Saturday, April 30, 2005

The rest of the musicians - Jaffa Gate

Looking at a shop selling biblical figurines

Dancing for Peace - Old City, Jerusalem

Starting our walk down the shuk

Ofer in front of Jaffa Gate - the concert just beginning

The Golden Path

There were two separate groups getting together yesterday for an interfaith peace walk into Jerusalem in honor of the last days of Passover. One was The Middle Way - who do silent Buddhist-influenced walks handing out cards as to what they're about, while walking without talking. They do compassionate listening in both Arab and Jewish cities. Of course it's compassionate listening, if they don't talk. They wear white sashes across their chests, and when they walk they do make quite an impact.

The other group - The Path Circle - is a group of noisy, bohemian musicians who sing and play musical instruments throughout their entire walk.

Eliyahu was telling me it's like the Litvish Jews and the Chassidic Jews - the Middle Way people being more serious and thinking the other group are clowns (the Litvish way), while the Path Circle are more like Chassidim - believing that dancing and being joyful will bring peace.

Hubby tells me if I want peace I should go back to America.

I waited an hour for both groups of "hippies for peace" by the Old City entrance at Jaffa Gate, to show up. I dressed the part so they won't miss me. I wore turquoise bell bottoms and a white Indian top. One person from the "noisy" group arrived. She looked at me and figured I was with one of the groups. Hippie Radar. Ofer Golany, the Peace Musician, took out his guitar and pretty soon an impromptu concert took place just inside Jaffa Gate while hundreds of people passed by - tourists (and there were loads of tourists!), Hassidim who couldn't figure out who and what we were - one couldn't handle the sight of us and put his hands over his eyes so he wouldn't have to see us while he walked passed our group. Someone played flute and one played darbuka and there were two guitars and a violin. And with the "noisy" group drawing attention - the silent group had to join the noisemakers in the end and we sauntered down the alleys of the Arab Shuk singing peace songs. The shopkeepers had different reactions. Some joined us and took out their darbukas and sang with us - others looked at us like "peace. yeah right." I think they would have rathered we bought a shit load of stuff in their shops than just singing in their alleys. But we gave out our flyers in Hebrew/Arabic and English/Arabic about what the groups were about. Many were impressed that someone even bothered to print the stuff out in Arabic.

The local Dylan wannabe was there too, talking to me about Jesus. Why talk to me about Jesus, man. Don't you think Dylan is the Messiah?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ibrahim and the two Babas - Boombamela

Indian Baba - Boombamela

Dancing like dervishes around the bonfire

Bonfire at Boombamela

Green people at Boombamela

People at Boombamela

Monsters at Boombamela

Showin' off - Boombamela festival

Jews for Jesus at Boombamela

Breslov Hassidim at Boombamela

The Prayer Tent at Boombamela

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


I can't believe we did this a second time. It was so crazy last year, we didn't think we'd go back. But this year because Eliyahu was having an interfaith gathering, we got complimentary tickets for the 3 day festival on the beautiful sand-dunes of Nitzanim beach.

I feel I need to point out the "only in Israel" bits here. First of all, Eliyahu left the tickets in an envelope outside his door which is on street level in a busy area. No one took the envelope, even though he wrote "tickets" on the outside. Then, I left my digital camera at a stand inside the festival. After 1/2 an hour, when I realized it was not in my purse, I saw it there still. I had bought a wine glass before the holiday and left it in a shoe store. Yesterday it was still there and we took it home. So I thought this all very very cool.

We were walking along the route getting our bags checked at the entrance. I brought my Arabic lesson book with me and Hubby had matza (unleavened bread we eat during the holiday) wrapped up in tin foil, which was looking terribly suspicious and the took it out and unwrapped it thinking perhaps we'd brought 1000 grams of cocaine or ecstasy tablets to the festival. We actually did this festival straight.

The first tent we got to was the Shiva Ashram. It was elaborately done up with 2 Indians Babas sitting there silently and someone serving chai tea all day long. I laughed and told Hubby I don't really feel comfortable sitting in the shiva tent because shiva is a word we use when someone dies and you have to "sit shiva" for 7 days. There was a holistic area and we passed the Ayurvedic tent. Hubby, walking ahead of me, thought I said Iron Maiden was here.

After a few hours we met up with Eliyahu on the beach who had brought in 25 Arabs from the North on a bus. It was impossible to bring in West Bank Arabs even if they had permits because there was a total closure for the Jewish holiday. But this place was shocking even for the Israeli Arabs looking at all the string bikini chicks walking around - and opinions ranged from "how disgusting" to "isn't it great everyone's having fun". One young man couldn't contain his mixed emotions - was it disgusting to see all these "free" women running around, or was it just plain wonderful? He was sitting in the group watching everyone and screaming everything from "Allahu Akbar" to " Hey gingi(redhead) come over here and talk to me! Why are all the women here such snobs". And he kept on heckling a few others.

