Baah, Baah, Black Sheep

View from our kitchen window

Here we are, under a week into our new digs in Sde Ilan. For all those wondering where exactly our “חור” (slang that I’d prefer be translated as “off-the-beaten path location,” but really means “where the hell is this place”) is located, here’s a handy visual:

how my kids describe our location


Where we actually live (use Kibbutz Lavi, Har Tavor and the Kinneret as reference points)

The kids have (mostly) been phenomenal, helping us dig out of boxes at breakneck speed. It’s important to understand that the youngest, just under two, is a tiny Godzilla. He is single-mindedly determined to upend all progress. Armed with a binky and a dream, Boaz does far more than just mildly “get in the way” (He is the very definition of a “yeled nezek” (a child who makes a big, big mess). His speciality is hiding things, and then not being able to tell us where he hid them, as well as throwing food and flinging tiny pieces of lego at our faces.

“This organised cupboard clearly requires massive rearranging”

As I’m writing this, he has decided to change up his usual routine of slurping the milk and throwing the cereal on the floor to doing just the opposite, just for kicks. Here is is, triumphant:


Such fun! But the other kids have had to endure my intense delegating and ordering about, and their efforts had us in a relatively tidy state as Shabbat was coming in.


Any others out there who have seriously downsized? Yes, all of our friends who have made aliyah! (We’ve never really done so until now, having moved to Israel right out of college with no belongings to speak of.) The difference is that we have a long-term storage container around fifteen minutes from the moshav, so Ira’s been shuttling back and forth this past week, moving more and more stuff there that’s been relegated to the “we’ll see you when we see you” status. We’re trying to be minimalists, but how can you be minimalists with nine people, three of whom are teenagers and two of whom are little boys? It would also mean having to do laundry every five minutes, so we’ve quickly sobered up and realized that minimalism for us means twenty towels instead of forty, and fifteen coffee mugs instead of thirty. #progress


Anyway, some interesting and random observations from this past week, in no particular order and of no particular significance:


  • Names here are a novelty for us. I’m willing to bet real shekels that our yiddish-named daughter is the only Kayla in the entire lower Galilee, whereas she was one of at least half a dozen back in Maale Adumim. So far we’ve heard the following names among the kids of Sde Ilan: Yatir, Ofek, Eshed, Bosmat, Kaneh. There’s a girl named “Nes-li,” and it’s taking all of our effort not to ask her if her last name is Toulouse (ve’hamayvin yavin). Ira told me that one guy was called up for an aliyah with the name Avraham ben Yitro. Ira will fit right in, as he’s taken on the biblical pronounciation of his name: ee-RA (עירא היאירי, one of the giborim of David HaMelech, who is identified in the Talmud as the Rebbe of David. But he’s forgoing the “Ya’iri” part.)
Pic that came up when I searched googleimages for  עירא היאירי
  • Sheep sound exactly like you’d imagine grown men trying to imitate bleating sheep might sound.
  • As in Nof Ayalon, we have been inundated by chocolate cakes. That’s the quintessentially Israeli way to welcome people to the neighborhood. Someone brought over a tray of sabras, which are mildly sweet with large inedible seeds. I’ve discovered I’m a fan of the figurative sabra, not the actual one.
  • We qualify for the locals’ discount at Aqua-Kef on the Kinneret.
  • The kids here are very tight-knit groups, especially the older set, where there are only a few kids per grade. Four or five kids going into 11th grade, nine going into ninth, fifteen going into seventh. As the grades get lower, there are more kids, since the moshav has expanded in the last few years, incorporating a gorgeous harchava (expanded neighborhood). The harchava is essentially a long tree-lined street where young families have built lovely homes for themselves. There have been a half-dozen babies born this past month, and I spotted a number of expectant moms in shul this past Shabbat. כן ירבו!
  • Though the kids in the moshav seem more like siblings than friends, they’ve been extraordinarily friendly and inclusive of the Weissman kids. They’ve come over multiple times daily, inviting our kids “to hang out.” As in any yishuv/moshav, kids rule the place and are extremely independent from very young ages. This comes with a blessed abundance of self-confidence and ease with adults. This isn’t new to us, having lived for four years on a yishuv, but it’s more of an extreme here in that the layout of the moshav is very “summer-camp like,” with lots of wide-open spaces, little by way of formal layout, no sidewalks to speak of, and many more bikes/souped-up golf carts/scooters than cars on the “roads.” Such informality suits us, and we’re really happy to be back in that groove.
  • Shoes are optional.
  • So are tzitzit and kisui rosh. Religious accoutrements run the gamut here from everything to nothing, but the uniting factor is that just about everyone is shomrei shabbat. There’s a refreshing individuality and heterogeneity here among the moshavniks in this dati (religious) community. People are very genuine and true to themselves because there’s very little by way of “social expectation.” More on this in another post, as it’ll have to wait for me to observe far more than just one week of life here to fully grasp the extent and implications of this marked difference from other places we’ve lived in.
  • The tzarchaniya (what they call a makolet) is best described as what would happen if you were to give Boaz the keys to your neighborhood makolet for an hour. It’s total chaos and nothing is where it should be, but it’s forgiveable and even loveable. In that weird way that you inevitably end up smiling at the toddler who has wickedly overturned all of your good work, you end up feeling affectionate (though exasperated) at the freezer-burnt yet half-melted ice cream chest and the baby powder haphazardly placed next to the cream cheese. Plus, Coby the owner is a doll with the patience of a saint (he has to be to work there and locate what you’re looking for).


One last anecdote before I sign off for today. Boaz can only drink goats’ milk because cows’ milk bothers his stomach. St. Coby of the Tzarchania tried valiantly to locate some but couldn’t, and Rami Levi and Supersol (each a 10 min drive in opposite directions) also had none.
This is how we winged it, moshav-style: Ira asked Eitan the sheep farmer if we could have some sheep’s milk. He said no problem, but if it’s goat milk we want (since apparently sheep milk has 2.5x the fat of goat milk), then Zvika the goat farmer lives down the road, and he’s happy to give us some as well. Ended up with two large jugs of milk, one goat one sheep, which we pasteurized on the stovetop before Shabbat. 

Goat milk. Or sheep milk.


Off to settle Ruvi into yeshiva today (we’ve taken to calling him Ruvi of Nazareth, since that’s where he’s attending yeshiva), though the others still have a solid three weeks of summer vacation. Chodesh Tov to you all!

Ruvi of Nazareth. I know, I know, but I couldn’t help myself…



4 Replies to “Baah, Baah, Black Sheep”

  1. Loved reading this Tamar. Thank you for your insights.
    Not gonna lie, but gonna miss you in the ‘hood.
    Wishing you all a klita ne’imah!
    Hatzlacha Raba in all your endeavours.

  2. Regarding the kids–this sounds very similar to what happened to us in Maale Chever, especially for Shira Rina and Chayim Zvi, who were going into 9th and 8th grade, respectively. The “locals” were wildly curious about new faces and very warm and welcoming. These friends were about the best thing that ever happened to my kids. Yishuv tov! And have you met Reichs yet? Please send our love!

  3. wonderful reading your inspiring blog on acclimating in a totally new environment. with admiration for your courage…

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