Friday, December 31, 2004

A women's retreat

It was a seminar on women in leadership roles in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, but first let me begin with Eve - the first great female leader:

God and Adam

Adam said, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"

God said, "Go down into that valley."

Adam said, "What's a valley?"

God explained it to him.

Then God said, "Cross the river."

Adam said, "What's a river?"

God explained that to him, and then said, "Go over to the hill ..."

Adam said, "What is a hill?"

So, God explained to Adam what a hill was. He told Adam, "On the other side of the hill you will find a cave."

Adam said, "What's a cave?"

After God explained, he said, "In the cave you will find a woman."

Adam said, "What's a woman?"

So God explained that to him, too. Then God said, "I want you to reproduce."

Adam said, "How do I do that?"

God first said (under his breath), "Geez ..." and then, just like everything else, God explained that to Adam, as well.

So, Adam goes down into the valley, across the river, and over the hill, into the cave and finds the woman.

Then, in about five minutes, he was back. God, his patience wearing thin, said angrily, "What is it now?"

And Adam said, "What's a headache"?

There were about 60 women who gathered in the greens hills in the Galilee in the Bedouin village of Kfar Shibli. Aida, who now lives in Jerusalem, jokingly said that if a policeman would come in with a summons for Mohammad Shibli, there's be about 1000 Mohammad Shiblis there and he'd have no idea who it was for. On the bus trip I sat beside an American Christian woman and we chatted about New Year plans. She was going to go to the YMCA for dinner. I told her how awful the food was at that restaurant and how much better the food is at the Jerusalem Hotel. "They put lots of soup mix in and it is just plain awful."

I saw her grimace. Turns out her husband is the Director of the prestigious and beautiful YMCA in Jerusalem. Ooops. Never mind. I wasn't too embarrassed. She needed to know the food sucks. But she told me that 9 months ago they changed menus and are now working with Chefs for Peace. I'm glad. Because if they want peace with me, they better put out decent fucking food.

At the Bedouin tent I sat with Druze women from Daliat Al Carmel. They all spoke Hebrew perfectly and I practiced my broken newly learned Arabic. One invited me up to her Bed & Breakfast place. Inshallah.

"Do you believe in reincarnation" - they asked.

Yes, I do.

They told me half the Jews they meet don't believe in reincarnation and the other half do. I told them I believe in it and that we are sent back to the earth to repair what wasn't completed in our last life.

I told them the story of going to London when I was 17 for the first time and telling the cab driver, who was lost (!) how to get to a certain neighborhood. That was the first revelation I had about being somewhere once before - when I actually never was in this life. The Druze women recounted similar experiences.

I was told once by a Chassidic person that my soul is a very ancient one. Shit, that is just great, I thought. I never can seem to get it right in any of my lives, can I? This life sure ain't going so right for me this time around - not with Caveman Hubby (who bonked out on me last weekend and cancelled New Years dinner with me tonight!) and not with some of my kids, and not with a whole lotta other stuff. I'm doomed to repeat it again, aren't I? That is just fucking great.

Back to the retreat us women let loose and danced together like crazy women, and shared a delicious vegetarian Bedouin meal so even the Orthodox Jewish women were able to eat with us.

After listening to interesting presentations about women leaders in Islam, Christianity and Judaism, we sat around in small groups. The Jewish perspective was familiar to me. The Orthodox speaker spoke about how Shifra and Puah, who were non-Jewish midwives, disobeyed Pharoah's order to kill all Jewish newborn males and thereby saved Moses - the great Jewish leader and prophet. "Because women are here on this earth to GIVE LIFE - not to take it away." And this was heard by many, many mothers of our 3 different religions. I was hoping that these women - some of whom may have been partially influenced by Hamas ideology - felt that story as intensely as I had. It seared me like a tattoo. Women are here to give life. And they can quietly and secretly, if they have to, just as in biblical times, defy orders (for their own children) of their dictators, presidents and prime ministers, and especially terrorist leaders. In this way - we can all be leaders.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Jewish Ashrams

It wasn't exactly an ashram. I've never been to one actually. But it certainly looked like one.

We had our macrobiotic potluck dinner last night. I go as an occasional participant. If I go once a month, I say to myself - at least I eat healthy once a month. The meeting was at Tirza Moussieff's home in Jerusalem. I've read about the Moussieff family in various newspaper articles. They originate from Bukhara - north of Iran/Iraq and were one of the wealthiest families there. They immigrated to Palestine perhaps in the 19th century or the turn of the 20th century and had a palace in the Bukharian quarter in Jerusalem. I didn't see a palace where I was last night, though I think the extravagance in her rather small apartment was limited to a huge collection of wall to wall and floor to floor bukharian carpets of every different type imaginable. Some looked like they hung on the backs of camels, some looked like they hung in stately homes, others looked like richly exotic - from the silk route. I could hardly concentrate on the talks on macrobiotics. Who could concentrate amongst all the exotic chatskas. She had photo montages of her stately ancestors, dressed in Bukharian finery, some looking like Arabic sultans. She had a wood-burning stove to heat up her home and we all sat around it while she put pine leaves in it - together with logs.

I've noticed that among people I've known with Old Money. They don't look rich. They don't "live" rich. She was without makeup dressed in track pants. It's always the rich-wannabees like my brother-in-law with the leased gold Jaguar and the designer watches and clothing - who "look" rich, but don't have anything really, except their debts.

Tirza teaches Imagery. I don't really know what that is. I assumed it was something like advanced day-dreaming or visioning. One of her students, here from New York for 2 weeks, told me it's more provocative but it is emotionally healing and from that it becomes physically healing - as they are connected. Tirza invited me to an imagery session at her home on Saturday night. If I rev up some energy - tough to do on a Saturday before my working week begins, I'll go.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


I got right into the Professor's teaching assignment, helping him jot stuff on the screen. I sat down in my seat waiting for his instructions.

"We're going to do it rough today."

Excuse me? Hey Mister 75 year old man. YOU are not in my daily fantasies of rock stars and movie stars I would like to do it "rough" with.

I was hoping I would not have to quit my job. I was hoping I would not have to call up the municipal office for sexual harassment. Really. At my age, it could be considered a compliment, but never mind.

Fortunately, both for me and for him, the "doing it rough" only meant a very rough draft of his assignments. Whew! That certainly saved me a lot of grief. Plus no need to explain stuff to Hubby.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Oh, sweet child 'o mine

I don't know what Axel Rose of Guns & Roses was thinking when he sang this song, but it certainly wasn't about one of my kids. Ain't she sweet? No, she certainly ain't. I'm talking about the one known as the Nasty One a/k/a the Complainer. Well Miss nearly-17-year old Nasty is on the outs, not only with me, but with all her siblings. Everyone is petrified to go into her locked room to look for things in the morning. It's like going into the den of Attila the Hun or worse.

Last week my son complained - "The sock bin is in her room and I don't want to go in"

That's when mother comes to the rescue. I pound on her door at 7:00 am when everyone else but her is getting ready for either work or school.





And then the door to the room opens, like in a haunted house. slowly. and creaking. And then the sock bin with its socks comes flying out of the room. Then the door bangs shut.

Teens are creepy.

My Good Daughter, who has the misfortunate to share her room with Nasty was crying this morning.

"Did you buy me (feminine) pads last week, because I never saw them"

"I certainly did"

The rest of the pack in my house insisted that Nasty had found them and horded them for herself. But no one was brave enough to confront her.

My good daughter complained bitterly - "she comes in at 3 in the morning. Smokes in the room, turns on the tv and talks on the phone. And she wakes me up and I can't go back to sleep."

There was obviously nothing else left to do but get Big Brave Mama to come to the rescue. I marched upstairs. Nasty was standing by her locked closet.

"Open it up" I ordered

"Fuck you, I have nothing in there. I didn't take her pads." She made these gestures that looked part rapper, part Jackie Chan.

"Open it up" - I said, undaunted by her gestures.

She unlocked her closet and flung the door open with the doors coming off its hinges and crashing onto the floor. There were no pads to be found in her closet. She was innocent of theft. Everyone laughed at her broken door and she then asked me for the number of the local social worker. I gave it to her. She simply must have had enough of familial abuse and probably wants to go to a foster home or a youth hostel.

I wondered what she would say to the social worker, exactly. Maybe - could she please find her a place where she can come home at 3:00 am, turn on the tv loud, yak on the phone until 4:00 am and wake up everyone in the family? Hey, this is Israel - the land of miracles. Anything is possible.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The most popular .....blogs

Before I get into this - I am concerned about the earthquake in Indonesia and the many people I know from there. Hans - I hope you are OK in Malaysia. It hit many places and over 500 Israelis are missing, Thailand being one of the Israeli vacation hot spots.

I perused around bloghop to see where I am in their popularity ratings. Around 63%. Ok. Top 50. That's nice. Who is getting more of a rating? The top blog was
at 98% (percentage of what I have no idea - but it sounds high)

1. Dixiblog - "sex and horror, fun, scary" - Sex and horror? Shouldn't it be wonderful? Sex, I mean, not horror. Since when is horror wonderful unless you are at the amusement park or a sadist or a sicko. But ok - if this is what humanity is into I think we really do need the messiah :-)

2. at 88% - God is the Potter, I am the Clay - Muddy Art. Is this a cousin of Muddy Waters? Is this the blues. I didn't bother to find out.

3. at about 88% - Real Life Debt - The first practical blog. A find, especially for debtors like myself.

4. at 85% - You Dare Tell Me... a 14.5 year old girl, younger than my Criminal Daughter, talks about sex and clothing. My daughter only talks about her lack of clothing, thinking it will miraculously appear in her wardrobe or I'll go through my wallet and say - Honey, I just happen to have $100 lying around, let's go shopping. But try talking to her about sex. "Don't talk to me about it. I don't do it." Even when I didn't "do it" in my teens, I still wanted to talk about it. OK, maybe not to my mother, but I did plenty of talking - in lieu of doing. But she can talk to me about it. She really can. But she won't. Maybe I'll get her in touch with this 14.5 year old ....whatever she is and get her to open up (no pun intended - please).

