Green (grass) envy

Ok, so I'm realizing that blogging throughout the summer is probably not going to work for me, at least not as long as we don't have air conditioning and Gossip Girl reruns are playing on Hot Summer. (Just kidding about that last reason! Er, kind of. And come to think about it, that's a fairly ironic name for Hot Cable TV's summer shows channel.) How is it that I'm more busy now that I'm not officially teaching right now? So I'm going to stop making any blogging promises that I probably won't keep, and instead just update when I feel like it. Because I don't get paid to do this, that's why!

At any rate, recently I've been experiencing what I can only assume is a truly Israeli emotion: green grass envy. I watch the Tour De France, and as riders careen around corners, all I can think about is just how green the roadside grass is.

I look at pictures of family in the US on a three day backpacking trip in the rain, and as I look at a picture of my dad crouched under a poncho attempting to light a fire so they can eat hot food for dinner, all I feel is shock at the waste of water just showering down from the sky-- I want to gather it up in buckets and save it to water my window box herbs.

The vibrant green weeds my little niece hikes over in one of the pictures seem extravagant. Such a waste, such bright green back in the middle of the woods. I couldn't understand the joy in my sister-in-law's caption of a picture of blue sky. I covet the gray.

Here in mid-summer Israel, we're feeling the weight of day after day of heat and sun. Water restrictions have meant that even watered lawns are patchy tan, and any unwatered grass has dried to beige. Apparently, residents in Netanya are demanding green lawns-- so they're painting browned grass with green food coloring.

I know I'm becoming Israeli when the idea of covering a lawn in astroturf no longer sounds absurd. (Seriously, you can get really nice grass-like astroturf in home improvement stores here! I also think it would make a nice livingroom carpet... ;)

The grass really IS greener on the other side of the ocean, but I still love it here.


Been busy...

Just a quick note-- we're in the process of buying a house (YAY!!), we went to see Suzanne Vega in Tel Aviv last night (great show!!), I've been a bit under the weather and got swamped with work last week... so in short, I've been busy. :) Or perhaps I'm still recovering from hosting HH. In any case, I'll definitely be back to regular posts starting tomorrow!


Haveil Havalim #225-- The "Welcome New Israelis" Edition!

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'

Welcome to my first Haveil Havelim! I've submitted to almost every edition since March 6, when I first decided the world needed to know Israelis put Osem soup powder in EVERYTHING. However, Haveil Havelim and my inbox look pretty different from this side of the blog carnival. Here's a few things I've learned from hosting... (all the mistakes are ones I made when I wasn't!):
  1. A little context for your post in "remarks" is VERY helpful. Plus, if you describe your post as "a stunningly insightful and life-changing analysis of rugelach," lazy hosts might even plagiarize that blurb in their HH edition! Not that I ever would. Except when I did.
  2. I know I'm often tempted to submit every post I write in a week, but try to choose only one or two favorites. Take pity on the hosts-- I received 50+ submissions, and this is probably the summer slump!
  3. Oddly, Haveil Havelim is a spam magnet for Christian Homeschool Bible Colleges. Or maybe it's just me. (Seriously. I have more connections to Christian Homeschool Bible Colleges than I'd like to admit.)
  4. Hosting is hard. And time-consuming. And fun. We're a diverse group... I dare you to visit every single post! (Bonus points if you leave a comment!)
  5. Choose a category for your post. When I submitted that soup powder post, I couldn't decide between humor, kashrut, Israel, or culture... and I said so in my oh-so-helpful comments. But come on, take a stab at categorization. Surely it will be easier for you to decide a category than the person who's reading 50 posts in one day and might mistake "Brit" for Britney Spears.
  6. Don't be scared to submit! We're nice people, really. :) I was ridiculously excited when The Real Shliach included my first post, but this really isn't an elite club... and I always see a bump in my blog traffic on posts I submit. To submit your post or someone else's, go here. I keep that link in my shortcuts.
  7. Please post the link for each edition on your blog. Hosts like this. (Hint, hint!) Plus, think of it this way-- if you want others to find your post through HH, help your blog readers find HH!
Here we go!

