Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Priorities - 12.1.10

The whole experience of buying a used car here in Israel has been quite interesting (read: stressful).  In many ways, it's really not that different than purchasing a used car in America.  You have to find the kind of car you want that, that doesn't have too much mileage on it, isn't too old, isn't (too) overpriced, etc. 

Having found a 2008 Mitsubishi Grandis that seemed to meet our criteria (aside from being a little more than we were hoping to spend), we knew that it was wise to have the car checked by a mechanic before we decided to go ahead with the purchase.

The mechanic was quite thorough - which was impressive - and aside for the need for an allignment, the car checked out quite well.

Like in many garages (car repair centers) in the States, there was a waiting room for customers.  Aside from the couple of couches in the room, there was a table with coffee available, several magazines - in both Hebrew & English, and even a large screen TV (with remote).  There were also two bathrooms adjacent to the waiting room.  Neither toilet had a toilet seat.  Sometimes I wonder where the priorities are?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rent-A-Car Follow Up - 11.25.10

Interesting note on the Rent-A-Car Story:

Got a call from the Rent-A-Car company to tell me that the H1 had been sold.  Really?  Someone bought this car without seeing it?  I can think of a bunch of things I'd like to sell to this person...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What’s Seven Hours?

In so many ways it's much easier to make aliyah today than it was years ago. Now, even on the other side of the world, we are just a phone call or web-cam video call (even better) away. Devices like Magic Jack make keeping in touch with friends and family in the States very easy.

Recently, however, there have been two specific incidents that indicated to me that the seven hour difference between Israel and the East Coast of the US was taking its toll:

  1. As I reached down to make another (free) call to a friend in the States, I paused to consider if it was too late at night to call their home. (It was)
  2. A new colleague of mine commented that he made a Pidyon Haben this morning. I wished him a Mazal Tov and asked him how many children he had.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Familiar Names & Places – 11.18.10

B'ezrat Hashem, my oldest will become a Bar-Mitzvah next year. We've been learning Mishnayot together in the hopes of making a siyum on all of the Shisha Sidrei Mishna for his Bar-Mitzvah. During our recent stay in Yerushalayim, we had the opportunity to get together with some friends we hadn't seen in quite some time on the occasion of our siyum of Seder Nezikin.

As we were learning Pirkei Avot, which is the second to last Masechet in Seder Nezikin, we came to the following Mishna:

רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי קִבֵּל מֵהִלֵּל וּמִשַּׁמַּאי. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אִם לָמַדְתָּ תּוֹרָה הַרְבֵּה, אַל תַּחֲזִיק טוֹבָה לְעַצְמָךְ, כִּי לְכָךְ נוֹצָרְתָּ. חֲמִשָּׁה תַלְמִידִים הָיוּ לוֹ לְרַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֶּן הֻרְקְנוֹס, וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן חֲנַנְיָה, וְרַבִּי יוֹסֵי הַכֹּהֵן, וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן נְתַנְאֵל, וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲרָךְ. הוּא הָיָה מוֹנֶה שְׁבָחָן. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֶּן הֻרְקְנוֹס, בּוֹר סוּד שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְאַבֵּד טִפָּה. רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן חֲנַנְיָה, אַשְׁרֵי יוֹלַדְתּוֹ. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי הַכֹּהֵן, חָסִיד. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן נְתַנְאֵל, יְרֵא חֵטְא. וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲרָךְ, מַעְיָן הַמִּתְגַּבֵּר. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אִם יִהְיוּ כָל חַכְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכַף מֹאזְנַיִם, וֶאֱלִיעֶזֶר בֶּן הֻרְקְנוֹס בְּכַף שְׁנִיָּה, מַכְרִיעַ אֶת כֻּלָּם. אַבָּא שָׁאוּל אוֹמֵר מִשְּׁמוֹ, אִם יִהְיוּ כָל חַכְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכַף מֹאזְנַיִם וְרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֶּן הֻרְקְנוֹס אַף עִמָּהֶם, וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲרָךְ בְּכַף שְׁנִיָּה, מַכְרִיעַ אֶת כֻּלָּם:

I reminded my son that Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai and the five talmidim that are mentioned in this Mishna are all buried in Teverya, right next to the kever of the Rambam.

We also came across the following famous Mishna:

יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן פְּרַחְיָה וְנִתַּאי הָאַרְבֵּלִי קִבְּלוּ מֵהֶם. יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן פְּרַחְיָה אוֹמֵר, עֲשֵׂה לְךָ רַב, וּקְנֵה לְךָ חָבֵר, וֶהֱוֵי דָן אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם לְכַף זְכוּת:

Nitai Ha'Arbeli was referred to as such, having lived in Arbel. Arbel is right down the road from our home here in Teverya.

Of course, there are many other examples. Teverya and the surrounding area was home to many of the Tanaim and Amoraim. And now it's our home. Cool.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Parking – 11.16.10

I park illegally in Teverya every day.

Rafi, our landlord, assured us that we could park on the street in front of the house even though it has the RED and white stripes along the curb. He told us that if we ever got a parking ticket for parking there, he would pay it. So far, no ticket. We've also noticed that many other people park on our street.

We spent the past few days in Yerushalayim. Ester found a great vacation rental in Shaarei Chesed, which had plenty of space for our family and my parents who were visiting from N.Y. We knew that parking in Yerushalayim could be very difficult. There were some parking spaces on our street that required a "parking permit". These "permits" are purchased from the little machines scattered throughout the city. We had one of those machines on the corner. Permits were required (on this street) from 8am-6pm (or 18:00) Sunday-Thursday, and 8am-1pm on Friday. The cost is 5.20NIS for an hour.

Thursday - I made sure to be out of the house by 8am so that I could purchase a permit (with about 2 hrs. on it). Later that morning, we ventured out to the Old City. We parked in the Mamilla parking lot, which is not cheap. We returned to Shaarei Chesed after 6pm and parked the car for the night.

Friday – Again, I purchased a permit in the morning. Since driving to the shuk didn't seem like a good option (really – where would I park and who wants to deal with Friday shuk traffic?) we ended up leaving the car where it was and purchasing a permit that extended until 1pm.

Motzaei Shabbat – No need to move the car (or pay for parking). We walked to the midrechov (hadn't been there in 10 years!) and eventually made our way back to the house.

Sunday – Purchased the permit again at 8am. Later, we loaded everyone into the Hyundai – H1 and headed towards Geula/Mea She'arim. After navigating our way through the city (almost found our way into East Jerusalem), we found a parking spot on a side street in Geula. We purchased the parking permit and continued on foot into the heart of the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods (where it is posted on the wall that Zionists may not pass through.) We returned to our car, moments before our permit expired. Upon our return to Shaarei Chesed, at 4pm, I proceeded to the corner permit machine to purchase a permit for two hours. I placed the coins in the machine; the machine accepted the payment and then failed to print the permit. We called the "problem" number that was posted on the machine and informed the "problem solver" of the problem. He told us that we should put a note on the car, stating that we had paid for the permit but the machine failed to print it. He also said that if we were to be issued a parking ticket, we could call a certain number, fax in a form, etc. and the ticket would be thrown out. So, we wrote the note and placed it in the window of the car, where we would normally place the permit.

Monday – We found a parking ticket on the car. It was from Sunday at 4:46pm. So now we need to go through the whole process of having the ticket thrown out. AARRGGHHH! Apparently, the machine had been fixed, as we were now able to purchase our usual morning permit. Later on we drove to the "City Center" and parked in the Migdal Ha'Ir parking lot. That was really not cheap! We returned to Shaarei Chesed later in the afternoon and bought our final parking permit for our Yerushalayim visit. After loading up the car, we opted to go for dinner on Emek Refaim by the German Colony. It was pretty hard to find a spot there. Eventually we did find a meter. We fed the meter and then went to feed ourselves.

After dropping off my parents at the airport we travelled back to Teverya where I simply parked my car illegally as usual. No problem.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Top 10 Tidbits on Following U.S. Sports in Israel – 11.9.10

10. Football doesn't mean Football

9. No streaming WFAN here

8. The NHL is not very popular (similar to in the US)

7. Explaining the balk rule in English is hard enough; don't even attempt it in Hebrew

6. Suddenly all NFL games are night games

5. It's necessary to clarify that the World Series this year was NOT a football team vs. a hockey team

4. A Time-Out could refer to a candy bar

3. My wife doesn't care about sports here either

2. Statistics can be very confusing when reading from right to left

1. The NY Yankees payroll in 2010 in shekels was: 748,806,444.958


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Carlebach Minyan – 11.7.10

In preparation for the initiation of the Mordot Teverya Carlebach Minyan, all of the odds and ends from the lift, the Yerushalayim delivery, etc. were transferred out onto the multi-purpose balcony as we converted our living room and dining room areas into a "Makom Tefilla." The 3M stick-on hooks that we had purchased and stuck up a couple of days earlier seemed to be holding up well. The white lacy tablecloth connected to the hooks would serve as the mechitza. The shtender was positioned in the front of the room and the large "Shaliach Tzibbur Siddur" – Yes, Ashkenazi – was set on top of it.

With my parents visiting from NY and the three Yeshiva guys from Yerushalayim that were joining us for Shabbat, we were already halfway towards a minyan. Two men arrived on foot and two more by car. And that was it. Nine. Despite all of the e-mails and phone calls (and confirmed commitments), we had nine – and sunset was fast approaching.

I roamed the street a bit hoping to find a wandering tenth, but our quiet street was very quiet – not a soul in sight.

And then I remembered my dear landlord, Rafi. I decided to knock on his door.

A couple of minutes later, Rafi completed our minyan and Tefillah began.

I'm not sure if my feeling of joy was due to the fact that Shabbat was beginning, that we had managed to pull together the minyan or that I finally had the opportunity to daven Nusach Ashkenaz.