Sunday, July 31, 2005

Can't I Bitch

Sunday - the first day of the working week in Israel. Feh. They should just do away with Sundays and Mondays and just have us working 10 hour days Tuesday Wednesday and Thursdays. That's enough for me.

One nice thing about work today was that the Spring Water guys came in today. They carried those giant bottles of water like I carry cups of water. Not a problem lifting those weights. My God. Why couldn't I have dreamed about those guys. No. Instead I dream about bugs. Locusts. What is going on? At least I'm better off than the girls at work who dream about our bosses.

The bank's online site was messed up. I called up and explained my problem in Hebrew. It took about 1/2 hour for him to get me a new password, after asking me a zillion personal questions about me - what is your birthday, what are your parents' names - to make sure it was really me. He stopped short of asking my bra size. I got so frustrated I began swearing in English which made him laugh. Everyone understands what the word "fuck" means. I guess you can be anywhere in the world and make people laugh with this magic word.

My Ex-Criminal daughter is out of her reformatory today for a 2-day respite. She was ordered not to sleep anywhere but home, but then she decided she'd rather be by her boyfriend tonight. He came over for the first time in 1 1/2 years to be with her at OUR house for a change. We tried to convince her not to go over to his house tonight, and then she looked at us angry and complained.

"You're freaking him out with your yelling. That's why he's leaving. He's feeling very uncomfortable."

First of all, we weren't yelling. We were just talking loudly. And what kind of Moroccan is he? Uncomfortable when we talk loudly? They don't yell? Since when? Now there's a culture of yelling and screaming and eating - even more than ex-pat Yanks and Canucks. Gimme a break.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


I dreamt of locusts last night, briefly. Figuring I'm about to enter the biblical plague zone, I looked for the meaning of it. Dream interpretation of one's dreams is usually less harsh than you would think. I went to this site, and it gave me this interpretation.

To see locusts in your dream, signifies a lack of psychological nourishment. You may feel that your are lacking in creativity or that your creativity is being destroyed.

bingo. I thing they've got it.

Gaza friends or foes

I told Hubby last night before dinner.

"There was a really nice blurb about me at another blog called Rafah Pundits. They had 3 blogs about me in their July 28th posts and wrote 'courtesy of the most excellent Jerusalem Gypsy'. Wow! Isn't that great??? And Rafah is quite a serious and intelligent blog. What d'ya think?"

I shouldn't have asked. Not him anyways.

"Where are they" he inquired.

"They're writing from the Gaza Strip"

"They're probably Hamas. Don't let them invite you over there for a visit." he warned me.

Damn. Isn't there any weed out there that doesn't make one paranoid?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Girl Talk

Who woulda thunk that I would find a peaceful haven for breakfast in the noisy bustling shuk in Jerusalem. I called up my friend, whom Hubby disdainly called "the DA (debtor'a anonymous) Queen" to join me. I was just so fucking tired of all the crazy bad energy in my home that I just could not go back afte shopping there. Hubby, the designated driver for my shopping, was complaining bitterly about having to take me there.

"You should know," I began to tell him - (starting the sentence 'you should know' is very common among Orthodox Jewish women!!) that MOST men, even my 75 year old boss, do the shopping for their wives so that they could stay home and cook up the meals and clean up. I just can't do it all."

And inside I was seething. Was it him lugging the endless heavy packages of fruits, vegetables, dry goods, heavy laundry detergent from stand to stand and maneuvering through the crowds? No. It was me. After I finished my 3rd round of shopping, I went to the car, loaded the last of the stuff in, and said "YOU take it all home, I'm treating myself for breakfast."

Luckily the "DA Queen" was available to join me. I love chitter chatting with her. It's so easy to talk to her. I had a phone conversation with another women the other day, who kept me on the phone for over 10 minutes. My ears buzz when that happens. I hate phone conversations. But the DA Queen is so vibrant, intelligent and funny and full of great advice and compliments that it's difficult to stay in a slumpy mood for long.

My coffee and fresh orange juice was served to me.

"You know what I did the other week to Hubby when he was just tormenting me all day?" I confessed. "I know it's childish and all that but I threw the bathrobe I got for him as a gift in the trash. I thought he'd see it on top of the garbage but he didn't so it got thrown out."

"So he asked me one day this week 'where is my robe'? I told him, I threw it out"

The DA Queen laughed. "Tell him it's with your camera."

Suddenly all the guilt feelings I had went out the door. Ah yes. The camera that -I- bought. It was a NIKON F65 for fuck's sake. He just offered it to his brother in February when he came to visit. Yes, the brother that drives a GOLD JAGUAR in Canada. He GAVE it to him, and made me feel selfish for getting upset that we offered this to him - "after all, you don't use it." I just didn't use it because having a digital saved money on printing. But a Nikon is the Jaguar of cameras!!! I was planning to get a telephoto lens for it and all that. So the robe was quite a bit cheaper than my camera he so flippantly gave away without my permission.

I guess we're even steven there. Somewhat. Unless I even up the score by tossing his drills and ladders in the trash.

"Do you know if most women leave their husbands, many of their women friends will no longer be as friendly to them?"

"Your situation wouldn't change much" she advised. Of course it wouldn't. It's not like I have a "couples" social life. I have single girl friends, none are married. Who would find me a threat to their husbands in a "couple" situations when there aren't any husbands around. Wheeee! We laughed at the real stories of married women who felt threatened by single women.

We role played - and she blurted out - "Yeah, I left my blech of a husband so I should hang around with your shlub of a man??"

And I nearly spit out my orange juice, I was laughing so hard.

I told my friend that the energy is so bad in my house that even the Sage won't stay lit (people use sage to clear bad energy from their homes).

It was her turn to laugh.

"You know I wanted to get my teeth whitened because my natural teeth darkened, and it looks awful when I smile " I told her. "And my dentist said to me 'what's wrong with that? You just look like a middle-aged woman.' I wanted to tell him - "listen you stupid asswipe. This is not a way to get customers. And boy am I glad I'm not married to you." But I didn't because I need him because he is one of the few dentists in Jerusalem that can freeze my teeth properly. And by the end of August, I will no longer look like a middle-aged woman with gray teeth. I will have a Hollywood smile....

Jerusalem Street Fairs

I am a street fair junkie. There are so many of them going on in this city this month, I wonder if it's a plot to make us not think of what is going to happen in a few weeks in Gaza. If we get drunk on the excitement of the crowds, the free entertainment, the festival atmosphere, one is liable to forget that this country is also full of tension.

Being that my personal life is just so stressful, I decided to let the government do its number on me and allure me with its beautiful street fairs. It's a family affair and I invited my 2 stay-at-home-for-the-summer kids to join me, which they did. Instead of the funky food stands they opted for Burger King. This time we watched performances of acrobats and jugglers in what was billed as the air circus. There was some sports fair going on at city hall, and on Thursday, an arts and crafts fair on the Agrippas Street pedestrian mall near the shuk. You can overdose on these things, you know, so I only opted for one day and one day only.

Besides the street fairs, there was something I did want to go to on Thursday night - just to bliss out on the desert view and air. A duo was doing Simon & Garfunkel covers in an open air desert setting and I wanted to go. Unfortunately, 9:00 pm is way past Hubby's bedtime, and I don't do night desert driving - so it looks like I am going to have to look for other "fun" companions that can drive. But there's no shortage of e-mail listings to look for those too.

jugglers at street fair -Jerusalem

Jerusalem Street Fair -July 2005

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Why I feel "orange" at times

Especially when I read reports from Jennifer Packer from the Israel Project about the effects of the disengagement:

During this summer’s pullout:

21 Israeli settlements will be uprooted in the Gaza Strip.

4 Israeli settlements will be uprooted in the West Bank.

48 graves in the Gush Katif Cemetery, including six graves of area residents murdered by terrorists, will be uprooted.

9,000 is the approximate number of Israelis, including 1,700 Israeli families, currently living in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. All of them will be moved out as part of the withdrawal.

38 synagogues will be dismantled in the Gaza Strip.

5,000 school-age children will need to find new schools.

