Orphaned Land mainAs the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were breaking down last week, the Old City of Jerusalem was an unlikely spot of musical coexistence. And nowhere was that more pronounced than in a hard-to-find back alley called Muristan Square where two performances demonstrated that the situation doesn’t have to be as bleak as one reads in the news.

The “Sounds of the Old City” celebration was the impetus for weeklong series of breathtaking outdoor concerts. Now in its fourth year, Sounds of the Old City is another in Jerusalem’s successful deployment of free cultural events, the kind that led me to the hopeful conclusion I wrote about in a previous post that Israel’s capital is confidently coming back to life after years of stagnation.

This latest festival takes place over four days and includes tens of performances in picturesque Old City locations; even if the music would have been sub-par (and it wasn’t, not by a long shot), the backdrops of Jerusalem stone brought alive through colored, pulsating spotlights, would be enough to recommend this one-of-a-kind event.

Sounds of the Old City matches its surroundings to a fitting spectrum of world music, with an emphasis on the Middle East. At the entrance to Jaffa Gate, a stage featured musicians such as the all female Sharkia band and the mixed gender Istiklal trio playing Turkish musician with Indian influences. A few steps away, across from the Tower of David, a band called Triple Cord updated the pop and big band heavy horn sound made by popular Jerusalem super group Marsh Dondurma with a similar Turkish/Armenian groove. Further into the Old City’s bowels, the Open Cardo featured a program of Oud music.

The highlight of the festival, however, was in the Christian Quarter where Israeli metal-meets-the-Middle-East rockers Orphaned Land had commandeered the Muristan for multiple performances throughout the week. Orphaned Land eschews the more delicate ethno-musicological leaning of many of the festival’s other performers for a head-banging, hard rock approach, with the Arab world always lurking just beneath.

The band, which has been together for more than 20 years, has 5 albums and several EPs to its credit with fans across countries not usually on the Israeli rock and roll circuit, including Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Listeners in those countries increasingly travel to Turkey to catch an Orphaned Land show live; the band has played Turkey some 12 times and regularly sells out shows numbering into the thousands. Indeed, David Brinn wrote in The Jerusalem Post that the band is more easily identified on the streets of Istanbul than Tel Aviv.

Orphaned Land’s lead vocalist Kobi Farhi, sings in Hebrew, Arabic and English; one of their standout songs is a heavy metal interpretation of the Yom Kippur piyut, El Nora Alila. After years of toiling in relative obscurity in their home country, they even scored a minor hit last year with the quieter, introspective song “Brother” from their latest album “All is One.”

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Leena Makhul with fan-donated scarf at Muristan Square

While Orphaned Land consists of Jewish Israelis melding Middle East motifs into their straight ahead rock and roll, Leena Makhul, who followed on the same stage on the last night of the festival, is an Israeli Arab who brings a similar multicultural sensibility to an unambiguous pop presentation.

Makhul, who was born in the U.S. and raised in Acre in a Christian Arab home, took the top prize at the Israeli version of the TV song competition “The Voice” in 2012. Short on height but high on charisma, Makhul won over the standing room only audience (well, there were no chairs for any of the concerts) with her infectious smile and mainstream but crowd pleasing selection of upbeat radio-familiar songs.

Makhul’s band was competent; her voice decent although almost drowned out by too much reverb. But it was her deliberate dance between languages – she sang first in English, switched to Hebrew, then Arabic (and was that a little French in there too?) that transformed Muristan Square from a Britney Spears-in-training audition to John Kerry’s ultimate wet dream about how the two sides can get along. Arab residents of the neighborhood sang along with a big Israeli crowd.

When Makhul revealed how cold she was on stage (Jerusalem in early April can be fickle and her simple black t-shirt, tights and suit jacket attire wasn’t winter-proofed) – two audience members threw scarves in her direction, which brought out an even bigger smile from the diminutive singer.

As Makhul worked through a repertoire including Arabic ballads, Israeli power pop from the likes of Mashina and Rami Kleinstein, and even some Leonard Cohen (she performed his “Hallelujah” for her final number on The Voice), the adorable factor worked in her favor and any complaints about the cold, whether political or weather-induced, had long since taken the slow bus to Ankara, where presumably they’ll be definitively thawed by another sold out show from a touring Orphaned Land.