5. at 83% - Jacqueline's big boobs - (it's very difficult to blog at this moment, with my boss popping in every 2 minutes to tell me something or another - don't they know it's after working hours??? DAMN!). This blogger writes in her intro - "Do you love big boobs?" Yes honey, I'm mad about big boobs, but the Good Lord in His glorious hurry to create me decided to dish it out more on the bottom for me. I keep on thinking maybe if I breath deeper, I'll breath more air into them.

6. at 85% - Preserve Wildlife - pickle a squirrel. Sounds hilarous!

I didn't have time to pick out more, I'm getting nervous with the blogs I'm picking and with the shit I'm writing with my bosses sticking their necks into my office seeing what's doing. I hope their vision is awful even with glasses. They must have porn radar or something. Like when you were a kid and wanted to peek at dirty magazines that you took from your bigger brother's room and then mum or dad walks in or the teacher or principal. Always happens. Except in my house. My decent brother just collected Archie comics and Mad Magazines.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Sorry, this was just too fucking funny.

Today is Pick on Trial Lawyers Day!

1. The Post Office just recalled their latest stamps. They had pictures of lawyers on them, and people couldn't figure out which side to spit on.

2. How can a pregnant woman tell that she's carrying a future lawyer? She has an uncontrollable craving for baloney.

3. How does an attorney sleep? First he lies on one side, and then he lies on the other.

4. How many lawyer jokes are there? Only One. The rest are true stories.

5. How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? How many can you afford?

6. How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Three. One to climb the ladder, one to shake it, and one to sue the ladder company.

7. If a lawyer and an IRS agent were both drowning, and you could save only one of them, would you go to lunch or read the paper?

8. What did the lawyer name his daughter? Sue.

9. What do you call a lawyer gone bad? Senator.

10. What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 50 ? Your honor.

11. What do you throw to a drowning lawyer? His partners.

13. What happens when you cross a pig with a lawyer? Nothing. There are some things even a pig won't do.

14. What's the difference between a lawyer and a vulture? The lawyer gets frequent flyer miles.

15. What's another difference between a lawyer and a vulture? Removable wing tips.

16. Why does California have the most lawyers in the country while New Jersey has the most toxic waste sites? New Jersey got first choice.

Christmas Eve - Jerusalem Syndrome

As it is with me - when there are so many choices of things to do/see in a day - I end up doing none of them. I didn't know if it was wise to go to Nazareth and spend two days in the rain with the silent walk for peace people. So I went to Ibrahim's instead. It was his 63rd birthday. I bought him chocolates - sweets for a sweet man, and a small truck for his grandson Wissam celebrating his 3rd birthday also. I took my Son with me for company and intercultural education. The first thing Ibrahim did when we walked in was hug us and then he fed us. All the guests staying with him began filtering downstairs and he stood at the stove, serving all of them lunch. They were all planning to go to Bethlehem that evening even just to hang out at Manger Square. Apparently, the army was letting all Christians through - even those from Gaza and the West Bank. There was a shuttle bus every 5 minutes from the checkpoint in Jerusalem for the 5 minute ride to the Church of the Nativity.

Hubby wasn't being cooperative that day and was in his Caveman mode. With no public transportation running on Friday nights, it would be difficult for me to go. I had to be back home for Sabbath dinner with my family because they would have been pretty upset if I had left them 2 weeks in a row to go off on one of my expeditions again. But I was wondering if any of the guests were going to go to Nazareth on Saturday. This way I would have just had to walk in the rain for just the day. The big full-tatooed guy from Hamburg who looked like he could one of the Rolling Stones' bodyguards answered me.

"You could go with Jesus."

"Excuse me?"

"Jesus is going tomorrow to Nazareth, you could go with him."

"No, you don't understand" I laughed "I'm not talking 2,000 years ago. I'm talking manana. Tomorrow."

But one of the other guests told me that Jesus is indeed staying at Ibrahim's house. And he's British. The other guests piped in.

"He's a modern Jesus."
"He's got very long hair."
"He drinks and smokes"
"He is terribly vain"
"He walked all the way from England to Jerusalem barefoot."
"He has a tattoo on his forehead that says 'Jesus' on it."
"He doesn't have a car and you'll have to hitchhike with him in his bare feet"

Great. A hitchhikin' Jesus.

I really wanted to meet this guy.

"Where is he?"

The Hamburg guy told me - "probably in some bar right now." which made Ibrahim howl with laughter.

Oh well, so much for my walking with Jesus.

Being Grateful

When you have an "I Hate My Job" day, try this.

On your way home from work, stop at your pharmacy and go to the thermometer
section and purchase a rectal thermometer made by Johnson and Johnson. Be
very sure you get this brand.

When you get home, lock your doors, draw the curtains and disconnect the
phone so you will not be disturbed.

Change into very comfortable clothing and sit in your favorite chair, open
the package and remove the thermometer. Now, carefully place it on a table
or a surface so that it will not become chipped or broken.

Now the fun part begins - Take out the literature and read it carefully.
You will notice that in small print there is a statement, "Every rectal
thermometer made by Johnson and Johnson is personally tested".

Now, close your eyes and repeat out loud five times, "I am so glad I do not
work for quality control at Johnson and Johnson."

Thursday, December 23, 2004

What's a Jewish Girl to do for Christmas

I was hoping to join the Middle Way for their silent peace walk, but I'm feeling under the weather with a persistant cough and it's meant to rain tomorrow and Saturday so I have alternative plans. I can go to Ibrahim's birthday party in the afternoon - he made it especially early so that his religious Jewish friends can participate for a short while. Isn't that amazing? Then back home for Shabbat dinner and then if Hubby is up to it, perhaps a midnight mass just for curiosity's sake - which one do we pick? I asked a friend of mine and he gave me 13 alternatives. The Philipina one in English which is early - too early - we're probably just finished eating then. Or, the sedate, serious Catholic service at Notre Dame? Or the Protestant one inside Jaffa Gate which has services in Hebrew? We're not going to participate in praying unless they're saying Psalms. Psalms agrees with my soul. Or the Arabic one in Abu Ghosh? Decisions Decisions. Or, I may just chuck all of this in the end and go to a synagogue instead.

Meanwhile my Criminal Daughter a/k/a Lolita graced us with her presence last night. She hadn't been home since her birthday last month. Of course, she sees me in the office cadging change off me, when I do have it, but step into our home - hardly. We planned to go shopping for a winter coat for her.

"Let me see how you're dressed." she ordered while in the car with us this morning.

"Excuse me?"

"I want to see how you're dressed, because I won't go with you if you're dressed like a Russian."

I don't know how terrible Russians dress here, but it certainly embarrasses her to no end and I think I passed the dress test because she just showed up at my work to go shopping together.

I won't be online until Sunday - so Happy Holidays to everyone who does celebrate Christmas and a Shabbat Shalom to those who celebrate the weekly Sabbath!

today's biblical scenario

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Losing Weight

Hubby came up with a great line this morning. In all seriousness he told me - I heard on Fox News last week (Fox News being his greatest source of knowledge on this planet), that people who sleep 7 to 8 hours do not gain weight, but people that sleep less usually do gain weight.

This was such profound news to me. I thought about it for a minute. But of course, my blushing pumpkin. It makes sense that if I were to sleep for 20 hours each day, I'd have only one meal a day, thereby I'd lose lots more weight than those sleeping only 8 hours a day. I'd save money on food, electricity, going out, etc. Skinny Hubby who doesn't need to sleep that much, can do all the housework, including cleaning the toilets and laundry and cooking! I think we've hit the jackpot here!

But come to think of it, I think I'd rather be chunkier and see the daylight alot more.

Occupation Club

I get a whole barage of e-mails - both from right wing and left wing sources. This balances me. One particular left-wing group advertises films from time to time, with a left-wing political bent. Usually these films are about Palestinians caught up in the conflict. This group is called The Occupation Club. An Occupation Club??? I can see these elderly ladies looking at posters from The Occupation Club on a Tel Aviv street, thinking - oy-must be a club for bored people. I tink I'll go. Or, is it a club for the Israeli Army? Yes, the Israeli Army's Occupation Club - Join now! Before the Occupation ends! So what do you have to do to join the Occupation Club?

They should have called themselves the anti-occupation club. The Occupation Club sounds like settlers drinking a toast every time they put up caravans on a new hilltop.

Just thought the name was pretty amusing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Chinese vs. American Doctors

came across this funny while looking for a homeopath doctor for my friend's son - fortunately, he doesn't have the same ailment.


An American tourist goes on a trip to China. While in China, he is
very sexually promiscuous and does not use a condom all the time. A week
after arriving back home in the States, he wakes one
morning to find his penis covered with bright green and purple spots.

Horrified, he immediately goes to see a doctor. The doctor, never
having seen anything like this before, orders some tests and tell the man to
return in two days for the results. The man returns a couple of days later
and the doctor says: "I've got bad news for you. You've contracted Mongolian
VD. It's very rare and almost unheard of here. We know very little about
it." The man looks a little perplexed and says: "Well, give me a shot or
something and fix me up, doc!"

The doctor answers: "I'm sorry, there is no known cure. We're going to
have to amputate your penis." The man screams in horror, "Absolutely not! I
want a second opinion." The doctor replies: "Well, it's your choice. Go
ahead if you want, but surgery is your only choice."

The next day, the man seeks out a Chinese doctor, figuring that he'll know more about the disease. The Chinese doctor examines his penis and proclaims: "Ah, yes, Mongolian VD. Vely lare disease." The guy says to the doctor: "Yeah, yeah, I already know that, but what can we do? My American doctor wants to operate and amputate my penis." The Chinese doctor shakes his head and laughs:
"Stupid Amelican docta, always want to cut, cut, cut, Make more money,
that way. No need to opelate!" "Oh, thank God!", the man replies. "Yes,"
says the Chinese doctor, "You no worry!
Wait two weeks. It fall off by itself! You save money".


