Wednesday, February 25, 2015

No Apologies Or So Sorry That I Got Caught

Unfortunately for them, the hooliganism of some Israir passengers on the flight to Varna had been recorded on camera,  and seen all over Israel. Thus on their return the offenders decided tomake an appearance on television. But this time they had their face covered and instead of apologizing  they distanced themselves from their actions. Somehow they became the victims too: “I don’t know what came over me,”  “ever since I heard that I was on camera my life has turned into a nightmare,”   “I am on tranquilizers, ” etc. This refusal to take any responsibility is a prime example of how not to apologize
Sometime ago I wrote an essay about  the meaning and importance of proper apologies:
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Dreaded C Word Or The Disease Which Will Remain Nameless

Oliver Sacks’ brave disclosure about his terminal cancer in the New York Times:  “My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer,” on February 19th,  brings to mind another choice of dealing with an illness which we encountered in Israel just the other day.
Earlier this year we were informed that one of our ministers, Uri Orbach, a relatively young man, was gravely ill. On February 16th 2015 at the age of 54 he died.  After his passing, still, there was no mention of the exact nature of his disease. Wikipedia in Hebrew specifically states that in 2012 Orbach was diagnosed as having hematological disease.
Whether it is a private or a public figure, the decision to share with others the details of an illness, is personal. But having  lost my husband to cancer at the age of 55 I feel that it could be very beneficial to talk openly about the illness.

Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel

Friday, February 20, 2015

Only The Best For Me: Rationing And Conspicuous Consumption.

When we were graduate students at a State University in the Midwest, we had a visitor from Israel, a classmate of my husband from his undergraduate years at the Technion. At night we sat around and talked about graduate school. At one point the friend argued that if it wasn't a PhD program in an Ivy League University, it wasn't worth the trouble of crossing the Atlantic Ocean. I remember how surprised I was at that statement. The Technion was indeed a fine institute in Israeli standards, but I had never noticed that the students there were better than their counterparts at the State University where we studied.
Yet, apparently, quite a few graduate students at the Technion  believed that they deserved only the best: nothing else would do.
I was reminded of that attitude when I heard about the exorbitant expenses at the home of our Israeli Prime Minister.
In spite of their noble comportment, our first couple, Benjamin and Sarah Netanyahu, are not aristocrats
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Is It Really About Love? Valentine's Day

In spite of spending 15 years in the US, I never got used to the commercial way Valentine's Day was celebrated there. After the Christmas decorations had finally disappeared from the stores, it took but a minute for the red and pink Valentine's Day merchandise to fill their place. It’s not that I don’t believe in love, but, as a skeptical Israeli, I suspected that Valentine’s Day was actually a scheme devised by companies like Hallmark Cards in order to boost sales during the cold dreary winter months.
And speaking of cards I was especially uncomfortable with the public celebration of Valentine’s Day at the elementary school.
The simple question “will you be my Valentine,” is honest and specific.  I tell you that I care about you and ask if you feel the same way about me. This question is directed to only one person-- you.
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Naomi Shemer Moment And The Evacuation Units Of The Police.

The song writer and composer Naomi Shemer was a genius at spotting Israeli cultural trends, and she describes them in many popular songs. In one of her children songs, “The Little Trip,” Shemer writes about the Israeli love of the outdoors. In that song the children walk in the meadow, climb up a mountain, view the sea from afar, and then gallop down. It is also a day of learning and discovery: the children see wild flowers --anemones and cyclamen, and observe a turtle, ants and a lizard. Throughout the day the children have fun, play games and return home in the evening happy and tired, ready to do it all over again the next day..
Naomi Shemer wrote about childhood in a kibbutz, and she paints a picture of paradise which has never been  the lot of most Israelis. However, “Little trips” have always been a significant Israeli tradition for children of all age, we are passionate about trips and love to tour the country. Like any other hobby, some people become more serious about their hikes and embark on challenging and longer treks, others, like me, just like to be outside.
I belong to a group which gets together several times a year for the sole purpose of walking together.
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Refresher Driving Course And Happier Times At Hura

Back in the States, when it was time to renew our car insurance we received once, among the other official papers, an offer to take defensive driving-- a refresher course.  In return we were guaranteed a sizable discount on our payments. It sounded like a very good deal and we decided to attend. We were not the only ones, there were at least forty other people  in the room and they all came for the same reason. The course was informative and entertaining and at its end we got the necessary document  for the insurance.
That was the way things were done in the US, incentives are often used in order to bring about change. But things are different here in Israel. I was reminded of this course  yesterday, when I heard an interview on Hakol Dibourim (It’s All Talk). Adi Meiri spoke with a  driving instructor who teaches defensive driving to those who are required to take a refresher course after five years on the road. The instructor said that even experienced drivers are not aware of all the new regulations, and suggested a refresher course every 15 years.
The instructor was right. There are, of course the mandatory defensive driving courses for  drivers who committed traffic violations.
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"I Beg Your Pardon?" My Foreign Accent

It shouldn't be like that but, having lived in the US for almost fifteen years, I know that too often a foreign accent is a handicap.
When I arrived to the Midwest to do my graduate degree in English at one of the state universities, I asked my linguistic professor how I could get rid of my Israeli accent. He wasn't optimistic, I wanted to know if a strong accent indicated a lack of musical talent. He answered that based on what he had read it was a matter of personal identity. There were some people, he called them the Chamaeleon type, who could speak with almost no trace of a foreign accent. He felt that  subconsciously I  probably didn't want to lose my Israeli identity. This explanation was reassuring, it was a relief to hear that it wasn't my fault. I am not sure if this is still a valid theory, but I am not going to look for conflicting evidence.
As a person with a foreign accent I was often  treated with superiority.
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel