Friday, January 28, 2011

red Suitcase in murky River

September 2008. Police divers found a red suitcase in the Yarkon river with the remains of a four year old girl who has been missing since May.
It is neither the first nor the only tragic event associated with this river (see my post "The fatal bridge and the Fungus" from july 2010), but it is certainly the most ghastly one. The grandfather (who was also her stepfather) and the mother of the dead girl Rose Pisam, are in prison.

Little Rose was the child of her grandfather's son and her grandfather's wife (formerly her father's wife). Murky? Yes, like the waters of the Yarkon river.

Apparently, the grandfather - stepfather, a man in his forties, couldn't stand the sight of the little girl (the child of his young son and the woman he loved), beat her to death and placed her into a suitcase
which was then abandoned in the river.

Hayarkon river, the longest shore river in Israel, flows from its sources (Rosh Hayin Springs) through several municipial areas into the Mediterranean Sea , near Tel Aviv port. It has always been in the news, mainly because of heavy pollution issues. Despite the many efforts invested in cleaning the waters, the river is still polluted, and as far as I know swimming here is forbidden by the Health Authorities. Along its banks however, there are many historical sights and especially recreational attractions such as: parks, sports fields, bicycle tracks, a rowing center, work-out facilities.

rowing on the Yarkon river

man cleaning the water

jogging and bicycle track

Tragic events and blessed activities co-exist in this river's area which is very central geographically and very popular among the inhabitants of the adjacent cities. As usual, Life goes on under any circumstances.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wine and Roses

The wine shop and the florist's shop on my favorite street in my home town, remind me on Fridays, of "The Days of Wine and Roses" - the title of both, a movie about a married couple who fell into alcoholism, and that of the romantic song from the same movie, composed by the famous Henri Mancini.

Friday is the day of 'relief' in a five-day work week .
People don't have to go to work so they invade the streets, , the coffee shops, the restaurants, and have a good time. Friday is also a day of intense shopping for Sabbath (the rest Day). Wine and flowers are among the chief items people buy for this day - to celebrate its holiness and to beautify the house.

There are rumors that parents of children in the neighborhood have complained about the wine store's open 'bar' (some tables & chairs in front of the little store for people to drink and socialize, on Friday noons mainly). They claim it's not educational for children and teenagers to watch people drink alcoholic beverages .

There's truth in the parents' claim , and yet.... I'm not in favor of closing the place. I like the sight of people (who seem to know each other ) drinking wine from elegant glasses ,chatting and enjoying themselves. It all looks very classy, and there are no drunkards among them; they probably know how to taste and drink wine.

I believe flowers have a life of their own as humans and animals do, and that they should be allowed to grow, live, and die "in their own bed", in the soil of the garden, not in vases or pots. After all, they offer us beauty and fragrance , but not basic , vital food like many of the other plants that grow in gardens and fields - so why sacrifice them.

And yet.....I love giving and receiving flowers on various occassions. The beauty of flowers (especially that of roses) says everything better , clearer than any words spoken or written. It inspires hope and optimism; it expresses symphathy and love.

And so... we go on living with the contradictions. Life is full of them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

To Cut or not To Cut

I thought I would be able to look at It, and take some pictures, but I was wrong. When the crucial moment arrived, I went out cowardly leaving behind some 'blood thirsty" people . What's the matter with you? I asked myself in anger, you had such a strategic position , close to the "victim" and the "butcher" and you blew it. Psh!

I'm referring ,of course ,to the circumcision of a newly born male baby. The place - a superb hall shaped as a hut, overlooking a magic garden surrounded by citrus groves. It's a place for happy events (weddings, birthdays, various joyous occasions ) held during all seasons of the year. Background or live music, and a good, rich variety of food accompany each such event.

'hut' structure

food preparing

According to the jewish law, circumcision is obligatory. It is performed on the eight day after birth in a ceremony called 'Brith Milah' ( Covenant of Circumcision) by a 'mohel' , a Sabbath observant jew who's specially trained in this procedure. Usually the 'mohel' is a rabbi, sometimes a doctor, and sometimes both.

