Monday, December 28, 2009

Brother can you spare a dollar?

If you think a dollar doesn't make a difference, if you hesitate to make a donation to someone or some group because you can only give a dollar or two and you think that's too little to help, you need to read this.

Love146 is one of those organizations that scares the heck out of me. Mainly, because it hurts so much to think that there is a need for an organization like this. Even scarier is to think, what if Love146 didn't exist? Who would care?

Cake Wrecks
is a silly little website that brilliantly makes fun of bad cakes. If I have time, sometimes I like to visit the site to see what monstrosities have been posted. Inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

But a few weeks ago, the owner of Cake Wrecks, Jen, and her husband, John, threw out a challenge. Donate a dollar a day to selected charities. That works out to $14 a person, if you give $1 every day. Most people can afford that. Brilliant idea. But what kind of impact could this possibly have?

Over the course of the two weeks, Cake Wrecks was responsible for about $70,000 in donations to various charities. That's 70 thousand, people. During the worst recession in years.

And for Love146*, that meant over $10,000.

So, yes. One dollar can make a hell of a difference. Go donate one now.

If you'd like to participate in Cake Wrecks dollar-a-day, the event itself is over, but the list of charities can be found here. There's never a bad time to donate. Or, research your own organizations - Google a cause that's important to you plus the word "donate". I guarantee you'll find something.

*If you think the sex/slave trade doesn't happen in your backyard, you'd be very wrong.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Okay. Okay? Okay!

Another important lesson learned in the grand education of living in a country where the national language is not your native tongue.

When scheduling recording sessions with your client and the studio engineer, and the dialogue goes something like this:
SE: Sunday at 11am
Me: I'm available
Client: No, I have a problem.
SE: (Something in Hebrew.)
Client: Wait, let me call my office.

(SE & Me discuss other schedule possibilities for the following week while waiting)

Client (hanging up phone): Ze b'seder ("it's okay").
SE: B'seder?
Client: Ken, ken ("yes, yes").
make sure that the "b'seder" that has just been spoken refers to the appointment, and not to the "something in Hebrew" so that you don't shlep all the way to Tel Aviv for nothing.

Well, not for nothing. I gave tzedekah (charity) and bought an iced coffee, and got to watch half the IDF try to cram themselves onto a train for Be'er Sheva. Lama? Ein li musag.*

*Why? I have no idea.

This is a but a very small portion of the number of soldiers jamming the platform.
It looked like Black Friday at the IDF WalMart.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You shuk me all night long

Why is my Blogger page in Hebrew? Ugh, so annoying. But I'm davka leaving it like that so I will get used to "hee-ca-ness" instead of "enter site"

Anyhoo - I was supposed to go for coffee this week with my friend Kate. At the last minute (okay, two days before) she suggested we go to the shuk* in Ramle. Now, I've heard of the shuk in Ramle, but I thought, how on earth could it compare to the shuk, Mahane Yehuda, in Jerusalem? Other than being 15 minutes closer with free parking, that is. So, I'd never bothered to go. Here's a ready-made opportunity to check out this so-called shuk, and, because we'd be bringing Kate's 5-year-old daughter who needs a car seat, have someone else do the driving!

I'm not a foodie, the Health Inspector would generally prefer that I not cook, and it's well known that I'm not a fan of shopping. However, I love going to the shuk. There's something about the stalls, the colours, the vendors yelling out their specials, the nutty things you can find (literally and figuratively - from yapping stuffed dogs [why would anyone want one?] to walnuts, pistachios, almonds and hazels) that I just enjoy. There's also some comfort in knowing, having sensory issues, I'm not the only one overloaded.

Can you believe the size of that squash?

I managed to buy cucumbers and a bottle of creme liquer (yes, cukes for someone else and booze, while Kate bought practically her entire Shabbat meal), and Kate's daughter, the Divine Miss M, did a wonderful job of keeping me distracted in the meat store so I didn't have to look at the chicken carcasses with the feet still attached. *shudder*

We found a beautiful veggie stall with an English speaker, and I made a nice new Arab friend, Eyab, when I bought the liquer. I didn't get any coffee, but I got some delicious chickpea concoction that was like an inside out falafel ball, and a honey-dipped, fried thing just for Chanukah. And had a great morning with some friends. Oh yeah - and I got a lovely, but questionable salad recipe from Miss M, who is apparently obsessed with red peppers. And knows what lemon zest is! What 5-year-old knows that?!

I now know where the Ramle shuk is and where to park, and you can be sure I'm going there again. Thank you, Kate!

*shuk = market. Lots of stalls crammed together in a small space with great prices, great food products, lots of colour and lots of noise

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's a capital idea!

In light of the EU's recent announcement, I hereby recognize Warsaw as the capital of Poland and Austria, and Madrid as the capital of Spain and the Basques.

Or, you can do what Morey did and write a thoughtful, thorough piece giving historic background to the eternal connection between the Jews and Jerusalem. Read it. It's worth it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Interested in getting a little dirty?

אַתָּה תָקוּם, תְּרַחֵם צִיּוֹן: כִּי-עֵת לְחֶנְנָהּ, כִּי-בָא מוֹעֵד: כִּי-רָצוּ עֲבָדֶיךָ, אֶת-אֲבָנֶיהָ; וְאֶת-עֲפָרָה יְחֹנֵנו.
תהלים קב, יד-טו

Thou wilt arise, and have compassion upon Zion; for it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come: For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust. (Psalms 102: 14-15)

If you're into getting your hands dirty, learning about archaeology and potentially making an enormous contribution to Jewish knowledge, here's your chance. The Temple Mount Sifting Project desperately needs your help.

The Project of Sifting the Debris from the Temple Mount

When we began the Temple Mount Sifting Project five years ago, we had no idea what was ahead of us. We did not understand the enormous amount of work that would be necessary to extract archaeological information from the tons of haphazardly dumped material, and we were also completely unaware of the great interest that the public would take in the project and the scores of people who would be willing to volunteer. We also did not even begin to comprehend the educational impact of our work, and that we had embarked on a lifetime project with great national significance. We initially thought that after a couple of months of sifting the project will be over.

After eight months of work the project nearly closed down, but the Ir David Foundation adopted the project with the intention of funding it until all the debris had been sifted. We have continued to operate under their auspices for nearly five years.

Unfortunately, because of the current economic situation, we are once again faced with the potential of having to end our important work. Though the Ir David Foundation found emergency funding which enabled us to keep the project going, we have been forced to reduce our staff to a minimum, and we have not been able to implement our plans for the analysis and publication of the finds. Our plans were to establish an archaeological lab with a permanent staff that will work for two to three years on this task, hire various experts for special types of finds, and sample various sites around the slopes of Jerusalem in order to create statistical control groups to compare to the prevalent finds from the Temple Mount.

It should be emphasized that the major contribution and effect of our research will come only after proper scientific analysis of the artifacts and publication of our findings. After this process our finds will enter academic discussions and will be accordingly referenced by other scholars. Eventually this effect will also permeate into the historical scientific study, popular archaeology and history books, and tourist guides.

In the case of this particular project, where the artifacts are out of stratified context, the main archaeological innovations and understanding of the phenomena of the prevalent finds will come only after an extensive quantitative study that includes the comparison of our finds with control group samples (see more details here).

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is not an operation for an elite group of archaeologists. It is now the property of the entire Jewish people, including the tens of thousands of volunteers from around the world, Jews and non-Jews alike, who have helped us sift through the rubble over the years. Many times throughout history, important projects are adopted by private donors who have the privilege of making a significant difference well before the State steps in to help. The Temple Mount Sifting Project is just such an opportunity.

Please take part in this effort to save the Temple Mount antiquities and help us to continue the educational programming which is having an immeasurable impact on thousands of visitors from all walks of life.

Gabriel Barkay, PhD
Zachi Zweig

Basic information on the Project and how to volunteer (including a map to the site) can be found here.

HT: BiblePlacesBlog
Photograph of students at work provided by Todd Bolen.