I spoke with a psychologist from Arab Kfar Qassem who seemed angry that the summer Sulha will be taking place with neighboring Jewish Rosh Haayin. "They take our lands and build their industrial section on our lands and we have to pay taxes to Rosh Haayin. I wouldn't mind if they build on our land and then the property taxes go to us, but it goes to them. How can you make a sulha with these people??" I listened to him rant for 20 minutes and told him not everyone knows this, and don't blame all the people of Rosh Haayin for it. They probably don't know. They certainly don't know each other too well. The Sulha will perhaps change that.

We made a big circle around the bonfire that was being lit at dusk and the organizers called up a few of the Arabs to speak. There were several hundred people around the circle who, a few minutes earlier, were doing some strange-looking energy-imbibing slow-hugging thing with their eyes closed, to Indian music. Two of the young Arab women joined in their circle and actually enjoyed that new-age experience. When the bonfire was lit, we all danced like dervishes and joining us were Indian Babas with lit coals on their head and Native Americans. The young Arab heckler even stopped heckling to take the microphone and sing Arabic songs while the Israelis drummed on darbukas and the rest of us danced around the fire.

We had dinner at the Prayer area, where the religious Jews hung out. Hubby had stayed there earlier that afternoon while I went to get a massage at the holistic tent and met a few people who lived in settlements around the Hebron area. Needless to say, we caused a few mouths to open as the Arab women, covered from head to toe, with their families arrived. "Are those Arabs?" asked one person incredulously as we took our place inside the tent for dinner. But as soon as we sat down, one of the Jewish women freaked and told security that she saw one of the Arab women put "something" under the mat. They checked the area and told the paranoid woman it's nothing. I didn't see any of this going on (Hubby did), but wished I had because I would have told that woman to sit down with us. Most people wandered over to our group very curious.

We took Ibrahim home around 10:00 pm but Hubby got sick and couldn't drive just as we were leaving the place. After about 1/2 an hour and a loud vomit, Hubby felt better, but Ibrahim called for someone to sit near him in case he got sick again. The Lakota Indian healer who lives in Jerusalem came to our rescue. He's actually half Indian, half Israeli. His name is Shuki and claims he's the only North American Indian that can speak Yiddish as well as Lakota.

"No you're not. Didn't you see Blazing Saddles" I asked? and we laughed at the parody of Indians speaking Yiddish.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Passover Festivities

We were all pretty lethargic and no one in our family ventured into the synagogue on the eve of the holiday. We spoke about it, but it never happened. I invited an assortment of people to join us in the lengthy meal we call a "seder", but everyone was busy. I ran out of Jews to invite and invited every Moslem friend that e-mailed me or left me text messages or who had called me to wish me a happy holiday, but they all had other plans too. I called up Mahmood who was working on a "big Hollywood film" being filmed on the Mt. of Olives, but he was actually going to an open Seder that was being run by this guy who ran Seders up in Daramsala, India, where the Dalai Lama lives. It'll probably be far more interesting than ours, but ours will have better food. I thought how odd it would be for any Arab sitting at my table, while we tell the story of the "evil Egyptians" and celebrate their demise and our Exodus from Egypt.

Then I thought of all the Israelis travelling to Sinai for the holiday thinking how inappropriate that is because you're supposed to be leaving Egypt, not running to it during Passover.

So in the end it was just us. I thought of being inventive like dressing up like a biblical character and playing out the Exodus. I told Hubby about it, and he said he'd like to dress up like Cecil B. DeMille. So much for my creativenss.

I tried to bring a big of originality to the Seder. I read from the book we all read during the Seder called the Haggadah. I bought one that a friend had written, called the Holistic Haggadah, which brings in stuff from other religions and tells you to "eat the matza in silence, remembering the times you felt restricted and felt like a slave." Hell I feel like that every time I have to wake up at 6:00 am to go to work. I read from the book, thinking my grown-up children would appreciate the stories and continued reading "Not yet, not yet......" And my kids roared with laughter mocking me in Russian, "Nyet, Nyet....Slava! Slava!"

My entire family was drunk with laughter and I was the only one drinking 4 cups of wine. Go figure.

And tomorrow I hope to go to a New Age Festival called Boombamela. Apparently 50 Palestinians from Gaza are invited for a dialogue. I've got to be there to participate. This is, of course, the holiday of freedom. And we've got to give them a taste of it too.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Passover Preps

With Passover just around the corner - here in a coupla hours - the past week has been real hectic. This is not like any holiday on the planet. For this holiday, you have to get rid of everything in your house that is made of "bread", including flour, wheat, barley, oats - stuff like that. And the customs of what to eat and what not to eat vary within the Jewish community. Depending on how observant/Orthodox/strict you are with this holiday, it may take weeks of preparation. When we were Orthodox Jews living in Canada, we began 4 weeks ahead, cleaning the upstairs bedrooms of any crumbs of anything - perhaps pretzels and peanut butter sandwiches - leafing through the pages of each book, going through pockets of clothing, windowsills, etc. Once that room was finished, a sign would go up on the door - Kosher for Passover, which meant you weren't allowed to eat in that room.

