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What’s bugging you? Israeli bug infestations so far (so good).


One of the things everybody warned us about before we came was bugs.

“Israel’s full of bugs,” they said.  “Watch out.  You will have bugs.”

What kind of bugs?

Everything ranging from ants to lice to cockroaches to scorpions to weevils in the flour to I-don’t-know-what.

Cockroaches are semi-affectionately known as “Jukim” (pronounced “Jew” (as in Jewish) and “keem”) here.  And yes, we have seen them in our apartment.  One or two.  I have been as grateful as anything that there haven’t been more. 

Yes, they’re hideous.  And yes, the kids scream “Juke!” every time they spot one.  Which is rarely… so I figure we’re doing okay.

Someone else told us, “After Pesach is when the ants come.”  It’s like a Biblical curse.

And come they did.  They arrived in droves, in tidy little lines, which baruch Hashem, were easily eliminated.

Currently, we seem to be in the season of the grain moths.  Those nasty little webs that infest all the spice jars and leave tiny worms hanging from mini-cocoons in every baggie.  Again, baruch Hashem, we’ve only seen a couple. 

What got me started writing this post, actually, was that Akiva came home from the makolet (convenience store) with matzah meal that, as Naomi Rivka discovered when she snipped the baggie open, was thoroughly infested with grain moths. 

(He returned the matzah meal, and the makolet guy apologized.)

So it seems like we’re doing okay:  jukim, ants, grain moths, check.

But the one everybody really warned me about was lice.  “You can’t have kids in Israel and not get lice.”  Lice are called “keeneem,” just like in the Biblical plague.

And yes, we haven’t had any.  Every once in a while, I speak to a friend who has kids in gan and indeed, keeps finding nits and eggs and various infestations in her kids’ hair. 

It’s a crazy and frustrating business.  In Canada, if your kid has lice, she stays home, period.  Here, she goes to gan and shares her hat with three dozen other kids.

Anyway, after a year and a half of cursory checks where I peer very carefully, in a low-tech way, at the roots of my kids’ hair, I finally broke down last week and invested in a fancy high-tech lice comb.  (You can see it in the picture up above; lettering and juke not included.)

Several generations beyond the simple metal comb we had when my sisters were little, this one features spiralling tines that were designed by a computer, as well as a comfy easy-grip handle.

Nervously, I embedded it in Naomi Rivka’s smooth-brushed hair, right at the roots, and pulled it down towards the end, with only a few ouches.

And thank God, it came away clean.  I did it a bunch more times, and have repeated the effort since, and I’m pretty sure we are entirely lice, nit and egg-free.  This is very, very good news, considering her hair is gradually creeping down to waist-length.  (And considering that each time Elisheva comes, she tells me she’d better not pick up any lice to bring back with her to seminary.)

Still, if you’re coming here, be forewarned.  There are bugs here:  lice, ants, and worse.  A friend of ours was actually stung last summer by a scorpion that was hiding behind a closet he was moving in one of his bedrooms.  Yes, a scorpion, in the bedroom.  Eek.

So far, we’ve gotten off easy.  Not that I’m bragging.  We haven’t done anything special and don’t keep our place especially clean.  (ha ha ha ha)

I just humbly hope it continues that way.  There’s an expression here, “juke ba-rosh,” which means pretty much the same as the English expression – when you’ve a bug in your head and you can’t stop thinking about something.

I’m like that, with bugs.  Haven’t seen too many in person, but they’re all there… in my head.

For a catchy Canadian animation that'll put a juke in your rosh, here's… Juke-Bar:

Good Shabbos / Shabbat Shalom from the Holy Land!

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. Cute... and informative!!! *:-)
    My husband said this was the other version of Lawrence Welk... *:-)

    1. Really! I always thought Lawrence Welk was the funniest name, because of a "whelk" being a seashell thingy... well, okay, never mind. But I appreciate your reading anyway!

  2. If you ever find lice or need to give advice about removal, here's the easiest, very easiest and safest and cheapest way or me-ander: LICE--The Simple Safe Method to Clean Heads

    1. Very, very good to know. May we never need to. :-)


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