Wednesday, August 15, 2018

You Never Lose Out from: DOING THE RIGHT THING!

My friend wants me to write a book on all my thrift store stories. I have so many of them. I even have a great title for it ... Finding G-d While Thrifting.

So here is a story that happened today. Let me know what you think --

A few weeks ago I was at one of the local thrift stores. The woman knows me. As soon as she saw me, she handed me a small baggie of jewelry. (I go to this store for the big giant bags.)  I asked if they had any big bags, which she gives me. The small bag was marked "Sterling" for $150. I glanced at it, and then put it down. I started really looking at the big bag, trying to decide if I wanted it or not. (It was $75, and had like 10X more stuff.)  So this other treasure hunter I've seen around comes over to me, and asks if I am taking the small bag. I hesitated for a second ... I didn't really look at it. I saw a Silpada necklace that sells for $15-20. There were a bunch of other smaller silver pieces that are really hard to sell, and the heaviest brooch was marked pewter, not sterling. I am debating saying I want to look at it better when I had a flash back to another incident. When one of the stores had their grand opening, this woman ran in like a lunatic, and grabbed every single jar. She wouldn't let anyone else look at them, and then she bought them all.  I didn't like that, so ever since then, I've been good about sharing jars. So with that in mind, I handed the bag to the guy and said, if you aren't going to take it, I'll look at it better.
So the guy looks, whips out his loop, and gets all excited. I said, OH, what did I miss? He said he would show me after he pays. Which he does. He pulls out a 14K bracelet that would have more than paid for that bag! He did give me the Silpada necklace, but I was very annoyed with myself. Then I thought it through ... that bag wasn't meant for me to have. This bag belonged to that guy, and I got there a few minutes before him. Hashem put that thought into my head to hand it to him, because otherwise, if I had seen the gold, I would have bought it. Even though rationally I knew it wasn't mine; I was still very annoyed with myself. (I did end up getting 3 jars [for less than that one bag] that had a 14K bracelet, so like I said, you never lose out from doing the right thing.)

Now today I called one of the stores, and they had 2 jars and 2 boxes of bangles. So I head over there. When I walked in, a different treasure hunter was there waiting for them to open the case.  When they opened the case, the guy lunged in and grabbed the jars, and one of the boxes ... which he glanced at, and handed to me. He grabbed the second box, and set it down. I was so annoyed, because it's really not fair to grab everything in there. While still blocking me, he reaches to the other side to grab the necklace there, and announces it's sterling silver. (I know; I saw it yesterday and the day before.)  I was making faces at the cashiers. I finally walked over and told them what happened; how he grabbed everything and wouldn't let me look at anything. I said, It doesn't matter, you can't get what isn't meant to be.
So I waited. He gave me that first box which was junk. Put it back. He wouldn't let me look at the second box, because he was taking it.  Then he hands me one jar while he is looking at the second jar. That jar had a Silpada necklace in it, but not much more. Maybe a silver ring, maybe 2 of them. Finally he hands me the other jar. I saw a silver ring, some other little things, a brooch, and basically decided it was worth it. He set his box aside, and went to go look elsewhere. I decided to get the second jar, but couldn't decide on the first. So I finally just put it back; let someone else get it. So the guy comes back, and starts asking me what I see in the jar. He starts berating my selections, saying the "you think that's a brooch" and it's an ugly color that doesn't sell. I cut him off with, I like it; it's for me. So I pay for my jar and then the worker comes out with two rings. He grabs at one ring, while I snag the other. It's a Tiffany ring. I explained to her that it's a nice ring, but they don't sell for what they have it priced at; they should have marked it lower. (I wasn't lying; just trying to help her.)  The guy goes to buy the ring he had plus his other stuff. So while he was in line, I told the worker what happened. She whispers to me that there is another jar in the back but she can't bring it out yet cuz she has to watch to make sure he pays for the ring since it's $160. She tells me to hang around a few minutes, and she will bring the jar out.

So I go to my car and dump my jar. HAHAHA! I got a pair of 14K cz earring studs in there. And the brooch wasn't a brooch, it was a necklace, which is fine, cuz I really like it for my projects. (I'll explain another time.)  I go back in, and look ... there is a new jar! The guy is gone, and I look at the jar. Yes, there are some nice things, so I buy that one as well.

I dumped everything, and tonight when I was going through it ... I am not sure which jar it came out of, whether it was the first or second one I bought ... but the pretty silver ring isn't silver. It's 10K white gold! I THINK IT'S HYSTERICAL! Here the guy thought he was going to get the best stuff by hogging everything, and Hashem rewarded me for being patient.

