Israel ops: Livnot U'Lehibanot.

I’ve been trying to help my brother find his volunteering niche for his stay here in Israel, and the latest idea has been the Israel-volunteer organization, Livnot U’Lehibanot. Here there are two centers, one in Jerusalem and one in Tzfat, and since we’re seeking something that involves handiwork and building, Sfat seems like the place to go, considering the North’s condition.

I have friends that worked for the one in Jerusalem and were a bit disappointed since it seemed to be overpopulated with volunteers; there is this perception: volunteers > impact. Thus, it seems, not as meaningful. My cousin, however, swears by it – she was very heavily involved years ago when she first got to Israel, unaffiliated and single.

The one in Tzfat is supposedly a deeper program, higher impact and a better time. Hopefully it’ll work out for my brother, who is trying to make the most of his time here.

More info:
Livnot home page
Volunteer application page
Emergency relief fund for the North

Subscribed to Israel.

I’m thinking of canceling my subscription to the Jerusalem Post.

It’s not their own fault; I just don’t want to read what they are saying anymore. What they are saying isn’t really their own fault either.

It begins to hurt to read the paper here everyday. Disappointment is painful and I feel like being Israeli is partly being disappointed on a fairly regular, cyclical schedule.

I’ve been a big newspaper reader – especially The New York Times – since high school. Since subscribing to an Israeli-centric paper, I realize that there is a major difference in American and Israeli papers. There is so much diversity, so many different issues to report in an American paper: the status of immigration, elections, news from your town, news from the next town over, latest trends – fashion or otherwise, education, nuclear threats, celebrities, 12 different sports, and on and on. It seems like Israeli papers have their priorities cut out for them – Hebrew or English – and they go like this: war -> peace process -> disappointment -> war -> peace process -> pain -> everything else. And the thing is, it’s all personal, even when it’s not war or peace process… Eeverything happening here is personal – from elections to Ethiopians to Maccabbe Tel Aviv. It’s all mine, and it’s all painful when it goes wrong.

The JPost print edition contains tidbits from the NYTimes a few days a week – Week in Review, Business, Op/Eds. Those niblets of American life for me are like finding the cashews in a package of mixed nuts. It’s a few minutes of reading about someone else’s troubles or joys. It’s a few minutes of feeling not-angry, not-frustrated, not-sad (concerning Israel).

In the States, when I used to read about Israel, emotions would flow, and I thought it was personal, but I never realized how personal it could be. Israel, no matter how much I loved her, was always a concept.

Now, Israel is daily life, Israel is where I pay my taxes, Israel is the news I read, the only news that rings in my ears.

Every. Single. Day.

A chance to dance.

We went to a wedding last night; our first since our own… which is such a better experience, in the way that we get to eat red meat, dance our asses off, chat people up, and we’re not the center of attention (or paying for it). It’s more… breathable.

Anyway, this couple had mixed dancing for the second part, even to Israeli songs, which is something I wouldn’t have minded but wasn’t going to push for at my own wedding. Ahem; see past entries.

Dancing is an amazing activity. I can understand how some people aren’t comfortable with it. But, like Elaine from that Seinfeld episode, I just don’t think about how I look when I’m really into it. It’s like chocolate or sex or, really, having a great workout.

Let's talk about…

…כיסוי ראש

…or, literally, ‘head covering’, really ‘hair covering’.

Married Jewish women have been, for ages, covering their hair out of modesty and a symbol of being a married woman. Today, it’s certainly not as popular; back then, cultures of non-Jewish women did that too. It was part of the whole cultural divide between the married and unmarried women. Also, hair isn’t as much a sex symbol now as it was then – or maybe we pay more attention to the other sex symbols a woman has and have forgotten the inherent sexuality of a woman’s mane. Either way.

Anyway, I am now a Married Jewish woman. Too the shock, horror, surprise, pride, displeasure of many, if not most of people I know, I have opted to cover my hair in a loose, symbolic measure.

Obviously I’m not doing it for the modesty reason because I wear tank tops and short skirts and tight jeans and so forth. I’m doing it because today, living in modern Israel, it’s very much a symbol of being a Married Jewish woman (like wearing a ring) and well, that’s what I am. So I’m trying out this tradition, like I have tried many before, and we’ll see where it takes me. If I lived in the States, I probably wouldn’t do it.

My friends are confused and people at work are freakin’ out, as it seems the order of the universe has been reversed (most seem to think I’m secular for living with my fiance, general attitude and aforementioned immodest clothing).

I have that effect on people.

Well, I’ve always been a weirdo. It’s not gonna change with being married. So, once again, I say: deal with it.

(deal with it)

the Simpler life.

Back to work in the morning. So hard to go back after all this ‘vacation’ of getting married. I feel it’s a bit of a fresh start for me there. I didn’t realize until after the wedding how much that stress had affected me at work these past few months.

Let’s face it: I have a great job by American standards, nevermind Israeli standards.

I was reading an old article in an old New Yorker about happiness today. Someone said that the less choices you have, the easier it is to be happy (hence, New Yorkers being mostly miserable). In Israel, like many places outside the States, you have less choices – about where to shop, what to buy, job opportunities, opportunities in general.

Maybe that’s a major appeal to me. I can definitely be indecisive at times (or am I?) so I think the narrowing of choices is a big help for me living a simpler, happier life. And as more time goes by living outside New York, I realize more and more how much I wouldn’t fit in now.

Except the shopping… sigh. The glorious New York shopping.

Well, I said I was indecisive…

Aw, how nechmad!

So I was hesitant to register anywhere for wedding gifts because: a. I didn’t think there was anywhere to register in Israel, and b. I feel weird telling people where to get my gifts (I feel weird enough receiving them).

Friends kept telling me to register, though, as a convenience for wedding guests and because it can be really fun picking out what you get so you avoid crappy gifts. Finally, a few weeks ago, we figured, eh why not.

Nechmad is a decorative home store (it also means “cute”), kind of like Pier 1 Imports but nicer and with fancy kitchenware too. At first it was awkward holding a piece if paper and a pen to write down bar code numbers as if it was a letter to Santa (I know in the States you get a laser gun thing). The lady at the store didn’t feel bad though. She was all for writing as much down as possible.

After picking up a garlic cruncher thing for 80 NIS and a salad bowl for 150 NIS, I got kind of merry and we went a little nuts. I don’t even know if I even like all the stuff we picked out, but it sure was fun picking up random things and making excuses for why we’d need one. Totally against my life philosophy, but I got drunk with power and we let ourselves go.

And there we are, listed in the window of the store with all the other happy greedy newlyweds:
(Kindly don’t remind us of this post in 25 years when I’m yelling at him for keeping an unused waffle maker, or he’s yelling at me for wanting a hot pink serving tray. Thanks.)