The Big Felafel


Single is the way to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Tel Aviv

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!

 

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Show me your O Face: Obama Comes to Town!

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


Guide to supermarket shopping online in Israel

supermarket-sweep

Going to the supermarket in Israel is a bit like Supermarket Sweep – only without the fun trivia and prizes. You have to be in top shape to fend off the line cutters at the poultry section and then the line holders (“I’ll be right back, just save my spot”) at the checkout. You also have to endure waiting on line for at least 20 minutes at the checkout– and that’s only if the person in front of you opts out of buying cigarettes at the last minute. And, if you forgot an item at the last minute, you have to run, literally sprint, to get it so that the person behind you in line doesn’t explode in anger.

Last time I was in the US, I was amazed that a trip to the supermarket could be a quick in and out experience. In Israel, there’s never even a quick “in” – what with the bag checks, rummaging for the 5 shekel coin to unlock the mystery that awaits within your cart, and finally making your way in through all the outside “deals” that try to distract you from sticking to your shopping list. And, there’s certainly no quick “out” with maybe one express lane, if you’re lucky, and my experience has shown that no matter which line I pick, there is always some sort of hold up – a coupon that’s not valid, a price check on an item, a last-minute delivery decision, etc.

Let’s just say that the Israeli supermarket shopping experience is not exactly a calming experience.

The best part of going to the supermarket is the hope that there will be free samples and good deals (since there is no circular to let you know of deals ahead of time). Depending on which supermarket you go to, you may see people sampling the olives, pickles, raisins, walnuts, and anything else that is not safely guarded behind plastic. In this hilarious episode from the Israeli TV show, Ramzor, Eyal tries to eat as many free samples as he can in the supermarket… and gets caught! See what lengths he’ll go to continue enjoying free samples.  Also in this episode, Hefer tries to cancel his TV subscription but gets unbelievable offers, anything to keep him from cancelling.

After having a baby in October, I realized that if I ever want something from the supermarket, the only way I’ll be able to get it is if I order online, even if it means foregoing free samples.  At first, I was really intimidated by having to shop online in Hebrew, but after a little while, I started to get the hang of it. Most of these sites let you keep previous orders so you can just re-order many of the same things, which saves a lot of time.

Here are all the online supermarket sites in Israel, although the only one I’ve tried so far is Shufersal Yashir.

Shortly after writing this, an article came out in Yediot Achronot comparing the different online supermarkets: Shufersal, Mega, Rami Levi and MisterZol. The winner for every grouping of assorted items was Rami Levi.

shufersal

ShuferSal Yashir

I saw that Shufersal Yashir (I always thought it was SuperSol until I saw their website)  was giving 200 shekels (25 shekels for each purchase x 8 purchases) to new online shoppers, so I decided to give it a try. And I was hooked. I ordered in the morning, and could decide when I wanted to receive the delivery – the same day or the next day. Click click click and a few hours later all the heavy stuff I ordered was magically at my doorstep.

The prices are definitely a bit higher, but if you spend over 750 shekels, delivery is free.  There are deals online as well so if you shop the deals first, you may only pay a bit more than you would at the store.

The other fun thing about Shufersal Yashir is that they give you 2 random items from the store for free. Sometimes we got really great stuff like a loaf of bread or frozen peas, but sometimes they were really crappy – like grape mix for juice and pizza flavored pretzels. I guess this somewhat compensates for giving up free samples at the supermarket.

The only major drawback of shopping online is not being able to choose my own produce, but you can leave notes on the site like “un-ripe only” and they do a pretty good job of bringing you what you request. I found the user interface on the website easy to use and the search functionality really helpful.

Delivery price: 28 NIS. Free for orders over 750 NIS   29 NIS. 10 NIS for orders over 750 NIS.
Delivery area: Most cities in Israel. Enter your zip code to find out if they deliver to your area.
Payment options: local Israeli and international credit cards

 

ramilevy

Rami Levy

Rami Levy recently rolled out a new website for ordering your groceries online but with one major problem – they’re rolling out their new service painfully slowly, starting with trial runs in the Tel Aviv area only. Who knows when they’ll get to Jerusalem Sad smile. Rami Levy has the reputation of having the cheapest prices so I am definitely waiting til they come to my area.

Delivery price: 24.95 NIS
Delivery area: Tel Aviv area

logo_mega

Mega

Mega has a very photo-rich site, but is usually more expensive than the other supermarkets. I would be interested in hearing feedback from people who have used Mega online.

