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Monday, February 08, 2010

Phat New Anti-Israel Film!

I am a sucker for a good piece of political propaganda. I have been continually impressed with the way the Dark Side slams Israel - sometimes war-making, sometimes victimized. I don't know about you, but I always fall for a little Good Cop, Bad Cop, and so I have to give this one some props for:

1. Awesome use of music from the hit film "The Matrix". WE ALSO LOVE THE MATRIX! Sweet!

2. Cool typing. The reading/picture changes factor is mesmerizing, and gives me that Israel-loathing high I've been looking for.

3. Novel angle. "I am Israel". I like it - so definitive.

4. Wily promotion. Who isn't interested in seeing a "documentary" about Israel? Maybe I'll spend an hour making my own counter-"documentary" on Powerpoint.

5. Smatterings of history. Hell, this person has used Wikipedia, people! Step off! If that a documentary does not make, I don't know what does. Little misrepresented allusions to complex historical events makes this a dependable account of yore.

6. Ahmadinejadian rhetoric. Where have I heard "Jews from Europe pounced on the land of highly photogenic people who had been living there for thousands of years" before? It's right on the tip of my tongue... give me a few minutes, I'm sure it will hit me like a nuclear bomb.

7. Re-heroization of failed Zionists. Begin and Sharon are back, and better than ever!

8. The Zionist Wishlist. Control of America AND the UN?! Ken Yirbu!

9. World class production. If it's on Youtube, it has to be true.

I want to give this one two keffiyahs up. Inshallah.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weirdest Ever Shoe Name

Winner of the "Uh, What?" Award:

For your galavanting pleasure

The so-comfy-it's-a-crime Sota Water. Walking where you should have never tread before!

By Aerosouls - I mean, Aerosoles.

Stay Faithful, Stay Orthopedic, Stay Aerosoles.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

How Returning a Can of Tuna Made Me Realize I'm Rocking the Hebrew

Recently, I borrowed a can of tuna (fascinating, I know).

Because my neighbor is a native English-speaker, my request for tuna went something like this: "Hey - can I borrow a can of tuna?"

A couple days later, I went to the local grocery to buy a replacement. As I walked out with my can of tuna, I suddenly imagined myself borrowing a can of tuna from a Hebrew speaking neighbor, and wondered how to say it correctly.

Chavilat tuna? No, it's not really a package. Kufsah? Nope, that's more of a box. Bakbuk? No. Cancan - not exactly, that's more like a Diet Coke. Then I caught it - Pach. It's a pach of tuna!

After nailing the right word, I suddenly realized - look how many words I know for packaging! I AM THE BEST HEBREW SPEAKER IN THE WORLD!!!

Okay, maybe not. But little victories are what it's all about in the quest to Israelify. Feelin' good.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Sad Day for Nay-Sayers

I want to apologize to all you Israel nay-sayers out there, this is going to be one irritating post for you.

You know who I'm talking about - those people who get all puckery and condescending, ranting on about the shameful state of affairs in our Jewish State ("it's hardly even Jewish!", they'll say). They pull out crusty old anti-Zionist rationales (that's, like, so 19th century!) and doomsday predictions, and poo-poo the attempts of good folks to get good things done in Israel. It's all a pathetic failure to them.

Well not today! Two articles were posted on Israel National News illustrating just how hard it is to keep a good chosen people down.

The first is about a reflourishing of Zionism at Jerusalem's elite Hebrew University, with a pro-IDF student union and the whole works. Grumbling curmudgeons who swear by the corrupted soul and moral decay of Israelis will have to soothe themselves with the hope that the inspiration of Jewish pride and pro-Israel sentiments won't pass to other institutions of higher learning.

The second, by our own blogger Gil Ronen, is about REALLY cool new developments by the IDF Rabbinate’s Halacha (Jewish Law) and Technology Department, instituted last year to find kosher solutions to Tzahal's operational issues. Some examples in the article include a kosher-for-shabbat car ignition for army jeeps and a special refrigerator-oven for the Israeli Navy. I know, I know - some of you LOVE to hate Israel's army. At least you can always say they helped in the expulsion from Gaza.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Stephen Frees His Jews

Friday, April 03, 2009

Used Furniture

From: Denise Troutman
To: Alex Traiman
Sent: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 9:22:20 PM
Subject: used furniture

Hi Alex,

We are temporarily moving out of our Temple while it is being reconstructed. Are you still in need of items for your Temple?

Thank you,
Denise Troutman

Facility and Events Coordinator
Temple Beth El
5101 Providence Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28226


From: Alex Traiman
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 5:04 PM
To: Denise Troutman
Subject: Re: used furniture

Denise, Shalom.

Thank you so much for your email. We were fortunate to buy some old but sturdy used furniture several months ago, as part of a longer (slow) initiative to fix up our hilltop synagogue on the actual mountain where Yaakov dreamt in Biblical Beit El.

Suffice to say that the project is ongoing, and nowhere near finished. Thus far, we have replaced the seats, the roof, and the ark curtain. We need to replace the ceiling, lights, the floor, and take care of the walls plus some other things. We are trying to turn a double caravan into a synagogue befitting of the holiness of the location....

Please let me know what you have in mind, and how you might be able to send it. We are always grateful for any donations, of money or physical items.

Thank you again very much for contacting. If you don't mind my asking, how did you hear about our synagogue needs?

Have a happy and kosher Passover.

With Blessings,


From: Denise Troutman
To: Alex Traiman
Sent: Thursday, April 2, 2009 4:34:09 PM
Subject: RE: used furniture

Hi Alex,

I found a comment from you with your email address when I googled used synagogue furniture. What state is your synagogue? I am sure as we get closer to our move out date there will be items we need to have removed.

I apologize but I am not Jewish so the statement "our hilltop synagogue on the actual mountain where Yaakov dreamt" doesn’t give my any clues as to your location. I hope you have a happy and kosher Passover,

Thank you,
Denise Troutman

Facility and Events Coordinator
Temple Beth El
5101 Providence Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28226



Thank you for the email. Our synagogue is in Israel. Our town, the original town of Beth El from the Bible, is recorded as the place where Jacob had his famous dream with the ladder. This synagogue sits atop that very mountain, and is one of the holiest places in the world.

Today Beit El is a Jewish settlement with 7000 residents located in the Biblical province of Samaria, commonly referred to today as the West Bank. And the synagogue sits atop an outpost with 30 families that live in caravans.

Our town is 20 minutes north of Jerusalem, and about 2 minutes north of Ramallah.

If your Temple Beth El has any desire to connect with the Biblical Beth El of its ancestral heritage, then we would be more than grateful to receive a donation.

Many thanks,

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Satire: The International Media

Unfortunately, this satire by the Israeli sketch comedy show 'Eretz Nehederet' is not as much of a stretch as some might like to think...

(I found the clip on the Jerusalem Post's blog called 'Must Sees'...

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Tagging" Ain't Just for Facebook!

To my displeasure, the walls of Jerusalem (and much of the rest of Israel) are covered in graffiti. My reaction is often to not pay attention at all or sigh over the misuse of a beautiful white wall of Jerusalem-stone. But I've noticed if you look a little deeper you will see many reoccurring patterns within the teenage (I pray they're only teenagers) markings. The most common one of course is the "Na Nach Nachma Nachman M'uman" tag of the dope-smoking hippies that fancy themselves some sort of modern breakaway group of Breslov Chassidim.

A new one that has been popping up all over the place in the last two weeks or so though is "Style Wars 2." At first I didn't think much of it, but as I saw it over and over again I started to get more curious. Could it have to do something with Star Wars? I understand every other group of people seems to lay some sort of claim to the holy city but now Star Wars nerds too!? I did an internet search on it and it turns out that Style Wars was the name of a PBS documentary done on urban culture and specifically spray paint graffiti. Now why they have started to spray Style Wars 2 everywhere is beyond me, unless it is some sort of grassroots promotion for a sequel. Also popping up is an interesting one that says something to the effect of "Joker love 42" or something like that. It always seems to feature arrows coming out the the ends of the letters which seems kind of neat I guess.

A more classic one I've seen for over a year now is "Homo = Ill" or some slight variant of it. The funny thing is that wherever somebody has written it, 90% of the time somebody has come around later, crossed out the word "Homo" and replaced it with word "bigot." My mind's eye pictures some rainbow flag bearing spray paint can toting hippie following closely behind some angry right wing punk, each tip-toeing so as to not arouse the attention of police-calling neighbors.

Another common one is the "Am Yisrael Chai" (the nation of Israel lives on) which always includes a Magen David, and every now and then you'll even see a "Mavet l'aravim" (Death to the arabs) painted on a stairwell or alleyway wall. But if you really want a treat I recommend going on Yaffo Street across from the Shuk and checking out the building that has beautiful calligraphy of Jerusalem in both Hebrew and English written across an entire wall. Whether you like it or not, the graffiti seems to pop up everywhere in Jerusalem, but at least you can't complain that they don't keep it interesting.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Some Old Friends Wish You a Happy Hanukkah

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mobsters going green?

In one of those "only in Israel" moments I just found out that apparently the mafia scene in Israel has environmentalist leanings. In this JPost article it details a potential mob war sparking off. Read closely and you'll notice a very interesting detail. About halfway down it mentions that one of the main conflicts between sparring crime families is conflicts over a bottle-recycling racket. Upon mentioning this to a friend here in yeshiva he confirmed and told me he heard that the mafia runs all the bottle recycling in Israel. I don't know if this is true or not, but living in Israel has taught me not to be surprised by very much anymore...
Police fear a full-scale war between the country's various organized crime families will erupt after Mafia kingpin Ya'acov Alperon was killed when a car bomb exploded in his vehicle on a busy Tel Aviv thoroughfare Monday afternoon.

Mob kingpin Yaakov Alperon killed in Tel Aviv assassination

Three bystanders, including a 13-year-old boy, were wounded in the blast, which left Alperon's car ablaze as it sat on the corner of Rehov Yehuda Hamaccabi and Derech Namir.

The lifeless body of the mob boss, known on the street as "Don Alperon," dangled from an open door.

