It’s been a weak week.  I intended to go to a dance on Wednesday, but I spent the entire day feeling like my head was no longer attached to my body.  Then, when I got home, I had dinner and proceeded to fall asleep in my chair, right at the table.  I guess I had a mild viral illness of some type — never made it to the dance.

iBooks recently had a sale on a number of its titles.  Wouldn’t you know — it’s only January, and there’s already a strong contender for the 2014 “Busy Hands are Happy Hands” award:


Bring it on, arts and crafts writers!  This book will be hard to beat.

Interviews for TP are going strong.  Journalism as a profession has nothing to fear from me — I am a terrible interviewer, all the way around (creating questions, asking questions, taking notes).  Unfortunately, I sent two of the documents from two of the interviews into cyberspace (did I mention that I felt like my head was no longer attached to my body?), so I will need to reconstruct them.  Also unfortunate — the interview with Ruth Calderon, a new member of the Knesset in the last election and one of the hottest things in Israel since sliced bread, will not happen until after I’m back in Pittsburgh.  (More on Ruth Calderon below.)

I did a slide show about Pittsburgh this week for the TP staff.  In addition to showing everyone what Pittsburgh looks like and introducing them to playgroup, I also included a section on what makes the city unique — like parking chairs (also Heinz ketchup, Primanti’s, Kennywood, and Pittsburghese).  The Israelis are so cute:  they said they would just move the chair.  How do you say “them’s fightin’ words” in Hebrew?

First instance of -1 degree of separation in 2014:  I had Shabbat dinner at Aliza’s last night. One of the other guests was Ilan Smolover, son of Al Smolover (from Beth Shalom).  Even though he’s lived in Israel since 1972, he still understands that you can’t just move a chair that’s saving someone else’s parking space.  Duh.

I have just spent over an hour trying to write something intelligent about “Israel today” and have failed miserably.  In lieu of any original thoughts from me, here is some recommended reading:

So you think you are Jewish enough for an Israeli wedding? Prove it:  Young couples tell stories of humiliation at the hand of an obstructive religious establishment on the way to the chuppah, by Naomi Darom, 07.11.13, Haaretz (

‘In a single moment, I stopped being religious’:  Orthodox before her aliyah, Eva Illouz explains how Judaism lost its sacredness in Israel, by Eva Illouz, 23.11.13, Haaretz (

An Interview with Israeli Politician Ruth Calderon:  Why the Secular Talmud-Talking Feminist is Turning Heads in the Knesset and Beyond, by Amy E. Schwartz, Nov-Dec 2013, Moment (

My Promised Land:  The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, Ari Shavit (2013)

I’m off to play with Esti today — I don’t think I’ll get to see her again before I leave …