Archive for April, 2017

something old, something new

April 26, 2017

rosh hodesh Iyar 5777 H. Ne’eman Scottsdale

I am enjoying reading my Mom’s collection of old scout books. It is interesting how a hundred years ago, the general society in America dressed modestly; women in skirts, men in shirts and pants. What made values change? It is also interesting how international dress standards are today. I see a lot of the same fashions among the immodest in Israel as in America. I must conclude that if you are not taught about modesty, you are unlikely to practice it. You will want to be like others, you will want to stand out, you will want to be most comfortable.

How can we influence people for better? One, by example. Two, by insisting on clean ads in public spaces. Three, by writing and speaking to groups, such as civic and religious groups; this is a topic where we can build bridges and create constructive dialogue.

Of course this is for those inspired to it. Many of us don’t have time to devote to such things. But examples we should always be.

 

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Reach, throw…

April 25, 2017

14th of Omer, H. Ne’eman, Scottsdale

Tonight I was sitting by the pool reviewing a lot of my life mistakes, I guess you could say it was the reflecting pool, at least for that time. At some time in the middle I see a big moth splashing about in the water. He keeps getting swished around, can’t get out of the water, and does not come close enough to the side for me to reach him.

In the scouts, in our lifesaving classes, we learned the order of rescue: Reach, Throw, Row, Go. Finally I remembered that there were some Styrofoam swim tubes in one of the changing rooms. I procured one of those and made the moth reach-rescue.

May Hashem be so kind as to help us out of our fixes! Ana Hashem Hoshia Na!

 

 

citrus sunblock

April 24, 2017

13th day of Omer Hanoch N. Scottsdale

Arizona gets so hot that people put sun protection on their tree trunks. For example, if a grapefruit tree has spaces in its crown where sunlight can reach the trunk, people paint the trunk white so it does not get damaged. Some rock and sand surfaces in the summer sun can reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius).

At least it is good for drying clothes. And inspires me to build home in desert in Israel.

hold that channel!

April 21, 2017

25 Nisan 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman Scottsdale AZ

A few days before Pesach, I had an experience which was a little out of the ordinary. I felt that perhaps my Uncle Asher, who passed away this summer, was communicating to us through my Father. My Father has Parkinson’s. He can talk, but a lot of the time he naps. He was sitting at the table for a long time, like an hour and a half, and looking at a siddur. He was looking at different things, like the shabbos eve song, Kol Mekadesh. He was not falling asleep, which was unusual. At one point he calls me over and says, pointing to the words in Hebrew, “how do you read this word? He starts reading himself, pointing to words, but saying something completely different; like aramaic words, ending in “sah” and “tah”. Never saw him do anything like that before.

He goes on with his quiet study, and says later, “I don’t know, most of this is just nonsense (waving his hand), but it seems like there is some secret message in it.” That was a very Uncle Asher type thing to say, and the way he said it. Uncle Asher would study things for a long time like that. He was a scientist who tried to solve mysteries.

Later, my Father was sitting eyes closed, chin down at the table, when he lifts his head (eyes still closed) and says (talking to no one), “What’s that letter? Aleph? And what comes next, Tee?  no…”

And a bit later he says, “I don’t know why you are (doing/saying?) that, especially after you fought so savagely for this…(pauses) channel… we are both using.”

I am saying kaddish for Uncle Asher. This same day (I think it was the Yom Hamishi before Pesach) I did not get to the minyan in the morning, and then didn’t go in the afternoon/evening either.

Pesach in the Sonoran desert, with the Syrians

April 19, 2017

23rd of Nisan, Hanoch Ne’eman, Scottsdale

Well Pesach for me, as an Israeli, is over pretty much; today is yom tov shani shel goliyut. The holiday prep included usual activities like reminding ourselves online which oils and seeds we do and don’t use. Also I had a doubt whether I would still be a good Jew if I used a pear-apple to make our charoset, but in the end I played it safe and used a regular apple. (By the way, pear apples were first brought to the Southwest by Chinese miners during the Gold Rush). My parents have here a surprising amount of Pesach dishes and supplies, so we were pretty prepared. Since my Mom was not feeling well I prepared most of the Seder, which may have been a first for me, or perhaps second.

The real big news was that Hashem in his kindness sent me a minyan! Yes, it was quite a Pesach surprise. About a week or so before the holiday I was gardening out in the back yard and thinking about the upcoming holiday and how I would not have any minyan to pray with on the festive days of the holiday or Shabbat Hol HaMoed. I talked to Hashem as I worked and said how much I would like to have a minyan. I said “Nothing is too hard for you Hashem, You could have a busload of observant Jews break down in front of my house Erev Hag. Nothing is too hard for you, but if that doesn’t happen… I guess I will try to enjoy praying here by myself.” I really said that, you know I don’t lie to you, dear readers.

So on the morning of the 14th of Nisan, after we had the siyum masechet for the Firstborn, I was learning a bit in the shul. The Rabbi was talking to some out of town guests. When they finished I asked what the shul minhag was about tephillin on Hol Hamoed? He said most people, including him, do not wear them. I asked if I could drive my car to shul on Yom Tov Shani to daven with the minyan? He said no, but then an idea came to him and he asked, where do your parents live again? I told him and then he said that just on Friday some men had come to minyan in the morning to meet him, their family is out here for the holiday and staying at the Scottsdale Hilton. We did a rough calculation and figured it was about a two mile walk from where I was. He immediately called them up. Michael, the fellow who had made the point of taking them there on Friday, because his friend back home told him he should meet Rabbi Shoshan, said, “Sure he can daven with us, I will send you a copy of the times of prayers.”

