Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm moving!...and Beit El

I’m moving.
That’s right, but this time only inter-city, not inter-continent.
Now is when real life begins (sorta), as I sit here among about 100+ kilo bags (all together, not a single bag-the chiropractor will loooove that one…) and wait for my cab to come to take me to Ramat Beit Shemesh, where I will be working as a madrich at Yeshivat Lev Hatorah for the year.
One thing I’m really looking forward to, and for the past month when I’ve gone to Beit Shemesh my mouth starts watering at the sight of these incredible trials on the mountains surrounding the area. As some of you may have guessed I’m a biker, nothing really hardcore, but I have this weird thing about using my legs to spin a contraption that turns two wheels that will take me to the top of a mountain (and back down it), here in the Land of Israel. And from what I hear the Beit Shemesh area is one of the best places in the country to do that.
Anyways, Shabbos.
Shabbos I was with the Fleisher’s in Beit El (home of the Stairway to Heaven). They live at the edge of Beit El on the highest mountain in the city, and have the most breathtaking view of the surrounding hills and cities. Ad to give you an idea of how high you are and what a commanding view you have, from their mountain you can see Tel Aviv and Gaza at the same time.
Aside from the view and the good company (and food) I had a very enjoyable Shabbos in another part of the glorious Land of Israel.
And next time from Ramat Beit Shemesh!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The NBN Blogger's Convention and Netanyahu vs. Jewlicious

Well last night I had the privilege to attend the first annual Nefesh B’ Nefesh conference (oh that sounds so official), and reached a milestone of it being the first time (I think ever) that I went to Yerushalayim without a backpack.
All right, so I showed up at the NBN Convention hall (that also sounds really official) and was given this sticker to wear on my shirt with my blog name on it (and for those of you getting this by email it’s Israel Fix-please visit apparently I have an interesting blogroll, as someone mentioned to me last night). NBN has this obsession with stickers, not sure where that comes from…
Anyways, I sat down to eat from the absolutely glorious spread of meat that the caterers had laid out for us. This was the real reason I came to the conference, free food. (Hey as a single guy I take what I can get!)
I thought the conference was a great success, and a great chance for the blogger’s to interact outside of the virtual world. I met the faces behind many blog’s. Including Treppenwitz, Hirhurim, My Right Word and others. I also ran into Frum Satire who was brought in by NBN for the conference. I have a video posted of his routine during the conference.
All right so I don’t bore you, I’m only going to tell one story from the conference (and this way when I run into some of you here in Israel I have some new stories to tell and won’t hear the becoming too often “I know that story, I read it on your blog.”)
The initial panel consisted of Treppenwitz, Hirhurim, My Urban Kvetch, and Jewlicious. While Treppenwitz was speaking, he was interrupted by the arrival of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Treppenwitz stopped talking as the room completely stopped paying attention to him. As he put it “nothing I say can follow THAT!”
Then Bibi spoke; he looked down the line of panels and stopped at Jewlicious, raised an eyebrow and said, “Jewlicious?”
To which Jewlicious responded in the same exact tone, “Netanyahu?”
Great way to open up, with the room rolling in laughter.
Bibi then spoke a little long, and a little off topic because, hey, it’s Bibi.

