16 December 2007

16 December 2007

Not much is new, the usualy schoolwork and jobhunting taking up the majority of my time. Having downloaded most of the classic Christmas songs and watched almost all the standard TV specials online, I'd say I'm fairly virtually satiated with the "holiday season." As I’m about to hit the road again with Birthright Israel (now in capital letters!) for ten days, here’s a bunch of words quasi-logically put together to tide over the rare reader of this blog:

I had a second interview for job where I’d be working for The Man. For fear of jinxing the potential, I won’t reveal the name. All I’ll say is if I get this job, it’d mean dressing up for work and getting paid well to schmooze. Can you understand why I don’t want to jinx this?
The interview was brief, intense but somewhat fun. In front of a five-person interviewing board, I was asked all sorts of questions about myself in Hebrew and why I’d be the right candidate for the position. 30-40 minutes later, with a reserve of adrenaline still stored up inside, I made my way to school.

The shtetl of Anglo blogs has been busy commenting on one of the most recent commercials of YES, Israeli satellite cable company.

Laughing? So was I. Did you ever see the one from 2005?

Not laughing as much now, right?
How about the latest for having the freedom to watch all the latest movies each weekend?

Where to begin….YES, a cable company which operates only in Israel is advertising in English, using a marketing strategy which satirizes popular aesthetics, only to succumb to (inevitable?) racism. For being a TV junkie, I’ve done a good job not signing up to a cable company just yet. Eventhough YES carries more recent American shows and the new Al Jazeera English channel, can I still sign up for a company who thinks this is acceptable?

(Feel free to weigh in on this debate and donate 200 NIS/month to the “Subscribe Jay to Cable” campaign)

I was in Israel when the 2005 commercial came out, and I remember debates raging in the Hebrew newspapers about it. Native-born Israelis thought it was funny, Anglos thought it was incredibly offensive. A commercial for a movie channel mocking Vietnam War POW’s? How about a commercial for life insurance using Israeli POW’s still unaccounted for in Gaza and Lebanon, my normal reply to those who find this funny.
The commercial with the ultra-Orthodox is particularly complicated, as it's full of American Jewish connections: Dancing in the streets of New York City to the track ubiquitously played at every Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Who is this ad marketed to, Israelis or American Jews? It’s definitely easier making fun of a group of people who seem so far away (ultra-Orthodox, America in general, etc.), but at the hands of a bunch of Jews? We do so well making fun of ourselves, creating masterpieces of satire that are part of Israel’s cultural cannon (the comedy troupe Hagashash Hahivver, for example), that perhaps we’re now bored of looking at each other.

The latest one hasn’t caused as much of a furor, perhaps because it’s brand new and also perhaps to this country’s fungible attitude towards those of color. Even in America, where the debate rages on about the acceptability of the usage of the “N-word,” I don’t expect there are commercials airing anywhere which use the actual word to help sell a product.

03 December 2007

03 December 2007

Rewind two weeks ago: After a long two days at school, I get a ride into Tel Aviv and meet up with two college friends. The plan was to spend a Thanksgiving Shabbat (Shanksgiving) that week with college friends in TLV and the following week have Shanksgiving with DC friends in Jerusalem. We loaded up the hundreds of shekels’ worth of groceries, including a gigantic turkey breast and six turkey drumsticks, into a cab and made our way to one of their apartments. My other college friend in Tel Aviv, who also goes to graduate school with me, wasn't in class that Friday morning and his phone was wasn't picking up. He must be asleep, I thought. As we’re about to arrive, the other friend calls and says he’s found a 16-pound turkey that he’s been cooking for almost the past two hours. After lots of initial frustration at the abundance of turkey, hours of cooking, a quick nap that did me little, and more cooking, it was beginning to look like Thanksgiving. All the turkey was cooked, and cooked to perfection, along with all the trimmings. There was a bit of a culture shock for the veteran Israelis who normally aren't sure what to make of a holiday they’d otherwise assume is Christian in nature; lucky for us Anglos they stayed clear of the jellied cranberry sauce I hauled in from Jerusalem. A successful dinner party.

A few days later, I was still eating leftover turkey with a huge smile on my face. Even more reason to smile, I had gotten a job interview. To be precise: I got a job interview before officially applying for a job. One of the perks of the protektzia system here (i.e. it's who you know that counts). The interview goes amazingly well. There’s potential to be cynical about how well it went – like being told before it’s over that I’d be coming back for a second interview – but I ain’t complainin’.

A few days after that, I took another Coordinator job with my colleagues at Hillel. Good money, good helping out colleagues, good experience to keep racking up.

Rewind a few days ago: Shanksgiving Part Two took place with DC friends in Jerusalem. Lots of wine, lots of great food, lots of unending entertainment. I think we all laughed hard enough in the course of the night to burn off a decent percentage of consumed calories.

Last night, after going out to see a friend’s band perform in the city center, the rain begins to pour down. I’ve developed a sixth sense for meteorology and luckily brought an umbrella, albeit small. Soon I was escorting two friends under my umbrella, which attracted the attention of every Ars in the area. “Can I use your umbrella?” they’d shout and try to get under it. “Not so much,” I would forcefully respond, only to get more and more annoyed with the volume of requests. Finally one teenager asked a bit too roughly and I let loose with a few choice expletives that still make me proud as an otherwise polite Anglo to have used.
We cross the street – jaywalk in front of a cop manning a car checkpoint, oy oy oy – speaking in loud English. At the sight of these three Anglos with their English, the female traffic cop standing in the pouring rain starts to sing the chorus of the pop hit “Umbrella” (Under my umbrella, ella, ella, ey, ey, ey). After a month of getting stopped by the police one too many times, this was just the response I needed -- getting to laugh at a cop.