Archive for the ‘life in israel’ Category

De French are coming

February 2, 2017

6 Shevat, 5777 Jerusalem, Hanoch Ne’eman

Went to the new super, Osher Ad, yesterday, to buy some cookies and other items. Everyone meets at Osher Ad; Jews, Arabs, soldiers, civilians. It’s peace in the Middle East! And good cheap cookies.

At the checkout, and older French gentleman was my cashier. Facing him in the check out opposite was a French religious woman with a head covering. They spoke French with each other and Hebrew with a French accent to the customers. Yes the French are arriving, and they are even in the supers as cashiers! Ingathering of Exiles in real time! And you are there!

It’s no secret

January 10, 2017

12 Tevet 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem

On Sunday of this week, which was the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, some of my fellow Israelis were killed up the road. I heard tons of sirens going by, but it wasn’t till my roommate told me later in the afternoon that I knew what happened. An Arab drove his truck into a group of soldiers at the Tayelet.

The dignitaries showed up to survey the scene; the Police Chief, the PM and DM. Later the PM said: we are taking actions, we’ll defeat this, we’re taking action, including some things I can’t say what they are.

Gimme a break. Thanks for your public palliatives. Now, as always after things like this, we see more police cruising around for a while. It doesn’t help anything. As far as the things which “we can’t say what they are now”, I have about as much faith in them as in garlic toothpaste. Perhaps the mossad is going to sneak someone into Mahmoud Abbas’s bedroom and tickle his feet with a feather while he is sleeping? Is that your covert action? It has nothing to do with Mahmoud Abbas. That illusion is part of the problem. The truth is that there is no need for covert action. In fact, what is really needed is overt action. But that is what we fail to do.

When I ride my bicycle through the neighborhood where the terrorist came from, which is also close to the Tayelet, Arab teenagers tell me to get out, and Arab youngsters throw rocks at me. The Police have to be working to change that reality. With a real presence. With sting operations. All legal, responsible, non-covert things.

 

Maj. Hagai Ben Ari

January 8, 2017

10 Tevet, 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Yerushalayim

Last week a dear Israeli named Hagai Ben Ari passed away. He had been a commander of a Paratrooper Brigade during the war in Gaza two and half years ago. He was wounded in the head by a sniper, and was in a coma until last week.

He came from a wonderful religious moshav on the Golan Heights called Nov. He was a husband and father to three children. He was in his young thirties.

What hurts me most about tragedies like this is the feeling that they never should have happened. The anger about surrendering Gaza to terrorists. The anger about how troops were sent in to ground combat, instead of using our air force to its capacity, or more capacity.

I care about innocent Gazans too, but they are the responsibility of the Gazan government, Hamas, to protect by not starting wars with us. My brothers like Hagai Ben Ari, of blessed memory, are more important to me than Gazans.

Whither El Al?

November 24, 2016

24 Heshvan, 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem, Israel

When one flies El Al, as I often do, you hear their slogan “El Al: It’s not just an airline, it’s Israel”. 

Well, I think that is recently been shown to be somewhat true, in the negative sense that the airline’s management is showing the stupid attitudes which afflict a lot of the Israeli corporate world.

I am worried about the airline. They have nice staff for the flights, but something is sorely amiss in the boardroom. I have loyally flown them for the past 20 years, but my most recent flight, which I just booked, was on another airline. The current management is incompetent and foolish. They are doing everything to squeeze more money out of customers, and are unable to keep their pilots happy enough to show up for all their flights.

When I went to check on tickets for my upcoming trip, the website said that they “sincerely apologize from the bottom of our hearts” for recent flight disruptions. Well, I am sorry to say that I don’t believe the bottom of their hearts are a very deep place, and any Airline CEO who says, as the current one has, that they will fight the pilots “to the bitter end”, besides being a fool, is unfortunately going to likely achieve that; the end of his airline in its current configuration. He is going to run a good airline into the ground, excuse the expression.

Moreover, one of the pilots’ main complaints is fully justified. El Al has been severely overbooking flights, and then bumping people to other airlines. When I fly El Al, it is because I want to fly EL AL. I am paying more for the things EL AL has and others do not. Serially over-booking to insure full flights is a deception to customers. When I flew in for my Uncle’s funeral at the end of the summer, the flight was so overbooked that they did not even assign me a seat when I bought it or checked in. In the end, there were passengers sitting in the flight attendants’ seats, and the flight attendants were standing up. I was there.

What a contrast to a well run airline like Southwest, which I fly between states when I am visiting America.

Let us pray the owners of El Al wake up and smell the galley coffee before it is too late. Amen.

How to return to Israel

September 29, 2016

27 Elul 5776 Hanoch Ne’eman Jerusalem

This post is about the best way to arrive  in Israel. If you want to ask the more philosophic question of how one engenders the dorothy-like sentiment of “there is no place like home“, I defer you to other places.