This review appeared first on The Jerusalem Post website.

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Chabad-House-KathmanduThe sanctions and now full strike at Israel’s Foreign Ministry have already wreaked havoc with the country’s diplomacy. First, a planned trip by the Pope to the Holy Land appears to be on the verge of cancellation. Next, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to Latin America also looks likely to fall to the editing room floor. There are even more serious problems waiting at the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is set to vote on five anti-Israel resolutions this week, which will apparently go unchallenged by an Israeli diplomatic corps or total lockdown.

Despite the international urgency, most Israelis have been basically blasé about these developments. If it doesn’t hurt them with increased prices at the supermarket or a slow down on the shiputz of that new kitchen, goes the thinking, let the foreign ministry workers strike to their heart’s content.

But the news this morning that the world’s largest Passover Seder in the world was at risk of being shelved certainly got my attention…and I imagine will be pulling on the heartstrings of some of the tens of thousands of Israeli backpackers who have enjoyed the chametz-free hospitality of Chabad of Kathmandu.

Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz has been a fixture on the post-army tiyul scene for years. His laid back Nepalese Chabad House is a meeting place for young Israelis at all times of the year, but on Pesach, Kathmandu’s Jewish population swells by up to 2,000 as Israelis (and a few Jews from other countries too) make their way to the city to participate in what is rightly known as the mother of all group Seders.

The problem is not that Rabbi Lifshitz doesn’t have the cash or wherewithal this year to plan the Seder. It’s just that the kosher supplies being sent from Israel – including thousands of shmura matza and other foodstuffs not readily available in Nepal – are stuck in a container in Calcutta, and the striking Foreign Ministry staff are not cooperating with the Indian authorities to release that container from customs.

Calcutta is already a two and a half day drive from Kathmandu, if there isn’t an avalanche blocking the winding mountain roads, so if a miracle is going to happen, it can’t be at the last minute. (As of this writing, we are exactly 3 weeks away from Seder night.)

Rabbi Lifsthiz has expressed hope that the Foreign Ministry could make an exception and allow the container to continue on its way, but a Foreign Ministry spokesman was playing Pharaoh, hardening his heart. “What can we do? We’re on strike,” said Yigal Palmor, a spokesperson for the ministry. “The Seder will be canceled….we’ve been pushed into a corner by the Finance Ministry” which the diplomats say has cut their salaries to intolerable levels, hence leading to the sanctions and strike.

The Seder in Kathmandu has personal resonance for me: my family and I were among the 1,100 Israelis attending Chabad’s Kathmandu Seder in 2011 (it was a relatively small year) as part of a combination 50th birthday and bar mitzvah trek in the land of the rupee, and I have strong memories of the experience, albeit not entirely fond.

The Seder, I wrote on my blog, was a decidedly mixed experience, with the rabbi racing through the Haggadah “as if it were a ‘greatest hits’ album, speed reading the entire story in under 50 minutes, including ‘breaks’ for the most popular songs such as Ma Nishtanah and Dayenu.”

It was, I felt, a missed opportunity: the intention it seems was not to make the Seder meaningful to the uniquely captive audience, but to yotzei the assembled multitude – “that is, as long as they’ve ‘heard’ the entire Haggadah, they’ll have ‘fulfilled’ the mitzvah.” Indeed, the most exciting moment was not Pharaoh’s release of the Jewish people or a river of blood, but a very contemporary lottery in which, amazingly, my wife Jody won the top prize – a free bungee jump from the tallest bridge in the world. (She passed, as we were leaving the country to return home only a day later.)

But, personal experience aside, it would terribly sad if Chabad’s annual Kathmandu extravaganza were to be passed over due to the Foreign Ministry strike. Sadder than not getting to see the latest Pope? For the Israelis winding their way down the Annapurna trek from Muktinath, or flying back from Mount Everest, without cell phone or Internet coverage on the trail to keep up with the news, this could be worse than frogs in their beds and lice in their heads (as one cheerful Pesach ditty goes).

And it’s not like the tie died, dreadlocked and multiple pierced young Israelis who will, as in years past, rendezvous at the upscale Yak and Yeti Hotel in Katmandu can dine out on those newly kosher Ritz crackers with artificial bacon flavor that have been all over the news this week – not because of the impressions of pork, but because they’re chametz on Pesach. Fortunately, there’s always plenty of leaven-free daal baht on every street corner, although the dumpling like momos are a definite no-no.