My eyes are already bugging me, knowing I have to stay at work until 7:00 pm - no leaving the premises allowed. I can have a break but leave the premises. Verbotten! Unless of course, something more important than lunch crops up like a funeral or having to go to court because your kids are vandalizing schools, etc. Criminal Daughter came to my office yesterday and activated ICQ. This morning I get to work and all this "uh ohs" sounded on my computer while I was with my boss in the board room, prompting the receptionist to close the door to my office. Then of course, you get those door knocking sounds - which confused the poor receptionist even more. She kept on going to the front door to see if someone was indeed there, but the noises were coming from my room. Is this office haunted? When I got to my desk all these ICQ messages were coming in from these young punks - "hey, what's happening" "hi doll", etc. I thought perhaps I'd play along and write to them as my daughter, thereby getting a grasp of what she's really up to, but I didn't have the nerve. Wouldn't that be hysterical. I'd really have what to blog about. Or, I thought I'd do the phone thing and write to them - Criminal Daughter is not at this computer. This is her mother. Leave her alone or I will come to your house, I know where you live, and I will put flea powder all over your bed. But I did the safe thing - I closed down the ICQ.

Monday, December 20, 2004


I was thinking about when the guy doing Yoga at the retreat this weekend said that "OM" was the first sound of creation. I woke up this morning with a resounding "OOOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYYYYYYYY". Jewish meditation. This was probably the last sound in creation - as in "oy vey! what did I do!"

I was invited out to lunch again by someone. Unfortunately the words "lunch hour" or even "lunch half hour" are not in our bosses' vocabulary. Maybe when he has me looking up words in the thesaurus, like "lunge" - I'll say to him - "Oh Professor - here is a new word we never used at this place before. l-u-n-c-h. Midday meal. Midday break. Midday stretching your legs and midday walk around the block.

Meanwhile Criminal Daughter walked over to my office from school and wanted pocket money but Hubby has been out of work this month and I've been living on borrowed shekels. She will have to learn another word for this month - b-a-b-y-s-i-t-t-i-n-g or -w-a-i-t-r-e-s-s-i-n-g.

Last night my Arabic language teacher gave out three pages of blessings people say to one another - after having coffee, when one walks into a meal already happening, when one is sick. Three pages. We were all so curious about the curses which are probably 10 pages, at least. Wonder when he'll be giving those out.

Moslems, Christians and Jews - all together now

dancing on a Friday night

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Oasis of Peace weekend

I missed part of the Interfaith conference due to the Big Billionaire Boss in from the States and my having to work that Friday morning. I confronted the Professor just before the meetings asking him for permission to leave earlier than the rest of the staff. By 11:30 am I was out. We took our Son along, thinking it is good for him to see Palestinians and Israelis behave nicely towards one another. A good education is necessary for an almost 13-year-old kid. I met a Belgian woman on one of my Saturday expeditions 2 weeks ago, who e-mailed me that she wanted to attend this conference, but there was no more room at the guest house. I figured since Son is sharing our room and since the rooms have 4 beds, and since we won't be having sex that weekend because of Young Son in our room, I told her she can stay with us.

We made it just in time for lunch, mealtime being Hubby's favorite part of the conference. My good friends, Eliyahu and Michael were there, which made me so happy because I knew we'd have even livelier conversations going on. Everyone commented on my straight hair. "You look so Californian" said Eliyahu. Yes, this is my "shiksa" look - I told him.

We returned to a short presentation on the Christian view of "love your neighbor as yourself" which was the theme for the weekend and Michael did a meditation with us in order to answer questions such as - how does one remove hate from one's heart. So we closed our eyes, imagined someone we love, people we love, things we love, and then imagined people/things that hurt us and brought them into our heart through this meditation. We then did a bit of yoga with some of the young Palestinians joining us - with the others watching - making light fun of their buddies who did join in.

When the Sabbath began, and the Jews had their evening prayer session, Eliyahu pulled the men in to dance. I was happy the Son was there to witness some joy between Israelis and Palestinians. Hamdan, from Bethelehem, sat next to me. He looked worried, looking at Eliyahu standing up and reading from a 400-page prayer book.

"He will read the WHOLE book?" he asked me, trying not to sound horrified.

No, don't worry - that book has prayers for the morning, afternoon, evening and Sabbath, and New Moon and other assorted ones - all combined in that book.

We danced some more after dinner, this time the Palestinians brought in their own music and I brought them my belly dance belts and scarves, which all the young men promptly put on, among happy whoops and hollers. My Israeli Arab friends from Sakhnin invited me and another girl for coffee in their room. But it wasn't only coffee. It was tea with sage, it was nuts from Al Quds, it was apples from Syria, oranges from here, and finally coffee. You can't say no to the hospitality so I ended up feeling so bloated, wondering how these women were so skinny. I excused myself after 2 cups of coffee, figuring I'll never sleep anyways, now that I'm caffeined up for the night.

It was too cold for meditating at the Meditation dome but we all walked there in the darkness. I was thinking to myself how wonderful it was that we trusted one another in the pitch blackness of the night - and in that isolated spot in the village where there was no electricity and no light in the dome. If "all of them" were murderers -which is what so many Israelis/Americans/Jews think - then weren't we putting our lives on the line, going into such a dark and isolated place with "them"? I'm sure they were probably thinking the same of us - especially of Michael, wearing a knitted kippah - a trademark of the "settler" look. We sang "Peace Will Come Upon Us" in Hebrew, a popular Israeli song and loved the way the acoustics echoed. It seemed like a prayer.

I had a talk with a young Orthodox Jewish student about the similarities/parallels between Buddhism and Chassidic Judaism - how in Buddhism there is no beginning and in Chassidic Judaism, God is known as "Ein Sof" - having no end. He told me to get the book The Jew and the Lotus - about rabbis that went to visit the Dalai Llama upon his invite - because he wanted to know from them how Jews survived in exile for 2,000 years, being that the Tibetan Buddhists were also in that same situation now and said that they invited the Dalai Lama for the upcoming Sulha in September 2005.

I then wanted to hear about my friend's Eyal's experiences - and he tells me about this crazy place in the desert, where they meditate and practice a form of Buddhist Judaism. And where this Jewish "guru" took off his clothes and blew the shofar during Yom Kippur services. I quickly told Hubby about this, thinking he may be interested in checking them out too.

In our discussions - Michael said that if you HATE evil - the "hate" part is what should not be and is what causes even more evil. But if you embrace or LOVE evil -it will no longer be that evil thing. He pointed out in the Hebrew spelling of the word Neighbor that it had the word "evil" in it. So if you are instructed to love your neighbor as yourself, you must learn to love evil too. A difficult concept.

In our group we spoke about car accidents being the result of not loving your neighbor - not yielding to the other - car accidents being the number one cause of death in this country, more than the casualties of our conflict.

At the end, we held hands and formed a circle and shared what we got from this weekend. Most of us wanted to "spread the word" that yes - it is possible for us to get along, despite the popular thinking in both our groups that "it'll never happen in a million years." The Son ended up playing card games and football with the young Palestinian men. I hope he tells his teachers. Eliyahu said he knew now that people not only want peace but are HUNGRY for peace and that is what he will now share with others.

On the way back home, our Son told our startled passengers that his "dad thought the food was shit". But I do believe all in all it was a positive experience and was grateful that I had the opportunity and blessing to share this with another member of my family.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Holy of Holies

I had this awful, unshakeable headache. I'm trying not to get sick because of all the upcoming events, like the Interfaith weekend coming up this Friday. People whom I've met in my travels had expressed an interest in going, plus the Hope Flowers School people from Bethlehem were going to be there, and I had saved an earlier e-mail from them wishing to do a joint project and lo and behold - God makes it so that they show up this weekend.

The billionaire head of this company showed up from the US of A. Everyone gets all tense and crazy. Look I'm not even in the guy's will, so do I "have" to be on my best behavior?? The reception area gets a once over in the days before "His Coming". Carpets are cleaned, light fixtures are cleaned, walls get painted and flowers get planted. I have to straighten out my office, or "he may say something." The board room becomes a sort of Holy of Holies as the meetings commence for an entire week. Yesterday they called me into the Holy of Holies to show them a presentation we were working on. I still had that awful headache between my eyes, which no amount of Ibuprofen took care of. I walked in there, looking fit for the Holy of Holies in a velvet black top and nice dark trousers. But I couldn't hide my dour expression and pasty white complexion, as I was in so much pain. I knew I looked like Linda Blair in the Exorcist as she looked at the priest before she yelled in Satan's raspy voice - "FuckMe!! FuckMe!!!" But there was nothing I could do - when you're summoned, you're summoned.

Mr. Billionaire asked me to type up a sheet he wrote on and I did so - rather speedily as, next to Superman, I am the fastest typist on the planet. As I finished, I heard murmurs from Mr. Billionaire and Mr. Multi-Millionaire sitting directly to my right - "Boy, wish I could type like that." I couldn't believe what I had just heard. They both said it to me. Are these people NUTS??? I would give my Hubby's right testicle to have just 1/10th of their wealth or their business savvy in order to get that wealth myself and they want to TYPE? Maybe I ought to give typing lessons to envious billionaires for 1,000 bucks an hour. Sheesh.

On the Last Night of Hanukkah

My friend Eliyahu sent out an invitation to his Interfaith Chanukah gathering/party. The Sufi Sheikh in Jerusalem was going to light the Menorah. That made it sound interesting enough. Unfortunately, my brother scheduled another family get-together that night, precisely because I told him I had something for that evening. I should have told him I'm busy on another night, and he would have scheduled something then.

