Sunday, May 20, 2018


During the last days, we had Shavuot feast.  This 'Feast of the weeks' as it is often called, has both religious and agricultural significance. It celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, and the concluding of seven weeks of  grain harvest. 

It's an enjoyable holiday, and there are lots of festivals and happenings hosted by agricultural settlements (kibbutzim and moshavim) , agricultural schools, and other places.

posters on agricultural themes 

In  May 2011, I attended a big Shavuot happening at the Green Village (Hakfar Hayarok), not far from my hometown. I then wrote a little post and created a video about it (please type Shavuot in the search box and enjoy!).

On this holiday it is customary to eat dairy products. Cottage cheese - white, soft and creamy -  is my favorite all year round, not only on Shavuot. 
It is said that the late president Gerald Ford used to eat the same meal each day - cottage cheese with a dollop of... ketchup.

the milk giver (cow) doesn't look happy

 white, soft, spreadable cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is offered with different fat levels: low-fat (1%), medium -fat(3%,5%), high fat (7%, 9%..)
I usually buy the 1% fat, 62 cal. per 100g. One cup (250g) provides 157 calories. Good for weight-watchers.

Tnuva 1% fat , 250g cup - my favorite

It should be emphasized that this product is packed with nutrients (protein, vitamins, minerals), can be eaten by itself, or mixed with spaghetti, used in pancakes and various desserts, added to veggie salad, fruit salad etc...A very versatile food item! Put in a warm pita pocket with veggies - it becomes a delicious snack!

pita pockets straight from the taboon oven

plate with cottage cheese

The price of the cottage cheese is of national importance as the latter is considered staple food. In 2011, there were fierce protests and calls by consummers to boycott Tnuva (the main dairy complex) and those supermarkets that had raised the price making "unreasonable profit."  It worked. The price was lowered and placed under supervision.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Heart to Heart


The other day, I read an article in the newspaper about a well-known cardiologist, expert in the angioplasty procedure (opening of blocked arteries ). The article (which also included a short interview with him) was full of praise for his skills  and humanity.

What caught my eye, though,  was the number of people undergoing the above procedure - hundreds per year - and that - only in the section of this particular surgeon , at one hospital.
That's quite a lot, considering that nowadays we know more about heart arteries getting clogged and how to prevent that.

Well, in fact, one thing is knowing, and another is doing something about it. People have great difficulty in dealing with stress and addictions to food and smoking -  the main causes of artery clogging. Exercising could help ( the cardiologist of the above mentioned article ,62, runs every morning  before starting his work at the hospital). Most people, however, exercise very little.

While reading the interview , I got the  impression that the surgeon was trying to avoid the subject of adequate life style needed to keep the  arteries clean.   He honestly and happily kept admitting that he saw himself as being a good...plumber, nothing more - implying, perhaps, that  his job was to fix things , not  tell people how to live their lives. 

I suppose, his cardio colleague, the one who's expert in the heart's electrical  activity, and performs ablations (procedure to improve heart rhytm),  sees himself as  a good ...electrician.

May God help us keep away from needing the services of these two life saving 'handymen'!

* web picture - modern logo for plumber

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Anniversary...

On 26 of April, the world marks the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl, Ukraine (26 April 1986).
In the past, I wrote two posts on the subject (if you type Chernobyl in the search box on my sidebar, you'll get to them). At this time of the year, I tend to re-read them; it has become sort of an annual ritual for me. I'm  haunted and even fascinated by the subject. 

(Maybe I'm haunted by Ukraine in general. My Mom, exiled from Roumania to Ukraine during WW2, lost a baby girl and a young sister to famine and brutality there, and the two victims were burried in a mass grave in a region called Moghilev Podolsky. I wanted to go visit the bloody place ,when it became possible, to lit a candle, and say a prayer - but couldn't make it after all).

Anyway, I used to think that after a nuclear event at ground level like that of Chernobyl (unlike Hiroshima  where the bomb exploded in mid air), no living organism will ever survive. Well, I was wrong. Chernobyl area is full of animals and vegetation; there's almost a jungle out there, say  visitors. True, many of them have mutations, life span is probably short, but hey, they live and multiply.

