Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Will

A few months ago, Tals and I watched a movie called Will, a fictional story of an orphaned child who makes his way across Europe to see the Champions League final in Istanbul in 2005.  At the end of the movie, Tals commented how she now better understood the camaraderie of footy fans and hoped that I had the chance to take Nissim to Anfield one day to watch a game.

Tals' comment made me remember one of my fondest moments as a football fan.  Despite having being to Anfield to watch Liverpool last year (a dream of mine for over two decades), I still cherish the match I went to see with my father far more.  We had lived in Milan for almost two and a half years, two of which I'd spent in boarding school in England.  When I returned in the Summer of '94, my parents let me know I wouldn't be returning - we were off to New York.  My dad was in a 'footy' state of mind that summer, even watching then entire World Cup final where Italy bowed out to Brazil on penalties after the famous Roberto Baggio penalty miss.  I don't really remember all the details of how and why, but my dad and I were outside the San Siro looking for tickets for AC Milan's 1994/95 season opener against Genoa (It was also Ruud Gullit's first game back after a year away at Sampdoria).  My dad managed to get two tickets, and we were going in ...

I remember seeing the pitch for the first time ... the smell, the lights, the Milan fans at a frenzy ... it was incredible.  I don't remember most of the match unfortunately.  I do however remember pointing out Gullit to my dad, and celebrating Marco Simone's winner a few minutes into the second half ... and my favorite moments?  Seeing my dad jump up furiously every time one of Genoa's defenders fouled Dejan Savićević and screaming passionately in disgust.  That is what really sticks out.  You see, my dad was never the biggest sports fan (probably still isn't though he watches far more games nowadays), and here he was enjoying the moment with his son.  Still makes me smile till this very day ... something I'll never forget.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

... and on the Bus, Part V

I was deep into the chapter in In Ishmael’s House, which discusses Mizrachi Jewry’s interaction with Zionism during World War I, when I heard a discussion on the Tal Law taking place right in front of me. I looked up and saw two young looking Ultra-Orthodox men (No hat for those wondering – I think they may have been Shasnikim). I listened for a few seconds until my Israeliness took over.

For more, click here for my latest piece in the Times of Israel.

Thursday, July 05, 2012


I was aware of the many South Africans who volunteered for Machal (Volunteers from Abroad, מתנדבי חוץ לארץ) and helped Israel in the War of Independence. I was aware that despite South Africa’s small Jewish population, they remarkably constituted around 20% of the total volunteers that helped Israel during this difficult period. Although I consider myself well read in Israeli history, I was unaware of how pivotal a role they – as well as the other Machal volunteers – played in ensuring Israel would get past 1948 and become the country she is today. Considering how so few know of this story, I thought it was an excellent opportunity to learn about the subject from the mouths of those who experienced it first hand.

For more on the '804,' click here for my latest piece in the Times of Israel.