Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Time I Met Zoey Deutch. Almost.

I have been having a hard time keeping up with the blog because every time I open the page to write something new, I see my Chevron and Gaza posts and feel like I can't move past what I felt there.

But today my wise mother told me I need to move past the pain and the outrage of what is currently happening in my beloved country and appreciate and embrace the beauty and goodness of the land of Israel. So I will do my best. This doesn't mean I am not absolutely outraged by these ongoing 'peace talks' and the release of terrorists, it just means I am not going to write about it right now.

So instead, I am going to tell you an amusing story about me and a celebrity. True, it may not be about Israel, but it did happen in Israel, and I guess that counts!

As some of you may know, depending on whether we are Facebook friends or whether I have deemed you worthy of the mildly embarrassing fact, I am absolutely obsessed with this book series called Vampire Academy.

Now before you roll your eyes and think to yourself - Oh joy, another vampire novel, that is so 2010, I have to point out that I am a person of reasonable intelligence and these aren't the sparkly vampires of the Twilightesque world.
The series is witty, engaging, funny, bad ass, and all around awesome. The writing is incredible, the story line is great, and I am OBSESSED with it.
So much so that I mentally reference the book in my head and compare myself to the main character - she kicks butt and has no filter and is all around amazing. Obviously I want to be exactly like her.

When I first finished reading this incredible series, I immediately checked to see if they were making a movie, because what could be better than seeing my favorite series on the big screen. I saw that the rights for a movie adaption of the first book had been bought, but as it commonly happens in Hollywood, it was just sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.

So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when finally 2 years later, they announced that they had cast the 3 main characters and the movie was in fact being made.

And that is where it began. The obsession. The drive. The constant hunting for any news with any small amount of relevance. The camaraderie that was established with fellow fans, people just as obsessed as I was. This was all about a year ago.

After the initial casting announcement things sped up, they cast other characters, found a location and started filming. Behind the scenes shots were slowly shared and the thirst for these little tidbits was like the thirst of a man in the desert without any water. Each and every picture was shared, over analyzed and saved. This is the level of excitement I have for this movie.

 When I found out that the main character, Zoey Deutch, was coming to visit Israel, I was ecstatic. The moment I heard the news, I realized that I absolutely had to meet her. Israel is a small country, and I live right near some of the main tourist attractions. I made it my goal that during the week that she was in Israel, I would meet her.

She came to Israel with a group that brings celebrities from America and has them tour Israel and see what it is really like here so that they can go back to America and impart to their fans the impression they have from the land.
I followed all the celebrities from the group on Instagram and Twitter, avidly stalking their pages hoping for a sign that they were in Jerusalem and I could go meet them. Through all the social media, I excitedly saw Zoey Deutch experience the Tel Aviv nightlife, go jeeping in the Golan Heights, visit an air force base in the south and then it happened. A picture was uploaded on Instagram of the tour group standing in front of the Kotel.

The time had come at last. I got on the train and ran through the Old City in my attempts to catch the group before they moved on to the next attraction. I saw that I had just missed them. Dejected, I made my way home only to see a picture uploaded an hour later of the tour group in the tunnels underneath the Kotel. That is where they had gone, and I had just missed them.

Another picture was uploaded by a fan of the Vampire Academy book (signed by Zoey Deutch herself!) and while cursing her luck and my lack of patience, I saw that she had waited at the entrance of the Old City for the group to leave and therefore got to meet Zoey Deutch.
This only fueled my desire more. I knew at this point that someone had successfully done what I attempted to do, followed Zoey on Instagram and managed to meet her.

The next day was a Friday and I know that the shuk on Friday is an attraction for tourists, so when I was doing my shopping I was scanning my surroundings, not for terrorists like I usually do, but rather for celebrities. Alas, I did not see anyone. An hour before Shabbat started, I saw a picture of the group in the shuk and knew that my hunch had been right. They had gone there that day, and again I had missed them. I decided to run out and check on the off chance that they were still there. The shuk was closed and my hopes were dashed.

Right before Shabbat, I checked Instagram and saw that Zoey's mother had posted a picture by popular Nachlaot graffiti. It was infuriating. This meant that they had toured the small Nachlaot neighborhood and since I live right in the center of that, they had probably walked by my house and again I hadn't seen them. At this point, I had pretty much given up. I felt like I was playing tag, except I was never catching up. I was always one step too late. One step behind them.

