Monday, September 28, 2009

Confessions - A Yom Kippur Lament

It's 1/2 hour after Yom Kippur ended and already I have sinned four times. I'm supposed to have a clean slate now. But, naturally, I fucked it up. The first sin, I believe came after I came back from synagogue and found that the 24 hour candle, from which I was supposed to light the Havadalah (separation) candle used for the ceremony to end the holiday, went out. You need to light the candle with an existing light. Rather than running around to neighbors to find an already lit light, I just switched on the stove and lit it from there. The next sin was when I was warming up chicken soup leftover from yesterday and saw that the spoon I used was a spoon I use with dairy foods. I don't (usually) mix dairy dishes/setting with those I use for meat. Ooops. Then as I said the prayers that tell God that "I promise that I won't sin again," I'm thinking - yeah, right. I'm planning to go to Taybeh on Saturday, the day of rest, to drink Taybeh beer with Christian Palestinians (and naughty Moslems) next week for the Oktoberfest celebrations. And Hubby just rented a ridiculous looking green car. For sure I'm gonna want to escape on Saturdays to the north or to the beach. For sure. But if God is tolerant to non-Orthodox Jews, which I believe He is, then you know what? I'm quite ok.

Anyway, take a look at this green car. We all had strange, trippy dreams last night, and I'm wondering if it's because of the car.

And our television stations take a break on Yom Kippur and don't come back on for two hours after the fast. Even the town perverts have to take a break on Yom Kippur because the Blue Hustler and Playboy stations are off for the day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The High Priest

I kept on telling everyone at work for the entire week that on Thursday I had a meeting with the Jewish High Priest - the Cohen Gadol, the Priest of Priests. I managed to snag an expensive ticket to Leonard Cohen's performance last night in Israel and I was sure the High Priest would bless his audience. I thought about it for quite a number of days - about what a great idea that would be for him to give the priestly blessing to an audience of 47,000.

I was awash in day dreams throughout the day, wishing I was his spiritual tour guide while he was in the country. I'd take him to my friend Ibrahim in the Mt. of Olives, to the Sufi Sheikh on the Via Dolorosa, midnight praying at the Western Wall, etc. etc.

So at 4:30 pm while I was shredding paper, as the last thing I do before I leave the office, people seemed aghast.

"What are you still doing here?"

"I need to clear up my life" I explained. The worst thing would be for me to come back to work on Tuesday, after the Yom Kippur vacation, to a mountain of shit on my desk. I told another person standing at the reception area that I needed to get to the bank to take out some money. I can't go to Tel Aviv penniless.

"Do you want money?" asked another person.

While shredding, I'm telling him "who doesn't want money! Of course I want money."

His generosity would have saved me 1/2 hour which would have gotten me to Tel Aviv a bit earlier. He was worried because he read in the papers that roads would be closed for the concert and was concerned that I wouldn't make it on time.

"Don't worry" I told him. "Leonard will wait for me."

I got the cash, grabbed a taxi to the central bus station and craved a hot dog with sauerkraut to go, but when I saw the huge line waiting for the Tel Aviv buses, I decided I'd rather starve than miss buses. Everyone on line was talking about Leonard - I think half the bus was on its way to Ramat Gan Stadium.

Two buses filled up before I was able to get on one, and 20 minutes later, I was sitting in the front next to a woman with a cane, who told me the best way to walk to the stadium from the bus station. She's a native Tel Avivian, and I listened the entire way to her life story. When we got to Tel Aviv, an American woman listening to our conversation, also going to the concert, decided to do the walk with me. While beginning our walk, I'm telling her that although I really like Leonard Cohen's music, I am not a total fanatic, I don't know the words to all of his songs. And while I said that a young man walking in front of us turned around and shot me a look as if to tell me 'then what the hell are you even seeing him for. You don't belong.... only the 'real' fans belong." But we scurried past him only to meet others from Jerusalem walking in the same direction. One young man, who seemed to know in which direction the stadium was, told us it's about an hour's walk. So we hopped on a bus.

Bad move. The traffic wasn't moving, and the bus was sitting in traffic for 20 minutes. We had only moved a couple of blocks. We all pleaded with the young bus driver to please let us off the bus, but he was adamant to make us wait until the next stop, about a kilometer away. Someone offered to pay his fine, should he be fined for letting us off illegally. I told him the concert is starting in 1/2 hour and we're getting frantic. No one wants to miss even one song.

"You want to party?" the driver asks, thinking that this is some bad-ass rock concert. "Here, let's party" and he turns up the volume on this awful dance club music. Doesn't the shmuck know who Leonard Cohen is?

We all got off the next stop and had about 25 minutes before the concert starts. Leonard is known for being punctual. When we finally got to the stadium, the lines in front of the gates were frightening. Hundreds of people had yet to get into their gate. No one seemed as frantic as I. I went over to gate 10. There was nobody at the gate. It must have been a gate of people who had all come early. The guy looked at my ticket to see if it was a forgery or if it was real. It was real. Thank God it was real because I didn't want to have to kill the guy who sold it to me, which was fine, because I ended up sitting right next to him and his girlfriend.

The concert began one minute after I got to my seat. There was a Bank Discount green bag on my seat, and I thought for a moment that someone had taken my spot. But I saw those green bags everywhere. That's the least that stupid bank can do. I tried for two years to get refinancing on a loan where they were charging me 12% interest. They wouldn't hear of it. So I changed banks. But I'll take the green insulated bag - thank you. Fuckers.

My first thoughts, as the concert began, was - am I going to feel that the concert was worth the 800 shekels I spent? For one, my seats were fabulous. I sat around 30 rows back and only 2 rows up from the floor. I saw the stage clearly, but if I wanted to see Leonard's expressions, I had to look at the screen. The same guy who did Leonard's poetry reading in Hebrew in Jerusalem, had his translations of the lyrics shown as subtitles on the screen. I hope he got to meet the Man for his efforts. The Jerusalem Post's review mirrored the same emotions/reactions/feelings I had about this concert. I knew about 80% of his songs, and I sang along to the ones I knew. I took some photos (to be posted tomorrow) and one video. And I wondered how this man could get everything so perfect - from the simple stage backdrop of flowing chiffon-like curtains, using only different colored lighting for the stage, which didn't annoy the crap out of me because the lighting changes were slow and elegant, just like the entire performance. Leonard's voice was perfect. The band was incredible. He was incredible. The audience was great. Noisy when it had to be, yet when he spoke, you could hear a pin drop. Everything was incredible. So, yes, it was worth the fortune I spent.

I loved the version of Who By Fire (or is the song called "who shall I say is calling?") - probably one of the evenings favorites of mine. The Spanish guitarist/lute player, or whatever that instrument is, was amazing. Cohen gave so many encores, I lost count. I felt tears running down my cheeks by the end.

We must have been on the same wavelength somehow, either that, or I am psychic as all hell, because at the very end, right before he left the stage, he stood at the microphone with his hands up the way Jewish priests bless the people, and Leonard Cohen, the High Priest, blessed the audience in Hebrew with the ancient priestly blessing - “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It's been difficult for my daughter who is studying once a week to get someone to pick up her toddler from day care at 4:30.

My son is not dependable, and likes to do Michael Jackson-style babysitting, like holiding him over the railing or near the railing of our balcony. So I tell my daughter not to count on him. My youngest daughter is the same. She likes to take him to her friends' homes, and I don't really like her friends. I don't want them giving the kid a bottle filled with Red Bull and Vodka or worse... So that leaves myself, the Smasher (3rd daughter), and Hubby.

So grand-dad picked him up last week. I walked into the house an hour later to see them playing nicely with PlayDo. I looked at the shapes Hubby was making.

"Look familiar?" he asks and laughs that wicked laugh of his as he hands me a rather large, circumcised PlayDo mold.

"Jesuz Christ!" I look at him and try to stifle a laugh. "What the hell did you tell him THAT was?"

Yesterday evening they were making breasts with different colored nipples and putting them in a neat row on the floor.

I give up. It's just so difficult to find good babysitters.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Year, New Men

I had the most wonderful spiritual experience at the Jewish Renewal service in Jerusalem on Sunday. I find that the people who attend the service has assorted spiritual seekers, misfits who can't fit into the normal ways of praying in regular synagogues (like myself), etc. The services were held in the courtyard of the beautiful Nature Museum underneath a tent, which was open on all four sides, reminiscent of biblical Abraham's tent. Of course, none of my family wanted to experience this type of tefillah (prayer) with me. They'd rather sit at home and watch tv. I wanted to talk to God with a group. We were asked to meditate for 7 minutes each on the past year, the present and the future, with each part separated by the call of the shofar. Dr. Kagan had this down to a perfect science. I had never heard a shofar being blown the way he did it - for zichronot (remembrances) section of the prayers, he did the sounds much like a siren. For the Priestly blessing, all those that wanted to bless others were outside the circle, and those that wanted to be blessed (that's me), were inside the circle, beneath a tallit. Yes, I too would have sat home to watch tv had Nava Tehilla not had services for Rosh Hashana. And I prayed that everyone in their family would go towards the correct path, which is correct for them, for healing, happiness with what we have and of course, money. I always pray for money.

The rain poured down that morning, which was earlier than usual. Rains don't begin for another 2-3 weeks or so. So we all felt that the blessings will come earlier than usual - before their expected time.

A few days before the holiday my Wild Daughter, the youngest, showed me various expensive makeup she got from an admirer. The admirer was a dermatologist who has two clinics - one in Jerusalem and one up North. "You said I should find a doctor" she told me. Yes, I told her to find either a doctor, lawyer, professor-in-training, healer, accountant, dentist, even a student. Just someone with a future. But this guy wasn't Jewish. I don't know whether he was Moslem or Christian but he was definitely an Arab from the North of Israel. He came to fetch her on Thursday night. He was dressed very nicely, was very polite and quiet, and looked a bit like an Arab Clark Kent. Definitely not her type, but she obviously likes free makeup. And seeing him sitting there waiting for her to get ready, I felt sorry for him. She's definitely not like the girls in his part of the world. She'll torment him. I know. I had previous boyfriends call me up in agony, telling me in broken English "She not behave nice to me."

On Friday morning, I warned her - if you don't like him other than his giving you makeup, then I suggest you don't lead him on and don't see him again. Plesae don't break hearts before Rosh Hashana. The fact that he was from a different religion crossed my mind of course, but wasn't the main focus of my conversation with her.

She told me "He'd do anything for me. He'd even convert to Judaism for me." And I wondered what his family would think of that. But I let it go and asked God to give her direction. The right direction - whatever that may be.

My other loud complaining daughter (the third one) who runs around the house and smashes doors and cabinets - is now being nicknamed The Smasher. Well, I got a lift home with her on Sunday after her security guard shift was over. She warned me not to come to her work and talk "that language." What language, I asked her. "You know" she told me. I assumed either it was English peppered with "f" words, or Arabic. So I really didn't know. She tells me of this potential boyfriend, who is older than her usual choice of boyfriends. He's 27, Jewish and drives a Mercedes taxi. She tells me he likes our kind of music and not the Middle Eastern Israeli music all my kids listen to. He loves rock music.

She tells me, "he loves the group with the tongue. You know the tongue?"

I asked her "You mean Kiss?"

"No, the ones you like".

"Oh! The Rolling Stones!"

"Yes, that's it. He loves them."

I look at her. Sounds like a normal young man. Finally.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy New Year

On the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, there is a ceremony called Tashlich. Jews traditionally go to the ocean or a stream or river to pray and throw bread crumbs into the water. Symbolically, the fish devour their sins.

Occasionally, people ask what kind of bread crumbs should be thrown. Here are suggestions for breads which may be most appropriate for specific sins and misbehaviors:

For ordinary sins -White Bread
For erotic sins -French Bread
For particularly dark sins - Pumpernickel
For complex sins - Multi-Grain
For twisted sins - Pretzels
For tasteless sins - Rice Cakes
For sins of indecision - Waffles
For sins committed in haste - Matzoh
For sins of chutzpah - Fresh Bread
For substance abuse - Stoned Wheat
For use of heavy drugs - Poppy Seed
For petty larceny - Stollen
For committing auto theft - Caraway
For timidity/cowardice - Milk Toast
For ill-temperedness - Sourdough
For silliness, eccentricity - Nut Bread
For not giving full value - Shortbread
For jingoism, chauvinism - Yankee Doodles
For excessive irony - Rye Bread
For unnecessary chances - Hero Bread
For telling bad jokes/puns - Corn Bread
For war-mongering - Kaiser Rolls
For dressing immodestly - Tarts
For causing injury to others - Tortes
For lechery and promiscuity - Hot Buns
For promiscuity with gentiles - Hot Cross Buns
For racist attitudes - Crackers
For sophisticated racism - Ritz Crackers
For being holier than thou - Bagels
For abrasiveness - Grits
For dropping in without notice - Popovers
For over-eating - Stuffing
For impetuosity - Quick Bread
For indecent photography - Cheesecake
For raising your voice too often - Challah
For pride and egotism - Puff Pastry
For sycophancy, ass-kissing - Brownies
For being overly smothering - Angel Food Cake
For laziness - Any long loaf
For trashing the environment - Dumplings

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Yesterday, I attended an annual interfaith tolerance symposium at Mishkenot Sha'ananim - not the whole thing but parts. This was a serious event, serious talk, organized by Interfaith Encounter Association together with the Jerusalem Foundation.

There was the unveiling of the new Tolerance Monument at the Sherover Promenade, just behind the UN building and right before the entance to Jabel Mukaber.

kids from different faiths offering their prayers

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


My daughter's court date was pushed off to September, instead of it being in July. She was upset about prolonging the agony, but like they say in the old country, "you can't fight City Hall". If you remember, she was charged for something she did when she was 17, which was passing a dooby to a friend at a party. She was being charged as an adult for the crime of "distributing dangerous drugs to a minor". These are the times when I wish I were living in the Netherlands and my daughter would be record-free.

I met her on Sunday morning at the court house. She was sitting alone, angry at the lawyer for showing up late, not really giving a damn that he was stuck in traffic, but I was more worried because she looked like Amy Winehouse and this is not someone you want to look like when you're up against a drug charge. She wore no makeup and her black hair was matted and wild. I shoved her into the ladies room and offered my entire makeup collection to her, which is something I usually don't do. After the makeover, she looked better, less disheveled and we waited for the lawyer to show up.

And doesn't a mother's heart sink when you see that your daughter knows just about everyone in the fucking court? A couple of young guys with their lawyers said hello to her. I thought - this is just another neighborhood for her. Why does she have to know all these young criminals? We saw a couple of Arabs walking in handcuffs and chains. Then we saw kippa wearing Jewish kids also in handcuffs and chains. The father of one of the Jewish kids who was in handcuffs was agitated at not being allowed to speak to his son. I felt sorry for him - it's tough to see your kid in handcuffs and chains. Then another young dude in handcuffs and chains passes us and recognizes my daughter. They exchange greetings. I let out a big 'Oy' after he passed.

"Why do you have to know every criminal in this city? Why can't you hook up with students. At least they're working towards their future in a decent way!"

"Students? They're not my type. They're ch'nunim (Hebrew for nerds)."

"So what. They'll be rich nerds or nerds with a profession at least. Can't you learn to like them?"

She tsk'd at me.

The trial came, the judge meted out the punishment, which was 140 hours of community service and no drivers license (she doesn't drive!) for a year. And another punishment was that she will have to take a Law and Judgment course at the Hebrew University.

I tried not to laugh out loud inside the courtroom as they read the verdict. Going to Hebrew University is a punishment? Perhaps for my daughter it will be. She'll be introduced to another side of life she's never experienced. And maybe, if I'm really lucky, she'll fall in love with one of those student nerds.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


After not succeeding in getting tickets for the quickly sold out Leonard Cohen show, and pretty much giving up on ever getting any, someone writes me an email to say he's got one ticket. Do I want it? He was selling it at double the price he paid.

I impulsively responded - yes, I'll take it. I only know one person who is going - the rest of my friends were shut out, even after trying all weekend when tickets first went on sale.

I really like Leonard Cohen - enough to pay a lot for this ticket. My favorite song of his is So Long Marianne. I even fantasized since my early teens about being his back up singer. But I don't know all of his stuff and don't even have any of his CDs. I heard from many of my friends all over the world that if I get a chance to see him, I should, because it is a spiritual experience. Even though I have spiritual experiences all the time, being that I live in Israel, what's one more?

I also feel a kinship with him since we're both a product of Jewish religious schools and look what it had done to us. Or, rather, what we did to them. Because of my sister who lives in Montreal, I've spent many a summer and holiday over there and in the nearby Laurentian mountains and know the small Jewish community of many kinds.

There was even a Leonard Cohen poetry reading at Tmol Shilshom bookstore/cafe this past week. I don't know if the Hebrew can capture his entire essence, but enjoyed the English readings.

So I'm emailing this guy, and he's emailing me back, signing off with a Buddhist saying. I finally call him to hear the voice who is selling me this hard-to-get ticket.

He tells me that he is glad to be selling to a real Leonard Cohen fan and not to someone who doesn't know the Man well enough but only wants to go to his concert just to say he's been there. We talk about his songs and he asks me about some songs I haven't yet heard. While we're talking, I log onto YouTube and take a look at some of the songs he mentions - panicking lest the seller thinks I'm not a real fan and he'll give the ticket to someone else who knows all of his stuff.

I even let him read me a poem from his Leonard Cohen book. I know the gossip well enough to mention the relationship Cohen had with Janis Joplin which led to his writing the song Chelsea Hotel. Now, I know I'm in. I know Leonard well enough to earn that ticket. He's convinced of that.

I tell my friend I'm buying a ticket at double the price. She asks me if Buddhists are allowed to do that. I don't know, really.

I met him at Ramle yesterday, as a half-way meeting point, to get the ticket. Hubby panics, thinking Ramle is a total dump, ridden with crime and unsavory characters. I tell him - don't you think that about our own house? I get to Ramle and enter a lovely small well-kept modern mall. The seller meets me and we exchange money for ticket. I look at the ticket. It's second row!! The gate is close to the stage. I'm really thrilled. He brought his Leonard Cohen book of poetry. I take the book from him and read three poems.