Gefilte Fish Out of Water

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

Wild & Crazy Comedy


A couple of weeks ago, my friend Leah and I rode a sherut to Jerusalem to see a sketch comedy & improv show by a new English-speaking group called Hahafuch. (Join their Facebook group!) 


Cafe Afuch is a type of hot coffee drink in Israel.  It means “upside down coffee,” but it’s basically just a cappuccino.  So, Hahafuch is a play on words on that – like “haha funny” – get it? 

Anyway, the show wasn’t held in a bar or club like we expected.  It was held in the theater of an old “absorbsion center” for American Olim (place for new immigrants in Israel).  Sad story.  The place used to be thriving, but the owners lost everything thanks to Bernie Madoff.  For realz.  #sad  Anyway, after the sherut, Leah and I hopped in a taxi, and we were kind of like WTF when it dropped us off on a quiet, residential street.  We were on the right path, b/c we saw a Hahafuch sign, but we were like, climbing over fences and walking past abandonded buildings and whatnot.  I was ready to start making Friday the 13th/Jason noises (ch-ch-ch-ch…kill-kill-kill-kill), but finally we came upon the theater, and all was normal again.  We paid for tickets and entered an already packed theater, as the show had already started.  My friend Debra had saved us seats. 

The first act was improv.  Some very funny stuff, with contributions from the audience and without a net for the performers. 

Then, how much did I love the fact that two very talented women came out and did an acoustic set of Madonna’s 1999 top 20 hit (and one of my favorites), Beautiful Stranger!  Honestly, this made the whole trip worthwhile on its own. 

After intermission, the performances switched to sketch comedy.  We liked this even better!  Some *very* funny stuff!  Like this sketch, “Benyamin Netanyahu’s Speech as Translated by a Struggling First-Year Ulpan Student.”  Benji Lovitt played Netanyahu.  Benji is part of this social media savvy Israeli crowd of mostly Olim I’m getting to know on Twitter.  Benji was the straight guy in this sketch, doing a really authentic and kinda angry/passionate Netanyahu.  The student would translate a few sentences right, and then botch something to comedic effect.  (Like you can imagine Netanyahu was talking about keeping Jerusalem our undividied capital, and the student would say something obviously wrong, like, “So we can have more onions!”  Then, Bibi would give him an awesome stink-eye, and yell the word in Hebrew again, and the poor student would repeat it incorrectly again, making it worse (“Onions!”) 



Another sketch I really enjoyed was one called “Aliyahonics Anonymous.”  It was a bunch of Olim like me bitching about the often incredulous and rude behavior from native Israelis directed at immigrants. 

Here’s a shot from a “Weekend Update” style segment, complete w/ video still shots on a screen for added effect. 


Here’s two funny videos the group prepared in advance to add to the show as multi-media elements.  This first one’s a travel commercial spoof about taking a trip to the “real” Israel, where Israelis try and make tourists look like “friars” (suckers). 

This one’s sort of a “man on the street” style news package segment, making fun of Israeli’s without their consent, in the style of old school Letterman, or Billy Eichner’s Creation Nation

[Damn, sidebar!  Billy Eichner is just so damn funny !!] 

Anyway, so is Hahafuch, and I will be going back to their next show – and trying to get my friend Anna Becker Barkin to audition for them!

Random Israeli Asscrack
March 13, 2010, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Cultural Differences | Tags:

I’ve blogged about it before – there is entirely too much asscrack on display in this country.  It’s not just the contstruction workers and Britney wannabes.  This picture comes from…..[wait for it]…..a waiter at the nice (!!)restaurant we went to on our camping trip.  Excuse me, Miss, would you like some fresh asscrack sprinkled on your salad?

I guess things really do happen in threes.  B/c while I’m usually way too slow to get the shot or the BB camera’s too inferior to make it a clear one, I got two more asscrack shots this week.  It was literally raining asscrack !!!

Pants on the Ground - Israeli Chick Edition. Maybe she had no pockets and need a conveniently reachable place to put her cell phone? If so, at least put it on vibrate...

Kids - you sit still and be quiet, or we will turn this asscrack around and go home right now !!!

January 16, 2010, 9:28 am
Filed under: Cultural Differences | Tags: ,

Lame post.  But I’m about to do a ton of them, and I decided to include this before wiping these pics off my hard drive.   In Israel, New Year’s Eve isn’t nearly the big deal that it is in the U.S. , Europe, Latin America and elsewhere.  That’s because in Israel we already have our own new year, Rosh Hashana.  January 1 isn’t even a holiday here.

