Thursday, November 29, 2007


Not happening today, either.

Now we're planning for Monday.



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Still not mine

Regarding my purchase of an apartment, the contract still is not finished.

In the last two days, I've dealt with:

  • A seller's lawyer who does not respond to faxes, emails, or phone messages from my lawyer
  • A seller who decides in the 11th hour to look more closely at the contract that her lawyer has hammered out over the course of weeks, and request major changes
  • A real estate agent with whom I never signed a contract demanding money from me, when for the last 2 months he's been lying and yelling to everyone involved and creating a huge mess and making everyone tired. He has called so many times in the last couple of days to yell at me (he also has yelled in the past at my lawyer, my appraiser, my mortgage broker, and the seller -- his own client), that it crossed my mind to find out whether Israel has such a thing as restraining orders.
  • My own feelings of exhaustion and "being sick of all this" and hardly caring any more about the apartment itself, just finishing these stupid contract negotiations.

At the moment, and with God's help -- because I need it -- we're scheduled to do the signing tomorrow.

On a brighter note, my friend Rivka K. is in Israel on business, and we had dinner last night. She is so amazing. I wish I could see her more than once or twice a year.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven, the side dishes are all baked, and I am taking a rest before washing all the dishes and welcoming my guests.

I have much to be thankful for, as, God willing, I'll be signing a contract on Tuesday for the purchase of a new apartment. And of course, I'm thankful for my wonderful parents who are helping make that happen, and to my sister for being a great sister, and to my friends, and to my blog readers.

My guests include Beth and Simcha, and Lisa S., and a lovely British couple who often have me over for Shabbat meals. As far as I know this is their first Thanksgiving feast, though I am not sure - I'll have to ask them.

On the menu:

- creamy zucchini soup
-turkey with sides of whole carrot and onion
-sweet potato kugel
-cranberry sauce
-for dessert: apple crisp


Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Well, the lawyers are working on the final version of the contract, and if it pleases the will of the Almighty God, I'll be signing it in a few days, and will be on my way to being a homeowner!

Not exactly a homeowner, since the way things work in Israel is that the buyer pays in installments over a few months. In my case there will be about 8 months between the down payment and when I move in. Not my preference but that's how things work.

Of course, this gives all of you, my faithful and beloved readers, plenty of time to click that "Donate" button there on the right and help me furnish this lovely space which, without your help, will remain very very open for a long, long time. Seriously, my possessions, other than kitchen items, consist of: a bed, a desk, several bookshelves. That is it. No closets, no couch, no table. We are looking at many, many months of living with a salon furnished with bean bags. Which is much better than living in a rented studio, but still . . . . Please help!

In other news, I haven't mentioned that I've been sick for about two weeks. It started with dizziness and loss of appetite for a few days, then became a fever and congestion with several days of eating nothing but soup (I lost 6 pounds in 5 days), and is now winding down as a persistent cough. Not conducive to productivity, I must say. I have a few clients about to kill me.

Finally, I'm so excited about Thursday! As is my custom, I am hosting a traditional Thanksgiving meal for couples who often host me on Shabbat but for various reasons cannot usually come to me, and have pulled out all the stops. The Turkey is ordered and the shopping list, which will include all-otzar-bet-din-no-heter-mechira sweet potatos, carrots, zucchini, onions, apples (which don't yet have a shmittah issue) and cranberry sauce (which is imported), is all written and ready to go. Thanksgiving and Otzar Bet Din: Two great things that taste great together!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Missing Teenager - May be in Monsey, Brooklyn, or Richmond

Have you seen this girl?

From her page on

DOB: Jul 13, 1991
Missing: Oct 30, 2007
Height: 5'2" (157 cm)
Eyes: Blue
Race: White
Age Now: 16
Sex: Female
Weight: 130 lbs (59 kg)
Hair: Blonde
Missing From:
United States
Shana may travel to Richmond, Virginia, or to Brooklyn or Monsey, New York. Her ears are pierced.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST)

From an announcement about it in the NCSY alumni e-mail newsletter:

An Alumnus writes: I have a friend in Richmond, Va. that ran away last week. I have been asked to get this email out to as many people as possible. Her name is Shana Colby and she's 16 years old, blonde, and blue eyed. There are a lot of theories that she may have gone to New York and the hope is that especially with the everyone-knows-everyone factor in the Jewish world that someone will know someone who has information.

