Gefilte Fish Out of Water


Farewell Post
September 4, 2010, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Feelings, Friends, Petey
 
It’s been 3 months since I’ve posted to G-Fish, and I was starting to slow down before then, too.  Time to admit, it’s time for Gefilte Fish Out of Water to be retired.

It was my 2nd blog, after briefly doing an environmental blog on a stinky Yahoo 360 platform that nobody could see unless they joined, and I started it within a day or two of arriving in Israel.  There were so many new & crazy experiences being thrown at me, I’m so glad I had the dedication to chronicle them here.   

G-Fish helped me tell my stories to all my family & friends back home.  And now, I’m glad it will live in cyberspace indefinitely for those future queens googling “gay” AND “israel” AND “blog” etc. to find out what life might be like for them here, because they are considering making Aliyah.  Seriously, it is very gratifying to get random comments from gay Jews on this blog – men & women I don’t know, but who are searching for specialized information about gay life in Israel.  It’s a huge step what I did (making Aliyah), and I love that I’ve left a trail for men & women excited about taking the same step, and that I continue to help them through my stories’ echoes.  

I also had to get a farewell post up, so that the first thing people see wouldn’t be Helen Thomas’ broom hilda mug on my homepage for all eternity.  I was rightly incensed shen she made her anti-Semitic comments last spring, and I’m glad I posted my reaction to them.  But, G-Fish was never an issues-oriented blog.  It was always just about my new life, adjusting as an Oleh Chadash in Israel.  Helen was not respresentative of what G-Fish was all about, at all.  Deleting her post was one option, making a farewell post was another.  

There are so many stories to tell from my experiences between last May and now – everything from the huge steps I’m taking professionally here, to continued good times w/ friends here to Petey stories and random small stuff.  But, frankly – who has time for all that?  So, I’m just gonna post some pics & vids instead.  

If you’re LGBT and considering making Aliyah to Israel, just know that my experience so far has been great.  I’ve been here a year and a half and am succeeding in starting my own business, have moved into my own great apartment in Tel Aviv, and have had my cute dog Petey for almost a year now.  Still no boyfriend (or really, very much dating or sex, even) – but if you think you could change that, please leave your information in the comments, lol.  Love ya!  -S  

Newton (dog), Yossi, Racheli, Nir, Hilla, Angel (dog) - in our dogpark, Spiegel Park

 

Anna, Taco & Me (don't ask)

 

This is what my new website is going to look like ! (scottpiro.com)

 

Pete, after I left his harness on overnight, and he chewed through it (2nd time this happened).

 

This is the sunset I watch every day in the dog park. Can you believe this is my backyard?

 

Here is the last year and a half (since I made Aliyah) encapsulated in 3 pictures: 

Here I am happy, enjoying my great life in New York & Philly...

 

Me at JFK doing something totally crazy, moving to Israel only six weeks after I visited for the first time...

Me, a year and a half later, enjoying my life in Tel Aviv.

 

Check out my website scottpiro.com, which I expect to have up before the end of the year.  It will be mostly a professional site, showcasing my work in PR, social media strategy & implementation and copywriting.  But I’ll also have a smaller personal section on there, too.  

Shalom, Bitches !! !! !!



Helen Thomas is Racist and I Hope that Becomes Part of her Legacy
June 5, 2010, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Hey!, Identity | Tags: ,

Even if you’re not a Washington junkie, you might still know Helen Thomas.  She’s kind of famous, for being part of the White House press corps since before fire was invented.

Anyway, apparently she also feels that the Jews should, “get the hell out of Palestine,” and “go back to Poland and to Germany.”

Wow – let’s work to make this part of her Wikipedia entry, ‘mkay?

I learned about this story from the great blog, Jewlicious.



Like the Sands of the Hourglass…
June 5, 2010, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Amerijones, Feelings | Tags: ,

I don’t make a lot of phone calls home.  Skype’s free, but inconsistent w/ quality, and having to be tethered to the PC really takes the spontaneity out it.  Skype calls need to be planned, and if you or the other party doesn’t make the effort, they just don’t happen.

But I called my brother on Thursday because I needed something from him.  A client of mine has a system that forwards calls from an extension on their Boston phone number to my cell phone in Israel.  But it wasn’t working right, so I had asked the client to make an adjustment.  He did, and this is what I needed my brother to help me test.

Anyway, I reached him, and he helped me, but he didn’t have much time to talk.  He had moved into his new house the day before, and you know, there was *a lot* of stuff to do.

I felt very excited for him, but understood that he didn’t have a lot of time to talk.  I wanted to keep him on longer and have him tell me *everything*, but I felt like I kind of didn’t have that right.  We stay in touch, but neither one of works that hard at it.   I should really only speak for myself.

