Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Post to Confuse Middle America ...

Here is a Jewish song, sung by a talented young Jewish man, with music from a group of Jews and Arabs. Let's see that one compute.

Here is some info on the song, and here is a link to the group of performers.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Well That's a Little Different ...

So apparently some British singer's new fangled version of Hava Nagila is vying to be the #1 song in the UK this Christmas. We'll, I guess you see something new everyday.

Here it is, as performed by 17-year-old Brit Lauren Rose.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

That Song Stuck in Your Head ...

Everyone has experienced it. You hear a song and it's instantly stuck in your brain. Sometimes the song is pleasant and it helps you through the day. Sometimes the song is annoying and you wish you could think of something else, anything else. But sometimes you hear a song and it simply enters straight into your soul and does something there that you can't explain.

I had that experience recently. I was checking out Jewlicious the other day and saw a post for a Youtube video. The video was really just a slide show of photos from Israel but the song in the background sounded familiar. I knew that I had heard parts of it before here and there on the radio or at work. However, I had never listened to the song the whole way through.

I listened to it and read a little bit about in the comments on Youtube. The song simply captured my imagination. It is what I would call hauntingly beautiful.

The song is "Kol Galgal" ( קול גלגל) or "The Voice of the Wheel." It's sung by a group called "Shotei Hanevua" (שוטי הנבואה) or "The Fools of Prophecy." Apparently the lyrics come from the Zohar, which is the text that forms the basis of Kabalah(the real kind not the Madonna and Britney version).

I wanted to find out the meaning of the lyrics and to get a good translation when I remembered that Tafat's aunt teaches a course on Kabalah. Posted below is the translation that she provided along with some notes on the meaning.




*THE CHARIOT is the divine Merkava that man builds with his inner contemplation and values

**THE SEFIROT are the degrees, the madregot in hebrew, 10 of them that are the lights and vessels between the finite and the Infinite.

Friday, November 02, 2007

My Favorite "Building To Be" ...

So I have this hobby of photographing and reading about Skyscrapers and other buildings. I've spent a good portion of my time in this city looking up and around at all the different buildings here; the ones that are finished as well as the ones that are still being built.

If you look at the right side of the blog you'll find some links to some skyscraper websites and forums. These sites provide all kinds of great info on the plans for new buildings and renovations, as well as photos of buildings under construction.

I took the photo above of the First International Bank Tower that is currently under construction on Rothschild Blvd in Tel Aviv. The tower is being built by the same firm that designed the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, and the design is a deliberate homage to that building. Here is a render of what the building will look like when finished.

I find it fascinating to think about the way a city can change as it's continually being built and rebuilt all over again. I can only wonder what Tel Aviv will look like after all the towers that are currently planned are finally finished.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A World Map Where You Can Actually See Israel

I stumbled upon this map a while ago and thought it would make for an interesting post. It distorts the map of the world so that a countries size depends on how many internet users it has.

Israel suddenly pops out a bit on this map while Africa shrivels up into almost nothing.

It's nice that Israel is visible at least in certain world measurements. Most of the time the country is a tiny speck that is almost impossible to find.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pretty things on parade ...

Well they're not all pretty. In fact some are downright ugly. But hey, its art right? And its right there on the street near our apartment.

So the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange sponsored an art display that is being presented on Rothschild Blvd. here in Tel Aviv. Artists were given these big globes to decorate. The whole thing is being sponsored by a bunch of the companies listed on the TASE.

I don't know why they're doing it, I don't know what it means, and I don't particularly care. If you do, read more here.

Anyway being the geek that I am, I had to go out and take a few pics. Here are some of the best, or the least horrible.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Nieghborhood changes ...

One of our good friends here, Yaniv, runs the hair salon around the corner from our apartment. It's become a regular hangout for us, and especially for Tafat as Yaniv has become one of her best friends here.

I often pass by the salon on my way home, stopping for a quick chat or to find Tafat. However, last night Yaniv told us that the little shop is closing down.

The news is a little hard to handle, as the Salon has become something of a fixture in our lives. I guess people just always have a hard time adjusting to change.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why I'm exctited about a Wednesday ....

