The Israeli Workplace

March 13, 2007

So, I think the time has come to highlight what I like to call “Zabaj in the Workplace.”

In Israel, and especially the industry in Israel in which the Jook makes his current living, age and seniority are placed above above talent and personal dedication in most situations. This often means “let’s take advantage of the Americaki kid at the end of the hall.”

I’ve been hemming and hawing for quite some time now about the boxes, trash, and paper-to-be-shredded for which my office has served as a dumping ground. After several months of complaints, this has really only gotten worse and there’s new crap almost every day.

To make a point, I don’t touch any of it, and I let it build up as much as possible. YES, I *COULD* throw some of this sh*t away myself but that’s not the point.

Enjoy the attached exhibits, and if you have any questions, I’ll just go f*ck myself.

myoffice1.jpgmyoffice2.jpg myoffice3.jpg

Ass Therapy at Castro

March 12, 2007

From Zvia, an avid Zabajnikit…

While visiting Israel last month I wanted to buy jeans, so I went to check out Castro. Immediately a worker was on top of me, throwing “jeansim” at me and saying, “you need this pair and this pair.” I was like, “lookie here, it’s JEANS and I’m not interested.” That obviously didn’t deter her so she raised my shirt to see my waist and started guessing my size. I told her what it was but she didn’t believe me, so she called over her stupid friend, who told me I’m not the size I said I am. They know. They also thought I’m “yotzet min ha’klal” (out of the ordinary) with the “jeansim” on and how its “sof ha’derech.”

One of the girls called Gad over, who talked to me about how my body is perfect for the jeansim and how he wasn’t going to let me leave without them. Then all three started talking about how I actually do have an ass and I’m not just some random skinny girl. They actually were tapping me on the shoulder going, “yeee you go girl” and then made me try on the other pair and do the whole thing again.

The worker told me that I must buy both pairs and that I shouldn’t worry because she’d split up the payments on different credit cards for me, as if that meant I’d save money. The whole time I was thinking, “What the hell? What do these crazy Israelis do? Does that make it seem like its less money? And why would that make me, a rich American, want to buy the jeansim more?”

After all, it turns out the jeansim were nice and just what I wanted so I bought them… and meanwhile they started pushing “t-shirtim” on me. I basically ran out of there without my shoes on as if I was escaping from a bunch of wild animals with Bamba on their breath.

Oh, and did I mention that the whole time they kept comparing their fat asses to mine and saying that, although they wear the jeansim, they don’t look as good on them as they do on me. It was sort of like a group ass-therapy session for them and all I wanted was some jeansim.

Am Yisrael Bye!

I’ll trade you a pacifier for that cigarette!?!

March 9, 2007

This is a cute little children’s book. I found it at a book store in Tel Aviv.

If you can’t read the Hebrew it says … “My Pacifier, Daddy’s Pacifier”


Above: Hebrew something like this … “Here exactly how it looks. Me and Daddy after a meal. Sitting together on the blue couch. Playing and Pampering. Each one with his own treat. Me with my pacifier that I call Tzetzi and Daddy with his cigarette that he sometimes calls the After Cigarette (I think he means after a meal)”

Above: Hebrew … “suddenly Daddy says: Tell me son, you are already 4, isn’t it time you quit your pacifier? It is making your teeth crooked. It’s always between your lips. It’s really dangerous to your health”

Below:Look, It’s father and son play-time with the cigarettes.

Below:Let’s switch pacifiers, Wooohoo. What!?

Below:Cigarette flavored Pacifier, anyone?

Above:This book is actually about teaching a kid to quit his pacifier while his dad quits cigarettes. It was written by a PSYCHOLOGIST, a professor of psychology from the University of Tel Aviv. I hope this doctor gets his license revoked.

Frequent Rip-Off Club

March 8, 2007


I get the idea of “preferred shopper” card programs at supermarkets. Yes, it’s annoying to fill out the forms, but you can get special deals and generally save money this way. The store benefits by being able to exercise some price discrimination, collect info about you and your shopping habits, and give you good reason to keep coming only to them.

Israel, being the country it is, decides they’ll also charge you for this. Usually some nominal fee that really has no basis in anything. That’s balls. You’re paying so they can track everything you buy and get you to shop there more. Splendid.

Ditto for El Al . Sorry, but I just can’t see what they’re making from the $15 fee it costs to sign up. It’s just annoying really; and for something that essentially should pay for itself in good marketing for the company, how do they justify also charging me for it?

What’s next? I get asked to fill out a survey in the mall and they send me a bill?

Why don’t I just go f*ck myself?

No *Wonder* I’m Homeless (…)

March 6, 2007

Well, it’s that time again. I’m moving up and moving on, and hopefully moving to a new apartment with no roomates for the first time since making Aliyah.

