Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Israel Reflections

Posted: January 8, 2012 in Israel
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Jaffa Gate. I took this photo on one of my many walk through the area.

I sit here now on the F train at 5am. I just finished shooting for 4 days, the last of 9 days of principal photography for a film I played lead in. As is always when completing a large, intense project I feel exhilarated, exhausted and most of all reflective. Listening now to some of the music I listened to often in Israel, my thoughts turn to that time in my life.

Admittedly it was a time of intense change, thought and confusion, but most of all it was the birth place of a dream. A dream so vague, so wonderful, yet so unattainable. I remember going to visit my friend from Venezuela who at the time was learning in Chevron. We’d meet up at his dorm, go catch a movie where I’d learned that if a movie had Deniro or Al Pacino in it yes, we’d go see it. (We saw Righteous Kill.)

I’d watch as he flirted with the cute cashier, experiencing my first taste of freedom. Of something different. We’d go back and chill at his dorm, chain smoking and generally bullshitting the night away.

The walk back to the bus at 7am. I’d be listening to the music that I have on now and I’d realize I just wanted to be somebody. I wanted to express myself.

I had an urge, a desire for something better.

I had a will for life. To really live, for the first time.

It was the time of intense yearning for something I could not have. Or could I? Years later it makes for some pleasant memories. Surprisingly so. While I spent 6 months depressed over a girl chainwatching movies on my iPod touch and was overall highly emo, I became – well I became…me.
And for that, I am thankful.

I love subways. Put two native New Yorkers in an enclosed space, virtually take away their cell phones, and interesting shit happens. That’s why i love the subway. Something about looking out at the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn bridge through grimy, scratched-up windows of a rickety subway car on a hot summers day has tempers and perhaps hormones flying.

Trust me on that last one.

A few weeks ago, while coming back from work, which is no longer in DUMBO, I walk onto a train car and sit down next to…a cute girl. No I wasn’t creeping; it was the only empty seat. Or one of the last 50 empty seats.

Whatever.

Some dude walks up to me, leans over and softly whispers in my ear “Can you help me out, perhaps spare 50 cents?” Now THAT’S creepy. I didn’t give him the money.

Needless to say, she overheard and thus began our conversation about NY, homeless people and jobs. Subject of nationality came up, I asked her if she was black, and she said no, she’s white, and Jewish. I should’ve known. Anyway we’re talking about whatever two people talk about on a subway, which is usually meaningless banter, except by now she knows my background; the average white guy doesn’t know names of girls seminaries in Israel unless he’s been there, done that.

Been there. Done that. Get it?

Nah I kid, the worst (best?) that I did in Israel was get drunk with friends. And without. And not much more. Long story, wrong forum.

Back to this girl. I’m talking to her, and I’m staring at her. Now I can’t figure out why, I mean I know she’s cute, but I’m looking at her because something about her is familiar. [insert creep horror movie soundtrack here]

She gets a text from Jonathan. Ya I saw her screen. How else would I know? It was at that moment that I looked at her, and almost in what seemed to me slow motion, I said you’re dating Jonathan So-and-so! [Inner wheels in my brain screech to a halt. That’s my dudes girl here. Whoa. Backtrack, reboot. Whoops?]

Silence.

“Your name is Leona, or Leora…Kaplan”

“Yes, my names Leora Kaplan!”

“Ya, your boyfriend, who’s a friend of mine, (whom I only met twice in my life…) has your face as his profile picture.”

Now I’m really not the Facebook stalker type. I don’t recognize people before I meet them. That’s some Inception shit right there.

(Although I just yesterday recognized someone I’d seen briefly, by putting her first name and the person who mentioned her first name together with memories of a certain Racheli who’d been dating an English friend of mine two years ago…maybe I have a knack for names. I should be a private investigator.)

But hey, it’s NYC. It’s the subway.

We spent the next 10 stops marveling over how in a city of 9 million people, I bump into the one person that I don’t know, and recognize.

