Monday, October 24, 2011

I have a feeling we’re not in California anymore

It has been a while since I’ve written my last blog entry. Much has  happened since – major social protest, Doctors strike,  and Gilad Shalit returned from captivity -  just to name a few.  But my “real excuse” for not writing was our month long trip to the US. We left in mid August and returned in mid September. It was quite the trip. We spent a couple of weeks in the San Francisco area, and a couple of weeks in New York. In between we squeezed in short trips to Santa Fe, New Mexico and to Chicago.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Temperatures ‘Higher than Normal’ for Season

There is a phrase I’ve learned to dread during evening news, namely “the temperatures will be higher than normal for the season”. July and August are the hottest months in Israel (see chart). With an average temperature of 32C (90F) and 70% humidity, anything “above normal” spells trouble.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recycling "R" Us

When we first came to California, we realized that handling garbage isn’t as simple as it seems. Back home, in Israel, garbage was simply garbage. You stuffed everything you wanted to throw away into one container, and off it went…  In California we encountered ‘recycling’ and throwing garbage became an acquired skill.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Great Cottage Cheese Revolt

In Egypt, Facebook was used to pull thousands of people into Cairo’s Tahrir Square and rise against a corrupt regime.  In Syria Facebook is used to drive thousands of demonstrators to rise against dictatorship while braving military brutality. In Israel Facebook is used to protest against the price of Cottage cheese.

Monday, May 30, 2011

319 Boxes Of “Stuff”

We left California carrying a handful of suitcases. The rest of our household was loaded into a 40’ container and shipped to Israel. Since we arrived in Israel, we conducted our lives using what we packed in our suitcases.  Sure, we missed a few items, but overall we did just fine.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Raising The Flag – A Simple Act Of Pride

During the 20 years we lived in California we never raised the Israeli flag on our house, nor placed it on our car. Raising an Israeli flag on a house in California seemed odd, even awkward. Why would you raise a “foreign flag” on an American house?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Goodbye Christmas - Hello Passover

For almost 20 years Christmas has been the dominant holiday for us.  No, we don’t celebrate Christmas being Jewish and all. And we never debated with our children whether Santa Claus exists or not.  The time around December 25th is referred to as the “Holidays” in the US - out of respect to other holidays.  But in fact Christmas is everywhere – the colors, the lights, the songs and the sales at Macy’s – one of the largest department stores.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Who Needs a Bathtub Anyways?

We decided to remodel the house we live in. Yes, I know…. remodeling can be a nightmare, and put a major strain on your marriage vows. However this is the fifth remodeling we have done together, so I figured it would be a walk in the park...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Remember the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral”? I loved that movie and the wonderful acting of Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell et al. Recent events brought that movie to mind, but with a twist  (הפוך על הפוך). When we lived in California, we hardly attended any weddings, let alone funerals. However in the two months since we arrived in Israel, I already attended four funerals and a wedding. 

Life in Silicon Valley seems to miss parts of the ‘circle of life’, which include Birth-Marriage-Kids-Death among others…

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Land of Milk, Honey and Tragedy

There is a lot to be said in favor of living in Israel - the people, the sense of community, the history, the beaches, the nightlife, etc. A land of milk and honey… But then comes a human tragedy. A sudden flash of senseless violence – all in the name of God, Allah and someone’s favorite political cause.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's None Of My Business, But…

While living in the US we became accustomed to the notion of individual privacy. What you do, what you own, what you earn - are your business and nobody else’s (credit rating companies notwithstanding…). Vendors, neighbors, and friends don’t pry you for details and certainly don’t offer “advice” without being asked. Not so in Israel…

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NASCAR Thrills – on Tel-Aviv Streets

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) produces the most popular automobile racing events in the US. Watching the high-speed race keeps you at the edge of your seat. Cars zip around the track while maintaining a distance of barely a few inches from each other. Drivers stay highly focused at all times, and even the slightest mistake can result in a massive crash. I never dreamed I would share the experience of a NASCAR driver, till I got to Tel-Aviv…

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is the glass half full, or is it half empty?

The eternal dilemma around the simple question above does impact our daily lives... When we first came to the US, we ran into “positive talk” in everyday life.  People with whom we barely exchanged a word commented, “It was so nice to meet you”. Sales people greeted us at the store with “how are you today?” without waiting for an answer.  Coming from Israel it all sounded unauthentic. “Why don’t they simply stick to the truth?” we asked each other.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who Took a Bite off my Money?

Many years ago transferring money from the US to Israel was a real adventure. Foreign exchange was closely supervised, and Israeli citizens faced many restrictions on holding foreign currency.  The best way to transfer money from the US to Israel was through carrying a stash of $100 bills in your pocket. But today, in a world of global economies, interlinked financial markets and the Internet, one would think that transferring money between countries would be straightforward. Well, almost…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ah, Tel-Aviv

We have spent the days since our arrival on arrangements. Filling forms at government offices; shopping for cars; preparing the house for the container that will soon arrive.  Lot’s of chores and busy work. But not today… Today we decided it is time to make a trip to Tel Aviv. A fun trip for a change…

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Let's Talk in 3 Months"

Since we landed in Israel we met several friends of ours. Some have lived in the US and returned several years ago. Some never left Israel. They are all happy to see us back in Israel, and wish us all the best. They ask how we’re doing, and how is our adjustment coming along. And when we say that things seem to go quite well, many nod their heads and say – “we’ll talk in 3 months”…

Monday, January 31, 2011

Slaying the DMV Dragon

Moving to Israel involves dealing with bureaucracy. It’s unavoidable said our friends. Be prepared they told us. Be patient. So we braced ourselves and made a list of the Government offices we need to conquer: ministry of absorption (משרד הקליטה), social security (ביטוח לאומי), DMV (משרד הרישוי), Ministry of Interior (משרד הפנים), Customs (מכס) to name a few…

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rediscovering life afer 10pm

I grew-up next to the Mediterranean, where nightlife meant actually enjoying life at night… Leaving the house late in the evening, meeting with friends, having dinner, or sitting at a café sipping a drink and chatting. We often returned home well after midnight.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My 408 Area Code

I now live in Raanana, Israel. Where the telephone country code is +972 and the area code is 9. If you want to reach me by phone from the US, you are supposed to dial an international access code (e.g. 011), a country code (972), an area code (9) and finally my home number. A tedious and relatively expensive process.

This international dialing standards and the associated country/area codes have been in place for almost a century. But what was true several years ago is no longer true today. The Internet changed our phone service forever. All thanks to a technology called 'Voice over Internet Protocol' (or VoIP).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You can't have Tofu in your soup!

Asian food has been a family favorite for a long time. We simply love Thai, Chinese, Korean and Japanese food - in that order. We have eaten Asian food in dozens of restaurants around the world. It was always tasty, always easy to digest, and always highly customizable... You want extra tofu in the soup? No green peppers? Mild flavor instead of spicy? No problem - your wish is our command.

'Alte Zachen'

'Alte Zachen' is a Yiddish phrase for 'old stuff' - 'Alte' meaning old and 'Zachen' meaning things or stuff. When I was a child, we used to have a person passing down the street with a horse and a cart yelling 'alte zachen'. It was a signal for the people to take out their old, used things - clothes, appliances, shoes, you name it. The 'Alte Zachen' person would collect them, load them on his cart and haul them to a flea market.

Packing frenzy

19.5yrs in California is sufficient time to accumulate lot's of stuff... Things you need, things you thought you needed, things you once needed but not anymore, and just things... Packing and moving all your belonging to another country can be a daunting task, as we found out.