Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Haim Smadar

Over at My Shrapnel, Gila's brought my attention to something that, no offense Gila, I could have avoided having my attention brought to--the fact that there's now a documentary about a 2002 suicide bombing in Jerusalem. This is the one that motivated Newsweek to run a picture of the bomber and one of her victims side by side, since they were both West Semite girls in their late teens with long dark hair, and it was somehow supposed to 'mean' something, or at least tug at your heartstrings.

Anyway, now we've got this.

Gila does a pretty good job slicing and dicing the Director's Statement, so I'll leave it be. But this caught my attention, since there were actually two victims of Ayat al-Akhras' March 29, 2002 attack, and the one who goes unprofiled in this movie happens to be a personal hero.

Over the years, name after name, terror attacks start to run together. But now and then, one stranger, one face, one detail stands out and remains with you, and for me that was Haim Smadar, the 55-year old security guard at the supermarket that day. He was born in Tunis, the same year as my father, and was the father of six. During the school year he worked as a security guard at a school, but was working shifts at the grocery store to make a little holiday money during the Pesach break.

We'll never know how many lives he saved by intercepting the bomber as she moved toward her target. Witnesses say that his last words to al-Akhras, as he stopped her from entering the store were "You are not coming in here. You and I will blow up out here."

He'd always told his wife he would never allow a terrorist to get into his school, that he would stop an attack with his own body. He was not kidding.

Just an ordinary, everyday hero.

Keeping California Kosher

For those of you who aren't from around here, "California Kosher" is often used as a euphemism for "vegetarian, no hechsher, but what could be wrong with vegetarian?" So much so that my poor father, a cheeseburger-loving Catholic who does extensive work in the Jewish community has sometimes implored people to remember that "kosher" is not the Hebrew word for "nuts and berries".

The Balabusta's kitchen represents its own compromises. I have one set of everything, which is used for dairy, meat, and my husband's trayf microwave treats. I buy kosher meat, and read labels for egregious problems. And I don't make Cheesy Pasta Beef Delight Casserole. (This could be attributed to aesthetics, as well as religious concerns.) Everything else is pretty much up for grabs. (Don't even ask about Pesach. There's tin-foil, and a lot of wishful thinking involved. One of my fondest memories of my early teens is sitting with my father on one of the days of Pesach, out on our porch, enjoying the springtime breeze while he ate a sandwich from the supermarket.)

Naturally, this leads to all the frum Jews I know thinking I'm just a step away from eating a pork roast on Yom Kippur, while everyone else thinks I'm a dangerous religious fanatic. Go figure.

I have a fantasy that someday we will have a lot of money, and will have a house with, as I envision it, a big, properly kosher kitchen with two dishwashers and a compartmentalized fridge, and then a separate little kitchenette for my husband's stuff. He can keep his pork products there, and his carbs during Pesach, and a supply of beef jerky, and all the trayfedick-o-rama microwave stuff he enjoys.

There are also some additional problems with the Balabusta-Fella household's eating habits. Namely, religious concerns aside, we simply don't like a lot of the same foods. I like vegetables. A lot. The fella has a short list of vegetables he will eat if I think they're needed to keep him from getting scurvy.

I feel guilty if I eat too much meat. The fella feels deprived if there's not meat in most meals.

I like fish. The fella will not touch any kosher fish. (How the hell do you grow up in Hawaii and not like fish? He can pronounce the state fish of Hawaii, that's the humuhumunukunukuapua'a BTW, but he won't eat halibut.) He likes crab, but there, you see, we run into other problems again.

We have gradually grown together on some things. He will now eat pasta, (although not macaroni and cheese), and actually craves pesto. (This is thanks to my sister-in-law, who sent him a jar from Italy. When it ran out, he commented that we should ask her to send more. This led to the wonderful discovery that they sell pesto in American grocery stores.) We eat a lot of chicken. And every now and then he reminds me that I'm doing the cooking, and should just put food in front of him--if he can't eat it, he will heat a Hot Pocket.

Anyway, I'm usually on the lookout for new foods. At my old shul's Chanukah Bazaar, my mother bought me a new cookbook, titled, fetchingly, California Kosher. It appears to be the work of the Women's League of Adat Ari El Synagogue in North Hollywood, and it has a big navel orange stamped with a K on the cover.

I am having fun. We have discovered a really nice chicken recipe, so far, and I am planning to get some rhubarb and make the stuffed rhubarb recipe. Let you know how it goes. Actually, I know how it will go, having fed the fella stuffed peppers in the past, but the point is, he eats the filling.

The thing I'm still looking for is a fleishig kosher lasagna recipe. Anyone? Anyone?

On Vacation

For some reason, George C. Moonbat gives you Presidents' Day week off--what they call "Ski Week" in Marin.

I don't ski--never seen the attraction--but I am just starting to relax slightly.

Also, I can see the bottom of my sink again. This is good.

Today I am going to:

Send away for transcripts from my various colleges,
Get quarters from the bank,
Do a lot of laundry,
Cook something yummy,
Work out,
and possibly vacuum.

I have three pairs of new earrings, too! My husband negotiated for someone to bring me earrings back from their vacation in exchange for him sitting their cat! They are silver and dangly, and have amber bits.

(The fact that we were expecting Einat back from her trip to pick up her keys did lead to us opening the door around eight for a schnorrer from some moonbat organization, who began by telling us that he was a peace activist, and asking if the idea of George Bush getting control of more nuclear weapons ((he wasn't funny enough to say 'nuke-you-lahr')) made us want to vomit. Just what we needed before dinner. Although neither of us is keen on the idea of Mr. Bush fooling around with nukes, we closed the door on this chap anyway.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

But also a simcha!

My cousin is engaged! To a super girl! (OK, there had to be something good after that long extended wail!)

The Weekly Dozen

1. Grades are in. I think this is my last year of full-time teaching. I've decided to apply to a counseling program.

2. A parent has been shreiing at me for weeks to enter a couple of grades for her son. I finally did it. Thank God. The woman is hysterical with me, accusing me of lying to her. THe kid is getting approximately 117 percent for the semester, and no, that's not an exaggeration. Because his mother, my best student, is doing all the work.

3. Clinique Elixir Aromatics does not work for me. Too old-fashioned. Pretty, but smells like a lady of my grandma's generation would wear it to shul. Can't get used to the smell on me.

4. I thank God managed to get a refill on my Paxil.

5. Yesterday I went to Barney's. (Yes, Barney's NY is now in San Francisco.) I wanted to check out a lipstick brand that everyone says is superamazing, and is exclusive to them. I made my way to the basement, and left about five minutes later, because I was afraid I would knock over a $300.00 knicknack, and because a man with a middle European accent and a scarf around his neck and a young anorexic girl with hilarious Vogue-ready eye makeup had both started to trail me with worried expressions. Not your normal department store.

6. I want new glasses.

7. I got home last night and discovered that my boss called me on my cell, and at home. WHO CALLS ON THE WEEKEND? WHAT DID I DO? PROBABLY ABOUT GRADES? AAACK!

8. My husband is addicted to the Ritz Toasted Chips, especially the garlic mozzarella flavor.

9. My husband is looking for a part-time job.

10. I'm stressed.

11. Why does the house never get clean and stay that way? And why are my dishes being fruitful and multiplying in the sink?

12. Coffee. I need more coffee.