The Big Felafel


Category Archive

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

The Jerusalem Light Rail: The Ticket is More Than Full Price

I suck at this!

Wow it has been way too long since we have blogged. I am sure it’s been a difficult few months for you, our readers. How have you managed to live without my adorable sarcastic posts and Rebecca’s incredibly informative write-ups?

So let’s just jump right (or write) in. I’m writing what I am sure will be one of many angry light-rail train posts. Now that the train has been up and ‘running’ for the last few months, I am interested to hear what people think of it. So share your comments with me after you finish reading.

On principal I am not riding it. That and it doesn’t actually go anywhere I need to go.

However, the train and I have met in passing. It’s like a bad date you have to keep reliving, because the person lives a few blocks from you. So, indeed I am not at all fond of this crap train. The train butchered the city with its tracks. It forced stores to close down, has turned the city center into a pretty little ghost town. It causes traffic jams. And some old guy just got hit by it.

But the worst of all? The city is using it as yet another way to rob its citizens. No, I am not referring to the ticket price (as I write this, news has just broken that they plan to charge NIS 6.40 for a ride). No I am referring to the ticket you get when your car gets stuck in the intersection thanks to the new traffic light system, programmed for the train and not the people.

Do I think Israeli drivers are more dangerous than the threat of Iran actually building nukes? Yes I do. But the ones that are getting ticketed at the intersection of Jaffa (by the municipality) are getting fines for fake reasons.

That’s right, the police are standing by waiting for cars to get stuck in the intersection where they then tap on the window, ask the driver to come with them, and give them a big fat ticket. I have heard from several people that the tickets range from NIS 500 to NIS 1,000. I have also heard and even seen for myself that hundreds of people are getting tickets. You do the math on that and you’ll see how the city is planning to get itself out of debt with this method.

Before you get to this evil intersection, you are stuck in a horrendous traffic jam. I believe this is the part of the psychological torture that drives the drivers into the intersection where they get stuck. Instead of having two lanes, all the cars are forced into one lane, thus further frustrating your target ticket audience. Add to it, the many drivers that cut the line of cars by driving on the wrong side of the street, and you have a pretty angry driver that just wants to cross the light already and get from A to B. And I don’t have to tell you that the drivers who are driving on the wrong side of the street, literally meters from the police, don’t get a ticket. Why would they.

The train sucks. Its only lightness is how light it is on any concept of how to truly benefit the city and people. The city sucks for handing out tickets to drivers that don’t deserve them, while standing by and doing nothing about the real issues. With all this sucking, you would think that the whole problematic ordeal could be sucked away into a black hole somewhere.

 

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Guide to supermarket shopping online in Israel

supermarket-sweep

Going to the supermarket in Israel is a bit like Supermarket Sweep – only without the fun trivia and prizes. You have to be in top shape to fend off the line cutters at the poultry section and then the line holders (“I’ll be right back, just save my spot”) at the checkout. You also have to endure waiting on line for at least 20 minutes at the checkout– and that’s only if the person in front of you opts out of buying cigarettes at the last minute. And, if you forgot an item at the last minute, you have to run, literally sprint, to get it so that the person behind you in line doesn’t explode in anger.

Last time I was in the US, I was amazed that a trip to the supermarket could be a quick in and out experience. In Israel, there’s never even a quick “in” – what with the bag checks, rummaging for the 5 shekel coin to unlock the mystery that awaits within your cart, and finally making your way in through all the outside “deals” that try to distract you from sticking to your shopping list. And, there’s certainly no quick “out” with maybe one express lane, if you’re lucky, and my experience has shown that no matter which line I pick, there is always some sort of hold up – a coupon that’s not valid, a price check on an item, a last-minute delivery decision, etc.

Let’s just say that the Israeli supermarket shopping experience is not exactly a calming experience.

The best part of going to the supermarket is the hope that there will be free samples and good deals (since there is no circular to let you know of deals ahead of time). Depending on which supermarket you go to, you may see people sampling the olives, pickles, raisins, walnuts, and anything else that is not safely guarded behind plastic. In this hilarious episode from the Israeli TV show, Ramzor, Eyal tries to eat as many free samples as he can in the supermarket… and gets caught! See what lengths he’ll go to continue enjoying free samples.  Also in this episode, Hefer tries to cancel his TV subscription but gets unbelievable offers, anything to keep him from cancelling.

