Sunday, July 22, 2007



When I came here in 1975 I had no Hebrew at all. Well - technically that's not absolutely true. I could say "eema" (mother) and "abba" (father). "Ken" (yes) and "lo" (no). And I knew three sentences - which I had learned at the Ulpan at the Jewish Agency Building in New York. "Yesh po shemesh? Ken, yesh po shemesh rak ba boker." (Is there sun? Yes, there is sun only in the morning.) A sentence I have had one or two occasions to use - and a sentence I have never had occasion to use - never ever - "Ha gvina ha levana al ha shulchan ha katan". (The white cheese is on the small table.) That's sort of like the first sentence everyone learns in French "La plume de ma tante est sur la bureau de mon oncle" (My aunt's pen is on my uncle's desk.) - another of those sentences which no one ever uses.

I also had no idea who the popular music stars of the day were - except for Yoram Gaon, Yaffa Yarkoni and Shoshana Damari...whose music had made it to New York.

So that when I arrived here and began to listen to the radio and heard the popular songs and popular singers I became very excited with the music. And the first three records I bought -- 12 inch 33 1/3 LPs - no tapes or CDs then -- were by "Poogy", "Chocolat, Menta, Mastik" and Shalom Hanoch. "Poogy" and "Chocolat, Menta, Mastic" disbanded long ago - Shalom Hanoch is still going strong.

As I said, I had no Hebrew and so couldn't understand the words - and, therefore, had no idea what a fabulous songwriter Shalom Hanoch was/is - but his music really turned me on.

And so it was that last Thursday night Marallyn and Shosh and I went to a "live" Shalom Hanoch concert. The man has never been out of fashion - that's 32 years - and he was singing even before I got here.

There's a relatively new club across the road from my house called "Hamabada" (The Laboratory) which is a small and intimate venue and which I visited for the first time during the Film Festival a week or so ago.

It's a sort of theatre-in-the-"U" - not quite a theatre-in-the-round - and we were sitting along one side of the "U" so that we had a great view of the stage and also of the audience. What can I tell you - Shalom Hanoch and his accompanist, Moshe Levi - who is so much more than that, a really fabulously talented musician in his own right - sang and played for two hours without a break. And Israeli audiences being what we are - we sang along with him. And clapped in time to the music. And waved - well, at one time the audiences waved cigarette lighters and candles - but as that's not allowed anymore we waved lighted cell phones! Keeping up with the times, I guess. And no, we weren't being rude or disruptive - we were encouraged to participate.

There were two young boys - they couldn't have been more than about 16 years of age - sitting in the front row facing the stage - and they knew every single word of every single song - along with the appropriate hand gestures. The audience represented three generations!! Can you imagine such an evening? When I looked out over the audience I noticed that there was no one just sitting still - each and every one of us was moving in time to the music. I'm still on a high. He promised to come back to Jerusalem and sing for us again - I'll be first on line to buy tickets.

In the meantime, Marallyn and I are going to see Ninette next week - can anything measure up to Shalom?

Yalla, Bye.

Saturday, July 07, 2007



My friend, Shosh, says that when the Greeks left they took all the logic with them - and there has not been any logic in Israel since.

I think she's right.

For instance - we are in the middle of our 24th Annual Jerusalem Film Festival (more about that another time) - and this morning - at 9 o'clock - we went to Beit Shmuel to see our first film of the day. The film, of course, didn't start until 10 o'clock - but as there is a lack of parking spaces and we had to dash out of the theatre to get to another theatre to see our second film of the day we needed a spot right near the front entrance...hence the early arrival.

The film ended - we said goodbye to our other friends - ran to the car - and started to drive to the second theatre. As we got to the main street - where we had to turn left - there was a big sign with a big arrow pointing to the right. "OK "- I said to myself - "I'll turn right and go around the block". But - it wasn't necessary - because despite the big arrow pointing right - the road split and there was another even bigger arrow painted in the street pointing to the left. Logical?

Which reminded me of the time a few weeks ago when Myra and I went to the Mall. There were big sales going on and the shops set up tables in the middle of the aisles to hold their sale goods.

One of the tables had a sign which said - T-SHIRTS-2 for 50 SHEKELS. The original price marked on each T-shirt was 30 shekels. Myra only wanted one shirt and said she would pay the 30 shekels for the one shirt instead of 25 shekels (2 for 50 - remember?). "Oh no" said the salesgirl - "I can't sell you only one". "Why not?" asked Myra innocently. "The computer won't let me", she answered. THE COMPUTER WON'T LET HER? Doesn't she know that people program computers? Computers don't decide for themselves. Logical?

But with all this mishegass (craziness) in our country - things happen which defy all a very nice way. When we got to the second theatre - the Lev Smadar - we had just enough time to have a quick lunch in their cafe before the second film. I ordered a fabulous Yoghurt Soup and Shosh ordered batata chips (sweet potato chips) and a plate of mushroom burgers on a bed of lentil puree with a yoghurt sauce. Sounds good - no? Inedible. Not bad - just completely devoid of taste. Salt & pepper didn't help - nor did the yoghurt sauce. When the waitress came to give us our bill she saw that the plate of burgers was untouched. "Was something wrong?" she asked. "No - it just had no taste and we couldn't eat it" answered Shosh. In a flash she picked up our bill and returned with a new bill - with the burgers taken off the bill. We hadn't asked for a refund - we hadn't asked to have the dish removed from the bill - she just did it. Never happened to us before. But - I'll definitely go back there again - I'll just order Yoghurt Soup. That's logical.

Yalla, Bye.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?