Oh, and both of you, “Leora and Jonathan”, next time you come to my neighborhood I’ll get a few friends together and we’ll all reminisce about the old times. Whatever old times you want.

“Stand clear of the closing doors please. The next stop is 34th Street.”

Encounters 3, 4 and 5 will be combined into one post. Stay tuned later this week.

What’s your take?

It was only a matter of  time before some Rabbi blamed the Tsunami and Nuclear disasters in Japan on someone not eating kosher in Brooklyn….

Here goes:

“Rabbi David Twersky, leader of the Rachmastrivka Hasidic dynasty, says the recent tsunami in Japan, which has left thousands of people dead, was the result of the arrest of two yeshiva students by Japanese authorities after being convicted of smuggling drugs.

“The Japanese don’t understand why they keep on receiving blow after blow, and it never ends. If they want it to stop, they must release the two guys jailed in their prison immediately, and then experience salvation,” the rabbi told his followers last week during a Purim celebration in Jerusalem.

Haredi website Ladaat reported that the Rebbe asked for the names of the two jailed men and said a prayer for their immediate release. “Amen,” the audience responded.

The Purim tish (Photo: Aharon Baruch Leibovitch, Ladaat.net)

The yeshiva students were arrested in an airport in Japan in April 2008, in possession of a suitcase with some 90,000 Ecstasy tablets. The detainees’ lawyers claimed at the time that the young men were victims of a ‘sting’ and were tempted with money, but the two were convicted the following year.

One of the detainees, a minor, was sentenced to eight years in prison, and Israel submitted a request to have him transferred back to the country.

The Rachmastrivka Hasidic dynasty is one of the biggest and most famous Hasidisms, with thousands of followers and many affiliates. It has two centers – one in Jerusalem and one in Borough Park, New York.

Ahead of the Hasidic celebration last week, huge screens were placed near the Torah study house in Jerusalem, and the tish was broadcast live due to the density inside the building.”

My thoughts: Many in the religious world reverted ethically and morally back to the dark ages when we began placing too much trust in rabbis. Immorality isn’t solely based on the length of a woman’s skirt; it’s about respecting other people as equals. Placing value on the heads of two Yeshiva students to the point where he can suggest the death of thousands is punishment…well that Rabbi has issues, and I pity him, and thousands like him.


"In Memory of the 5 Family Members from the Settlement of Itamar Who Were Killed In Cold Blood"

Itamar Family Massacre. No need to post a link, because if you haven’t heard about it, shame on you. Not much to say. A animal goes in to the home of another person and slits the throats of both parents, a 3 month old baby and two other siblings.

As a child I used to ask my mom who gave the Nazis the “right” to kill people. I couldn’t understand that there were people who would violate the basic right of living on this planet – that is to respect anothers right to live.

Some things I can’t relate to, but I understand that there is an explanation. Say soldiers who won’t be afraid to die in battlefield, or maybe they will be, but nonetheless they’ll go out and fight. I can’t quite grasp how fear doesn’t overtake them, but then again, I’m not a soldier for that reason.  I understand that others are different than I may be, have different fears, hopes, dreams. Different things make them happy, fulfilled.

But certain keep on reading

While I’m on the topic of the evils of drinking I figured I’d make a list of different scenarios in which different people have a drink…or two…or ten.

1. Yeshiva Guy Headline Whore:

Age: 10-19

Favorite Activity: smoking and talking about the time Yanky’s older brother beat up a goy. Oh, and he also likes to brag about how long it takes his Yeshiva to get through an amud gemara.

Drink of Choice: alcohol. Doesn’t matter what type, he barely knows a beer from a kettel one with 3 limes.

Time of Drinking: Purim and by his brother Yerucham’s siyum. He finished gantz seder nashim! (can’t blame him- must’ve gotten sick of cows goring fat pregnant chics, figured he’d get into some steamy girl stories. With Rabbi’s students getting off under their Rabbi’s bed watching him fuck his wife. Nasty. But I’ll parody the different gemara stuff another post.

