The Big Felafel


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Children category.

Defend Yourself.

me in motion. that cinder block never had a chance.

me in motion. that cinder block never had a chance.

As a kid who grew up in Los Angeles, I learned at a young age that anyone on the street could rob you. I lived in Hollywood, and unlike what most foreigners think, in the 90’s it wasn’t about the stars, but more about homeless people and prostitutes. By the age of seven I knew how to hold my purse over my shoulder (why did I even have a purse?), look out for weirdoes, and never talk to strangers. As you can guess my childhood was anything but normal.

When I moved to Israel, I became more worried about terrorism and less about criminal activities. I started checking buses like I was a Mossad agent, even though I had no idea what I was actually looking for. Jerusalem, despite what you see in the news, gave me a sense of security, unlike that of LA. I forgot about my purse–shoulder attire, realized that all the weirdoes had Messiah syndrome or were loud Americans on the bus, and strangers were Israelis that just wanted to know how much you make.

I let my guard down.

And I was robbed and attacked.

It happened this past March when I was walking home with my son. I saw the guy, and even though my intuition kicked in, I ignored it. He seemed young, wasn’t looking in my direction and kept to himself. He came at me from behind and covered my mouth. My instincts kicked in. My fear kicked in. My mommy powers kicked in. Oh, and did I mention I was seven months pregnant at the time? For some reason I tried to fight him, seeing that he wasn’t pulling out a weapon. My son grabbed at my legs, as the attacked grabbed at my jacket. He eventually got my cell phone (good bye smartphone….24 payments, and I had just paid the last one), and threw us both down the stairs as he ran off. I had screamed for help the whole time, but no one was around, even though it was 4:30pm in the afternoon. I had looked him in the eyes, trying to remember his face. But it took the police a week for the sketch artist to meet with me, so it didn’t do much good.

I still walk around trying to find him. Who cares about the phone—I want him off the streets.

That day my son and I took our first ambulance ride. I thought my water broke in the fight and the fall, but it turns out I just peed myself. It was a hot day and I had a smoothie, and pregnant women aren’t good with bladders anyway. Thanks to Israeli bureaucracy, I am still fighting the ambulance bill, which claims I called them—of course that’s ridiculous since I didn’t have a phone.

Once at the hospital, in the trauma unit, I decided I would never end up there again. I decided I needed to learn how to properly defend myself. I hadn’t listen to my instincts, and I fought like a little girl, lots of bitch-slapping to the face, but no real harm. I knew I would have to wait until after I gave birth, and so I began counting down the days until I could sign up for a class. I also walked around with pepper spray, which helped, but made me feel like I would spray myself.

Finally the day arrived. We organized a self-defense class through El Halev, to be held in our neighborhood, in order to encourage other women to take the course. The class taught me how to listen to my surroundings, and to my intuitions. It gave me the basic tools to fight off an attacker if I need to. We all had the opportunity to hear and bond with each other over similar fears for safety and know we are not alone. We learned that we are strong and we have the power to defend ourselves.

Every woman should take a self-defense course. What happened to me could of course happen to anyone else. I say this from a place of strength and not fear.

Think of self-defense like a supportive bra. Eventually every woman needs it.

In the final class, each one of us had the opportunity to break a cinder block with our bare hands. The first time round it took me three tries to break that bugger in half, but I did. The feeling of strength was so powerful, I begged to break the block again. This time before I broke it, the instructor told me “this one is for the attacker, go get him.” As we were taught in the class, I belted out a loud, “NO!,” and slammed down hard on that block, cutting right through it. Right to my core.

On to Krav Maga…who’s with me?

 

 

 

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How the Old Train Station got Her Groove Back!

Choo choo!

Choo choo!

When I first moved to Israel I used to walk by the Old Train Station almost every day on my way to my internship. The station once housed the trains that traveled back and forth to Tel Aviv. Years later it became the home to trash and all things smelly. The building was run down and just creepy.

