The Messiah: Oren Zarif-style.

If you are looking for a laugh – a reprieve from some annoyingly tedious Israeli political news lately – how about yet another Oren Zarif adventure:

Healer hails TV personality Yaron London as official messiah

If you ask Oren Zarif, a self-styled super-healer, the messiah has been here for some time. Meanwhile, the messiah continues to deal with the petty things in life, keeps up with the news and doesn’t miss the days when he broadcast together with Motti Kirschenbaum on Channel 10. 

In his dream, Zarif sees the messiah, better known as TV personality Yaron London, riding through the streets of cities on a white donkey and blowing a large shofar, heralding the redemption. Zarif takes his dreams seriously. That is why he has contacted an advertising agency to begin a campaign to crown London as the official messiah. Of all time.  (Haaretz)

If you don’t know any backstory on Oren Zarif, the mystical Mizrahi healer who advertises heavily in the Jerusalem Post weekend editions, make sure to read up so you can appreciate this new bit in full: 

Then go back and read the urgent breaking news Haaretz had to publicize. And read until the end – the last paragraph is gold.

I need to be schooled.

Today we volunteered at a ‘shuk kach-ten’ – kind of a giant yard sale where you bring junk and take other people’s junk. It was at the elementary school in Tzur Hadassah.

It was also the first time I have entered an Israeli school while it was in session. Kids running everywhere. Not unlike my own elementary school days… just, the screeching, laughing and taunting were in Hebrew.

I looked around at all these kids and their parents and their teachers… It’s absolutely true that the culture of education – and more importantly, the culture of schools – in Israel is completely different than what a lot of us Anglos grew up with. You could say here it is… without… certain elements we were raised to value.  

After exiting the building quite bewildered, I went up to my husband and posed the following: “What the %#@! were we thinking having a child in Israel? Do you realize we are those immigrant parents? Elementary school was bad enough for me in English… How is my kid going to survive in this with me as a mom?”

The little vagina that could (or, My own monologue).

Six years ago I first started to understand the Vagina Monologues sensation while studying abroad at an English university. It was thanks to two lovely ladies who I befriended and who invited me to their rehearsals for the campus V-Day performance that year. I was intrigued and going through a period of introspection so I became involved, mentally, from a sideline. 

Since I watched the performance that year and started learning more about the whole deal, I decided I really wanted to be a part of it one day. Every year I’d hear about performances too late to join; I wasn’t involved in anything womyn-like so I guess I just never got the memos (although – do note, and back me up if you know what I’m talking about – the Vagina Monologues is not very womyn-oriented and is way more down-to-earth than that). Well, instead, I brought friends to other performances I knew about on my campus.

Anyway, I finally got my chance to participate – this year. As a pregnant woman. In my eighth-and-a-half month. Doing the monologue of a young girl (for a little irony). 

It was a personal challenge; I actually never announced to anyone until the past week that I was doing it. I’m not an actress. I really just wanted somehow to be connected to this project at some point. Aside from the sideline. So I took it on and I’m really satisfied that I did. Discovered in England, evangelized in the States and then performed in Israel.

For promotion-sake, BaMatMaBat is the ‘experimental theater company’ that is running the show; there was one event in Tel Aviv on Monday and then last night in Jerusalem. A third one is scheduled for this Saturday night in Jerusalem. I’m very proud of the organizers for managing packed audiences both nights so far. I’m also proud that the Jerusalem performance included a very diverse audience – diverse, foremost, in age of the viewers. I sensed the older women laughing hardest.

I guess I haven’t explained why I wanted to take on this ‘personal challenge’ and what it actually means to me. When I first saw the show back then, I didn’t even know how much – or that I had at all – conflicted feelings connected to womanhood, sisterhood, vaginas, femininity and being a Jewish female. This triggered an exploration of self that I never expected to get out of a semester abroad in England but am still glad I got to experience. I became able to express so much: Why I feel positive about being a Jewish female in a male-dominated religious world. How I viewed my sexuality and what I was willing to accept and could never allow. How I’m not alone in a world that is actually filled with vaginas. That underneath a lot of gender insecurity, there will always be women who I can connect to and love. 

Being pregnant as I took this on, I felt it was a great way to connect to my baby, too. I don’t know its gender, but if it’s a boy I do hope that perhaps some of this energy has seeped into its unborn spirit and he can learn a kind of respect and peace for his opposite sex. If it’s a girl, well… I just hope she’ll have the confidence, self-worth and love it takes to be part of the happy, gender-satisfied vagina-folk of the world.


And for those interested in reading more: 

The Jerusalem Post article


An unlikely metaphor.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine something you’ve never done before. I imagine this impending adventure… to be similar to a bad trip I had many years ago. 

A friend and I were spending a few days in Amsterdam. These were college years, so you can imagine what we were doing. The evening before we were departing back to the States we experimented with a ‘pastry’ that turned out to not be whatever easygoing vegetation we had expected, leading to what was the worst – and I guess only – bad trip I’d ever had.

