It Happened In Israel

Chanukah Hanukkah Is Almost Here

Shalom Y’All:

It’s been almost four months since we made aliyah, but it seems like years.

During this time In Israel we bought a new car, a new stovetop,  a new TV, and various small appliances which we should have bought in the States.

We’ve prayed in  a number of different synagogues, seen an excellent play in English, been invited to a Shabbat meal with two couples we did not know before, attended an Israeli wedding, and celebrated  the High Holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah here.

Despite the fact that the neighborhood we live in has both religious and secular residents, there were few cars on the street on Rosh Hashanah and no cars at all on Yom Kippur. In fact, on Yom Kippur, many kids ride their bikes on the streets throughout Israel since the streets are free of vehicles. On Sukkot, many food establishments have their own succahs and it is very interesting to see multiple sukkot on streets with restaurants. Jerusalem and many other cities have large public sukkot featuring free entertainment. There is a festive holiday atmosphere in Israel throughout Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

We’ve also spent loads of time filing out forms, including those required to: open a bank account and a checking account,  buy a car, obtain an Israeli Driver’s license-which requires multiple completed forms, an eye test , at least one driving lesson and a driving test, even though we have American licenses – obtain temporary Israeli passports issued after being in Israel for at least three months, but less than a year.

I also attend an Ulpan (one run by the City of Jerusalem) three days a week from 8:30 AM (everything begins early in Israel) to 1 PM. The Ulpan is a school for learning the Hebrew language. The government pays for the first 500 hours of instruction, which, at three days a week, is about ten months. The school administrator tests every student before she assigns them to a class. Those with no knowledge of Hebrew are assigned to a class which meets five days a week, while those with fairly good Hebrew skills attend only twice a week. The rest are three day a weekers. While instruction is in Hebrew, there is, in my humble opinion, too much of an emphasis on grammar. Too little time is spent on conversation. This may be because the classes are too large to engage in meaningful conversation.

The classes composition is like a mini UN. My class has a number of French speaking students from France, a Spanish and Portuguese speaking student from Brazil, English speakers from the United States, a Danish student, an Australian, a Canadian and other students whose origins I do not know since they are new.

It’s getting cool in Jerusalem, although it’s still much warmer in the southern part of the country.  Somehow, I neglected to take everyday turtlenecks with me and I have yet to find a store that sells them. Shipping them from America is very expensive, as the cost of shipping often exceeds the cost of the purchase. The only thing to do is to wait until someone I know visits Israel and is willing to bring a few items with them for me. It seems Israelis do not wear turtlenecks, although I’m not sure why. Correction: I have been told of a store that sells turtlenecks in Geula, a religious neighborhood in Jerusalem.

On a more serious note, there is a slight undercurrent of anxiety in the country due to the  Arab violence. While the threat is real, statistically the probability of any particular person getting hurt is much much less than the chances of getting hurt in an auto accident. Still, it’s unnerving and people at bus stops, for example, try to sit or stand with their backs to the wall. It’s most unfortunate that the incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Isis has created a situation where young Arabs are led to believe that stabbing and killing a Jew is somehow defending Jerusalem for Islam and a desirable act. Building additional barriers around Jerusalem and increased intelligence have helped curb the violence here and the majority of the incidents are now taking place in the territories.  But, hopefully, this too shall pass. In the meantime, Jews are just a tad more careful and those licensed to carry firearms are increasingly doing so.

On a brighter note, Chanukah Hanukkah begins in three weeks. Here are some unique Chanukah shirts and gifts:

Make Latkes Chanukah T-Shirt

Funny Latkes Chanukah t Shirt

Hanukkah Lights Hooded Sweatshirt

Funny Hanukkah Lites Hoodie

Real Men Make Latkes Chanukah Tank Top

It takes a Real Man to Make a Perfect Hanukkah Latke

Oy To The World Funny Jewish Zip Hoodie

Funny Hanukkah Hoodie and Oh So True.

These shirts and hoodies come in many sizes, styles and colors. Buy one for yourself or give them as Chanukah gifts. See the entire collection at JewTee’s Chanukah Hanukkah Shirts and Gifts.

