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Remembering the Holocaust during a pandemic

Every year in Israel, exactly one week before we celebrate Independence Day, we remember all the people who have died in the Holocaust. From sunset the previous day until the first three stars show up in the sky the next day, the entire country is in mourning. Restaurants, theatres and coffee shops are closed. Most of the television channels are paused while the others play Holocaust documentaries or movies such as Schindler's List. Many national institutes - schools, the Knesset (Israeli parlement) and army bases hold a special ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance. These ceremonies are usually organized in such a way that they coincide with the sirens. At ten am, loud sirens throughout the entire country bring everyone to a standstill for two minutes so that we all can remember the dead. Entire highways come to a standstill as drivers pull over, get out of their cars and bow their heads in silence. School children, shop owners, factory workers, office workers, hospital sta

Ten things that I hate about life in Israel

I wish that public smoking would be banned already If you have read any of my blog posts, you must have realized that this South African has learned to love the land of Israel and all the crazy Israelis inside it. It took awhile, probably because it took me so long to learn Hebrew, but it has become a place I call home. A tourist may think that the locals are kinda rude, I think that they just have a tendency to speak their minds 😁. Many Israeli's may not eat properly with a knife and fork or know how to stand in a queue but it does not really irk the heck out of me. I think that their warm and helpful nature makes up for these small etiquette faux pas. Buuttt…..one has to be realistic and acknowledge that there is always room for improvement. Right? So here is my list of dislikes about life in Israel.  Note that I am not mentioning anything about Israel's unique security situation. Just your ordinary basic garden variety life in Israel dislikes. Most a

Special things Israelis say in specific situations

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash What happens in your country when a waiter drops a tray in a packed restaurant and everything on the tray shatters to pieces? Is there an awkward silence? Does everyone avert their eyes from the embarrassed waiter as he quickly sweeps up all the broken pieces? Maybe there are a few softly muttered curses from him or the floor manager..? Do you know what happens in Israel in such a situation?  The entire restaurant, including the manager and all the staff and the people passing by outside, and the person who sneaked in to use the toilet will gleefully shout out in unison: "MAZAL TOV!!" It means "Congratulations" in Hebrew and everyone is playfully 'congratulating' the waiter on his pending marriage.  The final act of a Jewish wedding is the symbolic breaking of something by stepping on a covered glass. It is done to remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then it is time to congratulate the couple and

The tumuli field of Ramat haNadiv

Ramat haNadiv is a small nature reserve nestling close to my town, Zichron Yaakov, in the northern-ish part of Israel. The reserve was established in 1965, and is actually a burial place for the Baron Edmund Rothschild and his wife Ada. The baron supported the early settlers in the area with money and advice from the leading scientists of the day.  That is also why the park is called Ramat haNadiv, it means more or less 'Benefactor Heights'. The tomb, that you can visit during the weekdays, is surrounded by a beautiful garden. And this garden is surrounded by a small reserve. Since we live in Israel, the reserve is not just about the local fauna and flora in their natural state. There are also several ancient archeological sites that you can visit. One of these archaeological  sites is the tumuli field at the southern end of the Ramat haNadiv reserve. The singular for tumuli is tumulus which means "a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves." 

The amazing clock collection in Jerusalem

In the attractive and characteristic neighbourhood of Rehavia in Jerusalem, not far from the president's residence, there is this a small museum called the Museum For Islamic Art .  It is a gorgeous museum filled with amazing artifacts. Personally though I think that the museum should be called the Museum of Eastern Art. Most of the artifacts pre-date Islam and/or originate from non-Arab speaking countries such as Turkey, India and Iran.  It is very likely that this watch was part of the loot of one of the greatest robberies in the art world

The subtle art of standing in a queue in Israel - a survivor guide

This is NOT queue in Israel, it is waay to calm and orderly If you visit Israel as a tourist, or are a new immigrant you may get the conclusion that Israelis do not have the queue-standing gene. They just seem to stand around in a bunch and then use their elbows to move forward when the train or bus arrives or when going through a building's security entrance. This is one part of life in Israel that can be difficult for new immigrants that I do not have an issue with at all. I mean, WHY do we have elbows? 😁 Just watch out for small old ladies though, they have a really mean shove in those tiny bodies of theirs. The REAL art of queue standing, or rather let me rephrase, the real art of queue moving is more like a contact sport here in Israel. And this is where all those newbies are mistaken. They may think that Israelis do not have the queue standing gene but they just have not yet been exposed to an extreme level of standing in a line.  Here in Israel queu

Praying for rain

As a South African living in Israel, I cannot help but constantly compare the two countries. Of course there are many differences but one of the major similarities is our dependence on rain water.  And since most of South Africa (though not the Cape area) gets its rain during the summer months and Israel gets its rain during the winter months, we are waiting for the rainy season at the same time. More or less during the month of October. It is then autumn in Israel and springtime in South Africa.