Elections in Israel

I was just talking with my friend Miriam (also a blogger, though a much more prolific one I might say) about how my blog is targeted at a certain niche and only covers topics which are madrichim-related. But I believe that a good madrich should be interested in many things, from Tanach to rocket science and from psychology to politics. So here it is, my first politically-related post.

I always thought I would avoid politics on this blog at all costs, but you know what, why would I? Let’s start with something pretty neutral and, be assured, we’ll get closer to home soon enough.

As I got to learn more about it I realized Israeli politics seem very strange to me, as I take our system (the Romanian one) as the status quo.

First of all it should be noted that in Israel, the presidency is much less important and the Prime Minister is actually the one leading the country. Hence the great importance of this elections.

Secondly, the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) has 120 seats. Which is exactly the same number they had since the beginning of the state (70 years ago), even though meanwhile the population grew 10 times higher.

Did I mention they hold elections on a Tuesday (yeah, today)?

And their whole procedure of voting is a bit… you know… let’s just say it reminds me of our Madrich Time activities. Basically instead of a booklet with all parties, from which one would stamp the preferred one, they have all these little cards.

As a citizen, you can only vote in Israel (which might, again, seem weird to us – but taking into account all the people who have Israeli citizenship, but actually live in Diaspora, I guess it sort of makes sense). Which is not to say that someone who lives in Diaspora cannot board a plane, vote and come back. But you know… let’s say that if they go through all that trouble maybe their vote should count. The only exception is the diplomats and embassy staff, which can vote in the countries where they were sent.

The voter just takes one of the cards and places it into an envelope, which they seal and put into the voting box. And not just that, but apparently they’re also representatives of the parties outside the voting polls, thoughtfully handing out these cards to voters, helping them save time, and not having to browse through all the options. And boy… there are options. No less than 47 parties to chose from, competing for 120 seats. You know… 2 Jews 3 opinions…

To govern you need a majority (min 61) and, as you might expect, never in the history of Israel a single party won enough seats to govern by itself. So here starts the fun of coalitions. And, by the way, more often than not, the coalition breaks and they need to hold elections again before the expiration of the 4 years term.

I will not get into the details of candidates and political parties, but I think it would be fun to share the most unexpected video, photo or line of this campaign. What say you?

Matza, matza…

Cred că nu sunt singura care, deși iubește Pesahul, își petrece ultimele zile dinaintea lui mâncând pâine cu pâine și pizza cu topping de paste, doar-doar mi-aș potoli pofta de chametz ce, inevitabil, va să vină în cele 8 zile de mâncat talaș sau, cum i se mai spune în medii mai civilizate – matza.

Însă, nici talașul ăsta nu-i ușor de obținut, așa că, pt cei care încă nu s-au aprovizionat, iată cum se procedează:

Vestea bună e că aveți multe opțiuni de program când puteți merge:
– Luni-Joi: 9:00 – 12:00 & 13:00 – 18:00
– Vineri: 9:00 – 12:00
– Duminică (doar pe 7 sau 14 apr) : 9:00 – 14:00

Prețurile sunt mai mult decât decente:
– matza: 20 lei/ cutie
– făină de matza: 10 lei / cutie
– vin: 25 lei / sticlă
– cogniac: 65 lei/ sticlă

Pentru că nu mi-e foarte clar dacă pt a demonstra calitatea de membru trebuie să aduceți cardulețul eliberat de ei, buletinul, dacă e suficient să vă spuneți numele sau e o procedură mai complicată de tip El-Al, vă sfătuiesc călduros să dați un telefon înainte, la unul din numerele de pe poster.

Pesah – prin ce se deosebeste …

Prin ce se deosebeste acest post de alte posturi?

Spuneam de curând pe pagina de Facebook că se întâmplă de multe ori să primesc întrebări despre diverse evenimente cu care să nu am vreo legătură, însă despre care oamenii să nu știe pe cine să întrebe (sau poate doar sunt eu deosebit de customer friendly și de aia ma întreabă pe mine 😉

În orice caz, observ să fie e facebook-ul plin de 7 share-uri ale aceluiași eveniment în aceeași zi, fie nu stiu de unde să-l iau. Așa că în nețârmurita mea mărinimie am decis: Ce-ar fi să existe un loc, unde cine vrea, poate găsi toate evenimentele, indiferent de cine le organizează? Și ce-ar fi ca acest blog (care, așa cum îmi place să-i spun, e “pe persoană fizică”) e să fie un astfel de loc?

Până să pun la punct partea tehnică de calendare integrate, widget-uri și alte add-on-uri, mai durează un pic, așa că iată momentan ce avem pentru Pesah:

Curs Open Seder
duminică, 14 aprilie, ora 11:00
JCC București
15 lei / persoană 
Mai multe info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1068605710016748/



Seder de Pesah, ziua 1
Când: vineri, 19 aprilie, ora 20:00
Unde: Sinagoga Mare, str. Vasile Adamache, nr. 11
Participare: 50 lei/ adulți; 25 lei/ elevi & studenți


Seder de Pesah, ziua 2
Când: sâmbătă, 20 aprilie, ora 20:00
Unde: Sinagoga Mică, Templul Coral, str. Sf. Vineri, nr. 9-11
Participare: 50 lei/ adulți; 25 lei/ elevi & studenți


Pesahul Copiilor 
Când: miercuri, 24 aprilie, ora 18:00
Unde: JCC București

P.S. Genul astă de pagină va fi permanent “în lucru” și de fiecare dată când aflu noutăți promit să le updatez

P.S. 2 Dacă mai știți despre alte lucruri Pesah – related pe care sa le includ, let me know și le adaug

If each child leaves with just one friend…

I used to have a boss, whom I didn’t understand. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the guy, just that, even if my life would depend on it, I couldn’t understand him. He was so different then I was, that it was very hard for us to see eye to eye. I was very organized, he was chaotic, I was speaking quietly, he was loud, I was focused, he had ADD, I was stuck in my own ways, he was crazily creative, I was afraid of thinking big, he had this common example of taking each kid by helicopter for 3 minutes.

And only years after we stopped working together, I started to see how right he was with many things, but most of all, with his strategy for the summer camps. He used to say (and repeat over and over – as with many “mantras” he used to have) that our purpose as madrichim is to make sure, that the least is that each child leaves the camp with a friend. Even if nothing else goes right, but we managed to ensure that, our camp is a success.

In my sophisticated arrogant mind all that seemed common sense. Yeah, it’s nice for outsiders to make friends, but this is just a very small part. What is important is that we take this very limited time window and push down as much “Jewish knowledge” as possible. They should learn, they should know, they should go back home with plenty of info that will keep them from assimilating.

And as much as I still value the importance of knowledge, many years after, I understood: it’s not the knowledge that keeps Jews from assimilating. Or I should say – it’s not knowledge alone. It’s the relationships, the one we develop with God and the ones among each other. It’s the group of friends with whom we have holidays dinners. It’s the 5 years old who tells her daddy – hurry up, we’ll be late for Shabat! It’s the group of boys who are together in a clan at Clash of titans, friendswith their peers from JCC, rather than their school mates. It’s the friends who organize interventions and who are the keepers of your secrets, the ones with whom you share your hopes and dreams, as well as your fears and difficulties. It is going to the synagogue and being proud when one of your buddies is called for an aliya to the Torah. It’s the Fridays after-party party, where you hang out with your friends until way past midnight discussing anything from kindergarten stories to meaning of life with your friends. It’s meeting your deskmate for coffee in the weekend, after you’ve already spent every day of the week in the office together.

Without even thinking, I jokingly said,  a few days ago (upon hearing someone cannot attend a Jewish summer event, because she’s in a trip with some friends) she should make friends from the community. And just later I realized that I’ve hit the nail in it’s head.

Our time and energy are limited. To do something, most often means giving up doing something else, being somewhere else, spending time with someone else. The more we invest in building a circle of friends from within the community, the more likely we will remain in the community. We may choose to spend time together on Friday evenings going to the Shabat prayer, or the Saturday mornings going to the shopping mall – or both.

I want to underline beyond any doubt that I’m not encouraging you to break Shabat. What I’m saying is that if you’re going to break it anyway, at least spend time with a fellow Jew 😛 Moreover, if you’re planning to break it later on during the day, that doesn’t mean you cannot anyway come to the morning prayer at the synagogue. But we’re getting into a different topic, which I will pursue in a later post, regarding a book I fell in love with (which – unsurprisingly has the sub-title Falling in love with Faith).

I’ll stop for now as in just a few minutes I’ll push my over-packed suitcase down the stairs and leave Bucharest for the Mishpahot Camp, where I’ll be a madrich. And more than anything else, I’ll make damn sure each chanich will leave with a friend.



Dirty laundry

dirtyHere’s my Monday morning challenge for you: What do you do with your dirty laundry? Where do you think it belongs?
A) on Facebook
B) in the laundry bag / washing machine

And I can already see you rolling your eyes: “c’mon Magda… seriously? Is this how you want to start the week? Why don’t you just upload some funny coffee memes?”




And you might be right. So, here it is – coffee pic, freshly stolen from Claudia, the Facebook friend (or should I say dealer) of coffee related content.



Now going back to the original question – what do you think is the best course of action?

I hate conflict. I mean, I love to debate, challenge ideas, discuss opposing arguments, but I hate scandal, I feel uncomfortable when people scream or when they insult each other. I cringe when I see online hate speech, or people are bashing each other on their Facebook statuses or comments.

You know that joke that “if women ruled the world there will be no more wars, just a lot of angry countries not speaking to each other”?  Well, I guest that would work just fine for me. My fight or flight instinct was replaced with how fast can you get the hell out of here instinct.

But apparently this is not the most effective solution.

I’ve heard many times the argument that things should not be left as they are. That things need to be made public / known.

And here’s my question: where’s the line between speaking up and gossiping?

I will share with you a very specific example and how I got to write about this.

