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Vaccination Nation

Photo credit: Steven Cornfield Yesterday (9 January 2020) Bibi, the prime minister of Israel and our health minister got their second vaccine against the coronavirus. Once again the event was broadcasted live on television.  They got their first vaccination three weeks ago. The idea was to show everyone that the vaccine is safe and people shouldn't be scared to take it. One can however not say that the Israelis were all that worried about taking the vaccine in the first place. It was more like a frenzy to go and get vaccinated and then tell everyone that you got it. I noticed only one anti-vaxxer, originally from the USA, going on about how unsafe and untested it is and the government is just trying to placate us. Others, including me, were a bit hesitant for maybe two seconds but quickly got swept up in Operation "Let's jab everyone".  Age before beauty For two weeks we heard and saw all the over 60 year olds and health-workers getting shots. They would book
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The Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem

Brass with silver inlay from the Ayyubid or Mamluk period (14th century, Egypt or Syria) I haven't been in a museum for a long time. This #$% corona virus has not only made nearly everyone 'untouchable' but has also robbed us from enjoying ancient art! One of the most amazing, and little celebrated, joys of life is to stand in front of a glass cage in a museum. In my humble opinion of course 😊.  Ancient glass jars with a very modern design. One gets to appreciate the beauty that fellow human beings have made. These artists may have lived long before us, or come from a part of the world that one would never travel to. And yet there is a connection to these artists via their art. They made something for someone else to enjoy and appreciate and that is exactly what we as museum goers do. I don't think the artists whose work is displayed in the Museum for Islamic Art would have ever dreamt that their work will be marveled over in Jerusalem by Israeli Jews, Christians and

The first rain has a name

Rain is so precious and anticipated here in Israel.  Our long hot summers parch the land, man and beast. It is not just the heat - the hot winds all the way from the Arabian peninsula squeeze the last drops of life out of any living organism. AND cover everything head to toe with a thick layer of dust. It is no wonder that from about the end of September we start looking at the skies. Our very souls thirst for rain by then. This is also the time that religious Jews start to pray for rain, three times a day in their daily prayers. We all had enough by the end of September The nightly weather report finally gets some attention by the end of September. Like seriously, do we REALLY have to see a big dark red warning sign, filled with an impossible high number, to know that it is hot as hell? For every single day of our long hot summers? Come September month and we are waiting, with nearly a hold breath, for that first rain. It is called "yoreh" At first I thought it is no wonder

How do you know it is autumn in Israel

We do not pull on our sweaters just yet. It is more the smell of new wine and wild boar squealing in delight that lets you know that autumn is upon us. There are basically two weather modes here in Israel, rain and not rain. We get winter rains here in Israel - so when it rains, we are cold. The rest of the time we either boil from the heat or merely simmer from the heat. Technically we have nine-months long summers. (And I am not talking about cool summers!) If it doesn't rain, the heat just continues and our summers feel even longer. Most of us are still wearing sandals and shorts late into October. So how do you know when it is autumn time in Israel if the weather doesn't get cooler?  There are a few signs that the summer is slowly coming to a close. 1. The sea squill blooms. These flowers bloom around September for three to four weeks. Their beautiful white heads stand tall and are a welcome relief against the continuous background of dry and dusty. 2. The pomegranates'

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 conduct

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 Maritim a, 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 squill The 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 sudd

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