Happy 62nd Birthday Israel!!

62 Things My Buddy Benji Loves About Israel from jpost.com

You’ve waited all year and it’s finally here. Inspired by last year’s “61 more things I love about Israel” and 2008′s  “60 things I love about Israel,” without further ado, here are 62 more things I love about Israel.

1. I love attending a religious wedding for the laughs that come from hearing “The Final Countdown” played klezmer-style.  I don’t know if the band Europe are dead yet but I suspect they’re digging their graves so they can someday roll in them.
2. I love how everyone who watched “Avatar” discovered that the Navi have a famous singer named Ninat. Who’s their favorite author, JB Yehoshua?
3. I love how the Jeopardy crew came here to research the country for their show.  “What are freichot?”
4. I love how this country is a kibbutz galuyot which means that you can watch American football with Argentinians and have them say things like “I ken not watch theez game!  Thees eeez alimut! (violence)”
5. I love the kumkum (electric hot water kettle). I’m not saying that I brought it into my bathroom to shave because the dood (solar water heater) wasn’t hot, but… Ok, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
6. I love how the painter not only asked me for coffee before working on my apartment but how I immediately made it for him without any feelings of weirdness. In the US, I’d have him committed.
7. I love how the Nefesh B’Nefesh Hanukka video on Ben Yehudah Street got a million hits. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have to go do a flash mob in Gaza. (The Black-Eyed Peas are huge in Khan Yunis.)
8. I love humous for approximately 47,000 different reasons.  By the way, when Israeli kids try to pull a fast one on the substitute teacher, do they use the fake name “Hugh Muss”?
9. I love watching the robot beat the tar out of a suspicious object. That rules. Who needs cable?
10. I love that our 80-something-year-old president is hip enough to have his own YouTube channel. Come on, Shimmy, GET ON JDATE!  “Likes: winning the Nobel Peace Prize and telling off the Turkish Prime Minister. Dislikes: disco and hula hoops.”
11. I love that during a visit to New York, I stopped by the Aroma on the Upper West Side, struck up a conversation with an Israeli woman at the counter, and within thirty seconds, found someone we knew in common. Look out, parents:  there’s a new drug hitting the streets. It’s accessible, it’s addictive, and it’s a menace to society. Goodbye, cocaine; hello, ice Aroma.
12. I love emphatically saying the word “ba-RUUUUUUUUUUUUUR!!!!!!!!!”  It’s like “duh” with more raysh-es.
13. I love that while waiting at a photocopy shop in the dead of summer, an employee walked around and gave out cups of cold water to the customers. That’s what I call Israeli hospitality.
14. I love that the cleaning lady asked, “Do you want me to organize this too? You know, because Pessah is coming…”
15. I love how the HOT guy is also a Polish mother, offering to park and walk upstairs because he felt bad making me come down to give him my modem. And once again, just because I have a thing for the HOT guy, it doesn’t mean I’m gay.
16. I have learned to love sponja, the Israeli system that actually cleans floors. As my friend once said, “what do you call dat theeng in America to clean? The steeck weeth deh deesgusting hairs?  It dah-zent clean, it jahst pushes deh dirty water around!” You nailed it, my friend.
17. I love eating at the sandwich kiosk on Ben Gurion street in Tel Aviv, realizing I don’t have enough cash to pay, and having the guy tell me no problem, just go to the ATM and come back, fully trusting me to do so. Would that happen in America? I’m not sure….
18. I love walking through Mr. Zol and hearing Samantha Fox’s “Touch Me” as a haredi man walks by. Haven’t you figured it out yet?  The Middle East is funny.
19. I love how well-known (and quite pale) American comedian Jim Gaffigan visited Israel for Easter and opened his stand-up show by saying “As you can tell, I am an Ethiopan Jew.” (I must say, I also loved opening for him.)
20. I loved Madonna dancing around with an Israeli flag and screaming “Hello, Israel!”
21. I love how people here name their children with intention. Israel:  “Ehhh…my daughter’s name eez Lihi.  It means “she is to me,’ after her grand-mahther who perished in deh Holocaust.” The US? ”Shucks, I call mah boy Luke.” As in the disciple? ”Nah, the night he was conceived, his ma and I were watching ‘The Dukes of Hazard.’ ”
22. I love how every conversation in an Anglo doctor’s or accountant’s office inevitably turns to aliyah and why we moved here.  “Nu!?  The humous! Ba-RUUUUUUR!!!!!!!!!!”
23. I love how the car radio displays and the digital parking lot signs read “shana tova.”  The only possible way that could be cooler would be for them to come alive like the Terminator and travel back in time.
24. I love how even the gas stations have cappuccino machines. Forget an oil change, just pour a hafuch (cafe au lait) in the engine.
25. I love going to the beach in March. If you like global warming and you know it, clap your hands (and spray some aerosol into the sky).
26. I love the new Apple stores with the best customer service I’ve ever seen in this country. Are we sure these are really service representatives? Quick, somebody check their passports for “Dubai.”
27. On that note, despite the predictable condemnation, I love that the Mossad can still kick ass and take names (literally).
28. I love the red Castro tag on shirts. If I’m ever visiting Saturn and see someone on the street with that little red identifier, I’ll know I have at least one friend.
29. I love how, unlike in the US, I can withdraw money from the kaspomat (cash machine) of ANY bank and there’s no extra service charge, even if it’s not my own.
30. I love that we can get nominated three years running for the “Best Foreign Film” Oscar. (Not to brag or anything but to those who missed it, I just missed out on taking home “Best Supporting Freier.”)
31. I love going to Tweetups and making the Jewish world even smaller.
32. I love how Israel is kicking Lebanon’s ass in the humous wars. Take that, Hizbullah. Now what about the biggest bottle of arak?  First round’s on me.
33. I love that in a recent episode, the Simpsons came to Israel, that the tour guide spoke Hebrew, and that I understood it.  If he had said yiyeh b’seder, it would have made my year.