Thus the dreaded search begins. Now, apartment hunting around here is somewhat different than what I was always used to back in the US and A; it’s a seller’s market and that’s obvious. Plus, landlords balk at ever putting a penny into improving a rented apartment because, well, they don’t have to. So I’m looking for something new, or otherwise renovated, and pickings are slim. E.g., I saw a brand new apartment for $860/mo (!) in which I had the following conversation:

Jook: “But what if I want a stove?”

Realtor: “You can’t do that. There’s no room. Or a stove or a refrigerator.”

Jook: “So…what if I want to cook?”

Realtor: “What do you need a stove for? Order out!”

*Sigh.* It goes on like this…but I’ll wrap this up. Couple things I noticed while hunting today that I found captivatingly Israeli:

  1. The spin people try to put on their crappy apartment’s shortcomings when describing them: “Apartment with style! Painted floor!” ($925/mo)
  2. The very fact that hardly anybody sees the need to post pictures of their apartments, even in this day of ubiquitous cell phone cameras. And here’s an example of someone who actually did post a pic.

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 »

Squeegee Rehab!

March 1, 2007

I don’t get it … what is the obsession with squeegees in this country?! Israel needs a squeegee rehab.Squeegee

I need a squeegee rehab. I’m getting addicted to squeegees… it’s almost normal for me to squeegee stuff up. I’m starting to wonder how the hell I ever washed a dish without squeegeeing up all the crap water when I was done. To be honest, I think this is the first time in my life I ever wrote the word squeegee. I had to look it up in the dictionary…I had no idea how many E’s are in the word.

I haven’t counted, but I think I have 19 different sized squeegees in my apartment. I have a mini-squeegee in my kitchen for squeeging all the water down my sink drain. I have a normal-sized squeegee for my car. I have another normal-sized squeegee for my windows. I have another mini-squeegee for my bathroom. My vacuum cleaner has a squeegee attachment (don’t ask me why). I have a teenee squeegee for my computer screen. And I have this giant humungaloid monster-sized squeegee for my floors.

Don’t get me started on Sponja

Am I the only Anglo terrified to “do sponja?” Where the hell did the word Sponja come from? The whole idea of spilling a lake of dirty water on the floor and squeegeeing it into a Jook infested hole in my bathroom, rubs me the wrong way. I have these nightmares of me drowning in a puddle of Sponja backwash. I think sponja deserves a full post on its own.

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…

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.

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)


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 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!

Who are you kidding?

February 19, 2007

The term ישראבלוף (Israbluff) is simply a bluff, but what makes it different than a regular bluff? Every Israeli would be able to identify it as a bluff, where it may not be so obvious to others. In fact, to Israelis an Israbluff is so obvious and audacious, that the word itself is a derogitory term. Here are some examples of an Israbluf:

  • A government agency wants to pay their employee 10,000 Shekels a month. For some legal reason they are only allowed to pay 5,000 shekels a month. An easy way to get around this is a complex Israbluff. The agency simply withholds salary from its employee. According to the laws in Israel if you withhold salary from an employee, the amount due to the employee is multiplied every month. The employee plays his role in the Israbluff and sues his employer every 3 months for his salary. The employee will then earn his 10,000 shekels a month.
  • Bike stores in Israel used to have their bike racks on the sidewalks outside their shops. In fact, all retail stores took advantage of the extra floorspace outside their shop. A law was passed in Israel that prohobits all shops from using the extra sidewalk space, with the exception of cafes and restaurants. Bike stores became bike shop/cafes so they could use the sidewalk space outside their shop.
  • The Misrad ha Klita has a sign that reads “We are here to serve you”

After hearing these, Israelis would respond … איזה ישראבלוף (what an Israbluff).

tuvs, nav, arv, tch

February 17, 2007

I know … you’re thinking … huh?

The words tuvs, navs, arv, and tch have absolutely no meaning. Ask any Israeli named Ohad, and he’ll tell you what “tuvs” means. Any Israeli named Sarah will tell you what “arv” means. Any Israeli named Avi can tell you what “tch” means.

Let’s see if you can figure it out?

משעמם את התחת!!

February 16, 2007

So, I’m really happy with my part-time school thing. I won’t get much further into this, but it’s taught by a combination of really awesome enthusiastic American professors flown in for weeks at a time and really intelligent Israeli professors that teach here full time.

Just, one thing that surprised me — for some reason, the Israeli professors ALL share the tendency to literally go over the same exact concept 50,000 times. Hours. Same slide. Hours.

I’m writing this post while listening to one of them. Shame on them for letting us have wireless internet in the class. We’re learning Managerial Economics, and this guy is droning on about marginal revenue and marginal cost ad nauseum.

I just sent this to all those in class who are also connected to the internet:marginal-boredom-zabaj.jpg

*Click on thumbnail for full-sized image.

FW: Fan Mail 1

February 16, 2007

Fellow Zabajnikit Maya sent us some of her feedback(im?), largely consisting of some more very 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).

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.