"We received a report of an explosion in a car," paramedic Lior Elharar told Army Radio. "We arrived within several minutes and found three casualties, one of whom was dead."

* Analysis: This is a war over honor

"I heard a huge blast and I approached the junction," Idit, an eyewitness, said. "Two women were lying on the crosswalk and there was an exploded car. I thought it was a terrorist attack."

Police had initially identified Alperon's body by the polo shirt he had been seen wearing earlier in the day at a Tel Aviv courthouse, where his son Dror was indicted on an unrelated charge.
Slain mob boss Ya'acov...

Slain mob boss Ya'acov Alperon in court, several hours before his assassination, Monday.
Photo: Channel 2

Video taken by news crews of Alperon at the courthouse flashed across the evening news, with Alperon, in sunglasses and a black fedora, sauntering into the courtroom.

After the blast, large numbers of police, firefighters and medics arrived on the scene, including Insp.-Gen. David Cohen and Cmdr. Ilan Franco, the Tel Aviv police commander. Police said they were searching for a second vehicle that sped away from the scene of the blast, but a gag order was later placed on the details of the investigation.

Security will be tight for Alperon's funeral, scheduled for 12:30 Tuesday in the Ra'anana Cemetery. The family has asked that Dror Alperon be released from detention for the funeral.

"An extremely serious event took place today, and its consequences are completely clear to us," Franco said. "It likely happened because of an internal conflict within the Tel Aviv crime world ... If there are consequences to this attack, we will have to deal with them."

After Netanya crime boss Charlie Abutbul was wounded in an assassination attempt at a local café in September, an additional 200 auxiliary police officers were sent to Netanya to crack down on area crime syndicates and quell the possibility of a mob war erupting.

But while that situation eventually calmed down, hopes for the quiet to continue dimmed Monday, as fears of retaliation immediately followed the news of Alperon's death.

Alperon had many enemies, including convicted drug lord Ze'ev Rosenstein - who himself has survived at least seven assassination attempts - and the rival Abutbul and Abergil families, with whom the Alperons battled over a lucrative bottle recycling racket.

Alperon has also had a standing feud with another gangster, Amir Mulner, dating to a January 2006 arbitration summit that went wrong. Knives and guns were drawn there, and Mulner emerged with a stab wound to the neck that was widely attributed to Alperon.

Alperon went undercover afterwards, along with his son, and police searched the country in vain for two months before both men struck a deal to turn themselves in. They were never charged.

A number of attempts have been made on Alperon's life previously, including an attack in 2001, in which the assailants threw a grenade at his home.

Alperon also survived a previous car bomb attack in 2003. In 2004, an indictment was filed against four Belarusian citizens for trying to murder Alperon and his associates, and last year, police defused an explosive device found in his son Elad's car.

Last May, Yaakov Alperon's older brother, Nissim, survived the ninth assassination attempt against him. Police intercepted a three-man hit team dispatched to get him, and in the ensuing gunbattle a policeman was seriously wounded and one of the gunmen was killed.

Alperon had served multiple prison terms and was arrested several times for stabbings, assault, blackmail and intimidation. He recently served a 10-month prison sentence as part of a plea agreement.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jerusalem's "Rave" Reviews

When many people think of Israel, an image of people riding around on camels in the desert shooting machine guns may come to mind (if you think I'm joking I'll have you know I actually had a friend in college who seriously believed this until I informed him to the contrary that we actually have such advanced infrastructure as "roads" and "office buildings" and "malls"). If it's not the middle east conflicts that one may think of then perhaps Israel's numerous religious and historical sites, or it's pristine beaches and natural scenery, or it's world renown high-tech industry. But an often overlooked aspect of Israel is it's trance scene. Israel has given to rise to some of the top trance artists, including Infected Mushroom, a personal favorite of mine and almost anybody else into Goa Trance.

It's with this in mind that I feel I shouldn't have been surprised, though I still was, by what I witnessed this past Friday afternoon. While running an errand that involved schlepping from the the Machane Yehuda shuk to the old city, I started hearing a steady deep thumping coming from a side street off of Yaffo Street. As I kept walking it kept getting louder and louder. As I came by a corner I saw some people hanging out on the steps. A few more steps in that direction revealed security guards checking people's backpacks as they were walking in, and as I finally came past the corner I was privy to a full on dance club in the middle of the street. It was complete with what could have been club quality speakers, a stage, and tens of people showing off their best moves while the electronica was blaring out into the streets. I was left scratching my head and asking myself if I was honestly seeing a public sidewalk rave. But not just any public sidewalk rave. One next to the old city of Jerusalem, the religious capital of the world... in the middle of broad daylight... on Friday afternoon when everyone is (supposed to be) getting ready for shabbat. Turns out my eyes, and ears for that matter, were not deceiving me and it was actually happening. I even had a tiny yetzer hara trying to convince me that if it wasn't for my errand as well as the dead give-away peos and tzitzit, maybe I should have jumped into the crowd and relived some old glory days, but alas... the service of the Lord is very demanding upon His faithful ones.

The strange event stuck in my mind for several hours into shabbat, and I mentioned it to a friend of mine from yeshiva while we were walking to the home of our hosts for Friday night dinner. My friend informed me that apparently he's witnessed this same Friday afternoon rave before, just a mere several blocks from where I saw it. Apparently the trance scene in Israel is even better than I originally thought! So much so you don't even need to travel to Tel Aviv on a Saturday night, just walk around downtown Jerusalem on a Friday afternoon.

So for anyone who is a fan of good music, you now have yet another reason to make aliyah. Come to Israel... and don't forget your glowsticks!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Secret to Making it in Israel... knowing how to eat Hummus.

The video below will guide you through the learning process.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Boycotted Israeli Car Commerical

This Israeli commercial for Nissan's new Tiida (or Versa, in the US) automobile, which is supposed to save its owners lots of money on gas, was pulled off the air as a result of Arab pressure.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

The American's Guide to Lesser Known Israeli Stereotypes Part 1: Fashionista Rambo

I would venture to say many if not most Americans have a generic picture of the average Israeli in their head... someone with tan skin, dark brown hair, and a funny middle eastern accent, possibly wearing a nice button down shirt and jeans, smoking a cigarette and talking on a cell phone. If one wishes to get fancy they might conjure up an image of a soldier with a machine gun or a charedi with long curled peos and a shtreimel. Only after having spent some time here have I started to realize just how numerous and varied the different "character types" of Israelis are. In order to better inform the American Jewish public who might be unaware of the existence of these people, I would like to post a several installment mini-series of these lesser known Israeli stereotypes. In this first installment I'd like to open with the Fashionista Rambo. While many girls serve in the army when they turn 18, if you were to spot one on the street while in uniform they would appear as just that- some girl in an army uniform. Yet walk the streets enough and it won't take you long to spot a particular special breed of army girl- the Fashionista Rambo. This is a girl who, although she may be confined to a wardrobe selection of baggy amorphous dull green slacks and shirt, isn't going to let that cramp her style.

What may be lacking in originality and fun in her uniform is more than made up for in everything else. She can be identified by her professionally painted fingernails, sandal shoes with some sort of heel instead of the standard brown or black boots, humongous designer aviator-like sunglasses that cover two thirds of her face and hair and makeup that she probably spent four hours in the bathroom that morning working on. Fashionista Rambo may not lug around a big sack like many of the men soldiers but you'll never find her without her purse. Rarely is she ever carrying her gun... perhaps she feels she is adequately armed with "looks that could kill." For some reason these girls seem to always get on the bus as the same time as another army girl who seems much more meek and just wears flip flops and has her hair in a plain old ponytail. Though they often aren't together, the fact they get on the bust at the same time makes it fun to compare and contrast the two.

There seems to be a variant of Fashionista Rambo in the police force as well. About a month ago I saw one of these women supervising a construction sight, or was supposed to have been though in reality she was busy sending text messages on her phone. She looked as though she could be a model on a runway, and I say this not because she was extraordinarily beautiful (though she did happen to be a very pretty Jewish girl) but simply because she had enough makeup on as to make one think she was prepared for a photo shoot.

Stay tuned for future installments including Pajama Men and Backpack Kids!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama and Aliyah

Or maybe... Because America isn't so different after all...

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Israel: Home of the Hawaiian Shirt?

Below is an actual posting to one of the Israel community lists, of which I am a member:
Shalom List!

My wife had wanted to buy me more wool suits before we left Cleveland, but after to hearing from a few trusted sources we learned that most men don't wear suits.

I suggested Hawaiian Shirts as a more climate appropriate alternative. We heard from two trusted sources - one who mentioned in his blog that he wears shorts and Hawaiian Shirts when he shops on Erev Shabbat, and the other who stated "Well, Hawaiian shirts ... I don't know... Israel is extremely informal, but that just ain't right!"

I would like to get a few more guys to weigh in on this topic. Are Hawaiian Shirts appropriate attire in Israel? If they are what would be the borders of acceptance?
Should I stock up on Hawaiian Shirts or are they available locally? What are the Israeli climate appropriate alternatives to Hawaiian Shirts?

Todah v'Shavua Tov!


In short, you could probably get a way with it Michael. Just stay out of Me'ah Shearim. Personally, I like to wear mine on Purim.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

This Might Help...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Motherland

Recently, on a shopping trip in Jerusalem, I stopped by a Superpharm, Israel's largest drugstore chain. Being the kind of girl who used to meander through Duane Reade back in the day to see what our friends at Maybelline were thinking up, or if there had been any advances on the toothpaste front, I popped in, with an eye toward some Ahava products to give out in the Exile on my upcoming trip. Nothing says "Israel is WAY more awesome than America" more than a jar of scented sea salts or a packet of squooshy, nutritive mud.