So after all my attempts, after all my chasing this group around Jerusalem, Zoey Deutch left Israel without ever meeting me. Her loss.

Now that I have admitted my slightly stalkerish tendencies on the Internet, I can say that despite not actually getting to meet Zoey in real life, her trip was successful because in every interview she had the following week promoting the movie, she mentioned her trip to Israel and how incredible it really was.

Go see the movie - February 14, 2014. It is going to be awesome!

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Chevron Perspective

So I keep getting asked when I am going to write my next blog post and my go to answer is my complete lack of a topic to write about. The truth is, I am just a major procrastinator.

I just came on here for the first time in a month, and realized that it has actually been way too long since I wrote anything. I am a coward, and I am afraid that nothing I write will be able to top my overly emotional Gaza post.

Time speeds up and time slows down and right now I feel like the world has paused and I have endless opportunities in front of me, so I might as well sit here and write about something, anything that is on my mind. This could have more to do with the 1 AM unnecessary consumption of two Red Bulls, than anything else but I am up now and the world is my oyster.

It's October 7 right now. On September 22 I spent the day in Chevron. That was a little over 2 weeks ago. When I went to sleep that night I thought I would never stop thinking about what happened that day, but the sad truth is that only a little over 2 weeks later, I rarely think about it at all.

This is something I wrote that day.

I was in Chevron today. I was on a special tour arranged by the Chevron Fund. I went to places that Jews aren't allowed to go to normally because they would be killed. I saw Arab kids throwing rocks at the soldiers. I saw flash bangs go off to disperse the rock throwers. I saw soldiers at the ready for the Arabs pushing in from all sides. I saw the soldiers actively protecting me from the Arabs who tried to get through to harm me. I stopped and spoke to every soldier I passed, asking their name, where they are from, making them smile. Thanking them for risking their life so I could be in Chevron. 
An hour after I left the city, an Arab sniper shot and killed an Israeli soldier. He was right by Ma'eret Hamachpela, guarding the area so that thousands of Jews could go visit the graves of the patriarchs, on one of the 10 days a year that it is open to the Jews. I was there today. I saw the soldiers. I saw the Arabs. I saw with my own eyes what is really going on here.
How much longer are we going to let this happen? How many more young soldiers have to die? Guys who haven't yet lived their lives. Guys who are just trying to protect their families, their country. How much longer are we going to let these so called peace talks go on? How many more terrorists are we going to release? 

This has to stop. This has to stop now.

His name was Gavriel Kobi.

Two days before this, an Israeli soldier was kidnapped and murdered by an Arab who wanted to trade the soldier's dead body for his terrorist brother in jail.
This concept is in existence because the Israeli government has set a precedent that they will trade terrorists for soldiers. That they are willing to give back prisoners, people who have killed multiple Israeli citizens.

Just 2 days after this soldier was kidnapped and murdered by his Arab coworker, another soldier was shot by an Arab sniper right at the bottom of the Tombs of our Patriarchs. Both of these young men were 20 year old soldiers in the IDF. Both of these young men were the same age as me.

When I was in Chevron that day I was lucky enough to have access to a part of the city that is regularly closed off to the Jews. If they enter, they will be murdered. Tensions were high, the hostility was palpable, the amount of soldiers around us were many. All standing at ready, with their guns loaded, guiding us down this one short block so we could visit the crypt of the first judge - Ozniel Ben Kenaz.
While waiting for our tour, we were joking around with a couple soldiers who were a little hesitant about us standing right near them. When my sister asked whether we were actually allowed to be there one of them said that we aren't really, in case rocks are thrown at them, citizens can't be harmed. My smart-ass sister of course quickly answered  'Well if we see them throwing rocks at us, we'll just jump behind you'.
She was joking, but that is the reality. We were surrounded by young soldiers, men and women in the late teens, early 20's who were literally risking their lives for us. They haven't lived their lives yet. They haven't even gone to college. Yet on a daily basis they put their lives on the line so that I could live mine in peace.
Throughout the day, you could hear the loud sounds of the flash bangs, the roar of the crowd rioting, the smell of the smoke in the air. I picked up a freshly used tear gas canister as a souvenir.
I saw so much that day, more than I knew. I saw the dilapidated buildings, the caravans that the Jews live in, the Arab kids who are taught murder at a young age. I saw the complete and total bravery of the Jewish citizens of Chevron.

An hour after my tour left Chevron, a soldier was shot in the neck by a sniper, and died from his wounds. He was standing right near the spot that my family was sitting and waiting, just a few minutes earlier. I definitely smiled at him, maybe even said hi. He could have been anyone I know.
At that moment, I was devastated. It felt a lot closer than all the other news I hear because I was there that day, witnessing what is really going on in Chevron.

Why am I thinking about all of this again? Because 2 nights ago a 9 year old girl was playing in her yard when she was shot in the neck by a terrorist. She is a kid. She just wanted to play in her yard before she went to bed.
I read the news article and it briefly mentions the most recent terrorist casualties, the 2 young soldiers. The country has moved on to its next tragedy, its next terror attack.

The more we continue these so called peace talks, the more terrorism stems directly from it. You cannot negotiate with terrorists. This has to stop.

(These 3 photos aren't taken by me)

Some Chevron stats and facts:

Around 850 Jews live in Chevron, including 300 children. Chevrons Arab population is about 200,000 people.
The city area is about 20 square kilometers. The H-1 area (under rule of the PA) is 18 s km. while H-2 (under Israeli rule) is 2 s km.
Most Jewish property is 'off-limits' to Jews in Chevron. Property owned by Jews prior to the 1929 riots and massacre, and subsequently stolen and occupied by Arabs, has not yet been returned to the Jewish community.

Now some pictures from my day in Chevron.

In the bottom left corner you can see one of the streets where they were rioting and throwing stones

Sign warning Jews not to enter

Praying by the crypt of Ozniel Ben Kenaz

The crypt of Ozniel Ben Kenaz

You can't really see but they were pointing their guns at 4 Arabs who wanted to come up and cause trouble

If you look closely you can see the blue smoke from the tear gas

Ma'arat HaMachpela

Tear gas canister

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pillar of Defense

I wrote this at 4:30 in the morning. I was lying in bed attempting sleep while simultaneously dodging the mosquitoes in my bedroom when I realized though my eyes were closed and the light was off, I was writing and formulating a post in my head. So I got up, and wrote it all down.

Every so often, I think about 'Amud Anan' - Operation Pillar of Defense. The 8 day IDF operation in the Gaza Strip that happened last November
Before I made Aliyah, before I moved to Israel, I along with most people that I know, would sit in America and hear about the war, the terror attacks, the deaths and it would be a distant thing. Something that happened in a different country, to other people. Not to me, not to my friends.

I remember the week of the Gaza Operation vividly. I barely slept. I was on my computer the entire day watching the updates stream in from around the country. I had the radio on listening to live sirens in the south, knowing that as I heard the siren, people just 40 miles away had 15 seconds to get to shelter. 15 seconds in middle of the night, to shake the sleep out of your eyes and grab your kids. 15 seconds to run to the closest bomb shelter. 15 seconds to take cover. 15 seconds to run to whatever safety you can find.
How long does it take you to wake up in the morning? From when your alarm rings until you are coherent. For me it takes a lot more than 15 seconds. But 15 seconds is all that they had.

I would sit in my dining room reading the updates -- IDF missile strike on site of rocket launchers. Siren rings in Ashkelon, Ashdod and surrounding areas. Waiting to hear the injuries.
I would hear the siren on the radio, getting chills every time it rang, knowing that somewhere very close people were frantically running to safety. I get chills just writing about it.

My friend and I organized a worldwide campaign on Facebook for the safety of our soldiers and of everyone in Israel. We reached over 45,000 people. People invited to take on an extra good deed to help guarantee the safety of the people of Israel. Strangers from all around the world were pledging to do extra acts of goodness and kindness, things that they aren't regularly inclined to do. As these promises flowed in, I knew that every time the siren rang, these promises were keeping the soldiers safe. The soldiers that are my friends. The soldiers that I go out drinking with every week. The soldiers that my family has opened up our home to.

Every time the siren rang, I would think about these soldiers and where they were, what they were doing so that I could sit in my dining room relatively safe. Every time I would think about these soldiers, who watched every missile fly overhead, I would find myself struggling to breathe.

I read a letter my friend wrote to his wife as his unit was preparing to go into Gaza. He had called his parents and said goodbye to them. Said that he was sorry he had caused them so much grief when he was younger. And then he sat down and wrote this beautiful letter to his young wife, less than 6 months into their marriage, and placed it in the pouch that held his dog tags.
I read this letter a month after the operation was over. I was sitting in a bar in town, crying. No shame, tears streaming down my face. As I am crying now thinking about this letter, about what the implications of such a thing means.

My sister was in Tel Aviv for school, and was walking back to her dorm with a friend when the siren went off. They were standing in the street, 2 seventeen year old girls from America, with no clue what to do.
The missile landed a few blocks from where they were standing. My sister said she felt the ground shake on impact. Just a few blocks away from her. No one was hurt.
We heard that a missile landed in Tel Aviv, for the first time since 1991 and frantically called her and told her to get on the next bus home. The siren rang 2 more times before she could get on the bus. She brought with her 5 girls from her school, all Americans who were scared out of their minds. Jerusalem is the center. Jerusalem is safe.

Hamas released a video threatening attacks in public places such as bus stops, cafes, the shuk. I was terrified to leave my house. I stayed by the safety of my computer and my constant updates.

I was taking a shower Friday afternoon and had a full blown panic attack for fear of a siren going off while I was in the shower, fear that I would be trapped in the bathroom. This of course was a ludicrous idea because why would the sirens go off in Jerusalem? I texted my friends in America and laughed saying I don't know if I would be able to deal with the sirens ringing through out Jerusalem.
Not 20 minutes later, my dad had just left to go synagogue and I was setting up the tables for the 30 guests we were going to have for the meal. I was in my dining room sitting down for a minute. My friend was sleeping on the couch. My sister's friend was in the bathroom. When the air raid siren went off in Jerusalem.

It took what felt like a minute for it to sink in, but in reality was maybe 3 seconds. The siren was ringing and my mother and I looked at each other and I yelled 'Mom! That's the siren! We have to go to the bomb shelter!'
The world started moving again. My sister's friends all running down from the bedroom, my friend jumping off the couch, spilling a drink on the way, my 83 year old grandmother who had no clue what was going on, all of us running down the steps to the shelter in the basement.

I am not proud of this, but I totally lost my mind. We were standing in the basement, 12 of us in this tiny room, listening to the air raid siren, not knowing what is going on.
I couldn't breathe. I couldn't get enough air into my lungs. I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't understand such hatred for an entire nation. Why would someone want to kill me? I had only just moved to Israel. What had I done to deserve this?
What are we supposed to do against such reckless hate?

The siren stops ringing, the allotted ten minutes are up, and we all file upstairs. I crack open a bottle of wine and go outside. I went to see if the world outside had changed, because the world that I was living in had been rocked, the naivety that I was experiencing had washed away.
We see people walking in my peaceful neighborhood. We ask our neighbor what we are supposed to do now. He said to do nothing, to go make our meal. What are you afraid of?

Soon after that we had our guests arrive, people mentioning the siren casually. I stood up and made a joke about going to the shelter in an orderly fashion if the need arises again. And life went on.

I slept on the couch that night, afraid to sleep in my room on the upper floor for fear of not waking up in time. I tried to stay up as late as I could, because I wasn't sure I could handle being woken up by the sound of the siren. My father closed the metal shutters and sat with me until I fell asleep.
I prayed. I prayed for my friends on the front lines, for my family, and for my country.

Sunday morning the siren went off again in Jerusalem. By this time I was a pro, something that had completely unraveled me the first time was quickly taken into stride. I grabbed my coffee, the radio and the dog and went down to the basement.
Another miss. And time went on.

I left my house, walking through the streets picking out potential shelter, and imaging what I would do if the siren rang right at that moment, regardless of where I was.

Throughout the 8 days of the operation, over 1400 missiles were fired into Israel.

I was walking to school a couple weeks ago and thought I heard the beginning of a siren. I frantically looked around and saw that there were only glass store fronts, my constant vigilance had relaxed and here I was caught unawares. Then I saw the motorcycle whining as it struggled to get up the hill, and I started breathing again.
To this day, I lie in bed and every night I hear a motorcycle revving up the main road in the distance and my heart starts pumping, the adrenaline starts flowing.

I know that no matter how much time has passed, the week of the Gaza Operation will never be forgotten, because I sit here nearly a year later and remember it as if it had happened yesterday.

I am no longer naive. The news isn't about people in a far off land that I don't relate to. The news is about me. The news is about my friends. The news is about my country.

Watch this video -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygb6VrW8WZw

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Facebook Etiquette

Do you want to know what pisses me off?

Well obviously you do at least on some level because here you are reading my blog.

A lot of things piss me off actually, but right now I am just thinking about one.

I really hate when people try to dictate how much I post on Facebook. It is my Facebook page. I control the amount of statuses that I make per day. I control what things I share with my friends. I control what comments I make, what pages I like.
Do you see what name it says when I make a status? Whose picture you see?
So why are you trying to make as if you have any right to tell me what I should or should not post or that I should limit the amount of statuses I make a day.

Back in the beginning days of Facebook (for me that was 2007) it was pretty simple. You were friends with someone because you wanted to see what they posted and you wanted them to see what you posted. Now in 2013, things have gotten a little more complicated. Facebook etiquette and all that.

But as Facebook has advanced it has made it really easy to still be friends with someone and not have to see everything that they post. You have the option to hide all of my posts. You have the option to hide only my statuses. You also have the option to hide my pictures. You even have the option to hide a particular status or photo if you found it offensive after you have seen it.  All of this without me even knowing that you aren't an avid reader or follower of the things that I post. You just need to smile and nod if I happen to reference a specific status to you on a later date. Yes, you - the random Facebook friend I don't really talk to.

So after Facebook has been so nice and polite to give us all the option to follow proper Facebook etiquette, why am I still getting complaints from people that I post too often? You don't want to read my statuses or see my pictures? Please do us all a favor and hide me. If that is too complicated for you and you don't think you handle it, then by all means go ahead and delete me. But do not complain to me that I post too much. Do not write on my wall mockingly about what I am posting or how often. Because at that point I will just go ahead and delete you before you delete me.
I had a friend who posted an article on my wall from one of those rag bullshit news websites that said that a man killed his neighbor because he posted too much on Facebook. Everyone in court could sympathize with him, so therefore he wasn't committed for murder. Needless to say, I deleted her. Jokes like that aren't very funny.

So let's be honest here. The reason I am still getting complaints is because people don't want to hide me for fear that they will miss out on some of my incredibly witty statuses.

My brother actually just told me that he keeps 'hiding' me on Facebook but then someone will mention something brilliant I said, so he'll check it out and 'unhide' me. Until the next time that he deems my posts annoying. So much back and forth without me even knowing about it. Don't worry, I understand the struggle.

On the flip side, I had someone friend request me because her friend told her that I make really funny statuses. So I guess that's a win. Honestly, I am not sure if we are still Facebook friends. She too may have gotten annoyed.

So the conclusion is, you don't want to see it, delete me or hide me. But leave me out of your decision making process. Because I couldn't give a crap.

Don't hesitate to subscribe to my blog! I'd love to see who is actually reading it! :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Reasons Why I Love Israel

This is a collection of some of the reasons I love Israel. Some of them are general, and some of them are specific to me. This is a growing list, and was compiled over a couple weeks worth of observation.

Reasons why I love Israel:

1. The taxi drivers don't mind having a personal conversation on the car speakers. He just told us to be quiet so that the person he was on the phone with wouldn't hear us.

2. Everyday the coffee at Waffle Bar is a different price.

3. The guy at the fish store wished me a Shabbat Shalom on a Monday.
That happens everywhere. No matter what day it is, the people in the stores always wish you a Shabbat Shalom.

4. I was in the grocery store ready to pay and I had to wait for this old man to finish blessing the owner, before he would ring up my vegetables.

5. You can drive by a falafel store and shout out what you want from your car, and the person who works there will bring it to you.

6. I know I have truly adjusted to living here when I walk in middle of a busy road without checking if the cars are stopping or not.

7. Every evening the guy who owns this little store gets strangers from the street to come inside and do afternoon prayers.

8. These guys sit outside every day and just hang out with each other. They all were probably in the same unit when they were 18 and are still friends.

9. I was in the vegetable store and one of the workers just broke out in song and everyone in the store joined in.

10. Despite the multiple 'No Smoking' signs that are all over, people smoke everywhere.
I was in a cab that had 3 different signs and the cab driver was smoking a cigarette.

11. There was a giant crowd of people by the late night bus, and so a couple people brought out instruments and were jamming.

12. There is a pair of guys that are always playing in the shuk. They sit there all day, people join them, buy them beer and come and go. Once I was there and there were 8 different people all playing together. It always makes me smile to see them

13. Everyone walks around everywhere carrying large rifles and you don't see anyone shooting up a school here. Coincidence? I think not.

14. This was overheard at my Shabbat table
"Guns? Who needs to carry around a gun? If something goes down then you hit the nearest Magavnick on the head and take their gun. Thats what they're for...walking armories."

(Magavnickim are officially border police. Who don't stand on the border. So are therefore useless)

15. On Lag Baomer the entire country smelled like bonfires. You couldn't go anywhere without smelling it.

(Lag Baomer - Jewish celebration marking the anniversary of a Rabbi's death)

16. The bus driver stopped the bus, blocking the entire road so that he could go inside and get a shwarma.

17. I was at a restaurant and my lemon came with a sticker on it. 

18. Its perfectly acceptable to drink beer first thing in the morning. During my 10 minute walk to Ulpan, I saw 5 different people doing it. 

19. This isn't such a good picture but for me this kind of sums up Israel. The 4 soldiers sitting next to the 4 old guys who are in the park everyday playing poker. And in 60 years that is who they will be because that is the nature and way of Israel.

20. Every time you drive out of Jerusalem, you have a gorgeous view of the Judean Hills. It never gets old. 

21. I took my grandmother to the dentist and it was on a high floor of the building overlooking Jerusalem. This was the view.

22. Some guy tried to convince me he's from America. Where in America? Lake-town. 
Nice try dude, nice try!
I told him next time, with the next girl, to say Manhattan.

23. I was standing outside, waiting to get into a concert and some girl grabbed my friends Smirnoff Ice while simultaneously saying - Give me some, I am thirsty.

24. One night some Israeli tried to buy me in the shwarma shop. He pulled out a 20. But then 2 minutes later he was too cheap to buy himself a 6 shekel cola. 

25. People will have huge screaming matches about the smallest things, regardless of the time, place, or the people watching.

26. These are ultra religious Jews who play classic rock music. They always have a huge crowd, and they always play in front of the Intima shop. (Local Victoria's Secret)

26. Yom Yerushalayim. One day a year to celebrate Jerusalem. People come from all over the country and fill up the streets of the Old City and Jerusalem. 

27. Israeli Independence Day. It means so much more here, than it did in America. 

28. I was at the Golani swearing in ceremony at the Kotel and there is nothing quite like it. The fathers and grandfathers watching with pride, as the soldiers swear to protect Israel and its people, the mother crying when her son receives his gun.
And best of all when all the soldiers and the entire crowd sing HaTikvah together, it reminds me of why I truly love Israel.

       Sometimes there are the days that I don't know what I am doing or why I am here. Those days happen often. But then there are the moments, like all of the ones above, that remind me. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Where Am I?

We are in a modern age, yet there are the occasional times that I get surprised at what I can actually do with the technology that is available to all of us.

Yesterday while I was surfing the internet in middle of the night, which I am prone to do instead of going to bed, I was researching my vacation in Key West. Through a series of random keystrokes I stumbled onto a site that has live streaming cameras of some of the hot-spots throughout the island.

There are 3 cameras from different angles all pointing at the general Mallory Square. One of them is angled out onto the water, where the sun sets, one of them is pointing towards the cafe and the stage, and one of them has a birds-eye view of the entire area.
Despite me being in a different country, the cameras aren't blurry at all. I can see the water rippling, the clouds moving, the two people racing on their jet-skis. I can see all of this as clearly as if I was sitting right there on the pier. I can even hear the music that the cafe is playing for its customers.

I am not in Key West. I am not in Florida. I am not even in America. Yet if I focus, its as if I am sitting right there. Even more so if I would move my computer out into the sun.

I can see the people walking by, not aware that I am sitting here at my computer in Israel watching them. I can see the waitress setting up the tables, and the band setting up on the stage. I can see this all in real time.

When I look away from my computer I can see my mother sitting at the kitchen table reading a newspaper. I can see my dad washing the dishes. I can see my dog lying on the floor. But as soon as I look back at my computer, I can virtually be in Key West.

Get this, in a couple minutes the Maccabiah Games closing ceremony starts. It's located at a giant stadium in a different part of Jerusalem. It is going to be a massive event, there are multiple Israeli music artists performing including Infected Mushroom, which is one of my favorite bands.
I wasn't able to find anyone to go with me, though I did try really hard to convince my parents to go. It was close but in the end they opted out.
So rather then going by myself, I am going to sit on my computer and watch the live streaming of the event. I will hear all the musical performers, I will see the fireworks, I will virtually be part of the crowd. Despite me sitting in my dining room on my laptop.
If I wanted I could watch the people of Key West and the closing ceremony at the same time. I could even eat dinner while doing it.

