Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Shuk wanderings

I met the UK Girl who is still here and who I think got used to and even enjoys the notion that there is no rain in Israel until November.... I don't think she wants to go home. I don't blame her. England = cold, rainy, boring royals, pompous, football hooligans, etc.

She told me about the characters infesting Ibrahim's house at the moment, where she is staying. I'm glad I did some honest reporting on this blog. What if there had really been no Ibrahim, no interfaith work, no peace stuff, etc. and this poor young thing comes flying all the way from Jolly Ol' and nothing I said was true. So I was smugly satisfied that she is truly seeing it all, as I wrote. One of them she described looking like the Hulking Black Man in the Tom Hanks' movie - The Green Mile. He's got the Jerusalem Syndrome and if my friend ever harbored thoughts of not being part of a complete set of fries or chips or whatever the fuck they call it there, she can throw those thoughts out the window. Ibrahim's house takes 'em all. This man walked into Ibrahim's wearing sackcloth and long robes, telling the other guests there was something he needed to speak about concerning Revelations.

"Can't it wait until after dinner?" said Ibrahim, trying to teach this nomad some patience.

I feel as if I or someone should be making a documentary film about Ibrahim and his house guests. Any takers? I think within a month, you could get a whole array of characters and complete the film - maybe even get it into a film festival. Not a bad idea if I might add. I just don't have the know-how to do it myself.

After coffee we headed out to the coffee shop at the shuk which transformed itself into an alley full of people and jazz musicians. Some lone guy from Manchester began talking to us and put me into hysterics. I didn't understand half of what he said, but it went something like this.

"When I was 'ere 5 years ago, I saw an article in the newspaper about Russians fooking drinkin' fooking toilet duck. Straight oop! Fooking tossers. Fooking wankers"

But he really does love it here and maybe he'll also stay away from the UK a bit longer...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Aw shucks...

I got rated at Blog Advance yesterday. I got a "good" out of categories such as "the good", "the mediocre", "the bad." What a nice review. Thanks people.

A personal blog with a difference, Jerusalem Gypsy is about a woman living in Jerusalem sharing her views on life and the people in her country.
I must admit I'm intrigued with this blog as while there are so many personal diary type blogs out there, this one is different in that the whole lifestyle of the people is diverse to what I'm used to reading in blogs written by authors from Western Society.
The blog itself is bright and colorful, reminiscent of the Middle East and I find the content in
Jerusalem Gypsy interesting and readable if somewhat a little guileless, but it all adds to the experience.
There are a lot of entries regarding peace in Jerusalem and it was a real pleasure to read about the goings on in the Middle East from a truly unique perspective.
As stated, this IS primarily a personal diary and there is a lot to read, but it's well worth it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Summer's end

I was tired. Really tired of doing shit for everyone in my family. I walked up the steps to the Mall and saw pidgeons in the way.

"May the Cats get you!" I cursed to them.

I had just done a gruelling two week takeover stint for my boss - whose personal secretary was away for a two week summer holiday. No holidays for the wicked, though. I must be damn wicked. He rewarded me on Thursday, the last day of the week, by being sarcastically humorous during our meetings.

"Do you have a copy of THIS?" he thundered at me in front of 2 colleagues.

"I have a copy of THIS in my computer, just not printed out." I answered.

"See? She can't give you a straight answer!!! She shoulda been a RABBI!!"

Everyone in the room laughed. Even me. When he's chiding me, life is good. Plus we had something in common. We both had run-ins with banks this week. He had difficulties getting through to them, even though he's got big bucks - they just would not service him properly. The guy's got bucks! Be nice to the man. He knows big people. But no. They're not. And the bank I deal with was sucky to me too. The first slap in the face was that you can no longer get anyone from your branch on the phone. They give you over to some asshole sitting in Tel Aviv who doesn't know you from dick, who begins the conversation, for security reasons, by asking 10 minutes of personal questions.

"What is your ID #?"
"What are your parents names"
"What was the last deposit you made"
"What are monthly withdrawals you make"
"What is your age"
"What is your home phone number"
"What is your other phone number"

By the time they finally were satisfied enough to talk to me about my account, my break was up. I got really pissed off at them and retorted.

"Hey - why didn't you ask about my weight!!!?? or my bra size - for god's sake"

The person on the other end laughed weakly.

"I mean it - ask me some real personal questions."

