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We go abroad on Fridays – to Ra'anana

My wife and I live in Israel, in Givat Shmuel to be precise. There are a smattering of former Americans (like us), Brits and South Africans living here, but the great majority are simply Israelis, born and bred. Hebrew is the lingua franca of our community. Finding a weekend edition of The Jerusalem Post on Friday morning can be a challenge. So, every three or four weeks, we get the urge to go abroad – to Ra'anana.

It's always on a Friday morning. Driving up Route 4 we are full of anticipation for the two or three hours we will spend on Ahuza Street. I drop my wife off in the center of town. She enjoys the Raanana shopping experience. Taken for a local resident for her unmistakable American-accented Hebrew, she feels completely at home in the shops. Meanwhile, I am looking for a parking space on Bar Ilan Street, which seems to be getting more and more difficult every time we come. On our last visit, the first parking spot I found was half a kilometer away from Ahuza. My wife and I go our separate ways in Ra'anana, and meet up at the end of our forays. I have a set and unvarying routine.

My first stop is always Muzalim. Among the hardest things to find in Israel are American-style coated cardboard disposable plates. We go through a lot of them in a month. The only store we have ever found to stock them is Muzalim, and they stock them in various sizes and at a very fair price. Our visit has gotten off to a good start.

My next stop is the library at Yad LeBanim. I always take a few minutes to look at the amazing rotating art exhibition in the lobby. I then go downstairs to the main reading room. Since we don't live in Ra'anana, we don't have borrowing privileges, but good people continue to donate good books which the library sells from book carts for NIS 5 each. Who doesn't love a bargain?

I cross the street to Tower Records. I preferred its former incarnation, Blockbuster, with its excellent selection of DVDs. New technology has decimated the DVD lending library business. But there are still DVDs to be had at Tower Records. Because we don't live in Ra'anana, renting DVDs is not feasible for us, but there are always good buys in the bargain bins. I love to "clack" my way through the selection of movies – it's almost like being at a film festival. And how can you go wrong with five movies for NIS 50?

At this point, my mobile phone usually rings. My wife has finished her purchases and invites me to meet her for a frozen yogurt at Lavan. When I arrive, I easily spot my wife. She's the one surrounded by the high-end shopping bags from Ra'anana's most elegant shops. When Lavan first opened, it gleamed – it was so white. Today it shows its age somewhat, but the frozen yogurts are still delicious. I don't know why, but the décor of the shop makes me feel like I am in Paris.

Our final stop is Meatland. When it first opened 14 years ago, it alone justified a trip to Ra'anana. It was such a treat to see so many familiar products from home that had made the long journey here. Now that the large supermarkets have caught up with Meatland, it has lost some of its luster, but it still has its appeal. Every time I go in, I hope there will be a surprise, unadvertised sale on the sandwich meats – something I remember from years ago. Although we don't purchase much, we never leave empty handed – a jar of piccalilli, a few cans of cream soda, and if we're really expansive, a bottle of Manischewitz borscht with diced beets inside. On our last visit, my wife splurged on a bottle of real Vermont maple syrup. And, of course, the weekend edition of The Jerusalem Post.

I tell my wife to wait for me outside Meatland while I go get the car. I call her on the mobile phone when I reach it some minutes later. On the way out of town, we feel that we have mined Ra'anana until the next time. We drive down Ahuza and take a right on Route 4. We return to Israel. 



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Thursday, 13 June 2024

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