Nowadays, I don't go through that extent, but do change the kitchen around, which is probably the most tedious job of all. We have separate pots/pans, dishes, cups, small appliances just for this holiday alone, as you are not supposed to use the utensils you use during the year. Our boxes of Passover "stuff" are stored in our plastic garden shed.

This year I didn't take off work, as most do, one or two days before the holiday to get it all ready. Hubby said we'd hire a cleaner to clean the stove and fridge, which had to be emptied out and which hadn't been cleaned properly in 3 years. Neither did the house see a professional cleaner since we moved in 3 1/2 years ago.

The first frantic phone call was at 9:00 am from Hubby.

"The cleaner's not here. What shall I do? It's very unprofessional that he's late."

"OK - I'll call up the cleaning company.

I asked them what's going on with the cleaning person.

"He's on his way" they told me.

"Did you confirm with him last night?"

"Of course we did"

"Because nobody called me to confirm"

"Don't worry, he'll be there shortly."

Hubby called me very distressed at 9:30 because no-one was there and we had to empty out cupboards where we would replace dishes, pots and pans, etc where the Passover stuff would go into, plus the entire kitchen had to be scraped down and cleaned thoroughly. Who was going to do that by tonight? I gave him the number of the company for Hubby to hash out with. He took the day off work, so he's got more time to argue.

He called me back 5 minutes later.

"The cleaner can't come because his dad had a heart attack."

I didn't know whether that was a real excuse or a lame excuse but that's no reason for us to get a heart attack.

I called my Gypsy friend for help. Her sister was unemployed, just sitting around the house and we were going to pay her well. I was at their home which is spotless and figured I'd help out a friend's family. Hubby had to drive 1/2 hour to pick her up from the Old City.

I'm sitting at work with the Professor and my kids are calling me every two seconds since they've been off from school since the beginning of the week for step-by-step advice.

"Dad wants to throw the eggs out. Should we keep them? What can we throw out in the fridge?"

"They're ORGANIC EGGS!" I screamed into the phone. "Do not let him throw them out."

He can toss out most of the crap we have in the fridge, I'll be especially glad to see the moldy tomato paste go and whatever it is in there that smells of fish. It's pretty gross to stick your head in there for longer than 10 seconds.

I smiled at the Professor and said - "It's just pre-holiday chaos at my home."

"Can you come into the board room now?" he asked me, not giving two fucks what was going on in my home at the moment.

I'm sitting in the board room, hearing my cell phone ring every five minutes. It's scary. I finally am able to get to it when the Professor takes a break and it's the social worker from the Reformatory where ex-Criminal daughter is at.

"She was supposed to go home tonight with one of the staff workers who lives in your area, but we have a rule that she cannot be alone in the car with a staff member without an escort. She'll have to go tomorrow morning. She'll be very disappointed since she planned on coming home tonight for weeks now. Can you come and pick her up?"

What's a round trip three hour drive on the busiest day of the year?? I told her I'd have to get back to her before she hits my daughter with the bad news.
I dreaded calling Hubby who was supervising the kids, the Gypsy cleaner and Abed who was helping with the heavy stuff.

"I'm having a bit of car trouble, but I could be there this evening. We owe it to her."

"Are you SURE??" I didn't want to encourage him, because if something happened along the way, I'd be accused of making him do all this shit.

The Professor paid for a taxi back home for me, and I was thrilled to be cabbing it back in luxury instead of taking two buses. Ah, the perks of work. Princesses don't take buses and he's been calling me "Princess" lately. It pays to be royalty.

I got back home to hug and kiss Hudra the Gypsy sister of my friend and Abed had worked on the fridge, dousing it with a hose and oven cleaner so that the varnish on the front came off in streaks. I didn't care about how it looked on the outside, because I had never seen it so clean since I bought it 8 years ago. Trouble is when we went to plug it back in, it caused a electrical shortage.

"Leave it for a few hours until it dries and then it will be ok"

"Are you sure???" I glared at him because no one fucks with my fridge and if he ruined my fridge I would kick his ass all the way to Mecca.

Meantime,I had given them both all the stuff in my fridge that didn't have mold on it and they were very grateful.

Meanwhile, Hubby had gone to pick up my daughter, and he was 15 minutes away from her place.

"MY car's overheating and the temperature is way up. I can't drive it anymore. It's stalling and I'll have to have it towed to Jerusalem."

