We realized that we haven't written much in the way of a regular 'update' in a while. We've written about trips, politics, etc but not what's happening in our regular day to day lives.
All in all we are doing quite well:
We are thrilled with our choice of schools for Matan. He enjoys school, has a full-time Rav in his class along with the teacher, an assistant and rotating banot sherut (girls doing their National Service who are assigned to Matan's school), so he is getting plenty of individualized attention and is learning a ton. The Rav is responsible for teaching the boys (Matan is in an all boys class) to read and he meets with each boy individually almost every day. Matan is now reading multi-syllable words (up to 3 or 4 syllables) and is really making progress. He is at slight disadvantage since his vocabulary is not as broad as the native Hebrew speakers in his class, but he is doing quite well and is closing the gap on the native Israelis in his class. He is perfectly comfortable playing and functioning in Hebrew and it seems that he barely knows which language he is speaking as he can seemlessly switch between Hebrew and English. Matan is taking a once a week karate class. He is really enjoying it and should be getting his first belt this week or next. In addition to karate he goes to a once a week parashat hashavua class (a class on the weekly Torah portion) with other kids his age, which he is also enjoying.
Yehuda is doing well too. He really enjoys school, seems to have friends and really likes telling us about what he has learned. His newest thing is that he has learned to bensch (say the prayer after eating a meal with bread in it). He loves to bensch so he asks to have bread with each meal. He knows the prayers by heart so he sits and sings loud and clear with a huge grin on his face. Every morning he goes with me to shul where he puts tzedakah (charity) into the tzedakah box, shakes the Rav's hand and then happily takes himself to school. He is really a happy go-lucky kid and is maturing and learning before our eyes.
Amichai is now one (his English birthday was Nov 17 and we will be celebrating his Hebrew birthday next week on 5 Kislev which falls on December 6 this year). Although he is a bit overly attached to his Mommy, he happily goes to his day care every morning, greets us with a smile when we pick him up, generally sleeps pretty well and has a sweet and happy disposition. When he isn't attached to his Mommy he plays nicely by himself and enjoys playing with his big brothers. After being a bit behind his brothers as far as crawling and standing go, he is now all over the place crawling and cruising the furniture and walls and generally leaving his mark wherever he goes. He still looks just like Matan at the same age and is as cute as can be.
Our jobs are going well, my position at Upstart Activist ( www.upstartactivist.com ) has recently been upgraded to a more permanent situation and the business is doing well and involved with all sorts of things (www.israelawards.com, www.destinationisrael.com and www.giftofthetimes.com) are all keeping us quite busy. With the upcoming Israeli elections now scheduled for March 28, 2006, we have another project which is going to keep us even busier. Check out www.IsraelVotes.com to see the latest endeavor of Upstart Activist. This is a wonderful educational tool which allows campuses, organizations, communities and shuls to have their own dedicated web sites which will allow them to 'vote' in the upcoming Israeli elections. The site will have a ton of information on the Israeli electoral system, the parties, etc and will give people a true taste of Israeli democracy. We did this in the 2003 elections as well and attracted tens of thousands of participants and received an amazing amount of press in both Israel and abroad. This time we have more time to prepare and more experience and hope to make this the largest Israeli advocacy project ever.
After a rough start to the school year (to say the least) Romi is adapting to the kids and they are adapting to her and the situation has improved a bit. It is still hard and a constant adjustment to get used to teaching younger kids in a different type of school setting, but there is at least a (dim) light at the end of the tunnel. There are still bad days mixed in with the good, but at least there are good days at all. At the beginning of the year every day was a bad day. Lamdeni has taken off with 8 creative writing classes around the country that Romi created and many families for whom she is coordinating tutoring and helping their children to get acclimated to the Israeli schools and their new lives in Israel.
We were thrilled to have John, Susan and Ari Levin here a couple of weeks ago on their pre-Aliyah pilot trip and were very happy when they decided to make Neve Daniel their next home! So we are looking forward to welcoming them here when they arrive permanently, IY'H, next summer.
We also had surprise visitors this morning when the Brothers Ely (Menachem, Daniel & David) along with Jeff Cohen stopped by for a quick visit on their way to Hevron for parashat Chayei Sara. Since the parasha deals with the death of Sara (of Avraham and Sara fame) it has become traditional that Hevron, the burial place of Sara, hosts tens of thousands of people for this Shabbat. It was nice to see them and really neat that they just 'stopped by' as a surprise.
Hope all is well!