It's hard to believe April is already here. Last week was Purim and while it is celebrated by Jewish communities around the world, it is a much bigger deal in Israel. Purim is Halloween and Mardi Gras combined into one. In Tel Aviv, everyone wears a costume and hits the streets (even the dogs) for a week of partying. The excitement is difficult to describe and I recommend that you come and see it for yourself.
For Shabbat, we spent the weekend with Israeli students our age at Shaar Hagolan, a beautiful kibbutz in the north. The Israelis were very friendly and it was nice to hear their perspective on various issues. Their knowledge of American politics is impressive and I learned that it is common for Israeli youth to volunteer at Jewish summer camps in the U.S. The trip was short but we got to know each other so well that some of us have Shabbat dinner invites.
1) Sidewalks are for everyone but pedestrians – they are dominated by dogs, cyclists who think swerving is essential to holding one's balance, and motorcyclists who grew tired of the road.
2) Warning: If you want to make your phone call home (in English) on a nice bench outside, some Israeli men will take that as an invitation to interrupt you and start a conversation (see Post #3 A Country of Lost Men).
3) If you need to get to Jerusalem quickly, take a sheirut rather than a bus. A sheirut is an innocent looking shuttle on which you exchange your life for a shorter – yet more entertaining – ride. Lanes are mere suggestions to your driver and the swerving, honking, and yelling are less noticeable with earphones so be sure to bring a pair.
4) While learning Hebrew, it is important to do as the Israelis do – combina. Combina is fake it till you make it’s muscular and more stubborn older brother. Even if you don’t know anything about a task, you act like it is your G-d given gift with the hope that you’ll eventually figure it out. When applying it to the study of Hebrew, it involves a lot of smirking, laughing, and “nachon”s (right/correct in Hebrew).
5) If you’re here long enough, not only will your Hebrew fail to improve, but somehow your English will also worsen.
6) Breaking larger bills is an everyday stand-off. No one wants to break change so it becomes a matter of how well you can convince the other person that you truly do not have anything smaller.