Thursday, September 28, 2006

Foot Fetish

My shoes are on the left. Cute, no?! (Photo credit)

My New Identity

Next month is my two year anniversary of living in Israel. It's hard to believe. Since I am not Jewish, when I moved here I didn't make aliyah - I just moved to Israel. I didn't get any "rights" - or government benefits when I moved here. When I first got here, I got a tourist visa at the airport. That lasted for three months. When the time came to renew my visa, we met many of the wonderful people at the Interior Ministry. (sarcasm) Actually, there is a group of ladies there that know my whole life story - including which side of the bed I sleep on.

To make a long, boring, frustrating story short - after two years of tourist and temporary resident visas, next week I have an appointment to get my Israeli ID card or teudat zehut. 180 days after I get my teudat zehut, I can enroll the in the national healthcare system. Until now, I've had really crappy "tourist" insurance. Thank goodness I've been healthy for the past two years - tfu, tfu, tfu.

Even though it's just a little card, this is a big step for me. More and more, my wallet is holding proof of my Israeliness. It seems a little surreal.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I Am High

Ok - so it's not like you think. I just got back from yoga and I have that post-yoga Zen thing going on. (I know a great teacher if you're looking for a class, btw.) It's been an interesting day. This morning I met with my therapist at 8:00. I think that anyone that moves to a different country/culture NEEDS to see a therapist. There are tons of transition issues and it's good to have some help. We had a good session and it was a great way to start the day. Then I went shopping. I bought tea. I drink all kinds of tea like it's going out of style. We were running low; now we're not.

I've decided to take the plunge and grow up from instant coffee. So I bought a french press coffee thing-a-ma-jig and coffee this morning. I practically ran home and made a pot. Yum-o! So I have had WAY too much coffee today. I cut myself off about mid-day b/c I have trouble falling asleep if I drink caffine in the afternoon. I can't wait to get up in the morning for another cup! Do you think I have a drinking problem?! ;)

On the way home with my coffee love machine, I managed to call Lisa and share with her the latest name idea for the "new blog". I have been planning a graduation from blogger as well. I think that I have finally hit on a great name. I ran it past Laya too. Both Laya and Lisa liked it. Now I just need to reserve the URL and I'll be able to share it with you all. If you want to know, email me and I'll share.

And I want to know how come every time you come around my London, London bridge wanna come down?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Have a Sweet New Year!

This weekend in Israel we're celebrating Rosh HaShana - or the Jewish New Year. One of the customs associated with this holiday is eating apples and honey for a sweet New Year. I decided to make some holiday cards for our family here. I was feeling a litte crafty.

I collected the materials: Brown cards and envelopes, some nice apples, and red craft paint.

I cut an apple in half and used a sponge brush to apply paint to the cut side of the apple. I pressed the painted apple onto the card face - being sure I did it "backwards" so that the card would open Hebrew style with the opening on the left side.

Once the paint was dry, I used a marker to draw on a leaf and stem. I also practiced my Hebrew writing and wrote an inside message. It was lots of fun!

I hope you all have a good and sweet New Year!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Interesting Use of the Internets

I just saw this web site. Like so many sites on the internet, I was both fascinated and disgusted at the same time. I guess it's a good idea for you to check out someone before you're alone with them. Lots of things about old fashioned dating seem to make know, where you had a chaperone.

Links/Blogroll Update

Sometime today I am going to clean up my blogroll. There are a couple of bloggers that have retired or move on. Some are on a long vacation. Others have moved. It's time to clean up this part of my site.

A couple of weeks ago, I changed the way the blogroll updates. The blogs (that link to blogroll) with the freshest posts float to the top of the list. The stale stuff sinks down. The folks that don't link to blogroll stay at the bottom and I just go and click on them when I want to see what they're up to.

If you read/link to my blog and I don't link to you, this is a perfect time for you to get on the blogroll. Leave a comment or send me and email at shalomisraelblog [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll put you up there!

Sunday, September 17, 2006


When I worked here part of my job was to present animal programs. I never did one on TV. Katie did those. Hi Katie!

The India Influence

The pundits - which in Israel means everyone - have been discussing the successes and failures of the recent war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. There have been those who have pointed out the strategic, military failures. Some have pointed out the ineptitude of military and political leaders. Others have said that there have been shifts in Israeli national thinking that have become the Achilles heel of politicians - keeping them from making the needed drastic military maneuvers that would have assured victory in Lebanon and eradication of Hezbollah.

