Jerusalem train vs. Jerusalem car = tie

February 9, 2011 - 5:46 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, Business, General, Israeliness, Life, News, Technology, Travel 

As we emerged from the tunnel taking us to Jerusalem from Ma’aleh Adumim and eased toward the French Hill/Road No. 1 intersection that leads to downtown Jerusalem, something appeared amiss.

For months now, the sleek Citypass trains have been running on the main thoroughfare in test situations ahead of its planned spring launch. So it wasn’t a surprise to see three-connected trains at the intersection. However, a car next to it situated at an odd angle, along with a group of people standing outside indicated that something was going on.

We made our turn though toward downtown and quickly forgot about the scene, until picking up the newspaper the next morning. Turns out that even before it’s fully in service, there’s been a train-automobile accident. A car ran a red light at the intersection and struck the train as it was crossing, causing light damage to both vehicles but no injuries.

“We can’t do anything about drivers who go through red lights,” said Jerusalem District Police spokesman Shmuel Ben- Ruby, according to The Jerusalem Post.

A spokesman for CityPass, which will be operating the light rail, agreed saying that drivers around the world have learned to coexist with such a system and predicting that it wouldn’t be the last fender bender the city will see as it groans toward the 21st century of transportation.

From playmates to fallen soldiers

November 14, 2010 - 3:38 PM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, General, History and Culture, Israeliness, Life, War 

Amihai Itkis and Emanuel Levy (right).

How often do Americans have a personal connection with a soldier who dies in battle in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq? Probably quite infrequently, I would wager.

However, here in Israel, it’s almost impossible to not have at least a second or third degree connection with our fallen soldiers – they’re either someone’s grandson, former teacher, cousin of a work mate, or some other relation that brings the tragedy all too close to home.

Last week’s fatal crash of an F-16I fighter jet during a training mishap near Mitzpe Ramon, which claimed the lives Maj. Amihai Itkis, 28, and navigator Maj. Emanuel Levi, 30, was another tragic story we’ve become all too used to hearing about.

Itkis, 28, from Sde Warburg in the Central region, was the middle child of three. Adding to the tragedy was the disclosure that his older brother Barak was killed in action while serving in the navy in 1998. Itkis was to be married in four months and is survived by his parents and one remaining sibling.

Levi, 30, from Ma’aleh Adumim, was the eldest of four children, and is survived by his parents, two brothers currently serving in the IDF, and a sister.

Just so happens that my oldest daughter attended grammar school with Levi’s sister, and a couple years later, my younger daughter attended grammar school with one of Levi’s brothers.

Both my girls, now adults, were home this past Shabbat, and they recalled seeing their friends’ older brother around the house – just a kid himself back then They had both lost touch with the Levis over the last 10 years or so, as they attended different middle and high schools.

But their sadness and concern was apparent as they faced the sobering reality that the playmates of yesteryear are now the fighters defending our country and putting their lives on the lines. It’s a reality we all carry with us every day.

Art lovers rejoice

March 1, 2010 - 2:41 PM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Art, General, Profiles, Travel 

Almost since I moved to Ma’aleh Adumim around 16 years ago, work on the Moshe Castel Museum has been going in sporadically.

Touted as the city’s first art museum, it was going to put Ma’aleh Adumim on the map as far as having something cultural to offer visitors and tourists.

Castel, who died in 1991 at age 82, was a prolific painter whose works can be found hanging in the Knesset, Beit Hanassi and the Binyanei Hauma convention center.

After he died, his widow Bilhah moved from Tel Aviv to Ma’aleh Adumim. Evidently, she said that her husband had been inspired by the desert views and that he had expressed the wish that his paintings would one day hang in a museum overlooking the desert.

Well, finally, after a dozen years of stop and start building activity, the museum, housing 100 of Castel’s works, was officially opened at the end of the month.

It’s located on a residential street in the city and indeed, it boasts a magnificent view of the landscape of the region. Bilhah built an attached home for herself next to the museum and evidently integrally involved in many aspects of the site.

