Sunday, December 31, 2006

Caught on Camera

My desire to blog is dead, and for a long time has been replaced with my eye for photography. I have uploaded four new albums to my flickr account this week, and I am proud of some of the results.

Please check my flickr to see the rest.

For the Miracle
For the Miracle
Chanuka at the Kotel, from the Album Great Shots from Dec/06.

הפרוייקט של עידן רייכל
Idan Raichel Project
Live at the Ma'abada, Dec 30 2006, from the Album Idan Raichel Project Dec/06.

Fire Dance
Street Poi
Emek Refaim Chanuka Street Festival, from the Album Chanuka & Winter Dec/06.

Apartment Bock
Goodbye 118a
Taking time capture my old apartment before moving, from the Album Moving Home Dec/06.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

White (post) Christmas

As I through Gan Sacer on the way to work two days ago, the park was dusted with frost. The trees were swaying gently in the morning air and my breath drifted in front of me as I walked. Jerusalem was ready for a crisp, clean winters day. Later than expected, it felt like winter, and of course, there was talk of snow.

As I jumped on the bus on the way to work this morning, the skies were grey. Water was gushing along the roads and I was covered from head to toe in various plastic garments. Braced with the confidence of Aquaman, I got on the bus and there was still talk of snow.

There was no snow. The day off was cancelled, and off to work we went.

All the Jerusalemites in the office were constantly in touch with friends back in the city, IM reports advised us of the weather, and the final say was left up to Kotel Cam. As it 3pm, we decided to head home so to avoid the traffic. As we travelled along Route 443 the rain was constant, until we peaked on a hilltop, and everything in front of us was white.

The next few months look to be predictably wet. The snow has already started to melt and scared Israeli drivers are getting used to the wet reality. Winter is truly here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holy Mount

Holy Mount
Holy Mount,
originally uploaded by BritishYosef.
A small selection of Chanuka pictures are now online over at my flickr -

Check them out, I know I am biased but there are some pretty good shots there.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Internet and Phone Options

This post is something of a reference point. I have a reputation for knowing about phone and internet packages, and over the last week, five or six people have asked me for my point of view as they sign up or renew their communications bundle.

If you're new in the country, or just unsure how it works, I hope to break it down right here. This information is from memory and will probably go out of date, but right now, it's fresh stuff.

Bezeq Telephone Lines: Israel currently has two options for landline phones. You can go with tradition and order a Bezeq line, with your regional area code (02, 03, 08 etc) and pay something in the region of 50NIS a month for line rental, and pay per minute for calls. If you are a light user, they have a package called "Kav Kal" for 25NIS. Good if you just want an incoming line but not to good for normal phone use as per-minute calling is more expensive.

HOT Telephone Lines: The other (and IMHO better) option, is a landline through the cable company HOT. You do not need to be a cable customer to order a line. Rather than having a geographical prefix, your line will start with 077. If you move, you can take the number with you, even if you move to another city. They offer much better value for money too. Your line rental of 49NIS/month includes 2000 minutes of free landline calls, to Bezeq and HOT lines, so you know how much your bill will be. Extra minutes are 0.12NIS a minute, and cell calls are charged at 0.49NIS which is less than most cell plans.

If you want to reduce the line rental, you can have a plan for 10NIS less and have your minutes allowance reserved just for HOT 077 lines.

Alternatively, you can order a low user plan which is somewhere between 10-15NIS, and pay 0.12NIS/0.49NIS for landline/cell calls throughout the country.

Internet Service: I have a feeling Israel does this differently too, but I never order internet in the UK. In order to have an internet connection here, you need to order two things. You need the capability to run the internet, and then a service provider. These are going to be from two different companies.

The capability, or internet line, can be purchased from either HOT or Bezeq. As far as I am aware, Bezeq will make you order a landline as well as an internet line. HOT come up trumps here too and let you just order the internet line. They do give discounts (5NIS/month) to TV subscribers, but nothing to write home about.

One you have the capability to run the internet in your home, you then need to order the service, know as the Sapak. You are free to choose who you order this from. Netvision has a good repuation, and at the moment (12/12/06) have an for HOT customers. I use Bezeq Ben Leumi/014 (who are not the same company as Bezeq the phone company) as my Sapak, but when you call to order, haggle. Tell them you got a cheaper deal with another company, they will usually drop the price.

Useful contacts:
HOT - 1800 077 077 -
Bezeq (phone company) -
Netvision - 1800 017 017 -
Bezeq Ben Leumi - 1800 014 014 -
012 - 1800 012 012 -
Smile - 1800 200 300 -

Summary: This information is a result of my own experience and research. I personally use HOT for my telephone and internet services and am very pleased with the services I recieve. This doesn't mean Bezeq don't do a good job, I just have no experience with the company. After number crunching, I believe HOT will save you money.

Try it and see what happens, and please feel free to reference this article to anyone changing their service or new in town. Hat Tip to Natan for suggesting I this online.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

First Steps

Did I mention I signed the lease for my new apartment?

It seems like the last two months have been busy with the self imposed apartment hunting, and as glad I am to be moving next week, I realised that really am going to miss the neighbourhood that I am leaving. Baka has been my home since my second week in Israel. Five months at Ulpan Etzion were followed by a move round the corner in a shopping cart. Eighteen months later, I have accumulated much more, received a lift, and got hold of furniture. It's going to take more than a shopping cart to carry out this move.

While I do have many good friends in the area I am moving to, and numerous on the same street, I am going to miss the Derech Bet Lechem crowd that I have discovered over the last four or five weeks. At least my new place is just a half hour walk away. By this time next week I will imagine I will have boxes scattered all over the place and be cursing the decision to move.

Aliya is all about stages. The first year is said to be the worst, although that wasn't the case for me. In one respect my move will mark the beginning of a new chapter and as my second anniversary in Israel fast approaches, trying something new seems appropriate.

This week I accomplished a few other things for the first time. I now carry an international MasterCard, that can be used both in Israel and abroad. For those of you reading this from other countries, this will not sounds like much of a feat, but banking here is not like the Western world, thus my MasterCard is noteworthy.

In four days, nine hours and ten minutes, the Goralah HaGadolah will be drawn, and after hearing the חמישים מילליום הלוואי עלי jingle during every commercial break on TV and radio, I caved and purchased a lottery ticket. I approached the orange lottery selling booth in the middle of the street, and instantly felt like an oleh. Playing the lottery is not difficult, but when you have never done it before, you have to find out how. It transpires that it is just like the National Lottery in the UK, same coloured tickets and all, but the interaction was one of a kind.

My third first of the week actually happened before the other two. A friend of mine held a viewing for his Hitnatkut movie. Since the Disengagement of 2005, not much has been said or done to bring it to my attention, but this piece was great. If I get round it it, I will post my feelings of the political sham we are witnessing and describe my dislike of Olmert and the danger he poses to Israel, but for now, let me just say the documentary I watched was an excellent piece of Media.

Another week is coming to a close, Thursday night is party night, Shabbat is for the recovery, and next week I really need to start packing.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Stand Up Comedy and a Torah

I've got quite into Israeli TV over the last week. Other than a great wait to maintain my grasp of the language, it's cheaper than spending a few nights a week nurturing a chetzi in a bar, and supermarket beer is much cheaper. Last night's "The Day That Was" on Channel 10 covered topical stories from Israel, and the Jewish world, including the headline "Does this video show the Lubavitcher Rebbe is actually still alive".

Tonight will be a stint of Adi Ashkanazi, her humour, although sometime tasteless, is a great way to start the weekend.
As you fly into Paris, you have a view of the Eiffel Tower. In Venice, the beauty of the canals. As El Al starts to descend over Tel Aviv, all you see are Dudei Shemesh (water heaters), and you think וואי, ברור שיש שם מים חמים!
Channel 10's televised version of the BBC Radio show "Whose Line is it Anyway" was full of Israeli/Jewish jokes, be it making fun of Ashkenazim or throw away lines of scripture or prayer to enhance the script. Being a less observant Israeli-Jew is clearly different from being a less-observant Diaspora-Jew, and it is clear to me which will hold on to their heritage in the long run.

YNet, one of Israels leading daily papers and news websites were carrying a story that a friend forwarded to me this morning, write a commemorative Sefer Torah via the internet. I normally delete the forwards as I get them, but this time the email grabbed me.

Ot Ba'Torah (literally, A letter in the Bible - website plays music when loaded so be warned if you're at work. English version here) are offering the oppertunity to write a letter in a Torah Scroll. The completed scroll will be donated to soldiers to mark Israel's sixtieth anniversary in a few years time. Each letter costs just 18NIS (US$4) and if you get in their early, you could probably find yourself a verse of group of words that means something to you.

We live in a world enveloped in technology, what can be better than when this technology feeds you items of interest, and are not scared to poke holes in everything around them. For those of you who (speak Hebrew and) own a TV, check out Adi Ashkenazi on Channel 2 at 9.00pm tonight for a brutley honest view of Israel, then go spend a couple of bucks on a letter in a Torah Scroll.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Photos

Two new albums are online over at my flickr account. You can see them photos of David & Sarah's wedding, and other random snaps from the last few weeks.

