Organizationally challenged.

I’m taking a class this semester on conflict in organizational structure. Doesn’t seem like it’ll be that difficult; the professor is friendly and the material is familiar.

So far I’m finding it quite entertaining, actually: being taught organizational conflict – in Israel – by a middle-age tzabar, a gever-gever who served more than his fair share of army and is the right mix of balding and pot belly to complete the image.

What does a tzabar know about conflict in organizations? If he established the country, then possibly a lot. If he was second generation – like this guy – who knows. He grew up surrounded by the blossoming organizational structure and bureaucracy we know today. He also uses the army and kibbutzim in all of his examples and boasts about his poor English.

All I know is: Maybe I’ll finally get some answers, being taught organizational conflict in this organizational-challenged country by the ultimate Israeli…

Public service announcement: better sherut!

Today I was on the 18, on the way to the bus station in Jerusalem. As the bus pulled up past the Beit Shemesh sherut que, I couldn’t help but daydream of a time, one day, when Jerusalem would have a better sherut system.

Sherut literally means service, but I can’t help but feel like they are not doing their best ’round these parts. In Jerusalem, there are three kinds of sherut-taxis you can take – Tel Aviv, located off Yaffo in town, Beit Shemesh, at the bus station, and Bnei Brak, up Strauss.

Why can’t there be a depot? Like in Tel Aviv, wouldn’t it make more sense if they were all located outside the bus station, so that if you miss your bus, you could catch one there? (Actually, I realize having them spread out makes sense but I do think their ought to be a link to the bus station. It’s central, it’s logical.)

Waiting in line for security after getting off the 18, I kept hearing this voice in the background, shouting in the middle of the street. Finally I realized what it was saying: “Tel Aviv! Moniyot sherut! Tel Aviv!”

An alternative sherut service to Tel Aviv has been started across the street from the bus station by Kaviim bus lines. Now I just need for the Bnei Brak one to come out of hiding on Strauss and I’m set to go.

Is spam cultural?

Isn’t it kind of funny that different cultures – aside from having different foods, traditions and rituals – also have different spam?

Once in a while I glance over my spam folder and usually about 40% of the subject lines are in Hebrew. The Israeli spam is also different because it seems to cover a wider range of topics. There is less mortgages and enlargements and more offerings for homeopathic therapy, trips to India and gym memberships. I think it really says a lot about the people in Israeli society.

Israeli spam email

I don’t think Hebrew spam is a reason to get all teary-eyed and exclaim, “This is the Jewish dream! Spam in our very own ancient, Biblical language!” But it is kinda cool to realize that this fairly new version of our ancient homeland has a complete society with all the good and bad.

On the other hand – Israel has its own spam and doesn’t have normal bank hours/customer service/a decent Internet company? What kind of society is this?

The Atari of Jerusalem.

If you live in, or even visit Jerusalem, you can’t help but come across some very – creative – street art. It’s taken pretty seriously and also not seriously.

Personally, I think street art is the new bumper sticker as far as Israeli political/social expression. Unless, of course, it’s just meant for smiles.

Here it is, the Jerusalem street art series, kicked off with a kickback to an awesome thing:

Atari grafitti

Making the next move.

We spent the weekend as a pilot trip in Tzur Hadassah, a small yishuv right next to Beitar and Gush Etzion. It’s 15 minutes from Jerusalem (without traffic) and it’s the kind of cozy, neighborly community that a young, childless married couple uses to kick off into becoming an experienced, childbearing married couple.

Tzur Hadassah sits on the Green Line – literally, actually. It kind of is the Green Line; at least one of its fences is. It over looks serene hills, green trees and at night there are actually stars.

The big push has been coming from friends of ours who are informal – but very enthusiastic – spokespeople for the place. We’ve been a few times and this Shabbat was the big test. We saw an apartment we may take and met people we may be friends with.

It was definitely a positive experience that has made us more anxious to leave Jerusalem sooner.

Oh, and did I mention that everyone in Tzur Hadassah has a dog? And not just pitzy ones, but huge, furry, drooling beasts.

Is this it? Will we finally be at home in Israel? Stay tuned…

Conflict students vs. WordPress geeks.

I’ve been spending today at WordCamp Israel 2007, a conference focused on bloggers, blogging, and of course, bloggers blogging using WordPress.

It’s being held in Michlelet Afeka, a small engineering college in Tel Aviv, so part of me feels like I’m in school. I don’t mind, as long as it’s not a university located in Ramat Gan that starts with a ‘B’.

The interesting thing is that I’m so used to being in Israeli lectures on conflict management, conflict resolution, negotiation, etc. The students are very argumentative and the classes are intense.

Now I get to be in a lecture hall with 100% absolutely adorable Israeli geeks. They make jokes, they wear swag t-shirts, they are chilled out. They are clearly not conflict management students.

It’s a nice break.

Today's Word: Senior/בכיר.

In the past week I have read articles and received emails concerning the strike-affected academic schedule and peppered among all of them is the word בכיר (bachir), meaning ‘senior’, as in ‘senior professor’.

Only senior professors are striking, because they are the ones being affected by the paycheck problems. Other professors get paid according to a different system and so they are beginning the academic year this week.

The strike of the senior professors began yesterday and is well into its second day. I begin class today; I’d say ‘classes’ but one of them is canceled while the other is not.

That’s because, well, you guessed it: one of my professors is בכיר while the other is just plain… teaching.

Biking for charity in Israel.

The buzz around my corner of Jerusalem these days is the intense 5-day bike ride to raise money for Alyn Hospital dubbed Wheels of Love. Quite a few of my friends are participating and it’s nice to see.

One friend created this video on his 24km practice run yesterday… Try to put the motion sickness aside, the scenery at the end is all that is Jerusalem powerful.

If you’d like to help sponsor some of the riders, here are two excellent choices: Yosef and Yosef.