Posts filed under ‘Life’

Falling Down the Ayalon

I don’t need any studies to tell me that commuting is hell, but now when I came across one I’m glad to share it.

Some scientists have been measuring happiness, and it turns out that in order to be as happy as someone who walks to work, a person who commutes for an hour has to make 40 percent more than said pedestrian. Of course it’s tricky to measure happiness, but as someone who used to commute four hours every day, I definitely think that it sounds more than reasonable.

Especially on a day like today.

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April 15, 2010 at 17:16 Leave a comment

Holiday Headaches

I have mixed feelings about Pesach.

These mixed feelings don’t stem exclusively from the fact that I don’t like to clean — but mostly.

Pesach is the ultimate holiday for the obsessive compulsive. No matter how much you clean, it can always get cleaner, and you can always think of yet another place that’s probably chametz-infested. I just finished cleaning my apartment, so now it’s kosher for the holiday, but still not particularly clean. After six hours of scrubbing, pouring boiling water and cursing, I still have to do the regular weekly cleaning of the floors and the bathroom.

The other problem about Pesach is obviously the issue of kashrut itself. I have still to hear a convincing argument why aluminum foil needs a kosher stamp. However, grocery shopping for the holiday a few days ago, I came across a happy surprise in the dairy-aisle: my favorite yoghurt is kosher-for-Passover. I started to get really excited about it, until I realized that this must mean that there is a significantly weaker connection between that yoghurt and real cheese cake than I would care to think about.

Oh well, I least the seasonal peanut cookies are here again.

Chag Pesach kasher — but no less importantly — sameach.

March 28, 2010 at 14:05 2 comments

The Clothes Make the Mania

In the last few days, the Swedish clothes chain H&M has opened two stores in Israel. And as I wrote here last week, they are enormously popular — as proven by thousands of shoppers, eager for cheap Swedish last-season fashion, who crowded the Azrieli and Malcha Malls in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem respectively.

Good news all around, right? Not quite, I’m afraid.

Even though the new stores may be popular in Israel, they stir up controversy in Sweden. In a reaction to the company expanding to Israel, there were demonstrations outside H&M stores in the homeland of Hennes & Mauritz. Such illustrious organizations as Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, the Palestinian Association in Stockholm, the Palestine Groups in Sweden, Isolate Israel and the International Solidarity Movement in Sweden were behind the protests.

According to this media report, some “twenty people and a barking dog” participated in the demonstration in Malmö.

March 20, 2010 at 19:04 Leave a comment

Pray, Children, Pray

Swedish business is big in Israel these days. Only this week, IKEA opened its second store in the country — and the biggest in the Middle East — in Rishon Le-Zion, and H&M opened its first-ever Israeli store right here in Tel Aviv. Next week, the Swedish fashion phenomenon is opening a branch in Jerusalem as well.

I’m not sure how things looked in Rishon at the opening of the new IKEA, but as you can see from this clip there was chaos at Azrieli at the grand opening of H&M.

Look out Malcha.

March 12, 2010 at 14:04 Leave a comment

The Silver Lining of the Booze Cloud

Today finance minister Yuval Shteinitz signed off on new and higher alcohol taxes. According to this report, 92 percent of all alcoholic beverages in Israel will be more expensive from now on.

Well, at least he waited until after Purim.

March 1, 2010 at 17:53 Leave a comment

Everything Is Relative – Apparently Even Hysteria

As long-time readers of this blog already know, Magdalena Ribbing is the unchallenged queen of Swedish etiquette. Her column in Dagens Nyheter has a large following and she dishes out advice on everything from how to write proper thank-you notes and dress for a formal function to how to behave in general.

I’ve already written about her advice on how to deal with a situation where one is forced to directly address fellow commuters on a bus here.

Some time ago, I read a letter to Ms. Ribbing from someone who complained about the trend of mega-weddings that apparently is sweeping through Sweden. The letter writer deplored the hysteria that surrounds weddings these days. Why is it, she asked, that it’s impossible to tie the knot today without spending no less than SEK 60,000 on the festivities? And why must one have so many guests – sometimes as many as sixty people!

I was reminded of this poor Swedish wedding planner on my way home from a wedding in Jerusalem on Thursday evening. (Ok, technically it might have been Friday morning.) It was a very pleasant affair and a great time was had by all – not only by the grooms.

In Israeli terms it was a rather intimate wedding, with a mere 150 guests or so. It’s not uncommon with at least twice that many people attending – friends, family, colleagues, friends and family of colleagues, your dog-walker and her friends, family and colleagues. You get the picture.

I obviously don’t know anything about the budget for the particular nuptials that I attended, but judging by the generosity with which exquisite food and drink were lavished on us all, I have no doubts that it dwarfed the Swedish mega-wedding of NIS 30,000. 

February 6, 2010 at 17:31 Leave a comment

Frum Flight Fright

Do you remember the good old days, when you could board a plane without taking off your belt and shoes, could keep a convenient pair of nail scissors and a bottle of contact lens fluid in your hand luggage, and could transfer at a stop-over air port without fretting over whether someone would demand to throw away the duty free booze you bought at the original port of departure?

I know, it’s starting to become a faded memory belonging to that lost world of one — state-run — TV channel when Europe was still divided between East and West and unicorns roamed the land.

Following the attempted Christmas bombing of a Denver-bound flight, where someone tried to detonate an explosive devise that he was hiding in his underwear, security levels have been raised even further. Now, apparently, you’re no longer allowed to conceal your groin with a blanket on transatlantic flights, and soon we will all be forced to undergo body scans before boarding.

In America, the paranoia recently caused a pilot on a flight from La Guardia to Louisville, Kentucky to land his plane as soon as he possibly could since someone in the cabin reported that a suspicious looking kid was behaving weirdly — probably trying to set off a bomb.

I can only imagine how this deeply embarrassed teenager must have pleaded with a stewardess, trying to convince her that he wasn’t actually out to kill them all — but just wanted to put on his tefillin.

Read more about it here.

January 22, 2010 at 09:08 Leave a comment

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