Categories: Aliya, aliyah, Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish T Shirts and Gifts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Memorial Day and Independence Day

Shalom:

Beginning Sunday night, May 4, through Tuesday evening, May 6, Israelis experienced a whirlwind of emotions. On these two days, Israelis celebrated Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day and Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day.

While America also celebrates Memorial Day and Independence Day, Israeli Memorial Day is very different day than Memorial Day in America. Independence Day celebrations are much more similar.

In America, Memorial Day weekend, the last weekend of May, marks the start of summer and is a weekend of sales, barbecues, parades, and other fun activities. The Indianapolis 500 is held the day before Memorial Day, Sunday , as is the Coca Cola 600 stock car race.

On Monday, Memorial Day, the day Americans are supposed to commemorate those who died while serving in the U.S. military service, some people visit cemeteries and memorials honoring those who died defending the country. Parades featuring military marching bands, servicemen and vehicles, are held in many cities throughout the U.S. The flag is flown at half-staff till noon and raised to full staff for the rest of the day. The National Memorial Day concert is held on the west lawn of the US Capitol. Also, traditionally, the President of the United States lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and delivers a speech in remembrance of those who died serving their country, although sometimes Presidents have asked their Vice Presidents to fulfill this duty. Other Americans simply barbecue, go to the beach, or otherwise enjoy the day.

Independence Day, July 4, is a totally separate holiday and not connected in anyway to Memorial or Veteran’s Day.

Contrast this with the Israeli celebrations of their Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial day, begins at sundown and ends at sundown the following day, as do all major Jewish Holidays. While Yom Hazikaron has been traditionally dedicated to the remembrance of fallen soldiers, those civilians killed in terrorist attacks are now also included.  

At 8PM, on the night of Yom Hazikaron, a one minute siren is sounded throughout the country to mark the beginning of the Israel’s Day of Remembrance ceremonies. All are requested to stand still in silence as the siren sounds. Many religious Jews say prayers for the fallen. The official ceremony marking the beginning of the day is held at that time at the Western Wall. The Israeli Flag is lowered to half-staff.  A muffled trumpet plays taps. A candle lighting ceremony with speeches honoring the fallen is held at the Western Wall with the Israeli President, Army Chief of Staff, and family members of the slain in attendance. Other solemn gatherings are held throughout the country.

The next morning, a second siren, lasting for two minutes is sounded at 11 A.M. Again, all are requested to stand still in silence for the duration of the siren. This second siren marks the beginning of the official ceremonies at all military cemeteries throughout the country. The main service is held at the military cemetery on Har Hertzl in Jerusalem. Families of the fallen, high level government representatives and members of the public are in attendance.

Memorial ceremonies throughout the country are attended by the families of the fallen, public figures and representatives of the government, police, security forces, and the public. The central service is held at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. Special prayers are said and public figures give speeches remembering the fallen and praising their sacrifice. The ceremonies often end with a military gun salute.

Throughout the day, the media broadcasts stories about those who died and their heroic acts and interviews with families of the slain. The music played befits the day. Many stores are closed and the day is a somber one.

At 1 PM a service is held at Mt Hertzl in memory of victims of terrorist acts.

At about 8PM, the torch-lighting ceremony at Mt. Herzl is the closing event of Memorial Day, and the opening ceremony of Israel Independence Day. The Israeli flag is returned to full staff and the festivities begin.

Israeli communities host their own Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, Israeli Independence day celebrations.

In Bet Shemesh, at one synagogue, the end of Yom Hazikaron was marked by short student readings of a number of biographies of fallen soldiers and civilians killed by terrorist acts. As the bios were read, the person’s picture was projected on the outside synagogue wall. Many in the audience were brought to tears.

At the conclusion of the readings, students performed a flag dance, signaling the end of Memorial day and the start of Independence day. Special Independence Day services were held in the synagogue including responsive Hebrew reading, a very long Shofar blast, acknowledgment of the Lord’s sovereignty  and a wish for Jerusalem to be brought to its full glory. At the conclusion of the services, free falafel was distributed to those in attendance.

Yom Hazikaron leads Into  Yom Haatmaut

Truly Meaningful.

