In the spirit of John Cusack’s top 5 lists in the movie High Fidelity here’s Tel Aviv in fives –part. 2
5 reasons to date an Israeli man
- he went to the army…you’ll always feel safe in his arms
- he will protect you from the bad local guys trying to rip you off thinking you’re just a dumb tourist
- he has this natural nonchalance slash indifferent attitude which is all you expect from a real man no?
- number 3 also means you like the way he dresses, like a real man
- he’s Jewish (http://marilynjosephine.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/dating-a-jew-or-two/)
5 reasons not to date an Israeli man
- just a few table manners and universal rules of politeness
- just a few fashion donts such as short sleeved shirts, these horrible black squared shoes, wearing underwear at the beach, socks not matching shoe choice, wearing tanga underwear instead of boxer shorts, etc etc.
- why talk so loud?
- ask me if I’m French…and then, when I say I’m Belgian, he may add “oh but what’s the difference”
5 reasons for an Israeli man to date an olah chadasha
- she loves everything about Israel always & anyways
- no fighting for whos family diners to attend on Shabbat & Holidays
- he always has a good reason not to have to join her friends: he doesn’t understand their language
- he can be sure he’ll have a month off when she goes to visit her family…and he has enough internationality in house so no need for him to travel anymore (saving money)
- think about the children’s passport(s)
5 annoying nicknames Israeli strangers call you*
- mami (with current variation to mamoush and mama and may creation confusion with mums/mothers)
- neshama (free translation: soul)
- hatsarfatiya – the frenchie (and then i go, no i’m belgium about 25794 times a day)
- kapara (free translation: honey)
- motek (free translation: sweetheart)
*all of those words are generally followed by shelli, meaning my: mami sheli, neshama sheli, kapara sheli, motek sheli.
top 5 Hebrew words
- sababa (cool)
- stam (literally this would mean: just, but in context it’s untranslatable, we’ve tried)
- bichlal (literally this would mean: general, but in context it’s untranslatable, we’ve tried)
- balagan (literally this would mean: chaos, but in context it’s untranslatable, we’ve tried)
- tachless (doesn’t it come from Yiddish? it means bottom line or to the point and it is a very needed word in a country where too many people just talk too much and not do enough)
5 reasons to blog about TLV
- we don’t live in a war zone
- we have internet
- we drive cars, not camels
- to show some positivity about this country!
- to show off the good weather – 300 days of sun a year
needless to post 5 things I love most in Tel Aviv as I’m in love with Tel Aviv
5 things I hate most in Tel Aviv
- people that take themselves way too seriously like Hipsters (and make me wonder if it’s Purim again)
- joukim* even when they’re dead and laying on their back with their legs up (*a jouk is a cockroach)
- street cats (for the smell and their cries at night)
- honking cars (as part of a more general noise problem in this city)
- these guys biking by and throwing spa&massage cards on the pavement
The Italians say: “Vedi Napoli e (poi) muore” or: when you’ve seen the magnificence of Naples you’ve seen everything, and it’s safe to die. Italians obviously have never been to the Old City of Jerusalem. Being one of the oldest cities of the world, Jerusalem is marked by religion and conflict. During its long history, it has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Jerusalem is also a holy city to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The spiritual power of this city is omnipresent. It’s hard not to feel even the littlest emotion stir inside you when you touch the stones of the Western Wall, when you enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or when you see the sun touching the golden Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem has been on my “things i absolutely want to see in my life”-list ever since i was a kid. We entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate (inaugurated in 1538!). This gate is named after the port of Jaffa, from which the Prophet Jonah (the guy who got swallowed by a whale) embarked on his sea journey and pilgrims debarked on their trip to the Holy City. For us it was simply because Highway 1, the connection between Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Jerusalem, leads to this entrance. Our “pilgrimage by car” took about an hour an ended in a modern garage. I am very thankful to live in the 21st century and not having to do the whole Jaffa-Jerusalem road by foot, cause when you enter the Old City it’s all little cobbled roads and rocky steps. Not to forget about all the people crawling like little ants in between hundreds of food stands and small souvenir shops selling crosses, menorahs and djellabas. Obviously business is not divided by religion here. If you visit Jerusalem be sure to wear comfortable shoes and be well-rested, for it is a workout if i have ever seen one.