About twenty years ago, Israelis that had embraced New Age thinking began acting on their spiritual inner-work. They began traveling to India to "get spiritual". My feeling is that these travels reflect an awakening of new influences on Israeli society. Yoga, meditation, Buddhism, and, yes, transcendental drug experiences were opening Israeli eyes to a new way of seeing the world. In 2004 it was reported that the Indian consulate consulate in Tel Aviv issues around 30,000 visa a year and it's estimated that another 20,00 visas to India are issued in Thailand and Nepal. Even in Jerusalem, there are at least two successful "new age" shops that sell crystals, literature, and the like that support this new thinking. Of the friends that I've met in my two years in Jerusalem, many of them have crafted a spiritual practice of Judaism that incorporates aspects of Buddhism and other spiritual traditions. It's not your savta's Judaism!

This new way of thinking may have influenced Israel's foreign policy and military strategy. The recent action in Lebanon and Israelis' reaction to it indicate a shift in the way Israelis see the world.

In his book Five Things We Cannot Change, David Richo examines the idea of retaliation. I think that his writing represents the combination of ideas that many of the New Age Israelis hold:
Retaliation does not balance things, since it harms the soul of the retaliator and creates a more severe imbalance. Socrates noticed this peril and wrote: "It is better to suffer an injustice than to commit one." This is because the body and mind are damaged by injustice from others, but it is our own soul that is damaged by revenge. ... The joy of a good conscience is the highest value for those who want to grow spiritually. With spiritual practice, our attitude toward an aggressor becomes compassion for the suffering dimension in his aggression. This response also serves to quiet him down. In the martial art of aikido, the point is not to harm the opponent but to redirect and transform his or her aggression, ultimately bringing the opponent to the realization that violence does not work.

In an evolved society, animated by spiritual consciousness, the desire for retribution is replaced with a desire for restoration. We want to reconcile, not excommunicate. In such a world - sadly, not this one yet - everyone is accountable and is asked to make amends, but no one is punished, since restoration is how satisfaction is truly made.

Richo gives us this chart (and I can't figure out how to do it in blogger):

Retribution aims at / Restoration moves toward

Punishing the evildoer as evil / Seeking to heal the ignorance of the "evildoer"

Satisfying society's need for revenge / Harmony

Making someone pay / Having someone make amends

Getting even / Caring that a fallen brother or sister find redemption

Getting rid of a disturbing and dangerous presence / Correcting and then reincluding

Guaranteering the safety of society at the cost of causing the aggressor to suffer, with no chance or rehabilitation / Guaranteering the safety of society while being compassionate to the aggressor's pain and helping the person recover his or her humanity

Preserving the historical style of dealing with injustice (an eye for an eye) / Finding and exciting and more humanitarian solution to injustice

Imagining and wishing a murderer in hell for all the evil he perpetrated and for which he will never be forgiven / Imagining a murderer in a Zen monastery, where a strict but wise abbot is pointing to his deeds and teaching him to ask forgiveness until he becomes an enlightened buddha and comes back to help community.

Maintaining the either...or belief in a hell (eternal) or heaven / Generating a belief only in purgatory or rebirth (temporary) and heaven or nirvana.

Making sure the cycle of retaliation continues so that war can be justified / Ending the cycle of retaliation so that war will no longer be an acceptable solution

End of story / Beginning of dialogue

As more and more Israelis have aligned their personal and public policies to the ideals of reconciliation and nonviolence, this has influenced national policy - reflected in the indecision and questioning nature of the conflict with Hezbollah and dealings in the West Bank and Gaza.

The following poem is by Shantideva, an eighth-century Indian Buddhist teacher:

May those whose hell it is
To hate and hurt
Be turned into lovers
Bringing flowers.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Graph of Shalom Israel

I followed directions.

Shalom Tel Aviv

Here are some images of Tel Aviv I found on the internets. Enjoy!

Tel Aviv!

Los Angeles? No, it's Tel Aviv (and Ramat Gan)

I drove past the Yoo Towers yesterday. These are two 35+ story residential towers.

This is Ramat Gan - it's cheek and jowl with Tel Aviv.

