Friday, August 31, 2007

What a week!

Well, the month of Elul started off on a down. Rosh Chodesh (first of the month) of Elul was spent at the side of the road, sulking over my car into which I had foolishly put diesel instead of gasoline.

The Magic Carpet, minus the magic.

After I finally recovered from that blow, I managed to get my once-again working vehicle home in time to hear from the landlord that my rent was being jacked up from $450 to $550. So I decided to start looking for a new apartment, when suddenly I was totally immobilized by strep!

Well, it's all come together this week. On Monday, I called my friend M. just to touch bases. Rents downtown are much higher, and I figured maybe we could room together to save costs. "Well, I'd like to, but I can't because I'm GETTING MARRIED!"

Later in the day, I went downtown to pick up friend and ex-roommate from six years ago, Gali, who came all the way out to Jerusalem from Ashdod in the latest in a series of interviews he's been taking with the Teva Pharmaceutical company. I tried to cheer him up, but he was morose and exhausted. So the least I could do was get him to the central bus station.

On Tuesday, I finally had a chance to see an apartment I'd seen advertised a couple of weeks prior. I felt pretty good about the place, and I took the contract home for Rafi to review. He marked up the lease so heavily that there was more ink than white left on the page.

On Wednesday, I decided to sign the lease. The landlord was agreeable to the myriad of changes I had made, and seemed pleased to have me as a tenant. I had specifically arranged to have the clause which prohibits me from subleasing the second bedroom eliminated. when I got home, I started thinking about the apartment, and realized it really is a huge place. For $510, I was getting a great deal, but the place might be too big. What am I going to do with 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a laundry room? Maybe I should think about a roommate. After all, it would really reduce my expenses, and rent money is just flushed down the toilet anyway. Besides, I don't know anyone in that neighborhood.

The phone immediately rang.

"Ephraim, it's Gali! Want to be roommates again? I got the job!"

Yigal (aka Gali)

Then I called Moish in Modiin to invite myself over for Shabbat. We've been working on his website to try to drum up some business for his art lessons, and I wanted to let him know it would be a while until I would be able to work on it again, until I get settled.

"Don't worry about it, I got a job with IDT! And I just found out the government will pay for my Sofrut(torah scribe) classes as part of my aliyah benefits! And I just found out that the Jerusalem municipality is willing to pay us to live in Jerusalem because they're looking for high tech workers! I just found out that the government is giving us a big rental subsidy as part of our aliyah benefits! And! And!"
Moish and his sofrut.

So, I guess the lesson is, you've just got to stick it out, and don't worry about a thing, because Hashem watches out for his workers. And now, back to packing boxes.

Shabbat shalom!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Amidst all my confusion as to where to live next year, I decided to ask Hashem what to do. In Shacharit (morning prayers,) I really REALLY focused hard. And the answer came to me.
"Nu, what was wrong with that place I showed you in San Simon?"

After davening, I went back down to San Simon and scoped out the neighborhood. One thing that doesn't come across about the neighborhoods in Jerusalem is just how small they are. Walk three blocks in any direction and you'll probably end up in a new neighborhood. Of course, that isn't true for the sort of places like Pisgat Ze'ev, with tens of thousands of homes built over the course of a decade. But in the older parts of the city which were built up over the last century, you can walk through one neighborhood and feel like you're in Lithuania in 1700, then cross the street and feel like you're walking around in Saudi Arabia. San Simon is sandwiched between two neighborhoods; downholl and across the street is Katmonim, a somewhat seedy working-class neighborhood, and uphill is Katamon, a gentrified area with a high concentration of Anglophonic singles. Of course rents in Katamon are pretty high (minimum $600 for a 1-bedroom.) Despite the distance on the map, I decided to walk it out myself and I found that it was only eight minutes and seven seconds by foot from the apartment to the shtieblach. This would be fantastic! One of the problems I've had working out here is that I just can't get to minyan for Ma'ariv (evening prayers.) Shacharit is easy, and I can usually get Mincah either at the Yeshivah or here in the Pisgah before work starts. But you can't daven (pray) Ma'ariv until after sunset, and I work from 6-10 PM. The last Ma'ariv in Pisgat Ze'ev is at 9:45, and it's way out in Pisgat Ze'ev Merkaz (central, I live in Pisgat Z'ev East.) I'm pretty much stuck at home davening yachid (by myself) every weeknight. If I lived near the shtieblach, I could just unplug the phone at 10PM, head on over to the shtieblach, and catch a minyan any time. So I figure I'll go for it.