Normally Wednesday is not a very popular day. It falls right in the middle of the week, and is therefore known as "hump-day", it generally doesn't have very good TV shows to watch, and it should be spelled "Wensday" instead of the screwy actual spelling.

However, on this particular coming Wednesday, also known as tomorrow, Apple is having one of their spiffy media events at which they will unveil some fancy new bit of technological goodness. The current candidates right now are a transfigured iPod Nano, and a wide screen iPod with touch controls a la the iPhone.

Check out the usual suspects for the latest rumors. I'll try to post my thoughts once there is something real to talk about.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A breath of fresh air ...

This open letter published in the IHT is a welcome change in tone from Europe, often the source of vehement and unfair criticism of Israel. Several prominent European officials have openly denounced the upcoming conference of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), which is being hosted by the European Parliament.

It signals an awareness that endlessly blaming Israel for the ills of the region is not only inaccurate, but is detrimental to the cause of peace.

The CEIRPP casts a shadow on the UN role in the Middle East conflict and is first and foremost harmful to the UN. Its work only reinforces a long held Israeli suspicion vis-a-vis the UN and contributes nothing to the cause of peace. A recent example is a plan of action calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Will today's conference, in the halls of the European Parliament, issue similar directives? Though of little practical consequence, this conference, especially under the banner and auspices of the European Parliament, will harm the cause of peace and also damage European credibility as an honest broker.

I don't really know what to say ...

You have to check out this YouTube clip. You need to be a little familiar with Israel to really appreciate this but it's very interesting. From the YouTube description:

This is a Yemenite Israeli doing "Abir," (Knight, & acronym for religious verses) an ancient Yemenite martial art. He is speaking heavily inflected Hebrew.

He uses Chi-Gong and Tai Chi-like movements, which he says have been handed down for centuries, and copy the shapes of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Lessons begin on a mystical, spiritual note with Jewish prayers. The turban and side curls are traditional Yemenite. This ain't your usual bagels and lox Judaism ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Different perspectives ...

Many people may often casually wonder why it has been so difficult to achieve peace here between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. Some people with whom I have spoken often chalk it up to the fact that the two sides hate each other — always have, always will.

I do not believe that is the case. The problem as I see it comes from the fact that the two sides view the conflict from fundamentally opposing perspectives. Both Israelis and Palestinians on the whole view themselves as the aggrieved party in the conflict. Additionally on the most sensitive issues in the conflict the two sides hold diametrically opposed positions. Consider this statement from a recent article on Electronic Intifada, titled "What do Palestinians really think? "

Almost 70 percent of Palestinians under occupation, according to the poll, adhere to the right of "return of all refugees to their original land." Another 12 percent envisage the return of only some refugees to their original lands. Just seven percent of those polled agreed with the position that no refugees should return home at all.

Eighty-two percent opposed allowing Israel to retain control of "major settlement blocs inside the West Bank in exchange for equal Israeli land," and 94 percent rejected "keeping Israel's authority in the area of Al-Aqsa mosque" in Jerusalem.
I will not go into the details of these particular issues here at this moment, but I will offer that Israeli opinion on the refugee issue, settlements, and the Temple Mount stand mostly in opposition to the Palestinian positions presented above.

The article continues on to talk about Palestinian perspectives on the two-state solution as a whole.

Peace process industry propagandists routinely claim that a two-state solution is overwhelmingly supported by the vast majority of Palestinians. This has never been true (millions of Palestinian refugees and exiles outside the country have never been included in elections, and are not regularly polled). This poll indicates that among Palestinians under occupation, support for a two-state solution is at just 51 percent (49 percent in the West Bank and 54 percent in Gaza). At the same time support for "a binational state in all of Palestine where Palestinians and Israeli [sic] enjoy equal representation and rights" is now supported by 30 percent (roughly similar in both territories).

The above passage, as well as the rest of the article makes it clear that the author does not support a two-state solution. This is unfortunate. While the author may offer various pleasant sounding alternatives with well-crafted labels such as one-state or binational state, all of these proposals are nothing more than elaborate and create ways to dismantle the State of Israel. The author is essentially denying the Jewish People the right to self-determination.

