A Date in the Park
Favorite thing: Is this an ordinary date in the park? If you think the answer is yes, take another look. Look at their body language. Look at how far apart they're sitting. Look at their conservative dress. What you are seeing is a "dosi-date," as it is jokingly called in these parts ("dos" is a popular slang term for religious Jews).
Among certain sectors of the Orthodox population, young people are introduced by a matchmaker - a "shadkhan." In the olden days, the bride and groom only met under the wedding canopy. Nowadays, they do have some say in the matter. They are allowed to meet a few times to see if they hit it off. The trouble is, they are not allowed to be alone in a room together. So dosi-dates take place in public places. One of the favorite venues is a hotel lobby.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Arts and Culture
Masada - up the Snake Path
Favorite thing: There's a cable car that can take you to Masada. But I would encourage everybody to climb up the top along the Snake Path. The trail is not hard and it's absolutely safe thanks to the steps cut out in stone. The ascent takes about 40 minutes.
We left our hostel early enough to see from the top the sunrise over the Dead Sea. It was a wonderful experience. At first a reasonably fast climb to the top while we glanced at the beautiful sights around and then a truly breath-taking performance given by the sun. I felt as if it was just for us - a small group of the chosen spectators.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Making Their Mark
Favorite thing: Among Israel’s many immigrant communities are the Ethiopian Jews, who claim to be descendants of King Solomon. Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were secretly airlifted to Israel in 1984 and 1991 - Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.
Integrating in Israeli society has not been easy for them. It’s not so much the color of their skin - Israelis are relatively accepting in that respect - but that they literally dropped out of the blue into a completely foreign culture. Today, the community in Israel numbers around 80,000. The children who arrived with the airlifts have grown up and a new generation has been born in Israel, speaking Hebrew as their native tongue.
Now, for the first time, the Ethiopians are beginning to make their mark, in the army, in the singing and entertainment world, in sports. Recently, a very impressive Ethiopian girl named Mareta beat all her lily-white Israeli counterparts in a reality TV program called “Ambassador” and was sent to New York to represent Israel. I have no doubt we’ll be seeing more of her.
Many of the popular songs on the radio nowadays combine Hebrew and Amharic lyrics, and I just read a great review about an Ethiopian restaurant in Jerusalem that I plan to visit one of these days.
This is a photo of the kessim, the religious leaders of the Ethiopian community, in their white robes and turbans. They are paying a visit to the Western Wall, protected from the sun by colorful tasseled umbrellas.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
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Here Comes the Sun
Favorite thing: What are those funny contraptions on the roofs of Israeli homes? If you look out the window of the plane as it flies over Tel Aviv and prepares to land at Ben-Gurion airport, you will already catch a glimpse of them. They are solar water heaters.
Harnessing the sun’s rays, they supply households with hot water for about eight months a year. By law, all houses constructed in Israel must have solar water systems. As a result, Israel is the world leader in exploiting solar energy for household use.
How does it work? Well, think of a car parked in the sun on a hot summer’s day. You open the door and a blast of heat greets you. The sun’s rays penetrate the glass windows and the heat is trapped inside, turning the interior of the car into a veritable furnace.
The same principle is used to heat water for your shower. The system consists of two parts – a collector and a water tank. The collector is a glass panel fitted with black water pipes that absorb the sun’s radiation. Since hot water is lighter than cold water, the heated water in the pipes moves up towards the tank, which sits at a higher level, and the cold water sinks from the tank to the bottom of the collector, creating a natural circulation cycle.
A 150-liter tank (which is enough for most families) requires about 4 hours of sunlight on a non-cloudy day to heat up. In the Northern Hemisphere (Europe, North America and Asia), the collectors would be positioned facing south; in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia and South America), they would face north.
The cost of installing a solar water heater is about $500. In a sunny place like Israel, you can recoup your investment within something like 4 years. Inside the tank is an electric heating element for use on overcast and rainy days.Related to:
- Historical Travel
A Foolproof Sign of Autumn
Favorite thing: Israel has a very short autumn season. Very often, the weather swings from boiling hot to cold and wintry overnight , which doesn't mean it won't be hot again - even the very next day.
Israel is not New England: The leaves on all the trees don't turn red and orange and provide a glorious show of color for any length of time. In fact, most of the trees keep their leaves all year round. Some (at least those in front of my house) seem to shed their foliage at strange times of the year, like AFTER the winter, about a week before spring...
But there is one foolproof sign that autumn is here: the hatzav, or squill, with its spikes of white star-shaped blossoms. The hatzav grows wild around Israel. Look for it near hiking trails and rocky outcroppings along the roads.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Cultural Mix of Israel
Favorite thing: Was just thinking of the cultural mix that is the reality in Israel after putting the picture of Tal before, she being a dual national, both American and Israeli. Here in this pic you can see a gathering of friends here at home, Bulgarian, Turkish, Israeli, Morrocan, Tunisian, Polish, Romanian, American, Indian, Lithuanian, Belarussian, Ukranian all in one group of 18 people. That is what makes for lots of fun in our home ^O^Related to:
- Family Travel
Not Just About the Water....
