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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?

When is the right time to make aliyah?


Wondering when to make aliyah?

I don’t mean what time of day, week, month or year.  I mean what stage in your life.  The answer is far from obvious. 

But, as writer Judy Resnick (not the astronaut) says in her poignant comments to this blog post, sometimes, if you wait, the right time never comes along.

As soon as I read this, I realized I had to share it with you.  It is so true.  Read what Judy has to say and let me know what you think:

The funny thing, every time I considered making Aliyah, some expert told me it was the wrong time in my life.

When I was a single young woman, somebody pointed out to me that the highest rate of Aliyah failure (e.g., giving up and leaving Israel) was among single young women.

When my husband and I were first married, somebody told us it was best to wait until we had more years of experience in our respective professions to make ourselves more valuable in the Israeli job market.

When my husband and I started having children, somebody told us that it was best to wait until we had five children, then my husband would not have to serve in the Israeli Army, only in the reserves.

When we bought a house, somebody told us it would be best to wait until the house increased in value, then we could sell the house and make enough money to buy an apartment in Israel.

When our children were babies and toddlers, somebody told me that the costs of full-time daycare and Gan in Israel swallow up most of an Israeli working mom’s take home salary.

When our kids started getting older, somebody told us it would be a major disruption for them to uproot them and force them to start learning Ivrit and getting used to a whole different school system. Better to wait until the kids were grown and out of the house.

When our kids were grown, somebody told us to wait until retirement, then we would have American pensions and American Social Security checks and income in American dollars, rather than trying to earn an Israeli income.

Now that we’re older, it’s still the wrong time to make Aliyah. Our grandchildren and married children staying in the U.S.A. will miss us too much, and our combined savings and pensions will not be enough to make ends meet over there. Plus the sale price of our house will not cover the cost of an apartment.

So when is it the “right” time to make Aliyah?

[republished with permission from BeyondBT]

In case you were wondering – I picked up a newspaper this morning and saw that, even while Israel was under fire, 64 Nefesh b’Nefesh olim got on board to make aliyah from the U.S.  The youngest olah was 8 months… and the oldest was 91.

When is the right time?  Generally, about 12 hours after you step on the plane.  Unless you’re stopping over somewhere… but I think you get what I mean.

If you’re already here, how did you decide to come when you did?

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

[photo credit:  JAFI Israel via flickr]