Shavua Tov (loose translation-- hope you have a good week after this restful Shabbat)!
There is lots to report, so we'll see how long I (and you) can stay awake.
Let's start wth the ski slope: As some of you know, we had heard rumors of the building of a multi-million dollar ski resort on our very mountain. We had heard that maybe it will be indoors like a similar one in Dubai, and that it would be snow made from something that didn't have to be very cold. Well, this past week we drove right past it. It is not yet open (though supposedly very close), and we didn't get such a close up look, so I don't know exactly how accurate this report will be, but I can describe what we saw.
First of all, you should understand that our mountain is really a little range of mountains, and the slope is not exactly on ours, so it's not like we see it every time we drive home. It's around another side that we only pass when we go in one particualr direction (I forget which).
So when I hear "ski slope", I picture something where a lift takes you way way up to the top of a mountain, and you start somewhere way up high where you can't see the bottom, and there are some sort of markings that indicate what direction you should go to make it safely to the bottom. Does this sound about right? I have only been skiing once, over 20 years ago, but that's about what I remember (and have seen since in movies and video games). So compared to that, this "slope" looks more like 2 giant slides. It is entirely outdoors, and I am not good at judging lengths from a distance, but it kind of looks like they laid out a couple of big white synthetic carpets down towards the bottom of the mountain. I can't wait to see what it will look like for people with skiis to slide down this thing!!! We have heard there will indeed be a ski lift, and it is apparently conveniently located on the site of a new mall of expensive shopping. So that's that, for those of you who were curious....
Speaking of local tourism, there is a really awesome place located right at the bottom of our mountain. First of all, we live in an area called "the Valley of Springs," and there are several springs that are excellent for swimming. It seems that a bunch of them are free, but we have so far only had the pleasure of the big touristy one. We were actually supposed to go to a different one with our friends the Richters, but the one they wanted to take us to was closed, so we went to this one, which is called Sachne, and is very popular for Israelis. It is a giant desert oasis resort. It has a long flowing spring, where the water is natural, but it has been build up to provide a really big variety of water opportunities. It has a number of really big pools that are amazing for swimming, a variety of waterfalls of all different shapes and sizes that can be climbed, sat in, or stood behind, a couple of wading aread for little kids (all the natural pools are too deep to stand it), and some other really cool things that are hard to describe, like a little open tunnel sort of thing you can walk through that is right at the top of a waterfall, and just on the edge of a wading pool. Anyway, it is endless, and really fun and very heavly populated, with people barbecueing in every corner. In one spot there is the remains of an old mill, and a sign explaining that in the last century the water was used to power a flour mill. Several feet away there is a store selling ice cream and water tubes.
The day after we went there we had plans to meet other friends (well they are now, but we were just meeting them-- friends of the Franks who have been helping us on line, and then on wednesday they packed a big picnic for us and met us there at Sachne). So we did that 2 days in a row. We are still recovering from all the excitement and hot sun, but we can't wait to take you all there when you come visit!
On more mundane matters, we saw the kids' school, and it looks great, and everyone was so nice. even Abaye admitted that it looked really good, and he seemed to like meeting his teacher. He was amused by the fact that his class will be more than twice as large as his class at BT (though it's only 32 kids, which by Israeli standards s not so big). The other kids will meet there teachers this week. They have a uniform, but it's really just a t-shirt logo that can be put on any color t-shirt, so it's way more relaxed than at BT. They can wear whatever they want on bottom as long as it covers their knees.
On even more mundane matters, we are expecting our new washer and stove to be delivered tomorrow. this is good, becuase the growing piles of dirty laundry that are increasing exponentially and filling up our guest room (wanna come visit now?) are so disgusting that soon they will get up and walk out and wash themselves. Gosh, if they really did that, maybe we wouldn't need a machine after all. Maybe we should wait. Hmmmm......
I wasn't sure about the place where we bought the appliances, becuase the guy seemed to not know some things he should have (like the oven I just bought -- it has an oven and a separate grill just about the oven, but when I asked about the machine he insisted that you can't use them both at the same time, so I wasnt going to get it, until friends of ours told us they just bought the same oven, and you CAN use them both at the same time, so I asked him again, and he sad you can't, so i read the manual in the store, and it says explicitly that you can, so I told him and he just shrugged his shoulders). He was mostly nice, but with that Israeli gruffness that is hard to read. and Ross tried to bargain with him, and got him to agree to take 100 shekel off the washer and give free delivery (which I think he was going to do anyway), but he seemed a little annoyed about being bargained with, so I was a little nervous about that. But when I came by later to tell him we decided on the color of the oven, he had already put together a little gift package for us that included a hand mixer, a juicer and an electric hot water kettle. Ya gotta love (or hate) this country!
The final topic for this letter is Shabbat. We had an AWESOME Shabbat! We were on Mitzpeh Netofa, which is one of the very most beautiful places to live in Israel-- a little community on a mountain (not unlike ours, though not at all a kibbutz or moshav), that is just stunningly beautiful, and has a higher standard of living than most kibbutzim and moshavim, so the houses are gorgeous, and everthing laid out beautifully to maximize the view for everybody. The people are also really terrific-- a very warm and thoughtful bunch of people. So we were there for the bar mitzvah of friends we know from Vancouver (Hananya (Norman) Ship, for those who know them)). The bar mitzvah was amazing-- a family that made aliyah 7 years ago with one son (an old friend of Tali's) and it was so beautiful to see how they have been embraced by this community, and how much Hananya has learned and grown and made friends here! And we stayed with good friends who we adore who we met when they spent a year in Vancouver (in fact, I believe it was their influence that brought the Ships to Mitzpe Netofa). These friends have a daughter who was also a friend of Tali's back in Vancouver, and they all reconnected and had an amazing time. Abaye connected great with their son who is his age who he didn't really know in Vancouver, because they had been too young, and lived in very different areas. The Potters were also there (for those of you who know them-- they made aliyah last year). The Potter girls were among Tali's best friends in Vancouver, and their son Daniel was Shai's best friend there. They have even written letters over the years and stayed in touch (even though Shai was only 5 when we left), and they were so extatic to be with each other, and they went off with Hananya all afternoon, and had an amazing time.
Meanwhile, Adin became good friends with Harvey and Michelle's son (anyone remember them?-- He was the best caterer in Vancouver, and is now working in some fancy restaurant here), and he went to the house where they were staying, and we didn't see him until Seuda Shlishit (towards the end of shabbat).
Ooh, I didn't mention that on thursday there was a party for the bar mitzvah, with a massive reunion of Vancouverites, including the Baumols (just the grown-ups) -- for those of you who know them.... So that was all exciting too.
OK-- now it is really late, so that will do for now. Adin starts gan tomorrow morning, so wish him luck!
G-nite for now!