Vignettes from my first outings


At Café Hillel I see the woman in front of me purchase an iced latte, so I ask for an iced latte. I am told they don’t have an iced latte but that I can get iced coffee with milk. I watch the barista make what is essentially an iced latte – a shot of espresso, ice and milk! Wouldn’t it be easier to just call it an iced latte? And, from a second coffee run to a different café – apparently there is no such thing as a hot latte either – it’s a “cappuccino”. They do have a chai latte however. What is a Seattleite to do with these coffee heathens?

At the Supersol “Deal” (a grocery store on steroids) I try to get a cart. They are chained together. I ask how I get one and am told that I need to pay five shekels. That seems a steep price for a  cart and I don’t need much, so I proceed without one. Balancing vegetables, milk, oatmeal, paper towels and a six pack of water I make my way around the store. I hear two women speaking English, so I ask them about the carts. So, it turns out that you get your five shekels back when you return the cart! Why don’t they do that in America? That would solve the problem of people taking the carts with them. Probably because we don’t have any coins worth enough to make it work. Glad to know next time I can get a cart. (Ok – according to my husband, they do this in LA. but it doesn’t seem like a quarter is going to prevent theft if someone really feels the need for a shopping cart.)

Apparently it is not only legal but perhaps even encouraged that vehicles drive and park on the sidewalks here in Israel. A motorcycle – not a moped or a scooter but davka (specifically) a motorcycle – drove up the sidewalk in the opposite direction of the one way street that it was alongside. Huge chunks of sidewalk are marked as parking!

Had a whole conversation in Hebrew with the clerk in the bookstore but yet she recommended to me “My first Hebrew words” because the map I bought was all in English! Did I sound that bad or did she figure I had kids and they were learning?

Met my landlord today. I am wearing a pendant that says “Shalom, Peace and Salaam” (each in their language). He says to me “I like your necklace. I don’t believe it, but I like it.” Wow! What a statement. I told him that it is hard to believe in but worth it – but what do I know? I don’t live here.

It is a good thing that I brought multiple pairs of shoes so that I can keep rotating what part of my foot gets irritated! Walking multiple miles a day on dusty sidewalks in heat that causes swelling in my feet, does not make for happy feet. Tomorrow there will be little walking and what there is will be in sneakers with socks on. Hopefully that will allow the blisters from the last three days to heal a bit!

Am relieved that the sight of a young person in street clothes with an AK-47 does not cause the same gut reaction it did on my last visit. Not sure I should be relieved but at least it will make things less jarring since they are omnipresent here. Young people in their Zahal (Israeli Army) uniforms are also seen frequently. I wish neither of these things had to be but have learned to be grateful that they are there. Would prefer to be visiting Jerusalem of Peace in a world where there was peace between Israelis and Palestinians as well as the rest of the Arab world. Which brings me back to my landlord’s comment.

About nancesea

I live in Seattle with my husband Steve. I am an award winning Jewish educator, and primarily teach middle schoolers. My speciality is the Holocaust. My hobbies, when I have time, are reading, live music, and photography. I am passionate about teaching the lessons of the darkest periods history to help inspire my students to assure our future is brighter. Pre-Covid I used to travel yearly to Central and Eastern Europe to continue to learn about this history and make connections with educators there doing similar work. I hope you enjoy my writing on my travels, my learning and Jewish thought and practice. B'vrachot - with blessings - Nance

4 responses »

  1. The grocery/supermarkets in Germany use carts that require a quarter and it get returned when you bring it back to its happy place. Birkenstocks (sandals) are great for walking! Sounds like things are settling in and you are having a great start to your adventure.

    • Thank you Barbara. I thought about buying a pair of Birks before I left but I have had problems in the past with my foot not feeling “confident” in them (the sandal style) and cramping because it is trying to hold on the the shoe. I also find that my foot needs a few days to adjust to them before it is really happy and by the time I was going to get them that wasn’t going to happen. I have good shoes – the problem is my feet swell in the heat here, there is so much dust that it causes rubbing and that I just am not used to walking this much on sidewalks. I will just keep having to rotate! I hear that they make nice shoes here so I could go find a new pair as well.

  2. A year and a half a go I asked seven people in J’lem who could lead Israel forward in this excrutiating environment. Six said “no one”, one said “Shlomo Carlebach.” (Go figure.) Asked the same folks if they could accept a land-for-peace exchange. All of them said one or another variation of “… (long pause) … ye-e-e-e-s, if I could believe in the peace.” (I was in Baka.)

    שלום על ישראל (and here’s the part I used to hear all the time, 40 years ago, but I don’t hear it anymore) ועל כל בני אדם

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