Work has calmed down, the apartment hunt looks like it is over, watch this space, and my laptop blew up. Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Office Space

I've got a pretty good job. I can't complain about the salary or colleagues. Conditions are great and, within reason, I have a lot of flexibility. We're a department that get on well socially, and glue excellently professionally. The only down side has to be the daily commute.

Today was different.

For the first time since I joined the company, probably around seven months ago, work was not fun. Sure, there are days that the work is dull, but that's what the internet is for. Today I left work feeling like it was a different office.

Perhaps too many people came to the end of their tether, or maybe the straw that broke one camels back gave license for the entire herd to stampede, but by the time we closed the frosted glass doors behind as and descended in the elevator, we were pleased to be out of there.

All workplaces have office politics. Perhaps it is better that these releases occur on a smaller, yet more regular basis rather than getting bottled up and having a department wish the day had never happened.

I am hopeful that it was just today. On the other hand, a guard has been let down, a charade may have been dropped, and rather than this being a frustrated release, I am worried of this becoming the new face of the workplace.

Midweek is passing us, the week is almost over. Roll on Thursday so we can party and put all this behind us.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Sex and this City

I just deleted a post about this weeks Gay Pride march. I am going to save my thought till after the event, then may, or may not, publish them. What I will say is this.

Jerusalem may be the holy city, but in reality is it just another modern metropolis. Ok, there isn't a train line or 24 hour gas stations on every corner, but Jerusalem is just like many other modern cities round the world. There is a diverse population, a strengthening economy and a strong night life. Judaism has become a very diverse religion, the boundary of acceptable behaviour has been stretched to the point where many can live a secular and religious lifestyle side by side.

Is there really a reason not to allow the Gay Pride event not to take place?

Although I don't feel ones sexuality is something that should be flaunted publicly, be you gay or straight, people like to march, people like to party. Whether or not anyone has the right to hold the march is a different story. If you ask my honest opinion, I would say I would prefer the march not to take place in Jerusalem, primarily because it makes the whole event much more political, but I hope this event is allowed to pass peacefully.

Israel has enough problems, no need to hate other Jews just to prove a point.

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Camera

Pay Up
Pay Up,
originally uploaded by BritishYosef.
After three years of talk, I finally got myself a new camera. My flickr is proudly presenting the results of the test run. Check it out.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Shame about the Landlord

Moving house is meant to be stressful, it's supposed to be a big deal but in the past I have always been lucky. I moved into my current place after friends had an opening, signed a lease six months later, and my landlady and I get on amazingly. I send her money, she fixes things ... walla.

Now I have a moving story.

After seeing five or six apartments on Tuesday, we found the place we liked. Not only did we like the place, but it was ideal. It met all our needs and had more space than we knew what to do with. The location was ideal, right in the heart of Katamon (Palmach) yet set away from the street in a secluded garden. There were two lounge areas, a kitchen, three bathrooms, kitchenette and massive bedrooms. The garden was equally as large, and the neighbouring building was unoccupied so there could be no noise issues.

We negotiated the price and managed to get $200/month off the asking price, and made our deposit and signed an agreement stating the apartment was ours. I went to work on cloud nine. My minds eye had decorated, arranged, invited, partied, and was already living in the new apartment. We gave little thought to the fact the landlord was a little odd, and used words like vibe, karma, jingle and zone way too often.

At 4pm, Mr Landlord "gave me a jingle" on my cell phone and told me the deal couldn't go through. He wasn't giving me any straight answers and started referring outstanding debts, lawsuits, problems with the Vaad Bayit (maintenance officers for the building) and other loose, meaningless statements.

Angry that this deal wasn't going through, I met Mr Landlord to try and get to the bottom of this and make our agreement stand, or at least get the deposit back.

To cut a long story short, Arnona hadn't been paid for three years, water bills for a year, he was being sued, and to top it all off, it wasn't his property to rent out. Mr Landlord was a tenant himself, and wanted to quick cash. IT WASN'T HIS HOUSE! Don't worry, it gets better.

He spent some of our deposit.

By now I have run out of words. I'm dealing with a guy that doesn't have a grasp on logic. His lack of understanding made it acceptable to spend our money, and then return some of it to us when he realised his scam would come back and bite him on the arse later on. The fake landlord guy is eager to return home, someone is coming round to buy his guitars from him, so I figured this worked to my advantage. I was happy to come with, and when the sale went through, I would take some of the guitar money to make up for the money he had stolen. More excuses and white lies... I go back to his house anyway.