This image is of the Azrieli Towers. One is a triangle and the other a circle. The Huggies ad is on the base of a third - the square tower. I had heard that they were going to re-start construction on this tower. Yesterday when we drove past, it was under construction and much taller than what's shown in this picture.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bead Buddies: Follow Up

A couple of days after I visited Ilana, she called to say that my beads were ready. I joined her again at her studio to pick up my necklaces. I love them! I'm obviously not the greatest photographer, but you can see one of my necklaces to the right.

Ilana said that she's finalized the details for her pre-holiday show. Being the slack-ass I am, I didn't realize what day it was - but - Ilana's showing is TODAY!

Artist Open House
Friday, Sept 15 TODAY! From 11:00-18:00
3 Brazil St Apt 37 (Shenberg) 10th Floor
Ramat Aviv

Featuring glass bead jewelry, art in papier mache, and hand bags by Michal Shenberg of Miharu Fashion

If you have time, you can go and check out Ilana's work today. Otherwise you can contact her through her website.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

9/11 What They Saw

This amazing video documents what residents of a nearby building experienced during the attack on September 11, 2001. It's a powerful reminder of that day and is presented without "drama" - it's just people in their apartment watching it unfold.

See it here.

My Kind of Grandmother

Former Texas Governor, Ann Richards, has passed away and that makes me sad. She was such a firecracker - smart, witty, and beautiful. She was a match for those good ole boys in Texas. She once joked that George H.W. Bush, "...can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." I remember watching her on TV and being proud that I was an American like her.

You can read more about it on CNN.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/11 Let the River Run

I love Carly Simon and Let the River Run is one of my favorite songs she sings. I've printed the lyrics below and linked to the video on youtube. Watch for yourself. It's something - goodness - 80s hair! The contrast of this song to the video - just watch.

Let the River Run:
We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise,
The morning lights
The streets that meet them,
And sirens call them on
With a song.

It's asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
Stand on a star
And blaze a trail of desire
Through the dark'ning dawn.

It's asking for the taking.
Come run with me now,
The sky is the color of blue
You've never even seen
In the eyes of your lover.

Oh, my heart is aching.
We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

It's asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.

Come, the New Jerusalem!

9/11 Stand

I just saw this video on MTV and the images of the WTC in this video shifted the meaning of the song for me. 9/11's impact deepens and touches our lives in seemingly endless ways.

Welcome to Tel Aviv

Knock on wood - but I think that we've found an apartment in Tel Aviv. It belongs to the grandmother of someone that works with Y. So, it looks like we'll be in the big city in December.

Last Friday we were surprised to get a quick chance to see the apartment. If we met the owner at 2:00 we could go an and see it for ourselves for just a few minutes. So, Y and I drove from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv mid-day on Friday. The traffic leaving Jerusalem was bad and we were delayed. We got to the apartment right at 2:00. The lady was waiting to show us the apartment. So I made Y jump out and go see the apartment while I tried to find parking. Well, it took at least 15 minutes to find parking and then a few more minutes to walk back to the apartment. In short, I didn't get to see the apartment. Y says that I'll like the apartment. He wouldn't exaggerate - he'd have to live with me complaining for as long as we live there! I'll get to see it before we sign anything though, so no worries.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I Knew It

This morning I woke up early and was computerizing on the sofa. My upstairs neighbor thinks that Shabbat means "wash the floor day" in Hebrew. I was listening through the floor/ceiling to her squeegee the floor and move the bucket around her apartment. When she puts the bucket down, there is a little boom.

As I was sitting there, one boom was weird - the sofa and whole apartment wiggled. The furniture didn't move but it felt really bizarre - like the whole building shifted.

Turns out that I am not the only one that felt it - others have reported feeling an earthquake this morning too!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Barcelona Wins!

We've purchased tickets to Barcelona for October. Now, where to stay?! What to do?! Adam had some great ideas in response to my previous post. Anybody else want to jump in and give us their two cents worth?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Supporting Injured Israeli Soldiers

Check out this video. It might make you cry.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Shuk Sharpening

When Y and I moved here we sold a lot of our stuff instead of shipping it. That meant that we had to buy new things when we arrived in Israel. Right after we got here we bought good knives. I am kind of a kitchen stuff snob and searched all over Jerusalem for good knives. I found them eventually and I was happy.

