Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy Snooze Year!

Shalom, chaverim! There's not much to report here in sunny, sleepy Nahariya right now, despite earlier this week being the start of 2013. Like Yom Kippur, we noticed the Gregorian New Year in Israel more by its absence of activity, rather than the presence of any celebrations. Specifically, I noticed a large number of Russian students absent from my teacher training course on Tuesday, which was New Year's Day. One teacher from the Ukraine sighed soulfully, and explained the half-empty classroom to me. "You see, it is very hard for Russians to give up having a great big party that lasts long into the night on New Year's Eve. They will be back next week," she said confidently.

Now that we've been here a year, a few subtle changes are taking place internally, as well as externally. As far as external matters go, we are now eligible to apply for, and receive, full Israeli passports. Also, most of our government tax breaks on our paychecks have been eliminated, so we are now doing a much better job of paying our way in the State of Israel, which is the most positive way of talking about taxes that I can muster. However, the fiscal bite is somewhat mitigated because since we've been resident in Nahariya for a full year, we were able to obtain residency certificates that make us eligible for other tax breaks. Nahariya is one of many communities in the North that are seen to be "at-risk" areas, due to its proximity to Lebanon, so in order to encourage people to continue to move here and keep the area populated, the government sweetens the pot a little. A local joke says that when things get a little too quiet around here, our mayor makes a discreet call over the border to ask Nasrallah for a few harmless missiles be lobbed our way, just to keep the government money coming.

The homework I'm doing for both the teacher training course, and another online course I'm doing about how to teach writing to EFL students, is beginning to pile up. The good news is, it's piling up mainly because I just got approved to teach another three hours a week at the lovely girls' school where I work. These extra hours will be devoted to working with seventh and eighth grade girls who are quite advanced in their English. My plan is to work with them to write, produce, and act and sing in their own musical, using adapted Broadway show tunes. I was pointedly advised that my school does not emphasize music, so I shouldn't have great expectations about the girls' singing abilities, but I am undeterred. If we need more spoken dialogue than songs, then so be it. Now I need to go through my own music library and see what songs might work. Or not!

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

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