What’s in a name?

December 26, 2007

I don’t know about you…but I know that if I had a really fancy store that sold home decor in a really trendy area in Tel Aviv, I would DEFINITELY call it “Items.” Because you know…we sell items.


Thanks for the Advice

December 26, 2007


Y’ever notice how (who am I, Andy Rooney here?) Israelis tend to answer requests for advice with absolutely ridiculous non-sequitur suggestions?  It’s as if they decide to forget everything they know about the person and his situation and jump straight to advice based on who they are and what situation they’re in?  Okay, even *I’m* not following at this point, so, an example:

Jook: I’m looking to rent a house, somewhere in Hod HaSharon, my budget is approx. $1000/mo, I’m looking for something small but nice, maybe around 150 square meters…

Israeli Advice Giver: Why don’t you rent a trailer in somebody’s backyard?

Yeah.  So, for those that don’t think this is ridiculous, let me do a little recreation here, but let’s pretend I want an iPod instead of a house:

Jook: I want that new 16 gig iPod touch, it’s really cool.

Israeli Advice Giver: Why don’t you make a guitar out of a 1 x 4, rubber bands, and thumbtacks?

I mean, really? A trailer.  And this suggestion came from several people. Who am I,  Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies?  No, I’m a 27-year old bachelor internet executive who’s gonna go live in a trailer.  Thanks, man.  I’m not looking for professional advice here, but is it too much to ask that they have the attention span to pay attention to the part where I describe what I’m looking for?  Just askin’ if you heard anything ’bout a house for rent, that’s all…Not that the trailer thing is so frowned upon around here, apparently.  Successful, self-sufficient salaried guys are going out and renting trailers.  I even have a friend whose friend built a tent in his parents’ backyard (and no he wasn’t Billy Madison) What’s with the infantilism?  Maybe it’s cultural (and maybe I’m imposing my values a little bit here), but does it seem to anyone else that Israeli men sometimes live in a suspended state of adolescence until they get married?  “Aw man, that Jook, king in the castle, with his SOLID WALLS and all…”

Maybe I should just go live in a treehouse for chrissake and instead of a phone, I’ll bring back the Campbell’s soup cans with the fishing wire between them and communicate that way.  Then I’ll put up a sign that says “NO GIRLZ ALLOWD” until the tomboy down the street works her way into my heart and I experience my first tryst with summertime love and permaturely ejaculate into my light blue Ocean Pacific shorts that one time in my uncle’s basement in 1991.  Huh? Right. House.

Lemme know if anyone hears of anything for rent!

It’s Making the Fashions, Part III

December 25, 2007

Can it be? Are Israelis actually fashionable?

STREET CLASH is an international style competition between blogs & photographers around the world. At the end, one city will be named best dressed 2007.”

I think we’re all stunned to find that Israeli street fashion blog ILook won! Christmas is indeed the time for miracles.

Thanks to Designist Dream for the heads up.

Spoling Israeli Sex Masage, special for you

December 13, 2007

I don’t think too many words are needed to introduce you, our upstanding reader, to the Israeli sex/massage card industry.

You can either go for a “spoling massage” with sexy anime characters or listen as a sexy Israeli girl asks you to “come tave my tower out.”


Tower Out

It’s Making the Fashions, Part II

December 10, 2007

Thanks to Designist Dream for a great link to an insanely out-of-touch article on Ha’Aretz.com today, titled How We Dress.

Apparently, the aging newspaper, while staying away from the yellow journalism of other Israeli papers, is nevertheless trying to exhibit more “inioot” (that is, the quality of being “in” in Israeli, pronouned “in-ee-yoot“). As a result, they interviewed a guy on the street who was dressed rather strangely. See, they’re trying to keep up with fashion trends. Get it?

There are only two problems: the interview itself is extremely boring and they didn’t even include a picture of the guy!!

It’s Making the Fashions

December 3, 2007

Here is a typical Israeli line of thinking:

  1. Trick people.
  2. If caught, try again to trick people.
  3. If sued, admit you were tricking people.
  4. Continue tricking people.

This lesson comes to us in the form of Israeli fashion house Versace. Yes, I said “Israel fashion house” because the many Versace stores you see around Israel have absolutely no connection to the famous Italian fashion house that also happens to be called Versace.

I know what you’re thinking – “but its the same name?!” Yes, that’s true. You might even say – “but wait a second, isn’t that going to confuse people?” Yes, that’s the plan.

See number one above for the answer to this mystery.

The kicker to this little story is the sign posted at all “Israeli Versace” stores, as well as in the footer of their website:

Versace closeup

The sign says: “This store is not connected in any way with the Italian Fashion house Gianni Versace S.P.A and the products on display for sale within are not produced by the Italian fashion house mentioned above.”


Here’s a picture of a typical “Israeli Versace” store:

Versace Israel

Fish guts! 10 shekel a kilo!

November 27, 2007

The following story comes from a dear friend of mine who recently made Aliyah. I’ve been explaining to him that life in Israel is full of really funny stuff and he’s been taking it all in. Yesterday, I got the following story in my inbox and I had to share.

For other funny stories, visit his blog

Here’s his story…

Living in Jerusalem is a great challenge, especially if you go around assuming that things make some modicum of sense, like an insane asylum, where the lines of insanity are clearly demarcated by locked doors (insane) and guys in white coats (sane). Here, it’s also like an insane asylum, except there are no clear borders, everything’s mushed together like a Jerusalem mixed grill, and the only guys in white coats are the ones who stand behind smelly counters all day at the shuk and their coats are smattered with fish guts and they’re yelling at you, “Fish guts! 10 shekel a kilo!” in 5 second intervals, each one louder than the next, until you come up to him and ask him what kind of fish guts he’s selling and he yells at you for disturbing him because he was in a groove.

So as to the belief that there is some sense in this city – only crazed lunatics believe such nonsense. Nobody here does. Everyone here is completely honest with himself, he lives in reality, he has no fantasies, he’s a realist, which is why he never assumes that when the Israel Museum attempts to charge you 37 shekels for entry during what was advertised as a free weekend, maybe, at least, someone would be at the counter to sell you the ticket, and that the museum wouldn’t be closed for renovations after you got one. Read the rest of this entry »


November 25, 2007

Speaking of funny translations of English phrases into Hebrew…

What about the time my roommate told me not to “Le’zag’zeg” in the traffic?
And what about the commercial I just heard where the guy said “Ani lo mevin klum…tess-em-ess li” (literally “I don’t understand anything…send me an SMS).

Keeps me on my toes.

Psycometri Dish

November 25, 2007



As fellow Zabajnikit Maya (ok, well, not so much Zabaj on her as she’s like 90 lbs soaking wet) is nearing her Israeli rite-of-passage, the dreaded “psychometri” exam, we learned some fun things about how the test itself is composed and what it means to Israelis and Israeli society.

It’s divided into a few parts, including Hebrew, Logic, and Math, among others. The Hebrew part I’m sure is pretty tough, but I thought I could wrap my head around the Israeli Logic section pretty well. Israeli Logic…here are some actual* sample questions from the upcoming 2007 exam. The answers are below the jump, let’s see how you do!

Answer the following multiple choice (Americai) questions.

1. (5 pts) You are waiting in line at the bank where there are two windows with tellers, and eight without. You are thirteenth in line. Suddenly, another window opens. Do you:

a) Continue waiting, relieved that at least the line will now progress more quickly

b) Take the window opening as a sign that other windows should be opened as well, and let fly a good “ALLO ALLO!”

c) Quickly rush to the newly opened window ahead of anyone else, regardless of your position in line or trampling anyone in the way

d) Line? What are you doing waiting in line in the first place? Go *immediately* to the front and demand service, frier!!

