Friday, September 30, 2005

Wanna see my latest cover feature?

Given that I had less than two weeks to work on this, I think it came out alright. (Click on "home" if necessary to get to the "In Search of Awe" issue. Link will last only a month.) The interviews were very interesting. Feel free to send praise and criticism to the Editor!

Pre-emptive move: Yes, I know that by linking to an article I've published, I am giving away my last name. For God's sake, I'm not an idiot. We go through this every time. Sheesh.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

End-of-Week Summary

What Chayyei Sarah is . . .

Reading (in Hebrew)

Re-reading (in English)

Listening to on her birthday cassette player

Writing about

Still trying to process

Turning over and over in my mind, trying to decide what I think should be done

Applying to do in the mornings

Trying to do but having a hard time getting motivated - and not much time left!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bunny Therapy

Step 1: Go to the pet store on Emek Refaim Street and pat the bunnies. Let the one which likes to lick anything that moves lick your hand. Watch the little kids who come in pat the bunnies. Watch one of the bunnies lie there very still and resigned, trying to sleep while Licker bunny licks his face. Watch the guinea pigs for a minute. Pat the bunnies some more.

Step 2: Go next door to the Steimatzsky bookstore and buy a copy of "Givat Vahtairsheep," the Hebrew translation of Richard Adams' classic epic novel, Watership Down, the English version of which is sitting on your shelf, tattered from multiple readings and very much loved.

Step 3: Take the book home, get into bed, skip to your favorite part, and start reading.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Welcome to everyone who is here via!

I am so excited to be today's "Sunday's Blogger"! Thanks, tOdd!

Just to catch everyone up on who I am, my name is Sarah, I'm 33, and I moved two years ago from the USA to Jerusalem. I work as a freelance writer, mainly journalism. This blog is about my observations and adventures as an American in Israel, my dating (mis)adventures (see the post directly before this one . . . ), and a hodgepodge of political opinions, musings, interesting links, and news about my friends and family. Welcome! Please visit any time!

Every so often I'll sprinkle my posts with Hebrew words, which I often forget to translate, and references to Jewish culture which I may forget to explain . . . if there's anything you want me to decipher, just let me know in the comments section. I'll try to be better about explaining the confusing stuff.

(By the way, the title of my blog alludes to the verse in Genesis that says "And Sarah lived 100 years and 20 years and 7 years; these are the years of 'chayyei Sarah'" -- the life of Sarah" Get it? My blog? My life? Life of Sarah . . . Chayyei Sarah. OK. Whatever.)

By the way, even though I live in Israel, my life can be extraordinarily . . . ordinary. Seriously, whatever you see on the news, I'm not spending my life dodging bullets. If you want to see English-language Israeli blogs with more real-life incidences that are connected to news events, I recommend this blog (American living in the West Bank) and this one (Canadian in Tel Aviv; often goes to exciting places like Gaza and Jordan in her work as a reporter).Or check out my blogroll to the right ------->

Here's a list of links to my almost-world-famous series of posts about the singles' event from hell.

See my birthday wish list here.

Read "You Can't Get a Man With a Blog" here.

Please come again!
Un-Happy Tidings

R. is out. Gone. With the Wind. Over. Finished. Gamarnu.

And so the search continues . . . date after date, year after year.

Excuse me while I go finish a pint of ice cream and weep into an entire box of tissues, and then lie listlessly on my bed, watching the patterns created by the sunbeams on my wall.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Happy Happy Tidings!

Yay! My sister is expecting a new baby! I'm going to be a Doda times three! And finally I have permission to tell people and post it on my blog! Yay! (bli ayin hara, poo poo poo)

Mazal tov to my good friend and former roommate, Shoshana Levin (formerly of Atlanta and Los Angeles, currently of London, Ontario) on her engagement to Ben Kohen-Kadosh (formerly of Shiraz, Iran, currently of Brooklyn, New York). Yay!

Mazal tov to my old college buddies, Ezra Robison and Ziva Mann Robison (who also was my roommate, long ago in the days of the Music Suite) on the birth of Akiva Meir on September 11. Mazal tov also to big brother Elisha.

Mazal tov to "Chani" and "Moshe," the nice couple I met at the infamous Singles Shabbaton, on the birth of a baby girl a few weeks ago. It appears that after struggling with infertility for a while, Chani got pregnant sometime around the time of the Shabbaton. They tell me that they think our visit to the grave of Rabbi Akiva may have helped. I'm so glad to know that something good came out of that Shabbaton. Yay, miracle baby!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Absorption into Israeli Society . . . Step #3,569

After two years of renting, today I finally bought a washing machine! Slowly but surely, the appliances are adding up.

