You think *this* blog is cool?

Check this out: Shin.Tech Blogs

It’s a site put together by the Shin Bet (also known as the Shabak), Israel’s general security service (like the American FBI). It follows the blogs of four agents who remain anonymous but talk about different angles of their service:

י’ – המוח הטכנולוגי

‘Yud’ The technological mind;

ח’ – האישה הסודית

‘Chet’ The ‘secret’ woman;

א’ – המומחה

‘Aleph’ – The expert;

נ’ – על חייו הכפולים

‘Nun’ – The double life.

The idea for the Shin Bet was to give potential recruits a peek into the life of a secret service agent. I think it’s also probably nice for these agents to be able to express something in public, however little it may be, since their own families don’t know about their professions.

Of course, it’s all in Hebrew. Plus they don’t seem to update very often… But what do you expect from the people fighting terrorism, drugs, counterespionage?

Bracing for heartbreak… but still hoping.

I know, I know. I won’t believe it till I see it, either. The Israeli in me is skeptical/angry/excited, the spouse in me is tormented/emotional/hopeful, and the mediator in me is curious/reflective/fatigued.

For better or worse, I’m indulging in this:

Eldad Regev’s father: Deal finalized for abducted troops’ return

The father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Eldad Regev said on Monday that his family and that of Ehud Goldwasser, the other soldier kidnapped by Hezbollah, have been informed that a deal for the abductees’ return to Israel has been finalized.

The sources did not relay any other details about the swap except for the fact that it had been agreed upon after expedited negotiations between Israel and Hezbollah, through German mediation. (source)

Arab media say Israel-Hizbullah prisoner exchange deal expected in coming days

While Jerusalem awaits developments that may lead to a possible prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah, Arab media reported Monday that a deal in which kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev would be returned to Israel in exchange for Samir Kuntar and four other Lebanese prisoners is expected to be carried out in the next few days.

Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar said the deal may materialize this coming Tuesday or Friday, while As-Safir reported that it will take place sometime between the 20th and the 25th of June. (source)

You know you're an Anglo-Israeli working in hi-tech when…

I just received a tweet from a friend:

“just heard terrible news…reeling from the shock. baruch dayan ha-emet”

And I immediately went to check my favorite news services to find out what happened. First I thought Ariel Sharon, then I thought Gilad Shalit. I scoured the Israeli news sources and then spread out wider to my international news sources, like a ripple effect.

It’s that mentality that the news is always alive, always happening and at any moment, anything can happen here in Israel… Mixed with the immediacy of the way we hi-tech geeks communicate and share… Mixed with my own morbidity, I suppose.

In the end, it turned out to be a personal thing. But those few minutes before I knew that… Those are the moments when I remember where and in what age I live in…

Good old fashioned Friday fun.

There are 87658345 reasons why it’s awesome to have a car, and today exemplified reason #5374, which is, freedom.

Today we ventured to neighboring Gush Etzion, where Rosh Tzurim (next to Alon Shvut) was hosting the annual cherry picking festival – פסטיבל דובדבנים 2008 בגוש עציון. We were going mainly for that reason, but the festival was also a carnival where vendors sold their wares (wines, olive oils, cheeses, clothes, etc), kids watched shows and played on rides.

You just have to love summer in Israel. The summer schedule is packed with family-centric activities, but those are my favorite kind, kids or no kids.

You also just have to love cherries. They’re pretty, delicious and so much fun when squished under your shoes. I hope they are good for you too, since they are the only thing I’ve eaten today.

Tel Aviv might be hi-tech, but Jerusalem is Online.

Last night I spent a lovely evening at a hi-tech geek party, otherwise known as MashBash. I love it when my hi-tech self and my Israel self combine into one crazy combustication of awesomeness.

There are so many reasons I love these gatherings:

  • They are parties with a premise, so the drinking is casual, the conversation is lively and everyone is just about on the same level of awesomegeek; there’s pretty much one wavelength.
  • It’s a chance to network for business but also to meet Israelis and other immigrants.
  • And usually, the drinks are free.

Of course, the center of hi-tech in Israel – or at least, hi-tech parties – is Tel Aviv. Jerusalem does have a fair effort (like my company, among others) and it’s blogosphere can stand on its own. Bloggers usually meet at each other at parties or events and it’s always fun to see the face behind the URL.

So last night I met the owner of Jerusalem Online, which is

“the first video news update from Israel in English sent directly to your e-mail on a daily basis. This short, to-the-point, balanced update is brought to you by Israel’s leading television news source, Channel 2 News.”

It’s a great way for Jerusalem bloggers to keep Israeli news on their sites and a convenient tool for people outside of Israel to get direct news in English. You can get the video code by pressing “Get this” under the video and embed straight into your blog.

Like so many others, I’ve fallen deeply in love with the Israeli hi-tech scene, whether Jerusalem or Tel Aviv style. Next time I’m at one of these events, I’ll raise a glass (of free alcohol) to hi-tech, to the Israeli brain and to the wealth of the new-age Middle Eastern oil machine.

Typical Israeli supermarket conversation.

Russian man with silver teeth: grumbles something in heavy accented Hebrew (or maybe it was Russian?) and points to a package of frozen dough

Me: “Slicha?”

Russian man with silver teeth: grumbles something else in Hebrew, pointing to the price

Me: looking confused

Russian man with silver teeth: smiles big, “Aaah…. Priveyet, russian russian russian russian russian…”

Me: smiles back, “Lo yoda’at…”

Russian man with silver teeth: now he’s looking confused, grumbles again in Russian accented Hebrew

Me: explains what he needed to know in American accented Hebrew; unfortunately for him, the price is not to his liking.

Russian man with silver teeth: walks away grumbling, “Nyet! Nyet! Nyet!”

And there we have it, once again. Russians assume I am Russian. It has happened probably a dozen times now. If only I could understand what that means

City feature: Namal Tel Aviv

The area of the Tel Aviv port – נמל תל אביב – (right before Beach Mezizim) is one of those situations where ugly warehouses went for cheap rent, so trendy designers and cafes opened shop and now all the trendy wendys go out there a beautiful day to shop, eat, chat, ponder life, and whatever else a trendy wendy does. At least, that’s my theory, anyway.

One Friday we sort of walked into it by accident, but after strolling around we realized it would be the perfect place to take our ‘posher’ friends next time they come visit.

Warehouses can be beautiful.

Tel Aviv Port

Sip cappuccino with this view.

A shady view.

The streets are paved with gold tiles.

Aroma for kids

I’m not sure when it’s ok for kids to start drinking coffee, but the Aroma at the port has it’s own kids section with Aroma play house. Never to early to start working a cash register.

The best plums are the 'stolen' kind.

It’s amazing what can be taken for granted.

Most of the year has passed me by and I haven’t once written about it being a שמיטה (shmittah) year. Living in the greater Jerusalem area, not owning a garden or any trees, and mainly associating with kosher people, I’ve just not had to worry about it much.

Isn’t that just the Jewish life in Israel though? What it ought to be? Living the traditions we’ve been passing down for thousands of years like they’re just… normal?

And isn’t it funny that I started writing this post yesterday and today we walked past a tree with baby plums hanging over a fence… And we plucked one off and it was the first time I’ve ever ‘stolen’ fruit in a shmittah year… I am sure there are all kinds of halachot making that experience unkosher, but at least it tasted nice.

If you are looking for something to study over Shavuot next week, or were considering planting a garden… here’s a little Shmittah Gardening Guide, before it’s too late.