The Vuz Vuz 2
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1  General Category / General Forum / Re: From outside my window on: July 24, 2011, 02:10:56 pm
Update: Night has fallen, and the fireworks are growing louder and more widespread again. My son, who was in Gush Etzion all day, says that the Arabs have been doing the same over there, with the fireworks and shots in the air.

I suspect what we are seeing is a pre-teen banana-peeling fest; i.e., all those male kids who graduated grade school tonight are, for their special treat, making Foreskin Man in San Francisco a very unhappy man. And how can he rescue them without being Islamophobic, a definitely not chic thing to be, although anti-Jewish caricatures are in.
2  General Category / General Forum / Re: From outside my window on: July 24, 2011, 09:34:25 am
Update: I was in Hebron by the Patriarchs’ tomb later in the day, and there I met an old-time Hebron Jew, who enlightened me. Today was grade school graduations for the Arab kids, so they were celebrating in their customary way, with a combination of especially loud fireworks and shots fired in the air, scaring the crap out of a lot of people, but thankfully not over anything real.
3  General Category / General Forum / From outside my window on: July 24, 2011, 02:45:42 am
I learned the difference between firecrackers and gun shots in Brooklyn, It's now 10:30 a.m. here in Remat Mamre, and for the past hour, my wife and I have heard explosions, and they are not fireworks. While the Arabs do set them off at weddings, they do not generally have weddings so early in the day. Also, they don't sound like fireworks and the reports keep coming from different locations and varying in tone and frequency. I do believe we are witnessing a shootout, and a burst of what sounds like automatic small-arms fire has just confirmed it. The Arabs working on the building next door are still working, and people are still walking about in the street below us (as in down the slope), but everyone is much more quiet and subdued. I'll wait to see if Arutz Sheva carries any word of this, and put off my trip to the Kirya 'til it quiets down.
4  General Category / General Forum / "Religious tensions" Hebron Style on: May 12, 2010, 05:17:09 pm
Every weekday evening, from seven to nine, I partake in a kolel at the Me'arat Hamachpela (Cave of the Patriarchs). At seven we have a minyan for Mincha (afternoon prayer), followed by a class in Maimonides, followed by a minyan for Maariv (evening prayer). The Me'arat Hamachpela is partitioned. The side with the shrines of Jacob, Leah, Abraham and Sarah is used as a synagogue. The side with the shrines of Adam, Eve, Isaac and Rivka is used as a mosque. The mosque has a loudspeaker over which the pre-recorded Islamic Mu'azin's catechism is blasted five times daily, and the IDF and Mishtara (police) always present at the Me'ara are responsible for turning on the loudspeaker at the appointed times for Islamic prayers. It so happened that the appointed time for the Islamic evening prayer for a while coincided with the time that my minyan was davening Maariv at the close of our kolel each evening.

One night, as the officers on duty were heading over to Ulam Yitzchak (the mosque side) to turn on the loudspeaker, one of our small congregation angrily berated them, because the loud noise of the Mu'azin was constantly interrupting the most solemn part of our Maariv prayer. A large, bald-headed soldier and the aforementioned congregant later got into a loud, heated argument, most of it in Hebrew too rapid-fire to me to follow. The next day, the same congregant preemptively yelled further invective at the same soldier, comparing him to the troops who dispossessed Jews in Azah. At the Maariv prayer that evening, an entire phalanx of police officers, all loaded for bear and in body armor, awaited our services, expecting riots or whatnot, none of which happened, of course. The less hot-headed congregants, at close of service, made a point of wishing each and every officer present a good evening, and peace and prosperity 'til 120 years in the most affectionate of tones. I just kept quiet and observed. Next evening, there was no situation to defuse.