That night, Bet Shemesh also held a large free concert highlighting the Gat Brothers and Eyal Golan, a very well known Israeli singer.

Gat Brothers in Bet Shemesh

Hassidic Gat Brothers Sing Simon and Garfunkel

Festivities also took place at the Western Wall, other parts of Jerusalem, and in cities and communities throughout  the country. Fireworks were visible throughout Jerusalem, Tel Aviv  and the rest of the country, as was community dancing.

That night and the next day the smell of barbecues permeated the air. Many went to beaches and parks to do the grill thing.

The Memorial Day of solidarity and solemnity, which pays tribute to the fallen, makes the Independence Day celebration immediately following it much more meaningful and joyous. People understand that you cannot have freedom and independence without the sacrifice of the brave.

Freedom is not free.

 

Categories: Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jewish, Yom Haatzmaut, Yom Hazikaron | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Another “It Happened In Israel” Moment- The Makuya

Strolling down Ben Yehuda, a pedestrian mall in Jerusalem, we heard music and saw a crowd gathered. Ever curious, we walked closer and noticed a big banner that said, “The 63rd Makuyka Pilgrimage to Israel.” Of course, we had no idea who the Makuya were. We saw a group of people with Japanese features waving Japanese and Israeli flags and singing a Hebrew song. We approached a young woman who spoke a little English, who informed us they are a group of Japanese Christians who are very supportive of the State of Israel. Here are a few photos:

Welcome Friends

Shalom Chaverim!

Shalom Friends

Welcome Friends

The Makuyas sang several Hebrew songs and danced with Israelis who were gathered around.

After we got back to our computers, we, of course, did a Wikipedia search on Makuya.  We discovered that Makuya   is a religious movement in Japan which started in 1948. Mayuka is the Japanese equivalent of  “Holy Tabernacle,”  the portable structure carried by the Israelites which served as the focus of the Lord’s interaction with the Jews.    The Mayukas believe in living according to the Bible and the original gospel of the early Hebraic Christians. They stress the importance of the Divine Presence in everyday life. They are concerned not just with individual salvation, but with the spiritual restoration of each nation and group. They do not proselytize, and believe in religious tolerance and coexistence.  They consider themselves an  inclusive movement,  rather than a sect.

Unlike other Christians, the Makuya’s symbol is not a cross, but a seven branch menorah, which they say emphasizes hope rather than suffering. They believe that the establishment of the State of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem were fulfillments of Biblical prophesies and so are fervent supporters of Israel and the Jewish people. The Makuyas send their youth to Kibbutzim and make pilgrimages to Jerusalem. They have held pro Israel demonstrations in Japan and have argued Israel’s case at the United Nations.

The Makuyas have about 100 branches throughout the world, and while the exact number of their followers is unknown, their monthly magazine has about 300, 000 subscribers.

Who knew?

Categories: Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Makuya | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

It Happened In Israel The “Stolen” Car

Shalom Y’All:

Here’s another It Happened in Israel story:

Since Stan and Fran like to explore all parts of Israel, they decided to rent a car for entire six month period of their stay in Israel. They had previously rented cars In Israel and found the cars provided by most of the major car rental companies were not well maintained, both cosmetically and internally.

This year’s rental began the same way with the first car returned because the idler was too weak. The next car they got had lots of miles under its hood, was not particularly clean, but ran well initially, before it started shaking.

One Thursday evening Fran and Stan decided to go out to eat in Jerusalem and then go to a comedy club with an English-speaking show. They decided to go again to a restaurant they had been to earlier in the week because the food was good and the service fairly quick. The restaurant was located off a major intersection.

They found a spot close to the restaurant, and had another enjoyable meal. They left the restaurant and set out to retrieve the car to proceed to the club. Since the car did not have a remote control, they were unable to signal it. So they walked to where they remembered leaving the car, but alas, it was not there. They walked up and down the block several times and looked across the street. The car was nowhere to be seen.

Slightly panicky, Stan called the car company from which they had rented. The car company told them to get to a police station, which was about 20 minutes away by car, right away. A police car happened to driving down the street on which they were standing, so they flagged the car. The officers told them to call 100 to report the theft and drove away.