As my 5 and a half month old daughter needs some early training in the shopping arts (get them while they're young, ladies), I took her along, pushing her eager, pudgy little body through the store in her stroller.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Israeli drugstores, they aren't the casual browsing experiences you recognize from the Diaspora. Israeli drugstores also contain WILDLY overpriced American and European cosmetics and their corresponding makeup counter ladies. These aggressive but friendly women are squeezed together in the middle of the store, guarding the really expensive makeup and perfume and concurrently trying to get you to wear it, making that the very, very last place in the store one wants to go. However, like an onion with so many layers, there is a second layer - the lamer European cosmetics and the Israeli stuff, like Ahava and Dr. Fischer. These articles are found in the aisles on either side of the main center aisle, and are serviced by only a few women, who are generally more relaxed, though equally as made up as their Estee Lauder-touting counterparts.

So I maneuvered my carriage through the tightly-stocked store, arriving finally at the Ahava section. At that point, my daughter started to cry, so I took her out of the carriage, and carried her with me as I looked through the products. That's when she saw us - I don't know her name, but you know her. She sports a big grin, powerfully highlighted hair heretofore unseen in her native Morocco, long acrylic nails and a snug cotton/lycra shirt not stamped with the Badatz seal of approval.

"[Gasp!]" I turned around quickly to see what could have gone wrong, who fell, who died, whose pants ripped up the back.

"Wai wai wai!!!! Aizeh metukah! Chamudah! Kapparah aleichem!! tfoo tfoo tfooo!" Translation: "Wow, wow, wow! What a sweetie! Cutie! ...[not translatable - if you want to understand, come live in Israel]"

She approached us with enthusiasm generally reserved for long lost relatives or the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. She asked if she could hold my baby, who, like a true Fleisher, was glowing from all the attention, and smiling a big toothless smile. So I agreed, inherently trusting most Moroccan women of any hair color. She started to play, to coo, to dance with my baby. She asked her name, which I told her, and she started talking and singing to the baby. I thought to myself "that's so sweet. Gosh, people are nice."

And then it happened. "Rachel!! Come over here! Did you see this baby?!" Rachel (not necessarily the actual name, but bear with me for purposes of the story) turned around, saw my daughter, and the same ecstatic greeting was repeated. Rachel skittered off to another aisle to alert the cell phone saleswomen, who turned the corner, saw my baby, and emitted a high pitched noise I have only heard from dog whistles and Russian women. The cell phone saleswoman, with high, scary heels, asked if SHE could hold the baby, which I acquiesced to. Then the first lady scurried over to the main cosmetics area to get the other cosmetics saleswomen, who arrived in a group of about 5, while the second lady went off to help a customer in the now service-free store.

At some point, I just kind of walked away, and found the Dead Sea creams and salts I was looking for, while my baby was celebrated and shared, passed from a Russian lady to a Yemenite, to another Moroccan, to a German. They squeezed her legs, pinched her cheeks, bounced her up and down and blessed her with a long life and good health. When I came back, the newcomers asked me her name, where we were from (good PR for Samaria!), and wished me lots of nachat (nachas for you in the Exile) from her, with glowing faces and real warmth. Some of them saw her and proposed shidduchim (marriage proposals) with their sons and grandsons. One by one, after wishing me a good day and a mazal tov, they returned to their work, pushing eye shadow and body creams to the Israeli masses.

Twenty minutes after arriving in the Ahava aisle, we left the store with our purchases. I put the baby back in her carriage, where she lay quietly gurgling to herself, fully satiated by all the love and admiration.

I thought about America, where "other people's children" are rarely handled, except by a licensed professional, and then frequently with some sort of supervision or bio hazard barrier for fear of someone being accused of or contracting something. I was gratified by the honest, effervescent love of these Jewish women for my baby, and for me by warrant of being her mother. Superpharm ladies, we love you, too.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Art of Haggling...

One of the things that all Americans learn upon making Aliyah, is that often times, the price given for a particular item is not final, but merely a starting point for negotiations.

Some of us relish the opportunity to bargain in the shuk, while others find the idea to be totally inconsistent with their upbringing - the equivalent of driving on Shabbat (l'havdil).

So, in order to help those of us who haven't yet mastered the fine art of the haggle, perhaps these two instructional videos can help.

For the second video, click here.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

What's your Jew I.Q.?

"A nation which does not know what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do."

--- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Motorcycle Minyan Seeks a Rabbi Who Was Born To Be Wild

Above photo from Hillel's Angels

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A newly formed minyan in this South Florida community is looking for a rabbi. Applicants must be enthusiastic about working outside a traditional synagogue setting — way outside. On the open road.

The King David Bikers, a motorcycle minyan formed just six weeks ago, has already attracted more than a dozen members who share the group’s interests, as spelled out by president Jeff Mustard: “the passion to ride and the bond of our faith.”

Mustard is leading the search for a spiritual leader for the King David Bikers. “I’m looking for a rabbi to impart a certain Jewish fabric to the group,” he said. “Lessons from the Torah, Jewish enrichment, Jewish education.” The only requirement is that the rabbi ride a motorcycle, a quality not readily found among Jewish clergy.

Rabbi Yaakov Nerenberg of the South Florida Association of Rabbis offered to help Mustard in his search for a Harley-loving spiritual leader. But he told the Forward that not all rabbis are born to be wild. “I am having difficulty finding a rabbi who can fit their needs,” Nerenberg said. Despite that challenge, Nerenberg remains optimistic and continues to search because to him it “sounds like they are on the right path.”

Mustard said that interest in the King David Bikers took off almost immediately after he launched a Web site heralding the group’s formation in February. “A new congregation is rolling into South Florida and it has less to do with whether you are a Conservative, Reform or Orthodox Jew than it does with whether or not you ride a motorcycle,” the home page announces. “If you are Jewish and you ride a motorcycle, finally there’s an organization for you.”

Mustard expects membership to reach two dozen by next week. He said the positive response has been gratifying. “It says to me that what I was feeling, other people were feeling, and there was clearly a pent-up demand for it. It’s like creating a product that really works and people are buying it,” he told the Forward while eating pizza at a Fort Lauderdale outdoor cafe a few feet from where he had parked his gleaming 1600cc Yamaha Road Star Silverado.

Currently, the riders meet every Sunday at the Rascal House — a venerable delicatessen that Mustard has deemed the “big temple of delis” — for breakfast, schmoozing and riding afterward. Mustard, an advertising executive during the workweek, characterizes the members as mostly professionals and businessmen, with a few female and non-Jewish riders diversifying the pack.

There are other Jewish biker clubs in the country, including the Chai Riders and the Star of Davidson in New Jersey and the Sabres in Atlanta. But according to Mustard, the King David Bikers are the first in Florida and the first to seek a rabbinical leader. He hopes to start other chapters around the country. “I think this could be a national organization in other major markets,” Mustard declared while fielding cell phone calls from rabbis and interested bikers.

Star Of David Bikers

The King David Bikers have plans to attach mezuzas to members’ bikes, along with saying a short blessing over the kosher hogs, a custom adopted by other Jewish motorcycle communities.

The group has also planned several socially conscious events, including attending a lecture on the Holocaust and a commemorative ride to Miami Beach’s Holocaust Memorial on April 18, the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day. Charity will be another priority — Mustard described plans for a dreidel drive during Chanukah to collect toys for needy children.

Mustard envisions the King David Bikers as more than just weekend Harley hobbyists. “I see this organization as being part motorcycle club, part social club, part chamber of commerce,” said Mustard. “I have a feeling that strong relationships, both personal and business, will evolve from this.”

Hillel's Angels

[BTW - there is an Israeli motorcycle club as well. Personally, I am against motorcycles because I believe that they are inherently dangerous, and I think it's prohibited to ride them. BUT, I appreciate the will to have a club of Jewish people who ride. In Israel, I have seen them ride through Gush Katif and Hebron in solidarity with the people there. G-d bless them, and give them safety, and may all those who ride in the Galut, drive home into the sunset of destiny. YF]

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Take That Santa!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chinese Food On Christmas

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The New Cult Classic

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jewish GPS

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Revenge of the Oleh

Revenge of the Oleh.

Share your stories of oleh justice in the comments section.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Place Your Lemon On the Conveyor Belt, Sir"

(Click to Enlarge)

You lucky, lucky American Jews. Do you know that the United States' vigilant anti-terror watch, which has become so vigorous as to ban potentially explosive shampoo and expose feet, has been downgraded just for you?

Apparently, despite your suspicious appearance and strange rituals, you will be allowed to board planes with the most dangerous weapon of all:

Your Etrog.

U.S. Allows Carrying 'Four Species' on Airplanes

( The United States Transportation Administration has stated that the "four species" (arba minim) of a palm branch, myrtle and willow twigs and the etrog are not on the TSA's list of prohibited items for carrying on airplanes in the country. ["Sir, we have a 458 subsection B here. That's right, we believe several passengers are potentially smuggling illegal substances inside suspicious vegetation which they have brought on the plane..... yes sir, I believe that one of the leafy materials resembles marijuana... Okay, I'm taking him in."]

The department noted that the arba minim used on the Sukkot holiday are significant for Jews and has advised workers and security officials at airports that Jews may be meditating and using them in prayers while waiting for airplanes. ["*gasp* Dear G-d in Heaven, is that bearded man wobbling and shaking that green sword and that yellow grenade looking thing?! I just KNEW that it would be my plane, I KNEW it!! Our G-d, who art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name..."]

On one recent flight, passengers were suspicious of an Jew who was meditating while praying.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Kumah Exclusive: Sacha Baron Cohen and Sara Silverman Are Mossad Agents

by Aaron Fox

The famous question: Could a holocaust every happen on American soil? Not yet famous answer: It already happened.

Simple math. In the year 1950 there were were 150 million Americans and around 5 million Jews. Today there are 300 million Americans and around 5 million Jews. American population doubled. Jewish population stayed the same. That's a loss of 5 million Jews. Then to take into account that there are only 3.5 million Jews that sport a Jewish mother from this count of 5 million. Since the 1950s count of Jews it's safe to assume all had Jewish mothers, let's add another 1.5 million to the loss. Add it up and we get 6.5 million Jews lost on American soil. At least the German holocaust had the mercy of making itself known as a destructive force. The American holocaust has us smiling down the aisles of Walmart as we quietly waste away.

The American holocaust is amongst us, the only question is how long will it linger on until the Jews of America are no more.

