Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cheap electrical kettles and rabbis.

If you live in Tel-Aviv and like to hang out in electrical stores and take an interest in cheap electric kettles, then you have probably heard of "Kennedy" a firm whose cheap kettles are in all the major hardware stores and have a remarkable capacity for lasting only slightly longer then the guarantee. My habit of buying cheap kettles and toasters means I am always buying new ones when the last cheapo disintegrates. Kennedy rule the cheapo market and are even advertised on the rear ends of buses. My last one I bought in a petrol-station (gas-station if you're American) where for 100 shekels I got a kettle, a toaster and an waffle maker.

The kettle unexpectedly sprang a leak before its guarantee had expired and every effort to make a cup of tea was accompanied by a small puddle round the bottom, so I decided to take it to be repaired. The petrol station directed me to a shop in Haredi Bnei Brak which provides the maintenance for Kennedy, so I put the kettle in my bicycle saddle-bag and pedalled out to Bnei Brak.

I didn't expect to see a huge repair centre but I wasn't expecting what I got. It was a tiny little shop, in which there was a very elderly man with Parkinsons. The shop clearly hadn't been cleaned for years, and although it was an electrical repair shop, some of the light fixtures didn't work. I could tell it was the right place though, because it was packed with boxes bearing the label "Kennedy".

The old man looked at the kettle and told me the section which measured the water level was leaking, he said it wasn't covered by the guarantee but for 15 shekels (4 dollars / 3 Euros) he could fix it. He fixed it on the spot.

Opposite the shop was a Haredi book store and I had just read a history of the Jews in Byzantine Israel which used the Talmud and Gemara as its source and I wanted to have a look, so I wandered over. Outside the shop had a large set of wooden honeycombs outside each of which contained a photo of a Rabbi. The photos were being sold for five shekels a shot. They were almost identical, all dressed in black, all with black hats, only the length of their beards and cleanliness of their cloaks and beards varied. In quite a few you could tell they hadn't washed their coats for a while. Inside the shop, the books were mostly recent orthodox publications, usually very cheaply printed and there wasn't a very large selection. I couldn't find a copy of the Talmud or Gemrara which I could use and what there was looked like it was more intended for show then for study.

So I headed home with my fixed kettle. Which has worked fine ever since.

Recreating ancient kingdoms: Arab Nationalism vs Zionism.

Although Zionism and Arab Nationalism are at loggerheads over Palestine (or perhaps Southern Syria), the two have a certain amount in common...