Sunday, January 31, 2010

Have We Really Been Here a Week?

Posted by Colleen

Best read from the blog, not the email, click the link above to get to it.
(Hover your mouse over the pics for descriptions, click to enlarge).

the move to Hanasi! leaving Ha Rav Chen Let me back up a few days to catch you up. The day before we moved out of our temporary apartment on Ha Rav Chen, we made a trip over to our new, “permanent” apartment on Hanasi. Because the apartment wouldn’t be ready until 1/28, we had to stay somewhere for our first week. But now it was time to move to our “permanent” Israeli home. It was just a short walk but we did bring 19 bags, ugh. The new apartment is on the bottom floor with a garden out back. While visiting, we were snapping some shots of our place and the President’s house across the street. As I was snapping, the guard in front of the President’s house came over and in his broken English, began asking us many questions. Between his broken English and our really broken Hebrew, we had a pretty descent conversation. Walking away, we realized that we had been interrogated by the President’s secret service. Cool, uh? He was really nice and I assume he found us to be harmless. We told him that we would be living there the next day.

Park near HaRev Chen apartmentThat night I took the girls to a park just down the street. While there, we met a Jewish family from Australia. They had a 4 year old son named Sedi. He and Lillian had a good time. The lady was in school at the Hebrew University and the man was a composer/writer for movies. It was fun swapping stories of why we were there. While we talked, the girls played. The see-saw could sit 4 people. You know how when someone jumps off the see-saw and you fall to the ground… HARD? Well, this one had rubber tires 1/2 buried below the sand so your landing was very, well, very rubbery and bouncy.

Family of Herod's tomb, unmarked and open for publicKing Herod's Family Tomb







The next morning we started the move to Hanasi. We started with our largest  bags. Eric, Tally and I all had a backpack and our largest suitcases. Celine pulled the next largest suitcase while Lillian pulled her little carry-on. It took us about  23 minutes to get to our new apartment. We took a shorter way back which took 11 minutes. The next set of suitcases weren’t YMCA building--one of the most elegant and beautiful building in Jerusalemas big so we took the short cut up many stairs. It was difficult but shorter. Our last trip was a sinch with only a few bags. After all that, Eric and I thought it would be fun to treat the girls to a meal at McDonalds. On the map it didn’t look too far… We did well following the  roads but there was no “Donalds.” However, we did manage to see some King David Hotel--right across the street from YMCA beautiful sights on the way—Mishkenot Sheananim neighborhood, Herod’s Family Tomb, YMCA, King David Hotel, Hagia Maria Abbey, Yemen Moshe, etc. If we hadn’t started out exhausted it would have been a little better but seeing all these things in one day’s walk is still amazing. Oh, and the “Donalds” we were looking for—we think was a residence in Mishkenot Sheananim (the first neighborhood built outside Old City in 1860).   Note the YMCA of Jerusalem above (click for larger view)!

So we settled for a couple slices of pizza and 2 pretzels in the Mamilla Mall just outside the Jaffa Gate. The man enjoyed helping us order in Hebrew. I am Windmill at Mishkenot Sheananimmore apt to try out my Hebrew and get it wrong than Eric. I find it fun to be corrected. The other day, instead of saying “Good night,” I said, “Evening meal.” In other words, I said, “Ahoohot [meal] Erev [evening],” when I should have said, “Erev [evening] tov [good].” The girl smiled at me and was probably thinking, “what, is she having all this for dinner?” I didn’t realize my mistake until I was 1/2 way home. I laughed so hard at myself. Anyway, while the girls had ice cream after our dinner, I enjoyed a hot cup of “American” coffee. It was a long, cold walk home but we finally made it safe and sound. Ice Cream at mall in Mamilla, just outside Old City

We are enjoying the new apartment. It isn’t as big but it is dry (the other one was very humid and we think moldy) and all our suitcases are unpacked so it feels more like home. AND we don’t have to keep a kosher kitchen. : ) BTW: we were asked if the Burger King in the mall was kosher—yes, it was (just no cheese burgers). Celine and Lillian are  sharing one room and Tally sleeps on Mamilla Mall in front of Crocs storethe pull out sofa. We have a garden out back that has provided a nice place to dry clothes and for the girls to play. Celine and Lillian spent a couple of hours clearing the yard of brush and setting up our picnic table the other day. Monday, we hope to make it to the market and bring home some flowers to plant.