Eliyahu had the right idea. Bring your own nash/vegetarian food to share. I should do the same and then wouldn't be saddled with the expense of having interfaith gatherings. With Hubby a bit out of work these past two weeks, it was a good think I cancelled out on my own Hanukkah gathering. Let someone else get stressed out! :-)
I got there early and perused his magnificent library - each shelf having its own theme. There was the Hindu and Buddhist shelf, the Jesus shelf, the Political shelf about Jewish and Arab co-existence, the Chassidic shelf and so on. I would have loved to have remained in that room for a month reading solidly. I better start making a "things to do when I'm retired" list, because that will be one of the things on my list.

The crowd was interesting to say the least. Loads of young Orthodox Jews, the biblical looking types, who also look like your stereotypical "settler" from the West Bank. Ibrahim was there and so was an Egyptian friend of ours, who comes yearly to visit. There were 2 monks from the Latrun monastery and 2 Christian interfaith workers from another group. We all went around the room to speak a bit about ourselves and I always get these wonderful quotes from Ibrahim - like when he spoke to the crowd and said - Everyone knows the Arabs have 21 countries to go to, but these aren't MY countries. THIS is my country, where my father, grandfather, great-grandfather were born. Bingo. Because I hear it so many times from people who advocate transfer of Arabs to one of the "21 Arab countries" -which gets them upset and bitter. Wouldn't I be bitter if I had to be transferred somewhere forcibly, from where I have my roots? I think Ibrahim made an impression, as always. I was there 2 1/2 hours and didn't want to leave - they were just sitting down to watch the Sulha gathering video and hadn't lit the candles yet. But I had my boring brother's boring party to go to. Out came the dress and hat because my sister and her husband were going to be there, and again, I didn't want to upset her at my wearing "men's garb". My legs were freezing in that damn skirt.

I will never understand the kilt thing because trousers are so much more warmer in the wintertime - even a middle-eastern mild winter. Whatever were these Scotsmen thinking?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Palestinians grab the remaining unplanted trees - the Settlers watch on the right

Face to Face - negotiations in the Wadi

The villagers await us so they can plant olives

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Where's My Peace Pipe?

I got a call from the South Hebron Committee of the left-wing Taayush group to join them on Saturday for tree planting in one of the Palestinian villages. I made a last minute decision Saturday morning. It was either do laundry, listen to Hubby and Children complain about me not washing the floors or cleaning the bathroom. I got dressed in a hurry. These groups could recruit hundreds of disgruntled wives for a Saturday activity, if they only knew how to target them. Well they sure got me. Don't care if I'm the most right-wing of the lot. I really don't.

I got into the van - with the rest of the young crowd and off we went. We were stopped at the checkpoint. With a Palestinian driver, I expect that they check him frequently. The military police asked us all for ID. This young Israeli, one of the group's organizers, handed them his ID. His Bright Orange ID cover. For those who don't know - Palestinians from the West Bank have an ID cover that is Bright Orange. Crayola Orange. The Palestinians from Gaza hold Green ID covers. Jews, no matter whether they live in the West Bank or not, hold the most coveted blue ID covers. So they checked out this crazy guy with the Israeli Jewish name, with his West Jerusalem address, with his Orange ID card. He told me he went to the Ministry of Interior and asked for one, to confuse the authorities which he did very well indeed today. And to protest the racism of the Palestinians having to have different ID colors, rather than just one color for us all. (This gelled well with my One State Wish but I was surprised that someone who wanted a separate state for his Palestinian brothers, would get upset at them having a different ID card - but I was pleased nonetheless).

We went past the village we were at last week to be carted off by mule-drawn wagons to a remote hill near a remote outpost inhabited by Jews. Our group had bought 500 olive trees for them, as these people are so poor - without electricity, etc. - agriculture is their only means for making a living. We escorted them to the Wadi (valley) while entire families carried the olive tree saplings to the field that was plowed last week. The men swung their spades wildly and planted those trees so fast. I was wondering why they were in such a rush to plant 500 trees in 5 minutes, until I saw them - the Jewish people from the outpost were watching all this from behind their fence and 3 of them came rushing down with their shotguns. I thought This is surely IT. Will I make it home tonight? And if we weren't there, either the Palestinians would have not planted, or there would have been a big mess.

Like a crazy, possessed woman I walked towards the gun toters, together with the Israeli Jew with the Orange ID card. They were hoppin' mad and began to take pictures of the Orange ID man and me. Even that it was Shabbat and they normally would not be using their cameras, they did anyway. I smiled, as always, for the camera. Orange guy asked them not to shoot, and they actually listened to him. They yelled at us to go back to Goa, the paradise in India that most secular Israeli Jews end up at after army service. They yelled that these Palestinians not only want Their piece of land, but Tel Aviv too. They yelled at us that these Palestinians planters actually hate us more than they hate them.

"Jews have to be strong or they'll eat us alive"

"This is a closed military zone, you cannot be here."

With that Mr. Photographer called the police.

The older man in our group, came over and even though he is Jewish, yelled at the settlers in Arabic, so now they weren't sure who HE was. He walked passed the men towards another hill and one of the gun-toters followed him. He didn't say a word to anyone. He then unzipped and began to pee (while we watched and had a fucking good laugh) and the gun-toter was obviously startled and must have felt like a total moron.

The rest of the people from the Outpost filtered down, women and children in their nice dresses in honor of the Sabbath. One of the teenage girls began uprooting the olive trees that were just planted before we stopped her. Meanwhile the Palestinian crowd was on one side of the valley (or Wadi) and the Jewish crowd was on another.

It looked like war.

It was so fucking scary.

You see - the Israelis in our group also made the settlers mad as bulls telling them they don't belong there, that this land wasn't theirs - which isn't the way I see it - because I see the land in a Messianic fashion - everyone getting on and living with each other. Telling people who love the land that it is not theirs adds to their anger.

I went to the Photographer and said to him - Why can't you just SHARE the land together? Did you ever experience Palestinian hospitality in their villages?

He was surprised that I didn't ask him to leave his caravan, as the others did. He walked with me and started to talk - "I have good relationships with 2 villages and I still go visit with them. But not with THIS one! (I was wondering what village he was talking about because THIS one was an assortment of people from different places coming to plant). They have terrorists among them. I have kids who live in another settlement and they throw stones at Palestinians but you can't control your children sometimes". Oh boy. Don't I know that one. Does this man read my blog?

He continued - If you want to see Jewish hospitality, I'll invite you to my house.

Well, gee, thanks for the invite! And as I was listening to this guy I saw the crowd from the opposite sides - Palestinians and Jews - come within inches of each other. Face to face.

At that moment, I felt the opportunity of a lifetime awaited me. Here was my chance to be the big chief peacemaker.

I actually wondered why I hadn't brought the biggest fucking joint in the world for them to share with each other.

I also wished I had MY "troops" with me. The real Middle-East Peace Corp. Eliyahu. Dhyon. Ibrahim. Sheikh Bukhari. My entire Interfaith group. But no. I was so alone, except for the Italian peace worker who nodded his head at my take of the whole thing. Dhyon would have asked everyone to join hands and make a circle. Ibrahim would have brought giant pots of food to share. Eliyahu and Sheikh Bukhari would have had a joint prayer session for peace. Our interfaith group would have shared a common religious theme. All this in the wadi. Beating our swords into plowshares. And who knows what this place would have looked like afterwards.

But instead of my vision of everyone dancing together - the army came and disbursed the crowd which went their own way.

Not-so-kissing cousins

Today at work, the Professor was drafting an e-mail and I wrote what I thought I heard "I was disgusted with my sister."

He corrected me - "No, I said "discussed it with my sister."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I must have been thinking about MY family."

Thursday Hubby was mentally under the weather so I invited the Eldest Daughter to accompany me to my brother's for dinner. He had invited 16 assorted great nieces and nephews (cousins to my daughter)who were here for Hanukah from New Jersey and Montreal and for the putting up my dad's tombstone at the cemetery Thursday morning. I bought a hat for the occasion because last time I offended the very-Orthodox relatives by wearing my hair uncovered for the funeral. I was so hoping not to offend anyone. After all, I am a woman of peace. I even wore my hat to dinner, along with a dress and told my daughter to dress accordingly, minus the hat as only married Orthodox women cover their hair. You must understand that these sweet teens - ranging in age from 14 - 19, have never mingled with the opposite sex just for fun, unless it is a family setting like it was now. The 15 year old nephew, already wearing a big borsolino hat, together with his braces reminded me of those "sweepea" baby cartoons, where the crawling baby is smoking a cigar. He showed me the finer points of my digital camera as he had the exact same one. How cool can the kid be? The girls, 15, 16 and 18 years old were without makeup, and what do you talk about with these teens. They are in their own world, have their own dress style and music - none of this MTV stuff or for that matter any kind of secular music even if it's nauseating dentist music. My daughter was at a loss for conversation. She's 20. Has a boyfriend for over a year. He stays over, she stays over his place. She knew well enough NOT to publicize her lifestyle. It would cause an absolute family scandal. It was bad enough she wore her tiny nosering in her tiny nose, plus her hair is dyed burgandy which is scandalous enough. But that they will have to live with. She is a secretary in the police force. In the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish world, secretaries and teachers are the jobs de rigeur. She was like "in flint" with these people now. A role model. Too bad she was not a secretary at a religious school, but it was acceptable at least.

As we were about to leave, my brother hands me the gift he and my sister bought for my son's bar mitzvah - a pair of tefillin (phylacteries) that Jews wear (traditionally only men) for morning prayers. You know the straps that Madonna wore in her Die Another Day video. My sweet Eldest Daughter, a mental dead ringer for Kelly Bundy in Married with Children, asks - Are they for my mother?" My brother raises an eyebrow and hisses to her - Not now! Not here!!!

She continued on, oblivious to the warning - In my school the girls wore tefillin and one is studying to become a rabbi.