42 daycare centers will be closed in the Gaza Strip.

36 kindergartens will be closed in the Gaza Strip.

7 elementary schools will be closed in the Gaza Strip.

3 high schools will be closed in the Gaza Strip.

320 mobile homes, ordered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, will serve as temporary housing for settlers, with approximately 300 additional mobile homes to be ordered in the future.

45,000 Israeli soldiers and policemen are expected to participate in the Gaza withdrawal.

$1.7 billion is the approximate cost to the Israeli government for the withdrawal initiative.

166 active Israeli farmers will be moved out of Gaza.

800 cows, comprising the second largest dairy farm in Israel, will be moved out of Gush Katif.

$120 million in flowers and produce exported annually from Gush Katif will be lost.

1 zoo, the "Katifari," that houses hundreds of animals will be moved.

10,000 people employed in agriculture and related industries in Gush Katif, including 5,000 Palestinians, will need new employment.

60% of Israel's cherry tomato exports come from the Gaza Strip. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza will extinguish this economic resource.

3.5 million square meters (almost 1,000 acres) of greenhouses will be abandoned in Gaza.

70% of Israel's organic produce is currently produced in Gaza. This is another economic resource that will be lost.

60% of the herbs exported from Israel come from Gush Katif.

15% of Israel's agricultural exports originate in Gaza – exports that will be lost following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

$360,000 is the approximate average compensation amount Israel expects to pay to relocate each family.

$870 million is the approximate cost for Israel to facilitate the resettlement of former West Bank and Gaza residents elsewhere in the country.

$500 million is the amount of money Israel’s security establishment will spend in order to relocate Israel Defense Forces bases outside the Gaza Strip and build new border crossing facilities.

Cohen's Hat - a funny

Cohen showed up at synagogue one Saturday and the rabbi almost fell down when he saw him. Cohen had never been seen in a synagogue in his life.

After Services, the rabbi caught Cohen and said: "Mr. Cohen, I am so
glad you decided to come here. What made you come?"

Cohen said, "I've got to be honest with you, rabbi. A while back, I misplaced my favorite hat and I really, really, love that hat. I knew that Levy had one just like mine and I knew that Levy came to services every Saturday. I also knew that Levy takes off his hat during services and he leaves it in the back of the synagogue in order to put on hi yarmulke.

So, I was going to leave after the Torah reading and steal Levy's hat."

The rabbi said: "Well Cohen, I notice that you didn't steal Levy's hat."
"While I am very pleased, tell me, what changed your mind?"

Cohen said "Well, after I heard your sermon on the Ten Commandments I decided that I didn't need to steal Levy's hat."

The rabbi gave Cohen a big smile and said "After I talked about 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' you decided you would rather do without hat than burn in Hell, right?"

Cohen shook his head and said: "Not exactly, rabbi. After you talke about 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery,' I remembered where I left it."

Sulha article in Haaretz

There's a wonderful article in today's English edition about the Sulha . This reporter got it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I thought Israel had its own revival of the hippie culture in the last few years. You can see it in all the clothing stores and it's now become mainstream this year. Is there a revival in the US as well? Check out melonheads site.


I absolutely love, Love, LOVE this magazine . The hippest, coolest Jewish publication to ever hit the newstands. I especially like the photo exhibit in the current issue "Yarmulkas on Goyim" - inter-faith crossdressing. I think I'm going to subscribe...

Sisters are doing it for themselves!!!

Thought this was interesting news because perhaps the Old Boys Club in Israel is realizing that a better way to really establish peace in the region is to make sure women are involved in the process.

Isha L'Isha - Haifa Feminist Center is pleased to announce that the Knesset,Israel's Parliament, has just passed a new law mandating the inclusion ofwomen in teams appointed for peace negotiations and setting domestic,foreign or security policy. This law, an amendment to the 1956 EqualRepresentation of Women law, is a major milestone in the advancement ofwomen's rights in Israel.Isha L'Isha is proud to have been a driving force behind this law. IshaL'Isha professionals worked in partnership with the law's initiators,Members of Knesset Yuli Tamir and Eti Livni, from the beginning of the legalprocess. Isha L'Isha surveyed women's organizations to get their responseson the first draft of the bill and assembled the results into a brief forMKs Tamir and Livni. Isha L'Isha organized a large-scale grassrootscampaign, reaching out to all of its members and the members of otherwomen's and peace organizations, encouraging them to call, email and faxMembers of Knesset in support of the law. As a result, hundreds of womensent a very clear message to the Knesset about the importance of this law.Isha L'Isha also organized an influential media campaign about the law.After the law passed its first reading in March, Isha L'Isha worked activelyto ensure that the final draft would be as effective as possible and to helpensure that the law would pass in subsequent readings. Isha L'Isharepresentatives were invited to participate in Knesset debates on the lawand organized an ad hoc coalition consisting of representatives of women'sand peace organizations. The coalition met with Members of Knesset andparticipated in discussions about the final form of the law.Isha L'Isha's activities on behalf of this law are within the framework ofthe organization's Women Leading Peace project to implement UN Resolution1325, which calls for women's inclusion as full and equal partners in peaceprocesses. Isha L'Isha has also been active with public awareness effortsto bring the resolution to the public over the past two years, includingpublishing and distributing the resolution in Hebrew and Arabic, and holdingconferences, study days and lectures to increase grassroots support andactivism.Now that the inclusion of women on negotiating teams is mandatory, IshaL'Isha is moving ahead with the next phases of its efforts: guaranteeing apool of qualified women participants by training women leaders innegotiation skills, teaching conflict resolution to women in grassrootsleadership roles, and creating a directory of women in the public,governmental and private spheres who are strong candidates for inclusion onnegotiating teams. Isha L'Isha will also closely monitor the government'simplementation of the new law and will take legal measures to ensure that women are, in fact, appointed as mandated.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I'll tell you why I hate Sundays

Tracking backwards, it was my first day back from vacation. I am trying to be on a diet, with everyone offering me cookies all day long. That is so fucking difficult. But I did it. I refused them all. Someone who actually felt sorry for me depriving myself of food, found some dietetic ice cream like a creamsicle and handed one to me, which I devoured rather quickly.

I felt nauseaous and went to visit someone recovering from a hip replacement operation. I should have gone on another day when I wasn't feeling so queasy. This woman gleefully described every detail of her operation - to my horror.

"They didn't put me to sleep. And then I heard them sawing but I took my music along and listened to that instead."

That didn't help me. All I could hear at that moment and see in my mind were the doctors sawing off her hip bone. It was awful. She continued on..

"Then they had to hammer it in. I felt them pounding the hammer into me. The upper part of my body wasn't put to sleep and I felt myself being pounded into the bed."

WOW! I mean what else could I say, except 'glad to see you're in one piece'.

I tell you why I hate Mondays

Not only Mondays, but every day that I have to go to work and can't take care of stuff. You see I needed one week for doing fuck-all and the next week would be for errands and things that need to be taken care of. That isn't asking for too much, is it? Instead, I returned to work to find all sorts of things going awry. For one, I was called into the local religious junior high school for an interview.

"Bring your son" was what they told me. So I put on my modest dress, and we both trekked down to this school. That morning I got mail from them about next year - with a blue card

*how many times this week did you pray in a minyan (a quorum of 10 Jewish men)
*how many times this week did you study Bible

Shit. None actually. I actually felt relieved when the principal told me that he wasn't about to accept my son into the school (he wanted to go because his friends were going there). He scored low on his knowledge of basic laws of Judaism (duh) and they probably guessed that we weren't the epitomy of religious observance. I think THAT is the main reason for their decision. My son felt bad about not being accepted into the 2nd school in our white-picket-fence suburb of Jerusalem, but I told him that it would be great for me not spending hours trying to buy him the right kind of clothing for the school (they don't want any t-shirts with printed stuff on it, no shorts, no nothing exciting - really). It's tough to find teen clothes without numbers or cartoons or graphic stuff on it. Plus they were learning until 5:00 pm, which would have been a bit too much. Plus, he'd have the only mother in the entire school who goes to interfaith gatherings and socializes with Arabs. That, in itself, would cause a big ruckus - had the administration ever found out. So it all is really a blessing.

