Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Only in Israel

A handful of things you would likely only see or experience in Israel:

The first ten times I walked past this, I thought someone had decorated the neighborhood recycle bin. Then, one day, I looked closer and read the sign.

It's a genizah for tefillin and mezzuzot. A genizah right there in the middle of the alley! The same alley, by the way, where people kasher dishes and burn chametz before Passover.

 These are pictures of corner stores in Jerusalem. 

Not all 24 hour places even bother to include the 6, it is just assumed that everyone would know that open all the time, 24 hours a day, never closes, would not include being open on Shabbat. It is just one example of the many things in Israel that are always, always, always the same...except for the times they are not. Another example that comes to mind is parking. Red and white curbs mean no parking, all the time, except, apparently, when you can park there. Just like on Shabbat when everyone parks in bus stops because the buses do not run. Otherwise, we aren't totally sure.  It could also be that Israeli's ignore the rules or don't care if they get citations. Just more of the basics of socialization that we all take for granted until we go and live somewhere else and are at a loss for the rules that no one bothers to write down because they are so obvious to everyone.

There was an amazing sight last Friday at Machne Yehudah, the open air market. Unfortunately, I was too overloaded with groceries to be able to reach a camera. It was of the man who sits in the same part of the market every single day and asks for money. On Friday morning, there was literally a line of people waiting to drop a few shekels into his cup. It is good to give tzedakah in preparation for Shabbat, but, a unique sight to have people lining up to do it. Only in Israel.

This, I suppose, you might see in and around New York, and perhaps even in parts of Los Angeles.

It is a salon, and in fact, the place where I got a haircut just a few days ago. It's a very nice place and very busy. Sometimes, you will walk by and see the stylists inside with round brushes and hairdryers, intently working on styling someone's hair. If you look closer, you will see that the hair is not always connected to someone's head, rather, it is sometimes sitting on a plastic head that is attached to the chair with a wire stand. There is a very large ultra Orthodox population in this neighborhood, and many of the women cover their hair with wigs rather than scarves or hats. The wigs are very high quality and some of them really beautiful. And, it makes sense, that, just as you take your clothes to the cleaner, you would take your wigs to be washed and restyled. But, I still did a double take the first time I saw it. While I am not going the way of the wig, truth be told, it would be a huge time saver to drop your hair off at the salon and pick it up later looking clean and fresh.

Here's a good one from the Old City:

Self explanatory. Though for the next few images, you need a little background.

When we first rented our car, the woman with the rental car company went through all of the various things that were covered under the extra insurance we purchased. Broken windows was not one of them. We asked, then, what happens if someone breaks a window to steal something out of the car? She looked at me as if I had asked what would happen if aliens landed on top of the car and made a dent in the roof with their spaceship. I guess that kind of thing doesn't happen so much in Israel. Then, her coworker explained that, actually, the windows would be covered if a Palestinian threw a rock at the car and broke a window. Thinking that the comment was another example of the lack of political correctness here, we left vowing to steer clear of anything that might damage the windshield.

And then, lo and behold, a few weeks ago, my husband, my in-laws and two of the kids were driving home from the Mt. of Olives and had a rock thrown at one of the back windows, shattering it completely. Luckily, no one was hurt. It was just a group of kids in East Jerusalem. One of them cheered when they got the window. Though the practice may be rooted in politics, this was really just malicious mischief.

When they went to the police station to file a report, the officer said it happens all the time. All the time. They got the paperwork done, and then the officer gave them a tour of the building, including the roof that has a view of the Dome of the Rock.

The rock, the tour, the view...only in Israel.

This is less "only in Israel" and more "never in the US".

A few days ago, we celebrated Lag B'Omer. In the days leading up to it, all of our kids had bonfires and picnics with their classes. There were bonfires everywhere. This one was for our daughter's first grade class. We were struck by the proximity of this raging fire to the play structure where all of our kids were climbing.

The fire was so hot, the kids could not get close enough to roast the marshmallows we had brought. Fortunately, they are not so insistent about the need for roasting.

And, the final picture for this entry is me, pulling my hair out.

Because, only in Israel does a Reform rabbi have to prove that she is Jewish in order to extend her tourist visa. More on that another time.

1 comment:

  1. Rabbi Mates-Muchin:

    Great observations! Truly - only in Israel.

    Torah Study is looking forward to your return!

    Robert Warwick