The Old city is divided into 4 quarters: the Muslim, the Christian, the Armenian and the Jewish quarter. Because there is a lot to see in the Old city of Jerusalem and we only had a few hours before the start of Shabbat we concentrated on two places of visit. The Christian quarter contains the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (or the Church of the Resurrection). It is said that on this place Jesus was crucified (Golgotha), buried (the Sepulcher) and even resurrected. The Sepulcher can be reached through countless other little churches, all connected to one another by narrow hallways. Without our Israeli friends guiding us through the city we probably would still wander around in this maze of holy stones, scented by heavy incense.
Up: the Stone of Anointing, which tradition claims to be the spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea.
In the Jewish quarter lies the Western Wall or Kotel. The wall is a remnant of the ancient Temple wall. The Jewish quarter has had a rich history, with a nearly continual Jewish presence since the eighth century BC. The Wall has been subject of many conflicts. According to the legend anyone who prays in the Temple in Jerusalem, “it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer”. A lot of people come to the Western Wall to pray and wail (therefore the wall is also known by its other name: the Wailing Wall). There is also a practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers to God into the cracks of the Wall. Fun fact: the Rabbi of the Western Wall receives hundreds of letters every year addressed to “God, Jerusalem“. He folds these letters and places them in the Wall. Twice a year the Rabbi collects the notes left in the Wall and buries them in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
There’s a famous Jewish song called “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of gold”). The song was written by Naomi Shemer in 1967 and originally described the Jewish people’s 2000-year longing to return to Jerusalem. A final verse was added after the Six-Day War to celebrate Jerusalem’s re-unification, after 19 years of Jordanian occupation. I believe the saying “Jerusalem of Gold” has a wider meaning, that expands to all religions and nationalities who are touched by the presence of this historical and holy place. It’s a place of emotional, monetary and religious richness. Of gold in every meaning of the word. It’s what people have fought over for thousands of years and are still fighting for. This is a place that has conquered my heart and i hope to return to its splendor and greatness lots of times.
What better than to start your summer when most summers are over? I’m not a beach person really; I mostly hate the sand everywhere. But at this time of the year I love it. The big heat and humidity of July August is gone. And so are the many loud tourists. Finally it’s calm, I’m back and the city is mine again. I feel my feet in the white sand, I swim in the clear sea and spend hours just enjoying the weather until after sunset. When does one have time to spend days at the beach? Never. Or during the Jewish holidays. You almost have no choice. Nobody’s working anyways.
This month we celebrate Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year 5773), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Each holiday has its history, meaning and traditions; and families have their own rituals around them. Rosh Hashana is the New Year and starts at sunset (like all Jewish Holidays) with a big traditional family diner. One of its main symbols is the dipping of apples in honey. To have a sweet year. On Rosh Hashana God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book called the Book of Life and waits until ten days later, at Yom Kippur depending on wether the sinner repents or not, to “seal” the verdict. During those Days of Awe, a Jewish person tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). Leonard Cohen’s song “Who by fire” is inspired by this prayer from the liturgy of the Day of Atonement:
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed
How many shall die and how many shall be born
Who shall live and who shall die
Who at the measure of days and who before
Who by fire and who by water
Who by the sword and who by wild beasts
Who by hunger and who by thirst
Who by earthquake and who by plague
Who by strangling and who by stoning
Who shall have rest and who shall go wandering
Who will be tranquil and who shall be harassed
Who shall be at ease and who shall be afflicted
Who shall become poor and who shall become rich
Who shall be brought low and who shall be raised high.
We start Yom Kippur with a big dinner before commencing a 25-hour fast. I consider myself a secular Jew but this tradition is one I keep. I go to synagogue and I pray; in my own way. I question myself, I look back at the past year. Have I been a good person? A better woman? What do I expect and wish myself and my beloved family and friends for the coming year? Oh what am I lying, I ask myself those questions every day. Anyways; Yom Kippur is the day Jews ask for forgiveness. A day to repent. The end of the fast is sounded by the Shofar, a ram horn blown by the rabbi in synagogue. And then we go and eat again. What touches me is that Tel Aviv, a city that is not known for its silence nor religious practice, feels sacred on Yom Kippur. Just this holy silence for a day. And as soon as it’s over, Tel Aviv ignites again in its dynamics. This video by a colleague from StreetIsrael shows the power and impact of Yom Kippur on daily life.
During Sukkot Jews build a Sukkah (booth) where meals are eaten and the Mitzva is to host people in it. Sukkot refers to the temporary dwellings that we are commanded to live in during this holiday. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (“Rejoicing with/of the Torah”) mean the end of Sukkot and mark the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle.
Chag Sameach & Shana Tova dear readers…
Wishing card from the Israeli website Nostalgia Online archive