T-shirts I own

February 28, 2007

I am not embarrassed to say I own these two t-shirts, which I purchased in Israel. Of course, you can tell by the wrinkles how often I do (don’t) wear them:


Powerfull Summer (it’s supposed to be powerful)


Intimate Life: x-ray your emotions (no idea what that’s supposed to be)

You down with O.P.P.?

February 28, 2007

The Black Eyed Peas came to Tel Aviv last summer. I think if I had been in the US, I probably wouldn’t have paid money to go to their concert…but it’s different when bands come to Israel. I want to support that and show them that we WANT bands to tour in Israel!

I think the best part of the evening was realizing where I was. There they were on stage, singing familiar songs in my mother-tongue language. I didn’t have to struggle to listen to every single word in hopes of understanding…I was happily oblivious and catching everything. They made a lot of references to old school hip-hop and really good music from the late 80s and early 90s. At one point, Fergie was singing “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” with her own lyrics…at another point, they were throwing in crazy references like “You down with O.P.P.?” and I was going crazy.


I realized I was the only one screaming the actual response instead of just screaming in general. They tried again…

“You down with O.P.P.?”

“YEAH YOU KNOW ME!!” I was so excited that I knew what to yell back! The crowd around me kept looking over at me like I was insane. What is this crazy person screaming to them!?

It went on like this for a few rounds until the band realized that there were maybe 5 of us in the crowd of 10s of thousands…there were a handful of us who knew what was going on. So they stopped and educated the crowd.

“When we say ‘You down with O.P.P.,’ you yell back ‘Yeah you know me!’ Try it with us!”

And so we did. And everyone joined in. How hilarious that I could be in a crowd that huge and only a handful of us knew what was going on!? Do they even know what O.P.P. stands for!?

File Under “Only in Israel”

February 27, 2007

So, I’m walking from my car to a cafe today after work, and I see a haredi man in full garb nonchalantly puke (loudly) in broad daylight on the sidewalk. He then went about his way as if nothing had happened.

I was about to go photograph the puke, but, well, you get the idea.

Anyway, with plenty of bushes and other assorted foliage along the way, I’m not sure why he had to puke *POW* right in the middle of the sidewalk.

Only in Israel…

Ve Gaits da Fashtunkeneh Puncher Makher

February 27, 2007

It’s really funny when English gets thrown into the Hebrew vocabulary. It’s really really ridiculously funny when Yiddish becomes part of the conversational Hebrew Vocabulary.

The word most commonly used for “flat tire” is Puncher (Puncture) –


It would just make too much sense to call a tire shop by the Hebrew term … חנות צמיגים (Khanut Tzmigim). What do you think a tire repair shop should be called in Hebrew … a תיקוני צמיגים (Tikuneh Tzmigim)? Or maybe a half Hebrew/half Yiddish phrase … תיקוני פאנצ’רים (Tikuneh Puncherim)?

I’m not sure what Ben Yehuda was thinking, but in Hebrew they translate the Repair Shop to Yiddish too.

פאנצ’ר מאכר – Puncher Makher

That’s the funniest thing since I searched “De Gantzeh Megilleh” at Google Yiddish.

Grab-bag from Brad

February 27, 2007

Brad writes in with some great insights into life in Israel (thank him by adding him as a friend on Facebook, he needs more Zabajnikim):

-Directly translating from Hebrew to English (or vice versa) often gets Israelis into trouble. For instance, when having a conversation with an Israeli in English, if he or she want to show agreement they might say “me either” instead of “me too”

-The Israeli word for any breakfast cereal is cornflakes

The Israeli word for potato chips is usually doritos

The Israeli word for snacks is munchies (like the stoner condition of being hungry)

-Although Israelis have a word for refrigerator – מקרר (mikarer) – many (especially older Israelis) will say frigedor

-If you order “nachos” in Israel, you will get tortilla chips with salsa…or possibly ketchup…but never with cheese

-Salsa is often called rotev salsa… which means “sauce sauce” in a Hebrew-Spanish combo

-The Israeli term for “last minute” is daka 90, which comes from soccer games being 90 minutes long

-“Bagel” means bagel and “bageleh” means pretzel

    Price check: Cock Mints

    February 26, 2007

    This one comes from Zabajnikit Ariel, who borrowed the toy documented herein from an Israeli kid she tutors.

    Cock Mints aren’t manufactured in Israel but they are available for Israelis to purchase for their kids. And, of course, the kids love it! As you can see, its a novelty toy made to look like a pack of gum. However, when your unsuspecting target takes out the piece of gum, a silly plastic cockroach awaits him or her. What terror!

    Cock mints

    By the time the Cock Mints got to us they lost their plastic cockroach companion…

    Cock mints 2

    The novelty item’s warning notice also happens to be good advice for life in general: “Don’t joke to sickman & cowardiness”

    Cock mints 3

    I have a patent!