Today, a gap-sweater-wearing-Mayor of Jerusalem, Ugly-Bettyed the crap (literally) out of the old train dump and brought life back to the old girl. The only way this former-LA girl can explain the change, is to explain it through plastic surgery terms: the train station got a lot of Botox, a boob job, tummy tuck, and of course a face lift. And damn is she hot.

The Old Train Station has cafes, open space, fun little shops, tourist attractions, and amazing play areas for kids. It feels like a little bit of Tel Aviv has finally made its way into the Jerusalem Village—and I’m hoping a little beach or canal will follow (what they could totally build a canal or canals in Jerusalem…they built a light rail didn’t they?).

For now, I’ll take what I can get, and hanging out at the train station, drinking a smoothie, while my kid happily plays with a train set or builds another structure with daddy, is damn good. The station is also one of Jerusalem’s more secular areas, catering to a more pluralistic crowd, from non-kosher cafes to concerts on Shabbat. That said, they also have a musical Kabbalat Shabbat at 5pm, showing the versatility of events happening throughout the summer.  As well as food and playtime, the area is home to a great exhibit hall, now featuring a mini-train display that is great for the whole family.

The station is not quite finished yet, with more cafes and shops still being built. I am so excited to see what comes next and how this once abandoned building can still keep things moving!  

 


Bang…Boom…Shooting…Terrorist Attack…A Reflection on Mental Illness and PTSD

The horrific school shooting on Friday in Connecticut has hit home for anyone and everyone, no matter where you are. For people in the US the question of gun control, parenting, and mental illness is probably dominating the conversation. A friend of mine writing to me from her computer in New Mexico confessed that she is afraid to go outside because anyone could kill her for no reason.

In Israel we are shocked about the news, because these kinds of shootings don’t happen here. Reckless, and random, that’s not how you describe a terrorist attack. We are scared for different reasons, but the fear and outcome are still the same. And as a parent we are all saddened when it is a school and children that is the target, whether it is random or calculated. The attack is just as shrilling.

While the news is still unfolding, it seems obvious at this point, that the gunman was someone plagued with mental illness. It is an issue that I understand all to well. My brother, who took his own life almost three years ago to the date, suffered from mental illness his whole life. It’s not something I talk about often, but I believe his story is important for the future of mental health awareness and change.

He was always brilliant. He was always upset. And most of the time he was violent. We couldn’t understand him. He couldn’t understand what he was going through. And as much as my parents tried, the system seemed to fail him. My brother turned to religion, drugs, and then the US army to find a solution for his mental problems. The US army should have never allowed my brother to serve with his illness, but during the Iraq war, they seemed to overlook his problems and accepted him to become a foot-solider in one of the most volatile areas of the world.

I can only imagine that what he saw on a daily basis added to the list of emotional and mental traumas he had suffered. When he returned to the US he of course could not function in a normal setting. The Vet office gave him pills to help the problem. They needed it and him to go away. He took the pills. The whole bottle at once in fact. He almost died but was rescued and once his stomach was pumped he realized he didn’t want to be this person.

He escaped to another state and became another person. But you never escape mental illness. Now he was alone. But still had his pills. Many pills. On the outside he tried to fit in and become the citizen the US wanted him to be. On the inside he remained traumatized. His demons, the ones from childhood and now war, never went away. He died alone, overdosing on pills in his home.

In my eyes, my brother never really had a chance. He never received the proper health care he needed. He was given jail time for his actions. And pills for his pain. He took his life, and I thank God he never took anyone else’s. His violent outbursts led to fights and broken limbs, but never death. He was 24 when he died.

 Now that I live in Israel my battle with mental health treatment turns to the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a citizen and journalist I have met many children and adults with PTSD in Israel, and they are not treated for this severe issue. After experiencing just two rockets in Jerusalem, I realized just how serious trauma can be. When the first rocket hit on Friday night, I will admit that it was the first time I did not have an appetite for Shabbat dinner. I was afraid to leave the shelter, quickly packed an emergency bag and couldn’t stop shaking. I had to be a mother, a wife, and still somehow walk the dog. But I was no longer me. The one rocket hit my core.