In the end I decided on the secular local junior high school because this way he won't have to hide from his teachers when he sees them in the supermarket or in the mall, when he is not wearing his yarmulke (head covering), they can mousse their hair, they can wear shorts, sandals, printed t-shirts and earrings.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Check the New Design Out!!

Over the weekend, or about 4 days ago to be precise, I was perusing other blogs, looking for a new design and came across one that I liked. I looked for the credits and contacted the web designers for that particular blog.

Four days later Lisa from Design-a-Blog came up with this new look. Isn't it wonderful??? We exchanged quite a bit of e-mails back and forth, each of us coming up with new ideas as it went along and she was quite patient each time I told her to change a background colour, a font, take this line out, and put that color in and that "red" isn't a good colour for peace - it looks too much like blood. I held up a lavender scented candle up to my computer screen for a couple of minutes. My kids thought I was loony.

"What are you doing mother!"

"I'm checking this colour out for my new blog design. What do you think?"

"I don't care about your fucking blog. Don't ask me!" huffed the Eldest One.

Don't you hate PMS?

Well, I care about my fucking blog.

And I am really grateful to Lisa at Design-a-Blog for doing such a beautiful job, so quickly and at a very reasonable cost.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I did it. I've always wanted to make this dish, and eat it too, after first eating it at my Gypsy friend's house in the Old City. Today the kids were all at the pool, and I was able to make it. It looks like mush in this photograph, but it's actually really time-consuming and very very delicious, using a quite alot of different spices in the chicken and rice.

I've got the Orange and Blues

Hubby finally put up both blue and orange ribbons inside his car. "Normal" people who have taken a firm stand, either put up blue if they are pro-disengagement, or orange if they are anti-disengagement. Most of the ribbons I see in Jerusalem are orange, except for some left-wing neighborhoods where blue flies freely.

You can tell who the political misfits are - who the real peaceniks are - who the real sympathizers for both sides are. They are the ones who are flying both colors on their car antennas. I also saw it at the Sulha on the Orthodox Rabbi Froman's wife's head. She was wearing an orange headscarf and placed a blue band in front of it. I thought that was a nifty idea and Hubby promptly put both colours inside his car.

But then he decided to take the orange and blue ribbons off the car and put it on the gate entrance to our house.

"Let's see what happens. I bet you it'll piss off all the neighbors, especially that one," he said , pointing to our Neighbors from Hell.

And like hunters waiting with bait, we watched to see if there were any reactions. We went inside for about 1/2 an hour to prepare for dinner. Hubby went outside for a smoke.

"Someone already tore off the blue ribbon, and just left the orange one hanging." Looks like there's not too much tolerance in this 'hood.

Not to worry. I have another few blue ribbons left to reattach.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Laughing Yoga - great way to break the ice

The women's tent - it was much more crowded than this when we danced up a storm

Debka dancing

Sulha - Day 3

I didn't go the second day, wanting to just enjoy being home for a day and doing nothing. But Hubby promised we'd go the last day. Stupidly, I asked my 13 year old son if he'd join us, feeling Jewishly guilty that he went nowhere interesting this summer and wanting to enlighten him a bit. Hubby drove at a very reasonable 90 kilometers an hour and got us there in time for lunch! The weather was just as hot and sticky as it was the first day and no one seemed to be moving or wanting to move. The Jordanians were leaving soon and I couldn't find my new friends from Amman. The entire event was undermined from the huge happening that was going on in a small place near the Gaza strip called Kfar Maimon, where thousands - some say 45,000, some say 100,000 - of anti-disengagement demonstrators met for 3 days in the hopes of marching to Gaza. So all media was there, as were 20,000 police and army personnel. Our gathering seemed to attract only 1,000 (last year saw 4,000). I spoke with a Tibetin Buddhist monk from Daramsala, who was sent by the Dalai Llama, chatted with a Senegal Sufi Sheikh and met up with my friends from the Jerusalem interfaith group.

Over dinner, we sympathized with the people living in the Gaza strip, who were going to have to leave their homes, and where all their children were born, where some were buried, and where they all have their incomes, mostly in agriculture. I told her that if they were Arabs, I would feel just as awful if they had to removed from their homes. My friend reminded me that that is going on all the time anyways - by way house demolitions. Ah yes, and sometimes they are only given 24 hours notice. Perhaps the Jews are a bit luckier. But it's sad nevertheless.

Over at the House of Prayer, a huge crowd gathered - together with television crews - listening to the settler Rabbi Froman (whose wife was wearing an orange headscarf with a blue band around it - orange and blue - those who are both for and against the disengagement at the same time). Another Israeli was arguing about why the Rabbi is for peace when he is living where he is living. Yawn. I guess I dare not say where I come from, because I'm not in the mood for this - again. And there was some yelling and screaming from various sides. But in the end, as it should be, everyone was in good spirits and seemed to understand (even if they didn't agree) the Other a bit more.

Over at the women's tent things got real lively. There was a dj who put on great world dance music and we danced to Brazilian, Turkish, Sufi, Arabic , Israeli, Greek music with great abandon. We all looked like crazed gypsies in our colourful clothing. The Arab women took off their headscarves and we danced together in groups, or alone or in pairs, gyrating away. I brought my belly dance belt and put it on Ibtisam, while she boogied away. Another woman put one of her scarves around my hips. We kept this up, despite the heat, for a good half hour.

Back with Hubby and Pest Son, who was bored out of his skull and who didn't have the same enlightening experience as Abed had, they hadn't moved from their spot at the snack bar, eating everything there was to eat there, having seconds, thirds and fourths. I think they qualified for being the biggest financial supporters of the Sulha that evening. Hubby was telling me that he and Son were the only people wearing socks. Everyone else was in sandals or barefoot. Son finally fell asleep and Hubby was looking at the stars and at me nodding towards an area in back of the tents "where it's quiet and no one will see."

Huh? What the 'hayel' is in that knafe, I wondered. Or was it the chai? Mint tea? Who knows. I hadn't seen him this amorous in years....

Sulha - Day 1

I planned to go to the Sulha with a woman I met at the Jewish Gospel evening, who invited me along with another woman. Dealing with a chaotic morning, I was only too happy to meet her in town and get away from it all. To my oasis of peace. God pseems to always put me with bad drivers, I guess because I don't pray enough, and he really wanted to hear from me today. He sure did. The driver rear-ended this 95 year old guy, but fortunately nothing happened. She didn't see the car in front of her had stopped and wondered why he did stop. This was during the first 5 minutes of the trip. The rest of the trip had her travelling on the highway about 120 kilometers an hour, which is about 20 more than I can handle without craving a valium or sleeping pill. I thought of jumping out of the car, and hitching over there, which would have seemed safer. Miraculously, we did get to our destination.

It was great seeing all the familiar faces and not familiar faces. When we got there, there was a place where people sat down eating melon and were playing some music. It looked like an ashram and the people looked like they had just been back from a pilgrimage to India. The weather was unbearably hot and the driver said she'd like to go back in a few hours when it got dark. The thought of her driving ME in the dark was just too much. God, in His mercy, heard me loud and clear. Minutes later Hubby called to say he was bringing Abed -his coworker - with him to the Sulha. Huh? The same Hubby who goes nowhere with me, and whose bedtime averages around 7:00 pm? God is great.

Ah yes, we trolled around the large parksite - this was held at Yarkon Springs, where the Yarkon river's source is. Unfortunately, the river looked kryptonite green and cesspool rancid. The water didn't move. Even the mosquitos stayed away. There were several tents set up - one was the Adam and Eve tent, which I thought was for nudists, but everyone was dressed. There had been flyers printed out stating in bold print that because we were to respect the "other", to please dress modestly. A head covering and sleeves to the wrist are definitely out for me - at least for the time being. So I ended up wearing a cotton top with short sleeves - to be somewhat modest. There was the compassionate listening tent, the journalists tent, the tent of Bereaved Parents, the House of Prayer, the Meditation tent, and my favorite - the tent of Sarah and Hagar - Abraham's wives, which was the women's tent. More on that in my next post.

