Noa Mintz

Noa Mintz is a content intern and the youngest member of the Mecomi team. A New Yorker in origin and personality, she now lives in Jerusalem while volunteering and contemplating life’s next moves. When the workload gets light, she likes to tend to her apartment’s community garden and explore Israel’s best coffee stores.

2021-04-19 07:34:15 Noa Mintz

Mecomi: What’s in our name?

Nicolas “Nico” Senerman, the CEO and founder of Mecomi, was searching for a name for the company he was developing that aimed to connect tourists to Israel with residents in the hope of offering them a truer experience and a better appreciation of the country.

And then one day... he figured it out, Mecomi!     

What does Mecomi mean?

“Mecomi,” which in Hebrew means “local,” can refer to a place, a person, or even a bus line. It connotes a sense of belonging and familiarity. Even its sound and rhythm—pronounced Meh-co-mee—are soothing. Mecomi also has a secondary, figurative meaning: my place. It conveys that Israel can be a place for anyone, full of communities and people who can make everyone feel at home. “That was my mission for tourists,” Nico explains. “I wanted visitors to understand the beauty of the land and the people. I wanted visitors to consider Israel their ‘place,’ too.”

Why is Mecomi  relevant in this globalized world during Covid-19     

The word resonated deeply with Mecomi’s original mission of connecting tourists with locals in Israel. Be they Arabs, Christians, or Jews; street vendors, athletes, or teachers, Nico believed that pairing tourists with locals, however briefly, would do more for their understanding and appreciation of Israel than museums, restaurants, or mountains ever could. To truly absorb the essence and heart of a place, nothing tops immersion with the people who call it home.      

When the coronavirus broke, making travel impossible, the idea of a “local place” as embodied by Mecomi took on a new meaning. It was time to go virtual.

During Nico’s pre-pandemic travels, he spent time in a Buddhist community in California learning to meditate and chant, among other disciplines. While there, he was struck by the mantra of one guru in particular: “Whenever I sing, I should remember that where I go, that’s my place.”

What type of journeys can you have with Mecomi?

In an aha moment for Nico, he realized that “we don’t need to move to another place to find ourselves. People need to see for themselves that they are fine just where they are. Acknowledging this is one of the biggest struggles of our generation.”

And so, the Mecomi you know today was born. Travel and tourism are on hold. But connection, guidance, and discovery are more important than ever and need to be fostered. Mecomi aims to broaden the virtual place, one that can become a local hangout for every participant-- Seekers and Guiders alike.

What does it take to grow?

When people look outwards to learn, grow, give advice, teach, connect, laugh, cry, wonder or ask, they take risks and transcend comfort zones. We know that personal growth and discovery are not always easy. But when a Seeker and a Guider connect on Mecomi,      meaningful relationships are born and opportunities arise.

These journeys of self-discovery may not be physical, but they can take you to faraway places nonetheless. Mecomi—your place, my place—is where the magic happens. Because when you dwell and experience in a space, you are, as a wise guru once said, right where you belong.

Mecomi is everyone’s place.


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2021-04-19 07:39:20 Lauren Comiteau

The Bartender Effect

A friend of mine was working at a hotline helping people improve their English. They would dial in for casual conversation, and she would talk alternatively about the weather and weddings, gently correcting and coaxing the English out of these would-be speakers.

But there was one repeat caller who consistently asked for my friend. And once connected, she would talk about her recent divorce—her heartache, loneliness and sadness. Her English was pretty damn good. But she needed someone to talk to, an anonymous shoulder to cry on.

I think of it as The Bartender Effect.

It may seem like a cliched movie scene, the broken-hearted office worker crying into her glass of Chardonnay as she bares her soul to the man behind the bar, but many researchers are finding there’s comfort in anonymity.

Harvard sociologist Mario Luis Small, author of 2017’s  Someone to Talk To, found that while people say they confide to those nearest and dearest about their most personal matters, they often open up to everyone from the hairdresser to the person sitting next to them in the waiting room when sharing secrets. Small chalks it up to people sometimes shunning complex personal relationships with high expectations, saying our need for understanding or empathy trumps the fear of misplaced trust.

A 2019 BBC study found that talking to strangers led, against people’s expectations, to a happier commute.

“Humans are inherently social animals, who are made happier and healthier when connected to others,” wrote behavioral scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder on BBC News regarding the benefits of talking to strangers. “Feeling isolated and lonely, in contrast, is a stress factor that poses a health risk comparable to smoking and obesity. Having positive social relationships has been put forward as a key ingredient for happiness, more significant even than how much we earn.”

Clearly, they’re onto something. It’s not an accident that bookstores and coffee bars have become places where people can linger and work, sitting at today’s equivalent of King Arthur’s round table—alone but together. (Actually, research has shown that even talking with your barista can improve your mood.)

I sure do miss my bartender at the local pub, which remains closed for the foreseeable future. But in these coronavirus times when human interactions often take place behind masks and plexiglass, I find it comforting to talk to fellow dog walkers or to Bobek, who sells me chicken in the market and was the first to hear about my new job.