I don’t remember a lot of it; it went on all night and into the morning and then remnants of the experience continued into the flight home. What I do remember is this: At some point, I was curled up in a ball on a lobby couch of a hostel, holding myself in perhaps a fetal situation, in and out of pseudo-clarity, thinking to myself: ok, ok, body, you need to do what you need to do to end this… Only my body and time can end this… 

All in all, it was a very physical experience. I don’t really have many physical experiences in general, outside the obvious daily routines. I’m not a very physically-oriented person.

There wasn’t much my mind could do but hallucinate and wait for my body to work itself out. Mind-me had this subconscious or lower-layer trust in body-me.

And that’s what I keep hearing in birthing class, birthing books, from friends with positive birth experiences: trust the body; the body is built for this; it will work itself out the way it was designed to. Mind-me will give way to body-me and all of us will experience something we’ve never known but have always been prepared for, somehow.

Ok, so I don’t know that any of that is actually true. And comparing labor to a bad trip might be kind of mean and insensitive. And at the end of the former, you get a baby… not a hangover.

But for the sake of trying to imagine something I’ve never done before… that’s what I’m thinking.

Tzur Hadassah update: new council, more mail.

Lots of interest in Tzur Hadassah these days, at least in my crowd. Thought I’d update on how the yishuv is doing since our local election and a new local council has letter-bombed all of us residents with their promises. Here are some of those promises: 

  • Plans to finish a locale for the Tzofim (scouts) and the 60+ forum. 
  • Work with the moetza (local council for the area, Matte Yehuda) to solicit certain funds for direct Tzur Hadassah projects. 
  • Work on a better system for recycling to the benefit of the environment. 
  • Lobby for more independance for Tzur Hadassah from Matte Yehuda regional council. 
  • A new school will be opened next academic year as a joint project with the rest of the moetza. 
  • New security service for the yishuv. 
  • Working with the other small yishuvim in the area (called yishuvay mazleg, fork towns – Mavo Beitar, Matta, Bar Giyora and Nes Harim) on more cultural, educational and community programs.

If they work on the security, the programs and the school I’d be happy, personally. 

A word about the school: I’m not sure if the school they mention in the letter is the same school that  leaders of the miniscule dati leumi community are planning to open next year… But yes, the (itsy bitsy) dati leumi community, HaTzur V’haTzohar, is working on a new dati school to serve this area, beginning with first grade next year. It’s supposed to be dati-style but catering to a masorti-plus audience, principaled by the community rabbi’s wife. If all goes well, they’ll add a new grade every year.

Weddings and pregnancy: cans and can'ts.

I learned something new last night at the wedding of two friends. I’ve been to three weddings while pregnant. The last time I had been at a wedding was when I was about a month or so  pregnant and before that I was just post-pregnancy test. Last night I was eight months or so pregnant. These experiences have been completely different. 

First of all, it’s nice to actually enjoy the food. That is a plus at being this much pregnant at a wedding. Then again, at the early point of a week pregnant I could enjoy a guilt-free glass of white wine more easily than I would now. Either way, not being able to get alcohol-giddy at a wedding is something I miss.

Another pro to being late-stage pregnant is that people know you’re pregnant… In that first wedding, when I didn’t have the designated driver excuse, I had drinks shoved at me here and there. Fortunately my adrenaline kept me moving and covered up my sober state.  

Then there is this sad fact: heavily pregnant women can’t dance. Some do try and look terribley awkward for it (myself included). I just didn’t realize this to be the case until yesterday. I discovered that, despite carrying all in the front in a ‘compact belly’ as a midwife once called it, the baby package manages to get in the way (tip: dance on your partner’s feet).

I’m  not tired of being pregnant but I do miss dancing and drinking… I do miss enjoying a wedding to its fullest.

Usually not big on excuses, but…

I felt pretty bad about canceling my physio appointment this morning after waiting over two months since I first booked it with my kuppah. I felt worse for the people who are still waiting for their appointments  more than I felt bad for myself. I thought I’d get chewed out by the receptionist when I called to cancel (yes, I have that decency to call and cancel even an hour before the appointment; maybe there is a waiting list…).

No need to worry though. She grumpily said that she doesn’t know when she can make me a new appointment and then asked why I needed it in the first place. I planned to say, “I’m pregnant and don’t feel well today and I live outside Jerusalem and I’m sorry and I know this isn’t nice of me…” but as soon as I said “I’m pregnant” she went all Israeli high-pitched and said, “Ooooh! Well, feel good then! Ok… B’sha’a tova. Be well.”

Gotta take more advantage of that with less than two months left.

Still got it though.

This morning, my husband dropped me off in front of my office and right before I opened the door to the car, I give him a quick kiss as is the morning routine. After we do this, I usually automatically peek around to see if anyone walking outside happened to see; maybe its modesty or maybe its residual from my teenage years.

I reached into the back seat to grab  my bag and noticed another couple in a car behind us, a guy getting dropped off by his woman… Except instead of a quick morning kiss, they were full-on making out – hands on faces and everything. Nine in the morning. I could almost see the slobber dripping off their faces.  

“Quick, look back there – they’re full-on making out!”

“They really are.”

“I guess we’ve been married a while, huh.”