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All posts for the month January, 2011

IT’S NOT TV…IT’S HBO!

Published January 25, 2011 by jean cohen

Yes, another dry spell with nary a blog to read.

I’m only doing this one because I heard, from cousin GerryP, that Blood Relative and License to Injure Slightly were worried about me because there hasn’t been any exciting entries lately. 

In that convo, my cousin demanded “Tell me all the news about The Wedding!”  I was confused.  “What wedding?” I asked.  “’What wedding’?  William and Kate.”  I had to cogitate for just a minute ‘cause I didn’t think I had any friends named William or Kate, but, hey, who knows?  “Oh, yeah.  That wedding.  It’s a bank holiday here so everybody’s off.”  To head off her gushing, I cannily changed the subject.  “I read The Dog Murderer is starting in the Pro Bowl.  How impressive is that?”  And we got into a discussion that was at least interesting.   

I’m fine; just busy.  And I hate WordPress; it’s not Jeano-friendly.  In fact, it’s positively hostile and keeps losing my personal settings.  It assigned me a password of it’s choosing: %2v>KYJELLY>&*$@wibg.  Okay, let’s see you sign in with that.  I have trouble with the four digit code at the cash machine.

After my week in Eretz Israel, it was back to my dashing, dashing, dashing.  Israel Group, Haderach, Senior Centre committee, Sam Beare Fund Raising Team, BuyDesign, and, of course, JDavid. I did squeeze in a few lunches, dinners and coffees, too.  And shul.  Plus a Singles Do with Adriana.

Not much to report on that.  Scanning the men present, I inquired just to hear my own voice, I think, “Which one do you think is the Jewish dermatologist of my dreams?  The one with all the tattoos or the one with, like, four teeth?”  I think you get the picture. 

I got to Film Club, however; it’s too stimulating to skip.  It was an Israeli film called ‘Ajami’.  I highly recommend it, unless you are even a smidge depressed, in which case you will want to go home and hang yourself in the shower after it.  What was really cool was that I’d actually been in Ajami when I was in Tel Aviv.  It’s a neighborhood; kind of like 8th & Butler if you’re a Philadelphian.  Fortunately, I did not get shot, stabbed, or stomped to death like everybody in the goddamned film.  Did I spoil it for you?

But I also saw ‘Watermarks’, a documentary about a Jewish swim club in Vienna pre and post-anschluss, the annexation of Austria into the Third Reich.  It was a beautiful film.

I chaired another Do for Sam Beare (I know; I’m still not real good at that ‘N-O’ word).  It was an Evening With a Famous Mystery Author.  No shit.  Her name is Meg Gardiner.  Stephen King is a huge fan.  You can buy her books at Amazon or at your local Sam Beare Hospice Bookshop (if you live in Horsell or Weybridge.)

Or you can get them from me.  I have all of them and have yet to finish one.  I hate them.  I find myself thinking “I wish somebody would shoot, stab or stomp to death every single character in this book.”

This week is the Holocaust Observance Memorial at Christ Prince of Peace.  It’s on Thursday night.  I got talked into taking part.  I’m reading Psalm 132.  In English.  Another person from shul is reading Psalm 142 in Hebrew.  Big Whoopee for her.

There’s a Sam Beare Do on Friday night, a party on Saturday night and then, next week is My Anniversary!  Three years ago I slinked back into the UK on my magical Passaporti Italiano.  Where did three whole years go?  BooBoo is planning some sort of celebration, but she won’t tell me what exactly.

I was talking to my friend Georgia in Cleveland the other night and we reminisced about the phone call from Stuart while I was visiting her for Thanksgiving to say my citizenship papers had arrived.  I am off to Cleveland in June for a wedding, plus Eric’s graduation from high school in Philly.

And because I miss Princie, I’m doing a quick trip to the City of Brotherly Love in early March.  Just for ten days; I couldn’t manage a longer stay because of my commitments here.  Of course, my social calendar while I’m there is already filled up.  But I will find the time to shop.

Ending on a positive note, I have some thrilling news!  Mazel Tov to me and everybody else who has Sky TV.  We’re getting a new channel on February 1.  It’s called Sky Atlantic.  Apparently it’s every program HBO has ever shown, including the Sopranos, Big Love, Six Feet Under and more.  It is a welcome relief to know that I never have to watch ‘Udder Disease in Shropshire Cows’ again for the 35th time on BBC1.

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THIS LAND IS MINE; GOD GAVE THIS LAND TO ME

Published January 6, 2011 by jean cohen

Another year has come and gone.  At the risk of sounding banal, how did it fly by so quickly?  A few- very few- not great but not really terrible things happened in 2010, but overall it was another ‘very good year’ for me.  Happy New Year!

After being done practically to death attending Christmas Dos, the Salvation Army on Christmas Day with Netta was rewarding as always.  It’s hard work and a long day (from 9:00 in the morning until 5:00) but I get a tremendous boost of satisfaction and accomplishment.