The Israeli government is asleep on many issues but lately the American holocaust has taken top priority amongst top officials. During the Sharon government a classified agency was formed to save the American Jews from perishing altogether. This agency's objective is to bring the American Jews back home to Israel.

Knowing full well that the American Jew would not leave on his own volition, a special strategy was devised. World history has proven that the only way the Jews leave their host country is by the host country itself expelling the Jews by violent means. A tall order of old fashioned antisemitism was needed.

Enter special Israeli Mossad agents Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman. Specially trained to infiltrate American culture and plant the seeds of Jew hatred and general racial hatred for good measure. Click on their names to see them do their holy handiwork. Notice that these aren't just your run of the mill comedians. They are able to sing and write clever tunes; act and write for movies; there is no end to their creative talents. Their success has been enormous. It has become cool once again to hate Jews.

Stand by for stage two where special agent Michael Bloomberg will single-handedly bring Wall Street and all of New York to its knees thereby creating a world panic and economic disaster. And we Jews know what that means.

This just in: many smart Jews are coming to Israel just because Israel is better. If only all Jews were so wise, these covert actions by Mossad's celebrity spies would not be needed.

Editors note: Aaron Fox discovered the story while being a candidate for the Celebrity Mossad agency. He went half-way through a grueling 6 week comedy training camp whereby he was dismissed. The fatigued Aaron noted being unfunny as the reason for his abrupt termination.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Idol Worship on a Fixed Rate Mortgage

Lately, Madonna's arrival for Rosh Hashanah has been raising a lot of talk - the woman who's only LIKE a vir... well, you know, is coming to Israel, sporting her red string and expensive, sports drink-like Judaism... but thinks Rosh Hashanah is cool, reportedly dresses respectfully in Israel, and will probably get at least a few hundred unaffiliated Jews thinking about why Madonna has cast a kind eye on the Jewish State, and why they themselves had never considered it.

If Madonna had never studied with the infamous Kabbalah Center, she would probably be more welcome here. As it is, she is undergoing much good ol' fashioned scrutiny.

But considering what her roots are, I'd say she's taken a giant leap into legitimate monotheism.

After all, she could be touting St. Joseph, the patron saint of home sales.

Here's what you do, if you still maintain faith that tiny clay models of people have major power over your life:

For just $9.95 (or $13.95 for REAL believers who want the larger idol), you buy the Original 4" St. Joseph Statue Home Sales Kit.

You plop the made-in-China deity in a bag, flip 'im upside down, and face its factory-formed face toward your property, and watch those offers come rollin' in!

This kind of stuff makes the Kabbalah Center look like the foyer of the Beit Ha Mikdash. NOT THAT I'M ADVOCATING IT (I can just see all those indignant comments)!! If you want some REAL Judaism, Esther/Madonna, here's a link for you. In the meantime, an apple and honey should cost you no more than 10 shekels - don't let Rabbi Berg fleece you.

And welcome to Israel!

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Fatah Gets Hip

What Abu Mazen won't do to make his brand of Jew-killing-while-receiving-training-from-the-Americans-and-money-from-Israel hip.

(Photos: AP's Jihadist stringers)

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kumah Resurrection Threat?

Kumah has never received a death threat before, let alone a resurrection-then-death-again threat. We certainly have never been threatened with being "Palestinian Farmers Fertilizer." Guess we are stepping on some pretty nutty toes over here. Enjoy:


How are you palestinian farmers fertilizer?
I will have you slaughtered over and over again, i will torture you over and over again.
God will never forget and forgive the pain you have bestowed on the people of this world.
Every time they kill you I will make you live again so they can kill you again.
Did you enjoy killing cristians?
Did you enjoy killing Muslims?
Did you enjoy killing Princess diana?
Did you enjoy stealing and suffocating workers all over the world?
The time has come to slaughter you, I will make all the people you killed live again and they will tell the world who did it.
It was YOU.
May the slaughter begin, stupid f***ing Jew.

Sister Main Gauche of Compassion

Get your Jihad name from:

For the record, we didn't enjoy killing Princess Di - we were just following orders.

You think this letter was automated in addition to the Jihad name? And don't those Jihad names sound awful Christian?

In other news: Hebrew Yishai! (Check out the talkbacks. Never seen such lengthy, thought-out talkbacks in all my days)

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Revenge of the Hajj Heat Rash

WARNING: The article you are about to read is not in any way related to sophisticated political analysis or higher spiritual thought. It's just darn funny.

Hajj Pilgrims Offered Relief From Chafed Thighs
July 16, 2007

RIYADH -- Help is being offered to Muslims afflicted by chafed thighs during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Gazette reported Saturday.

Worshipers at the annual event are to be offered "seamless trousers" for the first time to guard against chafing, the English language daily said.

The trousers are designed to be worn under the ihram, the loose-fitting white robe worn by Muslims undertaking the pilgrimage.

"Pilgrims often complain of sore thighs because of friction as a result of long walks. The trouser will protect the thighs," the paper said.

The pilgrimage, which is expected to next take place in December, is one of the five pillars of Islam that all able-bodied Muslims must undertake once in a lifetime if they have the means.

Nearly 2.4 million people flocked to holy sites in Saudi Arabia earlier this year to perform the Hajj, including more than 1.6 million from outside the kingdom.

In January 2006, 364 pilgrims were killed in a crush during the pilgrimage's stoning ritual.


Dear Ahmeds and Fatimas,

Shalom from Israel! Sorry about the shifshuf (but that's how it is in our crazy Middle East, right?). I'm so happy for you... seamless pants, that's great - and novel!

I found somemore info in our shared quest for a chafe-free lifestyle. Just hand over all Jewish captives, and you can have it.

Okay, you got me! I'll give it to you for free - like everything else:


Chafing often occurs on the inner thigh, groin area, armpits, nipples, etc. as a result of sweating, and friction from body parts rubbing together, or friction from clothing. The best treatment for chafing is prevention.

Stay hydrated - Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Among other things, staying well hydrated will help prevent chafing by allowing you to perspire freely. When you stop perspiring your sweat will form salt crystals on your body increasing friction.

Clothing - Select snug fitting (but not tight) clothing. Shorts or jog bras that are too tight or too loose will create friction and rubbing.

Choose breathable, wicking fabrics .... Coolmax, Supplex, Polypro, etc are good choices. No cotton!

Clothing should have few seams, flat seams, and small flat stitching.

Do not wear untested clothing on a long walk and never wear unwashed new clothing.

Stay Dry - Use talcum powder or cornstarch to stay dry. (Gold Bond is highly recommended and can be found in most drug stores. Two Toms Blister shield is another good option.)

Lubricant - When you increase your mileage all other efforts may fail. It is time for real preventative. There are a variety of lubricants on the market. They are readily available at most running stores. Many people use petroleum jelly because it is inexpensive and easy to find. I don't really like the consistency, and find it doesn't stay on as well as many of the sports/running products.

Make your own lubricant - with this recipe I found on a couple of the running boards. Mix equal parts A & D ointment (diaper rash cream) and Vaseline (1 cup each). Then add vitamin E cream and Aloe Vera cream (1/4 cup each) to improve consistency and smell. (Mixture should be stiff, yet applicable.) It not only protects skin from chafing but can help heal the skin and also is helpful with blister prevention. Low cost and effective. Measurements do not have to be accurate.... this is not baking!

Treatment - The general treatment for chafing is to treat the area by washing with soap and cool to luke warm water. Then apply an antibacterial ointment or antiseptic spray, cover with a bandaid or sterile gauze. This works well, but I prefer A and D ointment. (Yes, the diaper rash ointment!!) It relieves pain and itch, promotes healing, and keeps the area lubricated so you can continue walking without discomfort. After this product was recommended to some fellow walkers it soon became known as "Magic A & D" it works so well.


I hope you guys have a super-awesome hajj this year, filled with all those cool tramplings and self-flagellatings that make you guys so fun.

Your Sister By The Same Mister,

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Time to Stop Playing with Our Balls and Strikes

This debate about baseball in Israel has gone just about far enough. Perhaps we have become so insensed by the current state of affairs in Israel, or have been so numbed by a corrupt system that remains in power, that we have decided to turn our attention to an easier target: recreation and entertainment.

Recreation is good. Professional entertainment bad. Fine. Case and point. I like baseball, and just may see a game before this summer is out, because I still retain many habits from a former life in the United States, like surfing the internet past my bedtime.

But here at Kumah, we are supposed to be shining Israel in a positive light wherever possible, pointing out areas critical for the growth of this nation, and pushing American aliyah.

I am quite worried that this hit and run on America's pasttime now in Israel, runs counter to the goals of our organization.

American Jews love American sports. This phenomenon is a little difficult to understand, even for myself who to this day thinks of the ballpark anytime I smell a freshly cut lawn.

Moving to Israel is hard. Real hard. Don't let these Aliyah junkies tell you otherwise. Most American olim consciously and unconsciously look far and wide to seek out the comforts of the old country here in our new habitat. Whether it is Hellman's mayonaise or a trip to Ikea, these creature comforts help us feel at home in our elevated environs.

I am quite afraid that this battery on baseball--a familiar face to many olim who feel as if they have left many wonderful things behind to begin a better life--might make future olim uncomfortable.

I worry that potential olim, and others reading this blog may begin to think that we have struck out swinging. We don't need to attack anything and everything that runs counter to the religious ideal. We need religious and non-religious Jews who like baseball to come make Aliyah, and help strengthen our nation.

There are a lot of problems in Israel and within American Jewry. Baseball, for better or for worse, is not one of them.

Look at the coaches signs, there is a lot of work to do here. I think we should step up to the plate, and try to hit a home run on some serious issues in this country, before our society gets picked off trying to steal a base.

And I also think that for those of us who don't like professional sports--in a land where soccer goons riot, and a basketball team routinely wins the European championship--paying any additional mind to this baseball league is simply giving more attention to another business started in Israel with private American investment.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Glenn's History of the Middle East... in a Couple of Minutes

Glenn Beck is perhaps the only thing worth watching on CNN... This is an oldie but a classic!