But what is the best way to arrive in Israel? As I live in Jerusalem, I usually head from baggage claim to those beloved schlemiels waiting for you with a Nesher sherut van by the curb outside. That is usually a low point in my trip. After some twenty hours of travel, the last thing I feel like is piling into a taxi van for ninety minutes more of squashed travel. This week, when I returned from Phoenix via LA, I did what I have often thought of doing, but did not; I went to Tel Aviv first. It was a good decision and I think I am going to do this always from now on.

First of all, you don’t have to get in a van, rather you can buy a train ticket for 13.50 and get on the train which pulls up in the station right below the airport exit. There is room for your suitcase and you can sit like a human being as the train makes the 15 minute trip to Tel Aviv. Got off at the Center Station and took #5 bus to dizengoff street. Got out and walked towards sea. Came to Hayarkon street near the Carlton and walked through the nice park there. Arrived at lookout over ocean, beautiful and refreshing ocean breeze. Walked down to marina and checked out boats and sailboat rental. Some young kids were having lessons in cute small sailboats with a teacher in an inflatable motorboat. Was thinking of buying something to eat but was tired so went back to Dizengoff, took 5 back to Arlosoroff and took 480 to Jerusalem. What a mechaya; I recommend to all travellers arriving in Israel to first go to Tel Aviv, have something (kosher) to eat there, a glass of wine perhaps, and then go on to your destination. Going straight to Jerusalem is like reciting shacharis and skipping pesukei d’zimra. You know what I mean? You need to warm up.

Tribute to Barry Chamish

September 28, 2016

originally appeared in In Jerusalem – Sept 23, 2016

link to pdf file:      barry

Jerusalem Ocean

August 22, 2016

18 of Av, 5776 Hanoch Ne’eman, Israel

Of course there is no ocean in Jerusalem. Even if one ascends Mt. Scopus, you see only the Salt Sea, to the east, but not the Mediterranean.

But I felt the Ocean when I prepared for Shabbat on yom shishi. I am vegetarian. The only allowance to omnivorousness I make is making fish for shabbat, mostly for the sake of my guests.

I buy, for example, some fillet of sole, frozen in the bag, at the super. Yom shishi I put it into a plastic tub with water to defrost. When I open it, my kitchen smells like fish. The nose knows; I sense the ocean. It takes me to City Island in the Bronx, Long Island Sound, the Atlantic, Block Island, the Jersey Shore, Barnegat Bay, South Street Seaport, the Fulton Fish Market, the Port in Tel Aviv, and Eilat.

How potent the associations aroused by smell! One bag of fish and I am on the beach, right here in Baka.

 

 

Smoke

August 17, 2016

14 Av 5776, Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem

Today as I came out of shul in the morning around 9 am, I was greeted by clouds of smoke. Across from the dome shaped sephardi shul I davened at near the railway park, there is a plant nursery owned by a local lovable lunatic named Reuveni. He has been sitting on the large property for decades, his relative fell defending the city there in 1948. He runs a not so professional and probably not too profitable nursery there. That was the origin of the smoke, as it has been on other occasions.

As I waited to cross the light to go to the bakery to buy some rolls, I see through the hedge and fence that a young man with black kippa and long payot is stoking the fire, in Dante-esque style, with a pitchfork. He is throwing dry grass and dirt on the fire, while Reuveni is watching over. I decide to go in and register my disapproval.

Reuveni is probably about 70 years old. His white hair is styled something between Einstein and Jacques Cousteau.

Hello, how are you?! he greets me with enthusiasm. Are you still working in gardening? Fine thank you, a little I tell him. Listen, I say, why are you burning this and making all this smoke? It is going all over the neighborhood? I can help you throw this stuff in the trash bins.

We step back a few feet as black ash falls on both our clothing.

I’ll tell you, he says, smoke is healthy. It kills microbes.

Yeah, I’m thinking, and if you get enough of it you won’t need to worry about microbes.

“It clears the air,” he says.

Funny, I would just like to have some un-smoke-cleaned air, thank you.

How lucky our neighborhood is to have this service provided to us, and for free!

I walk to the bakery with all my clothes reeking like smoke.

 

 

 

 

bad education

August 17, 2016

14 Av 5776 Hanoch Ne’eman, Israel

A young Jerusalem mother told me she wants to switch her daughter to a different gan. Why? Because they foster gender roles, she said. When playing shabbat, they have the girls light candles and the boys say kiddush. I told her I did not think gender roles were bad or that it was a problem in this case. She said she wants her daughter to know she can make kiddush too. Okay, fair enough point.

Then she said something that bothered me, namely that the children are encouraged to throw their garbage simply on the floor of the gan, because, they are told, “there is someone who will clean it up” (the janitor I presume). Therefore the floor of the gan is littered with garbage.

It seems a good number of Jerusalemites must have attended this same city-funded gan, as our streets are similarly littered with refuse!

“THAT” I told her, “IS a good reason to switch gans, THAT is bad education!”

still nice

June 24, 2016

18 Sivan 5776 Hanoch Yehoshua Ne’eman, Jerusalem

Erev Parshat Shelach

When I go outside and enjoy the warm weather and the sweet dry summer air, I am amazed (I don’t know why) that it is still the same pleasant summer weather that was here when I came to Israel for the first time around this time of year twenty-nine years ago.