By the Israeli humorist, Efraim Kishon:
Israel is a country surrounded on all sides by enemies, but the people’s headaches are caused by the neighbors upstairs.
Israel is a country, where the same drivers who cuss you and flip you the bird’ will immediately pull over and offer you all forms of help if you look like you need it.
Israel is the only country in the world with bus drivers and taxi drivers who read Spinoza and Maimonides.
Israel is the only country in the world, where no one cares what rules say, when an important goal can be achieved by bending them.
Israel is the only country in the world where reservists are bossed around and commanded by officers, male and female, younger than their own children.
Israel is the only country in the world where “small talk” consists of loud, angry debate over politics and religion.
Israel is the only country in the world where the coffee is already so good that Starbucks went bankrupt trying to break into the local market.
Israel is one of the few places in the world where the sun sets into the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel is the only country in the world whose soldiers eat three sets of salads a day, none of which contain any lettuce (which is not really a food), and where olives ARE a food and even a main course in a meal, rather than something one tosses into a martini.
Israel is the only country in the world where one is unlikely to dig a cellar without hitting ancient archaeological artifacts.
Israel is the only country in the world where the leading writers in the country take buses.
Israel is the only country in the world where the graffiti is in Hebrew.
Israel is the only country in the world where the “black folks” walking around all wear yarmulkes (skullcaps).
Israel is the only country in the world that has a National Book Week, during which almost everyone attends a book fair and buys books.
Israel is the only country in the world where the ultra-Orthodox Jews beat up the police and not the other way around.
Israel is the only country in the world where inviting someone “out for a drink” means drinking cola, coffee or tea.
Israel is the only country in the world where bank robbers kiss the mezuzah as they leave with their loot.
Israel is one of the few countries in the world that truly likes and admires the United States.
Israel is the only country in the world that introduces applications of high-tech gadgets and devices, such as printers in banks that print out your statement on demand, years ahead of the United States and decades ahead of Europe.
Israel is the only country in the world where everyone on a flight gets to know one another before the plane lands. In many cases, they also get to know the pilot and all about his health or marital problems.
Israel is the only country in the world where no one has a foreign accent, because everyone has a foreign accent.
Israel is the only country in the world where people cuss using dirty words in Yiddish, Russian or Arabic because Hebrew has never developed them.
Israel is the only country in the world where patients visiting physicians end up giving the doctor advice.
Israel is the only country in the world where everyone strikes up conversations while waiting in lines.
Israel is the only country in the world where people call an attaché case a “James Bond” and the “@” sign is called a “strudel”.
Israel is the only country in the world where there is the most mysterious and mystical calm ambience in the streets on Yom Kippur, which cannot be explained unless you have experienced it.
Sunsets in Jerusalem are gorgeous every evening.
Israel is the only country in the world where people read English, write Hebrew, and joke in Yiddish.
Ah my last day of interning. I knew this day would come. Unfortunately the internship wasn’t exactly what I had been hoping to get out of the experience, so I was anxious to finish it up. I know that sounds horrible, and I promise I do have a great work ethic, but it’s frustrating to be making charts and researching every business in Israel that has relations with Turkey. I’m a senior in college, about to enter the real world, with newspaper articles and press releases published, and a year and a half interning at a public relations firm in Gainesville. I can do a lot more than typing up names and searching Google. It’s a shame because I really liked the firm and they had amazing clients I would have loved to work with, but I just wasn’t given a chance to show what I’m capable of.
Anywaysssss. I got out of work around 2:30 p.m. (there was nothing for me to do, much like every other day I worked there) and met up with Sarah and Nathaniel on Emek Refaim. Nathaniel wanted to take us to “the best sandwich place ever,” however I had already eaten lunch. I tagged along and went with the two of them to lunch, which was quite a walk away. We hung out there, chatted with the store owner and his sons and Talya joined us. After lunch Nathaniel had to get back to his internship, and Sarah, Talya and I walked to the Old City. Such a far walk. And I was not prepared to walk this much. At the end of the day I literally tore my shoes off of me. The three of us picked up some last minute gifts around town and before we knew it, it was 7 p.m. My entire trip my friends and I have been talking about going to Waffle Bar, and we knew tonight was the night to make it happen. We called up Ariel and told her and her family friend that was visiting for the weekend, Adam, to meet up with us there.