By then, though, my boss was hollering for me to come into the board room - immediately!! I hung up the phone on them and didn't ever get to the problem of why I can't make withdrawals from my ATM card. I guess to know the answer to that mystery question, I will have to make the strenuous effort for a personal visit to my local bank branch. Where I can scream and shout at the tellers/bank managers face-to-face.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sympathies in order

The Interfaith Encounter Association put out a notice last week - I thought it very beautiful and fitting -

In this difficult day, when thousands of men, women and children are being forced out of their homes, we wish to express our feelings of sorrow and share them with both those being evacuated and those evacuating. As a non-political organization, the IEA does not take a stand regarding the question of their sitting there - some of us support it and some oppose it. However, we are all united in the wish to refrain from using force in the promotion of one way or the other. We are sure that our work to develop and promote deep and real human dialogue is the most significant way to develop relations of mutual understanding, respect and trust that will prevent any future use of force and will make sure that every move is built and implemented through dialogue between all sides. Our way, the way of encounter and dialogue, is the way that will promote our aspiration for real peace in our region, peace of mutal understanding, respect and trust, peace of re-engagement of all of us.


Another group put out this notice in the Jerusalem e-mail listing:

An apolitical initiative has started with the goal to help the evacuated families in this time of great emotional crisis, to show with our actions that the people of Israel are with them and feel their pain, regardless of our political viewpoints.

The initiative is looking for volunteers to come to the villages where the evacuated famileis will be going, such as Nitsan, from this week onwards and help them with the various tasks they will have to face such as cleaning their houses, taking care of the children, and just to be there to help. It is needless to say how important this project is, and how much the presence of caring and loving people can help those who need to rebuild their lives....

Every day I have been getting mail about adopting families, going to the hotels where many are staying, bringing food, sheets, babysitters, etc. So it seems like a big project, one that will take weeks or even months, before things will be a bit more calm.

Tourist bus

The tourists are back. Tourism is up 20% from - last week? last year? Yesterday? I don't really remember exactly, but I do remember reading today that it was up 20%. Isn't that enough? Perhaps to celebrate renewed tourism, Jerusalem's bus company, Egged (which I like to call 'Egghead') has a London-style fire-engine red double-decker tour bus which will take you all around Jerusalem for a 2 hour tour, stopping at all the sites, where you can get off and go back on all day long. Isn't this cool?

Dreaming of worms

I had one of those weird dreams the other night. It wasn't about making passionate love to Richard Gere, or Ronnie Wood, or even someone I know like Hubby. It was kinda icky about worms and turtles. So I Googled the dream interpretation site and came up with -

1. To see turtles in your dream, suggests that you will make slow but steady progress. You need to slow down and pace yourself. Alternatively, it indicates that you are sheltering yourself from the realities of life.

This is true. My life has been crazy this week, with the boss's secretary out and me covering for her on top of all my chores that Mr. Boss wants done in 60 seconds.

2. To see a worm in your dream represents weakness and general negativity. You have a very low opinion of yourself or of someone in your life.

I have low opinions of alot of people, but why must I friggin, dream about worms. Feh.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Shopping with Husbands

I'm having a rough rough week. I'm subbing for my boss's secretary who is on vacation for two weeks so now I am a double slave - working an 11 hour shift with no break. No peace for the wicked, eh? Do you think when I get home, I can sit like a couch potato in front of the television, while servants serve me my dinner? No, certainly not. Instead I have to figure out what to make for my eternally starving family, who are useless when it comes to anything other than ordering pizza or opening up a can of tuna.

Today Hubby informed me that he went to get a haircut. Must I always dread the times he gets a haircut? You see, the man hardly has any hair. He's damn good looking, even with not much on top (who cares what's on top, right? - God compensates in other places). So he gets a haircut every other week, and the kids wonder why. And he proudly brings home the latest in "love toys" for me, that the hairdresser sells him. This week is not a good week for toys. Or love. I'm just simply fucking exhausted.

Charming man that he was, he accompanied me to the supermarket, and embarrassed me to no end, making fun of all the Russians in the store. The deli guy asked us what we wanted, as we stood next to a Russian woman.

Hubby answers - "We want NYET, NYET"

Oh shit. I intervene and tell the guy, pastrami please.

We walk by the tin foil and he exlaims loudly for the entire supermarket to hear.

"The worst thing that can happen to our daughter in her reformatory is that she'll become a LESBIAN."

"Must you enunciate "lesbian"? I hissed at him.

