The Big Felafel


Category Archive

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

From Rockets to Knowledge: The Difference We Can Make for Sderot Youth

Summer camp was the best place on earth for me as a kid (probably still would be as an adult). Being a camper and escaping from real life for a week or two at a time was just so needed from ages 7 to 15. I mean school was hard, what with all those math problems, and recess was already filled with drama, whether it was a fight about who would play mom in “house,” or boys with cooties; camp was always the much needed break and promise land away from my problems.

Every kid needs camp. But some kids need it more than others. While back in the sixth grade I stressed out about my boy problems, today the children of the city of Sderot are more worried about rocket fire and staying alive. For over eight years the threat of rockets and war has plagued the city of Sderot. That means that the children of Sderot have grown up with this continued danger, and some of them were literally born into it, making this the only life they know.

Sderot Knowledge Campers

This summer, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has opened up its doors and teamed up with The Canadian Friends of Hebrew University and Committee for a Secure Sderot to provide 200 youth with the opportunity to escape Sderot and the rockets and have a week of fun and learning in the Israel’s capital.

For one-week these kids can enjoy regular kid activities like swimming, bowling and going on hikes without worrying about where the nearest bomb shelter is or make sure their ears are alert for the warning of rockets. On top of the usual fun stuff they will also participate in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder workshops (PTSD) with trained professionals to help them with the trauma they have experienced and most likely will experience again. And to add to the experience the kids will also have the privilege of learning science in labs at the Hebrew University. This is a great treat for them, because coming from a periphery town these kids are barely getting a decent education let alone the opportunity to study at the top university in the country.

I met some of the Sderot kids that are at the camp and was taken away with their candid stories about living in a warzone. Even though most of them are 13 to 16-years-old, they talk like grown ups, speaking about the fear of death and life under fire. Each one of them has a story or stories about kassams (rockets) falling outside their homes, inside their living rooms and for one boy, on the pillow he had just been resting his head on before getting up to go the bathroom. They speak about these incidents void of emotion (due to the trauma); yet listening to them you feel their pain and understand the necessity of bringing them out of the city even if it is for one week.

While each youth is special, there was one that really stood out to me. His name is Daniel and he will be 16-years-old in a month. But unlike teenagers in America, he is not worrying about passing his driving test; instead he worries about surviving rockets. Daniel was a camper in this Knowledge camp but back in Sderot he volunteers helping younger children deal with PTSD as well as to cope with the stress and anxiety of everyday life. Daniel thinks he is just living life, but to me he is defining it. Everyday he survives his fear, he lives his life, and he supports others and wakes up to do it again, day after day.

If you want to help sponsor a camper like Daniel please check out my Give2gether page. It doesn’t take much for you to make a difference for kids like Daniel, and yet it’s all the difference in the world. I’m sponsoring Daniel or at least I am doing what I can, I hope you can do the same.


It’s Time for funny!

It’s happening again! My beloved comedy troupe, Hahaפuch, is once again bringing the funny and cheap alcohol to Jerusalem. What exactly can you expect: improv, comedy sketches about Israeli life, videos and our special fake news segment. Add to that our musical guest Shira Pruce and Orit Golan and special immigrant guest, as well as Paul Hyams of Bisbari catering who will bring free food with him!

Doors open at 7:30pm so make sure to get there for the cheap stuff and free stuff and grab a good seat. We sold out our last two shows so it’s best to call the box office at 052-603-9115 to reserve tickets. Check out the event on our Facebook group page. And check out our Hummus in a bag video from our February show.
HaHaפuch Comedy Variety Show:
May 13, 2010
Doors open at 7:30pm
The Merkaz Hamagshimim Theater, 7a Dor DorVeDorshav, German Colony, Jerusalem, Israel, the world
NIS 30: Students and soldiers
NIS 35: regular ticket


The Holy Crap! Scandal

Fresh off the press former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is corrupt… This can’t really be news. I mean I’ve known he was corrupt ever since he tried to hide his bald head with that ridiculous comb over. I said, “You can’t hide your comb over and you can’t hide the truth.” And here we are several years later suddenly (please read with a very sarcastic tone) breaking the news that the man is involved in a series of building scandals during his term as mayor of Jerusalem. Come on!!

First off, it is practically a national law to bribe municipality workers. I would do it if I had money to do it with. But that’s why young couples and students’ demands end up getting ignored by the city. Sure we want affordable housing, but we simply can’t afford to pay off the municipality workers who can make that happen. In fact, current Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat once gave a speech to a crowd of new immigrants expressing his shock when a young entrepreneur had his business shut down because he had not known to bribe the municipality workers. Bribing and power trips are old news.

What is shocking is to read about the other former mayor’s role in the scandal, Uri Lupolianski. I guess it still surprises me to see a super religious Jew fall so far from his holy teachings. Worse, Lupolianski allegedly laundered the money through million dollar donations to Yad Sarah, a charity for disabled and elderly people, which he founded in 1976. Is this a modern-religious man’s version of Robin Hood or did he end up pocketing the money and having hair treatments and spa time with Olmert? Time will only tell, since these men are obviously too corrupt to tell the truth.

But for those of us that live in Jerusalem and deal with the daily and disruptive construction (destruction), I think we knew awhile ago that something shady was going down. Or maybe it was just little-cynical-me. It just seemed like the expensive high-rises went up too fast but the pot holes on the streets never seemed to get fixed. In fact, the Holy Land Scandal is predicted to be just the first in a list of scandals. According to investigators the Mamilla mall, YMCA, Cinema City Project and Gilo Uptown project may all be linked to dirty hands.

While I may not be an official city investigator (who may also be accepting bribes by the above mentioned people), I have my own predictions about Jerusalem scandals. Mainly I believe that Project Light Rail is as dirty as they come- and it’s not from all the digging…The project was also initiated during Olmert’s term and continued on in Lupolianski’s reign. Mayor Barkat even stated that the train was ‘built in sin’. The project never seems to end. For years they have ripped the city streets a part causing painful traffic so that they can build a train that goes from one suburb to another. The rails are not convenient for the average traveler and probably won’t make traveling easier or faster. But will make it more expensive. Between Egged’s monopoly on bus transportation and the evil train, most of us end up walking or paying for a cab (that gets stuck in traffic). You can try the bike route, but since the city never made special bike lines then your simple ride into the city is more like a death march. I’ve done it plenty of times and every time I get off the bike I want to kiss the ground.

So when you read the news about the dirty evil sinful stupid light rail train scandal just know that The Big Felafel broke the story first! As for the other news, there’s nothing new about it.


I heart NIS 5 Ice Coffee- But here’s why

It’s almost summer, but if you’re like me then you’ve been drinking ice coffee (also known as ice cafe or froozen coffee) all year round. However, with the heat about to go up a couple of notches, the ice coffee craze will also make waves of its own.

If you get addicted or simply can’t afford the amounts of delicious goodness you are consuming then let me help you out. If you’re an avid reader of the blog (which clearly every person that reads our blog is) then you’ve heard this spiel before, but now there’s more!

Marzipan, a bakery known for its gooey rugelach has been selling ice coffee for NIS 5 for the past three years. Every summer I worry that they will raise their prices, but I am happy to say that’s never the case. In fact these are some of the smartest Israeli business people I have ever known. Without any advertising and just word of mouth, they have managed to expand their shuk operation to a bigger store and open up a shop just off of Emek Refaim. And now the smartness (is that a word, ironic) continues with the expansion of their ice coffee treat.

Instead of just one ice coffee machine, they’ve now taken over the adjacent stall and opened up a row of machines featuring different flavors from banana (not a fan) to lemon-nana to sweet vanilla. You can even combine the flavors and each cup is filled to the very top. This is about as close to a slurpee that we will ever get to! I’ll have to stop writing this now since the mere thought demands that I go out and purchase yet another treaty-treat of ice coffee!

Marzipan I thank you for your continued support in my ice coffee addiction. You’ve allowed me to continue purchasing my favorite drink at a consistent low price and, forced other vendors to lower their ice coffee prices as well. But have no fear my loyalty is to you. I promise I will always drink your ice coffee and sometimes vanilla and a few times lemon-nana and continue to spread the word about your smart business ethics and amazing deal. I only ask that you have the same low price at your Emek Refaim shop where you would no doubt win over the hearts of people forced to pay NIS 18 at the coffee shops throughout the area.

The next sip is on me!


Israel and the US: Fake Friends…Dude Accept it!

 Why is the US making such a big deal out of last week’s declaration to build more homes in Jerusalem? Is it because it embarrassed Vice President Biden during his trip in Israel? I mean dude get over it. No, what I believe we have here is more likely a case of Fake Friends. 