If the author’s claims are true, and the Palestinian public does not support, and indeed never supported a two-state solution, then the prospects for peace in the region are as slim as they have ever been.

The Arab acceptance of the two-state solution framework was the turning point that made peace seem possible. It signaled that the Arabs had turned away from their previous policies of rejection and irredentism, and had finally recognized the fundamental legitimacy of the Jewish state. Any movement to erode this position can only serve to push the region towards further violence and conflict.

The author, and the Palestinians as a whole are entitled to their perspectives. But I fail to see how this fundamentally aggressive viewpoint will achieve any positive results.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What's in a name?

And now for a little multiple choice ...

Question: The photo below contains?

a) Israeli Couscous
b) P'titim - פתיתים
c) Part of the International Zionist Conspiracy
d) Who can tell? That's the worst picture I've ever seen!
e) Brains, brains, BRAINS!!!!!!

All of the above. Well, except for maybe e).

Israeli Couscous has apparently become fashionable in the states in some restaurants. I first realized this when one of the American Iron Chefs used it in one of their dishes. Of course if you try and find Israeli Couscous here in Israel you'll be looking for a long time. Here it's called P'titim. Most Israelis probably have no idea there is a product called Israeli Couscous for sale in the states.

Of course, I don't really believe that Israeli Couscous is part of the International Zionist Conspiracy. The murder of Jimmy Hoffa, UFOs, the 8-track, and 9/11 definitely, but not Israeli Couscous. I do find it amusing however that the combination of the words couscous and Israel could cause some people to freak out. It's not like Israel is populated by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Jews of North African origin — like for instance a certain member of this blog.

Anyway if your interested in the way I prepare my P'titim, here's a little rundown.

Heat, oil, P'titim, fake chicken soup mix, paprika, water, stir, water, stir, serve.

I said it was a little rundown.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Location, location , location ...

Back in July, I was having a conversation with my aunt about her possible trip to Israel to come visit us. We were discussing her options when the inevitable question of security came up.

"Listen," she said, "I just don't want to go anywhere where I'm going to hear gunshots."

I looked at her, quite surprised, and said, "Where do you think I live? We live in a good neighborhood."

I don't blame her. I am fully aware of the effects of the media on peoples' perception.

I was reminded of her comment today when I was thinking about where we live in Tel Aviv. Tafat and I were discussing whether we live in the center of the city or in the south. I offered that we live in the southern part of the center — or in other words, south-central Tel Aviv.

Now to any good Jewish boy from L.A. the first thing that is supposed to come to mind when one hears the phrase "south-central" is gunshots and gang violence. Back in la la land, they even went so far as to ban the use of the phrase "south-central Los Angeles" because of the negative connotations.

This is of course not the first time I have lived in "south-central." Back when I was in college in Madison, I couldn't help but giggle every time the news broadcasts talked about life in "south-central" Wisconsin.

Of course life in Madison bears little resemblance to life in "south-central" LA, and neither does life in Tel Aviv. I just wish people knew that, so maybe they wouldn't be so afraid to come visit.

Then again, isn't that why they banned the use of the term "south-central" in Los Angeles, to change the way people perceive that part of the city. Maybe they’re right? After all, I am fully aware of the effects of the media on peoples' perception. So perhaps life in "south-central" isn't even like life in "south-central."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Interesting news ...

So forget about the fact that my posting is more sporadic than the hair on Homer Simpson's head. I saw some stuff on the web and wanted to share it with you.

The economy here is apparently doing well. At least so says Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. Here's a snippet from Globes:

Israel’s GDP rose by an annualized 6.6% in the first half of the year, after rising by 3.4% in the second half of 2006 and 6% in the first half, the Central Bureau of Statistics reports. The growth is above the 5% predictions of both the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Israel.

Also for those who are interested, I found these statistics on the IMF home page (don't bother asking what the hell I was doing there). This chart shows Israel's GDP per capita in U.S. dollars — based on Purchasing Power Parity and the actual exchange rate — compared to that of the other advanced world economies. It's really very enlightening.