Rabbi Lifshitz hasn’t given up entirely. Channeling Moses from a pivotal point later in the Exodus story, he says “We’re not raising our hands yet.”

This article appeared on The Jerusalem Post website.

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NT Kabbalat Shabbat

The next time you go to synagogue on a Friday night, take a moment to consider how many people are there for the davening (the prayer itself) and how many for the communal singing? If queried, most congregants will probably respond with some combination of commandedness and connection to God.

But from a sociological perspective, there’s a strong chance that participating in a religiously framed version of the good old fashioned Israeli shira b’tzibur – singing together in public – is playing a major role, not only on an interpersonal social level but going deep into the very workings of our brain chemistry.

I was mulling over these thoughts at a recent Friday night service of Nava Tehila, the Jewish Renewal community to which my family belongs. Nava Tehila members are as out of the box as they come, ranging from the spiritually seeking secular to more mainstream flexidox. Finding a common denominator isn’t always easy. Music seems to be the key and Nava Tehila is particularly well equipped in this area.

A Nava Tehila Kabbalat Shabbat service overflows with song, lasting up to an hour and a half and featuring all original tunes composed by the community’s talented prayer leaders Yoel Sykes and Daphna Rosenberg, and its rabbi, Ruth Gan Kagan. Services are egalitarian and include up to a dozen musicians playing acoustic instruments.

Micah Hendler is one of several percussionists at Nava Tehila. He says it’s not surprising that shira b’tzibur plays such a prominent role in Shabbat services. “Communities created through a musical bond have something special that is not found in a random group of friends,” he says. “Singing has the power to break down boundaries.”

Hendler should know. A member of the fabled Yale Uniersity Whiffenpoofs a cappella singing group, he majored in international relations and was a teen camper with the Seeds for Peace organization that brings Jews and Palestinians into dialogue. He returned as the group’s music counselor during summers while in college. “Performing together creates a sense of shared identity and a tangible feeling of community,” he says.

Today, Hendler directs the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, which brings together some 30 Jewish Israelis and Palestinians under the auspices of the Jerusalem International YMCA. The group performs regularly and even sang back up on David Broza’s new peace-centric CD, “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem.” (Their collaboration on a cover of “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love and Understanding” hit #3 on the Galgalatz Israeli radio station. Here’s the music video.)

Daniel Levitan, in his book “This is Your Brain on Music,” points out that singing together was the main way in which music was appreciated by human societies up until just the last few hundred years when it became a spectator activity and people felt that only professionals had the “right” to make music. Before that, music was more of a group activity, and one that may have had the added cultural evolutionary role of promoting group cohesiveness and synchronicity, Levitan postulates.

That’s undoubtedly because, on a brain chemistry level, music that elicits “the chills” in us releases dopamine, a chemical involved in both motivation and addiction and that, in general, makes us feel happy. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal went so far as to examine people in an fMRI machine while listening to music; certain compositions clearly pumped out more of the happy brain juice.

The brain is so in tune with music, in fact, that it will release dopamine even when it expects something pleasurable. (It’s the same effect that, on the negative side, results in heroin addicts getting a rush when they see blood enter the needle, even before the drug gets into their veins.) With music, it’s more benign, but it explains why you can get excited as you anticipate a melodic surge.

As Israel was becoming a state, shira b’tzibur was a big part of the group bonding process. You can see it in any number of old films and pioneering photos.

It still is. On Monday nights at the renovated First Station complex in Jerusalem, in a corner of the Culinary Bazaar’s market, a projector and screen are set up, and people gather spontaneously – while drinking a beer or just passing by – to sing along to the lyrics writ large.

It’s no wonder that singing is such a big part of prayer: it creates groups out of strangers, lubricates social awkwardness, and makes us happy.

That’s certainly true for me. When it comes to Jewish Law, I am far from commanded yet at the same time very highly committed to community. When I have difficulty with the theology behind a particular passage, I will often tune out the words and turn on to the music. Does that make me a hypocrite, just looking for a non-confrontational way to sway and stomp and clap my way to the next dopamine fix?

