Thursday, May 15, 2008

Brown Food

So these people we know renovated their house (read: enlarged it :500) and built a state of the art kitchen with industrial six burner stove, sub-zero fridge, fancy coffee machine, built-in rotisserie, you name it, they've got it. Imagine my disappointment when we were invited for a Shabbos meal and all that beauty churned out... you guessed it... brown food! Oh brown food, how I loath thee, and WHAT A WASTE of a gorgeous kitchen. Give me, give me your kitchen.

(Let's not forget the wonderful bar complete with huge wine rack and cooler, serving... yes, sweet wines... at least it wasn't Kedem!)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Dose of Israel

Having stayed away from Israel for a few years, after having spent over 5 years there, I hadn't realize how much about it I'd forgotten until I very recently had the opportunity to stay there for ten days or so. The Israel I was familiar and now reacquianted myself with is not the Israel of spacious Rechavia apartments, smug American youth, inspiring Carlebach minyanim. No, my Israel was one of filthy toddlers pulling on your shirt from antebellum strollers in unsanitary Bnei Brak grocery stores, dropping off unwanted clothing at a gemach in Tzfat and seeing the young mothers with 5 children desperate for a 'new' outfit, the Israel of elderly Russians who in ten or fifteen years have not learned one word of Hebrew, the Israel which chutznikim don't always see or even look for.

It hit me in the face, I had forgotten all about it. The cab driver who has never been out of the country and doesn't feel the pull, does not understand why so many Israelis travel. 'This is home' he says, 'I don't need a different place'. Ma Yesh be' America she ein kan?' What does America have that we don't? He naively expounds. 'Same thing here or there'. If i were to travel I would go to Thailand, my friends tell me people wash clothes in the river, they live in huts, like Israel 50 years ago. What do I need America for. Europe, I am not interested in either. I hear they look at you the wrong way. The French, I don't need them. (I tell him there are many different countries in Europe. He doesn't want to hear). 'But Greece' he tells me, 'Greece is beautiful (how would he know?) I like Greek music, I could listen to it 24 hours day, no problem (I refrain from informing him about Greek antisemitism, or that Greece is in Europe)'. 'This is home', he concludes.

In Bnei Brak, every single car stopped to let me cross the street with the stroller, something that never happens when I try to cross Monsey parking lots. In the makolet, I realized how Americanized I've become when It took me a few seconds to figure out I had to grab a bag myself from a stack hanging off a random shelf.

In Geulah, I had to contend with an Israeli floor shower, indistinguishable from the rest of the minuscule bathroom but for the drain.

I remembered.

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