So a few hours before the holiday I got connected with a minyan for the whole holiday (except Hol Hamoed when I drove to Ahavas Torah). It took me about a half hour walk each way. They invited me to kiddush after the morning prayers, which went from about 7:30 to 9:45. It was one family, about 80 people. They had 18 villas at the hotel. They were Syrian Jews from New York. They were very hospitable. Michael walked me to the gate each day and night after davening or kiddush. The “Gramma” who was really Great-gramma, welcomed me warmly, told me to come every day, and “not wait for an invitation”. It was funny when she said, “Oh, so you are an Ashkenazi?” It almost sounded like a racial slur! The best I could answer was “Well, mostly… yes.” I was so embarrassed, it got me thinking that maybe I should convert to Sephardi.

They brought their own Torah and food, which they made themselves. They organized their own rafting trips, paintball, and trips to the Grand Canyon. They go away for Pesach together every year, but this is the first time to Arizona. Michael said they usually go to Florida, but the hotels they stayed at kept selling to developers, and with the Zika virus down there now, they decided to go to Arizona. They had almost booked at another hotel further North called The Boulders, but then at the last minute some other group booked it for Easter. So they ended up here at the Scottsdale Hilton, close to me.

Hashem is Gadol.

 

out here in the fields

April 7, 2017

11 Nisan 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Scottsdale AZ

Well it looks like we will be spending Pesach at home. From our angle, Camelback Mountain, when silhouetted at dusk or night, looks like two pyramids, so at least we have good casting for the exodus story.

Yesterday was my English birthday. My Mom apologized for not having a card for me, or a cake. I said that’s okay, you gave birth to me, that’s enough!

Welcome to Nisan

April 2, 2017

6th of Nisan 5777 Scottsdale AZ Hanoch Ne’eman

It is hard being without a minyan on Shabbat. On the other hand, it is nice to be your own chazzan for all of davening, as you pray in the backyard. Did not go up Camelback this shabbat, (as opposed to the last two weeks). Tried to do bit more studying. Went around the pond in Chapperal Park in later afternoon. Saw some geese and a swan walking together with a lot of their little ones. Could not tell for sure which were goslings and which baby swans, if any.

Not sure yet what we might do for Pesach. If Mom is feeling up to it, may try going to Tuscon for three nights for the seders. Just to do them privately, but then at least I could have a minyan to pray with.

Reminds me of the old Beatles song, Get Back, how does it go?…

Hanoch left his home in the capital of Israel,

for some Arizona snow.

Made seder at a resort in Tuscon, Arizona,

With matzos bought from Trader Joe’s…

Oh yeah,  Get Back…

Everyone sing along!…

Good and Bad in the Land of AZ

April 1, 2017

Hanoch Ne’eman 4 Nisan 5777 Scottsdale AZ

I have been going a lot to the CVS Pharmacy here on Miller Road to pick up drugs for my parents. They have a lot of nice people working there at the pharmacy department, very courteous and helpful. (By the way, remind me to tell you about the most pleasant experience I had yesterday getting a State of Arizona driver’s license.) I am embarrassed for them, the intelligent, helpful, and hard-working people who work in the pharmacy, that they have to stand behind a counter bedecked with all these ridiculous magazines. You know the ones I mean. With the stupid headlines and pictures? Also in the supermarkets, the same clown shows appear. It is demeaning to those folks working there, in my opinion. They must have gotten used to it, like the smell in a barn for one milking the cows. I must say, for some reason, that is one stupidity we suffer less from in Israel, at least in the supermarkets I go too. Of course we have many garbage tabloids, maybe most of our papers in fact, but thankfully they are not shoved in your face at the check-out counter.

Oh yes, thank you for reminding me… the Motor Vehicle Office. What a pleasure! Since I have been renewing my NJ Driver’s License for the past twenty-two years, I thought of doing it again, as it runs out in June. But now my parents are stuck out here in AZ, so I thought – why don’t I try to get an Arizona license? So I check online with the AZ Dept. of Transportation, and learn that there are DMV offices and also alternative authorized service providers scattered around the state. I find one close to me and go there. There is no line. I sign in and two minutes later someone comes out and says “May I help you?” I give them the form I printed out online with my info, they take my US passport and NJ Driver’s License, and say okay, this will take 5 or ten minutes. They take my photo against the wall. I sit down to wait. While I am reading, the manager comes over to me and says, “Sir, pardon me, are we taking care of you already?” I assure him yes, Javier is on my case. I wait ten minutes and they come out with a temporary license, the real one will be mailed to my home in coming weeks. I pay forty dollars. It is good for fifteen years.

In NJ, you have to go every four years, show four types of different ID, which are often not quite right and you have to go back to your bank to get new ones, pay like $24 for just the four years, etc. My cousin in California told me much worse stories. Why is AZ different, logical, pleasant and normal? Must be all the Mormons and Republicans out here.