I heard the second rocket. I will never forget that boom. I stood in a stairwell and could see the blue sky. I waited for the rocket to appear and crash. Of course it was miles away, but my mind couldn’t handle the truth. As well as the boom, I heard to the beautiful voices of children singing songs about Chanukah. They too were stuck in the stairwell with nowhere to go. How many of these children will forever be affected by war, terrorist attacks and hate? And these children experienced two rockets, what about those down south who had rockets rain on them for years?

Mental illness is just as serious as a broken arm. Just like a broken arm, you are not able to work at normal capacity. You are no longer completely functioning. And until you can get use back in that arm you will never be the same person. We don’t realize how much we need that arm until it is broken. With mental illness it takes moments like a school shooting or rockets to make us realize that our minds can be broken too.

I have shared this post today because we all need an outlet. For the US I hope that there will be a serious change in the healthcare system that puts more weight on mental and emotional illness and behavioral problems. Not more pills in a jar. For Israel I hope we can add more emphasis to PTSD and give people the proper attention they need. After all you can have IVF free in this country, up to two healthy births, but therapy is only partially subsided.

 


Jerusalem Festival Frenzy Summer 2012

Jerusalem, the city of Festivals! If there is something that can be turned into a festival here, it will!

There are so many festivals and events happening this summer in Jerusalem that I couldn’t keep track and had to compile everything in one place. Enjoy!

Wine Festival at the Israel Museum

Drink in style at the Israel museum with jazz music and wine from all over Israel.

Dates: July 30 – August 2, 2012
Time: 7:00pm-11:00pm
Entrance: 80 NIS for a glass to refill all night long. You can buy your tickets online, by phone: 02-6259703 or at the door.
Location: Israel museum  

 

Two B’av- Festival of love

An evening about love including short films from Ma’aleh Film School, stand up with Daniel Kishenovsky, Hakovah Hahafuch- songs to make you dance, lectures about love and so much more. More info
Dates: Thursday, August 2, 2012
Time: 8:00pm
Entrance: 55 NIS
Location: Beit Yehudit, 12 Emek Refaim

 

Jerusalem Woodstock Revival

The 2012 Jerusalem Woodstock Revival will feature a great range of musicians, including some of the leading names in Israeli rock, all devoting their voices to the sounds of the 60′s and the sounds which originally dominated the famous Woodstock Festival. The sounds will include those of legendary singers Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and The Grateful Dead.

Dates: Thursday, August 2, 2012
Time: Doors open at 4:30pm
Entrance: 100/140 NIS
Location: Kraft Stadium More info

 

Beer Festival

Over 50,000 liters of more than a hundred brands from all over the world will be offered, mainstream, boutique and local brewed. Every night on the main stage, the audience will enjoy a live show by Israeli bands and djs. More info

Dates: August 22-23, 2012
Time: 6:00pm-12:00am
Entrance: 30 NIS
Location: Old Train Station

 

Arts and Crafts Fairs

Jerusalem’s Mayor, Nir Barkat, announced that he wants to extend the arts and crafts fairs in downtown Jerusalem so that there are fairs running every Tuesday thru Friday, starting in August, 2012. More info

Tuesdays: “Designers on Hillel” features fashion and accessories on Hillel St. and discounts at nearby restaurants and cafes. Starts August 7, 2012 from 4:00-11:00pm 

Wednesdays: “Mesibar” on Rivlin St – A festival for the whole family including street performers, Zumba classes, farmer’s market, and workshops for children. Starts August 8 from 5:00-11:00pm

Also on Wednesdays, take a look at the fine Israeli arts and crafts at the boutique shops on Yoel Solomon St. from 12-9pm

Thursdays: “Retroshalayim” on Agrippas between the Mahane Yehuda shuk and King George St.- Vintage, antique and second-hand items. From 12:00pm-10:00pm

Fridays: The Bezalel fair on Shatz-Bezalel St. features the of Bezalel students sell paintings, woodwork, jewelry, photography, accessories, and more. From 10:00am-4:00pm.

