For the Love of Hummus

Delicious, delicious hummus.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Dear Friends,

My post won't be as interesting as Rachel's, but I did get a few nice pictures in the Western Negev today, where I went with my aunt/uncle/cousins to check out the abundance of kalaniyot, or poppy anemones, like this friendly flower I happened upon:

Apparently the flowers only bloom like that for a few weeks at this time of year. It was nice to be in nature, so to speak, and of course wearing shorts and a t-shirt is nice considering it was 16 degrees in Connecticut yesterday, I heard.

Also in attendance was my very cute second cousin (or first cousin once removed...or first cousin's kid..or whatever we are to eachother) who was actually walking like a person! Amazing. Here he is hanging with some lady friends (my aunt and cousin, Michal)

Anyway, spent a lovely few days in the Jru (trying to make this happen, come on guys!), and got to sit in on one of Rachel's classes about women and mitzvot. Very interesting stuff, but I don't know how she does it from 8:30 in the morning until the evening. I started yawning after 20 minutes.

Not ready to reveal my big news yet, but I promise an update on Monday! In case you are disappointed, here's another picture.

Tonight I'm going to try to find a ticket to the Ivri Lider concert, but it's raining. What to do?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mushroom season

Happy Tu B'Shevat, chevri! Happy Jewish Arbor Day!

I have officially completed my first week of classes at Pardes. What a week it was. I love it. I'm taking Chumash, Talmud, Women and Mitzvot, Hassidut, Midrash and Modern Jewish Thought. A lot of text study, learning of common Talmudic phrases (in Aramaic). Mainly I'm getting used to a very different way of thinking about Judaism. Many of the values and beliefs of a Jew engaging in halacha are just different, especially how people relate to G-d. You don't understand everything, and you don't have to. That doesn't matter. We need a lot of boundaries in our lives. Structure and rule keep a community together and keep individuals from going out of control with their emotions. These are some basic messages. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to study like this and engage with text. It's so vital.


In case you're interested, in Talmud, which I have three mornings a week from 8:30-11:45, we are studying masechet (tractate) brachot. We're mainly reading about proper conduct and state of mind regarding t'fillah, but last class we got into some laws regarding nidah (menstruation). Baffling and interesting at the same time. This topic made for some inappropriate, TMI kind of conversations. One young man informed me what sort of nidah rule he and his wife follow, in regards to when they can touch and when she's impure. "Oh. Uh-huh. That's interesting."

An oily red pepper stuffed with meat that Dafna ate at a great little hummus place near Pardes. The restaurant doesn't have a sign and is basically in a circus tent. The oily, eggy, hot hummus is a delicious Baka secret.

This week Dafna and I went to a pretty infuriating panel discussion held at PresenTense in Jerusalem. One speaker was a professor of holocaust studies at Hebrew U who works with Israelis against home demolitions, one was a young woman who refused army service to protest Israel's presence in the territories and the last one works to educate Israelis about the nakba. I disagreed with so much of what they said it's hard to express it all. I certainly respect them though. Two of the speakers made some fascinating points regarding the psychology of memory and facing the past.

Overall, it made me sad though how much the speakers believe if only Israel would leave the West Bank and meet the Palestinian people as equals, then...THEN WHAT? And what does that even mean? I despise when people speak in lofty terms but don't say anything concrete. I asked them what they would like to see happen if and when Israel left the West Bank. First, they dismissed the question a little, saying first and foremost, Israel just has to leave the West Bank, then we'll talk about next steps. Let's just wait and see what happens. Ultimately though they said they would like a right of return law for Arabs and a one state democracy, not a Jewish state. Fine, that's one perspective, but G-d help us.

I would like to see a two-state solution, East Jerusalem as the capital, a big, weird highway connecting Gaza and the West Bank, who knows. I just want to still be able to visit the Museum on the Seam in East Jerusalem. Mainly I want there to be big borders.

Dafna noticed that none of the panelists or audience members were Sephardi Jews. We thought a Jew with memory of living in and being expelled from an Arab country would have a very different reaction to all of this.

In lighter news, Carmela and I went to the Shuk this morning. Dafna too. I bought some beautiful fruit and challah. Dafna and Carmela bought kugel yerushalmi (Jerusalem Kugel, basically noodles, black pepper and sugar).

A man selling cabbage thought Dafna was leaning on his produce and he violently shoved her. Shabbat Shalom, sir!

