Memorial Day

April 23, 2007

During the Lebanon war, I visited some injured soldiers in hospitals across Israel.  This video shows the stories of some really amazing heroes.

All the soldiers that sacrificed themselves to defend Israel should always be remembered.

Did you say Un-Alphabet?

April 18, 2007

A friend and I were talking (in Hebrew) when I heard him say “alphabet” in a sentence. Yeah, the English word “alphabet” … pronounced “alphabet” … just likeUn-Alphabet we say it in English.

I said … “Alphabet?”

And he said … “No, Un-Alphabet”.

So I said … “What the crap is an Un-Alphabet?”

In case you were wondering, the word אלפבית (alphabet) in Hebrew has no meaning, but the word אנאלפבית (pronounced Un-alphabet) means illiterate. I’ve asked some friends how you say “literate,” and they told me there is no word for “literate.” I looked it up in the dictionary, and apparently they’re right…there is no word for “literate.” If you look up the word “literate” in the dictionary, it’s the same word for “learned” (Melumad) which generally refers to biblical learning.

Some other funny nouns …

Narcoman – Is not an Israeli super hero with special Narc powers. It’s a drug addict.

Alcoholist – Is not a scholar who majored in Alcohol (chemist, biologist, physicist, psychologist, etc.). It’s an alcoholic.

Fire-o-man – Is not a fireman. It’s a pyromaniac. I think us anglos screwed this one up. In Hebrew, a fireman is a (mechabeh esh … a fire putter outer). Our firemen should be called Fire-putter-outers, but that just sucks to say.

Never Forget

April 16, 2007

We like to poke fun at the entertaining things in Israel, but it’s times like these that make me proud to be here. Every year the country comes together to practice a moment of silence in remembrance of the Holocaust victims. A siren is heard throughout the country where everyone stands at attention to honor those fallen in the Holocaust. The video is a clip of a busy Tel Aviv street during the siren. Even drivers exit their cars and stand at attention to respect the victims of the Holocaust.

May the victims and survivors of the Holocaust never be forgotten.

THAT’S where you can buy them!

April 15, 2007

In case you were looking for homos…they can be purchased at this kiosk in Jerusalem.

You know…Felafel, shawerma…and homos.

homos for sale

I hear they go great with pita.

If you’re looking for HUMMUS though…you gotta find another kiosk.

*Shout out to my favorite fellow prairie dog lover for the photo credit.

The funniest sign in Israel

April 13, 2007

In case you were wondering, this sign means…

“We don’t know what the f*ck is that way.”

What the f*ck is that way


Someone thought it was important to let drivers know.


Would you like some foul Hummus with your souda?

April 12, 2007

Menus are funny in Israel. They can translate almost anything into crappy misspelled English words. I say almost anything because some words don’t have Translations. Words like Nana, which is a plant very similar to what we Anglos call mint. The only difference is that this mint is spelled N-A-N-A in English.

This is how our waiter actually presented the specials to us …

Spellcheck this menu please

Our Shishlik Chickens’ comes highly recommended.

Our hummus comes in two flavors, foul and mashroms.

How about some candy after your meal?

And for today only, behind door number 2, we have “deal of salads.”

If you’re gonna type it, you might as well spell check it.
Hell, we’ll do it for free for ya…just post your menu on Zabaj.

*Click on thumbnail for full-sized image.

Israelis. Wine. New York. Passover.

April 12, 2007

WineComing to you live from New York with an on-the-scene Zabaj exclusive…

If you know anything about Israelis and alcohol you know the two don’t really go together. Although Israelis love going out late and partying to “black music” (that’s how hip-hop is called in Hebrew) they don’t really drink much alcohol. Israelis don’t know how to drink and don’t like drinking. Their idea of drinking is to go out with a big group, share a single Bacardi Breezer (or Smirnoff Ice) and drink from it out of a straw. They usually just make it through half the bottle and take the rest as a “take away” order.

Armed with this knowledge I had a funny experience in New York right as Passover came to an end. Having gone out for dinner to a nice Italian restaurant, I was seated next to two Israeli girls. When they finished eating and flirting with the waiter they left… and left on the table two full glasses of wine. It wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t so typical, and sad.

Ode to the cab driver…

April 11, 2007

Another story from the early days of my aliyah…this one is from 4 months in!


monitThe cab driver rolled down his window and asked a man carrying bags of groceries, “L’eifo atah holech?” (“Where are you going?”)

“Shoom makom,” he responded. (“Nowhere.”)

“L’eifo tzarich?,” (“Where do you need?”) the cab driver asked. He was being pushy…but such is life in Israel.