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie

I'm one of those American/Israeli Jews who never really divorced herself from American pop culture. Not that I was so into it to begin with, but I'm still more entertained by American content than by Israeli. And I have a weakness for TV. This moral turpitude has led me to discover a wide and wonderful world of programming on the internet, seeing as I'm so far away from my good friends at NBC and CBS.

Every once in a while, you not only find something entertaining, but you find something educational or important.

On one sunny afternoon, unable to soothe my TV gluttony, I perused a site and found a series whose title made me laugh out loud - Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Online Videos by

At the website, you can watch all the episodes that have been syndicated so far. Produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, this show is meant to show you how sweet, regular, and downright endearing Muslims are, and what a pleasure it would be if only you could have some in your neighborhood. A more brilliant and subtle-yet-unsubtle piece of propaganda one nary has the privilege to witness.

So I propose we come up with some counter propaganda- so far, I have "Little Third Temple on the Prairie", "Days of Our Pascal Offerings", "Afikomen Break" (a drama about a lost Afikomen and the angsty attempts of the family to find it and eat it) and "CSI" (Coming Soon to Israel, a show about how ALL the Jews want to make aliyah, and how easy, fun, and economically satisfying it is). There's also "The Cosby Show", about that nasty incident involving Pinchas and public impropriety, but I think that's a more Cinemax niche.

Touche to Arabia - nice work. Darn it.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

See, I Knew it Was 'Tipex'

So Tipex has finally explained why they started spelling their name "Teapacks":

We were originally called Tipex, as in wipeout fluid, because we are trying to wipe out differences between people. We are combining together different kinds of Israel, like Arab Jew Israel with East European kind of Israel. But we found out there are students that are sniffing this fluid and it caused brain damage so we changed our name to Teapacks. We didn't want to take responsibility for this.

I know some guys named Ehud who should maybe change their names so friends of theirs don't maybe vote guys named Ehud into power.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Israeli Chutzpah

Check out this funny intro to Israeli's chutzpah (attitude problem).

Enjoy !!!!

~ Shulamis

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

You Have to Bear Left When Swimming to the Holy Land

Funny. Featuring Josh Fleisher, who was listed as a guest blogger on this very blog for almost four days. He also designed the graphic atop the right-hand column and is wearing a pretty bitchin hat in this clip. Without further ado...

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

That ISP Commercial With the 'Kravi Zeh Hachi' Guy in 'Iran'

The following ad plays on some of the deepest emotions of many Israelis - the very fantasies that allowed the Oslo Accords and their various reincarnations to occur and the instincts that make folks like Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert state plainly that a "political horizon" must be created, whether or not one exists in reality.

This is not a bad thing necessarily. There is nothing wrong with yearning for a time when we can minagev hummus in Tehran (though the video clip could not even be filmed there, but was shot in Turkey I believe), but making connections over the Internet (the commercial is for an Israeli Internet Service Provider) is truly more likely to bring that day about than surrender of our birthright piece by piece.

What is even more likely to bring this day about is the Sinaitic Road Map for Peace, aka the Torah. And I'm not talking about going through as many motions as possible until the Temple falls out of the sky, but about implementing the national obligations that have fallen upon us since our return to our land (establishment of a Sanhedrin, observance of the Shemitta year, the assertion of the kind of sovreignty over the Temple Mount that would enable the obligation to bring the Korban Pesach to be actualized, etc.).

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Peretz: Let's Discuss Final Solution

Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Israeli minister of defence Amir Peretz, during the government session on Sunday, demanded the immediate opening of talks with Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, regarding the final solution.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Just be GraTefuL...

When life gets a little tough, just be grateful your not INSIDE this army tank thingy, which is stuck,,,, in yeh, you got it, sewer...

Remember the little things in life... they get bigger that way ;-)

Nighty night... Shulamis

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Last Boy Scout

Leading up to the Purim Holiday, there was much to be done at the last moment. Two days before the holiday, there was work to be done, a lecture to give, an important dinner take-out order to fill, and costumes to get for the little ones.

As I got to Jerusalem to lecture a bunch of (what's a nice word for spoiled?) Yeshiva kids on the ins and outs of Israel advocacy, from the neo-Zionist perspective, I passed by a bunch of hooligan-looking Israelis dressed in what looked to me like boy scout uniforms.

In Israel, you'll see these types of uniforms on teenagers of the various youth movements--each movement occupying their own special niche within the vast religious-political culture which of course must also include innocent and non-innocent young children.

Let's just say these boy scouts didn't look like the helpful kind. Want a smoke?

Following the lecture which I thought was inspirational, and I am sure that some of the yawns were also out of appreciation for my time and energy, I went to go take care of some of those other last minute errands.

(By the way, I know that I give a great lecture).

I got to Pisgat Ze'ev, the largest community in what is now Jerusalem, although used to be the """"West Bank"""". It is a lovely part of the city built by the Prime Minister who could both build and take away, Ariel Sharon. It is really a beautiful large neighborhood.

We like it, because it is on the way home to Bet El from Jerusalem, and has some of the infrastructure missing from a smaller yishuv, like a shopping mall, and of course Burger's Bar.

The Burger's Bar is located at this intersection at the end of Rechov Moshe Dayan. I'm not sure what that tall red thing is supposed to be.

This is a good opportunity to talk about traffic safety in Israel.

When you are coming from Jerusalem, the best thing to do is park across the intersection in one of 8 or so parking spots facing in the direction you need to drive later. Now the road you need to cross on foot has 2 lanes in each direction--a 4 lane road in total. Not so big. But here in Israel, that means that the road takes about 5 minutes to cross, stopping on 2 seperate half-meter-wide islands in between green lights.

Now I was born in NY, so I am no fool. I look both ways and cross against the light if the coast is clear. For some reason, Israelis who will break just about every rule on the road, don't really jaywalk.

I got across the road pretty fast, when all of a sudden, I hear a 35-40 year-old blind lady holding a cane and 3 young kids in Purim costumes shouting, "Selicha, Selicha."

Now she didn't know it, but she was apparently talking to me.

She told me that it was unsafe to cross such a difficult intersection, and needed some help. She was right. Whichever engineer designed the traffic pattern here, they did not have this type of scenario in mind.

Of course, I helped her and her cute, decked-out kids back across the street.

After finishing my good deed for the day, I went back across that street, to get my take-out. The owner of the Burger's Bar, who knows me quite well from my wife's 9 months of pregnancy cravings that made me a regular at this establishment, invited our family to his child's upcoming birthday party at the restaurant. What a real, yet surreal night.

And how good it all made me feel. It was at that moment that I realized, it is simple good deeds like these that make this country what it is, and what it is supposed to be.

You don't have to be dressed like a boy scout to behave like one. But if you are dressed like a boy scout in Israel, it certainly wouldn't hurt to try.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

For Purim: 100 Dancing Ninja Tutles

What? You mean you don't get what 100 dancing tutles have got to do with Purim or Israel?


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Friday, March 02, 2007

Warner Brothers Can't Spell "Israel"

Yes, I admit it. This is how I learned my geography growing up. But back in my day we didn't have YouTube where you could easy pause stuff and realize that they completely misspelled our homeland's name! (Pause it at 56 second left or 50 seconds in.) Spielberg (or should I spell it incorrectly "Speilberg") should be ashamed! And I never noticed how they squeezed in a "Palestine" at the end (though Yakko doesn't point to anything when he says it... hmm...)

In any case it's loads of fun! Enjoy!

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mahmoud Hamandinejad's House Gets Nuked, All Within Die.

Mahmud Hamandinajad was killed today along with all his household when his house dissipated in a mushroom cloud, putting all of Teheran in a decidedly bad mood.

The mystery surrounding the explosion has yet to be unearthed, but some facts have come to the surface: A few weeks ago, Hamandinajad had become tenser then usual when Iran's secret police informed him that the seed of Yigal Amir, Israel's most famous prisoner, was to be transferred over to his new bride. This piece of news created great anxiety in Hamadinajad's heart, for it corroborated the message of an ancient scroll dating to the time of Daniel the Prophet which was in Hamandinajad's possession. The scroll states that in the end of times a man who wields a fire-stick will attempt to save the Jewish people, but will instead be imprisoned and unable to procreate. But a new magic will arise which will enable him to have a child without union. It is this seed which will bring about the redemption of the Jews and the destruction of their enemies. Concerned with his fate, and the fate of his people, Hamandinajad embarked on a plan to nuke the Israeli prison which holds Yigal Amir.

Ahamandinajad was planning to fire a nuclear-tipped Jihad3 missiles at Israel on March 4th - a date randomly selected by computer. In the weeks beforehand, however, a delegation of American Reform Rabbis for Homosexual Marriage were touring Iran on a goodwill mission. This delegation was headed by a certain Dr. Trimbobler who curried the favor of Iran's top echelons, and though she wore a burka throughout the trip, she generally found favor in all who saw her. In fact, she was shown many of Iran's secret installations, including the silo sites for the Jihad 3.

Unbeknownst to her fellow travelers, and certainly to Iranian officials, Trimbobler was on a secret mission code named "Nahafochu" for the underground organization "Jews For Jihad," whose mission is to turn Muslim Jihad in on itself. (She once famously quipped "If they want to commit suicide, let them really commit suicide.") Upon entrance to the Jihad 3 installation, Trimbobler faked a broken heel, and proceeded to access the coordinates of the missile target. "I had only seconds to do it," Trimbobler said, "and my life was in danger, but then I heard Ilan Ramon's voice talking to me as if from the heavens, and he said to me 'Use the force, Larrisa, and as G-d guided me to Osirak, so too, He will guide you. Fear not, for the force will be with you - always!" Trimbobler was able to change the coordinates without being detected.

In the days prior to the launch date, Hamandinajad was noticeably perturbed, awaiting anxiously to fire the deadly arsenal. His only solace was listening to Wagner on his specially designed Triangular earphones, and drawing anti-Semitic cartoons for a local daily. Hamandinjad dreamt of the day when he would be paraded on the main streets of the world and heralded as "Master of the Universe." If he could kill the Messiah, then he would rule the world, and become even more powerful then his heros Hitler, Khomeini, and Gargamel.

