Friday, August 31, 2012

Bulgarian Cheese Is Made in Israel

I saw a commercial on television the other day depicting some well-known food products and linking them on a map to their countries of origin. One of those items was Bulgarian Cheese and it was displayed against the map and flag of Bulgaria.

Wait a minute, I thought. There is no Bulgarian Cheese in Bulgaria! That’s just another urban legend, created by the mad men of Israeli marketing.
Having lived and worked in Bulgaria for two years, I can state as a fact that there are only two kinds of local cheese sold in Bulgarian supermarkets. All hard yellow cheese is called Kashkaval, and all blocks of white cheese are somewhat similar to Feta.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why I Left iUniverse

I published The Virtual Kibbutz, my collection of short stories about life on the kibbutz, with iUniverse in April, 2003. At the time, iUniverse appeared to be the most professional publishing-on-demand option for my book. I paid my fees, received a number of free copies, and purchased many more to send off to Jewish publications with hopes that reviews would encourage future sales.

This week at my request The Virtual Kibbutz was removed from the iUniverse book catalog. It is still possible to order the one or two remaining copies at Amazon and other online retailers, but soon the original edition will become a collector’s item.

I plan to republish The Virtual Kibbutz independently in the coming months. For now, here is the reason why I left iUniverse.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tunnels to Jerusalem

A few years from now the new high speed train to Jerusalem will make its speedy way to the capital on a route not far from my home. I will never see the train as it passes because it will be traveling through a tunnel under the mountain ridge on the other side of Nahal Yitla, the picturesque valley that runs to the north of Moshav Neve Ilan. 

I recently hiked through this valley, almost reaching a controversial railroad bridge that nearly destroyed the mini-canyon, considered the deepest and most impressive in the Jerusalem Hills, but I hadn't ever managed to see the bridge or the rail tunnels until now.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Aliyah Circa 1972

Moving to Israel is not easy, and never was. Take it from an oleh vatik who is this year celebrating forty years in Israel. Looking back, one sometimes wonders how such a life-changing move like aliyah is even possible.

The Greek cruise ship Queen Anna Maria served as the Mayflower for many Americans making aliyah to Israel in the early 1970s. After a week-long crossing of the Atlantic and making port calls in Lisbon and Athens, the ship delivered its ambitious, idealistic passengers at the docks of their new homeland.

My first home in Israel was a third floor apartment on Bar Yochai Street in Jerusalem's Katamon Tet neighborhood. From inside the tiny, spartanly furnished rooms I could hear the calls of the watermelon merchant, “Avatiach!” as his horse-drawn wagon made its way down the street with huge, tantalizing melons. Children from the tenement buildings ran alongside to the parking lot, where a few shoppers approached, eager to taste the merchant's fresh produce.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Recovering Kentucky Politician Defends Israel

Jonathan Miller, 45, a progressive Kentucky Democrat, served as his state’s Treasurer for eight years and unsuccessfully ran for the office of governor in 2007. A former aide to Vice President Al Gore, Miller now considers himself a “recovering politician” whose website serves as a forum of ideas how to fix America’s most intractable problems: climate change, skyrocketing health care costs, the country’s multi-trillion-dollar debt, and more.

Since his retirement from politics, Miller says “I am dedicating my life to working on causes that I believe in, which of course includes the safety and security of the Jewish State.”

In June, Miller published The Liberal Case for Israel: Debunking Eight Crazy Lies about the Jewish State (Kindle edition). Miller spoke to me about his book in an exclusive interview.