Like I always say ... if you are meant to have it, you will. There is NOTHING that can stop you from getting what you are supposed to get!

And I still believe that you will never lose out from doing the right thing. So share those jars and bags, because you never know who is supposed to get what.

Happy Hunting!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

"HAPPY" Memorial Day

Today was shabbos. My husband went to shul, as did some of my kids. People in our area could walk to and from shul wearing their tallis. We made kiddush without fear of arrest . We ate kosher food that is fairly easy to attain. Life as a religious Jew here is basically easy. Compare that to Communist Russia, where people were killed for making a bris on their son. Kosher food, shabbos, mikvah, learning Torah, all those made you an enemy of the state. The stories of what happened to Yidden there are both heart breaking and inspiring. You can compare our life to Jews in any other country in history, and I think living now a day in America would win out as first choice.
Yesterday when I went out, I brought my trusty little friend with me, Ms. Ruger. I saw a bumper sticker that said RESIST. That person is able to criticize our government without fear of disappearing in the middle of the night.
In other words, we, in America, are FREE. We are free to speak our minds, gather together, practice our religion, carry or own guns, and much more.
But as the saying goes, freedom isn't free. It's paid for with blood. The blood of soldiers who died for these freedoms.
Memorial Day is set aside for us to remember those who have fallen. Take a minute to think about some of the freedoms we have that others only dream of. Monday at 3pm is supposed to be a moment of silence in memory of these brave men and women. Let's respect their memories, and most especially, don't let their sacrifice be in vain.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Trip in Review

I sit here today on Yom Yerushalayim, and the eve of the Unite States of America moving it's embassy to Jerusalem, and I am so sad. With all my heart and soul I wish I was there.  All I can do now is look back at my glorious trip and sigh.  אִם-אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם-- תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי.

And now for a recap ... things we loved and things we didn't love as much.  I asked Sheindy for her opinions, what were her favorite things to do. 

I will start with mine. I am beyond thrilled that I found Tami from Nof Tours. I know I took a huge chance by booking 5 tours with a complete stranger. But right away, I felt at ease with her.  We connected instantly, and the amount of time and effort she put into my trip is beyond amazing.  She never got tired (or at least, didn't let me know) of my million and one questions and changes. On the trips, she was so flexible, working with us, instead of just plugging along with the agreed plan.  I am forever grateful for how wonderful she made our trip!

Sheindy's number one, most favorite activity was ... drum roll please .... Aqua Kef !!!
This was an activity she asked several times if we could repeat. Unfortunately, that was not possible. However, it does give her something to look forward to the next time we go!

#2 activity: Snorkeling with the Dolphins. Once she got the hang of how to snorkel, she loved it! This was another activity she did ask to repeat.

Now the rest of these are not in any particular order:

Jeeping in Midbar Yehuda

Horseback riding in Netanya

tornado boating near Rosh Hanikra with Trek Yam Achziv

samples of & makaing chocolate at De Karina Chocolate Factory

bunkers are Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights

Works of art at the Safed Candle Factory in Tzafas

shopping in the Old City of Tzafas

water hike 

carousela boating on the Kinneret

shopping a the shuk

cholov Yisroel ice cream at every gas station!

as well as bagels & cream cheese bagels & chocolate muffins from Green Good Food; Burgers Bar, the "spooky tunnels" at Ir Dovid (Hezkiyahu tunnels).  Sheindy didn't enjoy the historical stuff, like the walking tours and holy graves. I think that is partially because she is too young to appreciate what the kavarim mean, and how holy they are to pray at.

I really enjoyed the kavarim, and tried to keep it to a minimum for her. I loved shopping in the Old City of Tzafas, and wandering around in the Old City in Yerushalayim.  I enjoyed horseback riding a lot, but was so sore for two days after! One of the most special parts of the trip was the time spent with my grand daughters!
I loved how much the Israeli's love Trump! I never did find a Trump item for my husband in Hebrew, but I also didn't look too hard.
One thing that made me very sad was seeing the chayalim everywhere. They are so young, and it breaks my heart that they have to serve in the IDF instead of being carefree. I wish Moshiach would be here already so these young men & women didn't need to serve; their guns could be broken!  I did bless many of them to stay safe, and let them know they are constantly in my prayers. I pray Hashem will watch over them and keep them safe until they return to their homes.
I loved walking in Eretz Yisroel, and breathing in the holy (if not at times smokey) air. I loved just looking out of the window of Shauly's apartment and seeing the hills and houses. 

“I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come.”