The vegetables from Gush Katif in Gaza were selling like hotcakes.

"This is gonna be a collector's item. Maybe I'll just save the package of lettuce." I told my Old Man.

We walk past the veggies. Big mistake. He's already toying with the zucchini and cucumbers, and I walk past him as if he's just another loony stranger.

I let him pack up some Haagen Daz, even though I'm on a diet and it's atrociously expensive here. I'm utterly exhausted by 9:00 pm by the time we get home.

Maybe, just maybe he'll be satisfied enough after indulging in fine chocolate ice cream.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Disengagement chatter

Abdullah came to visit me the day I was off from work on the Jewish fast day of the 9th of Av this past Sunday. I didn't even know he was here because every two hours or so I went to lie down. I hate fasting, and don't even know what I do it. I should really be going out to picnic with the rest of the secular Israelis, but no, I suffer without food and drink for 25 hours.

Hubby and the Complainer entertained Abdullah for about an hour, until I sauntered out of my room, not particularly dressed for guests in my sleeveless t-shirt without a bra. I was way too physically uncomfortable to put on all my underthings...

But Abdullah and I managed an interesting conversation. I told him how I hope that the ouster of the Jews from Gaza will perhaps make them more sympathetic when they hear of Palestinian home demolitions, as they went through the same thing and are now homeless. His eyebrows tilted as if he were surprised that I thought this way. I was equally surprised when he voiced compassion for the Jews in Gaza.

"I feel terrible that they have to leave. The politicians are the cause of our wars. If I were in their place, I would leave this country and never ever come back after what they did to me."

He seemed genuinely upset, and I was pleased that a Palestinian would get upset over this situation. I wasn't expecting any sympathy from any of my cousins and it took me by surprise.

We both envisioned a hate-free Gaza, where Jews and Arabs would work together to build up tourism over the beautiful natural landscapes there, a sort of paradise. Agriculture would flourish and they would work together. But it's not reality now and this is only a dream of ours.

But it was nice of us to be able to dream of the same things together.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

rooftop with sackcloth piles

Tisha B'av - 9th of Av -Fast in Jerusalem

I took my friend from the UK over to a women's reading of Lamentations - in the Old City. We were all sprawled out on her large rooftop with hippie and elegant pillows and mattresses strewn about. I prompted my guest beforehand

"They're Orthodox Jews and won't greet you today because it's a day of mourning. Don't get offended."

Luckily they also explained this to her as they opened the door for us.

They had a pile of sackcloths that we were told we can put over us, as the mourners of the destruction of the Temples did 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem. There was a woman afterwards in a purple striped dress, with a large purple headcovering explaining why we are losing our land. She explained it was because people who are 'in the know' meaning the Orthodox, are not pure in their observance. There is something missing - perhaps love - in their observance. It could be for their own self-gratification, etc.

I had my own take on measure-for-measure but it only hit me afterwards. And it's not a popular view. I really believe if we took care of the "strangers in our land" i.e. the Palestinians and not continue to demolish homes of innocent families, because they are not issued permits to build - then perhaps this whole Gaza episode would not have happened. This is my strong opinion.

women in sackcloth on a rooftop in the Old City -Jerusalem

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Welcome to Jerusalem

One young reader of this blog arrived in Jerusalem for the first time. It was the first time she had ever been on a plane as well. She e-mailed me and I was trying to decipher the cryptic messages about "essex girl types" hassling her at customs. This is a British thing and I'm usually quite knowledgeable about British terms like "lift, lorry, fag, knickers, poof, tart, sod, wanker", etc. but totally not familiar with this one.

Hubby decided to come along to meet her at Jaffa Gate. I told him that it's not like meeting a member of the Rolling Stones Undercover e-mail list. That list is total family. You don't know who is commenting on your blogs from anywhere in the world. But when I heard her voice on the phone, my instincts told me it's ok.

I guess she was equally as nervous meeting us for the first time as we basically told her we're gonna drive her around Jerusalem for a quickie tour.

"You're not gonna dump me off somewhere?"

"What and have 1 less reader of the blog?" Nah. We're civil, even if it doesn't come across so in my writings.