And finally the last feature in this "Showcase Showdown" of a blog post is a little slide show I put together. I've sort of developed a hobby of photographing buildings here in Tel Aviv. I decided to put them all together for everyone to enjoy ... or ignore, whatever you prefer. Please note that several of the towers in these photos are still under construction and at the end I've included photos of two building that are "really" under construction.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Never mind the three month break ....

But here's something interesting that I just had to throw out there.

I have been following the internecine fighting in Gaza quite carefully over the last several days. I have found the media coverage from the Israeli news outlets to be dramatically different than that of the international media. The Israeli papers have made the situation clear that Hamas is following a systematic plan of conquest in Gaza and that furthermore, they may be unstoppable now.

The international press has been rather vague and has merely described this as another round of fighting and has not relayed the severity of the situation. However, I did stumble upon one article that I simply found fascinating. It can be read here, but I pulled out some selections.

By daybreak, Fatah's threat to divorce itself from the Hamas-led coalition government of Haniyeh raised the tension in the Palestinian territories one more notch, bringing the Palestinians ever so much closer to the brink of civil war. Following an emergency meeting of its executive committee, Fatah announced it was suspending participation in the government as long as the fighting continued. (emphasis mine)
Something about "closer to the brink," caught my eye. This is not a well written phrase. It would be easier just to write "closer to civil war," or "on the brink of civil war." I don't think the author is a bad writer. This is an example, rather, of the way the author thinks about the conflict. Please don't take my word for it, later in the piece he quotes someone who explains it much better than I can.

But one European observer denies that Gaza is headed towards a civil war. "They are not 'heading' towards a civil war. They are in the middle of one," says Claude Moniquet, president of the Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. Moniquet says the Palestinians have been in the midst of a civil war "for several weeks, if not months."

The Belgian counter-terrorism specialist says that European "political correctness, whereby one would like to present the Palestinians as eternal victims and never, in any case, as the actors (and the persons with primary responsibility) for their own failures," is what has prevented the violence tearing apart the Palestinian territories from being labeled a civil war.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Global Warming is BS??? ... WTF!!!!

So this documentary says Global Warming is bull. Are these guys full of it? Are all the Global Warming proponents full of it? I'm not a scientist so I really can't say either way whether the science behind this is accurate. But it sure does seem compelling.

Hat tip LGF

Saturday, March 10, 2007

International Zionist Conspiracy Capitol Sunset ...

We went up to Jerusalem today to have lunch with Tafat's aunt. A few things: I still get a kick out of the idea of going to JERUSALEM for a day trip. It's the eternal city, the yearning of the Jewish people for 2,000 years. Going there shouldn't be like going to Long Beach. It also happens to be Tafat's home town so I guess I'll get used to it.

Secondly, it's downright scary how quiet that place is on Shabbat. It's like the opening scene from the movie Omega Man except there's no Charlton Heston driving around in a convertible hunting zombies. Well ... at least not yet.

Shavua Tov

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The whole Megillah

Actually it wasn't a disaster at all.

People have been walking around in costume all weekend because of the holiday but lastnight was what made it real. Tafat and I went to a reading of Megillat Esther (The Book of Esther) that was hosted by the city and was held literally around the corner from our apartment. It was about a minute and a half away and when we got home we could still here the music from the loudspeakers. The event was held in the middle of Rotchild Blvd. on the pedestrian walkway that is the defining feature of Tel Aviv boulevards .

This has really been a fascinating weekend. Tafat and I got a chance to soak in some of the scenery of the city on Friday and we saw some wonderful costumes. I also picked up a silly Viking hat that became my official Purim outfit.

We had a wonderful and silly Shabatt dinner Friday and I made Mom's roasted orange chicken. It actually came out perfectly and I was super thrilled about it as you can see below (although please note I'm actually eating fruit salad in this photo).

Experiencing the holiday here has been fantastic since people really get into it. I can't even recall the last time I went to a Megillah reading. The one thing I could do without is the really loud firecrackers people keep setting off. They sound a lot like ... well you can guess. I'm surprised by the reaction of people though. Every time there's been a loud BOOM Tafat and I have both jumped whereas everyone else doesn't seemed phased at all.

I'm really proud of Tafat as well cause she came up with a fantastic costume. She's a zebra and her costume is a combination of clothing and makeup. Here she is doing her best imitation of a scene from a National Geographic special.