This year I declined several Christmas Dinner invitations.  I had to get home and pack for Israel.  The days just prior to Christmas saw more snow, resulting in more cancelled flights and stranded travelers.  I was a tiny bit freaked. Okay, I was totally hysterical that we wouldn’t be able to get out of Dodge City.  Superstitiously, I didn’t want to pack and jinx my trip.  So I held off until the last minute.  I had cheated a little and pulled out several stunning summer outfits which I put on the bed in my guest room.  But it wasn’t officially ‘packing’ so it didn’t count.

Terminal One at Heathrow was a zoo on Boxing Day morning.  El Al requires that you’re there three hours before departure and they ain’t fooling around.  Security and check-in are intense.

When I handed over my passaporto Italiano and e-ticket, the first question the agent asked was “Do you have another passport?”  Hmm.  Was that a lucky guess?  Or do I look like the sort of person who just has to have two of everything, like Louis Vuittons? 

“Um…” I stalled.  Then, “Yes, I do.”  Fortunately, that was the right answer.

“Can I see it” he asked.  “I’m not carrying it” I explained earnestly.  “When I leave or enter the UK, Italian law says I have to use the Italiano one.”  Again, he already knew that and, again, that was the right answer.  Phew.

Then the questions got kind of… well… silly.  “Do you speak Hebrew?”  “Nope.”  “What is the purpose of your trip?”  “To bomb the Golan Heights, if Mohammed got caught before he finished doing it.”  I mean, like, really.  “Do you belong to a synagogue?”  “Yes.” “Which one?”  “The third one on the left from the corner.”

But my absolutely favorite question was “Are you carrying a weapon?”  Silence, while I processed the question.  Nope.  I didn’t get it.  “Excuse me” I said.  He repeated it.  I must have had a funny look on my face because he said “I’ve heard every sarcastic answer imaginable already.  Just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”  Hell.  I didn’t know I could have brought the Uzi in it’s Louis Vuitton black multi-colore Alma carrying case.

Anyway, he was satisfied, and after the bomb-sniffing, snarling dogs had a whiff and another agent had a little peek inside my suitcase, I was permitted to go to the counter to grovel for a seat inside the plane.

“Do you have a preference” intoned the grouchy reservations clerk.  I knew she really didn’t care if I did.  “Yes, please” I said winsomely smiling. “Next to a Jewish doctor.  Preferably one who’s already divorced.”  Ha. Ha.  I was squashed between two Orthodox rabbis who prayed all the way to Tel Aviv.  

Israel!  What can I say?  It’s beautiful and exciting, and every goddamned thing works better than Britain.  In sixty-odd years, it morphed into a Super Power despite the obstacles.

I stayed with a friend of Adrianna’s in a residential neighborhood near Allenby Road that reminded me of Society Hill in Philly or Tribeca in New York.  Lots of coffee shops and restaurants, and fantastic boutiques.  Not to mention a five minute walk to the beach. 

That’s where we spent the first day; sprawled under umbrellas with our feet in the sand drinking iced coffee.  I spared a moment to think of poor Princie in Philly suffering in 30” of snow.  But only a moment… as long as it took me to text ‘it’s 30 degrees and I’m on the beach’.  He misunderstood.  Back came ‘It’s 30 degrees here too and snowing.’  ‘No, silly.  The other 30 degrees.  The hot one.”  I sometimes forget not everyone is as cosmopolitan as me.

I had a sightseeing agenda loosely planned, but that was the key element – loosely.  If the choices for the day were: (a) shopping, (b) a museum or historic site, guess what I was going to pick?

And I was selective.  I took the bus to Jerusalem and went to the Wailing Wall and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum, but I shopped too.  I took another day trip to Haifa, did some sightseeing and shopped some more.  I went to Jaffa to the Spice Bazaar and the Arab Market, and shopped.  I went to the Art Museum in Tel Aviv – I saw a wonderful exhibit of an Israeli artist called Dayid Rubin.  I went to the Diaspora Museum – one of the scale reproductions of famous synagogues there is Beth Shalom in Elkins Park, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  (I didn’t spoil it for the tourists admiring it by sharing that the roof leaks like a sieve and it’s impossible to heat.)

And I shopped.  And shopped.  And then did some more shopping.

Friday night was New Year’s Eve; it was also Shabbat.  Everything closes at 4:00 and doesn’t reopen until Saturday at sundown.  I had a nap.  I was exhausted from all that sightseeing.  I was invited to a Shabbat dinner and then a New Year’s party.  Another first for me: a completely different New Year’s celebration in an even foreigner country than Britain. 

It was so cool.  Although a lot of the guests didn’t speak English, I found enough people to chat to and had some interesting conversations.  A house party is so much more my style than a raucous pub.

We had a final day at the beach on Saturday (since the shops were all closed anyway). 

My aliyah went so damned quickly!  Staying in someone’s home instead of a hotel made it really memorable.  As did meeting so many Israelis.  It was a fantastic vacation.

Getting out of Israel is just as tough as getting in.  I thought they’d think “Well, she was here; now she’s leaving.  Nothing important blew up.  Just put her and her suitcases on the plane.”

Uh uh.  Same security, same dumb questions, plus special bomb detecting machine for suitcases, and a pat-down. 

But my passaporto Italiano and I made it back to Weybridge.  What an awesome end to 2010 and start to 2011.