Most likely to be wearing: The younger guys: Nike sneakers, dark dockers and a polo- maybe ralph Lauren, more likely Tommy or maybe even Hollister for the realll cool guys.

Older guys: white shirt, tzitzis, black pants and huge yarmulka. hat and jacket goes without saying. Or maybe not, if he’s a hocker.

Motive: Bragging rights. Heck, maybe he’ll get into the Yated for landing himself in the hospital.

2. Oiveid Hashem:

Age: 14-40

Favorite activity: The fact that your even asking vos ich hub leeb tzu tun, is mamesh a geferlecheh chillul hashem! The only thing vos a yeshiva man want, the most important zach i deh velt vus mir ken tun, iz tzu lernen der eibeshters heiligeh heligeh torah ayayayy…

Drink of Choice: wine or schnapps.

Time of Drinking: Purim is the only time a year that ah mentch is shayach to reach the kedusha oof Yom Kippur! And even better vibalt it’s durch simcha! Nichnas yayin yatzah soid! Ah! Moiiiiredig! Chayav inish livisoomay bipoorayah ad diloh yada! And the Mitzvah is only with wine…

Also noch davening shabbos morning at the kiddush, a shot or two of bourbon never hurt anyone…

Most likely to be wearing: wrinkled white shirt, black shiny dress pants and mismatched black jacket. Dusty used-to-be-black but turned grey brimmed down hat. Shoes scuffed and ugly.

Motive: Ah mentch darf nisht hubben ah ta’am far deenin der eibeshter.

3. Dude in Israel for Shana Alef or Bet:

Age:17-20

Favorite activity: Depending on which Yeshiva he went to (also for another post) either going to Zolly’s and getting blowjobs in the bathroom or fucking the shit out of the yeshivish looking sem girl in his dorm room. But they’ll always be sure not to get caught…might ruin the chics shidduch chances. Ha- that slut will be wearing short shorts and tank tops within 6 weeks of getting back from Israel.

Drink of Choice: Hooka. Oh, its not a drink? Well some pot in the hooka mixed with some vodka redbull ain’t too bad a deal.

Time of Drinking: best is straight out of bed, after you manage to push her off you and realize you have a pounding headache and no memories of how or when you ordered pizza. And why it’s moldy is another question, for another time. And best thing for a hangover as they say is more beer. Can’t hurt, that’ for sure. Usually warm beer from a half drunk can which probably was last touched by the lips of the girl you just climbed out from under. And shes also the cause of all that goddam itching. Good luck brotha!

Most likely to be wearing:

Option 1: Baggy khakhis, rumpled t-shirt, naots.

Option 2: Jeans, untucked american eagle shirt, naots.

Option 3: Black pants, used to be starched untucked white shirt and crocs, probably dark in color. Or maybe bright orange. Depends- on what? I dunno.

Motive: survival, buddy, survival.

4. Post Israel Barely Religious Dude

I like ti call these guys Frum But Not Religious. They don’t keep anything but still go places for shabbos and eat at mainly kosher establishments even tho they’ll be using their cell phones on shabbos and have bacon egg and cheese on the way to Atlantic City if they somehow missed stopping at Dunkin on 18th.

Age: 20-24

Favorite Activity: Titties. And don’t tell me that’s not an activity. Better than Christmas!

This guy drinks alot:

Time of drinking, drink of choice and motive: A. House party, flat beer from a keg and jack and coke, getting with the drunk slut. Read drunk slut in the plural form. As in when I talk  to 300 ppl at once and say “you”. And btw who the fuck said there has to be a motive??

B. Club, Vodka cranberry orange juice, getting with- well anything that moves and has boobs. Cuz most guys end up paying through the roof for those drinks, unless they have a hookup ( I know I do, many actually :p) so they must be desperate at that point. Like my friend said- fat chics are great for one thing- giving great blowjobs, well cuz they know how to eat!

C. Hooka bar: don’t get me started.

Most likely to be wearing: Fitted t or nice shirt. Jeans, brown pointy shoes with dragon designs on the front.

