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If you're overrun by ants in Israel, is it ANTY-semitism? (with helpful "bugs" vocab chart!)

Sigh. I wish it was a joke.
But alas, it isn't.

How are the ants where you live?
Growing up, I met two kinds of ants: black and red.

Black ants were friendly ants you could gather up and experiment with.  I wasn't the one with the magnifying glass, but these guys were slow and inoffensive enough that you could, if you were so inclined, corral them, then sizzle and pop them by magnifying the rays of the sun.

Red ants, well, you didn't want to mess with them, because there were rumours that they'd bite you.  But they were also shy ants, and if you kept out of their way, they'd mostly keep out of yours.

The creepiest ant incident in my entire childhood was one time, on a family trip, when my toddler sister sat down by the roadside (maybe we were stopping to fix the car in some way?) and then started shrieking because she'd sat on a massive anthill.
She was always doing stuff like that.

So presumably there were some aggressive ants within driving distance of our home.  But they weren't exactly a clear and present danger.

There were also certain facts I learned about ants.  Maybe you learned them too.  Spoiler alert: FACTS THAT TURNED OUT TO BE 100% WRONG HERE IN ISRAEL.
Facts like… Ants love crumbs

Weird, wacky, wonderful (Hebrew) words: I'm already (כְּבָר) lying to you...

Running out to the car to get something?  Just popping out to the makolet?
Just let folks know you'll be right back... like by saying you'll be right back.
Right?

Wrong.
Not in Hebrew.  In Hebrew, you don't say, "I'll be right back."

(Okay, you can, before everybody rushes in to correct me -- there IS an expression, אני תכף חוזר / ani techef chozer / "I will immediately return," or תכף אשוב / techef ashuv / which literally means this very thing. But I would argue that few people use these expressions in real life, just write them on signs in shop windows.)

Instead, usually, you say, אני כבר חוזר / ani kvar chozeir / "I'm already on my way back."
Even while you're turning around and walking the other way.

This expression has been tickling my

It's not Israel, it's YOU (and other ugly lies of aliyah)

"It's not Israel, it's you."

At least, that's what I tell myself sometimes.

"It's all your fault," I tell myself.
Most of these thoughts start with the words, "That's what you get..."

That's what you get for living in an older building, without a vaad bayit.  A building that isn't maintained.  A building where the tenants seriously don't care about anything as long as the thing doesn't fall down around their ears.  A building where the neighbours physically threaten us

Talking to Haredim (badly) about coronavirus

Disgusting... horrifying... sickening...
I’m sure you’ve noticed all the pictures in the media, in Israel and beyond, of haredim ("ultra-orthodox Jews") defying lockdown orders, congregating in public, hanging out in minyans and yeshivas, not wearing masks?

I have.
I've been shocked, horrified, disgusted.

But then I sat down with it for a bit and really thought things through.

One of the things I had to learn during my Master's degree, and for some of my other writing, is seeing the missing pieces of the puzzle.  Who or what aren't you considering in your sweeping generalizations?

This is called academic honesty, and the media could seriously use some of it these days.

Why are we so bad at talking to strangers?

imageAnother thing making me rethink this is Malcolm Gladwell's recent book Talking to Strangers (affiliate link), which is all about how we have trouble communicating with people who are unlike "us" -- however we define "us" at any given moment.  And about how these communication problems lead to bigger problems, possibly even the spread of pandemics.

(My conclusion, not his; his is

Do American Jews get a vote in Israel?

If you hate politics, I get it.  Please move along.  Just skip this post.

When I started this site, I feel like I made a promise to you and to myself that I wouldn't get political.  If you want to know more of my thoughts on getting political, in a book that weirdly doesn't get very political, I urge you to read my book, Getting Political: Scenes from a Life in Israel.  (Hey, even if you don't want to know my thoughts, pick up the book anyway!  Seriously, it doesn't get very political...)

And yet.

And yet.

There are times when I feel like I have to get political.

Because when you move to Israel, you cease, in some important way, to be a "diaspora Jew" and become an “Israeli Jew.”

You live here, you walk the daled amos basically every single day of your life, you breathe the holy and sometimes stinky air.

You live with the noise, or block it out with a nonstop stream of English podcasts and audiobooks.

You vote in the elections.

And I don't even have a post I can link to about the elections, because I haven't talked about politics.

But just for a minute, I want to.  So please cut me some slack.
Because I came across this article about how the Canadian diaspora, and presumably, the rest of the diaspora, can influence Israel.

And it scared me.

Spoiler alert: the way that diaspora Jews can influence Israel, apparently, is to participate in the World Zionist Congress coming up in October.  In fairness, it's held in Jerusalem, so they

Why is Israel so noisy???

The noise in Israel drives me crazy sometimes.  There, I said it.  And I feel better for saying it.  And yes, it is specifically the noise in Israel.  Because Israel truly is an especially noisy place.

I used to just think we lived in a particularly noisy neighbourhood.  Luck of the draw, I figured.  Then I travelled around and realized that I do indeed live in a particularly noisy neighbourhood – and that neighbourhood is called the State of Israel.

You simply can’t get away from noise here.  So don’t even try.

Take our house, for example.  We live within walking distance of four schools, all of which, instead of school bells, play tunes and chimes (instead of school bells, like we had in Canada) so loud you can hear them blocks away.  GZ’s school routinely plays music for the kids’ enjoyment in the yard as they arrive in the morning, and you can hear that two blocks away as well. 

Then there are the happy routines of parades, celebrations, simchas, and special occasions, each of which

To every fruit, there is a season (with helpful seasonal Hebrew vocabulary!)


In Canada, there are seasons. Lots and lots of them. Well, four, but they’re all exciting and distinctly different. You’re probably familiar with them: winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Israel doesn’t have seasons, as such, a fact which has been driven home by this long, warm fall. And been hammered into our skulls with a recent two-week November heatwave חמסין / chamseen (hot wind from the eastern deserts) that’s left us parched and sweating, and left my plants wilting at a time of year when they’re usually starting to soak up the first downpours of the year.

(Interestingly, as this article points out, most Israelis probably call the chamseen by that name because it’s hot, which is חם / cham in Hebrew, in fact it comes from the Arabic word for fifty – meaning fifty days a year of icky sandy hot and dry conditions.)

Spring and fall are often called עונות המעבר / onot hama’avar, the transitional season. Meaning they’re neither here nor there – just seasons that get you from one place to another. (When you sit on the aisle in a movie theatre or airplane, you’re also sitting on the מעבר / ma’avar – exactly the same word.)

The term onot hama’avar usually crops up when we’re talking about health, and other problems, that come up during spring, and especially fall. Colds, allergies, migraines, skin problems – most Israelis are suffering from some combination of all these at the moment, compounded by the current hot, dry wind which has meant I can’t smile or my lips will crack.

Normally, the fall עונת המעבר / onat hama’avar (singular) is also the time to get immunized with this year’s flu vaccine, a fact driven into my head by my ulpan teacher. But this year the vaccines were late (for various international reasons and not due to a conspiracy and/or the fact we have no government!) and we haven’t gotten ours yet.

But however you feel about the weather, that’s actually NOT what a want to talk about. Because there are even more important seasons in Israel: seasons you must be aware of, seasons people argue heatedly about on Facebook, seasons you need to prepare for before you leave the house.

I’m talking about fruit seasons, of course.

I’ve already said many times that we’re huge fans of Israeli fruit. It’s cheap and more delicious than anything I ever

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