The Big Felafel


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!


“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!

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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


“Safe Sex in the Holy City”

worldaidsdayIt’s World AIDS Day once again and we still don’t have a cure. That said we must continue to stay safe and informed about the disease. Here in Jerusalem it seems we’re more worried about terrorist attacks, getting jay-walking tickets or a spontaneous protest headed up by those crazy Haredis (see what happens when you don’t have TV, you have to make your own Entertainment at the expense of others). But the truth is, AIDS is a deadly disease in Israel just like the rest of the world. And even if it doesn’t make headlines like the Swine Flu, it’s still affecting your life and your loved ones.

Staying safe and informed is the best way to battle the disease until we find a cure and the Jerusalem Open House is the best way to do that. The organization has a weekly clinic open on Sundays which provides a free and completely anonymous rapid HIV testing service, as well as counseling, information and education about HIV/ AIDS. The clinic has also packed up their bags and visited other sites to give these free and anonymous tests. This World AIDS Day they will be at The Hebrew University’s Mt. Scopus campus giving those tests to students and staff alike.worldaids2

As well as the free testing, the organization will be celebrating “Safe Sex in the Holy City” Thursday, Dec. 3rd at the Talpiot club ‘Campus’ where your NIS 40 entrance fee will support the clinic. The night’s festivities will begin at 11:30pm and rock on until the wee hours of early morning. Best of all there will be a drag show to keep us entertain while staying safe.

And so to get you in the party mood, I remind you of the World AIDS Day post I wrote about last year.

For more info about the organization check out their website or contact Shira at shira@joh.org.il.


Israel the Airhead!

This country is funny. Have you ever met someone who is an airhead yet somehow they have a full scholarship to a top university? They can figure out math problems that use numbers and letters but they can’t remember to look both ways before crossing the street? That airhead is Israel.

light rail 1It seems weird but after I tell you what I tell you, I think you will agree. Here’s why Israel is such an airhead: Trains. It comes down to trains.

In Jerusalem you have the light rail, or you have the tracks, dirt and mess of what is supposed to be a light rail. It’s been in the process of being built for about 10 years and who knows when it will ever be ready. In fact it was recently reported that practice trains will begin to ride some of the tracks- which means they will find all sorts of problems and have to rebuild, remodel and restart the whole train game. The light rail has literally eaten up the center of the city and left its remains like a toilet. You know it’s true even if you don’t like the analogy. Stores and cafes have shut down due to lack of commerce, buses travel down narrow one-way streets which are used as two-way streets and sometimes even three-way streets (dirty). My favorite people-watching cross walk at King George and Jaffa has disappeared along with the businesses and bustle of everyday life.

Yet all this said something so innovative and brilliant is also happening on trains in a different part of the country.train Israel Railways is offering a lecture series, from top Professors while you ride your usual morning commute. This is pure genius. Where did they come up with this? Rather than staring out a window, listening to your iPod, or trying not to fall asleep and miss your stop, you can now have a refreshing cup of morning coffee and refreshing lecture from top Hebrew University Professor Chanoch Gutfreund on “Einstein’s Love Letters.” I mean could you think of a better way to start your day?

So there’s my point in case. The Jerusalem light rail makes this country an airhead, twirling her hair around her finger and staring into space. Yet, while she may look like no one is home, the sheer genius of train lectures makes you realize that indeed the lights are on and only getting brighter.


Be Cool. Matisyahu gives us a much needed beat

Kenneth Cole Celebrates  Fashions Night Out

Living in Israel is never easy. Understatement. And now with talk about a third Intifada, actual rioting in the Old City and calls of the destruction of Israel from Arab leaders in East Jerusalem to Arab leaders in the Arab nations, life here seems to be more stressful than ever. Reading the news makes me nervous to walk the streets, ride the buses or be in crowded places.

But I still go out and I still live my life here. In fact last night I went to the Matisyahu concert held at Sultan’s Pool right outside the walls of the Old City. On my way I couldn’t help but worry about the possible terrorism that could take place. My mind has a wild imagination, so I was worried about the parked cars, the people with big bags and making sure the security guards were thoroughly during their job—not to mention my fears of 18-year-old “Shana Alef” girls and boys that would probably be drinking beer and standing next to me at the concert (some might argue that is the scariest of all).

But when the music started all the fears, worries and doubts disappeared into the raging beats and all I could do was move to them. Matisyahu’s lyrics and mere presence reminded me that this isn’t just a concert in Israel, this is a part of our way of life and nothing or no one can change that. We are the Jewish people and this is our Homeland. The songs helped to remind me that life is hard, life for the Jews has always been hard, but we can still find the joy in the fog of hate and we can still bust a move.Matisyahu hits the stage at Rumsey Field!

So I danced to the music. We all danced to the music—even if our moves were that of Jewish white boys and girls, and we couldn’t manage to stay on rhythm. We danced because we could. Because we were dancing in an ancient pool of the Israelites. Because the Old City, might be old but we are keeping it young. We are keeping it. We’re dancing for our ancestors; we’re dancing for our future. We’re dancing cause we think we’re cool and we’re dancing because we know we’re afraid.