After having a baby in October, I realized that if I ever want something from the supermarket, the only way I’ll be able to get it is if I order online, even if it means foregoing free samples.  At first, I was really intimidated by having to shop online in Hebrew, but after a little while, I started to get the hang of it. Most of these sites let you keep previous orders so you can just re-order many of the same things, which saves a lot of time.

Here are all the online supermarket sites in Israel, although the only one I’ve tried so far is Shufersal Yashir.

Shortly after writing this, an article came out in Yediot Achronot comparing the different online supermarkets: Shufersal, Mega, Rami Levi and MisterZol. The winner for every grouping of assorted items was Rami Levi.

shufersal

ShuferSal Yashir

I saw that Shufersal Yashir (I always thought it was SuperSol until I saw their website)  was giving 200 shekels (25 shekels for each purchase x 8 purchases) to new online shoppers, so I decided to give it a try. And I was hooked. I ordered in the morning, and could decide when I wanted to receive the delivery – the same day or the next day. Click click click and a few hours later all the heavy stuff I ordered was magically at my doorstep.

The prices are definitely a bit higher, but if you spend over 750 shekels, delivery is free.  There are deals online as well so if you shop the deals first, you may only pay a bit more than you would at the store.

The other fun thing about Shufersal Yashir is that they give you 2 random items from the store for free. Sometimes we got really great stuff like a loaf of bread or frozen peas, but sometimes they were really crappy – like grape mix for juice and pizza flavored pretzels. I guess this somewhat compensates for giving up free samples at the supermarket.

The only major drawback of shopping online is not being able to choose my own produce, but you can leave notes on the site like “un-ripe only” and they do a pretty good job of bringing you what you request. I found the user interface on the website easy to use and the search functionality really helpful.

Delivery price: 28 NIS. Free for orders over 750 NIS   29 NIS. 10 NIS for orders over 750 NIS.
Delivery area: Most cities in Israel. Enter your zip code to find out if they deliver to your area.
Payment options: local Israeli and international credit cards

 

ramilevy

Rami Levy

Rami Levy recently rolled out a new website for ordering your groceries online but with one major problem – they’re rolling out their new service painfully slowly, starting with trial runs in the Tel Aviv area only. Who knows when they’ll get to Jerusalem Sad smile. Rami Levy has the reputation of having the cheapest prices so I am definitely waiting til they come to my area.

Delivery price: 24.95 NIS
Delivery area: Tel Aviv area

logo_mega

Mega

Mega has a very photo-rich site, but is usually more expensive than the other supermarkets. I would be interested in hearing feedback from people who have used Mega online.

Delivery price: 28 NIS.
Delivery area: Most cities in Israel. Enter your zip code to find out if they deliver to your area.
Payment Options: Israeli credit cards and PayPal!

 

Mister Zol B’click 

Currently the Homepage isn’t showing deals, although there is a link to get to them, but already that gives me a bad feeling about the usability of the site. It looks like this is a relatively new site as the FAQ section still has “Question 1 and Answer 1”. According to an article recently in Yediot Achronot, Mister Zol didn’t have very good customer service – the writer of the article said he had to call 3 times before he got through to someone, and even then the customer service wasn’t very helpful.

 

Delivery price:  26 NIS for orders up to 250 NIS. 20 NIS for orders over 250 NIS
Delivery area:  Probably most cities in Israel, but I can’t click on the link to check delivery areas.

makolet

MyMakolet

I like looking around at the site because it makes me nostalgic for the US…they even have Shoprite brand cereals! Too funny.

What makes this site unique is that everything is in English.

The website says they will call for your credit card number and don’t process the credit card through the internet. I thought the whole point of eCommerce was to put your credit card online but maybe this is comforting to some people (not so comforting to me… where are they storing this sensitive info?).

So what happens with the second purchase? Do you have to call each time? Do they call you?

I also found the user interface on the site not very intuitive.

Delivery price: 20 NIS
Delivery area: Only Jerusalem

 

yashir

Yashir4u

Located in Bnei Brak, Yashir4u doesn’t seem to have lots of brands I’m using to seeing at the local supermarket. Maybe it’s because they only sell Mehadrin products. The prices seem to be much cheaper than Shufersal Yashir.

