Saturday, November 21, 2009

It’s Always an Adventure Here!

I just got back from a great weekend in Tel Aviv and Yehud. I enjoyed Shabbat with Evyatar Asher, Allen Glen, and many other fun people. THANK YOU to the Asher family for hosting me and feeding me very delicious food non-stop.

Everything with Evy

I didn’t stop eating…

  • Background: Evyatar Asher is a good friend of mine from Camp. He was a member of mishlachat and we worked together in Shorashim this past summer. He currently lives at home with his family in Yehud and attends Bar Ilan University.

  • On Thursday night we went out with two of Evyatar’s high school friends to a quaint place called Café Gidi in Ramat Gan. There was a line out the door. But, that’s ok, because they brought us free, very tasty, hot coco as we waited outside. Once we entered, it had a lovely ambiance (similar to Max Café on 122nd and Amsterdam), good/quick service, and delicious food. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend grabbing a bite there.

  • On Friday morning, we did some marketing with his mother and brother at the shuk, during which I bought a finjan, small glass cups, and shuk/homemade coffee blend. My tea/coffee set is almost complete!

  • Then, the two of us headed off to a place where Evy eats every Friday: Birenbaum (located at the top of Nahalat Binytamin)! This was another great restaurant, with a cool atmosphere. Except here, it was like visiting family. Evy gave a hug and kiss to every waitress and chef and we got everything we wanted, plus dessert on the house! The food is all vegetarian, served buffet style, and VERY scrumptious. Another must for your next visit to Tel Aviv.

  • Next, we walked through the famous art fair that happens every Tuesday and Friday.
    • I think this is such a unique thing. I’ve never been to another place that has high-quality artists in the same location twice a week. I love it!
    • I was able to walk up to the exact table, in the exact place, where I bought a very cool class snake five years ago and found a similar piece of art waiting for another patron.
    • I love seeing this street full of creativity.
    • However, every time I visit I think, this would be great…but I don’t own a home, so I have nowhere to put these cool fixtures (like toilet paper holders and baskets for newspaper)….I must return…

  • Over Shabbat we went to three different minyanim. Friday evening we davened with a group that Evyatar and his friends help organize. They call it a Carlbach minyan. But, only a few of the niggunim were distinctively Carlbach (at least to my ears). Nonetheless, they had a great showing and now have to look for a bigger place to hold services.

  • As my list of reasons why I wouldn’t make Aliya continues to grow, there are sometimes glimmers of hope. Friday night after dinner was one of those beautiful times. Evyatar’s friends from town came over for a small “oneg.” It was great to see people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and religious observance hang out together as one “chevre.” As some studied a bit of Talmud in one corner, another couple arrived in their car. The memorable moment for me was when Moshe, with his large kippa seruga and flailing tzitzit, said goodbye to Siyum, a secular Ethiopian, holding car keys. They threw a few love punches, gave a great big hug, and discussed the details for Moshe to sign the Ketuba as the eid next week at Siyum’s wedding.

  • Did I mention, Evy’s wonderful mother didn’t stop feeding us?

  • Finally, as my father always says, Israel is “The One Disk Country.” And….now with modern technology, it’s even easier to swap files. Needless to say, I left Yehud with a lot more Israeli music on my computer.

Over Shabbat I read a wonderful article from a recent New Yorker about the current Israel-Gaza situation. I highly recommend it. It’s very detailed and objective (hard to find these days). After reading it, you can come to your own conclusion about an “appropriate” solution: Captives

Food for Thought

I guess going to a food conference has become an annual tradition for me.


  • I arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening. I had arranged a place to stay.

  • While out to dinner with some friends, I received a text message from my original host saying, “Do you have an Alternative? If that’s ok.” So, I asked Joe (name changed for confidentiality) if I could stay with him. Joe, who was staying in a hotel, was staffing the Conference the next day, so it was a perfect arrangement. He checked with his roommate for the night, and all was set for success.

  • After an exciting evening with friends and some new, eye-opening experiences, it was time to catch a few Zs. But, Joe had disappeared. Furthermore, he was not answering his phone or text messages. All I wanted to know was where the hotel was so I could go back on my own.

  • Eventually, we made contact with him and he said to meet on the corner of Allenby and Rothschild, a main intersection.

  • So, I left the group with whom I was walking to find Joe.
  • But, Joe was nowhere to be found. Thirty minutes later, at 1:25 AM, as I stood in the brisk wind, Joe had still not arrived, and was once again not responding to cell phone communications.

  • It was at this time, that I decided there was nothing else to do, but find a hostel. At one point during the evening, another friend had mumbled “48 Hayarkon” amidst our conversation about places to stay. So I started walking towards Hayarkon St and eventually hailed a cab.

  • I asked the driver if he knew of any hostels in the area, but he didn’t know, so I told him to go to Hayarkon St. During the ride he radioed the dispatcher, who confirmed that there was indeed a hostel at 48 Hayarkon.