A photo I managed to take in the apartment, assuming I get it in the end (still some lease items to negotiate.)

Next step: I called to reserve a machsan (storage locker.) 549 shekels ($131) for 1 month. Then, I called the mover, who will be here Monday to take my stuff away to the mover. Negotiated with the landlord to have my lease begin on September 30th, so I won't have to pay rent for the month I'm gone. Earlier tonight, took the lease over to cousin Rafi to have him read it. He took out the black marker and deleted the unfavorable terms. Hopefully the landlord will be cool with that, and if not, I can always find something else.

So now we're up to packing. Man, I HATE moving. I mean, Really. You gotta pack up all your stuff, move to a new spot, and the fact is that when you move into a new place, you can never really tell if you're being ripped off. You've just got to take it on faith.

At least now I have a car, and can get around okay. Imagine if I were doing this without the benefit of a vehicle.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Howdy blogosphere. Sorry I was A.W.O.L. yesterday, busy doing work stuff.

Well, I almost didn't blog today, I've got so much to do, but then I can't do anything else but think about what I'm going to do with myself, so I don't get anything done anyway.

Basically, my two options are to find a place now, move in, and then fly away, or throw everything into a machsan (storage locker,) fly away, and deal with this when I come back home. The down side is that I can't do my full workload unless I have an internet connection, and I can't have an internet connection unless I have an apartment, so I may find myself stranded for a while when I come back unless I find something soon.

Time for a cost-benefit analysis:

Moving to Machsan = $200
Machsan = $200
Moving to new apartment = $200
Total = $600

Whereas, if I were to rent a place, let's say rent is $500 (minimum figure.) Figure since I'll be gone for a month anyway, if I were to move into a place now, one month's rent would be a total loss.

Moving to Apartment = $200
Rent = $500
Total = $700.

So it's basically a wash financially.

I went out to see a place in San Simon today. It was in an area that borders between the safe neighborhoods of Katamon and San Simon, and the not-safe neighborhoods out in Katmonim. But it was a great deal, $500 for 3 rooms. Catch is, it won't be ready until September 15th, after I fly away, so I'll have to drag all of my stuff to a machsan (storage locker) anyway. Not sure if I should take it or not. Apartments in Jerusalem go so fast that, at this point, now that it's been a full six hours since I was the apartment, it's probably gone anyway. The downside to this deal in San Simon is that the place is not available until the 15th, which would require me to rent out a machsan and move twice anyway.

I was mulling this deal when the landlady came by today and we straightened things out between us. We have this like-dislike (love-hate is too strong a term) thing. Last week she's the KGB, but this week she's seeming pretty friendly. I told her that I felt like they were trying to push me out by jacking up the rent from $450 to $550, and she said no, they weren't, they really like me, and rents have just gone up. She offered to reduce the rent to $525. That number also includes water and electricity, which can come out to quite a bit on its own, but usually less than $100. Fact is, it's still not such a great deal, but it would be nice to avoid the hassle of moving, setting up my internet connection from scratch, missing a couple weeks of work doing so, etc.

She said I have a day to decide, because tomorrow is the deadline for putting an ad in the paper. The fact she said this seems to indicate to me that the ad I saw online, which I thought was for my place (indicating to me they had already decided to remove me, so I had better get packing,) was, in fact, for some other place on my street. I was talking to someone here over shabbat, and it turns out that a lot of people on this street rent out, in spite of the fact they all own these massive mansions. There's something to be learned from this about assuming the best/worst of people. One more thing to do tshuva for in the month of Elul.

Basically, one of the morals of this story is that it really stinks when you plan a vacation for the same time your lease ends. Next year, vacation time comes early. Live and learn.

To summarize, my options are as follows:
1. Stay in my apartment in Pisgat Ze'ev near my friends and family here.
2. Find a different apartment in Pisgat Ze'ev near my friends and family here.
3. Move to the Katamon/Baka area where all the singles live but I don't know anyone. Pay a fortune and make new friends.
4. Move to a place peripheral to the Katamon/Baka area like San Simon, a sightly seedier district. Save on rent and make new friends.
5. Find a place in Kiryat Moshe (next to Machon Meir.) I know people, rents are better, I wouldn't have to drive to yeshivah and back every day. But there's no singles scene.
6. Throw all my stuff in a machsan and then deal with this problem when I come back during Sukkot.

