Stefanella's Drive Thru

Israel, U.S., conflict, war, peace, humor, travel, romance, fashion, fun

Pre-Pubescent Martyrs March 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:13 pm

Allison recently posted this absolutely sickening video that to my thinking borders on porn. I look at stuff like this and realize how very broad the mentality chasm between the two peoples is. Can it ever be bridged?

Here’s a tamer version of the same thing. And I still ask: Can it ever be bridged? I’m losing hope and faith. And by the way, you’re right little girl. You won’t be kids forever. Especially if you blow yourself up. Shahada, incidentally, is a martyr for the cause (i.e. suicide bomber).


Oh Nooooooooo!!!!! March 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:48 pm

It is HAPPENING! I’m beginning to INTEGRATE!!!

I think it sorta crept up from behind when I wasn’t looking. All gradual and sneaky like.

But I’m beginning to notice it in small increments. The way waiting at bureaucratic offices makes me cringe but not boil. The way I try to think two steps ahead (i.e. strategize) and today, how I attempted to foil the system.

I was sitting at the offices of the local Maccabi Medical Center waiting my turn. I needed to take care of some billing and paperwork. I overheard an admin. woman turn to her colleague and say in Hebrew: “Do you speak English? How am I going to help this guy with his paperwork?”

I offered to translate and they accepted. He was from France – a new immigrant signing on for health benefits on behalf of himself and his wife (who was not present).

We got through the mandatory questionnaire part of pre-existing conditions, medications, surgeries etc. and then the admin. woman noticed he and his wife hadn’t signed the forms. I can’t bring them onboard until they both sign, said Ms. admin. I translated.

And after translating, while Ms. admin was busy on the computer, I hid my face behind the plant on her desk and pantomimed/whispered to the French guy: Go outside and forge your wife’s signature! He smiled and whispered back: “Trying to turn me into an Israeli already?”

He departed and then it was my turn. I got the same admin. woman.

About 20 minutes into our “session”, I chuckled when I noticed the French guy hadn’t returned. “Honest guy,” I said aloud. The admin. woman looked puzzled so I confessed, telling her the story.

Shame on you! she admonished with a wide grin. Don’t corrupt him so quickly. Let him stay naive and innocent for two minutes, wouldja? It won’t last long.
It’s not because we live in a den of dishonesty (although some may beg to differ). It’s because you learn what’s important and what’s not. What is worth going back home and coming back again the next day for to wait in line for an hour and….need I say more?

Mothering in Holy Land Central March 18, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 7:13 am

My 5-year-old son goes to a Tel Aviv kindergarten with 32 other kids. He has been in the Israeli school system a year and a half – since we moved here from San Francisco. Prior to our move he went to The Haight Ashbury Co-Op.

His first year in Holy Land Central (HLC) he struggled with culture and language gaps, geographical differences and a general longing for the familiar. Amidst adjustments, his father and I separated.

This year he feels more grounded and is excelling socially. But his kindergarten teacher recommends he stay back a year. Because she says he is somewhat immature emotionally and she also feels that his language skills won’t suffice through an entire day of 1st grade challenges (in Hebrew).

Coming from the American culture of “push push push, go go go!”, I at first rebelled internally against the teacher’s recommendation. But then I began consulting with other mothers, former and current teachers and my resolve softened.

I kept hearing from other mothers: “Keep him back! Let him play for one more year. Don’t push him.” What is this? I wondered. Laziness? Why don’t they favor pushing forward?

And then one mother voiced what I suspected might be behind the seeming slacker mentality.

Are you in a hurry for him to go to the army? Let him stay back a year!

And there it was. Something we all think about. It may be 13 years off in the horizon but it’s there in our collective thoughts.

Because just maybe, as is the popular suggestion handed down from parents to children for decades, there will be peace in my child’s lifetime and he won’t have to go into the army. So why not give the opportunity for peace an extra year?


Hail to Advertising March 16, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 2:44 pm

I live in Tel Aviv around the corner from this billboard ad for Crocker Jeans. And for obvious reasons, the first time I saw it I:

1) Did a doubletake. It doesn’t really say that!

2) Laughed upon realizing that indeed it did

3) Thought: Wow, I have to take a picture and blog it
But it was nightime and my little Canon digital wouldn’t have done it justice.

Zabaj photo’d it so I’m borrowing their image.

Neery a dull moment here. Neery a dull moment.

Visual DNA March 15, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:16 pm

i totally stole the idea for this from Noorster. I LOVE IT! go do your own profile. hell, take a look at mine. it’s fun.


Mind Boggling

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:28 am

I found this post while skimming for material to write about.

It’s so troubling that I really don’t know what to write about two kindergarten aged children being interviewed about their mother “the martyr” who blew herself up in order to kill Jews.

That poor child, I kept thinking as the small girl whispered Hamas drivel about honor and Paradise the anchor has asked her to share. She squirmed. And I wondered how she’ll feel about that interview when she gets older. Poor children.

“Do you miss your mommy?” the asinine anchor asks the children.

I can’t put up the video here because in order to do so I have to first ask permission from Memri (Hamas) T.V. for the code. That’s just not something I’m going to do.


Ambassador Bondage March 14, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:03 am

I should let this one go. It has already made headlines ALL OVER the world and others have blogged about it and the story’s almost old – it’s been out for days.

