Saturday, August 29, 2020

Uman Pilgrimage

Uman is a town in central Ukraine, on the banks of the Umanka river. 
During the recent decades, the town has become known for the burial place of the 19th century rabbi Nachman of Breslov , founder of the jewish chassidic Breslov movement.

rabbi Nachman's gravesite in Uman *

The annual pilgrimage of  ultra orthodox israeli members of this movement,  to the above gravesite, is not new to me, but I must admit that until now, I've not  been aware of the alarming numbers.   According to the media, about 80 planes carrying thousands of chassidim, are usually booked  for the  Rosh Hashana (jewish New Year) celebrations in Uman.  

pilgrims praying at Umanka river *

Since we've been flagged as a 'red' country, the coronavirus czar has attempted to stop this year's Rosh Hashana  (sept.18) pilgrimage,  warning that it presents serious danger to both Ukraine and Israel. So far, his appeal has only partial success , because of political interference (or non-interference, it  depends on who and  how one looks at it).

single chassid praying by the Umanka river*

No doubt, the ukrainian town gets rich during the 
celebrations at the rabbi's tomb .  Israel gets poorer.
Our PM  is re-elected with the help of the many thousands of  pilgrims' votes, and as a reward, he bestows upon their political parties in the coalition, very generous budgets and rights.

I'm afraid, that even with another PM and a  new coalition , there'll be no way of going back. If you touch these budgets and rights, you might get blood on the streets.

My conclusion - it's the numbers that count. Demography,  not Democracy, is the key to all.
If you ignore demography (in Israel, the orthodox jews, and the arabs are the ones with large families, and their locations - corona red zones), you might find yourself without a country. . Coronavirus pandemic is not all bad,  as it's an eye- opener.

* web pictures

Saturday, August 22, 2020

High Holidays Shutdown ?!

We're approaching the High Holiday season which starts with  the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) on Sept. 18-20; goes on with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) on Sept. 27 -28; next  Sukkot , Simchat Torah -  and ends on Oct.11.

This year it's all going to be different because of coronavirus restrictions on gatherings, both at the synagogues (for worship activities) and at home (family festive meals) .

Things are not looking good on the 'corona' front. It seems that in China and Russia people are afraid of the authorities; here the authorities are afraid of the people (potential voters who oppose restrictions), so nothing is done properly. 

Transparency is  faulty. We know more or less about the 'red' zones, but almost nothing about age of people in confirmed, as well as in hospitalized  cases.
(There was some mention in a newspaper that currently, those aged 20-39 make up over 30% of the confirmed cases).

According to the chief coronavirus coordinator, prof. Gamzu, the decision about a shutdown will be taken by Sept.10.  In the meantime Army recruits will be assisting with performing tests and 'tracing of contact'. 

The whole world is expecting a vaccine. There'll probably  be more than one, by the end of the year, but I tend to agree with the general opinion that it'll take about two years to end the pandemic.

I don't know about other countries, but here,in Israel, even one year might lead to anarchy and even famine.  May God help us!

Sunday, August 9, 2020


Beirut is in the news with the terrible disaster that has occured in the city's port. It seems the explosion was caused by poor storage of over two thousand tons of ammonium nitrate. Things are still under investigation .

It isn't the first time , and it probably won't be the last time that man-made disaster happens. 'To err is human'; humans make mistakes (i.e. the errors at the nuclear reactor in Chernobil). Negligence is also human ( the faulty storage of the ammonia gas in Beirut port). The consequences of these human actions are devastating!

Unlike natural disasters (earthquakes, floodings, volcano eruptions, hurricanes etc..) man-made disasters could be prevented, but not always, as they usually revolve around chemicals. This stuff requires extreme care and caution .
Sometimes disasters are a combination of both the natural with the
man-made, like forest fires, for example.

We humans feel helpless. We have no control on  Nature's sent disasters, and little, if any, on the man-made ones.

We can be careful, of course, as to where we choose to live or work: not too close to an industrial zone (chemical and biological hazzards, explosions), not near  a big body of water (flooding) or a forest (fire danger).   But not much beyond that.

In any case, I put my trust in God and pray to Him :to guide , protect , help us when in danger.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Bubbling and Refreshing

There's water, and there's... soda water. Soda water is my favorite soft drink, especially in summer.. It is made of water to which carbon dioxide gas ( Co2) is added under pressure. It goes very well with wine creating a sparkling, refreshing drink.

They say it upsets the stomach, causes digestion discomfort. Quite the reverse,  it soothes the stomach, and eases discomfort..  As far as I know no one in my family ( all soda drinkers), has had anything to do with indigestion or stomach problems.
Soda water is also  'accused' of weakening the bones; no real evidence in this respect either.

I'm used to drinking it from an early age. In my childhood days, soda water was produced in a small factory where special glass bottles got filled with water and Co2, and then sold to customers. To buy a new bottle (named syphon), one had to return the empty one.


 The next stage in the 'evolution', of this carbonated beverage, was home- made soda , the best kind of soda - as one can make it as strong or as weak as one wishes.

At first, the device for soda making  at home was the sypholux - a metalic, opaque, silver colored item (covering a glass inner bottle) which came with a plastic cartridge holder. To operate it one had to buy a package of replaceable Co2. cartridges. The more cartridges used, the stronger the soda. Usually three (3) cartridges were the optimal number for a fairly strong soda.

(The grey-red sypholux was a popular  wedding gift in those days, and subject to a lot of jokes , as the newly wed couples used to get more than two or three of them ).

bottle, head, cartridge, cartridge holder*

inserted cartridge holder *

The sypholux and cartridges got replaced after a while by the Soda Stream  company's device - a reusable bottle and a replaceable carbonating cylinder.
I wasn't happy with that method - too awkward and expensive for me.

soda stream kit*

Nowadays, I usually buy ready made soda water bottles /cans at the supermarket or kiosks. The bottles come in two sizes: family bottles and smaller personal bottles. It's important to read the label on the bottle before buying, as there are sometimes additions like sodium ,for example, supposed to give the soda  better taste.

* web pictures