Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
There I was, walking by the famous Rabin Square, in Tel Aviv Israel, and what do I see? You guessed it. A man trapped in a huge ice cube waving to his father.
Really, I’m not kidding. Hezi Dean is one of the few magicians in Israel practicing “extreme magic”, and he’s out to break the Guinness book of world records, hoping to remain in his frozen cube for 65 hours, well into the beginning of 2010. If he succeeds, he’ll have broken David Blaine’s record, in 2000. He stayed in the frozen cube in Times Square, New York for “only” a little more than 63 hours – and had to be rushed to the hospital with extreme frost bite, among other things.
Standing in front of this humongous piece of ice I can’t help but think. Now THAT’S a New Years resolution. I look into Hezi’s puppy-brown eyes and I realize what it must take to really put your resolution to practice. He looks miserable and lonely, and I can only imagine how tired he is, how hungry he is (plenty to drink though as long as he can wait out the Israeli sun) in the cubicle. That’s one determined guy, bringing in 2010 with an extreme accomplishment.
I too, have big plans for 2010. Actually, after reviewing last years New Years Resolution, I’m disappointed to learn how little I have to change off my list.
1. Catapult acting Career – still going strong…
2. Improve personal life – I’m not complaining, but can I meet at least one guy with most of his marbles?
3. Learn to love Sushi – the closest I’ve got to it is loving Sake (Japanese wine).
Although I feel closer than ever to most of my goals, I wonder, how many of us start off the New Year with the re-resolutions of last year?
Just then my phone rings. It’s my parents, on speaker.
“Are you going to a party for New Years?” “Will you be out very late?” “I hope you don’t intend to kiss a stranger!”
I take a deep breath and grin. “Hi guys, yes, since I’m not 90 I probably will be partying tonight, and I probably will be out late, and kissing strangers only happens in the movies.”
“Well,” my Mother begins, “we just wanted to make sure you don’t let anyone walk you home. And if they ask to come in for a glass of water, bring them the water to the door.”
“To the door!” my father echoes, sternly. “We don’t mean to be over-bearing,” my father apologizes. “It’s just, since you’ve started writing your blog we just don’t know what to expect from you anymore.”
“My goodness,” adds my mother, “It’s hard to believe all those things actually happen to you. Aren’t you a little young to be gallivanting around like that?”
I know, I’m a little old for this stuff, but they do it anyway. The fact that I’ve been independent and out of the house since I’m 18, or the fact that I live in a different city, doesn’t seem to matter, or keep them from waiting up for me. As far as they’re concerned, I should always bring a coat, be home by curfew and cover up that cleavage!
Some things never change.
And as I prepare for the new calendar date, I wonder what I have to do to make sure the goals on my list next year will be different. My way of achieving goals has always been to push forward, think ahead and work hard. Yet here, Hezi is about to conquer a new year’s resolution AND break a record by literally—freezing in place.
We may both have the same focused mind-set, but we have totally different ideas on how to achieve them. I can’t imagine getting ahead in life unless I’m constantly on the go. But maybe Hezi’s got the right idea, because while I’m still working on my “old year’s resolution” he’ll (hopefully) bring in 2010 with a world record.
Everyone has there own way of doing things, and those mindsets are hard to change. My parents will always worry if I’m eating enough, well rested, and wearing a chastity ring. But somewhere along the line they made a resolution to stop calling to “check on me” when I’m on a date.
So maybe what I need is a little more patience, a little more faith if you will. Maybe what I need to learn is that sometimes standing still is better than rushing headlong forward. It gives your dream time to catch up to you.
I’ll let you think about that while I go try some sushi. 33’rd time’s the charm.
So happy New Year. Sylvester Sameach! Or “Have it your way!” May you resolve all your resolutions.
Or maybe, just wait and they’ll resolve themselves.
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3.6.12 at 3:44 pm | Is the Purim Megillah a tale of feminism? And. . .
3.23.10 at 2:32 pm | Is it time for Israelis to be in the nude?
1.28.10 at 12:27 pm | A fun night out in Tel Aviv takes a disturbing. . .