The last piece that Matisyahu left the crowd with is his famous song “Jerusalem.” The lyrics say it all, “Jerusalem, if I forget you, fire not gonna come from me tongue. Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.” From the prayers of King David to the hopes of the next generation, thank you Matisyahu for reminding us to move to the beat and keep going.


THE ROSH HASHANA VIDEO: Laugh your way into the new year!

It’s that time of year: apples, honey, prayers and tons of celebration…the Jewish New Year. And once again Benji and I hit the streets, this time in Tel Aviv, to find out how Israelis plan to celebrate the holiday and what sins they may want to say “sorry” for. Check out the clip and learn more about Benji at www.whatwarzone.com.


The Bomb Still Explodes: The Hebrew University Bombing 7 Years Later

memorial

Frank Sinatra Cafeteria Memorial

Yesterday I took part in a live twitter chat with Maia Sigal Leslau, a victim of the Hebrew University bombing. The terrorist attack took place on July 31st, 2002 at the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria on the Mt. Scopus campus. The Hebrew University was intentionally targeted because it stands as a symbol to the revitalization of the Jewish people and is home to thousands of students from all over the world.

The bomb— a cell phone in a bag on the table of the bustling café, where students gathered mid day to eat a quick lunch or take a much needed break—went off and killed nine people and injured over eighty. One of those nine was my friend Marla Bennett.

I remember the phone call about her death that changed my world forever. I was in complete denial and to this day I have not really accepted her passing. I remember demanding proof that they knew it was her, that they knew she was dead. And even though I got my answer it never felt real.

marlabennett

Marla Bennett, 24-years-old z"l

Yesterday, the opportunity to speak with Maia helped me cope with reality. She personally told me about the bombing from her point of view. She didn’t hear the bomb go off, but she said she knew something was wrong. She was alert and asked her friend to take her bag and call her mother.

Maia survived despite shrapnel piercing her brain. She lost sight in her eye and still has scars, not to mention the emotional scaring. I would think that anyone that survived the bombing would be afraid, angry and have a loss of faith. But not Maia. She is a strong willed young woman, who actually became more religious since the bombing.

Maia is inspiring. She not only inspires me to be more thankful of what I have, but made me realize that if Marla had survived the bombing she too would be like Maia. Marla would be strong and do her best to stay positive in the face of evil. Marla was the nicest person I ever met. Nice as in good intentions, a big heart, a never ending smile and hope that survived her death.

The chat may have been short with 140 characters at a time, but the message is long lasting.

Thank you Maia for your candor.

Marla not a day goes by that I don’t wish you were still alive.

Below please find some of Maia’s comments during the conversation. The twitter chat took place through Hebrew University’s twitter account: @HebrewU (English) and @HebrewU_heb (Hebrew).

@FelafelBalls I’m getting over it every day, every morning when I get up and thank G-d for being in this world, for being alive.10:06 AM Jul 28th

@slerner #izkor I became religious after the bombing, understanding and believing this is the hand of G-d keeping me alive.10:16 AM Jul 28th

@charliekalech #izkor I’m sad abt the 9 people who are not w/ us any more. I’m sorry for myself that someone changed my life without asking.10:12 AM Jul 28th

@dejerusalem #izkor The bombing was not really a surprise, sad to say. During 2002 it was a daily routine in Jerusalem.10:36 AM Jul 28th

@miriamschwab #izkor It’s on July 31, the memorial will be held tmrw on campus. My lesson: We have only one Land, this is the true home.10:53 AM Jul 28th

@dejerusalem #izkor I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m a survivor. I always remember I could have been a victim. It is always with me.11:02 AM Jul 28th


Israel PR: Leave it to the Youth and Put it on Facebook

Israel’s PR for Israel is crap. That of course is an understatement. But this past Sunday Hebrew University students decided to contribute their young and savvy minds to help fix the problem. The students, currently StandWithUs Fellows, launched a Facebook tool called Israpedia to promote their country.

With already 3,000 Facebook friends using the application, the tool is bound to make PR history inIsrapediaLogo a country where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only joined Twitter last week. The idea is similar to that of Kassam Counts and is actually built by the same developers. Like Kassam Counts, Israpedia takes over your status message on Facebook and makes updates for you. The difference is that Kassam Counts was updating how many rockets were fired into Israel, where as Israepedia will supply interesting facts about Israel as your status updates.

The idea is that Israel has many sides to it, but somehow the news just likes to focus on the one bloody aspect forgetting that this country also invented a method to get rid of bad breath through the use of laser technology–for example (brought to you by Israpedia). The random facts go beyond the conflict and shed light on Israel’s magnificent achievements, rather than its war statistics.

The students have put their heart and mind into this project and have shown the rest of their peers that we all have the potential to make this country a better place and let the world know that were awesome too.

 Check out their facts page at http://www.israpedia.info/facts1.html

 For the application: http://www.facebook.com/tos.php?api_key=07a32905120b031dd6b8273ba4b70128&next=&v=1.0&canvas