  • I arrived and walked into this gloomy lobby with one guy behind the counter. I was in luck:
    • With my passport, as a “tourist,” I was able to get a bed in a dormitory-style room for 78 Shekels (~$21). This was perfect as I was just happy to be inside, warm, and have a place to sleep.
    • After I paid, he gave me the sheets and told me I could pay to lock up my valuables.
    • Despite the warning, I took a chance and didn’t lock up anything.
    • But, I did rent a towel for 3 shekels.
    • I went up to my room to find two girls and one guy occupying the other bunk beds. I washed up and went to bed.
    • A few hours later, after a light sleep, I awoke, showered, shaved, and headed off.
    • I’m not sure my roommates ever knew I was in the room.

  • While I could have been angry about this situation, I realized it wasn’t worth it. It is just better to laugh about it and tell myself, it’s always an adventure here!

Discussing Sustainable Food and Agriculture:

  • The Food Conference, sponsored by the Arava Institute and the Heschel Center, was very impressive.

  • Over 500 people attended!

  • They had a bunch of big names speak including the Minister of Agriculture, the founder of Israel’s Green Party, and a few of my professors.

  • I met some interesting people and reconnected with old friends.

  • Like the Bike Ride, I was the only current student at the Machon to partake.

  • It was another good experience away from the Kibbutz!

I would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support of my Israel Ride! Feel free to visit my ride site for the latest stats or if you have a last minute urge to contribute.

Now, I’m off with my class on a three-day Negev fieldtrip.

Until next time...



  • Do you REALLY have to smoke?
    I just don’t understand: If you’ve grown up and gone to school (with health education) in the last twenty years, especially in the States, how could you possibly want to smoke?

  • Only in Israel will you find a car zipping down the street blasting the song “Yo Ya” by Kveret.

  • Why does every Israeli think they can treat you like a sibling? This can be both good and bad. Often times they are very endearing and you get a lovely homey feeling wherever you may be. BUT, I don’t think a shop owner should reprimand potential customers. Hey, whatever works!...

Shoutout #38: Ariel Touger – WOW! It’s great to see you out here; welcome! Well, what can I say, you are simply a good friend. In our former years…Be it a quick visit in Milburn or a whole weekend together, we always seem to have a good time with a lot of laughs (usually about other people). Hope College Park is treating you well.

Shoutout #39: Allison Guttenplan (Alli G!) – You are such a kind person. You will go out of your way do anything for most people. Plus, you are a lot of fun! Welcome aboard!

P.S. If you didn’t get a chance yet, take a moment and Vote for the Edot Names at Ramah Outdoor Adventure.

P.P.S. Do you know what you’re eating? Maybe you should think again: Corn-based Meat

P.P.P.S. SERIOUSLY?! Who does Fox think they’re kidding:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

I apologize for the plethora of external links above. However, as a fellow procrastinator, I would actually find them helpful…ENJOY!


Notes from the Field

Here are two meaningful things that I’ve been intending to post for over week now…

The Value of Breira in Peace-Building

I recently wrote to my friend, mentor, and former boss, Dr. Beth Jaret, Director of Breira B’Ramah:

As part of the Arava Institute all students must take part in the semester-long non-credit “Peace Building and Environmental Seminar.” Last week we had a six hour session (yeah, I know) on Compassionate Listening. Although I thought this was going to be long and drawn out, it actually was very good and helped people open up. I realized again what I have noticed in the last year or two, that working with Breira and the training you provided has made me a pretty good listener. As we know, most people (especially our campers) usually have the best solutions to their problems. So, if you just give people a chance to talk and truly express themselves, it can make things much easier. Thank you for that.

But, I also noticed that sometimes when I'm not specifically in the role of "Breira Counselor," I forget this important skill. I believe this especially happens in situations like here, where everyone feels they must really defend their opinions. Thus, this session was actually a very good remainder of one of the most important communication skills. As many of the conversations here are often very politically and emotionally charged, I am working hard to actively listen well and "give peace a chance."

Seriously, you should try it. It really works in everyday life. And, it’s definitely a start in peace work.

A Biblical Note

While sitting in my class Bible as a Key to Environmental Thought, I found an amazing verse about the joining of beloveds, hidden in the middle of B’reishit.

Genesis 2:24

Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.

I think this is a beautiful view of love, marriage, and family!

[In addition, feminist readers, take note: Man clings to Woman. WOW!]

While there is a lot I could say, both negative and positive, about this one verse, I will simply say that I hope part of this philosophy is a major part of my marriage one day.

And, if you are in the mood for an enchanting, heartfelt, exemplary love story, read this (plus it even mentions “kibbutz”): The Obama’s Marriage

This post had a bit of a different tone than normal. I would love to hear your thoughts. Simply hit “comments” and tell us what you think.