The area, however, remains uninhabited by humans as radiation is very high, and they say it will remain so for thousands of years.(Unlike the bomb detonated in Hiroshima which was 14 pounds only, the reactor at Chernobyl had 180 tonsֱ!! of nuclear fuel).

Whenever I happen to read about the current situation in the 30 km exclusion zone of Chernobyl , I come upon the words 'flourish', 'thrive', 'rule', 'take over' - regarding Nature in general, and animals in particular. Unbelievable! Even scientists are shocked. 
32 years now after the disaster,  animals have greatly increased in numbers and variety, and are doing all right. Nature, it seems, has taken over the place abandoned by humans. 

Is there some kind of message in all this? such as: 'without humans, the world is better', 'Nature doesn't need humans, it's the humans who need Nature', and so on...? I wonder.
(There are some good videos  on the subject worth watching, on Youtube).

*  web picture - Baby Crying - graffiti in the ghost city of Prypiat adjacent to Chernobyl.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Skinny Pasta

I discovered this food item only last month, before the Passover holiday.   The 200 gr pack was lying on a shelf in the health store. It made me curious as it boasted  9 calories per 100 gr, no glutten, no sugar, no salt, no stabilizers - no additives whatsoever - only fiber .  Almost too good to be true (it even had a label with 'kosher le Pesach'  on it). The pasta comes in various forms: noodles, rice, couscous. I chose the noodles package for trial.

They say the product in our health store is not the original, but a local version - and a much better one - a version  that  got rid of an initial bad (fishy) smell that comes from the konjac plant upon which this product is based. 

instructions on the back of package

Well, after opening the pack, removing the water and giving the pasta  a good rinse, I divided it in two parts, and left the second half in the fridge for next day consumption. I warmed the stuff in a pan; next,  threw it into a small pot with 1 and a half  glass of boiling water and  a 1/2 flat teaspoon of organic veggie soup powder (Holland 'naturfood' powder is the only brand I use in my kitchen)- and, voila, a little soup with noodles for only 9 calories.

It was  delicious. Really. One warning though: drink much water after that as these noodles tend to absorb the liquids in the stomach and this might cause problems for certain people. I heard there were consummers complaining of nausea following the eating of a skinny pasta dish. Me, I wasn't  familiar with the water warning, and yet I felt nothing wrong. 

There are suggestions to combine this pasta with various sauces and veggies to improve its taste and texture. It's possible, of course, and it could work very nicely,  but there's no need to, and I wouldn't recommend that to those who want it as a tool in their weightloss process -   'the less, the better'.

front and back of package

Anyway, I shall definitely try it again  (pity it's a bit pricey in our parts) and then decide whether to include it in my regular menu . I  intend to eat the pasta soup in the evening, because it's a light meal and because it gives a sense of fullness that'll, hopefully, keep me well away from food until next day.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Je T'aime... Exhibition at The Design Museum

To understand what this exhibition is about, one has to come with some prior knowledge of the basic background, otherwise all one sees is three dark spaces (galleries) with a bunch of personal clothes& accessories, and noisy sound from video screens placed all around.

clothes (upper gallery)

The exhibition is dedicated to movie actress and filmaker, Ronit Elkabetz (its full name  is "Je t'aime, Ronit Elkabetz).
She was born in Israel, the daughter of moroccan immigrants from Mogador (Morocco); achieved her fame as movie actress both in Israel and in France, died untimely leaving two 4-year old twins, and a husband (a well-known israeli architect). 

on famous magazine covers (at the entrance of lower gallery)

photos of R.E. at various ages (lower gallery)

more photos of the actress  (lower gallery)

Her personality was a combination and a dialogue of East (moroccan
roots) and West (french culture), Periferie (born in israeli desert town Beer-Sheba, childhood  and adolescence  in northern small town Kiryat Yam) and Center (Tel Aviv, Paris, ), Fashion ( model, in the beginning) and Movie making.

