Ashkelon: 4 things your guidebook won’t tell you

1. It’s the place where one word is worth a thousand pictures

Okay, I lied. It isn’t one word but four. And maybe it’s not a thousand pictures but only 999. Still, that’s nearly 250 pictures per word.

“Was before in Boston.” Those four little words nearly knocked me off my feet. The Hebrew is even funnier. It means, “Resided formerly in Boston.”

The last time I saw a man wearing a toga, he was very definitely not residing in Boston.

What was that sign maker smoking?

2. Samson couldn’t keep his hands off the Philistine chickies

Bus No. 437, which is scheduled to take 93 minutes from Jerusalem to Ashkelon and which carries mainly soldiers, passes between Zorah and Eshtaol. That’s where the Dan tribe (to which Samson belonged) was encamped, where the spirit of the Lord first moved him (Judges 13:25), and where he was buried (Judges 16:31).

It’s a beautiful route, passing through wooded hills and then through fields and orchards—a reminder that, thankfully, not every square inch of the country has been paved over in concrete.

Samson ended up in Ashkelon because he had a thing for Philistine women, and not just Delilah. First there was the woman of Timnah, whom he married and who betrayed him, and then there was a nameless prostitute. Only after those two did Delilah come along.

The angel who told Samson’s mother to stay away from liquor should also have warned Samson about those Philistine temptresses.

What's your cup size, dearie?

3. You can buy a bra in the open-air market

Why not? And how about some matching undies?

But this is nothing compared to the open-air market I visited in Tanzania, where the woman selling bras walked around with dozens of them suspended from her arms.

4. Some folks take a dim view of New Year’s Eve

There was much clucking of tongues today in a liquor store near Ashkelon’s open-air market when the subject of New Year’s Eve came up. In Israel, the holiday is called Sylvester, as it is in Europe, and that makes it even more problematic, because Sylvester was the pope who, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E., is said to have passed anti-Semitic legislation.

That doesn’t stop thousands of Israelis from going out to restaurants on New Year’s Eve for a festive meal or having a bang-up party.

“People don’t understand how serious it is,” tst-tsked one middle-aged man in the shop.

“Yes, this is Israel,” said Tamir Levi, a much younger man, sounding very concerned.

And then he asked to have his picture taken with a bottle of vodka.

Tamir Levi with the bottle of vodka he won't be drinking on New Year's Eve.


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2 Responses to “Ashkelon: 4 things your guidebook won’t tell you”

  1. loscatholics Says:

    hilarious! wish i read this before i went last time. i’ll have to go back now. oh, and maybe they’re referring to the immense greek life in boston universities.


  2. My heart is where the earth moves « Esther Hecht's Blog Says:

    […] it up with Google Translate and the word turned out to be Ashkelon, which led that reader to “Ashkelon: 4 things your guidebook won’t tell you” and “From Santa Fe to Ashkelon: It’s almost like falling in […]

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