Now that we're almost two years into our Israeli adventure, it was past time to get those knives sharpened again. Those of you familiar with Israeli or Arabic salad know that knives in Israel get used a lot - there's a lot of chopping involved!

Last weekend Y showed me the stall of this guy in the shuk who sharpens knives. That's all he does - he's a sharpening specialist. Today I wrapped up three of our good knives in bubble wrap and headed off to the shuk.

I pulled out my three knives and I asked him how much before he started. 30nis for all three - about $6. This is an important lesson for Israel: negotiate the price before the service! On my way to the shuk I thought that it'd be fun to ask this guy some questions and find out more about him. After he was all done sharpening my knives, I asked him how long he'd been working in the shuk. He said, "What difference does it make?" This was all in Hebrew of course. His buddy thought it was funny that I was taking a picture of his friend.

It was cool to stand in the shuk and watch people for a while. Usually when I am in the shuk I have a pack full of heavy vegetables and want to get out of there as fast as possible. It was fun today to see my Jerusalemite neighbors busy in the shuk. After my knife adventure, I stopped by to visit with two of my favorite Jerusalemites, Michael and Dave. It was good to see you guys!

When I got home, I did the tomato test - if a knife cuts a tomato easily then it's really sharp. The knives passed. Of course you don't have to go to the shuk for knife sharpening - try it at home with help of this video (I think it only works in IE.).

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bead Buddies

Today I got to hang out with my friend Ilana. Ilana is an incredible glass artist and makes beautiful pieces of jewelry. I emailed her last week and asked her if we could meet and make a bead necklace for me.

Today we met up and walked to her studio in Nachlaot, a neighborhood of Jerusalem. Her studio is a great creative workspace with lots of natural light. After catching up, Ilana got to work making beads. You can see her at work here in a picture from her website. She uses glass rods to make the beads. It's fascinating to watch. Heating the glass until it's red hot, she then melts and turns it to make a bead or swirl in color. I really gained an appreciation of the amount of time and work Ilana takes in creating each bead.

Ilana made a bead for me that is similar to the one in this ring. The finished bead was cooling when I left her studio this afternoon. Ilana said that she'll be in touch when the necklace is ready later this week. So check back again soon to see the creation!

If you like bead jewelry, there's nothing like a handcrafted piece. Check out Ilana's website for ideas. If you're in Israel, she's easy to reach and will be having a sale in Tel Aviv before the holidays. I'll keep you posted. If you're in the US, you can order from and contact Ilana through her website. If you do, tell her I sent you!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Best Month Ever

My blog had a little over 1,700 hit last month. Lately I've been averaging about 50 hits per day. I think it's cool that so many people are out there wondering about what I am doing.

According to my site meter tracker, the tally of visitors this month was the third highest in the history of my blog - but I am going to "reframe" that. See last year, CK added me to the Jewlicious "Jewish Blogs" blogroll (I'm not Jewish, btw.) and I got a ton of hits from that. Apparently others find me boring, so they stopped coming by. That's alright. Thanks for visiting anyway. My numbers went back down to normal.

About 1000 people a month have been coming by and then the war (I assume) brought a ton of interest to the Israeli blogosphere - and my numbers went up again. Others have noticed that too - Allison, Lisa, and David have all had big spikes in clicks during the past months. Mine wasn't so dramatic, but people have been clicking over.

There is growth from Google referals and I am always amazed at what searches bring up my blog. "PC Updates", "Alt Shift Israel", "I'm melting witch", and "how to combat envy" all brought up my blog in the first 10 results. With "how to combat envy", my blog was the number one result!

Y'all come back now, ya'hear.

Friday, September 01, 2006

CNN Grinds My Shorts

This is a screen shot of a recent CNN International front page. This is what a lot of the world sees when they open . If you can't read the "top stories" section, click it a couple of times to enlarge.

The headline "Israeli Police Storm UK Embassy" burns me up. The story is that there was a Palestinian man that forced his way into the British Embassy and was holed up there armed with a gun for 8 hours. According to the story - way down on the page -

Embassy spokeswoman Karen Kaufman said the police operation was coordinated with British officials, in line with diplomatic protocols.

"As far as the embassy is concerned, the event is over," she said. "We are very grateful to Israeli police for their swift response and the excellent cooperation throughout the incident."

Of course the headline and the way the story starts makes it seem like Israeli police just busted into the UK Embassy when this obviously was not the case. Crafty, crafty media.