Here’s all I’m saying: I have friends that I really like and friends that are in my circle but I’m not so close to. If my ‘fake friend’ in the circle does something that annoys me then it drives me crazy. I can’t stop thinking about it, it changes the whole way I look at the person and makes me want to push them further out of my circle. But if a good friend did the same thing that annoyed me, I really wouldn’t care or make a big deal out of it. They are a good friend and I know them so it really doesn’t affect me and we move on. 

Let’s cut the crap and call Israel and the US what they really are: Fake Friends. The US is always bashing Israel for making minor mistakes and even when we admit to the mistake, try to fix the mistake and move on there seems to be an endless amount of repercussions even leading to Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren stating that our relations are the worst in 35 years. This sounds like a case of fake friends and not just bad relations. 

Case in point: Hey didn’t the Palestinians just fire kassam rockets into Israel this past week? Why yes they did. And where was the US- were they condemning their actions and telling them how this destroys any chance for peace and the process? Well I certainly didn’t read about it in the news and it hasn’t been coming out of Hilary Clinton’s mouth or Obama’s so I’m guessing they’re ok with it. 

And that is because the US is playing favorites in their friend circle. I get it and it’s clear, Israel is a fake friend. You don’t want us to prosper, you don’t want us to build homes and you get us in trouble for doing the most minor of mistakes while the other side has blatantly begun violent attacks from kassam rockets to rioting in the Old City, a classic beginning-of-the-Intifada move. 

I think good relations or bad relations, what does it really matter? As a fake friend you will always remain inside the circle and when you are needed then you edge closer to the juicy middle where you are appreciated but just know you will always do something to piss off your fake friend and end up on the outskirts again. That’s not diplomacy it’s just obvious. 

If Israel and the US were Facebook friends, then we would need to create a status called fake friends (to tell you the truth this should already be an option since I clearly have ‘friends’ that I never talk to, like ever). 

Israel needs to accept this status and go with it. Let’s focus on our better friends, the ones that like us, even if they are few and far a part (and I can’t think of any right now). Let’s hang out with them, have slumber parties, girl talk, bake and roast marshmallows. And as for the US let’s keep our distance, and continue to build homes for our people, protect our children and enjoy the fruits of our country’s success. Cause if we don’t, no one will.


HaHaפuch Comedy Show- Just the Beginning!!

Well, the HaHaפuch Comedy troupe had our first show and we are already looking forward to the next one in March. The show, a mix of improv, sketches, videos, musical guest and immigrant innovation spotlight interview, finally got to share with the world, or at least the people in the audience how funny we find Israel to be. From our sketches on the new creation of Hummus in a Bag and the Stacy Spin-off Show (via Srugim) to a Q&A with the Rabbanout and our satirical news segment, we have only just begun our humor attack on Israeli life.

Check out some of our videos from the show and let us know if you have any ideas for Israeli sketches. We want to hear from you about daily life experiences from job interviews to bureaucratic fights, to delicious food and bad dates. We plan to perform once a month at The Merkaz Hamagshimim Theater still at the same location in the German Colony. Every month will be a whole new show of improv, sketches, musical guest and more.

Become a Fan of our Facebook page


Watch Season 2 of Srugim ONLINE (Israel only)

Thanks to @avihein on Twitter for being the first to alert everyone that you can now watch “Yifat gets married”, the first episode  of the second season of Srugim online. You can read what we’ve written about Srugim here and here.  If you need to catch up and do a marathon of the first season – you can watch it free online [Israel only].

For the uninitiated, Srugim is an Israeli drama series (in Hebrew) about young religious singles and couples in Jerusalem.  Srugim’s portrayal of life in Jerusalem is fairly accurate and it really touches on a lot of issues that come up for the 20’s and 30’s crowd in the holy city. The show really hits home – I literally ran into them filming a few times just walking around my neighborhood. It’s also really fun to try and figure out where each shot is filmed and to spot someone I know casually walking by in the backdrop.

As Molly wrote up, we were lucky to see the first 2 episodes at the Jerusalem Cinemateque with “Amir” (Amos Tamam), Laizy Shapira (director) and Chava Divon (co-director) from Srugim.  Now I’m spoiled and want to watch the rest of the season with the whole cast! If you’re reading this, Srugim cast, you’re invited over to watch on my laptop (I don’t watch TV) as I hunt down each episode online! I’ll even make some popcorn. Yalla!

Other peeps talking about Season 2:


“Srugim” the show, I ask you: “איפה (Where’s) Ha-Anglo?”

molly srogimfelalfel

'Amir' with the felafel ladies!