Israel (because Israelis love to cut in line):

Welcome to new olim! 232 new immigrants from the US landed on July 7th (with help from Nefesh b'Nefesh), and Jacob Richman was there to take 294 pictures-- check out his post! Ruti of Sussmans B'Aretz made aliyah 5 years ago, but she still tears up when she sees a landing ceremony. Read her well-written and thoughtful essay that "pulls the heart from hopelessness to Hatikva." Then, go to Matt Gottleib's blog for the perspective of an oleh on that flight. Mazel tov and welcome!

Sammy Benoit presents a convincing argument for the security fence in his post, UN Calls On Israel to Allow in Homicide Bombers. For a lighthearted and... well... odd look at the wall, see the new Sellcom commercial at Promised Land!

At Occidental Israeli, read this thought-provoking essay On the Importance of Arabic. (As a personal note, my Israeli mother-in-law and her Israeli friend were the only non-Arabs in a community college Arabic course in the US... she wanted to pick back up a language she learned in school!)

Soccer Dad submitted this beautiful account of a Christian's visit to Jerusalem: Jerusalem Syndrome.

Want to see inside the West Bank? Yisrael Medad presents pictures of the Shiloh Bloc. And speaking of Shiloh, Batya welcomes a "new" neighbor at me-ander. Finally, Shiloh Musings asks, "Where's World Jewry? May I Admit Jealousy?" (She's jealous of her Arab neighbors... read her post to find out why.)

Esser Agaroth points out the artificial distinction between "Good Zionists" (the ones who built settlements in territory conquered in the 1948 war, such as Ashdod and Carmiel) and "Bad Zionists" (the ones building in territory conquered in the 1967 war). Also at Esser Agaroth, Yitzhar: The Israeli Government's Jewish Expulsion Laboratory.

The Jewish Fist is very angry. Barak's Gift to Abbas and Respectable "Religious" Zionism.

Cosmic X presents A Tale of Two Forums -- the way two different forums responded to a picture calling Barak Obama a liar says a LOT about Israel today. Also, Israel finally cares about nepotism??

If you want to get a sense for the cultural life of Israel today, definitely read ISRAELITY. This week: Swimming with the current at the Maccabiah Games, Welcome to Beersheva - Israel’s mall capital, and Rioting in Jerusalem? All is normal.

Oh, yeah, and Israeli toilets are in separate rooms from our bathrooms, which leads to linguistic confusion. That's the kind of insightful commentary you'll find here at How to Be Israeli! Please stick around!

Also, in case any Israelis need to cool down, take a look at this gorgeous picture of water at Habonim Nature Preserve from an amazing Israeli photography blog, Israel the Beautiful:


Sammy Benoit asks, Why Did Obama Send Adviser To Keynote "Hating Jews" Convention ? (Does Obama sending an advisor to a pro-Hamas convention really surprise anyone?)

Yitzchak Goodman of Judeopundit presents Hamas and Islamic Jihad squabble about money, who is the biggest stooge of Iran. Ok, so he didn't categorize this post-- but I think "anti-semitism" is fairly appropriate, no?


LOOK AT THIS ART. Now. The story behind it is devastating and moving, too: Art as Prayer, Prayer as Art posted at Seraphic Secret.

Esser Agaroth offers a clip of a talented Israeli band-- you may have seen the lead singer in Machane Ben Yehuda!

Muse reflects on her NCSY years and reviews a new book about NCSY's history at Shiloh Musings.


Daled Amos presents Mike Wallace Interviews Abba Eban (April 1958). Definitely watch the film-- not just for the cigarette ad (hilarious) but for a model for how Israel should be dealing with media today.

In a follow-up to his LATimes op-ed, MyRightWord posts some history of the presence of Jews in Judea & Samaria during the Mandate years to prove his ethnic cleansing charge - against Arabs.


Here's a post title I wasn't expecting: CNN presents three reasons to make Aliyah (from The Rebbetzin's Husband.) This post would be even funnier if it weren't so true...

Last week's host and one of my new favorite blogs, A Time of the Signs, presents Make mine chicken soup-- come on, you KNOW you have an opinion about Axe Deodorant's new Israeli advertising campaign!