That will cost a small fortune, I thought. He was distraught but I knew he was at a busy intersection. I told him to take a taxi to where Daughter was and bring her back to the car and wait for the tow truck. He thought I was a genius for the idea, because he couldn't think straight at this point.

He was back by 10:00 pm, with daughter, with car (which was running fine but had lacked water in one of the tubes or whatever near the engine) and my fridge was finally working.

I felt like we had relived the Passover story in just 12 hours. From slavery to freedom. Happy Passover.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Israel's gonna rock and roll

I was sitting calmly in front of the TV with Hubby and my son, watching to see who the new Pope would be. It was terribly exciting for us, even though I figured it would be Ratzinger. And I was happy for my Catholic friends that they have a new (and rather elderly) leader.

Then I get to look at my e-mail figuring nothing's really happening besides the Pope stuff, and read that the Rolling Stones will be coming to tour in Israel in 2006. Being that terrorist attacks are down, insurance costs for bands dropped as well. So not only are they coming but the Scorpions (Hubby likes them) will be playing in July and Phil Collins in November. This will be a bonus year for us. We've always felt isolated as far as Western music goes. No one ever came to visit, except for the activists or spiritually minded, like Madonna.

But the news has caused quite a stir in the Rolling Stones' fan world and I'm already getting e-mails of upcoming huge gatherings (at my house of course), with one person already reserving a space. This is so truly wild.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Readin' 'n' Writin' in Arabic

Hubby was up at his usual 5:00 am - despite the fact that it was Saturday and he didn't have to work. I woke up hours later and let off a very loud fart, which sent him flying into the room

"What did you want?" He apparently thought I was calling him.

Men. Shows you what they understand and how they understand.

I am watching tv with Arabic and Hebrew subtitles. I can understand some of the Arabic words now. I CAN ALMOST READ!! I CAN ALMOST READ!! What a whole new wonderful world it opens up for me.

Plus I can show off now.

Especially when my eldest daughter called me a shitball this afternoon. And I wrote it for her in Arabic. Here, look at this - I showed her proudly.

"This is how you write "shitball" in Arabic."

She dare not swear to me now in a string full of curses. I'll end up making her sit down and watch me write them out in Arabic.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Nebi Musa

I successfully convinced Hubby to chauffer me down to Nebi Musa, the magical looking place where Moslems believe Moses is buried. There was going to be a Peace Caravan there or near there and Abdullah, a new friend, was one of the organizers. He met me a few months ago at the place where I study Arabic and called me about 100 times until he was able to get me at the right time and place so he could visit with me. He wanted to open up a kind of joint Jewish/Arab coffee pit stop where one could meet the other and I gave him some numbers of people who had the same idea. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or the money to help him further with his dreams.

I remember one time when he went on the bus with me - the bus to the "settlement" where I live outside Jerusalem. We instinctively didn't speak to each other. His accent is so heavy that he would have freaked out some of the people on the bus. He didn't have to tell me not to talk to him, I just knew he'd be uncomfortable. As soon as he got off the bus, he was talking a mile a minute (and freaked out a few of the people on the street).

He called me yesterday and I couldn't hear him on the phone. He wanted our friend Eliyahu's number. I wanted to impress him with my Arabic so I shouted out the number to him in Arabic as I was passing a checkpoint - and I was thinking - what if the soldiers hear me speaking Arabic. What would they do. I don't think they heard me. Like the time, I myself freaked out, perhaps for no reason - when one of Hubby's workers left an Arabic language newspaper in the back seat of our car and when our car was about to be inspected at the entrance to our Mall, I quickly folded up the paper on my lap.

Ah, but getting back to today, we took our Son along. Hubby explained to Son that Mommy was going to Nebi Musa so she could hug all the Arabs there.

You could hug them too - I explained.

We ended up at the site of Nebi Musa but the crowd I was looking for was not to be seen anywhere. The place was crowded with Moslem pilgrims and there were food stands, and other assorted trinket stands all around. I got out of the car and walked around looking for the Peace Caravan. I was the only Jewish person around among the several hundred there. I asked some people in Hebrew if they knew of any "celebration" going on - other than the one going on at Nebi Musa itself. A crowd of young Palestinian men gathered around me, amused and curious as to why this Hebrew speaking person was there. I explained to them who I was looking for and one person seemed to know and walked with me to show me a bedouin tent a few hills beyond.

"What's going on there" he wanted to know.

" A gathering of Israelis and Arabs - eating together, playing music together, and celebrating together for absolutely no reason at all - other than wanted to hang together."

We went off to the Peace Caravan tent and Hubby was like "there could have been terrorists around there!"

OK Mr. Always-on-the-lookout-for-Osama-bin-laden-types. Even if there were Jew-hating terrorists, if you go there and approach people with love, it will come back to you. Nothing else. No matter what they felt beforehand. And besides Eliyahu (the Orthodox Jewish friend of ours) met with Hamas types a couple of years ago, and they admired his beard!!!! Because he came to them with love in his heart. They admired his fucking beard!!