We went to see the panoramic view of Jerusalem from the Sherover Promenade and went to have a bite to eat in picturesque Ein Karem. Hubby was quite animated and nice. He wasn't acting the Caveman bit at all, and I was getting worried that she would think that everything she read about was a lie. A total lie. Hubby was charming, talkative and a real man-about-town. I wanted our guest over for life,if he was gonna act like that around her. Sheesh. Feeling I have more to gain than lose, I invited her for dinner with the family. Reluctant at first, she finally accepted the invite. I insisted that Hubby tell her he really can get awful and that I'm not exaggerating when I write about the family. He told her "Yup - I can get that way." But I don't think she believed that. He was so fucking charming.

A bit of paranoia crept in when our guest went to the bathroom.

"Do you think she's looking through our meds??" Hubby asked me.

"Really. Our MEDS? What the fuck do we have in there anyway? A bit of aspirin, some Rennies for heartburn and antibiotics that are probably out of date. Oh and a few bars of soap. No quaaludes, no prozac, no viagara, nothing interesting at all in that cabinet. Why are you worried???"

I'm telling you, it's the weed.

At dinner Hubby turned into Father Knows Best. The most wonderful dad anyone would want to have. He even stayed up until 2:00 am with all of us, and our guest slept over in the end because it was too late for her to go wandering back into the Old City by herself. My 17 year old didn't put on a show, though, and complained bitterly throughout the meal, about the food, about the way the house looked, and a few other things. I was all excited that at least one person was not playing it "nice" and pointed to her while shouting to our guest.

"THAT'S the Complainer!!! THAT's the Complainer!!!" - Yes. Our guest finally gets to meet all the Characters in our family in the flesh. What a laugh.

Friday, August 12, 2005


I got this email this morning. Except for the first paragraph or so, this can all very well be applied to Palestinians whose homes are demolished because they are not given permits to build but must because of growing families,etc.

While I very much sympathize with the Jewish people who live in Gaza, I see many similarities to Palestinians who come across this every day but it is not widely publicized. These demolitions are not the mass demolitions usually (like in Gaza now) but one house here and one house there. but it happens nearly every day. Palestinians have their homes demolished but, unlike the Gaza Jews, are not given trailers to live in. They are left totally homeless.

I hope this will open the eyes of many Jews who now know what it is like to have their homes demolished and your livelihood taken away. I hope they will be able to sympathize with the many innocent Palestinians who find themselves in this very same situation every day...

Dr. Miriam Adahan on the Matzav

* Imagine that you live in Israel, which has suffered 25,500 known
terror attacks just since 2000, including 6000 rockets just on your small
section of Gush atif, and instead of attacking the Arab enemy, the
government attacks you.

* Imagine that your teenage children are arrested for handing out
orange ribbons on street corners and when you see the police choking them
and bashing them with brass knuckles and you come to their aid, you, too,
are arrested and charged with harming the police officers who arrested

* Imagine that you and your friends come to Kfar Maimon to peacefully
protest this outrage and that the government sends 20,000 soldiers and
police (the same number President Bush sent to invade Iraq) to encircle
the area with barbed wire, creating a virtual prison camp.

* Imagine that it is August 1, 2005 and you are to be evicted from
your home on August 15 and you have no idea where to go.> * Imagine that youve been told that you will be allowed to take enough
possessions out of your home to fill two small containers and that the
rest must be left behind.

* Imaginethat you live in a beautiful eight-room home of your dreams
with five bathrooms and that you will, at best, be given a cramped caravan
which leaks in the winter rains and is sweltering in the summer.

* Imagine trying to decide between your piano and your washing
machine, between your books and the beds, between your sofa and your
dining room table between your clothing and your photo albums.

* Imagine that you discuss with your neighbors whether you will lock
yourself in your home and make the arresting officers bash the door down,
in which case you will forfeit all government compensation or walk
silently to the bus which will take you to a detention center, or be
dragged out of your home as a way of passively protesting this atrocity.

* Imagine that you discuss with your spouse whether the children
should have to see you being dragged out of the only home they have ever
known or if it is better to have them sent away.

* Imagine that yur son/husband/neighbor is an army officer or
policeman and it is their duty to drag you to the waiting buses.

* Imagine that the Israeli press ignores your plight, except to refer
to you and your neighbors as fanatical hooligans who have stolen the land
you live on.

* Imagine that you have lived in a community for 10, 20, 30 years,
have been productive and independent and that you will soon be unemployed,
a burden on the state, a humiliated and broken welfare recipient.

* Imagine that you walk around your precious community, knowing that
your home, synagogue, mikvah, community center, schools and health centers
will be soon be bulldozed into oblivion.

* Imagine having to go from a home with a huge backyard, filled with
flowers and fruit trees to some cramped apartment in a strange city.