Mushrooms and the cabbage leaner at the shuk

Tonight for Shabbat I'm going with Keara and Carmela to an HUC service and potluck Tu B'Shevat dinner. I look forward to mingling with some new people and celebrating vegetarianism.

My new alarm clock

Dafna has some big, wonderful news to share with you all...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In the beginning!

Today was our first day! Here's us early this morning before I headed to Pardes and Dafna went to the Diaspora Museum:

Not to totally confuse you folks, since Rachel started posting this entry, but it's Dafna now! I can tell you a little bit about my first day. As you may know, I am interning at Beit Hatfutsot, in the photo archives. Today was sort of a throw into the deep end. After being acquainted with the archivists, I started matching negatives to prints, numbering and clicking and squinting and double-checking and generally going blind. I'll take some pictures when I get a chance. So far it's a little tedious, but looking through pictures from mid-1930s Germany is sort of fascinating. A lot of Jewish kids, youth aliyah, and synagogues.

Anyway, I'm pretty beat. How was Rachel's day, you ask? I guess we'll just have to wait and find out!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Benjamin Disraeli in a dress

One of my two roommates just came back from her three-week vacation back in the U.S. She is studying to be a Jewish educator at HUC. My second roommate arrives tomorrow. Hope the excellent dynamic keeps up!

The excitement continues in Tel Aviv. One recent evening Dafna purchased a guitar, so now she can sing AND play "Poker face", "Halo", "Hey Mama" and all things Tegan and Sara. Her roommate loves it. In Tel Aviv once again, we took a walk on the Yarkon and visited the little zoo. All different species of animals were in the same large cage. It looked like the end of days or heaven on earth or something. The ibex was lying beside the roosters. The deer kneeled beside the chickens. Dafna fed them all banana chips, which turned out to be not such a great idea because they started competing for the treat and chasing after us.

We ate at an organic falafel/sabich/hummus place called Hippo. It's a small chain in TA. Organic pita is darker brown and more flavorful.

The Tel Aviv Art Museum has some incredible exhibits right now. One of iron sculptures by Zadok Ben David which is literally breathtaking. Really, Dafna couldn't breathe (allergy attack). He created this huge, incredibly detailed iron forest. There was a great room for kids with works by Alexander Caulder. There were games, films of him, lots of interactive art to be done. We participated in the fun, of course. In another room of paintings, we saw a portrait of Benjamin Disraeli as a young boy wearing a dress.

Today we went to the Tel Aviv residence of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister. Luckily we arrived 10 minutes before it closed. He had a very sweet and modest apartment. Even when he moved to the Negev he still maintained this apartment. On display are gifts Ben-Gurion received from Jewish communities all over the world. We also looked around the small room where he lay during the Sinai Campaign. He was so sick at that time he couldn't get out of bed, yet he still managed to conduct a war.

I have Orientation at Pardes all day tomorrow, so I'll get to learn more about my classes and schedule, and get to meet my school chums. Classes start in four days.

I have to mention that it has been raining with thunder and lightning quite a bit, and apparently some people died in the Negev due to flooding.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem put aside their differences for the sake of hummus

Shalom faithful readers,

Ain badma (ain't no thang), we're back. We're coming to you live from Jerusalem, or as Dafna likes to say, the J-ru (Dafna, stop trying to make J-ru happen. It's NOT going to happen). We spent a couple lovely days in Tel Aviv at Dafna's apartment. We went to the beach, enjoyed some hungarian blintzes at Hungarian Blintzes and washed it all down with milky sakhlav and "a unique apple cider recipe" drink at Cafe Landwer. The night before, we went out with Dafna's cousin Michal and her friend to a bar in Tel Aviv called Tzipa. No joke, we were sitting near two of Israel's top beauty queens. We think one of them was Esti Ginzburg. She was born in 1990.

Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv

Hungarian Blintzes

Before Tel Aviv, Dafna experienced J-ru for the first time. That's a lie, but it was her first time actually enjoying the capital. We checked out the sensational view from the tayelet (promenade) of the whole city, got rejected from a fake museum (Ben Yehuda's international center?) and hung out with some ancient animals at the Biblical zoo. We also went to Yad Vashem.

Now, what were we eating? We had dinner at the Waffle Bar, breakfast at Tal Bagels where Dafna indulged in some risky acidic juice behavior and Rachel had yellow cheese on toast.

Then we got our holy on at the Kotel where we witnessed three b'nai mitzvahs (yes, we stood on chairs to spy), SAW THE BACK OF TZIPI LIVNI'S HEAD at the King David Hotel, also saw a famous unidentifiable basketball player at the Kotel and ate vegetarian fare at the Village Green on Jaffa St.

Best of all, we ate at Hummus Ben Sira on Ben Sira St. The hummus was eggy and oily in the best way possible. It's Rachel's favorite in Jerusalem. It even rivals the hummus Rachel ate with Susan Lippe in Abu Ghosh last week. Dafna ordered the hummus with mushrooms and Rachel had it with garbanzo beans. The pita was hot and pillowy, and the falafel balls were really crispy.

And these two photos are for our loving older sisters Ariella and Betsy:

Nightgowns on Ben Yehuda St.

A note from me to you at a bus stop on King David St.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Pictorial Summary of the Weekend

Since I got a new camera just for the occasion of my arrival in this beautiful place, I thought I'd give you a taste, in pictures, of what has been going on.

This was at some crazy orchid theme park:

This was how I spent most of my weekend in Nahariyya - freelance editing from morning to night.

I even dragged my camera to Nahariyya's most delicious hummusiya, whose owner was my uncle's student in third grade. It was mushroom topped and quite excellent, and afterwards Rachel and I discussed the idea that it was OK not to have the best pita with the hummus, because similar to her delicate palate, I don't appreciate too many good-tasting foods at once. Something to the tune of needing cloudy days to appreciate the sunny ones, or whatever.

Anyway, tonight Rachel and Susan Lippe (shoutout!) and I went to a delicious place in Yafo where a couple behind us was sucking face like tomorrow was the end of the world. Slobber.

What else? Pilgrimage to Jerusalem on Saturday. The end. Laila Tov.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Zatar+Chummus=Ta'im (Delicious)

As Dafna puts it, I have a delicate palate. I'm not interested in eating charif or salty salty pickles on my falafel. However, yesterday I ate some delicious chummus with zatar. Zatar is an herb--i think with thyme, oregano, sesame seeds and salt. It's greenish.

I also went to the falafel place across the street from me today for lunch. It's called Falafel Doron. In the German colony and the nearby neighborhood of Katamon I've seen a number of stores/restaurants with the name "Doron". Apparently it means "gift" in Greek. Anyway, the falafel was very tasty. The place was mobbed, but somehow I managed to push and shove my way through. A couple people, including a little boy, told me it's the best falafel in the city. Who knows. I would have liked more chummus, less salad and sliced potato instead of the french fries. There's another place on Emek Refaim where I recently had amazing falafel with sliced potato.

This morning I went to the Underground prisoners museum by Safar Square. I learned about the women who served in the pre-state militias (lechi, hapalmach and etzel) and the conditions of the Central Jerusalem Prison under British rule. I stood inside one of the crazy cozy isolation cells. The museum also has a memorial to the Jews executed in the Acre prison, as well as the two Jews who blew themselves up rather than be executed in the CJP. The museum was inspiring and raised a lot of questions for me. If it weren't for these terrorists willing to sacrifice their own lives for a state, would Israel exist today?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sylvester Stallone

Happy New Year! My 4th straight in Israel. I'm becoming a pro at calling it Sylvester, even though as Rachel and I realized, no one made any Sylvester Stallone jokes last night at the lovely party we attended, hosted by the equally lovely Hannah, Rachel's friend from childhood and beyond.

The last few days have been mish-moshy, we took a little trip to TAU to check out Beit Hatfutsot (big!) and verify that my dad's book sits upon a shelf in the library (three copies!) and generally appreciate the lay of the land (pretty!).

Tonight I ate this magical dessert I had never experienced before, Malabi. Sure that it was poison, I made everyone else try it first. It looked like this:

Poison, right? For some reason, I couldn't get the scene in Indiana Jones where the monkey eats the poisoned dates out of my head. I imagined Jonathan Rhys-Davies turning to the waitress and saying, "Bad Malabi."

I suppose since the point of this blog is hummus, I'll wax poetic on the various foods I've been enjoying in vast quantity - sahleb, sabich (Amanda! Next time I'll take a picture for you), etc., but strangely not hummus. The place I really liked on Ibn Gvirol closed, single tear. I'm waiting for this great place in Nahariya, and for a little Abu Ghosh sampling in Jerusalem.

Anything else food related? Rachel and I had delicious burekas last night, and so that the Russian mafia sitting next to us wouldn't stab us, I ate Rachel's pickles. All 5,000 of them. The end.

Tomorrow - Northward!