Wednesday, July 30, 2008

how do they know???

My daughter, who has too much time on her hands, has decided we are good fodder for Israeli TV. She called me up and tried expaining to me that one of the producers for Israeli reality shows called her and wanted to interview us for the "wife swap" or "mother swap" program - whatever it's called. When I told my other kids, they were hysterical.

"Those ratings will go sky high with this dysfunctional family."

"Yeah, we don't even have to act."

I was thinking that perhaps someone told somebody I was making disgusting healthy food like brown rice and tempeh and tofu, and they probably thought, "Hey! Let's put her with some Moroccan family who are used to eating heavy meat meals each and every day with 15 courses for each meal and see what it'll be like for that family to eat wholesome yucky food - one course per meal."

I imagine they'd also want me to do homework with their bratty kids. Right. I can help with English homework but that's about it.

And cleaning? That's another horror story that will cause whichever family I would be swapped to - to cry out in grief (and appreciate their own mother).

Like when I notice Hubby staring out the window at the neighbor across from us. She's always cleaning and it makes him sick. I don't know why, but he's always complaining that she's always cleaning and yelling at the kids. He loves a neat house. So why complain? Is it because he's jealous because I barely clean and he has to do all the cruddy work? I honestly don't know.

Meanwhile, I haven't given my daughter an answer whether we are gonna do this show or not.

But it sure is giving me the laughs just thinking about it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Conversations Around My Sabbath Table

Most people indulge happily in wonderful theological discussions around the Sabbath table on Friday nights - either with guests or just with their family. MY Sabbath table discussion went something like this.

Son: Man, that soccer ball hit me hard in the eggs.


Hubby looks confused. I explain:

"In the US they call them "nuts" and in Israel they call them "eggs" because perhaps they're bigger here. Who knows?

Hubby: So what do they call them in Nigeria then? Coconuts?

more laughter

At least there's laughing going around the table even if no intelligent conversation is forthcoming. The kids don't want to hear about my constant rendezvous with Palestinians. The meeting I had today was so uplifting, I didn't care that they didn't want to hear but I told them anyways about our trip to the Israel Museum this morning. We were a group of nine people visiting the exhibit of Isaiah's Scroll of Peace, walked around the exhibit of art looted by the Nazis during the Holocaust and discussed the prophet Isaish over coffee later on.

Son: Are they allowed to go into the Israel Museum?

Me: Yes, if they have permits!

Daughter: Who gives them the permits?

Me: Our interfaith organization requests permits from the army.

Daughter: MUM! The army is going to come here and question you.

Me: Let them question me, bug my phone, whatever they want. I've got nothing to hide. In fact, the army, the government, everyone in bureaucracy - they're all invited to my meetings to see what I do here.

Daughter: And you think this small group of people will bring about peace?

Me: Well, once you see what goes on in the meetings, it's pretty contagious. We're not the only interfaith meetings around. They're so many groups that aren't these angry political groups.

Daughter's Boyfriend: What do you think about Tali Fahima?

Me: What about her? She visits with families of Palestinian terrorists in their mourning tent. I'd never do that - not with Jewish or Arab terrorists. A terrorist is a terrorist. She's crazy and she's angry and she's anti-Israeli. I'm not anything like that!

Daughter: Why doesn't she just convert to Islam?

Me: That's not too difficult to do. I think I already might have.

They all look at me like I'm crazy and continue eating silently. I remember sitting around the Israel Museum coffee shop this morning in conversation with a teacher and pharmacist from Abu Dis how I do believe that there is only one God and I also believe that Mohammad is one of God's prophets. They seemed amused, while I asked them, "doesn't that make me an instant Moslem?"

How I do look forward to these conversations around the Sabbath table each week!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just a memory

Well, I don't know what's up with me lately. I saw Hubby standing in the kitchen this morning looking at this 8 x 10 photo of a bunch of people in a line dancing - somewhere in Israel. In the background were kids, slummy-type houses and it looked like ME in the line with the group of what look like a bunch of Moroccans. The person in the blue flowered mini-dress sure did look like me, but I have absolutely no recollection of who those people are, and I don't even remember the last time I wore a mini-dress. I don't remember that dress at all. Not even the flat white sandals. So either it's a person who looks a helluva lot like me, or it's me and my memory is goners. I do hope it's not me, because if it is, I'll be worried about cognitive disabilities. If it is not me, I don't need to worry about that, but I sure do need to worry a bit, in case that woman is some sort of trollop who has nudie photos somewhere on the internet and people will think it's me. This is surely a no-win situation.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

the Film Festival

As is tradition with me for the past seven years now, I attended the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival at Sultan's Pool to see movie Wall-E. For me, the summer has officially begun and with it all the fun the season has to offer.

