News of the Cruise (Part 1: Prelude)

There it was, literally staring us in the face: an ad, actually a series of ads, for a cruise sponsored by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, sailing around the Mediterranean, from Barcelona to Mallorca, Sardinia, Rome, and Marseilles on a very large, very opulent ship, the Costa Diadema.

I would have been quite happy to ignore the lure of the ads. Having been both to India and The States this year, I figured we had spent more than enough time going through security checks and passport control – and just waiting and waiting in airports that are becoming less and less comfortable. And as far as spending is concerned……..let’s just say that this cruise was not going to be cheap, as the price would include airfare to Barcelona, one night in a very posh hotel, a week on the ship with all amenities paid for, and a land tour in every port.

But Barbara was interested, in fact, eager to go. First of all, our good friends Barbara and Richard Levine had signed up, and they would just loooove to have some company along the way. The AACI tours always include a scholar-in-residence, in this case, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin – someone always worth listening to. And then, when the going gets rough (the spouse starts to dwell on the cost of said excursion), Barbara will always play her trump card (nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election!). Her arthritic condition is getting worse, and she wants to do as much traveling as we can while she is still able to get around. What I wind up saying is, “You figure out how we’re going to pay for it. I don’t want to know.” And then she pays and we go. Continue reading

The Light at the back of the Oven

It is now officially more than nine years – whichever calendar you use – since we took the plunge and headed across the seas and overland to Ma’ale Adumim – an outpost a little bit east of Yerushalayim. Some tactless person might well inquire about the extent to which I have mastered the Native Tongue. To which, I would smile and blandly suggest that my Hebrew is a little better than when I came – just don’t tell me a joke and expect me to get the punch line. Now my shopping skills, especially regarding things to eat and drink – that’s another story! Suffice to say, these days we are well provided for. If nothing else, I can say, with no false sense of modesty, that I know my way around the Mahane Yehuda shuk. I have my cheese store, my butcher, my fish monger, plenty of choice for f & v, not to mention where I can go to get the most amazing coffee, ever. If you ask me where to get the best bread, I can give you some informed suggestions. But what about challah, the special loaves for Shabbat? That’s another matter – something of some significance in our household. Continue reading