Details on visiting hours can be found here. The museum will be open to the public, groups and schools from this month and includes a cafe and gift shop. If visiting me wasn’t enough of a reason, here’s another to journey the five miles from Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim.

Mr. Freeze comes to Ma’aleh Adumim

December 6, 2009 - 10:20 AM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, General, Israeliness, Life, Politics 

Palestinians build Ma'aleh Adumim. (Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Palestinians build Ma'aleh Adumim. (Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The whole brouhaha surrounding last week’s declaration of a 10-month building freeze in the settlements of the West Bank has been somewhat of a theoretical one for most people.

Critics have called it a draconian measure that takes no account the difference between settlement blocs in the national consensus, and ‘contentious’ settlements that could end up on the negotiating table.

I live in one of those ‘settlements’ in the national consensus – at least I’ve always thought I have (and anyone who doesn’t think so is evidently out of the national consensus). Ma’aleh Adumim is a city, actually, about eight kilometers (5 miles) from Jerusalem. As pleased as I am to be living there, I can see how its expansion with new buildings and homes in undeveloped areas could indeed put ‘facts on the ground’ that could alter the shape of a future Palestinian state.

So, as the liberal moderate I am, I can see some logic to the government’s freeze in that respect. However, as a neighbor discovered last week, it’s not just a freeze on approving new buildings.

He went to the local municipality to fill out a zoning license to build a porch and add a bedroom onto his apartment, which was originally built 15 years ago. He was told that all building permits, including additions to existing buildings, have been frozen.

I mean, c’mon guys. This apartment is already lost to the Palestinians – it’s not going to be part of their state, whether there’s an extra bedroom and porch or not.

In the meantime, there’s still a long line of Palestinian laborers queuing up each morning to enter my city to work on the construction of buildings which had previously been approved and are going up in desert areas where there have never been buildings before. If there was more thought put into this, maybe those are the areas where the freeze should be implemented, not on additions to 15-year-old buildings.

Roadblock blues

May 16, 2009 - 9:08 AM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, General, Israeliness, Life, Travel, War 

spikesI don’t think this happens much in other countries, unless you drive into a parking lot through the out entrance. But it’s just another one of those things that keeps us on our toes in Israel.

A true story that happened to a neighbor this week. A bit of background – when you drive into Jerusalem from Ma’aleh Adumim, you need to pass through a three-lane checkpoint manned by soldiers, military police and/or border policemen. You slow down and get waved through – if you don’t look Arab – and clomp over a small metal barrier on the road. (If you do look Arab, then you have to produce ID.)

The barrier evidently houses those sharp spikes you find in parking lot exits, that can be ejected with the touch of a button if one of the authorities wants to stop a vehicle from passing.

Unfortunately, that’s what happened to the neighbor’s husband – or at least to the car next to his. As he was passing through the checkpoint, the checkers evidently spotted a susicious car that wasn’t stopping in another lane and activated the road spikes.

However, all three sets of spikes rose simultaneously– one in each lane- just as my husband, unluckily, was passing through. The result? two punctured tires, ruined beyond repair.
When two tires are punctured, having a single spare is of no help. My husband had to wait for a tow truck–then was towed back to the Maaleh Adumim tire repair place.

The tow truck cost NIS 242, two new tires cost NIS 700. It also cost him hours of work and, naturally, aggravation. Reporting the incident at the Ma’aleh Adumim police station today, I was told that the Border Police, not they, deal with this, to check back in a week to see if they have received my complaint. and then to wait quietly until our recompense (which hopefully covers all costs) is arranged. In the meantime, we are out nearly NIS 1,000.

Security, security, but this is ridiculous! At the very least, payments should be immediate -not entailing endless phone calls, and running from office to office. Besides–why, if a car in one lane must be stopped, do all the spikes emerge?

So friends, as you pass the roadblock, look left and right. If nearby cars look suspicious, beware. Though you are innocent, you may reap their punishment with them.

After reading that, working at home seems like a viable option.

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