Another Valentine’s Day trying to separate the happy couples from the sad singles. Oh, but in Tel Aviv this could not be further from the truth (and of course it is far from the truth anyways). It turns out, according to a recent study that a majority of women and men in their 20’s and 30’s living in Tel Aviv, are single. So, like any married Jerusalemite, I went to undercover the mystery behind this shocking new fact. And now I am here to share it with you. I hope you enjoy the results! Take that Valentine’s Day!
With Anthony Weiner running in the New York City Mayoral Elections, it’s hard (no pun intended) to remember there are other mayoral elections taking place all over the world—including Jerusalem.
Weiner, if you recall, was a congressman who admitted to sexting and tweeting pictures of himself (selfies with a twist) to women. The story was gold for late-night shows—you couldn’t come up with a better name than Weiner to make the weiner jokes that were to follow.
After the scandal, Weiner went to rehab and was cured. Hallelujah! Weiner then decided to run for New York City Mayor, which brings us to present day news headlines. Oh, and he wasn’t really cured of this sexting disease and more women and pictures have come forward in what appears to be his “Fifty Shades of Weiner.”
But as I said, there are other mayoral elections, and for this Jerusalemite, I’m focusing on the candidates here. Current Mayor Nir Barkat, will once again be running for office, and Moshe Leon of Likud will be his challenger. Leon, is only a recent Jerusalem resident, and hoping to garner support from the Haredi citizens of Jerusalem who do not have a candidate running in this election. In my opinion, Leon has no chance.
I don’t normally talk politics, and frankly don’t even like politicians, but I feel it is my duty as a citizen of Jerusalem and a blogger of the Internet world, to express my gratitude to Mayor Nir Barkat.
Mayor Barkat has renovated and reinvigorated the city of Jerusalem, and all for NIS 1 a year salary. I love that he wears gap sweaters, has perfect English, and runs to work sometimes. During his term he has worked hard on increasing tourism, entertainment and culture and beautifying the city. Thanks to his efforts, we now enjoy a beautiful new Train Station open-air mall with free morning yoga, delicious cafes and plenty of safe space for children to roam and play freely. Another outstanding achievement is the beautiful new Teddy Park which is home to a fountain that shoots water for a half-hour giving children and adults alike, the opportunity to run, dance and scream like maniacs through the closest thing to a free pool or beach in the city.
From the marathons to the food truck, and culture beyond, Mayor Barkat has taken Jerusalem to a whole new level and I look forward to seeing what he does with his next five years. I hope he will finally resolve the housing issues for young families, transportation and help us get our first coffee shop in Armon Hanatziv.
As for what I wrote above about the pictures; t’s true, I do have pictures. And it’s true they are not like Weiner’s. For the last three years I have participated in almost every city race, in which the mayor also participated. Every time I see the mayor I ask to take a picture with him. He has never said no, and always with a gracious smile, and kind words, he has taken time out of his busy schedule to say ‘cheese.’ That’s the type of photos you want your mayor to be taking!
He may not know it, but he has become my running buddy. We actually run a similar pace, and in the Jerusalem Half-marathon in 2012, during the last few kilometers, running through freezing hail, I saw the mayor, ran by him and said, “I’m going to beat you.” Although I was exhausted and cold, I was motivated by the sheer fact that I would have to now beat the mayor. And I did. Woo hoo.
I look forward to running many a race with my buddy in his next term and remind all of you to vote on October 22, 2013.
As a kid who grew up in Los Angeles, I learned at a young age that anyone on the street could rob you. I lived in Hollywood, and unlike what most foreigners think, in the 90’s it wasn’t about the stars, but more about homeless people and prostitutes. By the age of seven I knew how to hold my purse over my shoulder (why did I even have a purse?), look out for weirdoes, and never talk to strangers. As you can guess my childhood was anything but normal.
When I moved to Israel, I became more worried about terrorism and less about criminal activities. I started checking buses like I was a Mossad agent, even though I had no idea what I was actually looking for. Jerusalem, despite what you see in the news, gave me a sense of security, unlike that of LA. I forgot about my purse–shoulder attire, realized that all the weirdoes had Messiah syndrome or were loud Americans on the bus, and strangers were Israelis that just wanted to know how much you make.
I let my guard down.
And I was robbed and attacked.
It happened this past March when I was walking home with my son. I saw the guy, and even though my intuition kicked in, I ignored it. He seemed young, wasn’t looking in my direction and kept to himself. He came at me from behind and covered my mouth. My instincts kicked in. My fear kicked in. My mommy powers kicked in. Oh, and did I mention I was seven months pregnant at the time? For some reason I tried to fight him, seeing that he wasn’t pulling out a weapon. My son grabbed at my legs, as the attacked grabbed at my jacket. He eventually got my cell phone (good bye smartphone….24 payments, and I had just paid the last one), and threw us both down the stairs as he ran off. I had screamed for help the whole time, but no one was around, even though it was 4:30pm in the afternoon. I had looked him in the eyes, trying to remember his face. But it took the police a week for the sketch artist to meet with me, so it didn’t do much good.
I still walk around trying to find him. Who cares about the phone—I want him off the streets.
That day my son and I took our first ambulance ride. I thought my water broke in the fight and the fall, but it turns out I just peed myself. It was a hot day and I had a smoothie, and pregnant women aren’t good with bladders anyway. Thanks to Israeli bureaucracy, I am still fighting the ambulance bill, which claims I called them—of course that’s ridiculous since I didn’t have a phone.
Once at the hospital, in the trauma unit, I decided I would never end up there again. I decided I needed to learn how to properly defend myself. I hadn’t listen to my instincts, and I fought like a little girl, lots of bitch-slapping to the face, but no real harm. I knew I would have to wait until after I gave birth, and so I began counting down the days until I could sign up for a class. I also walked around with pepper spray, which helped, but made me feel like I would spray myself.
Finally the day arrived. We organized a self-defense class through El Halev, to be held in our neighborhood, in order to encourage other women to take the course. The class taught me how to listen to my surroundings, and to my intuitions. It gave me the basic tools to fight off an attacker if I need to. We all had the opportunity to hear and bond with each other over similar fears for safety and know we are not alone. We learned that we are strong and we have the power to defend ourselves.
Every woman should take a self-defense course. What happened to me could of course happen to anyone else. I say this from a place of strength and not fear.
Think of self-defense like a supportive bra. Eventually every woman needs it.
In the final class, each one of us had the opportunity to break a cinder block with our bare hands. The first time round it took me three tries to break that bugger in half, but I did. The feeling of strength was so powerful, I begged to break the block again. This time before I broke it, the instructor told me “this one is for the attacker, go get him.” As we were taught in the class, I belted out a loud, “NO!,” and slammed down hard on that block, cutting right through it. Right to my core.
On to Krav Maga…who’s with me?
When I first moved to Israel I used to walk by the Old Train Station almost every day on my way to my internship. The station once housed the trains that traveled back and forth to Tel Aviv. Years later it became the home to trash and all things smelly. The building was run down and just creepy.
Today, a gap-sweater-wearing-Mayor of Jerusalem, Ugly-Bettyed the crap (literally) out of the old train dump and brought life back to the old girl. The only way this former-LA girl can explain the change, is to explain it through plastic surgery terms: the train station got a lot of Botox, a boob job, tummy tuck, and of course a face lift. And damn is she hot.
The Old Train Station has cafes, open space, fun little shops, tourist attractions, and amazing play areas for kids. It feels like a little bit of Tel Aviv has finally made its way into the Jerusalem Village—and I’m hoping a little beach or canal will follow (what they could totally build a canal or canals in Jerusalem…they built a light rail didn’t they?).
For now, I’ll take what I can get, and hanging out at the train station, drinking a smoothie, while my kid happily plays with a train set or builds another structure with daddy, is damn good. The station is also one of Jerusalem’s more secular areas, catering to a more pluralistic crowd, from non-kosher cafes to concerts on Shabbat. That said, they also have a musical Kabbalat Shabbat at 5pm, showing the versatility of events happening throughout the summer. As well as food and playtime, the area is home to a great exhibit hall, now featuring a mini-train display that is great for the whole family.
The station is not quite finished yet, with more cafes and shops still being built. I am so excited to see what comes next and how this once abandoned building can still keep things moving!
It seems like someone famous is always closing down the streets of Jerusalem nowadays…that or snow. Either way this city likes to be on lockdown. While citizens of Jerusalem are grrr-angry with the shortage of streets set to take place over the next few days, some would like to offer Obama tips on places he should visit while in the city of gold. I hit the streets with talented filmmaker Elahn Zetlin of Chutzpah Media to get the word on the street for Mr. USA’s visit. Enjoy the video, learn and little (or not) and tell me where you think he should go on this trip…the more creative the better!
For more funny check out www.hahafuch.com
To learn more about the talented Elahn Zetlin go to http://www.chutzpahmedia.co.il
The horrific school shooting on Friday in Connecticut has hit home for anyone and everyone, no matter where you are. For people in the US the question of gun control, parenting, and mental illness is probably dominating the conversation. A friend of mine writing to me from her computer in New Mexico confessed that she is afraid to go outside because anyone could kill her for no reason.
In Israel we are shocked about the news, because these kinds of shootings don’t happen here. Reckless, and random, that’s not how you describe a terrorist attack. We are scared for different reasons, but the fear and outcome are still the same. And as a parent we are all saddened when it is a school and children that is the target, whether it is random or calculated. The attack is just as shrilling.
While the news is still unfolding, it seems obvious at this point, that the gunman was someone plagued with mental illness. It is an issue that I understand all to well. My brother, who took his own life almost three years ago to the date, suffered from mental illness his whole life. It’s not something I talk about often, but I believe his story is important for the future of mental health awareness and change.