Lion of Zion writes a powerful response to a Frum Satire post expressing disgust for Down Syndrome kids: Sick Bastards. (I wasn't sure where to categorize this, so I put it here. Read the post.)

Rachel Barenblat, otherwise known as the "Velveteen Rabbi" (LOVE that blog title!) presents Seven jewels from smicha week. They ARE jewels... read it for a poetic look into this huge week in her life. Mazel tov!

Should Rabbis have term limits? See an argument at The Rebbetzin's Husband.

Shtetl Fab thinks that the economic downturn could have a positive impact on synagogues-- read her letter to the editor. (I agree! Let's bring back the shteeble!)

Read the blog from the Chabad Lubavitch of Crimea!

See some commentary about the passing of tradition from Ilana-Davita's blog at Mesorah Project III.

(heh, heh. I get a perverse pleasure out of the fact that Haveil Havelim's category is called "kashrut," not "kashrus." Let's hear it for Israeli pronunciations!)

Lion of Zion's post title definitely intrigued me: Moshiach Is Here! (Or, Am I Moving to Woodmere?)


Please go read Lady-Light's charming essay about a "play date" with her grandchildren. (I love pasquetti, too! Maybe they had balana sorbet afterwards?) I feel really badly about leaving it out-- I'm not sure what happened, but it definitely wasn't something lady-light said. :)

You've GOT to read Alone in the Holy Land's beautiful poem about Israel: Perfumes, Colors.

Mottel presents Out and About London and pictures from a London Wedding. The photos let me see London and a wedding through Hassidic eyes... great photography! I love this black and white picture:

rutimizrachi presents City of Dreams** posted at Ki Yachol Nuchal!. She's a powerful writer-- I love the moment she evokes. Plus, she's almost made me get off my tachat and go walking!

A Simple Jew turns an inconvenience into a metaphor: Back From The Other Side Of The Road.

rickismom also finds meaning in the mundane in her post at Beneath the Wings: “One Day You are Going to Thank Me”.


Aprpeh presents Phillips vs. Dershowitz, a commentary on Melanie Phillips' criticism of Alan Dershowitz's Wall Street Journal editorial.

Yisrael Medad presents I'm So Proud of America! (Sarcasm? I haven't read enough of Medad's blog to tell. All I can say is that I'm glad whenever other nations finally absorb Palestinian refugees.)


The Real Shliach presents prayer insights at Tachanun III: What to do.

In another great title,
Josh Waxman of Parshablog presents How dad actually *is* Aramaic for teeth.

Rabbi Neil Fleischmann (NY's Funniest Rabbi) presents several posts this week. Into Great Silence, a post about a documentary on monks, prompted a fascinating discussion of orthodox Judaism in the comments. Later that week, he wrote After Yisrael Mordechai's Bris, which finally prompted On Comments and Rav Hirsch's Humanism.

Eliyahu Fink presents a book review of DovBear on the Parsha. Rabbi Fink talks of being swept away by DovBear's passion and insight; I felt the same way about reading this post!

It's only appropriate that I follow with a post from DovBear. Extreme Haircovering: Kimchit's Reward is part of "an ongoing discussion about the potential reward (or lack thereof) of scrupulously covering one's hair as many believe is required per halacha." I've heard the line about the walls of Kimchit's house never seeing her hair, so it was fascinating to see its context.

Shavuah tov everyone!


Can I use the bathroom... er... toilet room... er... WC?

Israelis tend to think it's gross to have a toilet in the same room as a bathtub. I've seen a few houses or apartments with everything in one room, but most Israeli homes contain a toilet room and then a separate room with a bathtub, shower and sink. Nicer homes have a little sink in the toilet room, but in our apartment we have to angle out of the toilet room (attempting not to touch anything in the process) and into the separate bathroom to wash our hands. This is especially fun when a guest happens to actually be taking a shower when I just used the, er, toilet room-- although I guess it's nice I can use the toilet at all when someone else is showering!