The poor 19 year old nephew, looked as if his entire dinner was about to be tossed down the toilet and then go into a week's worth of mourning for this scandalous thinking in our family. And all the effort put into dressing in dresses and hats to make these people feel comfortable with all of us "black sheep" went down the drain - together with sad nephew's dinner.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Court

Criminal Daughter had her day in court yesterday. As usual, I walked into the juvenile section and the ten punk sitting there asks if I'm looking for Her. Yes, of course I am. I marvel at her popularity among the criminal teen elements in Jerusalem. She's outside smoking and the lawyer is trying to get her attention. We have to go in soon. They're only 1/2 hour behind schedule. I'm sitting in court, looking at all these lawyers dressed up in suits and ties. This is a rarity in Israeli society - suits and ties, I mean. There is an abundance of lawyers here. But man - do plain men look good in a black suit and tie. Then I remember my girlfriend recently telling me how she "did it" with nearly all the lawyers in Jerusalem and I couldn't stop smiling in the court room. The judge is talking to my daughter, telling her how serious carrying a knife into a soccer stadium is as is being an accomplice to a cellphone theft. Meanwhile, I'm looking at the various lawyers, looking damn good in their black suits and ties, thinking which one of them f**cked my friend. That and the fact that the judge looked like Mr. McGoo made the trial a bit more bearable. Verdict? We're back in two months to see she warrants teen reformatory or not. Can't wait to get another look at those lawyers....

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The funnies

I'm trying to make latkes for Hanukah. Latkes are traditionally made of potatos - fried. We fry alot because the holiday reeks of miracles from 2000 years ago that there was only enough oil for 1 day in the Temple in Jerusalem, however, it then lasted for 8 days. So we oil everything. I even left my hair greasy - not having washed it for 5 days. Hey, I'm in the holiday spirit. Ah, getting back to latkes, I decided to be 21st century and do this gourmet thing with them and make them out of Leeks and toasted pine nuts. Sounded great. When I steamed the damn leeks and put them in a bowl, using a hand blender to mush them up, the leeks got twisted in the hand blender and it took me about 1/2 hour to get all the "hairs" out of the blade. It was like Rapunzel's hair in there. Meanwhile, the 2 so-called men in the family were getting impatient for their dinner. I tried all sorts of tactics to free up the leek hair, scissors, forks, and finally freed it all with a sharp knife.

Then my daughter is trying to feed her boyfriend who won't touch my food and is doing this "fly" thing, putting the food on her fork, making buzzing sounds like a fly, and trying to force it down his mouth. They'll make a wonderful married couple. All this while talking to him in a Russian accent. I was hysterical.

Hubby is on the couch with a migraine, but he's impossible to live with when he's sick. He lights up a cigarette on the couch, and I gently lift him up by the arm, escorting him to the nearest door. He's not happy being shoved out the back door. I push him towards the front door. "I'll smoke in the bedroom."

"The hell you will. I still sleep there, so for now it's out the front door."

The woman of the house was triumphant!!! He was puffing mad, but who cares. The house was smoke-free.

I had gone earlier to the mall to get jelly filled doughnuts. Another holiday specialty. Only they had run out in both places and the lineup was about 20 people long. The tempers were short here too. "WHO SAID SHE IS BEFORE ME?" yelled a very tall man with bony fingers, at the girls in the store, as he pointed to a few women in front of him. I thought, I better get out of here - fast - and went to the supermarket where the doughnuts were cheaper by half price. They had run out of doughnuts there too. I was out of luck. But here people were laughing instead of yelling, wondering how these doughnuts were baked instead of deep fried, figuring that not only are they cheaper but healthier. Fuck the healthy donuts. I wasn't in the mood to wait any longer. I have another 7 days of Hanukkah to get these donuts -deep-fried or baked.

By the way, one of the funniest blogs I have ever seen in my life - is Human Writes. Wish I could write like that. Yesterday I went to print out his post - Careful, Sweetheart, you're sitting on Santa's Testicles and rushed to the printer before anybody at work sees the heading and wonders what kind of person I am. Really.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Hannukah is here - a festival of lights. How the Jews should light up the world. How my children should light up my house. But noooo. What do I get? Anything but light. My son who should be getting 100's on English because we speak English at home, did poorly. Why? He's bored in class and the teacher complained to me that he ran inside the autistic kids' classroom and mimicked them. 'tis a season of light and joy! Yay kids. My Criminal Daughter is back to vandalizing and I haven't bothered picking up the notices I get from the post office. For sure she didn't get registered mail because she won some lottery, or a dead relative left her a ton of money. Oh, no. We never get those. Tomorrow I go to court with her and sit in the juvenile department with a whole load of other teen rejects. Last time she was there, she knew nearly everyone there! Wow! Don't you love it when they're popular? At least I get a few hours off work. Always look at the bright side of life.

I also get off work on Thursday because the tombstone for my dad is ready. This means another family reunion. That could be a happy but painful time. The family (doesn't that sound so mob-ish?) is very Orthodox and I have to show up there in a hat for a hair covering and no trousers. My dresses have since grown moldy since I last wore them. Hair coverings? I tried to cover my hair in a "cool" fashion with a scarf last time I saw them, but the fringes dangled over my eyes, and I looked like a fucked up gypsy. Forget about baseball caps. They're too butch for me.

I'm off to buy some candles for my hanukkah lamps. And of course, the traditional jelly-filled doughnuts for the family. We've got 8 days of this. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Being invited for a Cuppa Tea - the backyard

Ancient home

Another view of the village

The plowing begins

The village of Twane

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Sit Ins

Remember those 1960s Sit Ins as a form of non-violent protest against the US government, against the Vietnam warm? I didn't know what I was getting into on Saturday, my supposed day of rest. I had volunteered to join the Taayush group in the South Hebron area to assist the villagers of Twane to plow their fields. What do I know about plowing? Nothing. But I was told we just have to be there as support, not as workers. That sounded just hunky dory. It was a beautiful Saturday morning. I woke up at 7:25 am and had about 5 minutes to get dressed, have a coffee, pack a lunch, etc. I wondered about the lunch bit since being in a Palestinian village automatically gets you a free lunch via their hospitality, but I didn't want to depend on that so I grabbed anything in sight that could be wrapped up in tin foil and had Hubby the chauffeur, drive me to the meeting point. Our group of 25 people travelled in two Ford Transit vans and 2 private cars. One private car got held up at a checkpoint. It was a random check and unfortunately for the driver, he happened to have a Palestinian passenger who did not have the permit to get into West Jerusalem. They detained him and the passengers for a few hours and they, of course, could not join us.

We got to Twane and walked about 20 minutes through fields near a Jewish outpost of Maon where apparently the young Jewish people living there are quite violent towards the inhabitants here. I hate telling on my own people. It makes my stomach turn or churn or whatever. About 8 (?) years ago a Palestinian shepherd murdered a Jewish man who lived there alone and there has been strife ever since. But the Arab villagers wanted to plow their fields which were very close to the Jewish outpost. They needed our help and we were there. When we arrived, the army jeeps were waiting for us - thinking we were going to be a violent and angry mob - telling us it is a closed military zone and they cannot work their fields. We told them we're not moving unless they can plow their fields. And we sat and waited and waited -about 3 hours. Thank God it was sunny and not too cold outdoors. We heard of another hill being plowed nearby with settlers throwing stones at the Palestinian guys on the tractors. So we had this choice. We were going to be split into two groups. Your chances were of either getting hit by a rock in one place or you could be arrested if you stayed with this group. I figured getting arrested would probably be safer than getting hit with rocks so I stayed. We were primed up for being arrested, what to say, what not to say, what not to sign, etc. I was getting nervous. A big Canadian woman with the Christian Peacemakers Team decided she was going to go with the other group. "I've been beaten up before by settlers, so I don't mind getting beaten up again." Wow. From the great white north comes the great white woman. She looked like she could take on the entire Calgary Flames hockey team in battle.

Meanwhile, after people making phone calls to their connections in the army and finally getting through, we were told that the villagers can plow their land. We were thrilled. We didn't get arrested and had we not been there, it wouldn't have happened. Everyone cheered as the tractors came at full speed ahead to work the land. Mission accomplished we headed back towards the village. It was so quiet in the village. I didn't expect a friggin' ticker tape parade, but it was eerily quiet. We sat around quietly at the entrance and I walked around the village with a Quaker woman from the US talking to the kids we saw on that one road running through it. Some of the kids there were very European looking, very blonde. I was surprised to see that. I was expecting everyone to look more swarthy. When we got back our group was already invited by one of the families for tea. We sat around on mattresses while the women served us hyssop-flavored tea and mandarins. Their kids played with our digital cameras and their little 7 year old girl rummaged through my purse until she finally found what she was looking for. My purple nail polish. She opened it up quickly and spilled half on her school uniform. I thought - shit, her mum will fucking kill me. She let me polish her nails, although in this very small, very traditional village, I doubt hot purple polish will be looked at favorably by her parents. I hope she can wear it for a few hours though until they take it off.

We were told another family had invited us for lunch. We moved to their home and sat in the backyard on mattresses and pillows. Out came homemade grape jam, heavy, large salted pita-type breads, fresh olives, and french fries. These people are poor and only have their agricultural produce to live on, yet they had no problem feeding 13 guests. Not a problem. I went over to the host afterwards. Is this your house? I asked him. He said - Your house too. We're partners in this. Huh? Is it that simple?? I have a house in Twane!!! I can't wait to tell Hubby and the kids and the entire Israeli government. All you have to do is to be helpful to Palestinian villagers and their home is your home. Simple. No need to fight, demolish homes, blow up people, etc.