Also on Fridays, the artist and farmer’s market in the German Colony at 12 Emek Refaim St. is from 9:00am-3:00pm

 

Chutzot Hayotzer – International arts and crafts fair

Chutzot Hayotser features artists from around the world who come to exhibit their crafts. Each night at 9:00pm, there is a concert given by one of the following performers: Shiri Maimon and Shimon Buskila, Ehud Banai, Mashina, Shlomi Shabat, Hadag Nachash, Barry Sakharof, Yehudit Ravitz, Eviatar Banai, Shalom Hanoch, Mosh Ben Ari and Aviv Gefen. More info

Dates: August 6-18, 2012
Time: Sunday to Thursday evenings from 6:00pm-11:00pm and Saturday night one hour after the end of the Shabat until midnight.
Entrance: 60 NIS Discounts available
Location:  Sultan’s pool, across from the Tower of David

 

Balabasta Festival in the Shuk Mahane Yehuda

The Balabasta festival will liven up the alleyways of the shuk (as if the colorful produce and yelling wasn’t enough) with every type of music you could ever dream of, including reggae, rap in Arabic-Hebrew-Gibberish, Amharic poetry, blues, klezmer, and much more. There will also be art exhibitions and light installations. B’kitsur, you gotta check out the craziness!
Dates: Sunday evenings on August 5, 12, and 19, 2012
Time: 5-11pm
Location: Shuk Mahane Yehuda
Entrance: Free!

 

Free activities in the park

 

Every Tuesday from 5-7:30pm, there are free activities for kids in public parks around Jerusalem. Activities include planting, street art, origami, sports, and more. More info

Dates and Locations
July 31: Beit Elisheva, Old Katamon
August 7:  Park Nayot, Yehoshua Yavin 1
August 14: San Simon
August 21: Sokolov Park, Talbiyeh 

 

Hatzagan

Children’s story telling in the park (in Hebrew)
Date: Monday, July 30, 2012
Time: 5:00pm
Location: Sokolov Park, Talbiyeh 

 

Summer events at the Nature Museum

More info

Hagilgul

A play about the lives of insects. The performace is full of humor and songs and tells the story of one caterpillar who didn’t want to grow up. To order tickets, call 02-563-1116
Date: Thursday, August 2, 2012
Time: 5:00pm
Location
: Nature Museum, 6 Mohliver St. German Colony
Entrance: There is an entrance fee

The Young Pharmacist

Activities for parents and children. A tour around the garden to see the healing properties of plants and make “medicine” out of them. Each week will focus on a new topic.
Dates: Tuesdays: July 31, August 7, 14, 21, 2012
Time: 5-6:15pm
Location: Nature Museum, 6 Mohliver St. German Colony
Entrance: There is an entrance fee

The Nature Detective
 
Activities for parents and children. A tour of the museum and the little petting zoo to explore the mysteries in nature and solve them with games, riddles, and performances. Each week will focus on a new topic.
Dates: Wednesdays, August 1, 8, 15, 22, 2012. (A special evening event on August 15, 2012 8-9:30pm)
Time: 5-6:30pm
Location: Nature Museum, 6 Mohliver St. German Colony
Entrance: There is an entrance fee

Savta Galia Story Time

The Nature Museum invites children ages 3-7 for story hour (in Hebrew) with stories related to nature and the environment and integrates a workshop, petting animals, and activities in the museum.
Dates: Mondays 4-6:00pm; Saturdays 10:00am-12:00pm.
Location: Nature Museum, 6 Mohliver St. German Colony
Entrance: There is an entrance fee

Health day at the Nature Museum

Lectures and workshops about holistic and natural medicine. 
Date: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Time: 5-8:30pm
Location: Nature Museum, 6 Mohliver St. German Colony
Entrance: Free!

Thursdays in the garden

Outside the nature museum there is a community garden, run by volunteers. Work in the garden starts from 4:00pm on Thursdays. Once every two weeks, the volunteers eat together. At 6:0pm, Yisrael Golan tells a “garden midrash”.

