Like the MamaLand Empire!

Have you Liked the AliyahLand adventure?
      ...and sign up for weekly aliyah tips by email (it's free).

Little Minyans Everywhere

So we moved!  And one of the greatest unsung features of our building is a very regular minyan.

This is temporary, due to corona. Building minyans are nothing new in Israel, but usually they're "lobby minyans" held only for "quickie" davening, like maariv after Shabbos, not on a regular basis, with a Torah, for longer davening. And definitely not Shabbos morning, when everybody tends to go off in their own direction.

Until now.
And one of the joys of life in a Jewish country, I've decided, is waking up Shabbos morning surrounded by prayer.
Not just mumbling, but all-out singing, with gusto.

(This picture has been making the rounds of social media... best guesses seem to suggest it's somewhere in England.  It’s definitely not Israel, so I guess this phenomenon has spread out a little.)

image

Last Shabbos, our last in our old apartment, I went out for a walk with the kids after we lit candles (with masks on!).  We passed at least a dozen little minyanim, so we started

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

Google