64 Jordanians came to the Sulha. I met and hung out with 4 of them and sat in their large bedouin-type tent, which they slept in as well. Last year only 24 came. I spoke with Samira who used to work in the Royal Palace before she retired. They all spoke perfect English and we spoke about how when you finally meet the "other" all the previous thoughts fly out the window. She had a daughter in Maryland whom she visited and chatted with her daughter's neighbor, who happened to be Israeli. She said to her daughter -

"Aren't you afraid to live next to him?"

The daughter replied that he was just as anyone else. Even though the mother had her doubts. I appreciated her sharing this with me because we are all afraid of each other until we meet. I was one of the first Jews she had ever met.

Mohammad told me his family was originally from Yatta, near Hebron. I told him about my adventures in that area, and he seemed so happy that I had helped people who were living there under tough conditions.

I stopped to listen briefly to a presentation by former Palestinian and Israeli soldiers who have put their guns down for peace.

Hubby came with Abed who had never been to any peace festivals like this and couldn't believe his eyes. There seemed to be an equal number of Arabs to Jews, and the energy was one of total peace and serenity and happiness, which manifested later on in music and lively debkas from the young teenagers. I joined in dancing with them, feeling like a total klutz, but happy to dance like a dervish, to the pounding darbukas and other instruments unknown to me (which looked like a flute or a halil - but is used alot in Turkish music - don't know what it is called though).

There were famous Israeli musicians who were going to be the evening's entertainment, but everything was running late and the speeches were still going on by 10:30 pm. The real fun starts when we will be fast asleep.

Hubby was telling me how Abed had told him that although he wasn't a member of Hamas, he leaned towards their ideology thinking that that could be the way to his people's salvation. But now he told Hubby - he realizes, after tonight, that there just may be another way. A better way.

When I heard that, it was worth having the Sulha just for Abed. If one person's thinking can change after experiencing something like this - can you just imagine?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Jewish Gospel

I got a ride to the Sulha after a chaotic start this morning - through someone I had met earlier in the week at a Jewish Renewal Gospel workshop at Maya's home overlooking the Sherover Promenade. Maybe I should retract. Whenever I look at documentaries about these ecstatic Christians, Pentecostal Christians, charismatic Christian services - I envy the way they worship. Their entire soul goes into the services. They just don't read from prayerbooks and listen to someone drone on. Or it's not like the speed praying that is done in most synagogues I've gone to. The quicker you end the service the better - with a bit of singing thrown in. None of these services do it for me. None of them have meaning. And with the more lively Chassidic services, the men seem more involved in the dancing and singing than the women. Yaqub from the new age bookstore in Jerusalem sent out a notice about Sharon Alexander who was in from Switzerland who would be doing a workshop on singing Jewish gospel. I'm in.

It took me a while to find Maya's home, as I didn't have the address on me, and the cab driver that took me there really wanted a date with me - especially after I commented how much I like the music he had been playing.

"You like Greek music?? I know all the clubs in Tel Aviv. I know everyone in Tel Aviv. I'm always in Tel Aviv. Would you like to come with me to Tel Aviv? I'll drive you home after your meeting. The fare's on me. Take my number."

I paid him quickly and ran out of the cab before he had a chance to recite his number to me. Why is it that I only get asked out by cab drivers?? No other male of any other profession will ask me out - just cab drivers. Is it the intimacy of the ride. The mysterious aura of the passenger in the back seat? Garbo-esque? Who the fuck knows.

Finally finding the place, Sharon is in the middle of a talk about praise and glory and about how she also was looking for a place for gospel singing which is compatible with Judaism. Then she broke us up into groups - altos, tenors, sopranos, bass and taught each of us our parts - we sang something like this - Now, let us sing until the power of the Lord comes down! - I forgot the words already, but she got us going as we kept on singing until we felt ecstatic - and you did feel closer to God as it kept building up. The harmonies were beautiful and she played the part of the black diva, the Aretha Franklin of our group, and did her solo in the middle of it, while we were singing our parts.

As to having prayer like this in synagogues? I don't know if it will happen so soon. She's on her way back to Switzerland today but I hope she planted some seeds for a more interesting way for Jews to converse with God.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Is he gay or not

I spent the day with my Good Daughter and was laughing all the way to Tel Aviv.

"What are you laughing for" she asked.

"Well remember when your boyfriend looked at my makeup? And he said 'that's Givenchy, right?'. I gave you a look and you read my mind and said 'He's probably gay.' - I think I'll do a blog poll - Is he gay or isn't he gay? I mean your dad wouldn't know Givenchy make up if it poured all down his shirt. Or L'oreal or Chanel, or Clarins, or Lancome. He is totally straight and totally clueless."

"It's not funny" she remarked.

"I think it is pretty funny." I laughed some more. And continued to do so at intervals throughout the day about it.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Meet the (Romanian) Fockers

Yup, it was finally time to meet "the Fockers". My Good Daughter has been dating this guy for 3 years and we have met his parents on occasion, but have never been to their house. Friday night they invited us for a Saturday late afternoon drunch (dinner/lunch - for lack of a better word). It was too late to buy them a small gift, all the stores were already closed. But I did hide the chocolates that the Danish guests brought me a week ago or so. Phew!

Caveman H. was absolutely foul, foul, FOUL with me and stayed in his cave the entire day - which was great for me, but my daughter's boyfriend was concerned he won't show up and "what will he say to his parents."

"Don't worry, he'll show, or he'll be short two testicles." I assured him.

My 13 year old Pest Son insisted on coming with us. He had been annoying everyone all day. Hubby insisted he could go, which would have bugged the shit out of all of us. He did it so he could look like the "good parent" and so that I should look like the "evil mother". Needless to say, Pest Son was furious when I gave him a final NO on the matter.

While in the car, I get two phone calls:

"I'm tearing up your..." (click) - that was me hanging up on him. I didn't want to know what the fuck he was tearing up.

About 5 minutes later I get another call.

"I'm throwing out all of your....." (click). I didn't want to know that one either.

I feel comfortable with my daughter's boyfriend's family. Even though they've been here 22 years, they are still immigrants (from Romania), as we are - not long-time-Israelis with established roots here and 700 relatives to help them out in case they fall. These people also had a rough start and they worked day and night to support their 3 children.

They eat alot too, which also endeared me towards them. I tried to stick to the South Beach Diet as best as I could under the circumstances. I didn't have the rice and had one baked french fry - but happily dug into the chicken and tossed salads.

And Hubby transformed himself from Foul Caveman into Man About Town in seconds, from the moment he arrived. He spoke English to them, and they did understand him, but spoke Hebrew back. I'm sure he understood some of what was being spoken. They offered us wine and beer, but Hubby wanted the good stuff.

"Beer = cheap; wine - cheap" he told them, as Daughter and I cringed in the background - but our hosts were gracious about it and brought out Ballantyne Scotch whiskey for him.

Oh yeah, and when I got home, my Pest Son had erased all my songs from the computer (except for the ones dad likes). So he could forget about our "day out" I had planned for him on Friday.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Female revenge

I'm sitting in the dining area - reading the paper. I made a pact with Caveman Hubby the day before

"If I don't tell you that you're a moron in public places, like any store, restaurant, etc, no matter how ridiculous you might talk or act, will you behave nicer towards me over the weekend?"


Well he didn't abide by our pact, and each time he passed me, made some derogatory remark - about my ass, about my "chompers", about how lazy I am, how messy I am, how everything I do annoys him. I was reading the papers.

"Reading the papers annoys you?"

He ignored my question (as he always does, when I try to talk him out of his moods),took his ciggie and coffee and marched out the door. I was furious. You can't reason with a total fuckwad. I wish all my single girlfriends were there at that moment so they can be grateful for their single situation.

I can get even. Nicely. It's called "No laundry for you Caveman". I took all the dry stuff hanging outside and put everyone's away, but his. His, I dumped on the floor next to his side of the bed.

