Friday, December 9, 2005

Hadassh Ladies, Hip Hop Lubavitchers and Homicide Bombers

Liz has just walked in with an ecstatic smile on her face. Today was the Hadassah-Israel Annual Special Gifts Event; the big luncheon for the big donors. One of cousin Marcia’s friends is one of the big donors and is not feeling well. So Liz got her ticket. The food was very good and very plentiful (served up at the Dan Tel Aviv a big hotel on the beach). The entertainment was David Broza. Broza is the Israeli sensitive singer, song writer and, according to Liz, has guitar licks that would make Patty Larkin jealous (if you don’t know Patty Larkin, close this e-mail, surf to your favorite music buying web site and get Live at Harvard Square, listen to it a few times, then go back and gorge out on the rest of her recordings). In the USA, Jewish music fans know Broza as the Bruce Springstein of Israel. Here, The Boss is the David Broza of the USA. Meanwhile, back at the Dan Hotel, patients, parents and doctors from the Neonatal Pavilion at Hadassah Hospital are thanking the Hadassah ladies. Liz thinks it’s really cool to go to a Hadassah meeting that is conducted as much in Hebrew as in English.

I spent the morning shopping for food and winding up in the shouk where I met Becky. As a reward for having behaved myself and not infringed on her Year Course I got to pay for some clothes and lunch. Turns out you can get a really good burger at the shouk. Becky enjoyed the Matisyahu concert at Club Barbie, except the part when one of the guys doing stage dives landed on her head. Her Mom and Dad, who discovered Matisyahu first also went. But we discreetly sat up in the balcony with the handful of other old folks and the guys who preferred groping their girlfriends to moshing other guys in front of the stage. Beside liking Matisyahu our other excuse to go is that the drummer, Jonah David, is the son of Harris David, a co-congregant from Congregation Beth El.

OK, for those of you who do not follow the underground reggae/religious rock scene, Matisyahu, born Matthew Paul Miller, is “born again” as a Lubavitcher Hassid. At 26 he spends his time studying religious texts, praying and touring with a really hot reggae band. Say what? Word up, Baruch Hashem. Want a definition of “cognitive dissonance?” Try this: 6’7’’ of Hassidic Jew, rapping to a reggae beat, using lyrics from the Psalms, doing a stage dive into a crowd of rowdy drunken Yeshiva boys in a club that looks like the bombed out remains of an abandoned warehouse. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

This week we started Ulpan classes. Ulpan is an intense immersion in Hebrew designed to get immigrants into the workforce as quickly as possible. Think Berlitz on viagra. We were tested and placed. Liz was put in an advanced class where they are just about up to the future tense. The future tense is what separates the real men from the kiddies. She now sits in the apartment studying for her next class. I meanwhile have been put into the Hebrew for Dummies class. Long ago there was a very funny book called “The Education of H*y*m*a*n K*a*p*l*a*n.” Its takes place in a class of new immigrants to the US who have come from all over the world to seek the streets of gold. Well, I am now in that class. There are people from Latin America, Turkey, South Africa and the USA. I am sitting next to Anish who is from India. Anish, whose English is very good, is learning his third language (at least). He works in the diamond market. The two major centers for diamonds and jewelry manufacturing are now Tel Aviv and Bombay. I also met Eric who has moved his computer chip design company from Texas to Herzliya (just up the coast from Tel Aviv). Eric’s family is mainly from Silver Spring MD and West Orange NJ (my corner of the continent).

The class is still learning things like the alphabet, singular vs plural, masculine vs feminine (there is no neutral gender in Hebrew – Why? Because the name of G-d is “I am that I am” and so there is no use of the verb “to be” in the present tense as only G-d is). My own Hebrew is the typical “Hebrew school” Hebrew. I can “decode” the Torah (Bible) and various prayer books to get the right sounds without necessarily knowing, word for word, what I am reading or singing. What I can’t do is order breakfast. Ulpan is designed to fix this. Liz and I will be going while in Tel Aviv in the first half of December and all of January. After five days a week of Ulpan I hope to return to New Jersey with at least the vocabulary of a Golden Retriever.

A few days ago a homicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the mall in Netanya. This is the third bombing at that mall in four years. Netanya’s proximity to Tulkarm (a major center for hate mongers in the Arab West Bank) and the various ways around or though the security fence make it an available target for the bombers. We were going to stay in Netanya until Liz decided that Becky and her friends may not be allowed to travel to that city (in fact they are banned from the mall but not the rest of Netanya). So we are in Tel Aviv. Where you can’t tell that anything untoward has been happening (other than an unusual heat wave for December). This makes four times that the bastards have missed me (I count the World Trade Center on 9/11as two shots, one per plane). As three were in New York City I do not feel wrong about feeling safer in Tel Aviv. Besides, who would you rather have covering your rear end: Ariel Sharon and the IDF or George Bush and the Neocons?

The Jerusalem Post editorial writer made a good point. Yes, the Palestinian Authority “condemns” the homicide bombings, as do a lot of Europeans, the US, and the UN etc. But the Arabs only condemn this stuff in the sense that Abbas feels it is a bad tactic tat hurts the cause more than helps. It does not seem to cross his (or most other Arab, UN and European) minds that this stuff is just morally wrong. In other words, its not OK to murder Jews if it does not have a positive effect on your political agenda. The same people are, of course, morally outraged that Israel would carefully seek out the leaders who recruit the bombers and try to neatly put a missile into their cars or apartments or simply try to arrest them (something the Palestinian Authority does not have the intestinal fortitude to do). And for you fans of high tech warfare, this week the leadership of Islamic Jihad stopped using their cell phones. Can you guess why? And no cheating by going on the web.

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