So today I went to Beit Shemesh to take care of more fun and interesting things, namely signing up for ulpan and dealing with some things at the Misrad Klita (which I’ll get to).
I had made my first trip to the Misrad Klita on Sunday. Basically this offices job is to give you stuff, like money, training (money for training), and ulpan (and hopefully some more money). I went in on Sunday to deal with the business that I had to do there, except there was only one small glitch in that there was some other piece of information she needed on the form from the bank. So I had to go back to the bank, fill out the form correctly and come back today.
One of the other things I wanted to do was get the name on my Teudat Zakaut changed to the correct name (this is different from the Teudat Zehut which is a card everyone gets-the Teudat Zakaut is just for people who have made Aliyah).
So the woman there told me to leave it there with her, she would get it to the Misrad Hapanim to get it changed and I could pick it up on Thursday.
So I go in today (Thursday) and what a surprise, the Teudat Zakaut is sitting right there on her desk with the same, incomplete name in it.
She told to wait and WALKED INTO THE NEXT ROOM, where the woman from Misrad Hapanim, HAND WROTE my name into the document.
I’m not angry (I thought it was hilarious) just another interesting insight into how things work in this country.
From there I took my bike to Yerushalyim to visit the shop I bought it in. I wanted to pick up a new bike seat (as the one they sell with the bike is meant for people who buy a bike, ride it around the block, complain that it hurts their back, and the bike then sits in their garage for 20 years until it’s thrown away).
I got to chatting with the owner of the shop, who made Aliyah at the age of 4 in 1951 from Iraq. We discussed quite a few things ranging from politics, to biking in Israel, and I mentioned that I write a blog and he asked me to do two things:
1. plug his bike shop-It’s Mercaz HaOfanaim on Agripas St. in Jerusalem
2. and (I promise this was him and not me) to ask all of the Jews in Chutz L’Aretz reading the to come home!! (And to buy a bike from his shop when you get here.
Heading to Beit El for Shabbos and will be by Yishai and Malkah Fleisher. Have a great Shabbos!!

Frum Satire at the NBN Blogger's Convention

Part 1:

Part 2:

My Thought's on Zavi Apfelbaum Presentation at the NBN Blogger's Convention

There was a representative from the Israel Foreign Ministry there who gave a presentation on Israel’s image in the world, and “branding” Israel.
Basically how do people think about Israel, not politically, but with its culture and people, what do people think when they hear “Israel.”
There was a focus group done of about 10 groups of 5 people (non-Jews), they were put in a room (that’s usually where they do focus groups) and were asked to just start saying names of countries, any that came to mind.
Israel was usually later on in the group and most of the time was helped along by the mention of another country (“Lebanon-oh what’s south of that?”)
They then grouped all of the countries in alphabetical order in groups of 10. The moderator would come in a say “Oh, let’s pick this one.” And “randomly” pick the one with Israel in it.
The people in the focus group were then presented with this scenario: there’s a block with ten houses on it, and each of these countries represents a house, and there’s a party going on in that house. They were then asked a few questions about what the house would be like. What did the house look like? Is it welcoming? Etc.
They showed the video of the group talking about the house representing Italy and you can see the people very relaxed describing the lush garden’s they have in Italy, pasta, and overall a relaxing environment.
When they were asked about Israel the room tensed up and you could see a dramatic shift in the participants body language. When asked if they would feel welcomed there, the room was pretty unanimous, “no.”
A very interesting remark by an African-American guy in the room was, “I don’t think I would be welcome because of the color of my skin.”
Israel is (as far as I know) the only country in the world to bring a group of African’s out of their country of origin, not for persecution, but to bring them to a First World country as free people. Things of that nature are really not an issue in Israel. Even if someone wants to say that Israel is racist against Arabs, true there may be individual’s who are anti-Arab, but the is far from the government policy, and I think also for a good chunk of the population (I have no data, so I’m basing this on personal experience). But anti-Black sentiments are extremely rare if they even exist at all.
Anyways, the point of the presentation is that Israel does not have a positive image with the world-but these people don’t hate Israel. 70% of them support us politically, the point of this group was that their image of Israel is based around one thing and one thing that keeps getting repeated and repeated by too many representatives from Israel-the conflict.
Not to tone that down, but Israel has so many more things of interest to the people of the world, like all of their innovations in hi-tech, medicine, agriculture (baked goods and shwarma) but people in America don’t hear that. All they hear about is “the conflict.”
And that’s what we as blogger’s are trying to do, bring a positive life (or at the very least a “real life” account of what it’s really like here. That’s all I’m trying to do.