Having taking his TZ number, Date of Birth, Bank Details, Friends phone numbers, and another document in which he promised to pay, I wasn't sure what else I could do, so I went to chill at a friends apartment.

A few hours pass and I meet with the friends I am looking to rent with and explain what went down over the last few hours. Fuming, we drive to Mr Landlords house at around midnight and wake him from his slumber to request the stolen money. Half an hour of discussion pass, and he offers collateral. He wants to pay, but can't, so he asks us to walk to the other end of the garden, he unlocks the door and puts his massage table outside, and once we hear the gate close, we can come back up the garden and take it.

There was no violence, no force, and no unnecessary hard feeling. Mr Landlord agreed that this was the right path to take, and last night he called to arrange a meeting to exchange cash for table.

In all honesty, the guy screwed us over, but something deep down made him call it off rather than seeing through his plan. We could have lost up to $8000 to this guy had the deal gone through, but something, somewhere, made him see this was a bad plan. Don't get me wrong, I do not like this man and never want to see him again, but I must give credit where credit is due and be grateful that he called off the deal.

Some people are shocked that something like this would happen in Israel. Other don't (want to) believe that this guy is an American. Personally, I don't think an Israeli would try a scam like this.

Anyway, it is back to the drawing board as far as apartment hunting goes. At least we came out of it with a story to share and a lesson to learn. Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Week(end) that Was

Simchat Torah has traditionally been my least favourite of chaggim. Too many people just use it as an excuse to get drunk and become rowdy and immature. This year wasn't roudy or immature, but I saw the drunkenness from a different light. Plans to go to Efrat were modified and thirty of us headed to Moshav Mevo Modiin for chag.

I am no stranger to The Moshav so I kinda knew what to expect and the inspiration I found on Yom Kippur instilled me as we started hakafot and celebrated the Torah. OK, I don't want to start sounding like a raving hippy, but after a year during which I barely when to shul and was less and less motivated to do the Jewish stuff, but they have some sort of crazy joy that caused that "warm and fuzzy feeling" inside. The climax of the high holy days left me in a good place, and I hope for it to continue.

After shul, we headed to our host's house. The garden had a pagoda set up to keep bugs away from the food, and after the meal, people walked round the moshav, some returned to tents they had pitched wherever they found land, others found a place to crash. Ironically, I slept in a sukka.

I love the city life. I can't imagine not having a supermarket within walking distance or quarter-hourly buses to wherever I need to go, but the Moshav lifestyle is beautiful. Not specifically The Moshav, but the sense of community, safety and security that a close nit community can offer. Everyone has their tafkid, and is there to perform it. When I say it like that, it sounds like creation on a smaller scale.

As the sun set on Simchat Torah and the wine was wearing off, we hit 443 and headed back to Jerusalem. Not only to go home, but for my Birthday Party. Sugar Hill was packed, the bar was pumping, and I surprised, and touched, by how many people showed up to celebrate with me.

In other news, work continues to go nicely and my birthday was marked with a pay rise. We launch the website tomorrow thus the shackles of the Non Disclosure are coming loose. Tomorrow I will check if I am allowed to tell you what I do yet! The day has been long, apartment hunting is exhausting, but I am hopefully about signing a lease tomorrow morning. My 1 November (self set) deadline to move is becoming a reality (If you know of anyone looking to take over a room in a beautiful Baka apartment, send them my way, I need to find a sub letter for my old place).

Shabbat can't come soon enough.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Black Shirt Buddies

Black Shirt Buddies
Black Shirt Buddies,
originally uploaded by BritishYosef.
Just a brief note to let you know I have uploaded pictures from my birthday to flickr and facebook. Check them out at

Hope you all had a great simchat torah, I will share my experience as soon as the hangover wears off ;)

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Five Year Plan

Not only is it the start of a new year for all, but this week brings my own year to another beginning. As sun set on Jerusalem last night and everyone entered their sukkot, my Hebrew Birthday started, and as of Wednesday I will be a year older in the diaspora world too. The New Year and Birthday combo provide an excellent opportunity for a fresh start and new direction, and I am planning to do just that and write myself a new five year plan.

First of all, I will not be going to university this year, instead I intend to sit the psychometri and get into a course I really want to study rather than the options the Hebrew U presented me with. All being well, I know exactly which university and degree I have my eye on, and I even have some back up plans too. I plan to register for a psychometri course and take the test at the first opportunity.

Secondly, I am moving. The time has come for fresh walls and a new living scenario. For now I have ruled out Tel Aviv and wish to relocate within Jeruslaem. Katamon is a large factor in my desire to move. I spend a lot of time walking to and from the neighbourhood, many of my friends live there, and I want to be closer. If you know me well, the chances are you'll have heard another of the big factors behind me wanting to move.

