Monday, May 01, 2006

Our plane trip from Detroit Metro via Newark on Continental went without a single hitch. Even the meal trays at dinner and breakfast were picked up promptly so we didn't have to sit there staring at unwanted food.

About 1/3 of the other passengers seemed to be Haredi -- ultra-orthodox Jews in 18th century clothes. They used up a lot of bin space for their hatboxes: Haredi men wear black felt hats. The young man sitting next to us kept his hat at his feet. He told us he was a seminary student in Jeruslam, originally from LA.

I said "My husband is a visiting scientist at the Weizmann Institute."
He said "What's that?"
I said "A science institute in Rehovot. It's named for Chaim Weizmann."
He said "Who's that?"
We said "He was the first President of Israel, and an important figure in the Zionist movement in the first half of the 20th century. He was also an important chemist who worked in England, so he had lots of contacts there that were important to Zionism."
He said "That's great." We understand that the ultra Orthodox in yeshivas aren't allowed to learn about history, basic mathematics, literature, or any other subject except religion. This really shows how far they go. It's like an American who had never heard of George Washington.

When we got off the plane, the immigration authorities had hardly any questions for us. Our luggage was unloaded promptly. We immediately bought a cell phone, got a cab, and arrived here at our apartment, for which the keys were waiting as promised. What great luck!

And our luck continued. Although it's a holiday evening (tomorrow is soldier's Memorial Day), we got to a grocery store, a restaurant, and a drug store just in time, so we have basic stuff to eat, instant coffee, soap, paper towels,etc.

Just as the little restaurant closed we manged to get in. We had totally Israeli fast food -- chicken skewers, french fries, and chopped salad with creamy (but non dairy no doubt) dressing, all on a puffy pita bread. And coke with the Hebrew logo that is totally recognizeable.

Then we walked around a little bit, with astounding memory for what is new and what isn't. I think the bakery and greengrocer that used to be here are gone, replaced by bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. But a lot has stayed the same.

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