Friday, August 17, 2018

Netta Barzilay - The Israeli singer who had us all clucking

Life in Israel is never boring. The other day I was walking along a street in Tel Aviv and suddenly a guy next to me just chirped like some kind of robot chicken.

And of course I didn’t freak out, or even floated the “WTF!” thought bubble above my head. I knew exactly what was going on. The guy was merely singing from Netta Barzilay’s song “Toy”.

Who is Netta Barzilay?

Neta is the Israeli singer and looping artist who a few months ago represented Israel at the EuroVision song contest. And she won! The song is very unique and all those chicken sounds really make you ask WHAT IS THIS?! But after a while, the beat gets to you and one starts dancing with the music.

Here, have a listen:

Making Israelis happy...for a change

Right before the competition Netta was asked if the Israelis would be happy if she won. I thought it was a bit of a stupid question because how would we NOT be happy??

So of course she answered in the affirmative but then she added that we do not always have something to be happy about. And she is right, life in Israel is tough. There are lots to be grateful for here but we do not have a lot of things to be happy about.

The Eurovision competition is a long three day drawn-out affair. It takes two concerts just to hear everyone’s song. Then there are the finals, and then straight after the finals, all of the participating countries start to vote. It takes forever to contact every country and get their votes.

I stayed up until 1am that evening to see which countries are voting for Netta’s song. The voting however, carried on much later. Even though I folded, many of my fellow Israelis stayed awake until the end to see if Netta would win.

The next day we were all exhausted but really happy!

What IS the EuroVision?

Long, looooong before “The Voice” and “The X-factor” and all the other numerous reality singing contests, the Eurovision Song Contest had countries from Europe competing for the best new song of the year.

It started in the 1950’s to cheer up a war-torn Europe. A committee decided to hold an international song contest where countries would take part in one television programme that will be transmitted at the same time to all those that participated.

The simultaneous broadcast was quite an undertaking.  Several countries had to join together in a wide-area international network. Remember that this was long before satellite television even existed. The Eurovision network had to be made up out of several terrestrial microwave networks.

They did however managed to patch the thing together and the first contest was held in Switzerland in 1956. Switzerland  also won the contest that year.

Today it is a HUGE annual affair watched by an audience of more than 200 million people! The costumes and performances are often over the top and though there are often a lot of weeeeird interpretations, it is an extremely entertaining show to watch. This year one of the contestants rose from a coffin while another wore a HUGE dress that lit up in different ways.

Israel and the Eurovision

Israel first took part in the Eurovision competition in 1973. Since we are in the middle of the Middle East, we are not really a European country. Israel is however part of the European Broadcasting Union and that is the main criterion for taking part in the competition.

Apart from Netta’s “Toy”, Israel came in first place in 1978 with the song "A-Ba-Ni-Bi", in 1979 with ‘Hallelujah” and in 1998 with Dana International’s "Diva".

Have a look how the hair and clothes changed (especially the hair!). The beat however is still there after all these years...:). Check out also the live bands that accompanied the singers  those days.

A-Ba-Ni-Bi - 1978:

Hallelujah - 1979:

Diva - 1998:

The winner’s country is the host for the next year, so I can only echo Dana International and Nettta Barzilay’s words when they said: "Next year in Jerusalem!"

If you'd like to receive my occasional "Letter from Israel" in your email box, how about signing up at the box in the top-right corner. I am a fierce hater of spam myself and I promise that I only send out these emails VERY occasionally - though I really should be a bit less lazy.

I wrote about the music we listen to during the yearly Holocaust memorials if you want to read more about the music in Israel. Though it is a bit sad. I promise that I will also write one day about the happy music we have here!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Middle Eastern Sesame Cookies

Middle Eastern Sesame Cookies

Having a decent cookie to dip in your cup of coffee or tea has always been part of my childhood. And now I am the one that has to fill the cookie tins.... :)

The taste of my cookies is usually influenced by my Western upbringing but I have been living in Israel for a while now, so I have decided to experiment with honey and sesame seeds. These two ingredients are as Middle Eastern (and Mediterranean!) as it gets and are often found in sweet treats.

You can find the entire recipe here: Middle Estern Sesame Cookies

I encourage you to try the recipe. It is quite easy, the ingredients are not difficult to get hold of AND it is really delicious!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Yaron's remember garden

We had just experienced another tense and emotional period here in Israel. 

Once again we commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day and remembered the fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. And then the sorrow slowly turned into joy as we celebrated 70 years of independence. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

“Ashes and dust” - How Israelis commemorate the Holocaust

This evening, we will start to commemorate the Holocaust here in Israel.  All the movie theatres and restaurants and other places of entertainment will be closed and only movies and documentaries about the Holocaust will be shown on the local television stations.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sarah Aaronsohn - the 100 year-old heroine of Zichron Yaakov

Wikipedia Public domain
Well, actually she has been around for more than a 100 years now. Sarah was born on the fifth of January 1890 and in 1917 died from the gunshot wounds of an attempted suicide. Our common home town, Zichron Yaakov, recently held the 100-year old anniversary of her death.

In the suicide note she wrote:
“I no longer have the strength to suffer, and it would be better for me to kill myself than to be tortured under their bloodied hands.”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

After the holidays

We enjoy our bagels a lot here in Israel - the diet can wait until after the next holiday!

Me and my fellow English-speaking Israelis belong to this secret Facebook group where we share crazy, awesome and weird stuff about life in Israel.

Some of the posts are really cool and heart-warming but other posts (especially from the newbie immigrants) just make me go from one face-palm to the next.

Chocolate pie with pomegranates and a chocolate sauce

Chocolate pie with pomegranates and a chocolate sauce

I often make this chocolate pie for my family for something sweet for the weekend. It is quick to prepare and I usually have the ingredients already at home. So usually no quick dash to the supermarket is needed :)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A new morning, a new day, a new year

The blue hour - early in the morning on my porch

I belong to a photo group called 52Frames. Every week we create an album based on a specific challenge. Lately I have come to realize that my creative journey with this group has slowly become much more than just about improving my photography.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Disembarking at the HaHagana train station

The HaHagana train station in Tel Aviv at night.

I recently started to commute to Tel Aviv with the train and has to get off at the last station called the Hahagana station. It means “the defense” in Hebrew and yes, I totally agree that it is a strange name for a train station.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hiking from Nachsolim beach to HaBonim beach

Although it is already nearly the end of October, the days are still very hot in here in Israel. The rains of autumn and that cool, clean feeling they bring are still just a wishful longing for the most of us.

But one gets tired of sitting in front of the perpetual-turning fan or the headache-inducing hum of the air con. No matter how hot it is going get, I promised myself, I am going on a HIKE already!!