The father of the baby ( a relative of mine) was a pitiful sight: nervous, anxious, looking all the time at the instruments on the table near the baby's bed, probably fearing the worst. I also got scared just by glancing at all the circumcision devices on that table: scissors, clamp, scalpel, tweezers, bandages, knife, gauze, anaestethic lotion etc... and all my thoughts were to the poor tiny baby, lying quietly without knowing what is in store for him.

baby before surgical procedure

'circumcision' stuff

The Grandfather ( the father of the baby's father) was given the honor of being ' sandak', the person holding the baby after the surgery, while the blessings were recited. After the religious rituals the baby was passed on to family members and guests to hold and cherish him.

all's well that ends well

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Customer Service

In my previous post I have mentioned 'buying shoes'. The word 'shoes' sends me right back to a weird episode in the past.

There was a small , rather pricey shoe-shop near the place where I worked; it specialized in italian quality shoes for women: fine leather, comfortable style, fashionable colors. The display window featuring the new collections always attracted me like magnet while on my way to and from work.

It was a family shop run by a middle-aged couple; the man was at the cash machine, his wife - took care of the customers. During busy hours they were joined by their daughter-in-law who helped keeping an eye on everything in the shop.

At a certain stage , the owners of the shop hired a young salesman and the two women were rarely seen since .
The new guy looked completely out of place. He had the appearance of a wrestler, hardly fit to deal with women and sell them shoes. Well, his appearance was deceptive as he became known to have infinite patience for his female customers and good knowledge in the shoe trade.

Several months after he started working at that shop, it so happened that I saw a pair of suitable shoes in the window and I entered the shop to try them on. The salesman greeted me with a big smile , asked me politely to sit down , and went to bring the box with the required shoes. He then gently took off the shoes I was wearing, examined my feet to make sure they were not swollen from walking or standing (that's what he said), put them carefully into the new shoes. He radiated professionalism. Apparently, the shoes were a bit too tight, so he brought a bigger size and started again with the 'ceremony'.

At this point, I felt the guy was unneccessarily touching my feet, and I realized that he was probably one of those men who had a foot fetish. I didn't know how to react so as not to shame him, so I I just grabbed the shoes , paid for them, and decided to keep away from that shop in the future.

I told about my shoe- shopping experience to a co-worker. To my great astonishment, she shamelessly admitted that she had often entered the shop, not always with the intention to buy shoes; she was just interested in a "free massage" for her tired feet.
Well, as they say "it takes two to tango". Besides, good service is sending customers away satisfied and happy - and my co-worker, so it appeared, was a happy, satisfied customer.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Poet's Street

In almost every town in Israel there's a Bialik street, named after the national poet Chaim Nachman Bialik (1873-1934). The works of this great poet deal with national issues as well as with the topics of nature, love, children. His poems have been translated in some 30 languages and many of them set to music. There are some very popular israeli songs based upon his lyrics.

The Bialik street in RamaT-Gan city is a long, busy street; there are some institutions located on it, but it's mainly a commercial street with all kinds of shops , eateries, and... public phone booths . Nothing poetic about it.
(In one of the clothing shops I've purchased one of my most practical items - a multi-pocket garment).

The street has a lovely corner with two trees and two benches meant for people to sit down and relax during or after shopping. Last time I visited there I got very sad. Well, someone had the "great" idea of introducing trash bins in the very heart of the corner. As a result, people keep away from it, and the two benches have become target to vandalism.

"resting" corner on Bialik str. Ramat-Gan

The Bialik street in Tel Aviv city is quite another matter. It's a quiet, residential street (although close to the city center and the general Carmel market). It has a rather dignified atmosphere with a touch of spirituality due to the presence of three museums, a music library, and an old little synagogue, The buildings converted to museums are: the residential house of Bialik, the house of painter Rubin, , and the former municipality which dominates a little square with a fountain.
Bialik's house on Bialik str. Tel-Aviv

old synagogue

historic Town Hall in the Bialik square

The last time I visited the tel-avivian Bialik street, I noticed a shop, just at the entrance to the street. It was a Crocks shoes shop. I didn't like the fact of a shop on the poet's street, but guess what. I went in and bought myself a pair of shoes at a discount price.

Let's hope that this is the first and last shop here, and that the street will not turn into a commercial one like its counterpart in Ramat-Gan. There are quite a lot of commercial streets everywhere, but very few streets with something of a 'poetic-spiritual' atmosphere.

Happy New Year to all my blog readers