Gefilte Fish Out of Water

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!


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!

Samaderemy’s Wedding
March 27, 2010, 7:38 pm
Filed under: Friends, Outside TLV | Tags:

Scotty P Israeli Inner Circle mainstay Yoda Jeremy and actress extraordinaire and friend Samadar tied the knot last Tuesday in Jerusalem.  It was a really fun party w/some of my closest friends.  And the affair was the most extravagent I’ve seen yet in Israel.  (The above image is from their wedding invitation – Jeremy drew it !!)

I got a ride w/ the Becker-Barkins, and my friends Leah and Rebecca.  The wedding was in a hotel called The Sequoia, which is on a Kibbutz.  There wasn’t an exact street address, but I typed the kibbutz addy into Google Maps on my BlackBerry, and it totes got us there!

I’m a little stressed at the moment, so my writing’s gonna suck for the next couple posts.  Rather than struggle w/ posting masterpieces, I just wanna get some new stuff up.  So, I kind of said all I really need to about this.  You get the gist.

OK, a few more things:

  • Jeremy’s speech was great.  He even gave our table of mostly Ulpan rejects students a shout-out.  And I love shout-outs !!!
  • Samadar sang a song for Jeremy – Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.  She has a beautiful singing voice.
  • Samadar’s family is part Yemenite, and there was a lot of, like, Middle Eastern music at the beginning of the party
  • This was the first wedding in Israel where we actually danced in a circle and did the hora and stuff (the other two I went to, we didn’t do this for some reason).  Is it more of a Diaspora Jewish tradition?  (Samadar’s mom is American.)
  • The desserts were insane!  Like four giant tables of different ones – my faves were this berry/merengue pie and this hot chocolate fondue stuff in a cup


Jeremy beams as he's walked down the aisle by Samadar's father and his bestie Aziz (visiting from Toronto)

The chuppah was alighted for the evening ceremony. White flowers abounded. It was beautiful, but it also reminded me of the way the sidewalk lit up in the "Billie Jean" video.

The room!

I pulled out all the prepster stops for this great new Facebook profile pic! Thanks, Anna.


Inneresting. Yemenite tradition? Peeps grabbed hold of Samadar's gown and lifted it up as they twirled around her. (She had another layer underneath, you pervs.)

Team "Route 425" Gets Down!

Think anyone'll notice if I smuggle one mini dessert out in my pants pocket?

Let’s Go Camping!
March 13, 2010, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Friends, Outside TLV | Tags:

Forgive me, Father, it’s been two weeks since my last post.

Two Fridays ago, I was slammed w/ mid-ramp up of  a PR campaign for a new client.  And last Friday, I went…..camPingYoda Jeremy and Samadar get married in ten days, so we did a weekend camping/hiking trip as a Bachelor Party weekend, minus the strippers and cocaine.

Kudos to Vice President of the Becker-Barkins Eric for putting the whole thing together.

We were a group of four: Jeremy, Eric, Itay and me.  We met in the morning, packed up, and then made a pit-stop on the highway to get some grub and plan the drive up.

Our second stop was in the town of Tiberias, where we ate lunch on a deck overlooking the Kinneret, a freshwater lake in the North and Israel’s most important water resource.  We enjoyed an awesome lunch at a restaurant called Decks.

When we got to our first choice campsite, Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve, we found out that the trails were already closed, even though it was only 1:00 p.m.  Thanks, Shabbat!

We could have still camped there, but we wanted to get a hike in first, so we went to another campsite – the Jordan River Peace Park.  You know what?  The parks were kind of self-segregated – this one had many more Arabs, and maybe that’s also why it wasn’t closed early for Shabbat?

We did our first “hike.”  The quotation marks are there, because although we chose a medium, 45-minute trail, we kept losing it and wound up basically walking in a circle that had some nice views, but was over before we knew it and not very challenging.  So, we broke out some beers (except me, who doesn’t drink) and talked about girls (except me, who’s gay).

Then we set up camp…next to the parking lot and bathrooms (and later we found out, in the direct aim of a stadium-sized klieg light).  We gathered firewood and Eric did his magic grilling us wings and hot dogs.

Itay had to go back to Tel Aviv, but Eric, Jeremy and I delighted in tripping out on our campfire, leading me to proclaim:


which I promptly tweeted.

Then our campfire converted to Judaism:

I got a headache from all the smoke, I think, so I went to bed early until I was awoken the next morning by Eric’s elephant cry-like snoring.

We headed back to Yehudiya and did our real hike.  More challenging – and more beautiful!

Lunched again in Tiberias on the way back.  Great time !!!   Northern Israel is really so pretty – much more green and hilly than the Center or South.  Hopefully, we’ll go camping again soon.

Here’s some video of our fire (which had temporarily gone out), coming back to life after we put new kindling and leaves on top of it.  (Sorry, it’s sideways).

Israeli Blogger’s Evening
December 29, 2009, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Identity, Outside TLV | Tags: ,

Saturday evening I went to an Israeli Blogger’s Evening outside of Tel Aviv in a town called Nes Tziona.  To me, it looked like a suburb.  Yeah, I think this was my first trip to the Israeli suburbs.  The homes were nice looking, but still made out of concrete with tile floors inside.  It appears these construction materials are not limited to apartments.  I think it’s because combined, they have a very cooling effect, which is appreciated in the summers.

