Visiting Israel. Part 1. Arrival.

Next week I “m attending the wedding of my niece in Israel. My flight was originating in Newark “s airport. Have you noticed that the planes flying to Israel are usually parked at the gates located in the very end of the terminal? I can “t find an explanation for this. Is it because the bad guys never go all the way to the back hence it “s more safe there? Then why starting from the middle of the gates area they put arrows with directions to this area? Is this because bad guys don “t read signs?

This time I was flying Continental, which didn “t tortured me that much. But Israeli airlines are crazy about security, and force each passenger to go through an interview with a security agent, who is either a young girl or a guy with a shaved head. Did you pack your bags yourself? Did anyone ask give you something to bring with you to the country? Do you have relatives in Israel? Why do you go there? Do you speak Hebrew? Why not?

A couple of years ago my son was going there for a vacation. Young guys are subjects to additional interrogations. In the beginning, he was answering all questions quietly, but then got irritated, and when that agent asked him to name Jewish holidays, he couldn “t. My wife (she was not even flying) was asked to help ndash; do you know Jewish holidays? She “s not Jewish. Why is she supposed to know these holidays?

I “ve been to many countries – even had to order an insert to my passport as there was not room for visa stamps. I “ve never bothered learning what French, Brazilian or Thailand people celebrate. Of course, Israel is a special case. This tiny country generates the largest amount of news and has more enemies than any other country in the world. Let “s not get angry and study Jewish holidays.

Today ‘s Rosh Hashana is New Year and this is not 2008, but 5769. Shana Tova means Happy New Year.

Yom Kipur is a day when you are not supposed to eat and drink and take a shower.

One week a year (Sukkot ) you are not allowed to sleep in your bedroom and need to go outside and sleep in a tent.

And most importantly ndash; observing Jewish people celebrate every Saturday.Starting from Friday evening you are not supposed to work. Even turning on the light is considered work. Every violation is a bad record in your database, and won “t be appreciated up there when your time comes hellip; So the food has to be prepared in advance, on Friday. People keep it on slow burners all night long.

On Saturday, you are expected to eat, drink wine, have sex, and attend a synagogue by walking. Why? Didn “t I say that you can “t even turn on the light let alone starting the car engine. In Israel, some buildings have elevators that on Saturday automatically stop and open on each floor. Why? It “s elementary, Watson! Pressing the button is work!

If you think about it, it “s really cool. You are not allowed to work on Saturday! My family would be really happy if I didn “t touch that stupid computer and just spend at least one day (guaranteed) with family.

Here “s a joke for you. One Jewish guy tells the other,

“Haim, Can you imagine, I was walking to my synagogue on Saturday morning and found a wallet full of money on the ground! rdquo;

“But you can “t take money in your hands on Saturday! rdquo;

“I know, so I ask God and he made for me Thursday, while everyone else had Saturday. rdquo;

People who work in startups should assume the Jewish state of mind one day a week to get some rest. In America, February is considered a black history month. I suggest to introduce a Judaism awareness day and everyone regardless of their religion should stop working on Saturday. Muslims are excused.

The Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv looks nice and clean. Passport control is quick ndash; American passports are honored here. On the arrival, I always get this warm feeling of a southern resort ndash; Palm trees and warm air greet you as soon as you are out of the plane.

My first stop is a rent-a-car counter of Alamo. The guy over the counter took care of the paperwork within five minutes and told me that they are giving me an upgrade. The other guy walked me to the car. In the USA, we have a chain of rental agencies called rent-a-wreck. My “upgrade rdquo; would perfectly qualify for this definition. Scratches and dents on the body, front wheel are deflated, seats are burned with cigarettes, three hubcaps are missing hellip;I explained them that I didn “t pay for a junk car. They left, and in half an hour returned with another car that was in a little better shape. I took the car and it was running fine. Let “s see how it “s going to serve me.

Till next blog.

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