Friday, March 27, 2009

More about Boaz

Earlier this week I posted the beautiful song Ke'ilo Kan (As if Here - also known as Fire in Your Eyes) sung by the equally beautiful Boaz Mauda. I say that (about Mauda) not because he is incredibly gorgeous, which he is, but simply because he is a beautiful person.

He is only a couple of years on the music scene, but clearly has captured the hearts of Israelis. The passion with which he sings, the deep desire to bring his Yemenite traditions forward, giving expression to some of the most beautiful and haunting melodies and words, and his gentle openness are only a part of what we see in Boaz.

He is also an expession of the tender strength in our young men, something I wrote about at the outset of this blog, and something which Israelis know about our people; it is something we deeply cherish.

Boaz had never sung on stage before a good friend secretly entered him into the competition for the 5th Israeli Kokhav Nolad (A Star is Born) contest - akin to the American Idol show. In fact, Mauda was then a soldier, a goat herder on his kibbutz, and had only sung publically the prayers in the synagogue. Now of course he has represented Israel in the 2008 Eurovision competition and travels world wide singing.

This video gives you a glimpse into his story, and our story, because each one of us is all of us. It is filmed at the 2007 Kokhav Nolad where he was "crowned the "Star". He dedicated his winning song, Menagen Veshar to his mother -the beautiful woman in the wheel chair in the video. Ofra Mauda had muscluar dystrophy prior to Boaz's birth, yet she defied doctors to have this child. Due to complications of the delivery, she sustained physical injury and has been confined to a wheelchair in recent years. Mauda says that both his parents (Shlomo & Ofra), but especially his mother, are the ones who taught him everything, and are his inspiration for determination and willpower. Anything he has achieved, Boaz says, is because of them.

Be sure to watch through to the very end of the video. There is sometimes a pause (a glitch) and then it continues to a beautiful ending. Enjoy.

Ad the winner is...BOAZ MAUDA !!
video by Daily

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Boaz Mauda

Boaz Mauda, Yemenite Israeli from Kibbutz Elyakim. He, this song, is Israel ...this is who we are.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Politics, Queues and Balygans

Our Waiting Game for the new government hopefully is drawing to a close soon, the winners to be announced by the end of the week. (Not to hold our collective breath, however.) Personally, I find that I am pleasantly surprised at my lack of impatience and frustration through the whole process, taking the whole thing in stride and feeling calm about it all.

Learning patience has been part of my Israeli training, an awareness of which I have had - or at least suspected - for some time.

When I first moved to Israel I found myself enormously impatient in the queues and crowds as I waited to be checked out or be served for some service. "How can the others stand this... they all look so calm...just waiting and waiting, and I feel like exploding!!"

I am not sure why it affected me so much. It isn't as if I never waited in lines or had to take numbers for service in America. Of course I did, but there is a huge cultural difference.

You see, here in Israel, the banker, the checkout clerk, the postal clerk, the government workers have many other more important things to do at the same time as waiting on the customer. For instance, talking on the phone. Now I don't mean answering the ringing phone at the desk. I mean calling the family or the friend for a chat, especially right after you have asked a question. What better time to plan an outing? Heaven forbid that the customers should complain, can't we see that the clerk is busy now? Oh, and yes, the 3 people who simply walk up to the desk and engage the clerk while you are discussing your problem...don't they have rights for heaven's sake?

Then there are the one armed clerks in the supers (markets) The supermarket clerks use only one arm with which to ring the register and move the items being rung up...not moving items across with one hand and tapping the register with the other. Yes, it does take her/him twice as long to ring up the purchase.

Supermarket clerks also have other business to conduct at the same time as checking out customers. One incredible incident is forever etched in my mind. A young girl was the check out clerk at a supermarket in the Center of Town. Her jeans were cute and very tight...I mean very tight that she couldn't comfortably sit in the chair. For 10 minutes (I timed it) she tried different positions, shifting the belt area, trying to slide the material around so she could sit down. She unbuttoned and re-buttoned the jeans, and just could NOT get comfortable. I was close to the front in line. I stared at her, at the people ahead and behind me, expecting her to be hugely embarrassed and the customers to be irritated and start yelling. No one said a word. Everyone simply waited while this young girl, who didn't look the slightest bit embarrassed at holding up the line so she could sit down in her tight jeans, wiggled and maneuvered around. It wasn't even that people thought it was cute that she went through so much to sit...they just ignored her and talked among themselves about the daily issues until she was ready to start ringing. Finally, I guess she felt comfortable, and life moved on.

Of course, customer themselves contribute to the frustration. There is a little game that is played, mostly in the supermarkets, but elsewhere too, like post offices and banks. It's called "tapping the shoulder of the person in front of you and telling them that you are next after them"...then going off for 20-30 minutes, maybe even to have a coffee, and coming back to "reclaim" their spot in line "just in time". Imagine my irritation when this phenomenon first presented itself to my brand new immigrant and totally naive self. Arriving in line, waiting my turn, I would suddenly find 3 different people - just as it is my turn to be next at the counter - suddenly show up and claim that they are next in line before me. Huh??? Slicha?? (Excuse Me!!) I have been here 20 minutes and YOU just arrived. NOT so, it turns out, (confirmed loudly by the man or woman just leaving the counter)...they had been there once, but decided to leave and enjoy the scenery instead of standing in the line. I was the one in error I was told...didn't I know they had "saved" their spot in line???

The only exception, and it is a large exception, are the bus oxymoron for sure. There IS no such thing as a bus queue - there is a bus MOB whose job it is to try and kill you as you get on the bus. People appear out of nowhere, physically shoving you out of the way so they can climb on the bus first. Of course one is a friar (sucker) if he/she steps back to allow it. The name of the game is to start shoving and pushing as well.

All this to say, waiting for Israeli politics to take shape is a bit like life in Israel itself. Nothing about it makes logical sense, on the surface it looks like a complete balygan (mess)...but, for pete's sake, this is why we love this country.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just One Purim Picture

Shushan Purim is now over with but I couldn't resist taking a picture of this Purim "angel" as I walked down my sidewalk this morning... maybe he's one of the ones who guard my block

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Saw Ze'ev Today

(Ze'ev - the ongoing saga (previous posts) of my friendship with a man whom some would call "homeless" - and he is...but to me Ze'ev is a man with a tragic story - and a friend from whom I learn about life)

I saw Ze'ev today. He saw me coming about 1/2 block away, and we threw out our arms in the Israeli greeting that says "I haven't seen you for soooo long"! In fact, we both shouted those words at the same time. It was so good to see him. People turned to stare...I wanted to tell them to get a life.

He looked really good, and although he said he wasn't well, we were both thankful to G-d for the warmth of the sun. After I ran next door to buy him a cigarette, I came back and we talked for almost 45 minutes.

I learned alot about Ze'ev today. A well read man, who knows a lot about many countries, he is an interesting person and fun to talk to. His self-taught English was impressive, as was his desire to learn and speak it correctly..and not only English, but he was hungry for information about how people live and what's good and what's bad about other countries. Searching......

Like so many he fell through the cracks in the bureacracy of Israeli institutions. I understood so well, as I don't fit the parameters either, falling through the cracks as well......there's a brick wall to try to change it or affect a different outcome, - many people just give up. In fact, very few fit into the mold that the government has created.

And like so many, his experiences have left him bitter and angry at this country. I wanted to tell him it was the government but not the people, but when I started to say it, I choked on my words, as I already knew that his experience of living on the street and in shelters had not produced any such nicities among his acquaintances. Pompous words coming from my mouth; though I am closer than most, still I have not walked in his shoes.

Ze'ev was truly perplexed at my love for this country...truly. He looked at me, bewildered. How could that be, he asked. Yet in his wisdom, he said he realized that every country has good and bad things about it, so he knew America wasn't paradise.. But Israel, in his experience with it, has yet to be understood as a good place to be.

I could expand a lot on Ze'ev's story, but somehow, sharing too much seems an invasion of his privacy...and privacy is something Ze'ev has very little of...

So, I am glad for the warmth of this Shabbat for you Ze'ev, and for me too. It's been a long cold winter.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I didn't get going on my posting as quickly as I thought I would. I have been preoccupied this week....
  • Preoccupied with the fact that we still don't know what the government will look like, and the varying news reports about it are seldom more than gossip.
  • Preoccupied with the cold and the continuing rain..until today that is, when the sun came out for a few hours, and predictably the temperature climbed into warmth.
  • Preoccupied with emerging spring flowers and trees decorating our sidewalks and alleyways.
  • Preoccupied with the Iryiah (city hall) "nature terrorists" doing their extreme spring pruning, felling flowering trees and shrubs right and left, unconcerned with the stark gaping holes left behind.
  • Preoccupied with REAL terrorists who read the Koran in the cabs of bulldozers, then wield their front loaders as the weapon of choice in a rampage to try to destroy a busload of young Jewish girls on their way to Hadassah Hospital to cheer up the patients with a little Purim fun.

    I even wonder ... could the cadre of "nature terrorists" be in training??

    Jerusalem...City of Intensity.


I went in search of wild cyclamen, and either they are finished blooming or shyly hiding behind the rocks, because I could find none this week. I did find the trees that have had berries all winter now taking on a new spring look against the summer-hinting blue of the sky - even though they are the same old berries on the tree, and non edible ones at that!

One less such tree on my block, thanks to the iryiah workers.

I found bushes in shades of purple, shrubs dressed in buttercup garments, and Israeli style dandelions lining the walkways.

Just the beginning as spring emerges from the long cold winter.

A Surprise

...but just as I was about to put away my camera, I stumbled upon the treasures I had been looking for.... right behind my building on the terrace slopes to the streets below.

There I discovered countless clumps of wild cyclamen...and in the midst of them were bright yellow and pale yellow butterflies

cavorting in the sun. Alas, my camera decided to relinquish it's battery charge just as I was shooting the butterflies.

Most amazingly, while I know nothing about butterfly mating, it appeared to me to be a courtship dance between a bright yellow and pale yellow butterfly. It was very sweet. I'll be back to photograph more, but the courtship may in fact be over. :)