Don't get me started on Skype. Well okay,  now I've started on Skype. I know we are all used to it so it doesn't seem as cool anymore, but if you think about it, its actually quite incredible. I can Skype with my sister in America and its as if one of us drove to see the other like we used to do. I take her into the kitchen while I cook and she takes me out onto the porch as she has a cigarette. We spend time together, even though we aren't in the same country.
Or I group Skype with my close group of friends. We get on our computers, despite all of us being in different places and we talk, gossip and get hyper together. My friend shows us her baby, my other friend shows us a new dress that she bought. It's like we are all sitting in a room hanging out.

So here is the ultimate question. Where am I? Am I in Key West watching the sunset and hearing the waves lap onto the pier? Am I at the Infected Mushroom concert? Am I in Chicago meeting my friends new baby? Am I in Monsey with my sister? Or am I just in Israel using my technology to the fullest?

Where am I really?


Monday, July 22, 2013


This post is about olives.
It's also because my mother told me that she checked twice today to see if I posted something new. 

In the Shuk there are many vendors, and a lot of the vendors sell the same things. Spices, olives, veggies, dried fruit, things like that. 
There is a big fad among the tourists to come to the Shuk with their fancy cameras and spend 2 hours taking pretty pictures of all the vendors and their wares. 

Yesterday I was in the Shuk and had some extra time on my hands. (I always have time on my hands, I just decided to hang out instead of going back home)

I tried to act touristy and take a picture of the olives, without actually looking like a tourist taking pictures of olives. Because I am not. A tourist. 

This picture required a lot of maneuvering on my part because I had to simultaneously taste and buy olives while getting the picture at an artsy angle. All of this without the guy realizing that all I was doing there was taking a picture of olives.

I got the shot although now that I have the picture I am not quite sure I understand the appeal. Maybe tomorrow I will go take pictures of spices instead. 
Or you know, do something productive -  like get a job. 

*Friend available - I like coffee, mocking strangers, and taking pictures

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ulpan. Its a wonderful wonderful place.

"An ulpan is an institute or school for the intensive study of Hebrew. Ulpan (אולפן, plural ulpanim - אולפנים) is a Hebrew word meaning studio or teachinginstruction." - Thanks Wikipedia. 

Gosh I love that site. I use Wikipedia like 15 times a day. Every time I want to look up a movie, tv show, actor, anything! The Internet is a wonderful wonderful place.

So back to ulpan. I am in a ulpan class that started in mid April. One morning I woke up and my mother said that she had signed me up for ulpan and it started the next day. Of course, I pitched a fit because why would I want to go sit in a class every morning and learn Hebrew. Learning, mornings, school. None of my particular interests. Then the ultimatum was put on the table. Either I go to ulpan or get a job. Obviously I didn't have a real choice here because how can I get a job in Israel if I don't speak the language? So ulpan it was. 
Honestly, I am a bit surprised that it took that long for this ultimatum to be brought up. I was bumming around for 8 months before I got told that if I don't go to class the next morning, then I have to find a new place to live. 
Since I know that my mom and dad are going to read this -- number one supporters right there -- thank you Mom and Dad for giving me those 8 months!

Every week, 5 days a week, I go and sit in class for the morning. Well mostly every day, and mostly for the whole morning. Sometimes, I come late. And by late I mean halfway through class. And sometimes I miss class all together. Only for good reasons though, of course.
I am the youngest person in my class, it is mostly middle aged people, with a couple scattered people that are in between my age and middle aged. As is true with any random group, there are a large number of personality types and a large number of backgrounds. This is basically asking for me to make fun of them. 

First we have the cliche hippie wanna-be, who isn't actually a hippie at all because he looks like he googled 'hippie' and decided to dress and act based on that, when in fact the whole idea of a hippie is their individuality and lack of conformity. So good job bro, you have properly conformed to the stereotypical image of a hippie, down to the slow stoner voice and carrying around a guitar for impromptu sing-alongs. 

Then there is the 33 year 'surfer dude' from LA. He came to Israel on a spiritual journey and carries around a Bible wherever he goes, because he is constantly hearing the voice of God. He sits in class and has pages and pages of notes all around him on the table, and despite having been in class from the beginning, does not seem to really be learning a thing. Every time the teacher calls on him, he starts saying the answer and upon realizing everyone is waiting for him, he stammers and freezes up. It makes me wonder what he has written on the sea of yellow legal pad paper that surrounds him on the table. 
He's also the guy who blurted out that he got rejected by a girl the night before when she told him that she is out of his league. Oh yea, and yesterday he got deported from the country and can't come back for 5 years because he didn't renew his visa. I guess that he will have to find God back in LA. 