On the way back, with people knowing I am the coordinator of the Interfaith group in Jerusalem, they made me tell the Christians the story of Hanukah. One Israeli guy thought the holiday is "too militant." He was surprised I was having an interfaith gathering at my home for the holiday. It doesn't have to have a militant bent to it. You can talk about the Hanukah lights. Focus on the other stuff, on the freedom to worship our religion, on the miracles, etc.. It's just how you look at it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


I ran through the supermarket yesterday in a rush to buy toothpaste for the house. In a household of 7, we run out of stuff quite frequently and it's not funny when you run out of toilet paper on Friday evening when all stores are closed until Sunday and there is nothing you can do but use napkins and/or borrow a few roles from neighbors. I had run out of toothpaste the night before and no one brushed their teeth that morning. We all had turtle breath. My eldest kids were laughing hysterically at me when they ran to get the new toothpaste from me, as I told them how I pushed through the massive lines at the store yelling - "help!!! I've got to get these toothpaste tubes over to my kids NOW!!! Their breath smells like camel dung, and I will DIE if I go near them." I took a mild toothpaste this time - herbal Colgate with myrhh and lemon. We also ran out of detergent which I buy in huge tubs so we don't run out every 3 days or so. The laundry had piled up dangerously like a cloth-built Tower of Babel. But perhaps I should just let the sugar supply deplete and see how calm and chilled everyone will be without their daily supply.

THIS is meat

Hubby and Abed have this private language together. Two peas in a pod they are - Canadian/Israeli Jew and Palestinian. I was privy to their secret society as I sat in the car with them on our way to work.

THIS is meat, pointed out Abed to Hubby.

I figured out it is what they call women they see on the street with nice shapes and even not so nice shapes - in my opinion.

Abed said it in such a monotone voice, and when I turned around to look at him, he had absolutely no expression on his face. THAT was hilarious. And they do this routine every day on their way to work. This is meat. That is meat.

I had to buy a monthly pass for my daughter at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. I passed by droves of restaurants and coffee shops. They had a McDonalds serving a McShwarma. I kid you not. This is a real McDonalds catering to a Middle East crowd. Real McSchwarma. I could just see Osama bin Ladin scurrying over to the nearest Pakistani McDonalds or wherever the fuck he is ordering a MCshwarma. It doesn't get any better than that. Now THIS is meat.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Things have been tortuous for me lately. Everything from the fly that won't leave my bathroom for 3 days now - I've been swiping it sitting on the toilet, swiping it as I put in my lenses, swiping it as I take off my make won't fucking budge - to the dog emptying out my garbage can in the kitchen and licking all the paper plates clean and dragging cereal boxes to my son's room and ripping them apart there plus he had disemboweled a small stuffed animal last night. My son and Hubby played ping pong name calling "You Fucking Drug Addict" "You Fucking Wimp" "YOu Fucking Drug Addict" "You fucking wimp" - until they both fell asleep. For what did I come home early last night. I could have danced all night and not have had to hear all this. Then there's the wet laundry that hangs in two racks inside our house because of the rain, and my husband shouting at 12:00 am to my daughter's Persian boyfriend -"I FEEL CROWDED IN HERE!" I get to work this morning and the e-mails are depressing. More Palestinian house demolitions and descriptions of the families and young children in tears. I can't do a thing because a) I have no clout b) I have to work every single day and cannot volunteer my time to help them out. My boss was writing a report today and made me read one paragraph over and over and over and over again until he GOT IT! Then when we write another paragraph, I have to read that one over and over and over and over again. To alleviate my exasperation, I try reading the paragraph in different tones. The second time I read it, I read it slower and with more feeling. The third time I read it, I enunciate each vowel. The fourth time I read it - I've got to be real inventive. My Boss believes I can win an Oscar. I can't wait until one day a computer can read what was typed, reads it aloud and can take over my narration job.

Monday, November 29, 2004

2 Strange Dreams

I had 2 strange dreams recently and related them to friends. The first one was a dream of one of the cast from "Queer Eye for a Straight Guy". I think the guy's name was Carlson ? - the blonde one from the show. He is over my house for a "re-do" and looks at me and tells me I look like a balloon. I woke up immediately thank God. Right before that I had a dream that I was holding a small blue box that came from Tibet. I opened it and saw all this glistening dust. Richard Gere, the movie actor, is behind me telling me to put it away because it is holy. Not the kind of dream "I" had in mind for Richard, but never mind.

My girlfriend tells me gurus or lamas or whatever give gifts of dust that shimmer. I had no idea. I know nothing of Eastern religions. I have enough to learn of my own and anything I find in Eastern religions, I can basically find in Chassidic/spiritual Judaism. So there. Whatever do these dreams mean?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Dr. Rambo

I will be going to see this Dr. Rambo today - a female gynecologist. Haven't been to one in ages and it's time I took some responsibility for myself. Ain't no one else gonna remind me to go. I didn't want to use the local gyno - a heavy elderly Russian woman - who is constantly asking my kids in her heavy accent in her high voice - if they engage in sexual practices. If they're not telling me, they're not gonna tell you, honey. I asked at work for recommendations for a good gyno. A new mother highly recommended this - Dr. Rambo. The name kind of scared me a bit. I then asked another friend of mine for an opinion about her. "She made me cry." Of course she made you cry, I figured. She probably stood there like Stallone holding god-only-knows what kind of weapon and ordered something like - open up or I'll shoot. That might make me cry too. But as I thought of cancelling my appointment, my friend confided that Doc Rambo only made her spit out her chewing gum while she examined her. That was the whole deal. You don't mess around with Rambo. You spit out that gum.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Friday Ramblings

I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving in Jerusalem last night. My mother always celebrated Thanksgiving - but never on a Thursday. She would wait until Friday and serve us our Turkey with stuffing then for our extravagant Sabbath meal. In Canada no one gave two hoots about American Thanksgiving. Canadians had their own, although I haven't a clue as to why they picked October and their historical significance for Thanksgiving. We never celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving either. But being surrounded by American ex-pats made me long for some of the nostalgia of a cozy Thanksgiving dinner. Whole turkeys are difficult to find here. Mostly they sell Turkey breasts - skinless - for making schwarmas and stews. Not the same.

I walked into some of the joints heavily frequented by Americans and Normans on Emek Refaim was crowded and noisy with, well, loud Americans. The waiters and waitresses were all dressed in warpaint and Indian headresses which I thought was funny. The food seemed too mass-produced and it didn't seem like a good place to eat in if you weren't sitting with at least 10 other people. Too noisy for a couple date. I decided our best bet was not having to stick with turkey but just going out to eat is celebration enough for me. The next big soiree for us will probably be New Years.

There is an old inn across from the defunct train station in Jerusalem, called the Khan. We'd never been there in all the years we've lived here - that's 10 years. I am amazed that there is always something to discover here. Especially so after one of the people I work for came back after a long stint in the US, extolling the praises of America the beautiful. "Life is so much easier there, people have everything, everyone travels, everyone is buying ipods in all different colors, look at all of you (we were 4 women sitting around her). You all look tired, simply exhausted." Well, gee, thanks. What was going on here? Of course I didn't move here to become rich and acquire "stuff". My diamond-loving friend from Toronto who spent $1,200 on a necklace in a new age shop selling mostly rocks and candles frightened me and now Ms. Boss is frightening me. What is everyone turning into here???

But getting back to the Khan. My mind always drifts - sorry. The place was amazing. There's a large courtyard with huge olive trees and ancient olive-press wheels, surrounded by buildings that house a theatre that looks like a cave - featuring alternative music on some nights, a pub and a restaurant upstairs. The restaurant was a good find, the food original - vegetarian fare as well as unique pomegrante or tamarhind sauces to smother on meat and fish and anise flavored beets, etc. Looking out the picture window from the restaurant my mind wandered back a century and I could see where the old stables used to be and I could imagine all the Jews and Arabs playing backgammon together and smoking water pipes on their way to or from somewhere.

Happy Thanksgiving

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad
attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was
rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying
only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to
"Clean up" the bird's vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the
parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got
angrier and even ruder. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird
and put him in the freezer For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and
screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over
a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the
freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said, "I
believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm
sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do
everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask
the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird
continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Thursday, November 25, 2004


I wish there were more words to describe dysfunction but that's how the past 24 hours have been. Tuesday night I had the dreaded Parents/teachers meeting at my son's school. The wait could be for up to an hour as each parent is alloted 10 minutes to gab with the teacher, but somehow - being that they're Israeli parents who like to talk and argue - it ends up being 20 minutes each. I was the next to the last parent to see the teacher and as I waited looking at my split ends my son speaks at last - DON'T LOOK FOR LICE HERE. Honey, I wasn't looking for lice. I haven't had lice in about a year. Lice - the dreaded plague, plagues every child here and they, in turn, pass it to their mothers, myself included. My youngest is 12 and for one year now, I haven't seen the pesky critters anywhere on anyone's head in our house. What a pleasure.

Ah, but getting back to my dysfunctional day - my daughter celebrated her 15th birthday that night as well. She showed up asking for Chinese food and didn't want a cake. Who doesn't want a cake on a birthday. Mum certainly does. So I ordered the cake of her choice - it was sickeningly sweet, that I think she, in her teen wisdom, knew this well in advance. The Chinese food was a treat for me, as I didn't have to cook that night. This was loser Chinese food though with the sauces overpowering the bits of chicken among the peppers. What the hell - she liked it though.

The next day my Good Daughter gets sick and begs me to come home and make dinner for her - "since you haven't made dinner in a long time" - saying this as if it had been decades since I've been near the stovetop. Yes, since I finished nursing you, my dear, you haven't had dinner. Nor you, your siblings and father and everyone else who complains about its absence.

Even this morning Abed, our Palestinian friend, whom Hubby drives to work with him each day, gets into the car and digs into me, asking Hubby - What did you have for breakfast today. Breakfast? Who has breakfast as we all rush out in the am. Putting my lenses in, in the morning, is enough work for me, as well as making sure my own friggin' teeth are brushed and my face thoroughly moisturized. Abed dug in some more - "When I was at your house, and Hubby asked for the kids to do something and one of them said - 'no, YOU do it' - if it were one of my kids, I would ask them 'for what did I bring you into the world'?"

