Israel has been overrun with tikkim (backpacks, for those of you that didn't graduate ulpan.) They are EVERYWHERE. No matter where you look, Dora, Spiderman, Hello Kitty, and Barbie are staring right back at you. When we ordered Chinese last night, they wanted to know if they could interest us in the lemon chicken, or a Bratz tik. (Oh, and characters are HUGE here. Even huger than in America. It was not easy to find a non-charactered tik for Ariella. Since I told her that this was going to be a tik to last for more than one year, I encouraged her to find something non-charactery, so that next year, when she decides that Strawberry Shortcake is soooo not cool, we won't have to argue about it and we can argue about something else instead, like why kids can't get washed in a washer and dryer.)
Of course, the characters are about 5-10 years behind American trends, although I was reassured, at least, to not find any "Thundercats" or "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" on the tikkim. Dora, though! Dora is HUGER than HUGE! That chick is everywhere! Videos, underwear, school supplies, backpacks, cereal. You can even buy Dora toilet paper! (No, you can't.) I happen to find Dora videos hugely amusing, because in Israel, the cute, spunky, Hispanic kid is teaching the kids English. ("Oh no Boots! The squirrel is going to get hit in the head with acorns! And he doesn't understand us because he only speaks English! We have to tell him 'Waw-tch owt!' Can you say that with me? 'Waw-tch owt!'" I laugh. It's funny!)
School supplies in general are a really really big deal. Stores love to get in on the action. In America, I felt it was pretty simple. Ever since Staples took over Shapiro's on Reisterstown Road, and gel pens replaced salami, you went to Staples for your school supplies. Every year. Here, every store that might possibly be construed as a "school supply" store jumps in. ("Um, we're a dry cleaners." "Shut up and put out some pencils, man!") The stores clear off their shelves of everything non-school related and in its place you can find pencils! Binders! Markers! Paper! Nylon stockings! It's sort of like the office supply store's answer to Pesach.
[Inside an Office Depot]
"Katzav! Are those batteries on the shelf?"
"Do first graders needs batteries??? I think not! Take them off immediately and put some more Barbie folders there! Pronto!"
In other news....
Risa, re your comment - kappayim! I am awarding you the very first Aliyahbyaccident Wish I Had Thought of That Myself Award!