Tag Archives: israel

An Invitation to Live Life

MichalThe following is a guest post from my good friend, Michal, who is a twentysomething world explorer currently navigating life in the land of Israel.


When I first volunteered to write this guest-post for Julie, (by the way, it was over a month ago… Sorry Jules!!! ) I was intimidated by my freedom in selecting the subject matter. I could write about anything!? Anything at all?! Where would I start? I began to go over several potential subjects in my head. The Israeli political situation? I wrote a piece on it for Julie after our elections a year ago. I re-read my old post and found that all the worst-case scenario predictions I made have come true and then some. The situation is very depressing and not something I want to write about. I thought of more subjects to write about, (business, travel, friends, weight loss etc…) but nothing really struck me as worthy until one day last week a friend and I decided to watch some classic YouTube videos. Part of a classic video that I had seen many times struck me in a new way and kind of hit close to home. While viewing the always hilarious “David After Dentist” video about a little boy being driven home from the dentist while still under the effects of novacane or gas or drugs that he had been given. At one point in his ramblings he looks straight into the camera and says, “Is this real life??” His father laughs and assures him that this is in fact real life.

I took David’s question differently this time. I think this is a question that is on the mind of many 20-somethings. After we graduate college we enter an unknown world. For many of us this was the first time in our lives where there was not a definite framework ahead of us (after middle school came high school then college etc…) The 9-5 world was looming and although some were ready to go out there and make tracks in the corporate world, others were dreading the day of their first punch in on the time clock. (Personally, I was so fearful of 9-5 and the office life that after graduation I took off to South America for 4 and a half months by myself with a backpack, but that is a story for another post…) A year and a half after I received my diploma I began working at an office. While it is not as terrible as I thought, I still get nauseated at the fact that I may be doing this for a long long time. As I have settled into the 9-5 routine over the past year and a half I find myself asking, “Is this it?” Has my real life started? After having many discussions with my other twenty-something friends I find that many of them are asking themselves the same thing. While many of us enjoy our jobs most of us are not sure if we see it as a career (or maybe just me). Those of us who are not in serious relationships wait for that to start as well (yet another subject for a later blog post)

So when does the elusive real life start? Is it when you are married? When you have kids? Could it be a career milestone, when we feel we have found our place in the professional world? When we feel settled? As someone who grew up in several countries with family all over the world, I often worried that I would never stop asking that question. I thought that I would always feel somewhat lost and while I was living in one place I would always miss another. After having resigned myself to the fact that I would always feel this way I saw a Visa commercial and while I am loathe to admit that I got an epiphany as a result of a Visa ad I did. At the end of the commercial, the announcer asks, “What are you waiting for, a written invitation to live life? You have one; it’s called a birth certificate.” This line struck me as profound. (Damn you brilliant advertising geniuses!!) Real life for me began on December 4th, 1984 and will hopefully continue for a very long time. While there will be times that I and many others of my generation will feel lost and discombobulated life is constantly moving and it is best to enjoy it while you can. In the words of one man who I considered a mentor in high school (and whose advice I should begin taking again), “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Moving Tips from a Packing Guru

Editor’s Note: Even though I’m cruising around the Mexican Riviera this week, per my recent resolutions, I didn’t want to neglect my blog. So I asked the very talented Vicki Boykis if she’d be willing to lend her time and thoughts to me and my readers. Vicki and I met at a tweetup last year, if you can believe it. She is an international trade analyst and product manager in Washington, D.C. and just like me, is a twenty-something Russian Jew trying to figure it all out. Below, Vicki shares some really great tips for moving.


Everyone I know, including me and Julie seems to be moving these days.  I’ve been moving around ever since I went to college: first between dorm rooms, then to Israel on an internship, then back home, then to Philadelphia, then to DC.   In the meantime, I’ve become a packing guru.  Here are some tips I’ve picked up during and between moves.   (Clever with the acrostic, eh?)

1. Make sure you forward your (low-tech) address
Luckily, the easiest way to do this now is online.  I like to do this at least two weeks before I move and after I’ve signed a lease; that way, you can still pick up any spare mail still coming to your old address.  Also, change all your addresses for things online like Netflix, credit card bills, and anything else you don’t want to miss in your mail.

2.  Old packaging-keep as much of it as possible
Lots of apartments don’t have tons of storage.  However, what storage we did have in ours, I used to keep boxes because I knew I’d eventually need them for moving again.  I especially kept things like boxes from silverware and glasses, our TV box, and packaging for kitchen items like blenders.  This automatically makes it easier to put boxes into a bigger box and you don’t have to worry about how to wrap.

3.  Very carefully choose movers
Even if you don’t have a lot of stuff and tons of friends, it can still be a good idea to hire movers.  Last time, my husband and I moved from Alexandria, VA to Bethesda, MD (about 35 minutes each way), and it was a huge hassle.  This time, we’re hiring movers from Craigslist, but we made extra-sure to check them out online through references and making sure they responded on time.  A friend pointed me to Moving Scam, which has a list of tips to avoid when you’re looking to move.