After the call, I thought – should I have been angry? (Such an important day in your life, and you didn’t even call to let me know?) Well, no – because speaking for  myself, there is more I could do to be better in touch.

Then, I got a little hard on myself: this was a monumental event in his life, and I almost missed it.  I reached him on the tail end of it, almost by accident.  I mean, I can’t live without seeing the series finale of LOST, but apparently I can live without talking to my brother, his wife or my niece for a month at a time.

Don’t hate on myself.  I have control over how much I call.  And if I want to feel I am more a part of my brother’s life, then I have to, you know, *be* more of a part of my brother’s life.



Spesh Delivery
June 5, 2010, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Cultural Differences, Just Sayin' | Tags:

Another quick one from a few months ago. 

I was running around doing pre-moving errands.  I had to keep stuffing things and digging them out of my pockets – keys, receipts, credit cards, etc.

I got home to find out I had lost my Teudat Zehut (*very* important ID card you’re supposed to carry at all times and need for all kinds of official stuff).

Kuh-rap!  Now I was gonna have to wait in beaurocracy zombie-death hell lines for a few light years to get it replaced.

Maybe someone who found it will put it in your mailbox.  I mean, what can anyone else do with your ID?

Score!  Thanks, Kind Stranger I Never Met.



Observant Movers
June 5, 2010, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Cultural Differences

Another quick post; this story’s from about two months ago.

You know you’re in Israel when….

…your movers bother to remove your Mezuzot for you so you can bring them to your next home.  I had been out buying supplies or something, so I didn’t see them do this.  But I got back and these were placed on a countertop for me to see and take with me.

These are little things I enjoy about living here.  Being in a culture where I am in the majority.  It just feels so nice how ingrained things like this are to everyone here, that even my movers would nonchalantly do this for me.  #win



Shotgun Pharoh
June 5, 2010, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Friends, Outside TLV, Yum | Tags:

To show you how behind on stories I am, this one’s about Pesach, which took place back in March.  So, I’ll zip right through it.

I’m not religious, and I’m always working.  So, when I didn’t receive any invitations this year for Seder like I did last year, I was totes nonplussed; I was like – great, an extra day to catch up on work. 

But the day before Pesach my friend Debra called about a work matter, and when she heard I would be alone on the holiday, she flew into action and got me invited to her friends Andy & Tanya’s Seder in Jerusalem.

It was a fabulous Seder!  One thing that was really special about it, was – OK, normally when you’re more than 1/2-way through the Haggadah (story of Passover + prayers to sing & say), you break to eat the meal, and then continue for a bit more after.  But for our Seder, we took another break: during the first half of the Seder, the super host Andy (who’s got *such* a fun personality!) announced that because the Haggadah doesn’t really get into the important story details or what really happened – the miracles God made that allowed the Jews to escape slavery in Egypt – we would get up from the table and act out a play for the kids (there were 6 kids at this Seder).

So, Andy, w/ his awesome personality, begins narrating the story.

One day, Moses' mother set him in a basket in the river...

...and then God spoke to Moses through the Burning Bush...

Anyway, when it came time for Pharoh to enter the story, - whoosh! wha- wait, whatsat! – Andy outfits me w/ headdress and neckware, and guess who’s Pharoh!

Anyway, you know what a ham I am, and I got totally into it – ordering the kids to make me sandwiches and do pushups.  It was hysterical.

Last thing I want to say here, is that we had four kinds of charoset on the Seder table.  One was a Turkish recipe with cardiman and ginger in it – yum!

I had a wonderful time and was so glad I was invited.  I made some new friends in Andy & Tanya, and also Debra’s husband Aaron.  Tanya’s family from the UK were wonderful, too.  A very belated, very heartfelt thank you, Debra!



From Rihanna to Flotilla
June 5, 2010, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Feelings, Hey!, Identity, Struggles | Tags: , ,

 

A lot can change in 24 hours.  Sunday night I got to watch Rihanna perform in Jafo’s Bloomfield Stadium, and she was magnificent.  The concert was part of a cool initiative called the Orange RockCorps.  To score a ticket you had to do four hours of community service or know my friend Beth and get given a ticket for doing nothing.  This was RiRi’s first time in Israel

I had a stupendous time at the show.  I almost didn’t make it!  Beth told me RiRi was performing at Ramat Gan Stadium.  I set out on my bike with plenty of time – dressed in “26-year-old drag.”  My friend Ashley told me that the RockCorps tickets were only for kids ages 16-26.  With bad lighting, sleep in your eyes and visual impairment, I can maybe appear 32-years-old; 26-y-o would be really pushing it (#understatement).  But I wore a baseball cap and little O.P. corduroy shorts and gave myself a fresh, clean shave. 