Oh and another point that was brought up from the group when asked what Israel's house looked like the main word was 'cement.' Also "barbed wire" and "iron bars" as well as "no trees or anything green."
Well I'm going to disprove that one and show that Israel is GREEN! But I will admit that cement is necessary usually for sidewalks...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

“My recommendation is to eat the cookies...NOW”

Every morning after davening (and maybe eating) I go through the Bar Ilan campus in order to get to the bus station(s) to take me to other areas of the country.
As it is with many places here, there are security checkpoints at the entrance to the campus.
I’m not sure what they’re looking for (I know they’re looking for terrorists, I meant what signs that a person gives that may make the guard suspicious that they might be a potential terrorist), but I have my days where I get checked and I have my days when I don’t. Usually the days I get checked is because they ask for a student card, and seeing that I am not a student at that campus, the Teudat Zehut just doesn’t cut it.
So one morning I’m heading through the checkpoint like I usually do, and the guard takes a look at my Teudat Zehut.
Then he does a double-take and looks again.
“You arre Tzeitlin?”
“I know you, you can pass.”
OK, that was weird. “How do you know me?”
“You come through herre everryday and I rrecognized yourr name.”
So I found out when his shift is and now I know to make sure that I plan to go to the bus between 8:30am and 12:30pm.

So yesterday (Monday) I took a “Yerushalayim Day” (you know like a mental health day-only spiritual). I first started by taking a bus over to Bayit Vegan to surprise my relatives who live there.
They weren’t home, so I stopped by Angel Bakery and picked up some bourekas (the true reason I made Aliyah-they’re soooo good!). Then went to the Tachana (Bus station) to catch the city bus tour.
This is a genius thing put forth from the good people at Egged. They have a double decker bus, the bottom enclosed and air conditioned and the top with an open roof, as well as inputs for headphones on both levels. The headphone jacks are so you can, um, plug headphones in. They then have located throughout the entire city sensors that, when the bus passes, tells the bus where it is and some audio (in I believe 9 languages of your choice) will tell you some of the history about that particular place.
I think the part I liked the most was actually the open air top side of the bus, it’s not everyday you get to see Jerusalem from 20 feet in the air.
After the tour I headed to the Old City and spent a few hours at the Kotel. When it started to get dark, I headed back to Bayit Vegan, and my relatives were there this time.
I spent about an hour and half updating them on everything, (and yes, it was EVERTHING-my family knows what I’m talking about) and like any good Jewish mother, she gave me a bag of cookies to take with me.
Now those cookies taught me a very important lesson, when someone gives you an open bag of cookies (or in this case, a plastic bag that doesn’t close at the top) either eat the cookies right away or if you’re putting into your backpack, put it in a SMALL bag in the bag, not the BIG bag with all of your stuff in it.
My Gemarah now has crumbs and chocolate on it.
I think some guy in the Bais Midrash thought I was nuts when I started licking my Gemarah. (crazy chutznikim ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Off-key Chevron songs

Time for another update.
So I was in the community of Tel Zion for Shabbos staying at the Ishtov’s, and had lunch at the Yonah’s in Kochav Yaakov (you know, Tamar Yonah of Israel National Radio?). I really like the community, another one of these Yishuvim out on a mountain in the middle of the desert. It really gives you the feeling of isolation, even though you’re less then a 20 minute drive to a major city. Just another thing I like about Israel.
Today I went to Chevron (Hebron) for the first time and visited the Mearat Hamachpayla. Another new area of the land of Israel to set foot on.
The highlight of the day however, was on our way back from Chevron to Yerushalayim. We had this bus driver who, as soon as we were starting to reach the outskirts of Yerushalayim on the way back from Chevron, he picks up his microphone and asks everyone if they had a good time in Chevron.
“How good of a time? A GREAT time?”
Then he started (very off-key I might add) to sing Chevron songs. Then as soon as we entered Yerushalayim, he started singing Yerushalayim songs. It was absolutely hilarious.
Anyways, short post today, tomorrow I’m taking a “Yerushalyim Day.” I’m going to go on the city tour bus that takes you all over the city with an audio guide to explain the history of the different sites, and you don’t even have to leave your chair. I’m then going to go visit some relatives and spend the rest of the day at the Kotel.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Scraped Legs, Chance Encounters, and "I told you NOT to hit the rock!"

