finished our discussion by agreeing to talk about it later on, but I came away with a nice feeling of working together with the administration, with a feeling of mutual respect on all sides. (The principal even said that they’d love it if I would teach for them!)

From there I picked up the littles from gan, then walked to the school where dd11 and ds9 are.  I wanted to make an appointment to speak with the principal of the boys’ school about some concerns I have regarding ds9 before I take conclusive action of my own, as well as to get the numbers of his tutor and teacher so I can call them tonight about these same concerns.  When I walked in, I encountered a woman about my age who happens to be the daughter of the chief rabbi of the city who somehow has a very nice impression of me, who  enthusiastically kissed me and told me, “There’s no one like you!”  (I’m  mentioning this for a reason, not to include self-inflating details.)

(Edited to delete entire sequence of events – in my  blog, I try not to give details that would badly reflect on someone else or make me the bearer of idle gossip.  After rereading, I’m afraid that someone local might be able to make an educated guess about who was being referenced, and cause them to think less positively of this person.)  

Remember I said how one woman earlier was glowing about my wonderfulness, and then this person was totally disgusted with me?  That I was told these things within a half hour was a good reminder to me not to give more weight to people’s opinions of me than they warrant!  I’m not so wonderful and I’m not so terrible; like most of humanity, I’m somewhere in the middle.  I have a tendency to want people to like me, and I have to remind myself that I can’t allow other people to define who I am, but to try to act as G-d wants me to (even though I usually fall short).

I really try to get along with everyone and it’s very unpleasant to know that someone is so angry at me.  But I also believe that every single situation that is sent to me, is sent to me for my growth.  Right now my practical focus is on a few things: appreciating the person for who he is and remembering that he wants to be helpful, not taking his comments personally or allow myself to see him in a negative light, and taking steps to  protect my/my child’s boundaries and respect my own needs.

I’m really grateful that this was balanced by an overall productive and positive day; it makes it easier to have perspective!  It seems that life provides constant chances to be stretched beyond our comfort zones….


Planning for homebirth in Israel

>>I’m looking forward to finding out whether or not you will choose to home or hospital birth here, considering that hospital births are free and homebirths are around 5000 shekel.  <<

I’m planning another homebirth!  There are many areas in life to save money on, but in my opinion, having a homebirth is a transformative experience, with the safety rate being higher in so many areas than in the hospital, that this isn’t an area that I’m choosing to save money on.  I cut costs  in lots of areas to make it possible for me to be able to this important decision without money being the deciding factor.

In the US I also had to pay out of pocket for my homebirths ($1800), and the hospital experience would have been fully covered by my insurance.  What’s different here is that if you have a baby in the hospital, the government gives you a sum of money, that has to be added to what a homebirth will cost you since that’s money you’ll no longer get (unless you show up at the hospital within twelve hours after giving birth).  Right now that’s only 500 shekels, though I was told for twins it jumps to 8000 shekels!

>>Have you found a home birth midwife to use yet?<<

Yes, I have!  We spoke last week so I’m glad to have that piece in place.  I pretty much decided I’d use this  midwife before I ever spoke with her, if she agreed to come to this area for the birth.

I started researching homebirth midwives here way before I was pregnant, to help someone else in my area find out about homebirth midwives.  I didn’t come up with much to start with, but then I got a call from someone who took childbirth classes with me over 13 years ago, whose birth I also attended.  She heard I was back in Israel and called to find out my opinion of homebirth!  She lives in the north and had a much longer list of midwives than I had, and gave me contact info for each of them, as well as the details of her conversations with each.  (I wasn’t asking about this because I was expecting – I don’t think I was at the time – but she wanted my opinion of who she should use so she needed to go through each option in detail.)   Then a blog reader called to give me information regarding something I wrote about here, who had also checked out the homebirth options in the north.

What I found initially left me discouraged.  The midwives were risking out the friend I was researching for, since here in Karmiel we are 35 minutes from a hospital, rather than 30.  Another factor that made her ‘high risk’ was that her baby was estimated to be over 4 kg (about 8.5 lb, even though all her others had been similarly sized).  Then the second person called me back and said none of the certified midwives were willing to attend her birth, either, even though she’s 5 minutes from a hospital and has a perfect birthing history – because it’s her ninth birth.

I was very bothered by this medicalized and fearful approach to childbirth, because I don’t expect that from homebirth midwives.  As far as the closest hospital choices, it’s either Tzfat and Nahariya, and I haven’t heard anything encouraging about either of them.  When friend #1 asked what I would do in her situation, I told her I really didn’t know, since there didn’t seem to be any good choices.  I just couldn’t understand the midwifery attitude here.

Then in December I read about the new rules they want to pass to further restrict homebirth in Israel –  When I read this, I understood that the licensed midwives were refusing to attend births that didn’t meet the Health Ministry’s requirements, because they could lose their license.  This made it clear that licensed midwives sometimes have their hands tied, not necessarily based on medical evidence of what is in the best interests of the health of a woman, but by the government.  (And since the health care system here is run by the government, you can’t be too suprised that the official position is strongly in favor of hospital birth.)  What I see as the biggest advantage of using a licensed midwife is that they can sign the necessary paperwork to get an Israeli identification number for the newborn, which can be a big hassle otherwise.

Working with someone who isn’t certified doesn’t scare me at all- unlicensed doesn’t mean untrained and unskilled.  The midwife who will be attending my birth (assuming she makes it in time :)) isn’t a licensed midwife in Israel, but is US licensed as a midwife, has worked in an Israeli hospital as a midwife, and is a licensed nurse in Israel.  Licensing is so often a game of paperwork.  I think it’s ironic that someone would be fine going to a hospital and being attended by any midwife on duty – generally most of us wouldn’t even think to inquire about the credentials of the hospital professional assisting us there! – and yet would tell someone she was irresponsible to have someone with the same credentials at a homebirth.

In general, I’m not a person who is impressed by letters after a name.  There are plenty of parenting ‘professionals’ who I’d never want to take advice from, and many great parents I’d be happy to emulate who earned their knowledge and skill in the trenches of parenthood.  Similarly, when it comes to finding a homebirth midwife, I look for experience, knowledge, and positive outcomes, and when I find someone who has all of that, that’s what makes me comfortable.


Fresh, a real food movie – free to watch online today

I just found out that the movie Fresh will be available through today to watch free, online.  This has been around a while but I’ve never seen it. I started watching it but then thought I should probably share this here with you for others who might want to see it while the offer is still available.  So far, it looks like the same genre as King Korn and Food, Inc – a real food documentary.

The link to view it is here – http://action. freshthemovie. com/p/salsa/ web/common/ public/signup? signup_page_ KEY=6608.  You have to sign up with your name and email address to view the movie.

To real foodies, the interviewees will look familiar, as will their message.  Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, etc.  But it’s been a while since I’ve watched anything along these lines, other than the Monsanto film that I mentioned a few months ago, so I’m not feeling overly saturated with the  message right now.

We just popped some popcorn and I’m sitting down together with dd11, ds9, ds5, and ds4 to finish watching this. :)


(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.)