Today's word: kora'at b'tachat.

Today’s word is brought to you by Amnon, a cheeky classmate (translated from Hebrew).

Me: Were you in class this morning?

Amnon: You could say that.

Me: Did she say anything about the paper?

Amnon: She said a lot of things about the paper. You want to know what we need to do?

Me: Yeah, thanks.

Amnon: It should be 15-20 pages.

Me: Ok…

Amnon: You have to take a text – and by text she means a full book I think…

Me: Ok…

Amnon: And then choose 2 or 6 points to discuss.

Me: Ok…

Amnon: Take 6 of the philosophers we studied this year and write what they would say to each point…

Me: Oh, man…

Amnon: And that’s what we Hebrew-speakers call, kora’at b’tachat.

The ordinary citizens of Israel.

I once wrote about the difference between Americans and Israelis when it comes to putting out office fires. Now I have the chance to write about Americans and Israelis in the situation of a roadside car fire.

I know, right?

On the way home from the North, I was jolted out of my sleep on the back of the 962 (Tveria – Jerusalem) when the bus stopped and I realized that a few meters ahead of us was a van on fire. The van’s contents, a religious family with two small kids, were standing on the side of the road along with a couple of cars who had stopped to help, or at least sympathize. There wasn’t much to do except wait for the firefighters to come and put it out.

Or was there? Our bus driver thought differently and grabbed one of the bus’s dinky fire extinguishers and ran towards the flaming van, which was getting worse. After one didn’t work, he came for the second. Other bus drivers and their passengers who had stopped behind us were using their dinky extinguishers as well. That clearly wasn’t working when the fire exploded towards the back of the van, eating its insides and leaving only frame.

We soon drove off, but not before a lot of spraying on the part of the bus driver, running around on the part of the soldiers and staring on the part of the passengers. The van’s family had found a ride with some random people. No one was hurt when we left, and they were still waiting for a fire truck or even a cop to arrive.

highway fire




fire extinguisher

So, what would have been different in the States? Cars and buses would have passed right by, but not without slowing to stare at the scene. But on the bright side, fire trucks and cops would have been there a lot faster.

It is nice, though, that here in Israel people try to do as much in their power, even if logic deems it useless. There’s no such thing as an ordinary citizen.

Sderot challot.

I should have posted this earlier so you could have done it too – but – an Anglo from Efrat started placing orders for challot from Sderot bakers to help support the city’s abandoned economy. His social action project – a part of his bigger organization, Standing Together – grew over the weeks, and challot, rugelach, plants and other goods are being ordered to Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Chashmoni’im, Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion.

sderot challot

They look really good; they’re the soft white type. A package can include white challot, whole wheat challot, rugelach and rolls.

To get Sderot challot (and more) for next week, place an order. You can also donate food packages for Sderot families-in-need; if you’re out of the area, perhaps you could mail a check.

Seeing rainbows.

My friend put it this way: The Gay Pride Parade held today in Jerusalem worked out well, since it was so Jerusalem. What makes it Jerusalem? The quiet chill, the relaxed togetherness of the marchers? The modest expression of pride?

Whatever it is, it was, without a violent protester in sight (although there were some rather sinister attempts). So here you get to see what I saw:

Jerusalem Gay Pride sign Jerusalem Gay Pride flags Jerusalem Gay Pride balloons Jerusalem Gay Pride cop Jerusalem Gay Pride flag jerusalem gay pride march

Jerusalem Gay Pride soldier Jerusalem Gay Pride soldiers Jerusalem Gay Pride cops

And if that’s too much for you, you can surely put a little pace in your life; it works for most mindsets:

The differences between dancing, parading and rioting.

It’s nearly a year since our wedding, and we still get the same reaction when the topic comes up around friends or family:

Your wedding was really something – everyone danced together, it was so fun. Everyone was just so happy, for the same reason, and dancing all together. It really was something.

The reaction is related to the fact that our wedding was a clear mix of stereotypes: charedi Israelis, charedi Anglos, secular Israelis, modern Orthodox Anglos, dati leumi Israelis, olim of various types and birthplaces and mother tongues.

Yet they all participated, from the longest payot to the smoothest scalps. They all held each other and danced and watched a Jewish couple get married.

It makes me proud every time someone mentions it. I’m not one to accept compliments gracefully, but I don’t consider this a compliment for me or my husband or both of us together. It’s a compliment to the people who joined us, became involved and just didn’t look left or right before crossing into the dancing circles (separated by gender as they may have been). At that time and place, derech eretz had actually come before Torah. It’s the best wedding gift the two of us could have asked for.

Now, if only it were the same all the time, sometimes, or even rarely. If only the organizers of the Jerusalem gay pride parade and the charedis against it could stop looking left and right for a minute to just realize one thing they have in common: their Jewish souls, born from Jewish mothers. Gay pride parade organizers sin, charedis sin. I sin, you sin. But we all do good at some point, right?

What if Thursday – the day scheduled for the next parade – was about realizing that, instead of dissonance? What if everyone gathered and did something together for people we can all agree are troubled – the sick, the poor, the starving, the hunted, those left behind?

Animal rights in Israel.

While I’m sure there are a thousand other things Knesset could be busy with (apparently something like 70% of their passed laws are not implemented or enforced), here’s a change…

Import of animal-tested cosmetics to be banned

Education, Culture, Sports Committee pass bill banning import, marketing of animal-tested cosmetics, detergents, to be implemented by 2009. ‘Common sense, norms can’t allow this’ says committee chair. (ynet)

From the mouths of foreigners.

My brother works for an office of the… let’s just say Israeli persuasion. Here he expresses what so many of us Anglo olim think everyday.

Preach it, brother:

“This office needs to stop thinking Israeli. Literally everyday we have conversations about how we need to change the office, but we never do. It’s all patchwork and we need complete revision.

I talk to everyone about it. Right now I’m trying to start a revolution in the programs department… I’m drafting a letter to send to the US offices just so that we can be in touch. Getting in touch with Israel is hard enough. I wanna organize a conference call across all the US offices just to talk about current programs and events to open up lines of communication.

Cuz we have to be organized if we ever want to change the Israel office for the better.

And this is only the program center. I can’t even imagine how messed up aliyah is…

…It’s scary to think how this is a microcosm of Israel.”