Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Just Rambling

We found great pizza right here in our neighborhood. After much searching, we went to a little pizza place around the corner. I wasnt impressed walking in, its a tiny place and had a lot of little kids seeing if they had enough ten agurot coins to buy an ice cream. But we ordered a slice each and were very impressed! The place is on Reins street, run by a Frenchy couple (I know, I know, but french or not, you cant deny a good pizza). Its called Dekalim or soemthing like that. They put sesame seeds on the crust.

Why do people make seperate seating weddings?? I understand if they want to sit the unmarried people seperately, but what problem can there possibly be in a man sitting next to his wife? Is the problem that theres going to be four or five couples at the table, so you may look at the guys wife sitting next to you? Maybe even ask her to pass you a drink!? Do people that make these weddings invite other people over for Shabbat? Cuz then you also have another mans wife at the same table as you. I think some people like to be more religious then the next guy, and this was the best they could come up. I was at one wedding, men and women ate in different rooms. Why do they stop there? I have a better idea. Why doesnt the girl make someone her shaliach (messenger) to get married for her. Then you dont even have to have girls at the Chuppa. The guy can have a party in one neighborhood, the girl can have her brother act in her place to get married, and she can have a separate party in another place entirely. Dont laugh, its going to get there. So MyShan is at her friends wedding, which I opted not to go since its separate. Now, I dont really mind missing the wedding, but I dislike the principle of the matter. Why would someone invite me to a wedding of people I dont know, and then not even seat me next to my wife, the one people I DO know??

I have a test tomorrow in macro. I just dont care anymore. People are starting school after their long summer break, and my summer break hasnt even started yet. At least I get off til November. I dont know what I'm doing next year, I dont care, as long as its not what I did this year. At least I got married this year, so no one can say I did nothing.

We saw an awesome movie the other day. Skeleton Key. I'm not usually into thrillers and that stuff, but this was very cool. Kinda sixth sense-like.

Do they have buffet style weddings in America? We went to a wedding the other day (mixed seating) and they served us the little piece of meat with greenbeans and potatoes on the side. We were comparing that to our wedding which was buffet and you could take all you want. Getting served seems more fancy, but its really not better. Then you have to choose between which main course you want. Buffet, you can take all the main courses!! Fancier or not, I'm a much bigger fan of buffet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

הפרויקט של עידן רייכל

What a day yesterday! Following in the spirit of the Israeli Zacks, we signed a lease on a different apartment. Finally, we will get away from all the construction over here!! Our new place is a few streets over, across from the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva.
Lisa used an expression a few weeks ago that really sums up how I feel. "I want to disengage from the disengagement". I dont think we should sit around being depressed 24/7, so instead, we went to a concert last night. The Project of Idan Reichel. It was amazing!! Idan Reichel is the leader and the keyboardist, who also sings a bit. He has 3 singers, 2 Ethiopian and one something else. Theres a regular guitarist, a guy with a four string guitar, a drummer, and a guy with 3 bongo drums, a tarbuka (a piece of pottery covered in leather) like 3 kinds chimes, two things he was shaking in his hand, a regular drum, a triangle, and probably more things I didnt notice. Half the songs were in Ethiopian. But you got to figure that even concerts in English you can barely understand what they are saying. The music was great, we strongly recommend anyone coming to Israel to go to one of their concerts.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Lillinthals

A few years ago, I was with a friend, and we were thinking of somewhere fun to go for Shabbat. We decided on Gaza, and I started calling everyone in my phone to see who had a contact there. One friend had another friend who had been there, and he got me the number to the Lillinthals. I called them, told them that my friends had been at their house, and could my friend and I come for shabbat. They readily agreed, andso we went. We told the bus driver we were going to the Lillinthals, and he dropped us off by their house. When we went in they immediately served us cakes and drinks. They told us they werent quite ready for Shabbat, we couldnt help, but we should go see where the Arabs shoot at them from. So we went to this wall where you see Khan Yunis. Shabbat there was amazing. She is an American lady, from Brooklyn if I remember correct. He's Israeli born, from Chaifa. They had other people there also, a couple with a baby. At night we sat and listened to the sound of rockets falling. They told is what it had been like there at the beginning, before Oslo. When they built their Bet Knesset, all the Arab chiefs from all the surrounding tribes came to the dedication. There was always a fence around the settlement, but the Arabs used to all hop it to come to work. They had hired an arab from Khan Yunis to teach them Arabic. It was a peaceful beautiful area until Oslo. Then we gave the Arabs guns, gave the terrorists power, and it all went to hell. They used to occasionally talk to their Arabic tutor on the phone, but he was scared of the extremist leaders in Khan Yunis coming after him for talking to a Jew. Then they changed the fence to an electric one, barbed wire around it, soldiers hanging from a crane over the area between Jew and Arabs. They had a beautiful house, it had been recently remodeled. Mr Lillinthal was in charge of filling the soda machines around the army bases, their backyard was stocked high with drinks. They told us story after story of peoples houses getting hit with rockets, their cars getting hit, watching rockets fall in front of them. It was an amazing Shabbat.
This morning I saw them in Jerusalem. They were walking around the Old City, and asked me how to get somewhere. I recognized them, and asked them how they were. They were fine, they said, staying at the Jerusalem Gold hotel, til they had somewhere else to go. Her sister was from Netzer Chazani, and they were sending them to the Golan for now. I didnt know what to tell them. This elderly couple, they had hosted people every Shabbat for years, all strangers, always going out of their way. Every time I talked to someone who had been in Neve Dekalim, they told me they had gone to the Lillinthals. I stood in front of this couple, now homeless, totally shocked. I gave them my number, asked them to please call if they need anything. I hope they do.