 

Festivals at the Malha Mall

Elmo Festival

Make a puppet theater for Elmo and friends, creative workshops, Elmo games, watch Sesame Street episodes (in Hebrew – Rehov SumSum)
Date: July 30, July 31, August 1, 2012
Time: 11:00am-2:00pm and 4:00pm-7:00pm 
Location: Malha Mall 02-679-1333
Entrance: Free!

Madagascar Festival

Circus workshop with plates and balls, circus hat workshop, makeup with a professional makeup artist, make circus animals out of paper, workshop on tight rope-walking and stilts.
Date: August 5,6,7, 2012
Time: 11:00am-2:00pm and 4:00pm to 7:00pm 
Location: Malha Mall 02-679-1333
Entrance: Free! 

Hello Kitty Festival
 
Bag-making workshop, jewelry workshop, makeup corner with a professional makeup artist, photo booth with Hello Kitty. Special performance of Hello Kitty with songs and dancing on Monday, August 12 at 5:30pm
Date
: August 12, 13, 14, 2012
Time: 11:00am-2:00pm and 4:00pm-7:00pm 
Location: Malha Mall  02-679-1333
Entrance: Free! 

Tom and Jerry Festival
Photo booth with your favorite characters, creative workshops, fun games for the whole family
Date
August 19, 20, 21, 2012
Time:
11:00am-2:00pm and 4:00pm-7:00pm 
Location:
Malha Mall  02-679-1333
Entrance: Free! 

Performances at Malha:
Saba Tuvia: Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 6:00pm 
Miki: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 6:00pm
Yuval Hamebulbal: Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 6:00pm 
Dod Haim: Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 6:00pm 
Roi Boi: The Jungle Boy: Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 6:00pm

 

JELLY ice cream party
 

The goal of this party is to encourage kids to read at least 10 new books before the party. More info

Date: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Time: 4-6pm. 
Entrance is free. Call AACI 02-561-7151 to RSVP
Location:  Gan HaShoshanim park (Pinsker St, Talbiyeh)

 Kite Flying Festival

Learn to make and fly a kite at the Israel Museum!

Date: August 27, 2012
Time: 10:30am-7:00pm kite workshops; 4:00pm-7:00pm Kite flying and a musical parade.
LocationIsrael Museum
Entrance:  30-40 NIS for kite workshops, otherwise entrance fee for kite flying is included in museum admission

Street Festival on Emek Refaim

The street will be closed to vehicles and will be filled with street artists, food stands, bands, and more.
Date: September 10, 2012
Time: TBA
Location: Emek Refaim, German Colony
Entrance: Free! 


Story time and JELLY ice cream party in Jerusalem

Don’t get nauseous yet. A JELLY ice cream party is not what you think. Thanks to a friend, I have now been exposed to a whole new kind of JELLY – the Jerusalem English Library for Youth, one that is not red and gooey, but instead offers story time, day camps and other activities, including an ice cream party at the end of the summer (for free!). 

As an English speaker living in Israel, I have to make a concerted effort to teach my daughter English. My husband speaks to her in Spanish and she learns Hebrew at daycare. So, I was obviously excited when I found out that there is English story time in Jerusalem. This gives my daughter another place to hear English and for me, another place to connect with other English-speaking parents.

JELLY (Jerusalem English Library for Youth) is an AACI program that offers the following:

  • Monday evening story time: Each week, different parents volunteer to read books over a half hour. The story hour is free.
    • When: Mondays at 4:15pm. September 1 to the end of June.
    • Location: Baka Matnas (community center) at 3 Issachar St. 
    • Contact: Deborah, 02-671-8514
  • Summer JELLY ice cream party: To encourage kids to read, the goal of the party is to have kids read (or have read to them) 10 books. 
    • When: Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 4-6pm. 
    • Location:  Gan HaShoshanim park (Pinsker St, Talbieh)
    • Admission is free. Call AACI 02-561-7151 to RSVP
  • The JELLY Summer Theatre Workshop: The 12-day workshop is for 6-9th graders with the thrill of being on stage, as well as the crafts that go into producing a show, culminating in two an evening performances of a play, on stage in a theatre for family and friends. 
    • When: July 16-31 2012
    • Location: Baka Matnas (community center) at 3 Issachar St. 
    • Contact: Deborah, 02-671-8514
  • Camp JELLY – an Adventure with Books: for kids going into gan hova or 1st grade.  All activities such as arts and crafts, games, songs are based on books -each day with a different writer or theme. Lively but structured with aim to encourage English and a love of books.
    • When: August 12-16 2012
    • Location: Baka Matnas (community center) at 3 Issachar St.
    • Contact: Deborah, 02-671-8514
  • English library for youth: The Baka library has 50% English books.  The picture books for younger kids (and teachers’ library) are on the 2nd floor  and all other books of the Baka library including easy readers to adults are on the 1st floor. JELLY volunteers do the mending, shelving, entering books into computer, etc.
    • Hours: The Baka library is open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 2-7pm & Tuesdays 9-12am
    • Taking out books: To join is free with a security check. 
    • Location: Baka Matnas (community center) at 3 Issachar St. 
    • Phone number: 02-671-1734

 
Any other questions about JELLY or ice cream, you can be in touch with Deborah Lionarons jellyaaci@gmail.com


Guide to Childcare in Israel and 15 questions every parent should ask


If there is one thing harder than birth, we would say it is trying to register your child for day care. Unlike the birthing process, there’s no Lamaze class to teach you breathing techniques as you try to register your child for day care in Israel.

But lucky for our readers, you can learn through our mistakes and questions as we  navigate the childcare system in Israel. And let us say right off the bat, that we encourage and beg you to add info in the comments section in order to help the new parent community.

It is barely spring, but according to Israel you need to secure a place for your child for the fall. You must sign up before spaces fill up, and that means that even if you don’t know what part of town, or even what part of the country you are living in, well that’s too bad.

Check out our guide below that explains the different types of daycare options in Israel.

Public/Government Run Childcare:

Maon (Daycare)

Definition: This is large-scale daycare run by various organizations (usually women’s organizations).  The government supervises and dictates policy.  You must register for these and be accepted (registration starts April 27, 2011). Full-time working mothers have top priority.

Groups:

  • 3-15 months: 1 adult for every 6 children, maximum 15 in a group.
  • 15 months – 2 years: 1:9 ratio,  maximum 23 in a group
  • 2-3 years: 1:11 ratio, maximum 27 in a group

Opening Hours:

  • Sunday-Thursday: 7:00am-4:00pm (though some go as late as 5:00pm)
  • Friday: 7:00 am-1:00pm
  • Holidays:  Government policy: three weeks in August (of which you pay a full month’s worth of tuition), a week before Pesach and the whole holiday, the other major Jewish holidays and the week of Sukkot.

Prices: NIS1550- NIS 2050, scale-based subsides payments based on household salaries and siblings

What is included: Food (and sometimes sheets)

What you need to bring: diapers, baby wipes, clothes, pacifiers, bottles, (sheet for the bed)

Maons in Jerusalem:

Mishpachton (pre-nursery in someone’s home)

Definition: This is daycare that is run out of a private home.  The government supervises and dictates policy.  There can be a maximum of 5 children (without getting special permission for more)  and  no more than 2 children under the age of one.  If there are more children an additional caregiver must be present.

Hours and Holidays:

  • 6 Day a week Mishpachton: Sun-Thur 7:00am-4:00pm, Fri: 7:00am-12:00pm
  • 5 Day a week Mishpachton: Sun-Thur 7:00am-4:30pm or 7:30am-5:00pm (although some places are only until 4:00pm)
  • Holidays: They must abide by the government set holiday schedule.  This includes taking off three weeks in August (of which you pay a full month’s worth of tuition), a week before Pesach and the whole holiday, the other major Jewish holidays and the week of Sukkot.

Prices: More or less the same price as a Maon, approximately NIS 1550, scale-based subsides payments based on household salaries and siblings.

What is included: Food

What you need to bring: diapers, baby wipes, clothes, pacifiers, bottles, sheet for the bed

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