I was scrolling on my Facebook news feed and I saw that someone posted some fundraising campaign for a JCC. And I have a great admiration for that person and being part of a JCC myself I thought… ok, why not? let’s be part of that effort. And went on the page and read more about it. And they had such a nice page, with professional-made videos and numbers and… you know… the kind of cute things you prepare for donors. My first thought was “wow, we should do something like this ourselves”. Let me wander around and find out more about these people.

And that’s when I saw that my Facebook acquaintance, also tagged someone on the post. So why not scroll on their profile for a bit. And just a couple of posts down, I see this:


I don’t need to copy the 40 comments, I’m sure you all know what to expect.

To sum up, the whole show made me nauseous. Needless to say, my plans of contributing to a nice, loving, wonderful cause, took an abrupt turn. Which is obviously irrelevant as my contribution would’ve anyway been just a couple of bucks. But it made me wonder: What about the bigger donors? What about the other people out there, who, like me, don’t know anything about that certain community, except for this less-than-gratifying story? What about the members? How do they feel? (well… I mean except for the ones in comments who made it quite clear :)))

How would I feel if this would’ve been my community? How would you feel? How do we feel when something similar happens closer to us?

And let’s leave feelings aside for a moment. What is the effective way of changing something? And what is the purpose of (pardon my french) throwing shit into the fan?

And as much, as I like to keep my posts open-ended, for everyone to answer their question in their own way, the ending of a comment really stuck with me and I believe it is too thoughtful not to share it with you as well:


Kindergarten fun

I guess you’ve all watched the video that was all over Facebook lately with the little ballerinas and the daddy who danced with them to help his daughter stop crying. It’s nice and cute and guess what: it’s 20 times more touching when you see it live.

I’ve attended this morning the end of year celebration of the Green School – Chabad Romania and the first thing that I’ve noticed was how relaxed the atmosphere was. Everybody seemed to have the clear understanding that they are dealing with some very young children (and not army soldiers – as it sadly happens in many other places). Which was great because, as anyone who’s ever attended a kindergarten performance witnessed would expect, some kids would not follow the exact steps, at some point some even cried for their parents and some… guess what…  few of them plainly refused to cooperate. Tragedy, right? No! This is exactly how kids are designed to function. They have free will and sometimes, regardless of how cute their outfits are, how nice is the decor or how fun the script, they just won’t play along. And THAT’S OK. The teachers helped them out and encouraged them to act their parts, but nobody screamed or acted angrily when a kid would walk on the opposite direction or even try to catch everyone’s eye be screaming into the microphone. For the youngest ones, parents were with them on stage and from time to time a parent would be called backstage to comfort a kid. No pressure, just the perfect environment for kids and parents to enjoy what they’ve prepared.

And boy…. they’ve prepared! The whole scenario was fun and colorful, as well as having a deep educational message, involving each and every child according to their age and abilities in a common story. Under the topic of Israel 70, we were taken from the age of halutzim, to Ben Gurion, to the amazing Jerusalem, and even representatives from different nations, all brought together in the israeli melting pot. Everything presented through songs, hora dances, costumes, fun, with plenty of Cahol ve Lavan, video effects and background israeli music.

I’m so happy I was there to see it, both because I truly enjoyed it and because it have me the chance to understand how much I still have to learn about working with kids and building great Jewish content.





Jewish Mothers


As today is my mum’s birthday, let’s have some fun. I bet anyone with a Jewish mother (or who IS a Jewish mother) can relate :)))

You know you were raised by a Jewish mother:

1. You know to always bring a jacket no matter what the temperature is.
2. She asks, “Are you eating?” every time you talk on the phone.
3. But she’s not above telling you that you’ve put on weight.
4. Also, she wants to know what you want to eat when you come home. In a month.
5. She calls you to tell what happens in your town. You are in your town, she isn’t.
6. You’re no stranger to frantic “are you OK?” texts
7. If you don’t call back immediately, she assumes you’re either dead or dying… She knows you’re busy, she just worries.
8. She wants to know if what you’re doing is safe. If it’s not safe, she’ll kill you.
9. If you share this post with your mom, she’ll say, “But I’m not like this, right?” Just smile and nod.
10. She always tells you you can’t get mad at her for caring too much. And you can’t, really, because she’s the absolute best.”


What if famous people had Jewish mothers?

MONA LISA’S JEWISH MOTHER: “After all the money your father and I spent on braces, this you call a smile?”

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS’ JEWISH MOTHER: “I don’t care what you’ve discovered, you didn’t call, you didn’t write.”

MICHELANGELO’S JEWISH MOTHER: “A ceiling you paint? Not good enough for you the walls, like the other children? Do you know how hard it is to get that schmutz off the ceiling?”

NAPOLEON’S JEWISH MOTHER: “You’re not hiding your report card? Show me! Take your hand out of your jacket and show me!”

ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S JEWISH MOTHER: “Again with that hat! Why can’t you wear a baseball cap like the other kids?”

GEORGE WASHINGTON’S JEWISH MOTHER: “Next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance good-bye!”

THOMAS EDISON’S JEWISH MOTHER: “Okay, so I’m proud that you invented the electric light bulb. Now turn it off already and go to sleep!”

PAUL REVERE’S JEWISH MOTHER: “I don’t care where you think you have to go, young man, midnight is long past your bedtime!”