The coming year will give me the chance to work, study and save some cash to aid me through school the year after. All being well, I hope to visit the US this year, and somewhere down the line a visit to the Queen's England might be on the cards. There have been talks of going to Italy and or Amsterdam with friends, but I doubt I will be able to afford four international trips in one year. One thing at a time.

One other change is on the cards. The blog.

For a while I have contemplated an end to my blogging. For now it will be a slowdown. The initial aliya-wow stage had plenty for me to write about, for that reason I want to keep my archives online for anyone seeking aliya information. I know for some this is like a group email delivered to your inbox so I will update every month or so. For more regular contact I guess we'll just have to email or speak to each other!

Technically I am still an Oleh Chadash, but the chadash is wearing off and it is time to change gear. I have found direction and I feel confident that the powers that be will give me the green light. The new year is upon us and I am ready to make it the best year yet.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Shake It

May your Sukkah be filled with warmth and happiness this Sukkot.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Signed, Sealed, Delivered?

Last year it was something new, and to be honest, something I didn't like. This year it was something that I couldn't wait to see again, and yet I will never be able to photograph.

Unlike any other country in the world, Israel stops for Yom Kippur. Schools close, public transport does not run, and even the airport shuts down for twenty five holy hours. Religious or not, Yom Kippur means something, it's either a day spent in the Bet Kenesset [synagogue] fasting, praying and asking for another year, or it's a day spent on the street, riding the bicycle as there are no cars on the roads.

Leaving Shul after a moving Kol Nidre service, Emek Refaim [a main street in Jerusalem] was alive with life as usual, but no cars, no cafe's, no take outs. The entire street, pavement and road [in British pavement means sidewalk], was full of pedestrians and kids on bikes, celebrating chag haofanyim. It's a Kodak moment that will always stay in my mind.

As for Yom Kippur itself, I hope I did good. Ask me in just under a year and I'll tell you how it went! I hope you all had a meaningful day, may all our prayers be answered.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New injury for the New Year

Can't type much, hand hurts. I do have a picture of the gash on my right hand but figured the squeamish might not want to see it. Once again I have had stitches in my right hand, three more bringing the life long total up to eleven.

Nothing as serious as last time, but slicing the fleshy "below the thumb" area on both of my hands with as an apple slicer split as I used it while trying to make apple crumble a few hours before Rosh Hashana earned me a visit to Terem (the emergency clinic).

Went back to work today after watching Series 2 of Lost in a day, quite frankly the house got dull and even though I am pretty useless at work, the Lod scenery really appealed this morning. We'll see about the rest of the week.

One other major update, after much nagging from many people, I managed to join Facebook. Yey?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

שנה טובה

May everyone have a sweet, good year, and days of peace and success.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What I do at Work

My Mate <span onclick=
Due to the confidentiality agreement, I can't really say what I do, but it does involve a very big database, occasional kick about, and all sorts of colloquial office-isms. Right now we're waiting for Moshiach to eat lunch, later we'll have a meeting in the Goldfish bowl.

What really matters is the fact that I really enjoy my job.

When we reached a significant, and secret, landmark, the evening was marked with an office BBQ, the photos of which you can find here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

War Crimes

As I did the morning news crawl, a BBC headline caught my attention As yet, I have not had a chance to crawl through the articles, but I did want to share this screenshot.

BBC Article
NY Times
The Independent
Amnesty International

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

לכל מקום שאני הולך אני הולך לא"י

If I were to blog about every instance of how small this world really is, I would probably need another blog to document the stories. No matter how easy it is to keep in touch, it's not so easy to keep in touch with everyone. People drift apart, lifestyles change, time zones prove to be a barrier, or sometimes you just know you will go separate ways and go for a beer when you end up in the same place again.

Last night I went for goodbye drinks for a mate who has flown back to the UK to carry on with university (will miss you man, come back soon), he too is outgoing and has a large number of friends and the bar we were at was packed. Among the crowd were friends I knew from the UK, someone I met last week that reads this (Hi Sabrena -here's the promised mention), and a load of students from the Hebrew U summer ulpan, one of whom had a very similar sounding name. This similar sounding name is a guy I went to Primary School with back in Brighton and haven't seen since 1993 when he moved to Scotland and I moved to Manchester, and we seem to have a number of common friends.

For Jews all over the world, Israel is the focus. For some, the coincidental meetings are nothing more than chance, others may say this is the fulfilling of the prophecy of in gathering of the exiles, and to be honest, last night made me think of the latter for the first time.

You don't need to be religious, orthodox or even care to have a connection to the land, in fact many of my friends feel coming to Israel makes them less religious, but there is a common bond and a common mission, to live in Israel and Jews from all over the world are coming home. If for some reason you're not planning on moving, now is the time to start considering it.

Friday, September 1, 2006

ושבו בנים לגבולם

For a while I have been mentally composing my farewell blog world post, then a week like this comes along and I have many and "only in Israel" moment or something blog worthy to share. Not having a working computer at home right now makes it more difficult to share my news with the world, but I'll try summarise while I boil eggs in the background.

Sunday was a day of bureaucratic monsters, sorting things out with the university and my ishur [permission] for study from the army was not so straight forward. By Sunday I will know what my plans are for the coming year, or at least I hope. How many times have I said that? One great thing did come out of Sunday, I met a reader. It was lovely to meet S, who studies at Hebrew U ulpan with my mate Josh2, and she gave me some very positive feedback about my blogging and may even have given me the wind I needed to carry on posting. Aliya is difficult, and I wish you Mazal Tov on getting here and the best of luck with it all, call if you need anything.

The work week was long. The product I am working on goes to beta on Monday and there is a lot to do. Not getting into the office at all on Sunday did not help either, but I caught up with a week of long hours. Never before have I seen Lod before 8am! I enjoy my job, I really do, it's another one of those small blessings that could easily go un-noticed if I didn't look around.

As Thursday came around, I was falling asleep at my desk, the twelve hour shift I pulled on Wednesday was followed by a commute, four hour sleep, commute and return to work, but as the weekend rolled in on Thursday afternoon, I headed to Tel Aviv for the Hafgana for our missing boys.

It is close to seventy days since the first kidnapping and the world is doing nothing to aid the return of the soldiers. It reminds me of the UN video tape of the last kidnapping that wasn't released until faces were disguised beyond recognition. Standing in Kikar Rabin at a peaceful demonstration gave me time to think about the land I live in. A country where tens of thousands will give up their evening for three young men. A country that cries the same tears bleeds from the same vein. ושבו בנים לגבולם. I have uploaded a handful of pictures from the demonstration and you can check them out at

A tiring week has been punctuated by all sorts of good news, so Mazal Tov to David Orenstien, Sharon Widdowfield, Natalie Taylor and Devorah Leah Efune, their "s.o.'s" (and families) who all got engaged recently. In addition, the long wait is over and it is a pleasure to wish dotcodotil and his wife a hearty mazal tov on the birth of their first born daughter, Yakira.

May this good news soon be followed by the return of *all* our soldiers that are held in captitvity, and may you have a Shabbat Shalom.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bring our boys home

קיבלתי את זה בדא"ל

ביום חמישי 31/08/2006 תערך עצרת הזדהות עם החטופים. העצרת תתקיים בכיכר רבין, ת"א החל משעה 19:00.

נכוחותם חשובה ביותר ! - מחזירים את הבנים הביתה ! אנא העבירו הודעה זאת לכמה שיותר אנשים ! תודה !

I just recieved the above email, it roughly translates to say: Demonstration for the kidnapped soldiers on Thurs at 7pm at Kikar Rabin, Tel Aviv. Bring our boys home and spread the word.

See you there.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Weddings and Photo's

Mc D's at the Airport
Originally uploaded by BritishYosef.
Just a quick post as shabbat is minutes away. More photos are online on my flickr account, these are from a friends wedding last Monday night. More to come next week, another wedding and a planned trip to Tel Aviv.

Shabbat Shalom!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Photos on Flickr

Every so often I get a call from a friend in the UK to tell me I haven't blogged in a while. Something I am quite aware of, but it was his way of saying "hi, how are you?". There are a few reasons I chose to blog less, one day I might go into them.

Internet obsessions come and go, last summer it was blogger, this year it is facebook, and my current favorite is flickr, and I have been spending time making sure there is more material there. Check out some of my new photos, including a wedding I was at last week, and a lovely Shabbat I just spent at En Gedi, except for the slight sunburn.

It was great to be away for a weekend, no need to cook, and spend two days on tiyulim, in the pool, and simply reading a book. I would highly recommend the Eretz En Gedi resort, this was the second time I have visited the place, and would certainly go back again. It's inexpensive but without compromising on quality.

Work continues to be good and even though we're edging towards the end of the summer, more friends arrive this week and the fun is just beginning.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Worlds View of the Headlines

Three weeks into the escalation on the Northern boarder, everyone has their own theory as to what will be next. Meanwhile, tourists are still enjoying holidays in the centre of the country, and most people have adapted their lives so to keep on living. Some watch the news much more, others self impose a media blackout. In honesty, there is enough out there for you to choose what you want to believe.

