From Yerushalayim With Love

Location: Israel

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


If there is or was such a thing as Antidisestablishmentarianism, there must have been at least one Antidisestablishmentarianist; in fact there must have been several Antidistestablishmentarianists. Have I coined a new "longest word in the English Language?"I doubt it: I'll Google it and expect to be told that someone who supported Antidisestablishmentarianism was properly known as an Antidisestablishmentarian.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


In the USA it is Thanksgiving.
Since I last posted I have been married and divorced. I am thankful for and yet regret both. Thankful to have been married, regretful for having lost a friend. Regretful that the marriage failed, thankful that we each survived.

It's less expensive to make a Jewish wedding in Jerusalem than in the States, but here in Jerusalem we also have to contend with the Rabbanut, the Rabbinate. My brother observed that, if you go to deal with the Rabbanut with an open positive attitude, you come out hating them. They make you jump through hoops - which you have to pay for. My two favorite moments to mock were: I was required to prove that I was not a Kohen, even after one of the rabbis pointed out that I had previously been married to a convert - which would have rendered any Kohenic status void. The more amusing scene took place while I was waiting for the Rabbanut to present me with the document showing that, in their eyes, I was a Jew: a rabbi approached me in the waiting room and asked me to come downstairs to make a minyan.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Elder of Ziyon: HRW sends out the sockpuppets

Elder of Ziyon: HRW sends out the sockpuppets

Friday, September 12, 2008

I received a comment. I returned from abroad.

Wow! I just checked in after a couple of months of letting my blog lie fallow and I discovered a comment. It's almost eerie to think that a stranger (I've no idea who DW is) felt like responding.
The car rental thing was not explained to my satisfaction. (And Bezeq is similarly unforthcoming.) I went with Budget eventually. I ordered the cheapest possible rental, but when I got to the Budget desk at Logan airport no economy car was available. They offered a Cadillac. Upgrade. At the same price as an economy car. I didn't want it, but my daughter, who had met me at the airport, goaded me into taking the first luxury car I'd ever driven. My misgivings were, of course, based primarily on the gas consumption: as it turned out, I drove 1800 miles in the fortnight I rented the car - but the price of additional gas was made up for by the lack of discomfort on all those highway miles. OK, I wasn't ecologically ideal; but I was in no position to take public transport or bicycles on this trip, and I don't know how much I would have aged hunched over in a subcompact, cowering when overtaken by busses and tractor trailers. The car was wasted on me. There was no manual, so I had no way of knowing what all the buttons were for - and although I didn't really think there was an ejector seat, I was reluctant to experiment. One button I pressed in my quest to unlock the gas cap (I eventually discovered it didn't lock) displayed the pressure of each tire. Technology's come a long way since I learned how to change the oil on a car...

Glad to be home in Jerusalem. I don't have a Cadillac here (or children), and sometimes it's too hot to ride a bicycle during the afternoon - but I can't see living anywhere else right now.
Of course, one man's meat.... For example: one thing I love about Jerusalem is that the residents are basically so good-hearted that it's not uncommon to see very small children going to school or waiting for a bus unattended. You don't see that in Massachusetts or in London nowadays. Yet I noticed an article in Hamodia (a religious newspaper published in English and French and maybe other languages as well as Hebrew) that ranted against the way young children cross the street. You can't win, I guess: I'm happy that the city is so safe that children don't require supervision; someone else is outraged because drivers are forced to use caution.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Car rentals

Planning a trip to the US, I looked into renting a car. I haven't booked yet, but I did send the following email to ALAMO:

I checked the prices for renting a car for two weeks and I discovered that it costs several hundred dollars more to rent from you, Alamo, if I reside in Israel instead of the US.
Obviously, you have some logical reason for this; what confuses me is that, according to the their websites, Avis and Budget have CHEAPER rates for residents of Israel than for US residents.
Please explain why you charge more for residents of Israel (while other US car rental companies charge less).
In case it matters, I have a valid Massachusetts drivers license and I am a US citizen.
Yours truly,

I don't see myself as a consumer advocate, but I am curious...

By the way, regarding the previous post about Israel's phone company, after several weeks I did receive a form letter from Bezeq thanking me for my inquiry and assuring me they're looking into the matter.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Well, Bezeq?

I'm still waiting for a reply - ANY reply - from Bezeq.
I've phoned, sent faxes, sent emails, and even caused enough of a ruckus at the Jerusalem office for them to have called the police. But Bezeq doesn't respond.
The only time one of their representatives kept their word about getting back to me was the day the police were called. I'd called as soon as the 199 line was open at eight in the morning to beg them to stop my phone from ringing every three hours, day and night. The operator at 199 seemed sympathetic and helpful. She offered to have the calls alerting me to the existence of a text message blocked. And when I asked her for a way to contact English speaking help directly (instead of pressing random buttons in the Hebrew, Russian or Arabic menus), she said she'd call back at one o'clock.
She did call back around one o'clock - just as the police were arriving after the fracas at the Bezeq office. She gave me the complicated number - which included my home phone number - to reach an English-speaking operator.
When I got home, the phone still rang every three hours. I called and spoke to another 199 operator who also supposedly blocked the calls. Eventually, the next day, a technician solved the problem by erasing the text message. (Another solution would have entailed my finding the manual that came with the phone a few years ago and laboring through the Hebrew instructions.) I didn't worry about losing the text message, because everyone I know phones me and either reaches me or leaves voice messages or sends SMS messages on my cellphone.
When I dialled the number I'd been given to reach an English speaker, a man answered in Hebrew. He passed the phone to another man who asked me what I wanted.
"I want to complain."
"About what?"
"About Bezeq."
(Pause) "You're talking to the Fire Department."
I suppose I could've transcribed or dialled the number incorrectly. After all, I hadn't been able to get much sleep, having been phoned every three hours. As it happens, I have had trouble sleeping: seems I have sleep apnea - according to the informal translation of a letter I received from the sleep clinic in Jerusalem. Poor me. Sleep apnea AND phones ringing every three hours. Is it any wonder I act out? In America the phone company would've been more responsive. Here it takes three calls to the phone company just to stop being disturbed. Heaven knows what it takes to get a billing problem taken care of.
I feel as though I'm repeating myself and no one is listening....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jerusalem, the center of the world

I suppose these pictures are something of a scoop. I expect the tile mural will be unveiled next week at the municipal center in Jerusalem as part of the celebrations of Israel's 60th anniversary.

Last week, while a couple of workers finished the installation, a few better-dressed gentlemen stood and watched. They were probably some municipal officials and the artist.

The image is pretty well-known. From 1585, it depicts Jerusalem as the center of the world.

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