***Just so you understand what Waffle Bar is… it’s a small chain restaurant in Jerusalem that has a light dinner menu and a dessert menu of over 15 different types of waffles. Each waffle comes with ice cream and whipped cream, in addition to a special topping or flavor. The atmosphere is bistro-ish and the entire night they played The Beatles. All the locals go there and every night we go out we pass by the one near Jaffa Street and it’s packed.
Sarah, Talya and I ordered two salads for the three of us, and waited for Ariel and Adam to come before ordering dessert. The salads were huge and gourmet-like. We were impressed that a place like Waffle Bar had such good dinner options (now thinking about it, almost everyone around us had ordered dinner too, so people must have known that). When Ariel and Adam got there we spent fifteen minutes deciding what two waffles to share. We decided on a Ferrero Rocher waffle and an apple pie waffle. The Ferrero Rocher one had Ferrero Rocher flavored ice cream on top of a vanilla waffle and hazelnut syrup drizzled on top, and the apple pie one had maple syrup and apple pieces on top of the waffle with vanilla ice cream. It was heaven. One of the best dinners I’ve ever had. If you ever go to Israel, make Waffle Bar a stop. Once we finished dinner Ariel and I took Adam to a street bar and hung out with Jesse. Good times.
Afterthought: I intern on Thursdays, so I’m pretty far from the Hebrew University campus, but my friend Sarah told me a funny story about that day on campus. While she was in class she kept hearing what sounded like gunshots and bombs going off. She was getting a little nervous because the night before a Palestinian tried to climb the West Bank fence and the Israeli army got involved. After hearing this all morning, one of her classmates asked the teacher what was going on. Her response? The Palestinian children celebrate the end of the school year by shooting guns and fireworks into the air. Yeah, very normal. NOT.
The reason I put off writing these last few posts was because: one, I didn’t have time due to my steadily approaching final, which I had done little to prepare for the previous three weeks, and two, the posts are going to be a little uneventful (such as Monday the 19th). So here it goes. I went to class. I went to the library. By then it was 6:30 p.m. and my friends and I were starting to think about dinner. We decided to go to Emek Refaim because my friends hadn’t eaten there this Israel trip, so it was kinda a treat. I’m there twice a week for work though. Right before we left, Mal called me and told me Ramah was taking her bus to Emek Refaim for dinner that night. Very ironic. So us four girls took the bus to Emek, went to some jewelry shops and ate dinner at Olive. The meal was really good and I got to see Mal for a little bit. The end.
so i got home yesterday and i’m currently having writer’s block. not that i don’t know what to write about. because i do. i have my last week all outlined and notes written, i’m just too tired to write. hopefully i’ll get a surge of motivation and finish my whole israeli adventure within the next few days. keep checking back. in the meantime, “until something witty”-like posts will resume. and with that…
Woo happy birthday Jackie! Five years in a row of not celebrating together. We had such a good streak of 16 going… In honor of Jackie’s birthday, Tisha B’av and no classes, Ariel and I went to the Dead Sea. We were supposed to go to Gan Hashlosha, my favorite place in the entire world, but I was nervous it could be closed due to the holiday. So we decided to save the natural pools for Sunday. Anyways, we kinda impromptu decided to go to the Dead Sea, looked up the time for the bus to Ein Gedi, got dressed and took a bus to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. We got on the one and a half hour bus ride to Ein Gedi at 11 a.m. and were on the beach by 12:30 p.m. It was a small public beach, which was perfect. Obviously I enjoyed the Dead Sea because no fish live there and the water is clear, so there are no surprises. As I always say, “I hate fish, dead and alive.” Ariel and I just floated and hung around the area until 2 p.m., got some popsicles and waited for the bus to come.