He was always brilliant. He was always upset. And most of the time he was violent. We couldn’t understand him. He couldn’t understand what he was going through. And as much as my parents tried, the system seemed to fail him. My brother turned to religion, drugs, and then the US army to find a solution for his mental problems. The US army should have never allowed my brother to serve with his illness, but during the Iraq war, they seemed to overlook his problems and accepted him to become a foot-solider in one of the most volatile areas of the world.
I can only imagine that what he saw on a daily basis added to the list of emotional and mental traumas he had suffered. When he returned to the US he of course could not function in a normal setting. The Vet office gave him pills to help the problem. They needed it and him to go away. He took the pills. The whole bottle at once in fact. He almost died but was rescued and once his stomach was pumped he realized he didn’t want to be this person.
He escaped to another state and became another person. But you never escape mental illness. Now he was alone. But still had his pills. Many pills. On the outside he tried to fit in and become the citizen the US wanted him to be. On the inside he remained traumatized. His demons, the ones from childhood and now war, never went away. He died alone, overdosing on pills in his home.
In my eyes, my brother never really had a chance. He never received the proper health care he needed. He was given jail time for his actions. And pills for his pain. He took his life, and I thank God he never took anyone else’s. His violent outbursts led to fights and broken limbs, but never death. He was 24 when he died.
Now that I live in Israel my battle with mental health treatment turns to the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a citizen and journalist I have met many children and adults with PTSD in Israel, and they are not treated for this severe issue. After experiencing just two rockets in Jerusalem, I realized just how serious trauma can be. When the first rocket hit on Friday night, I will admit that it was the first time I did not have an appetite for Shabbat dinner. I was afraid to leave the shelter, quickly packed an emergency bag and couldn’t stop shaking. I had to be a mother, a wife, and still somehow walk the dog. But I was no longer me. The one rocket hit my core.
I heard the second rocket. I will never forget that boom. I stood in a stairwell and could see the blue sky. I waited for the rocket to appear and crash. Of course it was miles away, but my mind couldn’t handle the truth. As well as the boom, I heard to the beautiful voices of children singing songs about Chanukah. They too were stuck in the stairwell with nowhere to go. How many of these children will forever be affected by war, terrorist attacks and hate? And these children experienced two rockets, what about those down south who had rockets rain on them for years?
Mental illness is just as serious as a broken arm. Just like a broken arm, you are not able to work at normal capacity. You are no longer completely functioning. And until you can get use back in that arm you will never be the same person. We don’t realize how much we need that arm until it is broken. With mental illness it takes moments like a school shooting or rockets to make us realize that our minds can be broken too.
I have shared this post today because we all need an outlet. For the US I hope that there will be a serious change in the healthcare system that puts more weight on mental and emotional illness and behavioral problems. Not more pills in a jar. For Israel I hope we can add more emphasis to PTSD and give people the proper attention they need. After all you can have IVF free in this country, up to two healthy births, but therapy is only partially subsided.
And while I love my line up of non-reality reality shows, comedies that everyone is watching; every now and then an Israeli show will make it into my line-up. Most Israeli TV has the same five recycled actors in different TV shows that I can’t stand. But, my friends, there is a show so fantastic, so funny and so well written that I just can’t keep it all to myself.
In honor of the Writer’s Festival taking place in Jerusalem right now, I would like to introduce you to the show Avoda Aravit (Arab Labor). Creator, Sayed Kashua, says he named the show Arab Labor because it is a well-known saying in Israel that any crap work is ‘Arab Labor.’ This kind of humor, tight scripts and incredible actors, makes for awesome TV watching.
The show pokes fun at all of Israeli society. The story and characters are based off of Kashua’s life experiences, which you can also read about in his Haaretz columns. The premise is an Arab family who moves into the Jewish Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia. What’s it like to be an Arab living in West Jerusalem? The neighbors make up most of the rest of the cast and include all the stereotypes you would want to see (although I must say I haven’t seen any episode with the token new immigrant, a flaw most Israeli shows make…in my humble opinion). The show has no boundaries and touches upon all those uncomfortable subjects most politicians avoid in their well thought out peace speeches. Make fun of religion? Sure, put an Arab family at a Seder table. The show makes fun of everything from our different religions, cultures, politics and even the level we speak at in a conversation. It’s brilliant. It’s bold. And, yes it’s beautiful.
This is the first Arabic speaking show to be on prime time TV. Don’t worry there is a mix of Hebrew, Arabic and even sometimes some broken English (one of the best episodes which features the BBC and my running buddy Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat).
There are so many hilarious incidents that I want to summarize for you here…but come on, they won’t sound as funny and why waste your time with me when you can watch the real thing?
Do you watch the show? We want to hear from you what you think? And if you want to hear from the creator himself here’s your opportunity this week at the Writer’s Festival. Click here for more details.