Friday, June 17, 2011

At the Green Village

Last month, on Shavuot holiday, I attended a summer happening at the Green Village. Hakfar Hayarok, as it is called in hebrew, is a rural oasis in the middle of an urban, bustling area. It is a youth village, originally an agricultural one. Nowadays, agriculture studies are given within the framework of the versatile Life Science department established here. The village is experimental in many ways , and offers an interesting variety of educational programs and courses,.

main entrance path to the village

"Shavuot" (the feast of the Weeks) commemorates the giving of the ten commandements by God to Moses and the israelites on Mt. Sinai. It also celebrates the concluding festival of grain harvest which begins at Passover. In addition, it is known as the holiday of the first fruit. It is customary on this holiday, among other things, to eat dairy foods, and read the book of Ruth.


The green little village looked very festive with its balloon and ribbon decorations, posters and agricultural exhibits.
The atmosphere was one of great joy and fun.

tractor exibit

The Happening included - touring the village, eating of salads and cake, all-family activities such as: stretching out balls of dough to thin sheets and introducing these sheets into a special oven ( taboon) to bake an airy kind of pita bread; driving a tractor, playing ball games , contemplating the livestock.


putting salad into a pita bread-pocket


The happening ended in the late evening hours with a rich artistic program (songs, dances, declamations) performed by the youth
living and studying in the village.

the stage

Do watch my video! Enjoy the sight of the dances on the stage (at the end).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Science and the Gray Hair issue

The prestigious Weizman Institute of Science, located in the israeli city of Rehovot, has a vast, beautiful campus with about a 100 buildings and hundreds of scientists, technicians, and research students. The institute focuses on all the major sciences: chemistry, biochemistry, biology, physics, math , computer science - and encourages both basic and multidisciplinary research.

Main gate to Weizmann Institute of Science

In October 2009, Prof. Ada Yonath, director of the Structural Biology Department received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (along with two other scientists, an american and a british) for her achievements in the study of the structure and function of the ribosome (a part of the cell that synthesizes protein and translates the information of the DNA). Naturally, she was invited by the Media to tell about her research and her feelings of being the first israeli woman to get a Nobel Prize.

Prof. Ada Yonath

Ribo... what? asked the man in the street.
Strangely, Ms. Yonath's appearances on TV interviews, elicited discussions (especially among women at the mall/ the hairdresser's/ the park ) on her... gray hair rather than on her scientific achievements; the bottom line suggesting that as a woman scientist she should perhaps devote some of her research time to finding out ways to prevent or 'cure' the phenomenon of gray hair.

Although gray hair is supposedly a sign of wisdom , people do not want this process of graying to happen to them as it makes them look older and can have undesirable effects on their life emotionally, socially, economically. Hence their expectations that science will do some miracle about it.

Well, most people don't know much about science, scientists, scientific projects, the priorities and the financing of these projects. What they do know is that there are lots of "breakthroughs" (for which scientists are awarded prizes) that are turned into drugs which may or may not help alleviate suffering - but few real preventive or curative solutions to age related problems.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On The Eternity

Health services - Aged people's home - Cemetery - Eternity
Do you see the connection? perhaps the irony?
Walking outdoors provides us with a good opportunity for reflection on things in general, and on what we see around us in particular.

Let's take a walk on 'the Eternity' street. The name eternity (Nezach -in hebrew) is rather intriguing to those who don't know there's a small, old, cemetery at the end of this street. The cemetery is at number 25. At number 23, there's an aged people's home, and further in the same row, at number 9 - a health services building. All three sites are of the highest standards.

The cemetery , now closed to burials, is considered exclusive due to its central location, quality of maintenance and some important figures burried here. If someone wishes to buy a plot (there aren't many left, if any), he'll have to be well connected and pay a large sum of money.

entrance to the cemetery

The aged people's home, Habait (home-in hebrew), adjacent to the little cemetery , offers all kinds of sheltered accommodation to choose from: retirement living, independent living, assisted living. nursing care, rehabilitation etc.. It is luxurious, with a variety of programs , facilities and services. and meant for people... with money.


The Health Services building is owned by the second largest health care provider in the country - Maccabi. It has specialized clinics, modern facilities , and highly professional medical staff.

Maccabi Health Services

First there was the cemetery; then, behind it, several residential buildings were erected. The question of why the price of a flat in each of these buildings was so expensive - usually got answered with : "you get the most quiet, well-mannered neighbour possible".

residential buildings behind the cemetery

Monday, May 23, 2011

'Charity begins at home' and Wizo

At least once a year, usually in Spring I make a bundle or two of clothes to be donated to the needy. It makes me feel good to help those people who cannot afford buying clothes.

