Chinese food?

September 4, 2007

Sweet and sour chickenSo I was eating lunch today…a plate of Chinese food. Or “Chinese food” as I like to call it in Israel. I guess Chinese food in America is also pretty far from real Chinese cuisine but at least it tastes good.

Anyway, I was eating like a sweet and sour chicken kind of thing…you know, the one with pineapples. This one had pineapples and peppers and onions and a sweet-ish sauce and I bit into it and tasted something bitter. I looked down on my plate and saw that the dish included sliced pickles.

Kid you not.

Pickles in the sweet and sour chicken.

Only in Israel…we love us some pickles over here!

Happy New Year

September 3, 2007

From Taglit-birthright israel and Rosh Hashanah Girl:


August 29, 2007

Don’t you get bored of hearing the same songs over and over again on the radio? Well one thing that makes Israel fun is the complete randomness of the radio stations.


Only in Israel can you listen to Galgalatz and within 10 minutes, hear Robbie Williams followed immediately by The BeatlesRihanna (ella ella ay ay ay)…and concluding with Dana International before the commercial.

You just never know what’s gonna come on next!

Click the logo for a live broadcast and hear it for yourself…

Sparkel Sparkle!

August 20, 2007

Schweppes in IsraelLet’s talk about Schweppes. I was kind of excited to see this new product in the store the other day. Israel is really lacking in raspberry things…maybe because raspberries don’t really grow here in large quantities or something…but I’ve noticed that this culture isn’t really into raspberry stuff. No assortment of raspberry and chocolate candies or cakes…fresh raspberries in the grocery stores aren’t really existent. That’s ok though — considering the amount of other fabulous fruits that we find here. But sometimes I really want a raspberry something.

Anyway, so I saw this new item in the store the other day and it made me really happy. A raspberry fizzy drink. Nice! I flipped the bottle over and saw this…


What in the world are “sparkeling berries?”

Does their marketing department have spell check!? Maybe they thought it was cool to spell it incorrectly? Or maybe it’s the same marketing department that handles the Crocker campaign

Udi Manyak’s Guide to Not Being a Frier Tip #25: Driving Etiquitte

August 15, 2007

Maybe it’s because I spent most of the day driving doing last-minute errands before I leave for a couple weeks; maybe Shirat HaSirena inspired me with her inaugural post in what promises to be a helluva series on the driving around here.

In any case, I saw some f’d up shit the last couple days. So, I figured I’d come up with a few simple rules that I (obviously) should be practicing:

1. When approaching a traffic light on a multi-lane highway with one or more left turn lane: If the turn lanes are annoyingly backed up, go ahead and block whichever lanes you need to and squeeze in at the front of the line. Observe:


Don’t worry, the people behind you can just dangerously whip out into the quickly moving non-turn lanes (and it’s their fault for not leaving a good 8 or 9 lanes distance between that nasty backed-up turn lane).

2. Further to Rule #1, people behind you don’t really matter. They may not even exist — you’ve read Descartes, haven’t you? If you need to stop to unload something on a small, one-lane street, don’t bother pulling off to the side and lose those critical seconds (and risk being late to your hummus bath and/or matkot practice). Just stop, and take your time:


The only thing more annoying than the guy’s lame excuse for why he’s deliberately blocking traffic here is the incessant honking that ensued as a result. Which brings me to Rule #3…

3. Honk early and often. I can’t stress that enough — nothing helps clear that jammed up commute or moves a stalled car better than honking like a psychopath. Again, the pedestrians to whom its the most jarring and caustic sound possible *may not even exist.* It’s your right, no, your obligation to break the Israeli no-honking-within-city-limits law at least 90,394 times a day. Tel Aviv is a better place because of all your contributions to its colorful soundscape.

4. Never go through with any decision you’ve made in traffic should it prove inconvenient. This one’s a bit more subtle, and I wish I had the sense of mind to photograph the following two examples when they occurred, both in the last 48 hours:

a) If you suddenly realize, halfway through an intersection, that the lane you’re in is — by no fault of your own — a turn lane, go ahead and stop in the middle of the intersection. DO NOT GO THROUGH WITH YOUR TURN. You might have to actually go with the flow of traffic (frier’im!) and turn around where it’s safe to do so: that’s crazy talk.

b) On a highway on-ramp, if you see that the highway you’re entering is backed up, go ahead and put your car in reverse. Do not get on said highway and exit where and when it’s safe to do so. Refer to Rule #2 hummus bath / matkot dilemma. (Yes, I actually saw this on the Yarkon entrance to Road 5)

A lot of time is wasted on safety, and there’s no reason for that. Go with your gut.

5. Turn signals are decorative distractions that automakers, obviously understating the delicate Israeli fashion sense, still put on cars despite their obvious lack of utility.

The correct way to signal a lane change is to put at least 35% of your car in the target lane. DO NOT LOOK when doing this; this communicates indecisiveness. Those that try to make their own highway discos by running those silly blinkers from time to time are to be ignored, and whenever possible, gaps in traffic should be closed wherever you see them should they try to actually get in the lane they’re signaling for.

That’s it for now. Except this: HEY ISRAELI DRIVERS. DO ME A FAVOR AND KISS MY ASS.

Driving in Israel, Part I

August 12, 2007

Israel traffic jamI feel like driving in Israel deserves its own series. Why? Well because anytime you get on the road, either as a driver or as a passenger, you’re basically playing a game of Russian Roulette. Seriously. I feel like people say that about driving in New York too…but believe me when I tell you that driving in Israel is worse than anything you can imagine.