1.5.10 at 3:18 pm | Positive Thinking -- Negative Thoughts
12.31.09 at 3:26 pm | Does last Years frost bite rollover into the new. . .
1.28.10 at 12:27 pm | A fun night out in Tel Aviv takes a disturbing. . . (6)
11.2.09 at 2:18 am | How many "takes" does it take to find Mr. Right? (5)
10.22.09 at 3:47 am | When it comes to the acting industry, Tel Aviv. . . (3)
December 30, 2009 | 4:51 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
The room is small, dimly lit by lavender scented candles whose glow adds to the warm cozy feeling engulfing me as the gentle harmony of nature’s sounds wafts through the—
“Okay, now please take off your clothes,” the woman gently, but firmly, commands. Uh oh, I’ve done it again, I tell myself. When they advertised, “Treat yourself to a new you. You’ll feel born again,” I didn’t know they meant it literally.
“What?” I turn to her, simultaneously looking around for the hidden camera.
“If you like, I’ll leave the room while you undress,” she says soothingly, a little grin spreading across her face. I suddenly imagine her as the co-star of a girl-on-girl x-rated film. But here’s one time I’m not looking to be a leading lady.
“Does everyone have to get naked for a facial?” I ask, reluctantly stripping.
“No. We give young actresses preferential treatment, so that later we can sell their pictures to the Paparazzi.”
I freeze, unsure if she’s kidding or not, and just in case make a dash for the paper-thin covers atop the treatment bed.
“Is this your first time?” she asks, amused. I’m nervously hoping we’re both referring to the same thing.
I feel there are many milestones I’ve missed out on as a woman. “Getting Ready” is one of them. When my sisters and I are getting dressed for an event, I’m always embarrassed to say “ready” when only five minutes have passed. I can never quite figure out what I’m supposed to do for so long. Many are the times I’ve simply locked myself in the bathroom and read a good book while telling my family, “Don’t rush me, I’m putting on my face.” Yes, I know, a whole new dimension to “two-faced.” And nails – pedicure, manicure – if only people knew that my technique for applying nail polish is simply paint the whole toe, then wipe off the excess polish around the nail.
That’s why I came to this “Sima’s Super Spa!”. I wanted desperately to fulfill another right of passage into womanhood—The Facial.
“Yeah, this is my first facial,” I point out, making sure she knows what I’m here for. “How’d you know?” I ask curiously.
She pulls up a chair and starts talking to my feet. “A lucky guess,” she says dryly, “and you’re lying down in the wrong direction. Head goes in here,” she points to where I have my toes safely curled in a little pillow hole, and I clumsily, switch directions (under the covers).
“Oops. I’m not so good at this,” I apologize. “I was traumatized when I was twelve. My Mom made me go to a nail torturer. My virgin cuticles were never the same. I couldn’t play piano for days, and my psychologist says I’m the first person he’s met with cuticle phobia – I see a manicurist and I sit on my hands.”
“So what made you decide to be so brave now?” she asks, reaching for what I’m sure are restraints.
“Well, I’ll be flying to the USA soon for a few auditions, and I figured I’ll indulge myself.”
Then she lights up. “Since we’re preparing you for close-ups of you face, I’d like to recommend a very unique treatment, geared especially for public figures in front of the camera. Even Angelina Jolie does it!” and she takes out a photograph of Angie walking out of a beauty salon with the caption “FACE OFF”, and a one liner explaining the exquisite facial treatment Angelina regularly goes through to look her best.
Staring at the clipping, I begin to worry that maybe she wasn’t kidding about selling pictures to the paparazzi.
The beautician winks at me, “See, there’s a reason Angie looks so young. But we can have you looking like that in no time.”
“But I am young. I even got carded last night.”
“That’s the worst. People who feel young. Don’t you know that the skin begins aging at 12 or 13? If you don’t take care of yourself you’ll be all wrinkles before your first facelift.”
Wrinkles? Facelift? I wince, touching my face self-consciously. People have been telling me lately how much I look like my Grandmother. I look at the tabloid clipping again. Well. If it’s good enough for Angie…
“Okay,” I comply, “what do we do?”
