Wednesday, March 25, 2015


The 10 hours from Newark to Tel Aviv whizzed by.  Herbie and I always sit across the aisle when not upgraded and the two men next to me became my new best friends! I sat down first and next came a few items flying by me as Ari tossed them to his window seat. Then Michael sat down in the middle seat and the three of us became instant buddies.

To make a long story short, Ari is CEO of Glide, an internet company so of course I asked if he knows our grandson Ben Lang. He lit up and exclaimed, "Ben Lang is a legend!" Needless to say, Ari and I bonded. The three of us ended up talking nearly the entire flight as Michael turned out to be a world famous cellist. (Google Michael Fitzpatrick.) He is playing with the Jerusalem Symphony Monday night and got us seats after I had already purchased them. One of the most down to earth nice guys you could meet. I asked him questions about how soloists rehearse and he showed me his music, both the entire score and his part. What an incredible treat!

As citizens we are entitled to vote. After unloading at the house, Marc dropped us at Batya's where our voter information was housed. After a yummy home made soup dinner, nearly 20 year old Ashira and 15 year old Talia walked us to the school where we had the privilege of voting for losers! In Israel, one votes for the party not the individual. The parties are identified by Hebrew letters with the party name beneath, none of which we understood. Unlike in the US, a voting official offered to help us. We went out of the room and told her what persons we were interested in and she told us which letters to choose. The letters are in a box with compartments, each compartment with pieces of paper with only the letter. We deposited the paper in an envelope and dropped it in a box. Because only one person goes in to the booth at a time, I had to pull Herbie's letter and leave it in a conspicuous place. Glad I didn't get caught as it is totally illegal!

Then we staggered home to unpack and collapse into bed. 

When we awoke the next morning we were as disappointed as many of the news media here to say nothing of Obama and most of the US Democrats.  What we and everyone we have spoken with have concluded is its not that the PM is good it's that there isn't anyone qualified. And from what we have read, he pulled some really unsavory shenanigans on election day. The whole political state of affairs here is disgusting tho the US isn't much better.

Following is a mini course on how the PM is chosen. It stops short of all the complications that can arise and what is done at that time.

This election year there were 25 party lists with 1280 candidates. The President's most important job is choosing a PM. He selects one of the candidates to form a coalition that has 61 candidates, one more than 50% of the 120 Knesset seats.  But, even when a party wins the most votes, it may have difficulty forming a coalition. Then the President invites each party leader to offer a choice for PM and he then makes his decision.

He can also suggest forming a unity government which in this current atmosphere probably will not happen.  But then again, one never knows in this crazy country! The candidates have 28 days to succeed and the President can extend by 14. The Supreme Court Justice who serves as chairman of the Central Elections Committee will officially present the president with the election results. Then Netanyahu will begin coalition talks.

A bit of scuttle butt in the local news: A likud party member told Haaretz (newspaper) that "Netanyahu was very afraid that Rivlin (president) wouldn't appoint him to form the government so he opposed Rivlin's election only a few months ago,"

One of our first stops is usually to purchase food and other items needed for the house. We so enjoy the shuk, Machane Yehuda, that we decided to do our major shopping there. It is a bustling place with every imaginable fruit and vegetable stand, fish, meat, cheese and of course halvah!  Plus various coffee shops as well as stores selling jewelery, clothing, ceramics and various other items. In the beginning it was only food oriented but as time has gone on, people's tastes have changed and there is something for everyone.

At the end of our list, I bought tomatoes and cucumbers and we were on our way out when I reached
Ethiopian shopper, missed his big smile!
for my wallet to purchase some flowers and no wallet. Surely some of you have had that sinking feeling but having it in a foreign country, even if we are citizens, is the worst. Unfortunately about 10 minutes passed before I retraced my steps without luck. We left, I with my tail between my legs and the next morning I reported it to the police located adjacent to the shuk. The very nice woman took all the information and told me it was probably stolen as this is a frequent occurrence.  I made the decision to wait a few days while checking my credit card accounts on line.

Immediately after reporting to the police, I walked to the bus station to pick up a senior card to ride the bus and train and my phone rang. It was Marc who had received a phone call from an Israeli man, living in LA who had picked up the wallet. He had my driver's license with my photo and "measurements " so he and his family walked for over an hour trying to find me. Meanwhile, we had left the market. He spent even more time on the phone calling the credit card companies and whoever else he could think of where there was a card in my wallet and finally hit pay dirt by calling the YMCA. I have no idea why I had given Marc's number when we registered last year but that is how he finally located Marc and Marc then called me.

The best is yet to come. We met at a cafe two days later after he and his family returned to Jerusalem from attending a family wedding in Beersheba. It was love at first sight! Raphael, Talia, his brother and son and their own 11 year old daughter were finishing lunch and they couldn't have been any nicer. The daughter told me she had put the information on both of our Facebook pages but we never saw them. After our delightful visit, (with him actually apologizing for messing up my wallet) he gave me their LA info and said we should come for Shabbat dinner as his wife is a caterer. They live on Wetherly, the same street my parents lived on for many years after selling the house! South Wetherly between Olympic and Pico, however, is a very Jewish neighborhood, technically in Beverly Hills so their kids attend BH schools.

A wonderful ending and a perfect "paying it forward" for me!

Ashira, Talia, Yael, Chana Tspora, Shalom Simcha
Marc is turning in to a terrific and imaginative cook! And the kids help in the kitchen and clean up. Alexander, 18, joined us for dinner. As his brother before him, he lives in the Old City with other guys from his yeshiva. On Saturday the kids and us walked over a mile in the freezing cold and threatening rain to Zalman and Rivi's to see the girls while Marc napped.