Delivery price: Free for orders over 500 NIS
Delivery area: Most cities in Israel. Enter your zip code to find out if they deliver to your area.

 

superbaba

SuperBaba – for the Tel Aviv area only. Looks like a brand new site. I clicked on “Deliveries” and the text says “text related to deliveries” Ha!

 

The only question remaining is – will the Shuk Mahane Yehuda follow the trend and go online?! Will the website include screaming vendors and flies buzzing  to replicate the true experience of the shuk?

Where do you like to go shopping? Where do you find the best deals?


What July 4 means to Israelis: 35 years since the heroic rescue in Entebbe

In honor of the 35th anniversary of the heroic IDF rescue mission in Entebbe, Uganda, The Big Felafel received a moving guest post about Major General (Res.) Doron Almog (the “first man on the scene” in Entebbe) in which he reflects on the historic raid and highlights the importance of standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Entebbe’s Message 35 Years Later: Leave No Man Behind
By Doron Almog

Thirty-five years ago today (July 4, 1976), an Air France flight was hijacked and diverted to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Shortly after landing, all of the non-Jewish passengers were released and the remaining Jewish passengers were held hostage. One week after the hijacking, I commanded the first task force to land in Entebbe as part of a daring mission that freed 105 hostages.

Faced with immense challenges, we pulled off a thrilling (yet bittersweet) victory. At the time, we saw the feat as an illustration of the strength and vitality of the Israeli army and the Jewish spirit.  Upon reflection (so many years later), it is clear that it also highlighted the importance of standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

It should be noted that my participation in Entebbe was voluntary. After my brother, Eran, was killed in the Yom Kippur war (he was injured in the Golan Heights and bled to death after sitting untreated for seven days), I was given the choice of leaving my combat unit as a bereaved soldier.  However, I chose to remain in the military in order to change the ethos of the IDF and make absolutely sure that no soldier would ever be left behind again.

It was this philosophy that drove me to participate in the Entebbe raid and numerous other military operations throughout my career and, ultimately, set the stage for the next phase of my adult life.

After our son was born – and we named him Eran after my late brother – he was diagnosed with severe physical and cognitive disabilities.  In an instant, my world was turned upside down. At first, I had a very hard time coming to terms with the fact that my beloved son would never speak or hold down a job, and would always be dependent on others to provide his every need.  But my “no man left behind” philosophy prevailed, and I found the strength to be the father that Eran needed me to be.

In fact, my time with Eran allowed me to develop my philosophy even further, and I became committed to changing the way society views the disabled.  I realized that it is not enough to make sure that these wonderful children don’t get left behind.  We must ensure that they are given every opportunity to excel and reach their greatest potentials.

For the Entebbe raid, our IDF battalions travelled 2,500 miles to fight for those who could not fight for themselves.  It is time for us to harness that bravery, resolve and dedication to our fellow men, to turn our sights inward and focus on the urgent rescue missions in our own neighborhoods. These “hostages” are in very real danger every day of their lives and are often abandoned. They are the weakest members of our society and are completely dependent on the kindness of others. We don’t need to launch a complex tactical mission to set them free.  We simply need to wrap them in love and help them integrate into our social fabric.

Make no mistake: our commitment to care for the disabled members of society remains immeasurably more difficult than any military campaign I have ever led. But we must stand up and fight to provide them with the care that they deserve. Because, in the end, our generation will be judged by how well we complete this mission.

 

Major General (Res.) Doron Almog is the founder and Chairman of Aleh Negev – Nahalat Eran, a village named in memory of his son, that provides a continuum of residential care for children with severe disabilities as they grow from adolescents into young adults. Learn more about Aleh at www.aleh.org.

 


‘Be My BFF’ Campaign: Sarah Silverman Be My Friend

This is what our friendship would look like

A few years ago famous comedian Sarah Silverman took part in a campaign geared towards getting young Jews to make sure their grandparents in Florida voted for then presidential candidate Barak Obama, in ‘The Great Schlep’.

Fast forward a few years later to present day, famous comedian Sarah Silverman is about to partake in another schlep, The Really Great Schlep, as she makes her way to the Jewish Homeland. That’s right, Silverman, obviously a big Jew, will be in Israel on tour and at this year’s President’s conference in about a week.

I am sure she will have an awesome trip, hang out with her family, and see some Jewish stuff while she is here. But more importantly, she needs to come and hang out with me, because we are destined to be BFFs. Is there a way to say that, write that, without sounding creepy or stalkerish?

So, just like Sarah Silverman once campaigned to make a difference, it appears it is now my turn to do the same. Perhaps my campaign is much smaller, really just for me and my friends and my comedy troupe, but I believe it will have a profound  effect on the nation, on Jews as a whole, and perhaps even milk prices.

Sarah Silverman this is my ‘Be My BFF’ campaign and I will do everything that I can until you and I are wearing friendship bracelets, posing in front of the Western Wall with our shoulders covered (thanks to the old lady-shmata-police at the Kotel who hand out dirty scarves to make sure G-d doesn’t get a peep show in the holiest place in the world) and leftover hummus and pita in our teeth.

There are a lot of reasons that you should be my friend and meet me on your trip to Israel. I will now list just a few. Also, I will make sure to tweet it up, Facebook and get my friends involved in my campaign. I will not sleep or eat until you are my friend. Mainly I won’t be sleeping because my eight-month-old son is teething and wakes up every two hours throughout the night. And when I say I won’t eat, what I mean is, I won’t eat too much, except for Shabbat when calories don’t count.

A List of Just a Few Reasons Why We Should be BFF:

We are both Jewish ( I only use this as a reason, because people think when they are setting people up, as long as they have one thing in common, like age, race or religion, that they must be perfect for each other…just trying to cover my bases. And this is kind of like the perfect shidduch).

I have a tiny comedy troupe, in a tiny city, in a tiny country. We are Hahafuch (it means upside down) the premiere English speaking comedy troupe in all of Israel. The only English speaking comedy troupe in all of Israel. We do improv and comedy sketches, making fun of Israel. We would love to have you for practice. Then you can check off “do improv with a bunch of new immigrants in Jerusalem” from your bucket list.

My husband is an archaeologist and can show you a private tour of his dig where they find really old stuff. He can also show you and your family awesome, really old secret places all over Jerusalem that you don’t know about.

I will take you to Bazaar Strauss in Talpiot, which is like a smaller, crappier version of Target. I will buy you anything you want, as long as it’s under NIS 10. It might not sound like much, but you could get a lot of stuff there for that price: underwear (never used, I might add), salad tongs, or half of a Purim costume (I say half because the other half is gone but they are still selling it).

I go to this Yoga-Pilates fusion class that you would love. Not because of the workout, but because the teacher wears these amazing pants, that are so wrong in all the wrong places. It is truly a body and mind challenge to get through the class. But as BFFs I know we could do it together.

I will take you to the Jerusalem Mahane Yehuda Shuk and you can meet a real busta (stall) owner in the Iraqi part, and I can guarantee he will give you some candy and tell you cool stories about his life.  I will then buy you NIS 5 ice coffee from marzipan and get you some of their famous rugelach if you insist. We will look at really pretty vegetables and take another picture, that I would probably make my Facebook profile for life.

You’re invited for Shabbat. I will make sure to have a table of awesome people, even if it means I have to become more than Facebook friends with them and possibly have to pay them. For a BFF, I would do that.

There’s more reasons of course, but I have to leave something for Twitter and Facebook. I will post reasons daily and I hope you will check them out and I will win you over. Like I said I will do anything. I can’t promise peace in the Middle East, but I can promise it like a politician does- which is about the same and worth a Nobel Prize if nothing else.

I know if we had the chance to hang out that it would be just another day in your world but for me it would kind of make my life. I moved to Israel after college and while I love it here, sometimes it’s hard to get through the day. Not because of terrorists. No I’m talking about something more evil than that- bureaucracy. So, I am just saying that you would make a big difference in someone’s life. And that difference will have a huge effect throughout the Anglo-Immigrant community in Israel. That’s a big deal. A really big deal. So on your Really Big Schlep, please just consider taking an hour or two to meet your Middle East BFF.

He wants to be BFFs too!

Also, I have a dog. He’s a Jerusalem mix and knows how to high five and roll over. We rescued him. He does not make white dog poop from the 70’s, but I can have my Israeli husband sing that song to you. He has it memorized.

To hang out you can email here. Or tweet me @FelafelBalls

Can’t wait!