Anyway…I was smart enough to sort out the driver’s license business when I first moved to this country. I did a little lesson and took a little test and that was that. I knew I wouldn’t be driving anytime soon but I wanted to go ahead and get it out of the way. Finally, about two years after my arrival, I’ve been blessed with a car. A brand new car. Like many Israelis, I have leased a car through my company…it’s one of the perks of working in high tech. I’ve been lucky.

The first few days, I drove very timidly and cautiously and I was a friar. We’ve had that lesson on Zabaj before…what is a friar? A friar is someone who gets taken advantage of…the polite person or the quiet person…yeah…we get walked all over in this country. I had to quickly learn to assert myself on the roads. And I became very observant of all the mess that happens and all the really stressed out people behind the wheels of cars.

How can everyone be so stressed out? Well…it’s much like the escalator situation in this country. There just isn’t any urban planning. Everything is kind of thrown together. In America, you have all the up escalators grouped together so you can just go up and up and up without really pushing your way through crowds of people. Likewise with the down escalators.

In Israel…the up escalators and the down escalators are all clumped together so that whether you’re going up or down, you inevitably have to FIGHT traffic on each level to get to the next escalator. It makes absolutely no sense. And this is all besides the fact that people like to congregate and hover right on the entrance to every single escalator. For no reason. They just stand there and talk with old friends…completely blocking all traffic. Totally oblivious.

That’s how the roads are. The exit lanes onto major highways run parallel to the entrance lanes so everyone who is trying to get onto the highway has to merge with everyone trying to get OFF the highway. And it’s a long stretch of just utter chaos where everyone has to be extremely forceful and basically push people out of the way with their cars. It’s stressful for no reason. Where are the urban planners?

I feel like a great part of why everyone drives so insanely is because the way the roads are constructed make us insane. And I’ve found myself doing some insane things lately too! Like totally tailgating the car in front of me at high speeds because I know that if I am able to see his wheels touching the pavement, the guy to my right or to my left will suddenly decide he HAS to be in my lane…in front of me. It’s every man for himself out there…

Urban planners? Anyone? Anyone?

Reason I Sometimes Think About Moving #29082

August 12, 2007

This is a follow up on Shirat HaSirena’s post on the Crocker jeans campaign that somehow, defying all logic and taste, still seems to be running strong on 9,000,000,000,00m x 10,000,000,000m billboards across Tel Aviv.


1) Who you callin’ a cracker, 2) I’ll sit if I damn well please, and 3) PLEASE can’t they have people who speak English read these things before they make giant nonsensical billboards out of them?!

And wow way to be extra edgy and hip by making the ‘O’ in your brand name…wait for it…a *RADIOACTIVE* symbol. Oooh wear these jeans and you’ll be so cool and ATOMIC. I can almost picture the smoked out, Fraggle Rock red-dyed Henna hair marketing twit that came up with this ridiculous slogan. “Ze cacha omrim — hev a nize day — omrim hav a nice azzz” (undeserved applause by all in the boardroom).

P.S. the word ‘ass’ should never be larger than 72pt. Ever.

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. 

Zabaj on the Radio

July 3, 2007

Tune in at around 2:00AM tonight to hear an interview with a Zabaj writer on גלי צהל!

Thanks again to Dana from for a great write up and keeping the Zabaj momentum going.

After You, Ludacris?

July 3, 2007

This one comes straight from Zabajist-at-Large Ilia who spotted this gem in a Ludacris video. Turns out he’s got a lot of pride in his Tzanchanim (click pic to watch video. His “training” for the big masa kumta begins at 1:41):

I don’t know either. Maybe MTV is being secretly infiltrated by elite Israeli paratroopers?

Fun Times @ EEEKea

July 1, 2007

Ikea, that is.*

Is the cafeteria that good? I’m used to waiting in Soviet breadlines for most things around here, but should it really extend to the g-damn mediocre Ikea cafeteria? Observe:


Even the guys in the poster on the wall seem to be impatiently waiting to get some hummus flavored Jello. Jeez.

One good thing I gotta mention about Ikea in Israel tho:


At least I can get drunk and furnish my apartment for what should be cheaper furniture as I remember it being in N. America but is just expensive cheap crap.

*Language police disclaimer: yes I know that it’s probably pronounced EEkea in Sweden and in Israel it’s pronounced more correct than in America blah blah blah. It’s just funny to hear it called EEkea, okay?

Still Should Just Go F*ck Myself…

June 30, 2007

Still looking for an apartment. Yes, since the last post about that I sorta gave up temporarily as I was super-busy and really had no patience for the whole thing.

It still sucks. Found another funny Israeli aspect of the whole process: Apartments for Exchange:


So, get this: if I like this apartment (no picture for any help there), AND I’m willing to pay $600 for it, I can rent it, right? Wrong! This doofus has to like MY apartment enough to move into it as well. And *that* price has to be right. Yeah, this isn’t an invitation to a total waste of time or anything.

Back when I was looking before I called one of these guys as I couldn’t actually believe this could be the case. I asked him about the apartment; he told me all the details and after I said “ok, well, should I come see it?” he asked, “well, do you have an apartment for me, too?” Find your own damn apartment!

Did I mention it’s a seller’s market here?

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 today in an article about the Israel blogosphere. Hell, our logo (“Holylend”) is even on the homepage right now at

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

Look out for falling people

May 8, 2007

Danger, if you walk past this sign, falling people could land on you.

As the great El Guapo once said … “Are Amigos fall from the sky?”

Look out for falling people

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.