Quick Update

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I am finally back from Sweden and back to the Blogosphere (at least for now) after 10 wonderful days with our students who were extremely well-behaved. They were polite, punctual, interested, appreciative and curious. What more could we dream of?

They also took the time to express their gratefulness: some of them thanked us profusely before leaving the coach and one sent me an email via Facebook.

Our colleagues in Sweden were extremely helpful and welcoming. In fact they were both new to the exchange as one former colleague is now retired and the other one no longer wished to take part because of the work involved. Obviously there was apprehension on both sides as a minimum of common understanding and goals is necessary for such an exchange to go smoothly but it worked out really well.

One teacher is a woman from Argentina whose family comes from Spain and Italy who is married to another Argentinian of both French and German descent. She teaches both French and Spanish when she is not raising her five children. We were welcomed to their homes on a couple of occasions and were most happy to share their daughter’s cakes after a cold and wet outing at the weekend.

The other teacher is a divorced mother of two who teaches French, Swedish and Swedish for foreigners. She enjoys reading and going to the movie, which means she and I had long conversations on favorite books and films, as well as school politics, teaching and religion.

Both women are very different but complementary and we shared lovely moments with them with or without the students.

It is now time to catch up with work and High Holiday preparations. I still have not decided whether I want to bake a honey or an apple cake but salmon will definitely be on the menu.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Pre-Vacation Weekly Review with Town Hall

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On My Blog

Photo Meme:
Deauville in Cloudy June for Summer Stock Sunday

More Photos: Arras: the Squares

Recipe: Ricotta & Lemon Cake

Ultra/Far/Extreme-Right in My School

Summer Reading

Teikei the French Way

Online Data vs Online Presence

This Week’s Basket for Nature Notes

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

The Jewish Book Carnival: July Edition is hosted by Ann D. Koffsky

Mrs.S. writes about the oleh’s folly

Shabbat Shalom from Torah MiTzion translated by a friend

Mother in Israel asks: Is 64 Too Old to Make Aliyah?

Leora hosts a guest post by Dottie: Camping and Healthy eating

Miriam writes about The Golem at the Table

The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of Sabbath, an article by Senator Joseph Lieberman

Jewish Living: Securing Your Home in an Insecure World by Abraham J. Twerski

Shabbat Shalom!

When Words Fail Us

The terrifying news of the past few days have left me speechless. Thousands of people have probably died in Japan, hundreds of thousands are left homeless and a nuclear disaster might still happen. Meanwhile Qaddafi is regaining territory, killing his people and crushing the revolution while the world is watching. In Itamar, a three-month old baby, two children and their parents have been murdered in their sleep.

I reckon that sometimes it is better to remain silent, at least here on this blog. However if we cannot talk, we can act. A number of organizations offer their expertise to help these people. Here is a list of suggestions:

Zaka has sent rescue units to Japan. You can send donations to American friends of Zaka or other branches in the UK, France and Israel.

– You can also donate to the Orthodox Union Earthquake Emergency Fund or to their Victims of Terrorism Fund.

The AWJS will not intervene in Japan but has a list of links to other Jewish organizations, receives donations for other causes and has educational resources for lay and religious educators.

Do not hesitate to suggest other organizations and links in your comments.

The Latest Gadget

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About a month agon I treated myself to the Ipad – along with a shell and a sleeve – and have enjoyed every second I have spent on it since.

I have purchased two kindle books: All-of-a-Kind Family (which I have read and greatly enjoyed) and Heart of the City by Ariel Sabar (which I have not started yet) and have downloaded a number of news apps (you can try and guess which ones) in both French and English.

Although it is not something I frequently do, I have also watched a few youtube videos to test the app and was pleasantly surprised : the quality of the image is really good.

I have also visited a number of blogs and commented from the Ipad on a few occasions.

Mostly I use my new gadget for reading, in the evening, and do not find it too heav – a frequent criticism. In fact reading it in bed is far more enjoyable than I expected.

I still need an iPad Camera Connection Kit but reckon that I will take the Ipad on my next trip and might even leave the computer at home.

There are obviously lots of other features that I have not discovered yet but I would recommend it for all the reasons I have mentioned above.

Fishing for Ideas

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A former student of mine, now aged 26, is leaving for the US soon. She just got a two-year contract and is going to Norfolk to work for Nato. She certainly is a bright young woman and reading her essays, when she was younger, was always a pleasure. I remember that I once photocopied a piece of work on an American painting since I found it so good.

Her parents are my colleagues and I have been invited, along with another English teacher, to a little farewell party on Thursday.

Therefore I am looking for ideas of something to give her she could take with her. I was thinking that a book that would be set in Virginia would be a fine idea but really can’t think of one.

Any suggestion anyone?

Short for Time

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I have been busy this week: trying to get some rest after a full school term, entertaining my nephew and driving on both snow and ice – among other things – I have therefore too little time for my weekly review but hope to do a more thorough round up next week.

Let me just point out these two very different articles:
The Arduous Community by David Brooks
People of the E-Book? Observant Jews Struggle With Sabbath in a Digital Age by Uri Friedman

Shabbat Shalom!

Latest Musings

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– I am very busy again. Our school is being audited this week and I have been asked to participate in two informal talks: one about the projects we have (because of the exchange we have had with a Swedish high school for 11 years) and one because I am on the school board.
Unfortunately two other meetings had been planned prior to the audit – a parents’ evening and a school board meeting. They have neither been cancelled not postponed, which means going back to the school every evening of the week, except Fridays.

– The parents’ evening was last night. I saw just over half of my students’ parents (only one class was concerned,) which is not too bad for a language teacher. French and maths teachers are the stars. Parents often seem surprised at hearing how accurate our perception of their children are. Do they think we only see the grades and not the personality behind the results?

My trainee will be unofficially inspected next Tuesday and I am beginning to feel the pressure too. The “real” thing will take place in May once she is supposed to have learned the trade.

– I ordered and received Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn by Ayala Fader. I hope to read it soon and write a review on this blog.

– How is your week?

Useful Iphone Apps for Jews

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Kosher Fish: provides a searchable list of kosher fish in Hebrew, English, Spanish, German and French. Just type the name of the fish and you will be told whether the fish is kosher or not. Especially useful on vacation when you don’t know all the names of the fish in other languages.

IBerakhot: Type the name of the food you are about to eat and will you know what brachah you should say and the text of the brachah itself (in French).

MangerCasher: Helps you find a kosher restaurant, bakery, butcher, deli or store in France. Useful for the traveler to France as it also contains a list of authorized products available there.

Siddur: A whole weekly siddur. This app allows you to choose your own nusach. You find the zmanim for your location, the addresses of the nearest minyanim, a Jewish calendar and a number of other features. Rabbi Eli Fink has written a much better and more thorough review, check it for more information.

SpringCleaning: This is not strictly speaking a Jewish app but was developped in Israel. This little app enables you to delete the contacts you don’t use very often from your contacts icon while keeping them in store in case you ever need them. As a result scrolling down your contacts is quicker as the old contacts don’t get in the way.