All this leads to a little terminology confusion. I'm used to calling it all the bathroom, or the ambatia in Hebrew. But when I ask where the bathroom is at someone else's house, people tend to think I'm looking for a bubble bath. So then I have to figure out what's the word for the room with just a toilet-- restroom? Toilet room? Powder room? Maybe WC, the British word for "water closet," and, incidentally, what they call toilet rooms in French (Veh Seh). In Hebrew, the correct word is shirutim, "services," but I tend to forget this. Once, our drains clogged when we had American guests. I took one of the guests to use the bathroom--er, WC-- in our neighbor's apartment. But when I got there, I completely blanked on the right word, and I ended up asking if the guest could use their "asla," their toilet. A little graphic. I've never quite been able to look the neighbors in the eye since.

So if you want to be Israeli, just remember to ask for the shirutim, not the ambatia. It's also a good idea to remember that the plural of shirut (one of those group taxis) is moniot shirut, not shirutim... I've also gotten weird looks when ask if shirutim come to this bus stop.

Ah, good times. Maybe I should stick to posting about my dirty dishes. :)


Getting an Israeli Mortgage (mashkanta)

Today my husband and I talked to mortgage brokers from two different banks... scarily enough, we're almost at the point where we're ready to move from the renting world to the buying world. (I'm very excited!! Finally I'll get to unleash my home decorating/renovation obsession on a home of my own! I'm thinking Mediterranean style, or maybe Modern Moroccan. Partly because everything I buy seems to be in shades of blue, red, and gold.)

Here are a few things I've learned about the Israeli mortgage process so far:

1. We'll use a LOT of savings. Banks we talked to asked for 25-30% down payment. (This might partly explain why Israel isn't suffering from a mortgage crisis like the US-- I'm pretty sure that a few years back we could have gotten away with 10% or less down payment in the US. In Israel, you can't buy a house unless you can afford it... and you know how to save.)

2. Credit score? What credit score? Whether you are buying or renting an apartment, that magic credit score that is sooo important in the US doesn't exist here. Rather, banks will want to see your salary pay stubs for the past three months and the past 40 transactions in your bank accounts.

3. Aliyah benefits don't really help you buy a house. One thing I've learned over the past few years is that the aliyah benefits (aside from the actual money we get from the government as part of our "sal klita"-- thanks for that one, government!) don't actually help much at our income level. I.e., we could have received a discount on buying a new car... except that new cars in Israel START at about 100,000 shekels and the discount would have only brought it down to about 80,000 shekels. We ended up buying our used Hyudai Getz for much less, without any benefits. Similarly, we would have only received a discount on our fridge had we bought an Israeli-made product, and although we're Zionists, we like saving money and getting a good product more. So for buying a house, our Aliyah benefits could lock in about a 4.5% interest rate... which would be great if the current interest rate here wasn't about 2%.

4. Mortgage ladies talk really really quickly. And they show a fair amount of cleavage. And they write all kinds of figures on paper and use words like "laybor," which has something do to with the exchange rate to dollars. These are things I noticed as my husband actually followed the conversation, and I smiled and nodded. (He filled me in later!) Btw: our mortagage lady at the second bank was wearing platform shoes, tight capri jeans, blue eye shadow, and a tight yellow t-shirt showing the aforementioned cleavage. And she seemed extremely professional and competent. Try to picture that on a high-ranking bank employee in the US...

5. We will have a lot of options in terms of how we pay. A really confusing number of options. Not just in terms of prime vs. fixed interext rates but in terms of whether we pay in dollars or shekels, whether the amount of the loan is fixed in dollars or shekels, etc. A lot of business here is done in dollars, or at least was back when the dollar seemed more stable than the shekel, so all Israelis have these kinds of choices.

6. We can afford an apartment! We'll be able to afford a better place if we wait till this winter, as we originally planned, but we have enough saved to start looking now! (I also feel quite rich, as the mortgage lady looked at my (pitiful by American standards) dollar salary from my Internet teaching job and said, "Wow, that's a lot.") http://www.yad2.co.il/Nadlan/sales.php here I come!!

Any wisdom to share? This is our first time buying property in any country, although I feel I've watched enough property-buying shows on TV to be an expert. ;)


Random thoughts...

