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

Life in Greece with a Jewish twist

New Year for the Trees

 tree - writing.jpgWe are in the last line before the holiday of Tu bishvat, the new Year for the Trees, (here for greek) coming out this year Shabbat 15 Shvat – Friday evening January 29 and Saturday January 30, 2010.

Tomorrow evening we’re joining the international celebration of “One Shabbat, One world”. Tens of thousands of Jews from all across the globe are coming together to eat, drink, relax and celebrate a Shabbat dedicated to universal peace and harmony...  And we will participate from Athens!! Part of the meal will be dedicated to the Seder Tu Bishvat according to Kabbalah, eating various fruits, drinking different colored wine, and learning about their various symbolisms.
This is not all! Tu Bishvat is an excellent occasion for us to reflect on the environment, think about where we stand and what additional step we can do to help. Tu Bishvat is traditionally a time of planting trees, and we thought, especially after the devastation caused by the fire forests last summer, that it would be a great occasion to go and plant trees to reforest those areas.
Last but not least, we will visit the old age home Resteion, eat traditional fruits, and celebrate there Tu Bishavat as well!
Join us for one or all of the events!!! And have a great Tu Bishvat!!

Reaction or proaction?

There have been some really terrible news these last weeks…

On a world scale, the earthquake and human catastrophe in Haiti: the tragedy of so many lost lives, the magnitude of the devastation, the terrible images… The extent of the disaster is unfathomable…  No words to describe the horror... I think each person has been touched and has asked himself how he can help. Israel has sent a mobile hospital. Chabad is present in the Caribbean and is of course part of the relief effort. Visit their site to learn about their efforts and to donate online.
In the Jewish world, the synagogue of Hania, Crete has been the victim of 2 arson attacks in 11 days. Significant damage has been done to the library and the synagogue itself, many precious books and artifacts have been destroyed or ruined, and this very act of hatred is extremely disturbing to all of us in Greece, and abroad. The synagogue had been renovated in 1999, thanks to donations and to the untiring efforts of Mr. Stavroulakis. Please visit his blog to learn more about the synagogue, the work that needs to be done and donate to this significant cause.
On another level, these crimes need to be denounced and punished. All political leaders should come out with a clear condemnation of these anti-Semitic attacks, and make it known that such offenses will not be tolerated: they will be prosecuted, denounced and punished.  
All these actions are important. But they are only reactions.
What is crucial is to do “pro-action”. What I mean is not to wait for tragedies, for crises and for problems to act. This includes sending donations to third world countries to develop their infrastructure and their economy before terrible images of natural disasters hit the media and touch our hearts. Anti-Semitism issues should be tackled by education, communication and awareness even before such awful events happen.
This will truly mean being responsible citizens of the world and committed Jews , who work actively towards transforming the world into a peaceful and better place.

We're all in the same boat

France 141.jpg
The day of our flight back from Paris to Athens, it snowed. To the delight of the children, we woke up in a magical world covered in white. For them, snow meant playing outside, building a snowman and even shoveling (even Levi, 2 years old, tried to help!). For us, snow meant also a probable delay of our flight and difficult traffic.France 165.jpg
Thankfully, thanks to internet, we knew right away that our flight would be delayed 2 ½ hours. So we left my parents’ home later but still gave ourselves plenty of time to navigate the icy roads and the slow traffic. When we arrived to the airport, we learned that our flight will have some more delay. So the waiting started.
The most distressing part was that no final hour was given, so we were left wondering if our flight will actually leave or maybe get canceled. Eventually, our plane arrived, and we all boarded, only to wait some more… for some passengers that did not show up for boarding (their luggage had to be located and taken out). After this was cleared up, the plane started to move, to the applause of the passengers. Alas, it stopped, and we started waiting again, until the pilot announced that there was a technical problem (with the heating of the windows, if I understood correctly) and that we would have to disembark… Just imagine people’s reactions! Hungry and tired, most had been waiting from the morning in the airport, and here you had one more delay to cope with… To make a long story short, we finally boarded another plane, which left Paris with a 7 hour delay.
What was interesting is that sharing the same discomfort and annoyance made all the passengers feel close one to each other. People were complaining together, joking together, sharing stories of other delays etc. It reminded me of my year of teaching in Paris, where I would take the train every morning at the same time. Eventually, I started recognizing some faces, who took the same train at the same hour… But nobody spoke, nobody as much as cracked a smile… It seems that the attitude de rigueur was making a long face… ;-) Until there were some strikes of the trains personnel, and suddenly, the ice melted. As we were all being squashed in one of the rare trains circulating, everybody was cursing the train company together :), everybody was speaking and laughing together… In the hot wagon, with all the people begin on top of each other for lack of space, people were imaging new slogans for the SNCF (French Railway Company): “SNCF guarantees you a warm atmosphere on board!” or” “The SNCF brings people closer!”.
And indeed, it seems that there is nothing as a shared inconvenience (or even worse, a tragedy G-d forbid) to bring people closer. But why wait for these disagreements to be friendly and warm to each other? We have to realize we are all in the same boat from the very beginning, and that a smile and a good word will not take away from us, on the contrary!
So let’s be friendly and welcoming to each other, and our ride in this world will be much more pleasant!


7 things I brought back from France

France 050.jpgWe just came back from 10 days in France spent with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and it was absolutely amazing. Besides a full program of outings and fun activities for the children, we just enjoyed schmoozing, laughing and relaxing together…

In brief and in no particular order, here is what I took away from this trip:

1)  Family is the best! Never forget to keep your priorities straight: Your loved ones should come before anything else, and you should make it a point to spend time with them!

2) Kids are expected to misbehave sometimes… it’s okay for them to sometimes be cranky, noisy, angry and moody. Expecting those moments will help you to (relatively :) ) keep your calm and not let this ruin the outing/ activity of the day.

3) Time flies! Enjoy the moment! Kids will not be kids forever… (upon seeing how my nephews/nieces grew so much since I last saw them).

4) Kids just enjoy the simplest activity and it is not always necessary to bring them to Disneyland… (even if they did enjoy it!). Simple arts and crafts and ball games in the yard with the cousins made them perfectly happy.

5) I have to enjoy the mild winter of Athens. Paris was freezing… I had forgotten what cold means. Sometimes, you need to step away in order to enjoy the things you got used to.

6) There is nothing like mommy’s food :) . Anything cooked with love is delicious :) .

7) It’s possible to make pancakes with whole wheat and brown sugar, and even without sugar at all. But of course, you still eat them with chocolate syrup :).

That’s up for now… I will tell you our return flight adventure in the next post.

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