 


And the winner is…Israel: Behind the Scenes of Footnote

This week Israel made it in the news a lot. Mostly you read about politics, lame speeches and overused terms, but if you dug a little deeper you might have found out about Joseph Cedar, an Israeli film director who won best screenplay at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Whenever an Israeli wins something anywhere in the world, an Israeli citizen feels entitled to enjoy the moment and share the good news, almost as though they are the ones accepting the honor. I think this is where you can definitely say, “we’re all family here.” When Natalie Portman took home the Oscar for best actress at the Academy Awards this year, she might as well have been playing for Team Israel, because she was celebrated as though she brought home the gold. I don’t even know what makes her Israeli (obviously her mom or dad), but I shed a tear (not really) when she gave her acceptance speech— it was like Hebrew to my ears.

So when Joseph Cedar, an Israeli, clinched the Cannes award for best screenplay, I just wanted to give someone, anyone a high five and pop the champagne bottle (more like cheap fantasia, but you get the picture) open and celebrate.

Cedar is a gifted young director, who is no stranger to winning awards. His first movie, “Time of Favor” won six Ofir Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In 2007 his critically acclaimed film, “Beaufort” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The movie is based on his own experiences during his army service where he served in Lebanon.

His latest win at Cannes is for his new movie “Footnote”, which premiered there. The movie is a dramedy that examines the relationship between father and son, both of whom are competing researchers of Talmud at an Israeli university. The film is set to premiere on June 2.

I had the chance to sit down with Joseph Cedar’s father, Prof. Howard Cedar and talk about his son’s continued success. But what makes the conversation even more interesting, is that Prof. Howard Cedar is also gifted and no stranger to awards— however, this is not a son following in his father’s footsteps story, but quite the opposite, Prof. Cedar is a world renowned scientist. Known in the medical world as the ‘Father of methylation’, Cedar has won many awards for his work including his recent honor, the Canada Gairdner International award for his contribution to medical science. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if his contribution ultimately leads to a Nobel Prize.

Prof. Cedar has been teaching and continuing his investigative research at The Hebrew University’s Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada since the 1970’s when he moved to Israel. That’s where I interviewed him, in between his busy day of researching and being a top scientist.

By the way, for all the praise I am giving him, it is just as important that you know he is a really nice guy. He sits relaxed on his couch and enjoys speaking to me about his son’s good news. He also makes sure to tell me he is proud of all his kids. Awesome! You can check out the video interview to see what he says about the movie, Cannes and what’s next for Joseph.

And just before you do that, let me leave you with this, so you really get a picture of how great of a father he is— not just in the science world but as a family man too. I told him that I don’t know how he must feel having his son achieve such a great honor. I said my son is sitting up now (he is almost 8-months-old), and for me as a mother it feels incredible. I burst with joy and glee and I couldn’t be more proud. He told me it’s the same feeling.


Guide to Passover Activities in Israel 2011

 

To get you in the mood, here’s an awesome Passover video that asks, What if Moses had facebook?

Bezalel Street Arts and Crafts Fair

Opens April 1, 2011

Artists show off their crafts, jewelry, photography and more at this funky street festival.

9am to 3pm
Shatz St., downtown Jerusalem
Free Entrance
More info

AHAVA festival 2011

April 19-23, 2011

at the Dead Sea featuring Yehuda Poliker, Ehud Banai, Eviatar Banai, Mosh Ben Ari, Hadag Nachash, and more
More info

Continue reading this entry »


Running in Jerusalem or How to Make Buns of Steel!

As I train for the Jerusalem half-marathon, I have come to realize that the Holiest city in the world was meant to be a land filled with extremely fit people. You cannot run five minutes without finding yourself climbing up another hill or flying down one. And when you’re running in your first half-marathon – that’s 21.1 kilometers or 13 miles – you realize that maybe Jerusalem isn’t the best place to start. Then again when you live here, there isn’t much of a choice!

Thanks to the new Gmaps Pedometer, creating my running routes has been easy— but there’s nothing easy about the actual runs. Every route has hills, it is unavoidable. Not only that, Jerusalem doesn’t have a beach, a lake or a boardwalk (I know there is the Haas Promenade in Talpiot, but really not the same as a boardwalk), that could make the run more visually exciting. Sure there is the Jerusalem Forest, but that is just more of the same, with crazy hills and inclines that my legs, butt and thighs will just not accept. And true, we do have the Old City which is a cool place to run through, if you like thousands of tourists getting in your way, cars trying to squeeze through the narrow streets, and broken roads that make for embarrassing and painful (being embarrassed hurts more than bruises) falls.

