The Big Felafel

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Essentials category.

What’s in Season? Winter Fruits and Vegetables in Israel

Note from Rebecca: I’ve been reading Miriam’s blog, Israeli Kitchen, and asked her if she could help us out during the year to remember which fruits and vegetables are in season. For some reason, I can never remember when celery turns wilty or avocado can sadly no longer be found or when strawberries make a most welcome comeback. So Miriam to the rescue!  Miriam creates original recipes and posts them on her blog and agreed to share some of her favorite winter recipes with The Big Felafel. Enjoy and make sure to check out Israeli Kitchen for more recipes. Stay tuned for the Spring, Summer and Fall editions of “What’s in Season”. Without further ado, Miriam of Israeli Kitchen:

When rain streams over my window and it gets dark early, I cook soup. The family shleps in towards evening, dripping and complaining. As they pull off coats and put umbrellas away, they sniff the aromatic odor wafting from the big pot on the stove, and know that in a few minutes they’ll be sitting down to their favorite winter food – home-made soup.

I started my soup in the supermarket, slowly cruising the vegetable aisles. All kinds of mushrooms were on sale. Then there was firm, golden corn on the cob, which made me think of cornbread baked with corn kernels in it. Slender, pale-green leeks and crisp celery lay in orderly rows. Piles of potatoes, both white and red varieties…hmm. A delicate leek and potato soup, aromatic with celery, possibly?

Or how about a robust white bean soup with tomatoes and diced carrots, flavored with thyme and plenty of onions? There were so many vegetables! But I was enjoying this cook’s dilemma.

I pushed the shopping cart on. Knobby celeriac and pale parsley roots were fat and tender. When the weather gets hot again, they’ll go thin, not as good. I like to include one or two of those roots in my chicken or beef soups for the rich, sweetish flavor they give out. All those vegetables are in season and reasonably priced. What soup, what soup would I feed my family tonight?

The mushrooms won. I could have bought a few vibrantly green stalks of broccoli, also in season, for a broccoli/mushroom soup, but I love the pure taste of mushrooms alone. I chose a little basket of firm, brown Portobelos and served my soup with warm slices of that chunky cornbread.

We ate and thawed out. The soup performed its reliable magic, filling stomachs and souls with comfort. By the time we sigh and push our bowls away, life had started looking good again.

A colorful salad of sliced tomatoes and avocados followed. It needed only a little lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a dusting of salt for dressing. All Israeli winter produce for dinner last night.


Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms, Portobellos


2 Tablespoons olive oil

450 grams – 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, clean and sliced thinly. Put 4 aside for later.

1 medium onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small potato, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

1 cup water

3 cups of milk

2 Tablespoons white wine

1 Tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or a sprig of fresh

salt and white pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped chives or chopped parsley


1. In your soup pot, sauté the onions till they’re wilted.

2. Add the sliced mushrooms and the diced potatoes. Stir and cook till the mushrooms have released their juice and the potatoes are starting to get soft.

3. Add the garlic and the bay leaf.

4. Add the water. Cover the pot and cook the vegetables over low heat till they are all soft.

5. Take the pot off the heat. Either transfer the soup base to a blender or food processor, or use a stick blender, but process it till the vegetables are blended.

6. Return the blended vegetables to the pot (I just take my stick blender to the whole thing – off the heat, of course).

7. Add the milk, bring it up to a simmer, and cook for another 15 minutes. Don’t let the milk boil over.

8. Swirl the butter in. Add the wine and the thyme and the 4 sliced mushrooms you put aside, and simmer the soup another minute or so.

Spoon out some of the mushroom slices into each bowl and sprinkle chopped chives or parsley over them. Serve.

Cornbread with Fresh Corn Kernels

corn muffins with corn kernels


1/1/4 cups white flour

3/4 cup corn meal

4 Tblsp. sugar

3 tsp. baking powder (Israelis can just empty out a little package of baking powder into the bowl)

3/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

2 Tblsp. melted butter. You can use oil or marg, but it will never be as good.

2 corn cobs, broken in halves and steamed till the kernels are tender.


Preheat the oven to 375 F – 190 C.

Have ready a medium-sized bowl and two smaller bowls.

1. Scrape the kernels off the corn cobs; put into one of the smaller bowls and set aside.

2. Sift the dry ingredients into the larger bowl.

3. In the smaller bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk and melted butter and mix well.

4. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing well again.

5. Add the corn kernels to the batter and mix.

6. Spread the batter in a butter 9-inch pie dish; or line your pan with baking paper.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown all over.

Here’s a quick list of especially delicious and available  fruits and vegetables during the winter months.

Please feel free to comment with your favorite winter eats in Israel.

  1. mushrooms, many varieties
  2. all the citrus: oranges, pomelos, grapefruits, tangerines
  3. apples
  4. avocados
  5. lettuce: cos or Arab lettuce, oak-leaf, iceberg

19 questions you should ask before renting an apartment in Jerusalem and the rest of Israel

After moving apartments several times in Jerusalem, I’ve started keeping track of all the questions I ask during each apartment hunt. Here’s a helpful guide for how to find an apartment in Israel with lists of different apartment websites.

Here’s a translation of an apartment notice from one of the best flat hunting sites  Yad2:


  1. Price: Price range is usually the first thing that narrows down my apartment search. If the price is in dollars, make sure you feel comfortable with the conversion solution which typically is either a)whatever the rate is on the first of each month or b)setting a rate at the beginning of the contract. I prefer the second option so I’m not nervous about what the rate will be each month.
  2. Entrance Date: One of the first questions to ask each apartment is if it’s relevant anymore (actuali in Hebrew). And if so, when is the move in date?
  3. Location: Will you feel safe walking around at night? Are there lots of busses nearby? Is it near things that are important to you (friends, supermakets, kindergarten, etc.). To help find the street before you head over, you can use Google Maps which takes english or hebrew street names.
  4. Number of Rooms: Be wary of the 2.5 rooms – what exactly will that .5 be and will it actually make a difference in adding space to the apartment.
  5. Size: How many square meters is it? Sometimes an apartment will sound big in square meters but it may not be set up in a very user-friendly way
  6. Arnona: Depending on the size of the apartment, you’ll have to pay a certain amount of municipal property tax.
  7. Floor Number / Elevator: Find out what floor number it’s on – and whether the building is on a raised platform or not. If it’s a high floor, is there an elevator? Shabbat elevator?
  8. Vad Bayit: The maintenance fee for each building differs slightly and can range anywhere from 40-300+ shekels per month. The lower range usually covers someone who cleans the building once a week. The higher range usually means that there is heating (hasaka) for the building during certain times of the day.
  9. Dud Shemesh(solar panel for hot water): For me, this is really a dealbreaker and I try to only look at apartments that have a dud shemesh. Mainly so I can just say dude a lot, but also because there is so much unbearably hot sun during the summer that it would be such a shame to let it go to waste, and a dud saves electricity costs.
  10. Daytime/Nightime: Is there plenty of warm sunshine during the day? Is it scary at night. I recommend checking out an apartment both during the day and at night so you get the full picture.
  11. Balcony (mirpeset) / Closed balcony (mirpeset sherut) If an apartment has a balcony,  find out if it’s open or closed. Also nice to know if it is sukkah-friendly.
  12. Furniture: Does the place come with a stove, fridge, built-in closets, washing machine, couches, etc? Sometimes landlords just happen to have an extra closet laying around. On the other hand, we went to see an apartment that didn’t allow gas stoves so be sure to ask, ask, ask about any details you can think of.
  13. Landlords: Does the landlord pace the apartment every 2 seconds? Are they nice on the phone but then shady in person? Pay attention to the landlord’s behavior – you don’t want to be handing your hard earned money over to a scumbag each month. Make sure to ask about repairs, and the landlord’s responsibilities to you.
  14. Pets: What I’ve found with pets is that there’s usually a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. The landlords usually don’t care as long as you keep the place clean and it doesn’t cause trouble with the neighbors.
  15. Parking: If you have a car, make sure there is either a designated parking area, or at least lots of little side streets nearby with ample parking
  16. Heating/air conditioning: Find out what kind of heating system there is. Also, you can ask the current tenants how the apartment fares during the summer and winter.
  17. Roommates: If you’re looking to live with others, you’ll have a whole new list of questions – do you want to live with religious people, people that you know, Israelis, etc. Make sure you get a good, friendly vibe when you’re choosing roommates because you’re gonna see these people plenty.
  18. Agent: Check to see if there is an agent. If the apartment is going through an agent, the fee is typically one month’s rent. You can find plenty of apartments without an agent so only use one as the very last resort.
  19. Storage: Does the place come with a separate storage space?

Good luck with your apartment hunt!

If you have anything to add, please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

11+ Awesome things to do in Israel this Sukkot

As you start planning your Sukkot vacation in Israel for 2009, I wanted to give you a few fun and less touristy activities that you might not have on your list.  I also look forward to hearing about your plans for Sukkot so please share in the comments section below.

1. Cinema City VIP


Imagine going to the movies in Israel. You’re only allowed to go in 2 minutes and 30 seconds before the move starts. People trample over you to get to their seats. Arsim answer their phones at the best part of the movie.

Now imagine going to the movies in style.

For 120 shekels, you can see how the rich and famous live. When you go to Cinema City VIP, you’re invited to come 45 minutes early to a lounge to enjoy a light meal including bread, cheese, vegetables, snacks, and desserts. And you even get as many glasses of champagne or coffee as you can down within those 45 minutes. Once you’ve had your fill of delish treats, and head inside the theater, the staff hands you Ben&Jerry’s ice cream, any soda or drink you like, and a big cup of popcorn. And here’s the best part – it’s all unlimited refills. So you can get up whenever you like during movie and pile up as many Chunky Monkeys as your stomach can handle.

Once you find your seat – one of only 20 VIP seats, you can recline in your leather lazy boy chair and put your feet up on the footrest! In short, treat yourself and a loved one to Cinema City at least once! I think Herzl would have enjoyed the luxury of this establishment located in his namesake, Herzilya. Or, thanks to Jennifer’s comment, it’s actually in Ramat Hasharon.

2. Nalagaat: Blind and Deaf Theater in Tel Aviv-Yafo


For a totally different experience than Cinema City, you can get back in touch with reality and appreciate the little things in life by visiting Nalagaat – a blind and deaf theater troupe that performs weekly in Yafo. The troupe comes from all different backgrounds – both ethnically including Russians, Israeli-Arabs, native Israelis, and range in their ability to hear, see, or speak.

Their play, “Not by Bread Alone” tells the story and dreams of the different characters and brings them together with senses they all share – smell, touch and taste.

Following the performance, you have 2 non-typical dining options – the Blackout Restaurant where you eat in the dark, assisted by blind waiters, or Capish Cafe where you are served by deaf waiters. Truly a touching experience which I highly recommend.

3. Get Down and Dirty at a 3 day Hippie Festival


Just try going to an interview wearing these pants. But go to one of Israel’s many hippie-dippie Indian/meditations/ashram/love/no-showering-for-a-few-days festivals during Sukkot and Pesach, and you’ll feel right at home in diaper pants. This Sukkot, there are 2 festivals in southern Israel, Sagol and Desert Ashram/Zorba Habuddha that offer a 3 day escape from the real world, and entrance into a world where you receive a hug on your way in from a perfect stranger, followed by hundreds of people lounging around, enjoying chai tea, meditation workshops, good music, and possibly some not so legal substances. So pack up your tent, sleeping bags, and paper pants. Throw out any expectations or pretenses, and get ready to get down with your dirty, hippie self.

4. Hiking


Pack up your apartment, put it on your back, and head out to the beautiful nature trails that Israel has to offer. You can find a list of trails around Israel on the SPNI website.

5. Paintball


For those of you who need to get out your aggression this vacation or enjoy being pelted with bright blue and green paintballs, then you’re in luck. There are a few Paintball Branches in Israel: Haifa, Kfar Saba, Be’er Sheva. There are different activities for adults and children. Check out the Paintball Israel website for more info, and pricing.

6. Rock Climbing or Rappelling


If you’re interested in testing your fear of heights, you can start indoors with rock climbing, or do some rappelling outdoors.

#7-11: Jerusalem Blueprint put together a great guide of Sukkot activities in Jerusalem which includes the first ever Red Bull Soap Box Racing event, Matisyahu concert in the Sultan’s pool, and more.

12+: Fun in Jerusalem’s guide to events in Jerusalem for kids

13+: Green Prophet’s guide to Green Events during Sukkot

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

I Got My Hands All Over Israel’s Ethiopian Food!

I love eating with my hands. There’s no middleman fork or spoon in between my taste buds and the actual taste. My favorite food to stuff my face with is Ethiopian. And while this country may lack in Mexican food (my familiar angry rant) it almost makes up for it with Ethiopian food.

When it comes to Ethiopian restaurants you need to seek them out, they don’t find you. They’re hidden all over Jerusalem and I assume they take a similar pattern in other cities. They’re small and everyone is really friendly. Until you go to a place at least three or four times, you feel like you are actually walking into someone’s kitchen. In fact one place I went to was basically a home and when we walked in I felt like I had just become the uninvited guest that they always have an extra plate for, just in case.

I have found one restaurant where I go on a regular basis. Don’t ask me the name, because I am not sure if it even has one. But what’s in a name after all? The food is amazing and I’ll tell you how to get there. And then someone will read this and tell me the name and I’ll appreciate it but forget it and still refer to it as my yummy Ethiopian restaurant (thank you in advance).

food11How do you get to this hole in the wall? Get to King George and Agripas (the Felafel King place is right next to the light at the intersection). Walk up the hill keeping on the right hand side. There will be a few narrow alley entrances. Go down one of them and the Ethiopian restaurant will be on your left hand side with green doors and an Ethiopian flag. Which alley way? Now, why would I spoil all the fun of telling you exactly where it is? I want you to find it on your own. It’s a part of the experience!

Once you get there, you might get funny stares (the whole kitchen-uninvited-guess-thing) but they will warm up to you right away. Ask for a menu and take a seat. The menus are in Amharic (Semitic Ethiopian language), Hebrew and now in English-they know we are coming!


Me eating my yummy Ethiopian food

If it’s your first time eating this food, I would start with the basics and order injera (a large sourdough flatbread about 50cm or 20in in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour) with different types of salads and dips added right on top of it. This is the part where you use your hands. Just tear in and start dipping. Don’t question what’s on your plate just eat the colorful variety of veggies and beans and hope your stomach agrees with your choices.

Ali takes a chance of coffee

Ali takes a chance on coffee

After your first tasting, you may want to venture out, but to tell you the truth I have remained a fan of the veggie option which seems to have new salads and dips every time I go there. Ethiopian food is healthy (probably) and decently priced (I think it was in the NIS 30-40 range the last time I was there). Add a strong coffee at the end of the meal to get the full effect.  You don’t have to drink the coffee with your hands!

Here’s a list of other restaurants that Becca- my skinny co-blogger and friend- found online. And a voucher from Ethio-Israel Restaurant (I found that because I am cheap). Any additions would be great!

Opening hours: 9:00 to 23:00
Address: Agripas St. 10, City Center, Jerusalem
Not Kosher

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday, 12:00 to 1:00
Address: Elyashar St. 5, City Center, Jerusalem
Phone: 02.622.3992
Eluna voucher

Address: 17 Jaffa Rd., City Center, Jerusalem
Phone: 054.698.6664
Not Kosher

More in Tel Aviv: A list of Ethiopian Restaurants

Don’t Get Angry – Get Empowered about Consumer Rights in Israel!

As new immigrants, part of our induction into Israeli society is new rights, discounts, a bit of money and lots of customer service fights – whether it be at the bank, over the phone or just waiting in line. Most of us know about the money and rights part, but the fighting for basic consumer rights is something that even after you do it, even after several times of doing it, even after learning your lesson and never doing it again- you still feel surprised, annoyed and stressed out from each experience.

Most immigrants will tell you that after a while you just get used to the new way of customer service and accept it. You try not to let things get under your skin because you’ll go nuts. And besides, the bureaucratic system is the way it is and no one is going to change that.

Friends and fellow immigrants, change is not only for Obama, the time for consumer rights to exist in Israel has come. Or at least for me it has, and I’m on your team, so whether you like it or not, we are about to fight the battle of consumer rights culture in Israel.

Two weeks ago, I went to Pelephone headquarters in Jerusalem to fight a NIS 17 monthly internet charge that they added to my phone bill. After waiting almost a half hour for a customer service representative, I was told that I had to pay the fee according to their new rule which they state is: Any phone that can access internet will pay an access charge for internet. So what does this mean? Well, even though I feel that having internet at work and at home is enough for me and I would rather spend the NIS 17 a month on chocolate bars, that’s just too bad because I am forced to pay the fee.

This ridiculous charge is added on to another outrageous charge that I only found out about while fighting the internet issue; which is, that I am still paying for a phone that broke months ago. Yes, it turns out that if your phone breaks and you get a new phone, you still have to pay for the old, broken phone as well as your new phone. And, even if I went to another cell phone company, since clearly I hate Pelefone at this point, it wouldn’t matter because I would have to continue to pay for the two phones, so they still get my money.

After arguing and even using tears as a weapon (didn’t work), I left angrier then I have ever been, and that is hard to do. I wanted to leave Israel and never come back. Yes, I am used to fighting with customer service. And yes, I am aware that there is no customer service in Israel. But that does not explain or justify charges for a product I don’t want.

Once the anger subsided and I thought about the situation it occurred to me that this was actually happening for a great reason. I am not going to get pooped on any longer. I am going to fight for consumer rights because they can and do exist…somewhere. If I allow the internet fee to continue today, then tomorrow it’s a TV fee on my phone for NIS 100 (and that obviously includes the TV tax, another point of anger). And that trend does exist, how else could you explain the internet tax in the first place?

I have already informed Pelephone that I plan to sue them or start a class action suit. While they believe that I am angry, I’m not sure how much they believe in my fight. I am writing this post to ensure that I plan to fight this until the end. And I don’t know exactly what the end is. It could be reversing the forced internet fee for all Pelephone customers or all cell phone holders in general (since this fee exists with several companies). The end may be a fight for consumer rights against big companies, monopolies and the general bureaucratic system. But no matter what I am fighting it.

And I already have support. Through my research, Janglo posts and joining consumer rights groups that I never knew existed; I have found helpful people that unfortunately have also gone through this awful process. They have given me their contact info and advice and for that I thank them.

I have created a list below (please feel free to add), of ways to fight your own battles. And keep in mind, don’t get angry, get empowered. We can only create change if we believe change will come.

Consumer Rights Organizations, Councils, Groups and more:

The Israel Consumer Council:76 Mzah St., Tel Aviv 65789; Tel: 03-560-4671/72

Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor – Department of Consumer Affairs: Yitzchak Kimchi, Esq. is in charge. His number is: 02- 6662590 His assistant: 02- 6662593 and 02-6662596

The Israeli Council for Consumerism: Fax number: 03- 6241035

Jerusalem Consumers Rights:  02-666-2034

Websites and online resources:


Indian food in Jerusalem

indian After 4 years in Israel, I think I’ve finally moved out of my obsessive pita and humus stage. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always save a special place in my heart for the quintessential Israeli snack that requires swift wrist action, but it’s time to move on and sample some other cuisines.

Recently, I discovered a little hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant, Ichikidana איצ’יקדנה  inside the Machane Yehuda outdoor shuk in Jerusalem. And … it was delicious! And cheap – the small platter of thali was 24NIS 35 NIS! And cute – tiny room with wooden tables covered with collages of pictures and mementos from the staff’s trips to India.  And so… I’m hooked. I even went home and starting looking up Indian recipes for things I had never even heard of before like Chana Dal (Curried Chick-Peas), Tamatar Ki Chutney(tomato chutney) and Garam Masala. Apparently, other people have also discovered this yummy joint, so you can read more reviews from Jewlicious and Presentense’s latest issue.

Here’s a list of the kosher Indian restaurants in Jerusalem. If I missed any, please leave a comment and I’ll update the post.

Ichikidana איצ’יקדנה
Location: 4 Haeshkol St., makhane yehuda shuk/market
Phone: 050-224-7070
Hours: Sun-Thu: 08:00-20:00, Tri: 08:00- one hour before Shabbat

Location: Even Sapir, past the Hadassah Hospital in  Ein Karem
Phone: 02-643-1186
Hours: Open Sunday – Thursday 10:00am till 11:00pm. Friday till Shabbat. .Motzei Shabbat till midnight.

Location: Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, by Binyanei HaUma and the Central Bus Station
Phone: 02-653-6667
Hours: Open for lunch, Sunday – Friday from 12:00 noon till 4:00pm. Open for dinner Sunday – Thursday 6pm till 11:30pm, and Saturday night after Shabbat.

In other Indian-related news, I went to see Slumdog Millionaire at Cinema City and it was incredible (both the VIP experience and the movie itself). Here’s some Indian music that I can’t get out of my head.

[Photo from Flickr: Julia Lang’s photostream]

14 Unbelievably Cheap Outlet Stores in Jerusalem – Insider’s Guide

Everyone is now painfully aware of the world’s economic woes. Does that mean we should stop shopping altogether? I think not! I think it just calls for smarter shopping and discovering Jerusalem’s hidden outlet stores. And when I say hidden, some of these places are really hidden, so it’s probably a good idea to call the store first. If I missed any, or the information has changed, please leave a comment.

  1. aldoAldo –  Am V’olamo 3, 02-6537212
    • Men & Women’s shoes
  2. castroCastro, Lev Talpiot Mall, Haoman 17, Talpiot
    • Women’s clothing
  3. crazylineCrazy Line, Lev Talpiot Mall, Haoman 17, 02-6797683 [Thanks to commenters for pointing out that this has closed. ]
    • Women’s clothing
  4. foxFOX, Lev Talpiot Mall, Haom an 17, Talpiot, 02-6245116 [Thanks to commenters for pointing out that this has closed. ]
    Also on Dorot Rishonim, 4, 02-6245116

    • Teenage-ish clothing for boys & girls
  5. galiGali Shoes – across from Ahim  Yisrael mall on Hatnufa St. in Talpiot
    • Shoes for men, women, and children. Go with a friend because the deals are usually 2 for 150 shekels.
  6. honigmanHonigman, Lev Talpiot Mall, Haoman 17, Talpiot [Thanks to commenters for pointing out that this has closed.]

    • Women’s clothing
  7. H&O Lev Talpiot Mall, Haoman 17, Talpiot
    • Men and Women’s clothing
  8. lordkitschLord Kitsch, Merkaz Sapir, Am V’olamo 3, Tel: 02-6512905
    • Women’s clothes, lots of skirtsMerkaz Sapir is in Givat Shaul, pretty close to the Tax Authority building.  I think the busses 11 & 15 go there. I recommend calling and asking people as you go along.
  9. lmetayelL’metayel Camping Store, Yoel Solomon 5, City Center, 02-6233338
    • camping supplies. They call themselves an outlet store, but it still looks pricey to me 😦
  10. matimli Matim Li – Lev Talpiot Mall, Haoman 17, Talpiot, 02-6725566 [Thanks to commenters for pointing out that this has closed. ]
    • Women’s clothing
  11. nimrod Nimrod Shoes, Hadar Mall on Pierre Koening 31, Talpiot, 02-6721630
    Also in Lev Talpiot Mall, Haoman 17, Talpiot 02-6718161

    • Shoes for men, women, and children
  12. gapOld Navy & Gap, on 87 Agrippas St. across from the Mahane Yehuda market/shuk.
    • Men & Women’s clothing
  13. golf Polgat/Golf outlet in Ahim Yisrael mall, Hatnufa St. Talpiot 3rd floor.
    • Men & Women’s clothes
  14. tamnunTamnun – Merkaz Sapir, Am V’olamo 3, Tel: 02-6527459
    • Men & Women’s clothes
  15. victorias_secretVictoria’s Secret & Gap, Rehov Strauss, City Center/Mea Shearim. Up the hill toward Mea Shearim on your left hand side from the Yaffo and King George intersection.
    • women’s apparel
  16. Designer Outlet, Ahim Yisrael mall, Hatnufa St. Talpiot 3rd floor. [Thanks, Leah for reminding me about this one]
    • women’s clothing

If you still want more outlet goodness, check out the Israel Outlets Master List.

Also, here’s a blog dedicated entirely to outlet stores in Israel

If you find any other outlets that I left out, please leave a comment with the info. Thanks!

How to renew your U.S. passport in Jerusalem

consulate vs.

donut targetstarbucks

If only the U.S Consulate would greet you with freshly-made Dunkin Donuts doughnuts and muffins, a Starbucks white-chocolate mocha and a fully-stocked Target, it might make up for the annoying process of renewing your passport and venturing into East Jerusalem.

If I could award one website with the worst usability, that special prize would go to.. wait for it.. the Jerusalem U.S. Consulate. After reading and re-reading each section of the site, the big question for me was still, how do people aged 16-26 renew their passport?!!! I pretended to fit into the over 26 category and it worked out, but um… some headlines and clarity would be nice.  Americans are supposed to have a good reputation for clear instructions. Especially compared to the Israeli system. C’mon people!

In case you want to know how I went about it, or in case I need to do it again, here are the steps I took to renewing my passport.

Step 1: Make an appointment by clicking here. Mine took at  least a month in advance to schedule.

Step 2: Read the U.S. Consulate website about 30 times to decide which form to fill out. In the end, I needed the DS-82 application so I printed it and filled it out.

Step 3: Prepare the following:

  • DS-82 Passport Application
  • Most recent passport and photocopy
  • Two identical passport photographs – 2 x 2 inches (5cm x 5cm) showing full front view of the face with a white or off-white background only.
  • $75 USD or the equivalent shekels
  • 30 shekels for courier mail service

Step 4: Travel to 14 David Flusser in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem 27 Nablus / Shchem St. which is off of Kvish 1 by the Paz Gas station.  Maps, emails, phone number, and more details.

P.S. You can renew by mail or in person. But considering I don’t trust the Israeli mail system, and, get this, the Consulate emailed me that they don’t recommend it, I went in person.

Contact Info for the Jerusalem U.S. Consulate:

Phone: 02-628-7137 or 02-622-7219
Fax: 02-627-2233

Disclaimer: Please thoroughly check the Consulate site for updated information and to ensure you bring all the correct paperwork.

Kitzur: Find definitions for Hebrew abbreviations and acronyms

My friend Keren let me in on a secret Hebrew weapon called Kitzur, which gives you the definition for thousands of Hebrew acronyms and abbreviations. I immediately went to the slang section and was amused by all the ridiculous abbreviations like “Gvinatz” for Gvinah Tzehubah (the ambiguous but ever popular Yellow Cheese). Um. Can’t remember the last time I heard someone order using either of the 2 shortened varieties. But if you try it, good luck, and let me know how it goes.


The phrases in the slang section are especially helpful in the following situations:

a. You want to pretend you are/were in the army

b. You want to be an ars (punky, annoying Israeli teenagers)

c. You are easily amused by just how many words and phrases can be shortened into ridiculous combinations that would have an Israeli get his/her whole family together to point and laugh at you if you decided to actually use some of them.


Use these phrases with caution. Some will help you fit in, but others could be disastrous for your post-Ulpan departure (but I would love to hear the outcomes). So, only start using one of the phrases once you’ve looked up the definition in English (you can use Morfix) and actually heard it used in context.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Zabaj in the listings…

P.S. For those of you still in abbreviation mode, I found a site, Abbreviation that gives definitions of English abbreviations and acronyms. (Thanks, Make Use of)