The Big Felafel


Category Archive

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

The New Hannuka Miracle: American Doughnuts in Israel

Normally this time of year, starting about a month before Hannuka, the bakeries place their finest, sweetest and most oily sufganiyot in the window display so that passers-by have no choice but to indulge in the million calorie treat…several times. However, this Hannuka there is a new market on the oily goodness, in the form of real American doughnuts.

It seems that the already successful Jerusalem based Aldo ice cream shop on Emek Refaim is now cornering in on the doughnut world. With a huge sign at the front door, the store invites people to their new display of doughnuts, which happens to look exactly like Dunkin Donuts. In fact the company behind this year’s Hannuka miracle is Mr. Donuts, which have already been selling doughnuts in their Alonit stores.

The doughnuts come in all different flavors, sugar coated, chocolate with sprinkles, strawberry, and banana (really not a fan). A single doughnut is NIS 6, but Aldo is currently running a deal, six doughnuts for NIS 30 (that’s almost a doughnut for each day of Hannuka, if you can really pace yourself). I’ve already bought a box full and I won’t tell you how many are left as I write this post!

The man behind the doughnut vision is Zohar Norman, owner and CEO of Cocoa Mr. Donuts. The business guru has been back in Israel for 3 years after conquering the hummus market in America with Sabra Salads. His bakery in Yavne is behind the real doughnuts, using an American style recipe which fries the doughnuts at much higher speeds and best of all are only 180-240 calories a doughnut (another Hannuka miracle). If all goes well, Norman plans to also import American style pizza and muffins, OMG!

And in an exclusive report to The Big Felafel, a source at Holy Bagel has revealed that they are also going to begin selling doughnuts in their Jerusalem stores. I can already smell the doughnut sale wars! Now, we just have to get Norman to buy into Mexican food. How about some burritos and tacos in time for Purim?


GroopBuy, Get Your Deal On.

Like any good Jew, especially one living in Israel, I love deals. Deals complete me. A dress that was on sale seems more valuable somehow. Going to the shuk and bargaining over fruit leaves it tasting better than ever. And discovering a new website that brings the promise of amazing deals day after day, well friends, that is priceless.

May I introduce you to GroopBuy where deals are daily and that makes mamma happy. The concept is simple: everyday there is a new deal and if you like it you sign up and then you make sure your friends do too. If enough people sign up for the deal then we all get to enjoy the benefits. And again mamma is happy.

The deals can be for restaurants to dance classes and today it was for a dentist (not a bad idea since my teeth have been feeling sore lately, and I was just ignoring it but now I don’t have to). The deals come to your inbox so I imagine that this is what it feels like when the Christians say, “Everyday feels like Christmas.”

The website is super user-friendly and in English, in fact they even had Anglos in mind when creating the site according to the ‘about us’ section: GroopBuy is a response to the frustrations Anglos may experience when integrating into a new country. This cuts the Israeli learning curve right in half—now we just have to figure out a website that makes the banks and bureaucracies open for more than two hours a day and we might just see a spike in Aliyah.

Who is excited to get her deal on? It’s me and I hope it’s you because it only works if we all join in. And remember mamma wants to be happy.

Check out the deals at www.groopbuy.co.il
Join the Facebook GroopBuy Group


Learn Hebrew with jokes

If you’re working on your Hebrew and need a break from Sha’ar Lematchil, the easy Hebrew newspaper, you can check out Jacob Richman’s Hebrew Jokes site. Most of the jokes are pretty corny, but there are a few surprising ones, like the joke above.

Translation:

What do air conditioning and computers have in common?

They both work slower when you open windows or Windows (depending on how much Microsoft-related issues you’ve been having lately)

Enjoy!


Beautiful Northern Israel: Ein Hod, Nir Etzion, and Zichron Yaakov

Like I always say when we leave Jerusalem — I love leaving and I love coming back. Living in Jerusalem, for the most part is wonderful with the ancient stones and the Jewish flavor. But at times, I’ve seen one too many ancient ruins and I’m ready to see some  greenery and breathtaking views. So we went north. I thought about renting a car, but opted for the 2 hour bus ride instead so we could sit back and relax.  Here’s how to use the Egged online bus schedule if you need it. For those who are members of the “I love driving” team, of which I am not, here’s a list of rental car websites in Israel:

Once we arrived in Haifa, we took a short 15 minute bus ride from Haifa to our hotel in Nir Etzion. We stayed in Nir Etzion for a few reasons – it was kosher, it was a good location smack dab between Haifa and Zichron Yaakov and because we had purchased a “deal” from Chufsha Chalomit (Dream Vacation) where you get 3 nights, 4 days (weekdays only) at one of the listed hotels for half price. You also need to pay a separate sum of money for the deal. So in the end, the “frayer (sucker) deal” only saved us a few hundred shekels, but it did get us out of the house and up north.

googlemaps

Nir Etzion

niretzion

Nir Etzion is a religious Yishuv and feels very much like a kibbutz, with a cow shed and mini zoo (I hesitate to say petting zoo due to the monkeys, anteaters, eagles and other animals I’m not sure I’d like to pet). We were upgraded to a garden room which was like a tzimmer – a ground floor room that looked like our own little cottage. We considered going swimming and asked when the pool is open. They gave us a time sheet with separate men and women’s hours. I whispered to the concierge, feeling naughty, are there mixed swimming times for me and my husband? Yes, of course, we just don’t tell people unless they ask. Scandalous!

But most of all, I looked forward to the all you can eat Israeli breakfast. And Nir Etzion did not disappoint. Breakfast was delicious by the heapfuls, complete with pancakes, 20 different kinds of cheese, croissants, coffee machines, omelettes, and shakshuka to your heart’s desire.

Ein Hod

einhod2

After we made our bellies happy, we waddled down the road from Nir Etzion to the wonderful Ein Hod artist village tucked away like a well-kept secret. In Ein Hod, you can take an official tour of the village and get access to all the artist’s galleries and participate in pottery and tshirt silkscreening. However, the tour was a little pricey for just the 2 of us (~200 shekels) so we decided to give ourselves a tour and meet artists on our own. We wandered in an out of the winding streets, enjoying the beautiful flowers, sculptures and views and occasionally stumbling across an artist’s gallery.

We met second generation artists who had preserved their father’s easel setup, complete with paints, brushes, and chair. A little creepy if you ask me since it looked like it was set for him to return any second, but very authentic. We met bronze sculptors who told us about their upcoming exhibitions and showed us bulls made out of bronze. And, when we couldn’t get access to the artists themselves, we made sure to peek into their studios at every chance. There was one studio with a broken window, so of course I carefully slipped my hand and camera inside and took this amazing shot of a glassblower’s studio:

einhod

The streets were so windy and roundabout, that any time we’d see a sign, we’d follow it until we got to the destination. It didn’t matter much what the sign said, but we knew if we followed it for long enough, we’d eventually end up somewhere. So, one of the signs we followed was to a pottery workshop. Having seen this on the website, I thought it would be fun to make a mug, paint it and take it home. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we were greeted by native English speakers who told us that the workshop is just to make the pottery but you have to leave it there. So you have to pay 40 shekel or so, make pottery, and then leave it. Forget it. So we turned around to start following the signs back to the Ein Hod entrance when the pottery lady told me that there was a small English bookshop next door. I perked up and we frolicked, or at least I did, to the bookshop. Well, I think it may win the award for smallest bookshop ever. It did have a few good books, but in the end I left empty handed.

Unfortunately, Ein Hod, as tourist-friendly as it is, didn’t exactly cater to kosher tourists — there was not a single kosher eatery to be found among the restaurants and coffee shops.  Luckily, we had stuffed rolls, yogurts, and pastries in our pockets before leaving the hotel. But if stuffing gooey items in your pocket is not your style, Nir Etzion has a food packaging company where you can get take away.

Zichron Yaakov

zichron

15 minutes south of Nir Etzion is Zichron Yaakov, a beautiful, quaint town with a cute-as-a-button midrachov (main pedestrian mall), wineries, and vineyards. And also apparently a Ner-o-mat:  yahrtzeit candle vending machines (what?!)

vending

We also took a tour of the Carmel WInery, one of the largest wineries in Israel. I called ahead of time to make reservations to join up with a group tour since we were only 2 people. However, when we arrived, no one else showed up so we had a private tour! We learned so much about how the winery started and what the differences are between wines, and of course got to do a fabulous taste testing. Did you know that red wine can be made from green or purple grapes or both and same for white wine! It’s all just a matter of how long the skin stays on (and a lot more I’m sure, but that’s what I understood).

All in all,  a wonderful trip!

What’s your off the beaten path Israel travel recommendation? I’d love to get some ideas for our next trip.


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!


“Olmert said what”- The Eavesdropped Chronicles

In case you missed the big news: former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has once again made the news, and it’s not because he is now too bald for a comb over (you would think that would at least make it to page six).

No, this time it’s about his close aide, Shula Zaken, that eavesdropped on his phone calls during his term as minister of industry, trade and labor (under then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon). How exactly was this plan masterminded? Well when Olmert was on the phone she would touch her ear to indicate to the secretaries to start eavesdropping and taking notes. Or if she couldn’t get her ear touch on she simply drew a circle on her notebook to cue the girls in. Not really creative but it did work.

However while we the public could only imagine the kind of juicy gossip and incriminating information Zaken must have about Olmert (not to mention the other side of the conversations which include Ariel Sharon and Bibi Netanyahu), she claims she can’t remember what the conversations were about. Of course I don’t believe that this info has been lost both in mental notes and the physical ones tucked away in her notebook, I’ve decided to guess what some of the conversations were about.

“Olmer said what”- The Eavesdropped Chronicles as guessed by Molly

  1. Olmert talks about his frustration with his comb over. The hairs are getting fewer and his hairstylist refuses to work with the thinning pieces. He’s pissed and venting his frustration to anyone that will listen.
  2. Olmert talks about his house that he plans to buy for a $1. Like any cheap-Jew he goes on and on about the bargain he’s getting and begs the listener to go with him to the $1 and furnish the house with him.
  3. Olmert plans another trip to the US quoting prices for the same flights in order to scam rich donors out of their money. The conversations sound almost exactly the same but just have different people’s name in it.
  4. Olmert talks to Sharon about becoming the then Prime Minister’s #2 (not the toilet kind) when forming the new party Kadima. They plan their announcement and Olmert suggests that with the new change maybe Sharon should lose a few pounds to really give the makeover of politics a new face. Sharon hangs up in anger. Olmert calls back begging for forgiveness, offering Sharon a back massage once a day for the next year. Sharon giggles but accepts.
  5. Olmert calls his daughter to check if she’s still a lesbian. She is and he asks if they are still on for their girls’ night marathon watching L-word.
  6. Olmert buys a toupee.
  7. Olmert buys another toupee.
  8. Olmert calls Sharon to ask him to come over and look at his toupees.
  9. Olmert and Sharon fight about his ugly toupees.
  10. Olmert calls his hairstylist.

 

What did I miss? Tell me what other conversations should be on this list. If Zaken can’t remember then it is our job to jog her memory.


“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


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.

Recipes:

Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms, Portobellos

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

Ingredients:

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.

Method:

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:

apartment

  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.