Anyway, here are a bunch of photos from the Megillah reading and afterward.

The crowd that gathered to see the event

"Can I help you ...?"

Mordechai - good, Haman - bad ... keep drinking

And here's a video from the reading:

Friday, March 02, 2007

A country full of these people

While I was at the office I'm interning at last night, a few people played and then started singing the song that is Israel's entry to the Eurovision song contest. It probably had something to do with the story that was posted about it at the same time. At any rate I became curious and decided to look in to the group a little more. I found this video of them performing their entry for the contest and I was intrigued.

The group is Teapacks. They're a bit different. However, I think they might help people understand this country a bit better. This country is full of these people, and I'm right here in the middle of it. Makes sense.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Purim Shenanigans

So today we had our big Purim party at the Ulpan. I walked in this morning to see everybody wearing funny hats that our teacher had passed out. We had studied for a bit and she explained some stuff in the context of Purim. Then, as we approached our first break, a three-member klezmer band playing Purim songs interrupted our class. The entire school emptied out in to the courtyard to dance, and I made time to taste the assorted Homentaschen that had been laid out for us. I also made sure to make a few L’Chaims with some people from my class with perhaps the worst sweet kosher wine I’ve ever tasted. Being the idiot that I am, I left my camera at home so I’m linking to my classmate Martha’s flickr site where I noticed she posted some pics.

I’ve really been looking forward to Purim here because I’ve heard that it’s a real good time. At any rate I’m curious and that makes everything seem more interesting. So far the costumes people have been wearing seem to be outlandish combinations of wigs and hats and strange clothing. They don’t seem to be dressing up as anything specific, rather instead they just put together as many clashing colors and accessories as possible. I’m not sure if Israeli’s enjoy dressing up as political figures but if they do I’m sure I’d see a lot of Esterina Tartmans.

Tartman is a Yisrael Beiteinu MK who was recently appointed Tourism Minister. She has been featured all over the Israeli media recently and has been labeled a racist for comments she made about an Arab MK and for the fact that she is part of Yisrael Bietienu. YB is not highly regarded in Israel’s media and this hasn’t helped Tartman much. The fact the she apparently lied on her CV and invented both a BA and an MA from Bar-Ilan isn’t helping her much either.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

On metrics, wieght loss and shawarma

So recently Tafat and I have been making a concerted effort to keep track of most measurements in their international forms, that is, using the metric and centigrade scales. I actually prepared myself for it before we left Los Angeles by switching the thermometer in my car over to centigrade. It took a while but now I feel fairly comfortable seeing the temperatures in centigrade. I still have to do a small calculation in my head, especially when using the oven, but I feel as though the hardest part is over.

We’ve also taken to measuring things in centimeters and meters simply because it doesn’t help to know that a room is twelve feet across if your trying to fit something that’s six meters wide. Everything here is in centimeters so its obviously sink or swim. Since we don’t drive, we haven’t really had to deal with kilometers.

Kilograms, however, are another story. The scale we have in our bathroom lists are weight in kilograms. All this tells me is whether my weight is moving up or down. Inevitably after seeing my weight I use my laptop to do the conversion to pounds.

What I do know is that I’ve lost weight. Seven kilo to be specific, I’ll let you figure that one out. Tafat and I were actually concerned about my weight loss when we realized how much I had lost.

The scary thing is that I haven’t really been trying. I have been doing an incredible amount of walking here, well at least incredible when compared to the negligible amount I did in Los Angeles, so I guess that explains most of it. But I haven’t really consciously changed my eating habits so it was surprising to see how much I’d gone down. I hadn’t wanted to lose a few pounds that were lingering around my midsection but I never really thought about this much.

Tafat and I were both concerned that I had lost some muscle as well as fat so I decided to try and stem the tide. I think this is the first time since high school that I’ve thought about what I’m eating in order to gain weight. I’m focusing on increasing my protein intake since that should hopefully help build muscle. The funny thing is that the first thing that crossed my mind was that I should eat more shawarma. It’s everywhere, its cheap, its kosher, its delicious. I never thought I would say this, but as part of my diet I’m actually trying to increase my shawarma intake.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I dont think we'll see this on the Disney Channel

I saw this on Jewlicious and I had to post it. The one thing I find interesting in this video is the total absence of the word "Jew" Hmmm....

