Monday, September 22, 2008


I found an interesting story about Haile Satayin, and Israeli Olympic marathoner on a Diabetes diet blog. The story is amazing but the way 'Em' tells it is also exciting. So I am quoting a bit of his text and would encourage you to go and read the rest if you are interested. Thanks 'Em' for a great story!

Haile is the oldest Olympic caliber marathoner in modern history, and his story is one of high drama - in the most altruistic and also in the most-painful ways.

Just as the transliteration of his name is confusingly inconsistent, Haile’s real age is also confusing. He was born in Ethiopia, which uses a calendar which started 7 years before our usual one. What is believed to be the proper birthdate on our calendar is is one that Haile says makes him “only 46″ rather than the soon-to-be 53 years stated in running records. Either age is phenomenal for a marathoner.

Haile is an Jew who was rescued from Ethiopia in 1991, as part of Israel’s massive re-patriation effort called Operation Solomon. Airlifted by the Israeli government, Haile found freedom and settled near Tel Aviv. All people, proven Jewish, have “the right to return” to their ancient homeland, and Israel has tried to keep her word, bringing tens of thousands of people “home”.

Not all the immigrants are skilled, especially those from African countries. Those often illiterate and destitute people have caused great economic strain for Israeli society, for these immigrants need a great many social service safety nets, which are difficult for Israel to provide, especially when it’s money most still mostly be focused on its very survival.

Consequently, someone like Haile has to do ‘the best he can’, and as Haile’s gift is running, that’s what he has concentrated on, but it does not give him an income. He is supported by a monthly grant, and it is barely enough for his family of 9 to survive. Friends in the running community also try to help him out financially, and he runs endlessly for “prize money” on tough surfaces that extract a significant toll with extra body stress. The races don’t bring in much financially anyway, but he works with the few opportunities open to him.

Haile is 5 foot 7 inches tall but only weighs only 119 pounds! He trains all the time, adding 120 miles every week (200km) since the Athens Games four years ago. Yes, in the streets of Hadera, near Tel Aviv, Haile’s been running through his impoverished neighborhood, year in and year out, in the hope that Beijing would help him gain attention and sponsors. It has been a lonely battle.

His personal best in the marathon was 2 hrs 14.21 mins in Venice, 2003. In Athens’ Olympics in 2004, he was 20th, and he was 19th in the 2007 World Championship in Osaka, Japan. This year in Beijing, he was 69 and said he had been injured during the race, but insisted he must finish it. That was true grit. Haile is still the oldest runner ever to finish a world-class marathon. At 52, all his hopes for the future were dependent on that race in Beijing.

Haile (also spelled Ayele) had debated as to how much to jeopardize his Health by running in Beijing’s filthy air. It was a serious risk to his long-term health, and as the sole bread-winner for his family, this was no easy choice. After all, the marathon is more than 26 miles.

The international favorite, Haile Gelbrselassie of Ethiopia, and Haile’s friend, decided not to compete for that very reason; Gebrselassie put aside his almost-certain chance for the Olympic gold medal, because Beijing would hurt his Health, but Haile Satayin did not feel he had that choice.

Both Hailes are also pushed harder as marathoners for, usually, most Ethiopeans do best at the middle distances, but right now several Ethiopeans are at the top in marathon; the Kenyans are often the best marathoners from Africa and the Nigerians usually are the best sprinters.

Again, if you want to read the rest... go to HAILE SATAYIN ( SETENG AYELE ) - MEN’S MARATHON (about 1/2 way down the article). Read More...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hadag Nachash [pop-rap] - fusion of middle eastern, Israeli, into Rap

Hadag Nachash - The Sticker Song, about how stickers which are posted everywhere reflect a society so fractured that nobody hears anybody else and it all makes no sense. Yes we keep on "stickering" :-)

Tel Aviv has a sound, it's something between European pop (think Abba) and American Folk ~ than add a little rap and 80's rock. At the edges you get jazz, classical, folk (from American to Russian), and in hidden clubs - aha, the house/acid/old_skool you find in most western dance ... Now back to Hadag Nachash - the group sings or actually raps on life in Israel, like their older mentors Teapacks (article) they do it with humor and not "in your face". In "The Sticker Song" they mix a bunch of Israeli stereotypes from religious to rapers to settlers. Essentially commenting on the rediculous ideas behind stickers (which you find just about everywhere in Tel Aviv). It's funny how nobody actually pays attention to these stickers which are posted everywhere. "The sticker song" is not exactly protest as much as a commentary of how our society has become so fractured with ideas that nobody really cares about anyone who is not in his own little world. The song got lots of air play and made non-pop-rap listeners take a second look at this group. Just like Teapacks they are lots of fun to watch. Their videos are a perfect match to the lyrics, so watch and enjoy...