It's a Blomberg 1220. Holds 6 kilos of laundry, automatically weighs the clothes and uses water accordingly, and has all sorts of fancy-shmancy settings, including a time delay (ie, I can put my clothes in and then "tell" the machine to wait a certain number of hours before starting. Don't know when I'll use that, but whatever.) Three year warranty. Front-loading. Um, it's white.

Got it at "Best Buy" in Talpiot for 3390 NIS (about $750), after spending a few hours calling various stores and doing price and model comparisons (and convincing some sales people to lower their prices in order to beat the other guys . . . I'm ruthless that way). I don't know much about Blomberg, but since I do laundry only for myself, and therefore don't use the machine that much, I'm not so worried about it. Besides, though the Germans have their flaws (cough, cough), they happen to make very good washing machines in general.

Please do not tell me how much less washing machines cost in the United States, or how much less I would have paid if I'd called the store near your house. I don't want to know!

By the way, this is yet another example of why it was never worth it for me to pay too much attention to what my "rights" are as an immigrant, at least vis-a-vis appliances. Yeah, I'd get a break on customs if I imported an American washing machine . . . but if I am willing to pay for shipping, I may as well buy a machine here, especially since I don't need a mega-humongous American washer.

And, yeah, I'd get a break on buying a washing machine here, if I bought an Israeli washing machine . . . if Israel made washing machines . . .

So, the fact that in theory there is some sort of tax break on appliances for new immigrants, once again, does not apply to the specific needs and circumstances of Chayyei Sarah.

But anyhow . . . yay! I own a washing machine! And I'm paying for it like a real Israeli: in 24 installments on my credit card!

Next step, in, like, another two years: A dryer!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Birthday Update

It was a nice day. My best-friend-foreva, Yael, gave me a much-need TUPPERWARE QUICK CHEF!!! In which I can CHOP and even MINCE vegetables in the blink of an eye!!!! We tested it on an onion and the thing was in a million little pieces WITH NO TEARS in about 7 seconds! Thanks Yael!

Yael also took me out for dinner, which was very nice.

Thanks to Asher for offering to give me his old AM/FM radio/cassette player. Can't wait to use it!

Thanks to my reader, Jett, whom I don't know but he's sending me a present so I'm excited!

Thanks to Avi B., who didn't realize it was my birthday week, but yesterday came over to drop off a CD with the old Muppets Star Wars Special on it. Thanks Avi!

Thanks to the friends who sent me e-cards. So fun!

Thanks to the friends who called to wish me a happy birthday. I appreciate that you thought of me.

Listen, if no one is going to buy me that *NSYNC album, I might just get it for myself. ("It's tearin' up my heart when I'm with you! But when we are apart I feel it toooooooo. And no matter what I do I feel the paaaaaaiiiiiiin, with or withOUT you . . . . ")

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I know this is catty but . . .

I feel a smug need to remind the world that I have never cast a vote for anyone whose last name is Bush.

[Will I get props from Dovie for this one? Because, you know, I live for that.]

Monday, September 12, 2005

How can I post about September 11?

When I have nothing new or insightful to say?

Just that it was a terrible, terrible day.

But September 12th was worse.

The 11th: Fear, confusion, disbelief.

The 12th: The day a black blanket settled on New York City. It was so, so quiet, and you could smell the smoke all the way on the Upper East Side.
Odds and Ends

1. Last week I went from Sunday morning to Saturday morning, practically the entire week, without eating any refined sugar! I'm so proud of myself. Of course, I had a wee bit more aspartame than usual . . . no point in trying to change everything at once . . . but it wasn't even so hard, and I'm sleeping better than I have for a while. Haven't lost any weight but I feel good. Now for week 2!

2. Yesterday I had a dinner-and-movie date with my new-since-aliyah friend, Judy. Great food at the Ne'eman restaurant at the Malcha Mall, and then we saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with Johnny Depp. I seem to be one of the only people I know who has actually read the book, and that was even before I saw the movie version with Gene Wilder! Regarding the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton version, I liked it. It was clean, in a Tim Burton wierdly darkly bizarro surreally kind of way. I wouldn't take a five-year-old to see it, but my 7-year-old nephew would love it. I didn't even mind the addition of a backstory for Willie Wonka, even though the way they wrapped it up at the end kind of made me gag over the sugar-sweet syrupy sappy stuff. This movie is not high art, but it was kinda cool, especially visually, and especially for people who have read the book. I had a few good laughs. It was fun.

