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Coronavirus 2.0 - The shadow deepens

We are in a second lockdown in Israel and it is much worse than the first one.During the first lockdown, even though we were all very worried, we were happy to protect the compromised and stay at home. Our infection and death rates were of the lowest in the world. Israel was praised all over the world for taking such swift action in these uncertain times.And yet, here we are again in a second lockdown. One of the first countries to do so because our infection rates are scaringly high. We seem to reach a new record of infected people everyday. Three thousand a day, four thousand a day, even up to seven thousand a day.We have even surpassed the USA in daily corona virus deaths per capita. I cannot help but think that this situation is such a good metaphor for life in Israel. We are good at handling a crisis. We know what to do if a bomb explodes, or if we see a suspicious package or someone fainted on the train. One day on my commute, when I was still commuting, the train conductor stop…
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Sea squill - the Israeli wildflower that blooms at summer's end

The days are still hot in Israel. Very hot. We barely survive from one heatwave to the next and the air conditioning units hum in the background 24/7. The only time we dare to go walk or run is either early in the mornings or in the evenings, long after the sun has set.Not that there is much to see outside - the land is scorched and dry. Only the long dead weeds are still visible in the fields but they themselves are also slowly crumbling into dust. The only bit of greenery is from the long-suffering olive trees covered in a year’s dust.But wait! What are those long stalks covered with little flowers? It is the hatzav! The hatsav, Urginea Maritima, known in English as the sea squill, is a unique Israeli wildflower. It is unusual and different in many ways. 
The special features of the sea squillThe sea squill's blooming period is at the end of the summer and not in the spring time like all the other wildflowers. The 'end of summer' does not mean that the days are suddenly s…

Small country complex

The country of Israel is small. It is actually quite tiny if you compare it to other countries. We are even smaller than countries such as Cuba, Ireland, Moldova and Puerto Rico. It is more or less the same size as New Jersey in the USA or the Kruger National Park in South Africa. As a South African, I used to wonder where all the people live ( 8 million) because I know the Kruger National Park and though it is full of animals, it is not heavily populated by people..:) Later I realized that most Israelis live in apartments and not houses and also that we live quite close to each other. But let’s go back to Israel’s size. So how big, or small, is it really?The total area of the State of Israel is 22,145 square km (8,630 square miles). The land area  is 21,671 square km. It is 420 km (260 miles) long and 115 km (71 miles) wide. You can cross the width, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea in 90 minutes by car. It will take you about nine hours to cross the country from the very no…

The Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem

In a northern-ish corner of the Old City in Jerusalem, not far from the Damascus Gate and right at the edge of the Via Dolorosa, hides the Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family in Jerusalem. Outside the gates of the hospice, you find yourself in hustle and bustle of the Muslim quarter. Inside the hospice you will feel as though you have time-travelled to 19th century Europe.I first thought that I got the wrong address on the day that I visited. The building on 37 Via Dolorosa street looked like a large and imposing wall with a large and imposing wooden door. A huge and ancient door that was very firmly closed. A few locals, who were sitting in the shade on the steps, confirmed my feeling that I was not at the right place. But this is Israel, and I know that the locals are always happy to help.“Is this the Austrian Hospice?”, I asked them.“Yes”, says one of the step sitters.“Do you know if it is open today?”, I asked. We are still living in the shade of the corona virus and many places i…

Watermelon - an Israeli summer love affair

It is not an exaggeration to say that Israelis are hot-tempered and love to argue. It is sort of a national sport here.

It is actually surprising that in such a small country, so many people find so much to argue about. Apart from the usual suspects such as politics, religion and parking spots, the people of Israel can argue about trivialities such as the shaded places at the beach, talking on the phone in the quiet train carriage and standing in a supermarket queue.

There is however one thing in Israel that EVERY single person agrees about.

Their love of eating cool watermelon in the hot Israeli summers.

It doesn't matter if it is an Arab, Jew or Christian. Religious child or secular great-grandfather. Everyone passionately loves eating watermelon here in Israel.

Most of us eat watermelons at home but it is also a firm favorite at picnics, parties and even restaurants. Be aware though that watermelon in a restaurant can be really expensive.

The ultimate, most favourite place to …

The quiet summer

Summers in Israel always used to be special for me.

The entire country feels as though it has entered vacation mode even though most of us are still working. This is the time when new ice cream flavours are announced - you can never eat enough ice cream to cool off properly in our summer heat! 

I am always amused at how fond Israelis are of watermelon flavoured ice cream because Israelis eat real watermelon nearly as much as they drink water in the summer.

Israelis who wear flip-flops year round invest in a new summer pair and the rest of us join this extreme casual look. Daily more and more people abandon their sport shoes and proper sandals and flip-flop everywhere. 

We sign up at the local swimming pool for the summer and count the days until the @$%÷/ jellyfish leave our beaches. Israel is a small and skinny country and the coast is not that far away for most of us. 

The Israelis might not swim as much as South Africans (I was surprised that school children here are not taught to swim …

The Blood of the Maccabees flower

That is correct, we have a small wildflower here in Israel called the Blood of the Maccabees. I agree that this is quite a macabre name for such a cute little flower. However there is a long history behind this local wildflower and its unusual name.