Two Historical Thoughts

When you go on the tour of Masada, theere are big rocks that look like cannonballs. They tell you the Jews prepared these rocks to roll down at the enemy as they came up and attacked. So why are they still at the top of Masada and not at the bottom? Cuz the Romans used Jewish prisoners to build the ramps going up; the Jews even while knowing they were going to be attacked and killed couldnt throw rocks at their brothers. Everyone is surprised that Gaza fell so quick, but what was the alternative?

In the Middle Ages there was the big "Burning of the Books", when the church burned every copy of the Gemara and every Jewish book they could get in their hands. I recall hearing the Rabbis said the church took the precedent from the Jews themselves, when they didnt agree with R' Luzattos books, they publicly burned them. I hope that these scenes that the whole world is seeing, of Jews destroying their own shuls, of expelling Jews from their homes, isnt taken as a precedent for anoyone else.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Meat! Meat! Meat!

Today was my parents last day of their trip here :-( Being as we could finally eat meat after the nine day meat fast, we went to Burger Bar. I usually order a 300g spicy burger, but this time I felt different, so I went with the steak salad. It was good, but you miss out on a lot of the meat flavor by mixing it with lettuce. After dinner we went home, ready to call it a night. But then! Shanys friend came in from America, she is staying by us, so her parents invited us to dinner. We ended up at La Guta, a nice restaurant at the end of town. The menu was full of things like foie de gras, sweetbread, goose legs, mallard breasts, and other such interesting foods. I ordered a pumpkin soup, and MyShan ordered goose liver. Not wanting to impose on people I'd never met before and having had already eaten I didnt order anything else. The mother looked very hurt that neither Shan nor I had ordered a main course so I took it upon myself to look at the menu and order. I went with a sirloin steak. I will freely admit that I dont know the difference between sirloin or entrecote, or most any kind of steak (except pinwheel steaks). But it was delicious. As I was eating my steak I realized how much I had missed meat. We had a very enjoyable evening, and now I'm sitting at home, not wanting to brush my teeth for fear the taste will go away.
Cow, cow, how I missed you.
Though I enjoy the milk from inside you
Its you that I truly crave.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hitnatkut isnt the Only Sad News

