Sacred and Insane

Sacred and Insane: An Aliyah Journal

Tumbling on the bus

This morning I witness the epitome of Israeli rudeness – not that any of the following wouldn't have happened just as easily in New York City – the infallibly irritable attitude of the Jerusalem bus driver.

The first incident was a fairly common occurrence with bus drivers here. At Kikar Denya, in front the Mister Zol supermarket where I was waiting for my own bus to ulpan, a girl desperately sprinted after her #21 bus. While the door had closed by the time she reached it, there was clearly enough time for the drive to reopen said door, as he hadn't even started moving the vehicle yet. But I guess that would've been too inconvenient for him.

Just hear those sleigh bells jinglin'...

Yesterday, I found myself rocking out to "Feliz Navidad" and "Jingle Bell Rock" on my machine at the gym, carefully turning my iPod upside down so the religious woman next to me would not see what was on my screen.

Oddly enough, as Chanukah came to a close and December kept on going, I realized that something was starkly missing from this month in Israel – storefronts decorated in cottony snowstorm diaramas, manikins in Santa Claus hats and cheesy green and red lights strewn anywhere and everywhere.

A photo of my late-night candle lighting on the first night Chanukah

'The sight, and smell, of hell on earth'

I happened to be in Haifa yesterday during the disastrous fires that are continuing to tear apart the Carmel Forest region. While of course I cannot pretend to know what was truly going on at the actual scene, I witnessed how long-time residents of Haifa were struggling to deal with the tragedy, and then on my bus back to Jerusalem, I saw the blaze myself for at least a 30-minute stretch along the coast line.

The blurry photo I took from the window of the last 940 bus out of Haifa last night.

100 shekels to go to the bathroom

The Jewish Week caught up with Sharon two months into her aliyah journey. To read about her adventures from the beginning, click here.

As night fell over the Mediterranean Thursday evening, Murphy’s Law seemed to dictate my every step for the rest of the night.

After meeting with people for the day in Tel Aviv, I was walking back through Floretin toward the Central Bus Station at about 5 p.m., knowing that I had another event to cover at night in Jerusalem.  But while walking along Levinsky Street – and avoiding as many dodgy characters as possible – I realized that I might need to use the bathroom.

Sometimes, you've gotta just learn to hold it in.

Dressed for the weather? Or so I thought.

The Jewish Week caught up with Sharon two months into her aliyah journey. To read about her adventures from the beginning, click here.

As I was walking home on Friday, carrying too many things as usual, a middle aged religious woman gave me a full-body stare, up and down.

She then yelled at me, "hakol b'hutz!" (or something along those lines – meaning, "everything is out there," and referring, of course, to my body parts).

Israel doesn't trust me anymore?

The Jewish Week caught up with Sharon two months into her aliyah journey. To read about her adventures from the beginning, click here.

Well, it happened.

I logged into my Bank Hapoalim account a couple days ago to see if my monthly new immigrant payment had arrived on its usual day, and sure enough, the money was not there. As I had been warned, when I left the country last month for friend's wedding, I taking a risk that my automatic Sal HaKlita installments would stop – even if I had only left the country for a matter of three days. I knew that I could easily get the payments restarted again, but I would now have to pay monthly visits to the office and claim each check, to reassure them that yes, in fact, I am still here.

Irked by my newest bureaucratic battle, I called the Misrad HaKlita (Absorption Minstry) office Wednesday to schedule an appointment with my immigration counselor, and the receptionist instructed me to write a letter detailing the special nature of my situation. Perhaps the ministry management would be able to reverse the decision, and I could return to receiving automatic payments, she said. But she wasn't guaranteeing anything.

Good thing she didn't.

More than a Mac repair in Petah Tikvah

The Jewish Week caught up with Sharon two months into her aliyah journey. To read about her adventures fro the beginning, click here.

As much as I love my Apple products – currently an iPhone, a MacBook Pro and an iPod Nano – my recent experiences with Apple have made me think twice about whether I will continue to patronize Apple in the future.

My iPhone 3GS is finally jailbroken, and I’m just awaiting the unlock hack for the 05.14.02 baseband, which will finally allow me to use the phone with my Israeli simcard. But right now I’m not worrying about my iPhone – I’m just focusing on my MacBook ProBlems.

As you might remember, on the day I immigrated to Israel, the screen of my three-week-old MacBook Pro screen mysteriously shattered with a spider web of cracks on its left side. I held off on fixing it because a.) I didn’t really have much spare time as a new immigrant to Israel and b.) I had decided I was going to return home for my friend Michelle’s wedding on October 24 – so why not head to a real Apple Store then? Israel only has the company iDigital, an authorized Apple dealer owned by Shimon Peres’s son, and the closest actual Apple store in the region is in Jordan.

Facebook fluency and revealing tragedy

The Jewish Week caught up with Sharon two months into her aliyah journey. To read about her adventures from the beginning, click here.

Just as I was about to head back into Hebrew class from the mid-session break on Monday, I got an urgent message from someone who has been a repeated source to me in the past, saying that I should call him immediately.

It’s true, he told me. Someone had died on a Birthright trip the week before, and no media outlets thus far knew about the situation. How they imagined to keep this information secret for that long, I had no idea, especially within an entire nation of gossiping Jews.

The Jewish wedding: t-shirts or tuxes?

The Jewish Week caught up with Sharon two months into her aliyah journey. To read about her adventures from the beginning, click here.

As was supposed to be the topic of my previous post, I just wanted to express how happy I am that I was able to attend my friend Michelle’s wedding, 6,000 miles away from my new home, thanks to the financial generosity of my parents.

Now let’s just hope I can catch up on the three mornings of ulpan I missed.

If you remember, about a month ago I was quite on the fence about this decision, and feared that a return so soon the US would have a number of negative consequences on my decision to move to Israel.

 

"Medical emergency on board"

The Jewish Week caught up with Sharon two months into her aliyah journey. To read about her adventures from the beginning, click here.

 “Ladies and gentlemen, we seem to have a medical emergency on board. If there’s anyone with any medical experience, please notify us.”

This was certainly not the highlight of my weekend in New Jersey for Michelle’s wedding, but it was certainly surprising. But the Continental PA system blasted that announcement as we veered over Iceland on the way back to Tel Aviv, and I wished that one of my parents was on board to assist the passenger. At least there were two nurses sitting by that I know of, one next to me.

About 15 minutes after the announcement, the nurse next to me came back to her seat and said that the passenger was an elderly woman, quite pale and nauseous with an oxygen mask strapped around her face. She was probably in her late 70s or early 80s, my seat partner estimated, adding that the men around her had lain her down across a row of seats. She hadn’t been feeling well all morning.

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