If I do say so myself, they are adorable! They had just awakened from their naps and were quiet at first. Batsheva is a year with bright
red curly hair and Yael who just turned three has coloring more like her parents. We watched them play for about an hour before walking back in off and on cold rain.

It took a bit of doing but they did warm up to Herbie who has more patience and perseverance than I! We walked back to Marc's with Yael in tow. She is used to walking and running this distance on Shabbat and Talia only carried her for a very few minutes.

After the third meal Yael was so hilarious I have put a few pictures at the end. She helps Ashira and Talia clean up and this time, as we watched in hysterics, she took the soapy water out of the sink, put it on the counter and used a squidgy to dump it back into the sink. This went on for probably 20 minutes before she changed girls and sinks for another 20 or so minutes.

No photos on Shabbat so had to wait till after the third meal. No pics of Batsheva as she was asleep when we returned Yael. Hopefully next time!

We have been going to the SF Symphony for many years and have attended various musical events in many different cities.  Never have we attended a more beautiful concert of any kind in any city till tonight in Jerusalem!

First of all, it was a special concert in memory of David J. Azrieli, a Canadian/Israeli who helped build Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He died at 92 in 2014 surrounded by his devoted family. Azrieli was not only a developer and philanthropist but received his MA in Architecture at the age of 75.

The music chosen by his daughter Sharon Azrieli Perez could not have been more appropriate as well as beautiful. The program with the Jerusalem Symphony conducted by American Steven Mercurio began with Sharon singing Shalom Rav in the most gorgeous soprano voice we have ever heard.  Mercurio makes MTT look like a soldier at attention. This man is a toothpick from all of the movements which he does with tails flying. Next Sharon's two sisters spoke about their father, one in English, the other in Hebrew, and the Azrieli Foundation he created.

Dreyfuss, Azrieli Perez, Mercurio
Cellist Michael Fitzpatrick played a spectacular Schelomo, Hebraic Rhapsody. We were in the third row directly in front of him and I was trying to think of him as the guy who seemed so loosey goosey on the plane as the same person playing the most amazing 20 minute Ernest Bloch. But the piece de resistance came after intermission, Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3 Kadish with Richard Dreyfuss as the "speaker." Sharon Azrieli Perez and several choruses including a children's chorus from the balcony came in at various times. The audience went wild and finally they did an encore of Shalom Rav.

Michael came out after and gave me a hug! People were passing by us stopping to tell him how wonderful he was. He is the one who told me there is YoYoMa and then all other cellists. Not so! He is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met. He is quick to smile and kid, and serious to the core as a musician.  Ari, the third member of our "United row 17 group" had a business meeting and sent his assistant, a delightful young American, Hannah, who made aliyah from Jersey two years ago.

Michael had us follow him backstage, up and down stairs till we landed where the photographers were waiting. An Italian woman approached him to invite him and the entire group to Spoleto next summer for the festival in Italy. She came to Israel expressly to hear the concert and make the decision to invite. Very impressive! Meanwhile, Michael is planning a big festival in Paris next year. Wow!

He made sure that Hannah, Herbie and I followed him everywhere and we all ended up at a party at a professor's home. His wife told Sharon to invite 60-80 people for a party and Michael begged us to join him. We were put in a taxi with Richard Dreyfuss' daughter and son in law. lovely people who live in Manhattan. Dreyfuss also had his two baby faced sons who are probably in their late 20s. The food was beautiful and plentiful, the home gorgeous. The bus with the guest musicians and families finally left around midnight and we caught a ride to the Mamilla Hotel, a very short walk from our house.

Most certainly an evening to remember!

garlic man
Five of us signed up with professional photographer Yehoshua Halevi who began as a journalist with an MA from Cal. We sat in a nice courtyard across the road and he gave us numerous tips on how to photograph in such a busy
place. Once in the shuk he pointed out his favorite stalls and set us loose. Herbie joined me and enjoyed the experience. He also took us up stairs to look down on the shuk. A very special treat! Because I asked questions about how to photograph people, we ended up in the Iraqi section where we had been on a prior visit. That is one of the best photo sites with groups of men sitting around playing dominoes, cards and backgammon surrounded by numerous other men. Judging by how serious they appear, we assume there is money involved but we never saw any. Once again a man inside motioned for me to come inside the restaurant so, as before, I took him up on it.

I learned new ways to look at things and because we were all so interested the class lasted longer than the planned two hours. The instructor, one of the young men who happens to be a violinist and Herbie and I had lunch together. We went to a Kosher meat place for lunch of very delicious grilled chicken breasts with various salads and fries. Then of course Herbie and I went to our favorite coffee place for cappuccinos and dessert! Love that market and would go every day if there were a reason!

Michael met us at the house so we could taxi together to the Tech area in Malcha. Glide's CEO Ari Roisman, from Philly but currently living in Palo Alto invited Michael to play at his company and talk about his big plans for Paris next year. We walked into this huge circular room where these
Note Scotch tape!

amazingly friendly guys (there are 45 employees including nine females) greeted us, gave us drinks, put Glide on our phones (unfortunately my Apple 5 is in the safe here and I only had my 4 with an Israeli company. ATT won't unlock phones till they are two years old!  I will get Benjamin to put it on the 5) and waited for Ari to arrive from another meeting.

After Michael played what he planned everyone asked for more. He is very generous with his talent, loves what he does and attracts people like flies. We all had a good laugh when one of the guys came up with a way to record the high tech way (see photo) so it could be seen on Glide.

Michael returned to LA today and I bet he found other interesting seatmates! I know I will never have another seatmate like him and Ari; definitely the best flight ever!


1 comment:

  1. Love this as always! Fascinating about the election... And your new friends Michael and Ari! Give my love to all and enjoy.