Friday, July 27, 2012

Authentic Arab Cuisine at Haj Kahil

Meeting up for dinner with visitors from overseas celebrating their engagement called for a special restaurant, and a friend suggested we try Haj Kahil in Jaffa. As we were currently experiencing the heaviest heat wave of the year, my wife insisted that I first find out if this Arab style eatery had air conditioning. When I called to make a reservation, I asked this all-important question.

The man who answered the phone laughed for many seconds. “Do you think I could work in a restaurant in Jaffa in the summer months if there wasn’t air conditioning?” he asked me.

Haj Kahil indeed has air conditioning, and you can’t miss it due to its prominent location at the edge of the Clock Square in Jaffa. Well, you could be slightly mistaken if you turned towards either the Haj Kahil Express or the Haj Kahil Shwarma restaurants across the street. Apparently they all belong to the same Israeli Arab family which has a track record of four decades in the restaurant business. Taxi drivers and locals know the square as Haj Kahil Square.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Bulgarian Connection

The attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas was also an attack on Israeli-Bulgarian friendship.

“They didn’t give me aspirin and wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom.” These were the words of one of the Israelis sequestered in the Burgas airport terminal on July 18th in the hours after a terrorist bomb exploded on a bus of tourists killing 7 people, including 5 Israelis.

Overnight, a team of Israeli doctors and Magen David Adom paramedics arrived in Bulgaria to check the medical condition of the more than 30 Israelis injured in the terror attack, some of whom suffered serious, life-threatening injuries.

The Israeli tourists welcomed the arrival of the team from home with a warm round of applause. What other country cares so much for its citizens that it sends an aircraft to transport them home as soon as possible after such a tragedy?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review: Unorthodox

Deborah Feldman, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Unorthodox (Simon & Schuster, February 2012), was born and raised in the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Her memoir, subtitled “The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” is a compelling read. One can’t help but feel for the author as she seeks the freedom to think, live, and act independently, and not according to the dictates of an insular, oppressive world.

The book is controversial, and controversy helps sell books. An exposé of the way women are treated in the Satmar community is bound to result in a backlash of denial and alternative depictions of that life. The publication of Unorthodox, however, has led to some serious charges. Media reports and blogs suggest that the author fabricated certain elements of her story, similar to what James Frey did in A Million Little Pieces.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Segwaying through the Parks of Tel Aviv

“All you have to do is lean to the right, and the Segway will go to the right; lean to the left and the Segway will go to the left. You lean forward and you go forward.”

“How do you stop?”

“Just lean back and the Segway will come to a stop.”

These were the directions my coworker and I received just before we put on our helmets and stepped onto our two-wheeled self-balancing personal transport scooters. We were at the Tel Aviv Port, and our guide was Liran. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Devaluation of Facebook

It wasn’t so long ago that Facebook was a new and exciting phenomenon. It was a place where you could socially interact with family members, friends, and colleagues; post your vacation pictures; and amuse each other with witty status updates.

The Facebook of today is different. It is a business, a public company with the goal of making you confront advertising everywhere you turn.

With ever-present concerns of privacy abuse, the clunking social monstrosity that we, the people of the world, have co-created with our freely submitted user contributions is every day becoming less of a fun place to hang out.