Thursday, November 25, 2010

This Week I Took a Bus and the GOOD MANNERS POLICE Got On

Shalom Yeladim,

Yes, I know Hanukkah is only a few days away. And yes, I could tell you all about the wonderful Hanukkah events held for children in Israel – like the Festigal which is the best-ever musical event for kids held every year on Hanukkah. Or I could tell you about the Hanukkah programs that are going to be held at different museums and parks throughout the country. But I’m not.

This time I’m going to look at the buses that many kids take to get to these events and the new Good Manners Police that gets on these buses to make sure everyone behaves. This new squad is called the Mishtarbus and they just began patrolling the buses a few weeks ago. The name Mishtarbus comes from two words. The word mishtara means police, and the word bus…well I don’t have to tell you what that means.

Several college students from a Tel Aviv college started the Mishtarbus. The reason they did is because Israelis are not exactly known to be the most polite people. Helpful yes, but polite? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh…we’re still learning. But something even worse has happened. Respecting old people is a very important rule in the Jewish tradition and it used to be especially important in Israel. Over the last five years a lot of that respect got lost, especially on the buses. Maybe it’s because everyone is too busy playing games on their hand-held computer gadgets or listening to their MP3s and iPods? Whatever the reason is, the young people in Israel don’t exactly show their best side when riding buses.

Now the Mishtarbus is going to change that. They’ve started out in Tel Aviv, getting on heavily travelled buses. They don’t look like regular police. Their “uniform” is pants and a T-shirt that says Mishtarbus in Hebrew. If they see a Senior Citizen standing, they tap the shoulder of someone much younger, asking them to please get up and give the Senior a seat. Fighting noise pollution inside buses is another one of their goals. If a mobile ringtone is loud they ask you to please lower it. If you’re talking OUT LOUD on your mobile they ask you to please end your conversation. If your friend is sitting in the row across from you and you lean over, bothering the passenger next to you, and start chattering away, they immediately put a stop to that, using the word please, of course, because that’s also a word Israeli youngsters have to learn.

It’s unbelievable! I don’t know if I’m going to recognize riding on a bus anymore. But you know what? It’s about time! Buses are public places and we have to learn to respect everyone – especially the elderly! After all, we’re a Jewish state and part of being Jewish means just that.

So, this Hanukkah I’m looking forward to taking the bus to the Festigal and all the other fun activities.

Hanukkah Sameach…Zvuvi

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I’m Going to Take a Spin on Israel’s Largest Dreidel

Shalom Yeladim:

I’m flying to Caesarea, the ancient Israeli city named for Julius Caesar. It’s one of the coolest cities in Israel. Cool – because it’s a really old port city with a fresh sea breeze, and cool because of all the unbelievable statues, palace ruins, hippodrome and Roman amphitheater that archaeologists have found.

But that’s not why I’m flying there this time. I’m going for another cool reason. I’m going to take a spin on Israel’s largest dreidel. After all, Hanukkah is just 2 ½ weeks away and I have to get in shape for all the dreidel playing. By the way, do you know the difference between your dreidel and ours? Your dreidel has the letters Nune, Gimmel, Hey and Shin for Neis Gadol Hayah Sham, meaning “a big miracle happened there”. Our dreidel doesn’t have a shin. It has a peh. Because you gotta admit that Neis Gadol Hayah Poh – “a big miracle happened here”.

But let’s get back to this huge, gigantic, unbelievably tall dreidel. It’s 18 feet high and it stands – when it’s not spinning – right next to the Caesarea train station. I know, I know, you’re going to ask why I don’t take the train. But I’m a fly. Remember? And flies have to fly. Which is why I can go all the way high on top of the dreidel.

This dreidel was made by a dreidel artist. Yup, his name is Eran Grebler and all he does is make dreidels. Well, almost. He also makes Hannukiot. But Hanukkah is his thing, and his “Dreidel House” is also located in Caeserea. I’m going to make that my second stop. Everything spins there…the potters wheel where the dreidels are formed…the finished dreidels all around, even other Hanukkah spin-off products.

Speaking of spin-off products for Hanukkah gifts – what about me and my book? You gotta admit, I’m so hyper I make your head spin. But hey, I’m the funnest fly around (OK, OK, funniest). You can buy my book at Kar-Ben’s online book store, or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. Or you can ask your local Judaica store.
Gotta spin…Zvuvi