"There. That's because I'm too lazy and messy to put it away. Plus - you do your own cooking and laundry and serving from now on."

Female revenge is pretty.

Inflatable Doll

Got this from one of the humor lists I'm on - thought it was pretty funny:

A man goes into an adult entertainment shop & asks the clerk for an
inflatable doll.
"Would you like male or female?"
"Would you like Black or White?"
"Would you like Christian or Muslim?"
This question confused him so he asks "What's religion got to do with
it? It's an inflatable doll!"
"Well" explains the clerk "the Muslim one blows itself up."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Feeling Groovy

I'm wearing my hot purple pants today and wondering if I look totally ridiculous with my tight black top and hot salmon nail and toenail polish. I ask my kids. They are totally honest. They'd tell me if they'd want to be seen alive with me looking this way or not.

I passed my kids' embarrassment test. I didn't have to change my clothing.

After running errands in the heat with Hubby, whose tolerance only lasts until 1:00 pm, I met up with my New Yawk friend - alone - (while Hubby went back home for his 6 hour beauty sleep) who bought tickets to see one of the movies playing at the film festival - a German flick called The last days of Sophie Scholl. But before the cinema, I was in dire need of breakfast and coffee. Even though I have enrolled in the South Beach Diet (I am a bit embarrassed going for these "popular fad" diets, but decided this one was quite a reasonable one), I wasn't going to be able to get to the frying pan until 5 pm today and needed to munch on something. I brought her to the Shuk Cafe, the yuppie coffee shop and dairy restaurant. We found two seats in the crowded place and she again reminded me how rare it was for her to be able to eat kosher food in places like museums and the Supreme Court, where she took a tour the other day. These are things I take for granted these days, after living here 10 years.

I'm watching the young men preparing these wonderful salads and sandiches, right in front of where I'm sitting, watching how they cut the fresh figs so thin, and placing the slices on top of mixed lettuce, together with thinly sliced peaches and plums, topped with shredded cheese and nuts. I felt I was watching Jamie Oliver in person - the presentations of the various foods they prepared were beautiful and it was a show in itself.

My friend, still single and looking (Lord knows - the grass sure is greener on the other side, especially when you're single), she had done her rounds of visiting with various well-known rabbis throughout Israel - for them to give her new insights and to give her blessings for her to find her soul mate and true happiness.

"I'm sure they all charged you a bundle" I remarked.

I have had enough knowledge of various charlatans, and even though they are "well known" - it doesn't mean they'll do the trick.

Sure. Some charged her a pretty penny, others just asked for a donation (but probably not a small donation). She had gone to various kabbalistic rabbis - who do numerology, who read your sephirot (I don't know how to translate this well - perhaps it's like Jewish chakras), those who interpret your names, and read faces. Last night there were dozens of people at the rabbi who read faces. She was there until 2:30 am. This rabbi comes into Jerusalem once a week for an audience. In the end she wasn't that impressed. But she had to see for herself, so she wouldn't regret that she didn't go.

"He asked me if I was Jewish!!!"

"Well, you really have a non-Jewish face" I told her.

"But he's supposed to READ faces!!!! I told him we are descendants of great rabbis and named them. Plus he's in this feud with another rabbi who does similar readings."

"AHA! Anyone who is jealous of someone else, or who's in competition in business and has negative thoughts like these - I would stay far away from them. They're not completely pure if they're feeling that way."

She thought that was totally insightful, and I was grateful that I had my Jerusalem Spiritual Insights intact that day.

"It looks like you are going to have to do the work yourself. You're going to have to find your soulmate by looking into yourself and letting it happen. You don't need to depend on these rabbis".

I certainly didn't. They don't do it for me. Each person can have a direct connection with God, if one really wants it. And with the advice I was able to give, I felt spiritually stronger.

We cabbed it to the movie afterwards, which was about the German resistance movement during World War II, White Rose. I'd never heard of them before, and probably neither did many of the other Israelis at the packed theater. But now we did, and have a better understanding of how difficult it was for any normal German to speak against Hitler and the Nazi government in general, no matter how against the regime they were. The director and producers were there, but I could not stay, having to rush to take a bus back to my place. But I was grateful to be able to spend a bit more time with an old friend.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Driving my Miss Daisies (around Jerusalem)

This is the first day of my stay-at-home vacation. Things are so expensive in Israel during the summer months - like hotels, etc. that it's best for me to just stay at home (somewhat) and enjoy day trips to wherever the wind blows. Today I had a shopping spree scheduled with Ex-Criminal daughter. My Good Daughter decided to join us. Hubby, as usual, was the designated driver.

Two Palestinian day workers were crossing the street. Hubby wasn't slowing down enough to my liking.

"HEY! YOU DO ~NOT~ WANT TO RUN THEM OVER", I told Hubby and looking at their faces crossing the street quickly, I assumed they had thought perhaps that was Hubby's intention.

He reassured me. "Do you think I want to start an Intifada? Why don't you blog that? 'Hubby Starts the 3rd Intifada', and he cackled away.

We too the Begin Expressway to get to the Daughter's place and the entire route was lined with Orange ribbons (anti-disengagement from Gaza) hanging on every tree along the way. It actually looked quite pretty, even though I haven't succumbed to the Color Wars (with blue being the color of pro-disengagement supporters).

Finally getting to the place, she is let out for 5 glorious hours of shopping with Mom in the burning hot Jerusalem sun. On the way to the center of town she is telling us about her friend's mother who is (in Hebrew) a "balashit" - (a female detective). Hubby laughed and called her a "ball of shit". The Good Daughter, in national service, working in a medical lab, is telling me of her boss from hell, who has befriended one of the co-workers who blow-dries the boss's hair during work hours about 3 times a week. My daughter decided she wasn't too busy herself one day and polished her nails.

"Why do I smell nail polish? Who is polishing their nails during work hours?" bellowed her boss from hell.

She found out the culprit was my daughter. The favored-by-the-boss co-worker has been giving my daughter a very difficult time. It all began when her Hubby came to work and asked her "who is that hot girl?" meaning my daughter. This was too much for miss middle age to take and she has been on an anti-my-daughter rampage since then and never had her husband over to work since that incident.

"I hope she doesn't give me the evil eye." she sounded worried. I tried to help her out by telling her to protect herself by imagining white light all around her like a wall, bouncing back any "evil eyes" that may be hanging around. I read about it once and it made sense. But the way I told it to my daughter, it sounded like I was insane. I didn't care. It's my job to protect her, even if it is the New Age Way.

We had breakfast at this funky place which irritated my Ex-Criminal Daughter. She wanted to sit in the newer and nicer coffee chains for breakfast. Afterwards, we "spree'd" on stuff for her and she was feeling a bit guilty that I wasn't buying anything for myself. It's about time the damn kids feel guilty. I felt good that she felt that way, although I assured her it's natural for kids to be first and moms to get their stuff last (if there is any money left over). We took a cab back as Hubby and Good Daughter went back to their jobs. The cab driver was chatting me up - not in a bad way. He said I looked young to have a 15 1/2 year old daughter. And he called me "honey" and gave me his cell number to call him when I needed to return back to the center of Jerusalem. We got out of the cab.

"If you call him, I'm never speaking to you again" my daughter said to me.

"Huh? What did he say?"

"Didn't you hear how he was taking to you? Calling you 'honey' telling you how young you looked. If you get into that car, he'll rape you."

I thought she was taking this a bit out of proportion. The worst that could have happened here was the guy asking me out for coffee, which I would have refused. But she had all her alarms on.

I had a short discussion ahead with the Daughter's social worker. I sat there, explaining for the thousandth time what our family was like, what her sisters and brothers are like, etc. The social worker explained that this place had the toughest kids in Israel. She didn't quite understand what my daughter was doing here and why the judge ordered her to come here. Neither did I.

"Did she hang around with Arabs" the social worker asked.

I was quite taken aback and a bit insulted by the question. I knew what she was getting at but I wanted her equally as taken aback.

