Saturday, January 26, 2008



If you recall my last Blog - I was bemoaning the fact that "Elite" never replied to my letter about the missing piece of chocolate. And I also said that I would let you know what happens in the future.

Well, my dears - on Thursday I answered my phone to hear a representative of "Elite" asking for me. She apologized most heartily for the short-count in the bag of chocolates and actually thanked me for being "such a concerned and alert consumer" and letting them know of the problem. If that's not a great way of handling a consumer complaint I don't know what is. Kudos to them. (By the way - does one always send "kudos" - in the plural? Does anyone ever send a singular "kudo"?)

And - they are mailing me a gift certificate for 50 shekels so I can buy more "Elite" chocolates....and continue to be their customer.

So what do you think I did? I went right out and bought a box of "Max Brenner" chocolates - remember? - I said "Elite" also owned "Max Brenner" - to take as one of my gifts to my friends in London - when I go next week - if I ever get there next week. (They love M.B. chocolates.)

Good segue - wasn't it? This is by way of telling you not to look for my Blog next week - I hope. I expect to be in London to attend the 80th Birthday bash of my friend, Stewart. As we all did for Pearl and Stewart's 50th Wedding Anniversary - we're showing up again from all over the place for his birthday.

BUT - snow is predicted for Tuesday and I have to get to the airport at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. Driving my own car because it get's stored at the airport when I am abroad. Mind you - we have had no winter to speak of and it's already the end of January. So last week it became very cold - now it's finally raining - and next week snow.

I'm the first to admit that we need rain and snow during the winter months - and there has been a real shortage of both this year. But - please, pretty please - can the snow just hold off until my plane takes off on Wednesday morning?

You have to understand that it seldom snows in Israel and when it does - the whole country - or at least the parts that actually get snow - goes into a swivet. Israelis do not know how to drive in snow. Many Israelis have never even seen snow. I'm from New York so I know what snow is - and how to drive in it. But - I had snow tires in the winter - or, at least, snow chains in my trunk. Here - klum (nothing). So - I'll worry and worry until I get to the airport - although that won't do much good because it won't help. If any of you knows a "snow-stay-away dance - start dancing - NOW!

And if you don't get a Blog next weekend - you'll know I made it to the airport and am enjoying myself in London. I'll be in touch when I get back - if I ever get there.

Yalla, Bye.

Monday, January 21, 2008



It's been a tradition in my house to have a decorative glass jar of chocolates on my coffee table at all times. My husband was a chocoholic and chocolates had to be available at all times. Not a bad addiction in the whole scheme of things.

Anyway - I've carried on the tradition and all who come to visit know that there is always a chocolate fix waiting for them - no need to even ask - just open the jar and take. I usually buy "Toblerone" but every so often I buy something else for variety.

And so it was that a few weeks ago when I was in the supermarket I bought a bag of chocolates to replenish my stash. There were all kinds of sales going on and I spent quite some time checking the bags of chocolates and their prices relative to the number of pieces for the price. If you get my meaning. I decided on a bag of "Elite" brand chocolates which had written across the top "20% free" (in Hebrew, of course) and on the front of the package "26 pieces".

Now - I do not know what possessed me to count the number of pieces contained in the bag - I've never done it before - but you'd better believe that I'll do it again. For the bag contained only 25 pieces. Yes - I counted them several times - still 25 pieces.

Mind you - one piece less is not going to make or break me - but just imagine - if in each bag sold only one piece is missing - what kind of a profit can accrue to the company. They can make millions just on that "one piece".

So - good citizen that I am - I wrote to the Strauss Group Ltd. which is the parent company of "Elite". Just so that you know - Strauss is an enormous corporation doing business all over the world - according to the internet. They are involved with "Danone", "Unilever", "Pepsico", "Lavazza", "Frito-Lay" - to name only a few easily recognizable names out of many. In Israel they control dairy products, chocolates, coffees, snack foods, prepared salads - you name it, their finger is in it - so to speak.

I asked them for nothing - not for free chocolates - not for free "anythings" - not even for a refund for my missing piece of candy. I simply sent a letter to Ofra Strauss, Chairperson and Erez Vigodman, President and CEO of Strauss Group Ltd. telling them of the wrong count in the package.

And what did I expect in return? Just an answer - an apology if you like - for what was probably a mistake - after all - how many people actually count the pieces in a bag of chocolate? And what did I receive? Nothing. I have never had even an acknowledgement from them let alone an apology.

I can't even get on my high horse and threaten never to buy any of their products again - you can hardly turn around in Israel without running into their products. And how can I give up "Max Brenner" chocolates? So what will I do? Tell everyone I know about their short-count and about how they completely ignore letters from their consumers. And hope that, somehow, some day, this message gets to them - and if they ever reply I'll let you know.

Yalla, Bye.

Monday, January 14, 2008



That was the week that was. Bush and his entourage were here and threw our city into an absolute mess. Now they're gone - BUT - he has promised to return to help us celebrate Israel's 60th Anniversary. Anything but that (the whip the whip - does anyone remember that old joke?)!!

Downtown was like a ghost town - so I heard. There was no way of getting from here to there. The people who had to get downtown to work managed - with great difficulty. Although a friend who works opposite the King David Hotel was turned back by the police. Restaurants were empty. Shops were empty. No one did any business. When I finally went downtown yesterday to get my hair done, my parking lot guy told me he simply closed the lot and went home - no cars.

So - what was the purpose of Bush's visit? He's certainly not running for re-election. But - he wants to go down in history as having done something - anything. So the two incompetents - the two failed leaders - met. And Bush told us to "keep Olmert - take care of him" - because he's a "good man". If that's not sticking his nose into Israeli politics - I don't know what it is. How dare he?

But there were some fun aspects to his visit. We couldn't get anywhere - so we didn't go anywhere. I did a lot of work at my desk. I did several laundries. I cooked - experimented with new recipes. Had an afternoon nap - almost unheard of. I went into the Moshava (the German Colony - in the other direction from downtown) and went to the post office and did some banking for the Va'ad (the building committee) and people were saying how nice and uncrowded the area was - there was lots of parking and space in all the cafes - because people couldn't get from there to here.

And I had time to begin a major translating job - translating pages and pages of menus for events to be held at the Regency Hotel - from Hebrew into English. Don't ask. I finally finished the job today....with the telephone assistance of Ros and Marallyn. (That's the nice thing about the three of us - we're always there to help each other.) So I managed to make them crazy too.

There are certain words that just aren't translatable - for instance kubbe hamusta - if you don't know what it is you can't know what it is. Well - kubbe in that case are dumplings filled with meat from the Kurdish cuisine - but hamusta - ain't no way. What about basar rosh - head meat - what's that? And what about a chef who has on his menu "tortillas" (Mexican, you will note) stuffed with meat Thailandi style? Or Thailandi beef stir-fried Szechuan-style? I can't wait to meet that chef.

And then there are pargiot. Pargiot are small chickens - like Cornish Hens - BUT - they are also boneless thighs from the pargit (singular of pargiot). And the chef doesn't make clear whether he is talking about pargiot or pargiot. See what I mean?

Enough already - now I'm getting hungry.

Yalla, Bye.

Sunday, January 06, 2008



On very many levels I am extremely disturbed about President Bush's visit to Israel this coming Wednesday. Some of my concerns might seem, at first glance, to be merely selfish and self-serving. Such as my dismay at our city - Jerusalem - being thrown into chaos with regard to the traffic situation.

There will not be any way for us ordinary citizens to get downtown - for instance, I will not be able to get my hair done as my hairdresser is right in the middle of downtown. Sounds a bit petty - don't you think? But what about the people who work downtown and will find all kinds of impediments lying in their paths to their offices and shops? The City is not only closing off the main streets leading to the center of town - but has already forbidden parking on those streets and has said that cars will be towed to a parking lot in an outlying area.

Not to mention that traffic in this city is already a nightmare due to the light rail line being installed - which is already millions over budget and years late.

Visitors with confirmed reservations will be - no, have already been - thrown out of their hotels. And this at a time when tourism is just beginning to get back to where it was before the Second Lebanon War. Why is it necessary to reserve more than 800 - yes 800 - rooms for Bush's entourage? Who are all these people anyway? Are they integral to the "peace process"?

And why has the City spent millions of shekels on cleaning up the streets - but only the streets where Bush and his entourage will travel? What about the rest of the city? Under Mayor Lupolianski the city is falling apart - and yet millions of shekels are being wasted on this visit. Not to mention the thousands of flags being hung up along his routes - all costing money which, we are told, the country doesn't have for serious problems such as teachers' salaries. But we have the money for this shtuyot (stupidity)?

And I understand that the area around the Malha Mall will be closed so that President Bush can have his morning jog. Can't he go to a gym and walk on a treadmill like a normal person? It's three days - what will happen to him if he doesn't jog for three days? Better he should spend his time practicing the correct way to say nuclear - that's nyu-clee-ar Mr. Bush - not noo-cyoo-ler!

And why am I so angry about all of this? About the American President coming to Israel for a visit? Because he is a failed President with a failed presidency meeting with a failed Prime Minister. So - as all United States Presidents do when the going gets tough and their ratings are way down - they decide to be our savoir - to be "the one" to implement the "peace process".

And at what cost to us? Prime Minister Olmert is in no better political shape here at home than Bush is in the States. So these two failures - one who stole an election and one who wasn't even elected - are going to get together to decide our fate. Will that bring up their ratings? Will that make them more popular? Will that kill us?

Yalla, Bye.

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