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Wednesday May 9 / 24 Iyar
I can't believe it! Our time is Israel is over. So sad, that we have to go back to Virginia and to real life.
Huvi and I took Rikki to gan. I went to Greens to get my last iced coffee. Well, it seems that Huvi loves iced coffee as much as I do. She claimed it and wouldn't give it back. At one point she feel asleep, and even in her sleep, she wouldn't let go of it! LOL!
We walked to Meah Shearim to go to Avigail Bakery, which I think has the most awesome cookies. It was the first time I was able to get there this trip, but I bought a ton of cookies to bring back to America with us.
From there I went to Jerusalem Yarmulka. I needed to order the mantel (cover) for the sefer Torah.  It was so good I went in person, because I was able to express exactly what I wanted.  We were going to look into combining three designs to make what it was I had envisioned. Yet when I walked in there, there was a design I didn't notice before that was so perfect! We did end up combining two designs, but she created something that I feel encapsulated the exact idea I was trying to get across with the mantel. Something elegant yet looking forward with hopes of Moshiach arriving quickly. If you want to see what I picked, you need to come to the Hachnases Sefer Torah next Shushan Purim. I am not giving away at all to anyone what I picked out.
The timing was perfect, because when I finished up there, Zahava and Sheindy were ready to meet me in Ben Yehuda.  The plan was to take Sheindy to the shuk to get the last presents we still needed for those at home.
When I got to the meeting place, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Shauly had joined them. Zahava and Sheindy were hungry, so we went to Sam's Bagels to get lunch. After lunch, we stopped to pick up a sweat shirt for Shoshana (and Sheindy). Finally we were off to the shuk.  Huvi had sorta reached her limit, so Shauly took her home, and the three of us headed off looking for some bangles for Olivia and a purple chamsa for my mother-in-law, among other things.  The bangles was a total bust, as was the purple chamsa.  I did find a pretty gift for her, but it wasn't exactly what I had wanted.
Sheindy was happy to have finally found the famous "chocolate milk in the bag" that her friend had told her about.  She said it was good, but not as great as it was built up to be.

We needed to pick up the personalized sweatshirts, and I still had some last minute packing to finish up.
After spending two weeks in Israel, I was finally going to get my lamb-burger that I had been waiting for and talking about for the last two years.  We all went to Burgers Bar for dinner.  Dinner was nice, if not a little rushed, because I was nervous about getting to the airport on time.  Penina & Yaffi were finally able to join us on a trip! Yay!

5 minutes before we were due to leave, I managed to lock myself in the bathroom ... not good for my nerves!  Thankfully, Zahava got me out and our ride came right on time.
For anyone traveling to or in Israel, I highly recommend Yisroel Braun of Executive Drives.  Shauly had recommended him to me for the airport pick up and I used him in both directions.  Let me tell you, you travel in style. He has water and different kinds of coffees and cookies, etc. You are treated like a queen & princess (at least, we were!).  Sheindy even commented to me after how happy she was with the trip to the airport. (I get nothing for the plug, just passing it along cuz we were so happy.)
This is always the worst part of the trip; going back to America.  I love Israel so much, and I miss the kids & grandkids. The world is just so different there. You feel it everywhere you go.  The kedusha seems to just drip out of the rocks and trees.  Then we come back to the mundane world here, where gashmius rules. *sigh*  Can't wait to go back, may it be today with Moshiach!

Yerushalayim, forever in our hearts!

  אִם-אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם-- תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי.

19,299 Steps

Tuesday May 8 / 23 Iyar
Our trip to Northern Israel totally wiped us both out. Sheindy fell asleep so quickly. Me, not so much so, because I had to update my blog. I woke up at 3:45 because my throat was hurting so badly. I got some cold water and took advil, but it took a very very long time to kick in. I worked on my blog, and before I knew it, it was time to wake Sheindy up to get ready for our day. A little bit of coffee and I was good to go.
Our first tour of the day was with Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum from Chevron. This was on my bucket list to do from my last trip. It's an "Off the Beaten Track" tour.  This tour is going to take us to most of the gates surrounding the Old City. We met at the Dung Gate. We start with the Southern excavations of the Temple Mount. Then we headed East down along the mountain with Har Hazaisim on our right. We stopped in a Bedouin tent for some tea and a talk.
We learned the history of the monument of Avshalom, Dovid Hamelech's son. This son is the one who tried to murder him.
Rabbi Hochbaum has so much knowledge! We saw the monument to Zachariah as well.
There were some cool tombs where they think they used to embalm the kohanim. Next we had up and passed another sealed gate, Shar Harachamim. This is the gate that will open when Moshiach comes (ad mosai! It should happen immediately!).