4.  Evaluate: In my post, I mentioned that I as struggling to get rid of things.  Emotional attachments are huge blocks to moving more simply with less clutter, and we all struggle with getting rid of teddy bears from when we were 11.  The best tip I recieved on my blog was to take pictures of things I was especially attached to and keep the pictures, but to also keep a number of things you can still look back on.  The fact that there are tons of blog posts on this issue signifies that it’s a big one.

Good luck!  I know I’ll be needing it this weekend.

The Morning After (A Reaction to Israel’s Elections)

MichalThe following is a guest post from my good friend, Michal, who is – dare I say it? – a twentysomething world explorer currently stumbling her way through life in the land of Israel. Here, she shares her opinions on the Israeli elections that recently took place and what it means for the country’s future:

Firstly, a general disclaimer- these are my opinions. The opinion of a lefty (in a country that is going increasingly to the right) who is slightly discouraged with the political system as a whole who tries her best to still stay optimistic…

Secondly, how it works- In Israel we have a parliamentary system of government. There were 120 Knesset seats up for grabs with 33 parties in the running, a party has to get a certain percentage in order to get into the Knesset with a minimum of 2 seats. Some of the small parties were absurd (there was one that comprised of holocaust survivors and young people wanting to legalize marijuana (only in Israel…)) while some had (semi) legitimate platforms (fighting organized crime etc…). It was known that from the get-go most if not all of these parties would not get into the Knesset.

After the results are in the president asks the leader of the party that got the most votes to form a coalition government. (In order to form a governmentyou need 61 seats. Since no one party ever gets that number a coalition of parties must be formed to make a government) That person is presumably going to be the Prime Minister and he/she has 6 weeks in which to form a government. Thus begins the politics of promising certain ministry positions and compromises, political wheeling and dealing and whatnot…

The country in general has become more right-leaning with the story of these elections being Israel Beiteinu led by Avigdor Lieberman. Israel Beiteinu is a VERY right wing party full of unknowns and Lieberman is somewhat of a fascist. VERY anti-Arab and just a scary figure all around… His party has surpassed Labor to become the 3rd largest party and it is shocking and scary that he has gained so much ground, publicity and power.

The results as of Wednesday morning have Kadima with 28 seats, Likud with 27, Israel Beitenu- 15, Labor-13, Shas- 11 etc…

The left/right divide is right now looking like right-65 seats left/center (including Kadima)-55.

The votes of the soldiers as well as those of overseas diplomats and attaches still need to be counted with 4 or 5 seats still up for grabs. This could change the entire picture of what is going on (especially as soldiers tend to vote more right wing). We will have those results soon and that could very well make this post irrelevant…

In any event, the thinking is that Tzipi Livni the head of Kadima may not be able to form a coalition government even if she is chosen to do so (because of the right wing leanings of the majority if the Knesset). If she does not succeed, the job goes to the second largest party (in this case Likud) who will then go ahead and for a coalition.

My thoughts are that Livni’s main chances of forming a government are to have a Kadima/Labor/Likud coalition. I would like to see Barak stay as Minister of Defense and have Bibi become Foreign Minister.

If Bibi is chosen to form a government or if he gets it after Livni doesnt succeed there is no telling what will happen… I have already begun threatening to move back to the states if he forms a Likud/Israel Beitieinu/Shas government but I don’t think that will happen….

Either way, Israel Beiteinu will almost certainly be in a Likud led government and possibly in a Livni led govt. This means that Lieberman will need a ministerial appointment of some-sort. That means (hopefully) giving him one where his ridiculously fascist agenda can do as little harm as possible. (Health?) Who knows what Bibi will do. Either way we will have to wait and see.

As far as working with the Obama government, I think that a Livni/Obama dynamic has somewhat decent possibilities and that a Bibi/Obama dynamic could be disastrous… Thank goodness we never had a Bush/Bibi pairing… I hope if Bibi is chosen that Obama/Clinton/Mitchell can and will be strong enough to save us from ourselves…

On the whole I am disappointed in Labor only getting 13 seats. They were (are?) a major powerhouse in politics and at a time the only major force to be reckoned with. I truly hope they can get their issues sorted out and make a strong showing next time (that being said maybe it’s the Israeli people that need to get their issues sorted out…)

I am upset about Meretz (a smaller left wing party) getting only 3 seats. I remember the days when Meretz had 8-10 seats. While never one of the 3 majors, it used to be a power player and a force to taken seriously in coalition building.

I am not so hopeful about the outcomes either way. It is discouraging and disheartening to wake up the morning after elections and see that very little has changed and if possible gotten worse. The entire system in general needs to be shaken up and taken through reform.

There need to be young fresh politicians who are not corrupt, smarmy, or greedy. I know that is politics everywhere but in Israel it seems to be especially pronounced. Take for example the fact that 2 of the 3 candidates for prime minister already held the job and both were ousted early.

Let’s hope for the best.