The Big Felafel


11+ Awesome things to do in Israel this Sukkot

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

1. Cinema City VIP

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

Now imagine going to the movies in style.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Hiking

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

5. Paintball

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

6. Rock Climbing or Rappelling

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

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

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

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


Netflix arrives Israeli style at DVD Yashir, plus 12 Movie mini-reviews

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Slowly, but surely, Israel is catching up with the convenient services available in America like supermarket deliveries, second-hand marketplaces, and most recently, unlimited movie rentals through the mail with DVD Yashir.

In the notorious style of Hebrew websites, DVD Yashir sports the required scrolling text and flashing images, but at least it works in Firefox.

If you can get past the distractions and navigate your way through the site, you’ll learn that they sell and rent movies, and claim to be offering video rental in the “American style” with different fixed monthly rental plans. The cheapest plan costs 19 shekels for the first month and then 59 shekels for every month after that but doesn’t seem to include new releases. They let you keep a movie as long as you like and request new movies as often as you like, and like Netflix, it runs through the mail. But, let’s play this scenario out logistically in Israel. Just thinking about finding the nearest mailbox that would fit a dvd or attempting to go to the post office at a time when it’s open is starting to give me an anxiety attack.

While this service does seem to be promising, I’m a little skeptical of the reliability and convenience of the Israeli post office/mailbox thing and 59 shekels seems like quite a lot to shell out each month considering the dvd machine near my house is 16 shekels. So only if I rent more than 4 movies a month does it start to become worth it. I think I’ll stick to watching movies online for free.

Mini Movie Reviews

If you decide to try out the service, here are some mini movie reviews to give you some ideas of what to rent — or what not to rent. Continue reading this entry »


12 hours straight of tv and movies

It’s not often your eyes get the chance to glaze over as you watch 12 hours straight of tv and movies. But now, Contintental has a new on-demand movie system to satisfy your tv cravings guilt-free with shows like Sex and the City, Scrubs, Friends, and The Office, not to mention the 150+ movies at your disposal.

However, I find that the greater entertainment selection there is, the ruder the flight attendants are. As one of the flight attendant’s passed my seat, I sweetly and innocently asked if they had any more of those great noshy chips they handed out earlier. Here’s the response I got: “I don’t know. this is a really packed flight, and I have no way of knowing. If I check for you, then I have to get for everyone else. Oh, I see the bathroom opening up. If I don’t go now, I’ll never get in. ” I have a feeling they’d rather see the latest Weeds episode than be handing out kosher meals.