For others, it will be the anonymous ear at the end of a phone line or someone they seek online. Whoever it is, research shows we should continue to reach out and connect for our health. No liquid courage needed.

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2021-04-19 07:48:46 Sherry Kagan Segal

Home Alone (Kind of)

I have been thinking a lot about loneliness lately—the difference between being alone versus being lonely. 

Through my job at Mecomi, I have read many interesting, and in my opinion sad, articles about loneliness. A recent piece in Harvard Magazine found that “loneliness was rising even before the pandemic.” And since the outbreak a year ago, loneliness, and the very real physical ailments linked to it, have only gotten worse. According to research from Brigham Young University, the heightened risk of mortality from loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic. It even exceeds the health risks associated with obesity. 

COVID-19 and all the complications due to isolating, quarantining, and unemployment have merely exacerbated an already existing situation.  We all know that it is easier to connect because of technology. But social media sometimes makes us feel worse. 

“See how happy everyone else is?” 

“See how that guy I barely knew in high school looks like he is super successful and content, despite everything going to s%^*t?”

It can make us feel more alone. 

Knowing all this, I nevertheless departed to the US for three weeks in January, including one week of self-isolation. I travelled with the intention of spending time with my mom in NYC, but I didn’t want to go directly to her apartment for fear of possibly contaminating her. So, I went to my house in the middle of the woods in Massachusetts and stayed there by myself. It was cold. It rained. Then it snowed. And some days, I didn’t leave the periphery of my isolated property. One day, I shoveled snow. But basically, I was home alone, cooped up inside, reading about loneliness. I missed my family and friends. I missed my dog. But  in spite of all this, I never felt lonely. I connected with my family via video daily. I participated in conference calls with my Mecomi team. I took Bar Method workout classes live via Zoom, where my favorite teacher telling me to hold my arm straighter or lift my head higher kept me not only fit, but connected.  I was alone, but I was in control. I could go into the kitchen and make myself something to eat or sit outside on my beloved rocking chair, bundled up and watching the snow. For the first time in a long time, my time was completely my own. I joined my family virtually for dinner a few times, and although it was difficult to see them sitting around the table, having fun without me, I was OK. I was alone, but not lonely.

I eventually returned to NYC to see my mother, planning to head home to Israel shortly after. But then the government closed Ben Gurion airport to all incoming and outgoing flights. I returned to the woods to wait it out in the comfort of my solitude.

Finally, after five weeks away, I was “allowed” to return to Israel. But instead of isolating in my own home, I was sent to a so-called Corona hotel. I cried at the airport when officials broke the news. I was taken to my room and told I couldn't leave it. Under any circumstances. No kitchen. No rocking chair. No going outside. I could still do my workout classes. I could still join video conferences. But I was stuck inside a small hotel room. So, I did what I usually do when I am down. I read books and watched trashy TV shows. And then I posted something on Facebook describing how I felt. It was in Hebrew, but this is the translation: 

I have been thinking about whether or not to write something, and I decided I would share some of my thoughts. I am posting in Hebrew because honestly, I am a little embarrassed that the country I love so much, the country I chose to live in, is treating its citizens this way. 

I went to the States on January 22 to see my mom (who is doing great) and got stuck there. I couldn’t be vaccinated because I follow the rules, and I was “too young.” And then there wasn’t enough time for both shots before my departure. I was only “allowed” to return on February 26, and from what I observed, I was one of the lucky ones.

Newark Airport was a mess. Two people checking the documents of hundreds of people. And those who had already checked in but weren’t allowed to board had to have their bags removed. We took off three hours late. And then when I landed, I was shipped off, in tears, to a “Corona hotel,” where I am stuck for the next ten days. I have been told that only 1 in 50 get sent to the hotels. I’m not sure if that is true, because there is an entire hotel full of people stuck here with me. Some are demonstrating. I am following the rules and staying in my room. I hear about the demonstrations from my daughters, who send me links to the news stories. 

I have never broken quarantine. I can easily quarantine in my house. 

Why is it worth it for the government to waste money on my  stay in one room with no balcony or the ability to go outside? To send me inedible food? To scream at me over the intercom system that I must return to my room or be fined 5000 NIS? Because someone else broke quarantine? Because other people faked their documents? 

Can anyone explain this? Or get me out of here?

And then a wonderful thing happened. People started reaching out to me. Friends called, cooked and delivered food. They ordered take out and had it sent to me. A former co-worker who I hadn’t spoken to in a while sent ice cream. Yes, a kilo of salted pretzel, and peanut butter flavored ice creams arrived at my hotel room door. My Mecomi team sent sushi. At one point I had so much food, I shared it with the hungry guy in the room next door. (No, I didn’t break quarantine. We met in the corridor when I opened the door to accept a delivery.) 

People sent messages. A former hotel business colleague asked if he could help, and after he spoke with the Corona hotel’s general manager, I received a call and a fruit platter from her. My daughter brought me things she thought I would want from home (including my espresso machine).  My Spanish teacher sent me supportive messages in Spanish. (Yes, I could read them.)

