• Jodi Samuels

Last Days in Tzfat



We have spent the last two days in Tzfat at the Klezmer festival. Wow, what an experience. The Samuels family really lives and sees the world. My kids cannot say living in our home is boring. The kids loved being out every night and coming home way past midnight. The good thing is, we were just one of many hundreds of families schlepping the kids around. Every band we heard was amazing. There is also something about venues in old courtyards or parks with hilltop vistas that make the experience extra special.


This festival literally attracts all types of Jews. Secular, black hat, Breslev, modern. One big cholent. I loved seeing spontaneous minyanim start up on street corners with a rainbow of Jews. I loved watching the yeshiva bochers awkwardly listening while holding a Gemora in hand. I am fascinated by the fact that pretty much anyone can put up a table and a sign and sell food. No permit, no gloves, no supervision.


Kids as young as eight were running cotton candy stands. For three nights, every family was an entrepreneur. Mayor Bloomberg, you would just freak…


I always comment on Israelis’ lack of respect for personal space. They literally sit on top of you and when you grunt they look at you like, “What? There is half an inch of space, why can’t I sit here?”


I still cannot understand the disgusting litter situation. If you attend Opera in the Park in Central Park, you watch 40,000 people stand up and take their garbage from their picnics with them. It’s astounding to see how clean the park is after a huge event. In Israel, people literally leave their piles of garbage!


I love seeing how old people are out and about. In fact, many groups included extended families of four generations.


It made me think about some recent happiness surveys. Israelis rated themselves the third most happy country while the US came in at a whopping 47 on the list. Life is clearly good here. You sort of have a sense you are living in a busy shuk every day but I guess it works.


Maybe it’s because life here is not so simple. Maybe it’s the craziness, threats, sending kids to the army, financial challenges and more that makes people enjoy and not take life for granted. As a slogan on a T-shirt I saw last night said: “In Israel we don’t believe in miracles, we rely on them every day.”


Originally published: August 18, 2011

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