Color Commentary on our life in Israel

I haven’t wanted to write a travelogue in this blog, but there have been many encounters and experiences I want to share.  So here comes a random assortment of reflections on life in Israel.

The Carmel Market

This is the name of the outdoor shuk or market in Tel Aviv and it’s quite something.  Fresh produce, olives, bakeries, spices, oils, meats, fish, cheeses, eggs, clothing, housewares- you name it and it’s there in multiples.  Colorful, interesting and delicious!

Chuck and I were there during the week and it was interesting and we thought it was full of people.  Oh my- little did we know!  In Israel, most people are off from work on Friday and Saturday and Friday is the biggest shopping day of the week in preparation for Shabbat.  We returned on Friday afternoon after our Graffiti tour and lunch.  Here’s a hint of what it looked like!

It was 86 degrees outside the shuk and probably 95 inside.  Both of us were literally drenched. At one point, Chuck and I got separated and if we had not had two cell phones, we never could have found each other again in the shuk!  I suffer from mild claustrophobia and I think this may be our last trip to the shuk on Friday afternoon.  Between the crush of pushy Israelis and their strollers and shopping carts, it felt dangerous! There’s always Thursday….

Very close to the market is a pedestrian street which, on Tuesdays and Fridays, is lined with arts and crafts vendors.  We went there early Friday morning and the work was very high quality- ceramics, jewelry, photographs, glass.  We bought a few photographs taken at the Wailing Wall from a Rumanian immigrant- very beautiful.  At first, it seemed strange to buy photographs since we have so many of Chuck’s in the house, but then I reminded Chuck that even famous artists buy works of other artists!

Shabbat in Israel, take two.

Chuck and I went to Friday night services for the beginning of Shabbat.  When we were here a year and a half ago, we went to the same congregation and enjoyed the service so much, we wanted to go back. Beit Tefilah Yisraeli (Israeli House of Prayer) is a liberal, egalitarian, independent congregation that also sponsors social action projects and study groups.  The services have very spirited and spiritual singing and dancing with musical accompaniment.  During the summer, they pray on the beach; the rest of the year they meet in a community center.  Some of the people we met come from outside Tel Aviv to be a part of Beit Tefilah because it offers a synagogue experience that is welcoming and accepting of all. My sense is there are many Israelis who long for a community experience of prayer, but who feel alienated from the rigid orthodoxy in state supported synagogues. The Rabbi is from Argentina and he has a warm and open demeanor that invites participation and comfort. Everyone new is asked to introduce themselves and there is an opportunity for individuals to say what they are grateful for this Shabbat.  There was a family with five sons there from Eilat who were preparing to celebrate the oldest’s Bar Mitzvah the next morning.  They were clearly secular Israelis, but they were full of joy at this milestone event.  (We were told their families are here in Tel Aviv, thus the trek for them from Eilat for the Bar Mitzvah.) Chuck and I felt very at home and it was a lovely way to welcome Shabbat.

We had a leisurely Shabbat morning at home, sitting on our patio and reading.  Later in the day, we went to the Museum of the Land of Israel and it was very quiet and peaceful there.  One of the exhibits was photographs accompanied by life stories of Israeli families of all kinds and backgrounds taken from a newspaper series that ran for ten years.  The photos were beautiful and the stories amazing.  Chuck and I spent a couple of hours reading them in Hebrew and helping each other understand.  My brain was tired at the end, but we both really enjoyed the exhibit.

Conversations with Israelis

I’m a friendly person in general, but here it’s hard not to be as Israelis are always game for conversation and/or a political argument.  The little convenience stall down the street from us is where we pick up the newspaper and there we had a conversation with the storekeeper that has been repeated elsewhere.  He was watching Fox News and I asked him if he liked the “stories” Fox News tells instead of news.  He animatedly told us he HATES, HATES, HATES CNN because it’s so biased against Israel and so pro-Palestinian.  He went on to say what we hear and read over and over- Obama has been the worst US president ever for Israel- how could he publicly snub Netanyahu like that?  “Romney has to win for Israel’s sake and the only thing I care about in the US election is Israel.” I explained that as an American I certainly care about a candidate’s position on Israel, but I also have to care about many other issues.  Bottom line is, most Israelis don’t like or trust Obama.

The other topic in casual encounters with Israelis is their inevitable relatives (children, siblings, cousins) in America.  Sometimes it seems amazing that there are so many Israelis left in Israel!

Israelis in general do not mince words and no topic or question is considered taboo.  It’s routine to ask how much you paid for your purse, your house, anything.  They also embrace you quickly, both literally and figuratively.  Paula is the woman who takes care of our apartment and the other ones in the building that our landlord rents out.  She doesn’t speak much English, so she loves that we speak Hebrew.  She told us the other night that my Hebrew was better than Chuck’s and when he looked offended, she shrugged and said, “I just tell the truth.”  She hugs and kisses me and invites us in to her apartment every time I knock on her door for something.  She brought us freshly popped popcorn the other day- not a typical Israeli snack.  We are family to her now. Here’s a funny story.  Paula cleans for us and does our laundry.  She did a terrific job, but took it upon herself to completely rearrange our clothing and belongings we had put away on shelves and in cabinets.  She proudly told us she made more room for us, didn’t it look better?  Despite that incursion into our privacy, she told me she hadn’t cleaned the inside of the refrigerator because she hadn’t asked permission and she would never look inside someone else’s refrigerator. “It’s not my business what food you eat!”  But it is her business to go through our underwear, toiletries, and belongings!

If you’d like to see more of Chuck’s beautiful photos with his commentaries, you can click on the sidebar at the top of the blog page that David so kindly installed.  If you click on one, you can advance to others easily.  Thanks David!

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4 thoughts on “Color Commentary on our life in Israel

  1. bambi granovsky

    I am enjoying your journal entries. You are so descriptive in your writing that I can imagine the shook and you express your feelings so fully that I am experiencing Israel vicariously through your writing. It’s wonderful for me. Love,, Bambi

    From: Israel trip 2012 >To: >Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2012 4:24 AM >Subject: [New post] Color Commentary on our life in Israel > >adabeth posted: “I haven’t wanted to write a travelogue in this blog, but there have been many encounters and experiences I want to share. So here comes a random assortment of reflections on life in Israel. The Carmel Market This is the name of the outdoor shuk or” >

    • Dear Bambi,
      What a lovely thing to write! It makes me happy to know that my blog is such a vivid description that you feel like you too are here. Come again for real! I miss you and send love.

  2. Sharon Schwarz

    Thanks…I feel like I AM THERE WITH YOU. Thanks for making this such a fun and inexpensive experience….I get to hear all and see all and never sweat!!! Love Jimmy

    • From one sweater to another- sometimes the vicarious experience has advantages over the real one! So glad you’re enjoying my blog Jimmy. Tell Sharon that Chuck spoke to Mookie last night and we’re going to get together. I send you both love.

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