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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: October 2009

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Staying or Going Back?

If you’re a bochur in the 22-24 age bracket, have a healthy (especially wealthy) and wise head on your shoulders, there is a question everyone will ask you when you go home for Bein Hazmanim. This is inevitable. There is no avoiding it. There is non escape. It is your fate.

The question induces fear into the hearts of some, thrill into the hearts of others, and only casual interest in a select few.  The question is no doubt one you’ve asked yourself a few times. It is:

“So, are you staying, or going back? And if you’re staying, are you on the market?”

The market. The parsha. Nogeah. All these are euphemisms designed to avoid a sensitive and highly personal matter that people feel they have an automatic right to pry into because they know of a potential shidduch. That this “shidduch” has no shaychus whatsoever to you, is 2 feet shorter, has an IQ shorter than that, and comes from a totally different background than you has nothing to do with the issue. They know of a homo sapien of the other gender also on the market, so boom! Let’s make a match. If the above scene has evoked mental imagery of an ancient shtetl and Zero Mostel-like characters, you aren’t too far off. Just fast-forward the scene two hundred years and change the location to the US. Otherwise, everything is exactly the same. Except the Yeshiva Guys. We’re ten times cooler these daysJ.

For the sophisticated yeshiva guy who wishes to answer the invasive, prying yentele performing the inquiry, there are a number of potential responses here. Listed below are some of them for your use. Please note that these “zugs” are copyrighted, and available for your use only under license. Kidding.

Yente who doesn’t know you from cholent beans: “So are you in the market”?

Sophisticated YG:
“Certainly. I’m currently listed on eBay, Craiglist, and will shortly be going up for sale in Sotheby’s. I should warn you though, that I’m pretty flippin’ expensive.”

Yentel, a close cousin of the above Yente: “So are you going into shidduchim”?

Yeshivishe Yeshiva Guy:
“Zichur. This mitzvah is the first mitzvah in the Torah, and to be oisek in it is a huge zchus. I’d love to assist two Yidden in this mitzvah, and plan on going into the business professionally soon. I’m gonna call myself Yeshiva Guy the Shadchan.”

All Knowing Yente (with a subtle smirk): “So, nu, where are you holding”?

Yeshiva Guy (with a not-so-subtle smirk):
“Well, to tell you the truth, I’m thinking of going back into Nezikin. Kodshim is kind of boring, you know what I mean? On the other hand, maybe I’ll just switch to Menochos…then again, …etc., etc.”

Yente Neighbor asking you for information on your friend who has since graduated college and is working: “So about his financial situation…what business is he in”?

Caustic Yeshiva Guy:
“None of yours”. Zing.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

On the Mechanics of Cool

To be cool.

Oh, how we strived for it. The very pinnacle of an elementary kid’s school dreams, being cool was the ultimate goal of most any one of us, back in those days. Of course, there were those diligent worthies, swaying back and forth over their chumashim or  mishnayos even then, but they were few and far in between. Did they even have such lowly desires? Did they recognize what being cool meant?

They say that crime bosses “own” a town or neighborhood or what-have-you. But they don’t own schools. No, only two kinds of people own schools. The bullies, whom everyone hates, and the cool kids. And I think that in modern day yeshivos, bullies don’t exist. Or at least not in the classic “To Kill A Mockingbird” sort of way. But cool kids- cool kids exist everywhere, in every social setting there is.

Ah…to be cool, and own a school.
To walk down a hallway and have everyone stare at the latest Nikes, with a red icon of Jordan affixed to the back, as you casually continue strolling, seemingly indifferent to the stares. To have kids from older! grades flatter you just to be on your good list. To always know the right thing to say, the right places to be. To have a cellphone or iPod in fifth grade, 'cause your mother just didn't mind. What a life!

They were at the very highest rung of the yeshiva elementary food chain. And they knew it. And woe to you if you didn't acknowledge the fact.

Once, back in the fourth grade days, I knew a cool kid. Well, not really knew…it happened like this.

Camp MATZAV was a small day camp, located only a hot, smelly, and rowdy 10-minute bus drive away from home. Every morning, we’d board that bus, I and the other fifty kids- total strangers all- and head towards another day of boisterous fun. Supposedly. I never liked camps. Couldn’t handle all the authority going on there. Teenaged kids who could be read like a book on power trips over eight year olds. Please. But sixteen year old control freaks aside, we’d get to camp, and begin our day. The good news in Camp MATZAV was that instead of the usual subtle competition for coolest kid in camp, there wasn’t any. Mordy Gold was the coolest kid in camp- no question. In fact, when the guys put together a grammen at camps end, there was a particular line that stays stuck in my head- probably since this type of thing isn’t usually acknowledged, especially in so public a setting. “Mordy Gold is so cool, na na na na na”, sang his bunk. Dangling arms and a seriously chilled attitude, in addition to a rust colored “chup”, had made it for him. He never had to lift a finger. Mordy was a JC, I think, but didn’t have to do a blessed thing, unlike a regular JC who has to do most of the grunt work around camp. One more point; Mordy Gold was an artist par excellence. He was so good, that he actually designed the camps logo/T-shirt design- at fifteen.

How I wished I could be Mordy. To be able to go out into the field, or whatever they called the brown, weed filled yard, with only a pencil and sketchbook, away from the annoying counselors, and lay down and draw. To exercise such freedom- and to have everyone love me for it. The amazing thing, to me, was that Mordy actually liked me. We schmoozed here and there (although he wasn’t my JC), and had somewhat of a relationship. And then one muggy July night, I had the ultimate thrill.

