Old school Israeli phonage.

Spotted in Ashkelon: Anyone remember these? A little younger than the Asimon-eating public pay phones, the Telecard-eating phones were a classic by the time I first started coming to Israel in 2000.

No, I didn’t bother to see if it still worked. Remember the one-in-a-million magical Telecard that would never run out?

Israeli life on paper.

I’m covered in dust as I write this from the depths of old documents, yellowed papers, stacks of ancient bills. Call it spring cleaning, call it nesting, call it what you will but I have managed to set aside three cartonim of dead trees to recycle. 

What’s super fun about doing something like this – in what is probably the first time since I’ve had a teudat zehut – is the fact that I get to find all the bits and pieces that mark my time in Israel as an olah. Cards from well wishers, that intro packet they give you from the Ministry of Absorption, the first apartment contract (ah, rechov Lamed Hey…). 

It’s all flashing before my eyes on old crinkly papers: my first Israeli bank account, my first Orange bills, subsequently my first Cellcom bills (what self-respecting Israeli would only have one phone contract?), my university application. Contracts from my first job here, updated contracts from my first job here. Bar Ilan schedules and Bar Ilan bills. Minhal Studentim letters and ishurs and then the faxes pleaing for more money from Minhal Studentim. 

Did I mention Bar Ilan notebooks and Bar Ilan finals schedules and Bar Ilan student ID cards and Bar Ilan assignments? 

My Israeli life on paper seems to have been fairly active so far. Getting here, opening accounts, applying for jobs and internships, signing housing and job contracts, organizing trips abroad and health insurance, working on a second degree, planning a wedding, proving my Judaism in order to get married, owning a dog, continuing to work on a second degree, getting pregnant. I’ve been jobless and homeless and directionless and I’ve been hard-working and studious and settled down. City life, suburbia. Single, married. Student, employee.

While there have been many chapters to my aliyah so far, I do feel like this is the beginning of a truly new and fresh chapter; perhaps this is a ‘Part II’. Everything before has been about me and my perspective, whether on my own or as part of a relationship, and from here on in, well, life in Israel – the good, the bad, the scary – will be shaped by the existence of a unit far greater in value than just me.

Next up: Israeli family life.

Beware the crabits in your cards…

Is it passe to make fun of English spelling mistakes on Israeli marketing products? Eh, I still find it amusing and I’m sure one day my kids will make fun of me for the Hebrew mistakes I make in the little notes in their lunchboxes.

Anyway, I am offering a public service announcement about what is either an unprofessional Israeli credit card company or a dangerously itchy STD you can get from your wallet:

This is pretty impressive considering it seems to be part of their official company title: Israel crabit cards, ltd.

Just stay away from the crabits and you’ll be ok.

Welcome home, me.

I’m back, I’m jetlagged, I’m trying to catch up with work. I get a phone call.

Israeli marketing guy: Is this Mishpachat G—-?

Me: Yes.

Israeli marketing guy: Are you the wife?

Me: Yes.

Israeli marketing guy: I’m calling from Makor Rishon, a dati leumi newspaper and we’d like you to join our readership, bla bla…

Me: Thanks, but we don’t need that right now.

Israeli marketing guy: We don’t need you, either. We are looking for dati leumi families to join this network of Makor Rishon… bla bla… You are dati, aren’t you?

Me: Sort of. Still don’t need it. Bye.

I missed Israel so bad… right?

B’kitzur… Israeli advertising is scary.

So I’m going through my July edition of “בקיצור” (b’kitzur, in short)  which is a newsletter for yishuvim in the Matte Yehuda region. It’s packed with ads and superficial articles, but once in a while there is a gem – or two – that must be shared.

Take the following advertisement, for example. It’s a sale at Super Pharm, everyone’s favorite Walgreen’s attempt. It’s having a sale on its home brand products – three eyeliners for the price of one, various hair products for two shekel each… and then this:

Buy a box of condoms, but don't forget the bandaids!

‘Buy one get one free’ between first-aid gear and condoms. What kind of kinky sex do you think we’re having, Super Pharm?

Which leads to the second bizarre inappropriate ad in the bunch… Dancing is big in Israel, especially folk dancing. What a wonderful chug to send your kids to during the summer. You might want to consider this dance instructor:

Um... what kind of dancing do you teach, exactly?

On second thought, you might not. Her name is Pipi Nes. Go on, say that quickly. Drop one of the ‘p’s and say it again.

On coming and going, via route self marking.

I attended a fascinating discussion last night called “Piercing, Tattooing, and Cutting: Traditional Sources Meet a Modern-Day Trend.” It was held in Merkaz Edna and led by Sarah Halevi, a psychotherapist from Efrat.

It was basically a review of the connections and implications of self-marking from sociological, psychological and halachic vantages. While I didn’t necessary learn that much news, I did get a trip off hearing these issues discussed in a somewhat-public forum. The small audience was made up of a pierced girl who was probably younger than me, a girl around my age who is a social worker, two concerned moms (religious) and a very concerned set of parents (religious, somewhat naive).

Halevi summed something up that was definitely news in the way that I’ve never heard it put so simply before. She said she once had a student who explained to her the difference between American teenagers and Israeli teenagers when it comes to self-marking, drugs, etc.

American teenagers want to להכנס (come in) while Israel i teenagers want to לצאת (go out). The Americans are coming from a life filled with numbness and materialism; it’s empty and they need to prick themselves in order to feel alive. The Israelis live in a land of denial; they are expected to buck up and move on when a fellow student is shot and killed on the highway or an older sibling loses a limb in the army. They don’t get a chance to wallow or escape, so they do anything to remove themselves from the situation.

It can go either way, of course, depending on your family and social status, but in a general sense it was interesting. Definitely food for thought for the anxious parents present, who by the way, were all Anglos living in Israel… Maybe that has something to do with it?

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…