Google Maps on my BlackBerry got me there easily enough, and I realized the stadium (actually in Bnei Brak) was across from two skyscrapers where I had business meetings in the last few weeks.  I was feeling that “more has been revealed” satisfying feeling that (unknowingly at the time) those meetings had helped familiarize me with this location to help me find the concert. 

Except, major #Fail, b/c RiRi was not performing there at all.  She was performing at Bloomfield Stadium in Yafo, which is basically the southern tip of Tel Aviv.  Bnei Brak was like two towns over, north of Tel Aviv. 

 

Fortunately, this whole country is the size of a peanut, and RiRi is Diva enough to never start the show on time, and I made it to the correct stadium about :10 minutes before she went on. 

I passed for 26-years-old or, they just weren’t checking!  I had a ticket to stand on the floor, which was fine b/c it was very close up.  Even arriving as close to showtime as I did, I still was maybe 15 feet away from her when she came stage right.  It was like I was babysitting or 15,000 teenagers, but it was fine. 

Don’t you love it, when you remember to bring your camera and when you whip it out to take your first shot, you’re greeted with this message on the display:  “CHANGE THE BATTERY PACK.”  #Fail !!!   Why doesn’t the camera have a gauge that shows you battery strength as you go along, but instead tells you nothing before – “Hey, doufus – I’m done. Change me.”  #Fail !!!  BlackBerry pics had to suffice, mainly of the video monitor, b/c cam was not high quality enough to get good shots of RiRi directly, close as I was. 

 

Great show.  Of course, I’m gonna find all the ways she was derivative of Madonna, but she really turned it out and rocked hard.  It was really fun.  Since I’m building my own business, I work *A LOT*, and it’s a real challenge to make myself get out for social activities. Seeing a big act like RiRi feels tangible to me, like I can point to it and feel – See, I do stuff. 

Next day, late morning I see one of the new friends I’ve made from this crowd that’s really active on Twitter, Benji, tweet something like – “So sad, can’t stop watching the news.”  Part of me thinks Uh-oh, what?  , but  I’m swamped as usual w/ work, and I don’t pay full attention.  I can’t remember how long, but later that day the twitter chatter becomes loud enough that I realize something big has happened. 

I’m trying to remember now what the first coverage I read was like – was it the US and global press accusing Israel of a “massacre of peace activists” or was it links from the people I follow on Twitter, who told a different story – that the IDF soldiers were “brutally ambushed by the terrorists at sea“? 

The Ynet article really made me feel better – See, we’re not barbarians…we boarded the boat and *they* attacked *us* !!   In an interesting twist, right afrter reading that article, the next tweet I see in Tweetdeck is from comedian/actress/author/personality/singer Sandra Bernhard – who I have adored ever since the mid 80’s, when she seemingly appeared on Late Night w/ David Letterman every few weeks.  I remember thinking – Who *IS* this chick !?!  I don’t know if Sandra was out then (I certainly wasn’t), but I was captivated by the way she clearly marched to her own drummer and seemed so much more authentic and original than the celebrities I was accustomed to seeing. 

Anyway, so I’ve been a fan of hers for 25 years, and I read her tweet saying: 

 

Not mean spiritied.  Just a question – a *good* question.  But in this environment – when, AGAIN it seems the world is unifiyingly holding Israel to an unfair security & self-defense double-standard…and yes, I was probably taking on some of these critical attacks on Israel personally…because Sandra is influential (and Jewish) and many people pay attention to what she has to say, I didn’t want her question to go unanswered or manipulated for another person’s purposes or change the opinion of someone still  making up his/her mind up about what was still breaking news. 

So, I answered her over Twitter: 

 

And I included a hyperlink to the Ynet story I had read.  Then, I continued working.  I was still swamped, and flotilla or notilla, that hadn’t changed.  When I checked Tweetdeck a little later, I saw that Sandra had answered me.  While I had half-hoped she would, I certainly didn’t expect her to.  Anyway, here is our conversation: 

 

OK, so maybe it’s less of a conversation and really Sandra’s response to my tweet, and then my 3 replies to her, plus one re-tweet from my new friend @Jewlicious.  (But if you remove the 140-character limitation, then – yeah, it’s her response, then mine, then me forwarding something.) 

Anyway, I continued working, but of course that means checking both Facebook and Tweetdeck (and Atraf) every 5 seconds, and I came across a link to video posted by The Huffington Post, and it made Israel look just awful.  A British Al-Jazeera reporter is giving a report from the deck of the raided flotilla boat.  He mentions in his report that the flotilla was “carrying aid” when the “Israeli commandos descended upon it in International waters after surrounding it with ships from all sides” and mentions that on board the raided boat were “activists, parliamentarians, women, children and the elderly” and that “tens of people were  injured, and there were still sounds of live fire despite white flag having been raised.” 