We kept working our way up, stopping to see the monument to the 5 paratroopers killed trying to liberate Yerushalayim in 1967. From there we continued up and around to the Lions Gate.

Here we entered the Muslim quarter. We stopped for some ice cream, and I finally found a Magnum Bar, vanilla with milk chocolate. I was so proud of myself to have finished using up my shekalim. I know it's impossible to trade coins, so I didn't want to be left with any. Mission accomplished! We saw some significant sights in the Muslim quarter, including the spot to where the Kodesh Hakedoshim was. We could only view it from a door from a certain point. We also stopped at the Mini Kotel, the part that is even closer to the Kodesh Hakedoshim than the one in the Kotel Tunnels.

It was very emotional. The longing for Moshiach is so strong there. We went to another spot where you can only look through the door, but you are able to see Har Habayis. We exited the tour right by the (big) Kotel.
We had an hour before our next tour, so we ran around the Old City trying to find something to eat. We ended up with some snacks and headed off to the Artzeinu tour of Ir Dovid. We were sorta tired, and it was here that I realized it wasn't the smartest move to book two walking tours back to back. Anyway.
So we meet up with our group. In the course of discussing things, the tour guide mentions we need 5 shek per person to take the shuttle back. Oops! Remember how brilliant I was to get rid of all my shekalim???? Oiy vey! Sheindy and I were going to have to walk back. But that was for later, so we just plugged on.
Part of the tour goes into the Ir Dovid excavations. We were standing on a walk way. Another tour group was passing by. One lady reaches out, gently grabs one of Sheindy's gorgeous corkscrew curls and pulls it down to see it BOING back. Poor Sheindy was SOOO embarrassed. She quickly got over it as we headed into the actual City of David.
After looking at a bunch of things, we finally reached the part we were waiting for - Hezekiah Tunnels aka the Spooky Tunnels as Sheindy calls them. Last time, Sruli and Shmueli went, even though it was so cold. I couldn't do it, so I was excited to do it now. We descended into these rock tunnels that has water running at the bottom. The beginning was deeper than most of the rest, but it means you start off getting very wet. The tunnel is not very wide, and at certain points out gets very low. The tunnel seems to go on and on and on. A couple of times I turned off my flashlight, and looked behind me. It was blacker than black. It was so dark! At the end of the tour, we were thankfully treated to the shuttle by one of the families on this tour. It was a family we had bumped into at De Karina, and they are related to Tami. That was the good news. The bad news was Gett doesn't work near the Kotel. So, we started, yup, walking to Yaffa Gate. I couldn't take one of the many taxis that were around, because, I HAD NO SHEKALIM!! Genius here! Once we were already at Yaffa Gate, we figured we would eat a Rimon again, and then head back to Shauly with a taxi. After we ate, we tried to get one, but it kept putting in the wrong location. We kept walking towards Shauly's apartment. At one point, I have up trying, and we just walked the rest of the way back. Towards the end, Sheindy's shins were hurting and I felt so bad for her.
Fitbit says I had 19,299 steps which is almost 8 miles! And I still had to pack us up for our flight back to VA!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Continuing Adventures Up North