He seemed to understand.

We found our crew there. Everyone seemed to be lounging around the tent and the planned program for that afternoon seemed to not be happening. Son was getting impatient but managed to kick a soccer ball around with a few of the young men. Eliyahu and I spoke about an upcoming Interfaith gathering at Boombamela - a festival during the holiday of Passover that attracts thousands and thousands of young Israelis. He was in the midst of getting permits for Palestinians from Gaza plus he had festival tickets for them. The tickets are expensive and if he has extra, I'll go with Hubby, but if not, it'll have to pass. But at least it'll be happening - whether with me or without me. I laughed just thinking at the culture difference and that the Gaza kids will probably totally freak out. The festival has a neo-Woodstock feel to it with some women walking around - in the altogether from the waist up and usually painted purple or blue. I don't think these guys from Gaza ever saw blue boobs before, but there'll always be a first time. Funny how I feel kind of embarrassed about this somewhat - like perhaps they shouldn't be seeing this, they'll probably think we're people with terribly low morals if any at all. This isn't really how I like the Jewish people to be portrayed, especially when I know people will be meeting Jews for the very first time. I just hope they won't find out about the section at the festival for nudists. I, for one, won't be telling them...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Made in Israel

I'm sitting in the conference room, reading to the Professor his bio for the 50th time and stumbled over the words "he taught at the seminary" calling it "cemetery". I tried hard to stifle my laugh. How morbid could one get?

See - I was terribly annoyed at Hubby for pulling out the flowers from the garden. He didn't wreck all of them, just the cute violets by the rocks, because he thought they were weeds. And I was stressed because the counselor at ex-Criminal's reformatory called to tell me she needed us to bring her when we visit her an assortment of things like: batteries, conditioner, shampoo, a family photo, and Parliament cigarettes.

"I thought you guys supply everything for them." I said.

"Oh, we only supply things that are Israeli-made, and they're paid for by the State of Israel."

Finally, something the State of Israel is paying for, instead of taking from us, I thought. I guess they don't serve the Palestinian-brewed Taibeh beer. Hubby's been buying Palestinian cigarettes from his friend Abed because they're 1/2 the price of those sold in Israel. But Parliament ciggies will have to be bought for my daughter by us. It's not Israeli-made and the State of Israel will not give them to her. They will only poison her with Israeli-made Time cigarettes.

My Nasty Daughter, who came along for the ride to the reformatory this morning with us for visiting day, claimed that smoking cured her cough. She tried the over-the-counter cough medicines, as well as perscriptions and the only thing that cured her were cigarettes. Go figure.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Our host - waiting to wash our hands with clay pitcher

Genesis Land

Jeep tour - overlooking Dead Sea

Bulrushes at Ein Fashcha nature reserve

Qumran cave - where Dead Sea scrolls were found

Work trip

Our work took us on an outing today. This is a very Israeli thing to do. My daughter went with her work for a few days to Eilat. Our company usually takes one full day and goes wherever.

Today, our focus was on the Dead Sea area. We ate breakfast at Kibbutz Almog by the Dead Sea, hiked in Ein Fashche reserve and went on a 2 hour jeep ride through the Judean Desert.

We went to Genesis Land for dinner. This was an interesting place, where people dressed up as biblical characters, and the food and serving platters seemed to be "of that time."

Photos following.

Too much info

I was reading about the new train line in Jerusalem - that is supposed to get to Tel Aviv in 72 minutes instead of two hours. Cars can get to Tel Aviv in 45 minutes to an hour, so the train will be another novelty. It's not in the most convenient place - near the biggest mall, but it's not centrally located. So they were talking about the old train station in Jerusalem built in 1892 - "overgrown with weeds, where drug dealers and prostitutes hang out." That's more than enough info. Thank you. Now whoever didn't know where to get drugs and sex, now knows where to find them.

Then I went on to read Passover menus from caterers. "Health salad with red cabbage, carrots, raisins, almonds and oranges."

Yum. Looks like I don't have to buy from you guys. I'll just put together the ingredients myself. Thank you.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A Friend's Child's Death

I had made tentative plans to go to Sinai in May with a girlfriend. Sinai is affordable, far from the maddening crowds and a place where you can clear your head for a few days just sitting on the beach and watching dolphins play all day. If I felt brave, I'd snorkle and see the beautiful coral reefs, which are more plentiful there than they are in Eilat. My friend could only make this trip on certain weekends when her ex-husband could take care of their severely handicapped son, who wasn't able to walk or talk or feed himself.

Yesterday a mutual friend tried frantically to call me, while I was in a 4 hour meeting at work, that the son - her only child who was not yet 14, had just passed away. Within a matter of hours after his death he was buried so I missed his funeral.