“First we take this little brush with these metal bristles,” she demonstrates excitedly, caressing my arm with the steel fingers. “We move it along your face, which tightens it, and fills in the wrinkles. It’s called undulating the epidermis.”
“Umm, so is that at all related to Botox?”
She winks at me. “And for only 2000 shekels you can look like Angie’s younger sister. Ah, but what’s the price for beauty?”
That’s just what I was thinking. Whatever happened to that natural look?
“On second thought, my wrinkles give me character. Let’s just go with the regular facial.”
She sighs, only slightly disappointed. I’m glad because I wouldn’t want to get the person who’s changing my face angry.
She begins with a “face scrub”, which seems to be a special foam mixed with gravel so that it scratches up your face nice and evenly. Then “peeling”, which believe it or not, really is designed to peel your face off. I think it would’ve been more humane to use a vegetable peeler. She then spends the next ten minutes rubbing in ‘special creams’—which all smell suspiciously like hair mousse.
Just when I’m sure I can relax again, because all this pain must be a sign that it’s almost over, out comes the magnifying glass. I let out a little yelp, remembering what my mother said about the dermatologists in her day who used a magnifying glass to squeeze out blackheads and pimples. Ugh! How primitive can you get?
And she promptly proceeds to pinch, squeeze, nip and pick my face. Black heads. Gone. Pimples (Not that I have any). Gone. Eyebrows. Gone. Face. Gone
“Is it supposed to burn so much?” I ask, trying to blow on my cheek.
“Shh…. It means it’s working. Now just lean back and enjoy the pampering,” she forces my eyelids shut. Maybe it is working, since I notice I can no longer blink voluntarily.
That’s when she puts a net around my face, and has me hold a strange metal rod.
“Just hold that, and don’t worry about a thing. It’s just to complete the electrical circuit.”
I force open my eyes and look at her. “Electrical –???“
Zap! I swear she giggled as my whole body convulsed in response to the “magnet” electrifying my face. Between the humming sound and the zapping sound, I begin empathizing with those mosquitoes we treat so unjustly.
“Okay, now we’re just about done, and it’s time for your face massage,” she says, smoothing down my long hair, which is so loaded with static it’s no longer touching the ground, but actually pointing towards the near wall.
True to form, she rubs a burning cream into what’s left of my original face, holding me down with her elbows. I get the disturbing sensation that someone’s just smeared a whole tube of mint toothpaste onto my face.
“How do you feel?” she asks, as she helps me sit up.
“Did you catch the license of the truck that hit me?” I say miserably. “Is the plastic surgeon still on this floor?” The witch laughs.
“Wow! You’re positively glowing!” she lies. “You look like a million dollars, if I dare to toot my own horn.” And she hands me a mirror.
I look at my reflection: Red, blotchy, with net marks scorched into my skin. Not to mention my hair is higher than Marge’s (of the Simpson’s).
“Will I ever be able to wink again?” I ask hopefully.
“I guess you are a little red,” she admits, lowering her voice. “But you know, our face is just the mirror of our soul. So you must be a very special person if your face is so sensitive.”
My soul isn’t sensitive, it’s just blushing, looking at my new face. However, I’m about to give her a piece of my “sensitive” mind, when she pre-empts me, saying, “Or maybe, you should’ve splurged for the Angelina Jolie treatment.”
I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to take the rich and famous treatment. When I think of it, I have to hand it to Angie—she’s got a hell-of-a-threshold for pain.
December 29, 2009 | 6:40 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Several readers have recently written to me, complaining that my posts of late have been a little too “serious” for them, and can I go back to telling about the “humorous” aspects of my life?
My apologies. I guess I really shouldn’t let a celebrity death, the Holocaust, or the “loaded” topic of guns get to me….
What’s interesting is that when I write about world news – everyone complains that there’s nothing funny about what’s happening “out there”. Yet, apparently, the more calamities I encounter, the more I spill my guts about all the scary, overwhelming, outrageous things that happen to me in my life—well, that seems to make for good (funny) entertainment.
Talk about Schadenfreude (pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others)!!
Here’s a case in point: I needed to come up with some material for a standup comedy audition, and realizing that the casting directors (there were three) might share some of my readers’ outlook on Schadenfreude, I opted against the topic of world news or even Israel news, and instead decided to focus on the multifarious mishaps of my life. You know, like how my 8 siblings (almost) look up to me, how my religious Mom became a certified (certifiable?) sexologist (and why), and the many types of strange (as in nuts) people I meet (my last date introduced me to BOTH his personalities).
Anyway, they loved me. “You’re hilarious,” says the tall, lanky director. “Most women performers are bitter, angry singles, dreaming of castrating all men.”
“I’m not like other women,” I quickly retort. Then, thinking I might have made a mistake I just as quickly add, “Although I once dreamt that all my brothers were walking around the house in drag. But just give me a few more months in the big city and I promise I’ll try my best to become a man-hater too.”
After no more than a moment’s deliberation, the panel returned with their decision. I could see by their smiles that they were ready to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
“You were great out there,” the short, bald director began, “and you’ve got impeccable timing. Actually, you’re one of the best novices we’ve ever had here. Sooooo, we’d-like-to-offer-you-an-opportunity-to-enroll-in-our-stand-up-comedy-course. With a little more tweaking….”
There’s a sucker born every minute. Here I thought I was auditioning for a TV show showcasing comic talent and all along it was just a front for another of those comic(al) courses.
Reminds me of the time I went shopping and the well-dressed saleslady enthusiastically told me “You’ve just got to buy that outfit! You look terrific in it!” She ought to know, right? I felt on top of the world as I walked out with $500 worth of maternity clothes, which she guaranteed would shrink in the wash.
Or take that health food teller who talked me into buying “body booster” vitamins, guaranteed to guard me from all illnesses except bacterial ones, the flu, and the common cold.
Okay, maybe not every person selling something really has my best interest at heart. But I swear you’ll never find cheaper tires than the four I bought at yesterday’s tire sale. I’m storing them until I buy a car.
So after telling all three casting directors what they could do with their comedy course, on the way back from the phony audition, I stopped at the sportswear store to get a new pair of jogging shoes. I figured I’d treat myself. Guess what! It turned out to be my lucky day! No, I didn’t get the shoes (I wasn’t buying anything that wasn’t on sale) but they had the most unbelievable One-Day Only Crazy Moishie Sale on skis. And, wait ‘til you hear this: They threw in a toboggan for 70% off the retail price!
I can hardly wait until the next snow in Tel Aviv.
December 27, 2009 | 5:14 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
In preparation for my standup comedy audition, I surfed the Internet, trying to find some amusing up-to-date weekend headlines I could use for material. And there it was, a right-in-your-face lead article announcing “Safari Park Seeks New Homes For Hippos.”
That’s why I love Sky News. When they report about Israel, they always go for the jugular, or the funny-bone, whichever catches their fancy. Truth is, their political reporting sometimes sounds like an exercise in Israel bashing. But there’s no doubt, their human-interest features pack a lot of (animal) empathy. And that’s okay with me. As far as I’m concerned, Hippos are Israelis too.
The article itself is terrifically entertaining. Hey, who doesn’t love Hippos? I, for one, had no idea these heavy, lumbering animals were insatiable (except when it came to eating). The Safari surroundings must make great love nests and some Safari Ranger clearly has a sense of humor, having spiked the luscious greens they feed these behemoths with hippo-Viagra (Can you imagine the size of that pill?). If you read the article you’ll find that Israel is being overrun with those cute, pudgy, submarines and zoos all over the world are asking for our corpulent hippo Don Juans.
The article put me in such a good mood, I almost bought a Hippo myself, except you know how small Tel Aviv apartments are. On a good day I can barely squeeze both feet into my house. And God forbid the hippo should get the “urge”….
After waking up to such cheery, upbeat, news this morning, I admit I almost wish our papers in Israel would report more of these types of stories.
So remember you heard it here first, the breaking news of Sky: The Ramat Gan Safari in Israel is over-populated with Hippos. I’d like to think it has something to do with the water, or the Israeli climate (We are close to Africa). I know lots of people who will blame it on Zionism (for good and for bad). Me, I think the hippos are trying to teach us an age old dictum: Make Love Not War.
