A Tel Aviv New Year

September 6, 2007

For the secular folks in Israel there isn’t really a big focus on saying “happy new year” these days. Instead, they prefer wishing each other that they go conduct sexual intercourse with themselves.

Zabaj and mint tea

June 29, 2007

Today is Zabaj’s most popular day ever! Its too bad we haven’t updated the blog in a while (silly Americans with their jobs, no time to sit around eating humus and smelling like Zatar).

Nana, a major Israeli portal, featured Zabaj.com today in an article about the Israel blogosphere. Hell, our logo (“Holylend”) is even on the homepage right now at www.Nana.co.il.

We expect this to get us some heat from Israelis who don’t like admitting what a funny place they live in. For them, allow us to clarify that we’ve all chosen to live here, enjoy our lives here and actually work actively to bring others here. We’re not just standing on the sidelines making fun of the place. The stuff we’ve written about Israelis, Israeli culture and the life here in general is all done out of love.

For those new to the blog, allow us to highlight a few of our favorite postings:

  1. La chakalaka
  2. La chakalaka part 2
  3. Movie titles
  4. Pronunciation guides: 1, 2, 3
  5. Shlomo’s Reluctant Rap
  6. But I have a receipt!
  7. Cigarette pacifiers


March 5, 2007

Due to technical difficulties, all sound files on Zabaj will be offline for the next few hours. Sorry for the inconvenience.

In the meantime, check out Isreality, the newest addition to our blogroll (following their plug of our “Each kit of tooth thing of the big in simpleton” post).

Shlomo Aboutbul’s Reluctant Rap

March 1, 2007

For those of you who knew Jacob’s blog back in ‘aught 5, this will be a blast from the (dorky) past. Basically, I snuck a digital recorder into my god-awful truck driving course in the army. Hillarity ensued. Made this song:

And now the story behind it… Read the rest of this entry »

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)

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):

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!

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

La Chakalaka, La Chakalaka, Ya No Puede מסתובב…

February 19, 2007


Because the phrase, “spinning light” made too much f’n sense, a word had to be invented to describe the type of revolving light on emergency vehicles. That word:

Chakalaka (צ’קלקה).

If anyone knows where this ridiculous word comes from, and why it’s suddenly the only acceptable way to describe the police siren light thingy, please let me know.

Chaka-lotta nonsense to me… the only thing I (Eitan) found was this Wikipedia stub:


Aside from spelling “flavor” with that really annoying ‘u,’ this doesn’t give us much by way of an explanation into how a “spicy African vegetable reilsh” served with something called “pap” somehow lends itself to a description of an ambulance light.

Anyway, we came across this Chakalakasmic jam put together by our friends Pinhas & the Portuguese Crotch Flu. Seems to make sense…

For the full lyrics of the song, keep reading…

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a Good Chance that Sounds Awkward as Hell

February 18, 2007

Overheard in a conversation today:

(lo l’kachat “chance-im”) “לא לקחת “צ’נסים

This means “not to take chances.” Fair enough. Except, there’s already a word in Hebrew for chance, folks: (sicui) סיכוי

But, in typical hoity-toity style, some Israelis have to punctuate their speech with an awkward sounding English word with a Hebrew suffix tacked on the end of it.

I mean, what’s so cool about the word “chance?” It’s not even intuitive – it contains letters NOT in the Hebrew alphabet!


FW: Fan Mail 1

February 16, 2007

Fellow Zabajnikit Maya sent us some of her feedback(im?), largely consisting of some more very Zabaj.com-esque observations. I strongly suspect this was lifted from one of the many FW: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: FW: FW: FW: RE: RE: – type e-mails we all get about Israel, but there’s some funny stuff in here nonetheless. Such as:

“You know you’re in Israel when you say you’re from Chicago and they say ‘Ah, Sheekago. Al Capone, ken?'”


“Gotta love the 70-year-old in the sweatshirt that says ‘Thirty and Sporty,’ or the 7-year-old girl with ‘Hello Boys’ on her tank top. Hello nothing! You’re 7!”

Kudos, Maya, keep up the Zi-buj (‘זיבוז).