Yesterday, Lida came and picked us up again. She wanted to show us the souk. A really big famous market in the center of Jerusalem. Before the souk we went into downtown modern Jerusalem, first to her brother’s poster shop. He has the greatest collection of posters and artwork of Israel. He gave us a beautiful picture he took of Lida’s daughter praying at the Western Wall wearing her military uniform, gun and all. Everyone serves in the military here except religious Jewish men who are exempt because of their prayers for Israel.

Tree Day Holiday at Center in Jerusalem Lillian got a carnation at Holiday

Celine in front of a large foam tree.

Celine, Lida and Tally eating ice cream at the Center.We found McDonalds in the CenterFrom there, she took us to a celebration that was going on. They were having their  1st Annual Tree Day in the Center. It was much like you would see on 6th Street in Austin or any downtown; bands, dancing and crowds of people. Lida treated us to some ice cream before heading off to the big souk. We stopped for schwarma on the way. Schwarma is a street food that you find  everywhere falafel is sold. The meat looks like gyro meat. They use a lot of vegetables, hummus,  tahini, cucumber, tomato, and strangely enough… french fries.



Lillian, me, Lida and Celine at CenterThe souk was enormous, loud and crowded. Lida said that because of the Holiday, good weather and it being Friday, it was more crowded than normal. We got some groceries and then headed back home. Lida was on her way to celebrate her mom’s birthday.

BTW: I met Lida through my friend Karen who lives in Kyle, but grew up in  Jerusalem and used to babysit Lida’s son Dror.  Dror is now a young man spices at marketwho travels to Austin every year which is how I met him. He introduced me to his mom, Lida, who is originally from Persia (Iran). She came to Jerusalem in ‘72 as a junior in High School, her family later followed. She worked on a kibbutz her first 2 years.

A kibbutz is an Israeli communal settlement in which all wealth is held in common and profits are reinvested in the settlement. The first kibbutz was founded in Palestine in 1909; most have since been agricultural. Adults live in private quarters; children are generally housed and cared for as a group. Meals are prepared and eaten communally. Members have regular meetings to discuss business and to take votes on matters requiring decisions. Jobs may be  assigned by rotation, by choice, or by skill. The kibbutz movement declined dramatically in the late 20th century. But kibbutzim continued to play in important role in the tourism industry in Israel, attracting students and other short-term residents, mostly Jews from overseas seeking a link with the past. Lida says that they aren’t as community-oriented these days but more commercial. They are still worth visiting though and uniquely Israeli.

Old City wall leading to MT Zion on rt, Hagia Maria Abbey, JUC on far right. Hagia SionZion GateYesterday afternoon, we figured we needed to find where Eric’s school is located so we grabbed our map and off we went.(Refer to the pic of Celine above for JUC, Jerusalem University College). To get there, you walk past some beautiful homes here in the Talbieh neighborhood, where we live. Then it is down the Yemen Moshe street, located in the View from Zion Gate overlooking Mt OlivesMishkenot Sheananim, into the Hinnom Valley then straight back up the other side. The school is just outside the Zion Gate of Old C ity in a building built in 1853. The Hagia Maria Abbey is between the two. 

On our way home, since it was Friday, we decided to go to the Jewish Celebration at the Western Wall. OK, this was amazing. Pictures truly do not do this justice. To get into the plaza, yes, you must go through a metal detector.  There are no cameras, note taking or cell phones allowed, out of respect to the worshippers.

Wailing Wall on Shabbat

(Click for original detailed pic in new window)

The women worship to the right and the men to the left. Every type of Jew was present and they came in the droves. There were as many coming as there were going. Lillian and I used the restroom while there and I couldn’t get the hand drier to come on. A girl kept saying, “Shabbot, Shabbot.” I finally got it and was like, “ohhh, right” – no machines are to be used on Shabbot. What has been obvious is the massive migration back to Israel by the Jewish people. Because they were dispersed to so many countries, they have come back with many different dress codes and cultural characteristics. This was incredible to see at the Western Wall.

Old City wall. The tower is part of the Hagia Maria Abbey. JUC is just beyond that. The wall is massive and part of it is buried underground.

View in Jewish neighborhood outside Zion Gate On our way home, we met an American soldier, about our age, who had just retired after 22 years in the service. He and his family had been living in Germany and were about to settle in Texas but wanted to spend 3 weeks in Israel beforehand—sound familiar? He was so excited about what  he was seeing in Jerusalem regarding the Arabs coming to know the Lord. Of course, this is huge seeing that Muslims don’t take this lightly. He told of another church that every week looks out over Jerusalem and prays for specific spots. It was so exciting to hear him tell of what he had seen.

