Friday, June 30, 2017

Cool and Soothing 'Green Lung'

The modest fountain in the above picture is not  placed, as most of the traditional ones, in the middle of a town square. This fountain with a circular basin , and straight, perpendicular falling water is located in a corner, a very strategic one - facing two long, busy roads, one of which (Ben-Gurion Rd. ) is dividing two cities (Bney- Brak and Ramat-Gan).

the  perpendicularly falling water

Even on hot days as our summer days are, it's quite cool near the fountain, and the sound of the falling water is very soothing. The whole spot is a little gem with grass, flowers, young trees and benches. It looks well kept - no litter, no mosquitos of any kind. There's no children's playground around, so the spot is usually quiet. It is a place mostly for young couples, teenagers, elderly people, passers by.

a cool, quiet little gem

Whenever I'm in the area I take the time to sit on a bench  and enjoy the serenity of the spot. Behind the fountain there's a coffee shop, one of the many coffee shops belonging to the fine chain called 'Aroma'. It's a pleasure to sit at a table outside the cafe with a cup of coffee and a sandwich and contemplate the fountain and its visitors. 

Aroma cafe with its red sign and people sitting outside

chairs and flowers outside the Aroma coffee shop

tiny birds found some food on a bench vis- a -vis the fountain

This spot is a blessed genuine 'green lung' in an urban area. It creates a much needed balance between Man and Nature, development and environment. We definitely need more of the kind.

*   *    *

Across the street there's an interesting high  statue exhibit named "the sky is the limit,"  composed of human figures in motion . Like the fountain, this outdoor colorful work of art  gives people not only visual pleasure, but also much food to thought.

'the sky is the limit' statue

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tower of Peace

Frankly, I wouldn't like to live in a tower or near the woods - because of safety reasons, fire hazards in particular (See the latest disasters: Grenfell tower -London, and the forest fires in Portugal ).

I 've worked ,however,in a tower for many years, an office tower in Tel Aviv, called Shalom Tower ('shalom' meaning 'peace' in hebrew). 
I wasn't crazy about the place despite the view of the Mediterranean through my window .  I disliked the dependence on elevators and the impatient crowds waiting for them. I did like, though, its central position and proximity to the sea, city market, cultural and  shopping areas.

Panoramic view ,including the sea, from the 19th floor (not digital photo)

Shalom  Tower ,named after Shalom Meir, father of the tower's two developers, 
has 34 floors, the lobby and the first floor serving as free art galleries (mosaics, paintings, sculptures), and photo exhibitions (of people, maps, projects..) with emphasis on the city's history and urban development.

mosaic wall

mosaic wall

photo exhibits

photo exhibits

When its construction was completed, in 1965, it was the tallest tower in  the Middle East. Since then, many towers, both residential and office towers have been  erected in  the major cities of the country, some of them of  great architectural beauty.

Shalom Tower seen from adjacent Herzel street

Whether we like it or not, these towers are taking over. There's shortage of land, of housing, of parking lots, of green spots - so we're told - and the towers are supposed to solve these issues.

Let's hope that towers and skyscrapers regardless of place will bring real 'Shalom' ('Peace')  to the people that live/work in them.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

When general Allenby's street meets baron Rotschild's street

I had some errands to run in the big city. Near the intersection of the two major streets Allenby and Rothschild, I noticed... (how could I not? the cool music that emerged from that direction was loud and inviting) an indoors food market that was not there several months ago. I entered the place (located in a passage of a building) to have a closer look at it.

It is not big but it has  a great variety of food displayed in a few small shops (fruit and vegetables, fish, liquor store), and on many stands (coffee, bakery products, fish and chips, freshly squeezed juices, pasta, sandwiches, japanese dishes, etc..).There's something for everyone, as they say.. At the entrance/exit - a stationary trike with young vendors selling ice-cream.

Nothing special about the food concept.. The design of the place, however, is eye-catching:  six-seven columns with scenes from daily life created in colorful mosaics; the entrance wall, the roof and some columns are covered with lovely decorative tiles. Interesting light fixtures too, and a variety of chairs and tables to acommodate the needs of the customers. No doubt, food goes well with good design and architecture.

Allenby street (named in honor of the british field mareshal Edmund Allenby) is a very busy commercial street with all kinds of shops and eateries.
Rothschild Boulevard (named in honor of baron Edmund James Rothschild of the european banking dynasty) is a more elegant and iconic street. It has superb architecture and  houses cultural institutions, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, bank headquarters. 

Allenby-Rothschild intersection

Both 'Edmunds' - the army figure and the financial magnate- would have been  pleased.  People-  locals and tourists - love these two lively streets in the heart of the city of Tel-Aviv. And now this food market thing...

The Rothschild-Allenby food market seems to be a fusion of  two worlds represented by the two different streets which sit in the same area. It fits the simplicity of those who live/shop/walk on Allenby street, and the sophistication of those who live/work/ enjoy culture on Rothschild boulevard. 

That's how it goes today - flexible boundaries; fast food near chef food, soldiers sitting at the bar next to bankers, locals mingling with tourists, young and old - all looking for a tasty bite at a decent price.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Manchester - Jerusalem

The Media told us  there were dead, wounded, and...missing among the victims of the bomb explosion in Manchester last week.
Under explosion circumstances, the 'missing'  are usually dead humans in an unidentifiable condition. 

I happen to know a religious young man who's a volunteer at ZAKA Rescue Unit; his task and that of his colleagues on the team, isׂ (among other things) to collect body remains scattered in the area of the disaster, and help with the identification job of the forensic technician.  It sounds horrible; it is horrible, but someone has to do it. 

