Stuff I like about Israel

Benji Lovitt is one of my favorite Israeli Bloggers. Every year on Yom Haatzmaut he writes a long post titled things he likes about Israel and they are numbered for the birthday of Israel. This year Israel turns 62. I wouldn’t have realized it is Yom Haatzmaut today if not for a chat I was having with a fan last night. She informed me that it was 4/20 and Yom Haatzmaut today. Coincidentally it’s my brothers birthday today – Happy Birthday Charlie. I therefore decided to write my own Yom Haatzmaut post about the things I love about Israel.

Food: I remember after spending six months in Israel trying to recreate the shwarma or falafel experience in New York and finding that no one could do what Israel could.

Haggling: I love the violence of haggling in Israel. You can haggle with your cab driver, rabbi or dude selling shoes – it’s really cool.

Crazy Beggars: Sure it sucks to have to go out and beg for a shekel or two, but the joy I get from having a little old lady throw my money back at me and curse at me in Hebrew.

Ben Yehuda: Sure it’s cliché, but it’s the center of all when it comes to Jerusalem.

Seminary Girls: I just love how they travel in packs and if you stay in Israel long enough you can tell based on their style of dress, speak and walk from which seminary they hail from

Tel Aviv: I love to think that such a sophisticated technologically advanced city that is a destination for partiers around the world can be Jewish.

Driving: Israeli drivers are hilarious. It has one of the highest vehicle death rates in the world, but I don’t really know anyone who has a car.

Gilad Shalit: To imagine that people feel the hurt of someone they don’t know and still rally around him coming home is absolutely incredible.

IDF: I think that almost everyone I know who has spent any time in Israel has contemplated joining the IDF. Even I contemplated, but of course I was lured back to America by mountains and forests. IDF soldiers make me proud.

The women of the IDF: Israeli women are hot in general. Throw them in green, strap a grenade launcher on them and they are smoking.

Charedim: I love the Charedim. They provide so much entertainment and the riots were so much fun.

The Golan: It’s not Montana, but it’s still pretty damned cool and those signs that say “danger mines” really give you a chill.

The Old City: No matter how many times I enter the old city, I look like a tourist. Even when I used to go and ride my bike around it every night, I would look around with such interest at everything.

Technology: Every time I read a big tech blog and see something new that came out of Israel I get some Jewish pride.

Machane Yehuda: Who doesn’t like the shuk? You can find yourself haggling over flopping fish on Friday afternoon, getting great deals on rugalech and zatar covered laffas as the shuk is about to close, and tasting little free samples of halvah squares in the small narrow spice corridor.

Nature: People are always telling me to move to Israel because the outdoors stuff is great and its diversity is awesome – they are preaching to the choir.

Trash: I took a lot of pictures of garbage when I lived at Ohr Someyach. The ingenious ways that Charedim store their trash is great. They use the same skills to throw garbage in public that they use to stuff letters into the Kotel.

Yeshiva Rebels: I love it when on a hot Thursday night on Ben Yehuda, a fight breaks out between two different yeshivas. I think it used to be Niveh vs. Ner Jake or something like that. Everyone is yelling at each other at what they are going to do – the achdus is amazing.

Tzfat: The old city, the ghosts of the Kabbalist era, the Ari’s mikvah, the artists with their drawings made of letters are all awe inspiring. Don’t forget all the yellow flagger chabadnicks.

The Settlements: I don’t want to get into politics, but the mountaintop settlements are mad cool. Hilltop 468 where my friends used to live was especially cool and very windy. Doesn’t the name have a nice ring to it?

Guns: I love a strong man with a big gun.

Jewish Geography: Israel is the best place to see people you haven’t seen in years, mostly because everyone is so happy – it’s not like the New York pizza store rush.

The Kotel: The first time I was there, I thought, man this wall has no powers. It was snowing, I was on Birthright, and the experience sucked. The second time, I cried. I figured out it was also a good place to meet girls, give tzedaka and watch crazy people.

By the way I love the Hallel option on Yom Haatzmaut – the fact that Jews are split on the issue – I’m maikel and don’t say hallel. Why say something you don’t have to say?