Good טוב luck מזל

Mazal tov!

So I want to let you all know that I got engaged last night… “Got engaged”, it’s a funny way to say it, isn’t it, as if, you couldn’t help it – oops, got engaged!

So before I say anything else: He’s Australian. Done. There was no way I couldn’t marry him. Made aliyah around the same time as I did (which was about a year ago)… We met in August… I attached a photo or two since pretty much all of you have never met him… Get a feel for what he’s like in a visual… If you want to know more, ask. Such is life from overseas…

Plan is to get married (there it is again, ‘get’ married, oops!) in the beginning of August, after Tisha B’Av… (probably Tu B’Av).

So that’s news. I’ll be back in New York for two weeks Feb 7th… Hang out then…

Mazal tov!

P.S. yes, I eat Vegemite, and yes, I actually like it…


As it is erev Hanukkah, my new 8-shek metal menora is perched on the window sill waiting for its big moment. It’s been pouring here for the last couple of days and snowing up North on the mountain tops – they’re going to open ski season this week.

And, of course, today is “The Day of Birth”, “Yom Muledet”, or better known as Christmas. I was toying with going to Bethlehem last night to get a look at midnight mass but I didn’t in the end. I honestly don’t care much for the religion or the holiday to be curious enough. I wouldn’t mind visiting Bethlehem another time to see the city from a historical point of view.

All weekend I’ve been reading articles in the English-language papers about the Christian holiday and the Christians here who celebrate it and the tourists who come and how the whole thing is on a decline.

What I will say for ‘Israeli Christmas’ is that, although you can start to see kitchy Santa Claus candy and red and green decor in some of the pop stores, and that’s probably a rising trend in the near future, well, at least many of the Christians who live and come here are serious. For them, it’s not mainly about presents. It’s about dipping in the Jordan River, a holy water source. Traveling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, like their leader did. It’s about praying hard in historical churches and cities. If I can’t understand a lot about the religion in general, I can respect that at the very least.

Oh and of course: How amazing it is to be on the side of the majority in ’tis season! This is the first year in my 23-year-old life that I DO NOT have obnoxious jingles stuck in my head from the public radio…

The Israeli post office: a common language in frustration.

“All my life I have been inconsolably grieved about two things. I was not born in Jerusalem, not even in the Land of Israel. And my speech, from the moment I was able to utter words, was not in Hebrew.”
– Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, 1918

Ok, EBY. I agree with you – If ONLY I had been born speaking Hebrew. Then I wouldn’t have had so much trouble at the &*%$# post office this morning.

On a different note:
I noticed that me and this Israeli-Arab guy in front of me in the long line at the post office have at least one thing in common. When we step up to the teller to do out business, we say ‘shalom’, hand our paperwork and money, look away to avoid conversation, and then say ‘todah’ when she gives back the receipt and change.
I wander what else we might have in common…

confession from behind the black plastic frame glasses.

I walked into a university library today for the first time in ages. Strolling through the stacks of old books, the faint odor of yellowed crispy pages surrounding my head, I felt so invigorated: So much to do! So much to learn!

There. I am a huge geek. I wear black plastic frame glasses. I don’t care what you think. I love libraries and all the potential they symbolize.

The Cuban Missile Crisis and me.

I’m reflecting on a little something from class on the Cuban Missile Crisis yesterday:

“We and you ought not to pull on the ends of a rope which you have tied the knots of war. Because the more the two of us pull, the tighter the knot will be tied.”

– Nikita Khrushchev, 1962

“That’s what I call empathy. We must try to put ourselves inside their skin and look at us through their eyes, just to understand the thoughts that lie behind their decisions and their actions.”

– Robert S. McNamara

“In the Cuban Missile Crisis, at the end, I think we did put ourselves in the skin of the Soviets. In the case of Vietnam, we didn’t know them well enough to empathize. And there was total misunderstanding as a result. They believed that we had simply replaced the French as a colonial power, and we were seeking to subject South and North Vietnam to our colonial interests, which was absolutely absurd. And we, we saw Vietnam as an element of the Cold War. Not what they saw it as: a civil war.”

– Robert S. McNamara

I never knew this, but I guess that’s why I go to classes: The Cuban Missile Crisis was an absolute perfect situation to today learn about negotiation. Deterrence, obviously. ut I never realized the sheer magnitude of the situation – and there is so much more.
And even in this situation where the world was so close to a nuclear breakout, we can still learn so many lessons about interpersonal communication and negotiation on a daily basis. Empathy and clear communication for starters.

Game theory.

I left work early for the central bus station to get to school at a leisurely pace. Because of that, I was able to enjoy a stroll through the metal detectors and only a slight trot past the airport-security style bag scan. And to match my leisurely walking pace, my mind slowly wandered from class to Israeli security.

The metal detectors weren’t really plugged in today; the woman in from of me had gone through while on her phone. The girl behind the bag scan clearly wasn’t watching the screen.

As I waited for my bag to pass through, I thought: there could be a bomb anywhere in this three-floor mall/station – right now, and no one would know until it went off.

I let my own eyes scan the people walking in front of my gaze. Anywhere… In any bag, on any person. It’s amazing it hasn’t happened more often.

This game of living securely in Israel can be a dangerous one, but it isn’t too tricky. I think it’s about awareness. Scrutiny.

Exactly then, the station-wide loudspeaker brought me out of my head and blasted through my thoughts: “Everyone come down from the 3rd floor. There is a chefetz chashud. Please come down from the floor with the platforms.”

I don’t think about bombs everyday. We’re not really there right now. As I waited at the bottom of the stairs, behind the security guard and in front of about 100 impatient Israelis, all I could do was smile and think – awareness.

It’s the game we’re playing everyday here in Israel, aren’t we?

– Which is why we will never be able to follow the U.S. completely.

– Which is how we get to stay breathing.

Older woman behind me:

סכית קטנה עושה הרבה”

That about sums it up.