Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Worst Months of the Year

If you are a person who hates heat and unrelenting sun, then you'd probably think that the worst months of the year over here in the Middle East are the summer months of June, July, and August.

But you'd be wrong. 

The worst months of the year are really September and October. 

Here's why: 

June, July, and August are brutally hot in most places in the Northern Hemisphere, or at least in those places of the world where I've lived -- Richmond, Boston, New York City, and Miami (and in a host of other cities around the world where I've visited -- I'd make a list but I don't want to show off). 

It's summer, and you expect it to be hot and sunny. It is hotter here than say, where you live, but whatever -- it's summer. That's the way it's supposed to be.

In the Middle East, and in Modiin (where I live) in particular, September and October are the worst because they're boiling hot, and you know in your heart and in your bones and in your soul, that really they're supposed to be the most gorgeous months of the year. 

After a hot summer in New York, for example, September rolls around and people take out their fall jackets. They start bundling up. They get to enjoy those beautiful changing leaves. And then it's October and they get a bit of a nip in the air. It gets chilly and delicious out. You all post your stunning fall pictures, and over here in the Middle East, I cry because it's still 90+ degrees out. And it's just not supposed to be that way.

Should We All Move to Jerusalem? 

But what about Jerusalem, you ask? Well, Jerusalem is a little oasis of wonderful weather. Somehow Jerusalem has pulled off the impossible -- yes, it's in the Middle East and a mere half hour drive from Modiin, but yet, their September and October feel a whole lot more like fall. Maybe not the crunchy leaves under your feet type of fall, but there is a distinct coolness that hits the holy air of Jerusalem in these still-way-too-hot months.

Or Maybe Tel Aviv?

At least they get the ocean breeze. The problem with Modiin, is that it's neither by the beach, nor in the hills. And it's so young, that the trees aren't tall enough to provide much shade. 

So Why Live in Modiin? 

I'm going to have to blame Ben and Bethami Gold on that one. They moved here first. My parents followed them. It was peer pressure. What can I say? Okay, okay, I love living near my family -- so much so that (maybe) it's worth the weather. We also have lots of friends here. It would be pretty hard to leave at this point.

Time to Cheer Up

It's like I always say, Modiin is one of the worst places to live for about 6 months of the year, but then it becomes the best place on earth for the remainder of the year. As a person who suffers from bipolar weather disorder (self diagnosed), I do not like extreme heat, not do I live extreme cold. Come visit us November through April -- it's absolutely stunning out! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Introducing Yaniv Shmuel Pritzker

If you spoke to me at all during this pregnancy, you know that we had a very hard time coming up with boy's names. We knew we wanted to name our little boy after Menachem's grandfather, Samuel, but had trouble coming up with a first name that would fit the following criteria:

  • No "resh" or "het" or "chaf" -- hard to say for us Anglos in Israel.
  • Not too popular. If you grew up as one of 3 Sarah's in a class of 12, you'd understand.
  • It can't sound like an English word that's unpleasant. Like, "Alon" is a very nice Israeli name, but "alone" isn't what you'd want to name your kid. Same goes for Shai/Shy.
  • Must pass the Native Israeli check. I really liked the name Golan, but my Israeli friends told me that it's a sleazy name. 
What I really wanted, was to name my kid Geshem, which means rain. I love the rain, and in Israel, rain is a big blessing. Plus, I really liked the ring to it. But, alas, Geshem is just not a name. Apparently, neither is Anan (cloud) or Arafel (fog). And one of us just wasn't interested in naming our son after dark and stormy weather (not saying which one of us).

Yaniv wasn't on our list at all, until the shabbat before he was born when my niece Eden suggested it. I had heard the name before, but it wasn't until she said it in her perfect Hebrew that it really clicked. I loved playing the "What's wrong with this name?" game, but when she said Yaniv, I was stumped! Not only was there simply nothing wrong with it, but I actually liked it. Loved it, even. And so did Menachem. 

Here are some reasons why:
  • Yaniv rhymes with magniv, which means cool or awesome in Hebrew. 
  • Yaniv rhymes with Aviv (which happens to be Meira's middle name) which means Spring. Yaniv was born in the Spring, on Pesach, which is known as Hag Ha'aviv, the Spring Holiday. 
  • Yaniv doesn't have a resh, het, or chaf in it, is easy to pronounce as an American living in Israel, isn't too popular, and is an actual name.
But the main reason was this:

Yaniv means "he shall produce" or "he shall be productive," referring not to ticking things off your to-do list, but more in an agricultural sense. If you wanted to say "the tree produces fruit," you'd use the word "yaniv" there. And what do trees need in order to produce fruit? They need rain.

We also wanted a name that related to the land of Israel. When I did the Israeli check part of our name search, my friend first explained what the name meant literally, and then added that Yaniv is a true Zionist name -- that it doesn't just relate to trees bearing fruit, but that it relates specifically to the productivity, growth, and success of the Land of Israel. I was sold.

A few words about Shmuel...

Sam, Menachem's maternal grandfather, died many many years before Menachem was born. He never knew him in person, but grew up surrounded by the legend of his grandfather, a generous, gentle, intelligent man. He also, I'm told, had absolutely gigantic feet. We named our son after Zaide Sam with hopes that he fill those shoes and walk in the righteous path of his grandfather. 

Sam was also the name of one of my mother's uncles, a "beloved uncle," as she refers to him, and another ancestor that I never had the privilege of meeting. 

It's our wish that our son embody the characters of these special people, and that he becomes productive and successful here in the Land of Israel. 


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