I don’t think so. If anything, I am participating in a long tradition of spiritual shira b’tzibur. We all are…even if we won’t admit it.

This article appeared on The Jerusalem Post website.

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Hansen Startup PartyThe irony was almost too delicious – and at the same time dreadfully serious – to avoid. The hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews who rallied on Sunday essentially against integrating into Israeli society nearly sabotaged an event across town meant to position Jerusalem as the “capital” of the Startup Nation with all the jobs that go with that…jobs in which the haredim, if their two hours of prayer were to be understood correctly, would most certainly not be participating.

Sunday’s massive ultra-Orthodox protest against “sharing the burden” and ultimately exiting the yeshivas and entering first the army and later the workforce was held on the same day, and at nearly at the same time, as the festive launch event for JNext, a new organization meant to foster an interdisciplinary ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurs in capital.

But the haredi rally blocked the entrance to the city – Highway 1 from Tel Aviv was shut to private cars from 1 PM in the afternoon and public transportation in the city, including the light rail, was severely disrupted. How would those supporters of more jobs in Jerusalem who wanted to make the drive from out of town (or for that matter, to arrive by Egged from across town) make it to the party?

The backers of JNext came up with a clever idea: they received permission to run two free buses from the park-and-ride lot near Ben-Gurion Airport up Highway 1 (along with the nearly 2,000 buses filled with haredim coming to their extravaganza). As the techies and VCs waited in line to enter one bus at the park-and-ride lot, a young haredi couple with a stroller and kids in tow tried to climb on board too. They look flustered when told where this particular vehicle was headed and turned back abruptly.

And rightly so: the JNext event would have been quite a study in contrasts for that couple. Where the ultra-Orthodox rally was swathed exclusively in black and white, JNext had decorated the new Hansen visual arts compound in spectacular color; spotlights bathed the former leper hospital in Jerusalem’s Talbiye neighborhood in pinks and greens and yellows and reds. The central courtyard, once home to some of the region’s most untouchables, was now hopping with hipsters, 350 of whom came out to eat fresh baked focaccia and mushroom and cream stuffed pita pockets, and to drink hot soup and spiked lemon punch.

The Hansen center was a perfect location: now the headquarters for the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design’s graduate studies program, it has been transformed into a hub of creativity and, in addition to the guests getting their first public glimpse of the space, various rooms were decked with comfy chill out couches where video screens told the story of a revitalized Jerusalem, while local success stories including Bob Rosenschein (ex-Answers.com, now Curiyo) and Danna Hochstein Mann of red-hot crowd funding investment platform OurCrowd gave 30 minute “inspiration” talks. JNext’s Netta Frank did a bang-up job of producing the event.

The message was clear: Jerusalem is no longer a moribund backwater to Tel Aviv; it is coming into its own as a hi-tech hub.

Indeed, as Mayor Nir Barkat, who mingled with the guests and later was interviewed by Startup Nation author Saul Singer across the street in the well appointed auditorium of the Hartman Institute, pointed out, there is a refreshing sense of déjà vu in Jerusalem: the city has not been so alive with new hi-tech ventures since the 1990s when a similar ecosystem of young creative entrepreneurs emerged.

That all was extinguished in the dot.com crash of the early 2000’s, with a further, terrifying nail added to the economic coffin by the Second Intifada. Startups fled to Tel Aviv and the merkaz, and Jerusalem was left bereft of its entrepreneurial soul. The city tried to promote biotech as the fuel for its resurgence, and to a certain extent succeeded, but at Sunday’s JNext event, it was obvious that there was more afoot.

MadeinJLMAs Hanan Brand, an associate with JVP Media Labs and co-founder of MadeinJLM, a non-profit that aims to “brand” the city by affixing its catchy logo to city startups and their websites, explained, of the 300 or so startups MadeinJLM has in its database, 150 are biotech, but another 100 are in the Internet, media and games sectors.

And not just in the parts of town you’d expect. Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann is the high tech coordinator for the Unit for Development and Entrepreneurship in East Jerusalem. She was practically bursting at the seams to share news about the first-ever high tech meet-up in East Jerusalem – an event of a newly founded group called JEST (Jerusalem Entrepreneurship Society and Technology) that two weeks earlier brought 110 East Jerusalemites out for a meeting on how to nurture and create a culture of high tech interconnectedness on their side of the city.

