Lucky number 13.

Here’s a subtle cultural difference you don’t think about that often as a dual New York-Israel citizen.

In Israel – as in Judaism in general – 13 is a great number. It’s the number when a boy becomes a man, at least mitzvot-wise.

In Anglo culture – or is it Christian culture? European culture?  – the number 13 is not a reference to the Bar Mitzvah, but an unlucky number that must be avoided. For my American side, the number 13 conjures up thoughts of black cats and witches; pretty much Halloween.

I have heard of very old-school high-rise buildings in New York that were built to ‘skip’ the 13th level; who would want to live or work on such an unlucky floor?

That includes the office building where I work while I’m here in New York. Here’s the solution:

A little American ignorance never hurt anyone, eh?

To be fair, Israelis (and Jews) are plenty superstitious. It’s just not concerning the number 13.

For purple mountain majesties…

The following are 1/10 the amount of photos I took in the last 48 hours I’ve been in Colorado visiting family.

It was hard to pick out just ten, and even that is a ridiculous amount to post. But guess what? The Colorado Rockies are breathtaking and I’m a country girl now. Ok, the Judean Hills are not exactly breathtaking… Which is all the more reason my 12,000+ mile climb into the mountain range was so incredibly cool.

The road ahead… is long and winding.

On the way up, past a lake.

That’s a whole lotta trees… Jerusalem forest pales…

The ultimate view. A little bit of everything.

This kid actually scurried by, posed, and ran off with his friends.

This was over 12,000 feet up,

What a palette.

A rocky view of Rockies.

Do not mess with this guy on the side of the road.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado: Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining.

In touch with my American roots.

After six months in England, I couldn’t stand it.

In Israel, it’s really nothing special.

But as an American female currently located in New York City, riding the subway, there is nothing sexier to me at this moment than a hot, sweaty, lacrosse player boarding the train, looking dazed and leaning over to ask me, in an English accent,

“This is the E train, is it?”

Even if he is wearing an NYPD t-shirt…

The twisted mind of an expat.

I’m in New York City for the next three weeks.

On one stretch,  between my office on 35th to the bus on 42nd, I hear not one – not two – but three Hebrew conversations.

I get on the bus, there’s a six pack of hard lemonade in my seat; former passenger leftovers. I drop everything and carry  it over to the bus driver. Then I walk back to my seat and feel guilty that if it’s laced with explosives, I just killed him.

Yeah, that never gets old.

My semi-Mehadrin life.

Checked the mail today. Being in a  new district, outside of Jerusalem, makes for interesting mail. Tzur Hadassah is technically a part of Matte Yehuda (מטה יהודה) but it borders Beitar, which is technically in Gush Etzion, however… yeah.

So in the mail, I usually get telephone books for different districts, catalogs for different shopping centers. Today I got a booklet that is proud to claim it is the מדריך עסקים למהדרין – the guide for Mehadrin business. That’s super-kosher business, folks.

I had a thought and when I flipped through its glossy pages advertisements, my suspicions were proven right: not a single photo or image of a female throughout. Truly Mehadrin.

They say Beitar is expanding into Wadi Fukin, taking over the small Arab town one housing development at a time. You can see Beitarians striding through Tzur Hadassah on power walks. And now we get to partake in their advertising literature…

Well, I suppose it serves us right; Tzur Hadassians are known to use Beitar facilities, too… like Mehadrin Rami Levi, Mehadrin kupot cholim, Mehadrin hardware stores…

Doda? That's me.

Last night I got to be the family member who picks up my cousin’s sick kid from a camping trip near my house.

Basically, I have Israeli cousins up north, and they sent their daughter on a youth movement camping trip which was located about 15 minutes from my place. She had called them late last night, complaining she didn’t feel well. They called me and asked if I minded picking her up and letting her stay over.

Of course I obliged; if you’re an oleh with Israeli friends/family who have done nothing but taken care of you since you arrived, all you want to do is repay them. Often I’m told to “pay it forward,” which I do, but it is so nice when you can really prove how settled you are by doing favors for the same people who took you in at the beginning.

It was also kinda fun to be the adult family member to sign out the minor. I felt like an authority. Plus they all called me “doda” which made me feel old, but in a cool, hip, young aunt kind of way.

Israeli working women: Know your rights!

I was sent this article by a fellow Israeli working woman:

Israeli working women: Know your rights

Israel is a completely different ball game when it comes to employee privacy, workers’ rights and being a woman in all that. You can sit at a job interview and get asked, “Are you planning on getting pregnant anytime soon?” and it’s culturally acceptable.

Apparently, it’s not legally acceptable anymore:

“During job interviews, young women are still likely to be asked the embarrassing question: “Are you planning to get pregnant?” Yet there were amendments to the Employment of Women Law in the past year and a half that work in women’s favor, which all working women should know about.”

Womens of Israel! Know your rights! The issues will come up – whether it’s about marriage, pregnancy, breast feeding, kid care. Be aware of the laws and the system in place to protect you before you get there.

Here are some of the amendments in place (courtesy of Haaretz):

  • A woman who misses work to breast-feed her baby, or due to a miscarriage, cannot be fired for 60 days after her return to work.
  • A father’s unpaid paternity leave can be instead of his wife’s unpaid leave.

However, is it true, as some would argue, that “every amendment that benefits working women deters employers, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, from hiring” them?

On the other hand, a hi tech CEO had this to say to negate that:

“Women, at least in high-tech are keenly aware of their rights. They tend to be more loyal to an organization than men. I will never forget [this loyalty] at the height of the high-tech bubble, 10 years ago, when not a single woman left us. If there are amendments to the law – this is natural and proper.”

Well, either way, as long as their are laws and amendments in place, it’s best for us to know about them so we can play by the rules out there.