Friday, December 16, 2011

Jerusalem Night Run

This week, Jerusalem hosted its first 10K Night Run. Ostensibly, the Night Run was supposed to get all of us runners pumped up and excited about the Jerusalem Marathon which is right around the corner. I think that this is nonsense. The Jerusalem Marathon is a full three months away. If you ask me, the real reason that Jerusalem decided to have a Night Run is because Jerusalem has a problem.

The problem is one of demographics. Young people, or at least young people with an interest in useful education and gainful employment, either do not come to Jerusalem at all or they come to study and then run away the moment they have their degree. And it is hard, HARD, to run a city when a staggering percentage of your citizenry does not work and does not pay taxes. So our fearless leaders are trying to address this. Apparently, they did some surveys and they came to the conclusion that the reason everyone keeps running away is not the lack of job opportunities and not the rock-hurling Haredim and not the ongoing war on women and not the rampant religious coercion and in short it is not that the city is well along its merry way to becoming a kosher version of Tehran or Kabul. No, the reason is image. Young people do not see Jerusalem as being cool. Jerusalem is not happening. So our leaders said to themselves—follow the logic here—if Tel Aviv had a Night Run and Tel Aviv is cool then if Jerusalem has a Night Run it will be cool too.

Genius, no?

Right, so our fearless leaders were possessed of a plan. All that was left was the minor issue of execution. Compare, if you will, the Night Run in Tel Aviv versus the Night Run in Jerusalem:

Tel Aviv


Scheduled in

October, when the Tel Aviv nights are still nice and warm, but no longer hot.

December, when the Jerusalem nights (and the days) are fucking freezing.

Sponsored by

Nike. The god of athletic wear.

Aminach. A mattress manufacturer. (WTF?)

Number of participants

About 15,000

About 1,000


Super-trendy world music stations all along the route

A couple college students with drums at Jaffa Gate.

The winner of the Jerusalem Night Run got a mattress. Runners-up got pillows. I do not know what Nike gave out in Tel Aviv, but somehow, I do not think their prize basket looked quite like ours.

God bless 'em, our fearless leaders. They try so hard.

Of course, I signed up. Because, hey, the Jerusalem Marathon (Half, for me) is right around the corner and I need to train. And I am a total sucker who is willing to pay NIS 90 to do a run I do every week anyway, for free. So I went, and I got my ugly-yet-very-functional running shirt and the route was super flat, for Jerusalem. But, sadly, a bit boring. And it was only sort of freezing. But I finished in what was, for me, very respectable time, 1:17. And then I went home and read articles about how women in Jerusalem are being forced to dress in religious garb if they want to visit the Clalit Health Plan main clinic, and how a Haredi rabbi justified segregation of women on the basis that “this is how it was done at Auschwitz”.

But yes, a Night Run is going to solve all of our problems.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Driving Directions

This past weekend, a Tel Avivit friend and I made plans for her to come to Jerusalem on Saturday. Our plan was to go to the Old City, where we were going to cover up our whorish slacks with wrap-around skirts (dug out of my summer clothes stash for the occasion) and hop over to the the Kotel for a good pray. Once that was done, we would lose the skirts and move on to one of the non-Jewish quarters for lunch at a non-Kosher restaurant. My friend was excited about this itinerary because while Tel Aviv boasts countless non-Kosher restaurants, many of which are far better than the ones in Jerusalem, the ability to juxtapose a meal at a one with a trip to the holiest site in Judaism—on Shabbat no less—is a uniquely “Yerushalmi” treat. Alas, on her way out of Tel Aviv there was an unfortunate encounter between the back of her car and a dumpster so she had to cancel. I would chalk this up to G-d preventing her from engaging in improper behavior on Shabbat, but, given that her Tel Aviv alternative probably did not end up including anything more devout or wholesome than what we had planned, that would have been be an exercise in futility. Which I am sure G-d realized, seeing how He is omniscient. And why on earth would He want to waste His time?

Anyway, before the dumpster incident, I had sent her directions so she would not get lost on her way here. She liked them a great deal and suggested I share them on my blog, so that our weekend plans would not go completely to waste. Accordingly, I am happy to present “How to Get from Tel Aviv to Gan Hapaamon, in Jerusalem. With Commentary”

  1. Take the Ayalon Freeway to Route 1. Do not go into spaced-out-freeway mode until you are safely on Route 1, or you are liable to end up in the wrong lane and find yourself going somewhere else entirely. Which is not necessarily bad, but there are no holy sites there and even if there are, I have the holy wraparound skirts. And I am in Jerusalem.
  2. Stay on Route 1 until you pass the Lod and (I think) Route 6 exits. The Route 6 exit may be after the exit I want you to take, so if you pass it, you may or may not have gone too far.
  3. Get off at the next (?) exit--Ben Shemen (443) This way, you get to avoid any potentially rioting Haredim who have apparently been amusing themselves near the center of Jerusalem or at the entrance to Jerusalem or somewhere (details have been fuzzy) by lobbing rocks at cars. Of course, 443 could also at include rocks thrown by Palestinians, but I do not believe it has recently. And it is flat and less twisting.
  4. Is it just me or do you also find it rather odd that when a Palestinian throws rocks, the police toss him in jail for terrorism but if a Jew throws rocks, the police do nothing? My thought—throw them all in jail (call them terrorists, fanatics, whatever you want) give them all piles of rocks and let them throw rocks at each other while the rest of us go on with our lives without having to factor in rock throwing into our driving directions. Voila! Happiness all around!
  5. Anyway, so, now you are on 443. Stay there. I mean, yes, keep driving, but keep going straight. Eventually, you will go through a checkpoint. You are now really close to Jerusalem. It is also around this point that the road becomes Sderot Menachem Begin.
  6. Before the road was Sderot Menachem Begin it was a few other things. This is common in nature. Like... before a butterfly is a butterfly it is a pupa and then a caterpillar and then a full grown Sderot Menachem Begin. Anyway, I am not quite sure what it was, though I am reasonably certain that (a) it was neither a butterfly nor a pupa and (b) Golda Meir is in there somewhere, even though that sounds a bit obscene. Whatever. Do you care? I can look it up if you do.
  7. Keep going straight. Do not take any exits. G-d knows where you will end up and then your only option will be to call me up for help and I will have to give you directions. And I am a tad dyslexic in these things. Really, this will not end well.
  8. The last exit is Golumb; you have no choice but to take it. Damn it. Okay, wait, let me look at the map....I’m turning the phone so I can figure out what direction….yes… turn left here. G-d bless you iphone. It is so much easier turning your around than, let's say, a map. Or my computer screen.
  9. One of the first lights after you turn is Pat Junction. One the right side, on the near corner, there is an ugly parking lot and on the far corner there is a Delek gas station. Turn right here.
  10. Immediately get into the left hand lane. Turn left at the first light
  11. The name of the street you are on starts as Yehuda Hanassi and then changes 75 times over the next kilometer. It’s all good—this provides employment for countless city clerks. Just keep going straight. You will pass through one light (my neighborhood) and two traffic circles.
  12. After traffic circle # 2, you will come to a light. Go straight. You are now on Emek Refaim, land of a thousand restaurants, all of which are closed for Shabbat.
  13. Go (get this!) straight! Toward the end of Emek Refaim, you will need to veer to your right (kind of a modest forky thing) because the Derech Beit Lechem has bitch-slapped Emek Refaim and has taken over. The park and the parking is immediately after this, on your left.
  14. Look! I’m here! With the skirts!