National Yomim

IMG_4183Last week was Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) and today is Yom HaZicharon (Memorial Day to honor and remember those killed while serving in the army and by terrorists). For each day, sirens wail across the country for a minute. Literally everything comes to a standstill (unless you’re not a Zionirst in which case you on Yom HaZicharon, you davka continue with your day during the sirens).  Buses, cars and trucks all stop and engines are turned off.  Everyone stops whatever they are doing. Everyone stands motionless and bows their head. The nursery across the street from me that is filled with kids playing outside all day is suddenly quiet. The barking dogs and screeching cats in my neighborhood cannot be heard.

I find it an extraordinary and powerful experience for the nation to collectively stop, remember, and honor. It’s serious and respectful. War and terrorism are part of everyone’s lives here. There’s collective grief, trauma and sorrow that are reflected upon, discussed and processed as a nation on these days via events, social media, news, and socially from the political right and left, religious and secular, Zionist and anti-Zionist, Arab and Jewish (who fits into which categories is not always neatly delineated). Continue reading

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Fouta: Lost in Translation

A fouta by Balthazar and Rose

A fouta by Balthazar and Rose

Before moving here, I bought some beautiful foutas from a neighbor in Los Angeles. Foutas are Tunisian sarongs that have evolved to to become fashionable beach towels/scarves/throws. They’re often striped with fringes on the ends. I bought a few of them colored with shades of blues and white stripes.

I would often take a fouta with me to use at the pool. I happened to be at the pool one day when it was quite busy with lots of religious women.

Tallit. c/o Google images

Tallit. c/o Google images

While drying myself off in the locker room with my fouta towel, I noticed a few people staring at me.After a few minutes, I realized that my fouta looks A LOT like a tallit (prayer shawl). I assume they were horrified at what I appeared to be doing. My pool towel is now just ordinary, plain, bulky and a single-color.

Green and Other Bikes

Tel-o-fun

Photo c/o Google images

After living in Los Angeles for many years, I love living in a city where I do not need a car! My main forms of transportation are by foot, communal city bikes and bus. The communal city bikes, Tel-O-Fun, are neon green bikes dotting corners throughout the city.  They’re clunky, squeaky and I love them because they are everywhere and I don’t have to worry about it getting stolen since they belong to…everyone! Though they aren’t as cool or as fast as the electric bikes that many more people ride (and are a threat to the green bike system!).

Regarding bikes: Initially, I didn’t understand at first why most bike lanes are ON the SIDEWALK! (mind you, this doesn’t include all of the scooters that are parked on the sidewalks and seem to also take liberty to drive on the sidewalks at times).

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Newman or Noiman?

FullSizeRender(236)Upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, I was greeted by a host with a large sign for olim (new immigrants), all of whom were younger than me. I expected hoorays but most people were just absorbed in their phones and pretty non-chalant about the whole situation. We were taken to an office where we started to fill out paperwork to get an Israeli ID card and a special ID for new immigrants. That’s when I had my first dilemma:

What’s your last name? Newman, I answered.
Ok, what is it? Noiman? No, Newman. How do you spell that?
Ummm, I don’t know.
(conversation between people). Ok, so it’s nun-yud-vav.
OK. And that is how you spell Newman in Hebrew?
Yes but you could (or should?) be Noiman which is Nun-vav-yud.
Yes, but I’m NEWman. OK, so you can spell it different ways-what do you prefer? Continue reading