Monthly Archives: December 2010

Complex realities

Emotions have been high here the past few weeks. Not for me personally, but for the country as a whole.  Nothing new about that, I suppose, but since I’m not usually here to observe it, the past few weeks stand out to me in how they embody the complex realities of this place.  This is what I mean:

1. Shortly after Neil left, a group of several dozen Israeli Rabbis issued a religious ruling prohibiting the sale or rental of apartments in Israel to Arabs.  Their ruling caused a huge uproar in both the secular and religious communities here, with a group of Yeshiva students signing a petition opposing the ruling, the publishing of “compromise rulings/letters” [trying to assuage the enraged public], and general remarks about the racism in this country.

2. Shortly after this, a rally was held in the city of Bat Yam [just south of Tel Aviv] to continue the protest against renting/selling apartments to Arabs and to protest against Arabs dating Jews.

3.  Following this, just yesterday a group of Rabbi’s wives wrote an open letter pleading with Jewish women not to date Arabs, suggesting that doing so “removes them from the Jewish people.”

4.  Thrown into this mix is the increasing tension in southern Tel Aviv between veteran residents of the community and groups of Sudanese/Eritrean refugees – a tension manifested in one demonstration by the southern Tel Aviv community calling for the government to move the “infiltrators,” one demonstration by the refugees [and their supporters] calling for the government to take better care of them, and various meetings/newspaper editorials/film festivals/etc.

These issues permeate daily conversation and paint a pretty bleak picture of what’s happening here and in what direction Israel is headed.  And when there’s so much ignorance and hate, how much of an impact can education have? I went on a trip yesterday with one of the groups I’m observing to a Catholic church in Jaffa.  Two of the Jewish girls balked at entering the compound, citing a prohibition for Jews to enter non-Jewish holy places.  Whose prohibition? As an adult in the group gently pointed out, it’s important for them to think for themselves before accepting as ‘law’ the interpretation of a rabbi/group of rabbis.

I was thankful to hear his words, but skeptical about how much of a difference they made. This is not an easy place to be an independent thinker, especially not at their age.


from one west coast to another

it feels like it was yesterday [and yet at the same time, a long time ago] that we were together on a beach in Israel [pix here].

today, just a bit over two weeks later, i found myself with another best friend on the west coast of the U.S. it is all a bit mind-boggling to me. air travel borders on magic to me. it is amazing how we can be one place with someone in a special place and then suddenly find yourself surrounded by a whole group of folks in another special place. stunning.

Morgan wanted to go see some oak woodlands outside of San Fran. i was game, of course. i really wanted to see individual trees of the magnificent blue oak. here is a decent picture and some info as to why these trees are so special….ah, here are some better pix and info.

but, being that it is December and i was in San Fran, the great Pacific Weather System had other plans: rain and fog, as is tradition and meteorology. so, we headed off toward’s Stinson’s Beach. it was a nice scramble among rocks and interacting with waves and forms of life that are very different than trees. it was not disappointing.

view of the Pacific

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Another first…

Well, the day finally came – I wore shoes. Real, true, closed-toe, lace-up, non-sandal, shoes.  The event? A trip to Jerusalem yesterday for some interviews, where the temperatures dropped into the mid-50s in the evening [I was COLD, people.  I know, I’m spoiled.  But it’s true].  But really – I think summer is finally ending here. When I woke up today it was raining and overcast…and cold.  Brrrr.

In other news, it’s Chanukah here [and everywhere around the globe, I suppose].  What does that mean? Lots and lots of sufganiyot [doughnuts].  Here are a few samples of what bakeries around here look like this week:


...and more sufganiyot

The ‘standard’ fillings are red jam [no idea what flavor it is supposed to be], chocolate, halva [a sesame-based sweet], dulce de leche, and vanilla.  But I’ve seen – and tasted – others as well.  Yesterday I had a sufganiya with blueberry – yummy! And apparently at one of the higher quality bakery chains they make a marshmallow-filled sufganiya.  I’ll have to go seek that out before Chanukah ends on Wednesday…

UPDATE: I stopped by the aforementioned bakery chain today.  Sure enough, marshmallow sufganiyot were an option…as were pistachio, Belgian chocolate ganache, and whipped cream.  I have to say though, I was not impressed – these doughnuts were nothing but vehicles for fancy fillings and toppings [ever see popcorn on a doughnut? Believe it!].  I do not subscribe to the ‘ vehicle’ perspective.  For me, it’s all about the dough…

On our own again…

Well, after a wonderful [almost] month, Neil left this morning to head back to the USA.  So we’re both on our own again, at least for the next couple of months until he returns.

Apologies for the silence on this end over the past few weeks – it’s not that we’ve been particularly busy [at least, not if you define busy as leaving the house], but we’ve been with one another, which kind of defeats the original purpose of this blog  – to keep each other informed of our goings-on while apart.

In any case, despite spending quite a bit of time working, we managed to get out a bit.  First, we took a four-day trip to the Golan Heights and northern Israel – see our trip map:

The various places we visited over our four-day excursion

Neil, per usual, took many lovely photos, which you can see here, here and here.

We also took a lightening-fast trip down south, through parts of the Negev desert:

...and this is the map of places we visited in the south, all in ONE day. Craziness!

This trip was with family friends who know the country very well and are happy to share that knowledge.  Of course, the down side to having a tour guide is that you go at the tour guide’s pace.  We were a little exhausted after this particular one-day zip through the Negev.  Not exhausted enough to prevent Neil from processing more beautiful pictures.  Check them out.

And, of course, we managed to get to the beach – maybe not every day, but at least three times a week.  Believe it or not, it is still summer in Israel! Well, it’s starting to get cooler in the evenings, and we’ve been sleeping with a light blanket for the past few weeks…but nothing like December temperatures in the Northeastern United States.  I am thankful for that…

Anyway, I guess now it’s really back to work for us. There are lots of visits and visitors to Israel coming up in the next weeks and months, so I need to get my interviews done while I can!