Basically it goes something like this ... I walk into a store. I ask a question in Hebrew with my pretty okay Israeli accent. Shopkeeper responds with a really lengthy answer in Hebrew. My head explodes, but I nod and smile and say "okay" and "todah" (thank you in Hebrew) and go on my merry way. The thing that baffles most people is that I speak Hebrew much better than I understand Hebrew. Most people who grow up Jewishly hear Yiddish or Hebrew in some form, even if it's just in Hebrew School, so there's usually a gap in speaking but a decent semblance of understanding. I am an anomaly, but I think that's because I didn't start learning Hebrew until 2006 -- and then it was biblical Hebrew!
One gnarly thing about Israel is that I'm really living it up gluten-free style. You see, there are some things that are next to impossible to find in the U.S. both kosher and gluten free. One of those things? Rice noodles. Yes, something as simple as rice noodles, which essentially is rice and water, is impossible to find with a hechsher (kosher symbol). Here? Dozens of options. Curry paste? Easy. Fresh gluten-free bread? No problem. Gluten-free cakes? Delicious and less expensive. Here's what I nabbed for about 119 shekel last week (that's roughly $30).
That's fresh gluten-free sandwich bread, pita, a cake, two
packages rice noodles, and Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce).
As Chanukah approaches, these things are popping up all over the place. However, for me, these are a no-go. What are these? Sufganiyot, which are traditionally jelly donuts, but nowadays are gourmet and come in all sorts of exotic flavors. While the U.S. gorges on latkes, Israel gorges on donuts!
What else has been happening? Well, I spent Shabbat up in Ra'anana, which is a really nice little town outside of Tel Aviv that has a seriously amazing mall (yes, I went there, and yes, I bought kitchen gadgets and fresh, delicious coffee and loose-leaf tea). It was a huge blessing because I got to spend two whole days with my surrogate family! Good food, good company, getting to relax and see how grown up the kids are ... time flies when you're a world apart.
Finally, I was at the Jewish Agency for Israel's Board of Governor's meeting this morning as a "voice" for the generation of Jews that represent flux and fluidity and how JAFI can better engage and play to that audience. It was quite the excellent morning, and I got to catch up with a bunch of old friends from ROI Community and meet some newer folks, too. Networking is like coffee for me!
Mah od? (What else?) That's the quick and dirty. Life is still amazing, I'm working, I'm socializing, I'm drinking coffee, travelling, walking everywhere, waking up happy, and aside from a few annoying mosquito bites, I cannot complain about anything. I'd really wanted to write a Lech Lecha blog post since that was this week's Torah portion -- tying it to aliyah and how perfect and right it all feels -- but alas, time was not on my side this week.
Here is to another amazing week in Israel as an Israeli!