Monday May 7 / 22 Iyar
The weather forecast had called for rain in the morning with clearing skies in the afternoon. The night before we decided to get a drop of a later start. Israeli hotels are different than American hotels in that most of offer breakfast (kosher) as part of your rate. There is a huge selection of various foods to choose from. This hotel did not disappoint. We loaded up our plates and started eating when the heavens opened up.
One by one we all made the bracha on thunder and lightening. The downpour was tremendous and we weren't going anywhere in it. Finally, at around 10:15, it started clearing. So we packed up, checked out, and headed on our way. Amidst much arguing, I pulled rank and said we were going to the old city of Tzafas. I had wanted to see the grave of the Arizal, who is buried there, so we stopped there first. On the way down to the grave you pass by his famed mikvah.
I said some tehillim while at his grave, as well as at the composer of Lecha Dodi, Rabbi Alkabetz.
Tami likes to start at the famous Sefad Candle factory. Last time I came to Israel, we were so rushed. I honestly don't remember seeing any of the totally mind blowing creations there.
There is a chess set loaded with symbolism, as well as the most darling Noah's ark. The tevah had such cute animals, such as Grommet, Snoopy, Winnie the Pooh, Madagascar, etc.
Sheindy and Zahava both made a twisted candle like a havdalah candle.
Now the real adventure started. Last time I was here there was a female artist who had the most stunning picture of the Rebbe. For two years, I've kicked myself for not buying it. I wanted to find her and see if she still had it. Tami showed us some other little hidden treasures along the way of my search. We saw how people weave with a loom. We were also treated to a gorgeous look out from the top of a building. I had almost given up hope of finding the artist when lo and behold, there she is! Sadly, she no longer had the picture I wanted. I spent a long time looking at her work, because I really wanted to bring something nice back, a real piece of Israel. There wasn't anything I really loved except for this huge picture. So we left in search of what else there was. Nothing really spoke to me, screaming, this is it! There were several interesting shop keepers, like the guy who yelled at us to get away; the guy who didn't seem us worthy of his attention, and the woman who walked away when I wanted to make a purchase. I didn't care, as my money walked away with me when I left their stall. It was their loss, not mine.
So I stopped back at the lady artist. When I had explained what I wanted earlier, she had remembered me. She said she normally doesn't push, but she saw how much I had wanted it, which is why she pushed that time. We went back and forth on what I liked, but I was still drawn to that huge picture. Zahava kept saying I could take it on the plane with me, but I wasn't even sure where I was going to put such a large picture. She then told me she could make me a slightly smaller one and ship it to me. So even though the end cost would be the same as purchasing the much larger one, the ease of not dealing with it on the plane totally won out.
Shockingly, it was almost 2 when we left. For a place people didn't want to go, we had spent an awfully long time. We needed to cut our agenda, so I had Tami drop a hike I was very interested in. It was pretty much my fault we had spent such a long time there.
We were going to go to Menara Cliff, but several bus loads of kids pulled up. We didn't want to wait 45 mins for a 7 minute ride, so we left.
Sheindy said she was really hungry, and we spotted a Cafe Cafe. When we pulled into the mall parking lot, we saw a kosher l'mehadrin Pizza Hut there.
So pizza it was  Again. (I never want to see pizza again, since we've had it so many times.)
With full bellies, we headed to a water hike. Israel is a land full of stunning trails, some of which are in water. This particular one is not super long, nor is it very hard. We changed into some water gear, and headed off on our adventure. The park was basically empty, with only a couple of other cars there. In truth, we didn't really see anyone else on the trail. It starts off easy enough as you mosey on down the path. Then it sorta ends in this delightful brook. Seems easy enough, right? It really isn't if you are carrying a phone to take pictures with and don't have one hand to balance and you are walking on rocks with some slime on them. I'll give you one guess who mywas the first to fall! Said person proudly held their hand high to prevent their phone from getting wet, although I can't say the same for the rest of her.

The scenery was absolutely beautiful. The leaves were a lovely spring green, and the overgrowth provided the exact amount of shade we needed. Sheindy and Zahava were really enjoying themselves. Tami and I went a little slower. Tami was slow only to make sure I didn't tumble again, since I wasn't able to balance myself so well.
At the end of the trail, we made a decision to go banana boating, since we had cut it out the day before.
We headed down to Teveria. We were in Kiryat Shemona, which is a Northernmost city in Israel. The area for banana boating is right near Aqua Kef. Sheindy wanted to go back, but it was too close to closing. So we went to the docks. The weather was a little cooler, and I really didn't want to get completely wet. There is a good chance of falling off the banana boat, so we went with a carousela boat. Tami had shown me a video the night before and it looked fun.
Zahava was concerned it would be too tame. Tami told me not to wear my shaitel, so I had my ugly bathing cap on. We climbed into this giant round inflated couch, and the speed boat pulled us out of the dock.
It seemed pretty tame until we got fat enough out into Lake Kinneret. Then the boat driver threw out the extra roap and put the boat into high gear. Three words .... Oh. My. Gosh!!!! I think a screw must have fallen out (of me) when I tumbled in the water, because this was just insane! I've gotten a little more tame over the years, but I still enjoy a good thrill. This was slightly beyond that. Zahava and Sheindy were sitting on the sides, with me in the middle. Sheindy is so light that each bounce sent her flying. The boat is zipping around in the water creating small waves, which our raft was bouncing over. Soon, it got to be too much, and Sheindy was really scared. She was bouncing pretty high. I had her move over next to me, and I held onto the strap on her other side, in affect, creating a seat belt with my arm. We took off again, bouncing and flying over the Kinneret. I do have to admit that I was more than happy when it was over. I think I'm getting too old for there things! The guy was super nice and told us we can take pictures in any of the boats.

As we were leaving, we saw these little mechanical cars. The very cars that Sheindy has been asking us to buy get for years. Since she is small, she was able to rent one. She drove up and down the pier. Tami raced her ... And won. The little car doesn't go very fast. That didn't bother her in the least, she throughly loved every second of it.
And with that last little adventure, it was time to bid farewell to Northern Israel and head back to Yerushalayim.