Here are a selection of the days headlines:
Fighting to End in Days - Ynet (Israel)
Hopes of Peace Rise - The Times (UK)
UN considers Lebanon truce text - BBC (UK)
IDF to Stay in Lebabnon - Haaretz (Israel)
Fighting Rages as Diplomats debate at UN - CNN (US)
Israeli warplanes strike Beirut as Tel Aviv braces for rocket fire - Middle East Times
Ceasefire? Not so Fast - Ynet (Israel)

The worlds eyes are on Israel, away from Iran, and no one really knows what will happen in the coming days and weeks. As far as I can see, too many civilians have been killed and too many soldiers have died.

War aside, not much has changed in the ten days since I last posted here. I have had a full house with friends here from London, Seattle and San Fran, and tomorrow some more friends from the UK arrive to stay for their summer holidays. Work continues to be good, although I should probably be working rather than writing right now, and the weather is heating up.

On a personal note, things are slowly gearing up for a new chapter in my aliya. University is not far round the corner, and the decision not to move out of my apartment this summer means there is one less thing to worry about until January at least, I just have to focus on making sure the rest of the loose ends tie up nicely.

On Thursday I'll have been here twenty months. Time flies.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Life continues as normal, working in Lod, planning summer with friends here and abroad, and the mid week confusion whether to host or go to friends for Shabbat meals got thrown into the air when I realised four other people are counting on me for meals this weekend. Sometimes the open door policy gets hectic when I don't write down who's coming when!

As normal as life is right now, I did have my first glimpse of "the war" last night. My Mum's neighbour is hosting a family of 8 in his 2.5 room apartment. His guests are his brothers family from the north whose house was hit by a katushya. They fled south to Jerusalem with one bag and are spending their day glued to the television desperate to find out what will be. If anyone in the Baka neighbourhood has any toys suitable for 6, 9 and 12 year old children, drop me an email and I would be happy to pass them on. Two days after loosing their home, life is far from normal for them, and from a personal point of view, it bought this conflict to a new level. Hopefully the safety of the centre of the country will give them the chance they need to rebuild.

Some are anxious, others are calmer. I find it useful not to be glued to the news. I check every few hours, much less than I used to, and keep focused on the day to day. Some may argue that this technique is denial, but I imagine it's healthier than the constant worry every time you hear an irregular bump in the night.

Wait and see seems to be the game to play. What else is there to do?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Northern View

A friend of mine headed north last week to report from Haifa. You can watch his chilling piece here. It seems like the country is split on two fronts. Much of it carries on as normal while others have been forced to move away from their cities to the safer centre of the country.

Last night, Jerusalem city centre was full of youngsters enjoying the last night of the weekend, the contrast between this piece and the day to day life I am living is astounding.

Shavua Tov.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"The Situation"

It's about time I shared my views on the "situation", ten days in, I have had plenty time to think, aclimatise and adjust to the reality.

In moving to Israel, you know you're moving to a region that can kick of at any moment, and sure thing, it has. Overnight the boarder was transformed into a conflict. Families in the north are experiencing something we have never endured before, and a wave of fear shot through many people I know, but only for a short while. Israel is strong, not just militarily, but there is a strong morale, and in Jerusalem it is life as normal.

Over the last week I have had a number of phonecalls from friends due to visit the country. Some booked their trips six months ago, others were here two weeks ago and are heading back soon at the end of the month. If you were planning to move to Haifa, I would suggest relocating, other than that, get over here. If you have fear, don't be scared to show it, but don't be an armchair Zionist either. You can either worry about the tenth day of the violence, or be aware that this is the fifty-sixth year of the conflict, whatever puts you at ease. The centre of the country is functioning as normal, and the north needs our support.

The country is worried for their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends who are serving in the army, but the country is not worried about survival. It's the Israeli spirit that keeps the country going, it's a psychological strength that isn't destroyed by volatility. There are moments that make you gasp. I spoke to a friend who had been at Haifa train station the moment rockets hit and killed eight. On the flip side you have to be able to enjoy the amusing moments like Bush's brutal honesty.

Most importantly I would like to say thank you. Thank you to organisations such as Birthright, FZY, USY, NSY, Bnei Akiva and all the tours that have kept their participants in Israel. These names come to mind as they buses I drove past today. I am sure there are more, and this vote of thanks goes out to you all. Thank you for not canceling groups set to be coming over. On a personal level, thank you for making summer continue as usual. Thank you for not being scared by the media, and for supporting us when the we need it. Seeing the tour buses with their logo banners driving around Jerusalem made me feel the solidarity, and for that I am grateful.