On the bus some weird Viking couple sat behind us. They had crazy blonde hair, were six feet tall and were basically screaming when talking to each other. Ariel and I couldn’t stop looking at them. Maybe it was because they woke me up from my nap. When we got back I showered and did some work until 7:30 p.m. Then Sarah, Ariel and I took the bus into town and ate at Roladin, the restaurant with my favorite sandwich. All of our dinners were amazing and I went to sleep early with a full and happy tummy.
There is nothing for me to write about today because it was that uneventful. I went to class. I went to the library. I made dinner with Ariel. I studied some more. The end.
Tonight I started to get sad about going back to America. I love Israel so much and feel so comfortable here. I can’t describe it, but if I lived a different life I could definitely see myself living here. Also, by the trip ending, it means that I start my senior year of college. Which I’m not ready for at all. I feel like I just finished the LSAT, and now I’m taking my last full-time semester of classes. It’s a weird feeling and thankfully I have two weeks at home to transition from “Israel” mode to “figure out my life” mode.
This morning Yossi dropped me off at work at 10 a.m. No one showed up till 10:30 a.m. I worked on a project for an hour, sat there, then did another hour’s worth, picked up lunch and went home. So productive. Not. After work I came home and took a nap because I’ve been going to sleep between 2 and 3 a.m. because that’s the time that everyone at home wants to talk. Once I finished my quick snooze, Ariel, Sarah and I went to the Old City to shop. Then we met up with Jesse and his friend for sushi at a restaurant named Japanika. Great food, horrible service. So typical of Israel. The girls and boys broke off and we girls walked around City Center, got yogurt and started to head back. We got to the bus stop right as the bus closed its doors, but there was a red light and cars in front of it, so it was still stopped at the bus stop. We banged on the doors, but the bus driver said no. Traffic was so bad that he ended up sitting through three red lights and never letting us on. People in low positions with power trips. Ugh. We could tell that we made his day so much better. After standing there for five minutes we decided to run to the next bus stop. We asked a Haredi boy if it was straight or to turn and he obviously gave us the wrong directions so we missed the bus. When we started to go the right way the boy grabbed my arm (reminder, he was Haredi) and yell at us in Hebrew something. We ran away and then waited another 15 minutes for the next bus. Finally we got home and I went to sleep late once again.
I hadn’t been in Jerusalem for a Shabbat yet, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My cousin Or took Mal, Julia and I to the Arab Shuk (the Jewish one wasn’t open because it was Shabbat duhhhh) to buy a few touristy things. I had already been there with Ariel so I didn’t need to buy much, but Ramah hadn’t taken their campers there, so Mal and Julia were salivating over all the goods. While we were there we stopped by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which a boy in my class highly recommended. I don’t know much about Christianity, but I haven’t seen anything in Israel that wasn’t Jewish, so I figured it would be a good experience to go. The church was beautiful and packed with tons of tourists. We kinda just did a quick walk around, but it was definitely worth it, especially because we were right there.
Afterwards Mal and Julia got some gifts for friends and family, and then we called it a day. We went back to the Bonjack’s to eat a lunch that reminded me of my Aunt Ruth’s cooking, and napped. We left for Yafo (a city that is part of Tel Aviv) at 4:30 p.m. and when we got there we went to Abulafias to eat pizza, pitas, bourekas and other goodies.
Then Talya and Yossi also took us for ice cream at a place that sells four flavors in a kilogram and then packages it to go in a Styrofoam container. We brought the ice cream with us to the beach, took some pictures and watched the sunset.
Once we got back to Jerusalem, Talya and Maayan took us to the Jerusalem Mall to get Michael Negrin jewelry. I bought a beautiful mezuzah and Mallory and Julia got earrings. It was so nice to stay in a house for the weekend and I’m dreading going back to the disguising dorms.
This weekend was my sister’s family visit weekend, so Mal, her friend Julia (aka Jackie’s little sister) and I went to my mom’s cousins for Friday and Saturday. Their names are Yossi and Talya, and they have a daughter Maayan, who is 24 years old, and a son Or, who is 22 years old. On Friday, Yossi and Talya picked up me, Mal and Julia at our respective dorms and took us on a tour of the city. I had been to a few of the places, but Ramah hadn’t let their campers go these areas, so Mal and Julia were excited. We started out the day at Mount Olive, the same lookout I went on my tour with my Hebrew University class. It’s a beautiful view, but because it’s located in an Arab village a lot of people haven’t been there.