When the fateful day came, it began badly when a metal bucket came crashing on Hamandinajad's head. A household servant named Cherbona, who was not in the house when it exploded, told reporters that the bucket was filled with manure from the sheep that the Hamandinajads kept on the second floor. "Muhmud's wife, Ichsa, was cleaning the stalls of Mahmud's favorite sheep, and the bucket simply fell on his head" said Cherbona.

Hamandinajad was not to be dissuaded, though, and was readying to depress the Red Button which he had installed in his own house so that he could watch the whole thing on CNN from his own couch. He gathered all his ten children around himself and prayed out loud, "Oh Allah, you know we are a backwards people, a people bent on violence and world domination, please help us destroy the Messiah!!!"

At 127 AM, a gigantic fiery explosion ripped through downtown Teheran with its epicenter being at Hamandinajad's home. It seems as though a certain Jihad 3 missile had gone off course. The light generated by the nuclear explosion was so great that it illuminated the night sky of Israel 2,000 kilometers away. The Jews had light and joy that night and great celebrations were held. The president of Israel, Baruch Marzel, issued pardons to many Jewish criminals who promised to do Teshuva. Yigal Amir was released and promptly held a massive chuppah at Kikar Malchai Yisrael (Rabin Square) for him and his bride Dr. Larissa Trimbobler.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Even Though We Ain't Got Squirrels...

So here in Israel, in the age of globalization, you can now easily procure Heinz Ketchup (In Israel it used to be Pesach year-round ketchup-wise -- you know, cinnamony), Dr. Pepper (Efrat, Raanana and even Chofetz Chaim at the shuk), Dr. Browns (ditto), Mountain Dew (only Efrat), Ortega taco shells (everywhere) and even Ben & Jerry's. But there is one thing that is totally missing: Squirrels.

So here is your pre-Purim squirrel-fix, fellow Olim. And the guy singing the song is even named Israel (though he is Hawaiian)

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Monday, February 26, 2007

The Tale of Krazy Klan

Krazy Klan created a country for itself. It fought and fought, built and paved, dug and dried, planted and harvested. It flourished and made the earth flourish. It beat its swords into plowshares and its plowshares back into swords. It killed the lion and skinned it, and flew the furry flag high above its home.

But Krazy Klan became so sophisticated it got caught up in its own lies. Its genius was such that it could stave off its enemy with one hand, and still beat itself senseless with the other. And Krazy Klan kept self-flagellating. It was high on the hill and the sun was out and the birds were chirping, and Krazy Klan took its own sword and started beating itself on the head like a Shi'ite in Ashura, bleeding and laughing. And so the enemies all around it awoke, and circled, and drew ever nearer.

Klan knew exactly what to do in these situations. It had learned its lesson in thousands of years of persecution.

It dressed itself in a pink tutu and began dancing a polka. It did somersaults and juggled bottles in the air with its feet. As it held up a mirror, it began screaming at itself in a high pitched, nasal voice: "why must you walk so hunched up, what are you, Quasimodo?"... "why walk so erect, are you a knight in armor all of a sudden?"... "eat with your mouth closed!"... "chew your food before you swallow, you'll choke!"... "don't talk so much!"... "why are you so quiet, did somebody die?"...

Meanwhile, a worried world looked on.

(to be continued?)

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

"You Mean It Isn't Climb-Proof?!"

Amir Peretz, after receiving his daily intelligence report ("just give me pictures - no words, please"): You mean to tell me we are partitioning the land, establishing an Islamic state in the heart of where we are supposed to be building a functioning Jewish entity based on our Sinaitic mandate and the blueprint we call the Torah and we didn't make this danged security fence climb-proof?!

Advisors/handlers: Uh, sir. We didn't know how to draw this out for you, but a memo was sent out a while back briefing the government on the fact that the security fence is actually a Partition Wall. It is actually detrimental to security due to our having to deploy on either side or abandon a ten mile radius to missile attacks, but we are pretty sure the people are onto us and this is our last chance to ditch the territories. Oh, and the fact that it is a wall - we assumed you could surmise that by looking at it. One of the interns must have left their hasbara booklet lying around your desk - you see, just because some of it is fence does not mean all of it is fence.

That whole debate was just a distraction anyway. The right was against the idea of drawing a border so we couched it in terms of security and managed to convince the Hague to come out against it. It was a brilliant plan and it worked like a Jedi mind-trick. "If the Hague's against it, I'm for it" said all the right-wingers, and voila - the holy wall was erected.

Peretz [twiddling moustache]: Um, I'm really sorry. I was not listening to a word you just said. Is the wall climb-proof or not?


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David Melech Yisrael Chai Vikayam! --or--
Dudu for President

We all know by now that Israel's government is corrupt and devoid of high moral standing, both in the eyes of Israelis and the world at large. I don't intend to go into all the sordid details now. That we can save for several upcoming posts.

But the situation is in desperate need of repair, and many argue that we need to start at the top of the political ladder and work down to solve our leadership crisis.

The President of Israel is considered Israel's highest public servant. He certainly is the highest paid. The current term of President Moshe Katzav officially ends in June, if he is not tossed out of office beforehand for sexual misconduct, possibly rape.

The Israeli populace agrees that we need to restore dignity to this position with a man or woman of exemplary character, that can well represent what the modern nation of Israel is all about.

I nominate Dudu.

When I think about all the characteristics that are necessary to make a good president in Israel, one man stands out miles above the rest.

David (Dudu) Fisher has been a model Israeli for decades, and may even be a true Jewish hero. Fisher is a performer par excellance, his star quality shines through all his endeavors.

Fisher has embraced Jewish culture. He served as the Cantor of the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv, meaning scores of non-religious "Middle Israelis" have probably heard him belt out Kol Nidrei when they wanted their semi-yearly dose of Judaism. Dudu can sing with the best of them, reawakening the oft hibernating souls of the Jewish people.

Dudu won't buckle under pressure. He has performed on the world's biggest stage. I personally saw him play Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway. That's the biggest stage I can think of. You can be certain he won't lose his composure standing before the evil glare of the Israeli media's cameras.

And did I mention that Dudu is religious. He never performs on Friday nights or Saturdays. I can't offhand think of any other Valjean's or prominent Israeli politicians with that to their credit.

Dudu is one of Israel's top diplomats meeting with world leaders across the globe.

Fisher understands the diaspora quite well. In addition to his broadway stint, Fisher served as High Holidays Cantor at Kutshers Hotel in the Catskills for over 20 years. It doesn't get any more galut than that. Really.

And let's face it. There is no name that screams, "I'm an Israeli and proud of it," more than "Dudu."

But most of all, Dudu cares about the future of Israel. This is why he has devoted so much of his time and energy to educating our youth with his powerful and funloving DVD series that is a staple in just about every Israeli household.

Dudu has the respect of practically every child in the country. There are Israeli children who will utter the word "Dudu" before they learn to say Abba and Ima. Ask an Israeli youth who Ben Gurion was. I'm not sure they'll know. Ask about Dudu, now that's simple. Dudu is an institution, a revolutionary, a teacher and a leader.

Corrupt? I don't think so. I think all Israelis will agree. Dudu Fisher is an exemplary individual who knows how to represent Israel and Judaism throughout the entire world.

I hereby nominate David (Dudu) Fisher for President of Israel--and for that matter, Prime Minister, or Monarch.

David Melech Yisrael Chai Vikayam!!

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Baseball in Israel and in the Bible (Wow!)

So it looks like it's really happening! Baseball in Israel. A year and a half ago I posted a Michael Freund Op/Ed piece from the a Jerusalem Post entitled "Why Israel needs baseball." At the time I really didn't think it would ever happen and certainly not so quickly.

Yet, recent headlines are being made (yes, even on ESPN) about the Israel Baseball League which has opening day scheduled for just a few months away - June 24! They even signed some former major league (as in MLB) players to Manage. (See that ESPN link above.) And no games will be played on Shabbat!

Six teams will be in the IBL its opening year. (None in Jerusalem where I am! Shucks!). They are:

The Tel Aviv Lightning
The Petach Tikva Pioneers
The Ra'anana Express
The Netanya Tigers
The Modi'in Miracle
The Bet Shemesh Blue Sox

Play Ball!

The official IBL website (in honor of Purim?) posted this humorous article:

Scholars find possible references to baseball in the Bible

Compiled by Hyman S. Baras

While baseball is generally considered a "modern" sport, there are references in the Bible that could lead one to deduce that, in fact, baseball dates back thousands of years. Along the same line of thinking as The Da Vinci Code, note the pattern of the following passages, which clearly illustrate that there were Giants in those days as well.

