Thursday, October 25, 2018

'St .Sava' and ' Sukkat Shalom'

If and when I visit a church  it's for its history, art, and architecture mainly, not for religious purposes, as I'm of jewish faith.  
In Belgrade, I visited both a famous orthodox church (St. Sava) and the only active synagogue in town (Sukkat Shalom). They say, during the WW2, the church was used by the Nazis as a parking lot, and the synagogue as a brothel.(OMG!).

The serbian St.Sava Temple, not far from the Slavija square mentioned in my previous post,  merits all the high epithets available in the vocabulary: amazing, mind-blowing, stunning, spectacular, breath-taking...

Temple of Saint Sava

the main entrance area

It's big, and  a work in progress ; the galeries on the first level are still under renovation process; the dome and downstairs crypt are already finished and provide the visitor with much wonder and excitement.

Such richness of structure, vivid colors, fiery lights and fine materials (marble, granite, stone, crystal, gold)!
Such beauty of frescoes, murals, icons!

marble columns

gorgeous candelabre

superb arches and floor

people contemplating the paintings

My small, rudimentary digital camera cannot do justice to the sights inside and outside this gem.


arch above exit from the crypt

   stairs leading to upper level


The church is surrounded by a lovely, peaceful garden with fountains and benches.

sitting on the edge of the fountain

On my way out, I noticed  the statue of Nicola Tesla in the church yard. I liked that very much. A scientist honoured in the courtyard of a church!!
After all ,science and religion are not the best of pals.

statue of Nicola Tesla in the church garden

During my brief stay in Belgrade, I got the impression that Nicola Tesla (1858-1943) is probably the most beloved and respected figure in Serbia. The airport is named after him, there's a  museum (in the same area as the church) dedicated to his life and work as an inventor, researcher, engineer, physicist; there are monuments in the city honoring his memory, and more...

museum Nicola Tesla

Compared to the 'St.Sava' church, 'Sukkat Shalom' (Dwelling of Peace ) synagogue is very modest . Still,  nice building and yard, beautiful interior. On the day of my visit, people in the courtyard were disassembling the 'sukka'  ( the hut-like structure in use during the jewish Sukkot holiday week).

The synagogue building is not only a place of worship but also one  of study and of community meetings, as it also houses the jewish community center with its various cultural and social activities. 

approaching the  gate

  tiny yellow sign with the name of the synagogue

beautiful iron gate with David's shield in the middle

building's top with a David's shield, seen from the outside

exterior of the synagogue ( entrance covered by the trees)

 prayer hall: upper balcony for women

'Aron Hakodesh'  - Torah scrolls closet

Despite the fact that the synagogue and the little, well kept, very interesting jewish museum (placed on another street) are centrally located, I haven't spotted them easily as they are kind of integrated with the rest of the buildings in the row, with no visible signage. I've also felt slightly bitter about the security measures at the entrance. One can freely visit a church or a mosque, but not a synagogue or a jewish institution.

captive women (jewish museum)

Moses and the 10 commandements (jewish museum)

And yet, there was something that made my day. On the way to the synagogue there's a small eatery with a big sign Tel Aviv Hummus House. It's a popular place for those who love  falafel, hummus, tahini and other middle eastern food. The visible yellow and blue sign , and the popularity of the place (open 24/7) are the best answer to terror threats and security measures.

Tel - Aviv Hummus House

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Change of Scenery - A Taste of Belgrade

Change of scenery  is more important than one may think. In my case, an 'escape'  to a place with a different decor and a different language  always inspires me, lifts my spirits, improves my health. It's worth the effort.

Duty Free area at the Ben-Gurion airport in Israel

The cheapest flight on the market starting with end of September, was to Belgrade , the capital city of Serbia, and of former Yugoslavia .  So, here I come, Belgrade.

Life in Belgrade ('belgrade' means  white city)  revolves mainly around three bodies of water ( river  Danube, river Sava, artificial lake Ada Ciganlija) , the old fortress Kalemegdan, , and Stari Grad (old town).  These places offer a lot of activities to all:  adults and kids, locals and tourists.

