Wednesday, December 31, 2008


This is a good thing when there's nothing I can say. These are moments when I have no solution, no creative insights, no nothing. I grieve for both sides in this conflict and wonder if it will ever end. Having the Kassams hit areas they've never hit and where I have friends is awful - schools and many businesses in the area have closed and those who can have sought refuge by relatives in other areas of Israel. But I also feel for the Palestinian mother of 5 daughters who were all killed. I can't imagine what her grief must be like. I have no words.

I just feel that the powers that be are too proud to stop this stupidity. Hamas and Israel are fighting for the upper hand, they both need to save face for their people.

Yet I'm trying to live a normal life, but it's hard. My neighbors met me at the bus stop this morning. The woman ranted about the Arabs in Gaza, "They get this hatred from their mothers' milk." I could only mutter back, "well, if over there they didn't all hate us before, they certainly do now", then feeling ashamed that I have sunk to the level of putting everyone into one bowl of soup.

On the way to Jerusalem with my daughter by bus, we looked at the parade of army tanks on the road, on their way to somewhere, probably the Gazan border - who knows. We tried to make light of it by saying they're probably all going for repairs at Wadi Joz - the East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood known for its cheaper car repair shops. But my daughter was nervous and was checking everyone coming onto the bus. She nudged me and stared at a young fellow who looked miserable. "Do you think he has a bomb on him." "No, of course, not. He's just having a bad day. Maybe he has relatives in Gaza, maybe he's angry at the situation, at Israelis, or just plain hates his job."

I got so tired of reading the same ol', same ol' news about everyone's opinions on whether it's right or whether it's wrong - or who's right and who's wrong. So it was just in the nick of time to get me out of my gloom that a friend sent me this video. It's 16 minutes long - but well worth the watch.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The End of America

A old friend of mine who lives in the greater New York area emailed me on Monday that she's in Jerusalem and wants to get together. I'm always ready to hang with old friends from my happy single days in New York City when they come to visit, so last night, I met her at Mamilla Mall near the Old City for a quick bite to eat.

I waited for her cab for what seemed like ages, thinking the fucking cab driver is probably ripping her off and taking her for a literal ride all around Jerusalem. After yelling at the cab driver who insisted (at 8:00 pm) that he couldn't go the straight way because of the "traffic", I slammed the cab door shut and took a look at her. No wonder they're trying to rip her off. She looked wonderful in a blue cashmere wool coat and also looked quite loaded, even though that wasn't the case, given the economic situation now in the US and that she also had lost her job several months ago. So clearly she is shyster cab driver fodder.

My friend seemed stressed, terribly stressed, and said she needed a real drink. Most of the coffee shops have those, so we walked along the beautiful outdoors Mamilla mall, as she told me her horror dating stories in the Orthodox dating scene. God, it sure is a jungle out there. Better be grateful for what I have, I thought.

Once in the restaurant and over our mojitas, I asked her what brought her here. Apparently she met this kabbalist rabbi about a year ago when he was visiting the States, who told her that she must drop everything and come to Israel immediately - before Chanukah because of some disaster that will happen in the U.S. And tonight before she met me, someone had told her what the rabbi had told them - that the entire United States would be flooded over because of global warming. No more U.S. Nada. Null and Void. A great big giant Atlantis.

I asked her - "Is Canada included?" but she didn't know. I was worried if it was included, then my sister won't be able to bring my husband's suit for my daughter's wedding, never mind all my nieces and nephews in Lakewood, N.J.

"This is serious shit for him to be scaring the wits out of you. I think you need a second opinion" and suggested she contact the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who gives messages through his letters/books. In other words, his chassidim place letters from people into volumes of letters he wrote throughout his life and through those books, answers are forthcoming. And they are pretty spot on. For example, we received a blessing to buy a house, which we did, which was pretty miraculous since we didn't know how on earth we would ever buy a darn thing here. And besides, the Rebbe said to always say positive things because that will influence the heavens in a positive way. So I really agreed/liked his perspective.

We walked back to the bus station and I was getting really aggravated by this rabbi's negative "prediction".

"What about Hollywood??? What will I do about movies? Does that mean I'll have to watch foreign films for the rest of my life?"

"Yeah" said my friend, "We'll have to do with Bollywood"

"And what about American Idol? And Macy's? And Manhattan??"

God can't be that awful to do such a thing. God is great. I know that.

I continued the conversation. "Well, if it does happen, God forbid, then all the extremist Moslem groups - the Taliban, Al-Qaida and others will jump for joy, thinking that the U.S. was duly punished for its sins. Is that what God wants?"

I tried googling the guy, in Hebrew and English, but didn't come up with a thing. So that was strange in itself. If he were well-known, something would have come up.

This morning, I ran to get the paper to see if the United States was still there. i breathed a sigh of relief. It was.

My husband put things into perspective for me, as he usually does in his grand way.

"You know, this country is the MOTHER of rabbis who are full of shit."

And with that, I say, amen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chanukah at Ibrahim's

It's the Festival of Lights time of year – when Israelis overdo the sufganiyot (Chanukah donuts) thing. I had one so far. I'm trying not to overindulge in the deep fried, transfat fest. But what I'm having a hard time doing is juggling all the fun stuff going on this week with the empty nest at home. The first night of Chanukah saw many people rushing home early or at least on time to be with their children to light the first candle of the holiday. Moi? No one was home except for Hubby. The youngest kid was working and my youngest daughter was at the married daughter's house eating those damn sufganiyot and then having the nerve to ask me if I'm bringing more home. NO! I'M NOT! There.

But what I did do was do things a bit different this year. I decided to do funky, unusual Chanukah celebrations, of which there are many this year. Tonight my friend Ibrahim on the Mt. of Olives was hosting a Chanukah party, Winter Solstice celebration, Christmas celebration and end of Eid. How many chances do Jews get to go to their Arab friends' homes to light Chanukah menorahs. Not many. I decided this was it.

I got a ride to Ibrahim's with an African-American Sikh teacher/musician SiriOm Singh and his Israeli wife. I'm sure the Arab cab driver had a tough time figuring out SiriOm with his white turban and white robe. Jewish? Moslem? Indian? Tribal African? We kept him guessing.

Ibrahim's wife had cooked for about 100 people – rice, majjadrah, various cooked vegetables and salads. But we were only about 15 in his cozy living room. Ibrahim told us some funny stories about meeting Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach for the first time in New York City. The Rabbi looked at Ibrahim walking towards him and started breathing in deeply. Ibrahim looks at him strangely. The Rabbi explains "I can always tell when someone is coming from the Holy Land". And he embraced Ibrahim and they became friends.

Another story was they were catching a flight from somewhere in the U.S. to Toronto. Ibrahim and his travel companion, David, both fall asleep in the airport terminal. They wake up and no one is at the gate!! They missed their flight apparently. They are told to wait at another gate standby for another flight soon to leave to Toronto. But then are told that the original plan is coming back for them. Ibrahim was wearing his traditional Arab robes and headdress. He believes they must have mistaken him for some oil sheikh, as the flight attendants were like "who are you? In 13 years of flying, we've never brought a plane back to the gate." He tells the attendants laughing, "who am I? I am a man with no country and no passport. I am NOTHING!" and he bellows out laughing as he tells the story.

Eliyahu came afterwards to light the menorah and tell the story of Chankuah. There were two Chinese and Japanese women there, who didn't know the story.

We went around the room sharing what we all wish for, and chanted and sang along with SiriOm, by the light of the two Chanukah candles which seemed to warm us all up miraculously.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Easy Remedy to Get Rich

Hubby didn't let me sleep. Not on purpose of course, but he was wheezing and coughing and getting up and getting down, taking a shit, and I heard all of it. At one point in the middle of the darkest night, he turns to me and says - ..."I can't breathe. This might be the end. I'm just saying goodbye to you now..." I am not very sympathetic when I'm woken up in the middle of the night and just said a weak "bye" to him and went back to sleep. I thought, well, I'll just bury him in the morning.

Needless to say, he was alive and well and stuffy-nosed at 6:00 am when I did wake up for the day, which ticked me off even more that he had to dramatize his stuffed nose to that point with me. Men.

I wasn't feeling so well myself; seems that I'm coming down with a sore throat but I was glad to be out of the sick house and on my way to a light day at work.

At the bus stop, a woman stopped her car and asked if any of us waiting for a bus would like a lift with her to Jerusalem. Why, sure!! This was quite unusual. People don't often stop for passengers and when they do, it's because someone in the neighborhood is hitchhiking. Not one of us was. So a female soldier got in the front, and a young man got in the back together with me. The driver is playing religious cds. Some rabbi is talking. I figured she got us into the car to proselytize, after all, we are a captive audience. The rabbi was going on about King David the Messiah, and kabbalistic aspects of the Sabbath meals, including the one right after the Sabbath called the Melave Malke (literally translated as "Queen's banquet"). I asked about the CD and the woman turned to me (at a red light, thankfully), and told me that having the 4th meal after the Sabbath is a segulah (spiritual remedy) for wealth. Wow! That's quite an easy feat for me. More meals, more food! Yay! But I thought about this whole thing from the beginning - the circumstances were certainly odd and perhaps part of Divine Providence. Like...
1. Why did she do the unusual thing and stop her car to give us lifts?
2. Why did she specifically focus on "that" part of the cd when she was speaking to me? After all, she wouldn't have known that I could use a few more bucks in my pockets.

But you know what? Adding this one easy thing to my life can't hurt. It's easy. I can do more food. Not a problem. And if I get rich as shit in the next year or so, I'll certainly let you know and then you can all add that special 4th meal after the Sabbath ends... It's certainly cheaper than buying lottery tix.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Creating anti-semites

I was just checking the papers this morning to see whether our Foundation was one of the victims of the Madoff scandal - the guy scammed so many people/banks/institutions of $50b - that I was nervous my paycheck won't come on time, if at all, if it did fall prey to this asshole. Luckily, our Foundation head was clever enough to not be one of his victims. But Hubby and I were like "What the Fuck? How on earth do you 'lose' 50 billion friggin' dollars???" We can't imagine. We only have had the wonderful exhiliarating experience of blowing thousands of dollars - of our own money, though. Then I was thinking of all the non-Jews who, when they read about this, will mutter rather loudly, "that fucking Jew" and unfortunately, they'll be right on about this one. Couldn't he have been another religion, like a Jain or Taoist or Buddhist or some other Eastern non-threatening religion?

Then yesterday afternoon, a crazy bus driver, who should have had his drivers license revoked, killed over 25 Russian tourists by trying to pass another car or some other stupid retarded thing on a mountain curve, during the relatively short ride from the Ovdat airport to Eilat. These people, who had just landed in Israel, were Russian travel agents traveling to Eilat in order to put the lovely resort on their agenda and to bring thousands of Russian tourists to Israel. "Just think about all the Russian anti-semites we just created" said a co-worker to me. We were so angry to read that the bus driver had around 22 traffic violations - even more amazed that he was still employed as a bus driver!! There are so many unemployed people these days who know how to drive well, and this freakhead was still employed. Seems the more infractions you have, the more "experience" you have, and are more likely to be hired by tourist bus agencies.

Like the Egged bus drivers - they get away with murder here, literally. Not enough that around 15 years ago my father's closest friend and his wife had been run over by a bus in Jerusalem, causing the man to lose both legs and the death of his wife. One woman sitting next to me on a bus the other week, complained that one day the bus driver mistook her for a woman he had argued with minutes earlier, so when she went to get out of the bus by the back door, the driver closed the back doors on her for four minutes straight, while the passengers screamed at the driver to open up the doors. She needed some physical rehab after that incident, but with the running around to various medical facilities, she had no energy to continue a lawsuit. That's the case I hear with many people who should really be suing the shit out of these bus companies.

Thank God, there is Hanukkah to look forward to next week, the Festival of Lights, because this is exactly what we need right now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What a drag it is getting old....

The gardener came in to the office yesterday with a very cheery "My! Every time I see you, you look younger and younger." Thinking that perhaps he's not getting any from his wife, I looked at his compliment a bit askance. "What is your secret?" he asked. I told him - chocolate. It's gotta be that. It can't really be anything else. Or it could also be the age-deceiving long blond hair that I'm letting grow until it grows out of control, down to my waist, down to the floor - whichever comes first.

Truth is, I was suffering all day from friggin' neck osteoarthritis. I struggled through Arabic class in the morning, where the arthritis pain creeped onto my head and basically throbbed there for the rest of the day.