But, it’s not like Israelis don’t like an excuse to party (plus, our Jewish calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar, is really only used for religious holiday observances and for official business by the State of Israel; practically speaking, we all use the Gregorian calendar that the whole world observes).

Who the eff is this Sylvester guy anyway?  Not such a cool guy for the Jews, actually.  He was a Roman pope in the fourth century A.D., who passed a ton of anti-Semitic legislation and forbid us from living in Jerusalem.  Yay!  But whatevs, apparently German speaking countries and Poland also use this term, and the reason why we do, too, probably has to do with early waves of European immigration to Israel.

That’s about it.  I went to BEEF, which is this pretty cool, weekly gay party with a leather theme.  But I had my new BlackBerry set to “BlackBerry Time” (instead of “network time”), and it turned out to be 15 minutes slow.  I was running late, and I thought I’d arrived just before midnight.  When it passed 12:00, I asked a friend, Wow, I know it’s not a huge deal, here, but there’s not even a countdown? (b/c the night did have a special New Year’s theme with streamers, etc).  My friend was like, Scott, duh – it’s 12:20 right now! #FAIL

Anyway, no biggie.  Here’s some more pics:

This was some wannabe, trying to break David Blane's record for being suspended in a block of ice

This looked really cool. Hard to tell from the BBerry pic, but it was a "party bus," with DJ, disco lights, and dancing revellers inside. Had a huge crowd of onlookers around it. Did look really fun inside.

חנוכה vs. Christmas
December 13, 2009, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Amerijones, Cultural Differences, Published Columns | Tags: , ,

New column is up now at iGoogledIsrael.  Imagine a world where Christmas gets the token nod instead of Hanukkah.  Plus: how to still get good presents from family in the U.S. when you’re living in Israel.

Kiss, kiss.

Sloppy Seconds
December 12, 2009, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Cultural Differences, Feelings, Identity, Just Sayin' | Tags: , ,

So, it’s Hanukkah right now, but the thing is – this ain’t my first time at the rodeo Hanukkah in Israel.  When I arrived here (ironically on Xmas) last year it was the 6th night of Hanukkah.  So, as the giant menorahs – or as they’re called here, Hannukiot – go up in the public places and powdered jelly donuts (a tradition for Hanukkah, here in Israel) are sold every place else, this is not new for me; it is something I have seen before.  And this is a very new and very odd feeling for me.

You see, up until now, everything has been new: first Purim, first Pesach, first Lag B’Omer, first White Night, first Tisha B’Av, first Sukkot, etc.  And every new cultural aspect that came with the holiday – from giant Hannukiot and all the donuts everywhere for Hanukkah, to the bread products in supermarkets covered up for Pesach like a crime scene, to drunk Frumies wearing Fred Flintstone grand poobah costumes falling down on Purim, to people dining outside in cafés underneath sukkahs – was a novelty.  This year, none of it will be.

Now, that’s not exactly true.  My first trip to Israel ended January 9, and I didn’t make Aliyah until March 1, so….I’ve never been here for February at all.  And, I was home in America for the biggies Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, so I’ll get to experience those in Israel for the first time in 2010.

But the majority of rites of passage (like how in America, the Valentine’s stuff goes up the day after New Years, then St. Patty’s, then Easter, then baseball season starts, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day-July 4th-Labor Day, Back-to-School, Halloween, NFL season, etc…) I’ll have been through once before here already.  And without novelty, you have…..reality?

Not that any of this is bad.  I didn’t have Liron and Danny and Felicia and Anna and Eric and Leah and PETEY!!! and iGoogledIsrael and my apartment and MY LIFE here.  The marking of rituals and comparison with one year ago provides a wonderful opportunity for me to see growth and changes in my life since moving here and reflect on them.

But it’s not as simple as novelty anymore; I won’t have that to coast on – for lack of a better way to articulate it.  To continue to be meaningful, my life here must continue to evolve and deepen and take root.  And it is!  There’s on-camera talent work for coming up in 2010, hopefully more creative and marketing writing work, a lot of firsts for Petey, hopefully a boyfriend and who knows what else?  It is just a bit of an odd sensation to watch the yearly rituals and changes happen around me, and them not being completely new anymore.    I can’t say it any better than that, it’s like Aliyah vertigo or something.