Well a lot has happened in the last 48 hours, where to begin…
Oh I know Ramat Beit Shemesh.
So I went to Ramat Beit Shemesh yesterday to pick up the Israeli ATM card. I can now take money out of my account with out having to go to Ramat Beit Shemesh every time I need cash. Nice feeling.
I brought me bike with me, which makes traveling a lot easier and quicker. I went down to Ramat Shilo for a little bit and schmoozed with two of my Rabbi’s, then went up to Beis Tifilla to have a seder.
Now here’s where the twist comes, some point on the way up the hill to the shul, my foot slipped of the pedal of the bike, came around and slashed the back of my leg. I didn’t think much about it, but sometime in the middle of learning it started to sting, so I headed over to the pharmacy to pick up something to clean it.
The pharmacy in Ramat Beit Shemesh is run by (at least in my opinion) this awesome guy named Arthur Jacobs. I got to schmoozing with him (as I’ve been known to do with people) and we somehow got to the topic of Baltimore.
“Ah, do you know Avi?”
It turns out a friend of mine got married to his daughter back in January, and I had never made the correlation (I’m not sure why “Jacobs” is a pretty common name right?) that this was same Jacobs that my friend married.
And on top of it all, my friend and his wife (who are currently living in Tzfat) were in RBS for the day.
So I was given another chance to shmooze, now I’m not feeling that bad over my scraped leg.
Today a friend and I went to En Gedi, I’m attaching a link so you can check the pictures out. The pictures can do better work at explaining things then my words can, but I will include one humorous anecdote.
My friend and I hiked Wadi (Nachal?) Arugot, a hike I’ve been on a few times, about a 3 mile valley that goes along a riverbed that’s dry at times. It ends at what’s know as the “Hidden Waterfall.” You then hike back to where you started (a total of about 6 miles roughly).
As we were leaving the waterfall we decided to take the high trail as neither of us was interested in getting our shoes wet. The “trail” up was basically small overhanging cliffs that you climbed like stairs to the top of the side of a mountain. Some of these steps are a little tall and requires one to push themselves up with their hands.
One who is climbing up these “stairs” of rocks, is not really concentrating on what’s happening on the next ridge, as their more concerned about getting up the ledge they are currently on. Needless to say I pushed myself up and was greeted with a rather large rock about 2 inches from my face and my momentum speedily bringing the two together.
I veered away, missing the rock and yelled “rock” so my friend would know not make the same mistake that I almost did.
Turns out I should have been a little clearer in my communication.
“Rocks? This whole place is full of rocks!”
Boom! Rock collided with flesh. “Ow!”
We had a good laugh back to the entrance of the hike.

For pics of Ramat Beit Shemesh and the Benei Brak fire (see below):
For Ein Gedi Pics:

Now for some more serious news, some of you may have read this in the news. When I got back to the apartment on Wednesday in Givat Shmuel I thought I smelled smoke. I didn’t give it much thought, I figured that someone was having a barbeque. I then checked the news and learned that some sicko had gone into a shul in Benei Brak and lit the Aron (ark) on fire, with all the Sifrei Torah inside.
I went to the window and could see the shul on fire from the window, police are still not sure who the culprit is, but this is seriously a sick act against the frum Jews in Benei Brak. (Yes I am aware that is an opinion)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Watch it Again

Service update: you can now watch previous NBN Aliyah landings on their website (including mine). And for those who are interested there will be another plane landing tomorrow morning (7:30am Israel Time/12:30am Eastern Time) including two friends of mine from Baltimore.
I was going to go to the landing, but when I went to Nefesh b'Nefesh' website to sign up registration was closed!
You know what that means? There will be A LOT of people at tomorrow's landing! It's going to be awesome.

Bene Brak, confused Chassidim and the search for Shawarma begins!

