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Double Life – The People of the Mangal

fubiniBy Daniela Fubini*

Since over a week, the weather reports on TV have started giving a full report on the weekend just past, and at once a detailed forecast for Tuesday 17th of March, day of the elections. At the beginning I though they did it in order to push Israelis to go out and vote, you see, no excuses: the weather will be very nice, no rain, not even clouds over all our small land. Then I learnt that a large part of the population have a free day on election day, and people want to know if it will be pleasant to be in the outdoors on Tuesday.

The fact that Election Day is a vacation may seem odd, but it makes sense if you think that ballots are often hosted by schools, therefore schools must be closed on that day. And voting is impossible on the weekend due to the Shabbat. So, with offices closed, the question raises: what shall we all do on Tuesday, after casting our ballot? And as far as I understand, there is one and only answer to that: mangal!

Every new immigrant to Israel learns the word “mangal” within the first three months from the Aliyah. Some think it’s the Hebrew version of barbecue, I tend to disagree. In a mangal experience there is nothing of the orderly and organized barbecue in backyards of houses. Israelis very rarely have a backyard. So they use any space where there is some grass among the dust, buy meat (very few buy also vegetables), and sit close to the grill for hours. Around, children and dogs play. Every now and then newcomers bring fresh beer or more food (meat, we said), and add to the conversation.

Personally, I can survive a mangal for about 1.5 hours, then I need to do something else, and that usually includes throwing in a laundry machine every single piece of clothing I was wearing during those 1.5 hours.
So on Tuesday we have one fundamental choice to make: where to place our mangal. And at night we shall know if our vote went to the winners or to the losers. Good luck to us all.

*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.