Chicago, IL, USA May 2015

Hi Friends and Family,

We last communicated from Sydney, Australia, and much has happened since. On our way back home, we stopped in Xi’an, China, to present our scientific writing course once again at the Xi’an Jiatong University. While we try to limit the participants in these courses to 25, we had about 120 registrants! We managed by recruiting an assistant from the faculty, shortening the exercise, and only grading the exercises of the Ph.D. students.

We had hoped to bicycle the circumference of the ancient city walls (which are wide enough to accommodate a couple of buses, not to mention chariots). But both the inclement weather, and more so Edie’s knee, put a spoke in our wheels. Her knee began to act up after our hike up Avalanche Peak, near the end of our stay in Christchurch. At first, it was only a minor annoyance, and in Sydney she walked all over the city.  But in Xi’an she could hardly walk at all, and except for one very painful day, she didn’t come into the university, and stayed at our hotel correcting exercises. On our flights home via Beijing, we even ordered wheel-chair transport through the airports (which was especially needed in Xi’an and Beijing, where the airports are huge).

We had an all too brief  one-month ‘hofshat moledet’ (home leave) encompassing Pessach, which gave us the opportunity to become re-acquainted with our all too fast growing grand-children.  Edie received some diagnostics and treatment for her knee. And then we took off once again, for the final leg of Ray’s post-retirement sabbatical year, this time at the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Northwestern University, in Evanston IL, neighboring Chicago on the North. Besides all of the academic reasons for being here, the big bonus is that our daughter Lilly is a Ph.D. student at Northwestern, in fact in the building next to Ray’s.

We rented an apartment via Airbnb in Roger’s Park, Chicago’s most northerly neighborhood, which borders on Evanston, and about 5 min walk from Lilly and Nir’s apartment. We have erev Shabbat dinner together, generally at their apartment, and eat together one or two other nights a week, usually at our place, and schedules and work/study pressure permitting, try to do something together on the weekends.

The first weekend we drove up to Ft. Sheridan, about 30 min N. of Roger’s Park. Once a garrison and training base, the fort was decommissioned and converted into a suburban town some years ago. Much of the training area bordering Lake Michigan has been preserved as a nature reserve – see the photos of birdies (red winged blackbirds) and frogies in the photos below:



Ray has been enjoying the contact with colleagues and many interesting seminars at Northwestern University. The administrative bureaucracy has been less enjoyable.  The final straw was that we had to produce a copy of our marriage license to get Edie a spouse id card. After completing the procedure, the clerk said to Edie, “have a nice day, miss”.

We have both been working on our book on scientific writing – hope to finish the 1st draft this week. Edie’s knee is treated by a traditional Chinese doctor, and she swims and participates in water exercises 3 times a week at the NU pool. Ray bikes to NU when the weather is nice, and otherwise rides in with Edie, or takes the “L”. And we have found two Israeli folk dance groups in nearby Skokie, which we enjoy greatly. Furthermore there are public tennis courts in a park alongside Lake Michigan, 5 min walk from our apartment. We have also enjoyed biking along the lakeshore bike path heading towards down town. All of this indicates that Edie’s knee is a lot better, albeit not yet fully recovered.

We have also had some pleasant social and cultural experiences. We visited one Chicago synagogue for kabbalat Shabbat, and a suburban synagogue for an all-night tikun Shavuot. Our absent land-lady is an actress and playwright – we watched an energetic performance of a play she wrote which was an adaptation of Antigone to modern Chicago (which has ~ 500 murders  per year). And we visited the Chicago History Museum, and today the Chinese American Museum of Chicago.

We will be in Chicago more or less until 17 July, and in that period have plans for a week in San Diego to attend the microwave power symposium which Ray is chairing, a 4th of July weekend trip to a cabin in Michigan with Nir and Lilly, hopefully a visit to our cousins in Kansas City, and giving the writing course here at NU. Then we will drive to the East Coast for some visiting in MA, CT and NJ, before flying home via Philadelphia on 11 Aug.

Best wishes for a pleasant summer!

Ray and Edie

Sydney, Australia 15-22 March 2015

This past week we have been visiting in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Our report is short – no attached files. Ray visited the School of Physics at Sydney University, where he spent a mini-sabbatical August-November 2013. During the week he had very lively scientific discussions with his colleagues Marcella Bilek and his host David McKenzie and their students, presented a seminar on his group’s research at TAU, and worked long-distance on organizing the program for a conference on microwave power to be held in San Diego (USA) in June.

Edie sight-see’d, heard a great organ concert at Sydney Town Hall, bought fish at the fish market, and mostly worked on our book on communicating science and technology.

We had a very active social life. Almost as soon as we were settled in last Sunday, John and Tamara Lowbier, friends from Beit Millman, the hostel for new immigrants where we initially lived in Israel, picked us up and took us to the Sydney Jewish Museum for lunch, and an interesting lecture by a holocaust survivor. Monday night we had off, and enjoyed cooking and eating the fish which Edie landed at the fish market. Tuesday we had dinner with Uwe and Ines, friends we met touring Ayer’s Rock in the “outback” on our first trip to Australia. We ate at a picturesque ‘hotel’ in Newtown, with original ceramic tiles and great food. Wednesday we rejoined Frances’ Israeli dance class, and caught up with our dancing friends there. See at clip of dancing with Frances on our YouTube site –

Thursday evening we travelled out to Kingsgrove to Margaret’s Irish dance class. Her group was rehearsing for a performance in two weeks at the Australian National Folk Festival — I am in the process of uploading a few clips to YouTube — in the meantime see:


Friday evening we attended Erev Shabbat services at the Newtown Synagogue, one block from our apartment. We visited there a year ago, and they were short of a minyan. This year there was a minyan and a half and a lively new spirit, perhaps bolstered by the Shabbat meal which was offered after shul. We skipped that meal, and met a physics colleague, Ian Falconer and his wife Ruth, for dinner at an excellent Thai restaurant (one of many!) in Newtown. Saturday we had a stroll in the “Rocks”, one of Sydney’s oldest settlements, and then joined Macella Bilek and her husband Andrew (also a professor at U. Sydney) and their children at the Sydney Aquarium. This was “plan B”, invoked because the inclement weather suggested that a harbor hike might be unpleasant.

And now, after a dinner of Australian lamb sausages, we are packing for our flights tomorrow noon to Shanghai and Xian. Hopefully we will send a short report from there!

Christchurch New Zealand (part 2) 23 February – 1 March 2015


Dear Readers,

The attached file describes our week, and more so our weekend, based in Christchurch, with lots of great pics, especially our sailing cruise in the Akaroa Harbor to see dolphins (above), and a nice hike in the Rakaia Gorge (below).


The link is here:

Christchurch Feb 23-March 1

Want to see where these places are: Click on the map link:

And there is a clip of Hector’s dolphins playing around Ray’s boat in our YouTube channel:


All the best….

Ray and Edie