But I have challenged myself, body and mind, to run this year’s Jerusalem half-marathon and March 25th I hope to achieve my goal with thousands of others. While I am super excited about the half, the real deal is the first full Jerusalem marathon taking place the same day. With over 10,000 people registered, it looks like this will be the country’s biggest marathon, so take that Tel Aviv (with your beautiful beaches, boardwalks and HaYakron!). Continue reading this entry »


25+ Daily Deal and Group Deal websites in Israel

Update: Groopbuy is no longer around. But most of the other ones on this list are live and rockin’!

While there are plenty of daily deal sites to choose from, and it seems like every day a new site pops up, we here at The Big Felafel are big fans of GroopBuy.

And not just because of the Holy Bagel NIS 20 dozen that I purchased last month.

David Shadpour, the founder of GroopBuy and an American living in Jerusalem, has tailored the site to Jerusalem’s English-speaking community. We are the ones that often miss out on deals because we just don’t read Hebrew all that well (yet), know how to bargain or we are friars (suckers). David is my friend and if you didn’t know it he is your friend too, by giving us the opportunity to enjoy stores, restaurants and even gyms for more than half price (and often even upwards of 70% off the price).

Obsessed with GroopBuy as I am, I got a chance to sit down with David and hear what he had to say. “GroopBuy is the only daily deal website that gives deals everyday,” David explains to me. And it is true. A lot of these sites have deals for three days running which misses the point of buyer power and obviously the daily deal part. Not only that but David tells me, “Our discounts are 15 to 20 percent larger than other sites.” Another fact I love. GroopBuy also makes sure to have a variety of deals so you can enjoy paintball one day and a stylish hair cut another.

GroopBuy does its homework. The company has a very high standard of requirements in order to accept a deal. “We have over 60 deals that have not happened because they did not meet our requirements,” he says, adding that “of course there is always trial and error, but most importantly we want to hear from our customers about what they think about the places. If we hear something negative then chances are we aren’t going to re-sign them for another deal.” I love hearing that since I know that the person behind the site really believes in the places he promotes.

In addition to promoting quality places, GroopBuy also tries to spotlight new immigrant vendors, helping them get on their feet. David is committed to giving “protectsia” to the Anglo community.  David says, “We’re in this together.” And he’s right. If I could buy that statement on GroopBuy, I would even pay full price.

Here are some quick tips for using Daily Deal websites:

  • Check to see if the site accepts Israeli or international credit cards. If your order doesn’t go through, it’s probably because of the credit card you’re using.
  • Make sure you carefully read the fine print before buying a deal.
  • Always print your coupon and bring it with you.
  • Always make reservations for restaurants, hotels, etc.
  • If you see a deal that you think your friends would like, make sure to send it to them or even buy it for them!
  1. GroopBuy in English
    Cities: for Jerusalem only (Tel Aviv coming soon)
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express, both Israeli and international
  2. Grouper in Hebrew
    Cities: Tel Aviv, Hod Hasharon, Haifa, Jerusalem, Ranana, Rishon Ltzion
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  3. Groupon in Hebrew (English coming soon)
    Read about the recent announcement that Groupon is worth a measly $15 billion, and that they’ve acquired Grouper.co.il for $8million in order to enter the Israeli market.
    Cities: All of Israel
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  4. Baligam in Hebrew
    Cities: Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Hasharon
    Payment Options: PayPal or credit card
  5. Kantina in Hebrew
    Cities: Jerusalem only (Tel Aviv coming soon)
    Payment Options: International credit card only
  6. Buy2 in Hebrew
    Cities: Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv/center, the south
    Payment Options: Doesn’t specify
  7. Deal Hayom in Hebrew
    Cities: Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, Rishon Letzion
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  8. Coupo in Hebrew
    Cities: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be’er Sheva
    Payment Options: International credit card only
  9. Wallashops in Hebrew
    Cities: Jerusalem, The north, The center, The south
    Payment Options: Doesn’t specify
  10. Gozrim in Hebrew
    Focus on pregnancy, birth, and parenthood
    Cities: Jerusalem, The north, The center, The south
    Payment Options: All credit cards except for Diners
  11. Ima Like – in Hebrew
    Focus on pregnancy, birth, and parenthood
    Cities: All of Israel, with a focus on the Tel Aviv area
    Payment Options: All credit cards except for Diners
  12. Big Deal by Ynet in Hebrew
    Cities: All of Israel, focus on the Tel Aviv area
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express, Leumi Card
  13. BesTours in Hebrew
    Travel site with vacations, package deals, mostly in Europe
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express, Diners, Eurocard
  14. Groupli in Hebrew
    Cities: Tel Aviv area only
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  15. Gargir in Hebrew
    Cities: Mostly Tel Aviv area
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  16. Coupona in Hebrew
    Cities: Mostly Tel Aviv area
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  17. Buddies in Hebrew
    Cities: Tel Aviv/center area only
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  18. BuyCell in Hebrew
    Cities: Mostly Tel Aviv area
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, American Express
  19. Yemama in Hebrew
    Cities: Tel Aviv, Haifa (Jerusalem coming soon)
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  20. DealZone in Hebrew
    Cities: Tel Aviv area (Jerusalem and Haifa coming soon)
    Payment Options: All credit cards except for Diners
  21. ExpressDeal in Hebrew
    Cities: Mostly Tel Aviv area
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express, Leumi Card
  22. YallaBuy in Hebrew (as in, Az Yalla Bye.. love the name!)
    Cities: Mostly Tel Aviv area
    Payment Options: Doesn’t specify
  23. Shave in Hebrew
    Cities: not sure, couldn’t see past deals
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  24. Groupunch in Hebrew
    Cities: not sure, couldn’t see past deals
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  25. DealOn in Hebrew and English
    Cities: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be’er Sheva
  26. Jewpon in English
    Cities: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, American Express
  27. GroopScoop in English
    Hasn’t really launched yet
  28. Group-E in Hebrew for the religious
    Cities: All over Israel
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, Leumi Card
  29. Rak Ayom in Hebrew
    Cities: North, Center, Sharon, South
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Isracard, American Express
  30. Deal4All in Hebrew in Hebrew
    Cities: North, Center, Jerusalem area, South
  31. BaBeTov – in Hebrew geared toward the religious
  32. DealCity – in Hebrew
  33. Grouping (coming soon) in Hebrew
  34. Zing – in Hebrew
  35. Alut – in Hebrew
  36. Israel Coupon – in Hebrew
  37. YouToo – in Hebrew

Deal Aggregates

  1. JangloDeals on facebook, a listing of deals in Israel in English
  2. Ideals
  3. DayDeals on facebook or the website
  4. Everydeal
  5. Get it All
  6. DailyD
  7. Cliqa
  8. Tavo
  9. Zap

Hadassah Baby Hotel = heaven

Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital

A while ago I wrote about finding maternity clothes in Israel and as you might have figured out, after buying the maternity clothes and going through pregnancy, it was time to have a baby! You can read Molly’s guide to giving birth in Jerusalem here. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl at Hadassah Ein Karem in Jerusalem. My experience at the hospital was mixed – I had a great experience in the delivery room (if such a thing is possible) with the amazing midwives but my experience in the maternity ward afterward was disappointing. After going through the craziness that is labor (I’ll leave out the gory gory), my emotions were as stable as the Scream Machine roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure, that is to say, not very. When I arrived in the maternity ward, I hoped for a welcoming party with balloons and cake, a birth-day party, if you will. But no. We were temporarily placed in the hallway and greeted by a handful of unfriendly nurses who could have been a little more helpful and informative about what the heck a new mother is supposed to do – how to breastfeed, how to take care of the umbilical cord, etc. The other non-welcoming party was the cafeteria. It felt like high school all over again with cliques at the different tables – mostly determined by what language you speak. And the food was nothin’ to write home about – large chunks of cucumber for breakfast, smaller cubes of cucumber for lunch, and cucumber pie for dinner. So, as you can imagine, I was more than eager to leave the hospital when the time came and head over to the Hadassah Baby Hotel. (By the way, Molly wanted me to let you know that she was on the rooming-in floor in the hospital and had a great experience.)

