Friday, September 30, 2011

POSTCARD #3 SEPTEMBER 18 -26, 2011

same view good as "old"!
View from our bedroom 
Never a dull moment when owning property in this country. Jerusalem stone walls are very old and when a careless builder was working on the other side of our garden wall, he made a hole and numerous cracks in our wall. The city told him he had to fix it by a certain date or he would be fined every day thereafter, thus he finally showed up today.  We are not sure what plants will survive! By the time I had a moment to work on this postcard, the wall was repaired and it looks like most of the plants survived!

One artist's take on other artists' work!
Colorful cartoon-like
Barbie and Ken

The neighboring streets around the shuk or market that all of us Jerusalemites love to shop at especially on Thursdays and Fridays, became an artist's canvas last week and will remain so for a year. The Jerusalem Municipality Arts branch in cooperation with the Shuk Vendors Association and other organizations initiated the project to liven up the neighborhood. It is necessary to look up, down and around from both sides of the streets as there are paintings and other "things" all over the buildings. Not high art but very colorful and fun!

As yet we have not seen the 2 year old memorial built on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the only one out of the US.  It is on our list for our next trip. We did, however, see an incredible photography show by Robby Berman, an American who was on his way to an interview when the first tower collapsed. He somehow managed to get by the police and get right into the thick of things on both the 11th and the 12th to photograph mostly the destruction but some of the firefighters. News reporters and photographers were asked to stick themselves into peoples faces to get stories and photos and he felt it just wasn't right. Thus a series of most unusual and moving photos accompanied by his observations.

Bracing: The 1,000 volunteers rush into the sea as the photo shoot begins at sunrise
Too bad we didn't think to apply when we first heard about artist Spencer Tunick's 1000 persons naked dip in the Dead Sea! Tunick was quoted as saying, "This could happen nowhere else in the Middle East. If you love freedom in New York, freedom in London, freedom in Italy...there's freedom in Israel, and I think this is very important for people to understand."  He hoped his photo shoot would highlight the plight of the world's lowest body of water (experts predict it will dry up by 2050) and at the same time boost Israel's campaign to have the Dead Sea voted one of the world's seven wonders of nature. From what I read in the papers, those who wrote about the experience felt an exhilaration and no problems with baring their bodies to the other 999 participants!

At Batya/Sarah Batya’s suggestion, we visited an Ulpan on Emek Refaim, a 20-minute brisk walk from our home. Called UlpanOr, it is an intensive Hebrew one on one learning program where we can learn on Skype when at home and with the instructor at the school when we are in Israel. We have uploaded the program onto our respective computers and Herbie to his ipod. We are to listen and read and practice writing all at the same time. I am at level Aleph (lowest) and he is the next level Bet as he had it as a kid and I did not! However we both spent 6 weeks at an Ulpan in Netanya 19 years ago but id not keep it up! It’s like working out with a trainer: if we pay enough we will do it!

The best part is that while dining with Vivi and Mordechai Artzieli (he our former Counsel General in the Bay Area) and telling them what we were doing, they informed us their granddaughter Anat teaches there and when we went back to pick up our materials, she had already requested us on Skype. The Queen of Small World Stories strikes again!

A Jewish star by a Czech artist
My favorite building in Neve Tsedek
We took the 20 person sherute for 24NIS ($6.50) each to the central bus station in TA and a cab to the TA museum and the fabulous Litvak Glass Gallery next to the museum.  The Czech glass artists show was spectacular and most pieces are on sale for 5 and as much as 6 figures. Chihuly was in the smaller gallery and is always nice to see. Litvak made his money from so called internet businesses but we know he was a "Porn King"! (I may have written this before but always fun to recall!). We cabbed it to Neve Tsedek , a favorite area where we just meandered in and out of streets and shops, found a yummy restaurant and attended a dance performance at the wonderful Susan Dellal Center for Dance and Theatre. By the time we returned to Jerusalem it was after midnight but well worth the hour ride and 10 minute walk home each way!

This time, knowing that the house was still in its unfinished state, we suggested another one night Shabbat away, our last in the country. We again rented a car and drove in the rain (most unusual in September) to see the progress, such as it is! For a change we went to Tel Aviv and to a so-called 4**** hotel across from the beach. As Jennifer noted when we walked into the dining room, it looked like the old kibbutz dining room we all experienced 20 or 30 years ago and the food was similar as well! But it took them out of their mess and the rooftop pool with a wonderful view of the city and the beach were worth the hotel!

Ronit, daughter of our Hadera cousin Yossi, brought her father and her fiancé Shlomo to visit us at the hotel on Shabbat. What follows is his fascinating story.