* Imagine having to leave your children and grandchildren who could
easily run next door to visit you and whom you will now see only rarely.
* Imagine that the government is spending $7 billion dollars to deport
you and your neighbors, forfeiting the $2 billion a year earned by the
Gush Katif population and that the money for this expulsion plan was taken
by slashing pensions for the elderly, closing schools and hospitals,
reducing health services, reducing the sick and the handicapped to
begging, sending 37,000 abused children were sent back to abusive homes
since there was no money to keep them in state dormitories, canceling
summer programs for children - and then you are blamed for all this pain.

* Imagine that well known rabbis, teachers and community leaders
suddenly disappear and that you are told that they are being held in
prison indefinitely and being treated in a most brutal manner.

* Imagine 14 year old children arrested and sent to solitary
confinement for having insulted a police officer.

* Imagine that the government declares war on Judaism, closing down
radio sttions that used to disseminate inspiring words of Torah, closing
down religious councils, cutting off support for religious schools and
institutions, threatening rabbis who disagree with government policy and
firing government workers who protest.

* Imagine that even before the 25 communities of Gush Katif are
destroyed, that the "Peace Now" Organization hands over a list of 120
Jewish settlements in the Shomron to the Israeli Supreme Court to be
destroyed, claiming that the land was stolen from the Palestinians (as if
there ever was such a people!).

* Imagine that Hamas has already announced that there will be massive
parades throughout Gush Katif celebrating their victory over the Jewish

* Imagine that the whole world will watch as terrorists take over
these communities and think that Jews are the stupidest idiots in the


* My beloved people, imagine tht this is a test of faith, which I
offer you out of love, so that you can know your own greatness.

* Imagine that I am sifting out the righteous from the evil.

* Imagine that these experiences are going to develop iron faith and
that this is the only thing that will keep you from going insane.

* Imagine knowing that whatever happens is necessary and ultimately

* Imagine that evil is necessary in order to give you opportunities to
develop and demonstrate your spiritual powers kindness, self-discipline,
courage, integrity, gratitude, humility and faith.

* Imagine that in a world without evil, words like treachery, slander,
egotism, arrogance, blackmail or betrayal would have no meaning. Integrity
is never painless. Here is your opportunity to develop it.

* Imagine that I am a Master Puppeteer. Behind the screen on which
these events are projected to form what seems like an insane, unjust and
terrifying reality, there is nother reality. I am cheering for you to
make the right choices. I am a loving G-d. Sometimes, you need to imagine

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Mother - daughter thing

I got an e-mail today about this person doing research in many countries about conversations between mothers and children. He did some research in the US, South America and now is in the Middle East looking for subjects for his research. I was thinking about contacting him and then thought - nah. What would he have thought of my conversation this morning with my daughter about pubic hair shaving? Not too good.

My daughter calls it "bikini waxing", but I call it pubic shaving. She's off to Eilat in a couple of days for a week of partying and needs to not look like Mrs. Werewolf from the waist down. I expressed the same sentiments this morning

"because when I go to the gym and I'm changing my clothes, other women don't need to see that mess down there."

My two girls looked at me. I guess they didn't expect mom to reveal herself so. They just shrugged and said "yeah, it's gross when old ladies don't shave."

Hmph. Just who are they calling old ladies...???

Monday, August 08, 2005

10th anniversary

Not my wedding anniversay. No. No. I certainly don't want to talk about that. Not today. Probably not never. At least not until Caveman Hubby starts using serious meds for his yo-yo, manic depressive moods. It's my 10th anniversary since we've touched down on holy soil, since we've moved from Toronto to Jerusalem. And what a rocky road it was, and still is. But even though I cry when I visit New York and Toronto, especially when the customs guy tells me "Welcome Home" at Kennedy Airport, this is my Soul Home. My spiritual home. I certainly didn't come here to strike it rich. I certainly didn't come here to have an easier life. I certainly didn't come here for the abundance of rock concerts by famous bands - I think you get one in a decade here. And it wasn't because Jerusalem is the fashion capital of the world, or the cuisine capital of the world. What the hell did I come here for anyways????

Us Canadian-US expats are always asking ourselves and each other that very question. I don't know what I came here for, really. I'm more at peace with my soul being here. It's not something that's totally understood. I always compare it to the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where Richard Dreyfus' character knows he NEEDS to get to a certain mountain, but doesn't quite know why.

