Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Defenders of the Motherland Day!

Real Belarusian Males

Popularly referred to as "Man Day," February 23rd is a Belarusian holiday designated for the celebration of those of the masculine persuasion, specifically those who serve in the Belarusian armed forces. Little boys, adult men, and grandfathers alike are given gifts and praised, as they represent the defenders of B
elarus. There's nothing quite like "Man Day" to reinforce strong gender identities!

So how do the Minskers celebrate their noble men?
First, since Day of Motherland Defenders and Armed Forces is a national holiday, there are usually wreath laying ceremonies and speeches given by high ranking officials.

Second, there are fireworks ceremonies in the national colors of Belarus, red, green and white, all over the city on the night of "Man Day."

(P.S. The fireworks in honor of New Years only stopped happening every night about one week ago...but I digress...)

Even Belarusian cellular telephone company, Velcom, offers a special Motherland Defenders Day deal!

And what do Minskettes do for their manly compatriots? Quite like the platoons and battalions they celebrate, scores of women storm the men's departments of the national stores like GUM and TZUM in search of the perfect present. Popular gifts include cologne, neckties, pens, and underwear, especially in camouflage print.
TZUM="Central Universal Store"

It was actually in TZUM that I learned just how fun shopping for "Man Day" can be. I was thinking that the abundance of women's events offered by Moishe House Minsk is a tad discriminatory, so we decided to offer a males only "Man Day" event. N
atasha and I wanted to present our man friends with Moishe House Minsk logo undies. This required going to TZUM and requesting from the friendly store clerk, 12 pairs of white boxer-briefs in various sizes, and some permanent markers for printing our logo.


Me: "Excuse me, can I have 12 white underpants please?"
Clerk: "12?" (She looked at me like I was either an idiot or socially deviant. I couldn't tell which.)
Me: "
Clerk: (She started handing me men's thong-style underwear.)
Me: "Uh.
Nyet. Different ones, please"
"We only have 9 pairs of regular white underwear." (She paused while impatient women behind me in line started to fume.)
Me: "What about those?" (I pointed to the very large pile of what can only be described as many more than 9 pairs of exactly what I was asking for.)

Clerk: "Uh huh." (She handed me more and more pairs as I counted them in Russian. Under the intensity of the moment, I blanked at the number 7. Older woman behind poked me with her umbrella, kindly reminding me, "syem!")
Me: "12 pairs, ok, that's enough. Thank you."

I paid and was on my merry way to the stationary department to do it all over again, but this time I only needed one red permanent marker for printing "Moishe House Minsk" on the triumphantly obtained unmentionables.
Natasha has great printing skills!

So the man-friends of Moishe House Minsk had their male-only event which included both fun, and learning about influential chemist and Jewish hero, Chaim Weizmann.

Hooray (
Ooorah! in Russian) for Motherland Defenders and for the XY chromosomed contingent of Moishe House Minsk!

Presenting the bold, brave, strapping, and resolute! Moishe House Minsk Man Friends!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Legumes in Classrooms

Last post, I wrote that in my Mazal Tov class, we sprouted beans and planted them for Tu B'shvat. Well, they've grown very fast. Three-year-old Stasik's bean plant is the tallest one. Ironically, he's the smallest child in the class!

Take a look: