Keepsakes from the mother-land.

Mother writes me today about some antiques she has found in the house and would like to know if I’d be interested in having them one day. My reply:

“…I think that is stuff I would like later on when I have a more permanent living/life situation and want things from the ‘old country’ to show off.

On a somewhat side note, I’ve realized not to be ashamed of being American because my American experience is a personal one, and so I have my own story to tell. When people get to know me, they get to know me as this one American’s story (I think). Removing me from the obvious setting (America) has made my own Americanness special to me.

I thought of that because if I’m still here (in Israel) later on, I’ll want to show off any remnants of origins, America, my American parents and heritage that I have and will always have.”

Down-lowing drivers.

Here’s the DL on Israeli drivers. Not so DL, really.

When you heard those pro-touring-Israel slogans, ‘you have more of a chance of getting killed in a car accident than a suicide bombing’ (rosy campaign, yes) – IT’S ABSOLUTELY TRUE. In fact, it’s, I daresay, TERRORFYING.

On the way to university I had a lift with a guy about my age, owner of a cute newish Fiat. If I were him, I’d also love dodging between slower cars, watching the clock for timing updates, blasting the music. I mean, in the old country, I used to do that too. Everyday, on the way to work. Like religion. So I suppose I can trust my own.
(Being on the passenger end, I have to turn to my own passengers of yore and say, ‘Wow, guys. Thanks for the trust.’)
I take the oppurutunity, as a newly-made Israeli and passenger, to watch other drivers, young and old, acting like kids in the highway. Speeding, tailgating, weaving.

But, well, kids will be kids, right?
Yes – but more importantly and pertinently – Israelis will be Israelis.
Because it isn’t just me and my fast Fiat friend with this habit – tailgating, speeding, weaving. That’s just it – everyone is acting like a kid in a cute new car, big new car, fast new car on the highway.

So, on the way back from university was a slightly different experience. You know the steroetype about cab drivers. You know the stereotype about Israeli drivers. Put it together, with me sitting in the front seat = 35 minutes of heart-racing madness.
This sheirut driver was going 140 km (87 miles) in a rickety clunky sheirut in a two lane highway WHILE TAILGATING inches between his clunker and the cars in front of him. He was literally just a few inches away. A few inches between getting home in 30-35 minutes as opposed to 45-50; between getting home and going to bed and getting into a life-threatening car accident with twelve innocent passengers affected.

Well, he went too far at one point – ok, he didn’t, because I’m writing this after the fact – but he really did push it towards the end and several passengers started shouting at him – “Watch it! We’d rather get home alive than fast!”

Good logic, there. I didn’t know some Israelis could have good logic when it comes to the highway. Slightly comforting on this delicate, dangerous road I’m on.

Thanks family giving.

Hi family,

Just because I’m a bit far doesn’t mean Thanksgiving hasn’t been on my mind… It’s definitely one of my favorite holidays.

So just to update everyone, I’m working in creative marketing for Answers.com which is based in Jerusalem and in the evenings I’m taking my courses in Conflict Managament and Negotiation (masters) near Tel Aviv. It’s a commute, but it’s worth it. I’m living in Jerusalem in a very pretty, quiet neighborhood.

I’m taking my first stab at making a turkey – Aaron found it and is here to help, which I am definitely – ahem – thankful for. It’s 7 kilo which is apparently 16 pounds. Also being prepared are: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing and apple crisp with the help of some American – and non American – friends. And we’re celebrating Friday night instead of tonight because some of us work late tonight.

I can say that I’m thankful for having a great job, doing an interesting grad course and living in an amazing country. I hope everything is well by you.

Happy holiday!

God save the… poultry.

FYI:

Thanksgiving-shabbat dinner was top. My first turkey was juicy as Israeli politics. My guests were mainly Commonwealth folk: 3 Aussies and 2 Brits. Americans outnumbered, just how I wanted it (3, including me). I was hoping for a Canadian but he couldn’t come.

Thanksgiving outside the US: jolly good fun!

Happy Thanksgiving.

For now, I’m drinking apple cinnamon tea. That’s as close as I get on an Israeli workday on Thanksgiving.

There’s a 7 kilo (16 pound) turkey in my fridge.

A sign in my office reads:
Happy Thanksgiving!
Hodu l’Hashem Ki Tov!

Thank God, because it’s all good…

Derech eretz kadma l'?

I took the sheirut from Bar Ilan to Geula, where it ends, instead of getting off earlier at Binyani HaUma because I decided to experiment with the timing of that route and meanwhile get a little tour of Geula.
As we (the driver, 6 charedis, and me) were driving through Geula, (which for your reference looks exactly like Crown Heights or Borough Park, only the black hats are different) I got to thinking about how to manage the religious versus secular Jew problems in this country. I thought, ‘maybe I’ll go this route more often to remember after all those hours of study why I’m studying this and how I can try to work it out.’

I departed the sheirut at the end and headed towards the center of town where I’d catch the 14. I was walking up from a little past Mea Shearim when there was a ditch in the sidewalk, deep for walking in the dark. Obviously, I didn’t see it. It was a pretty bad fall, considering; I’m not unused to tripping and spraining, etc, but this was a hard fall and both my left ankle and right knee were bruised and sprained.

As I began to pick up my eyes to focus on getting back up, I saw two charedi girls, about my age or a little older, walking towards me, watching me. I was struggling to get up, and finally did when I felt all the pain surge through my legs. The girls came closer, closer, and finally passed me, watching without saying a word or an offer.

I’m fairly independent and try not to rely on people, especially ones I don’t know. I didn’t need help because in the end I managed to get to the bus stop limping on my own. I brushed myself off as they passed by, and felt a struggle to hold back from stereotyping.

But there are some struggles that are harder to overcome. As I muttered ‘Todah rabah’ when they passed, I could feel the words lingering in the air, stinging my cheeks. ‘Derech eretz kadma l’torah’ – they’ve been instilling that into my mordern orthodox education since I can remember.

You can ban me to the back of the Geula-bound sheirut; you can stare at my short sleeves; I don’t really care what you think because I think your black hats and dark stockings are a sorry cover-up.

When you have no decency to offer, what am I supposed to offer you?

Cr->zy.

Right:

My tremp never showed -> The taxi driver took the long way to get to the tachana and then got mad that I got out early -> Missed the bus because it left early -> Second bus took forever leaving the station and getting on the highway because the bus driver was a little off -> Bus ride was double the time it normally takes because it was already rush hour -> Only got to class for the second half -> Obviously this week of all weeks, the simulation is the second half of class, not the first -> Professor chose me to be the one who observes the group and reports to the entire class afterwards -> SPOKE UP IN CLASS FOR THE FIRST TIME ->