There are several ways of donating clothes and accessories. I choose to do it through the nice local branch of the volunteering women organization WIZO. This organization which has branches all over the country (and abroad) is engaged in activities that promote care, education, and support for children, women, and families.

The WIZO branch consists of a large conference Hall (for the various social and cultural activities carried on here) with a small office and restroom - and a Store (in a nearby alley) for sorting. fixing, arranging and distributing the donated items. Part of the clothes are given away for free to people recommended by the local welfare authorities; the rest is sold for a symbolic fee to whoever is interested in second-hand items; the small profit is used in improving the place and its blessed activities.

conference hall - corner for refreshments

conference hall - chairs

The bags with the donated stuff can be left either at the office or at the store (called ביגודיתBegudit). However, the latter being open only for two hours daily, most people leave them inside the Hall, in a narrow space near the office.

bags with clothes left near copier

Those who bring the stuff after activity hours and place it outside the entrance door could create a serious security problem. Evil factors (terrorists) might be tempted to introduce explosives in those bundles of clothes. Constant efforts are being made to make the public aware of this danger and convince potential doners to avoid bringing stuff when the branch is closed.

"Begudit" (closed at the time of visit) in adjacent alley

Saturday, May 14, 2011

''The Rimon Experience"

There's a lovely five-letter hebrew word רימון Rimon which means both pomegranate and grenade. Good music is juicy like the fruit (pomegranate) and explosive like the weapon (grenade); thus 'Rimon' seems an appropriate name for the independent, professional school of modern music in Israel.

Here it is (the school), behind the fence

The Rimon school of music (which has an exchange agreement with Berklee college of music in Boston, USA) offers studies in a variety of musical fields : composition, songwriting, performance (general and jazz, vocal and instrumental), film scoring, music teaching .

The students at this school (some 500) come from various countries ; the diversity of their cultural backgrounds helps create a richly flavored music and original interpretations. ''Rimon'' graduates are very appreciated professionally both in Israel and abroad.

The modest campus is located in a green, quiet residential neighborhood and it consists of several one-storey buildings with classrooms, recording studios, a library, performance spaces , and the outer recreation space.
The flat buildings could well do with some remodelling and fresh paint, but I am told that an entirely new complex is about to be constructed near by, so that would explain the present state of the existing structures.

needs some fresh paint

entrance to one of the buildings (see painted exterior)

recreation space

Rimon school is not far from my home, and yet I don't often come near the place. I think it's something psychological , and it has nothing to do with music but rather with my feelings of reluctance regarding general and local political elections. The polling station where I 'm supposed to place my vote on Elections Day is located ...on the same street with the Rimon school of music.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The White Tower of Ramla

The small town of Ramla (Ramleh) in central Israel, is known for its colorful market, the grave of a british soldier with the name of ... Harry Potter , archeological sites, and the White Tower - identified as World Heritage site by UNESCO.

I was at my cousin Racheli's place which is about fifteen minutes drive from Ramleh. She offered to take me to the White Tower.
It was morning, fine weather, empty roads, scarcely a soul outside, as people were still sleeping after the long ceremony of Seder Night (first night of the jewish Passover). The parking lot near the tower and the adjacent muslim cemetery, was empty too. Complete silence. disturbed only by our steps and voices. There was no one there we could ask specific questions about the historical place. All we could do was to contemplate it.

the White Tower

The White Tower ( a square Gothic structure also known as the Ramla Tower) was built in the 13th century on the ruins of an earlier tower. It is six-stories high with a spiral staircase of 119 steps. Like with any high tower, its top offers great views of the surrounding area.
The tower is significant both to muslims and to christians. It used to serve as a minaret of the White Mosque (the remains of which are surrounding the exterior of the tower), and as a strategic military lookout.

lovely tall tree among graves

pavement bordering the tower area

We started our tour with the White Tower in Ramla, and ended it with a visit to some nice rural settlements (moshavim) located near the neighboring city of Rechovot (center of Science). About Rechovot - in a future post, I hope.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Small but Great

The urban environment has many small elements (both natural and man-made) that make it look closer to Nature and/ or friendlier to people. When I'm outdoors, it is these small elements that draw my attention and make me want to use my point-and-shoot little camera to capture and save them.

I'm not referring here to parks , the 'green lungs' - which are, of course, the pride of every city and its municipality, but to the small public patches of green, to front and back house gardens, to tiles in the pavement, street lamps (like in the above picture), benches, public-phone roofs, stone statues...; the list is endless. Here are a few samples of what I mean by 'small elements' in the urban landscape:

Puddle, surrounded by some trees and weeds. A remnant of the last rains of winter. A natural 'relief' which borders the end of a long busy street, and the beginning of another long, busy street . A puddle is usually a dirty, muddy little pool of water; this one is rather clean with defined margins, and at midday, I guess the sun 's rays are reflected in it. Nice sight enjoyed by both, pedestrians and people in the passing cars !

Right there on the extended pavement, by the urban road with a pedestrian crossing - several wooden benches in a semicircle to the grassy , round spot with two trees. In the background, a green mound with trees on it. Charming little place offering some rest and relaxation to the city dweller.

Bycicle- path painted sign. I like the addition of adult and child to the symbol of bycicle. It softens the look of the sign and yet makes its message more powerful: no motor traffic here, bycicle riders and pedestrians only!

A juice booth selling natural, fresh fruit & vegetable juice is a must in the crowded, poluted city. Have you ever drunk wheatgrass juice? Me neither. That's what the young woman with the bycicle has ordered. Wheatgrass juice, by the way, is supposed to have many curative properties. Well, my favorite juice is pomelo (a kind of grapefruit) juice.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pajama Town in the Gulf War

22 January 1991. I was sitting in a sealed room wearing a gas mask on my face. and listening to the falling of Scud missiles in the adjacent city of Ramat-Gan , some fifteen minutes drive from my home. The gas mask was supposed to protect us from chemical and biological warfare agents in case Iraq's Saddam Hussein decided to use mass destruction weapons during the Gulf War.

cute,isn't it?

Most of the missiles fell on a street named Abba Hillel , nearby the Diamond Exchange Tower. It was said that Saddam Hussein's people had in mind another target in this vicinity , but they failed to launch the missiles at the right angle, and so this particular street got all the damage and casualties; scores of residents were left homeless.

Abba Hillel street

Ramat-Gan (in translation: Garden Heights), located in the very center of Israel, is associated not only with gardens but also with chocolates, soccer, and...iraqis. The city has several nicknames: Ramat-Iraq, Pajama Town, Little Baghdad, Iraqi Town - all of them relating to the fact that it has a large number of jewish residents of Iraqi origin, restaurants serving iraqi dishes and.. the common sight of iraqi men moving on the balconies of their home dressed in pajamas .

After the war, the main theme for stand-up comedies , was based on the joke that Saddam Hussein' s missiles were attracted to Ramat-Gan by ...the smell of iraqi dishes (sabiach, koube, shawarma, amba) , and the sound of iraqi music coming out from many places in the town. Anyway, it was rather ironical that Saddam Hussein's missiles had hit the place with a big concentration of his former "compatriots".

Statue of iraqi jewish prayer on Abba Hillel street

Today, this street is known for its skyscrapers in the district of the Diamond Exchange (considered the largest diamond exchange in the world) and some skyscrapers at the other extremity , near the big soccer Stadium and the Ayalon Shoping Mall. They say that in the evening the illuminated towers' area looks like Manhattan. I don't know about that as I've never been to Manhattan, but the sparkling cluster of skyscrapers does look nice at any time of the day.

skyscrapers in the Diamond Exchange complex

Friday, March 18, 2011

Herzl and Herzliya

He had three children; all three of them died tragically. (His daughter Pauline died at 40 of a heroin overdose. His son Hans committed suicide on the day of his sister's funeral; Hans was 39 of age. The youngest daughter, Trude, died at the Therezin concentration camp).
Let's hope his fourth "child" - the State of Israel - will survive despite the hostility that surrounds it.

He - Theodor Herzl (1860-1904 ) an austro-hungarian journalist who envisaged and supported the establishment of a jewish homeland . In the Jewish world and in Israel in particular, he's a legendary figure. His remains and those of his first two born children and grandson (Trude's son) were moved from abroad and reburied on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.

Herzliya , the city situated on the central coast of Israel, was named after Theodor Herzl. The top picture shows a dramatic statue of Herzl on the water tower at the Hasira junction, overlooking the city and the traffic to it. The following two pictures of Herzl's double-sided poster figure were taken in front of the New High Scool in the city of Herzliya. His poster was put there probably to remind the students of his famous slogan "If you wish it , nothing will be a fairy tale".

Welcome ! Herzl behind the town-map of Herzliya

Herzl facing the New High School area

Herzliya is home to the largest film studios in the country. "Ulpanei Herzliya", are located at the end of a short, narrow quiet street named 'Kesem' (hebrew word for Magic - how appropriate!). It should be mentioned that Israel has been nominated for quite a few Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film produced here.