2. (3 pts) You are driving on a three-lane in each direction highway approaching an intersection. You need to make a left turn, but you notice that there is a large buildup of cars also waiting to make said turn. The other two (non-turn) lanes are wide open. Select the logical solution:

a) Enter the queue of cars at the end and await a green arrow

b) Stay in the center lane and turn from there, screw the green arrow

c) Stop at the end of the center lane, block traffic in this lane, and force your way into the front of the line, honking profusely

d) Reverse around the corner from the other side, make a three-point-turn, and look at everyone you’re inconveniencing as “frierim” who should never look at you like that

3. (10 pts) You’re at a bar with Dudi, Hezi, and Motti. You order a rum and Coke, and Dudi and Hezi order a different drink from you but the same drink as each other. Motti is drinking something red, but then orders a drink with the same carbonation as you but served in the same glass as Dudi and Hezi. What are you drinking?

a) Goldstar

b) Vodka Redbull

c) Chaser of schoog

d) None of the above — all of you are sharing one beer that remains half-full all night

4. (3.5 pts) You and a passenger are driving and need to park in front of your favorite café, but doing so requires you to block in a parked car as well as disrupt traffic in the lane you’re blocking. But you want to park there. Select the logical response:

a) Let your friend off to buy you both coffee and drive around the block so as to not disrupt the flow of traffic

b) Stop in front of the café, but send your passenger as in a) and remain in the car with the hazard lights on in case you have to move

c) Stop in front of the café, enjoy a nice coffee break, but keep a good eye on your car and move it if neccesary

d) Go inside the café, take your sweet damn time, and if anyone says anything about you blocking them in and/or blocking traffic, make sure they understand that this is their fault, not yours, and “lo kara klum.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Because You Suck, That’s Why

November 20, 2007


I read an interesting article in Haaretz today on the recent 5-day mission to Israel of a few Hollywood bigwigs. Apparently the experience culminated with a Q&A at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque with the Hollywood visitors fielding questions by Israeli film industry hopefuls. The author of the article refers to the questions unabashedly centering around “how can I get a job in Hollywood?” and never straying from that theme for too long. I mean, I see why, but some common sense? You’re talking to the most vile elitists of American society and expecting them to actually give you a satisfying answer to that question by cornering them over and over?

I can probably recreate the scene:

BigWig: So, you can see, we’re always looking abroad to film our projects and draw talen..

Dudi: Ehhhhh, how I get job in Hollywood?

BigWig: ..nt from all over the- huh? Oh, um, hi. Yeah, like I said we’re always open to new talent and …(general noncommital platitudes)…

Shmulik: So you say, I must to come make film and you pay me in Hollywood USA?

BigWig: Well, let me repeat that we’re interested in anything that makes us lots of money; with regards to specifics I can’t… (generally phony but nonoffensive American expressions of disinterest)…

Dedi: I give you script!

BigWig: No, we can’t accept unsolicited scripts for legal rea-

Dedi: No? Why? I give you — It’s make tale of hummus legacy set in…

Ugh. You see where this is going. What is it with all the “why?” anyway when you simply reject something straight up? I get it *without fail* at the car wash I occasionally go to. They’re trying to pimp on me some 600 shekel membership when a) I don’t always go there and b) I don’t need to prepay my car washes. But “no, not interested” is never enough. It’s all, “why not? nu??” Do they really think that by cornering a consumer and making him rue the day he ever told them he wasn’t interested, that I’m going to be the least bit inclined to buy anything there? BECAUSE YOUR PROPOSITION SUCKS, THAT’S WHY NOT. Why should I down-pay hundreds of shekels to save like, ten over the next 6 months? The math doesn’t even work out. I’m half tempted to bust out a PowerPoint next time.

Countering “totalitarian democracy”

November 18, 2007

Anyone who is familiar with Israeli “newspaper” sites is very familiar with te ubiquotous “talkback” feature at the bottom of almost every single page. The responses to articles on any Israeli news site are usually extremely vile, vulgar and disgusting. You’d think the only people who take the time to contribute are out of work psychopaths.

Well, one intrepid Israeli filmmaker took the plunge and produced an entire documentary about the “talkbackers.” Check out a funny video about the movie to gain some more insight into this wacky place we call home.

An Open Call for Zabaj

November 13, 2007

Have you recently been witness to an Israeli being funny ?

Or heard the word “le-com-pel” (“to compile”) ?

Or told the hairdresser exactly what you wanted and been told “no, I know what you need” ?

Or heard a government employee say “sorry, I’m not paid to write” ?

…if the answer is yes, send us an email!

Zabaj is looking for all your funny, quirky, silly stories about life in Israel, dealing with Israelis, their “fashion,” “humor” and “sense” of “entitlement” that is bounded only by their love for hummus-flavored-everything.