Early in the evening, I had to go with my daughter and fiancee and Hubby and fiancee's parents and brothers to the wedding hall to sample EVERYTHING on the menu so that the soon-to-be-married couple can choose their wedding menu. They put out 16different salads on the beautifully decorated table, of which the couple had to choose eight. The quinoa was delicious, but it's too freaky/hippy/healthy for my daughter, (and I liked it) so she didn't choose it. I should have told her that I hated it, then she would have given it a second thought. Then came four fish appetizer dishes, which we all passed around the table, of which they had to choose two. Then came around four meat appetizer dishes, quite unusual ones at that, and I was reluctant to tell her what I liked. Then three chicken main meal and three meat main meal dishes of which they would have to choose one of each. The older brother was like "what about the vegetarians?" The groom said, "Vegetarians? If they want to eat leaves, they could eat those," he said, pointing to the extravagant flower arrangement on the table.

Meanwhile, I had popped two neurophen tablets into my mouth at the onset of the meal because of my neck pain and I was truly trying to enjoy the food. I don't know whether it was the food, company or excitement, or the neurophen, but the pain lessened quite a bit and I thought of why I had this pain in the neck to begin with.

I remember on Saturday night, my son had downloaded for Hubby all his heavy metal favorite tunes - Alice Kooper, Kiss, Guns and Roses. I ran into my son's room like a rock star and danced and pranced, shaking my head all over the place, like I was some heavy metal goon. Of course I thought nothing of it. Until Sunday evening, when the pain kicked in. And I thought - hey. I'm so limited. Dancing, prancing, jumping up and down for joy, running for the bus are only things young people can do. Not me. Not anymore. And it's a bit of a drag, isn't it?

Monday, December 15, 2008


I got this hysterical email from a friend. I also figured what a great way to teach a foreigner you don't like, a little bit of English!

"Once again, The Washington Post has published the*winning submissions to its yearly contest,in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings*for common words.

The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.) the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.) appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.) to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.) to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.) impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.) describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.) to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.) olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.) a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.) a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.) the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n) a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.) a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.) (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.) an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men."

And then I came up with two of my own - since I'm such a genius.

1. Gallbladder - the nerve of being incontinent
2. Paypal - paying the Vatican for the chance to become Pope.

Since English is not my son's first language any longer, I was trying to guess which city he was talking about, when he was telling me about the basketball games from the U.S he was watching on tv.

Scaraminto??? It took me a few minutes to realize he was talking about Sacramento. Sheesh. Foreigners!

My Arabic lessons are going well. It's a hard language but I have my fave words there too...

1) Daiman = always; but it sounds like "diamond"
2) Shitta = rainy; yup, rainy weather is shitta weather for sure
3) Moustashfa = hospital; but it sounds like moustache so it's easy to remember
4) mumkin = possible; it's a fun word because it sounds like pumpkin or munchkin.

That's all the words I have to day today, folks.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just Chillin'

I could have danced all night...I could have gone to the Kagan's Jewish Renewal Minyan on Friday night and stayed over at a friend's in Jerusalem, I could have gone to Jerusalem Saturday night to see a friend's comedy show, I could have gone to pay a solidarity visit to Palestinians in Hebron on Saturday who were victims of Jewish violence, I could have gone to see Irish music Saturday night, if I had 50 shekels to spend on entertainment, but with being overwhelmed with all this stuff to do and no money to do the stuff that costs money, I decided to just stay home and do the traditional dinner with the family. The 2nd oldest daughter, who lives with her fiancee's family, is always at our home Friday night and promises she'll bring the kids too after they're married every Friday night. Unlike my eldest daughter who is always at her mother-in-law's home every weekend.

After the meal, my daughter and I haggled over songs for her slow dance at her upcoming wedding. Her fiancee wants Elvis' Love Me Tender (which I thought was wonderful), and my suggestions of the Beatles' "And I Love Her" and what I thought was oh-so-cool songs from Nat King Cole, like "Unforgettable" or Etta James, "At Last" brought a lot of "OH MOMs!!!" from her. I give up. She's not a music maven and, to her, classic music is music from the eighties. She didn't make me shut off YouTube,however, when I played her Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love". Maybe, just maybe, she'll let the DJ play that one. For me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hi Sexy

"Hi Sexy" popped this message on my Facebook instant messenger. I was quite taken aback and wondered if one of my kids was online. My Facebook is pretty much an Arab/Jewish get together. There are religious and secular Jews that I accepted, some of whom I don't know, and there are many Arab names on my Facebook as well - many of whom I know, but then again, there is a good percentage who somehow found me, and we have no friends in common. But I accepted them because..