Sava river bank seen from the bankmost bridge

souvenir stalls at the entrance of Kalemegdan park and fortress

Oops! Belgrade doesn't have a metro ( only a mall named Metro..). I was rather disappointed as the Metro is the shortest, cheapest, fastest way to get around. Bus frequency is  pretty good here, but it may take some 20 or more minutes to reach your destination, and that's a lot of time when all you have is a week (albeit a week netto. I don't count the arrival day in the evening and the departure day before noon.).

On the other hand, the main squares  that make up the heart and center of the Old Town (Stari Grad) with its various  landmarks, are not far from each other. So, if you have good shoes and a good map,  you can do it on foot. 
English language, by the way, won't help you much here. I've got some knowledge of cyrillic letters, and that helped find streets and places.

Beautiful Moskva hotel in Terazije square

Amazing Sava Temple (in Slavija sq.) as seen from the little street with the same name

Zeleni Venac square, reminded me of the saying "all the roads lead to Rome". Yes, this square is a kind of Rome, as everything is here : buses to and fro (including airport bus), a McDonalds, a city market, a tiny flea market, little shops, banks, you name it; very colorful square- not far from the main railway/bus station, and from the other main squares (Republik, Terazije, Slavija) of the old town.

the roof covered market in Zeleni Venac

railway station building; looks good, but inside seems deserted

The symbol of the city is a very popular tall, greenish, bronze monument - the Victor statue - erected in honor of serbian victory over the turks in the first balkan war . It represents a naked man holding a sword in one hand and a pigeon in another. It has an ideal location - up on the fortress plateau - overlooking the confluence of Danube & Sava rivers, and the newer part of Belgrade . It can be seen from many parts of the city. 

the Victor monument

Me at the monument site

While walking on the bridge (bankmost) connecting the two parts of Belgrade, from the cosmopolitan USCE shopping center back to the old city, I looked up to see the guy - and there he was; a very distant but familiar sight.
Usce shopping center

on the bridge from Usce to town- 'Victor'  seen only by enlargement

More about Belgrade - in my next posts.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

My Dear Readers,

Please be informed that I'm taking a break from blogging now (to honor  our High Holydays, and  for some vacation).

Wishing you the very Best!

Monday, September 3, 2018

What's in a Name?

Moses is a biblical name (prophet). Noah is also a biblical name (pre-flood patriarch;  Noah's Arc). 
Noah Moses sounds like a powerful name combination.Well, it is.

Noah Moses was a powerful person - publisher and longtime editor of the large, influential hebrew newspaper "Yediot Ahronot" ("Last News"). He died at 73 after being hit by a car outside the office building of his newspaper in downtown Tel Aviv.

The street segment close to the building was then named 'Moses street', in memory of both Noah and his father Yehuda. Until quite lately I thought the entire, long street was named Moses, but no, the rest of the street has retained its original name -'Nachalat Yitzhach' .Yitzhak (hebrew for Isaac) - another biblical name; one of the three patriarchs of the jewish people. 

Oh, but what a spot this tiny Moses street  is!  It starts with a bridge over a river (or what has remained of it), Hayalon river. It is within  walking distance  from Azrieli center with one of the greatest malls in the country, from a central railway station, and from bus stations to any part of the country. 

on the bridge

The noise under the bridge coming from cars , trains and water (in winter) is deafening and the proximity to a major road makes it even worse. So, only Nachalat Yitzhack street is ,in fact,
residential ; it has low buildings, several towers, a community center, a tourist agency, a bank, eateries {the shawarma eatery was recommended on Trip Advisor!}, a mini market, and a cemetery at its end .

the Hayalon river now in summer;train rails nearby


'Eshet Tour' - tourism agency

mini market


the cemetery . Yes. the sign points at a tzadik's grave

The newspaper's headquarters which was at nr 1 of Moses street, has been demolished. They (Noah Mozes' heirs) sold the land to Azrieli Center and moved to a new place in another town, Rishon Letzion, where they already owned a printing facility and a distribution center.

demolished site behind the green sign; construction going on.