And Abner said to Joab, "Let the young men...arise and play before us" -- Samuel II 2:14

...and all the people rose up... -- Exodus 33:8

And Juhoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; and Sheva was the scribe..." -- Samuel II 20:24

And they said unto Jephtha, "Come and be our Captain" -- Judges 11:6

...and he measured two lines... -- Samuel II 8:2

...and he set the bases... -- Kings I 7:39

And they stood every man in his place round about the camp -- Judges 7:21

Behold, Rebecca came forth with her pitcher... -- Genesis 24:45

Ehud, the Benjamite, a man left-handed... -- Judges 3:15

The children of Israel asked,..."Who shall go up for us first against the Canaanites? -- Judges 3:15

...Seek out a man who is a skillful player... -- Samuel I 16:16

...Judah shall go up first... -- Judges 20:18

And Judah took... -- Judges 1:18

Three times... -- Exodus 23:14

...and it was good... -- Genesis 1:4

And Abram went down... -- Genesis 12:10

...out at the base... -- Leviticus 4:18

And Moses ...smote... -- Exodus 7:20

...and (it)...was foul... -- Exodus 7:21

And Moses went out... -- Numbers 11:24

...and none came in... -- Joshua 6:1

...and there was not a man left... -- Joshua 8:17

And Miriam was shut out... -- Numbers 12:15

And the children of Benjamin went out... -- Judges 20:31

...and went into the field... -- Numbers 22:23

...and Aaron waved... -- Leviticus 9:21

And he looked this way and that way... -- Exodus 2:12

...and he delivered up... -- Numbers 21:3

...and they ran as soon as he had stretched his hand... And they fell on their faces to the ground... -- Judges 13:20

Get thee up; wherefore liest thou upon thy face? -- Judges 7:10

...for it was an error... -- Numbers 15:25

...second and third... -- Genesis 6:16

And Joseph spoke... -- Genesis 45:3

...concerning the error which he had committed... -- Leviticus 5:18

...make an atonement for thyself... -- Leviticus 9:17

Thou shalt fan them... -- Isaiah 41:16

Then Joseph commanded to fill...the...sacks... -- Genesis 42:25

...and all the people saw this and they shouted... -- Leviticus 9:24

Who can stand before the Giants? -- Deuteronomy 9:2

...and Aaron waved... -- Leviticus 9:21

...and pitched on the other side... -- Numbers 21:13

And suffered not a man to pass... -- Judges 3:28

...but...the seventh... -- Exodus 31:15

Gideon... smote... -- Judges 8:21 first... -- Joshua 8:33

And Noah went in... -- Genesis 7:7

And the young man ran... -- Numbers 11:27

...he turned and went back... -- Judges 18:26

...unto the base... -- Numbers 8:4

Noah walked... -- Genesis 6:9

Let us go and sacrifice... -- Exodus 5:8

And Moses lifted up his hand and with his rod he smote... --Numbers 20:11

...the hide... -- Leviticus 9:11

...a long blast... -- Joshua 6:5

...outside the camp... -- Judges 7:17

...for an 'omer... -- Exodus 16:36

And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted... -- Samuel I 17:52

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Jewish Comedy: Rabbi Mordy Katz

Purim is coming...

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

What is Blue and Yellow and Filled With Thousands of Israelis?

No, it is not a Beitar Jerusalem soccer match, or a Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game. It is the true national sport of Israel: IKEA.

Consumerism at its best, sleek furniture and housewares galore, a glatt kosher cafeteria, a playcenter for children, and parking for nearly 1,000 cars, Ikea reigns as the true national sport of the modern State of Israel.

Day off from work, national holiday, summer vacation; these are all perfect reasons to go to the hip Israeli's new favorite pastime. A store unlike any other in our burgeouning material economy, Ikea features two floors and countless dunams of shopping.

Fun for kids and adults alike, only the most insulated and isolated Israelis have yet to make it to the Swedish supercenter parked firmly in the middle of Israel's population center.

The store is so popular, that two more branches of the international uberchain will be opening in Israel in the next 24 months.

I recently celebrated my third outing this year alone to the mega magnet located off Highway 2 in Netanya. It is truly an experience. For those who live outside the Gush Dan region, a few hours at Ikea gives you a taste of Israeli society, a microcosm of the state featuring citizens spending more than they can afford on items they don't need, and loving every minute of it.

We got some shelves for our kitchen and toy storage for the kids room:)

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Where'd ya get all those Jews? (A Top 10 list)

A submission by by Aaron Fox:

In a previous Kumah post, it was reported in a new survey done by Brandeis University that the population of American Jews is at a whopping 7.4 million. That's 2.2 million more Jews that NJPS found lurking about. With so many more Jews than previously thought, world jewry can finally take a well deserved sigh of relief. The American Holocaust is just a myth, just like global warming. Now American Jews can continue their haphazard ways as they always have. The Jewish identity thing just seems to work itself out for the good in the end. So why try?

Still, coming up with two additional million Jews is no small feat. How did all those brainiacs at Brandeis do it? I was so intrigued, that I took it upon myself to do a little bit of research myself. I looked into Brandeis University's research methods on just how exactly they came up with 2 million extra Jews in America. I recorded my findings in a top 10 list format, because top 10 lists are funny.

Top 10 methods employed by Brandeis University to count an extra 2.2 million Jews in America: (Is there a drumroll? because I haven't watched Dave Letterman in the longest time.)

10. If you said you were Irish you were counted half-Jewish. The "ish" part.

9. Significant increase in Chinese food consumption was attributed to the population growth within Jewish community rather than per-capita consumption increase. I mean, come on, there is a limit to the amount of Chinese food one Jew can eat.

8. One question asked in the survey was what was your favorite TV show: Bill Cosby, Home Improvement or Seinfeld. Side note: if you chose Bill Cosby you were marked as an African American.

7. Counting on fingers and toes.

6. Larry Bird is suing Brandeis University for listing him as a Jew because of his big nose.

5. Tom Cruise is listed as a Jew just for working in the entertainment industry.

4. Every house not decorated with lights during Christmas time was marked Jewish. For good measure every child found on Santa's naughty list was also recorded Jewish.

3. Must have more Jews!!!

2. Brandeis University finally admitted that the actual number of Jews in America is 3.7 million. They just doubled the number to debunk the stereotype that Jews were good with numbers.

1. American Jews bought 2.2 million Jews from Thailand.

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Pssst! Purim's Coming.

(You know, MoHo from the Danish cartoon.)

From a 1990 NY Times:
SHLOMO CARLEBACH AND ORCHESTRA, in a Purim concert, at Martin Luther King Jr. High School, 65th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Tomorrow at 8:45 P.M. Information: 969-0950.

Dov Shurin, Jerusalem's Dylan, is a deep poet, but not so concerned with political correctness. He is a Purim Jew - all year round - and on Purim he just goes wild. So here is Dov live on Purim Kattan, 5763. It may offend most. If that might be you - bookmark the page and wait till Purim to watch it:

Heck, while I'm at it - check out his magnum opus:

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Now Is This Guy a Zionist or What?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Have You Ever Played the Game of RISK?

Have you ever played the classic board game RISK? You know, the game where you get into countless arguments and make shady deals with sole purpose of best asserting your own personal position in a quest to take over the world.

And of course you know that the only way to actually take over the world is by rolling the dice. Well, Israel's government got together for a similar foray (aka meeting), as they do regularly. Israel's top brass sat down for a friendly Israeli game called RISK: The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

For those of you that missed what went on during the game, let me review.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asserted that there is no problem with the working or non-working relationship between his office and the office of Defense Minister Amir Peretz. This despite repeated press leaks that the two never speak. Olmert assured the committee that it is not necessary for the relationship between the two offices to be rosy.

Olmert accused Opposition Leader and former (and potentially future) PM Benyamin Netanyahu of establishing the Hamas terror group by releasing Sheikh Yassin, former Hamas spiritual terror leader in 1997.

Olmert went on to assert that he would in fact take part in a 3-way summit between PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, US Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice and himself in less than a week, to discuss the conditions for the creation of a rogue Palestinian state in the holiest provinces of biblical Israel.

Olmert added that if the PA will release Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit, then Israel would be forced to reconsider the terrorist nature of the Palestinian Authority "Unity" Government featuring warlording factions Fatah and Hamas.

On the northern front, Olmert opined that any peace deal with Syria would have to include returning the entire Golan Heights which was officially annexed by Israel under international law in 1981. Olmert asserted that every government between 1993-2001 secretly opened negotiations with our northern enemy on the notion that we would return the Golan.

Netanyahu, PM in '93 intelligently interjected during Olmert's briefing, "That's not true!" Olmert, a lawyer, who is quite slick with his own tongue countered, "Yes it is, don't try and hide the truth."

Netanyahu, not wanting to keep the game going too long, said in response, ""This is a failed government, and there is only one thing it must do and that is to go home."

Well, not one concrete idea for strengthening the defense of the state was raised. The only thing left to do right now for the committee is to roll the dice, because the entire Jewish Nation is at RISK.

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Becoming a "Real" Israeli

A SUBMISSION FROM BINYAMIN -- For some, becoming a "real" Israeli is voting in their first election. For others it is army service, or better yet, their first reserve duty call-up. But for me, it is buying my first pair of Israeli underwear.

You know you've really integrated into a country when you finally give up on the tighty-whities that have served you so well since high school, and decide to get some new underwear. Also, because it's easier to buy new underwear then to go to the Laundromat and wash your old ones. Some people prefer to shop at the Mashbir. But if you go there, you have to talk to the lady. You know which one I'm talking about. She's the only one working in the men's underwear department. She's been there forever. She knows your size with a quick glance. Trust the men's underwear lady. She will serve you well.

Then of course there is the underwear you buy in the store on Yoel Solomon Street at the same place you get your nargilah and flavored tobacco. You know the place. It's either playing Sarit Hadad or a rap song you heard in America five years ago. This is the underwear printed with the words "I'm Jewish, wanna check?" or "100% Kosher". My friend's girlfriend bought him a pair as a joke. He washed them and hung them out to dry on the balcony. The underwear fell off the balcony and onto the laundry of his downstairs neighbor, an older Israeli-born woman. My friend had to go downstairs and in broken Hebrew, tell this lady that she had his underwear.

But now, my fellow olim hadashim, we have integrated. We have Israeli underwear. We may not know Hebrew fluently. We may not know how to cut in line at the bus station. We may not be in overdraft at the bank. We may not know how to flirt with our secretary and then be indicted. But we have Israeli underwear and thus we are well on our way to fulfilling the Zionist Dream.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

From Gush Katif to American Idol

With the sixth American Idol season kicking off, I decided to share my experience trying out for American Idol last year (pictured, on right) a few days after protesting in Gush Katif.

I didn't know how to fight the IDF. There was no way to fight the IDF. They were my brothers and sisters.

So sitting on the lawn outside of the Neve Dekalim synagogue as an infiltrator into Gush Katif, fighting to stop the Disengagement, I found my best weapon: my voice.

As the IDF stood around the perimeter of the synagogue lawn, they looked tired, listless, and bored, yet ready for the job at hand the minute they would receive the order. Their commanders had them march around at random, calculating the right time to charge.

Thousands of Israelis and I tried to stave them off as long as we could. Some lovingly talked with them, some prayed in front of them. I plopped myself down on the grass and sang a cappella to rows of soldiers, each clad in claps and vests mercilessly imprinted with the Star of David.

I sang every loving, cheesy Jewish ballad I could remember from my Jewish day school days.