Shlomo was brought up religious along with his twin brother and a younger sibling. After high school he and his twin began questioning the stories in the Bible they had learned growing up. After much research and before going in the army, Shlomo became secular, his brother stayed religious. But it was a very difficult decision for him and he felt like he was in “Luna Park” or in another world. Then he went to NY to learn the brokerage business and returned to work on line for a well known company. There is a Hebrew saying for this taking off of the yarmulka: hazer b’sheelah or back to the question, whereas our son Marc put on the yarmulka and is called hazer b’tshuva or back to the answers. Now Shlomo has gone back to the middle but still sometimes feels like ”a tourist” in the religion. On Shabbat he puts on a yarmulka and they drive to his parents but park around the corner in order not to offend. As Ronit’s family is secular, the wedding in December will be a mix with food for everyone’s level and separate dancing and old music. Much later in the evening when the dancing will be mixed to contemporary music, his parents as well as several other religious families will take their leave. 

Daniella, Jennifer, Simone
trompe l'oeil
If the shoe fits, eat it!
Ball in upper right above guy going down. Hit with head/chest

After breakfast, the Langs and us took a 2-mile walk along the beach and through the Old Port. It has been totally developed, much nicer than Herzaliya (or Pier 39) with restaurants and hawkers, a market similar to that in the Ferry Building but better and delightful places to just sit and watch the action. I think we must have seen at least a dozen different modes of “transportation” from mini everything for kids to battery driven bikes for adults. We meandered in and out of stores with clever displays and watched the waves break along the rocky wall. Then we came upon an incredible game of Footvolley, that is, volleyball with every part of the body EXCEPT the hands! Hilarious!  

Downtown Jerusalem
A class act on way out of Jerusalem
I try to stay away from politics. Like the wonderful email publication everyone interested in the real Israel should subscribe to, Israel 21c, I try to only show Israel behind the politics, what it is like to participate in daily life, the wonders and joys of this crazy country!

That said, it is difficult to ignore the protestors who have pitched their tents in the bigger cities and some not so big. It did indeed start with Tnuva Dairy upping the price of cottage cheese but it ended up as a middle class protest to the very high cost of living, from eating to renting/owning an apartment. The government has demanded that the protestors fold their tents by Rosh Hashana but it is doubtful this will happen. From Rothschild Blvd, a main drag in Tel Avivi, to the various parks in Jerusalem we have taken photos to show what is going on, tho many of you may have seen it already in your newspapers or on line. Coming directly from us makes it more immediate, more real.
And this leads into the subject below of the new cabbie.

The joggers investigate
Benj and us were rudely awakened, thankfully on our last morning, by the most horrific noise and shaking we had yet experienced since moving into the house. The jackhammer was just over our wall on stage left, as they started digging for the new building next to us.  Poor Lauren upstairs even had a framed picture fall off her wall. Although the men told Herbie and Benj it would just be this week and not along the rest of the wall, this is not something any of us believe to be true. By our next trip in February, however, the worst will hopefully be over.

Yacov, Chana Tsipora, Shalom Simcha,Shulamit
An old friend of Herbie’s as young teenagers, Stan Rosenberg, married our neighbor in Silverado. The three of them went to Washington High School in SF tho Marlene is younger. Herbie also knows Marlene’s brother. The Rosenbergs went on a cruise and arrived in Jerusalem the day before we were leaving, their first trip to Israel. Our last night, Marc invited our aunt and uncle from Palo Alto who were also in Jerusalem for an informal BBQ so we invited Stan and Marlene. We realized ahead that Stan’s first wife was our uncle’s niece. We all enjoyed the visit especially Stan and our uncle, Yacov, as they knew all the same relatives and friends and had indeed seen each other at family functions over the years! Such fun making connections!

Good English, working vehicle, the two things Eli just does not have, sad to say. However, Eliyahu ben David is a winner! I took copious notes on our ride to Ben Gurion and they jibe with what I wrote above. He is definitely on the side of the protestors. “We need to work 24 hours a day to survive.” “Taxes, high prices, the politicians do not make life easy here.” “And yes, it all started with cottage cheese!” “There were ½ million protestors all over the country and no they will not leave by Rosh Hashana.” He also opined that there are no good politicians. Since 1948 (the founding of the State) nothing has changed re the system of politics. All this said, he has traveled to the US, Canada and Europe over the years and came to realize how small Israel really is.
Breakfast at bookstore before airport

Taking Alexander shopping
Great view of Machane Yehuda
Outside the shuk

On way to dinner




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