I need to tell this story, this is awesome. I decided to take an evening bike ride over to Bene Brak, I hadn’t had the chance to explore that city at all yet.
The ride over is relatively easy, you cross over the bridge from Givat Shmuel and BOOM you’re in Bene Brak.
It’s like entering a new world. Where Givat Shmuel (from what I can tell) is relatively secular, with the university and what not. Bene Brak is CHARADI. Not that I have an issue with that of course but it’s kind of an interesting culture shock, part of which has to do with that this is the first time I ever went to another city via bike. I’ve only gone in some kind of gas-guzzling transportation before.
Anyways, I exited what’s known as the “Coca Cola Bridge,” made a right and just decided to go straight until I decided to turn back.
I think I caused some questions as I rode past. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt with my tzitzit expertly tucked into my back pocket. I have a friend, fellow blogger Frum Satire, who has this happen to him in Monsey. There the kids are asking “nu, a Yid?” No such question in this country!
Let’s just say I attracted quite a few stares.
The best part of the story happened somewhere along this road. As I was riding I was assaulted by a Chassid looking for a tenth guy for a minyan. I would have been happy to stop except I was not exactly in the right attire for davening in such a chashuv place.
“Lo Chashiv,” I told him pointing to my shorts.
He said it wasn’t a problem and directed me into this tiny little shteeble wedged between two apartment buildings.
When I got inside I realized another problem with this situation. I removed my helmet and discovered that (as I usually do while biking) I did not have my kippa.
The guy standing next to me noticed and immediately handed me a kippah. Who said Charaidim weren’t kiruv ready?! I do think the guy was thoroughly confused though, he probably thought I was some chiloni guy, except the tzitzit was throwing something off. Tzitzit, but not kippa, usually it’s the other way around.
So that was my first trip into Bene Brak. Next trip will be to track down, what I hear, is the best Shawarma shop in the country!

Pics are here, more shots of that magnificent Israel sunset:

Biking Around Givat Shmuel

I’ve discovered something. Behind Givat Shmuel there’s a large stretch of open fields, perfect for some off road biking.
I kinda stumbled onto it by accident. I was going on a ride yesterday, and just found it. I wasn’t able to really get a feel for it as I was running out of water and I didn’t want to get stuck out there without water, so I went back today and had a great time.
I will admit that some of it is annoying because it’s made of sand. Bikes don’t do well in sand, but if I can avoid the middle of the road and stick to the sides which are a little more compacted, I’m fine.
I can’t wait to get out to Beit Shemesh and hit the trails out there, from what I hear the whole area is a biker’s heaven. 2 week’s to go until I move out there, (but I have a feeling I’m going to be on a trail before that).
Here are some of the pics I took while out in the field today and a link to a video I took coming back.

Biking around Givat Shmuel

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Good Deal's" and Tishah B'Av

Before I start with this post, I just got an email inviting me to (I believe the first) Nefesh B’ Nefesh International Jewish Bloggers Convention. That should be fun, next Wednesday at the NBN offices in Jerusalem.
So onto today’s post, I’m going to tell two stories that happened to me this past week, and only two, because I’ve discovered something, it seems all of the people I’ve been running into are either getting the emails or are reading the blog and I have nothing to talk to them about because they’ve already heard my stories!
So on Thursday I made my first (and probably last) big purchase for quite a while, the bike.
Sometime after Pesach I started to get really into mountain biking. So I’d drag my 10 year old, $150 bike that I got from BJ’s out and take some trails in the Baltimore area.
I was about to make Aliyah so I wasn’t about to buy anything heavy duty, if the bike gave out then I’d have to suffer for a few week’s.
It turned out the bike held up very well, but now that I was in Israel it was time to get a new bike.
So during my first two week’s walking around Yerushalayim, I’d stop at every bike shop I saw look at the different bikes they had, talk to the owners, and just did some research.
I ended up finding a bike in a small shop on Agripas, owned and manned by a jolly Russian guy, who when I first expressed interest at buying at his store, offered me a “good deal.”
I’ve learned to be very weary when I hear this phrase, a phrase that translates into “rich and dumb American who can be taken advantage of.”
Case in point, I had a friend who was in the Machane Yuhuda Shuk and was looking for bed sheets. The shop owner told him the sheet’s he was looking at were 180NIS. “But,” he said, “Because you just make Aliyah I offer good deal, only 130NIS.”
The following week my friend was in a shop on Yaffo and saw the same exact sheets for 30NIS.
So I was wary when the bike shop owner offered me a “good deal.” But to surprise when I did the math myself he had given me quite a fair price. He then knocked 150NIS off the final bill. I think I found my bike shop.
I rode out of there quite happy with my purchase and biked down to the Old City to go to the Kotel (what better way to celebrate a new purchase). Biking in Jerusalem is quite a liberating feeling, as bikes are the only things that are allowed on both the streets and the sidewalks. I got to the Kotel in about 10 minutes, as they were doing some construction on Yaffo for the new light rail system.
Now for story #2.
I spent Tishah B’Av on Rabbi Zev Leff’s Moshav Matityahu. I have a friend who went to yeshiva there and is now married and lives there with his wife. For two year in Yeshiva he’d been trying to get me to come out there, and somehow I never made it, so when I got back to Israel, I wanted to make sure that visited him.
This also was my first Tishah B’Av in Israel, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. I think one of the most moving things that happened was during Eicha on Motzei Shabbat, there were people in the room who were wailing with grief over the lose of the Temple. I don’t remember every seeing that before, people who seemed to really feel a physical pain. It was quite a moving experience.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Week