We think she may be in danger and whatever anyone can do to help the situation would be appreciated. So if you guys could forward this email to as many people as you think would help that would be great (especially those of you in the metro-politan day schools).

Note: If you decide to send an email around about this girl, please include, high up in your email, the date you wrote it, and request that anyone receiving it NOT forward it anymore after, say, a month without at least checking first at that she's still missing.

I don't know what the story is here, but if there is any possibility that she's in danger, it's worth it to create hype.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not a happy day.

I have the flu. :-(

And, yesterday -- or two days ago? I can't keep track, I've been sleeping my fever away -- I brought an engineer to look at the new apartment before I sign any contracts.

He found two important structural problems. Both can be fixed, but the question is: who will pay for it? And when? and if we include in the contract that the seller must fix it, what happens if she doesn't? Or what happens if it's not fixed well?

I'm not looking for advice -- thank God, I've got a fantastic lawyer and several home-owner friends who are helping to keep me sane -- but it's all such a nightmare, especially since the seller has been really difficult this whole time.

But I really want the apartment, if these things get fixed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tell me again . . . ?

So, Hamas, the party that was elected into power in the PA, kills some of their own fellow Palestinians at a Fatah rally, and we're supposed to establish peaceful relations with them how?

What exactly is supposed to happen in Annapolis? I'm so confused.

Why not just give up the pretending and admit there won't be peace for a while? Let Hamas do their thing, and say "we'll get back to you guys in a few years, if you've gotten your act together."

This whole cycle of empty peace-making promises -- every few months, a new meeting, every few months, nothing happens -- just causes fatigue and even deeper cynicism than before.

Let's give it a rest. Maybe we'll pick it up again after the next PA election, OK?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Deep Thoughts by Sarah

If there are two things that really bother me, it's intellectual dishonesty, and hypocrisy.

I have always worked hard on being straightforward, accepting the truth, doing as I say and saying as I do.

But lately I've come to admit to myself that there are a great many things about which I am, indeed, hypocritical.

Which means that I'm a hypocrite about hating hypocrisy.

That is so "meta."

Don't worry, I'm not upset or anything. I'm not beating myself up. I made this observation in more of a laughing-at-myself sort of way. This is not meant to be heavy, have no concerns.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Apartment Hunting - UPDATE!

I've found an apartment! I hesitate to write about it now, because I haven't signed the contract for it, and in Israel, until one has signed the contract, the seller can pull out of the deal at will. So it's not a done deal. But we've been "in the process" for a while now . . . the seller has been a bit difficult and we had several obstacles to overcome in the negotiating process . . . I have a fantastic lawyer and a fantastic mortgage broker . . . and we're at the stage when the contract is almost finished, and I'm bringing in an engineer to look over the building structure, and I'm calling the neighbors to introduce myself (and see if any of them are crazy).

It's a very cute, renovated, 2-bedroom! It's the perfect size for one person living by herself who wants a home office as well as a bedroom, and the salon is just big enough that I can host Shabbat meals in the manner to which I was accustomed before making aliyah. (I've been living in a studio for the past four years!)

It's located in a very nice neighborhood called San Simon, down the street from a large synagogue and a 10-minute walk from a reasonably-priced supermarket and the post office. There is also a well-stocked grocery store across the street, and it is exactly a 25-minute walk to the corner of Emek Refaim Street and Rachel Imeinu. Yes, I timed it.

The only down side (other than having to walk an extra 15 minutes to my favorite hangouts, but I guess I'll live) is that it is a 4th-floor walkup. Between 4 flights of stairs and the extra 15 minutes in the walk to Emek, I'll be getting into really good shape.

Of course, the silver lining is that I have a nice view, and since I'm on the top floor I won't have to worry about who might be stomping around upstairs. Also, the Va'ad Bayit (building committee, which organizes care for common spaces) is arranging for everyone to build balconies onto their apartments, b'H within the next 2 years. It is an extra cost, but not a high one since the whole building is doing it, and I'll be able to have a succah! And a balcony with a nice view! Barbecue at my place!

And then, if the stars align correctly, perhaps they'll add an elevator.

Meanwhile, I'm so excited about the idea of having my very own place. With a salon. And an office. No more working and hosting in my bedroom!