If you’re good (meaning you spot Zabaj-worthy content on a regular basis and know how to use a typewriter, or even a computer keyboard) then we want you to become a contributor!

Send emails now! As you would expect in Israel, the pay is not bad… the more quality content you submit the less you’ll have to pay us to post it. Trust us, you get the Value Added Tax back and can then deduct it from your “brooto” as opposed to your “netto” and come out with a great combina! I know someone at the tax authority than can help… his name is Dudu and he works between 1pm and 12:30pm every other Monday, except when there’s a strike or a Prime Minister with an approval rating under… I dunno… 0.0%.

Why I Think University Tuition Should Be Tripled

November 9, 2007

This post isn’t going to be funny. Zabaj readers used to a good laugh, don’t read on after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Little Lost, Pardner?

October 7, 2007

To the owner of Texas license plate TLJ 69Z: Your car has been…spotted in f’n ISRAEL.

I love that it’s a big ‘ol V8 SUV too (click for full size).




Traffic jam for a coffee

September 27, 2007

I was sitting at my favorite street cafe the other day when I noticed someone park on the street in front of the cafe, buy a coffee and sit on a bench to drink it. The crazy thing is that this guy parked ON the street. It wasn’t a parking spot. He literally blocked a lane of traffic on the very busy small-middle-part of Rothschild Boulevard to get a coffee. But he didn’t just want coffee, he sat down on a bench to drink it while other drivers were swerving their cars around his. I was so stunned that I took to the street with my cell phone to document the event. click to see each picture bigger

The car

The parked car

Behind the car

The guy sipping coffee while his car is parked IN the street

A jam

One of the many traffic accidents narrowly avoided as his car sits there

The dude

The dude (Israeli)

Driving in Israel, Part II

September 26, 2007

As a follow up to my original post, I wanted to update our faithful readers. The other day I was sitting at a stop light in Jerusalem. There was a long line of traffic — it’s one of those pain in the ass lights that ALWAYS has a line of traffic backed up.

So I’m sitting there.

And sitting there.

I check rear view mirror.

Note the traffic behind me.

I inch forward.

We sit.

Sit a little more.


I got hit. How does one get hit when we’re all just sitting? I get out of the car and the other driver gets out…

“Ha kol beseder (Everything is fine),” he states. Not a question. A statement. Gee thanks, asshole, for letting me know that my car and my body are both FINE after you HIT ME while we’re all just SITTING at a light. I checked the bumper. There was a scratch on my brand new car. Not horrible but I did NOT want some jerk telling me that I’m ok. I told him it’s not ok. משטרה

I do a double take. It’s a cop.

People…I got hit at a stop light by a cop. I swear it. And the cop tried to tell me that I’m ok. I was so shocked, I lost all my Hebrew and just stared at him as though he was an alien. Meanwhile the traffic STILL hasn’t moved and we’re all STILL sitting in the same spots.

I took his license plate number and got in my car.

Who do you call when it’s the cops who have hit you!?

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…

Whale Done!

September 18, 2007

Whale done

This was the gift I got from my bank this year, an inspiration book about the power of positive thinking. First, its ironic that the book is translated from English (are there no inspiration Hebrew books written by people other than god?) Second, they changed the original title and came up with one on their own (obviously) – Whale Done! (click the pic to see a full version). As always, I’m sure we can all imagine that boardroom meeting: “No, no, I am telling you, the Americans talk like dzis, they say ‘whale done’ as a funny American joke and so we must do it as well, whale done!”

Eat your vegetals!

September 17, 2007

Zabajnikit Davida sent us a few gifts in honor of the New Year (click any image to see it full-size):

Stop Tush

Two bottles of “Stop Tush” in scented gel form that’s good for children and adults.

Shit sign

A street sign near Haifa that warns dog owners to a 660NIS fine if they don’t clean up after their dogs. To get people’s attention the sign exclaims “Shit! I stepped in it again!”


And perhaps the best pic in the batch is of a bag of frozen vegetarian shnitzel. Except they spelled it “Vegetal.” I’m sure we can all imagine Udi Manyak screaming at his kids, “Almog, Dudi, Ron, come cheere and eat your vegetalsim!”

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.