Where we help each other do good

On my way to Ulpan (Hebrew class) one morning, just after making aliyah, a young man with multiple piercings wearing all black kept asking me for something I couldn’t understand. An elderly lady wearing a hat and wig came off her seat to hand me a tissue. She wanted me to have the mitzvah of giving it to the young man who was asking for one. Charedi meets Chiloni over a mitzvah!

Posted by Shlomo Fisherowitz in Snippets
Good Luck Lychee

Good Luck Lychee

The heat was intense at the Shuk today, the noises and smells even more so. I pushed my way through the masses of sweaty, swarthy people yelling in indecipherable tones at indistinguishable decibels and was reminded of how much I dislike large crowds. Even so, good things happened. I was buying mangos and avocados while the Arab vendor complimented me on my son, “aize chamud — how cute — a boy or a girl?” He told me he had 14 children, including four sets of twins. How he had prayed and prayed for a daughter but waited until his 13th child to have a girl. He handed me my change, along with a single lychee. Enjoy it, he said, and have a beautiful day. A good luck lychee, I thought to myself, and put it into my purse so that it wouldn’t get mixed up with my other purchases.

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Posted by Adina Kopinsky in Snippets

The old, the new, and the costly

When you walk down Jaffa street in Jerusalem, the light rail train to your left is reflected in the antique shop to your right.

The antique shops charge too much.

Some would say the light rail train does too.

After all, why pay so much, when it’s barely faster than people riding bikes…

But it’s all oddly fitting. After all, The Old is forever on sale here, and The New isn’t all that fast to come.

Posted by Rachel Sharansky Danziger in Images, Snippets
Who says cats are practical?

Who says cats are practical?

One of the delightful things about my early morning sojourn to my ulpan class in Jerusalem used to be the stroll down Emek Refaim Street.  You never know what you’ll see in Jerusalem, and with its college-town feel, Emek Refaim is a particularly interesting street.  One morning, the cats were all lined up for their appointments at the local veterinary clinic.

Or so I thought.

I observed in sociological fascination to learn that Israeli cats wait in line much as Israeli people do.  (“Are you before me?  Who is after you?”  “I’m after him, and her, and before you.  Watch out for the big one.  He always slips in at the last moment, claiming he’s in pain and can’t speak Hebrew.”)

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Posted by Ruti Eastman in Snippets

Where big is not always better

Along Jerusalem’s streets there are doors which appear to lead into tiny shops. Open the door, though, and inside you will find large and thriving businesses. From their small entrance-way, workers and machines and stock seem to go on and on and on, as far as you can see.

Off Jaffa Road, in one of those tiny little old passageways, you will find Yehudah the Shoemaker. Most days he is sitting in his workroom, which is smaller than many home closets. It may look like a cluttered mess to you, but Yehudah has the talent to fix almost any problem quickly, with his materials at his fingertips.

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Posted by Sharon Altshul in Images, Snippets

The musical cabbie

“What were you before you were a cab driver?”

He had a Russia accent and anyway, I keep meeting older cab drivers in Jerusalem who were something else before.

“Well, since coming to Israel, I’ve only been a cab driver. But in Russia I was a musician. I play the piano. But I knew before immigrating that I wouldn’t find work in that. It was really sad for me but I knew I needed to come here for my family, my kids…”

“You know, you’re the generation paying for the move but your kids and grandkids get to reap the benefits.” I say this from experience. My parents moved here from Canada when we were kids and my sisters’ kids are Sabras and have none of the issues we have.

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Posted by Deena Levenstein in Snippets

Where the unexpected happens

I took my gals into town to buy a cell-phone. On the way back to the car, an elderly man said to my youngest daughter, “What will happen in the summer?” This comment was perhaps inspired by her spaghetti strap top. “Excuse me??” responded her big sister. No big surprises here; neither the comment nor my kids’ ability to respond is out of the ordinary. But, wait for it; here comes the surprise. Someone else joined in the conversation — a young man in a black suit and a black, velvet kippah (that was code for “I assume he’s Orthodox). “Do you want to press charges?” he asked my youngest. He’s a member of a cadre of people employed to keep the city welcome for all. “No one has the right to comment on your dress,” he declared and checked with her again if she wanted to press charges. You could have knocked me over with a velvet kippah.

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Posted by Helen Gottstein in Snippets

Bruchim HaBa’im l’Yerushalayim

We live in Ma’ale Adumim, which is a suburb of Jerusalem to the east. Every time I drive into Jerusalem, to meet a client, to go out to dinner, to shop, I pass a sign that says Bruchim HaBa’im l’Yerushalayim – Welcome to Jerusalem. Each time I see it, I think of the millennia when Jews could only dream of such a thing. I am reminded of how privileged I am to be here. A bit further down the road, just after the tunnel named for Nomi Shemer, the famous songwriter who wrote Yerushlayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold), we can see Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount) to our left. As we pass that spot, my husband and I are conscientious about reciting the Yehi Ratzon prayer regarding the rebuilding of the Temple.

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Posted by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Snippets

Do and then understand


Another trip to the laundry and the tailor. On the platform I waited for a 9 or a 19 bus. Along came a 28, with a driver whom I knew for a long time, who had once actually retrieved my cell phone from his bus’s floor and called the synagogue to tell me when he could return it to me on his next trip. I decided the chance to say hello and show my friendship was well worth the detour. I could pick up the 9, but not the 19, at one of the Eshkol Blvd or Bar Illan stops. On the 28, realized I could use the time between buses to use a bank cash machine and so I did. When I got to the laundry I was glad I had done so. I started out with more than enough money for my shirts, but I had forgotten that there was a jacket repair job waiting for me. Only because I got the additional money from the bank’s machine was I able to avoid asking for credit.

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Posted by Dave Klepper in Snippets
Challa and Arabs and jazz, oh my!

Challa and Arabs and jazz, oh my!

Jerusalem is that moment when you attend a coexistence event in Jerusalem’s First Station, an open space full of restaurants and bars. A band is playing, hundreds of Jews and (significantly less) Arabs are swaying to the music, a few protesters are holding hand-made signs on the side.

And then a flood of religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish women and (significantly less) men washes into the crowd, carrying containers full of dough, after attending a ‘Hafrashat Challa‘ event further up the open plaza. The dough-carrying masses don’t linger for long, but for a few minutes you stand surrounded by jazzy notes and girls in mini skirts and the domestic smell of bread.

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Posted by Rachel Sharansky Danziger in Snippets