3. Today I met some people for breakfast at Cafe Quiche, which is a lovely little cafe attached to the Museum of Islamic Art on Hapalmach Street. I'd never been in the building before. The Museum of Islamic Art is sort of an enigma to me, because I pass by it all the time and never see anyone go in or out (kind of like Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory, actually). When I first made aliyah and saw the museum, my first thought of course was "I wonder if any Arab country would have a Museum of Jewish Art, huh?" But then I just started wondering about the mystery of who patrons the museum. They change the banners about their main exhibits, so someone must go there. The cafe is under kosher supervision, so there must be a lot of Jewish visitors. Probably a lot of school groups, I imagine.

I should emphasize that I'm not not visiting the Museum of Islamic Art because I have anything against Islamic Art. Islamic Art interests me just as much as pretty much any other kind of art, which is to say, not that much at all. I keep thinking that as an intellectual person I should visit there once or twice, since it's sad to live such a short walk from an art museum and never go in. But it's one of those things I never get around to, you know?

But just FYI, the cafe is really nice. They have a pretty extensive breakfast menu and it's a nice place to sit.

4. R. is back!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Did they read the same report?


Note the New York Times headline: "Medical Records Say Arafat Died From a Stroke."

Lead Paragraphs:
The medical records of Yasir Arafat, which have been kept secret since his unexplained death last year at a French military hospital, show that he died from a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unidentified infection.

The first independent review of the records, obtained by The New York Times, suggests that poisoning was highly unlikely and dispels a rumor that he may have died of AIDS. Nonetheless, the records show that despite extensive testing, his doctors could not determine the underlying infection.

Now the Haaretz headline: "Medical experts: Yasser Arafat died of AIDS or poisoning"

Lead paragraph:

An analysis of the confidential medical report on Yasser Arafat's death reveals three main possibilities as to the cause: poisoning, AIDS or an infection.

Well now. I'm glad we are all clear. I'd love to get my hands on those records and see which set of reporters presented the more accurate version of the truth.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Another year of Chayyei Sarah . . .

. . . has come and gone, like sands through the hourglass. Another year of dating. Another year of blogging. Another year of figuring out this whole living-in-Israel thing. And what a year it has been!

Yes, my birthday is coming up (the Hebrew date is 9 Elul, which this year is September 13), and I'm inviting all of you to join me in celebrating by buying me gifts. Yes, indeedy. There is nothing like waking up on one's birthday to the site of presents sent in by one's friends and loyal readers. And for the whole of the next year, whenever I put off doing something more important in order to write a blog post, I will think of all of you and know that the sacrifice is worth it, because hundreds of potential birthday-present-givers will be reading my words. Believe me, the pleasure will be all mine.

To aid your participation in my birthday project, I am hereby posting the long-promised Birthday Wish List. I have spent a lot of time putting this list together, but it's all worth it if even one person is inspired by my work. It's the little things that give meaning to life. And let us say Amen.

Chayyei Sarah's 33rd Annual Birthday . . . . Wish List

  • This book
  • A blender with ice-crushing capabilities (220 v) (ie to make smoothies)
  • A hand-blender (for cream-erizing soups)
  • A food processor (I spend about an hour every Friday just chopping vegetables . . . ) (220 v) --UPDATE-- Yael bought me a Tupperware Quick Chef! Thanks,Yael!
  • This CD (guilty pleasure)
  • Billie Holiday: This CD to replace the one that has mysteriously disappeared from my collection, or this one if you are very generous.
  • These earrings, to match a necklace I already own (it was a "shadchanus" gift from a couple who met at my Shabbat table! So cool!) (Family, close girlfriends, or potential boyfriends only)
  • Earrings that look something like this or this or this, to match . . . well, anything! (see above re: family, etc)
  • Remember those Return of the Jedi cards from the 1980's? Remember how every pack of cards also came with a sticker? Well, I have the entire set of cards (yay! Thanks to my sister!), but I am missing some stickers. If you can find them on ebay, I would love stickers # 2, 6, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 22, 25, 28, 29, 31, 33, and 51
  • A really good radio, preferably with cassette player (something I can plug in, 220v)--UPDATE-- Asher gave me his old AM/FM radio/Cassette player! Thanks, Asher!
  • If you are God, please send me a nice guy. I really want those earrings.
You win some, you lose some

Well now, I have to admit, as a reflective person and professional writer, that my blog work on Hurricane Katrina has been far below the level which my readers deserve. I am talented, it seems, at writing about singles Shabbatons (yes!) and disengagements from Gaza (more or less), but hurricanes are not my thing.

So, I'm going to do the right thing and bring your attention to other bloggers who have been doing a much better job at this than I have been.

Dov Bear, our liberal-to-the-end blog friend, has lots of good information (including interesting links) and juicy arguments going on in his comments about who is to blame for the humiliating lack of organization in post-Katrina rescue and cleanup, and about theodicy. He's been blogging so much about Katrina I'm starting to worry about his obsessive tendencies. :-)

Lots of great links and reflections at the blog of our dear Orthomom, whose blog proves that you can be a mom and still have all sorts of intelligent things to say. :-)

Miriam (scroll down to the Katrina stuff) also has a good theodicy post and interesting reflections about various aspects of the hurricane and its aftermath.

Read, learn, reflect, pray . . . and hope I do something wild and crazy like go on another singles Shabbaton, so you'll have something interesting to read here!

Monday, September 05, 2005

And now for something completely different.

I just noticed that of the last 35 or so posts on my blog, more than 30 have been about something depressing. The disengagement, hurricane, my non-birthday, Jewish terrorism (I mention that just to annoy you, Yitz), students setting themselves on fire, the destruction of Jerusalem . . . I'm starting to feel like Eyore. You see me coming, run away.

So, now that help has finally arrived in New Orleans and things there are moving in the right direction, finally (even though I know that there is a loooong way to go for all those poor people who have lost everything they owned, and it's still stunning that an entire city has pretty much been wiped away) here are a few things to bring some cheer (some in a subversive way, but still):

1. For those who follow such things, Odd Todd has put up a new Tuesday Morning Coff-ay Show.

2. For those who follow such things, Amy Winfrey, creator of Muffin Films, has posted episode 19 of "Making Fiends" AND the results of her "Making Fiends" art contest.

3. Write about your favorite date here.

4. Newborn babies here.

5. Remember to look at yummy cupcakes every day here.

6. Check the blog again soon for my birthday wish list! My birthday is in 8 more days!

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Lament for New Orleans*
(Now with update!)

Oh, how she sits in solitude. The city that teemed with people has become like a widow. She that was great among the nations, the princess among provinces, has become a tributary. She weeps bitterly in the night, and her tear is on her cheek . . . .

*with thanks to the prophet Jeremiah, who put it better than I ever could.

*** UPDATE***

I was wondering how long it would take for someone to post a comment like this:

I don't wish to leave a rude comment but I find it offensive that you can use Eicha as a source of poetry which was refering to the holy city of Jerusalem and use it for New Orleans which was the bastation of Tumah in the United States. I do not mean to mitigate the tradgedy but this is totally, in my opinion, wrong.

So let me explain.

I'm not attempting to draw any spiritual comparison between New Orleans and Jerusalem. Anyone who reads my blog has to know that.

However, the image of a city 80 percent under water, and the people living in such squalid conditions . . . well, next Tisha B'Av, when we speak of Jerusalem being bereft, and mothers eating their children, and people dying in the streets, their bodies left there to rot . . . it won't be so abstract to me anymore.

Of course, on a spiritual level, Jerusalem means more to me than New Orleans ever did. But New Orleans is now, and Jerusalem was a long time ago. In every other way but spiritual, I relate to New Orleans more, because what is happening there now is happening in front of our eyes. It's not part of history, it's not part of our collective memory. It's not a sadness that has to be conjured up because we have a religious or communal obligation to feel sadness. I feel sadness because the tragedy is unfolding in real time.

If I feel this sad about New Orleans, how much more so should I feel sad about the destruction of Jerusalem, oh so long ago? I don't know why God has done what He did to the Gulf Coast, but one small impact it has had on me is that now Eichah (the book of Lamentations) is much more vivid and real for me.

Oh, and by the way, given that thousands of people who were created in the image of God are suffering horribly, I don't think that my application of two pesukim from Nach to describe it is such a terrible thing. The Jews don't have a monopoly on suffering, you know. The wonderful thing about Tanach is its application for all time, in all places, yes? The rest of Eichah may not apply, but the first two verses fit very well.

And I think you meant to say "bastion," right?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

My God, it's just too horrible.

My poor America.
Oh, Come On

Don't we have enough to worry about, without this? Do people really have nothing better to do than pick on some guy who apparently was minding his own business?

Racism sucks. Stupidity sucks. Violence sucks. I'm so tired of this.
Jews stepping up to the plate

Miriam has kindly posted contact information for various Jewish organizations which are collecting funds for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.

I'm so awed by the extent of destruction . . . just floored . . . don't know what else to say . . . .