Man, that’s such a ‘kitbeg question’

February 15, 2007

This one comes from my time in the army.

In fact, so much of Israeli culture stems from the army…the phrase

“שאלת קיטבג” (She’elat Kit-beg)

means, roughly, “kit-bag question.” I know, no help there, right? Here’s what a “kit-bag” looks like:


STILL no help, I know. It’s a bag you get in the army in which you keep all your uniforms, socks, lint, grease, and…dignity. sound icon

And here’s where that retarded phrase came from:

In basic training, they generally demoralize you by making you do things like run back and forth a lot (and things of that nature). So, imagine a commander telling his soldiers, “Run from here to that tree and back!” and some putz asking “with our kit-bags, or without?”

Thus the term “kit-bag question” was born. It usually describes the type of question that brings on some sort of misfortune just by virtue of it being asked. Asking a teacher, “but what about the homework for tomorrow?” would be a good example of a “she’elat kitbeg.”

Today, this term has kind of extended its use to describe just any kind of stupid question…and thus it’s lost some of its original (ridiculous) meaning…

It’s Getting Hot in Here

February 15, 2007

Last night I was trying to figure out how to operate the heater in my bedroom. It was about 11:00pm and I was too tired to read the Hebrew manual. What I wanted was for the heater to stay on about 20 minutes and then be off for a while – and to cycle like that all night. Instead, I left it on until I could get nice and toasty under the sheets and then turned it off using the remote control.

The remote control – it’s not just a game show on MTV. In my efforts to figure out the heater, I also read the back of the remote control. Here’s exactly what is printed there:

Infrared Remote Controller’s manual

    Use two pieces of AAA/1.5V alkaline cells. Don’t case them by improper direction into the box.
    Please take out all cells if device don’t be used longtime.
    Please replace all cells simultaneously by new ones if necessary.
    After replaced, please short the “RESET” button awhile, then you use the device easily.

The Israeli army supports Diesel clothing

February 14, 2007

I was driving home the other day, minding my own business, singing Copa Cabana at the top of my lungs. I soon noticed an Israeli army vehicle coasting alongside me. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something strange on the truck’s bumper.

As I tried driving closer to the car, matching its speed, I finally figured out what got my attention. There was a nice, bright Diesel bumper sticker on this official truck of the Israeli army. I suppose no other comments are necessary, the insanity speaks for itself. Sure, why not, next time we invade Lebanon it’ll be with advertisements for Diesel on our tanks. Below is the proof, exclusive for Zabaj readers, taken with my cheap camera-phone.

Army car 2deiseltruckedited.jpg

Clean up after yourself!

February 14, 2007

Scattered around Tel Aviv, you can find yellow boxes filled with these. Slightly reminiscent of Bears it Matters to me, at the top it saysSaki Kaki

כי לנו אכפת – “Because it matters to us.”

The cheeziness doesn’t stop there.
Next it reads:

רחוב נקי מתחיל איתי – “A clean street starts with me.”

What would you call this brilliant piece of marketing. What else but “Saki Kakisound iconloosely translating to “baggy of poopy.” I love the graphic of the terrified shoe about to eat a steaming pile of kaki. The name has a great ring to it too … Saki Kaki. It sounds almost like a cocktail you would find at an Israeli/Japanese fusion restaurant … “I’ll take a Saki Kaki for the lady please.”

…check out the official site of Saki Kaki


February 13, 2007

Outside of Israel (or at least in America), a “chaser” is what you’d drink after doing a shot of something. It’s the main drink you’re drinking, while the shot is something that is over quickly. For example, people like to drink beer after doing a shot of tequila. To be clear — a shot is the hard alcohol drank from a small glass quickly, in one gulp.

In Israel, however, the phrases are completely reversed in meaning. Here, a chaser is the alcohol drank in one quick gulp and it comes alongside the main drink (i.e. beer). Very strange. Furthermore, the difference between “chaser” and “shot” is merely a matter of size. Because Israel doesn’t really have a drinking culture. I suppose they had to invent a new word to mean “half of a shot.” sound icon

So when you’re in a bar, remember “chasers” are small shots that come alongside your main drink and “shots” are just double the size of chasers sound icon.