During the event, MadeinJLM projected a Google map on the wall in the courtyard showing the locations of the city’s resurgent hi-tech scene. None are in East Jerusalem…at least not yet.

Stav Erez is the effervescent manager of the JNext initiative. Decked out in a black mini-dress that would have fit in perfectly with the Tel Aviv tech scene, she explained how her group seeks to serve as the central body for the growing number of hi-tech launches that are building the new Jerusalem ecosystem.

These include investors like OurCrowd, JVP and Ben Wiener’s Jumpspeed Ventures; hubs and accelerators like Talipiot’s uber-hip PICO and the Hebrew University-backed SifTech (where Erez got her start); and community-promotion groups such as GameDevJLM, which aims to support the small but growing number of video game developers in town, veteran Anglo networking group the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum, and even UHF, a support group for ultra-Orthodox hi-tech workers (although, other than Jonathan Caras, co-founder of Glide, a sexy video messaging app that now has 30 staff in Jerusalem, the black hat and velvet kippa crowd was entirely absent).

These organizations regularly put on events, such as BeeraTech, a play on the word “beera” which means both “capital” and “beer” in Hebrew, and that meets monthly at local bars to drink and learn from prominent guest speakers from the tech world. GameDevJLM does the same for gamers. There are breakfast networking meetings for techies, and all of the hubs sponsor frequent lectures, too. All told, there are events nearly every day now in Jerusalem – see the MadeinJLM calendar.

But the JNext launch on Sunday was on an entirely different level, both in terms of the size of the crowd and the requisite buzz. The desired takeaway: Jerusalem is back, baby.

The scene today in Jerusalem is different from what existed in the 1990s in another way: as vibrant as the tech scene was then, the city never formally backed it. Today, JNext has a three-year budget of NIS 15 million, which comes from the municipality, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs on the national level. Moreover, through JNext, the JDA has instituted a program providing grants of up to NIS 50,000 per Jerusalem resident employee (to a maximum of NIS 500,000 per company). The JDA is also providing NIS 250,000 per accelerator to help these groups establish a presence.

The entrepreneurial renaissance is bolstered by a city that is almost unrecognizable from just a few years ago. Cultural and entertainment centers are blossoming, from the renovated First Station complex to the brand new Cinema City (where, Barkat pointed out in his talk, he saw a couple of startupistim sitting with laptops in the Café Greg presumably working on their business plan). The number of cultural activities in the city, such as the recently completed Shaon Horef Monday night street parties, or environmental projects, including the soon-to-open Gazelle Valley urban nature reserve, make the city that much more attractive to young entrepreneurs contemplating staying in town after their university studies. (Now, if something could be done to bring down home purchase and rental prices…)

Sunday’s JNext launch was originally planned for October 7, 2013. That day turned out to be the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the city was shuttered to the outside world as some 800,000 mourners poured in. The event was postponed until this week when, as Erez wrote to attendees in an email, it was almost canceled again. But this time, the decision was taken that the show would go on as planned and from the long lines to get in, there was no doubt: Jerusalem isn’t waiting for anyone anymore. You can start a company in the capital and there’s a thriving community, support organizations, cool spaces to meet, and money to help.

Now, if the message can only get across to the other side of town…

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JNext doesn’t have a website yet, but you can find the videos that were played during the evening herehereherehereherehere and here.

This article appeared  originally on The Jerusalem Post.

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Eddie and the White Smoke

by Brian on February 18, 2014

in Only in Israel

We love our 1995 Toyota Corolla. It’s in fantastic shape and is our only car for driving out of Jerusalem. (Our other car is a Better Place electric vehicle which is now essentially a very expensive “city car” – but that’s another story.) So, when a car repairperson rolled down the window in his vehicle and called over to my son while he was stopped at a red light near work and informed him that white smoke was coming out of the tailpipe, we were all understandably concerned.

The repairman in the next car handed over his card between the windows – he specialized “in just this sort of thing,” he said – and he’d of course be glad to take a look.

Not so fast. We’d just replaced the catalytic converter in the car a few weeks before that – it had failed its air pollution test; these things happen from time to time – so we decided that the best bet would be to take our car back to the shop where we’d had the work done as it was still under warranty. That meant a visit with Eddie.

