Life in the Israeli Soap Opera

These are the days of soap bubbles…
floating gliding…toward an all new reality
but its all so precarious, unreal, direction unknown…
How long can we dangle in air?
Before it just goes “pop” into nothingness…

But surely surely i had finally made it.
After several years of aliya
(alas not just going up but falling and ascending simultaneously)
into the grubby lower caste of being a forlorn migrant…
trudging through myriad screaming israelis
the building work starts its drilling at 7am out the window next to you…
smelly feral cats whining with sullen eyes,
these snapshots that make the Land of Israel.
I finally made it, cast into the teen TV soap of “Kfula” season 3!

Monitor screen view of the set of Kfula – with myself, actress Dean Hafner and Omer Dror.

There we were…
in a scene perched on pink chairs in the youth cafe,
lined in intense psychedelic wallpaper,
plastic fruit and flamingos scattered on the shelves,
fake neon cocktails soaked with rimon seeds
moody extras sipping on plastic straws.
Outside the glowing window a cityscape…
well not quite…
merely a dangled canvas of Tel Aviv apartment buildings rustling in the wind.
Similar to low budget Australian daytime soaps i used to watch
mesmerised after school on British TV.
One of the photoshopped buildings trips out cutting a blue skyline,
tricking and bewildering my eyes, making it seem 3D real and unreal at the same time.

Luckily I am sitting with two stunning beauties to bring me back to this reality.
Dean a sweet blonde Sabra model with a waist like a broomstick
and Omer, an Israeli pinup star,
his magazine poster-boy face adorning girls bedrooms all across the land of Zion.
And me
this strange looking “gingi” – as the Chelsea football scout called Chris,
in a dodgy looking padded British suit.
“How do you deal with all the screaming fans?” I ask Omer.
He wisely keeps his acting persona totally separate from his private life.

We cross-words in the scene.
It’s a contrived twisted conversation…
mistaking my “that’s a shame” line for “what’s my sheim (name).”
“Boy! Boy Greenhouse!” Omer cries!
Disjointed translation sounds rather like my broken timeline here in this land.
In the scene Dean mistranslates that his mother’s nose fell off.
My character just cant take it and departs. The drama.

The make up girl is dabbing my face with a sponge.
“Do you like it here in Israel?” she says. Always the observer outside looking in.
I say i’m not so sure…there are good things and bad things.
She says you get that everywhere.
I agree, but with Am Yisroel it hurts much much more.
“Ah you must be very connected then,” she quips.

The £100 note scene in Tzomet Miller.

I recall back to my brief cameo on another show “Tzomet Miller.”
Stuck in an elevator with Adir Miller, the one and only Israeli Seinfeld.
“Why the hell would you come to Israel?” he spurts.
That’s sweet from one of its top comedy stars.
We run a scene in a dressed up British hotel bar shot in Tel Aviv.
All the Hebrew signage gets swapped for Union Jacks.
And me, the barman, is given a £100 note by one of the campy characters.
“Sorry sir i don’t have change for a 100,” i say.
(of course how could i as there is not even such thing as a £100 note!)
The producers don’t care.
Imprinted with Her Majesty’s head.
This TV reality follows OUR rules.

A Swede looking concerned at the prospect of the Israeli sale offers in Ikea.

I faked it too. On one gig i’d managed to learn some Swedish on the spot in Ikea in Netanya.
A huge cavern of products. They just throw you right in the deep end here.
Lucky if you get a script or rehearsal before the camera is rolling.

Playing a fat Man United hooligan in Kobi Maimon’s “My Life – Chaim Sheli.”

In another TV moment for comedian Kobi Maimon,
I emerge screaming to all and sundry in a UK pub telling them to FXCK OFF!
whilst cradling my fat hooligan beer belly.
Shlep in the poor migrant to reinforce some tragic British stereotypes.
Another morning I was sat in a convertible cadillac filled to the brim with orange juice
whilst in a random field promoting a new game show with Avri Gilad (the mystic of daytime quizzes).

Sitting in a car full of orange juice for a new TV gameshow promo.

My mind is back to the grounded reality of Kfula, sitting in the green room.
Chomping a Bulgarit sandwich from the production table downstairs.
Picture postcards of all the beautiful actors and models adorning the pinboard.
“Which soccer team u support?” Omer asks me.
I say Tottenham Hostpur – and did he know that they are the Jew team of london, the Yids.
For all the spurs fans grunt and chant as members of the tribe.
He asks me why I don’t live in Tel Aviv.
I say because learn at a yeshiva in Jerusalem,
which seems to vibe with him.
I’m sitting there with Likutei Moharan on my lap.
Chapter 19 – God made Adam fall into “Tardemah” – a deep deep sleep…
numerically equivalent to “Targum” – translation…
We fight the lusts of the 70 nations to find our own language – Lashon haKodesh.
To extract the good and the truth out of the dark dream.
Am I?

Later, on my ride back, i’m discussing European cinema with Amit the driver/grip on set. The dream cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky who predicted the Chenobyl disaster in his movie “Stalker.”
We switch to discuss how surreal the whole Kfula set up is,
like a strange village…
a wrecked high school in Lod.
The kids must have had a good go smashing out clumps of it before leaving.
Some rooms are filled with warped props,
a hospital set of a room and bed,
painted cacti.
A costume room all neon and campy, like Elton John’s wardrobe.
They rotate all the sets in classic B-movie style.
Shooting 3 Israeli shows all simultaneously.
Switch a sofa and prop here and there,
change the camera angles.
Who would know?

Alas the real soap opera is on the way home.
Pure mayhem on the bus.
An incessant coke sniffer on the seat adjacent to me, snorting out of a 50 shekel note.
In Jerusalem, the traffic highway is totally blocked off by police.
We sit agitated for ages,
American yeshiva bochurs squirming late for a funeral.
A huge dark government convoy screams past.
The police maul some poor dude who got overexcited complaining outside.
I’m picking up avocados and oranges from an old wrinkled woman’s shopping trolley that spills all over the floor.
Home.

About the Author
Elliott Leigh Tucker (aka Aleph) is an actor, artist and creative producer; appearing in Israeli TV comedies, underground theatres and has recently produced an art book "The Palace of Healing." He has been active in the Jewish community all his professional life.
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