    February 26, 2007

    In Israel the word ‘patent’ (פטנט), prounounced ‘puh-tent’ has taken on a special new meaning. Usually it is part of one of these two sentences:

    ‘על תדאג, יש פטנט’ or ‘יש לי פטנט’.

    These mean ‘No worries, there’s a patent’ or ‘I have a patent’!

    Not only is פטנט a word to describe some type of patented technology, but in most cases is used to describe a trick, a specific product, a gimmick, or a special way of doing something. Every Israeli household has a few, every person claims to have or know a few, and basically this whole country runs on an incredible amount of ‘patentim’ (פטנטים). Even Uri Zohar, a famous entertainer, wrote a song called ‘The Patentim Song’ (שיר הפטנטים). It talks about the creative Jewish/Israeli mind.

    A couple of classic patentim:

    The shade creator – Using an unfolded cardboard box, Israelis place this on their dashboard to cover the front windshield and prevent the 40 degree Celsius sun from creating a sauna effect in their car. It especially prevents you from getting 1st degree burns when touching the steering wheel.

    The nafnaf (נפנף) – a specially designed piece of plastic used for flaming the fire on your israeli bbq called a mangal.

    I’m sure you all have a few patentim up your sleeves, so please feel free to share your patentim or patentim you’ve seen in Israel that made you crack up.

    The FIRE is free!

    February 25, 2007

    Ever read your bill in a restaurant? You should…you’re bound to catch some funny stuff.

    We ordered 477 shecks worth of sushi and the restaurant gave us some free FIRE. I’m not so sure what the FIRE was, but thank G-d they didn’t charge us for it.

    I took a picture of it with my crappy cell phone camera. See for yourself …

    The FIRE is free

    *Click on thumbnail for full-sized image.

    Pronunciation, take 3

    February 25, 2007

    To hitch a ride – “take a tremp”

    Subaru (as in the car) – soo-BA-roo

    Video – veed-yo

    Balloon – bah-lon

    Listen – lees-Ten

    Shit – sheet

    Sheet – sheet

    …as we saw last week, with “bitch” and “beach,” Israelis can’t pronounce the difference between “shit” and “sheet” either (thanks to lonleymanofcake for the reminder)

    …also, as we saw in part 1, Israelis love pronouncing the silent letters in words (first it was the middle “L” in lincoln and now it is the “T” in listen)

    That’s because it is תרכיז צפרדעים, Austin

    February 24, 2007

    We all remember the scene in Austin Powers when Austin drinks Fat Bastard’s stool sample and he says … “This coffee tastes like sh*t.”

    Israelis had koolaid-like drink mixes called זיפ – zip, only their zip tasted like crap. The kids would say “this tastes like תרכיז צפרדעים” which translates to … concentrated frogs.

    Your momma’s in a cast

    February 23, 2007

    Remember “your momma” jokes? These are some that Israelis grew up on …

    אמא שלך בגבס – your momma’s in a cast

    אמא שלך בגהה – your momma’s in Geha (hospital for the insane)

    This one’s my favorite …

    אמא שלך בקונטרה בס – your momma’s in a double bass (the musical instrument)

    What car do you drive?

    February 23, 2007

    Official Mitsubishi spellingI won’t get into the various stigmas or classifications done here in Israel according to the car you drive. That is a completely separate Zabaj post. However, on top of having to deal with that, since I drive a Mitsubishi (מיצובישי) I also have to hear it mispronounced and mis-spelled a lot, including at the official Mitsubishi garage I take my car to be fixed at.

    The most popular is Mitsibushi/מיציבושי (mee-tsee-boo-shee)

    Followed by Mitsubushi/מיצובושי (mee-tsoo-boo-shee)

    You’ll find it misspelled like this on any and all of the car selling sites including Yad2 and MyCar.

    This is so widespread that even in the official Israel Trade & Commerce publications they seem to be making these mistakes, writing Mitsibushi” on their English-language list of Australian car manufacturers.

    Is it cuz they associate it with Japan and the word sushi?

    Hi-tech hebrification

    February 22, 2007

    Israelis that work in the hi-tech sector have become extremely lazy. On top of the general laziness of ordering in lunch, sitting in a chair for 10 hours straight, and IMing your cubicle mate instead of talking, Israeli hi-tech workers have really become lazy with their Hebrew by taking English words and hebrefying them by adding a “le” (lamed) in front.

    Here are some classic examples:

    Hi-tech Hebrew English Real Hebrew (from Babylon)

    לקנפג (le-kan-feg) to configure לעצב

    לסמלץ (le-sam-lets) to simulate לחקות

    לרנדר (le-ren-der) to render להפוך; להביא למצב

    לקדד (le-kah-ded) to code לרשום בצופן

    The list is endless… For more giggles here is a detailed IT English-Hebrew Glossary. Check it.


    February 22, 2007

    Wanna hear something funny? Ask an Israeli to say Massachusetts …


    Take 1:

    Take 2:

    Take 3:

    Take 4 (not gettin’ anywhere with this damn thing):

    Hey Rastaman, what’s that in your hair?