5. Post Party Day Ex Yeshiva Rebel:

Age: 25-30

Favorite Activity: Making money. Loads of money. And then some.

Time of Drinking: After work on random nights at high end hotel bars where they play soft music and in the movies some hooker always sits down and with the look of a shrewd business woman, softly whispers something in his ear while her hand…I’m getting carried away, dammit.

Drink of Choice: Scotch on the rocks. Something golden in a nice glass should do the trick.

Motive: so much stress can only be relieved one way…

Most likely to be wearing: Armani suit, shirt and dress shoes. And if he used to be satmar….he probably still has his bluetooth in…

Dear Sister,

We have a cousin living in Israel. Really small girl, 5’1″ maybe 5’2″ and very slight. 21 years old, married for a year. Grew up on the West Coast.  Her husband learns and either she works or they’re supported by his/her parents; money is no issue. Probably a mixture of the two.

She started having seizures a few hours after giving birth. We received an email saying we should pray for her. The situation wasn’t looking up and they added a name in the morning. Her life was hanging on by a thread.

Friday night I went to a party here in the city. Sitting in a pub beforehand eating dinner I receive a text from you, asking where I was eating the meal that night. I wasn’t in the mood of engaging in a philosophical debate with you, my narrow minded sister, while in an Irish pub. I wanted to tell you that no time was a good time to be the object of your mission to make me religious. So I told you I was eating with friends.

You asked about the food, was it kosher. I said I hadn’t asked. And no, I don’t like lying but you seem to think you’re the Grand Inquisition Inc.

And then you stepped over the line. Her text read:

“Wonderful. Scoring points w/the big One. sorry that ur cousins life suddenly hanging by the thread in matter of minutes earlier this wk wasnt enough to prove that there Someone running the world. But i’ll stop waxing philosophical cuz i better shut phone since I for one AM ‘doing shab and kosher!’ enjoy!”

After telling you you’re  far too quick to judge you responded:

You’re right. I shouldn’t judge and I have a way to go myself. But stop pretending you come from a diff background than me!!

How dare you.

The fucking audacity to insinuate I was completely unshaken by what had happened.  As if the natural and only response to near tragedy is to become more religious. So dear sister, get off your goddamn high horse.

You ‘for one’, can react to events out of our control by completing Tehillim (Psalms) every day, be more holy than everyone else, eat your kosher Challah, Gefilte fish and chicken soup lisheim shamayim (for the sake of heaven) and resolve to never forget to say the evening shema. I’ll react in my own, private way. It may not include anything you’d respect, but it isn’t me who has to earn your respect. Sister.

http://www.moderntribe.com

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My friend posted on facebook asking where she should move. I said “Gaza, I heard they have an awesome beach”. She responded it was too far. I said “I heard there is another ship headed out, you can hitch.” This dude comments ” Don’t listen to that communist jew bastard! Miami is where it’s at!” I right away wrote ” noone. calls. me. a. communist. jew. bastard. You have something to vent, i’ll give you my address.” A few people called that guy out.

He later responds: “Sorry I just got offended by jokes being made about the nine people being killed in international waters trying to provide humantarian aid to 2 millon displaced refugees. I just didn’t think that was very funny. Israels greatest threat is knowledge I guess I’m a loser because I read books!” I responded to him: “It’s a naval blockade during which they could have followed directions and had the supplies delivered after they had been checked by security yet they intentionally chose to be confrontational.”

What I really wanted to say was: My cousins- the ones evacuated from Gaza 5 yrs ago are the displaced refugees. The people who moved in their place- they unfortunately have leaders who shelled sderot and the beach where people were trying to relax on. They also blew up the bus my cousins father in law was on, killing him. So we, Israel, locked them in and cut off supplies. Its called an embargo. Noone tries to bring aid of any sort there. If they do- we stop them. And we do feel sorry for the activists we killed, but they tried to smash our brains out as we turned the boat away.