I was happily sitting in the back seat watching the whole thing unfold and while I thought it was a bit funny for a cab driver to do the approaching, I just sat patiently because I wasn’t in a hurry. I don’t mind sharing cabs because usually it leads to interesting conversation and a chance for me to practice my bad Hebrew.

The grocery bag guy responded again with something like he didn’t really need to go anywhere…he was staying in-town. Well the driver wasn’t taking “no” for an answer so he opened the door and said, “Shev” (“Sit”) and the guy got in the front seat and smiled. He thanked the driver and off we went.

We started talking about where we were from and how long we’d been in Israel. The driver is from Russia and he’d been in Israel for 30 years. The grocery guy was from Argentina and had been in Israel for two years…and me…I’m from the US and have been in Israel for almost 4 months. They were remarking at how good my Hebrew is (ha ha, no) and how wonderful it is that we can all be in a cab together in Israel. The driver even said, “THIS is what is so special about this country!” I was sitting in the back smiling to myself — because I agreed. It IS wonderful that we’re all in one cab together, speaking Hebrew together and enjoying Israel. We’re living the Zionist dream together and working to build Israel into something even more fabulous for future generations. Yes, all of this really WAS going through my head.

On the way to my destination, about halfway there, the grocery guy asked to be let off at a bus stop. The driver pulled over and the grocery man opened the door and thanked him. The driver said, “Kesef” (“Money”) and the grocery guy looked confused. They then had an exchange about how cab drivers don’t give free rides. Grocery man (his Hebrew wasn’t very good…almost as shaky as mine) tried to explain that he didn’t order a cab and had he wanted one in the first place, he would have gone to the cab station. The driver said he didn’t care. He wanted his money…he didn’t just drive people around for free. Grocery man said he should have clearly stated that he was a cab driver and that he would request money because he got confused when the driver told him to sit.

I listened quietly in the back. I sort of empathized with the grocery man because I had noted that it was weird for the driver to be so aggressive…but I also agreed with the driver because really, who expects a free ride from a cab driver??

The grocery man finally just got out and slammed the door without paying. The driver looked back at me and asked me what he should do. “Should I start a fight?” he asked.

“Lo. Lo nora. Kadima,” I said. (“No. It’s not terrible. Let’s go.”)

The driver asked me why I thought that. He said that any other driver would get out and punch the guy. I said, (still in Hebrew) “For what? For 8 shekels? His stop is on the way to my stop. (switch to English) It’s not like you had to drive all the way over there and then back here for him.” He explained to me how driving a cab works in Israel. He basically rents the car from the cab company and has to pay something like 300 shekels a day for the privilege. He has to make at least that much in one day to make his work worthwhile. I understand his feeling of urgency but dude, you basically shoved the guy in your cab! I didn’t say that out loud but that’s what I was thinking.

He started laughing and drove me home.

“Eize ketah,” (“What a scene”) he said as I got out of the cab.

“Erev tov,” (“Good night”) I replied.

An oldie but a goodie…

April 10, 2007

I was feeling reflective and went back to read some journal entries from the beginning of my aliyah experience. I thought I’d share one I’d almost forgotten about…

To preface — I had attempted to withdraw cash for the first time at the ATM located inside the bank I bank with. Israeli banks assign PIN numbers and don’t let you choose your own so I just couldn’t remember it. After 3 wrong tries, the card was taken from me. And so begins the saga of getting it back…


I woke up early and went to the bank. I needed to get my ATM card back before the weekend. The ATM that took my card is located inside my branch. I walked in and waited. And waited. Not too long of a wait…but just long enough. I finally had my turn and I asked the guy for my card.

“Why did the caspomat (ATM) take your card?” he asked.

“I forgot my PIN,” I replied sheepishly. I then asked him if I could choose my own PIN so I can remember it. He laughed and said “No” with a hint of “Duh.”

And then he went on to tell me that it will take a week to get the card back. Why? Because the ATM in the branch sends the card to Tel Aviv and then it comes back. Why? Why not?

The stupid card doesn’t even work all the time. It’s like a starter check. They want you to think you can use it but it has a stamp on it that tells everyone that it’s the most basic, starter card in the world. It got denied at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Shop when the bill was only 60 shekels. So I asked the guy how many shekels I have to deposit to get a “real” card.

“What do you mean by real card?”

“You know what I mean. A real Visa card that is really accepted everywhere,” I replied.

“Five thousand shekels,” he replied.

“And how long would it take to get that card if I deposited 5000 shekels?” I asked.

“A week.”

So yeah. I have to give them money to give me credit. And I have to wait a week to get it. I kind of understand the whole “deposit” thing since I have no credit in this country but still…if they HAVE all my money in my account and they can see that I have enough money to cover a low line of credit, then why should it matter?

Chag Sameach!

April 2, 2007