Sunday, December 01, 2013

A year in review...

I guess it is ok to write again...even if a year has time like the present...

I guess it is ok, because it's only I that write here so this is my space.

I spend time telling people about the fact that once I had a blog and wrote about my Aliyah experiences, but now I just live here, so there's not much to's just like everyday life, in a different location. Place is however instrumental to our existence.

Now...more than ever, I think most importantly you need to be in a place where you can learn, where you can see that you continue to grow...I still feel that, which is a good thing...after all these years of'd think I would at least get a bit I tend to do is change...yet stay the same...

I always set myself tasks and goals...beyond my capabilities...and end up upset for not achieving them....this could be a simple thing like getting to the post office, picking up dry cleaning, getting the car washed, go for brunch and make dinner for 12 people all in a day...or larger things, I guess the leftovers though help us get up the next day. I sometimes think I like to travel because that moment when you are on a plane...going towards a destination...there is no mind chatter because you can't possibly do anything for that period of time.  Everything is done, yet at the same time, everything is waiting to begin.

I think that's the way I feel about a new year coming, or a year passing...teetering on the edge...letting go of ties but at the same time, waiting to through a rope out to anchor the next port of call.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Conversations on the Staircase

I met some of my neighbours for the first time on the staircase when the first siren went off in Tel Aviv. A friend of mine was visiting from Jerusalem, we were in the middle of dinner and then the whir of alarm was raised.
“Is that here?” I questioned her. “Yes” she replied. We looked at each other a bit shocked and then with a dash of panic I exclaimed “Come, we have a bomb shelter in my building…where the hell is my phone????”

On the way down we bumped into neighbours who I had no idea who even lived in the building as we shuffled into the dusty bomb shelter (miklat) which was full with unwanted furniture and appliances of residents, what else do you do with a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv that hasn’t been used since the Gulf was in 1991?

As we sat there on the floor, one of the neighbours laughed at me for bringing my gas mask, I had no idea what I was doing or how long to even stay down there for, “10 minutes, we’re experts, we came here from Beer Sheba”, it was the daughter of the man in apartment 7, who had come to Tel Aviv to seek some refuge.  Then her daughter, looking distraught expressed her fear “They came after us in Beer Sheba and now they’ve followed us here”.  I tried to calm her down,  “They’re not after you, don’t worry”. She was probably about 6 years old, just like my nephew, and I just thought, it is so wrong that she even has to begin to think those thoughts. What is there to say to say to her?

Then it was over, we went back up to dinner, which was ruined and my friend took that as a polite exit to escape back to Jerusalem. It was 6:40pm in Tel Aviv which meant that my family in Australia with the time difference were all sleeping, everything was alright so I wasn’t going to wake them, but being so far away hits you sometimes and it is frustrating. Facebook exploded with friends updating where they had been, what was going on and I became glued to the social media updates of the IDF and people I know tweeting from “ground zero” in Ashdod (follow @benjidavis and @joshhantman on twitter).

The next day, everything went back to normal. I spoke to many friends, and got many messages and it was really amazing to feel this outpour of love and support.  I was calm. Two days ago when Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’s military wing was assassinated, I re-assured my friend who is visiting from overseas that everything was going to be fine. I was in the safety of the denial of my Tel Aviv bubble. Then the news reported the next day the initiation of the IDF operation ‘Pillar of Defense” and I contacted her to say, I may have been wrong.

A friend called me in hysterics because her husband had been called up to the army and she was alone with her two kids, I tried to reassure her, but there wasn’t anything really to say. This is war now. Just in case, on the way home I bought some bottled water and canned food from the supermarket, you know, just as a precaution, I told myself I was just doing it  just because my mother told me to, nothing was actually going to happen.

When that first siren sounded, I guess it was a wake up call. When the second one went off that was when the real bubble burst.

Friends cancelled on Friday night dinner to stay in Modiin and Jerusalem. I just carried on, they tried to convince me to come to them for Shabbat, but I wanted to have my dinner at my place.  I didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted to be exactly where I was, because this is where I live. “What would you do if there were sirens in Jerusalem?” I challenged her, “I would probably do the same as you and stay”. She didn’t know that the siren would go off in Jerusalem as well just after Shabbat, for the first time since 1970.  Now there’s nowhere to go.

As I sat for the second time in the bomb shelter, this time I met Nurit from apartment 17. She is about my age, living with her boyfriend. We exchanged pleasantries, and from my accent she enquired where I was from originally. When I answered “Australia” she responded with “What the hell are you doing here? Go back there!”, she is originally from Kiryat Motzkin, which is just above Haifa and suffered from the tirade of rockets from Lebanon in 2006. She started complaining, “I can’t deal with this, I just want to leave and go to Thailand”.  Usually I am really dismissive when Israeli’s question my motives for making Aliyah, and I throw it back at them with “Why are you still here?” now however, for the first time, sitting in my bomb shelter, I understand. They don’t want to live in fear, they also want to live in a country where they can go out and not check where the nearest shelter is before leaving their apartment. Where the only alarm heard at school is the bell for recess.

Then I started catching myself thinking, I better finish cooking quickly for Shabbat, not because it’s going to start soon, but because I don’t know if I am going to be interrupted and have to go down to the shelter again. I started thinking, if it would be safe for me to go walking along the promenade by the beach that stretches North of Tel aviv, because it’s all open area and there is no shelter, I guess I’ll just follow everyone else if something happens, the thing is though, Tel Avivans’ don’t really know what to do. Every little sound starts to get me a bit on edge, my neighbour using their vacuum cleaner, the sound of an ambulance. I started to taste a bit of that fear and it was foreign, it was strange and I couldn’t digest it. I refuse to.

There’s a saying in Hebrew when you bump into someone for the third time by accident “Third time, ice-cream”, meaning that after 3 times, you should probably set a date to hang out properly because it’s no longer a coincidence. The entrance to my building is usually locked, but I had opened it, because friends were coming over for Seudah Shlishit. As we piled into the bomb shelter downstairs, I noticed a girl I know from Australia there and I was surprised “What are you doing in my building?” I asked, “I came in off the street” She replied, which she wouldn’t of been able to do if I hadn’t had unlocked it previously. Now the bomb shelter is the place of refuge and meeting for long lost acquaintances too.

Back in my lounge room a friend recounted how her husband had been called up yesterday and had left with his commander. Last night at 4:30am, there was banging on her door. It was the army demanding to know where he was. She told them he had left already. They told her that he hadn’t been answering his phone. Being Shabbat, she didn’t know what to do, because there was no point in her calling him, if he hadn’t been answering and she didn’t have the number of his commander. The army messenger left her with the call up papers in her hand, and she as a consequence was a bit worked up, especially after being in South Tel Aviv near where the first two rockets landed, both times, she was understandably distressed.  As more and more people that I know are being called to war, we all sit at home and wonder, how long is this going to last? What is going to happen next? What do we do? Something that the residents of the South have been going through since 2005 when we evacuated Gaza.

Enough is enough.


The IDF Operation “Pillar of Defense” in Hebrew is called “Amud Ha’anan” referring to the cloud of Glory that guided the Jews in the Desert after the exodus from Egypt.
 Rashi asks “Who is the emissary, the pillar of cloud? It is Hashem, in his glory who is guiding them” Shemot 21:13
ומי הוא השליח עמוד הענן? והקדוש ברוך הוא בכבודו מוליכו לפניהם"
- רש"י , שמות י"ג:כ"א

He who watches over Israel never, slumbers nor sleeps psalm 121:4
הִנֵּה לֹא יָנוּם וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל תהלים קכ"א 4

Hashem, please guard over those who are defending Israel, those who are affected by the terror and fear of Hamas and spread your canopy of peace over all of Israel.

To Support Israel:
Like the IDF on facebook:
Follow them on twitter: @idfspokesperson
Donate to the Israel Trauma Center for victims of terror and war:
Donate to the Lone Soldier Centere:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yom Hazikaron

Usually I go to the Yom Hazikaron (Memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror) at the Kotel (Western Wall), but since I moved to Tel Aviv, this year I went to a service in English the day before to commemorate soldiers that had fallen who had made Aliyah and שירים בכיכר רבין songs in Kikar Rabin last night.

I think the thing that hit me in both services as stories were told was that, all the soldiers were so strong in their zionist values and support for the state of Israel, they all really wanted to serve the country and defend it. Their tragic untimely deaths though, are not what they should be known for, the lives and values they espoused. We need to remember their lives and not just commemorate their deaths.

The Story of Michael Levin obviously stands out to me because I knew him, and it is always amazing to me, amongst Anglos, how many people will come up with some sort of connection to him. In the shuk (market) in Jerusalem, there is a plaque to him in a famous bakery shop marzipan where he used to go to buy chocolate rugelach and I can whenever I go there and see that sign, it reminds of me of how one person can touch so many, even the shop owners that he interacts with.

Another story that was told, was that of Alex Singer:

The song that stood out for me the most at the ceremony was that of Zehava Ben originally called "forbidden love" but is also performed under the name "what will be", here is a version with some Enlgish lyrics:

As I drive to work I pass a military cemetary and today when I saw soldiers going inside, the morbid thought, crosses my mind, do they ever consider their fate as being's so crazy to think about these things...and the way this country functions....that tonight we will go out and celebrate our independance immediately after commemorating the sacrifices...It's re-affirming. It's a complicated emotional process, and it is one that everyone shares, everyone has a story. It's so sad, but it's how we live here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shabbat Etiquette

I have said for a long time, that one day I will write a book jsut about Friday night dinners...
Basically since we are all away from our families, we gather together on friday nights for group dinners, and eat with friends instead...but, who is invited? Who is bringing what? There is a whole etiquette that goes along with these meals...

Last week has seen the parting of four good friends (two couples) returning to America because they want to be closer to their family and also for job prospect's always hard when friends leave since you put in so much effort to make friendships...

We had our last suppers (friday night dinners) to say goodbye...and just to give you an insight into the antics, I am going to copy an email sent by one of the hostesses beofre the dinner, an insiders look into what goes on at these meals..

"If I am not mistaken you are all coming! Yay! If this is incorrect, please let me know.
We are saying 6:30. good?
address: no.30 1st floor (meaning go in the front door and up 1 flight). Please keep the front door a tad open bc it locks automatically from the inside.

If human behavior is in fact predictable, the night should go something like this:
First course will be some oogling and oggling at ben and ziggy and Shelley's newest shoes as Gila assigns seats for everyone and proposes an icebreaker for those who don't know each other. (Please come prepared with What is your favorite "Shit people say" video.) Followed by mike challenging pex to a drinking context (ariel will win). Yosef will prompt special guest star marni urman to tell us new developments in the field of the female vagina and will share the latest hippest shaving patterns. Elad will vehemently argue any point anyone makes until and after Susi tells him to fuck off. Shira will laugh at EVERYTHING as she mixes girly drinks for the chicks at the table (What can you do with Kahlua, Amarulla, mint chocolate, bailey's and lemoncello?) The parents at the table are bound to get into a descriptive discussion about their boy's poops which Elad will no doubt compare to his own. Eliane has been food coma shluffin on the sofa since some time mid-challah course and susi has started on dishes by now as well. For desert we will discuss the correct pronunciation of the word, "drawer" (hint: er is silent), Gila will reveal the correct pronunciation for her name (hint: the i is silent), and who can imitate Adina's accent best (hint: me). Mike will remind the table that in Texas woman and Mexicans are also forced to sit in the back of the bus which will prompt Marni to recite her Vagina Monologue... naked (What?!) I am attempting to make everything with consideration to Yosef's and Dave's allergies, Elad's stomach issues, and Shira's phobia of chicken on the bone (I remember!). (Dave-are you allergic to walnuts and/or almonds? If so, please bring your own dinner. Joking (mostly), but are you?) We have benched (maybe) and everyone is leaving. Yosef-hurry up and finish your food. The moment 3 stars appear in the sky sat night Shelley will post something nostalgic and witty on facebook about fri night and Eli Gurock will comment on it. Marni and Shira-Facebook is a social network which allows people who live far away from each other to maintain contact and keep updated with each other's lives...Please sign up so I can see your pretty faces!

Damn! Did I just roast you all right before I leave? LOVE YOU ALL! Tal Bagels brunch tomorrow ? Just Kidding!

<3 Talia"

Gonna miss them....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


A friend who used to live in Israel, came back for a visit...
We sat down, and I asked him if he missed Israel?
He said that coming back has made him realise all the reasons why he left and that he made the right decision to go back to New York...all the little things like lack of customer service and that everything here is a challenge, a struggle and he jsut wants everythign to work the way it's supposed to. Not that his life is any picnic, he is doing a Masters and running a restaurant or two which comes with its own set of ordeals...

I thought about it for a I an idiot for staying, the way he describes it, it makes me think twice...why am I still here, why struggle in another language, and try to break barriers that don't even exist in Australia...

I thought about it...and...I guess those are exactly the reasons why I stay and why I am proud whenever I do achieve something, because I could do all the exact same things in Australia, but isn't it cool that I am doing them in Israel instead...that is the challenge, that is the dream...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shit Anglos in Israel Say

My friend Yosef is so talented:

I got a new years message from someone that I didn't expect to and it made me smile :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Xnuka

I had a fun week making Latkes for my girls, and buying things for my apartment.
Now I get to prepare for my Chanukat Bayit B'Chanukah (Housewarming on Chanukah).
There's lots of variations of Seasons Greetings going around so I thought I would add one into the mix that I stole from a friend (Thanks Jeremy if you're reading).

Looking forward to lots of celebrations in the year to come, so much fun!