Everyone around me is travelling here and there. Outside the country and inside the country. It's unaffordable for us right now to travel outside Israel and Hubby has his busy season during the summer. The roads, camping sites, water parks, spas, Galilee guest houses, lakes and beaches are packed full. It's not even enjoyable to be in such sardine mode. So I'll wait to travel until October/November - when the weather cools down and the crowds have gone back home, and the rates are cheaper.

So I will stick to Jerusalem this summer because there's enough happening here.

On Saturday I hitchhiked from my town to Jerusalem because there is no bus service that day - the day of rest. However, my idea of a day of rest is to sit in a beautifully renovated air-conditioned movie theater to see films from all over the world during the festival. There was no problem getting a lift. Everyone feels bad for Saturday car-less travelers. I got a ride straight to the cinemateque from someone who thought the empty roads was a speed race track, and I was stupid enough to let him go speeding off to Jerusalem instead of telling him off. I even let him smoke in his car. Disgusting.

The first movie I saw was Mongol, about the early history of Genghis Khan and the second movie I saw was Of Time and the City, a documentary about the city of Liverpool, England. I sat separately from my friend and was surprised to see the theater full. Was everyone as interested in Liverpool as I was? Were they all Beatles' fans? I had the unfortunate experience to have sat next to a "breather." This is the kind of person who exhales profusely and you feel their breath on your arms, as you watch your army hair blow in different directions each time the person exhales. I tried positioning my arms in different directions, but to no avail. Thank God it wasn't a two hour movie, that's all.

The Deal was the next movie I saw. More hilarious than I expected. The movie starred William Macy, who was brilliant in this film, and Meg Ryan. And Israeli moviegoers just love it when actors in Hollywood films - who play, well, Israelis - can say things in Hebrew like "metumtam (idiot) and only they will understand what it means.

After that was a French flick called Naissance des Pieuvres. Gotta see those French flicks about those coming-of-age movies about teens and the agonies in their lives.

Meanwhile, in between films, we saw friends we hadn't seen in years and ate good food in the cinemateque cafeteria whose hostesses always claimed there was no room, but when you swoosh past them you can get a table somewhere... Over Irish coffee and ice coffee we surmised about the men in our lives and in our friends lives, and usually about how awful they are (the men, not our friends). Were there ever any decent men around? Ever? Why don't I know any, except for the ones dating my girls. And we laughed about some of their obsessive compulsiveness and perfectionist traits, as well as coming to the realization now that those wonderfully social, "men about town" usually come with a lot of baggage and dish out a lot of heartache.

I mentioned to my friend that I had been emailing someone with Cerebral Palsey because he had made me laugh on the Jerusalem email list when he was looking for someone to help him do his emails and write for him. He described himself much this way:

"I look retarded but I'm not." Which prompted me to write him back something along the lines of "I don't look retarded but I am..."

We'll probably see a movie together one day this week. I already told him I'll be able to spot him easily in a crowd, so he need not worry about me recognizing him.

So we laughed and cried about all the funny, sad, exciting and awful stuff going on in our lives. There's nothing like having a great friend to share all the things you're going through.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Big Hug of Jerusalem 2008

I was interviewed yesterday by someone doing her Ph.D. on Interfaith Dialogue groups. It's actually fun doing these interviews because while you're talking, the adrenaline flows and you get even more enlightened and strengthened in the work you are doing. So I'm talking to her about my work with Gypsies, Messianic Jews, Palestinians, etc., and I felt like the Patron Saint for Persecuted People or something like that.

We were also both so happy that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is initiating interfaith dialogue. He even invited Rabbi Rosen to a dialogue in Spain next week. Wherever did he get an idea that interfaith dialogue could work? Of course he wouldn't have such a thing, not yet anyways, in Saudi Arabia. Not in his backyard. It's too threatening to expose his people to different ways. For now. But I wonder how he got to this point. I believed the Big Old King just sat there in his long white robes and majestic head gear surfing the internet. Perhaps he perused Mideast or got into some Israeli Peace blog. Who knows? But he spoke about it for a couple of months now, and now he's doing it. And I love him for it.