I also came to give my kids a better life, for them to know their heritage better, to be able to run around in malls without fear of being kidnapped by some pedophile sicko, to be able to run barefoot if they want in the streets, etc. etc. And for the most part, I think they have that - teenagers camp out together in droves during the summer months on the beaches of the Kinneret and you don't have to worry or be there or even call. You'll see them 4 days later - looking like stray cats, totally dishevelled and exhausted but totally happy. My youngest daughter did that, plus the older 3 are partying it up in all-nighters in Eilat with friends later this week for one week. They won't sleep. They won't eat. Not much anyways. And I'll have a quiet house.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mad Hot Jerusalem

I have membership in one of Jerusalem's oldest and funkiest movie theaters - the Smadar theatre located in the German Colony. This theater does not play your typical Hollywood blockbuster movies but stuff that are shown in international film festivals and the clientele is pleasant. The DA Queen and I met up at 4:30 in the afternoon to see Mad Hot Ballroom about New York City public school ballroom dancing competitions. I loved this movie. I was feeling very nostalgic and homesick for my birthplace - New York City and was reading the New York Times online wistfully early this morning. The movie was touching and brought me to tears several times, sometimes because of the content and sometimes because I felt nostalgic looking at the buildings, street signs, kids learning in English (!), which is something my kids will not experience here and so on. The DA Queen is on the South Beach Diet together with me and so we turned up our noses at the popcorn and opted for diet ice-coffee.

Later that evening, Hubby came out of his cave to meet up with a daughter of a good friend of ours from Toronto. She and her husband of 3 years are rebels of a sort - unconventional Orthodox Jews. She had just moved to Israel about a month ago on Nefesh b'Nefesh, the highly subsidized program to bring in Jews from North America. But I got nervous as she told me about her weekends up in the hilltops of Maon, near Hebron and even in Tapuach, where the Jewish terrorists live. I warned her about those places and told her where I am at these days. That I had escorted Palestinian farmers so that they can plant their trees and harvest their olives, near the Jewish settlements, in peace, and how beautiful and picturesque their villages are. She was so vibrant before I told her all this and all she could mutter afterwards was - aren't you afraid they're gonna turn on you?

I told her that was the entire problem. They are afraid and you are afraid. And where does that lead to but distrust, and in extreme cases, to murder.

I discussed with her in detail all the wonderful peace stuff I'm into and isn't peace the ideal situation for this country?? I'm happy to say that she decided to "try it out" whenever there is a peace activity or party going on. Sure. I'll give these newbies a call. Whew. These new immigrants to Israel. You got to nip them in the bud before they "grow" the wrong way.

And as we walked back to our car, Jerusalem's streets were teeming with people....

Saturday, August 06, 2005

New Cafe in Jerusalem

My boss had a leisurely breakfast with a colleague during working hours - it seems only "bosses" have the luxury to do this sort of thing - and raved about this new place called Lechem Erez. So Friday, being our day off, found me testing out this place, which had a branch in Tel Aviv for 9 years, and now they decided to open a branch in the Holy City which opened 5 days ago. I thought the location was interesting since it's not where your usual gamut of cafes are - in fact, while we were having our breakfast, Hubby noted the smell of the laundromat wafting through the air. It is situated in a small strip plaza in a residential, not commercial, neighborhood.

Pity I'm on this diet, because the pastries looked absolutely wonderful and the many kinds of bread is what the place is about. Breakfast was really wonderful, with freshly made lemonade with mint, carrot juice, goat feta cheese, homemade olives and jam, omelets and a kick-ass salad with every herb in there. Oh, and not to mention the cappucino that goes along with it.

The clientele's age seemed to range from ages 30-60. This is not a "young punk" hangout. And everyone was DRESSED to the nines. This is the first place in Jerusalem that I saw people getting dressed up to go for breakfast or just to buy bread on a Friday morning! It was like they were transported in from Tel Aviv or something. Everyone looked so chic, and I had a front row seat, admiring everyone's clothing and pocketbooks. I felt we were in Paris, or Milan but not Jerusalem. We're no longer a city of "shlubs."

YMCA Oasis

It was really nice coming into the Y this past week and seeing this notice (click on image to read it more clearly) on the door to where the Mind/Body activities take place like yoga, pilates, feldenkrais, etc. Especially when there is just so much chaos outside. Especially when Jewish terrorism is now rearing its head in this country. How can the papers call this shmuck who opened fire on a bus in Shefaram killing several innocent people a "newly religious" person. I think the term "religious" has to be redefined here....