"I hang out with Arabs a lot more" I told her. Her eyebrows were raised p-r-e-t-t-y high. I explained that I work in Interfaith for peace, etc. She seemed more relaxed afterwards. I was more annoyed that a couple of years previously when she was 14, she had been hanging around Jewish Israeli guys in their twenties. That made me more nervous than her hanging with Arab kids her own age who happened to be in her class - when she was in school, whom I even invited to our home. She continued on to wonder what my daughter was doing in a place where some of the girls were abandoned by their parents, forced into prostitution, used hard drugs and were basically self-destructive.

"I don't know. She had a couple of "files" for stealing and graffiti writing in public places and other assorted minor stuff. But it wasn't a disaster. She frightened me more when she was 13 and hitchhiking all over Israel. Why don't you ask the judge why he ok'd the recommendation that she come here? Why don't you ask the system? I don't know how anything works around here? Why don't you read her files and make a normal recommendation?" I asked her.

Sitting in that room with the social worker, in that school of hard knocks, made my family life seem really very normal indeed and I was grateful that my daughter didn't have to go through any of the things these other poor girls had.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

things to be grateful for

It's easier to find stuff that annoys me rather than makes me feel grateful. So I don't know if I'll get to 10 here. But let's give it a try and see where we get up to.

1. The International Jerusalem Film Festival and getting to see all these free open-air movies.

2. Seeing the movie "Ray" last night with 2 good friends in Jerusalem's old railway station, converted into an open-air theatre with great sound. I wanted to buy all of Ray Charles' music after going to see this movie. Jamie Foxx rocks!

3. After two weeks of exercising, finding my trousers are getting loose.

4. Looking forward to a whole new "smaller" wardrobe

5. No outdoor events being cancelled due to rain or storms. It'll stay hot and sunny until October.

6. Having one week off from work this week

7. Going to the Sulha this week - check it out here

Uh oh. I'm only up to 7. here. Tsk tsk. Looks like more things annoy me than not. Maybe the week will get better.

Top 10 annoying things this past week - not in any order

1. Finding a dead small fly on my contact lens when I opened up the case. Scary shit.

2. Having the Big Boss cough all over me and when I walk away from him so as not to catch his icky germs he screams out "WHERE ARE YOU GOING?"

3. Having a fridge full of food and the kids complaining there's nothing to eat

4. Reading 3 pages of notes 100 times to my boss until he gets it right.

5. Having a terrorist attack happen in Netanya. What is their purpose? Can't they see it's just before a fucking disengagement?

6. Being asked to escort and host the person who was sent by the Dalai Llama to the Sulha and not being able to do it because Hubby has the car and he doesn't want to have anything to do with this "stuff"

7. Having 3 kids sleep upstairs but it is so hot upstairs that they all come downstairs to sleep, sprawled all over the living room.

8. My son and/or Hubby "stealing" MY pillow

9. Having the Boss throw a hissy fit at the receptionist because she didn't open up the box of tissues in the board room. He had to open the box himself and waste precious moments.

10. Being told that one of the sources of terrorism is US aid to Israel. Can't these people see that's just an excuse?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Swinging Moods

Why wasn't there a band called the Swinging Moods in the Sixties. Never mind. It's how I felt all day yesterday and today. I was reading about the teenagers who were competing in the Maccabiah Games from overseas. Their parents gave them the appropriate training when they were young so that they could excel in their teens. I thought of my Ex-Criminal Daughter who did so well in soccer in Grade 5 and 6. But the school didn't really want her to leave early to play in the games, which were held earlier, because non-religious schools got out earlier than religious schools. And I also couldn't afford the monthly payments. I read about one contestant "I was wild and my parents sent me to train in soccer when I was six years old". Shouldn't I have pushed myself and done that. I know it makes no sense beating yourself up about stuff, but I did it anyways. And what about my high school drop-out daughter who loved jazz. I put her in her jazz class for years, and she was amazing. But two years ago I couldn't afford it and that was the end of her lessons. I was thinking of offering it to her again if she goes back to high school.

And lately not only are Hubby and I on different planets, we're in different galaxies. I get along great with the "others" but not with him. And I felt sad at not being loved to pieces, or even just a tiny wee bit. I read other blogs where women gushed over their men - "he loves me so much, he is so wonderful to me, he thinks I'm the greatest thing on the planet" and I felt pangs of jealousy that it didn't happen to me, that I don't get love notes when I wake up in the morning, etc. but also some glimmer of hope that there is real love in this world even if it has eluded me.

I spent some part of the afternoon writing my British friends and relatives who live in London, asking if they're ok after the terrorist attacks. Now they're the victims and I'm the one who's inquiring. Usually it has been the other way around.

Feeling the way I did, I spoiled myself this afternoon, taking a Pilates class and getting a pedicure afterwards.

I had to rush back because Danish visitors were coming. My home is becoming the settlement Peace Pit Stop for people who want to hear my story, and see stereotypes broken. Around 5 young gorgeous Danish people strolled into my home and my son played the gracious host - as Hubby was fast asleep - he bought chips and candies with his own money for our guests. We thumbed through my photo albums where they saw my personal history unfold - from hardline right winger to a more liberal soul. Every picture tells a story. They saw an entire transformation from a very right-wing hard hitter - with the photos to prove it. My last photo album before I became "digital" shows the final transformation - my son playing soccer with Palestinians in Sheikh Sa'ed neighborhood, near Jabel Mukaber, our family at interfaith retreats, Moslems and Christians at our home for Jewish holidays, etc.

There was a knock at my door and I was reluctant to get it. Probably some rabbi looking for money. Funnily enough it was my friend Abdullah and he couldn't have picked a better time to come. Perhaps these Danes only took my word that I was into peaceful relationships with my neighbors but they really had no solid proof. It was quite amusing timing. They asked why the Jews needed to live here. Why they needed a state. They were in their early twenties, and this wasn't an anti-semitic question, it was a real one. They had no idea and I was the messenger sent to explain our tragic history to them.

I explained to our guests why Jews had to come to Israel, citing many personal examples of anti-semitism in New York, Canada and my parents fleeing Nazi Austria in 1938 - a stroke of luck let them into the US. I began with the Crusades, the Inquisition, the 1880 pogroms in Eastern Europe, the 1920s pogrom in Poland that ended up in the murder of my mother's parents. Yes, we NEED this place as a place of refuge. I don't feel at home in any other country but this. The Jewish holidays are celebrated as national holidays, and there's such a joy in living here during these times of the year. I told them when Hubby got fired in Toronto because his Jewish boss never heard of the holiday of Shavuot and didn't allow him to take off.

And why would I leave a civilized place like Toronto and come to this mixed-up, difficult place. No one in their right minds would do it. It was something beyond explanation, I told them. A spiritual pull.

By 10:30 the guests left and I bid farewell to Abdullah too. The bus arrived and while they were busy shaking my hand goodbye, the bus driver just figured "fuck it" and the bus started to leave. I told these people, never mind shaking my hand and saying goodbye. There's always e-mail. You need to catch your bus and the bus drivers here are the most impatient in the world.

I hope they understand a few things better now.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival

Scenes from the Jerusalem Film Festival

I couldn't get any tickets to the opening of the International Jerusalem Film festival - to the premier in Israel of War of the Worlds, which was being held in the valley of Hinnom, in a place called Sultan's Pool, which was set up to accommodate several thousand people. Even though it was your typical Hollywood flick (and some of my friends wouldn't go because of that - Spielberg is not Pedro Almovodar), I got my friend who is visiting from the States to join me as well as Eldest Daughter. I got impatient with the Daughter as she was taking her sweet time to meet me and it was already 6:45. Typically me, I took a wrong turn and ended up in the beautiful Yemin Moshe area, a former slum before 1967, and now gentrified and worth over $1 million an apartment. But Daughter had on her delicate spike heels and was cursing 10 feet behind me as I was trying to maneuver over dirt paths and cobblestones.

"Fucking woman. I'm not going! I don't care about this fucking movie. I'm not going."

