Burning Mensch (Or: How I Learned to Quit Worrying and Let My Mother Plan My Psychedelic Israel Trip)

“Dust and ashes: Israel’s Burning Man explodes in the Negev” — Times of Israel, May 26, 2015
Despite objections from local authorities, Israel held its own mini-Burning Man event in the desert near Sde Boker. A last-minute permit was issued hours before the gates opened to 7,000 “burners.” One such participant, Joshua, a beautiful boy from the land of the free, couldn’t have done it without a little help from his biggest supporter. 


2990460430_2d49a6fc5c_bDear Joshua,

I’m so happy you’re finally going to Israel to discover your roots. God-willing you’ll meet a wonderful, strong, beautiful Jewish woman and make us all very happy.

I took a look at your packing list and made some notes. I’m just trying to help, bubbeleh.


Your Mother

Getting there: 

1. Flight. 

It’s a very long flight, so pee before you go. If you don’t have to pee, go anyway. You don’t know when you don’t have to pee. And what if there’s turbulence? You’re going to wish you listened to your mother.

2. Ticket. 

Make sure you know where you’re going once you land. Print out a map. What if your phone runs out of batteries? It’s a foreign country. You won’t know what to do. Just print out a map. Please, for mother.

3. Rental car. 

Bring a Triple A card, or whatever they have there. I know you think you’re Mr. Road Trip Expert because of that one time you went away with Victoria Whatever Her Goyish Name Was, but you’re not. When it comes time to change a tire in the middle of the desert, let’s see if some little hussy shicksa will break a nail to help.

Your camp:

4. Tent. 

1327132131_84506bef6b_mA tent? A boy scout I raised? No, you need to rent an RV. It’s got air conditioning so it will be nice and cool when you and your friends want to spend some time inside playing Settlers of Canan, or whatever. I know you, bubbeleh, you get very hot in the sun and you get so red. I don’t want you baking outside in some tent.

5. Sleeping bag. 

A single RV with a single bed. This isn’t Sodom and Gomorrah.

6. Tarp. 

It rains in the desert? Then why do they call it a desert?

7. Festive lights. 

I know what this means. You are not bringing “Christmas” lights. You’re not named Christopher. Someone named Christopher can bring those. And I would hope that nobody named Christopher — or Christine — is going.

8. Food. 

You know what’s easy and delicious when you’re out on your own? Tuna. Your father and I ate lots of tuna fish when we were in medical school.


9. Bicycle. 

You are absolutely not taking that beautiful mountain bike we got you for your 17th birthday out to that dirty desert. I don’t care what everyone else is doing, you’ll walk. It builds characters. Like your grampa Samuel. He walked everywhere and he lived to 93.

10. Headlamp. 

What do you need with all this camping gear? Headlamp? What is that? Are you going into a dark cave, or a desert? It’s sunny all the time there. A fanny pack? Are you a Japanese tourist or a senior at Penn next year?

11. Zip ties and rebar. 

I don’t know what zip-ties are. Rebar? You know how you get when you have just one drink. Be careful!!!

12. Duct tape and tools. 

Duct tape is for goys. So is rope and tools. I don’t want you doing all that hard work in the hot desert sun.

Personal items:

4999052027_f6e9d51282_z13. Sunblock. 
Bring extra. You have moles, honey! And, besides, your aunt Linda had skin cancer.

14. Camelback.

I know it was benign. But we were all very worried, and the hole in the ozone layer has only gotten bigger. Also, I thought there were already camels there. You have to bring your own?

15. Fun stuff

Remember what happened at that boy Jason’s bar mitzvah, when you thought you were being a big man and drank too much? I bet Jason’s friend Danielle from summer camp didn’t think you were such a big man when you threw up on her dress. And, remember, I tried pot once at a party when I was in college and it was terrible.


16. Warm clothes for cold nights. 

Bubbeleh, please bring a sweater. It gets very cold in the desert at night.

17. Summer clothes for hot days.
You know what? Will you do your mother a favor and bring an extra sweater? Your bubbie would kill me if I let you go without taking an extra sweater.

18. Hat. 

That nice, warm wool one your aunt Rebecca got you. This is a chance to finally wear her thoughtful gift.

19. Costumes. 

Will you just please bring extra layers for your poor, worrying mother? I won’t be able to sleep at night if I think my baby is cold.


20. First aid. 

I added some extra sinus medicine to your first aid kit. Why? Well, you never know when allergies might strike. And don’t forget Imodium; recall that long drive to Aunt Linda’s when you were 12? Trust me, you don’t want a repeat of that. By the way, have you considered earning your CPR and first aid certification? It could come in handy, especially during unexpected situations. Check out our company website for more information.

21. Fire extinguisher. 

Fire extinguisher? For what? They do what there?! That’s it — you’re not going.


What do you think?

About The Author

Jeremy Greenfield

Jeremy Greenfield is contributors editor at (TheStreet). He has written for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes.com, TheAtlantic.com, NewYorker.com and others. You can find him on Twitter at (@jdgreenfield).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This will close in 0 seconds