I was late, but at least it’s because I was blogging.  I wanted to have a lot of new content up before the event, in case any of the other bloggers went to visit G-Fish.  I ended up stupidly fLYinG on my bicycle, in the street against traffic with no helmet, rushing to meet the bloggers of Cafe Liz and Apples & Honey at the central bus station , and kinda almost died once or twice.  Thankfully I didn’t, but I did miss my bus.  

When I walked in, the event’s speaker Jacob Share, who publishes two blogs including the popular job search blog Job Mob was already well into his presentation.  While I was stumbling around the neighborhood searching for the right home, I was pretty OK with how late I was and that I was missing the start of the presentation.  I didn’t have any particular expectations for what I might get out of the evening, and I was primarily going just to check it out – meet some nice writers and also to get out of Tel Aviv.

But my mood sort of fell a little when I got inside.  The conversation was about monetization and growing your personal brand.  These are interesting topics, but only marginally to me right now.  I wanted to be mixing it up and having conversations with new people.

But then there was a break, and the networking portion started.  Yay!  This was more of what I was hoping for.  I asked Jacob a question about self-hosting my own blog on WordPress, and talked with The Baroness Tapuzina, who had just gone through the same experience.  I talked with a few more bloggers including:

TchochkesTerror Finance (about how terrorism is financed – interesting!), Israel Restaurant ReviewI’ll Call BailaBlanche and Guy DesignsIsraeli KitchenA Mother in Israel and NRK le-israelim baolam ha-asakim (in Hebrew; about Israeli business culture).  There were a lot of food bloggers there!

Some of the bloggers I missed were: FoodbridgeThe View From HereOne Tired Ema, and Around the Island.

After the networking, we did a round robin, giving everyone a chance to talk a little about their blog.  I began to enjoy the evening more and more as it went on.  This continued into my sherut ride back to TLV with Jacob, Liz and Yael, and even my bike ride through TLV with Liz.

I’ve since given and received some link love, which has been very nice.  I would definitely participate in an evening like this again.  Thanks, Hannah, Miriam and Sarah!

Funny – she doesn’t look Druish !
December 14, 2009, 10:29 am
Filed under: Friends, Outside TLV | Tags: ,

It’s funny – one of the reasons I moved to Israel was because I have done very little traveling in my life up to this point, and I wanted to see/live someplace else besides NYC and suburban Philly.  I am a man who loves his routines, and so in New York I pretty much did the same things – work, gym, AA, coffee & movies w/ friends, volunteer work.  Repeat.  Occasionally, I would do something “special” like to go Great Adventure or visit Liebs down the shore in Margate (no, not that shore), and for holidays I would visit the fam in Philly.  Do you know I’m the only gay guy who ever lived in NYC (for 17 years) and never once went to Fire Island !?!  Go ahead and say it – pathetic.  It just never worked out; I didn’t wanna be a day tripper and have to catch the ferry back just as everyone was leaving the beach to go home and change for a night out, so I held out for an invite, and I got only two in all those years and both times the that weekend was bad for me.  Also, I’m not a great saver, so I never had enough funds of my own to plunk on a 1/4 share, so I just never went.  I told myself, Eh, at least I’m not over it…I’ll go next summer. But I never did.

Anyway, total digressage.  Sorry, for that.  So, I do this crazy thing and move 8,000 miles to Israel, where there’s the beautiful lush greenery of the Golan and Galeel and cool ancient ruins like in Caesaria…and all I ever do is stay in Tel Aviv.  I mean, when I was first here on vaca, I visited Eilat, Masada and Haifa.  And I’ve been to Jerusalem a few times.  But, I’m tellin’ ya – it’s pretty similar to how I lived in New York.  But you know what?  So what.  I fuckin’ love Tel Aviv.  Practically everything about it: the 24/7 aspect to it, the gays and hot men, the beach, the fragrant year-round blossoms, the dog culture; everything except how the fuckin drivers park on the goddamn sidewalks and in front of the curb cuts.

But still, I don’t want a repeat of having lived in one place a long time and never seen X, X, and X.  So, I was happy when my friends the Becker-Barkins invited me to join them on a day trip to Daliat El-Carmel, which is a Druze village about an hour north of Tel Aviv.  It’s a good place to go on Shabbat, because Druze ain’t Jews, and so shiz is actually open.  Unfortch we had crap weather, so all we did really was grab lunch, walk around a few shops and head back.  But so what – you still got a feel for the little village, and how its main drag looked quaint and so different from what I’m used to in Tel Aviv.

Everybody loves the Druze, Anna said.  They’re like the Switzerland of Israel.

Apparently, the village is known for a multitude of shops with cheesy dogs-playing-poker/ready-made cheap art that Israelis on a budget pick up to decorate their homes.

Anyway, the whole trip was maybe 3 hours, and we tacked on a cafe stop back in TLV.  Good times.  Petey was crated by himself for 4.5 hours and didn’t have an accident!

Next up: Nazareth on Christmas.

The Becker-Barkins