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Transplants and others

I recently interviewed Martha, who is in my class at Ulpan, for an article I wrote for the IJC. She posted our e-mail exchange on her blog and it's really interesting and worth checking out. I actually really dig her blog and I feel that she has a very fresh perspective on things here that isn't loaded with the usual emotional and political baggage.

Anyway, I've been a little sick lately but I think I'm almost over it. Hopefully I'll have a chance today since I skipped class to catch up on my homework, which I've been neglecting.

I've been thinking about what kind of commentary I could provide on the political situation here of late. Things have actually been pretty stagnant. Well, that's if you consider the steady stream of resignations of corruption allegations that compromises the current Israeli political reality stagnant. What does it mean that every week in class we get to practice the Hebrew word for "resign" because yet another leader has been forced to quit because of some scandal.

Things with the neighbors have been pretty stagnant as well. As I figured the Palestinian unity deal hasn't changed the situation one iota. There was supposedly a summit held here that was supposed to be a big deal. But apparently so little actually happened that they didn't even bother to have press conference afterwards.

But it's my opinion that there's always good news. And just to prove it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nasrallah's Web ...

I noticed this video on the Memri blog recently. It features Hassan Nasrallah proclaiming that Israel is weaker than a spiders web. If I were Israel I would thank Nasrallah for two reasons.

Spider-silk is one of the strongest materials on Earth, so being compared to a spider web actually is a compliment to Israel. Secondly, this gaff proves that Nasrallah is nothing more than a bumbling idiot, an idiot who pushed his people into a pointless war they didn't want or need.

From Wikipedia:
Spider silk is a fibre secreted by spiders. Spider silk is a remarkably strong material; the strongest naturally-occurring fiber known[citation needed]. Its tensile strength is comparable to that of high-grade steel — according to Nature (see reference below), spider silk has a tensile strength of roughly 1.3 GPa, while one source [1] lists a tensile strength for one form of steel at 1.65 GPa. However, spider silk is much less dense than steel; its ratio of tensile strength to density is perhaps 5 times better than steel — as strong as Aramid filaments, such as Twaron or Kevlar. In fact, a strand of spider silk long enough to circle the earth would weigh less than 16 ounces[citation needed] (less than 460 grams).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lazy Weekend

So I thought I might share what a typical weekend is like for us here in Israel. Of course the weekend here is Friday and Saturday, Sunday is the first day of the week and a regular weekday.

Usually Tafat and lay around a lot on Friday, until we finally roll out of bed and go do something. Often, we go down to the Shuk to some shopping, or go to the mall or something. But I always end up spending some time cooking Shabbat dinner.

The apron I'm wearing, which was a gift from Marsha, has an important message for Tafat.

Like I posted before, dinner turned out delicious (this time). Hopefully soon, I'll figure out how to make Bubbie's Chicken Poprikash. On Friday we also went to a nice Kabalat Shabbat service. It's a very modern service and there are a lot of young English speakers who attend so I feel like I have my bearings there.

On Saturday our big plan was to eat a light lunch and then go to Max Brenner for dessert. Max Brenner is this very odd dessert restaurant that presents a very unique image. I don't think people want to eat there because the food is so spectacular, but rather because it feels like your doing something important when you're there. Well, it's also hard to screw up chocolate if you ask me.

Afterwards Tafat and I just kind of wandered around the city burning off the fondue we had just consumed. I took a bunch of pictures that I'm going to use in a post later on. We ended up chilling out near the Suzanne Dallal Center, which is dance center and theater. It's really beautiful there and lots of people were relaxing enjoying the nice weather.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The more things change ...

As Shabbat goes out the noise of the city starts back up. Even though Tafat and I are well into are third month here in Israel, I'm still surprised by how quiet it gets here in Tel Aviv on Shabbat. Tel Aviv is very secular and yet even here it is impossible not to feel Shabbat.

With a new week beginning I look around and see that some interesting things have transpired. Over the weekend there were some clashes in Jerusalem concerning the construction that is going on near the Temple Mount. Stones being thrown, rubber bullets being fired, tear gas ... sounds about right.

Additionally the Palestinian unity talks held in Mecca concluded with an agreement between Fatah and Hamas. However, seeing as how Hamas continues to reject Israel and everything that it is required to do by the international community I don't really see how this makes a bit of difference.

In a bit of positive news I cooked a wonderful pot-roast for Shabbat dinner. It was tender and delicious. Here's a rundown of the ingredients.

Beef Shoulder - about a half kilo.
Tomato paste - about one can or small containers worth
Onion and garlic - goes without saying
Red wine - about as much as it took to give you a buzz when you were 14
general spice mix, a little paprika, cumin, pepper, tiny bit of cinnamon
and the last and most important ingredient - a peaceful Shabbat

Hope everybody has a good week

Monday, February 05, 2007

You know you want it

So I know I'm a little late on this one but I was sort of on a blog hiatus back there. Anyway as the whole world knows by now Apple has introduced the PADD, sorry iPhone to the world. If you haven't seen the keynote video you should really check it out.

I have mixed thoughts on this. I think the device is amazing, especially its web-surfing ability. But the price is problematic. I think that this is a great demonstration of what most people will be using in the near future, but for $499 and a two year contract this is not for everybody today. I'm excited by what Apple has shown they are capable of, and I know that the technology in the iPhone is going to trickle down to all sorts of other devices.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Holy Crap ... Where did the last month go?

So I realize that a month has gone by since the last real post on this blog. That makes for pretty boring reading for anyone who might have stopped by to see how we're doing, or for anyone who was directed here from some other mysterious corner of the internet. Well, what have we been up to? I'll let Tafat fill you in on all of the details of her dancing comeback but I guess I'll give everyone a brief synopsis of the last month.

1. Apartment Stuff

We have slowly but surely become adjusted to our qauint little home here in Tel Aviv. While it still isnt fully furnished, the necessary items are on the way. All of the little details though seem to be squared away. Oddly enough while Tafat and I had some expected problems setting up our internet and phone lines the process was much smoother than I thought is was going to be. I had been hearing nightmare stories about customer service here, but I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness, and the helpfullness of the tech support people from Bezeq(the phone company - and in English no less!).

2. Ulpan

Starting in early January, I have been a happy student at Ulpan Gordon. While the Ulpans were designed to help new Olim (immigrants) learn Hebrew and intergrate into the country they are also available for tourists and for people with other various status in the country. I study from 8:15 AM till 12:50. I sometimes feel as our teacher crams more Hebrew words into our heads that this must be what it feels like to undergo one of those training programs in the Matrix. My Hebrew is genuinly improving and it feels weird to be one of the "good" students in a launguage class.

3. The Parents

So Barnie and George, and our cousin Louise came to visit in the middle of January. They spent a lot of time touring around the country and it seemed like they had a wonderful time. Mom is already talking about coming back later this year. It was nice to have them here so they could see that we're doing well and to make us feel a little less far from home. We shlepped them across Tel Aviv and tried to show them as much as we could in the few days that they were in town. We also were able to meet up with Miri and Shlomo in Haifa, and Tafat's aunt Nadine in Jerusalem for two pleasant dinners.

4. Internship

Last week I started an internship at an Israeli newspaper in their English internet section. My first week was very busy but it feels good to have a full schedule again. Hopefully I'll be able to write something and have it posted on the website or maybe even printed in the paper.

I also wanted to post photos and videos of random stuff here in Tel Aviv. This first video is of our street on Friday afternoon. Every Friday when it's time for Shabbat music eminates from some mysterious source and announces the Sabbath. It's usually "Shalom Aleichem," but sometimes it's other stuff.

This next one is just a simple video taken in front of the "Shuk HaCarmel" also on a Friday afternoon.

And here are some photos:

Mom and Louise

Artist Section of the Shuk

Tel Aviv Bauhaus Building

Tel Aviv Beachfront

Monday, January 29, 2007

Were Just Fine

I figure somebody is going to hear about the bombing in Eilat, get paranoid and worry about us. Were fine and Eilat is like four hours from here in case anyone doesn't know.