He was also on his way back from the Western Wall. His wife home schools also, which in Germany is illegal but because he was with the military, he had some kind of exception. He said Even the cats come to pray...Cat in front of Wailing Wall on Shabbatthere is a lot of persecution in leftist Germany. Sad, right? We got home late that night which wasn’t a  good thing because Eric is still very sick. But this morning he was at school by 8am. He got to eat with the other students and go through orientation. He got a lot of great information and is excited about his field trips. We met up with him at 3:30pm for a student scavenger hunt through Old City. Eric and I felt bad for the students that got stuck with “the family.” However, it proved to work to their advantage because we kinda  knew our way around Old City. It was a lot of fun. Afterwards, Eric gave us a tour of the school, we ate dinner and came home. Oh, I did meet a lady that has a niece in Buda that home-schools. Her name is Shirley and the name of one of her nephews’ was Payton… small world.

JUC Fancy Sign Well, that was long. I guess that is what happens when we don’t write for a few days. Thanks again for all your sweet and encouraging letters to us. We LOVE them.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cats, Cats, And More Cats!!

Posted by Tally

OK, so when someone said that Israel had a lot of cats it was a lie, they don’t have a lot of cats they have an overabundance of cats. For example, as we were going to the “super” market (about the size of a Piggly Wiggly)  we counted more than eight cats!!   We went by way of a short, short cut. Anyway, the short cut took us through a garden which had a lime tree growing in it with, what looked to be, 3/4ths of the way grown limes. It smelled wonderful! There was also this beautiful bird with a black under belly and a bright navy blue top side. We got a pic. of it but unfortunately it wasn’t very good. Oh, we also went to see our apartment on Hanasi street today and there was a sign that said to park on the curb it was hilarious!! 


Celine’s Message

Posted by Celine

Hi everyone! Thanks for all the notes that you have sent to help me feel better. During the day, I love it here but when I go to bed I can’t stop thinking about everyone in America. Mom and Dad have let me sleep with them and I do much better. Today we are going to walk over and see the apartment we will be living in for  the rest of our time here. I’m looking forward to that.DSC_0047_00

DSC_0055_00When we went to the museum the other day, Lillian wanted to use her leash. I led her around. It was so funny. We played like she was my dog.

The other day, Lida, took us to a mall that looked very American. It was strange because we are in Israel and it looked so familiar. Lida is a friend we have made through mom’s friend, Karen, in Austin. Karen’s family lived in Jerusalem when she was 6 until she was 13. Karen babysat Lida’s son, Dror, who my mom got to meet in Austin while he was visiting the US. Lida was able to meet with our landlord and look at the apartment for us. Isn’t that neat? 

Lida has a very nice accent. I enjoy hearing her talk. She speaks English very well.

When we got to the mall, the police looked in the car to make sure we weren’t gonna do anything bad while in the mall. At the door, they checked our bags and we went through security. It was strange. In the middle of the mall, there was a large area selling dried fruit. The fruit was just sitting there so you could get it yourself. Dad got some cranberries, mango, apricots and kiwi. I didn’t have any.

When we were at the mall, the food court was in 2 sections: Meat and Dairy. This is because the mall is Kosher. Kosher means that you keep the dairy separated from meat. Dairy includes anything not meat but sometimes fish is included. In the apartment we are in right now, we have to be Kosher. We use one set of utensils for meat and another set for dairy. They are in separate drawers and the dishes are in separate cabinets. Even the pots and pans are separate. The dishwasher is only for meat, the toaster is only for dairy but both can go in the refrigerator. Anyway, back to the mall—we ate dinner when we first got there. You will never believe what I had! I ate at Burger King and got chicken and ff with a Sprite. The girl didn’t speak English so the man next to mom helped and used the word “off” for chicken. Lillian also had BK. Mom, Dad and Tally ate at other restaurants. Dad had schwarma which is a big piece of meat on a stick that rotates in the fire. It was put on a large piece of lafa bread with hummus, cucumber, tomatoes, french fries and other stuff. That is a common food you can buy when walking down the street. Mom had fish with potatoes and a salad. Tally had Chinese. Lida then helped us find a few things in the mall. They had a store that looked a lot like Walmart, just smaller and more crowded. 100_9396

Toilet with button on top and bag of kleenex

What I like in Israel are the markets. I like how they are open and just down the street. I like that we can walk everywhere. I like the funky toilets. The flusher is on top of the tank. Also, when you lock the door, it turns red to let people know you are in there. One toilet had a peddle on the floor to flush it. I like the wildflowers. Mom said she can’t wait till March when they really come out. I also like the big window in the back of our apartment. We can see forever. 100_9649

Standing by a monument in the park we walked through on the way to the museum. “Shmuel Bar Even, The Struggle, 1972”

Yesterday, I got to talk to my cousins, Copeland and Kaitlyn, and my Aunt Kathleen on Skype. It was cool. We could see them. We talked for about an hour. They kept goofing around. Tally and my dad were putting wigs and things on our heads using some software. It was really funny. I was also acting goofy and doing hand signals like “don’t make me snap my fingers…” and “whatever…" That was a lot of fun.

Shalom you guys!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Your Responses!

Posted by Colleen

100_9628I just wanted everyone to know how much we have enjoyed hearing from you. Every time we come home, we hurry to check our e-mail for messages. Celine is feeling much better and we spent the whole day out roaming again.


(can you find the bee in this pic?)

We broke our “fast” with Musli cereal and Cheerios. It was divine. This morning we got ready and headed out toward the Knesset to visit the Israeli Museum. We toured the Lands of 100_9626the Bible Museum but  will go again on Tue to the Israeli Museum when the kids get in free. We walked through a most beautiful park full of wildflowers, beautiful rocks and trees.

This evening we were  treated to a trip to the Jerusalem Mall with Lida. We had a nice inexpensive 100_9625meal in the food court and picked up a couple of needed items. Lida is amazing. She took to my kids immediately and they loved her. It  was fun for them. I hope especially for Celine as she is still crying herself to sleep missing all of you. I love her tender heart and pray God will comfort her in His very special way.  100_9657

Eric, Colleen, Lida and Tally at the food court at Jerusalem Mall

We are ending our night with the movie Night at the Museum II. A Christmas gift from Abbey, one of our favorite people! Thanks Abbey.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Day in Jerusalem

Posted by Colleen

(NOTE, the blog is best read from the blog site directly, instead of the email notification. If you’re reading this from the email notification, you can jump directly to this blog entry by clicking on the Blog Title link -- “First Day in Jerusalem” – above.)

DSC_0009 We spent our first day in Old City. The walk was about 30 minutes. We stopped at a quaint coffee shop for lunch on the way.  There’s a really sheik (high-end, expensive) mall that we walked through which comes out at this spectacular view overlooking the gate to the Old City and the surrounding hillside.



 Celine snaps a shot of the hillside right outside the Jaffa Gate.








 The Jaffa Gate is under construction.








DSC_0045It was great to be there on Friday because the priests lead a procession of pilgrims through the streets of Old City visiting the 14 Stations of the Cross. What are the 14 Stations? 1. Jesus is condemned to death, 2.   Jesus recieves the cross, 3. Jesus falls for the 1st time, 4. Jesus meets his mother, 5. Simon helps Jesus carry the cross, 6. DSC_0049Veronica wipes Jesus’ face, 7. Jesus falls the 2nd time, 8. Jesus consoles women of Jerusalem, 9. Jesus falls for the 3rd time, 10. Jesus stripped of his garments, 11. Jesus is nailed to the cross, 12. Jesus dies on the cross, 13. Jesus taken down and given to Mary, 14. Jesus is laid in chamber of the sepulcher and from there is resurrected.   


Church of the Holy SepulchreThe procession ends here at the  Church of the Holy Sepulchre.








SepulchreThe Supposed Sepulchre (tomb) of Christ within the Church so-named.

Keep in mind that this procession takes place in the Muslim Quarter as well as the others. Parts of the walk were more interesting than others but over all, it was stunning and quite impressive that it is repeated weekly with the same passion. I was standing by nuns who were clearly moved by each station. I found myself asking the Lord to draw me closer to Him that I too may be moved as they are. Another thought I had was that, as beautiful as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is, do we make the mistake of worshipping the shrine more than the man? That is something each individual has to ask themselves, I guess.