34. I love how I recently and for the first time used the word “katanchik” and immediately became 37% more Israeli.
35. I love the terms of endearment that people so willingly endow each other with. ”Moteeeeek, hamuuuuuud, ahiiiiii…….kaparaaaa alehaaaaa!!!!!” OK, I don’t even know what that last one means.
36. I love how before Pessah, even the cover of the smutty magazine Banana says “Chag heirut sameah!”  Call me crazy but I have a strange feeling this publication has nothing to do with produce.
37. I love how while hiking, you can suddenly find a ma’ayan (spring) in the middle of nowhere. This probably explains why it took our people 40 years to wander through the desert. (Either that, or they kept making coffee.)
38. I love that part of the hike when it’s time to eat lunch and somebody starts cutting up vegetables to make a salad. What kind of person brings a bottle of olive oil on the hike? I’ll tell you what kind: sabras. And thank G-d for them.
39. I love Israeli tour guides and how they’ll just grab anything off a tree and start eating it. In Israel: “Look at Dudu! He just found some naturally growing Louisa! That is SOOOO cool!” In the US: ”Ummm…why is that dude eating a plant?”
40. I love how I went to the Dead Sea for the first time in fifteen years, covered my winter-dried hands with mineral-filled mud, and within days, the cracks in my skin had completely disappeared. I felt like Wilford Brimley in “Cocoon” except without as much ear hair and that smell of old people.
41. I love how even though the next day brings work, people go out in Israel on Saturday night till any hour of the night. (Reason #456 that we drink 45 cups of coffee a day.) Sunday night in the US, it’s as if people are attached to their sofa with a staple gun, bracing themselves for the hell what awaits them Monday. The disdain for the work week is so strong there, I sometimes felt Monday creeping all the way into my Saturday. ”Back off, Monday, nothing to see here.” Give me the Israeli Shabbat anytime.
42. I love the insanely awesome juices you can get here, even at the grocery store. Strawberry banana, pomegranate, humous fig. Ok, I made the last one up. This would be a good time to mention again that whereas fruits are tasty and affordable here, you have to take out a small business loan to buy a banana in the US. $1.25 at the airport? No thanks, I’d rather lick the runway.
43. I love Jerusalem’s Kikar Safra on Erev Yom Ha’atzmaut when women come out of the woodwork to show off their 23,000 different folk dances. I don’t know what exactly a woodwork is but apparently they teach one hell of a mayim step there.
44. I love going to the Old City on Good Friday to check out a balagan you just couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.  It’s a combination between Indiana Jones, the Passion of the Christ, and Mos Eisley.
45. I love laughing at news stories about Iran launching rodents into space, the Arab ambassador’s near-marriage to the bearded lady, etc. If you think Israel is funny, take a look at our neighbors.
46. I love how in Israel, Armageddon isn’t some cataclysmic event. It’s a tsomet (intersection).
47. I love that our medical system shocks me every time I go the doctor. ”No, seriously, it’s free? You’re kidding, right? But it was just free last week.”
48. I love that so many companies give their employees free cars with unlimited gas. How many Israelis do you think tried driving to New York to go shopping before realizing this was a bad idea?
49. I love the feeling of teamwork on the sherut when people pass the money between passenger and driver. It’s like a tiny kibbutz.  Without cow dung.
50. I love signing emails with “Shabbat shalom,” “chag sameach,” or “shavua tov.”
51. I love the soothing sounds of “sof hashavuaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ragua b’Galgalatz….raguaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.” Just thinking about it drops my blood pressure to three over one.
52. I love how you can set up shop at a beit café for several hours with no one bringing the check to rush you out. I’m pretty sure I could drink my hafuch, split the atom, and calculate pi to a million decimal points before anybody even batted an eyelash.
53. I love how the dreidel here is shin-less. The miracle happened here baby. And by the way, when Israelis say “nes gadol haya po,” they’re talking about a large cup of instant.
54. Same thing, different chag. The Hagaddah just reminds me that I’m in Israel. In the Diaspora: “Next year in Jerusalem.” In Israel: “Next year in Jerusalem rebuilt.” On the Temple Mount? “Next year in Jerusalem rebuilt, RIGHT HERE, BABY!”
55. I love that Israel sent the most successful medical delegation to Haiti to provide help, despite our country’s tiny size. And to the hate-mongering nut jobs who spread bogus rumors about our doctors doing organ harvesting? I have an organ and here’s what you can do with it.
56. I love that the Yom HaZikaron siren is so powerful, even felines show their respects.
57. I love the feeling of arriving to the gate at an international airport en route to Israel, seeing the other Israelis waiting, and thinking, “My people… It’s good to see you again.”
58. I love finding that sweet spot in the Old City of Jaffa where you suddenly find the most beautiful view of Tel Aviv. There ain’t nothing like it.
59. I love café hafuch in the morning, afternoon, and evening. G-d, I love it.
60. I love Erev Rosh Hashana and Leil HaSeder when the roads are packed and you feel the entire nation going home to their families.
61. I love that people are still committed to bringing Gilad Schalit home and that when one of us is truly hurting, we all feel it.
62. I love that I’ve had this once-in-a-lifetime experience and that it’s not over yet.

Benji Lovitt is a stand-up comic and writer. You can book him for a comedy show at www.benjilovitt.com or read his blog at www.whatwarzone.com. (Tell him HSM sent you.)

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5 Comments

  1. lady lock and load says:

    I love sponga so much that I bought a sponga mop to bring back home to the U.S. It didn’t fit in my suitcase so I carried my sponga stick through the airport, through security screening and stuck it under my seat on the plane! I guess I didn’t look too suspicious :) because I made it through! And I made sure to buy plenty of smartutim!

  2. Benji Lovitt says:

    Only one comment??? : )

    Thanks, HSM. As I said, you top my list of things I love about Montreal. Chag sameach to you!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I really laughed at your son’s comment about his grandmother being older than Israel. I am 62 and always thought of Israel as being Israel forever, maybe in my heart. I have not made it there yet… We had the finances to send out daughter or we could go and decided that she is the future for us and all people so she must remember. She went to Poland and still talks about this trip when she was l6, now 33. A good parental choice for us. HB Israel. Hoping for peace and tranquility for all your inhabitants.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      Rebecca is referring to a status on my Facebook page. My youngest son piped up yesterday – Grandma’s older than Israel??!! I told him he would have to ask her…. LOL ;)

  4. LOVED it Benji. It made me want to make aliyah even MORE than I already do. Which is a lot. Geez.

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