1. I want everyone to get together and have a good time and get to know one another
2. Maybe they'll start dialoguing
3. Maybe they'll see all the wonderful Jews doing interfaith/peace work on my Facebook and see that we're not such terrible people after all.

But I wasn't prepared for "Hi Sexy" and wrote him back. The guy was from Kuwait, it turns out and probably was looking for some foreign tail. Too bad he got me.

"No one's called me sexy in at least 10 years, and I'm sure I'm old enough to be your mother" I retorted.

He writes me "Ha! I'm 31"

I write him - "Ha Ha!! I'm 53. So I AM old enough to be your mother."

So he continued to message me, but with more respect this time, and told me he's originally from Lebanon and he hates Hizbullah because they ruined his country. Sounds like a good guy.

I get a Jordanian messaging me yesterday. He wants to know if I could visit him in Jordan, and blesses me with a good Eid Al Adha season and Allah should be good to me and all that. I bless him back, but don't take him up on the invite to visit him in Jordan - unless I can come with my entire family and converge on his house.

My daughter just got a computer and is into Facebook now - all her very religious in-laws are asking me to accept them as a friend.

I laughed with her this morning. "What will they think when they see all these Arab names on my Facebook?"

"Oh my God - Mom!" The truth has to come out sooner or later, I tell her.

I also tell her about the "Hi Sexy" man from Kuwait and she has a good laugh. And I feel so young again.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Just waiting and waiting...and waiting

I'm waiting for a whole shitload of things.

1. Like the messiah. I spent most of last week feeling terribly depressed over the terrorist murders of the Holtzberg couple in Mumbai, India, leaving their two-year-old son orphaned. I even took a look at a video of the memorial service where the kid was screaming for his mother, and I burst into tears at work. What kind of revenge did their family want? Not a revenge with weapons. But that there should be MORE light in this world. And I cried again at the wonderful-ness that is Chabad. What Jewish-affiliated person doesn't look for a Chabad house when they are traveling anywhere in the world? Entering a Chabad house is like coming home to familiar surroundings and sitting in a warm living room, lit up with a beautiful fireplace, while the snow is raging down outside. I remember going to Florida with my husband once and we needed a babysitter. We called up the local Chabad, who got us in touch with a family of 12 daughters, the eldest of whom would be our babysitter. Needless to say, she was great with our daughter. I almost stayed with Chabad in New Delhi on Friday night, but decided instead to see the authentic local synagogue and see how real Jewish Indians bring in the Sabbath. But I knew that I can always rely on Chabad, if need be, anywhere in the world.

2. For the rain - The country is desperately in need of a washing up. There hasn't been any rain in weeks. Although I don't have shoes/boots for the rain, I'll risk having soaked socks for the health of the land. But it's cloudy out now and I think the rain will come today.

3. For hubby to start work - Those days/weeks in-between jobs are agonizing for him, as they are for me. That usually means lack of money for things and other sundry items. Fortunately, I'm doing after-hours work so we can manage for food, but it means me coming home at 9:00 pm or even later. Only then do I start cooking and only at 10:00 pm do we eat. I try to imagine that we're not in Israel and that I'm in Spain or some other place, where it's the norm to eat supper so late. And those inbetween days brings out the worst in hubby's moods. Last weekend we were invited to a bar mitzvah at a synagogue about a 40-minute walk from our home. I don't remember the last time Hubs stepped foot into a shul - he hadn't even for the high holy days. But he sat around while I stuffed my mouth full of the delicacies laid out on several tables after the service, and muttered things to me like "there's nothing here in this synagogue..." and was about to hurl more insults at the synagogue and its congregants when I noticed the rabbi's wife standing near us. I shushed him loudly and he got insulted and walked away. As we were walking home, he continues his tirade against everything in and not in his life. I hear footsteps in back of me. Someone was walking behind me, but I didn't really care, I had just HAD it with that complaining man and I said something like "You are just such a FUCKING MISERABLE MAN, AND I HATE BEING WITH YOU WHEN YOU'RE LIKE THIS." And the person whose footsteps I heard, walked passed us. It was our friendly bank manager. I smiled sweetly at her, wished her a good Sabbath and wondered if she heard our spat.