Some Unfiltered Observations From A Trip To Israel

We’re here to celebrate the wedding of our daughter, to an Israeli young man of Moroccan descent.

But along the way we observe things.

And, each in our own way, we feel a duty to capture them.

Why we do this is unclear. Nobody reads anything anymore.

Trying to make a difference through blogging is very much like trying to roll a boulder uphill.

Maybe it’s out of duty. We know that we are hated, and the hatred feels so unfair. So we try to “prove,” over and over, that the Jews are just like you and me, just ordinary people.

For example, even in Israel, we drink Coca-Cola just like you.


No matter what I write, say or do, though, people will still believe bad things about Jews, about Israel, and about Zionism.

Even if the signs here are trilingual, representing not just diversity but the inclusion of many different pasts into the life lived here in the present.

Maybe it’s for the sake of posterity.

I want to remember that Israelis have a great sense of humor. They are honest and direct. And so an ad about babysitting shows the babysitter totally repulsed by a dirty diaper.

I want to remember the coffee here, too. How they don’t even know what half-and-half is. But they foam up the milk for you, they lean out of street bakery windows to give you your coffee, and they make it fancy whether you’re at a gas station or the equivalent of a 7-Eleven.

Here’s what the coffee looked like at Breadly, in Tel Aviv.

I want to know what it means.

This is a painting by Chagall, that shows a man with a Torah. But he’s sitting next to a creature that looks vaguely devilish. (The horns.) An angel is flying overhead. A violin sits next to him on the ground.

And clearly the man looks very, very depressed.
What is the significance of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, in Israel? And why doesn’t he get the same airplay in the United States?

This sign says “Na Na Nachman” and it refers to a song, that is a Jewish mystical “formula” having to do with a belief in the era of Redemption. It is a very big deal over here.


So are images of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, for much the same reason: waiting for Redemption, for the positive End of Days.

But maybe it isn’t for posterity. Maybe it’s just for my brain, which turns over and over again the riddle of what it means to be a Jew after all.

I am trying to figure out how high religion coexists with high-tech skyscrapers.

I am tired of trying to figure it out.

What does it mean that global brands are housed on old-fashioned brick buildings so newly built they’re spotless?

No matter how many times I ask these types of questions, looking for a single coherent answer, I wind up feeling frustrated.

Israel is the most sophisticated nation on earth. So much so that I thought to check the hotel room for bugs, but unfortunately my cheap iTunes app registered even my cellphone as a match.

I didn’t like all the things I saw here. Some of the art at the museum frankly disturbed me. Some of the things I heard bothered me too, and the manner of some of the people…maybe in my mind I expected such a holy place to contain only the holiest of people.

In my mind I have an image, but the image is not the reality on the ground.

The only truth is that we invent ourselves, and reinvent ourselves, every minute we’re alive.

Just like branding: best represented not a constant in time, but as a story best understood in motion.

A mosaic best seen both up close and from a distance.

A dance, and we’re dancing it. Evolving.
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Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. Photos by Dr. Blumenthal; museum photos taken at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.This post is hereby released into the public domain.

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