Monday, June 25, 2007

Hevel Heveilim 122

My post on working moms in Israel is in the 122nd Hevel Heveilim. HH is a carnival of all things Jewish and Israeli. There is a wide assortment. Check it out, there is something for everyone HH #122.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Adjusting to Israeli Cooking

When I made aliya it took a while before I adjusted to Israeli cooking. The zucchinis looked different and there were so many dairy products I had never seen before. What exactly is gvina levana? Where is my cheddar? I've assimilated some Israeli cooking (I've even made Kubeh soup - just the soup not the Kubeh -that is for another post) and I like some of the changes. Here is my first recipe that I've created that really shows Israeli influence. Not an American recipe I've adapted but an Israeli one I've made using Israeli ingredients. It is for pashtida - somewhere in between a quiche and a kugel. It's crustless but often dairy and more egg based than a kugel. It's a hit for a weekday supper or a seuda shlishit.

Tuna Pashtida
250 grams cottage
250 grams gvina levana
2 cans tuna
1 can corn
¾ cup bread crumbs
2 eggs

optional spices:
2 teaspoons onion soup mix
a pinch of type
seasoned salt

grated yellow cheese (keter, edam)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients except cheese. Pour into a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

I read an interesting parenting book not long ago called "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" by Dr. Wendy Mogel. I found it to be delightfully common sense. She speaks about certain concepts in childrearing which she calls blessings. For example on the chapter on the blessing of uniqueness she speaks about the fact that although we want our child to be good at everything because then they will have the best chances of succeeding in an unpredictable world, that is unrealistic. It seems only in childhood do we expect people to be good at everything. She notes you wouldn't ask your car mechanic a history question or your pediatrician an Art History question (those weren't her exact examples). But children are expected to get 100% in every subject. She also speaks about how we cannot protect our children from everything and if we do one day it will come crashing down because when they are faced with their first challenge they will fall. That comforted me when my daughter came home from Maon with a bite mark on her arm. When I write these things, they seem common sense, obvious. Maybe they are to seasoned parents, or maybe I've intuited them myself to a certain degree already. It was a smooth, easy, feel good read.

Monday, June 4, 2007

A Working Mother in Israel

Is it hard to be a working mother in Israel? I think it is hard to be a working Ima anywhere. Honestly, I haven't been an Ima anywhere else so I don't know if I can objectively answer the question. Yet, prompted by a comment on a previous post I'm willing to explore the theme.

The Israeli workforce is relatively family friendly (especially compared to the US). As a graduate student in Biology I work from 8:30 AM till 3 PM so I can get home on time to pick my daughter up from Maon (daycare). I remember doing a summer internship in Sloan Kettering where a newly married post doc admitted to aiming for 12 hour work days. A social worker I know (whose daughter in law is a biologist) claimed that biology is a greedy profession (along with the rabbinate and medicine). There is always more to do, an article to read, a PCR to run, some DNA cloning to work on, buffers to make . . . And still in Israel many women work in the field and are home to pick up their children, especially religious ones. Often they have understanding husbands, but 95% of the time they are home with the kids by 4 PM when most Maons or Tzaharons (after school programs) end. From what I hear from friends in the states you can't do that in most professions except teaching. Furthermore, its wholly acceptable to stay home for any of the holidays that your kids get off for: Lag Baomer, Erev Chag etc. In America I always remember my parents using precious few vacation days for actual Yom Tov, taking off Chol Hamoed was rarely an option. Taking off for sick kids is also well accepted. So jobs in Israel are often sensitive to Imas.

In terms of surviving on low salaries, it is hard for some to make the adjustment, but you have two choices. Either you can try and import your previous lifestyle here, or you can create a new one. If you forever try and live in Israel on Chutz L'Aretz standards then it will be hard. There is a certain culture of materialism that I'm happy to have left behind. I enjoy new clothes and fun kitchen gadgets, but in the US I find myself shopping (not for food) three or four times a week. Here I buy something when I need it. Salaries might be low, but that means that there are less expectations to have lots of stuff and I don't think people suffer as a result of it.

Of course being a working Ima is hard. You wake up early to get ready and your kid(s) ready. You get to work and feel like you need to make the most of your time because you're there less time than the men and single women. You rush home and try and have quality time with your family and prepare a healthy supper. Bath, bed, stuff around the house, maybe a few minutes to yourself and then sleep. The next morning it starts all over again. It is difficult, but I don't see why it's different than anywhere else in the world.