Heh heh. I know her only too well. She's going. She has an even worse sense of direction than me, and if she leaves on her own, she'll end up in Bethlehem or further south. Fortunately for her, she had an extra pair of platform shoes in one of the many bags she carries with her to work. Voila! Now it's not as painful to trail with your mother when she makes a detour.

We managed to find the place - I have my favorite entrance to the Sultan's Pool - not your main entrance where there are too many people looking for tickets. We were the first people there, besides the hot dog guy who was setting up his stand. the gates were to open in an hour, and I knew we were too early, but in the States if something is sold out, you go 12 hours early and wait on line. My daughter was obviously very miffed at having to wait for anything. Joining us soon after in the ticket hunt were a much younger couple. I told them why I came so early.

"I wait 12 hours on line to see the Stones."
"I waited 12 hours to see the Dead" said the braided-hair guy.

We were in good company. The Israeli security guys standing around thought we were absolutely mad. As did the hot dog vendor. The guy came out later with ice cream for all the security and staff standing around. He offered us some as well because he felt bad "we were waiting around for 2 hours."

As soon as it hit 7:00 pm, people started to come in droves. It was minutes before we were able to buy our tickets from people not able to go. No scalping here. I've never paid more than face value for these tickets.

We seated ourselves on the floor in the last row and the 1 hours of speeches started.

"For this we paid 50 NIS?" asked my daughter?

Lia Van Leer first opened up the ceremony by having the audience stand for 30 seconds in remembrance of the victims of the London terrorist attack earlier that morning.

I was the running commentary for my daughter and friend. I knew everything that would happen. When the mayor of Jerusalem's name was mentioned, I told them "Everyone's gonna boo him." Sure enough, the entire audience boo'd him. No one has manners. This is a very secular, mostly left-wing audience. They have no patience and love for the Ultra-Orthodox, right-wing mayor of Jerusalem. Lord David Puttnam, the producer of Chariots of Fire and other well known movies, stood up and gave a moving address, talking about how "London is now Jerusalem, New York is Jerusalem and Madrid is Jerusalem and now we are all united as one" - something to that effect. But I thought isn't it a fucking shame that we need terrorism to unite us? And he wanted "to show London that Jerusalem is behind them" and made us all stand up again and cheer.

The movie started and it was fun watching an action-packed flick with thousands of people on a giant screen with surround sound. In the middle of the movie my friend blurted out - What is Harold Robbins doing in this movie? But I decided that movies like these stress me out, as my neck began to ache. I'd better stick to comedies.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Jerusalem July 4th celebration

I walked into the New Age bookstore in Jerusalem - Olam Qatan - and my friend's friend was nearly in tears.

"I don't wanna go. Do you think I should extend my ticket? I really don't wanna go."

Glancing at her face brought back memories for me. I knew exactly what she was talking about - she didn't need to explain. It was that same experience I had, the same exact familiar and deep feelings for Jerusalem, that draws you to its soul, so closely that if you leave, you think you'll burst or die or wither away spiritually.

"Look, honey" I said as an older sister would have said. "I used to be that way too. That's why I moved here, sweet pea. When it got too painful to leave Jerusalem, I decided that was it and I moved here. You'll be back." I knew it better than Schwartzenegger.

"Won't I just get back into the swing of things and forget about Jerusalem once I'm back in my apartment?" she seemed worried. Oh no, dahling. Israel's always in the news. You'll be reminded of your spiritual home every day. You'll see familiar scenery, and you'll get a whiff of the city buses and remember the diesel fumes of hundreds of Jerusalem's buses on the roads each day.

I knew she'd be on that plane crying all the way home. I did it when I lived in Toronto. She lives in Chicago, so of course she'll cry. Chicago ain't nothing like Jerusalem.

We parted ways and off I went with Roseanne, my long lost friend. We went to a free open-air movie, which looked like a drive in, only it was more like a sit-in - bean bags on the floor with neck pillows. I'd never seen anything like it. We plopped ourselves down on the bags in front of a table. Bad move. The table, in fact the plaza, belonged to Lugars, an upscale restaurant. Looks like the movie wasn't so free after all. But had we just plopped down where there weren't any tables, we may have gotten around having to place a food order. But what the heck. Ain't nothing like munching and watching a movie at the same time. Fuck popcorn. The movie was "Meet the Fockers" - so terribly stupid but so much fun to watch with hundreds of other people on these zany seats, all around you. My friend, an Orthodox Jew, was amazed that she could just sit at an outdoor movie theatre, ordering a hamburger. You can't order kosher hamburgers in this particular scenario anywhere else in the world. But here we were - a mix of different people - all enjoying the cool Jerusalem evening. My neighbors to my left were a group of young kids here for a summer learning program in Jewish Studies. They offered me chocolate to celebrate the 4th of July.

"Honey, I don't need the 4th of July to be gouging on chocolates. Just waking up in the morning is a good 'nuff excuse." I told them. But then as the chocolate melted in my mouth, it began to sparkle and crackle. What the hell is that? They laughed. Special fireworks chocolates for the 4th of July. How cool.

We went downtown to Mikes Place, in its new location, to see how they celebrated American Independence Day. My friend was again amazed at the clientele, which consisted of many young American kids, a few Israelis, and a smattering of Ultra-Orthodox Jews. "You'd NEVER see this in New York. They'd never go to a blues club." And we rocked together with Mike Perry's astounding band until it was nearly midnight, and no longer the 4th of July.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Never be told the future

I've always been wary of palm readers, fortune tellers, etc. I've learned how to do Tarot cards when I was single and they were pretty nifty when I wanted to check out a future date. I'd ask the cards "Will it be a one-nighter? True love?" And the cards would spell it out for me, and I wouldn't get disappointed because I knew what fate awaited me beforehand. It was all in the cards.

I remember when the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup. I was in Toronto at the time and thought Hubby had spiked my tea with bad drugs. Wasn't there a curse on the NY Rangers, never to win the Stanley Cup - ever? It just couldn't be. When we lived in NYC, my brother, an Orthodox Jew, would carry his ticket and walk from the north Bronx to Madison Square Garden (it took 3 - 4 hours) in the 60s and 70s during the Passover holidays (when Orthodox Jews do not travel on buses, cars and trains) in the hopes of seeing his favorite team win the coveted Stanley Cup. By the time I was a fan, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the team was scandalized by heavy cocaine usage among its top players and there was little hope of winning the Cup.

So when they did finally win the Cup, I immediately called my brother who was living in Jerusalem to tell him the Great News! He was mortified.

"I set my video on a timer and was about to tape it (the game was shown there - but with a delay of about 6 hours). What the FUCK DID YOU DOO?????????" I ruined it for my brother. The adrenalin rush of will they or won't they win will be no more. And they may never win the Cup again. This game-of-a-lifetime ruined, smashed, kaput - all because of his little well-intentioned sis.

This evening I perused some blogs with one that gave me a preview of America's Next Top Model's winner. The show is onto its 5th season in the US but cable tv in Israel is just up to its third season. Our Friday night entertainment consists of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy - where I fantasize about those guys doing a Queer Eye for the Straight Ladye - namely me. Dress me up Carson, and wallpaper my home from beautiful furniture stores I can't afford like Harmony. After that show my teen girls and I cuddle up on the couch and wonder who will be America's Next Top Model where we join the judges in insulting all the contestants. But I just looked at this blog where it talked about the winners in previous seasons, including season #3, which we are watching now! How dreadful. I now know who will be America's Next Top Model in Season Three. I'm not telling the rest of you, in case you're addicted too. Being the good mum that I am, I won't tell my girls either, but the show won't be exciting for me any longer. Should I be wicked and place bets with them? I just might, just to get even for all the torture they heap on their mother. The winner gets taken out for a lavish Friday morning breakfast!

Running on Overload

I'm one of those people that think they're superhuman. I hardly say no to any request. The word NO is evil, harmful, unhealthy, negative, bad karma, etc. And this gets me into trouble. I've accumulated a slew of friends since I've moved here and for that I'm grateful. It's enriching to have companions who you can call up and do stuff with. One friend in the States for the summer? No sweat. Just call up the 50,000 other ones to accompany you on eating binges, movies, concerts, etc.

