Best Bar Slogan on Earth

March 25, 2010

Next time you have to market a bar, keep in mind the greatest ad slogan ever, for Herlinger, in Tel Aviv:

Check out Herlinger on Facebook.

Business Lanch

September 18, 2007

Business Lanch

Most Israeli restaurants offer special “lunch menus” with fixed prices, as most other places in the world. However, I’m not sure if these deals are called “business lunches” anywhere else, as they are here. Then again, even here they are sometimes called “business lanches,” as our menu here shows (click to see the full size version).

This menu found at Fidel, Castro’s eat-in restaurant. I’ll let you guys figure *that* one out…

Pizza For You a Bargain!

July 12, 2007

When you think about language as much as I do, there’s lots to ponder and chuckle at. For me, this is especially true in Israel, where I know the language, but always break the words down as I read, into roots and structures, discerning the meaning behind the meaning. And I love Israeli slang, idiom and phraseology. I just love it to the point of shiga’on.

And then I came across this, what I consider to be the best name for a pizza joint anywhere.

israel-partying-july-2007-00009-small.jpg Pizza kim’at chinam (translation: “almost free pizza”). That is such cultural perfection that I don’t even know how to stop talking about how much I love it. It takes the “for you, a bargain!” sensibility of shopping in the shuk and applies it to pizza. I pictured the pitch meeting in my head.

Israeli #1: How do we convey that our product is affordable?
Israeli #2: We could give it away on the street…
Israeli #3: Tembel! We’re not giving anything away! We need people to buy it!
Israeli #1: Right…but maybe we could make them think about free stuff by saying it’s almost free.
Israeli #2: You mean like calling it “almost free pizza”?
Israeli #3: No, I’ve got it! We’ll call it “almost free pizza!”
Israeli #1: That’s genius…that way people will think about pizza and think about things that are almost free!
Israeli #2: Sigh.

I’ve never been inside to taste the pizza paradise, because that would ruin the magic. It’s like admiring something from afar and never doing anything about it, which I totally support as a lifestyle choice.

I do genuinely enjoy being in Israel. But let’s just say it’s the little things like this that make me fall in love.

*Click on thumbnail for full-sized image. 

Happy Purim, Simpleton!

March 4, 2007

Went shopping for Purim costumes yesterday. Came across this zabaj masterpiece.

For those literates out there, it reads … “Each kit of tooth thing of the big in simpleton”

Makes perfect sense to me!

Purim Simpleton

*Click to see full-sized image

On de face

March 2, 2007

Ever wonder how in the world the expression “על הפנים” (al-ha-panim) came to be the #1 expression to use when something sucks? In English, it means, “on the face” (wiz izraeli accent – ‘on de fayce’).

Please help me solve this riddle.

I scream, you scream…

March 1, 2007


The Hebrew expression for “third time’s a charm” is pa’am shlishi glida which translates to “third time is ice cream.”

It comes from the time of the British Mandate when the English would say, “If I see you a third time, I’ll scream.” Israelis heard “ice cream” and stuck with it.

Thanks for reminding us of this one, Brad. It’s one of my favorites!

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!?

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.

    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.

    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 which advertises itself as THE place for “professional dreadlock preparation.” In Hebrew:

    הכנת רסטות מקצועיות

    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!

    I Saw the Signs: CRP

    February 19, 2007

    Israel_2006_00037 The problem with Hebrew is that unless you’re going to use vowels (and believe me, most Israelis and their businesses don’t), you end up mistranslating this sign, which advertises Henri’s Creperie, as a business that sells “French Crap.” Or “French Carp.” In any case, I’m not buying.

    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 »

    I Saw the Sign, and It Opened Up My Eyes

    February 18, 2007

    Israel_2006_00044_1Tel Aviv, July 2006:

    The sign warns that the space is “private parking”, and further cautions that a vehicle which is zar (foreign or alien) y’garer, which presumably (from context) means “will be towed.”

    But the word l’garer also reminds me of the word ger, which means convert. So when I see this sign, I prefer to translate it (albeit incorrectly) as:

    “Private parking: An alien vehicle will be converted to Judaism.”

    Why? Because it makes me laugh.

    Movie Titles

    February 15, 2007

    Lost in TranslationJust like we can write many posts about pronunciation mistakes in Israel, we can also do a lot on how Israel translates American movie titles. To get things started, I think its appropriate to discuss the movie Lost in Translation.

    Israel isn’t the mother of irony for nothing. They couldn’t even translate this simple movie title to Hebrew. Instead, the name in Hebrew means – literally – Lost in Tokyo. How ironic is it that a movie title about missing translations is missed in translation? That, my friends, is an allegory for all of life in Israel.

    DeuceOne more for fun:

    Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo is translated as… ready? You’ll never guess! The Gigolo Dies from Laughter. Not kidding!

    Carry on.

    (thanks to Maya for reminding me of this whole thread)

    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.