And you know what happened? Even away from my family, friends and dog, stuck alone in a situation I had been dreading, away from my peaceful house in the forest and even the closer one where everyone I loved was waiting for my return, I still didn’t feel lonely. I caught up with friends I hadn’t spoken to in years. Some were admittedly ambulance chasers, wanting to hear “just how bad it was.”  But most were simply reaching out.  I had—I have—so much love.   And support. How could I possibly be lonely?

I was still isolating when, due to a change in government policy, hotel isolation was cancelled and me and my fellow inmates were released a few days early.  My daughter came to pick me up at midnight (thank you, Talia, for that), and I said: “Get into the car and DRIVE. Let’s get out of here before they change their minds again.”

Once home, I wrote a follow-up post on Facebook: 

I had my second COVID test yesterday and tested negative. I am now, as they say, home free. My three week trip to the US ended up being six weeks away from home. But somehow, I feel stronger because of it, more confident in my inner ability to cope, to entertain myself, to appreciate all the people who surround me. 
Because of them, I didn’t feel lonely, or really even alone. I felt strong. Because other people were there for me. Some were family. Some were close friends. But others were just caring people who reached out. Those people listened to me and supported me. They provided a connection with the outside world. And those connections are what got me through what should have been a very lousy time, but what instead proved to be an amazing learning experience.

P.S. While writing this, I googled synonyms for “alone” and found these words: 

Is that what alone really means? I’m not convinced.

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2021-05-10 05:40:28 Alexandra Anderson

A stranger in a strange land

I am a stranger in a strange land.

Fifteen months ago, I moved overseas from Lima, Peru to Houston, Texas. Even though more than a year has passed, I still feel like a stranger. I’m not convinced that feeling will ever go away.

Being a stranger in a strange land means you have left your comfort zone. Maybe you wanted a change. Maybe you went looking for a life upgrade. In any case, you left the familiar in search of a better unknown.

I moved to the US to offer my teenage daughter more options than she could ever have had in Peru, more options, certainly, than I had. I knew it would be hard for both of us, but I believed the benefits would outweigh the drawbacks.

Being a stranger in a strange land--whether you're a temporary traveller or student or a long-term resident--means you will encounter new people, new relations, new protocols. If you choose to stay, like I have, you have to learn the ways of your adopted homeland fast.

Take food.

We knew it would be different up north. And if you know any Peruvians, you shouldn't be surprised. For us, food is everything! It’s how we demonstrate our creativity and care for others. Food has the power to mirror a cultural reality and provide variety.

But it can also stand out as a reminder of what you’ve left behind. I miss the familiar flavors of home. Which brings the aching feeling of how much I miss my family and friends.

Eating food I don’t particularly enjoy, like Tex-Mex, makes me homesick, too. I become nostalgic for the tastes of my hometown, which in my mind takes on mythic proportions. I can almost taste the freshly-picked giant avocados, the bitterness of the local key limes, the buttery flavor of Tumbay potatoes, the sweetness of a homemade Chicha Morada (purple corn juice).I talk glowingly about Peru’s traditional dishes with new friends and acquaintances. With anyone who will listen, really.

But now I find myself living in a state where eating Tex-Mex three nights a week is the norm.  After only two months in Texas, I was fed up with the Holy Trinity of tacos, fajitas and margaritas.

Being a stranger in a strange land means you will become the greatest fan of your own culture and food, falling in love again with what you left behind. But it also means respectfully accepting a new culture.

While part of my heart remains forever in Peru, the other is quietly adapting to life in the Lone Star State. There’s a saying here: Fake it until you make it. And as Texas becomes the newest love in my life, eating Tex-Mex one night a week is a small price to pay.

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2021-06-24 12:24:06 Alexandra Anderson

How to install Mecomi.apk

When you download .APKs from external sources, like websites or other apps, you should enable a relevant permission on your device in order to install it.

Please find a relevant path for your device in the list below:

  • Google Pixel: Settings > Apps and notifications > Advanced > Special app access > Install unknown apps > Choose your browser app > Allow from this source.
  • Huawei: (Android 8 and earlier): Settings > Security & privacy > More > Install unknown apps > choose your browser app > Allow app installs.
  • Huawei (Android 10+): Settings > Security > More settings > Install apps from external sources > choose your browser app > Allow app installs.
  • Motorola: Settings > Apps & notifications > choose your browser app > Install unknown apps > Allow from this source.
  • Oppo: Settings > Additional settings > Safety & Privacy > Install Apps from Unknown Source > OK.
  • OnePlus: Settings > Apps & notifications > Special app access > Install unknown apps > choose your browser app > Allow from this source.
  • Sony: Settings > Apps & notifications > Special app access > Install unknown apps > choose your browser app > Allow from this source.
  • Samsung (Android 8 and earlier): Settings > Lock screen and security > Unknown sources > OK
  • Samsung (Android 10+): Settings > Apps > Special access > Install unknown apps > choose your browser app > Allow from this source.
  • Xiaomi (Android 8 and earlier): Settings > Additional settings > Privacy > Unknown sources > OK.
  • Xiaomi (Android 10+): Settings > Privacy protection > Special permissions > Install unknown apps > choose your browser app > Allow from this source.

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