I'm writing this from Amsterdam, where Earl and I are spending 5 days with the 3 youngest on our way to LA to visit my dad. We're not away from Israel for too long because with Dani in the army I don't like leaving for an extended period, even if Assad is behaving for now. Poo poo. We chose to come here because we needed to go somewhere that Earl can pray 3 times a day with a minyan since he's saying Kaddish for his father so we looked for a place with members of the tribe, and because London is expensive and Paris is full of French people.
The affiliated Jews here don't live in the city center anymore but a bit out, in the Dutch 'burbs, so we tram it in every morning and back at night. Or what should be night; it's 10 PM and still light out. (That's why we came here after the fast of 9 Av.) Shabbat should be interesting, we're eating with an (Israeli, of course) family who does this for extra cash. I had falafel (really did, don't laugh, I'm not a big carnivore) for dinner at the Israeli run meat restaurant. (They're very homesick, I had a long shmooze with the owners. We hit the Israeli owned pizza place last night; he was closed but made us pies anyhow since we looked so pathetic. Did wonders for the chat I was having with the kids about Jewish hospitality to Jewish travelers over the centuries. Nothing like a real time 'chessed' to drive a point home.)
This place is so fascinating, canals, cool architecture and incredible museums- we all know lots about Rembrandt and Van Gogh and the stunning dollhouses that wealthy Amsterdam woman had built in the 1700's with money their husbands made importing spices and other goodies from far away. Tomorrow we take a walking tour in the afternoon of the old Jewish area which should be fun considering that at times today it poured and more is coming. Yesterday we went through Anne Frank's house and the Annex; it's extremely moving, even to the majority of visitors who are not Jewish. How can you not tear up at the site of the pencil marks on the wall marking the children's growth during their 2 years of hiding? There are a few commemorations to WWII and the Holocaust around, 90% of Dutch Jews went to the camps. We'll learn more tomorrow, but we already know that a big reason for the Dutch being a marine superpower in the 1600's was the influx of Portuguese Yiddin after the Expulsion from the Iberian peninsula, due to the relative freedom of religion here. We make things happen, that we do. Then they kill us. Is that stupid, or what?
I got a nice feeling telling the kidlets that the royal family was called....the House of Orange. Gush Katif notwithstanding.
The rest of Europe- and back home- is sizzling but here we wore jackets, and got sprinkled, as did all the cyclists whizzing by, talking on phones, with dogs and or toddlers in baskets. Maybe we'll rent some on Sunday and ride around. Be nice if my spinning muscles got a workout before they atrophy. But we'll stick to one of the beautiful parks and not the trafficky areas, not sure I want Nili dashing through a light on 2 wheels with 3 trams, 4 buses, 5 motorcycles and a bunch of pedestrians all vying for space.
Feeling lousy that I missed the Efrat attempt to settle the Eitam yesterday but just watched the YouTube clip and read all the updates. And there's more to come; I have a feeling that there will still be room for me to do something besides a housewarming party on the hill when I return.
So far we managed to avoid anything overtly red light, although what some people wear (and judging from some whiffs, smoke) on the streets comes as no surprise after what we've heard about the city. Not too bad, though, and certainly not a reason to skip a visit. We won't have time to do everything on the list, it's an amazingly diverse place. And we haven't even sampled the chocolate yet.....