The Big Felafel

The Bomb Still Explodes: The Hebrew University Bombing 7 Years Later


Frank Sinatra Cafeteria Memorial

Yesterday I took part in a live twitter chat with Maia Sigal Leslau, a victim of the Hebrew University bombing. The terrorist attack took place on July 31st, 2002 at the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria on the Mt. Scopus campus. The Hebrew University was intentionally targeted because it stands as a symbol to the revitalization of the Jewish people and is home to thousands of students from all over the world.

The bomb— a cell phone in a bag on the table of the bustling café, where students gathered mid day to eat a quick lunch or take a much needed break—went off and killed nine people and injured over eighty. One of those nine was my friend Marla Bennett.

I remember the phone call about her death that changed my world forever. I was in complete denial and to this day I have not really accepted her passing. I remember demanding proof that they knew it was her, that they knew she was dead. And even though I got my answer it never felt real.


Marla Bennett, 24-years-old z"l

Yesterday, the opportunity to speak with Maia helped me cope with reality. She personally told me about the bombing from her point of view. She didn’t hear the bomb go off, but she said she knew something was wrong. She was alert and asked her friend to take her bag and call her mother.

Maia survived despite shrapnel piercing her brain. She lost sight in her eye and still has scars, not to mention the emotional scaring. I would think that anyone that survived the bombing would be afraid, angry and have a loss of faith. But not Maia. She is a strong willed young woman, who actually became more religious since the bombing.

Maia is inspiring. She not only inspires me to be more thankful of what I have, but made me realize that if Marla had survived the bombing she too would be like Maia. Marla would be strong and do her best to stay positive in the face of evil. Marla was the nicest person I ever met. Nice as in good intentions, a big heart, a never ending smile and hope that survived her death.

The chat may have been short with 140 characters at a time, but the message is long lasting.

Thank you Maia for your candor.

Marla not a day goes by that I don’t wish you were still alive.

Below please find some of Maia’s comments during the conversation. The twitter chat took place through Hebrew University’s twitter account: @HebrewU (English) and @HebrewU_heb (Hebrew).

@FelafelBalls I’m getting over it every day, every morning when I get up and thank G-d for being in this world, for being alive.10:06 AM Jul 28th

@slerner #izkor I became religious after the bombing, understanding and believing this is the hand of G-d keeping me alive.10:16 AM Jul 28th

@charliekalech #izkor I’m sad abt the 9 people who are not w/ us any more. I’m sorry for myself that someone changed my life without asking.10:12 AM Jul 28th

@dejerusalem #izkor The bombing was not really a surprise, sad to say. During 2002 it was a daily routine in Jerusalem.10:36 AM Jul 28th

@miriamschwab #izkor It’s on July 31, the memorial will be held tmrw on campus. My lesson: We have only one Land, this is the true home.10:53 AM Jul 28th

@dejerusalem #izkor I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m a survivor. I always remember I could have been a victim. It is always with me.11:02 AM Jul 28th


Israel PR: Leave it to the Youth and Put it on Facebook

Israel’s PR for Israel is crap. That of course is an understatement. But this past Sunday Hebrew University students decided to contribute their young and savvy minds to help fix the problem. The students, currently StandWithUs Fellows, launched a Facebook tool called Israpedia to promote their country.

With already 3,000 Facebook friends using the application, the tool is bound to make PR history inIsrapediaLogo a country where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only joined Twitter last week. The idea is similar to that of Kassam Counts and is actually built by the same developers. Like Kassam Counts, Israpedia takes over your status message on Facebook and makes updates for you. The difference is that Kassam Counts was updating how many rockets were fired into Israel, where as Israepedia will supply interesting facts about Israel as your status updates.

The idea is that Israel has many sides to it, but somehow the news just likes to focus on the one bloody aspect forgetting that this country also invented a method to get rid of bad breath through the use of laser technology–for example (brought to you by Israpedia). The random facts go beyond the conflict and shed light on Israel’s magnificent achievements, rather than its war statistics.

The students have put their heart and mind into this project and have shown the rest of their peers that we all have the potential to make this country a better place and let the world know that were awesome too.

 Check out their facts page at

 For the application:

Stuff Israeli People Like #9: Faxes (and a survival guide)

Young blonde female is office worker at fax machine

The dreaded fax-lover

They don’t warn you about it in the Nefesh B’nefesh aliyah catalog, but Israelis are still, in the year 2009, in love with the fax machine. They do enjoy the wonderful world of email as well, but are still loyal to the fax. I can almost understand using a fax for business to business transactions. Maybe. But, most people in Israel (or at least, that I know)  live in a fax-free environment. Mostly because there shouldn’t be a need for it anymore. Sometimes I have the energy to explain to a fax-lover how to scan and email, but often, I just find myself throwing my arms in the air and giving up. Luckily, I’ve come across some decent online solutions if you’re in dire need of a fax service in Israel.

  1. – For free, you can get a temporary fax number. The fax-lover will send you a fax and you’ll receive it in your email.
  2. – If you need to send a fax to a fax-lover, then you can upload your document, enter the fax number, and click send.
  3. – You can send and receive faxes through email with this service.  It costs 50 agurot (~12 cents) per page to send a fax. It costs 64 shekels a month to receive faxes through your email. (Steep!)

Here’s a scene from Office Space which aptly expresses how I feel about the fax:

[warning: explicit lyrics]

If you’re interested in seeing more stuff that Israelis like, read this post: Stuff Israeli People Like #1-8

Before you rent an apartment in Israel, check

I just found out about a great website,,  for renters to find out the truth about the landlords and buildings for the place they’re about to rent. Citip”s tagline is “What they didn’t tell you about the place”  and that’s exactly what the site is for. You can search by address and read reviews by past tenants or post one yourself to prevent people from unpleasant surprises before they make the commitment to sign the contract. Power to the little people!

Also,  if you’re apartment hunting, be very, very wary of Craiglist – people have tried to scam me 3 times already.  Here’s a list of housing websites for apartments in Israel.

Get Your Fourth of July Party on in Jerusalem!


July 4th Decorations

If you’re a former U.S. citizen, you know that even though you live in Israel, giving up certain American holidays is not easy. Case in point: the Fourth of July, Independence Day. While July 4th celebrations mirror those of Israel’s Independence Day, not celebrating the actual day, Fourth of July, is just too much!

I can b-b-q any day of the year (not really, but I could try and find someone that would b-b-q for me everyday of the year) but there is something that makes the meat a little juicer on Fourth of July. I could watch fire crackers go off almost everyday throughout the summer, thanks to the loads of weddings in Jerusalem, but the fireworks of Fourth of July seem to sparkle and crack just a little bit more.

What I am saying is celebrating Fourth of July does not end when you make Aliyah from America. You can’t give up the cheerleader in you that wants to jump for joy on that particular day. It’s not that I am rooting for America’s independence but more for my hamburger, day off and awesome display of fireworks in the middle of summer, that’s the essence of the big day—a day that can leave a big hole if you don’t celebrate properly.

So, here are a few ways to party down for the holiday. Do one or all of them, but just don’t forget to celebrate and fill the hole (and the stomach)!

Themed Shabbat meal: Yes friends, if you like cheesy then take advantage of this year’s celebrations which fall on Shabbat day. You can have b-b-qs (if you keep Shabbat then b-b-q right before Shabbat comes in and keep meat on hot grill or hot plate), make cakes with red, white and blue frosting and make sure to invite lots of friends who bring lots of drinks!

Saturday Night go out:
Summer on the “Roof”:
B-B-Q & Bar
Live musical performances: Remedy and Holler Band and more!
Fireworks at midnight
Location: 37 Pe’er Kening (Talpiot, across from the Hadar mall)
Tickets cost NIS 80, but if you reserve them before then it’s NIS 60! There are also special group prices. For more info or to order tickets call Gita at 052-562-4488 or Assaf at 054-396-0799

Get Started Early: July 1, 2009
Starting at 3pm
AACI’s Independence Day Celebrations
Schedule of Events:
2:30pm Grand Opening:
Exhibitions, hot dogs & refreshments for sale, tickets for movies on sale, music, AACI table selling raffle tickets and tickets to Roy Zaltsman performance, Chinese Auction and more!
3:00pm Screening of It Happened One Night, Screening for Children of Chihuahua of Beverly Hills
5:00pm Screening of Fargo, Screening for Children of Aliens vs. Monsters
7:00pm Live Performance of Roy Zaltsman Special Telepathy Show, Screening for Children of Hotel for Dogs
7:45pm AACI Hai Society Reception (by invitation only)
8:45pm Greetings
9:00pm Israel’s Premiere Screening of Public Enemies
Movies/Show NIS 28 each (Special Reduced Price)
To Order Tickets Online go to:
For Directions go to:…

Hotdogs for Sale! -Kosher-
Apple Pie/Brownies
Chocolate Chip Cookies for Sale!
Saidels Bakery & Herby’s Bakeshop

Location: Jerusalem Cinemateque 11 Hebron St. For more information about the celebration, call 02-561-7151