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.