Sunday, January 28, 2018

Camel Farm and Camel Milk Healing

Last week, I joined a day trip organized by one of the two  clubs for senior residents in my hometown. The trip included several attractions in the northern  part of the Negev (desert) area. : a camel farm, , the agricultural settlement "Nebatim" with its indian Cochin jewish community and exuisite synagogue, the remains of ancient nabatien "Mamshit" town , and the black american-liberian Hebrew community in Dimona city.

Our first stop was at the camel farm near the bedouin village Tarabin. The sole objective of this farm is the production of camel milk. It is believed (on the basis of long, thorough research) that the composition of this milk is closest to that of human mother milk, hence its miraculous properties. It can combat almost any known health issue and inflammation.

The camel Abraham  at the entrance to the farm

round water well near the camel

too scared to go closer to the camel

We were greeted by the manager and chemist Eyal who showed us around ( bedouin tents, camel pens, neat toilets ),  gave us a lecture on the farm and its product- camel milk , and finally demonstrated the act of feeding the camels in the pens.

chairs and tables for a bite and a drink

several tents like this one with chairs  for visitors attending lectures

toilets; a round pool of water nearby

Upon arrival, three bedouin workers offered us tiny cups of traditional black coffee/tea, prepared on three pots on a stove behind them. On their left  - the products' selling tent: food and cosmetics.

bedouin workers offering coffee/tea to visitors; see the pots

food section: among other food items, desserts for 15 shekel each:
 malabi(milk pudding), kadaif (turkish dessert),milk jam, cheese cake

fridge with cold drinks

cosmetics section

A young bedouin woman was standing by a stove,making thin pita bread by stretching the dough on the dome of the stove; then filled it with 'labaneh' (low fat, sour, youghurt-based spread ) to which she added olive oil and za'ater (safron spice mix); turned it into a roll,  and sold it to the visitors for 15 shekel (about $4) each. Very tasty, healthy snack. The druze and bedouin women are experts in making this kind of snack.

Bedouin woman in action- making the pita for the roll

Never heard of the  cosmetic line 'Desert Healer' before. That's because it is not sold in shops or advertised in the media. It's mainly exported, sold on the farm , or ordered by phone/online by those who know about it. The lotions, creams and soaps are made of camel milk, and approved by the Ministry of Health.

women  visitors buying cosmetics

Eyal and assistant counting the money

At the end of the lecture , the bedouin woman spread some cream, with a stick, on every visitor's hand to give each the opportunity to test its effect on the skin.

end of Eyal's lecture; the bedouin woman with a jar of cream 

There were some 20 female camels in the pens. There usually are more, and 'serviced'  by one single male camel , during breeding time. After milking the camels, the milk is bottled and packaged for delivery to customers.

sending a kiss to the 'surprised looking' camel

Eyal with the food (grains) for the camels

Eyal watching a visitor feeding the camels

All in all, a very enjoyable visit!

*The farm management has got a website: and also phone numbers for consultation with the research team.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Jonah's Hill (Givat Yona)

On Wednesday, I had some things to do in the city- port of Ashdod. I thought I'd go afterwards to visit Jonah's  Hill which , they say, offers great panoramic views of the city , the sea, the harbour, and the Lachish river. 

Well, the weather was not cooperative. It changed every hour or so from clear and pleasant to rainy and windy, and vice versa.   Not a very suitable day for climbing a hill.

at first,clear sky, calm sea ; (me with a thin head cover)

Nevertheless, I decided to reach the hill with the intention to, at least, learn about its interesting location - in a residential area, close to the promenade, overlooking the sea and city.

Before approaching the hill, I stopped at two spots on the promenade:  the monument in memory of the sunken ships Struma and Mefkure, and the open market near Lido beach and the Sundial tower.

Struma and Mefkure monument

Struma and Mefkure were two ships carrying over a thousand romanian- born jews on their way to, then, British Mandate Palestine, The british refused their entrance; the ships turned back and got torpedoed, probably by  a russian submarine in the Black Sea (Mefkure in 1942, Struma in 1944).

I'm of romanian descent,born and raised in Romania, and I've known  this story all my life, so I felt I had to stay for a while in silence near the memorial, and think about those tragically lost innocent lives.

Sundial Tower near Lido beach

The Wednesday market on Ashdod's promenade, under the shadow of the Sundial Tower is quite a big, versatile  known flea market, but not on this wednesday. Because of the weather, the vendors closed their stalls earlier , and what was left were vegetable/fruit stalls only. People have to eat .

fresh strawberries - I bought some.

Fruit and veggies


preserved olives


Now, back to Jonah's Hill.  There's a lighthouse on the top of the hill. It is clearly seen from the street and the surrounding area. To get to the top one has to climb stairs. For the locals, so I'm told, the hill is a perfect leisure place;it has  a park, picnic spots, a nice cafe-restaurant, and... gorgeous panoramic views. Well, God willing , I'll visit it some other time, in better weather.


Lighthouse - closer view

This hill is named after the prophet Jonah who, according to the Bible, was swallowed by a whale (or some other sort of sea creature) and released from its belly only after three days and three nights of praying to God. The prophet is said to be buried on the hill, and some excavations done in the area seem to confirm that.

Jonah, was a disobedient prophet. He was told by God to go to Nineve, one of the largest (and wickedest) cities at that time (Mosul in modern day Iraq), to preach, and foretell its destruction.

Well, some sources claim he tried to escape the mission and that's why he got punished ; other sources say he did what he was told to do, but he was angry with God for saving the wicked city from destruction, after all.  Either way he was disobedient.