The exhibition, so we're told, started with a research of her wardrobe.Her clothes and accessories  collected over four decades were donated to the museum by her husband , her parents, and the rest of the family.

video screen and outfits (upper gallery)

As mentioned in the catalogue of the exhibition, behind every item there was a story or memory of some kind, and the item was accompanied by a little written note on that. She believed garments had a soul and showed respect to them by way of wearing and folding them with care and love. Clothes were for her a tool and a language for self-expression.

necklace (intermediate gallery)

shoes (intermediate gallery)

yellow, phantasy dress (lower gallery)

black, long gown (lower gallery)

She had dramatic looks: black hair, pale skin, dark eyes, and she often wore black outfits; some of her roles in the movies she played ,also had a certain dark aura about them (she always reminded me of Maria Calas, the greek, dramatic opera singer). And now, the dark spaces at the exhibition - perhaps signifying a state of mourning and loss for her untimely departure.

black, elegant dresses (upper gallery)

white outfit with dots (upper gallery)

coats (upper gallery)

mirror reflection (upper gallery)

The screens along the gallery displayed fragments from her movies, and from attendance at various cultural events.

video screen, one of many.

As a graduate of the fashion section in her high scool - fashion making,  was her dream, but Fate wanted something else for her. She became an actress by chance. And then she tried directing and screen writing and was quite successful (she won prizes and awards).

It was probably all too good to be true...and she left the scene, her family, this world at only 52 years of age following a battle with cancer.  RIP ,Ronit Elkabetz!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Design Museum - Holon

April 2018 is the last month of the current exhibition, "Je t'aime.." at the Design Museum in the city of Holon (they usually change exhibitions every few months).
So, soon after  Passover holiday , I rushed to the museum 'to catch'  the above mentioned exhibition which had stirred up my curiosity.

exhibition Sign from the  direction of the parking lot

The exhibition is dedicated to Ronit Elkabetz, actress and filmaker in Israel and in France. She died two years ago at the age of 52 in battle with cancer. Her untimely death came as a surprise as very few knew she was ill. 

Her younger brother, Shlomi Elkabetz, is the art director of this exhibition which focuses on art and fashion connection as seen in the world of his late sister and co-worker. 

Outside the museum, several posters let people know about the exhibition and its subject.

poster regarding exhibition on the facade of the Cinematheque

 name of exhibition and face of the actress in the inner courtyard

The building of the museum (architect Ron Arad) in itself, is definitely worth a visit. It is considered as one of the most original architectonic achievements of the early 21st  century. The outer structure, the 'envelope', is just mind- blowing.

outer structure - five steel bands arranged in a wavy format

inside video with the architect's words on the process

Five bands of corten steel that surround most of the museum's facades are arranged in an undulating way, and change color (shades of red, brown, orange) .The inside is compact and modest. It comprises two main exhibition halls, one upstairs , one downstairs, a staircase linking between the two (there's a lift too), and an entrance floor with offices and two additional spaces for exhibits.
There's a sort of inner courtyard, partly covered, leading to the entrance. The museum also hosts an archive of design materials opened to the public.

color shades

to the entrance

The museum (opened in 2010) is located in a culture area, named Mediatheque, that includes a central library, a youth theater center, a cinematheque, and nearby , the design faculty of the Holon Institute of Technology. The museum is next to road, across from a shopping mall and some residential areas.

adjacent Mediateque

Mall with tower clock across the museum

On the exhibition "Je T'aime...", hopefully, in my next post.

Friday, March 23, 2018

High -Tech at Bus Stops

I'm a great believer in solar power. I've already mentioned that in a previous post called "Go Solar" (Nov.2009). We all have here solar water heaters on the roof which are remarkably efficient. I've also got  solar weighing scales, a variety of solar little gadgets, and  books on the subject.

Since  about 2011, passengers waiting at bus stops are able to get real time information on bus arrival time, from a digital sign energized by a solar panel facing south - both mounted on a nearby pole. The distance between  pole and bus shelter may slightly differ from place to place, depending, probably, on the condition of the sidewalk near the bus shelter, and on finding the best angle for the solar panel .

the sign and the solar panel (near street lamps and  bus shelter)

The bus arrival information is based on data  transferred to a control center from a satellite navigation system (GPS) installed on buses. During the day, the solar panel accumulates enough energy from the sun to make the information visible on the sign screen in the dark hours too.

info visible on the sign during the dark hours

This, no doubt, highly improves the level of public transportation service. The problem is that not all bus stops are equipped with this smart system, and not all bus companies have adhered to the solar project.  It takes time and money, but there's no way back; the future belongs to the energy produced by sun, wind, water, and other 'green' sources.

panel facing sun,at the top; sign, facing bus shelter

As far as I know, Israel is not among the first countries that have introduced the above system.. Australia, Singapore, California , and other  countries have preceded us. Good for them, and good for us to have them as model, and be able to learn from their experience.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Cleaning Favs

March is the first month of Spring and also the month of thorough home Cleaning. The two - spring and cleaning go hand in hand. To clean we need open windows and the warm weather that Spring can offer. So far, the weather hasn't disappointed.

I prefer cleaning agents that are cheap, simple, good for additional uses too. I like them in liquid and powder form, less in spray form.  My favorites  are:  white vinegar , lemon (both juice and peel), baking soda, and, for durer, larger surfaces, commercial Calinda  sanding powder. 

basic cleaning agents

I always have lemons in the kitchen, not only for culinary and cleaning uses, but also for a sore throat condition. I drink some undiluted lemon juice and it immediately clears up my aching throat.
The vinegar  has 5% acetic acid. It can be used in foods and as a folk medication (ear canal infection). I use it only in cleaning and as a relief from insect bites.

white vingar

Both the vinegar and Calinda powder (which can be bought at the store in an economical pack of three) are very effective, and from my experience, do not damage surfaces.

Calinda sanding powder

economical  3-pack Calinda

An essential cleaning tool for me is the toothbrush. It helps me reach tight spaces and corners. I use cheap toothbrushes that I buy  at the dollar store in packs of six. (Of course, I use several other 
kinds of brushes and  also pieces of cloth to assist me in my cleaning job.).

6-pack toothbrushes

Our Passover holiday starts at the end of the month, and that requires additional preparations; not just cleaning and renewing, but removing any speck of 'chametz' (leavened food). I don't belong to those who observe strictly. I do the essentials only, and even that takes a lot of time and effort.

Let's hope for a happy Spring and Passover!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Putin and his high scool Teacher

This is a true story; it first appeared on Ynet - a most popular israeli news and general content website . 

It all began in 2005. Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, visited Israel. Prior to his visit, an elderly woman came to the russian embassy in Tel-Aviv, and left a message for him.

He remembered her; she was his favorite teacher in high school, in St.Petersburg, She was the german language teacher. He invited her to a private talk with him ; shortly after that, she received  his signed autobiography book, and a wrist watch as a present.

Mina Yuditskaya  Berliner - the  teacher, with Putin's autobiography

the watch she got as a present from Putin

(the above pictures are from Ynet).

So far, so good. The best was yet to come.

Several weeks later, the then 84 year old lady ,was surprised by the visit of a russian embassy employee who informed her that Putin wanted to buy her an apartment. At that time, she was living in a tiny apartment , not her own, on the third floor, in a building without lift. The embassy worker asked for her cooperation in choosing the right apartment for her.

She died in December 2017, three months ago, at the age of 96. In her will, she asked for the little apartment to be returned to Putin through the russian embassy (She was a widow with no children or close family). At the funeral, Putin was represented by a memember of the russian embassy which , according to the media, also  paid for the burrial expenses.

(This  moving story has generated in the media some talkbackers' jokes on... Macron, the french PM. Putin bought his teacher an apartment!? Look what Macron  did for his teacher. He not only bought her a home, he also married her, and raised her children from a previous marriage...ha, ha, ha).

Well, may the teacher's soul rest in peace! The above story shows a generous, grateful side to Putin's character.