I started feeling bad after watching this report.  Not just – Oh, shit, this is *Bad* for Israel, but more like self-doubt, like – Oh, shit is this who we are?  Are we barbarians?  Am I in denial when I say the world is being unfair in its condemnation of us for what transpired?  Are we really evil? 

Another report I read on HuffPo had a pundit calling the incident “Israel’s Kent State” and a “massacre” and referred to those on the boat as “activists.”  Head was starting to spin.  Were they activists delivering aid, or terrorists attacking soldiers with metal rods?  What was the truth ?? 

The HuffPo post was updated with video from the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) that showed the people attacking the soldiers when they first boarded the boat.  This did a lot to reassure me – both that we had not perpetrated a massacre, and that more balanced coverage was making it’s way to American media, if not Europe. 

Here is close-up of the same footage I found on the IDF’s YouTube channel: 

I felt even more reassured when I read my friend David Hazony’s report.  David is a writer and author on religion, Judaism, Israel, and the Middle East.  From his piece I learned that the flotilla had written a press release in advance about the attack and were able to send it to news media around the world as soon as the incident occured.  Premeditate much?  David’s piece talked about the need to win the media war via press releases and Twitter, and I popped a PR boner.  This is what I do, man !!!  Maybe this is the reason I am here in Israel – I’m supposed to offer my PR and communications expertise (all in mother-tongue English) to the Israeli government and IDF and help us win the media war the next time. 

I fired off a tweet to Sandra Bernhard, with a link to David’s piece.  Then, I went to the gym to get rid of some of this anxiety and fat.  But first, here are two exchanges with friends on Facebook.  But are friends I love.  One is Jewish, and she thanks me for “getting the truth out.”  The other is not Jewish, but he lived in Israel before and loves Israel.  But after the news coverage he saw, he had decided Israel and the IDF were in the wrong here, and he was condemning the IDF raid.  Can you see why this was very confusing and heartbreaking for me? 

 

  

I got my gym on.  As I opened my locker to shower after, I saw that Sandra Bernhard had replied to me on Twitter!  I was really happy about this.  Because our conversation did not devolve into argument, but remained kind; other people could be following it over Twitter and having their thoughts on the incident broadened, and Sandra and I found some common ground in the end.  Plus, I was able to get my starfuck on with a performer I have always enjoyed and admired. 

 

Cool, right?  Look, I didn’t know when I’d ever be talking to Sandra again, so I could not resist telling her about how I first became a fan.  It’s like when I met Debra Winger while working on the red carpet of the Gotham Independent Film Awards and got to tell her the scene in ‘Terms of Endearment’ where she says goodbye to her kids is my favorite moment of cinema ever.  I still didn’t get what Sandra meant about my response being disproportinate.  But whatevs.  This was still a cool thing on a lot of levels for me.  Headed to a cafe to work for a few hours.  Logged on and saw Sandra had responded! 

 

Then, when I get home, I found out she had asked me what I do for a living here in Israel.  Wow, I thought that was really nice. 

 

I could have asked her what she meant by that.  Israel is a democracy and all 7.1 million citizens have full rights and participate in government and society (not just the 5.6 million Jews), but it was almost 4am, and time for a few hours of sleep. 

It’s a couple of days later now, and I was happy to see more examples of US media coverage that I thought was fair.  Like, when Vice President Joe Biden appeared on Charlie Rose and defended Israel’s actions.  And then, this wonderful opinion piece by Charles Krauthammer

Almost finished, those of you who are still with me.  Saw this last night.  Superbly powerful parody/commentary of the Flotilla called “We Con the World” (like the 1985 USA for Africa single, “We Are the World”).  I think it’s brilliant and the creative force behind it, Caroline Glick, is my new hero.  Watch: 

Alright, it’s Shabbat, my dog is dying to get outside, and I’ve been writing this post for more than four hours.  Time to get cleaned up and head to Hilton Beach.  I just knew I had to do a long post about my reaction to this international incident, though.  Because I am an Israeli, but not a native one.  I’m an American, too, and most of my friends live in America.  America is more supportive of Israel than any other country, and American news media coverage of Israel is more balanced than most coverage in the world, which has a very anti-Israeli slant – maybe because the world views Israel as an illegitimate country who shouldn’t really be here at all.  From my unique perspective as an Oleh Chadash (new immigrant) living in Israel for less than a year and a half, I am in between worlds, in a way.  I live here.  But I read American news via the New York Times, and links to US news sources sent around on Twitter and Facebook.  I have friends in both countries.  I dunno, it occurred to me that my reaction to this event was probably not the same as the average Israeli, and I wanted to document it (for me) and share it – in case there are other Olim who can relate to parts of it. 

xo 

P.S. Here’s a good summary piece from NYT. 

P.P.S. Footnote: that I have a friend in New York named Kevin, who works as a professional drag queen.  His drag name? 

Flotilla DeBarge !!




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