Hadag Nachash in "California" a spoof on a trip to record in Southern California and the trip. Take a look at what their version of the famous Hollywood sign says :-)'
On YouTube search for "hadag nachash"
Hadag Nachash literally translates to "The Fish Snake" but it's also a play on words which means "Fishing a snake" ~ take a look at their logo, a "rap boy" pissing :-)' Read More...

Teapacks - a wacky, funny, mix of sounds

Sitting at a cafe in Tel Aviv: a protest song on rampant CD counterfeit business in the city - and everywhere
Teapacks is a great example of the new Israeli sound. They also play the wacky role on music videos. Originally from Shderot, that southern town hit by Palestinian shelling from Gaza all these months but definitely made the shift into the Tel Aviv music scene. Their music is a mix of eastern, western, comedy, and dark humor. Kobi Oz the front man is a funny looking AND acting spectacled and goteed actor. All the lyrics are acted out in a somewhat exagerated way. But with the funny music and lyrics Teapacks is more than anything a serious commentary on the life in Israel. They always look like they are having fun dancing on stage or in the streets. Poking fun directly is not their way, but that makes the music all more fun. Once again, E N J O Y ! !

Rikudei Amba (Amba Dancing) - a very funny and fast moving song - are they having fun on stage? Read More...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Radio in Israel - rap, rock, folk, classical, music and more

The Radio in Tel Aviv is almost on everywhere. People listen to music and talk radio during work, you hear it in every kiosk and most small shops, and the cafes pipe it "dental office waiting room" style as well. Radio in the home is mostly played the old fashion way off the air. But I see lots of people playing it off cable TV, satellite and the internet.

Get your browser Israel Radio toolbar at:
Take a look at the Israel Radio Toolbar. If you want to get the radio through windows media player search for Israel or Hebrew and you will get a few stations. Israeli military radio driving station also has a toolbar of it's own. This radio station is NOT a propaganda tool or in the style of old soviet marching music. Quite the opposite they play top music for essentially teen agers (18 to 22 y.o.) with emphasis on safe driving and driving music. Notice that they play one English song and than one Hebrew song. Sometimes they alternate and play two or more for one of the other. They play all kind of games and late at night have real radio shows which usually covers a band, an era, or a musical style. I am not that familiar with their programming but for the teen agers this is the place to go.
If you do a google search for "israel internet radio" you will find a bunch of sites and even one more tool bar for radio stations. Kol Israel (voice of Israel) is the official Israeli radio. Reshet Beit (B network) is the second radio station. These are the official stations and they have news and commentary in Hebrew and other languages. The main Israel Broadcasting Authority is the main page for Radio and TV. Ssssooooo, I am not going to rate, describe, or comment on content - YET! but that will come if anyone wants to hear what is on the radio before you tune in... E N J O Y ! Read More...

Original Israeli Music - Ruchama Raz in a real classic

Ruchama Raz singing "in my beloved country" with the Paratrooper Chorus (Lyrics: Leah Goldberg, Melody: Moni Amerilio)
With all the talk of what life is in Tel Aviv I almost forgot the "basic" experiences. One of the things that you see on TV and can experience in person is all the perfomances which are very much Israeli. These are music, dance, comedy, movies and theater which sprung up like weeds after a rain from the 1920's until well into the 1970's. The video of Ruchama Raz is of the Paratrooper corps courus (all the Israeli military sections had entertainment groups of one kind of another speciall singing groups). This is an oldie but a goodie and is very much a typical performance you would have heard on the radio from the early days of the state of Israel (1950's). Ruchama Raz sang this song first in 1975 and the uniforms certainly show this. While Israel was struggling to keep head above water and had all the issues we now hear about, a unique artistic identity was developing. There are lots of interesting historical and current songs on You Tube and other musical and video sites -- E N J O Y !
That reminds me, any interest in Israeli radio, TV, movies... Let me know Read More...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Renting a fabulous apartment in Tel Aviv

A renovated classic Bauhaus building in north Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is going through an apartment boom phase. Apartments are being renovated, upgraded, divided, and heavily repriced. Rental prices have been going up 20% to 30% for the third year in a row. This means renters who had 2 year contract and need to negotiate are facing a doubling of their rent. Add to this 30% decrease in the value of the dollar to the shekel and rentals in shekels are more than doubling! Is this a crazy - scary situation? Well, not really. Basically landlords are playing "catchup" to the market. There is good news in the rental inflation of Tel Aviv apartments: it is becoming very attractive to renovate and split old apartments. If you are familiar with what happened in the US, UK, and the European Real Estate market a few years ago, than you will understand what is going on here.
I went looking for an apartment in Giv'atayim or Ramat Gan a few weeks ago. After the initial shock that one bedroom, 60 square meter, decent shape apartment is no longer 2,500 shekels a month (or $750), I started "characterizing the market". That's what I do when there is a big change AND a big shock to my sensibility system. But we all get used to changes, specially here when they come fast and strong. I quickly found out that not all landlords are asking for 4,500 shekels for a badly renovated apartment with absolutely no parking in Giv'atayim (this is where I am now). I also found out that for about 3,500 shekels I can have a nicer not newly renovated apartment in a better location. Add another 300 shekels a month and I can have one in Tel Aviv in just as nice of an area. I can finally have parking, or be next to a good shopping center 10 minute walk away... or - or - or - basically have choices and start weighing one vs. another.
If you are looking for an apartment here are a few tips:

  • Take a look at a few apartments before you decide what you really need and want
  • Take a look in areas where you did not think you can afford two years ago
  • Don't be afraid to haggle on EVERYTHING! (I got a reduction in the "security note" (agrat chov).
  • Try to be specific with your questions and descriptions specially with brokers and landlords. If you can't be specific describe yourself in their terms: 'I am a picky renter, I need the best deal you see in the neighborhood you cover')
  • Keep good communication with your current landlord and keep them informed of your move and your status.
Eventually you will see what you like and what fits your budget. You may even find a better place than you were expecting, that could be location, state of the apartment, or anything else that fits your needs.
The most important part is not to get depressed or panicky. That happens to just about everyone a few days before they have to sign a new lease or actually "GET OUT". You know yourself better than anyone so just figure out what you need to do not to make a bad decision. If you like having a little fun and have a little spare time, go see really great apartments. You may not be able to afford them but you can still see how "the other half" lives. When I told a realtor that I looked at something I could never afford but it was just a check on what I can get if I had twice the budget he almost threw me out of his office. Than I said that if he didn't have time to show me a few things I would not be able to give him my time either. After all, his job is to show people ~ I need to find a place to live. Once in a while we all need a little diversion, it's a stressful and wasteful task just dealing with Realtors who don't know you and don't know what you want. Quickly he realized that this search is serious for me but I don't want to wear myself down and end up "settling" (le hitpasher) for something that I don't want. Wow did he change his tune!   G O O D     L U C K     (oh, don't be afraid to speak in English but be treated like an Israeli. We hear all the time that English speakers feel like they paid more or didn't haggle enough, this is your opportunity to "practice" being a little more Israeli!) Read More...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

State Your Case! Legal writings for everyone

Today we begin a new series of articles on our blog. State your case is a place where you may ask us what is on your mind. We will research and write about these issues in general without offering legal advice.

People want to know what are the legal ramifications concerning the release of Gilad Shalit (kidnapped Israeli soldier being held by Hamas in Gaza). How far should the government go? From a legal and political viewpoints Israel, a sovereign country, can not make decisions which affect the entire country to satisfy the desires of the very few. As much as we all hope for the safe return of Gilad, we can not sacrifice 7 million for 1. Note also that political actions are not controlled byt the courts or the legal system. Courts do not have jurisdiction over the political world.
We got an e-Mail question from 'merav' who wants to know what she can do about a landlord who is letting her apartment fall into disrepair. She writes that the electric goes on and off and when you plug something in you get a shock. Her landlord told her to "live with it". Merav, you have a number of things you can do. First write a letter to your landlord giving him/her 48 hours to begin taking steps to solve the situation. If the landlord does not respond positively call the electric company and have them send out a technician to check and document the problem. Make sure you write the technician's name and phone number and get a written report. If this does not convince the landlord (usually this is enough to get people to solve the problem). Than call the city building inspection department and have them send an inspector to check for building code violations. If the problem you are having is a building code violation that will be reported to the landlord and should definitely fix the problem. IF YOU ARE STILL HAVING PROBLEMS! Find a good lawyer and sue your landlord. Now your landlord will have to live with code violation and a lawyer. -- Remember the law is not arbitrary and "QUICK" - take the steps and get things done on time, you will have a safe apartment and the landlord will respect you even more! Read More...