Home and Away: An American In Israel

A Stranger No More

09/28/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

What a difference a few years make, I thought as I made my way home from a friend’s break-the-fast after Yom Kippur.

Two break-fasts, that is, and a third one that I had turned down.

Because nearly four years ago, soon after I had arrived in Israel, I hardly knew anyone. Which is why I felt very lucky to have been invited to break the Yom Kippur fast at someone’s house.

Abigail Pickus

Unmasked

09/04/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

‘Have you picked up your gas mask yet?”

From her casual tone, you would have thought my friend was asking about the weather. 

But no, she was asking about gas masks, which means war, which means fear, which means (why mince words?) death and destruction.

No wonder I almost passed out right there on Emek Refaim, especially when she specified that the gas mask “kit” also includes a syringe. (Ouch!)

Abigail Pickus

Mind The Gap

07/31/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

‘I mean it’s nice, it’s really beautiful, but why the need for chain stores here? Like the Gap? Why not only Israeli stores?”

He was American, the fellow making these statements, and part of a group of us Americans ambling through the majestic Mamilla mall on our way to dinner.

Ever been there?

It’s really one of Jerusalem’s nuggets, I have to say, this boulevard of fancy shops and restaurants overlooking the Old City.

Abigail Pickus

Can We Talk?

07/03/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

This time the cabbie’s name was Mordechai.

Moti for short.

“Ask me anything,” he said from behind the wheel, after he so graciously accommodated me by stubbing out his cigarette.

It turns out he’s a Jerusalemite. Born and raised. Grew up in Bakka, in fact. That’s right, on Reuven Street, that wide boulevard with the trees planted down the middle.  

“Really,” he urged me, “Ask away. Anything.”

I thought for a moment. Where to begin?

Abigail Pickus

Where Everything Is Negotiable

05/29/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

There I was at the bank, when suddenly, one of the employees appeared, talking at me in rapid-fire Hebrew.

It seems she recognized my name displayed on the computer of the banker helping me as she very innocently made her way back to her schmooze corner, I mean, desk, and it was a good thing she did because it turns out she had tried calling me that very morning! Why did I not pick up?

I blinked. This is my new tactic when I don’t understand all of the Hebrew.

Abigail Pickus

Getting Hosed On Independence Day

05/01/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

As Israel celebrates its 64th year with joy and a haze of barbecue smoke, it’s easy to feel nostalgic.

After all, the creation of Israel is nothing short of a miracle. To think, on the heels of such destruction, to finally have a country of our own!

That despite the setbacks and the many innocent people who have lost their lives, what a thriving and impressive country Israel is. A real start-up nation.

Abigail Pickus

The Drive To Fit In

04/03/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

A funny thing has come over me recently.

I’m suddenly way into cars.

Well, let me qualify that. I’m not into cars. I don’t particularly like to drive them and I never liked to ride in them. In fact, I’m the world’s worst passenger on account of a certain vomiting problem.

But it’s like I’ve opened my four eyes for the first time and noticed that Jerusalem is chock-full of the cutest little cars I’ve ever seen. Or maybe it’s that the country suddenly erupted in adorable specimens of motor vehicles.

Abigail Pickus

Chance Of Snow

02/28/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

It was supposed to snow in Jerusalem.

You can imagine the excitement!

And by “excitement” I mean that all the good and honest people of Jerusalem were practically working themselves into a frenzy.

I even received a text message telling me that because of the impending “storm” my newspaper would not be delivered. Three days away!

“Oh, they get crazy here when it snows,” an Israeli told me. She was standing in my kitchen with one hand on her hip and the other pantomiming the universal sign for cuckoo.

Abigail Pickus

‘Good’ For Israel?

01/31/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

‘Where to?” the cabbie asked.

Since I was running late to meet someone in the Old City, a place perpetually bewitching and confusing to me, it was worth my shelling out the extra moola to have a driver take me as close as possible to my destination without actually hitting the Western Wall.

Which is sadly kind of possible, considering they let cars drive in alleyways there that are barely big enough for a mule. A very skinny mule.

But this is actually a column about Obama.

Abigail Pickus

Look To The Rainbow

01/03/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

It was date-night Saturday night and we were set to spend a rockin’ evening in Rosh Pina.

We even had a car.

Which is another way of saying, when one is visiting relatives in the Galilee, which, however beautiful and verdant, is nonetheless no Tel Aviv, why not hop, skip and jump it over to what was once one of Israel’s oldest Zionist agricultural communities and hang with one’s fellow senior citizens at the Cinematheque?

Abigail Pickus
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