But I can’t.

Because the sensation is too much of a temptation.

WHAT WAS ISRAEL’S AMBASSADOR TO EL SALVADOR THINKING when he put on his bondage gear and got oh-so-flaming drunk only to be found in a near-naked stupor (save the bondage ball in his mouth) in his backyard by Salvadorean police? Clearly he wasn’t thinking. And I guess we don’t plan on our bondage masters leaving us tied to the backyard tree while they dash out off for coffee, hmmm?

Poor guy. He got his kink on and now his career is ruined.

Makes me think of two things: 1) Pee Wee Herman 2) That horrible bondage scene from Pulp Fiction

As if there wasn’t ENOUGH attention directed to this part of the world! Geez.

The Thin Love/Hate Line March 12, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 9:07 am

I have very mixed feelings about Israeli doctors.

On the one hand, most I’ve visited thus far have the bedside manners of rocks.


Can you tell me what those drops are you just put into my eyes? What do they do?

They help me do my job.

(duhhh. Zen, zen, zen. Breathe. Self-restraint) But do they widen the pupils or…?


End of conversation.


What I’m worried about is losing my eyesight.


So I guess the question is whether or not surgery is the best option?

We’ll see

End of conversation.

On the other hand…

I’ll document your son’s medical condition so that it can be written off. That way you won’t be billed for the surgery. Otherwise they’ll make you pay for it.

Gee. I don’t know what to say. Wow thanks.

Don’t say anything. Just let me know when you want to schedule surgery.


I’m not covered yet by my health policy. It hasn’t kicked in.

Never mind. I’ll treat you anyway. I’m a doctor and that’s what I do. It’s humanitarian

Wow. I don’t know what to say. Gee thanks

Don’t say anything. Now go tell the next patient he can come in.

see the conundrum?

Bank Purgatory March 8, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 2:59 am

The other day I stepped into a branch of my Tel Aviv bank to get some information.

What rate do you charge for converting a pound check to shekels?
I don’t know, said the clerk. Go see the manager.

I knocked on the door, entered the manager’s office and repeated the question.

Do you bank at this branch? asked the manager
No. I replied
They’ll have the answer at your branch.
But I’m asking you.

I didn’t budge.
The manager proceeded to shuffle papers, concentrate fixedly on his computer screen, leave the office, return, sign papers, take a phone call…He doesn’t know..I realized. But he doesn’t want to admit it and he doesn’t want to find out either. HA!
I waited.

What was your question?

I repeated my question. He exited the office again and I strained to listen as he quietly asked a clerk my question.

He returned. Sat. Said:
When you deposit the check, a window will pop up on the bank computer screen with the amount we charge for the service.

Okay, I warned. I’m switching to English. (uh oh, look out. here comes mother tongue)
That is an Absolutely Ridiculous Answer. You base the charges that “Pop up on the Screen” on a Percentage. What is that percentage? I asked.

Enter helpful clerk who explained the rate – less than 1% of the total amount of any foreign currency check. I exited with mixed feelings of incredulity and blase. My acculturation must be coming along.

For the record, the ACTUAL rate turned out to be a fixed $3 per check fee. Nada on anything remotely close to a percentage base. AHHHHH!!!!!!


Is Silence Golden? March 5, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 2:00 pm

Last year our family relocated from San Francisco to Israel. Our (then) 4-year-old started kindergarten upon arrival and we all took on the task of adjusting to new surroundings, making friends and acculturating.

One day while in the pediatrician’s waiting room, we met his 4-year-old girl friend from preschool. Chatting with the girl’s mother, “what are you here for?” eventually arose. She was there, as she had been on numerous occasions, to see about a “private parts” (not urinary tract) infection her daughter was suffering.

Later I got to thinking..particularly after the child’s grandmother commented one day about the father being overly clingy and attached to the girl. The parents, by the way, are divorced.

One day I asked the girl’s grandmother (who cared for her most of the time) whether she suspected foul play what with the recurring infections. Because, I told her, from what I knew it was unusual for a 4-year-old to have that sort of trouble over and over again unless…

No, No she replied adamantly.

And I felt the idiot. Because the relationship was never quite the same after I suggested what I suggested. They backed off. And I thought: Nice one. You come here with all of your fancy San Francisco ideas and butt into peoples’ lives and who do you think you are?

At one point I even apologized to the grandmother for my suggestion. They have since moved to another city and we lost contact.

Last week a mutual friend e-mailed: The little girl’s mom mentioned you. God, she’s having a real time of it!

It took three days to remember which little girl my friend was referring to. But when I remembered, it was with a thud. Because the only reason that mother would bring up my name…

And I phoned the mutual friend and yes, I had been correct in my initial assumption.

I got off the phone and didn’t know what to do with myself. Cry, hug my son, call my mother, call a friend, blog it…It was close to home and my god we’re all vulnerable and poor child and poor mother and poor family and…

In the time since, I have asked several physicians – my father included – how it could be that no medical professional caught it. All returned similar answers i.e. perhaps someone did tell family members but they chose not to act, 4-year-olds have a habit of “exploring” and hands aren’t always clean so infections can be an issue, etc.

It’s nobody’s fault. And the crappiest part is that based upon what I’ve read and learned, the father was probably a child victim himself.


Go here if you want to read up on warning signs of abuse.