Stan called 100 and told them the details of the theft. They instructed him to go to any police station within the next 12 hours to file a report, but they assured him that the theft was now in the computer.

Stan called the car company and told them he had reported the theft to the police and that it was now in the computer. The car company took his phone number and assured him they would call him back.

So Stan and Fran waited. Luckily for them there was a shopping mall just across the street, so they waited there. While they were waiting, Stan compiled a list of all the things that had been in the car. Fran was especially upset about her bridge camera which she had foolishly left in the car. Stan bemoaned the loss of the fresh fruits he had purchased earlier in the day, especially the strawberries. They also called their daughter, Sarah, at whose house they were staying, who advised them to go to the comedy show and take the bus home afterwards.

Stan and Fran decided not to go to the show, but to wait for the car company’s return call. They waited and waited. After about two hours and no word from the car company, they decided to give it up and return to Bet Shemesh, the city in which they were staying, which is about 35 minutes by car from where they were.

First they called their daughter, Sarah, in Bet Shemesh. Their son-in-law, Danny, offered to pick them up, but by the time he would get there they could already be home. Sarah recommended a car service which, for 150 NIS, ($43), would take them door to door. Stan called the company, but it had no cars available. So they decided to take a bus to the central bus station and from there catch a bus to Bet Shemesh.

The bus to the Central bus station came after about 15 minutes. That cost them 7 NIS. They had to cross over a grassy area to catch the next bus and noticed a homeless man warming himself next to a fire he had constructed in an area close by. That was heart warming.

The bus to Bet Shemesh came about 10 minutes later and cost 16 NIS. While on the bus, Stan decided to call the car company to ask why he had not heard from them. They responded that they were unable to do anything until they got a copy of the police report. When Stan told them the Police said the report was in the system, they explained that they needed a physical copy of the report filed at a Police Station. So Stan and Fran decided to go to the Bet Shemesh Police station immediately after arriving at their daughter’s house. (Incidentally, in Israel all police officers are part of the same police force-i.e. the police are a national force. So the report does not have to be filed in the same city where the crime took place.) Shortly after this conversation, Stan’s phone died. It had heard enough.

Stan and Fran arrived at Sarah’s home about 10:30 P.M. Danny volunteered to take them to the Bet Shemesh police station to help with the language barrier. The first officer they encountered was very rude, but he directed them to an office to wait for another officer who would prepare the report. A young lady appeared, took them all into an office, and prepared a hand written report of the theft and the possessions left in the car, including the strawberries.

The officer was incredulous that Stan and Fran had come to the Bet Shemesh Police Station to file the report, since there was a police station about a minute’s walk from the block from where the car had been stolen. She was also puzzled that the theft occurred on a well lit block full of people. She was efficient, personable and had a good sense of humor. She explained that, although she was preparing the report, it still had to be entered into the computer and sent to the Jerusalem Police Station close to where the car had been stolen. This would probably happen overnight.

When they got back home,Danny urged them to call the car company to let them know the police report would be in the system early the next day. When Stan called using Fran’s cell phone, the woman on the phone shouted, “We found it. We found it.” They said the car had been found very close to where it was reported stolen and asked Stan to pick it up then. It was now 11:30 P.M. They said they had tried to call Stan’s phone earlier, but there was no answer.

Danny offered to drive Stan to Jerusalem to pick up the car, but Danny had to go to leave for work early the next morning. Since the round trip to Jerusalem would mean coming home well after midnight, Stan explained to the car company that he could not pick up the car now, as he was in Bet Shemesh. The car company said they would send an employee to Sarah’s house in Bet Shemesh to pick up the keys and that employee would then drive the car to Bet Shemesh early the next morning.

After a night spent reassuring each other that the car really had been parked where they thought it had been, Stan got up early to await the arrival of the car. Meanwhile, the car company’s office in Bet Shemesh called to say the car was parked at their office and would be delivered to Sarah’s house within the next half hour. Stan waited and waited.

