Stefanella's Drive Thru

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

Going to Bed Hungry September 1, 2009

This afternoon while my son & I were riding our bikes home from a celebratory ice cream shop outing to mark his 1st day of second grade, we came across a prodigious public statement/art installation in Central Tel Aviv that begged contemplation.

The entirety of Rabin Square, Tel Aviv’s largest inner city public space, had been set up with long banquet tables covered with simple white table cloths and set with glass white plates and silver cutlery.  White plastic chairs were placed at each setting.

There were, literally, thousands of place settings.

Ooh…Mass banquet! I thought but somehow knew that was wrong.

It took a minute of reckoning, eyeballing the overhead signage displayed behind the tables and ultimately chatting with the young people guarding the “installation” to understand what it was all about.

Israel is headed into The Jewish New Year holiday season in a few weeks which means family gatherings, dinners, office toasts, gift giving and general cheer.

Right around this time each holiday season LaTet (“Give) Humanitarian Organization goes into full swing food drive mode taking up food and monetary collections for those in Israel who won’t be feeling the cheer, at least not monetarily, at holiday time.

I’m accustomed to seeing the Latet people at the entrance to my supermarket handing out flyers asking for donations of baby formula, canned goods, rice and other food essentials.


But the display on the square was a phenomenal means of sending a message.  The banner beyond the tables read:  “There are 200,000 people in Israel who won’t get enough to eat this holiday season. . .”  And the empty tables, the people manning the display disclosed, represent a mere 10th of what that number might look like were everyone to sit down together for a meal.

If you want to give, you can go by the display and make a donation, pick up an extra item or two at the supermarket and drop them into the receptacles on the way out or navigate to the Latet website for instructions on donating via SMS or pay per click.

And if you’re able to make it to the square, definitely go by and check it out.  It’s astonishing.


Uh Oh. I’m ONE OF THEM!!! June 8, 2008

You know when you first move to a different country or state or city how you’re painfully aware of all the differences?

All the things that were “done like that” in the place you just came from but in the new transplant place aren’t “done like that” anymore? Now they’re done “like this”.

Which is infuriating.

– “What do you mean you just went over there for a minute to get something but you were really standing in front of me in line?” You were not! Okay. Okay. Maybe I’ll go down the street to pick up my dry cleaning and catch a movie on the way back and then come back here and reclaim my place in line! What do you think of that, hmmm? You don’t care? OMG!!! Where in the hell am I?

Is that guy going to move out of the way or is he going to keep walking on MY SIDE of the sidewalk and run me down? By God he IS going to run into me! But he’s on my side of the sidewalk! Right Side! Right Side! It’s like DRIVING! He Ran Into Me! OMG!!

– Honey can you go into the kitchen and get a new serving spoon? Why? This one’s fine. Trust me. Just get a new one and keep your voice down will you? The guests might hear you. What’s going on? The Vassberger kid – Noah- tasted the egg salad directly from the serving bowl, alright? Ooohhhh! You’re kidding! Did he double dip? No, thank god. I grabbed it out of his hand in time. His parents saw the whole thing and they didn’t say a word. Is that something people DO here? God, I dunno. Please. Just get a new spoon and don’t make a big deal out of it, okay?

These are but a few samples. And yes, they’re real.

I think, however, what’s more frightening than the above is suddenly realizing you’ve morphed into one of them! “When on EARTH did THAT happen?” you ask yourself.

And no, I’m not slandering Israelis. I became “one of them” in San Francisco when I took up meditation and Yoga, in Colorado when I planted skis on my feet and took to the hills and in the Sinai Desert when I resigned myself to languishing on the beach, snorkeling, languishing, smoking a cigarette or two, languishing, eating dinner, languishing and playing backgammon in a languished pose.

I must’ve been morphing all along these past few years in Holy Land Central but I wasn’t paying attention. Until last week. . .

– At the supermarket, the checkout ladies were having a helluva struggle with the new computerized cash registers. “ITZIK!” they’re yelling for the duty manager holding the magic register key. “ITZIK!” the customers in the snaking down aisle 4 line are calling after the manager with the magic register key. In fact, it’s one big chorus of ITZIK! ITZIK! ITZIK!

And instead of getting angry and fuming over idling in the 10-item only speed line for 20 minutes, I start laughing. In an uproarious sort of way. And the cash register lady pauses between “ITZIK!”‘s and asks: What are you laughing at? And I don’t know what to tell her. So I bust out some more and internally dialogue: this scenario is SO absurd it should be a sketch or episode of something somewhere. I’m not upset about “them”. I’m laughing.

– Or, as we’re exiting the pediatrician’s office in a posh Tel Aviv neighborhood, my 6-year-old steps into the nearby bushes and begins tugging at his trousers. “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” I roar. “MARCH RIGHT BACK IN THERE AND USE THE TOILET! AND DON’T YOU DARE DO THAT WHEN WE GET TO GRANDMA AND GRANDPA’S IN AMERICA!” My lord, he is morphing too.

We’re a regular comedy tag-team act we are.

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