The Big Felafel


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


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.


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.

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Israel is Funny: The HaHaפuch Comedy Show Feb.11

Do you ever stand in line for the post office or bank or ministry of interior or just the bus and feel so stressed out that no one around you seems to know where the line begins and ends? And you want to scream, but instead you just elbow everyone because you’ve learned that’s how you get around in this country, or at least in these so-called lines? Then you get to the end of the line and rather than feeling relieved you feel overcome with emotion and want to cry or scream? Then later when you tell your friend the story, you are both laughing about it, because it is so ridiculous and your friend can tell you the same story?

Well, if you follow any of that, and agree, then you need to come to the HaHaפuch Comedy show on Thursday February 11th. The comedy show is a variety of improv, sketches and videos that aims at making fun of life here in Israel. We will also have a special musical guest, a cappella group Kolture Shock and even a special segment called Spotlight on Immigrant Innovation, which will feature a new immigrant who is doing something great here in Israel. For our first show we are featuring immigrant Jonathan Miller co-owner of Asif Winery in Arad. Did I mention he only made Aliyah in 2006? Awesome! Miller will do a free wine tasting before the show and will sell his delicious award-winning wine. The show starts at 8pm but doors open at 7:30pm and that is when the wine tasting will take place so I strongly suggest you come and get it! There will also be cheap beer to add to the fun.

We plan to perform once a month at our current venue at the Merkaz Hamgshimim Theater in the German Colony. Check out the cool flier they made for us! And to learn more check out our Facebook page. Oh, and here is a clip for all you Srugim lovers, Stacy wants you to come to our show too!  

Remember, Israel is funny. And if you don’t think so then you haven’t seen our show.


The Swedes Make the So-called TV Tax Almost Cool!

How about this for a TV Tax: The Swedish have got it right when it comes to the so-called TV Tax. First off- they don’t call it the TV Tax which is confusing and wrong— they call it the Broadcasting Tax, and define it as “Everyone who owns, rents or borrows a television receiver has to pay for a TV License. It doesn’t matter which channels you watch, the mere fact that you have a TV receiver makes you liable to pay for a license.” Perhaps if the tax was about broadcasting, and the actual receiver as opposed to the TV box then we could all get along here. I mean after all, that’s really what the tax is about: taxing us for government funded channels. But if I don’t watch those channels, can’t even get those channels on my TV and only use it to watch DVDs then I shouldn’t have to pay a TV tax which is really just a Broadcasting Tax. And believe me I have explained this to no end to the Israeli TV Tax folks, but they are just not interested (they literally don’t read the letters I send, emails, or phone calls). And furthermore if they could give people the option of not having a Channel receiver then the mess would be even less of a mess and maybe not a mess at all!

OK, this is a rant I have given way to many times. This time I am just saying check out the really cool way the Swedes have managed to inform people about paying their tax. Rather than sending threatening letters, giving you fines, and just assuming you are guilty of owning a TV and watching their amazing channels without paying for them, the Swedes say, hey, we’re good at what we do so check out our amazing commercial and will prove how awesome we are, and then pay your tax.

Check out this commercial which may start off slow, but believe me it’s so worth it to watch. Why you ask? Because in this version of the film the Felafel Ladies make an appearance, and if you watch it to the end then you too can make an appearance. Just watch it to see what I’m talking about. And just imagine if the TV Tax bureaucrats in Israel could get out of their mob mentality and actually do something this creative, perhaps people wouldn’t be fighting the tax at all, and just enjoy good entertainment!


9 ways to order or download English books in Israel

I love walking into bookstores. I love the smell. I love rummaging and looking for great finds. I love the bargain bin.  I even love reading book spines until my neck is permanently stuck to my shoulder. But if you live in Israel, there is no massive Barnes & Noble – like store or well-stocked library with English books besides Hebrew University.  There are a few bookstores that carry English books but it’s very possible that you won’t find what you’re looking for.  So, as much as I love dawdling around in a bookshop, I find myself drawn back to the web to find more choices. The problem is that some online stores like Amazon charge a ridiculous amount to ship books to Israel.  Luckily, I’ve spotted a bunch of bookstores that ship relatively cheaply or even for free to Israel and a few websites where you can download books for free.

Note about shipping: If you order books over $50, you may be required to pay a VAT tax at the Israeli post office.


  1. The Book Directory Free worldwide delivery
  2. better world books
    Better World Books – $3.97 shipping worldwide; Bargain Bin has 5 used books for $15

  3. Books 4 Now
    – Israel-based online booksstore that sells used books in Israel. Order 4 books, get free delivery anywhere in Israel

  4. AngloBooks
    – website to trade English books with others in Israel
  5. hookabook-israel
    Hook A Book – focused on Israel although prices are in dollars. Free international standard shipping. The site is a little hard on the eyes and there is no search function which makes it a bit difficult to browse but maybe they’re still developing the site as it’s pretty new.  PayPal accepted.
  6. project gutenberg free ebooks
    Project Gutenberg
    Over 30,000 works of literature, cookbooks, reference works, periodicals, etc.  in the form of e-books and audio mp3s that you can download for free.
  7. sci fi books in israel
    42Scifi New and used English sci-fi books in Israel.

  8. Bookmooch – bookswap based on points sysem. For each book you want, you have to send 2 books to others
  9. read hebrew books free online
    HebrewBooks
    Over 40,000 classical Hebrew books for free download. Mostly Jewish books and texts. Books in Hebrew and English.
  10. Abebooks.com English books. Check the Shipping Destination and Rates for each book to see the rate to ship books to Israel
  11. Bookme.co.il – Mostly Hebrew books. Seems like only new books
  12. Obook.co.il – Used and New Hebrew and English books
  13. Findabook.co.il – Used Hebrew and English books
  14. BookTrade.co.il – Used Hebrew and English books
  15. gilboabooks.co.il – Used Hebrew books and small selection of English books
  16. book4book.co.il – Used and New Hebrew and English books
  17. books4u.co.il – New Hebrew books and small selection of English books
  18. Steimatsky – New Hebrew and English books
  19. Tzomet Sfarim – New Hebrew and English books




“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