Delivery price: 28 NIS.
Delivery area: Most cities in Israel. Enter your zip code to find out if they deliver to your area.
Payment Options: Israeli credit cards and PayPal!

 

Mister Zol B’click 

Currently the Homepage isn’t showing deals, although there is a link to get to them, but already that gives me a bad feeling about the usability of the site. It looks like this is a relatively new site as the FAQ section still has “Question 1 and Answer 1”. According to an article recently in Yediot Achronot, Mister Zol didn’t have very good customer service – the writer of the article said he had to call 3 times before he got through to someone, and even then the customer service wasn’t very helpful.

 

Delivery price:  26 NIS for orders up to 250 NIS. 20 NIS for orders over 250 NIS
Delivery area:  Probably most cities in Israel, but I can’t click on the link to check delivery areas.

makolet

MyMakolet

I like looking around at the site because it makes me nostalgic for the US…they even have Shoprite brand cereals! Too funny.

What makes this site unique is that everything is in English.

The website says they will call for your credit card number and don’t process the credit card through the internet. I thought the whole point of eCommerce was to put your credit card online but maybe this is comforting to some people (not so comforting to me… where are they storing this sensitive info?).

So what happens with the second purchase? Do you have to call each time? Do they call you?

I also found the user interface on the site not very intuitive.

Delivery price: 20 NIS
Delivery area: Only Jerusalem

 

yashir

Yashir4u

Located in Bnei Brak, Yashir4u doesn’t seem to have lots of brands I’m using to seeing at the local supermarket. Maybe it’s because they only sell Mehadrin products. The prices seem to be much cheaper than Shufersal Yashir.

Delivery price: Free for orders over 500 NIS
Delivery area: Most cities in Israel. Enter your zip code to find out if they deliver to your area.

 

superbaba

SuperBaba – for the Tel Aviv area only. Looks like a brand new site. I clicked on “Deliveries” and the text says “text related to deliveries” Ha!

 

The only question remaining is – will the Shuk Mahane Yehuda follow the trend and go online?! Will the website include screaming vendors and flies buzzing  to replicate the true experience of the shuk?

Where do you like to go shopping? Where do you find the best deals?


A Green Light for ‘Ramzor’- A Must Watch Sitcom and Ulpan!

With Srugim winding down its super depressing season (writers, what the hell happened, not only do I feel sick when I watch the show, I don’t want to be friends with any of them, being religious looks like the worse life decision anyone could make- marriage seems like a death trap- and still not a single Anglo character), I have found a new show to love and one that makes me laugh.

Ramzor (Traffic Light), an Israeli sitcom, focuses around three 30-something male characters living in Giv’atayim (near Tel Aviv). While I enjoy the characters, a family man, the ‘living-together’ guy and the bachelor who is a bachelor all the way, it turns out that according to Wikipedia each relationship represents a color of the traffic light, hence the sitcom’s name. The family man, Itzko, is the red light since he is married with a seven-year-old daughter. Amir, the ‘live-together’ guy is the yellow light because he lives with his girlfriend, and of course that leaves the bachelor, Hefer to be the green light because he has no partner and is free to go. However you put it, the show is damn funny and a great ulpan tool for those of us that want to embrace Israeli culture and slang.

The shows are a smart funny and very similar to the current hit in America, ‘Modern Family’. The stories revolve around humorous concepts like an old woman taking over a swimming lane, the friend that only calls you when he walks his dog, getting a housekeeper who ends up making you work for your money and a dog therapist. The characters are all kooky. I personally enjoy Amir (that’s the live-together guy) the most, who is a private show choreographer. Basically he goes to companies and teaches their workers a dance which is themed around their type of work. He deals with the strangest people and yet loves his job and makes the musical numbers work! He alone is worth watching for a half-hour. There is also Itzko’s wife, Lilach, who oddly enough is also the wife on Srugim, yet plays a completely different character on this show. Here she is a self-absorbed journalist who always has the phone by her ear and is ready for her Pulitzer. Her relationship, if you want to call it that, with her husband is more like a great bickering match and makes for good TV. Hefer gives the show its dirtier moments and thus the sitcom has a little something for everyone.

Actor Adir Miller, who plays Amir the ‘live-together’ guy is also the show’s creator and can now add businessman to that list since selling the show to Fox in America. The US version will be written by Bob Fisher who was the executive story editor for “Married with Children.” The series is set to start this Fall.