This leads us to A- the frumpy, married woman. She is middle-aged, has a husband who's learning all day and is pretty naive. She didn't get the 'out of my league' comment. The whole class is laughing and she was sitting there all perplexed. When she gets called on, she has a total panic meltdown which causes her to forget the answer. She's incredibly nosy and one day she picked up my Kindle and turned it on in the middle of the book I was reading. I'm pretty sure I did a slow motion 'run and grab' -- Lady you really don't want to see that. 

I used to sit at the table right near the door and next to me sat the Korean. You know when you are in grade school and there is always that one person in your class who knows all the answers? First to raise their hand, can barely contain themselves, randomly blurting out the information that they know? By luck of the draw I sat down next to that person on my first day of ulpan and only realized too late that she is that person. Except when you are an adult, its no longer considered cute to say the answers when you aren't called on. When you say your answer over mine, its annoying. When you say your answer over mine -- and its wrong? Not cool. 
Ulpan aggression. 

Now we have another frumpy middle-aged lady. She has an ordinary name and could be from any state in America. She's plain and a cliche. A wedding ring, but no diamond. A little heavyset and a sour look on her face. She sits leaning against the wall with a constant scowl and despite her age all I can picture is an angry teenager who doesn't want to be here.
One day I decided to have a conversation with her and realized that she's actually pretty similar to me, super sarcastic and cynical. Now I enjoy talking to her, she's one of my favorite people in the class, and I am just a judgmental b*tch. 

I should probably start paying more attention to the teacher, and less attention to the people around me. Hey, this way I might actually learn Hebrew. But life would be a lot less interesting. 

Oh, I am accepting donations for the coffee needed to keep me awake in class. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Everyone keeps saying I should write a blog and get ads and followers and become famous and cool and rich.
Every time someone says that I laugh it off and say I cant write but secretly inside of me I wonder - could I do this? Would people be interested in what I have to say?
I cant be funny on demand. Its like that one time I made a Twitter account and all of a sudden I felt so pressured to be funny and cool and literally had nothing to say. Despite me making multiple statuses a day on my Facebook account, I sat there for 45 minutes trying to think of something 'worthy' of being on Twitter. I came up with nothing and deactivated the account.
If someone recorded my mind on a loop, I am sure that there would be funny or inquisitive things that people would be interested in seeing or reading about. Hey, maybe even some great ideas or inventions.
But right now all I am thinking is how I wish the window was closed because it got really cold all of a sudden, and its so weird that Belle runs in her sleep - I wonder what she is dreaming about. If only this chocolate bar was being held in front of my mouth because both of my hands are currently occupied with typing this mindless drivel.
As soon as I start thinking about what I am going to type, my mind freezes up. Virtual stage fright. Computer fright? Screen fright? As if.
I have so much bullshit to say to the people around me, I can barely hold it in and censor myself and all of a sudden when I ask myself to type something, just for myself I blank out. Where has the Shira quirk and personality gone? Maybe it left with the alcohol. 25 Days Sober.
That would be super awkward if my personality disappeared when I stopped drinking. Have no fear guys - its just a temporary break. Trying to find reality.
When I get in the mood of music I listen to the same 3 songs over and over. The songs vary depending on what mood I am in but regardless of the genre of the music -- I will have that shit on replay for hours. All of a sudden its 2 in the morning and I end up sitting here wondering where the time went. Oh yea, I lost track of it the 34th time I listened to this Eminem song.
I got to find something to do with my life. Maybe I should set up an hour a day where I just sit in front of the computer writing down every thought that comes into my head.
Maybe I should find my Canon Point and Shoot and take faux artsy pictures of Nachlaot. Oh look a wrapper, let me bend down on the floor and get an angle that makes that dirty candy wrapper look pretty. Add an Instagram filter and we are set. Photographer available for hire. I take pictures of the shit that you throw out. One day I will open up a gallery filled with artsy pictures of different pieces of trash.
Dont you love when people do that? Someone buys you a fancy camera, you make a Facebook page for your 'business' and all of a sudden you have a career. You take a picture of the tree, sharpen the image, use a contrast filter, and now its art. A true photographer in our midst.
I'm going to eat my words as soon as I can convince someone to buy me a fancy camera, but until that mystical day comes I will hide behind my computer screen and mock those who do this.