Thursday, November 30, 2006


Spurred by a discussion on the internet about quantum mechanics my Dad posted his own deep thoughts. (Linking to my Dad is kind of pointless-- you probably all just came from there-- but whatever)

Maiseh avos siman labanim.

How can it be that Israeli meat is so much worse than American meat? I mean a cow is a cow, no?

IH adds:
On the subject of meat, to simplify the confusing Israeli Hashgachot they should put different types of yarmulkes on the chickens. The Eda Charedit will be represented by a large velvet yarmulke, Agudas Yisrael a Ramalke, Machzikei Hadas (Belze) a bekeshe, and Charlap a srugi.

Much simpler.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

OOS starts work...

... and gets called an idiot

Well, not in so many words.

One of the major things taught to people involved in counseling is a pregnant pause. The counselor is supposed to interpret the meaning of the clients pause-- in other words, what is going on while nobody is talking.

One of the populations that I work with is the "shut- in" population. These are people who, for whatever reason never leave their houses. One of the first clients I recieved was a shut in. I called him to set up an initial meeting, and I spoke with his wife. We set a time, and our conversation continued:

Me: O.K. so 4:30 then?
Her: Yes
Me: And your husband will be home?
(pregnant pause*)
Her: Um, yeah

*pregnant pause interpratation: Of course he is going to be home you dimwit. He's a shut- in, where else do you think he'll be???
I think I want a new social worker.

An auspicious begining.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


One of the most difficult aspects of making aliya is, of course, leaving behind family. Olim who came here thirty years ago might read this, chuckle, and make a derogatory remark about the fragility of this generation's olim. And truthfully, they would have a good point. We are blessed with 516 area code phone numbers, internet video conferencing, and all the other goodies that vastly diminish the size of the world. So perhaps we are weak.

Yet there is something that cannot be overcome with any type of technology, which is the feeling of belonging that is present in an effective family system. Those sensations of togetherness and ease one feels at family events and smachot. A 516 phone number is good for venting to parents, and video conferencing enables my mom to see how chubby OD is getting, but no matter how hard anyone tries, we will inevitably feel somewhat excluded. It is nobody's fault, just the pitfall of living thousands of miles apart. It is the sacrifice that must generally be made in order to move Artza.

(Note: I am talking about cohesive families like my wife and I grew up in. I am sure that there are many people who move to Israel for the specific purpose of getting away from their families.)

The feelings of exclusion also exist with friends. No matter how many times promises were made to keep in touch I know that the decision to make aliya was also a decision to cut ties with 70% of my old friends. The fact that I am notoriously antisocial does not help. Because I am antisocial before we made aliya it would have been nearly unheard of me to call a friend just to chat. Yet, over the past two months I have found myself doing just that. The beginnings of our conversations usually have usually gone something like this (let's pretend my last name is Smith):

Me: Hi Friend its OOS.
Friend: OOS? Really? How are you doing? It’s great to hear from you.
Me: Yeah it’s good to speak to you too.
Friend: Wait, OOS Smith?

I make these calls and go against my nature because I feel myself being cut off even from good friends. These feelings of exclusion are one of the things that are anticipated at the outset of aliya, yet cannot be fully grasped until it actually happens.

So olim of thirty years ago laugh all you want, but a local area code can only do so much to narrow the vast distance that we have traveled.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Welcome to Israel you foolish American Part I

One of the first things that I learned about Israel is that no matter what a business or organization might say their working hours are, you always call ahead to make sure. When a business puts out its "business hours" it is more of a suggestion than an actuality.

So it was that when we signed up with Kupat Cholim Macabi (medical insurance) I called up the Macabi office to make sure of the hours and to clarify some issues with respect to the insurance.

A little background is in order: In general I try to speak Hebrew every chance I get in order to improve. However, when I take care of important or official matters I prefer to speak in English so that there are no foul ups.

Because I was fully expecting to speak in Hebrew with Macabi I was surprised to hear an automatic voice say, "For English please press 1." Quite pleased and somewhat relieved I pressed 1 and waited. After a minute, a woman got on the line for English speakers, and this was our conversation:

Me: Shalom
Her: Shalom
Me: Um, at midaberet anglit? (Do you speak English?)
Her: Lo (no)
Me: O.K.-- Yesh mishehu sham sh'midaber anglit? (O.K., is there someone there who speaks English?)
Her: Lo

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Checking in

It's been awhile.

Sorry to all of you who depend on me (Hooie), but I have been extraordinarily busy and have had no time to write.

Anyway, it seems that we have finally settled into somewhat of a routine, and things are slightly calmer than they were. I cannot say that we have fully adapted, because we still often feel like we have landed on some bizarre planet where nobody has manners and yelling is a way of life. But we are slowly getting into the thick of things. Truthfully, I don't think that we will ever fully adapt. My wife and I will always retain some America in us.

I have no energy to write Aliya Recap part II right now, but I do hope to finish it. I also have a number of extremely funny stories that must be shared, and I hope to accomplish that as well in the next few days.

Other than that what can I say? The kids are doing great, IH has put in superhuman effort to get us settled and she has been amazing.

Actually I can say something else: Despite all the stupidity and annoyances that we have put up with, and despite our lack of fluency, and despite the fact that we really have no friends in our community (you see we are the only ones who don't smoke weed), there is no feeling like walking down Rechov Betzalel or Sderot Herzl or any other street in Yerushalayim and knowing that we are here to stay. That makes it all worth it. From time to time one does get the feeling of living in the palace, as corny as that may sound.

Well, that is all for now. I hope to be back soon (because some of these stories that I've got really must be told)

Have a good Shabbos