The ever popular TV show “Srugim” is about to start its second season January 10, 2010. But cool people like me and my co-blogger and skinny friend Rebecca have already seen the first two episodes. How did we accomplish such a feat? Well it was simple really, during Hannukah the Jerusalem Cinameteque held the preimere for the new episodes along with a panel of the show’s producers, writers and one of the actors.

I have to admit that for Jerusalem this was pretty cool. Rebecca and I had front row seats which we thought would be great to view the subtitles extra large, but unfortunately Hebrew Ulpan was hardcore that night with no subtitles and lots of Israeli slang. While the seats didn’t help our Hebrew lesson, they were great because we ended up right in front of one of the actors of the show, Amos Tamam, who plays Amir. In some ways it was weird, you know, was I supposed to laugh extra hard in the funny scenes because he was behind me? Should I have sighed when it was sad? It felt like I was on the TV show, not him!

surgim2

Anyway, I won’t give away anything so no spoiler alerts, but I will say this: For a show that does a pretty good job depicting Jerusalem’s young religious and semi-religious and non-religious crowd, where’s the token Anglo!! If you remember back to the first episode there was Stacy the ‘American immigrant-reform-lesbian’ that lived next door and was handy for some morning tefilin, but since that appearance we have yet to bump into any Anglos on the street, in classes, or date anyone — which is just hard to believe.

surgim1

Come on Laizy! That’s the writer and director’s name; I’m not just calling him lazy! Where’s the Anglo? Either bring Stacy back for more episodes, which I am sure Shira Katz, my improv buddy would love or get an Anglo supporting character in the cast. You must know there’s a lot of us watching and basically there’s a lot of us in Jerusalem. So as you start to write the third season please keep us in mind. And, if you can’t think of a plot or two, let me give you some starters- just know that if you use my ideas I want the credit or at least a pat on the back!

Plots:

  1. Stacy has a (insert Jewish holiday here) party and invites the building. Here the characters meet and become buddies. They share a Shabbat or two, hang out on Emek Refaim and drink like an Anglo whose under age!
  2. The Anglo turned immigrant turned student who meets Hodaya at school.
  3. Nati dates an Anglo girl. That’s simple fun and goes a long way.
  4. Nati dates Molly. Hey it could happen!
  5. Yifat has to design something for The Big Felafel. Molly and Rebecca make a star appearance later to have reoccurring roles on the show. Get it! We play ourselves, it’s pure genius! The blog will truly come to life.
  6. Nati wants some underage booty and ends up at one of those bars with the ‘Shana Alef kids’ we’ve all come to hate.
  7. While the gang hangs out at a café on Emek Refaim a Birthright group invades their space. But one of the members leaves a lasting impression on someone in the group. (it’s not porn, just romance)
  8. Amir teaches an Anglo Hebrew for extra money and ends up setting up the Anglo with either Nati or Reut (depending on if it’s a boy or girl).
  9. Reut meets an Anglo boy at synagogue over Kiddish- hott!
  10. Hodaya becomes friends with an Anglo at her bar who is also debating her level of religiosity.

Laizy, I got more if and when you want it! Just write us!

To join the Bring Back Stacy Facebook Group click here

Photo credit (thanks): Rebecca for the first photo and Dana Lavi Dekel for the bottom 2 photos

To watch the show’s first season for free online


Ode to Merkaz Hamagshimim

merkazhamagshimimsign

A few months ago I heard that Merkaz Hamagshimim was sold and moving to another location. All because of scumbag Madoff who lost $90 million of Hadassah’s money. I started reminiscing with others about what a wonderful “soft landing pad” The Merkaz was and how chaval (a shame) that it won’t be there in the same format for the next olim or would-be olim who come to Israel. The Merkaz was a combination of absorption center and community center located in the German Colony of Jeusalem. A place where you could live for a year on the cheap after making aliyah or while figuring out what to do in Israel and seeing if you want to move here for good.

If it hadn’t been for Merkaz Hamagshimim, I don’t know that I’d still be in Israel. It was while living in The Merkaz that I got to go to ulpan, work at an internship-turned-job, do Jewish learning, meet my would-be husband,  meet co-blogger Molly and other friends, and the list goes on. In order to get a real sense of coming to Israel through a newcomers eye, I dug into group emails I had sent and found hilarious observations from my first year in Israel in 2004-05 while living at The Merkaz.  Enjoy!

Merkaz Hamagshimim

Arrival

I’ve arrived!!!!!!!  Merkaz Hamagshimim is unbelievable. I love my room but am still slightly nauseous from the ride from the airport. Replace ride with crazy israeli driver. i think he thought it was six flags great adventure and that we were on a roller coaster. he was the only one that went weee. oy.