Check out Free episodes online


Beautiful Watercolors of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem cafes

Recently I came across a new blog, Drawing Tel Aviv, and fell in love. The artist behind the fabulous watercolors of everyday life in Tel Aviv is Carol Feldman, an olah from Oklahoma, now living in Tel Aviv. What struck me is how she captures Israeli life so perfectly – just look at the guy reading the Ma’ariv Hebrew daily newspaper, with Crocs, sitting next to a sprawled out stray cat. Carol also paints the ubiquitous corner Tel Aviv cafe. I also loved her painting of humus and Israeli money. Also see what israelplug had to say about this great new talent.

telavivcafe Maariv2

The other artist whose cafe scenes I wouldn’t mind hanging in my living room (hint, hint generous reader-turned-artwork-donor) are the watercolors by Azriel Cohen. Raised in Toronto, Canada, Azriel now tours the world and paints cafes and city life wherever he goes. Actually, I met him on one of his adventures to Sinai in Egypt in January or February 2005, I can’t remember (oy!). He heard me and my friends speaking English and we started talking. Continue reading this entry »


Thanksgiving in Israel! It can be done!

Thanksgiving in Israel?It’s almost turkey time. I love Thanksgiving. And what’s not to love, dinner at 3pm, turkey that isn’t sliced lunch meat, stuffing right from the turkey’s butt, mashed potatoes dripping with gravy and cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Lots of pumpkin pie.

This used to be my reality every November for as long as I can remember. But for the last 3 years I have been living in Israel and those Thanksgiving days have turned into memories of my past. Oh, stop being so dramatic, the truth is you (as in me and all other American immigrants) can still have Thanksgiving in Israel.

I know it isn’t the same as sitting around the table in America, staring down at your food baby (this is a term Shira taught me which refers to the ridiculous amount of food you just ate that now makes you appear five months pregnant) and going around the table saying what we are thankful for (I am always thankful there is a toilet near by)—but friends, we are not alone and Thanksgiving can still be the best holiday ever! The gravy bowl is half full! Continue reading this entry »


Where to Study Graphic Design in Israel

I’m finishing up the Graphic Design and Multimedia program at John Bryce in Jerusalem and thought I’d review the course and recommend other resources for people interested in graphic and web design in Israel.

Discounts

If you made Aliyah within the last 3 years, you may be entitled to some major discounts off these schools. But you’ll need to check with Misrad Haklitah or Misrad Hastudentim first.

Graphic and Web Design Schools / Programs

Below are some of the better known schools for graphic design in Israel. Almost all the courses are in Hebrew, but don’t let that stop you since the software is in English. At first, I thought the Hebrew would be extremely challenging, but by the second day, I caught on to the Hebrish lingo of “checkbox-im”, “undo-im”, and “tab-im”. And by the end of the course, I had a whole notebook full of these little phrases.

Also, many of these schools offer other creative classes such as video editing, jewelry design, animation, etc.

Considering that these are design schools, let’s see how creative and effective their websites are. After receiving grades throughout the year, it feels good to give back a little constructive criticism.

Please leave a comment if you have a review of a school or if I left any out, which is very very possible.

 

JBTLogo

John Bryce Doesn’t sound Jewish, but hey…

Location: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv & Haifa

Phone: *6460; In Jerusalem, 02-678-1881 and you have to push 011 after you dial.

Length of Course: 10 months (in theory). Due to snow days (in Israel, crazy – right?), teacher sick days, random no-days, it turned into a year. Classes are twice a week at night for 3.5 hours each. Don’t worry, you get breaks, and a free coffee machine. You receive a certificate of completion at the end although I’m not sure how valuable the certificate is, since portfolios carry the real weight in the design world. So if you work hard on the projects during the course you’ll come away with a nice portfolio.

Programs Taught: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, HTML, CSS, Dreamweaver, ImageReady, Flash/Actionscript

Overall Review: B+ I can now use each of the design programs pretty easily and quickly, but there is still much more to learn and practice but Photoshop and Flash are no longer scary programs where I don’t even know where to start. However, the program lacked in teaching design principles and fundamentals. In an amazing bookabout design for non-designers, Robin Williams (not the comedian) teaches basic design principles simply and brilliantly, but unfortunately John Bryce never mentioned any of her ideas. Also, I felt like the Dreamweaver section spent too much time on building websites with tables, and not enough time on DIV’s and CSS.

Website Review: D Annoying sound when you enter which I couldn’t figure out how to turn off, crazy flying flash sections in sidebar, inside pages look much different than home page, scrolling welcome message unnecessary.

bezalel

Bezalel: Academy of Art and Design

Location: Jerusalem

Phone: 02-5893323 Email: viscom@bezalel.ac.il

Length: 4 years – Bachelor’s Degree

You’ll Learn: Visual Communications: Graphic/typographic design, Interactive design, Broadcast design (including animation), Illustration, and Advertising

Website Review: A I love the clean looking design and colorful photo. Nice touches of Flash. Easy to use menu with good English section.

hadassah

Hadassah School of Practical Engineering

Location: Jerusalem

Phone: 02-6291932 Email: oragolan@hadassah.ac.il

Length: 2 years – Associate’s degree

Track: Print Production

You’ll Learn: Typography, Graphic Design, Website Design, Drawing & Sketching, Engraving and Etching, more

Track: Interactive Communications (Internet and Multimedia)

You’ll learn: Design for user interface, HTML, Introduction to Java, Introduction to Photography Three Dimensional Images and Animation, Website Production, Interactive Animation, more

Website Review: B+ Very informative with a good English section and usability, but could use a little creativity

Continue reading this entry »


Attention Chocolate Lovers: How to find the best chocolate in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Galilee, and more

Dark, white, truffles, bars, bittersweet, milk, fondue – if any or all of these types of chocolate make your mouth water, get ready for Sandra Andrews-Strasko’s Guide to Chocolate in Jerusalem, Guide to Chocolate in Tel Aviv, Guide to Chocolate in the Golan and Galilee and Guide to Chocolate in Israel.

Sandra’s guides detail each chocolate spot with the location, website, telephone number, if it’s kosher, type of store (restaurant, retail, etc.), and an honest review and recommendation.The ratings “take into account the quality of the chocolate, service and overall atmosphere of the seller”.

The most detailed review is about little-known “Chocolat” at 8 Arlozorov St. in Jerusalem that carries a range of different chocolates from truffles and fondue to chocolates I never heard of or realized were available in this part of town. To top it off, Chocolat shares the name of the famous movie, Chocolat, and could easily turn its own story into the sequel.

Sandra, if you’re reading this, and ever decide to update your chocolate guides, I offer my exquisite taste-testing talents.


Baboo: new apartment search website simplifies apt hunt in Israel

For all of you searching 8+ apartment websites in Israel every day to make sure you score the best deal in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or anywhere else in Israel before the next guy, check out Baboo. Baboo (Hebrew only but worth the effort) collects information from a bunch of apartment websites including yad2, Madas, WinWin, and others and puts it all in one place to make your search less stressful.


The Next Holiday: Sex and the City Premiere May 29 Mark Your Calendars for this Holy of Holy Days

With all the Jewish holidays that seem to appear on a weekly basis, I can’t help but wonder…do people know about the Sex and the City movie opening next week in Israel. It’s true… Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda will invade Israel next Thursday, May 29, 2008. While, I have had the date circled for the past six months, I’m not sure that the citizens of Israel are aware of this significant event about to take place.

Truth be told I originally wanted to plan my trip to America around the premiere in New York, but after realizing that was one expensive movie ticket, I opted for Tel Aviv-a close second to New York (yeah right).

Ok, so I will have to watch the movie with subtitles and intermission, but it is coming out here before America, so take that! We will get to see Carrie in all her fashion glory, Samantha in full glory, Charlotte and her Chinese daughter and Miranda hopefully still with Steve (check out preview below to see why I say that).

The movie is set to take place in the present which means the ladies are four years older and in their forties. In fact after reading a few gossip magazines via the internet, I have learned that the filmmakers used a special lens on the camera to hide the ladies’ wrinkles. Nevertheless, from the pictures I have seen, the women are still bringing it. And they will be bringing it for the next several years, since it looks like this movie is the first part of a trilogy. That’s right, we will literally be watching Sex and the City until it is Sex and the Retirement Home. Samantha will have the hottest adult diapers in town (can they make diaper thongs)!

Until then, check out the full length preview below. And also make note, the movie is coming out in about a week-but I wouldn’t wait until Thursday to purchase your tickets. The movie will premiere in Rav Chen theaters. To find out more check out Seret.co.il theater listings.