Change

This is not a post about Obama.


Here is a little comparison based on my short visits to a few North American cities. The hobos in Vancouver introduce themselves to tourists, ask them where do they live, say that they have relatives in that country and then ask for change so that they could pay for gas, pizza or a stay in YMCA – that is, they do much the same thing as the hobos in Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Rome, Moscow and many other touristic cities. They were also the most annoying, but except that the city is very charming.

The hobos in San Francisco are quite similar, except they hold lovely honest signs such as “Need weed” and “Why lie? I want a beer!”

The hobos in Seattle didn’t try to harass me. In fact they all looked very intelligent, even in their rags. They actually seemed to develop intelligent conversations with the passers by. I didn’t talk to any of them.

Now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the hobos and the weirdos of all the above cities are nowhere near those in New York City. I visited Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan below Central Park; i’ve seen the most interesting guys around Washington square. What’s really curious, though, is that the New York guys are also the ones that bothered me the least – they are very weird, but they mind their own business.

Reality – Stairway to Heaven

stairway-to-heaven

Shot in Ein Kerem.

The name of this street literally means “Stairway to Heaven” in Hebrew and i hope that it’s intentional. OK, i lied about the “to” part, it’s actually just “Heaven Stairway”, but you don’t really have to be so picky, right?

Fighting Antisemitism

I helped two nice Italian tourists find their way in Jerusalem today. They knew English, but how could i miss an opportunity to practice my Italian? I barely touched any Italian for two years, so i spoke slowly, but managed to say complete sentences and didn’t mix in any Catalan words. They were pleasantly surprised, of course, and said that my Italian pronunciation was correct.

Now there’s a little less antisemitism in the world. But not just because of my Italian skills, but because the bus they needed to take arrived quickly, which, for Israel, is a miracle. So, Egged: Fight antisemitism, improve the Israeli bus services!

Reality – Women Singing

sinners only
sinners only

Some food products in Israel carry the mark “Kosher Dairy (Gentile powdered milk)” (אבקת חלב נוכרי). This means that the kashruth supervisor of the factory that produces this food considers it kosher, but duly warns practicing Jews who adopted stricter dietary laws for themselves and don’t eat powdered milk which was prepared by non-Jews. Most secular Israelis hardly know what it means—if they notice it at all—, and some laugh at it, but for some religious Israelis it is quite important. Some practicing kosher Jews are not strict, others adopt strictures for themselves.

Now this came to music, too. Some religious Jews avoid listening to the singing of women, because it is considered non-modest, due to the saying from the Talmud “a voice in a women is shame” (Brachot 24). Rabbis argue about the meaning of it. A tiny minority are so strict that they completely forbid listening to a woman’s voice (except one’s own wife). Many forbid listening to a woman’s singing; some of them argue that listening to recorded woman’s singing is allowed. Some rabbis allow listening to a woman singing as long as the woman and the song are modest.

This is the first time that i saw a CD marked this way. It was sold by a vendor of Jewish traditional music in Jerusalem, who added the sticker himself, knowing that some of his customers may dislike woman singing.

It is good that it is done voluntarily. I hope that the kashruth of music won’t become obnoxious, corrupt and commercialized, like that of food.

Independence 5768

Israeli Independence day celebration map - Yediot Akhronot
Click to enlarge

Today Yediot Akhronot published a map showing which artists will appear at the Independence day celebrations organized by municipalities around the country.

Let’s take a good look at this map. Gush Katif is simply a part of Israel. Golan is also just a part of Israel. Judea and Samaria are demarcated with a green line—a pretty rare practice in Israeli mainstream newspapers, though it often appears in Haaretz.

Now the craziest part: Afula and Petakh Tikva are way beyond the green line. (So is Jerusalem, but that’s a borderline case.) I just don’t have anything clever to say about it.

But the most lovable thing about this map is that Tel-Aviv doesn’t appear on it at all! (And Nesher is there, even though most Israelis don’t even suspect that a city with this name exists, but that’s a minor thing.)

Welcome to Israel 5768-2008.