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thoughts before 9 B'Av

Everyone has their own first-year-in-Israel memories. Here are some of mine.....
coming back from Ranana Saturday night, I get dropped off near town. I decide to walk through town and then go to my friends apartment. As I get near King George I hear a massive noise, at once I cant identify it, but I know what it is. A moment later, another equally loud noise. All around me people panic, all running towards town. Not knowing what to do, I run with them. The first thing I see is a grown man, screaming in pain, holding his head, while blood flows down his arms. I keep walking, barely able to breath, my legs moving on their own. I remember the noise of the screaming, of people running around. I looked down as I walked, the ground covered in pieces of glass and blood. i remember the feeling of revulsion going through me as I had to walk on it. To my right, was a leg. Covered in pants and a shoe, the leg lay there on its own. I dont remember how, but at some point it became clear that it was the leg of the bomber. I remember hearing sirens, not from ambulances, since they hadnt arrived yet, but from the stores lining the street. I walked through the whole street, kept walking, not stopping til I got to my friends apartment. On the way, I was passed by humdreds of Charaidim, all throwing on their Hatzala vests as they ran to the scene. I got to my friends, they were inside watching a movie, didnt even know what happened ten minutes away from them. I just sat there and didnt move, the shock turning into shame that I hadnt been able to stop and help. I dont know what I couldve done, but I know I did nothing. 11 people were killed, and 188 were wounded that night....
Fast forward a month and a half. I had forced myself to go back to town, saying that I will not allow terrorists to dictate where I go. I still felt fluttering in my heart every time I came near, but I still went. There was a meeting for supporters of Cherut, an extreme right wing political party, at Cafe Rimon. So in the middle of the afternoon, I went to town, to attend the meeting. It started to rain, so I quickly walked down Yaffa street and turned towards the cafe. I saw a friend of mine who had also come for the meeting, and we stood under an awning talking. Suddenly we heard another noise I had never heard before, outside of movies. I looked up, trying to place it, when my friend grabbed my arm. Theyre shooting at us, he yelled at me, and we ran into the closest building. We went up two flight of stairs and saw an office door open, with a window that faced the street. Their was a man leaning out the window, trying to signal to the police where the terrorist was shooting from. I looked outside, and saw people laying in the street, the police were slowly coming forward but they didnt know where the shooter was, so they were proceeding very cautiously. The terrorist was still shooting, and I feared he would look up, and shoot the man in front of me. I sat down, not able to watch, the sound of sirens etching into my brain The police finally killed him. He had been shooting from an alley behind a bus stop. A few hours later, I walked down Yaffa, after it had been cleared up. There were a group of people holding up signs, "Peace Now", "The occupation is illegal", and other such stuff. I was shocked at their callousness. On the other side of the road were people holding "Kahana was right" signs. I was sickened by both sides, each trying to advance their cause on the bodies of the people I had seen fall. I walked to where the shooter had been standing, and saw bullet holes in the shoe store that was next to him. Someone pointed out to me that the shoe store was one of the very few stores in that area with a sign in Arabic-that they were, in effect, welcoming in the very people that shot up their store. One of the strongest emotions I felt at that time was despair at my inability to do anything. Why did I have to keep running? 2 people were killed that day, and 40 wounded....
Fast forward a few months. I'm sitting with a friend, having a shwarma at a place on King George, discussing the bombing we had both been at. We hear an ambulance and we both stop talking. Then another, and another, and another. We both know what it is. My friend gets up and says he has to see what happened. I tell him I've seen enough. I stay in the schwarma place, and a few minutes later a news bulletin comes on that a bomb went off in Cafe Moment on Azza Street. 11 killed, 54 injured.....
These are obviously only a few of my memories from that year. I toured the entire country, vacationed in Eilat, spent Fridays in Tel Aviv, spent two days going up north giving presents to children with cancer. both on chanuka and purim, seeing a menora in front of every city, danced with Chabad and Breslov in town, learned how to tremp, how to bargain, how to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut (by running through town spraying everyone with foam), and everything else there is to learn in a year here. But the sound of screaming, of sirens, will never be far from the front of my mind.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

All In A Day

My issue with Egged-If the bus is supposed to leave at 7, sometimes that means that the bus will be waiting at 6:50 and leave at 7, and sometimes the bus will get there at 7 and not leave til 7:15. Guaranteed when your there at 6:50, its not leaving til 7:15.

My issue with Bar Ilan-A summer course has started for those who failed the spring semester in macroeconomics. But the grades havent gone out yet. Once people find out if they failed, they already missed a bunch of the summer classes.

My issue with ants-Ants look like theyre efficient, they make huge lines and have thousands of ants rushing from one side to the other. But if you look close, most of them arent holding anything. I think theyre just trying to look busy so they dont get in trouble. Also, they have the same line going back and forth, so they are constantly bumping into each other. After all this evolution, dont you think they would make two lanes?

My issue with Jews-The rally last night was amazing. Saying Tehillim with tens of thousands of people, from all different segments all together, just amazing. But why, why, at the end, when everyone is davening Maariv together, does there need to be two breakaway minyanim? Couldnt everyone, for once, all say it together. Instead, while tens of thousands of people are all quietly saying shemone esrei, we need to hear two different chazanim screaming Kaddish, both of them around a minute slower then everyone else. It just bugs me.

My issue with Hitnatkut-Why do they make it on Tu B'Av, which is supposed to be one of the happiest days in the year?