Some are persistent, like the young Palestinian man whom I wanted to set up on a "shidduch date" with another young Arab woman. "When can I visit you?" "Can you get me a permit?" "Can I take you to Ramallah?" And he doesn't stop. I swear when I see him next, I'll put ritalin in his mint tea.

Then there are the pen-friends. I feel like I'm 15 when I say that, but I've never met many of them. One non-Jewish German woman began to write me after reading about me in Gush Shalom's newsletter. Unbeknownst to me, the person I was talking to when I went olive picking last fall with Rabbis for Human Rights, was the writer of their newsletters. I casually told him where I was from, no big deal, just outside of Jerusalem.

"You're a settler!!" he cried out, causing a bit of a local ruckus. I was the one-and-only settler woman who came out from beyond the green line to assist the Palestinian farmers and this certainly deserved a mention in their newsletter. This lovely German woman who reads every newsletter under the sun, began writing me on a daily basis asking me all sorts of questions and sending me articles from all over the globe.

"what do you think of this"
"What do you think of that?"

Lady - I really think you have way too much time on your hands.

Unfortunately, I work for a living and can't get to the myriad of e-mails she sends me. I try to tell her politely that I'm too busy to read 100,000 pages a day, and try to answer her shorter queries.

Then my Queen-of-the-Gypsies friend rings me up - she is looking for volunteers for her organization. Can I help? Nu, sure! What are friends for? I just use our local English-speaking e-mail listing - Janglo (Jerusalem Anglos) - and in 5 minutes the ad is out. I used to visit her weekly and answer her e-mails for her, but it got to be too much like work. The last thing I need is another full-time job - without pay. Sheesh, I'm not that nuts. But when I cut out the weekly visits, you can believe I felt as guilty as any Jewish mother.

My ex-Criminal daughter, on her way back to her place of residence today, called me dozens of times today for me to do conference calls with her boyfriend.

"Don't answer her calls!" hissed the receptionist.

"I can't not take them! She's on "parole" for another hour and won't be able to make any phone calls for 3 weeks." I had to cope just one more hour.

I have a shitload of things on a waiting list of things I'd like to do - like learn Arabic, take photography lessons, belly dance, travel to India, eat in every decent restaurant in the country, go to Turkey, Cyprus, Morrocco, travel the Silk Route, meet Richard Gere, meet newly discovered relatives in London and Vienna, see family in New York, work in the movie industry, buy a home, furnish it according to Feng Shui, cook gourmet meals each day, answer my e-mails in a timely fashion, go on holiday with my kids, go on a spa vacation without them, hike all over Israel, invite the Arabs in Gaza for a Sulha with the Jews in Gaza, win a Nobel Peace Prize.....the list is simply endless.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Watch out for the Neighbors from Hell

The guys came to pick up the two outdoor storage sheds we had on our huge porch. Some neighbor must have complained when Hubby bought the second one because the first one didn't attract any notice. But when we began to decorate our back porch with potted plants and trees, it must have roused the jealousy of one of our neighbors. Here people get jealous of everything. No matter how rough you have it inside, the outside is what shows to the world.

Hubby thought at first that it was his friend who squealed to the city engineer (apparently one is not allowed to have tall outdoor storage sheds on their balconies here - only in gardens - just shorter ones can be on the porches. If you want to keep the large ones, you have to apply for a building permit - I kid you not - and that may take 20 years and dozens of penalties inbetween). But I said - you hire your friend to do electrical work on your projects, why the hell would THAT neighbor bite the hand that feeds his family?

Then I thought of our neighbors on the other side. They're tough Morrocans and have been complaining ever since we moved in three years ago.

When we moved in our tiny front garden was just filled with soil.

"Can't you get plants or grass for your garden?" the neighbor wife complained to me. "The dust from the dirt comes into my front porch and I'm always washing it down."

Thank God there is no law (yet) against having a garden with no plants or we'd have gotten a threatening letter from the City.

Another time the same bold street cat that would casually walk into our home and sit on our beds and lurk in the kitchen, was found on their premises.

"Do you have a cat?"


"Because it stole a chicken we had on our counter and took off with it"

Sorry. Can't help you with that. We're just immigrants and don't know how to handle tough Israeli Tom Cats.

Recently my son kicked his soccer ball onto their roof.

Shouts rang out from their apartment.

"YOU BEN-ZONAH!!!! YOU BEN-ZONAH!!!" ("you son of a whore")

No one insults me. Get it? I'm planning a revenge attack. Soon there'll be 10 cans of tuna lined up on their rooftop and hopefully all the neighborhood cats will have a grand feast on the Neighbors from Hell's roof.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Lots more protesters

The only wacko I saw at the parade

More protest signs

More marchers

Ultra orthodox protester with sign "you're an embarrassment to humankind"

The marchers at Jerusalem's Pride Parade

Oi Vay We're Gay

"Come, let's go together to the parade" said the very straight 49 year old errand guy at my work who is of Morrocan ancestry.

"You only want to go see the lesbians"

He laughed. I was right.

Not always is the second or third time around like the first time around. Like the first time I went to the gym at the YMCA around 7:30 one evening and saw a roomful of hunks. There was only one woman there. I just had an orientation session and wasn't ready to begin working out. I went back the very next day at 5:00 pm and everyone seemed to have aged 40 years. It was like being in the audience of the Lawrence Welk Show. Senior Citizens Hour. Shit. Do hunks only come out at night?

Two years ago I went to the Pride Day parade in Jerusalem. It was on a Friday in the early afternoon. I was friends with some of the Orthodykes (Orthodox Jewish lesbians) and wanted to show my support. To tell the total truth, I also went to see who I knew, whom I thought might be gay. Sure enough, I saw a male belly dancer who was in the same class as I was. We smiled and waved to each other and I was satisfied my gaydar was working. The weather was hot, the mood was great and the scene was colorful - colors of the rainbow everywhere. The Jerusalem parade was more laid back and modest than its Tel Aviv counterpart or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world. It fit in with Jerusalem's conservative character. You had a handful of freaks but the majority were ordinary people.

This year I wanted to take part in it too and catch up with friends I only see at these events. But the mood was far more tense. There were alot more Ultra-Orthodox protesters and riot police were there, some on horses. They wouldn't let me through to the pedestrian mall at first - because they just wanted to keep the protesters away from the marchers. I felt nervous. I got into the area from the side. I found my close friend B. - a straighty like me. We hugged and everyone must have thought we were dykes. I saw another male friend from peace activities and he looked at my friend and back at me and nodded at me, as if B. and I were a duo. Heh! There was a smell of shit wafting through the air. Someone had thrown a stink bomb in the area. One of the protesters obviously got through to the crowd. I walked with the marchers a bit, after B. had to leave. As we got to the main street, there more more protestors and they were loud. Terribly loud, holding up signs in Hebrew. A secular Israeli couple was yelling at the marchers too.

"You're sick"
"Why" asked a marcher.
"Because you're a HOMO!!!"

The marcher videotaped her, as well as other protestors before being told to move on by the police.

I walked a bit with a dyke friend of mine whom I knew from peace activities. She gave me a flyer inviting me to a weekend of meditation, healing workshops, etc. for the homosexual and lesbian community and invited me to the Open House. I got lots of invites that day to this thing and that thing. God, it's a friendly community. As I was walking with R. someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a Rabbi. Shit. But not to worry, it was the Reform rabbi, who fully supports gay rights, telling me he'd read my blog about the Wandering Rabbi and liked it. Yes!! Illustrious people in Jerusalem are reading me.

I didn't finish the march as the staff at work were gathering at an Indian restaurant to say farewell to our CFO, who was leaving for the States.

But later on I heard that 3 marchers were lightly stabbed by an Ultra-orthodox protester. I was so sad. I heard the protesters chant in Hebrew - "ein sotim, ein piguim" - something along the lines of "if there's no immorality, there won't be any terrorist attacks." However, I think they blew it this time. Hatred of others, just because of different lifestyles, doesn't put you into God's good book. Even if you do keep the Sabbath to a tee.