So lot’s of fun stuff this week (oh, that was a lie). On Tuesday I headed to Ramat Beit Shemesh to pick up the (loud trumpet music) The Israeli Checks and ATM Card!
They only had the checks, the ATM card will arrive NEXT week.
Besides this unexpected turn of events it gave me a chance to catch up with some people in RBS who I hadn’t seen in a while.
On to Wednesday.
On Wednesday I took my first trip ever to Kever Rochel (Rachel’s Tomb). From there I went to Maaleh Adumim to hear Rabbi Pinchas Winston speak about the Geula (redemption). Due to my desire to keep these writings as neutral as possible, I will not be detailing what he said. But take my word for it very interesting stuff.
I then spent the night at the home of a family who make Aliyah from Baltimore, the Dressler’s.
This morning, I went to Jerusalem to make my first (and probably last for a while) big purchase, the bike. I know have a set of wheels, and I must say that it was quite a feeling to be able to get around Jerusalem, at 10 mph rather than the usual 3.
So I went to the Old City and davened at the Kotel.
I’m heading to Moshav Matityahu for Shabbos and Tish B’av.
Hopefully some exciting 10mph stories next week.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ketubot, Rabbi's and Shnekel's (and Pizza)

Well today I had the privilege of getting my first experience with the Rabbanut. I had some friends who got married last month in America, but the Rabbaut did not recognize their Ketuba, so they had to go in front of these Rabbi’s to “prove” that they were married. To do that they had to have two “aidem” (witnesses) to the fact that they were married, so my friend and I went to the Rabbanut building in central Jerusalem this morning.
An interesting fact, the Rabbanut building is the same building that used to house the Knesset. It’s right off of King George street.
I had been waiting for my first experience with some kind of hellish Israeli bureaucracy, and luckily my first experience was not directed at me.
My friend and I actually arrived before our friend and his wife, we hadn’t seen each other for a while so we had a good chance to schmooze. When they finally did arrive they started the process of whatever it was that they do behind that door.
Now the door was very interesting. Pretty much at all times the door remains locked, and you are not able to knock on it because there is a sheet of cloth that hangs suspended between the actual door and the hallway where they make us all wait for them.
The first thing they did was confiscate our Tudat Zehut’s, I’m not sure exactly why they did that. They then took the couple into the room by themselves to question them. I later found out that they wanted to make sure that our answers matched whatever they had said.
My friend and I each went in separately, my friend went first. I was wondering what kind of questions they would ask me. I assumed it would do something related to the wedding , “was the Ketuba written the correct way?” “Who was the Rabbi who wrote it…” etc.
But to my surprise, when it was actually my turn to be interrogated, they were asking me questions relating to the religious level of the my friend.
“Does he drive on Shabbat?”
“How sure are you of that?”
“How long have you known him?”
Then the actual questions of sustenance.
“You were at this supposed wedding?”
“What was the name of the Rabbi who signed the Ketuba?”
That last one I answered “Rabbi Goldberger,” and for good measure (as all of them were very Charadi looking) “and he wears a very big Striemel.” They seemed very impressed by that.
Of course the problem came when they stared asking me questions about my friends wife, and more specifically when they asked if I knew here parents. I didn’t and the pretty much told us that she was not Jewish, because we had not proof that she was Jewish, therefore they could not give them an Israeli marriage license.
Let’s just say the emotional situation in the room starting moving VERY quickly.