Favorite thing: Don't make the mistake of thinking that it's really "just about the water", as a friend of mine once asked me when I returned from my first trip to Israel.
It's so much more complicated than that. Israeli pride runs deep, its politics are confusing and divisive, its people are diverse and passionate, its topography is a stunning and contrasting, and ultimately, its desire for peace is sincere.
The only way to know a country, is to see the country.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags!
Cell Phone Rentals
Favorite thing: Sharon recommended that we rent a cell phone while we were in Israel and this was an excellent suggestion. I found one that was very inexpensive (something like 65 cents a day, free incoming calls and outgoing calls costing around 30 cents a minute. I forget what the international call fee was but I am pretty sure it too was reasonable.) We picked up our rental phone (it even came with the instruction manual!) and when we were done, we returned it in a self-addressed envelope back to the rental place.
For more info see the URL below:
Cell Phone Rental
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New Terminal at Ben Gurion Airport
Favorite thing: Since November 2004 the old Small Terminal in Ben Gurion Airport (The main Airport of Israel) is closed and instead of It there's a new huge Terminal, Terminal 3 !The new Terminal is Huge and reminds the best airports around the world.
Much more shops, Much more to walk from one area to another and much more to walk to find a taxi or your rental car company.
So take that in consideration when you end your trip here, you'll need a bit more time at the airport when returning, that is if you're used to the old cute terminal.
One great thing is the train station that was built as an underground at the airport and it brings you easily and quickly to or from the airport !
Useful Hebrew Phrases
Favorite thing: One thing I find fascinating when travelling is to learn a few phrases of the language I will be in tocuh with. It is a form of how to get in touch to the local people where we travel.
So make sure you learn a bit of Hebrew, a few phrases, before you get to Israel.
These are the ones, I have used most:
- SHALOM: means ´peace´ or general greeting as "hello"
- BOKER TOV: good morning
- EREV TOV: good evening
- LAILA TOV: goodnight
- KEN: yes
- LO: no
- SLIJA: Sorry
- BEVAKASHA: please
- TODA: thank you
- TODA RABA: thanks very much
- HAONEG SHELI: my pleasure
- MAGNIV !: cool!
- TA'ASE HAIM: have a good time
- LEHITRA´OT: see you
- YALLA-BYE: bye byeRelated to:
- Business Travel
- Study Abroad
- Work Abroad
Passports and stamps
Favorite thing: If you're coming to Israel and thinking about visiting its Arab neighbors countries after this trip you better ask in the passport control not to stamp your passport !!!
A stamp of entering Israel WILL BE A PROBLEM for you if you're going to visit other Arab countris except for Egypt Jordan Turkey and Morocco.
Favorite thing: Syria controlled the Golan Heights from 1948 to 1967 when it came under the control of Israel. Most Syrians abandoned their houses, but some of them stayed, especially the Druze. Most of them retained their Syrian citizenship.
The Druze are a religious community that take some elements from three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They eliminate all rituals and ceremonies, believing that their spiritual contact with God is something continuous, so they don't need any holy days or pilgrimages. They are a closed community - no member of another religion can become a Druze.
Favorite thing: There is no Way to cross the border from Israel or V/V !!
For all of you who want to visit israel and Lebanon you will have to go first to Jordan and only from there to the next station.
Be ware of the passport stamp problem, If you are going to Israel first and then to a country such as Lebanon, Syria or others you better ask at the passport control not to stamp your passport cause that will be a problem for you when you'll want to Enter the Arab countries.
Favorite thing: This isn't exactly a favorite thing!
Many people don't realize how expensive the cost of living is in Israel. State security commands a high price, and it's reflected in the nation's economy. Seems you don't get a break anywhere. Sure, you get 4 or 5 Israeli shekels to the US dollar which sounds great - but then you get hit with U.S. dollar type prices on anything from grocery store items to hotel bills.
It pays (pun intended!) to keep this in mind when you arrive in Israel so that you're not taken by surprise when you find yourself hitting up the ATM machine (your card will work at any Israeli ATM machine which will dispense back to you in shekels.)
Volunteering in a Kibbutz
Favorite thing: Im adding this tip mostly cause this subject was discussed in VT forums many times and many questions were asked about it.
So if you're interested in that you have a link here that may help you:
Without doubt, the King David Hotel is the most famous and prestigious hotels in Israel and possibly...more
I stayed at the Diaghilev last December and it was really a great choice. The room was nice and big,...more
We choose this hotel for a 2 nights stay in Eilat and it turned out that this was a very good...more
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