Lake Kinneret is decreasing and my shower sucks!

A funny thing I have noticed in Israel is that in general showers suck here. Now I know I am that spoiled American with the high pressure rain fall shower head who likes her showers comfortably warm with good pressure. Now the Israelis were on to something: that built their bathrooms in two rooms, one for the toilet and one for the shower. Now this is great if you grew up/live in a family like mine where people interrupt your quiet shower moments to use the only functioning toilet in the house, or someone like to sneak in and leave a big stinky mystery poop! ick! Problem is that nobody, and really only few exceptions, have a decent shower. First off, the water pressure is terrible. My current shower is strong enough to spray one side of my body at a time, and like most Israeli showers, the curtain is the only barrier to water and your bathroom, therefore there is a large gap between the curtain and the ground, which happens to be stone and freezing, cause there are no rugs cause the water will drench them. And when you are done then you have balance the fine art of sweeging the water into the drain so as not to step in big puddles of cold water on cold stone floors, slippery cold stone floors with a curtain in your way. I’m not even touching temperature and the fact that all homes have “a dude” that needs to be switched on for 30 minutes in advance for one to even acquire hot water, so the temp is never right, especially with showers like mine with terrible pressure. It’s no wonder why Kinneret is shrinking, people like myself feel the urge to shower longer to make up for poor shower experience and the water doesnt even go directly down the drain. I find myself making Shabbat plans according to people showers, which is sad. It is even sadder that I count on one hand how many quality showers I have had in the last three months. Funny right? I know the water problem here is way more complex than showers, but I’m just saying…


christmas time from the holyland

As a Jew growing up in a predominately Christian society, I have always felt smothered by Christmas. I do the traditional Chinese food and movie bit, and even converted a few non-believers in the greatness of playing “Guess who is a Jew or a foreigner” game. Amidst the 24 hour Christmas songs (please no more Mariah or Paul McCartney) and the endless marketing, I have found myself, for the first time, missing Christmas. I don’t know if it is the homemade baked goods that make everyone gain 10 pounds, or the fantastic semi tacky decorations that light up cold dark winter nights, or maybe it is the fact that I like to get and give presents and find a simple joy in eating pie around a fireplace while exchanging gifts with those I love (Shegos). I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is that Chaunukah outside the U.S. stinks and I love winter break! Thankfully I am on a program for Americans, so we get a winter break, meanwhile the rest of Israeli society keeps on going. The nights here in the desert are dark and drab, and warmth of “the holidays” comes at a different season. I got excited to find Santa chocolates imported from Finland and marketed to the Russians. Small pockets of Christmas tradition exist here, and unless you go to Bethlehem, Jesus is never mentioned. After the years and years of Christmas celebrations and boring days (the day of and eve) I have dreamed of place where Christmas didn’t exist. Now my wish has come true, and I’m happy to say that this Jew girl misses disgusting fruit cake, Alvin and the Chipmunks, screaming children at the mall, creepy Santas and all the cookies her heart desires. One could write pages about the effects assimilation from a minority ethnic population into the dominant hierarchical society. I guess I am case study, that ironically my education at Mills trained me to evaluate. But really deep down inside, I’m just a foreigner living overseas and missing home, comforts and the expected. There is something to be said about that. And under the cold surface, the roots grow deeper, and expand into the earth for a comfortable hibernation. It is only in spring when the flower is ready to break free of the earth constraining it being. I too, fester in the land of un-know, planting my roots and sewing my ideas/impressions. Come spring, I will mark half a year and mark my change and expand into the next level of being. Until then I accept the change around me, process, evaluate and wish someone would send me Christmas cookies. Happy birthday Jesus!

emptyness and miracles

I rush into line for the 370 express bus from Tel Aviv to Beer Sheva. As usual I scramble to get on the bus and push my way through to get a seat. Moments later and drunk old guy with a big bag of sofganiot sits across from me. If I hadn’t just come from my friend’s Chanukah party I would have taken one of his donuts, but instead, belly full I watched him sing up and down the aisles jubilant songs. A couple of young guys agitated yell to him “sheket, di.” Oblivious to their cries he continues to sing. The young Ethiopians on the back of the bus fill with air with laughter. A few young orthodox men start to clap and sing with the drunk guy. They get up and dance. we are somewhere around Rishon L’Zion now, and the bus driver seems unphased. I think to myself “only in Israel,” and laugh quietly. I saw a small miracle of happiness being passed from one person to another and for a moment I think I saw the essence and true meaning of the miracle of Chanukah. Eventually the singing dies and the drunk man falls asleep. I put on my iPod and listen to melancholy songs. I watch the horizon change and the hills of the Negev form. I look across the expanse in disbelief that I am here, b’Eretz Israel. It settles in that he won’t come. I won’t be able to show him these small miracles I collect to make my experience. After waiting 300 days and counting them week by week, on day five it was taken away. I light the Chanukiah and think of a time of miracles. To remember the gifts we are given and the power we have. I light the candles in hopes that I will find my miracle someday soon to fill my emptiness. Belly full with sofganiot, i move forward into the desert just as my ancestors did, unsure and apprehensive, yet hopeful and inspired. There is always room to find a miracle inside of emptiness.