Hadassah Baby Hotel

The Hadassah Baby Hotel was just up the elevator, up the stairs, down the hall, down the escalator, and down another elevator away from the hospital, but it was a whole different world. When I arrived to the hotel’s special baby floor, the nurses smiled, sat with me as if they had all the time in the world, and listened to all my questions.  To top it off, the hotel rooms were complete with a changing table, diapers, a nursing pillow, and other baby items. They also had a 24 hour nursery so that you can run up to the delicious buffet and eat, or run to the bathroom, or do whatever it is you need to run to do and know that someone is watching the baby and will call you when they are crying and need to eat. The nursery also offers to give your baby formula at night so that you can sleep a few more hours and speed up your recuperation. Also, a doctor comes every day to check on your baby and tells you if there’s anything you should be concerned about. From Sunday to Wednesday, the hotel offers a workshop each day for a few hours on baby development, nutrition, breastfeeding, and baby massage. I thought the workshops were a nice way of meeting the other mamas on the floor, and asking an expert any questions I had.

Since there is a floor of the hotel dedicated to babies and mamas, you can imagine my surprise when I walked back to my room after feeding my daughter, the lights dimmed low at 1am, only to bump into a Greek Orthodox priest in his jammies praying next to my door. I guess they ran out of rooms on the other floors of the hotel. Maybe he was praying to move to a different floor so he wouldn’t have to hear crying babies. In the morning, I awoke to find the same priest and 5 of his priest friends now fully dressed in long black robes, hats, and larger than life jeweled cross necklaces heading to the elevator. We stepped into the elevator together, 6 priests and a nursing mother, trying not to make eye contact, eager to get to the breakfast buffet.

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A Guide to Birth in Jerusalem: The deals, The clothes, The bureaucracy

Baby Pasta for diaper rash! Welcome to Israel where new flavors of pasta are invented every day!

I was always so terrified to give birth. But had someone told me about all the free crap you get, I might not have been so scared. I’m just saying that there is light at the end of the tunnel (which tunnel…), and freebies are an awesome way to make the pain feel a little less painful in the days after birth.

The Big Felafel ladies gave birth just two weeks apart and through our experiences we would now like to share our knowledge of free stuff, cheap baby stores and paperwork with you. Save this list and save your time and money.

1. Money from the great State of Israel

When you give birth in any hospital in the state of Israel you are supposed to register your child and receive an Identification Number (Teduat Zehuot) as well as a little monetary gift of about NIS 1600 (if you have twins it is way more so keep that in mind), known as a birth grant. You should also receive a small monthly supplement thereafter, so make sure to fill out the paper work and give them your bank info.

2. Treats in the Hospital

As well as the free oh-so delicious meals you will have during your recuperation period in the hospital, you will also find that there are random women distributing gifts for your newborn. While in the hospital you may receive diapers, fresh wipes, breast pads and even a pacifier. Just realize that these gifts may come to haunt you as they will most likely get your home address and start sending you all kinds of stuff. I receive some kind of coupon or baby magazine every week (a nice change from the bills, but annoying just the same).

3. Betuach Leumi, National Health Insurance Pays Too!

That’s right, if you are a working expecting mother then make sure to collect your $200 after passing go. That is to say, that after you give birth you are entitled to 14-weeks paid maternity leave. My advice is to make sure you collect the past 10-months of pay-statements before leaving your job because you may need them when filling out paper work. The paper work will either be sent to you by your employer or you can get it at Betuach Leumi. It is pretty simple to fill out and your employer will also need to file. You can submit your paperwork at any time but it takes about a month for the money to be posted to your account so keep that in mind. The payment is supposed to be based on an average of the last three months you worked, so make sure to do your overtime if you can. Also, another tip here is to go to Betuach Leumi during afternoon hours when they are empty and more friendly since they are about to go home. One woman even let me breastfeed in their private kitchenette. I even started a trend when another nursing lady followed me in to the room. For more info from Betuach Leumi, check out their website.

4. Misrad Hapnim, Ministry of Interior, Make it Official

As I stated above, when you are in the hospital you should get an ID number for your child which will help when you need to get their passport. If you don’t fill out the paperwork there, don’t worry, you can always go to the Ministry of Interior to do the paperwork. If you go, again I recommend going during afternoon hours when it is less crowded. You will need to bring your baby’s paperwork from the hospital and the correct size passport photos (you can get them done anywhere) as well as the baby to prove that it is the same kid in the pictures. My advice here is to register the child’s birth and get their Israeli Passport at the same time, why go back twice? For more info.

5. SuperPharm cares

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