Mordy’s younger brother (I forget his name), was in my bunk, and I did have a little to do with him, probably only to be closer to his older brother- you know how that works. One day, he came to camp with invitations. He was one of the lucky kids who managed to finagle a birthday in the summer. So the whole bunk was invited, myself included. Early that evening, my mother brought me over to the Gold’s house, where the party was just getting underway. Two hours of birthday cake, birthday songs, and ridiculous birthday games later, the chevra started packing out. Soon, only a few kids were left, plus the birthday boy, his family, and me- and Mordy. I was waiting glumly outside on the stoop for my mother to pick me up, sort of envious of that kid inside with all the presents, when Mrs. Gold passed along a phone message. My mother got delayed, and wouldn’t be able to make it for at least another hour. She kindly invited me back into the house, where I started bouncing a blue silicone ball (the type with the marble design) up and down in the basement, alone. 

At that point, I don’t recall what happened to the birthday boy, my bunkmate, only what happened to me. Mordy came down the stairs, and we started schmoozing- about something. Don’t remember what, so don’t ask. And then he casually offered- “Wanna play Taps”? My heart jumped. Joy! To play Taps with Mordy Gold, in his house! Away from a camp setting, where he was paid to talk/play with us. And play we did. And schmooze all the while.

I’ve never seen Mordy since then, nor heard or spoken his name. He’s likely married now, probably living out of town working an $80,000 dead end job in finance or something, or perhaps is well along in some medical school. I don’t think I’ll ever know.

But I’ll never forget the day I played Taps with Mordy Gold.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Ultimate Yeshiva Guys

I always said there are only two types of teenagers:

The ones who realize the geshmack of being Yeshiva Guys, or will soon, and the ones who don't, and never will. A groise nebach on the latter.

The guys featured below definitely are Yeshiva bochurim. They may not know it (yet), and they may not even be Jewish (or bochurim), but from a professional Yeshiva Guy, trust me, these guys are Yeshiva Bochurim.

Presenting, Improv Anywhere.

These guys are pro shtick machers. That is, they think up shticklach, and go out and do them. For fun. Which, you would think, would force me to delete the professional prefix from their title, but no- when shtick maching, one must not necessarily take a fee. In fact, if you've ever heard of Yankel Miller's exploits, his greatest were never performed for a fee. Rather, for the pleasure of a good shtickel.

For some of Improv Anywhere's greatest shtickels, take a look at their Best Buy shitckel, their High Five shtickel, and their Time Loop shtickel. Have fun browsing the rest of the site, and never Yeshiva Guys are the originals; the rest are only imitating. Indeed, the sincerest form of flattery.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Weirdest Things About Being Back The U.S. of A.

I can't go out the door and step into the makolet anymore...I now need to take the car.

I use and drive a car. Not those tiny monits. Huh.

Restaurants serve normal steaks. Solo, Prime Grill and da boyz...they all feel like real restaurants to me. Not some transients, Mom and Pop type establishments established by Moms and Pops. Literally.

I feel (slightly) out of place in the local shul, being underdressed?. In Geulah, I feel (slightly) overdressed.

My cellular phone has consistent coverage. Awesome.

The grocery stores have...groceries. Weird.

Mommy and Totty suddenly feel it's normal to call me three times a day asking me nothing at all, just to chekc where I am. Hello- Tel Aviv is just as bad as Manhattan, and I don't hang out in either city. Whatcha worried about?

Learning (read: Torah) is much more...of a chalos here. Sorry, not in the mood of translating that one atm. Figure it out or ask me on Twitter later.

Getting asked ten times a day about when I'm going back, shidduchim, etc. Probably gonna dedicate a separate post to that. (BTW- spell check wants to change "shidduchim" to "Archimedes". Really. Try it.)

Using planes again. It really is cool to take off into the air in 40 tons of steel. Miraculous, actually.

Seeing Muslims walking down Avenue J. It's like living in a forest for five years, watching deer on a daily basis, and then seeing one stroll down 13th Avenue. Different.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Swimming and Skating

Went ice skating here in NY today, and was reminded of a funny exchange I had with a bochur back in Eretz Yisroel.

I had gone ice skating up north in Israel's only real rink, in Metula (the activity is called "hachlaka al hakerach" (lit. sliding on the ice). A small town located on the Israeli/Lebanese border, it's claim to fame is the Canadian Center, nestled protectively in the center of the small residential housing area. The Canadian Center is a massive sports complex, housing, in addition to the ice facility, an indoor pool, NBA size basketball court, bowling lanes, shooting gallery, and a couple other things to boot.

So I had mentioned to a guy I know not too well, Chaim, that I'd gone.

"Really? You went to the Canadian Center? What'd you do there, go swimming?", he wanted to know. "No, I couldn't," I told him, "it's a mixed swimming pool".
"Well, so is the ice skating", he replied. I double takek, and peered at him to make sure he was serious. He was. "Umm...yeah, but at the pool people typically tend to have less on than off, as opposed to the ice rink", I slowly explained. "Not true", said he, again, quite seriously..."they have those ballerina people skating in the middle on the ice too".

Really people, there's a limit. Drawing an analogy from a pool to ice skating is it. Not that I fully endorse ice skating from a frumkeit perspective- there are definitely some ta'aruvos/tznius issue to worry about,- but really...a pool?

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