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Caveman Tact

Our Swedish friends came by for a visit yesterday. 10 years ago they moved to Israel the same time we did, and ended up in the same absorption center as us, which is how we became friends. They moved back to Sweden after several years of difficult living here, but two of their kids stayed on. I kind of suspected that they weren't your regular run-of-the-mill Swedish Jews and when I was a guest one evening at the Swedish Theological Institute, I met someone who knew them.

"Are you a believer too then?" the elderly lady asked me. She had given piano lessons to their children.

"Sure" I replied. I believe in lots of things, happiness, peace, God, karma, food, money - you name it, I believe it.

Her smile widened.

"All you have to do is follow His word"

"OF course, although it's a bit difficult to follow all 613 commandments - that's a bit much with a family, a full time job, living in this dysfunctional country..."

She stopped me - "I mean, if you believe in Jesus, you will be saved."

"Oh!" I figured she meant that from the beginning, but it's fun to play a little bit.

Turns out our friends were the same kind of believers as she, but never ever said a word about it to any of us. I guess they would have had a difficult time getting accepted into mainstream society here, and might even have been deported if immigration authorities got wind of their beliefs, so they used extreme caution.

I told the kids who remained here that I "knew" and we had fabulous discussions around it.

But I still think that the parents are a bit "shy" about it still. So when they came over last night, in mid- conversation Hubby asked them -

"So what church do you go to?"

While I cringed, they laughed and turned red and said they were part of a Jewish cultural club.

"We learned a whole lot about messianic Jews from your daughter" added Hubby.

Oh, we're doing great in promoting parent/daughter relationships, aren't we? I hope they don't give their daughter an ear-lashing in discussing something they consider taboo to discuss.

This is really funny

Abe and Esther are flying to Australia for a two week vacation to
celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Suddenly, over the public address system, the Captain announces,
"Ladie and Gentlemen, I am afraid I have some very bad news.

Our engines have ceased functioning and we will attempt an emergency
landing. Luckily, I see an uncharted island below us and we should be
ble to land on the beach. However, the odds are that we will may never
be rescued and will have to live on the island for the rest of our lives!"

Thanks to the skill of the flight crew, the plane lands safely on the
island. An hour later Abe turns to his wife and asks,

"Esther, did we pay our charity pledge check to Beth Shalom Synagogue

"No, sweetheart," she responds.

Abe, still shaken from the crash landing, then asks,
"Esther, did we pay our United Jewish Appeal pledge?"

"Oy, no! I'm sorry. I forgot to send the check," she says.

"One last thing, Esther. Did you remember to send a check for the
Synagogue Building Fund this month," he asks?

"Oy, forgive me, Abie," begged Esther. "I didn't sent that one,

Abe grabs her and gives her the biggest kiss in 40 years.

Esther pulls away and asks him, "So, why did you kiss me?"

Abe answers, "They'll find us."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Lunching with Bibi

My boss took his secretary and me out to lunch at the King David hotel, the poshest hotel in Jerusalem. I've worked with the gentleman 3 1/2 years, and have never been taken out for lunch, not even for falafel. So this was going to be a real treat. The receptionist hissed advice to me as we were leaving.

"Order the most expensive thing on the menu!!!"

Sure. Why not?

We sat down in this elegant place - it reaked of old money. Here many celebrities and politicians passed through over the years.

I didn't know what to order, which was a good thing, because the Boss asked me to take the filet mignon, the most expensive thing on the menu. Who was I to argue with him. His secretary modestly ordered entrecote steak from the much less expensive business lunch. Oh, but not I. I love to wine and dine in the best of places, just don't have the moolah to do it as often as I'd like.

My boss, looks up and whispers to us - "That's Bibi Netanyahu who just walked in." They had already passed our table and all I saw were the strapping security guys because my view was blocked by a wooden pillar. We ended up laughing and talking about Bibi quietly, with the Boss giving me reports on what they ordered.

"Bibi's having the same thing you ordered"

"Of course he is, because I, the taxpayer, am probably paying for it."

"Nah, he's got a rich guy sitting next to him, whose probably paying."

"Oh whew!"

We didn't stick around to see what Bibi and his entourage were having for dessert.

As we walked out, my boss commented - "Someone ought to tell Bibi to lose a few pounds."