There is, though, the issue of furniture. Once I pay for the apartment, and the broker, and the lawyer, and the mortgage broker, and the purchase tax, and the mover, and the painter (the only renovation I'm doing right now; I can't afford more and anyway the apartment, though not exactly the way I'd like it, is perfectly acceptable the way it is) . . . there's precious little left over for furnishings.

I'll need, immediately, a closet and a kitchen table, neither of which I currently own (my current place has a built-in closet, and my desk doubles as a table). And, to fully use all my new space, I'll need another closet, another bed, a sofa, coffee table, and a couple of chairs, a small dining table, and some sort of closet for coats and boots.

Did you realize that my birthday passed on August 18, and I neglected to post my annual birthday wish list? And, you know, chanukah is coming!

So I'm making a brazen request -- or, to put a more positive spin on it, giving you a chance to help with a mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz? -- to please help me furnish my new apartment! See, on the right, I've created a "donate" button through PayPal. It's easy and fun, and of course I'll be using the new stuff to host lots of company, including visitors from abroad.

Please help me buy a couch!

Love, Sarah

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bother, Father, Hill, Heel

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


You're not Northern, Southern, or Western, you're just plain -American-. Your national identity is more important than your local identity, because you don't really have a local identity. You might be from the region in that map, which is defined by this kind of accent, but you could easily not be. Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

I took this quiz months ago, and the result was, correctly, that I'm from the Boston area but not from Boston itself. Apparently they've tweaked the quiz because this is my new result.

Not a shocking result, since most people who find out I'm from metro-Boston say "but you don't have a Boston accent." Having parents from outside the area, and going to school with people who, almost to the person, also have parents from outside the area, is not conducive to developing a local accent.

(Hat tip: Treppenwitz)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Letter to the New York Times

A couple of weeks ago, the Times' Real Estate section published a story about an American couple who bought a luxury apartment in Jerusalem and had it decorated by a New York designer.

The day the article came out, I sent in the following letter. Since, at this point, they clearly have no plans of publishing it, I'm sharing it with you here.

Interestingly, shortly after I sent this letter, a local Hebrew paper published a 3-page feature article on this very topic. It made me feel so "in the moment."

When Leo and Myrna Zisman’s daughter suggested buying a vacation home in Israel, they thought “Why not?” (“With Art and Color, a Home to Mirror Jerusalem,” October 24, 2007.)

Here is why not: The American demand for Jerusalem vacation homes is pricing out
those of us who live, work, and vote here. And, it is depressing to live next to
an apartment – or several apartments – that are dark for most of the year.

To Americans with money to kick around and a love for Israel, I suggest alternatives: buy Jerusalem real estate and rent it out to Israelis, so the property will be inhabited year-round; come on more vacations and patronize Israeli hotels, restaurants, taxis, and stores; start a free loan society to help Israelis buy homes in Jerusalem; or move here permanently, and turn your New York home into the vacation home. We’d certainly love to have you here!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

My story published "All over the place"

Yesterday I added a new feather to my proverbial career cap, covering a story for a wire service.

It's not an emu feather, but close enough.

I attended the ceremonies to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle for Beersheba, which I'd first read about on, and covered the day's pageantry for the Australian Associated Press. For the connection between the story and emu feathers, you can read my story here, or get more of the historical details over at Trep.

I'm told that my work is now "popping up all over the place," though usually without my name attached. If you see it in your paper and it says "source: AAP," then that's me! Yay!

I also submitted several photos which the AAP is using (and paying extra for! Yay!)

You can see my pictures here. They are numbers AAP 810-814, and AAP 822. Considering that I'm using a high-end layperson camera rather than the $2,000 - $5,000 cameras the "real" photographers were using, I think I did OK.

And here's an extra just for readers of my blog:

Michael Ramsay of Carnoustie, Scotland explains the concept of a clan tartan to Be'er Sheva residents Eliza Frankel, 15, and her sister Deanne, 9. Behind them: Members of the Australian Light Horse Association.

It was a fun day. I want to thank the AAP for paying me to attend the events, and David von Treppenwitz for supplying me with information, several rides within and from Be'er Sheva, his internet connection, and dinner. It turned out to be an 18-hour day, and his help made it easier.

If you see my story in your local paper, please provide a link in the comments. Thanks!