This time of year, when the Islamic evening prayer coincides with our carpools out of Hebron, across the guard post and back into Kiryat Arba, one thing I notice is that while every mosque in Hebron is filling the air with their particular rendition of the Towheed and other statements of faith, the Arabs on the street are conspicuously indifferent. No prayer rugs, no genuflections toward Mecca, only sitting quietly and talking at close of day, while the loudspeakers blast their pre-recorded exhortations in the sing-song melody of manifest-destiny and conquest.
5  General Category / General Forum / My new grandson on: May 03, 2010, 08:05:06 pm
Born yesterday, he is the first natural-born Israeli in my immediate family. I'd love to post his picture, but the fershlugginer technical stuff always flusters me. Perhaps later.
6  General Category / General Forum / Independence Day 62 in Hebron on: April 22, 2010, 04:02:54 pm
Having just joined a study group in the Mearat Hamachpela (Tomb of the Patriarchs), to hear the class I had to get up and close the window, because outside there was a gala ceremony with piped-in patriotic music and the sound of fireworks, as well as bright lights and a big crowd. Next morning, expecting classes as usual, I arrived for morning prayers, and was surprised to discover that they said Halel (section of Psalms reserved for major holidays). Classes were canceled for the morning, but not the evening. The thing I noticed most, however, was the absence of the Muazin's pre-recorded, loud-speaker-in-the-towers call of the faithful to their five-times-a-day prayer sessions. It seems the Muslims were in mourning, and maintained a rare day of silence. In Kiryat Arba, right across the wadi from Hebron, the IDF exhibited a collection of tanks, mortar platforms, robots, transport vehicles, guns and high-powered field glasses for children to inspect, as did the local Fire Department and Magen David Adom. Kids were invited to climb all over the vehicles and hardware, look through giant field glasses, sight down the big guns, etc. Then there were kiddy amusements, including bounce houses, inflatable slides, cotton candy, etc. I fell asleep on the grass.
7  General Category / General Forum / A Morning traveling on: April 15, 2010, 03:05:07 pm
Up at 5:30. It's still dark out. My wife cajoles and lectures me until I arise and dress. A very truncated morning davening (prayer) begins at 6:30 and ends slightly before 7:00, when I head on down the hill to catch the bus. As I'm traversing the street, the 160 grinds its heavy engine behind me, so I run to the tachana (bus stop). It overtakes me at the tzomet (junction) and I chase after it for about 20 meters, gaining ground as it lets on the other passengers. Just as I get to the door, it closes. The driver definitely sees me standing right by his bus, but he pulls out and leaves me there. As I wait for the next one, I stick my finger out and point at the ground to every passing driver, hoping to catch a "tramp". Nobody stops, but the next 160 finally comes along around 7:20 and I get on it. The windows on the bus are clean and transparent, unlike some, which are often opaque with caked-on exhaust and grime. So I get to take in the scenery, in between reading the daily portion of Psalms and finishing the morning davening. I never get tired of the hills. They spread out beneath the heavens even as they reach up towards them, both entreating and awaiting Divine blessings or wrath. Whoever called it the West Bank must never have even seen the region. The country is vast, always with a town or a house within sight, and always with dunam after dunam of uncultivated hillside scattering the clinging human presences, making them look small and isolated. Here and there you find ancient stone huts, long-neglected terracing, hilltop forests. Approaching Jerusalem, to the right is Bethlehem, right before the entrance to the Gilo tunnels, gouged straight through two mountains in an awesome chain that must have daunted the ancient Greeks and Babylonians. In between the two tunnels to the right there is an Arab village, just visible between the concrete wind barriers. The houses are standard Israeli limestone, with dudei shemesh (solar hot water heaters) and occasional satellite dishes on the roofs. To the left is a low valley where grapes and olives are cultivated. Going through Gilo the houses start after a cemetary with an olive tree over each low tombstone. They grow thicker and thicker and suddenly yield to naked hills and valleys again, after which we approach Kinyon Malcha (Mlalcha Shopping Mall) and the Gan Technologi (Technological Park). Then we go through another tunnel and come out at downtown Jerusalem, with the bridge in the approximate shape of a giant harp. We enter the Tachana Merkazit (Central Bus Terminal). I go through metal detectors and my bags are x-rayed. Inside, I buy an ice cream cone at the food court and eat it as I run to my medical appointment.

After having my hearing checked inconclusively, outside I just miss No. 20 bus down Rechov Jafo (Jaffe Street), and wait for the next seated among a family of chadour-wearing Arab women and their very small, noisy children. Their bus comes first, and I'm left by myself. At exactly the last minute before my transfer expires, the bus shows up and I get on it, alighting too soon for my next stop, so I must walk a half kilometer to the lion-crested building where the aforementioned Miserable Panim awaits the unwitting and the unwilling. I pass through metal detectors, and my bag is manually searched. Fortunately, I only have to go next door to the Miserable Panim, to get the form for applying for a gun permit. My day's errands completed, I head back uptown to take the bus back. This time, the No. 20 comes right after I arrive at the Tachana and lets me on.

Ravenously hungry, I have time at the Tachana Merkazit to spend too much money on an early lunch of Chinese food. The girl serving me pretends not to understand my perfectly good Hebrew, and between that ploy and a pretty face she somehow suckers me into buying more than I had orignanlly intended. I'll never aagain come within hollering distance of that particular stall at the food court. She made a sale, but permanently lost a customer. The food was OK, but nowhere near as good as Wok Tov on Central Avenue in Cedarhurst of the Five Towns (they didn't pay me to plug them; it's the truth--Wok Tov rules). Definitely NOT worth 50 shekels.

Well fed and tired, as we emerge from the Gilo Tunnels I murmur Tefillat Haderech (traveler's prayer) and fall asleep in my seat, back home in Judah and Shomron. I wake up in Remat Mamre/Charsina (my town right near, and officially a part of, Kiryat Arba) and hobble home on chapped, tired feet.
8  General Category / General Forum / Becoming a Citizen on: April 14, 2010, 05:12:30 am
When my son told me a year ago he'd be getting married in Bat Ayin, we decided to not only come for the wedding, but make a leap of faith and stay. This is the modern version of "roughing it." In 1940, new olim (immigrants) had to either qualify for the limited number of slots permitted by the British Mandate, or get smuggled in past their patrols, perhaps fleeing certain death in Europe or bitter persecution elsewhere in the Middle East. Now, however, we only have to endure the Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of the Interior), known as the Miserable Panim (face) to those who have had the pleasure of navigating this wretched bureaucracy. After nine months of jumping through ever-shifting paper hoops and contending with sour-faced, tart-tongued clerks, we finally prevailed and became citizens of the Jewish State.

We are now waiting for our Sal Klita (government stipend for new olim), and hanging on in the interim. The first things to go were our exhausting, menial jobs. Now I am looking forward to: 1. Joining a kolel and studying Torah for as long as the money lasts; 2. Promoting my state-side friend Laura Deckelman's art work; 3. Using this breather to resume writing on a regular basis (prose polemics, as well as polishing a second novel and trying to get the first [United America: 2014 by "Ben Maxwell"] re-published in England [Publish America has North American rights, and they made a hash of the editing], and resuming poetic composition); 4. Mastering Arabic; and 5. Teaching my wife and seven-year-old son Hebrew. I also might learn how to drive and take up either the martial art Abir or Krav Mega. It has been too many years since I had the greatest luxury of all, leisure. I'll have to re-learn how to use it.
9  General Category / General Forum / Mission Statement on: April 14, 2010, 04:49:22 am
Vuz Vuz 2 is a discussion board of, by and for the English-speaking residents of Kiryat Arba, Israel. It is a place where the curious may find out more about Kiryat Arba, Judah and Shomron, and Israel generally, and those already living or just visiting our town may share their personal observations, advertise job opportunities/seeking employment, property for sale/rent/looking to buy/rent (both personal and real), news, political shmoozes, humor, and generally get together and talk. When the shortcomings of Google web sites made it unrealistic to continue using in the original Vuz Vuz site, I decided to start from scratch in a new, more serviceable, forum, and hope it catches on.
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