Monday, August 01, 2005


"What a DICK!" I shouted at the driver in front of me, as if he could hear me, who was backing up and not seeing a car (us) behind him. My friend honked just in time. We were driving to the Crown Plaza Hotel for a co-worker's son's brit (circumcision ceremony). Some ceremonies are simple affairs, as it was when my son was born. I had it at my house. But this chick's got bucks. Her dad owns the company that builds all the roads in and around Jerusalem. It wasn't always this way. He immigrated from Iran years ago and as a kid sold matches on the street, much like young Arab kids do these days.

Before the ceremony, everyone milled around outside the ballroom eating h'ors doeurves. My boss noticed me just sticking to the veggies.

"Is that all your eating? Are you just eating grass?"

I wanted to tell him - you don't EAT grass - but need my job - still.

After about an hour the ceremony started. My friend told me that at the time the circumcision is done, that is when you can pray for whatever you want. I stood pretty close to the "event" and when the baby started crying, I prayed for everything, for health, for an end to financial struggle, for my kids to turn out ok, for them to marry decent human beings, for peace in this country, for this and for that. I think God got dizzy from all my requests. I certainly felt out of breath. I was so overwhelmed by everything I felt tears running down my cheeks.

My friends looked at me.

"I always cry at weddings and circumcisions" I explained.

I sat next to my ex-pat British friend. We are about the same age.

"Look at all the preggers here" I said to her.

"At least they're contributing to the country. Unfortunately, I never was able to contribute anything to our country."

"Oh, but look at the mess I made of the State of Israel with my kids! That's some contribution there, don't you think?" I said - thinking of all the money the State has to spend on rehabilitating my ex-Criminal daughter and many others like her.

Meanwhile the grandfather was wrapped up in his prayer shawl dishing out blessings to any guest that needed blessings. It was touching to watch, and I'm sorry I didn't bring along my camera to capture it.

I looked at the beautiful, young mother of the newborn son and remarked how beautiful her eye makeup was.

"I used to be able to put on eye makeup like that, but somehow it just doesn't quite make it."

My English pal answered - "That's because you can't see what you're doing any more."

Yup. What a drag it is getting old..

The friends that wouldn't leave me alone

I couldn't wait to get out of the office today. Not that work was bad but the banking system here is not set up to help their clients. Never. I'll say more about this episode in a week or two when it's all over. But not now. It's too painful. So of course I get all the friends calling me today who don't want to get off the phone.

There's Tamer, the Palestinian friend from the West Bank.

"Can you help me find a girlfriend. I don't care what religion she is."

"Lookie here. I'm not setting you up with any Jewish girls, but I'll keep my eyes open for a nice Moslem woman for you."

"Can I bring some guests over to your house on Saturday"

I'm thinking of going to a relaxing New Age healing weekend by the Dead Sea. I hope he doesn't think I'm brushing him off.

"I won't be here this weekend."

"Can I come over to your work one time for lunch?"

Geez. This guy will really not believe this. But my Victorian-era-type place of work won't tolerate personal visits during working hours. Lunch breaks???
Still a sensitive issue and we hardly take them. He continued to persist.

"What about my work permit? Were you able to find out about my work permit?"

"No, I'm sorry Tamer, I just had absolutely no time at all to call up anyone about anything."

I'm a loser friend these days. I'm too busy with my own shit, that I don't have time to deal with anyone else's. I feel sorry for him. It's hard for him to find work in Israel without a work permit and it's tough for him to get one. He's 30 years old and needs a wife. It's tough for him to get one of those too. Perhaps because he lives in the West Bank and no Arab woman with an Israeli ID will want to marry him because they will end up forfeiting their ID for a Palestinian one.

Then my other friend calls me up. She lives in a small settlement in Samaria. Her 18 year old daughter went off to the US and told her she isn't coming back home. Ever. She's going to college in New York and tough luck, mother. I tried to be sympathetic but I'd been on the phone with lawyers all day to deal with my own catastrophes.

"I'm sorry, but we can't meet today, because I'm not coming into Jerusalem." she told me.

"Oh." I tried to sound disappointed, but I was actually quite pleased about not having to deal with other people and their loads at the moment.

I don't know if it's the national karma but it seems life here is tough for everyone at the moment. We're all going through shit but I do see some light, even if it's not so easy to get to.

"Can you make some dinner for me" asked my 19 year old kid.

"Not really. Can you look in the fridge and freezer and see what's there"

Today will be my very own rare selfish time.