There’s something about Israel. (And it’s not the same “Something” that there was about Mary.) PresenTense is in the middle of planning our Israel issue, which has me incredibly emotional for various reasons, and I just saw a play-in-progress by the kids who brought you Storahtelling about Israel that perfectly weaves in Biblical, historical and contemporary themes in a way that had me choked up at particular moments. Plus, the last several pieces I’ve done about that little country in the Middle East keep teaching me that just when you think you’ve seen the most ridiculous or bizarre story (or commercial) from Israel, you realize that it’s the tip of the infinite iceberg. (“Iceberg, Goldberg, what’s the difference?”)
You’ve got a guy in prison who kvetches about the cockroaches and wins a thousand bucks. You’ve got hasidim (or more accurately, actors dressed as hasidim) dancing to YMCA shilling for a cable network, followed by a beer commercial that doubles as a “just say no to drugs” campaign. You’ve got a Jerusalem meat festival, August’s “Be Nice” Day, discussions over whether or not there are hundreds of thousands of Israelis on Facebook, and the sudden surge in anti-smoking legislation, resulting in encouraging local restaurant patrons to turn in policy violators.
For a country to make you laugh, cry, and leave you in wonderment that forces your face into a “huh?”…to quote the immortal philosopher, Abraham J. Simpson, “I’m in love! No…it’s a stroke. No….I’m in love!”