What's interesting is that they demanded and obtained that the adjacent street at the new place in Rishon Letzion town, be named Moses too, and their offices building marked nr 1. Interesting, but not surprising. The newspaper has money, influence and probably pays high taxes to the municipality,so what the publisher wants, the publisher gets. And the publisher is Arnon (Noni) Moses, the son of the late Noah Moses.  Arnon in hebrew means 'rushing stream' (in honor of Hayalon stream , perhaps?!); 

Like the stream, and unlike his father,  Arnon Moses seems to be fickle and somehow manipulative like most of the  news people today who foolishly believe they're God-like, have the power to do anything they wish. Both his  newspaper and its online edition (Ynet) though  most popular, often present the reader with  onesided news to promote a certain  agenda.  Luckily, people have lost their naivete, they look more at life around , and less at the printed word.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Mystical Energy in the Upper Galilee

Two of the four holy cities in Israel: Tzfat (Safed) and Tveria (Tiberias) are located, pretty close to each other, both in the Upper Galilee area of the northern part of the country. Tveria is on the western shore of Lake Kinneret; Tzfat a bit further to the north, up on the hills overlooking the lake.

There's a mystical atmosphere in both these ancient places which is very strongly felt in their old cemeteries where many venerated sages and tzadikim  are interred. During the last decade I've been visiting Tzfat old cemetery once a year , before the High Holidays, to pay my respects to the memory of  a specific tzadik and his wife whom I've had the privilege to meet in person. (I 've mentioned them in two or three previous posts).

graves of tzadikim (holy righteous people)

behind me, the shed with the couple's graves 

woman with iphone in corner inside shed; it got on my nerves

It's a very long way; heat from hell; proximity to the Golan Heights-Syria border  (red line on the map) where there are battles going on between Assad's army and the rebels; with Daesh, Iran, Hezbolla in the background, and the two 'biggies' America and Russia as cheerleaders.

Tiberias, Kinneret , Safed , Golan Heights  *

Not far from the cemetery - a regional hospital which among its usual duties to provide the locals with medical care, also gives humanitarian medical aid (to both battling parties so that not to ruin relations with either America or Russia). The hospital is quite heavily secured as it is on the 'black list' of some terrorist factors.

Last month (July), there were some minor earthquakes in the area with the epicenter in Lake Kinneret (The Sea of Galilee). Based on history and probability - a big earthquake is expected. When and how big, no one can tell. It could happen any day .

lake Kinneret (as seen on the way back from Tzfat)

I'm no young chick, so I've said to myself : ' That's it; not for me any more. Hopefully, God, and the late tzadik &wife , will forgive me for not coming'. 

Well, as the time approaches  I feel there are forces stronger than me that attract me like magnet. I also remind myself that I get to charge my energies there. Indeed, I come home exhaused, fall on the bed and sleep till noon. But then, next day when I wake up, as well as in the following days, and during the whole year I  feel highly energized - till next year pilgrimage. I've had my share of museums, galleries, shopping centers and the like; now,  I'm at a stage where I need Energy, to be able to go on with my life.  And this is good energy.

orthodox boys' school, Makor Chaim; path by, leads down to cemetery
(there's also a main entrance down along the street)

 orthodox guy , bus shelter ,on the main street near the cemetery

I like the way back, down the hill of Tzfat  as it gives me the chance to see from above, lake Kinneret ( the lowest fresh water lake in the world), in its blue splendor; and then at the foot of the hill the picturesque little town of Rosh Pina awaiting me to visit its mall and treat myself to a bite before getting on the bus back home.

Lake Kinneret - blue strip seen from above (enlarge photo!)

Rosh Pina Mall

Rosh-Pina - water fountain 
(compression socks -leg and knee- helpful for walking /climbing)

Sadly, things seem to be deteriorating: the woman sitting on the bench inside the shed, a place of prayer and meditation, and shamelessly using her i-phone; the red chairs left there after some ceremony (why red and not blue, the color used at graves of the sages?) The city is in bad hands, methinks.

* Web picture (map of Golan Heights)