After about an hour, he called the car rental company’s headquarters office at the Tel Aviv airport and was told,” The car’s at our Jerusalem office. Come and empty it. We’ve cancelled your contract and will pay you any money due.” They claimed it cost them too much in manpower (5 employees) to investigate the”theft” and find the car and that Fran and Stan were no longer welcome as renters. They also said they could not empty the car themselves and send its contents to Bet Shemesh since that would make them open to charges of stealing some possessions. Furthermore, since it was Friday, the car rental office in Jerusalem was closing at 1:30 P.M.

Stan quickly took a cab to a small car rental office in Bet Shemesh and rented another car. He returned, picked up Fran and together they drove to Jerusalem to empty the car. When they finally found the car rental office (the address given did not match the actual location), they discovered that the car’s contents had already been emptied into bags which were waiting for them in an office. They searched the car anyway and found a few additional items which the rental company had missed. They also obtained the address where the car had been found.

Like perpetrators returning to the scene of a crime, Fran and Stan drove to the place from which they thought their car had been stolen.  They then walked from there to where it had been found. Lo and behold, it was just across the main intersection from where they thought they had parked it. It turns out they were so sure where they had parked that they had checked only two of the four intersecting streets.  They had never bothered to check the other two.

They drove home a bit chagrined and wondering if they were”losing it.” But they decided the problem was that they had recently eaten at the same restaurant and simply remembered the previous parking spot, rather than the current one.

This story bothers me. Distraught tourists in a foreign country call their car rental company and report their car stolen. Shouldn’t the company’s first response be to tell the tourists to check all four intersecting blocks to make sure they did not simply forgot where they had parked? Shouldn’t the police have told them the same thing? Since most Israeli rental cars have LoJack like sensors, why didn’t the car company activate them immediately? Why didn’t the car company tell them a Police station was just up the block , instead of advising them to go to a far away station? Finally, I am amazed at the rude behavior of the rental company. I would reveal the name of the company, but Stan and Fran are still deciding whether to write to its Chief executive to file a complaint.

Incidentally, the strawberries were still good.

The morale of this story: Always write down or photograph where you park your car, especially when you’re in a foreign country. Don’t call the cops unless you’ve checked all streets intersecting the street on which you thought you parked. And finally, don’t eat in the same restaurant twice in the same week unless it has its own small parking lot.

To express my appreciation to the manager of the car rental company for a job well done, I’ve decided to dedicate this t shirt design to him:

If Only You Had A Brain Shirts

Just think, if only you could.

 

Categories: Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jewish, Jewish Blog | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

It Happened In Israel The Restaurant Tip

Shalom Y’all:

With this post, I am starting a series called, “It Happened In Israel.” This series will feature events which actually happened to an American couple who decided to spend six months in Israel to see if living in Israel would be an option once they retired. All the events are real. Only names have been changed.

I’ll call the male Stan and the female Fran.

Stan and Fran have just finished eating in a new Mexican restaurant in Efrat, a restaurant so new that it doesn’t have printed menus yet. The menu selections and prices are written on a chalkboard on a restaurant wall.

An English-speaking couple with their daughter is sitting a table away from them. The husband, a big burly guy, is wearing an Israeli Police Officer’s uniform and a holstered gun.

The waitress brings Stan and Fran the bill. As they are looking it over, the waitress returns and takes the bill from them, saying it is not their bill. She then brings another bill. This one is for about 20% of what the charge should have been. They call the waitress back and explain that this too is not their bill. The waitress takes the bill and finally returns with the correct bill.

Stan hands her his credit card for the charges. He also tells her to put her 20 NIS tip on the card. “I can’t do that,” she says.

So Stan hands her a 50 NIS bill. The waitress responds, “I don’t have any change.”

Stan and Fran start looking in wallets and pocketbooks. They don’t have any smaller bills and between the two of them only manage to find 8 NIS.

“This is not fair,” Fran says loudly. “We can’t leave such a small tip.”

“It’s OK,” said the waitress. “Don’t worry.”

Suddenly the Police Officer walks over to Stan and Fran’s table, hands them 8 NIS, and tells them to return the money to charity.

So Fran and Stan end up leaving the waitress 16 NIS, less than the 20 they had intended to give her, but double the amount the waitress would have gotten had the Officer not contributed.

Only in Israel.

Categories: Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jewish, Jewish Blog | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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