Shopping in Jerusalem, something for every taste

By Batya Medad

December 2, 2009

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I always get a kick out of the store window reflections, even when there's nothing I would buy. I've never liked snoods. I think of them as colored undershirts with spikes.

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This is my kind of food, though I'm not quite sure what they are. Hint! Does anybody know?

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I ought to stay away from all this delicious food. For this, I'd go off my diet for a bit. But if I had to choose between the baklava and Haagen Dazs Mint Chip or 5 Mint....I'll take the ice cream!

Turning wintery

Nothing's more beautiful than the wintery sky here in Shiloh. The summer sky is boring, all blue, but as winter approaches, the humidity and clouds make it a visual wonderland. May G-d bless us with plentiful rain.

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The Latest in home renovations

Do you see that shiny, new railing? It was installed just before I brought my father to live with us.

When we built the house 25 years ago, the few steps leading to our front door didn't seem like too many. But in recent years I've had to help neighbors walk up and down them and I'd get nervous about those who insisted that they could make it fine on their own. Inside our house there aren't any stairs, making it very comfortable and safe for the elderly and for crawling babies.

We're not the only people in Shiloh to have added a banister so people can have something to hold onto. Ours isn't very fancy, but it's strong and matches the ones the same workman put up on the main path from the road to the synagogue. My neighbor's father ordered them when he moved here.

Our Shiloh neighborhood is now 28 years old. The first "temporary" prefabricated structures arrived August 1981. We moved into "ours" that Sept. 1. We now have children older than we were then, and now we have to take into consideration the needs of the much more elderly. Synagogue renovations are accessible by wheelchair as well as by baby carriages.

Baruch Hashem, thank G-d, we're a community for all ages.

Another milestone in my saga, taking care of my elderly father

So far, bli eyin haraa (don't tempt the evil eye) my father can do a lot for himself. One thing he can't do is to change the battery of his hearing aid. That's because his eyesight isn't all that great nowadays, so he can't see it.

Last week, at my daughter's instructions, we went to "HaOzen," a hearing aid place. I bit the bullet and told the young guy that I'm taking care of my father, and as he can see my father wears hearing aids, and I haven't a clue how to deal with them. So, I got a lesson, how to clean and how to change batteries and know when that's necessary. I bought the necessary supplies, brought them home and...I waited until a bolt from the blue would tell me when to use my new skills. Yesterday it hit!

"It's very strange. These hearing aids don't seem to be working."

"Hmmm... maybe it's time for me to change the batteries." I "tested" them and they were dead. So I got the equipment, and easier than I had ever guessed, changed the batteries, and my father was able to hear better. All the challenges should be this easy.

Straight talk, plain talk, whatever it's called, I don't beat around the bush

The other day, my husband handed me the phone. It was Ben Hubbard of the Associated Press. He wanted to come to Shiloh for an interview on a day when my husband wouldn't be home, so I was asked to cover.

No big deal. In the 28 years plus since we moved to Shiloh, I've had more famous journalists and dignitaries over. My father would get a kick out of reading about me in The New York Times. Now, he's part of the show. We sat on a bench in the park across the street. I gave him a sandwich to eat, since we were missing lunch when the crew, Hubbard plus photographer and sound man, finally arrived.

I try to listen very carefully to the questions and have no problems asking for better wording. I try to give extremely clear and explicit answers. The trick is to never be ambiguous nor sarcastic. Plain, straight talking is best. Otherwise, your words may come back to haunt you. I'm never PC (politically correct), just plain honest. If you want an official line, don't come to me. I write my own script and don't take orders. I represent myself, my view of things, not always very conventional or even polite. "Out of the box" is my comfort zone.

Well, so far I haven't seen any sign of that interview. If you have, please let me know.

Making sense of Obama's new health plan

I've been trying to make sense out of the plan, not because I live in the United States, but because we've been hearing very peculiar and frightening things about the proposed law. At first I ignored the scary emails, because I just couldn't believe that the United States would tax expats, those of us citizens who have chosen to live abroad. Then more and more people who generally are immune to scare tactics showed worry. So I blogged about it.

But I really wanted to hear the opinion of my rebbe in these matters of United States law and how it affects us in Israel. I'm referring to Yitzhak Heimowitz, known as "our lawyer" by New York Betarim of my generation.

I asked Yitz to summarize the proposed law and his opinion of it. Here's what he sent me:

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are considering bills for health insurance reform, a major Obama campaign promise. The purpose of the law, when enacted, will be to force all Americans to buy health insurance from "qualified insurers," a term that will not be defined for some time to come.

Americans who do not buy such health insurance will be encouraged to buy it, or be punished by having to pay an excise tax of $750 per person per year, for which they will get nothing.

Americans who live outside the U.S. are unable to obtain health insurance from American carriers, because these do not provide services abroad. Medicare and Medicaid only provide services in the U.S., not outside. In the past when an effort was made to set up an HMO in Israel to enable such services, it was not successful.

Thus the law will force American citizens abroad to buy insurance from which they cannot benefit, and if they don't, it will punish them by charging them the $750. For us it will be a lose-lose situation.

The House bill recognizes this and exempts Americans abroad from the penalty. The Senate bill does not. We are trying to explain this injustice to the Senators so they will also include the exemption, as the House bill does.

If the Senate and the House pass different bills - which is quite likely - there will be a conference committee of members of the Senate and the House to compromise the differences. If by then both bills do not provide the exemption for Americans abroad, the conference committee will provide another chance. One of the causes of the American revolution was "taxation without representation". We must do our best to remind the Senate of that.

Yitzhak Heimowitz

Batya Medad is a veteran American olah, immigrant in Israel. She and her husband made aliyah in 1970 and have been in Shiloh since 1981. She's a wife, mother, grandmother, EFL Teacher, writer and photographer. Besides her articles and photographs we've been featuring in this publication for a number of years, Batya is very involved in the international cyber community as a Jewish blogger. She has two active blogs, and, besides having established the Kosher Cooking Carnival; details on me-ander. You can contact her at

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