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Blog - It's all Greek to me!!!!

Life in Greece with a Jewish twist

Help, I crossed the date line!

What could possibly be the problem of crossing the date line that is going over this imaginary line on the world map somewhere between Australia/Asia and America, where the date changes? Not much, unless your name in Phileas Fogg and you’re trying to go around the world in 80 days ;-)

… Or unless your name is Moshe Levi and you cross the date line during the period of Sefirat Haomer . This is the period between Pesach and Shavuot, where we count each day just as the Jewish people counted the days in anticipation for the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai (and just as kids count the days until the end of the school year!). So every evening, we recite a blessing and say “ today is day 23… 24 etc…” . So far, so good…

But what happens if Moshe Levi leaves California on day 23 of the Omer and crosses the date line to get to Australia. Over there, it is already day 24. So when he arrives, does he skip a day and continues the count with day 25 as the rest of the local community (which does not make sense, after all this a count, where the days are supposed to add up) or does he continue his own personal count?

Another problem is the holiday of Shavuot: the Torah instructs us to celebrate it on the 50th day of the Omer… So when should Moshe Levi celebrate and eat cheesecake? Together with the community or one day later according to his own count?

Any ideas?

It's never too late








Yesterday was Pesach Sheni, the second Passover, where those who could not bring the Pesach offering in the times of the Temple had a second chance…

Of course, the message is timeless: there is always another opportunity to do a good deed, to fix what you have broken, to pursue your dream…

So it’s never too late to learn to speak Greek (replace with Hebrew if applies :) and to appreciate the taste of ouzo. It’s never too late to admire the sunset in Santorini, to learn Greek folk dance, to quit smoking (hint, hint…), to arrange my photo albums since 2002, be in touch with my childhood friend, start exercising, study Kabbala…

For LY the baby, it’s not too late to start sleeping at night ;-)

And I’m exemplifying this important attitude right now: even though Pesach Sheni is over, it’s never too late to post about it and get inspired...

The meaning of life













Don't forget the lecture of Rabbi Itschak Shochet from England on Monday May 19, at 20:00, in the Novotel, Michail Voda 4-6. (more info here)


"Celebrate life!" - what are our priorities? how can we be happy, embrace changes and make the best out of 'now'" .

See you there :-)

On strike!

Yesterday (Monday), there was a taxi strike in Athens. (Why? There are so many strikes in Greece that after a while, you just stop asking why… more seriously, this is why). The streets were somehow weird, deprived of the usually omnipresent yellow color.  There was almost no traffic, also something highly unusual (but much appreciated J ).

The truck drivers are on strike as well, which means our Kosher meat and chicken shipment from Italy is stuck until this matter is solved (the drivers block the ports).  Many of the gas stations are closed, having finished their gas supply (that also accounts for the lack of traffic, no gas – no cars). The rare stations still open have long lines of cars waiting in front of them…
















Seeing the dozens and dozens of cars stretching over hundreds of meters reminded me of pictures from war time and restrictions. The situation is different of course, and milk and bread are more vital than the “black gold” people are patiently (or impatiently) waiting for. Then again, in our modern times, we have become so dependant on energy… Could we really survive without electricity, gas and all our modern conveniences? I myself for example am quite annoyed when we have problems with our internet connection, I feel I am cut off from the world… well, 10 years ago, I barely knew how to make an internet search, and now I feel deprived without it! When there were electricity blackouts 2 months ago, I realized just how dependant we are… almost nothing was working: no elevators (we’re on the fifth floor, so it makes a difference!), no light (of course), no hot water for showers, no hot water for coffee, food in fridge and freezer in danger of getting spoiled, no cooking in our electric oven, no warming food in the microwave, no computer etc. you got the idea! We have become so used to the progress and comforts of technology that we barely manage when it’s taken away from us.

This just brings me to the idea we have to rethink what are our real NEEDS. I am not advocating a return to the Stone Age, but once in a while it is helpful to realize we don’t die if don’t have all the means we are used to. Because that’s what they are, just means. We have to concentrate on the PURPOSE, on HOW we utilize all the technology we are privileged to have. Telephone, cars, internet etc. are meant to make our lives easier, they are meant to save us time and effort, but for what purpose? The way we lead our lives and how we utilize our time and resources will make the difference.

Happy birthday, Israel!

In 60 years, so many accomplishments to be proud of…


I hope the next 60 years bring true peace to Israel and allow it to prosper even more, materially, as well as spiritually!


So I invite you to a virtual visit of Israel, along with a taste of Israel


The falafel virtuoso:

Falafel recipe: (thank you Gabi Levy, from the Israeli embassy)


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas.
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil for frying


Place dried chickpeas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight.

Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add baking powder.

Mash chickpeas, ensuring to mix ingredients together. You can also combine ingredients in a food processor. You want the result to be a thick paste.

Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball. Slightly flatten.

Fry in 2 inches of oil until golden brown (5-7 minutes).

