Friday, April 28, 2017

On The Top and At The Foot of Mt. Carmel

With Passover over, I felt I needed a change of scenery. So, I joined a day trip to Daliat el Carmel, the  colorful druze village on the top of Mt. Carmel, and to Ein Hod, the artists's colony, at the foot of this mountain, domineering from above the northern city-port of Haifa.

We were to meet there with the art of two very special people: Bothaina Halabi of Daliat El Carmel, a young druze painter who has dedicated her work to  the commemoration of the Holocaust, and Nisco (Nissan Cohen) of Ein-Hod, the founder of the museum of musical boxes collection.

Bothaina lives with her handsome husband and three children in a 2-storey house. The ground storey has a gallery, a lecture hall, toilets, a tiny kitchen where refreshments  are prepared (druze hospitality is famous), and where some locally produced druze specialties are sold to visitors.   It's a family 'affair'. Husband and children help out with everything.

the 2-storey house

to the upper storey

entrance to ground storey (galery &lecture hall)


Jars of green olives; two of the children in charge of the mini shop

The daughter's declamation in front of the audience (something about her commitment to the subject of the Holocaust) ,followed by the son's playing some adequate tunes on the flute, preceeded Bothaina's lecture and 'opened the show' , so to speak. That was quite lovely.

Son playing the flute

The interesting thing about Bothaina's art is its theme: the horrors of the Holocaust, and also the fact that she doesn't sell her paintings; she considers them her thoughts, her babies. She earns a living from teaching art and from lectures on her various activities.

letters of appreciation for her art and contributions

Her original paintings are in the gallery. When lecturing she uses replicas to explain and demonstrate things (the replicas are stored in an adjacent room; the husband brings them out and hands them to her one by one  to explain their subject).

originals on the galery wall

visitor, a Holocaust survivor, contemplating originals

husband helping with the replica pictures

husband waiting to hand Bothaina the next picture

During the second part of our visit, we were given a briefing on the druze sect by a druze retired army officer and lecturer . Nothing I didn't know. but coming from a druze it became strong, solid fact. The druze are a rather unique ethno-religious middle-eastern group with communities in Lebanon, Syria,Israel, Jordan, and with overseas branches in America and Austrlia.

The druze people are monoteistic and strongly believe in reincarnation. Dating and Marriage with outsiders is not allowed.  Their symbol is a five coloured flag (green,red, yellow,blue and white) which strenghtens their sense of unity..

 see the druze flag in front of house

* About Nisco of Ein-Hod and his musical boxes - in a future post.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Osher Ad" and.. . Kugel for Sabbath

'Osher Ad' (in english, meaning 'eternal happiness') is a chain of supermarkets with branches in some 15 locations which targets especially the large orthodox families needing quantity buying. The products are kosher, and there's even a tiny synagogue at the back of the store. 

The motto of the chain  is "no tricks, no gimmicks" (that is, no coupons, no 1+1, no deals etc..).  To show their understanding and emphaty for the budget- conscious customers with big families, they even posted advice signs  such as Don't buy more than you need, Don't bring the children when food shopping (truth is I don't see these signs any longer). That's good advice, of course, but hard  to put into practice.

Once a week, usually on Thursday, I do my shopping at the 'Osher Ad' store which is closest to my hometown. I like it for its big size, great variety, clean space, low prices. What I do not like is the fact that one has to stand in line at the checkout counter for quite a long time; there is no express line.

I usually go to 'Osher Ad' late in the day, so chances are their apple kugel- my favorite product- is sold out.
Kugel is a  dish made of egg noodles and baked in a square pan. It's the most elevated traditional Sabbath food on the table.The cinnamon apple noodle kugel is "devastating", and as one might guess, it's not a low-calorie dessert. If it's there , I just have to buy it. I'm hooked. (The potato kugel or any of the other kugel versions is of no interest to me).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Singapore - city, island, country ?

There seems to be no clear answer to the above often asked question, but who cares? Those who have lived and worked  in this place in south-east Asia,  or have even just visited,  describe it as Paradise on earth. It's rich, stable, safe, clean. It even seems to be immune to natural disasters such as earthquakes, that often happen in the neighboring islands of Indonesia. How cool is that?

Education and healthcare are excellent,compared to western standards; so is the overall economic situation, despite the lack of natural resources. On the 'democracy'  level it's ranked rather low as there's only one political party , and there are restrictions on certain civil rights.  (Well, one can't have it all).

I felt the urge  to write this short post on Singapore after recently reading in the newspapers that an indian Imam (islamic worship leader) was fined and expelled for remarks against christians and jews in his Friday sermon at a mosque.

It should be said, that the population of Singapore is made up of three main layers: Chinese (the majority), Malays (the indigenous), and Indians. Christianity as a religion comes only fourth after islam, buddhism, and hinduism; the jews are very few in number. However, the principle is important here.  The incident with the Imam shows that ethnical and religious harmony is regarded by the authorities as crucial, and rightly so.  

I' ve read somewhere that Singapore is on the list of 'nations in transit'. I don't really know what it means for a nation to be in transit; it  seems to me Singapore should keep things  as they are now. Change could be bad for its future.

On the whole, I think the world can learn a lot from the position and prosperity of Singapore.