"Our brothers, the entire house of Israel, cast into sorrow and captivity, standing between sea and land…"

"God created within me a pure soul…"

Realizing they were probably not into the Jewish stuff, otherwise the popular slogan, "Jew does not expel Jew" might have made an impression, I sang "There Can Be Miracles When You Believe" from the Prince of Egypt. Some cried; some sang along; most remained stoic.

Yet, I knew that I softened them as I sang. I knew that maybe I touched a chord as I sang the chords - maybe not enough to make them refuse orders, but enough to make them really think about their actions.

But it didn't work as well as I had hoped. Eventually, they hauled me out of the synagogue, where I had continued to sing prayers with thousands of earnest, idealistic, loving teenage women.

Their songs didn't work either, and as two female soldiers dragged me out of the synagogue, I yelled to the soldiers forming human gates on each side of me, "Way to go IDF! I'm going back to America!"

And I knew I would go back to America, not forever, but at least for a well-deserved vacation.

I returned to my apartment in Tel Aviv and everything was different - or at least I was; every one else was too much the same. Most of my friends hardly cared that thousands of Jews were being torn from their home with no where to go. They hardly cared that Gush Katif would turn into a free terrorist trade network. They had bills and boyfriend problems to worry about.

The only remedy to my frustration and depression, I thought, was to join the ranks of shallowness and apathy: I booked a trip to the US in time to tryout for American Idol.

Yes, perhaps if my voice couldn't stop the State of Israel and the Jewish people from the brink of destruction, then maybe it could get me a spot in my favorite American talent contest. If I wasn't cut out to be an Israeli heroine, then maybe I was cut out to be an American Idol…

I arrived to the Gillette stadium in Boston with a friend from New York. After registering a day earlier for an audition wristband, 7,000 American Idol hopefuls and I took our seats. They would call us row by row to sing our song of choice a cappella in front of producers: first come, first sing. Those who graduated this audition would move on to sing for Simon, Paula, and Randy.

The audition was rainy, cloudy, and annoying. The producers had us all sing "Singing in the Rain" with an umbrella dance as if that was fun, while I was still debating which song to sing. "There Can Be Miracles When You Believe"? Nah, I couldn't pull it off. "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles. Maybe. Then it hit me: "I Need a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler.

Maybe the producers would feel my emotion, for I really needed a hero. I left Israel lacking hope, faith, and inspiration.

Finally, after watching hordes of Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, and Carrie wannabes get sent home and only a handful follow the path to victory, my row was called. We would split into groups of four and line up in front of two producers divided among 14 booths. As I reached my booth, a bitter looking woman wearing sunglasses told me to go first.


I reminded myself that I sang impromptu in front of the IDF, so singing in front of strangers should be a piece of cake, right? I mustered up my courage, looked into the judges' eyes, and sang my call:

"Where have all the good men gone, and where are all the gods…"

The lady stopped me as I reached the chorus. "Thank you," she said.

Then the others took their turn to be met with the same response.

"You all have good voices, but not of the American Idol caliber," she concluded.

It became clear from talking to people that they either chose the vocalists who were phenomenally good, humorously bad, or just plain freaky. That's what gets the ratings.

I had no gimmick. All I had was the memory of Gush Katif and the faces of those soldiers egging me on. And all I had was that memory to make me realize that I wasn't an American Idol.

My heroes were not the thousands vying to become an idol. My heroes were the thousands of Gush Katif infiltrators who fought for what they believed was right. My heroes were the young women I sang with in the synagogue. My heroes were the people who justly defended their homes. My heroes were the few soldiers who refused orders.

In America there are idols in training. But in Israel there are heroes in training. And I'm privileged to remain a contestant in one of the most real, meaningful, and historic contests for heroes of the Jewish people.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

A Tale of Fiestas and Drunken Widows

Hello Jews, pro-Judeans, and undecided lookers-on!

I think there is something about my karmatological map this week that says - "you will come on new stages in the most embarrassing ways possible". One such coming-on-new-stages incident involved me and my beloved Fiesta (I forgive you, Henry Ford, you antisemitic lout! On second thought, I don't forgive you!), which smashed into someone's Mitsubishi Lancer on a rainy, slippery Sunday early afternoon, as I was hurrying to make it to Beit El on time for a work shift (The new job and Beit El are the "new stage" for this part of the metablogophor. Please ignore the fact that they are not really "stages" per se. I mean, the world is but a stage, isn't it?).

[Important note: Israel is the only place in the world where Mitsubishi markets a model called the SuperLancer. The SuperLancer is the importer's idea. He bought some tin, made a lot of "Super"s out of it, connected the "Super"s to the "Lancer" on the back of the Lancers, probably added some cheap extras to the car and whammo - there was a new Mitsubishi model, all ready for the marketing. There is a lesson to be learned here. Maybe Tzipi Livni can use it to market Israel? "Visit SuperIsrael!" Hmmm...]

So anyhow, mayhem ensued. My Fiesta - my only property, my shiny steed - is all smashed up. I have had to ride the bus - can you imagine the humiliation!? Me, on a bus?? - for several days, and I am not sure where I'll get the cash to fix my silvery love. However, I hear being a beggar at the Kotel is good business. Someone told me he overheard one Kotel beggar woman saying to another "I only did 400 this morning". That's 400 NIS of course.

Luckily nobody died, including me. I wish this dreary weather would stop already. Ugh! However (get ready, I'm going to go all Jew-loving and optimistic on you), there is nothing like a car crash to tell you where you are living. I found out that if you close your eyes (I hope the traffic court judge isn't a reader of Kumah) and randomly crash your vehicle into another vehicle in Israel, the chances are 100% that you will run into a very good hearted, hard working Russian immigrant, who will not gyp you at all even if you are uninsured and whose diabetic father is being jerked around by National Insurance and whom you can perhaps help by using your connections!

Also, the Arab guy who towed me was very nice, but I am not sure now if that niceness was not simply his very clever way of getting me to pay more than I should have for his services. I must say though, the price he charged, while 50% more than the maximum I should have paid, is not bad for combined 100 km. towing and emergency psychological counseling. The guy could have gotten the same money by being a jerk and making me feel worse than I already did. Instead, he made me feel great, painlessly eased me into the denial phase, forcefully and convincingly insisted I could accomplish my goals (sentences like these are far more convincing coming from a life-living, wild-eyed Arab who isn't just repeating a stock cultural phrase he heard on TV a million times along with a billion other people, and isn't talking to you about "life", but about you and your life) told me I think too much and at the same time told me about his own life - his sister died when he was young because of a dentist's mistake, he and his brother took knives and set out to kill the dentist, their father followed them and told them if they didn't put the knives down he would finish with them, that their sister was gone, that was what G-d wanted, that people make mistakes, and they could only make things worse now... since then he has gone to the dentist to have his teeth treated and the dentist cries whenever he sees him - and this is the end of this sentence and paragraph.

The second embarrassing stage incident involves this interview on Galia Albin's show. Albin is the widow of very rich guy called Micky, who famously committed suicide while in police custody, being interrogated about some fraud/corruption charge, sometime in the 1980s (I believe Albin's suicide is the reason police Tegart forts have metal netting over the courtyards since then. So interrogees don't die if they jump from the third story onto the courtyard).

She was dressed like a working girl and had had something to drink before the show, but she was very sympathetic to me and A., the silhouetted guy who spoke before me, who has not seen his daughters for five years, since they were 10 months old, because of the vicious anti-male slant of this country's divorce laws, welfare establishment and general culture. We had to do a retake midway through the interview but nobody cued me that the tape was rolling again so I was talking to her in the thought that we were doing between-take banter. So when she asks me what help would I like to get for the Familists' legal service for divorcing men, instead of addressing the world and her audience, I am actually seen on TV telling her maybe we can meet after the show and talk about it... oy, the vey. The upside: I was very relaxed.

My lesson from both incidents is clear. However I will not share it with you because the enemy is listening!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Translated Uri. The Grinch Who Stole Shabbat?

Uri Orbach, the one 'Doss' on Galei Tzahal, just wrote one of the lamest pieces I have ever read.

Click here and make sure you are near the terlit. (There is a great "Malkah from Beit El" talkback I suspect is from a fellow NZU-Blogger)

I mean, at first, I was sure it was a joke. Uri is funny during morning talk shows on Galei Tzahal, next to his square and usually less-educated co-hosts. I read it again and realized he was using a bit of humor to sugar-coat something that is truly one of the most jarring aspects of Israeli society today. Again, there are folks like Aussi Dave in the talkbacks who insist that it is satire and the more I think about it the more I think it must be:

Yes, some of my best friends are secular, but on Shabbat I pretend I don't have any. I love them, I cherish them but I won't call them and they don't call me.

Don't come on Shabbat, stop by on Sunday, Monday, and bring all of your kids with you. But not on Shabbat. It's too complicated. One Shabbat – two nations.

As someone who consciously lives on a hilltop where half of the people are secular (not to mention having grown up in upstate New York), I certainly am familiar with the issues that apparently drove Uri off the edge. Secular Israelis (as they've been told to call themselves, though most are actually traditional or simply less observant of the outwardly visible mitzvot) still love the Day of Rest and enjoy experiencing the religious aspects of Shabbat now and then - or just being in close proximity to those who do so as to expose their children to it as an option.

Now maybe it is because Uri lives in the world of Israeli journalists - a truly sordid bunch if there ever was one - that he feels the need to speak on behalf of the Sabbath-observant Jews of this nation and issue a grand un-invitation to our brethren. I mean, I am not sure I want Razi Barkai telling me to "sim nekuda" every time I try to get a word in edgewise at the Shabbat table - but let me speak clearly in the name of those outside Orbach's world: It is a pleasure to have visitors on the Sabbath.

He must have been kidding. Right? Maybe it's Ynet's translator's fault.

Update: Here is the Hebrew link. It seems it truly was lost in translation due to the nature of Uri's use of witty words and a certain inflection that Hebrew readers can detect in his written word. I am still not certain of the effectiveness of the satire and unconvinced that he totally feels the opposite.

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