I thought for more than a fleeting moment - why couldn't the Israeli army have put up a checkpoint just that day in front of MY house so that Abed wouldn't have been able to visit and notice my spoiled brat kids. They may not have much, these Palestinians, but they do have children who behave better to their families than we do.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Honor thy mother and father

An old Jewish man lived alone in the country. He wanted to dig his potato
garden but it was very hard work as the ground was hard.

His only son, Saul, who used to help him, was in prison for Insider Trading
and Stock Fraud. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his

"Dear Solly: I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won't be able
to plant my potato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging
up a garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know
you would dig the plot for me. Love, Papa"

A few days later the old man received a letter from his son:

"Dear Papa: For heaven's sake Dad, don't dig up that garden, that's where
I buried the money & stocks. Love, Solly."

At 4 am the next morning, a team of FBI agents and local police arrived at
the old man's house and dug up the entire garden area without finding any
money or stocks. They apologized to the old man and left.

That same day the old man received another letter from his son:

"Dear Papa: Go ahead and plant the potatoes now. That's the best I could do
under the circumstances. Love, Your son, Solly."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Interfaith meeting

It rained like freezing hell yesterday - all day - without the sun peeking through for one moment and I had to get my winter coat out of storage. I didn't give a flying fuck how bad it smelled. Karmela the nun called me at 3:00 pm - If no one comes to the meeting, we'll just have an informal one. Shit, and I had just gotten my evening gown out of the cleaners for just this once. Never mind. I had hoped -somebody- would actually show up besides us three faithful coordinators. I had spent 2 hours that morning typing up my wonderful presentation on Abraham - the Jewish perspective. I perused through dusty books I hadn't looked at in a decade and found some good spiritual stuff. Shame if nobody would come. I focused on Abraham's quest and relationship with God and his hospitality. I left out circumcision because I feel funny talking about penises in front of academics. Also, I wasn't sure whether this was a commonality between all three religions because not all Christians are circumcised and I didn't want to do a guessing game in the room of who was and who wasn't. So I left that out. I left out the story of Hagar and Sarah because for me that is the root of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Sarah threw Hagar out of the house and Palestinians feel today that that is exactly what Jewish mothers today would like to do to them. I diplomatically left that out. Someone wrote to me about what a diplomat was - someone who can tell you to go to hell and you end up looking forward to the trip.

By the time the meeting began we had 13 solid people there not including one Canadian artist who showed up for 10 minutes before he left for another meeting. He even wore a French beret. Of course he's an artist. What else do they wear? I invited Souliman from the Abu Sukkar center for Peace and Dialogue. He, in turn, invited a person who works with Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian academic involved in getting hundreds of thousands of signatures for their peace initiative. Never mind all that - I was just happy that people showed up, that the 2 Palestinians got permits to come into Jerusalem thanks to the invitation I sent them.

Speaking of Abraham, they mentioned how it would be nice if we could go as a group to Hebron to visit the Cave of Machpela in the place of such holiness and tension between our peoples. I jumped at the idea because I enjoy the thought of freaking out all the locals, both Jewish and Palestinian, at the site of our mixed procession. But then they all thought better of it and decided perhaps it would be best if we first started out at Nebi Samuel - the Prophet Samuel's tomb - where it's a lot less tense and where we could actually pray together, but separately without too many raised eyebrows.

Anyway gotta go and buy a cake for my ex-Criminal Daughter's birthday today - she is turning Frightful Fifteen.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Vanity Fair

Last night I went to see the Reese Witherspoon movie Vanity Fair. My Eldest Daughter agreed to come with to the old landmark movie theatre in Jerusalem. She's a kind of Kelly Bundy type who identifies with Reese's former Legally Blonde types and I was wondering how she'd fare through the classic British epic movie. She actually did pretty good on it, not asking me too many questions throughout and I especially enjoyed Bob Hoskins' part in it. She ordered popcorn for us and this mega-super-size-me popcorn showed up at our table before we went into the movie. "Who is going to eat all that???" I queried, figuring I'd share it with the whole damn audience if I have to. "It was only $1 more than the medium one" she explained. I sauntered into the movie theatre with my real glass (not a paper cup) of hot apple cider with brandy complete with dried apple slices and enjoyed the movie ever so much more with my drink. Daughter ordered a chocolate drink in a paper cup. Why drink out of a paper cup when you can drink like a mensch out of a glass cup.

It's been raining so hard today, I am in a "fireplace mood" and am searching for a Jerusalem restaurant that has one. Let's see if I can find one. There may yet be one and if there isn't - it would certainly be a hit in the rainy winter months. In Toronto everyone had working fireplaces in their home. Here - hardly anyone does, although these wood burning fireplace-look-alike room heaters are on the market this year.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Our Chassidic friends

They came to visit for 10 days. Talk about the Odd Couple. I love them both to pieces. She loves jewellery with a passion, anything that glitters and is expensive. Her husband complains bitterly to mine about her spending sprees. The more he makes, the more it goes - on her hands, around her neck, on her fingers, and wherever diamonds drip. She complained to me about her Orthodox hippie-style daughter. "She has a belly ring and wanted to know whether she could wear her belly ring in the mikvah (ritual bath). So she called up her rabbi - talk about stump the rabbi - who had no idea what a belly ring is. He asked his wife what is it? His wife waved her hand at him - it's just some meshugas (crazy thing)." I don't know what the verdict was, but I could just imagine what a ruckus it must have caused in the rabbi's household. At last a question he could not answer easily.

We went out on Friday and she took me out for breakfast. I showed her the New Age shop and thought we'd be looking at crystals and candles. But she immediately spotted something glistening in the locked glass showcase. "That's termoline! I can't believe it! I've been looking for this for YEARS!" She's found her treasure at last. I was horrified. The price tag was over 1,000 dollars US!! "Your husband will KILL you", I warned. "Put it back" I said. She didn't listen. She took it out, wore it around her neck, walked around the store with it and decided to buy it. Shit. All I wanted her to do was look at candles for 10 friggin' dollars and she finds the most expensive thing in the house. I had no idea the store even sold jewellery.

Saturday night we went out as a couple. They came over to see our rather modest home and she perused through my photo albums. "WHAT IS THIS??!" she screamed at a page in my album. "Oh, that's the gay pride day in Jerusalem last year. Isn't it colorful." She turned grey. "You put these pictures in your FAMILY album?" I put everything in my family album.

We went out for coffee and cake and I told her about my Feng Shui consultation. "Everything is in the Torah, even that" she told me. Her husband elaborated further "The Torah even tells you where you should build bathrooms in your home, he stated. You are not allowed to pee facing the Temple Mount." OH? Hubby and I tried to figure out in which direction our bathroom faced. "I think I pee towards Mecca" I said, not feeling too good about that either. I glared at Hubby -"But YOU, my man, are peeing towards the Temple Mount!!" The restaurant patrons began to look in our direction for the more enlightening conversation coming from our table. "Shit. Looks like I will have to pee sideways from now on." Yes, do that. Please pee in the direction of New York City only. I feel a bathroom renovation coming on!

Greenwich Village Blues

OK - I'm back to being Cinderella. My home is computer-less now that work needed my loaned computer back. The good news is that there is less inter-family fighting over the computer and it's a bit quieter these days. The bad news is I have no time to relax on weekends and read other silly and not-so-silly and some hysterically funny blogs and best of all - discovering interesting blogs.

While perusing the internet on Thursday, I read a small news item about local Greenwich villagers in a bit of a neighborhood tiff with Richard Gere about his building a Tibetan style temple in his backyard. Nu? What's up with the neighbors. Tibetan temples are beautiful, certainly not an eyesore. Just what exactly are they afraid of? It's not like he's building a giant chapel for evangelical, snake-handling, Jesus screaming Pentacostal Christians who might be in religious ecstasy at 3:00 am, waking up all the neighbors who have just gone to sleep. Buddhists are quiet. Real quiet. I've done walking meditations with them. I know. They don't talk. For hours. Sometimes even for days. The only thing making noise might be a tiny bell or two. OK some actually use gongs, but I don't think he'll be banging gongs at 3:00 am or at any ungodly hour. Are they nervous the Buddha in his temple will turn into something terrifying. WATCH OUT!!! IT'S THE ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT BUDDHA!!!! HEEEEELLLLPPPP!!! C'mon folks. This is Buddha, not King Kong. Even if it does grow to 50 ft. so fucking what. Can't the man get some spirituality in his life - even if it is in Pagan Greenwich Village?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A Hard Rains Gonna Fall

Yesterday kicked off winter officially here. We had one rainy Friday, but yesterday felt more winter-ish. It poured, then stopped, then poured and stopped again. The vendors at the shuk had the radio tuned to Rock stations who played rain theme songs like Prince's Purple Rain, and others like Can't Stand the Rain, Wish It Would Rain, etc. all throughout the evening.