Our plan was to return before the markets closed to get some groceries for today and tomorrow but we lingered too long and found the market nearest our home closed. We knew that everything was going to shut down early because Shabbat (Sabbath) would begin at sundown which is around 3-4pm and last till Saturday about the same time. If you are impressed with Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A closing on Sundays in America, you would have been overwhelmed by the closing of everything here in Jerusalem. The exception is East Jerusalem where the Arabs run things. Anyway, our dinner last night consisted of Fiber One bars and for dessert a mini Snickers (part of our stash to get us to Israel). We went to bed very late and woke up today so late, I was reminded that our bodies are not quite acclimated to the new time zone. 


Increased safety factor, Soldiers with Guns.







IMG_0720 Speaking of sleep, Lillian fell sound asleep during our 14 station pilgrimage. 

Celine woke up sick today. We think it may be a bug so hopefully by tomorrow she will be back to her energetic, bubbly self.

Shabbat has ended and Eric and Tally have gone for groceries. Our accidental fast will end when they return. : ) Lillian has been that person you see in movies who steals the last morsel of food when they are rationing their last cracker/piece of gum/candy bar scenario. It has been hysterical. She has no idea of our plan to save.  Tally found a bag of pistachios in her backpack… Lillian was all over that. Don’t fret, we aren’t starving just spoiled by a culture that has a fast-food restaurant on every corner. BTW: We have yet to see a McDonalds or Burger King.


Friday, January 22, 2010



It’s official, I cannot sleep vertically on a plane.  And no, the 3% decline doesn’t help.

It’s also official, we are in Jerusalem! In the last 24 hours we’ve said good-bye to the Getchells at the Newark Airport, travelled across 7 time zones, landed safely in Tel Aviv, took a harrowing cab ride to and through Jerusalem, unloaded our 25 bags in our temporary apartment and walked down the street to the local Falafel house to eat.

A few of the details…



This is what luggage for five people for four months looks like, all nine checked bags and eight carry-ons. We had each of the large checked bags at maximum capacity (50 pounds), in fact one was 1/2 pound over but they overlooked it. We got to the Newark airport around 4:45pm EST, for our 8:20pm departure, big safety margin. Getting the bags checked and making it through security were both a breeze. 



Both flights were smooth.  We got to see the cool new De-Icing machines put to use in Toronto.  The long flight to Israel, while long and uncomfortable, at-least had a large selection of head rest movies and we were provided two meals. It was cool taking off at night, flying into daylight and landing in the dark again.  The worst part of the flight for me was the last 45 minutes.  Israel flight regulations require the seat belt sign be lit and enforced the last 30 minutes of flight.  About 1 minute after it started I needed to go … I’ll spare you the details, but I was really worried I’d be targeted as a nervous terrorist as I squirmed my way to the rest room in the airport after deplaning.


Landing in Israel

In the airport, MOST things were marked in both Hebrew and English!  The little luggage carriers were free, very helpful for lugging 25 bags to our taxi.  Customs was not one bit of an issue…we found our way to the “shared taxies” and got our gear and us all loaded up pretty easily. 

Outside Ben Gurion International Aiport, Tel Aviv (notice Lillian posing).

Sharut – Shared Taxi Ride

The Sharut, or shared taxi is a cross between a small bus (seats 10 + luggage) and a taxi.  For a fixed fee of 50 Shekels (about $13ea), we were transported the 45 minutes from the airport to our front door. The ride was fascinating, exciting and a little harrowing.  Taxi drivers around the world must all attend the same international bad driving school.  The highway between the airport was wide, pretty straight, smooth and modern.  The 4000 year old streets of Jerusalem another thing.  The 45 minute ride made Colleen sicker than the 11 hours in the plane. Fortunately we arrived safely.

Our First Apartment

We will spend the first week at one location and then move to our “permanent” housing for the remainder of our stay.  Our first place is surprisingly spacious and modern.  It has a wonderful view of the Knesset (Israel’s legislative branch). 

Here’s a view out our back window
(each one more zoomed in):


We’re at a higher floor (think steps), with modern heating and air conditioning, TV and internet.  On the roofs of the buildings around us are all these little solar heated water tanks.  This is how you get hot water (although there is a backup electric water  heater).

DSC_0001_01Solar water heaters on building rooftops.








You can click the interactive map to see our Jerusalem travels and locations. We’ll update it periodically.

Updates to come after we roam around the city today.





A Message from Lillian

Lillian wanted to “post a blog too” so here you go:

She typed: “yukcvfghyjyuji9opawa2q1e34”

Lillian interpreted: “Lillian likes hotels” and “laughing all the way” (Jingle Bells is stuck in her head).