Suggestions welcome!

One fact I have to keep in mind here: if a deal is good enough to show up once, it's good enough to show up again.

The problem I'm encountering is my own indecisiveness. I've got too many options, and too much stress surrounding my upcoming trip to America, too much work to do (I have two major projects due on Friday.)

Here are some shots I took last winter at my Yeshivah, in Kiryat Moshe:

Machon Meir
Daniel (from Holland) and Ephraim (from Germany/Greece)

Daniel's tea kit (He's an herbal therapist)

Some of the guys learning

Rafi's Kollel

The Beit Midrash (Main Study Hall)

More guys learning.

A view of Kiryat Mosheh and the Jerusalem Forest from the roof.

More guys learning.

Friday, August 24, 2007

So How Much is Rent in Jerusalem?

Being an engineering type, watching all these ads go by, I decided I needed to get a handle on all the numbers, so gathered statistics for rental prices over the last four months and generated an "average" rent table for Jerusalem. This gives some idea as to the price differences between various neighborhoods and numbers of rooms.

Aaaaah. Beautiful, sensuous numbers. Now I understand everything!

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Selfish? Moi?

It's amazing what happens when I have life issues. All of my brain's various levels of operation, conscious and subconscious, become dedicated to solving the issues. How do I fix my car? How do I recover from this disease? How do I get a new apartment? And how do I make a trip back to America?

All "big picture" brain functions, like spiritual growth and national or political thought, are at risk of ceasing. I've even noticed, with this blog, that I've stopped posting Eretz Israel issues and have just been posting "me" posts. So here goes.

For political thought:

All politicians are corrupt, because Israel's founding fathers established a system on the Bolshevik model, based on the idea that society needs a powerful tyrant to bring it to Utopia, rather than the American ideal that power corrupts, so all power must be limited and controlled. I don't like the system where supreme court judges in Israel choose the next supreme court judges, so there is no originality or democratic charachter to the court system, which now rules over all branches of government and the military as well. I hate the fact that there is no protection of free speech in Israel. There is no "first ammendment," to the constitution because Israel has no constitution to ammend. Which is another problem.

Whew, okay!

Now, for some photography from Eretz Israel. Here are some shots I took in Shiloh, home of the mishkan, the portable tabernacle used by the Jews before it was replaced by the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Hopefully I'll be able to give a more complete post with archaeological and Tanachic references some day:

"Welcome in the name of God, to Shiloh," with a mosaic of the Mishkan.

Hothouses and agriculture at Shiloh.

One corner of where the Mishkan (tabernacle) once stood. In the background one can see the modern settlement of Shiloh.

And as for spiritual growth:

One think I'm learning now is bitachon, trust, in Hashem. You can't control every aspect of your life, and being nervous about the future doesn't clarify things or bring solutions. Israel, betach bashem! (Israel, trust Hashem!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back Up and Running

Boy, those antibiotics really kicked the daylights out of my illness. Special thanks goes out to Alexander Fleming for his discovery of the bacteria-killing penicillin mold on his microscope slide, and his genius in recognizing that this could be made into a drug that helps people who are stricken and can't get out of bed to look for a new apartment.

For his work Fleming won the Nobel Prize in medicine. It's almost enough to forgive the Nobel committee.

Okay, well, maybe not.

I've only taken four tablets so far, and already I've got my energy back and was even able to leave the house today to look at an apartment. It was a place in the area I'm looking for, but the rent was a bit steep. I've been getting nervous, as I've got a week and a half to figure out what I'm doing with myself, and I haven't made any progress on getting out of here.

Rafi and Galila (cousins) said I could live with them as long as I need, and many other friends offered to give me shelter until I figure out where I'm going to live, so having a roof over my head is no problem, thank God. The issue is that I need to be able to work, and I need an internet connection to connect to my Vonage line to receive incoming phonecalls, and in order to have a dedicated internet connection, I need an apartment.

Worst case scenario, I end up throwing my stuff into storage, and then look for a place when I get back from America on September 22nd. The advantage in that case is that I have three weeks where I'm not paying rent. The down side, of course, is that that's right before Sukkot, when business in Jerusalem slows down considerably, so it may take several weeks when I get back to get myself back up to speed.

Anyway, the landlady is outside yakking on the cel phone. It sends chills down my spine. When I get nervous, I just play Bob Marley's "Don't Worry About a Thing," and it chills me out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Woke up bright and early yesterday morning ready for a day of apartment hunting. Pulling myself out of bed, I immediately fell back in. Everything hurts! Stabbing pains in my throat!

Suddenly, without warning, I had been struck down so sick it took all my effort to pull my body out of bed. I decided to gut it out. Spent the day alternating between working for an hour and resting for an hour, and then slept twelve hours last night, waking up drenched in sweat.

This morning, I actually felt worse than yesterday, so I decided it was time for a visit to the doctor.

The view from the Maccabi (health clinic) building.

Looks like I've got strep throat and possibly tonsillitis. I don't want to go into details, but lets just say it's extremely unpleasant. Doc prescribed me some penicillin, which I immediately headed to Kanyon HaPisgah (the Pisgat Ze'ev Mall) to pick up. One thing I love about socialized medicine; the prescription only cost me 13 shekels.

Super Farm

Anyway, it's been five hours since I took my first dose of antibiotics, and I'm already feeling a bit better. Of course, it may just be the placebo affect, but either way, I'm liking it. Also popping vitamin c's, advils, and gargling salt water.

Of course, this disease just picked the worst time to start. As of today, I have precisely two weeks to pack up my entire apartment, find a new place, and finish two major projects I've been working on before I fly away to the states for three weeks. The exhaustion has really sapped my testosterone, which I need to prowl the streets hunting for apartments.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Picking with Leket

Taking a break from my apartment hunting-related posts, I'd like to put up some pictures of a social event held by Nefesh B'Nefesh. Meeting downtown on Friday morning, we loaded onto the bus and headed south west, to the fields outside of Rechovot (near Bnei Darom.) Rechovot, with the root Resh-Chet-Vet, is related to the word "Merchav," or open expanse.

Rehovot was, in fact, a biblical city mentioned in the book of Bereishit (Genesis) 28:26:

He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rechovot, for he said, "At last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land."

The Torah just doesn't translate properly; it's much better in the original. Anyway, most biblical scholars believe the original Rechovot referenced in the Torah was located somewhere south of Be'er Sheva. In fact, today there is a new settlement in the vicinity known as "Merchavam," literally, "The expanse of the nation," which I hope to visit soon.

Anyway, now that we've got our bearings in the Tanach, it's time to get started picking vegetables. Last year's volunteering with Project Leket was a great time, so I was glad to go again.

The bus ride down: conversation over cactus


Some vast open spaces (Merchavim) near Rechovot.

The farm itself is hundreds of dunams (a dunam is an Israeli measure of land, around a quarter acre.) The philanthropist who runs the farm made a fortune as a patent attorney, and decided to open a farm from which all produce would be donated to the needy.

Okay, we're picking onions today, so here's what you do: First, you pick them up. Then, you drop them into the crate. Any questions?

Dudy gets started.

Actually going out to the fields was a learning experience. I now understand why onions are so incredibly cheap; they grow thick on the ground, and you can pick up several pounds in a few seconds.

Seeing as how I've had this lifelong dream of someday being able to grow my own food, this was a fun little exercise. If they're as easy to grow as they are to pick, I think I'm going to be making a lot of onion soup.

Rachel supervises the field hands.

It was a very productive day.

Group shot; we actually picked quite a lot more than seen here.

And off to the needy they go.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


For the last year, people have been asking me why I still live all the way out there in Pisgat Ze'ev. I've got a battery of answers for each of them

Q: Why do I put up with the Politburo Commissar landlady?
A: I have never met a landlord who was an all-around nice guy or decent human being. It's just not in the job description. Sure, I could leave here, but anywhere else I go will have other problems.

Q: Why do you live all the way out there, away from the action?
A: The rent is so much cheaper.

Q: What made you move to a neighborhood with no singles?
A: I have family out there.

Each of these answers gets a nod of understanding, but there's still a lingering doubt.

So I started the search today. On the web searches I've been making, only about one or two suitable apartments pop up every day. Today I checked out a place in Baka that was something of a dungeon, but very spacious and almost affordable. The way the market is here, if you see something you like, you have to grab it immediately. If you don' then don't even bother calling the landlord back, because someone came thirty seconds after you and took it.

Moshe and I moved on to a place in Katamon. I called at 4 PM, and the landlord told me to be at the place at 6:30. I met Moshe when I was in Baka and we went to the Shtieblach in Katamon, across the street from where the place I wanted was.