First, check out the new Haveil Havelim: http://atimeofthesigns.blogspot.com/2009/06/haveil-havalim-224-fourth-of-july.html

I'll be hosting the Jewish blog carnival next week, so submit your posts! If you aren't sure how to use the submission form, you can also post links in response to this message, and I'll try to include them.

Second, happy July 4th! This is my second American Independence Day in Israel, and I think we've got a tradition going. While I normally try to cook like an Israeli (big surprise), on July 4th I go all out and try to cook American. Heinz barbecue sauce on chicken, pasta salad, baked beans, corn, apple pie, and-- of course-- "lettuce salad" (as Israelis call it). On Friday night I had Israeli family as guests, and it was great to see them picking cucumbers and tomatoes out of my salad to try to make it a bit more Israeli. :)

And just in case you thought we don't have the same kind of (redneck) patriotism here that you have in the US, here's an Israeli flag flying from the back of a pickup truck:

Finally, here are answers to the "Hebrish" quiz-- congrats to Alone in the Holy Land for getting almost every question right!

1. Cat scratcher (From one of those cardboard scratching boxes. Don't ask me why this one was in English.)
2. Instillator (This is a word that sounds like English but probably comes to Hebrew from another language. It means "plumber." We have about 10 "instillator" magnets stuck on our metallic door... maybe I'll post a picture some time!)
3. Salon Abraham (from a beauty salon nearby)
4. Extra large (I forget the context, but it wasn't a fast food meal.)
5. Double lotto
6. American Pancake
7. The sexiest ("Hachi sexiot"-- "sexy" is conjugated for plural female. This is from the cover of a women's magazine featuring Bar Rafeili.)
8. HaTalkbackistim (In other words, "the talkbacks." This is probably referring to people on Internet sites "talking back" about participants in the reality show "The Amazing Race." I love the fact that this very English idiom is conjugated with Hebrew grammar. :)
9. Hava International (Probably a play on "Dana International," Israel's most famous transvestite superstar, who is not to be confused with "Roni Superstar.")
10. Big Ben (Referring to Ben Affleck!)
11.Astrologit (Astrological)
12. Horoscope
13. 10 classikot (10 classics-- referring to books.)

Hope you enjoyed!


Can you read Hebrish?

When I first started to learn Hebrew, the prospect of reading without vowels was daunting. (Most printed Hebrew contains consonants without the vowel notations-- it's like reading Englsh lk ths. Hrd, rght?) Except that it isn't like reading English like that.

When you become comfortable in Hebrew, you develop a sense for its patterns. If a word is past tense or present tense, for example, you know what its vowels will sound like. Dipthongs or consonant clusters (which pepper English) are rare in Hebrew, so between almost every consonant there will be one vowel-- which your brain starts to automatically insert.

We even insert vowels into acronyms. The acronym for Torah, Neviim, Ctuvim-- the complete Hebrew Bible (pentateuch, prophets, writings)-- is not "T.N.C" but "TaNaCh." Tzava HaHagana LeYisrael -- the Army for the Defense of Israel-- becomes TzaHaL. Chutz LaAretz-- Outside the Land (i.e., anywhere not Israel)-- is Chul. You also know that what will be a hard "p" at the start of a word will be a soft "f" at a word's end. Hebrew makes sense. Vowels appear naturally, where they fit.

This breaks down when you run into Hebrish (Engrew, if you prefer)... English words that have been adopted into Hebrew or simply written in Hebrew characters. Whenever I struggle to read a word, I usually realize in the end that it's English. How good are you at reading Hebrish? The good news is that you don't even need Hebrew skills to try to read these, for the most part-- you just need to learn the aleph-bet!

  1. (Hint-- a צ with an apostrophe after it makes a "ch" sound)
  2. (Hint-- a ג followed by an apostrophe makes a "j" sound.)
  3. (The first word is Hebrew-- "hachi," meaning "the most. The second word is based on an English word.)
  4. (This is a tricky one, but I had to fit my Israeli Amazing Race obsession in somewhere. The Hebrish word is highlighted, and if you think about how reality shows work you can probably figure it out.)
  5. (The first word is a name. The Hebrew is second.)

  6. (Related to #11!)
Can you figure these out? Post your guesses in the comments! I'll post the answers soon!
Related Posts with Thumbnails