ZAKA team in action (web picture)

ZAKA, a civilian volunteer organization founded in Jerusalem in 1995 (activity started several years earlier),  has as its motto: "saving those who can be saved, honoring those who cannot".  ZAKA also operates internationally offering assistance in mass disasters around the world (eartquakes, zunamis, terrorism etc..). They were probably present on the Manchester scene too. Kudos to them for their holy work!

We all know that "prevention is the best cure". This applies not only to health issues , but to other issues as well.
The Manchester suicide bomber, so we're told ,was on the list of 'subjects of interest'. So, what exactly did those with the "list" do about it?  Nothing, it seems; absolutely nothing!  Now, they're investigating.... Good Luck with that, but there is no time; terrorism  has a dynamics of its own.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Khat - from Yemen to Israel

fresh khat leaves*

The 'khat' plant (khat is pronounced 'gat' in hebrew) is a stimulant and appetite suppressor. The plant is native to Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, and it was brought to Israel by jews of yemenite descent. It was, and still is  in some neighborhoods inhabited primarily by yemenite jews, part of their tradition to sit together for several hours (men and women apart), chewing the oval shaped leaves of this plant, and socializing.

bunch of khat leaves*

During the recent years , the juice extracted from the plant has become a Hit. Chewing khat in leaf form is legal in Israel, but as for the juice, its status is not very clear, and that has allowed people to use this fact to make a profit by selling it at kiosks, certain eateries and  restaurants.

khat juice*

Neither the leaves nor the juice are cheap; in fact it's an expensive habit, but people will pay any price for the promises that khat  chewing or khat juice carry: weightloss, virility, increased energy etc..(it reminds us of another mild narcotic - marijuana). Its main dangerous feature for the consummer, besides possible addiction, is raise in blood pressure with all that is associated with it (stroke, heart attack).

field of khat shrubs*

Anyway, the 'khat'  growers and traders in Israel are reporting an increase in demand for the leaves; among the new users - quite a lot of women (weightloss ?!!).  

The other day, I saw an article from TIME  on the internet with the following  headline  :" Is Yemen chewing itself to death?" Interesting article, dealing with the negative influence of chewing 'khat' on the society and economy of Yemen. The situation there is extreme, but even in Israel  and the UK this khat chewing is certainly not a blessing.

*web pictures

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Bent Tree and the Old Lady

The above tree grows within a small square with soil in the pavement. Behind it - two supermarkets with people of all ages coming  and going. In front of it - parked cars; across the street - a children's playground.

I' ve heard a rumour that the municipality intends to remove the tree, but that there are some protests against this intention. The protesters claim that the tree is some sort of an attraction , odd attraction, even dangerous, but has become the icon of the place.

Anyway, lately, when I  happen to see this tree (it's in an adjacent town), it reminds me of  an elderly lady that lives on my street. Last time I saw her I noticed  her back had become so bent that her head almost touched her feet (I think it's called kyphosis and has a lot to do with osteoporosis and loss of height; it could also be genetic). 

I once had an argument with her late husband after which I 've decided to keep away from both of them, so I'm not familiar with the cicumstances of her condition.  I've heard, though, among neighbors, that she's otherwise ok , and that she lives alone with no assisting caregiver at home, except maybe some weekly house cleaning maid. 

According to neighbors, her two married  daughters that live in a nearby town, are trying hard to persuade her to move to another location/ facility, as there are some stairs to climb to her appartment and this climbing is not for her any longer (she's well over 80, I believe). However, so far she has refused to do so; she's very fond of her home and surroundings.

Well, both the tree and the lady are a reminder that we should all be thankful to God every day for keeping us on our feet , upright, and functioning. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be taken for granted, and it is appalling to realize how helpless medicine is about a lot of  health issues.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ein Hod ; Nisco and his Musical Boxes

When we left the druze village of Daliat El Carmel, on our way down the Carmel mountain to the artists' village of Ein-Hod, we passed through  another druze village , named Osafia. It is believed that this is where the big, massive fire of December 2010 started and burned down much of the Carmel forest.

The above fire has caused many casualties and a lot of damage.It has also reached Nisco's  museum of mechanical music located at the entrance to Ein-Hod artists' colony.  The museum houses a private, unique collection of mechanical music devices accumulated by Nisco (Nisan Cohen) over 45 years. 

web photo - the fire got to the  small museum and caused damage

Anyway, now, six and a half years  after the fire, the little museum continues its activity of tours and concerts taking place regularly at the spot.  It is a bit off the beaten track, and there are a few stairs to climb to the entrance (apparently no easy access for people with disabilities, if at all). However,it's kind of a "gem" , a place for all ages, and well worth a visit.
At the entrance (also exit) there's a small shop. where one could buy mementos relevant to the items and themes of the museum.

stairs up to the entrance of the museum

the  shop

inside the shop

wooden boxes; you can buy one and make your own music

Downstairs, the museum, looks dull and simple with plastic chairs for the audience - but it's the musical devices and the presenter (the owner) that make it come alive and interesting. The collection comprises: musical boxes, gramophones, a 170 year old organ, a concertina, phonographs, manivelles, hand operated automatic piano , old records ,you name it ...

The owner of the collection - Nisco, a charismatic gentleman of over eighty, with an american accent and a dog which seems very attached to him - conducts the show. He does so with humor and jokes, interracting with the public during his explanations and musical demonstrations. Sometimes, he uses his singing voice which is quite a pleasant one.

Nisco in action

Nisco goes from one musical device to another to explain things

Primar, the latest aquisition - organ from Belgium

The museum tour lasted about an hour and it was all fun and pleasure.

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.