But I did manage to make it over to the house where the family is "sitting shiva" (the period of mourning for 7 days) waiting for her to return from the funeral.

The minute she walked in we cried on each other's shoulders, and settled her onto a low couch mattress on the floor, propping her back with pillows. Food miraculously appeared out of nowhere with people working in the kitchen, chopping up all sorts of things. Every time I turned my head, something else was put on the table. I looked at her and said "Looks like you'll have to do without your diet this week" and grabbed for her some bagels, guacomole and lox. Needless to say, I stuffed my face as well.

She told me - "They didn't even let me see him after he died. They wrapped him up in sheets and carted him off to the funeral home. There I went over to kiss him and they (the Rabbis) yelled at me not to touch him.

But she kissed him anyways.

I was like - the pope died ages ago and he's still hanging around.

Jews bury their dead quickly, but Jerusalem's custom is to not wait at all for burial, which can be quite traumatic, but perhaps the best thing. Who knows really what is the best thing for a mourning mother.

He had the privilege of being buried at Jerusalem's holiest and ancient cemetery – the Mt. of Olives – where many important and righteous people were laid to rest. There are many stories about the Mt. of Olives, one of which is that the Resurrection of the Dead will begin there. There are no longer any on the Mt. of Olives, but there are several plots reserved for "special" children so it was of some consolation that he was buried there.

I listened to her tell me she didn't think he was dead when the ambulance came, and pleaded with the medics to hook him up to some kind of machine – any machine – that would get his heart going again. But the medics worked on him for an hour right on the sidewalk and they could not revive him. He was still warm, she told me, as she held one his shirts to her face and I cried sporadically with her.

And then we reminisced.

"Remember when we had dinner in your garden 2 summers ago and Hubby started to talk about sex. All of a sudden, your son lifted up his head and looked very alert. At that point, I realized he understood everything that was being said. And we laughed so hard about it. That's when I fell in love with him."

I had the privilege of taking him to his first movie to see Farenheit 911 last summer. We were nervous he'd start making noise and be disruptive and we cautiously took him into the movie theatre with our popcorn and coffee and his wheelchair. He sat up in his chair, which he didn't do often, really seeming to enjoy the movie. We did it again a few weeks later taking him, together with my son, to an outdoor screening of the 1968 Beatles film Yellow Submarine and we sang to him throughout the film. People looked back at us, smiled and felt his enjoyment.

She took him everywhere she could, in fact, not caring that people stared at him, or shook their heads, or didn't know how to act around such a child. But he was indeed special – so special that several relatives who were close to him chose to enter the field of special ed to help others like him.

Rest in peace, pure soul.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Jerusalem Dentists

It was certainly bad enough having a one and a half hour appointment for the second part of a root canal yesterday evening. It was even worse going with two of my kids - Nasty and Young Son.

Nasty tells me on the way there - I read in the newspaper that they found that dentists here...

She paused - and I was hoping she wouldn't say "kill people".

She continued - "...say you have a cavity when you really don't just so they can make extra money."

I was wondering if my dentist would do that - in order to boost his profits. One never knows.

Enter Nasty for her check up. She's 17 and needs braces. She didn't want to "ruin" her looks at 15 but her teeth have gotten worse and she ~really~ needs them now. The dentist, assistant and I looked at her pulling out her tongue ring. It grossed us all out. He looked at me and asked if her boyfriend has as many holes in his face as she does.

He told her point blank - "you have to have better hygiene"

"What's that?" She asked. Seriously.

No one could have been more embarrassed than me, the bad mother, while the dentist and his assistant looked at me with that "How COULD you" look. He then thought for a bit, before chewing me out and asked her the same question in Hebrew.

"Oh" she replied

I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Does she have any cavities?"

"No, her teeth are fine, she just needs to see the Orthodontist"

I shot my suspicious daughter a triumphant glance. At least THIS dentist was honest and wasn't going to treat her for imaginary cavities.

And after my Son, it was my turn. How lucky can I get. I looked at the clock while it ticked away ever so slowly. The slowest 1 1/2 hours of my life. I thought of other places I'd rather be at the moment - like sipping coffee at the hotel where Richard Gere was staying, hell - even home with Hubby is more preferable than this.

And then I saw a million little syringes on the table. He puts them into my teeth and asks his assistant - after he uses them on me -

"Do you know what are in these syringes?"

"No" says the assistant.

I manage a groan, thinking for sure they might kill me with an unknown substance in the syringe.

"Alcohol or Peroxide?" asked the dentist.

