Archive | August, 2012

Dancing in the Night

16 Aug

Last night, driving home from the gas station outside Herzliya, our way was blocked by what appeared to be a small parade one block from our house. We managed to see a crowd of people following a small ornately decorated truck from which was blaring lively music. After parking in our garage I walked out to see what all the fuss was about.

Behind the slow moving truck decked out with a gazillion lights, I saw men wearing traditional Jewish broad brimmed black hats dancing about in a circle. They were dancing in front of some other men who were walking in a procession. At the center of the procession was a man cradling a large silver trophy-like  (or scepter-like) ornament in his arms. The trophy/scepter was periodically passed from one man to another. Music was blaring from the truck. Men, women, and children were following the procession but only men were dancing and handling the “trophy/scepter.” Children were waving fluorescent wands. I sensed a feeling of joy and exuberance from everyone. I was grateful no one seemed to mind me taking photos of the procession which continued onto a pedestrian bridge over a highway and into an area where I know there is a synagogue.

I came home and did some research on the internet. I think I’ve figured it out. The item the men were carrying and passing one to the other was a Torah scroll. The “trophy/sceptre”-like item was a case housing the scroll. What I had witnessed was a ceremony know as Hachnasat Sefer Torah which literally means “ushering in the Torah scroll.” So glad I got to catch this glimpse of Jewish ceremony before we move.


Peppino’s Big Adventure

16 Aug

The inscrutable gas pump at Paz gas station in Herzliya

Ever since the gas station at the entrance to Herzliya installed a new machine for self serve pumps—with instructions in Hebrew only—I’ve been obsessed with figuring out how to use them. And not only that. I want to be able to create an info sheet for work that will aid non-Hebrew speaking people in using the machines.

This evening after dinner, I recruited Brad to come with me to the gas station so he could aid me in my mission to take photos of the machine display and figure out how to use the machine. I hadn’t taken into account that it was a Thursday evening and traffic was guaranteed to be heavy. (Thursday is Israel’s Friday.) Plus, I’d let the tank go to nearly empty before setting out on this mission.

My little Fiat Panda, Peppino, didn’t like running on fumes and was not handling stop-and-go traffic very well. He was bucking like a disgruntled bronco. Then, I heard the dreaded beep beep beep signal alerting me to a warning message. “Limited Range” flashed onto my dashboard display. Yikes! Almost out of gas! We crept along in the bumper to bumper traffic as my heart leapt into my mouth. Fortunately we didn’t have far to go and Peppino limped up towards the gas pump.

Just as I’d suspected, even though I’d had two previous goes at it with help from kind strangers, I was having trouble navigating the menu on the touch screen. And, just as I’d suspected, Brad was able to figure it out. So, mission accomplished, we headed home, Peppino now happy with a bellyful of fuel.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

10 Aug

Today I took a walk to the local convenience store to pick up a copy of the Friday newspaper. It’s become a ritual for us since we moved to Israel—to get the Friday paper. The Friday paper is like the Sunday paper back home (though a lot thinner over here!). It’s the one with event and cultural listings, supplementary magazines, and TV guide. There are two major English-language newspapers here and we opt for The International Herald Tribune—it’s the international version of The New York Times with the local newspaper supplement the Ha’aretz and, most important of all, the New York Times crossword puzzle.

I decided to bring my camera along with me for the walk, just like I used to do when we first moved here. Back when Herzliya Pituach was unfamiliar territory and I never knew what interesting phenomenon I might come across. Since I now have my own car, and especially since it is so hot out these days, I haven’t been walking through the neighborhood much lately. But I wanted to walk today despite the weather. We will be moving back home shortly (the first week in October) and I’d like to savor the sights in the neighborhood. The incredible lushness of the vegetation, the quirky and sometimes—no oftentimes—over-the-top architecture. And maybe I’d come across a hoopoe or two. Well, no hoopoe sightings today…just scads of hooded crows. I sat for awhile in Vriesland Garden and noticed the palm trees were laden with dates. These are a different kind of date than the medjoul dates I buy in the grocery store. There are plenty of these date palms throughout the Tel Aviv district just like the ones in Vriesland Garden. All simply bursting with dates right now. I wondered last year what the city and municipalities do with all the dates and never found an answer to the question. I’d love to find the answer to that question before we move.