The 11th Floor

A Perpsective Overlooking Jerusalem, Israeli Life, and Talmud Torah

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the next big update

It finally got cold here. Cold by Jerusalem standards, I should say, because the weather that they call winter in Jerusalem is better known as Autumn in the parts of the USA that are not infested with fire ants. Even last week was a day with a high in the 70’s- and now that the days

only make it into the low 60’s Jerusalemites are wearing several layers. These are the layers
most northerners in the US have had on since
September, but would never bother to wear if it was still this warm back home. Please note I did not call it “Fall”, because leaves here don’t normally turn colors before falling off trees. They just turn brown and die.

Its not all bad, mind you. Flowers still bloom in riotous bunches, as pictured here.

Please don’t tell them that its November, and it's too cold. After all, they are Israeli flowers; if you tell them its too late in the year to be blooming, they might just glare at you, and say “And who are you to tell me how to bloom- and when?

Still, people feel colder here in December than they do in Milwaukee or Toronto. What makes a

Jerusalem “winter” so chilly is a three fold process.

  1. Damp. It is rarely cold enough to snow, but it is usually humid enough to cause mold to grow indoors. Damp+ Dark= Bleeeeuch. It's also a windy time of year, so umbrellas are of little help when it rains.

  2. No forced-air central heat. If you are lucky enough to have central heat and you are renting, heat is through radiators that warm up once a day. One corner of the room is always decent, and the rest of the room will keep your beer cold all day.

  3. Stone floors. These damned tiles that make up the floors in almost every Jerusalem home are cold, cold, cold. Whatever heat you may get rises right up, leaving your tootsies clammy. There’s not a nice wooden floor in sight. Even gym floors in this country are on plastic or composite materials- but not wood. The best bet is a good rug- and a good rug costs big cash, so most students do without.

Of course, the first rain was cold and made big puddles, but it was not forceful enough to wash away a summer’s worth of plant debris and cat feces from the streets and gardens of Jerusalem. All this rain did was rehydrate stuff that had been desiccated for a long time, making a funky musty smell reach out at unexpected moments. Eeeech.

Israeli high school teachers and professors have been on strike for nearing a month or more at this point. They don’t picket the schools here, where nobody would see them. Teachers here stand on the corners of intersections with signs that read “Cheap Education is costing us a fortune” and “Honk if you support the teachers.” And people honk back, because as I’ve noted before, Jerusalem drivers will honk at anything, even signs that say, “honk you moron.”

The teachers stand with whistles and horns and beat out the same rhythm each day- ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta ta-ta. People honk it back, shout their approval, and the strike goes on. One moring last week, the teachers were on a nearby corner. I could not see them, or even hear them all that well, but I knew it was teachers by the beeping and drums- ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta ta-ta.

The latest tactic seems to be signs plastered on trash bins everywhere that read in clear black print “Olmert! Take [the] Education out of the trash!”

Ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta ta-ta.

In close, I wish to share my prayers and best wishes to my cousin Phil, who just survived a heart attack. Refuah Shelaeymah.


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