"I don't know"

That's just great. But it didn't really matter anyways. I managed to survive the treatment. I just thought perhaps in the future it would be better to go to a dentist whose language I didn't understand.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Gere's Here

The Incredible Hunk is in the Holy Land for the 4th time around. I knew his visit was going to be the beginning of the month as the newspapers prompted that info. Plus my friend Ibrahim chauffered him around last time he was here. On TV the reporters tried to get him to dance with Shimon Peres because it seems Gere enjoys dancing cheek to cheek with Prime Ministers - so perhaps he'd do it with former Prime Ministers. I got an adrenaline rush watching the news on him and got some raging hormones back, which had become quite lax in the past year or so.

At work the girls were plotting for me.

"You HAVE to find out where he is! Call Ibrahim! You must find him. I'll go with you and we'll meet him together."

The new receptionist looked at us as though she'd report us to the nearest the mental hospital.

"Don't worry" I assured her. "He's married."

"SO?" she replied.

Ahh. My sentiments exactly.

Perhaps one evening this week I'll end up sitting in the lobby, sipping outrageously expensive cofee at one of the more posher hotels in Jerusalem - just to catch a glimpse. An autograph hound I'm not, nor would I pop flashbulbs either. I'd probably be too shy to approach him with my business card, telling him about my interfaith work. It would probably be enough to watch him walk into the place, into the elevator and let my daydreams go beyond my imagination....

Nasty search engines

I was perusing who was perusing my site when I checked out that a person doing a search on "Popes condolence message Children" found my web site through Yahoo. I was absolutely horrified to read the following:

1. jerusalem wanderings

... message of condolence to all our Catholic friends for the Pope who did alot of interfaith work and probably was the most progressive of all popes ... does, he bites children ...
RSS: View as XML - Add to My Yahoo! - More from this site

So someone would have to actually go INTO the daily blog to find out that it is not me who is accusing the Pope of biting children - indeed it seems that way looking at what shows up. But, rather, my son talking about our dog to prospective adoptive parents.

Alternative education

Little David, who was Jewish, was failing math.
His parents tried everything, tutors, mentors, special learning
centres, and nothing helped. As a last resort, someone told them to try a
Catholic school. "Those nuns are tough," they said.

David was soon enrolled at St. Mary's. After
school, on the very first day, he ran through the door and straight to
his room, without even kissing his mum hello. He started studying
furiously, books and papers spread all over his room. Right after dinner,
he ran upstairs without mentioning TV and hit the books even harder.
His parents were amazed.

This behaviour continued for weeks until report
card day arrived. David quietly laid the envelope on the table and
went to his room. With great trepidation, his mother opened the report.
David had gotten an A. She ran up to his room, threw her arms around him
and asked, "David, honey, how did this happen? Was it the nuns?
"No," said David. "On the first day of school when I saw that guy
nailed to the plus sign, I knew they weren't fooling around."

Monday, April 04, 2005

Honor Due the Pope

I did not give enough honour to the Pope yesterday in my post. My friend Ibrahim sent out a notice to his friends and he said it better than I could have.

Dear Friends,

We are joining the people all around the world in morning the passing away of Pope John Paul II.

I remember his visit to the Holy Land in year 2000, he came to the Mount of Olives and inaugurated "The Pope's Garden" overlooking the Dome of the Rock where our children now play.

I also remember his talks and his efforts for reconciliation between religions.

We, the people of the Land of the Prophets, Muslims, Christians and Jewish, all bow our head in respect for this great man.

May God have Mercy and Blessing upon His Soul.

God Bless You,


Mount of Olives

For other news articles from Jerusalem click here and here

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Do I not exist???

Our interfaith group sent out a message of condolence to all our Catholic friends for the Pope who did alot of interfaith work and probably was the most progressive of all popes. The Israeli papers were full of nice articles about him.

Getting back to my gripes for the day - it seems to me that my inner voice does not cry loud enough. So people don't hear me, they don't get me, they do shitty things to me, thinking they are being so good hearted and generous.

Take Hubby, first of all, (please!) - who gave away my NIKON (!) 35 mm camera to his brother because, well, he wanted to. I saw this driver of a gold Jaguar putting into his luggage when he was here for a visit, my very own camera. Knowing the brother is not a thief, I asked Hubby - what's going on.

"Well you don't use it anymore. And besides you have the digital."

"Don't my opinions count. Couldn't you have ASKED me first." True, I hadn't been using the camera because the costs of developing the film was prohibitive. But I was hoping once my kids are out of the house, and my salary can go more for self-indulgence, I would buy myself a decent flash and zoom lens and use it more often. Cameras like this can last decades. Not wishing to seem selfish I let him get away with it - just this time - and threatened d-i-v-o-r-c-e the next time he does it.

Forgetting about the divorce threat, obviously, or perhaps wishing it, Hubby offered a toy we bought for our eldest child 10 years ago. My First Computer. He offered it to our guests for their 8 month old baby.

I heard him tell the guests.

"You can have that toy computer we bought ages ago in Canada. No one uses it."

I will have none of that. I fucking fed those guests. Shouldn't that be enough? Why not give them the microwave which we hadn't used in 48 hours or how about the good quality facial products my daughters bought for you, mister, since you NEVER use them.

I immediately nipped his generosity in the bud. "Sorry" I told the guests. "But this toy is not for an 8 month old." And gave a glare to Hubby.

"Anyways our son can use it." And the son, did use it, asking me geography and science questions all afternoon, so I had actually wondered had it not been better to have given it to our guests after all.

With the weekend over and back to work, I was with my boss's secretary at our second place of work - where I do not have an office - taking meeting minutes and she nonchalantly asked him "Do you want her (meaning me) sticking around until you get back from lunch?"

Yes of course he does.

How long might that be, I asked her.

"Oh, an hour and a half"

"An hour and a half!!! I have things to do back in the office. I have nothing to do while he's stuffing his face. Never volunteer my services to him. Jeesus!"

She was so startled that she promised to bake me 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies to calm me down.

And that, well, sort of did it.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Rabbi and the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service sends an auditor to a synagogue. The auditor is doing all the checks and then turns to the Rabbi and says,

"I noticed that you buy a lot of candles."

"Yes," answered the Rabbi.

"Well , Rabbi, what do you do with the candle drippings?" he asked.

"A good question," noted the Rabbi. "We actually save them up and when we have enough, we send them back to the candle maker and every now and then, they send us a free box of candles."

"Oh," replied the auditor somewhat disappointed that his unusual question actually had a practical answer.

"Rabbi, what about all these matzo purchases? What do you do with the crumbs from the matzo?"

"Ah yes," replied the Rabbi calmly, "we actually collect up all the crumbs from the matzo and when we have enough, we send them in a box back to the manufacturer and every now and then, they send a box of matzo balls."

"Oh," replied the auditor, thinking hard how to fluster the Rabbi. "Well Rabbi," he went on, "what do you do with all the foreskins from the cirucumcisions?"

"Yes, here too, we do not waste," answered the Rabbi. "What we do is save up all the foreskins, and when we have enough, we actually send them to the Internal Revenue Service"

"Internal Revenue?!" questioned the auditor in disbelief.

"Ah, yes," replied the Rabbi, "Internal Revenue...and about once a year, they send us a little prick like you."

Friday, April 01, 2005

Freaky Friday

Another wacky day. I wanted to register my kid in a religious junior high school, after that last episode of registering him in a local school where they made him feel like half a criminal because he's not a perfectly-behaved clone child. He's a great kid -really. And I need a school to recognize that greatness.

I lost one hour of sleep due to Daylight Savings beginning today. And it was no April Fools joke. I hopped into a cab. I told the cab driver where I was going - to this religious boys' school in an Orthodox Jewish area.

"Had I known you were going there, I wouldn't have taken you!" was his remark. Being in a rush, I had no intention of jumping out of his cab to wait for another one. What a dick. And he continued.

"I remember driving you on the Sabbath."

He was obviously confused.

I told him that, yes, we are not an Orthodox Jewish family, however, it is my 13 year old son's wish that he go to one of these schools and I fully respect his decision.

My cab driver didn't.

"I just got a call from a woman in Vered Yericho (a settlement near Jericho). She told me she wants a cab at 1:00 pm on Saturday but wants a non-Jewish cab driver. She would only take me if I'm a Moslem. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT??? So I told her - yes, I am a Moslem. That's what these rabbis told her. It's ok for her to drive on a Sabbath? But not ok for me to drive her because I'm not a Moslem?" And he droned on and on until I nearly fell asleep in his cab. Fortunately the ride was only 10 minutes.

Later that afternoon Hubby showed our half-bassett hound dog to a prospective adoptive family. It was getting impossible for either of us to fully take care of him. I'm too tired to walk him at night, so it's usually Hubby walking him twice a day and he's resentful. So we decided anyone looking for a dog who looks half -normal, can adopt him. But my son decided to sabotage the entire deal.

Hubby to prospective adoptive family "This dog is gentle, smart, doesn't bark and doesn't bite."

Son: Yes he does, he bites children. He jumps up on the counter and chases cats. He jumps out of the car window and when you take him for walks and let him off the chain, he doesn't come back.

Hubby called me up afterwards, while I was having coffee in downtown Jerusalem frantic.

"That's it. I'm taking away his keyboard. Everything I told these people, he told them the opposite."

I was with a friend, with a Buddhist calmness about him. That calmness was contagious.

"You just have to understand where this is coming from" I told him with great owl-like wisdom. He obviously doesn't want you to give away the dog.

Funnily enough, when this couple and Hubby took the dog for a walk - the dog, as if knowing what was going on, took a whiff of fresh dog crap on the grass, ate half of it and then rolled back and forth on it, smooshing the crap on himself. What a pooch.