Along the same lines, I had never spoke about the Big Hug - where both Jews and Arabs "hugged" Jerusalem. This was at the end of June. These two videos tell it.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Scam talent agents

There has been an ad running in the English papers each week for movie extras for a "great Israeli movie." I had been an extra in the Jean Claude Van Damme movie, "The Order" around 7 years ago. To become an extra, I answered an ad in the newspaper and it was a legitimate outfit. I had my photo taken and then was called to show up at a site at 6 in the morning for a catered breakfast; at 8:00 we were bused to our filming site, and then filming progressed. It was fun. Didn't pay much, but hey, I got breakfast and lunch out of this and got to sit with the "bad guy" during lunch.

So I took the day off work today, and told my 18 year old daughter we had a meeting in Tel Aviv with these agents. I would love one of us to be rich and famous, and any break is welcome. I wasn't sure Tel Aviv would be so welcoming during the summer, because of the heavy humidity. We're so spoiled here in Jerusalem with hot but dry weather. Luckily when we got off the bus, the weather wasn't too terrible, and we made it to the agency on time.

I already had warned my daughter before the trip, "If they ask one cent from us, we're leaving."

I looked at the entrance to the office. The sign on the wall looked like cardboard covered in cheap silver paper and there was a computer-made sign on the door.

"Did you just move in?" I asked the girl who was going to interview us - the only person in the office.

"Oh we're just always moving. We may have to leave one of these days." she said.

Warning bells rang in my head.

"You both are so beautiful. Your photos are so beautiful. You won't have any trouble getting work."

She went on to explain the kind of work we would do and the different levels as extras, something in-between being an extra and an actor, and more serious auditions for speaking roles.

"Then when you sign with us, we need you to be exclusive with us for one year. And the fee is 280 shekels each upon signing."

"Huh?" I said.

I continued, "sorry, but I will not pay any fee for an agency. Real agencies don't charge fees."

I guess I startled her. She called "the boss" on the phone and asked him if he could waive the fee for us. I almost believed they were legit at that point. But he nixed the idea.

He said to her,"Let them sign a contract, we'll give them a discount, and if they don't get any work, we will get them back the money."

Still didn't like the scheme.

The woman continued to rave about me. "I don't want to lose you. Send me an email with your photos again, and I'll try to convince him. If people are looking for a beautiful 50 year old, I now have you I can send to them. They are so many young beautiful girls." she said looking at my daughter. "But YOU. There aren't too many older beautiful women."

My daughter was perplexed as we walked out of the office, both of us looking sadly at the next victim sitting in the waiting room.

"She wanted you more than she wanted me!" she said to me.

"Oh honey, it's simply because I'm your mother and she thought, rightly so, that I have more money than you do. So that once I pay them the contract fee, they'll say I need money for a professional photographer and it will cost me even more money, and it will never end. And that's the only reason. Besides, it was worth the busfare to Tel Aviv for me to hear how beautiful I am. You know I don't hear that too often."

We both hugged each other and laughed.

I was hoping that Ms. Agent didn't laugh at me behind my back, telling her boss, "yeah she looked good, but boy did she have a big ass."

Sunday, July 06, 2008


There's always a slew of people with the Jerusalem Syndrome. People, usually foreigners, who believe they are some biblical character. I've seen serious Moses, Jesus, King David impersonators, although these people do not believe they are impersonating. They believe they are for real.

Hubby does not claim to be Job or Jesus but he is certainly on the way to becoming the Eternal Sufferer. He really suffers. From everything. From the way the kids talk to him, from a house that he imagines to be dirty, from the way I relate to him, the way the people are in this country, from the way the cabinets open in the kitchen, the way the chicken tastes, dishes in the sink, the negative way his mother speaks to him, that everyone is after him, me inviting Arabs into our house for monthly meetings (what will the neighbors think of us), no car, no money, and not enough head. These are his gripes and it's tough. So much so that I told him if he's not gonna take any happy pills, then he may as well blog about it because that's therapy in itself.

"What shall we call it then?" he piped up. I couldn't believe something I said interested the guy.

"Why don't we just call it - 'Boy Do I Suffer'"

And he laughed for about 10 minutes straight, which was the last bit of happiness I heard from him in since....