Herzliya Film Studios - entrance

The city has fine beaches and hotels, a very affluent district named Herzliya Pituach (home to foreign diplomats, businessmen, high-tech companies), parks, a marina harbor, a small airport, various cultural centers and attractions (museums, galleries, a municipal stadium, a camera music chamber) , and a private university (The Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center) offering degrees in various academic disciplines.

The Marina (built in the 1970s) provides mooring for boats and yachts of all shapes and sizes. It is also a center for marine sports, and a very popular spot for going out to eat and drink as there are some very nice restaurants and cafes by the water. There's even a mall in the area, the Arena Mall, with shops selling high quality products. The Marina has become a well -known hub of israeli night life.

view of the Marina

'Beni the Fisherman' restaurant

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pupp - for the Rich and Famous

The recent Oscar celebrations with the arrivals of film celebrities on the red carpet, have reminded me of my short visit to the czeck town of Karlo Vivary (Carlsbad) some six months ago. While there, I was fascinated by the architecture and history of Grandhotel Pupp . This hotel hosts the annual International Film Festival and the cinema people that attend it, and is also temporary home to vacationing actors. The hotel was used in several films, the most known one - James Bond's 'Casino Royale'.

It started as the Saxony Hall in 1701. A guy named Jan Pop (german Johan Pupp) came to Carlsbad where he worked with a confectioner. He married his employer's daughter. She managed to buy partial ownership of this Saxony Hall and the nearby Bohemia Hall built later. These halls and a third one purchased by Pupp himself will later become the Grandhotel Pupp, which is now part of Pupp Complex. The impressive building was built in the 18th century in Baroque style ; its rooms renovated in the late nineties.


Walking on the carpets and through the rooms of Grandhotel Pupp is to walk in the steps of history. Throughout its history of three centuries, this hotel has hosted famous people from all walks of life: political ,religious, cultural , financial, scientific- from Europe and beyond that. Here are a few names: Bismark (german chancellor), russian Czar Peter the Great, Carlos King of Spain, Harald King of Norway, composers: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Liszt, Dvorzack, actors Gregory Peck, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, Alan Alda, Ornela Muti, psychoanalyst Dr. Freud.

Grandhotel Pupp is a luxurious hotel. It has more than two hundred regular rooms, suites, several apartments dedicated to very famous people, a presidential room, an imperial room, a spa center, casino, golf course & club, restaurants, bars, cafe, conference room, halls for special & festive events.

woman with jug- symbol of thermal baths & spas

Now back to the 2011 Oscar ceremony - Colin Firth is sooooo handsome , talented , and...british! I'm glad that the Oscar went to both "the King's speech" movie and its star .

Saturday, March 5, 2011


'Noir' is the french word for 'black' ; it appears in widely known terms such as the cinematic 'film noir' . It is also the name of a unique shop in my home town which specializes in selling various items in black color : clothing, jewelery, pillows, lamp-shades , mini statues - the 'hottest' item being.. .black toilet paper. According to one of the two blond, black dressed ladies that own this shop, the concept behind it, is theirs original, and they might even export it abroad .

Once, I visited a co-worker at her home. I was shocked to see that everything in the kitchen, except the walls and floor - was black. Since then, I've gradually got used to the idea that black is not only the colour of mourning, there's more to it; it is elegant , distinguished. In fact, I like to wear black. I also like black pots , and certain black furniture pieces .

The above-mentioned store , has a glass facade (windows and entrance) so its whole interior is seen outside. The shots were taken in the evening ( It's hard to take pictures of it in daylight as the picture shows reflection of the street through the glass). Two things 'brighten up' the place a bit :the colour of the walls and shelves, and the images of famous stars such as the M. divas: Marlen Dietrich at the back and Marlyn Monroe at the front part of the shop (the latter has been lately replaced with the image of Frank Sinatra).

glass facade

The walls, and the shelves attached to them are painted in mustard yellow colour which is a nice contrast to black. The lower rims of the shelves have slogans written on them explaining why black; it's dramatic, it's beautiful, it's mysterious, it's powerful , it's magic, it's glamorous , and it is never out of fashion.


The prices are rather ...pricey. I could ,however, afford the black toilet paper. It is sold as one roll of paper wrapped up nicely for a present and put into an elegant black bag with the tag 'Noir' on it.. I'm not going to use it , so please don't ask me whether it does its job well.

black toilet-paper roll