May everyone stay safe, and enjoy a peaceful, restful shabbat.

Monday, July 10, 2006

This One's for Italy

The World Cup is one of those "must participate" events. For a month, conversation turns to football, and eyes to the host nation, as the best teams in the world, and some others, battle to become best at what they do. Pubs are full, schools and offices start late or finish early depending on match schedules to ensure no one misses out. Flags hang and a strange unity descends on the country as every Englishman remembers 1966.

That's the sort of World Cup fever I am used to. I recall the 2002 tournament fondly, one house party culminating with 7:00am kick comes to mind, but this time around, the World Cup was something different.

A large proportion of the country is focused on the games while others are complaining about the cost to purchase the package, and the pubs do fill up, but for a region with more important things to worry about, you can understand why the country doesn't stop.

Unfortunately I didn't make it to the final. As I arrived in town, I got a call from a friend who had been taken ill and found himself at the Emergency Room, so I jumped in a cab to keep him company and lighten his spirits while he was rehydrated.

On the way home I managed to catch extra time and penalties. I was one of sixteen, including the staff of the local Cafe Hillel who had slipped away to see the all important game, watching the Italian mondial victory in a makolet [corner shop] on Emek Refaim [a local high street].

It wasn't like nipping down to the local with a crowd of friends, nonetheless, Israelis love the football and the small store managed to build quite an atmosphere. The crowd I found myself was quite pleased to see Italy lift the trophy, except for the one French girl found to be sobbing by the chewing gum.

It's all over for another four years, I wonder where I will comment on the next one from.

Friday, July 7, 2006

One Year On

It's amazing how time can fly. As someone mentioned to me yesterday, we're no longer new in town. We have our locals, friends, and routines. It wasn't till I paid rent this week that I realised I have been living in my apartment for a year, but this time last year was a day that shook me.

Most of the time I can safely say I feel settled here. Yes, there is the occasional wave of "what if I was still in the UK", but it doesn't take too much to remind that I would find it very difficult to live on the Queen's homeland every again. I have even been heard to say that I miss the US more than I miss England and yet I never lived there, but at this hour last year, three hundred and fifty years of English blood in my veins made me identify with the country in a way I had never felt before.
FIRST there was New York, then Bali, then Madrid. But a year ago today London and the rest of Britain awoke to the awful realisation that Islamic terrorism was not a faraway phenomenon. (THE TIMES - full article)
Today the UK remembers the fifty two that died. Maybe this shook me so much because I was visiting England this time last year, and I heard the news as it came in. Stations across the country were evacuated and nerves were highly strung. Sure, the UK has felt terrorism, but this attack was new terror for a new, undefined cause. Terror against the West.

In a video released yesterday by one of the bombers, England's support and financial aid towards America and Israel was used to justify the attacks. Israel has become a political pawn, used by anyone with a problem, be they terrorists claiming to act in the name of religion, or left wing voters that want to solve the worlds problems with hugs and kisses.

Today Israel is mourning too. We mourn the loss of the Yehuda Bassel, killed yesterday to keep the rest of the country safe. Since the turn of the century there have been major terror attacks in America, Bali, Spain, England, Israel and throughout the world. Terrorism has become the norm. To preach for it to end would be unrealistic. Maybe the world has become a more dangerous place, or perhaps the media may just be better at carrying news faster and quicker.

I'm not going to start hanging a Union Jack or Cross of St. George alongside the Israel flag outside my apartment, but today's acts as a reminder as to where I came from, and who I am becoming.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Minute of your Mind

Something has to be said for a country that can stop and focus on one. We did it in 1994 when one of out own was kidnapped, and now the country is going through the nightmare again. Gilad Shalit has been kidnapped, and our thoughts and prayers should be with him to be safe, and his family to be strong.

Eliyahu Asheri, an 18 year old civillain was kidnapped when hitchhiking home earlier in the week.

If you have a minute and believe in the power of prayer, please take a second to read Psalm 121, below, with Gilad Ben Aviva and Eliyahu Asheri in mind.

שיר למעלות, אשא עיני אל ההרים, מאין יבוא עזרי, עזרי מעם ה' עושה שמים וארץ, אל ייתן למוט רגלך, אל ינום שומרך. הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר ישראל, ה' שומרך, ה' צילך על יד ימינך. יומם השמש לא יככה וירח בלילה ה' ישמרך מכל רע, ישמור את נפשך ה' ישמור צאתך ובואך מעתה ועד עולם