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Saturday, November 15, 2008


We passed some mile markers in our journey through life last week.

The first and best was that we finally moved into our new home (pictures in about a month to six weeks--let me get the boxes out of the hallway and salon first, okay?). It's on a cul-de-sac; it's got a beautiful view; it's next to a park and the tayelet around the hill starts in this park (under construction, like my life).

I have a job, as I mentioned last post. I like the people and I like the work. It is law-related but not practicing law. I can't get too detailed because there is a confidentiality agreement with the company, but I can say that the company is what is known as a "KPO" or knowledge-process-outsourcing firm. It deals largely with editing/writing/publishing matters, and one division is concerned with law-related materials.

The work is mind-numbing sometimes; as a prosecutor, there was trial work, which was intensive, and research, which was solo, but there was also a great deal of comraderie, visiting each other's offices, chats in the office and court hallways about cases.

This job is different. Almost everyone works from home. We communicate by IM and email. Some of us (moi aussi) work in the office for a variety of reasons -- mine being that I don't have a router yet for the home computer. Once the router is set up, I have plans: dog walking at 0530, work at 0600, coffee break with Yossi at 0800, work from 0900-1500, then off to the gym, then home again for the Boy.

This is The Plan. You know what they say: Man plans and G-d laughs. We'll see. I find that working in a Virtual Office is a bit daunting--I'm used to talking to folks face-to-face, not via computer. If I can't stand the solitude, I may alter this and go into the office in the mornings, then work from home in the afternoons. One of the reasons I like to start earlier is that the job is intense---and by late afternoon my brain is pretty much fried.

The other big milestone was the Jerusalem mayoral and city council elections. For me, it was a first to vote in Israel. For the Boy, it was a first simply to vote! He turned 18 this summer and is now a fully enfranchised citizen. We both voted for Nir Barkat but oddly enough, he definitely had his own opinion as to who should get the city council vote, and based on that opinion, cast a divergent vote from ours (we voted Barkat's list, the theory being that he'll be more effective as mayor if he doesn't have to constantly battle the city council, AND I admire the SPNI element on his list). Why "oddly enough"? Sometimes as parents, we think our children will agree with us. I don't know why we think that, since I clearly remember not agreeing with my parents at age 18 -- but the Boy is such a nice, quiet kid, that we sometimes forget that he definitely has a mind of his own. CP, special ed, vision impairments don't make a hoot of difference -- he's grown up in a household where we have debated (sometimes quite loudly) our various points of view of All Things Political, and I'm gratified to see that at this first opportunity to vote, he chose a party for the city council based on his own opinion and never-mind-what-the-parents think!

This was an election that electrified south Jerusalem. We went to vote in the evening, after work, and the polling place was packed. Just finding parking was a challenge (okay, so finding parking in Jerusalem is usually a challenge, but tonight there wasn't a spot within blocks of our polling place).

It isn't that we dislike Porush. Well, okay, I'm not fond of anyone who makes a dance troupe of young girls cover their hair -- c'mon, even in haredi households, young girls don't cover their hair. What's next? Burkhas?

So, apart from the Talibanesque dress code and the recent city-sponsored-and-paid-for 'free' musical event which was opened for MEN ONLY, most folks are simply tired of the haredim running Jerusalem as their private fiefdom. Dati leumi parents in Katamon would like a school in their neighborhood. The haredim, who don't live in Katamon, have taken over a school there, but the resident citizens have to bus their children to another part of town since the haredim won't allow the local kids into their haredi school. Har Homa residents would like a community center that has a swimming pool and other after-school options for their children. What are we getting instead? Two yeshivot. Whoopie. More schools, more (haredi) synagogues, more (haredi) cultural events kept happening under the haredi city council/mayoral rule of the last few years, while the rest of us were made to feel like dhimmis in our own city.

I could do (and other have done) thousands of words on the Arab sector---Lupolianski et al have the funds to build new haredi schools and neighborhoods in Givat Ze'ev, for example, but not enough money to build classrooms in East Jerusalem?! Yes, I'm sure that any new classrooms, new municipal buildings, new infrastructure of any kind will immediately be decried as Zionist colonization, but in the meantime, we all need working sewers, waste-water-treatment plants, well-graded roads, proper drainage, filled potholes, enough classrooms for our kids, and cultural activities for everyone.

This never happened under the parochial rule of the haredim. Hopefully, it will happen under Barkat who has pledged to make the city a city for all its residents.

Those were the milestones of last week that gave us joy. Of course, for every joy there is sorrow, and another sadder event cast its pall as Shabbat approached. We lost a friend. Steve Waldman was older than the Husband, but he was funny, generous and a pretty smart guy. We knew he had been sick but figured he would get well again, as he wasn't all that old. He was one of the pillars of our little Chabad congregation in San Rafael, always there for minyan when he wasn't traveling; always ready to help anyone who needed help of any kind. He was the kind of guy who, if you arrived at the airport at 0300, would tell you that he'd be there to pick you up, don't worry, and he would do it. He was a guy who knew the real meaning of the word mitzvah but at the same time, he was a down-to-earth, unassuming, joke-cracking, worldly friend.

Beyond all these things, however, I loved Steve because he loved my son. Steve's own son died tragically when he was young, and Steve seemed to have a soft spot for the kids in our congregation. He was patient with our boy, and took pains to help him with his davening, his understanding of Judaism, and helped him with the small challenges of getting along with other kids (not all so tolerant of a special needs child) in our small congregation.

We were looking forward to seeing Steve on his next visit to Israel. Now, that visit will never happen, and our lives are diminished because of it. Shalom, chaver shelanu.


Blogger Batya said...

Sorry that your post ends with bad news.

Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 10:50:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your loss.

Titchadshu! Enjoy the new place! Good luck unpacking!

This was my first time voting, too! I didn't get a vote sticker because I voted absentee, though :-(

Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 1:41:00 AM GMT+2  
Blogger Gila said...

Good news and bad news, I see.

I am also hoping for good things from Barkat.

Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 8:00:00 AM GMT+2  

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