The word shtieblach, an old yiddish expression for Hassidic synagogues, has a slightly different meaning in modern Hebrew. The Shtieblach are four rooms in a building with rotating minyanim (prayer quorums), what they call a "minyan factory" in English. Mincha (afternoon prayers) begins every five minutes or so in one of the rooms. Since Mincha takes less than twenty minutes, there are different minyanim in each room beginning or ending Mincha at any given time. A digitized schedule, displayed on an LCD-monitor, announces minyanim.

The computerized schedule

I would love to live next to the shtieblach. The last Maariv (evening prayer) minyan in Pisgat Ze'ev is at 9:45 PM, and I finish work at 10 PM, so I usually have to pray on my own. If I were to live across the street, I could just stroll out whenever I was finished and catch Maariv at my leisure. I could also wake up and just go to minyan at any time.

One of the rooms in the Shtieblach

I started getting excited about the idea. At 6:30 sharp, as we agreed, I called the landlord of the nearby apartment to ask him what number he's in.

"Someone else rented it already."

Ugh. And that's the REAL reason I haven't moved downtown. The problem isn't the rent, or the landlord, or any of the other excuses I've been giving. Apartment hunting is simply exhausting, infuriating, and so often fruitless.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

And here we go!

The Magic Carpet has it's magic back, and, after a 1600 shekel disassembly and cleaning of the entire fuel system, is running like new. I immediately headed over to the local ACE Hardware, picked up some packing tape, and scrounged the local dumpsters for boxes. I have precisely two weeks to move before I fly away to America for three weeks, so I had better get started.

At first I was a tad upset about being removed from my home. But then, I remembered what an [insert synonym for female canine here] my landlady has been, and I decided it's going to be fun to shake things up a bit.

The strangest part is that I don't know to where I'm moving. There's a major housing crunch in Jerusalem, so it's a landlord's market, and places go really fast. I've noticed that most of the shidduchim I've had have been from the Rechavia/Katamon/Baka area, about a 20 minute drive from here with no traffic. One of the problems I've had is that because of my telecommuting gig, I can't leave work until 10PM (noon Pacific Time.) Because of the distance, tf I want to go out after work, then by the time I get down to Rechavia/Katamon/Baka to meet someone, it's already 10:45, which is way too late to start. If I'm physically located downtown, then all I would have to do is step out the door at 10 PM, which is still early enough to do something. Or people can come over to my place too. I'm not really a city person, and I've enjoyed the quiet of living here on the edge of the desert, but the benefits of living downtown outweigh the drawbacks, so I figure if I can find a place down there for not too too much money, I ought to grab it.

I was in the Pisgah (that's what we locals call Pisgat Ze'ev) this week. Spent Shabbat last week in Tel Aviv with Israeli Moshe (though he would deny he's actually Israeli.) Here are a couple of pics. For some reason, I can't keep my eyes open when the camera flashes. I have some stupid light sensitivity. Augh, weakness! Well, I guess I'm just a sensitive guy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Things Fall Apart

It all started with a simple question.

"Are you thinking of staying next year?" the landlord asked.
"Yes, why?"
"Well, we're going to have to increase the rent. It's going to be $550."
That number blew me away, a big increase from $450. I think I'm getting a little hint here.
"Can I think about it a little?"
"Yeah, sure. We'll talk some time."

So I started looking for apartments. I found a good candidate on the Nefesh B'Nefesh email list, talked to the current tennant, and liked what I saw. Turns out I can get something downtown, where all the singles live, for not significantly more than I'm paying out here in the boonies of Pisgat Ze'ev.

On my way back from the apartment, I stopped off at the Sonol station to refill my tank. Now, most gas stations in the states have two grades, 89 octane for the hotshots and the cheaper 87 octane stuff for the rest of us schnorrers. In this case, there was something with a 96 on it that was quite expensive, and something else called "Solar," which was much less. Cool, solar. Sounds high tech, like those solar panels they have generating electricity down in the Negev Desert. So I'll fill up with the cheaper Solar stuff, like in the states. And off I went.

0.2 kilometers later, by where the odometer is now frozen, the engine started shaking and shimmying. My mind quickly raced through every possibility. Mechanical failure? But the thing only has 2500 kilometers on it. Nope. Perhaps I'm driving over a gravely surface and the engine is fighting lousy traction. No, that's not it, I'm on asphalt.

The engine died completely.

Then it hits me. Uh... wait a minute... what does "Solar" actually mean anyway? My pocket dictionary provides me with the answer I didn't want. "Solar: diesel."

So now I'm stuck in the middle of Derech Hebron with cars flying by honking and cursing at me. Called cousin Rafi. Called my friend Steven. Called the towing company. Called the Mazda dealership. Called the list of repair shops they recommended.

Talking on my car cellular to the repair shop guy.
"Ah, I see, you put diesel in your engine. Yes, that will be an expensive repair. Very very expensive."
One of the motorists driving by shouts and gesticulates at me, "Do you know how dangerous that is, stupid!?"
I scream back, "You think I CHOSE to break down here?
The operator hears my American-accented retort over the phone tries to soothe me, "Yes that's how Israelis are. Hot blooded and angry. You will have to get used to it."

In the end, Steven, a dentist, was kind enough to cancel his appointment to drive out and pick me up. We managed to roll the car to the side of the road into a legal parking spot for the night.

The Magic Carpet, minus the Magic, abandoned for now.

We get back to Steven's car to head back to Pisgat Ze'ev when suddenly... nothing happens! That's right, his handheld car alarm security deactivator has failed, as has the backup he brought. So now we're BOTH stuck and can't get home, and end up taking a taxi.

Steven tries to get the security system working.

The next day, I'm riding in the front seat with Kobi the tow truck driver, heading to a repair shop that my insurance rep recommended. Kobi quizzes me about my life here in Israel and sees how glum I feel.
"Don't feel bad, this is the month of Elul. All of the judgments against a person for the year are passed now. For all of the Tzarot (troubles) you're going through now, by the time you get to Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, you'll have a clean record."

As we arrive at the repair shop, Kobi bursts out ahead of me and runs up to the Avner, the head mechanic. He holds Abner's hand gently and kisses it.
"Avner, please, be nice to the boy, he's a new immigrant!"
"Yes, I already heard this whole story from his insurance salesman. He called a few minutes ago."
"He's a good boy," Kobi continues, "a yeshivah student!"
"Yes, but is he a GOOD student?"

In the end, it cost 1603 shekels (about $400) to clean the fuel system and repair the vehicle. As Rafi put it, "I was expecting another zero on that number." And, of course, I learned my new Hebrew word for the day, solar.

So back to the apartment search. Out of curiosity, I check the prices in Pisgat Ze'ev... and see my own apartment advertised! And for only $470, not the $550 he's charging me to try to chase me out. Of course, the landlord didn't have the guts to tell me himself that I would be removed from the premises. So I'm definately going to be moving.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sometimes Life Just Stinks

I try to keep a chipper attitude about life in general, but today, well, the day was awful.

Okay, I've got to find something good. Yeshivah started up again today, and we started learning from Sefer Shmuel (the book of Samuel,) relating the story of how the tribes of Israel united under the Davidic Kingdom.

But the rest of the day was awful. I just don't have the heart to write about it right now. It's the sort of story that's funny, but only in past tense, and I'm still living it in the present, so I can't yet approach it with that "ha ha" attitude. Hopefully I can gather my nerves and spill the beans tomorrow. Fortunately the problems are mainly monetary, and you know, money isn't everything. Nothing disastrous or personal or anything like that, but I just seem to be bleeding money and am having trouble keeping ahead of my financial plummet.


Better mazal tomorrow, maybe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Search Continues

I found myself shidduchless last Monday, so had to continue the search. Actualy, before I went out with the last girl, L., American Steven's wife here in Pisgat Ze'ev had mentioned that her sister is good at setting people up and has many connections, so I drove out to Har Nof to meet her and get my name in her phone directory. She had someone in mind, C, but meanwhile, a friend in Be'er Sheva called and said she had someone else who would make a good match (that would be "L.") After L decided she didn't want to go out with me any more, a week had passed and I had forgotten about my friend out in Har Nof. Meanwhile, I received a list of four potential matches from, and they all looked good, so I approved them, but received no response from the girls.

A Nefesh B'Nefesh singles event where we were to go out and pick onions was scheduled for last Friday, so I decided to chill out for a few days. Of course, I've never actually gotten a real date out of all of these singles things, but they're usually fun anyway and I get to see some of my old friends, as well as girls I've already dated who happen to be at the same event.

Well, as usual, nothing came of the event, but on the way back I received a phonecall out of the blue from a shadchanit I had never spoken to but had heard of me, and she described a gal, "R," who sounded pretty nice, so I said okay. She then hung up to call the girl and see if it would be all right with her. Five minutes later, the phone rang again, and it was the lady I stayed with at Kfar Haroeh, who informed me that one of the families in the village had an eligible daughter, "N", who might be suitable. I informed her that I had already consented to date someone else, and I don't do the "two at once" thing, and so I had to decline. A few hours later, the first shadchanit called me back and informed me that "R" had declined, as once she heard that I learn at Machon Meir, she immediately had the impression of me as a wild-eyed settler nut, which I'm not, although I am a wild-eyed settler nut sympathizer. I then called back my hostess from Kfar Haroeh and got the phone number of "N," whom I promptly called. Meanwhile, I arrived in Tel Aviv for a shabbat with Israeli Moshe, and I called N from his house but wasn't able to get a hold of her. I spoke with her father, who delivered the message that I had called. After shabbat I called again, and managed to speak with "N" and arrange a date in Kiryat Ono (near Tel Aviv) the next morning. Later that night, I drove home and checked, and it turned out one of the girls I had approved, D, had actually said "yes" and given me her phone number.

Oops. I had already arranged to go out with "N," so I couldn't call D to arrange, but I couldn't exactly cancel either. Well, honesty is the best policy, so I decided to let her know what had happened. But I couldn't get through. Meanwhile my friend in Be'er Sheva called with another offer, R, but I had to delay for a couple of days to see about the ones I was working on now.

Next morning, I shared some lemonade with N. It was a good time, and she's a great girl, but we both left with the feeling that this was definitely not a match. So, later in the afternoon, I called D, but she still wasn't picking up the phone. I tried again Monday, still no answer. This morning, Tuesday, I gave it one last shot, but she still wasn't there. Welp, sorry D, but daylight's burning!

The next step was to call my friend in Be'er Sheva and see if I could get together with R. She sounded like a nice girl, and I got a green light to give her a call, but only later in the afternoon. So I waited patiently. Then, when I was about to call, my Be'er Sheva friend called me again and informed me that R had gotten back together with her old shidduch, so now I've got nothing.

Later in the afternoon, I went for my hour-long jog. Frustrated. Girls, girls everywhere but not a date in site. But then it struck me, I had never called Steven's sister-in-law in Har Nof back! D'oh! So I rang her up.

"Hi, this is Ephraim."
"Hi Ephraim, so I'm assuming it didn't work out with L. Do you want me to see if C is available?"
"Would you be so kind?"
"No problem."

The strange thing is, when I write it down, it sounds like a whirlwind, but it all seems to be moving so slowly from my perspective.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Modiin Illit / Kiryat Sefer

Last week I headed out to Modiin to do some learning with Moish. But then we got hungry. We needed to go out to get some kosher cold cuts.

On our way out the door, we noticed that the Modiin Municipality had been trimming the date palms lining the road. Sukkot is only a month and a half a way, and this stuff makes perfect schach (the stuff that covers the sukkah.)

Schach, and it's free!

Moish shoves schach into his warehouse. This stuff typicaly costs 7 shekels per frond, and we got like 40 of them.

Of course, this was a golden mitzvah opportunity! After all, every four amot (paces) one walks in the Land of Israel is a mitzvah, so as long as we were getting cold cuts, why not go somewhere new. With 150 horsepower under the hood, the magic carpet can get about 10,000 amot per hour, so why not leave town completely? We ended up in Modiin Illit (upper Modiin.) Whereas Modiin located right on the green line (the line dividing Israel from the Jordanian occupation prior to 1967,) Modiin Illit, also known as Kiryat Sefer, is a few kilometers over the green line. Unlike heavily secular Modiin, Modiin Illit is a hareidi (ultra-orthodox) settlement, and just this year, due to its astronomical birthrate, and now with a population well over 30,000, overtook Maaleh Adumim as the largest community over the green line.

The road in to Modiin Illit

The welcome bush

People at bus stop

The mean streets of Modiin Illit

Hareidi cities have the reputation as being not-so-clean. After all, with ten kids in an average family, who has time to pick up after all of them? But Modiin Illit, while not at the asthetic level of the main city of Modiin, is relatively clean and well-tended, with parks, gardens, and trees. It looks like a nice place to live, if you can deal with wearing all black in hundred degree weather and 100% humidity.