Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shani's first birthday

Today is Shani's first birthday.
She now knows five words, all of them in Hebrew. Kova (hat) which she uses not just for hats but also for items of clothing (most of them will go on your head if you try) and bottle tops. Kadoor (ball)which she uses for anything round, including fruit and vegetables. Or (light) she uses for lights, light switches, ceiling fans, the sun and the moon. Hav Hav (Hebrew for woof woof) means dog and any animal. This morning she pointed at a pigeon and said "hav hav". She can also identify images of hav havs and kadoors and says kadoor when when seeing basketball or football on the TV.

Abba (father) she uses for me and (not sure how this happened) for mobile phones.

We spent the last ten days in Italy where she produced a new word, her first verb: Havi (bring / give). She doesn't conjugate it properly but there is no doubt about the meaning. She'll finish hr bottle and then point at it and say "Havi!" sending me scuttling to the kitchen, with her in one arm to make her a new bottle.

Being an Israeli child she also knows a few gesticulations: she can point at things and pat her head when saying "Kova!".

She may be confusing Abba with mobile phones because I recently bought a new one and have been playing with it. For a while I had David Bowies' song "Ground control to Maj

or Tom" as my ringtone but someone at work started joking about my being an astronaut so I changed it to the more combative "Joshua fit [fought] the battle of Jericho" sung by Mahalia Jackson.

During our visit to Italy we went to see the Jewish Museum in the Rome synagogue, which is one of the most magnificent synagogues I have seen. They have an excellent exhibition on the Jews of Rome, which is incidentally far better than that shown in the London Jewish museum, although using less fancy displays. Perhaps the London Jewish museum should be in the Bevis Marks synagogue.

It was hard being in the museum as Shani wanted to touch the displays and drum on the chairs, but I managed to contain her until we were taken on a guided tour of the synagogue. Here everyone was asked to wear a Yarmulke and Shani started shouting "Kova!" Kova!" much to my embarrassment. To further compound the situation as I held Shani, my cellphone went off and stated going "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho...".

At that point I gave up and walked out. I then realized Shani needed a nappy change so I went into the garden and started preparing to change her when a whole crowd of people came out. Realizing I might be causing offence I totally left the synagogue area and changed her on the street outside.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Call the post office and order four gas masks.

A couple of days ago I came home from work tired after a long day and flopped in front of the TV. When I do this I normally spend about fifteen minutes flicking through some twenty stations and don't find anything I want to see. I than do a re-run, flicking through the same twenty stations for another fifteen minutes before realizing there is just nothing I want to watch and giving up.
On this occasion I found something. It was an American film about Auschwitz and I landed on the channel showing it, just as they were showing in graphic detail the work of the dreaded Sonder-commandos. The Sonder-commandos cleaned the gas-chambers and loaded the bodies into the crematoria. They also guided the Jews into the "showers" while reassuring them that they were just showers and later sorted through their possessions.
In return for this despicable work, they got fantastic food, good wine and a little bit of grace coupled with the certain knowledge that the Nazis would never let them survive. Every now and then the Nazis would just kill the lot and find replacements.
Shani (now 11 months old) was crawling over me while I watched this horror, unable to bring myself to carry on flicking. What brought it to an end was Noam (12) coming home. I didn't want the responsibility of having to explain what was happening and didn't fancy him watching it either, so I turned it off.

The next morning before I went to work, I went to the post office for some reason. There I found myself faced with a leaflet warning me that the government was distributing gas masks to the population until the 31st of August. I suddenly realized that it was the 31st of August and that if I was going to get gas masks for my family I had to go and pick them up that day.

Now, our apartment isn't very big and we have a storage space issue. There are occasional arguments over whether some old pair of shoes or clothing can sufficiently justify its existence to retain precious wardrobe space. Getting gas-masks means permanently storing three boxes and for a baby you get a tent like structure which will probably permanently burst the wardrobe, so it required some thought.

The next day was the first day of school and I was busy rushing around with Noam getting last minute stuff but, needless to say, after the horror of the night before I didn't feel able to resist. And so, thirty minutes before the end of gas mask distribution, I decided to have a go and rung up the distribution center. I discovered that for 25 shekels (about 7 US dollars) they will send the entire family's masks by post but then a snag came up. It seems that in the nineties I was given gas masks which somehow vanished in the course of my divorce and so they would fine me before they gave me new ones, unless I could find and return the originals (otherwise its free).

So I rung my ex-wife who said she had them and asked if I would be willing to get her a gas mask as well. I said I would return the old ones but felt that now that we were divorced, she should handle her own gas mask requirements. Anyway it emerged that while it is no longer possible to personally go and pick up a gas mask I can still call the post office and have them delivered and so I am able to continue prevaricating and preserve my precious wardrobe space. Perhaps I will wait for the results of the peace talks with the Palestinians before I order us all gas masks.

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