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What Bruce Springsteen taught me about Zionism

November 16, 2008 by

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I was floored. Sixty thousand people filled Giant’s Stadium. As the sun set over the New Jersey Meadowland’s, the lights went up on stage for three hours and 17 minutes of some of the finest rock and roll alive today: Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. I couldn’t help but paraphrase Hazal’s comments on Herod’s Temple – “One who has never seen a Springsteen Concert has never attended a live show.” It was more like an enormous block party – non-stop dancing, clapping, beer drinking. People sang along with nearly every song and Springsteen told his signature stories between numbers – playing the part of joker, working class Joe, and storyteller with electrifying verve – even when it was hard to make out the exact words through his acquired drawl and the constant hum of the thousands like a generator waiting for the switch to be turned on. When he belted out Promised Land, Giant’s Stadium jumped. No doubt that some East Coast seismologist measured the seismic rocking of coastal plates along the New Jersey shore that evening and wondered about the source.

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On Traffic and Territories

October 12, 2008 by

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Living in Modiin, and commuting most days to Jerusalem, I am presented each day with what appears to be a relatively simple dilemma: what’s the best way to get to work?

Like most things in Israel though, it turns out to be not quite so simple. The quickest way is to take the lovely new Road 443 which zips you from Modiin to Jerusalem in under half an hour. It’s a beautiful new road, straight as a die, no traffic, stress-free, brilliant. The alternative is to take good old “kvish mispar echad” (Road Number 1), which is the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, full of winding bends and steep ascents and descents,. In the middle of the day, or later on in the evening, when there is no traffic, this is only about 10 minutes longer than the 443. But any other time that has the faintest whiff of rush hour about it turns Road Number 1 into a parking lot. “So what’s the problem? Just take the 443!”

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About Israelis’ love affair with overseas

October 12, 2008 by

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Just got back from a week in Australia – an English-speaking land where I heard only Hebrew. It felt like the whole Jewish professional world there was made of ex-Israelis (except when they were ex-South Africans). The foreword of a leading book on the Ozzie Jewish community, New Under the Sun, marvels at the fact that there are more Israelis in Australia than there are Australians in Israel. Come to think of it, I bet that’s the case in the UK and in the States as well. Ex-pat Israelis are the secret influx to Jewish communities around the world.

On pondering this, I was reminded of the time I once found myself in an Israeli business meeting. I knew it was an Israeli business meeting, because at some point we both of us – complete strangers up until that point – had pulled out photos of our kids. He said to me: “Why do you think Israeli children are so beautiful? Because they’re only produced for export…” It was one of those painful jokes that only Israelis can tell to each other. We know, it’s a tough place to choose to continue to live.

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Ten Ways in Which the “Selichot Season” Concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra Differs From a Concert Anywhere Else in the World

October 5, 2008 by

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Ten Ways in Which the “Selichot Season” Concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra Differs From a Concert Anywhere Else in the World

  1. The concert begins when a world-famous clarinetist enters from the back row playing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold), encouraging the audience to sing along as he makes his way through the aisles.
  2. In between musical pieces the aforementioned clarinetist uses his instrument to blast a Tekia, Shvarim, Truah, Tekia, sounding even better than a real shofar! (Could’ve fooled me.)
  3. Three cell phones go off during the slow, quiet mandolin solo, destroying the audience’s rapt concentration. To Full Post

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