Afterwards the five of us went to eat lunch at Abu-Gosh, an Arab restaurant that has supposedly the best hummus in town. I tried it. It was amazing. Also, Abu-Gosh won the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest serving of hummus in January. This made me very excited and reminded me of my hummus-loving friends at home/school.
Once we finished our delish pita, hummus and falafel, we took a drive through a town called Gilo. As I look it up on Wikipedia, my mind changes a little bit on what I was going to say… Gilo is an illegal settlement in Jerusalem. This means it isn’t recognized as Jewish land by the United Nations. However, 40,000 Jews live there, and the village had been under Palestinian sniper and mortar attack for years. Recently, the city put up a concrete fence (they’ve been painted as murals so they look kinda pretty) between Gilo and the Palestinian village across the valley, in addition to bulletproof glass windows in the homes and schools that were in the most danger. Both of these things have significantly helped the neighborhood. It’s crazy to go about your day worrying you’ll be shot just leaving your home, however these people live in an illegal settlement. They should expect some sort of anger from the Palestinians. From Gilo we drove down Naomi Street, a street that is half Israeli and half Arab, which really showed how much better off the Israelis are. We ended our “tour” at the Promenade, a lookout in Talpiot (the neighborhood where my cousins live), that views Jerusalem from the Jewish/west. It was interesting to see Jerusalem from opposing sides.
After we drove back to Yossi and Talya’s, took a nap, showered and ate Shabbat dinner together. Then Maayan took us to meet a couple of her friends a coffee shop in En Kerem, called Karma. We had chocolate pizza and apple pie there that was so yummy. It was late when we finished, so we came back and went to sleep, ready for another busy day tomorrow.
Ekkk I feel so bad I haven’t written in so long! Well tonight/tomorrow I’ll play a lot of catch up. On Thursday I went into my internship and actually did something. I researched businesses in Israel that have relations with Turkey, and found statistics on psychological trauma of Israelis. It felt good to be useful and productive, and it made the day go by so much faster, even thought I stayed at the office an hour later then I have been. When I got home from interning I was able to just relax because Ariel and I weren’t off bussing our way though Israel for once. We hung around till 8:33 p.m. when we met up with Jesse, who is master of the bus system/time keeper. The three of us went to the Kotel and then walked around the Old City.
We then met up with our friends Nathaniel, Sarah, Abby and Talya, in addition to some other mutual friends that were in town for the night/weekend. It ended up being quite an interesting , but very entertaining group.
Off we went to get some alcohol to drink and just hang out. Due to the lack of an open container law this is very possible. Or so we thought. Right after we opened the drinks, some undercover cops told us that the law has been changed and they poured the alcohol on a plant. Depressing for us and the plant. Now I’m still unsure if these were real policemen and if this law has actually been legalized, because when we asked people about the law no one knew about a change. Oh well. Two dollars down the drain. After being frustrated for a few minutes we headed over to some random bar. Our group took up two or three tables and we ordered drinks and ate pretzels and pickles. Hello Israeli bar food.
We then walked around, Nathaniel got his beloved crepe and we settled down in the center of Ben Yehuda Street. I was thinking that it was still pretty busy for being 1:30 a.m., but then all the sudden a fight broke out on the other side of the street. Everyone went running towards the fight (I don’t know why, because the last place I’d ever want to be involved in a fight is in Israel where everyone has been in the army and is a badass), but I sprinted away. Ask Ariel, she’ll vouch for me. The police came and sprayed some tear gas in the area of the fight and Ariel, Abby and I hopped in a cab and got the hell out of there. Overall the night was fun, yet memorable considering our run ins with the law and I learned a good lesson: avoid the Israeli police.
Ugh where did my interesting and enlightening class go?! I’m a little disappointed in where this semester has headed, but thank G-d I have a social life now, so I can’t be too upset with Hebrew University ,even though they definitely didn’t have a part in that (social life). What made me feel a little better is that a girl in my class that I’m friendly with asked me if I was frustrated with the class, because she was. She’s from Denmark so she was explaining how they don’t have to pay for education, but she had to pay for this program so she’s annoyed because she feels like she’s not getting her money’s worth. I defiantly could relate to what she was saying, however I’m in Israel to live in Israel, and she’s obviously here to learn. Different priorities. Anyways, at least I’m not the only one with a gripe against Hebrew University, or a desire that the class had a little more umph. Also, I’m convinced it’s impossible to sit and listen to a professor speak for three hours, another major issue with the course. But whatever, I’ll take my passing grade and then peace outttttt.
During our 20 minute lunch break I usually sit with a group of University of Toronto kids, who I have slowly discovered are not Jewish. It’s a little surprising, considering I thought every single person at Hebrew University would be Jewish or Muslim, but I’m as usual a part of a small Jewish minority. A little sad, but it’s cool that there are Christian people out there who care about Israel’s issues. So I was talking to the one of the few Jewish boys in my class about the different sects and no one else knew what we were talking about. It was weird because I just assumed that they knew a little bit about Judaism, but they confessed they each knew only a handful of Jews. Then they started asking me about sorority life and if it’s like how it is in the movies. It’s so hard to explain sororities to someone who isn’t in one, let alone someone who has never met someone in one. I always thought Canada and America were so similar, but I was very wrong. Their college life is completely different, so they must somehow view things different. I mean they live at home, aren’t in Greek life and can drink at 19. Can you get any more opposite of the UF lifestyle? It’s neat to see how different their lives are, but at the same time makes me feel naive that I didn’t know these things about Canada. Guess I’ll have to make a trip there soon.
For the rest of the night Ariel and I hung out, ate our leftover pasta, watched Real Housewives of New Jersey (ahhh dramazzzzz) and avoided doing work. I also watched two episodes from “Six Feet Under,” which I heard was an amazing show. I really enjoyed it, so it’s become my go-to show when Megavideo tells me I’ve watched 72 minutes of TV that day.
I began my day with class, which is getting repetitive. It has slowly become less interesting because there isn’t that much information on the topic. We had another guest speaker and he spoke about what we had to read for class that day, but there was no way he needed to speak for three hours about one issue. Story of this class. Blah. Afterwards I went home, showered and got ready to go out for the night. Ariel and I went to Ben Yehuda Street and met up with Mallory for a little bit. Ramah only gave them an hour and a half there, so her and her friends were running around trying to buy things. When Mal left, Ariel and I met up with our friends Jesse, Sarah and Talya. They brought their friend Nathaniel with them. Nathaniel is Lisa Kass’s boyfriend, David Tintner’s twin in another life. They kinda look alike, talk the same and have similar personalities. By the way, shoutout to Jesse, from Toronto, the second oldest of six children, attends York University where he is majoring in accounting (I think?) and enjoys wakesurfing. He was wondering where his intro was.
So the six of us went to Grill, our go-to meat restaurant at City Center. As always the skewers were delicious and the pitas steaming hot. From there we just walked around the area and drank a little.
The open container allowance is a major bonus of Israeli nightlife. We ended up running into some of Jesse’s friends on a modern Orthodox internship program. I was talking to the girls about their program and they told me that their internship is archeological digging! I was obviously so excited. But a little confused, because they were Orthodox, meaning they wear long sleeve and skirts (they were so pretty and wore such stylish clothes) and I didn’t know how you could dig in that apparel. They explained that they wear long sleeves and skirts with shorts underneath and boots. I had to laugh in my head because that image seemed so ridiculous, but it’s nice to see that teenagers today can still have such a strong commitment to their religion. Unfortunately, one of their younger friends (I don’t even know if this girl was friends with them, but she somehow ended up hanging out with us), who was 18 years old had a little too much to drink and was completely out of control. Thankfully one of her friends picked her up and took her home, because no one wants to be around “that girl.” Also they were with a boy from Hollywood, FL. He looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Then I figured out he was on my basketball team at the JCC for a few seasons. Ah my Jewish Geography strikes once again. Overall, it was a really fun night and my first big go outs in Jerusalem. Mazel tov to myself!