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.