Tag Archive | Eilat

Earthquake Preparations

Today there was another minor earthquake, in Egypt, but felt in Eilat, measuring at 3.3.  That makes seven earthquakes in six days, six of the seven taking place in the north, around the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).  There were two yesterday – a 3.3 and a 2.2; on Thursday there was a 3.5; there was one on Shabbat (Saturday), that also measured at 3.5, and two on Sunday, both measuring at 3.6.  Today’s was a surprising change, since it was felt in Eilat (all the way at the southern tip of Israel), instead of in the north.

Obviously, since we are so far away from both of them, we didn’t feel any of these quakes, and only know about it from the news.  Also, a few weeks ago, Yitzchak got a brilliant idea and called a friend who is on the city council, to find out that his brilliant idea is correct (I still don’t fully believe it and won’t until I see a source, but he has a point): All the buildings here are built according to the earthquake codes, even though most of these buildings were built before 1980, when the codes went into effect.  The reason?  The building codes for earthquake safety are good for nuclear blasts, too.  (Not that I understand why the city would care, since we don’t have a nuclear reactor, but maybe one day when we get one they’ll decide to put it near this city.)

seven steps, 7 steps, earthquake preparedness, earthquake readiness, earthquake, earthquakes, earthquake drills, disasters, natural disasters, preparation, safety, prevention, planningSo now our emergency kit, started several months ago, is getting finished at an accelerated pace.  Not completely finished – we don’t have iodine pills yet, and we don’t have stuff to seal rooms during chemical warfare – but the basic stuff will be finished.  One thing that I want to put in is our marriage contract – according to Jewish law, a couple is not allowed to live in the same house if they don’t have their ketuba (marriage contract).  I want to put it in the bag, so that it’s there.  Yitzchak wants to keep it in the house.  Maybe we should get a second one written, and that way if we ever decide to divorce, I’ll get double the amount of money.  (Just kidding, it doesn’t work that way, and getting a second copy written is complicated, because technically I could take one copy to one court and demand money for it, and then take the other copy to the other court and demand money for it, and so to prevent that, there are rules about how to write a second copy and when it’s allowed, etc.)

It’s kind of nerve wracking to be hearing about all these earthquakes and that seismologists aren’t sure what will happen next.  On the other hand, seismology is not yet the most accurate of sciences, and the status changes often, soooo . . .

The experts don’t think that these small quakes change the likelihood of a big one.  On the other hand, they say that if a bit one happens, it’s each man for himself, and it’s up to us to make sure we’re prepared.

But you know what?  Every place has its issues.  We are much safer right now than we were in Jerusalem, for a lot of reasons.  And, we can keep our bag in the bomb shelter, which almost certainly will still be standing straight after any size earthquake, because it’s just a big metal box with windows and a door.

All I can do is pray that if a major earthquake does hit, we’ll all be together, and preferably near home, so we can find our blankets, emergency kit, and everything else – even if we have to dig a bit.  Hopefully, Yitzchak and his city-council friend are right and our building will still be standing strong.  But most important is that we’re together.  Next most important – that we find our bag – it has photocopies of critical documents, supplies, and everything else.

Please, G-d, just do us a favor and keep us together, safe, and close to home.

Chanuka in Israel

menorah, menora, chanuka, hannuka, festival of lights, dreidel, money, gelt, jewish holiday, chanukiya, chanuka menora, Hanukkah menorah, happy chanuka

A Chanuka menora.

Today is the first day of Chanuka (Hanuka).  Last night we lit one candle; tonight we will light two (and tomorrow is the second day).  This is because, according to Jewish law, the day begins at night.  We learn this from the Chumash (Pentateuch), when it says, “. . . and it was evening, and it was morning, the first day . . .”  (Gen. 1:5)

This is actually nice, because it means that instead of eight days off, we get eight and a half – to every holiday, we add the day before to the count of vacation.  Sometimes, it is only a half day.  But a half day of vacation is better than none, right?  However, the vacation is necessary: Chanuka candles (or any holiday candles, and most of our holidays begin with them) need to be lit just after (or before, depending on the day of the week and/or the family’s custom) sunset.  Today, that will be around 4:45 pm.  Imagine if schools weren’t off!  Pick-up would be at 3:30pm, and by the time you arrived home, you would be rushing to light the menora.  Doesn’t sound like too much holiday fun, huh?

In Israel, preparation for Chanuka starts at the beginning of the previous month.  Chanuka starts on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.  The beginning of the previous month, is the beginning of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, just a week or so after the end of the holiday of Sukkot.  Suddenly, on all the lamp posts, you see Chanuka menoras.  Stores put up Chanuka decorations.  Some people do give presents every night, but many, if not most, do not give children presents every night, if at all.   Bakeries start making sufganiyot (pronounced soof-gan-ee-ot), the special donuts with no hole in the middle, powdered sugar sprinkled on top, and into which is squirted jelly.  Between the beginning of Cheshvan and the end of Chanuka, about six billion (with a “b”, not an “m”) sufganiyot are made and eaten.  It is the time of year, however, that people like to take their families to visit Eilat.

Eilat is a popular tourist/vacation city, with beaches, boats, and all that come with them.  It is also sunny, and for Israelis, that is very important.  Chanuka comes at the time of year when the rain has started, it is chilly, and the sun is not out so much.  While that may be good for the country, and good for your health in many ways, Israelis don’t like it.  They – we – like sun, heat, and warm weather.  So, when most of the country is already being doused in rain (hopefully), many people use Chanuka vacation to go to Eilat.  There they may enjoy a standard vacation – or they may stay in a hostel, just enjoying the warm weather and swimming on the beach, not spending too much money.

While most people outside Israel light their menora in their windowsill, Israelis often, if not always, light it outside the house.  There are special boxes that people can buy to hang their menora outside their gate.  (We don’t have one, because we have nowhere to store it).  Many buy the box simply for the protection from the wind that it affords, and place it on a table.  But, hardly anyone lights the candles in their home.  In a way, I miss that.  It gives a kind of holiday atmosphere to the house.  On the other hand, when you walk outside, there is more of a holiday atmosphere than there would otherwise be (and more danger), because the whole street is lit up.  The other downside?  If you are using one of the menora boxes, that severely limits the kinds of menoras you can choose to light.

And of course, in the street, in the malls, on the radio, and everywhere else, there are songs, dances, get-togethers, and everything else you would expect holiday spirit to create – including comparisons between the situation then and the situation now.

Before I forget:  I invite all readers who have a question or a topic that they would like me to discuss, to speak up.  I will do my best to satisfy your curiosity; just leave a comment.