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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘israeli culture’

Life in Israel: A Complaint to Egged

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Egged is Israel’s main bus company. Every day, without exaggeration, I would guess they move millions of people in hundreds of cities, towns and villages in Israel. The challenge they often face – is not forgetting that each of those million is a person. You’ll often see the last person get on the bus…and still the bus doesn’t move because as the driver was preparing to leave, he noticed someone running for his bus and he chose to wait.

For the most part, they are efficient and do their best to get people where they need to go. For the most part, they are kind and patient. They’ll greet you as you get on the bus and respond in kind as you wish them a good day. They’ll go that extra bit to explain where something is…

And sometimes, they go beyond…

In 2003, I wrote this:

Egged Prepares for Gulf II: Egged has trained 100 drivers to drive with gas masks and protective suits so that they can drive INTO an area where potentially bio/chem weapons have landed to evacuate wounded).

In 2008, I wrote about how a bus driver heard that a soldier had left his backpack on a bus. When he realized, he jumped on the next bus and explained to the driver what had happened. That driver radioed ahead and the second driver pulled to the side of the road and waited for them to catch up so the soldier could retrieve his backpack. (Even the Bus Drivers Love Them).

I also wrote another story in that post about how bus drivers in Israel sometimes do amazing things, like this:

When the bus driver realized that a former prime minister had boarded his bus, he insisted on driving the astonished leader to his doorstep, even though it was off the usual bus route. Embarrassed at the attention, the leader tried to argue with the bus driver, but the applause of the people on the bus made it clear that they agreed with the driver.

More recently, a bus driver was confronted with a crying a first grader who had missed his stop. He turned the bus around and took the boy home before resuming his trip.

So, having told of the amazing, I feel free to tell about the less than amazing. Sadly, the less than amazing is often more the norm and for this reason, I’ve decided to write this post.

This morning, Aliza and four of her friends went to school. A bus, the Egged 175 pulled into her stop at 10:15 - perfect timing to get the girls to school at 10:30 (they had a weekend event and so were given permission to come in late). The bus pulled in on time – the driver refused to let the girls get on the bus – and merely yelled at someone else to get out of the bus using the rear door.

He didn’t bother to explain – rather, he left five young girls upset on the side of the road, missing the only bus that would get them to school on time. I decided I would complain – and I have. I could write this to Egged, but they don’t want phone calls. They prefer we fax our complaints… and honestly, I doubt a call or a fax or an email will change anything. I don’t think if they will track down that driver or not.

I would have preferred the driver leave me standing on the side of the road, in the heat of the day, causing me to be late, than leave five girls standing there as he did. Perhaps there was a reason – perhaps they were sending out a new bus and he’d been ordered to end his trip at that point and not take on additional passengers.

All it would have taken was his opening the door and explaining this to the girls – that act of kindness, of patience, would have been the difference between their calmly waiting for another bus or finding an alternative, and the phone call I received from an upset child who was going to be late through no fault of her own.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Faces of Israel: Nachman Klieman, Founder of U-Boutique

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Nachman Klieman and his wife Ruchama made Aliyah in 1977. After twenty years of living in Rehovot, his family moved to Neve Tzuf in Judea and Samaria. Klieman refers to this move as his second Aliyah.

Neve Tzuf is an orthodox Jewish community of 260 families that is rich in Jewish history. It is also one of the possible areas where the biblical leader of the Jewish people, Joshua son of Nun, was buried. According to Klieman,

In the center of our community stand the remains of one of the largest ancient olive oil and wine press sites. Eight large circular pressing areas including drainage and collection channels were found including an adjacent mikva for the ritual purification of those who processed the wine.

Not too far away from Neve Tzuf are the wine presses of Rama, which are mentioned in the Talmud as the location where grapes for use in the Temple were produced.

Klieman describes his community with glowing terms,

Our community lacks for nothing and has a clinic, grocery store, 4 Synagogues, an active cultural program for children and adults, the central swimming pool for the area, and public green areas in its center aside from the natural forests that surround it.

We love the sense of community, purposefulness and ideology, the security and freedom we feel within the community, children and youth are able to walk around in the evening without fear, there are planned activities and shiurim for all ages. There is the feeling that if you want to be alone you can but if you don’t just knock on your neighbor’s door and you’ll be welcomed.

Nevertheless, despite the appeals of living in such a close-knit and warm community, there are hardships associated with living in Judea and Samaria. Whenever he drives, he always needs to be on extra alert because “our Palestinian neighbors decide to remind us from time to time that they still know how to throw stones at passing Israeli cars.” The fact that Klieman lives about an hour away from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, makes driving to such important places not so easy.

Unfortunately, as someone who lives on the front line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Klieman has personal experience when it comes to Palestinian terrorism. “Our 23 year old daughter, Esther, who was living at home with us at the time volunteered at Lev Binyamin (a non-profit organization for children who are physically and mentally challenged) to organize a pre- Passover camp for children of the Binyamin area. Esther’s plan was to provide free time for the parents of these children and to enable them to prepare for the Holiday,” Klieman explained.

On March 24, 2002, I drove Esther to the bus stop near our home for the opening day of camp and I remember that magnificent smile as she looked at me from behind the large windshield of the bus. Five minutes later, a cell of 4 terrorists standing on a hill overlooking the road, fired automatic rifle fire at the civilian bus. Their only motive was to kill or injure Israeli citizens. One bullet penetrated the roof and struck Esther in her seat penetrating her heart of gold. According to the young girl who sat next to her as well as others on the bus, Esther died instantly.

After the tragic death of his daughter, Klieman quit his job working as the head of public relations for El Al and devoted all of his time to supporting Israel. He spoke on behalf of victims of terror for various audiences in the United States and worked as a shaliach part-time for Keren Yesod in South Africa. Then, after doing all of this work, about four years ago, Klieman experienced another family tragedy, when his 26-year-old son died of a heart attack.

According to Klieman, upon the death of Gavriel,

I felt lost and looked for a new direction to seek the strength and purpose I needed. Gavriel had begun to develop the idea of an Israeli based website just before he died, a site he named U-Boutique.com that would promote the creations and handicrafts of hundreds of Israeli artisans and designers to overseas markets. I gained the strength I needed when I began to look into the idea of turning Gavriel’s dream into a reality.

Since then Kliemen has accomplished just that.

Today, my eldest son and I are working to promote Israeli creativity and design by helping small businesses market their products overseas. Gavriel’s dream of U-Boutique is a reality, and I couldn’t ask for a greater feeling than seeing the creative works of Israeli artists, artisans, and designers of jewelry, Judaica, fashions, and art being purchased by Jews and Christians who seek to support Israel and its’ economy.

To explore Nachman Klieman’s online market of made in Israel products visit: U-Boutique.com.

Visit United with Israel.

Sounds Israeli: Ofra Haza

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

May 8th was Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim) in Israel, but since we didn’t post an edition of ‘Sounds Israeli‘ following the holiday, we’re now presenting Naomi Shemer’s classic musical tribute to the reunification of Jerusalem, ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ (Yerushalayim Shel Zahav), as performed by the late Israeli singer Ofra Haza in 1998.

Visit Cifwatch.com.

Faces of Israel: Yariv Vizner, Founder of ‘Little Heroes’

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Though a defense attorney by trade, Yariv Vizner always had a dream to give back to the community. When he was a child his mother volunteered and assisted with the mentally challenged  so he enlisted his son Adam to help him in starting an organization called Giborim Ktanim (Little Heroes) consisting entirely of volunteers who work to pair ordinary Israelis with mentally challenged children, with the goal of helping such children to better fit into Israeli society.Giborim Ktanim collaborates with over 20 schools in Israel to provide children with  the opportunity to go on trips throughout Israel. “There are children that don’t communicate with society and people don’t understand them, yet here on these trips people understand them and relate to them,” says Yariv. Since many of these children come from disadvantaged backgrounds; these trips may be their only chance to do something like this.

One of the things that Giborim Ktanim prides itself on is helping mentally challenged children to feel like they are part of Israeli society, even if they are unable to do what most other children their age can. Giborim Ktanim also seeks to help prepare mentally challenged children to learn a trade, so that they can support themselves when they grow up, yet also seeks to protect them from being exploited. One such job that mentally challenged adults in Israel often take on is being bus boys at Aroma, a popular Israeli chain of cafes.

In addition, Giborim Katanim seeks to support mentally challenged children by providing the skills necessary to have a Jewish life, despite the fact that mentally challenged children are not capable of being honored by being called up to the Torah or having a Bar Mitzvah. Giborim Ktanim arranges special Bar Mitzvahs at the Kotel for mentally challenged children, providing them with that crucial step in the life of every young Jewish boy.

Another way that Giborim Ktanim helps mentally challenged children to become part of Israeli society is to give them the support that they will need in order to be able to serve in the Israel Defense Forces where they serve despite their disability. “The army is the best school to teach them to be better citizens,” Vinzer said.

The families of these children are very appreciative of the work that Giborim Ktanim does. Vinzer stated that when he arrived at the Kotel to witness a group of mentally challenged children receiving their Bar Mitzvah, he saw one father of one of the children cry “because it was something so important to him that his child standing there can be a part of something like that. It is something very emotional.” He continued, “For me, it is something that I can’t forget, even though it is the twelfth time we did it at the Kotel.”

Visit United with Israel.

In Hebrew: ‘Customer Service’

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

שֵׁרוּת לָקוֹחוֹת Please enjoy the following video on the Hebrew term for “customer service,” filmed on Friday before Shabbat (apologies for the effects of the wind).

Visit Ktzat Ivrit.

Sounds Israeli: The Fools of Prophecy

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

I had the pleasure of seeing the band Shotei Hanevuah (Fools of Prophecy) perform live during my first and only trip to Israel prior to making aliyah, and I’ll likely forever associate their sound – a fusion of dub reggae, hip-hop, dance and eastern Mediterranean music - with the magical time when I first fell in love with Eretz Yisrael.

Here’s a very raw live version of their hit song “Ein Ani,” performed in front of an IDF unit in 2012.

Visit CifWatch.

Sounds Israeli: The Idan Raichel Project

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Idan Raichel burst on to the Israeli musical scene in 2003, inviting collaborations from artists of multiple ethnicities and singing in languages as diverse as Spanish, Arabic, Amharic and Swahili. The resulting highly evocative music – blending African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds – made Raichel one of his country’s biggest musical breakthroughs.

Here’s a live version of his 2010 hit song “Mima’amakim” (Out of the depths).

Visit CifWatch.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/cifwatch/sounds-israeli-the-idan-raichel-project/2013/04/30/

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