    February 21, 2007


    As an avid lover of reggae music, this one makes me crack up.I don’t know how or why but somehow Israelis assume that since a person with dreadlocks is often called a Rasta or Rastaman, then automatically the dreadlocks in their hair are “rastot” (rah-stoht). But last time I checked the hebrew definition for dreadlocks I got:

    בשיער, צורת תסרוקת של תלתלים ארוכים
    וסבוכים דמויי חבל נפוצה בין השחורים בג’מייקה

    And to make it more confusing, Rastot is also the plural of Rasta or Rastaman, so when there are many Rastas around there are lots of Rastot.

    If you’re really interested in getting your own ‘rastot’, you can go to Rastot.com which advertises itself as THE place for “professional dreadlock preparation.” In Hebrew:

    הכנת רסטות מקצועיות

    I have pee

    February 21, 2007

    RestRoomsAmericans know there are different times for saying “I gotta pee,” “I’m going to use the restroom,” “I need to wee wee,” or “May I be excused?”

    I know that I can tell my friends, “I gotta pee, I’ll be right back,” but I wouldn’t tell a first date “I’m gonna drain my lizard.”

    Israelis have funny ways for saying “I gotta pee.” The first time I heard this, I was on a date. We were having a great time hanging out, and this gorgeous Israeli girl tells me …

    יש לי פיפי –

    Huh?!? You got what? I didn’t know how to respond to that. Apperently that’s how you say “I gotta pee” in Hebrew… “I have pee.” Today I know nothing else is approprate to say in Hebrew. If you say אני הולך לשרותים … “I’m going to the restroom,” you sound like a 4 year old to Israelis. The only appropriate way to say it in Hebrew is “Yesh Li Peepee.”

    So all you Americakim out there, next time you need to pee, bite down hard on your tongue to keep from cracking up … and tell your Israeli friend … יש לי פיפי

    Chakalaka Part II: Kojak. Koja…CABANA!!

    February 21, 2007


    So…the plot sickens in the search for any reason behind “Chakalaka.” When lonelymanofcake revealed that any single “chakalaka” rotating light put upon a police car was called a Kojak (קוג’ק) (!)…well, first thing’s first I cleaned up the beer I spit on the monitor. And put my pants back on. But I digress.

    KOJAK?!! Really? Man. Time for Pinhas & the PCF to back me up again on this one:

    …and if you think we’re kidding about all this, check out the Israeli site that will sell you a Professional 12 volt Kojak!

    Which one of these doesn’t belong?

    February 20, 2007

    My dad is visiting Israel right now. He came home from a store today with the three items you see below. Now we’re going to play a little Zabaj game:

    books and coffeeOne of these items was purchased for full price. One of these items was purchased for half price. One of these items was received for free, as a gift.

    Can you guess which is which? Remember, we’re dealing with Israel here.

    Yeah, you guessed it, Steimatzky, Israel’s largest book store chain is running a special deal: buy one book, get a second book free and a jar of coffee for half price. Welcome to Israel.

    Pronunciation, take 2

    February 20, 2007

    At least once a week we’ll try to post a few new words in our “pronunciation” series. These are all completely serious/true and should be seen as a crash course in living in Israel. We’re not kidding! (Click here to visit part 1 of the series)

    BMW – beh-em-veh

    Bowling – bauw-leeeng

    Handbrake – aaaaand-breakes

    Ego – ehh-go

    Supermarket – sue-pearrrr

    Bitches – bee-ches

    Beaches – bee-ches

    …yes, it is true, Israelis are not able to distinguish between “bitches” and “beaches

    Hey Mr. DJ…

    February 20, 2007

    turntablesA few months back I was invited to an “underground hip hop” party at a huge club on the port in Tel Aviv. I was a bit skeptical because Israelis and hip hop are just two completely unconnected thoughts. I mean…I will admit I am a hip hop snob. I dated a hip hop DJ for lots of years back in the old country leading me to gain a keen sense of understanding of what it means to be a real DJ. Not this silly MP3 player or CD player DJ you see…but two turntables and a microphone. I’m a hip hop snob. I don’t think there should ever be a break in the flow of the beat from one song to the next. I don’t think you should ever have to stop shaking your butt to scratch your head and wonder what just happened to the mix.

    That does not exist in Israel.

    So this party left much to be desired. It was particularly painful for me because it was at a HUGE HUGE mega-club and it was PACKED with half-naked little girls grinding on stupefied little boys. I felt extremely old and wondered how in the WORLD they were going to pull off an underground hip hop party for teenie boppers. I’m too old. I had at least a 7 year running start on most of these kids…possibly more. After about an hour of sitting in the corner watching people make out and judging their outfits, we finally got into the “hip hop” room that had , of course, been sealed off to create excitement.

    They kicked off the evening with Coolio‘s Gangsta’s Paradise. I swear. It was that bad. I was in pain. We waited about an hour in there hoping that it would get better…that maybe they’d put on something we appreciated. Much to our dismay, it just got worse.

    But Coolio? Come on!