So we went out wondering what we were going to do when the couple remembered that she has a relative who lives in Geula (the place-not the time) who knew her and her parents. They were able to contact him, and he showed up about a half an hour later, dressed in his kaputa and hat, and looking very Chareidi.
Let’s just say that the next step went very quickly and they were accepted as a married couple. (I think there was some Yiddish involved).
When the Rabbi came out to tell them what their decision had been, there was a big sigh of relief (he’s in the army and it’s not that easy for him to get out). The Rabbi told them the good news and their instructions for getting the documentation that they needed.
As he turned to leave he turned around, smiled, and said to the two fo them “Mazel Tov.”
The last step was they actually had to go downstairs and pick up the physical document. While we were waiting for them, my friend (the single one) went to get a soda and asked if the machine too a “Shnekel.”
“What’s a ‘Shnekel?” I asked.
That was apparently his term for the new 2 shekel coin. I wonder why the name never caught on…
From there all four of hung out for a few hours. This was really the first chance that I had to hang out with friends since getting here.
We had lunch on Ben Yehuda (pizza) and then I went with them to Misrad Hapanim so that she could (finally) get her last name to be same as her husbands.
From there we parted ways and I went to pick up some things I needed. But I must say all in all, it was a very interesting day…

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Neve Daniel

On Friday headed out to Neve Daniel to spend Shabbos with the Eastman’s. I’m not exactly sure why everyone call it Neve Daniel, all of the signs I saw said “Newe Daniel,” and the Hebrew had 2 vavs which usually implies a “w” sound.
I first traveled into Jerusalem to meet up with the Eastman boys before heading to the Central Bus Station (commonly referred to as “The Tachana”) and was approached be a cab driver trying to offer me his service. I’d tried to tell him that I would rather walk, and he continued to insist that he would drive me. So I asked “will you take me for free?” He looked a little surprised and I realized that he had completely misread that situation (think that I was a “rich American”).
“Ani Oleh Chadash” (“I’m a new immigrant”).
He looked at me, “From America?”
“Why would you come here?”
So I said it straight to him, “It’s better here.”
I think I gave him something to think about over the weekend
So I meet up with the Eastman boys and we took the bus to Gush Etzion. Neve Daniel is on the highest mountain in the Gush Etzion region and from the top you really have a commanding view of the area. To the west we could see Beitar, and on the other side of the Efrat, and apparently on clear days you can see as far as the Mediterranean Sea.
I introduced myself to Jeremy Gimpel of Shabbos, who lives on the block next to the Eastman’s, as well as to Lawrence ben-David, husband of Laura ben-David who wrote the Aliyah book “Moving Up.”
The synagogue in Neve Daniel is quite impressive, they know how to give it its due prominence (pictures’ on the blog I’m still not sure exactly what the structure on top was (I heard, water fountain, UFO…) but it was an impressive structure.
One interesting thing I learned this week regarding the security fence that Israel is currently building is that apparently the Prophets actually write about the area that Jerusalem will cover during the time of the Third Temple. During that time all Jews will have to travel to Jerusalem, and they all have to be in the walls of the city.
The truth is that today, as large as Jerusalem has become, there still is not enough room for all of the world’s Jews.
Interestingly enough apparently the way that the security fence is being built in relation to the Eastern part of Yerushalayim, the fence is going almost exactly on the border that was prophesied would be the border’s of Greater Jerusalem 2500 years ago.
Just an interesting tidbit I picked up over the weekend.
Oh, and he pictures are (finally) up. Let me know if you have any trouble with the links.

Here's the picture of the Shul: