Archive for November, 2009

For the Eighth Day of Hanukkah

Anyone who’s ever taken a stroll through down-town Jerusalem has undoubtedly seen them — the stores selling tchotchkes to unsuspecting, or at least undiscerning, tourists visiting the Holy City. One can easily get the impression that Ben-Yehuda Street is the world’s epicenter of Religious Paraphernalia in Bad Taste.

Sure, Jerusalem isn’t the only place where these items can be purchased, but if you live outside the Jewish state and not in close proximity to Manhattan, le Marais or Golders Green, you might not find a way to stock up on Jewish kitsch so easily.

Luckily, if you’re one of these desperate diaspora shoppers, Heeb Magazine has found a solution for you. The other day when I was browsing that excellent publication, I came across an item about a site specializing in infelicitous Judaica.

This site, called Judaican’t, can be accessed here. Now you can browse for those truly unforgettable Hanukkah gifts from wherever you happen to live.

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November 22, 2009 at 10:02 Leave a comment

Where Are the Rubber Bullets Now?

Some Haredim in Jerusalem continue their campaign of overcoming the humiliation after a secular candidate was elected mayor of the Holy City. For months this summer, they were trying to reassert their political power over the capital by rioting against the opening of the Karta car park on Shabbat. 

They lost that battle, but they definitely haven’t given up the war.

Last week, they found a new target for their rage and frustration: Intel. The high-tech company is supposed to open their new plant in Jerusalem today, and ahead of that event it became known that the plant would operate also on Shabbat. In protest, thousands of Haredim marched on the plant yesterday, throwing stones at it, attacking bystanders and trying to force their way into the premises.

This time they have turned their rage against a private company. Therefore any claims that they are merely acting to safeguard the status quo agreement, as could be argued in the case of operating public facilities such as the Karta car park, are irrelevant in this case. Instead, the intent to force the city to submission to a Haredi way of life becomes patently clear. To achieve this deeply undemocratic goal, these thugs do not shy away from violence and mafia methods.

The risk that other companies will choose not to invest in facilities in Jerusalem is obvious. Thus, the city will lose out on even more tax revenue and sorely needed job opportunities for the impoverished population. But what do the rioters care? They probably don’t pay taxes anyway, and if there won’t be any jobs available to them, they’ll have an excellent excuse why not to work either.

November 15, 2009 at 07:53 2 comments

The Small Differences

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This milestone on the road to democracy in Europe has been thoroughly celebrated, not least in Berlin.

Some Palestinians thought that they’d take advantage of the event in order to protest against the wall that Israel has erected to keep “martyrs” and other “freedom fighters” from blowing themselves and — more importantly — Israeli civilians to smithereens in cafés and on buses in Israel. They did this by reenacting the famous footage from Berlin when the first segment of the Wall fell, and joyous East Berliners streamed over to the western side.

I saw the event on the eight o’clock news this evening, and it was very well thought through. Before the lenses of scores of cameras from international media outlets, a segment of the concrete wall was torn town, and masked Palestinians with flags in their hands rushed through to the Israeli side. It looked very much like Berlin two decades ago, and the whole stunt must be described as a media success, conjuring up uncanny parallels.

The only thing is that I just can’t remember any East Berliners that night in November 1989 rushing through the breach shouting “a thousand shaheeds marching on Jerusalem!”

November 9, 2009 at 22:02 2 comments

Nutritious Nostalgia

A few years ago, when I was a visiting PhD-student from Sweden living in Jerusalem, I shared an apartment with a guy with American roots. At the time he worked for a company that imported food from the States, so we’d always have lots of typical American food in the house. He even had a cupboard in the kitchen filled with goodies, and whenever we had other Americans over for meals, he’d open the cupboard to give them a glimpse of heaven in the shape of root beer, pumpkin pie crusts, jell-o and other forms of eatables that would cause our guests to swoon and wax nostalgic about their childhoods in the goldene medine.

I used to witness these scenes with a certain detached cool and (not always sufficiently well-masked) European contempt for the American way of displaying emotions and getting all worked up about something as trivial as food.

Little did I know that less than ten years later, I’d sit here in the wake of a visit from the Old Country, blissfully gorging myself on salty liquorish and tar pastilles.

November 3, 2009 at 13:27 Leave a comment


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