Meanwhile, at work we delegated days where one of us would bring "lunch" for the office. Today was my day and I poured over the stove last night making Pasta Primavera for these young Israeli girls. I've been to lots of restaurants in Jerusalem, even ones that portray themselves as Italian and I have not yet seen Pasta Primavera in any of them. Pity. It took me 1 1/2 hours and the asparagus cost $5, a princely sum for veggies in this part of the world. But it was worth going to the shuk in the rain to hear all the rain songs playing on the radio. While I was protecting my Pasta Primavera from family members, the dog and the street cat who ventures boldly into our house at times, my Eldest Daughter comes in from an evening of clothes shopping hungry like a wolf. "YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT" I barked at her, telling her it's like the cakes she bakes for all the policemen at work. "Take whatever's left in the slow cooker" I ordered, which was nothing more than a couple of potatoes and a little bit of turkey left over. "Can I have $2 for a slice of pizza?" she begged. I felt selfish - "If I give you, I'll have to fork over another $2 for your brother" who gave out a resounding "YEAH" in agreeance. My 20 year old began to cry. Me, the guilty Jewish mother, felt terrible. So my co-workers will have less to munch on at lunchtime. OK, take the friggin' food and so I watched while my oldest and youngest child dug in happily.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Wednesday's check-points

Abed moved from A-Ram to Issawiyeh to avoid all those hassling check-points to be able to get to work with Hubby more easier. But today when we went to pick him up, there were tons of army and police and school kids were being let through quickly after their bags were checked but others had to stand in line and wait. One soldier said to one of the villagers "If you want quiet, you have to have quiet at your end." I asked the soldier what was going on. He said people from that village they tried to burn down the gas station. I hadn't seen any signs of vandalism. Was it teenagers doing their thing as Jewish teenagers do? Or was it more? Last week I read about Jewish teenagers in the rural Golan Heights who burned their teacher's car at the teacher's home, but no one thought to put up checkpoints for the Jewish teenagers. Of course, playing around the gas station is quite a bit more dangerous, if that was the truth. I don't know who to believe. I asked Arab civilians what they thought was going on - they said it was because Id-Al Fitr ended and everyone was coming back to work so they were checking simply everyone coming into Jerusalem. We saw Abed coming up the street and thought because we knew him, he could avoid standing in line for checking. No such luck. We went to all the soldiers and asked if he could just come through. They all said he has to stand in line with the rest. Then they told me to stand a bit back from the Palestinians coming in. God forbid I might to get to know one. I didn't want to argue, because who wants to argue too much with armed soldiers unless they're doing something terribly wrong, like being abusive, which I didn't see - just a routine hassle and checking IDs. It took Abed 45 minutes to get through the check. But he got through it and meanwhile someone selling Arab-style sesame coated pretzel-like bread got $1 richer from Hubby who decided to buy 2 for our breakfast.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Geniuses and aliens

The Good Daughter rang me up yesterday to tell me she received a large bouquet of flowers from her boyfriend. "Is he feeling guilty about something?" I asked her. "HOW DID YOU KNOW?" she asked. She was truly amazed like I was a kind of biblical prophetess, psychic mom and Einstein all rolled into one. Heh Heh. I've just been around long enough to know. No secret there. Turns out Bad Romanian Boyfriend hadn't seen her in over a week, was supposed to take her somewhere yesterday but never showed up, so flowers came in his place. I let the Good Daughter believe I was Mother Genius.

Hubby came to pick me up to go to a fellow interfaith member's art show this afternoon. "You sounded like an Italian sports car in your sleep last night." "Huh?" I didn't quite understand. Then he went on to say that lately I've been talking incoherently in my sleep as well as moaning and groaning and yesterday I was buzzing and humming in different tones. "Maybe I'm communicating with Aliens" I told him. He went on - "I swear I'm going to buy a tape recorder and tape all your sounds. You're having a whole fucking conversation there." Jeez. Well whoever it was communicating with me in my sleep probably fought with me as well, as I woke up with a jolt at 3:00 am. My neck was stiff along with my entire right side, as well as my stomach aching badly. I had to sit up, as the aches seemed to be better while in a sitting position, and ended up watching Larry King and Oprah. Thanks aliens.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Laughing fits

I was trying to work on this 12 page To Do list for my boss. Two of my co-workers were making fun of me, him and this list. OK, so it's trite. Big deal. He can't type and I happen to be the fastest typist next to Clark Kent and I am forever grateful to the generous Lord to have one talent he doesn't have. So I added things like 1. Shave testicles 2. Pick ass - and other assorted, more pornographic, entries and we laughed until our sides hurt. Luckily I remembered to erase said items on this list before we faxed it to him overseas, and called the receptionist after I left the office so she could double check that it really went out to him overseas without all the porn stuff. Poor guy. I'd hate for him to have such a rude awakening about me. But the thought of him getting such a fax was so funny, I laughed all the way home on the bus not caring what other passengers thought of me, through my Arabic lesson, at the kitchen table while my son thought Lord knows what happened to his mother and I tried to tell Hubby about it, but he just emerged from his cave in his grey undies only to take a swift drink of Pepsi and retreat back under the covers.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The British are Coming!

Actually not - but one British journalist actually did and wrote an absolutely stunning piece for the Sunday Times on our beautiful country here. Enjoy!

Muhammad the nurse

I took my son Friday night to the medical clinic in our neighborhood that is open when all the other clinics are closed. We sat for 2 hours while everyone suffering from all kinds of ailments piled in, kids in pajamas, tired looking fathers and mothers. My son had cut his foot badly while playing soccer in sandals and kicking the floor. There was only one doctor on call. I thought there were two doctors on staff, but the person whom I thought was a doctor was a male nurse, a Palestinian called Muhammad. I was so curious and so happy to see him here, in a place full of Jews, Jews who are considered settlers by many (except for the Jews who live here - we consider ourselves Jerusalem suburbanites). No one in that room, and it was crowded, gave it a second thought. He wore his name tag - Muhammad something or other. No one gave him a hard time. Everyone treated him with the utmost respect and he did his job very professionally. He bandaged up my son's foot carefully after cleaning it with a solution my son wasn't too happy about because it burned slightly, and gave me instructions on how to do it myself (although when I did try it, I couldn't manage to do it as neatly as he did it - in fact I did quite a slop job). I wanted to ask him all sorts of questions - how do you feel about working in what is considered a settlement, how did you get this job, where do you live, what does your family think, etc. I didn't ask diddley of him. But I overheard someone else who did. He lives in Jerusalem and is also a nurse at one of our major hospitals. Little things like this never get media coverage - do they?

heart stickies

Notice Eliyahu holding the Palestinian flag and Ibrahim holding the Israeli flag :-)

Praying for world peace

Circle of flags at Twyman's event

I'm holding the Democratic Republic of Congo flag

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Twyman's here

James Twyman, a Christian troubador of peace, came to Israel and had this "event" tonight which I went to, and which Hubby reluctantly drove me to as part driver, part escort. He sang some acoustic songs, we meditated for 5 minutes in silence and I laughed as someone poured water into the hot water machine because it made so much noise. We made circles of energy in our hands, then in couples, then in groups of 4. We did circles and chanted and then everyone was given flags of every country in the world and we chanted "May peace be on Australia, Austria....etc" and of course the biggest Amens came when they mentioned Palestine, Israel, Iraq and USA. There were all sorts there. I thought Hubby would be amused at the crowd. On the way back he was like "people looked like they came out of a mental institution, did you see the crazy woman with the hat?" "That woman is my friend from jerusalem, she's an artist. She's supposed to look eccentric" I told him. He said "Well when I asked someone what he does for a living, he told me he's Corporate. I asked him 'Corporate what?'" he told me just to prove his point that they were all nuts. I didn't find people there nuts, even though everyone wore little colorful styrofoam hearts all over their faces and clothing. It made me smile. Afterwards we all danced to World Music which was fantastic and I probably lost whatever fattening stuff I had eaten during the day. I danced like a wild banshee. My friends Ibrahim and Eliyahu were there, both back from England. It was great to get that Ibrahim hug after a few weeks of not getting those special hugs. At one point after the flag thing, Eliyahu held up the Palestinian flag, Ibrahim held up the Israeli flag and this Jordanian guy who was here for 3 days, held up his flag and it made the perfect picture. At the end of the evening we all made a circle which winded its way around like a spiral and we all held each other in that circle chanting Halleluyah, Salaam, Shalom and when the chanting winded down, Ibrahim said "Thank you God for making us all One tonight."

Friday, November 12, 2004

Two Worlds

Amoun, the Gypsy, invited me to Iftar, the breaking of the Ramadan fast at the Jerusalem Hotel, a beautiful, tiny hotel, that hardly any Jew living in West Jerusalem knows about. It's beautiful, the food is great, cheap and it's a block away from the road that divides East and West Jerusalem, but still no one will venture there. Like when I lived in NYC and 96th Street was the "border" between safe Manhattan and unsafe Manhattan. I wouldn't venture past 96th Street - not even 1/2 block onto 97th Street when I was younger. I was late for dinner partly because my boss was overseas and called me at 3:00 pm to give me vast amounts of assignments and because my hair was a disaster and I needed some professional treatment (hair treatment, that is). Let me explain. At 7:30 I was to meet people from Toronto, whom I hadn't seen in 9 years. The last time they saw me, I had covered my hair with hats, wigs, scarves as a member of the Ultra-Orthodox clan. I didn't want my friend to think the wigs "were so much nicer than your own hair." Back to East Jerusalem - Amoun and her friends and 2 sisters were just finishing up dinner. The conversation was mostly in Arabic and I figured out words like "Suha, car, married, small, little, money, husband" but I couldn't put it all together. They seemed to be the only Arabic speakers in the place - the place was swarming with Europeans - journalists, peace workers, etc. I guess because Arafat died, no one in East Jerusalem was in a celebratory mood. I didn't even know he died until I checked in with the Internet in the morning and saw the headlines. Even on the bus going into the Jerusalem - no one seemed elated - and this is a bus full of "settlers". Everyone has an attitude of "wait and see." Even though I wasn't a personal fan of Arafat's because of his terrorist background, because he didn't help his people enough and let them fester in refugee camps when he had enough $ to build a good infrastructure in Palestinian cities, and assorted other things - it will be hard to fill his shoes. Putting myself in a Palestinian's place instead of where I am in my Jewish place, I'd feel terribly sad at his death, because he instilled pride in his people if nothing else. I don't think the world would have taken notice of the Palestinian plight if he hadn't exploded (no pun intended) onto the scene and caused a world ruckus. But my attitude is the same as most Israelis here - let's wait and see.

Then I split from Amoun to visit my Chassidic friends staying at a nearby hotel a few blocks away, after telling her why my Toronto friends would feel just a touch uncomfortable at the Jerusalem Hotel where she invited them as well for Iftar. "It's not kosher, first of all" I explained. I would actually have loved to have seen everyone's reactions at the sight of a Chassidic man with a flowing white beard and his wife - with a kerchief tied in the back - trotting into this place.