“Ma, We Live in a Slum”

When my husband’s aunt and uncle made aliyah from the US in the 60’s, they spent a few years in Bnei Brak. That first morning, one of the children noticed laundry hanging outside some nearby buildings. “Ma,” he said, “We live in a slum.”

A reader of my post, Twelve Things I Love about Israel, had a similar reaction when I listed laundry as one of my favorite Israeli activities. (Helene, if you’re still around please delurk.) I think it’s a shame that so many Israelis use dryers; we have sun nine months out of twelve. Even on cloudy, threatening days a good wind can blow laundry dry in a few hours.

Most Israeli apartment buildings contain a shaft just for laundry lines. A decorative railing hides your dirty (from the pollution) linens but allows air to circulate. In my old building, the lines were completely covered by a concrete roof. In my current apartment I have to pay attention to the state of the clouds. If only the weather report would predict the exact hour rain will fall on my nearly dry clothes.

From the 6th floor window, out of which I do my hanging, I have a view of a dangerous, unsignalled intersection. A left turn is legal only in one of the four directions, and drivers coming from the side street can’t go straight; they must turn right.

Israeli drivers are affronted, I mean affronted, when forbidden to go straight through an intersection. The violation rate is about one per load of laundry. Once or twice I reported a truck driver to his employer, but without a license plate number they couldn’t identify him. When I am driving behind someone about to make an illegal turn I start honking; I also signal the correct direction to drivers as I’m crossing the street. My kids start cheering if I get the drivers to change their mind.

I’m protective of that intersection; my kids cross there all the time. Occasionally the police stake out the corner and catch offenders; I figure they get about 0.0001% of the lawbreakers. I haven’t noticed a deterrent effect.

I’ll be watching, though.

[More on this intersection.]

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Comments

  1. good for you! if you would volunteer as a cop of some sort (I forget what it is called), you can stop them yourself and give out traffic tickets!

  2. good for you! if you would volunteer as a cop of some sort (I forget what it is called), you can stop them yourself and give out traffic tickets!

  3. The apartment we are renting had a washing machine, but no dryer. So one of the first things we purchased was those white dryer thingies, which made me laugh. We have since purchased a dryer, but I enjoy hanging my clothes so much that I only use it for linens,and occasionally when laundry gets really backed up. Laundry is my favorite household chore.
    And after having my laundry re-washed by rain (twice!), I keep the dryer thingie in my pinat mishpacha (right off the garden) unless I am pretty sure there will be no rain (unfortunately the clothes seem to be outside alot this season).

  4. The apartment we are renting had a washing machine, but no dryer. So one of the first things we purchased was those white dryer thingies, which made me laugh. We have since purchased a dryer, but I enjoy hanging my clothes so much that I only use it for linens,and occasionally when laundry gets really backed up. Laundry is my favorite household chore.
    And after having my laundry re-washed by rain (twice!), I keep the dryer thingie in my pinat mishpacha (right off the garden) unless I am pretty sure there will be no rain (unfortunately the clothes seem to be outside alot this season).

  5. mominisrael says:

    Rafi–I’ll have to look into that.
    Abbi–you mean half of my commenters are from the same family??? LOL
    Nope about the yishuv.

  6. merkazbabe says:

    When i lived in Jm, i lived off of Ben Zakai/ Hanasi and that street was insane! Only one intersection had a traffic light- no traffic circles at all- the rest of the 3-4 intersections you just had to jump in and pray, otherwise, you’d never get anywhere, especially during rush hour (actually sometimes rush hour was easier, because traffic was so backed up, you could squeeze into the stopped oncoming traffic with a lot of hand signals and then comfortably wait to make the left turn.
    Laundry- my apt has a covered laundry line area, but it’s taken up with an air conditioner. 🙁
    I would love to have a line and I have one indoor clothesline thingy, but to dry all of my laundry without a dryer, i’d need about 3-4.
    You live in the city? I thought for sure you lived on a yishuv.

  7. merkazbabe says:

    When i lived in Jm, i lived off of Ben Zakai/ Hanasi and that street was insane! Only one intersection had a traffic light- no traffic circles at all- the rest of the 3-4 intersections you just had to jump in and pray, otherwise, you’d never get anywhere, especially during rush hour (actually sometimes rush hour was easier, because traffic was so backed up, you could squeeze into the stopped oncoming traffic with a lot of hand signals and then comfortably wait to make the left turn.
    Laundry- my apt has a covered laundry line area, but it’s taken up with an air conditioner. 🙁
    I would love to have a line and I have one indoor clothesline thingy, but to dry all of my laundry without a dryer, i’d need about 3-4.
    You live in the city? I thought for sure you lived on a yishuv.

  8. sorry, that previous commenter was me. My cousin was on this computer last night.

  9. sorry, that previous commenter was me. My cousin was on this computer last night.

  10. mominisrael says:

    Baila, we’ll make an Israeli out of you yet. Just continue to obey traffic signs.

  11. mominisrael says:

    You’re right, I had forgotten how hard it was to cross before they redid the intersection, even though we were hoping they would put in a light.
    In our first apartment in Israel, we had the screeching and crashes from the nearest intersection. I think it’s better there now too.
    Thanks for your comment.

  12. I know that intersection.
    in the early eighties when in was single, I lived right there.
    what you have now is a big improvement(beleive it or not). then, there were no signs or islands and crossing on foot was (almost) impossible.
    I would often hear terrible screaches from the cars and often followed by a crash.