Walking to town

We timed the walk to town today, and with our new carefully planned route it takes about 20 minutes to the Conservative Yeshiva and 30 minutes to town. I know the time, not because I have a watch, which I don’t, but because I’ve been carryng around my clock. Every time I want to check the time I pull out a clock from my bag. Maybe I should tie it around my neck. Or get a watch. We’ll see.

My Room

My room is really cute, airy, breezy, and right across from a camp (I hope) where Abba’s “dancing queen” has been playing since 9AM. Sometimes they listened to it in hebrew for variety and sang along. To say the least, its been in my head all day. My room also has a stove top and a fridge. the stove top was SOOOO nasty, so i bought some cleaning spray, only to find out later it was really to polish wooden furniture. yeah for hebrew and the english i failed to pay attention to. way to go. but actually it cleaned the grime nicely and also turned it into wood, which was an added bonus.

Only two computers at The Merkaz

Thank you for your emails, i read them over and over (you know who you are who have been emailing) because i miss you and because i love staring at this computer screen, i have been at it for (gasp) the past 2 hours almost. i am hogging the computer at the merkaz (there’s more than 1) because i am far too tired to be social  So last night after scrubbing my stove for 3 hours (or so it felt) i tried to fall asleep to the beautiful sounds of cats meowing. oh jerusalem, you will never cease to live up to your reputation of being infestd with stray cats, even for me.

The no-shake internship

This morning I met with the people that I will be interning for. It took me less than 20 minutes to walk there, which is great. The walk to work is so nice, with lots of flowers, and cute stores, and fruit stands,  and i’m sure i won’t be able to resist the little bakery with fresh, warm, baked goods (my biggest weakness) so i’m really looking forward to it. The guys that I’m working for are really laid back and seem very nice. They are religious so there was no handshake (in case that was on your mind, now you know)

Awkward Change

Speaking of hands, I am sooo awkward, well in general, but more specifically at the supermarket, I extend my hand for the change but they always place it on the plastic counter. next time i will remember. woooops.

Supermarket Shopping

I went to the supermarket and pretty much bought everything in sight. How could I resist those sesame pretzels, and ‘vaflim’, and nutella, and cucumbers that I thought were zucchini. Woops.

Hebrew and Japanese

Ya caught me- i got nothin on japanese, but my hebrew is improving drastically. I love the people in my ulpan- i went to lunch with them and spoke hebrew for an hour. it was ‘fantasti’ .

Israel. week 25? Maybe. whos going to check.. honestly

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been here for a while and am still very unsure of the future.

Discovering sabich

one more thing- food item called sabeech— amazing! ‘madheem’ wowsers. i hate eggplant but not sabeech eggplant, so fried and delicious and the pita and the hardboiled egg and wow. come visit and i’ll show you the best place.

Going on tiyulim

so i’m going on a Merkaz  tiyul this weekend with hiking and biking and raking and caking and poking and soaking (?)

The Lingo

Rak Rega. (insert hand motion here which makes me want to curse out Israelis every chance I get)

Returning after a trip to the States

here i am. back in israel. as an israeli. more agressive? don’t think so. better hebrew? yes. better than an israeli? ehhh…

Making Aliyah

so i’ve gone and i’ve done it. the big A word. not the curse word, the other one. aliya. or aliyah. depending on how much you like silent letters.


Beautiful Sufganiyot

We may not have Dunkin Donuts here in Israel, so Chanukah time and Roladin bakery’s sufganiyot (Israeli version of donuts)  are the closest we can get. Most sufganiyot could be confused with a roll – a big round piece of cakey bread, with a dot of filling which could fall off if you’re not careful. However,  I think there are a few bakeries that really put in the extra effort (read: filling)

  • Cafe Ne’eman – King George St. I recommend the white chocolate
  • Marzipan Bakery – Mahane Yehuda Market & Rahel Imenu St., Jerusalem
  • Roladin – Mamilla Mall [featured below]

Is it wrong to frame this picture and hang it over my couch? I think it’s beautiful.  I recommend the chocolate chocolate flavor. Pure heaven.  I think I’m gonna have to keep going back until I’ve tried every flavor.

sufganiyot-donuts_in_israel

Flavors include macchiato, halva, pistachio, vodka melon, banana, with all sorts of goodies sprinkled and added on top. For more sufganiya goodness, read Haaretz’s writeup.