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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Catch me live! (or later if you must)


At last!  Here’s your chance.

I’ll be chatting with the fabulous Miriam Brosseau of Stereo Sinai (among other things), as part of ELI ON AIR this Thursday (July 31, 1pm Eastern, 8pm Israel) – about making aliyah with kids.

Because we all know how inaccessible I am through this blog.

How tough it is to reach me with your urgent questions. 

How aloof and distant I am shrouded here in celebrity.

At last, I am descending from my turret – and now, finally, you can have your say, or ask me anything.  This will be an interactive chat and I’d love some interaction from YOU.

Please show up so the folks hosting this can see how many accolytes devoted fans I have and what a world-renowned expert I am on this topic. 

Just Click here to join us.  (Page is available now; video goes live Thursday,  July 31, at 1pm Eastern, 8pm Israel time.)

See you there!

Monday, July 28, 2014

13 ways aliyah could make you rich.


Hoping to get rich quick?  Make aliyah!

There are so many simple ways that making aliyah can make you rich – fast.

  1. Rich in money.  Nope.  Just kidding.  Despite what you hear about Israel being a “start up nation” (Which is true!  It’s awesome…they love high-tech here so much, it’s called “hi-tek” in Hebrew!), it’ll never happen.  But read on… (this doesn’t count as one of the 13)
  2. Rich in new friends.  Like ducks, we bonded with the first people who brought us food, on our very first night here, almost a year ago.  And they introduced us to a few people, who introduced us to a few people.  These friends are an important English-speaking refuge in a very foreign place.
  3. Rich in local colour.  No matter where you end up living,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Flowering Tree, a guest post by Yehuda Poch

So there’s this tree.

It’s not far from my home – about 5 minutes’ drive, allowing for some moderate traffic.  In the 15 years I have been living here, I never really noticed it.  Perhaps it’s because it never blossomed like this, or perhaps it’s because it’s in a neighborhood I don’t really have anything to do with.

You see, for years, the city of Beit Shemesh has been riven with internecine quarrels about the religious nature, social fabric, and political future of the city.  Each of three major population groups feels that at least one of the other ones is threatening to impose its way of life.  And in some cases, that is true.  And the result is generally either one of friction, or one of “never the ‘twain shall meet.”

I generally prefer the latter when it is possible.  I have my own views, which I confess are often none too kind to some of the residents, groups, leaders, and “community organizers” of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet.  I have my own way of considering the reasons that may motivate the behavior of those residents, groups, leaders and community organizers, and those views are open to debate and discussion.

“…for years, the city of Beit Shemesh has been riven with internecine quarrels…”

But I generally keep those views as just that – views, general opinions that may or may not have some basis in actual reality.

Over the past two weeks, I have noticed this tree.  It is growing right in the middle of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet.  It is a block away from the main street in the neighborhood, and easily discernable from the bus window as I pass by twice a day.  I had never really noticed it before.  And once I did notice it, I also noticed three other trees of the same type in various other locations in the city.

Today I took my camera and went to get a closer look at this tree.  I began taking pictures of it from various different angles – all on the sidewalks at various distances, some from across the street, some from down the block.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shiva for Sean Carmeli.


On so many levels, fallen soldier Nissim Sean Carmeli didn’t have to be there, on the front lines in Gaza, when he was killed by a terrorist five days ago.

Reason #1:  he was American.

Sean’s parents left Israel before he was born.  He didn’t have to move here, but he did – becoming more religious and moving here to finish high school.  He never would have had to serve if he’d stayed in the U.S.

Just like all of us, he didn’t have to live in Israel – he chose to live here.

Reason #2:  he was already injured.

Apparently, when his officer suggested that could be excused from service, Sean – a proud member of Israel’s “tough guy” Golani brigade  – told him, “bruise or no bruise I am coming with you.”

Just like many soldiers, he didn’t have to go to Gaza – he chose to be there.

“He was enthusiastic to go in and to fight for the Jewish people, and he gave his life for the Jewish people,” Sean’s rabbi said (full article here).

Facing his parents’ pain

Friday, July 18, 2014

Things that are weird in Israel #10: Celery


Does my hand look disgusted in this picture?

It should.

This is a stalk of what passes for “celery” in most parts of Israel.

The celery here came as a bit of a surprise, because of what everybody (truthfully) says about the produce here in Israel – which is almost universally fantastic.


We have found a few exceptions. 

Early oranges, for example, are not inspiring in the least.  But they sell like crazy anyway, because people are so eager for oranges after months without them.

The cucumbers here are tasty, but they are tiny, more like little pickles than a full-blooded cucumber.  Most people don’t bother peeling them, making them a convenient snack (for most people). 

But in me, the peeling habit has become ingrained, making them a totally annoying treat.  I’ve read too much about all the pesticides and bad stuff in the peels to just munch away on them.  So I have to peel and slice four of them to have enough to serve even me and the kids.  (slicing is optional, I admit)

And as for celery…

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Know where it’s dangerous?


Outside of Israel, that’s where.

It’s kind of interesting sitting here facing headlines like these.

(click the images to read the stories)

 image image image image

LA, Frankfurt, Paris, Mississauga (Ontario, Canada). 

Most of this makes our life here in the Krayot seem calm in comparison. 

Actually, life here in the Krayot IS calm.  There is no “seem” about it.  No sirens here so far, which sets us apart probably from most Israelis at this point, both north and south.

As opposed to France.

These days, if you mention France to any Jew, anywhere, they shake their heads glumly.  “Oh, France,” they say, like it’s obvious that France would turn into the clearly dangerous place that it is for Jews today. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kill or be killed… ?


Nope, nothing to do with the “matzav” (current situation).

Sorry if you clicked through because of that.

Nope, if you know anything about me, it’s that spelling and grammar mistakes on Israeli signs amuse me to no end. 

Two things about this sign intrigued me. 

(Three if you count our biggest question – what the $#!% is the name of the street we were standing on, with the missing street sign?!?  To this day, we still don’t know.)

Following this post the day before went to Tzfat about the mystery of English place names in Israel, I was reminded by about a million highway signs that the main spelling of the city’s name, in English, is actually Zefat.


Beyond the weird spelling, on the sign up on top, there’s also a subtle grammatical mistake that makes, in this case, all the difference in the world.


This street is named in memory of the 12 22 children of Tzfat (thanks to a reader for pointing out my mistake with the numerology), it says in Hebrew, who were killed in the 1974 massacre in Maalot

But that’s not exactly what it says in English; there, the passive voice has been mangled to an extreme, turning the 12 victims into murderers.

Given the tragedy behind the story, perhaps it’s disrespectful to find fault with something as nitpicky as a translation.  And yet… and yet.  How else are you going to get your nation’s story across, if not with language?  It’s not like there are no English speakers in Tzfat who they could have asked for the proper translation.

I guess my serious point is that if your lousy translations make the history of a place seem clownish or insignificant, there’s a big chunk of visitors who aren’t going to appreciate the important stuff.

By “big chunk,” I mean me.  And others like me.  There must be others like me… right?

Put up your hand:  are you a spelling-and-grammar stickler, too?