  13. I hardly ever use the outdoor lines- there isn’t enough room to hang all the laundry (I’d still need an indoor rack), and sometimes the colors get faded from the sun.
    I have 2 of those indoor racks and love them. For a while there I was hanging everything but lately I’ve gotten behind and have been using the dryer- gotta get back in the habit!

  14. mominisrael says:

    RR, I figure that our clothes fade in the sun when we wear them anyway. Not as much but still.
    Robin, I once mentioned to a repairman that I don’t understand using the dryer when the clothes dry so quickly, and he agreed. Then he said that I had to use a laundry softener because the clothes come out stiff. I told him I don’t have to use anything! Towels stop being stiff after the first use. I do put my rags in the dryer on the cool-off cycle to get rid of lint.

  15. We hang most of our laundry outside, but the little stuff I do put in the dryer. I detest hanging individual socks out one at a time. That and towels. I love soft towels.
    When we redid our kitchen an architect wanted to do it as a “U” shape, except the middle section would have blocked off access to the window where the laundry lines are. His response? What? You still hang laundry outside? How primitive. Don’t you have a dryer?
    Needless to say we didn’t hire him.

  16. I volunteered for several years as a traffic cop. Feel free to contact me if you want more information.

  17. I don’t like the house I am renting but there is one feature that I absolutely adore: 30 meters of clothes lines, which my husband installed in an empty area (meant to be built into a room one day) on our second floor. I can gaze down on the Coastal Plain and see buildings as far away as Tel Aviv. If the world is tilted at the right angle, I can see the see. I get a fabulous breeze. My laundry can even dry overnight 1/2 the years, with no sun (good anti fading). I can ruminate as I sort and hang according to each family member. I can think and plan as I clip the clothes to the lines. Two American loads at a time, no less, and sometimes more. I missed “hanging” when we lived in the States. I gave it a try when we lived in AZ but it wasn’t as much fun.

  18. mominisrael says:

    AR, I’ll email you.
    Tamiri–I don’t get the tilting part, but if you can see the sea, who cares? I’m closer than you and I can’t.
    RA, I’ve missed you! Welcome back.

  19. mominisrael says:

    AR, I’ll email you.
    Tamiri–I don’t get the tilting part, but if you can see the sea, who cares? I’m closer than you and I can’t.
    RA, I’ve missed you! Welcome back.

  20. Regular Anonymous says:

    I love my dryer. It’s almost impossible to dry our laundry outside as the wind here is very strong and there’s no way to weigh down the drying rack enough.
    Although if I could, I’d have more time to enjoy the beautiful view from my mirpeset.
    (And I also thought you lived in a yishuv).

  21. Regular Anonymous says:

    I love my dryer. It’s almost impossible to dry our laundry outside as the wind here is very strong and there’s no way to weigh down the drying rack enough.
    Although if I could, I’d have more time to enjoy the beautiful view from my mirpeset.
    (And I also thought you lived in a yishuv).

  22. Lion of Zion says:

    i seem to remember thought the water dripped from the clothing on the clothing hanging a floor below.
    i worked for a few years in a corner office facing a dangerous intersection with no light. i witnessed an average of 1 accident a week

  23. Lion of Zion says:

    i seem to remember thought the water dripped from the clothing on the clothing hanging a floor below.
    i worked for a few years in a corner office facing a dangerous intersection with no light. i witnessed an average of 1 accident a week

  24. mominisrael says:

    LOZ, Israelis like to disable the spin cycle on their machines and hang clothes soaking wet. I’m on the top, but there is a concrete roof separating my lines from the ones below (and protecting theirs from the rain, I might add).

  25. For great laundry hanging, and the quickest way to dry sheets, you need nice wide, sun-exposed lines, not those wimpy covered things. In Bayit V’Gan, Jm, we had a 4 meter merpeset (balcony) over the main street. Glorious for laundry. In the 70’s it was common to see lots of diapers getting bleached in the sun. When we built our Shiloh home, I insisted on a 5 meter merpeset.

  26. B”H Oh, Life in Israel! < sigh > If you “live in a slum,” then I guess I’m a hick, recently graduated from “trailer trash.”
    😉 It’s all relative I guess. Cute post.

  27. mominisrael says:

    Batya, I know you’ll always be around for my homemaking posts. LOL about the wimpy covered lines.
    BenYehudah, I can only imagine!

  28. The summer after college, when I stayed with my sister for a month in Ganei Tikvah (suburban T-A, near Kiryat Ono), I did my own laundry, and hung it on the lines outside the window. Her in-laws in J-m had a dryer, but didn’t use it much in the summer.
    11 years later I visited with my wife, by which time she had gotten a dryer. By then the kids were in HS and the army. You get older, you want more convenience.

  29. I love being able to hang my laundry; it saves me tons of money, and it’s better for the environment. But ever since I moved to my current apartment seven months ago, I’ve been at war with some pigeons who are trying to build a nest above my laundry lines. It’s especially bad in the winter when clothes have to hang overnight, only to find bird poop on half of our clothes (including baby clothes) and have to wash them all over again. The next door neighbor has a dryer, why can’t they build the nest over there???? I shoo them away with a broom everytime I hear them, which is about once an hour! my neighbors must think I’m crazy! I love animals and don’t want to hurt them, but they really need to find another place to go, AAAARGH!! There they are again, where’s the broom? 🙂

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