If that’s the case, where on earth do they keep the Men’s Safari?
December 25, 2009 | 10:22 am
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Do you know how the movie theaters stay open around Christmas time, and there’s that usher at the theater cursing out those 2 people who just had to see a movie, thus preventing him from staying home for the Holiday? Well, I’m normally one of those 2 people.
What better time for Jews to enjoy a nice, quiet cinema outing than Christmas?
Except, in Tel Aviv, where the population is mainly Jewish, it wasn’t just me and my date watching AVATAR—there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Thank God even the Ushers are Jewish, so hopefully they’re not resentful about missing the Jingle Bell Fiesta.
Apparently, the fact that the tickets to the 3D film Avatar are 6 shekel more expensive than a regular ticket didn’t deter the crowd. After all, if James Cameron could spend almost $500 million to make the film, we could spend 41 NIS to see it.
All week I’d been waiting to see the movie, but last night my Christmas Cheer all but dissipated. It’s not because of the movie, not even because of my date…
…it’s because 40 minutes earlier I had sent someone to the Hospital.
A homeless man had stopped me in the street and called me over. I nervously stayed my distance, trying to understand what it is he wanted. He had this strange look in his eyes – a mixture of pain and pleading – and finally managed to whisper “Call an Ambulance” as the scent of alcohol invaded my nostrils. Then he grabbed his chest, grimacing. I made the call, telling the operator he might be having a heart attack.
Suspicious of his motives, I kept a distance, but still waited with him until the ambulance came. Maybe I’ve been in the city too long. I was so wary that he might try to mug me or worse, that I never even asked his name, let alone sat near him.
When the ambulance came they put him on a gurney and as he passed by me he reached out his hand. I hesitantly took it, almost wincing. He brought my hand to his lips and kissed it, then leveled his gaze to mine and whispered “Todah, malach”, Thank you, angel. That’s when I saw the tear fall. And that’s when I realized he probably wasn’t having a heart attack…He was having a loneliness attack.
The movie? By the time I got to the theater I was ready for anything that would take my mind off what had just happened. Guilt, among other emotions, primed me for the hype that seemed to emplasticize the entire theater. This clearly was the movie of the century.
Truth is, I have to hand it to Cameron, he managed to build a beautiful, inspiring world, with magnificent humanoid creatures. I’m sure everyone seeing the movie wished they were chosen to be transported to the planet “Pandora” and bask in the ultra violet glows of the forest (although I’m not sure how good that is for you).
Cameron’s imagination combined with modern technology left an awesome impact on me. You don’t need the 3D glasses to feel impressed with the way he’s successfully combined real live actors on realistic sets with animated figures, in a make-believe world. In fact, the transition was so swift and seamless, I’m still not sure if it was a cartoon or a real-people movie.
Unfortunately, the movie didn’t live up to the expectations; the plot was okay (at best) and the action good (but not great). It was a little long and drawn out, and too many times I found myself wandering back to the homeless man who I sent into an ambulance—by himself.
AVATAR preaches the warning we’ve heard many times before: How we are destroying our planet, each other, and our moral imperative to do the right thing in life. You could practically predict every twist in the storyline, and the strong moral conveyed of “think green before there’s nothing left to live for”, had nothing too new to teach me. As far as I was concerned the movie was preaching to the converted.
Leaving the theater, I suddenly felt my money could have been put to better use, and made the monumental (for me) decision to find my homeless, loveless, vagabond.
My date, whom I barely knew, offered to accompany me to the hospital. But after 2 hours of searching, I never did find what became of him. Without a name it’s sort of hard to find someone in a hospital, unless you’re a cop or a detective. Hospitals are very stingy about giving out personal information.
Around the Holidays, people tend to get the blues, even those who have forgotten their families and whose families have probably forgotten them. If I learned anything from the experience it’s that people have to be more important than things, even humanoid things, even the-greatest-movie-of-the-century things. Connecting with someone who’s alone has to be more important than connecting with another escape mechanism, and that you’d better realize that if you try to go against the patterns you’ve been taught since childhood you’re going to feel very, very guilty.
I wish I could take back time, and board the ambulance with him. Even at the risk of standing-up my date, and missing out on Cameron’s out-of-this world Blue Entities.
Truthfully, if you just want to get away and enjoy a really good animated movie, AVATAR fits the bill. So go ahead and have a great time. Just don’t expect it to take away those Holiday Blues.
December 24, 2009 | 5:23 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Just when we think we can breathe a sigh of relief, that after gorging ourselves with Hanukkah Sufganiyot for 8 days we can finally put the Holidays behind us for a couple of months, along comes one more.
Don’t tell me you didn’t know Christmas is a Jewish Holiday?
Truth is, I wasn’t so sure about it myself. It was one thing when I lived in Los Angeles, where it seemed to me that being American – Jewish or Gentile—was intertwined with celebrating some form of Christmas, whether just exchanging gifts, attending a party or two, or placing a “token” tree in the living room “so we’ll have someplace to put the gifts.”
But here in Israel, in Tel Aviv, I certainly didn’t expect to get a sled-load of invitations to Christmas Parties, many with decidedly Jewish themes. The invites promised eggnog, scantily clad female (and male) elves, and one party even had a mandatory dress code – yes, you guessed it – traditional red and green.
And why not? Watching the news this evening report Holiday preparations around the world, you sort of get caught up in the mad shopping sprees that are the hallmark of Christmas. Then they pan to the pristine snow covering the ground, reindeer pulling a sled, egg nog, a warm cozy fire – hey, how much joy can one person take? Check the Websites that list “Santa’s worldwide route” and yes, once again the little country of Israel is nowhere to be found. It’s one thing when CNN forgets about us, but a guy with a long, white beard has to pay us a visit…at least a chimney stop in Jerusalem.
No one likes to be left out. Especially when the rest of the world seems to be having so much fun! So is it any wonder we want to celebrate Christmas? Now to find that Jewish theme….
Actually, it’s elementary my dear reader: If Christ was Jewish doesn’t it stand to reason that Christmas was probably Jewish at one time as well?
Think about it: A short, stout man with a long beard and a hat, a warm smile but not fawning, clearly a charismatic figure, devout helpers announcing his coming, and of course he only visits the good for only the good can be rewarded.
No, I’m not talking about the Messiah – although a case for that could be made too. I’m talking about Elijah the Prophet, the spirit that comes to every bris and has a special cup of wine prepared for him at the Seder table (of course, he comes through the door). Is it just coincidence that the germatria (numerical value – dropping all the zeros) for the Hebrew word “Santa” just happens to be the equivalent of the combination of words Elijah and Seder as well as Elijah and Bris? Of course not.
Santa the eternal visitor and Elijah the eternal visitor have certain common traits. They both evoke a certain spirit; they both have long white beards; and of course, they both ride chariots in the sky.
See the Jewish link?
Just in case you don’t. As I note the red and greed colors decorating my invitations, I’m reminded of the Purim story, of how a person is supposed to drink so much that he can’t tell the difference between Haman, the villain and Mordechai, the hero, and it dawns on me: Why are the colors of Christmas red and green? Clearly, because a person is supposed to drink so much until he can’t tell the difference between Red – stop! and Green – go!
So, we might have thought the Holidays were behind us, but here they are again. Purim, Passover, they’ve all been mixed up, rearranged, and reworked so that the rest of the world can enjoy them as well.
‘Tis the season….
December 22, 2009 | 7:22 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Many of you may have heard of the new law Israel is trying to pass: Alcohol to be sold only to those over 21. The logic behind this is that 18 year olds are still kids, and not responsible enough to drink.
The sad truth is that Israel suffers from a large amount of DUI’s most of which seem to be committed by people under the age of 22. The even bigger problem is that adolescents UNDER the age of 18 already consume large amounts of alcohol, since they can easily pick up a bottle at any corner makolet (grocery store).
The law still has to pass through the “Knesset”, but the motion has already created a buzz.
Until now, the legal drinking age in Israel was 18. And why not? After all, as soon as Israeli youth finish high school, we pack up our “young adults” and shift them off to the army. They undergo brutal physical training, psychological trauma’s and experience exceptionally harsh conditions. We expect our youth to be Zionistic and enlist out of sense of loyalty; to be gung-ho, protect and fight for their country. But the truth is, neither the kids nor the government really has much of a choice. Israel is surrounded by potential annihilators and our standing army is sometimes the only thing that keeps them at bay.
While in the USA most 19 year olds are living it up at frat parties, or sight-seeing Europe, Israeli “oldalescents” are government property. Their body, choices and everyday routine are controlled by the army for at least three years after they finish high school. A post-high school kid quickly learns responsibility and takes on the trappings of adulthood way before his U.S. peer. That’s a lot of pressure for an 18 year to be under, wouldn’t you think? So the question is, do you have to be sober to do it?
I remember what it was like for one of my brothers who fought in an elite unit in the army. There was a point during the first Intifada when he was fighting in Jenin, doing God-knows-what. I remember noticing his face beginning to change. Not only did he lose weight, his complexion darken from the repeated frost-bite, but he became withdrawn and quiet, and the sparkle in his eyes all but vanished. He reminded me more of a loan wolf, than my older brother. Thank God he survived his ordeal, but not without significant trauma.
In those trying times, when he finally came home for the weekend, I recall him going out with friends. Drinking seemed to be a major pastime, and an obvious way to ease the pain. And though it was only momentary relief, it was an opportunity to take the load off, just the same. A well needed, and earned, break.
On the other hand, I know a 16 old girl who recently played a part in a high-school student film. Her character was supposed to be that of a young girl drinking beer. Not knowing any better, she abided by the 17-year-old director’s instructions, and consumed a whopping 2 liters of beer throughout the takes.
She called me to the set, to see her in “action”.
“Don’t worry,” the toddler on heels reassured me, “I’m a professional. I can handle my liquor.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” I told her, looking around at the table of teens shouting “Chug! Chug! Chug!” as the co-star was preparing to get into character. “Remember, you want to be a member of the acting profession, not a member of AA,” I admonished her.
“But Tiferet,” she argued, “don’t all professional characters have to get into the role? Mine is supposed to be a girl who’s drunk.”
“For pretend,” I reminded her. “Do you think actors always get high when their characters are supposed to be smoking a joint? You think they actually have real-live sex for a sex-scene?!”
“They don’t?” was her amazed response, and I like to think I saved her from a life of porno flicks.
“Hey,” a pimple-faced 15 year old called out, trying to impress me with his metal braced smile. “Wanta’ have a contest? I bet I could drink more shots of Arak than you.”
“I bet I can PRETEND to drink more shots of Arak than you,” I countered.
Now switch to Los Angeles where I once tried to buy some sweet kiddush wine for a family who had invited me for Friday night dinner. Imagine my shock when I was “carded” at the supermarket, and the bottle of wine confiscated.
“Believe me,” I told the teller. “If I were going to get drunk, it wouldn’t be on Manischewitz. This is just a gift. I can’t go empty handed.”
But she wouldn’t hear of it, and I was forced to buy Sparkling peach wannabe wine. Alcoholic content minus 20%.
And was I ever surprised when, in L.A., sharing a bottle of wine on a date, the pub-owner called out “Last Call”, and the crowd paid their bill and went home. I couldn’t get over how disciplined everyone was. I could never see something like that taking place in Israel.
Of course, you’re right, 18 is not the age kids should be drinking. And sure everybody’s worried about the scourge of drinking, both here and abroad. But unlike the U.S., in Israel it seems to make more sense to allow those who are risking their lives to control their lives, at least as far as liquor is concerned. After all, if you’re giving a kid a gun, dressing him in army fatigues, sending him on dangerous missions and telling him to kill or be killed, then I think when his R&R time comes it should be – drinks all around.
December 21, 2009 | 4:27 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Israel breathes a sigh of relief as news of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work makes free) sign was found, although in 3 pieces. According to Krakow police, the sign was stolen for financial purposes, not as an act of neo-Nazism. Five suspects were arrested and further investigation is required.
Last Friday, people around the world were furious to learn that the sign above the Auschwitz Death camp was stolen. But in Israel this was a “sign of the times”.
Were the perpetrators attempting to erase traces of the Holocaust? Obviously, the theft of such an important historical monument was a statement against Jews, a provocative gesture insinuating that the war is not over, or an attempt to deny the war took place altogether.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) referred to the theft as a “critical failure of the Polish police.”
Germany was quick to raise their donations for the new Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, now holding at $87 million.
But wait a moment! Isn’t history – even Holocaust history – open to all sorts of interpretations these days? Could it be that there never was a sign over the entrance of the Auschwitz Death Camp? Clearly, much of the world believe that “if it didn’t happen in my lifetime it just didn’t happen!”
Take my younger sister, #2. After seeing “Inglorious Basterds” last week, I had to assure her that Hitler, Himmler and the rest of the Nazi vermin were not blown up while viewing a movie.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Tarantino, and I really enjoyed the film. But at the end of the movie my father, who’s mother survived two and a half years in Auschwitz, shook his head and smiled. “I wish those inglorious bastards had existed. I’d probably have grown up with grandparents if they had.”
There’s entertainment and then there’s history. When you put them in the hands of someone like Tarantino you get entertaining history which most young people treat as historical documentaries. These people believe what they see, and why not? It looked realistic to me.
So I have to wonder: Are we placing our heritage in the right hands?
Although there were certainly many heroes during the Holocaust, both Jewish and Gentile, the catastrophic outcome of this madman’s dream led to millions dead, despite the heroic efforts of some.
When my Grandmother went to see “Life Is Beautiful” she really loved the movie, especially the way the barracks were so clean and the prisoner’s outfits well-ironed.
“If only the Camps were like that!” she lamented. “By the end of the War we were lined up in the snow totally naked for the ‘counting’, the final decider of who would live and who would die. Oh, I just wish the war was like the movies.”
As the years go by, more and more misinformation about the Holocaust blurs our understanding of the facts. Yes indeed, facts are sometimes stranger than fiction, but fiction can make mincemeat of facts. Movies, as important as they are for documenting real life events, still have to add the spices of love, adventure, action, etc. to make their concoction palatable to their audiences. Right now, the Nazis are always the bad guys. But what if a wealthy Holocaust Denier (and there are wealthy ones) decides to make a movie showing how dedicated the Nazi soldiers and officers were to the Fatherland and how it was the Jews’ fault they were murdered? Sounds impossible? That’s what they said about the Holocaust in 1933.
When I went to Poland with my Grandmother who wanted to revisit Auschwitz, she showed me the hard, wood bed she and 11 other women slept in. She pointed to the spot where she last saw her Mother torn from her arms. She relived the terrifying memory of the cries and pleas of those gagging to death in the gas chambers.
We heard our guide explain about the conditions in the Camp, about the tortures, about the kapos, and the sadism of the Nazis. After the lecture and tour, my younger brother turned to me and said, “You know how the war ended, don’t you? Hitler killed himself.”
“Yeah, so the rumor has it,” I confirmed.
He nodded solemnly. “And do you know why he killed himself,” he asked me, daring me to know the answer, the answer he had learned in school, from a friend. “It was because the gas bill was too high. He couldn’t afford it.”
No, my little brother didn’t realize he was joking.
Or the time my young sister took a practical joke literally, and on Holocaust Day in school, publicly announced that Chihuahuas were the number one killer dogs during the Holocaust, responsible for the murder of many Jews. To this day she shakes uncontrollably whenever she sees a picture of Paris Hilton and her pocket sized dog in her purse.
As a child someone convinced me that Hitler was responsible for inventing cigarettes, in order to give Jews lung cancer.
It all boils down to whether we even want to know the facts. You can create as many Holocaust museums as you want, but if the crowds are all lined up to see a bunch of inglorious basterds destroy the Nazis single-handedly, then there may, God forbid, come a time when entertainment becomes a place of reality and the museums become a home for the discarded relics of the past, things like the sign above the Auschwitz Concentration camp.
And Chihuahuas will take the place of Doberman Pinchers.
And Hitler will have killed himself because he couldn’t “afford” to keep killing Jews.
And, darn, if only the Master Race hadn’t made those silly mistakes we’d all be demi-gods today.
It’s time to give the Holocaust a reality check… today.