Serve hot.

Gabi’s tricks:

Let mixture sit to blend flavors

Add baking powder ½ hours before frying


Nehama’s tip: do not eat falafel when going out on a date, there is NO elegant way to eat it… ;-) bon appetit!

The wall

Here is a moving poem on the 6 Day war.


























The Paratroopers Cry


Hayim Hefer



This wall has heard many prayers
This wall has seen the fall of many other walls
This wall has felt the touch of mourning women
This wall has felt petitions lodged between its stones.
This wall saw Rabbi Yehuda Halevi trampled before it
This wall has seen Caesars rise and fall
But this wall had never seen paratroopers cry.



This wall saw them tired and wrung out
This wall saw them wounded, mutilated
Running to it with excitement, cries and silence.
And creeping as torn creatures in the alleys of the
Old City
And they are covered with dust and with parched lips
They whisper, "If I forget thee, if I forget thee Jerusalem
They are swift as eagles and strong as lions
And their tanks - the fiery chariot of Elijah the Prophet
They pass by with noise
They pass by a stream
They remember the 2,000 awful years
In which we had not even a wall to place our tears



And here they stand before it and breathe in dust
Here they look at it with sweet pain
And tears run down and they look at one another perplexed
How does it happen that paratroopers cry?
How does it happen that they touch this wall
with great emotion?
How does it happen that their weeping
changes to song?
Perhaps because these boys of 19,
born at the same time as the state,
carry on their shoulders - 2,000 years.




Tonight starts the Yom Hazikaron, the Remembrance Day for the Israel Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism. We remember and we mourn those many, too many soldiers who gave their lives for this small country of Israel to exist and to survive… We remember and we mourn those innocent women, men and children who were the victims of terror, whose only crime was to be Jewish and live in the Jewish state…


In Israel, Chabad has an organization that helps the widows and orphans of Tzahal (IDF), as well as the terror victims: they offer economic as well as spiritual support, help with education, bar mitsvah preparations and weddings, holiday visits and gifts… Here is the link to the site of the Chabad Terror Victim Project.


The following video starts with the words of the remembrance prayer in Hebrew (see below for translation). But hang on, it follows with touching pictures.





May God remember the valiant men and women who braved mortal danger in the days of struggle prior to the establishment of the State of Israel and the soldiers who fell in the wars of Israel.


May the people of Israel cherish them in their memory; let them mourn the splendor of youth, the altruism of valor, the dedication of will and the dignity of self-sacrifice which came to an end on the battlefield.


May the loyal and courageous heroes of freedom and victory be sealed forever within the hearts of all Israel, in this generation and forevermore.


Never again

There was yesterday, as every year, a ceremony for the Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Jewish cemetery in Nikaia. It is quite formal, with Psalms recited at the beginning, then prayers for the Deceased (Kaddish and El Male Rachamim). Then came speeches, a poem by children of the local Jewish elementary school and the wreaths laid by the representatives of the municipalities and of the local Jewish organizations. A moving moment was when children distributed flowers to all the camp survivors.


Those survivors are fewer and fewer every year... we are the ones left with an immense duty of memory and of vigilance… Make sure that those barbaric times are never forgotten, and that, G-d forbid, they will never be back again…


We have to make sure that Judaism continues, that the heritage of the 6 Million is not lost… we have to make sure that Judaism stays a living thing and not a (only) a display on a museum shelf…


We are often challenged by questions such as: where was G-d during the Shoah? Was the Holocaust a “punishment”? Here are some interesting articles on these subjects.


And check out as well the new channels on YouTube from Yad Vashem, in English and Arabic, with testimonies, historical footage etc.

Sooooo, what brought you to Greece?

This is one question we have been asked many many times… Why do a French girl and an Israeli boy with their little daughter move from New York to Athens?

The answer is quite simple. Both me and Mendel did not want to live in a big organized community where most if not all Jewish needs are met. Inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we wanted to find a smaller community where we could make a difference, and add something in terms of Judaism.

The Rebbe founded an institution called Merkoz Leinyone Chinuch, to centralize all the demands and offers of “Shlichut” (assignments). In over 50 years of operation, thousands of young couples have been sent to literally all corners of the world!

We had a few offers, some in the United States, some in Russia (where Mendel spent a year and half as a student), some in Europe… One of the proposals was Greece.














In December 2000, we traveled to check out the place. We left a snowstorm in NY and arrived to a striking blue sky and sunshine… Wearing a jacket was optional. There were even some people (granted, not many) swimming on the beach of Paleo Faliro (south Athens). This was definitely a VERY positive first impression :). It was Chanuka time, and we met people from the community, were invited to their homes to light the Chanukiya, and got a general positive feeling. They were encouraging us to come, saying that there is a lot we can do here, and that our presence would enhance the community…

It still took a while to make the decision, then pack our stuff, organize a container, find an apartment and… here we are!!!













on what we do here in another post :)

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