Eddie is not your typical car mechanic. Stylishly dressed with a button down shirt, longish hair and speaking close-to-perfect English, he comes across as something between a presentable version of Johnny Depp (one not in pirate costume) and a 50’s rock and roller. Which is fitting given that, in his free time, Eddie plays in a local Jerusalem band.

1961 Plymouth Valiant (Wrascal, Wikimedia Commons)He also has a fully restored beautifully bright red 1961 Plymouth Valiant in the back of his shop in Jerusalem’s Talpiot Industrial Zone. “It was the first automatic car to be imported into the country,” he told us with irrepressible pride. Does he drive it? He happily nods: to meet-ups of other vintage car owners. (These get togethers are held fairly regularly on Fridays in the parking lot of the Israel Museum. Who knew?)

Art's AutomotiveEddie reminds me of Art, the owner of the car repair shop we used in Berkeley before we made aliyah. Art also outclassed the other mechanics in the neighborhood. His waiting room was decked out in pastels with filtered water and soft music. (He did a good job of fixing the car, too.)

Eddie doesn’t have a fancy waiting room yet (he has a few bean bag chairs off the main garage – more hipster than high class) but, despite his youth (he’s in his 30s), he projects a clear confidence. So when he floored the accelerator trying to generate the tell tale white smoke and it wasn’t forthcoming, we believed him when he said the car was fine.

He then offered an explanation for our run-in with the repair guy at that red light. Eddie’s shop is right next to the air pollution test facility, which car owners must pass through each year to renew their registrations. “Look how empty it is,” he said, waving towards the adjacent building. “No one buys cars at this time of year.”

Since you have to take your car in for its check on the annual anniversary of when you purchased it, a lack of customers right about now would seem to back up that claim. “They’re all waiting until after Pesach when the 2015 models are delivered.”

With so few people getting their cars tested in the lead up to the holiday, he went on, repairs are also down and businesses need to try “creative” ways to generate new customers. The unstated correlation: an unscrupulous repairperson might flag you down for an “invented” problem with an unnecessary (and expensive) solution.

Could the reason really be so cynical? Yes, probably. (Fortunately, that’s not an indictment of Israeli mechanics; deceit knows no borders.) We’re glad we found Eddie. And he didn’t charge us a shekel for some sound insight.

This article appeared originally on The Jerusalem Post.

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TheTorah.com Embraces Biblical Criticism – Too Far or Not Enough?

February 12, 2014

It was almost a throw away comment, coming in the last half hour of a four part lecture series on “Truth and History in the Bible.” But in it lies the germ of revolution, with the power to rock traditional understandings of Jewish history, religion and the even the very underpinnings of rabbinic authority. The […]

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Atheist Rabbis “In the Closet”

February 5, 2014

Avraham (not his real name) is an Orthodox rabbi living in the center of the country. He is married with five children, and has a comfortable job as a rabbi/educator at a local religious school where he teaches fifth and sixth graders. There’s only one problem: Avraham no longer believes in God. But this newly […]

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Detox: A Sleeping Pill Addict Goes into Voluntary Rehab

January 28, 2014

There’s no easy way to admit this: I’m a drug addict. My particular addition is relatively benign and not in any way illegal – it’s sleeping pills. But I’ve been hooked on them for 13 years now, since the days when helicopters would fly above my house during the Second Intifada on their way to […]

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Yossi Klein Halevi Book Launch Highlights a Cultural, Centered Jerusalem Village

January 20, 2014

“They promised me heat!” Asher Abraham blurted out at the conclusion of last night’s launch event for Yossi Klein Halevi’s new book “Like Dreamers.” Abraham’s Highlight Foundation had produced the evening at Jerusalem’s First Station shopping and restaurant complex. But looking at the three story tall tee-pee like metal skeleton, punctuated by billowing sheets of plastic, enclosing much of […]

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Toughing It Out: A Colonoscopy in Jerusalem

January 13, 2014

The waiting room in the gastro clinic at Shaarei Tzedek hospital is pleasant enough. Recently refurbished, there’s free WiFi, extra padded seats (a thoughtful touch given the nature of the work done there) and clean walls. The wall-mounted TV hums away, but not too loudly. I was at Shaarei Tzedek as the “designated driver” for […]

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