"Nothing new under the sun": corruption, violence, destruction, disobedience; and a case of "History repeats itself". Nineve was bad, Mosul (especially under the late ISIS occupation) was bad as well. This part of the world, I'm afraid,  will always be bad.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Swedish Concept

It's winter Sale at the big, international, clothing stores : H&M , Zara,  H &O, Mango, Springfield, Bershka, Castro etc.; 30%  to 70% discount on most winter items.

entrance to the HM store in Ayalon mall - Ramat-Gan city

upper floor-men/ kids fashion; ground floor- ladies' fashion

My favorite is  H&M  - fashion from Sweden. It's called by people "cheap chique" and "fast fashion" (like in fast food - meaning good stuff at affordable prices).What I like about this chain , is that it has something for any age, gender, and purse.It has ladies/men fashion departments, kidswear/ maternity wear/ accessories sections.  Besides, the design of the stores is very,very cool with lots of space  and lights. The chain has branches in the malls of almost all major cities in the country.

window fashion models

kids'  wear

I entered an HM store the other day to have a look,  and  left with a lovely, festive $10  black top . All the colours are present; it's quite obvious, however, that H&M loves red, although black is considered the average swede's favourite color. 
I know a thing or two about fabrics and sewing, so the store offered me much interest and curiosity.

items in red

check out area; poster above the cashiers

Ikea , another swedish brand,  keeps its big Sale once a year, at the end of summer. There are only 4-5 stores in the whole of Israel, but they're very successful. (In the past, I wrote two posts on Ikea).

Ikea store in Netanya city industrial zone

I enjoy having a look at the furniture designs, less at the...prices. I leave the store with some trivial item/s, usually a pot (I like their kitchenware); Over the years I've bought several furniture pieces , among them an armchair I'm very fond of to this day.
I won't leave the store, without eating their famous 'soup in a bread bowl', 

Bread bowl with soup

It's surprising, how a small country like Sweden (barely 10 million people), has produced such a number of global, successful companies: Ikea, H&M,  Volvo, Scannia , Skype - to mention the more famous ones. They also boast a lot of inventions (dynamite, adjustable wrench, pacemaker,ultrasound, seatbelt, and more) ׂ.   What's their secret? 

I suppose their special, 'out of the box' creativity and  great ability to plan, combined with freedom and encouragement given to start-ups by the government, are the things that lead them to international success.

* The map - Web image

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Tomb of Maimonides

Maimonides (anacronym  for Moshe Ben Maimon), hebrew name Harambam (anacronym for Harav Moshe Ben Maimon), was born in Spain, lived and died in Egypt, and found his final resting place in Israel, Tiberias.

He was a medieval physician, philosopher, astronomer, sephardic rabbi - and his tomb is a place of pilgrimage .That's interesting, even ironic, as he himself was against pilgrimage to graves of rabbis. In fact, he was against the building of headstones. Probably, he would not have approved of the recent, vast renovation of the site  (a matter of millions, received as a donation).

painting of Maimonides at te entrance shop

Last month , when I visited Tiberias, it was my first time at the site of the tomb. 
It is located  not far from the central bus station and the old town center. Actually, it's a complex which includes Maimonides' tomb the graves of some other famous rabbis, an Heritage Center (cultural-educational institution established to promote his teachings) , and a high sculpture which could be seen from afar. The little, narrow street itself is named Harambam in his honour.

tall sculpture at the site

Welcome sign at the entrance; behind  tree , Heritage Center

Blue sign with the name of the street - Harambam

I knew the site had been undergoing big renovation for some time, but I thought it was all over; well, not quite. Dust, water on the stairs, lack of signage , noisy workers  -  were a bad start to my visit. I was afraid of slipping and falling, so I took the parallel set of stairs , near the other tombs, not the slippery one leading directly up to the hall where the tomb of Maimonides was.

wet, slippery stairs leading to the tomb;  pillars on each side

Perhaps they should have closed the place for the whole period of renovation, since with all the work going on, it didn't look like a holy place. At the entrance, there was a kind of souvenir shop selling touristy stuff, which, in my opinion, cheapened the spiritual and religious atmosphere of the place.  I felt sad about that.

souvenir shop at the entrance

The marble tomb of Maimonides is in the center of a big hall. His father's tomb lies by the wall on a slightly elevated floor. Nearby, an interesting blue, iron candle- house with a white big candle inside; on the iron work - a framed paper with a printed prayer to be read at the tomb.

Maimonides' marble tomb in the middle of the big hall

Me, at the father's tomb; a couple praying at Maimonides' tomb

blue, iron candle-house; white candle inside

framed prayer on the iron candlehouse structure

It was in the late afternoon hours, and there were few people there (the place, as far as I know, is usually crowded with visitors).  I paid my respects to the great scholar and his father, and left.

People outside the tomb hall.

After leaving the place, I wanted to reflect on what I'd just experienced, and since I felt hungry I grabbed a shawarma (donner) in a pita pocket (my favorite fast food), at the Aloush eatery in the center, and got myself a chair at a red table outside. The red chairs and tables , and the tasty food, slightly cheered me up.

Aloush eatery - shawarma and felafel

red chairs and tables belonging to the fast food eatery Aloush

I hope the final outcome of the renovation will be successful and will do justice to the great personality of Maimonides.
At the entrance, on the gate, there was a round stone with an epiphany reading  "From Moshe to Moshe arose no one like Moshe". The first Moshe (Moses) referred to, is the one that was given the Torah by God at Mt. Sinai.

epiphany on the entrance gate