I think thats all my issues for now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I just came back from the mass prayer rally at the Kotel. It was amazing. I havent enjoyed a Tefilla like that in years. But I'm tired so more later

Getting Ready

Every day as I scroll through MyYahoo to read the comics (Foxtrot, Garfield, and Ziggy), I pass a little news blurb about how many U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since March 2003. Today the number is 1,836.
British have 93 deaths
Italy, 26
Ukraine, 18
Poland, 17
Bulgaria, 13
Spain, 11
Slovakia, 3
El Salvador Estonia, Thailand and the Netherlands, 2 each
Denmark, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Latvia 1 death each.
2,029 deaths total
Assuming the war started March 1, 2003, its been about 850 days long.
For over 2 years, more then 2 soldiers a day have been dying on average.
If you believe the Iraqi body count website (I never heard of them, but for some reason I equate them with the Palestine monitor or Btselem, i.e. liberal people, i.e. people that feel that the only way to stop terror is to give the terrorists whatever they want and make them happy)
the Iraqi civilian death count is between 23,000 to 26,000. around 30 people a day.
I dont know what I want from these numbers. Is there a fair price to pay for freedom to say that this cost is too much? Or just the opposite. After all these people have died, we cant stop it now, then all their deaths would be in vain.

Friday, August 05, 2005

If I were the Rule Maker-Part I

We're coming down to it. The worst time of the year. The nine days. Starting Sunday, no meat, no pleasure bathing, laundry, wine. Who came up with this list? (interestingly, if you type "nine days music" into google, you dont get anything jewish, but "three weeks music"the second thing is a halacha post) why would laundry be banned? Thats isnt a pleasure thing. And massages are allowed. I just dont get it. Then the whole thing gets scammed away. A Capella music isnt actually music. If you dont enjoy it, why would you listen to it? And if you do enjoy, how could it possibly be allowed?? Then theres the argument about live music. What ever happened to the core of the issue. The point is to decrease happiness. I was in New York (unfortunately) for the nine days one year. I went with my friend to get ice cream, and they had a big sign up. "Nine day ice cream sale! Buy one get one free!". I bet this is the best time of the year for the ice cream guy. and the pizza guy. The whole point is totally gone. I remember in high school, one of our Rabbis said there nothing more wrong about listening to non-Jewish music during the three weeks (or maybe sefira) then any other time, since its always assur. I dont know what crowd he thought he was preaching to, but being as everyone in that room listened to music, we all listened then also. Another thing is people who confuse no "pleasure bathing" with "no showering". OK, I dont actually know of anyone like that, but I'm sure theyre out there...
If I were the rule maker, I would announce everyone had to lower their happiness level due to Temple Destruction. Then I would put up a list of suggested ways to do this, with everyone having to pick at least two that directly affect them. (There would be some qualifications, such as, you cant pick not going to a concert if you wouldnt have gone anyway) A little booklet, that had to be read, would go out about how our lives are worse off now, calamities that have happened on this day, and a few tips on how to help make things better. The advantage and disadvantage of this system are the same. Some people wouldnt do it because there's no pressure, no one knows what they picked, but people wouldnt do it entirely because of pressure as they do now. Also, the focus would stay on "mourning Temple loss", and not "which music is allowed exactly", and "how do I get around the not-eating-meat thing? Oh, I'll make a siyum"
Shabbat Shalom to all

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Losing It

It finally hit me. The real purpose of road blockings. It keeps people interested. I never agreed with blocking the roads, but every time they did it, I went down to the city entrance and watched. Every time I saw a cop push over another kid, or a cop pushed me for watching, I became a little more connected to the cause. Without action, interest kinda wanes. So I went to the rally in Kfar Mamon, getting there really got me psyched up, getting thru two police barricades, walking for like an hour to get there, every step drew me closer to the cause. Once I was there, nothing happened. I went, hung out, and came home. Since then nothing has happened. I feel my interest level dropping. Not that my opinion has changed, but I feel less likely to act on my convictions. Now I understand the kid who walked into the street by himself to block traffic. He was just psyching himself up. Theres a rally going on now that I couldnt be at, and I dont even feel bad for missing it. I need a good Jerusalem protest to get me stirred up again. Religion is like that too. Without religious persecution, it takes out a lot of the thrill. I wonder how many more people would light Shabbat candles if they were told they werent allowed to?
So to all those down south protesting, good luck, but dont forget to bring some action back here to get us involved again.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ode to The Pool

So blue and inviting
Cold and clear
The water would sing
"Jump in, if you dare"

How i miss that pool
The times we had
The memories we share
Jumping in after school
Swimming laps with dad
Without a single care

Of late I sit here
I think of what I left
In that country there
Oh, how I am bereft

In my country of new
The heat is insane
Mirages start to grow
I dream of that blue
Of our fear it might rain
Of testing it with my toe

It was a choice I made
A decision I stand by
When I stood and bade
That oasis goodbye

But i still think of her chill
When I'm out in the heat
With the sun beating down
And I say someday I will
Acoomplish this feat
And her bring her to my new town