Yep, here everybody lends a hand when we prepare the BBQ, VT member or NOT...you can see Xiao, Vanessa and Ilana giving me a hand making some salads in our kitchen.
Maybe you will be lucky enough to have TAL do the BBQ..
And of course David and Michelle also helped out...
And Vere brought the wine.....^O^
Everything from Zorro to Pochahontas, the merry widow, Flintstones, popeye, the mad moroccan, Minnie Mouse and even the little girl in pigtails, everyone loves getting into the act...maybe we will begin voting for best costume, what do you think ^O^
(sorry I have had to remove a picture at the request of our friend)
Gabrielle is an old friend from Germany who came to live in Israel and on the other side is our new friend who came to live and study in Israel (sorry I have had to remove the picture at the request of our friend, she is being forced by her government to remove any signs of her visiting Israel). We are not only VT friends, but friends on all counts. Friends become a true part of our extended family.
Yes Channuka this year was a very international affair here in our household, at the table you can see (from left front...) Ildi & Yossef (Hungary), David & Michele (USA), Zohara (Israel), a friend whose name I am not allowed to mention (Turkey), Tal (Israel/USA), Marcella (Chile/Israel), Illana (France/Israel) and of course you local home photographer ME (USA/Israel).
The second picture shows the group reaction when we told them what they were doing in this dance...Zohara in her Kindergarten typically has the children raise their hands in this way to symbolize the burnin candles lit on Channuka...but today they were also told that this is a symbol for a group that provides "roofs" (or homes) for mentally retarded children....
The third picture shows everyone learning a classical Israeli dance, the HORA.
The fourth picture shows everyone posing naturally for my photo !!!
The last picture shows Tal lighting the traditional candle, on this particular day it was the fifth day of Channuka, a holiday that lasts 8 days.
Michele (jadedmuse) and David arrived at a very good time, at Channuka, a season which we enjoy celebrating with family and friends. As you can see in the first picture, David and Michele both know the secret VT sign.
The brought some presents for Tal, which helped them to break the ice with our shy daughter very quickly.
We took them to visit Masada with another friend who came along to help me explain about this ancient site.
We also visited Ein Avdat, an oasis in the desert that I always love, no matter what time of year, this small trickle of water creates a green wonderland along the small rivebed. At quiet times you can see dozen of desert Ibex.
- Shalom, shalom.
- Shalom, hag sameach (happy holidays).
That's how the Shavuot holiday started for me at the Sampson house. I was the only non-Jewish and non-Hebrew speaker of the bunch, but I still had a good time.
Shavuot, like the Sabbath, lasts from sundown day 1 to sundown day 2 and commemorates the anniversary of the day when the Israeli people got the Torah (their sacred book) on Mount Sinai and it's usually either in late May or early June. On a Metro newspaper small note, I read that this holiday was previously linked to the harvest of wheat, with a picture of men and young boys harvesting some wheat in preparation for the festivities.
On this holiday, pretty much everything closes down and families get together to have dinner featuring cheese in a lot of ways: pies, pizza, breads, a cheese platter... At the Sampson house we had delicacies like some cheese croissants and salty pastries, I believe a cheese pie, a (to me) luxury version of macaroni and cheese and a delicious mash of cheese and broccoli with soft drinks and Israeli wine.
Note: this holiday is celebrated all over Israel but because I experienced it in Arad, I put it here.
The Jewish New Year, called Rosh HaShana, literally translated means "Beginning of the Year".
One of the customs to celebrate is to share a slice of apple, dipped in honey to signify that the new year will be sweet. Here you can see our friends Ziv and Nissiem sharing the custom with us.
One thing that surprises many people is that the Jewish calendar does not progress according to the generally accepted yearly calendar. It is a moon based calendar and the holidays are determined by the phases of the moon, so the holidays fall on different days each year (at least different days when compared with the regular Julian calendar)...so while the Christian New Year is always January 1st, the Jewish New Year may fall on any date in September or October....
Our own local "custom" is having BBQ's anytime possible. So when the organizers of the Jeruslaem 2008 VT Meet contacted us and asked if we would be willing to have the group down to our home for a BBQ, we of course ACCEPTED.
Antonio, Simon, Froseia, Valentina, Louisa, Carmen, Jo, Angela, Julie, Vere and Katherine were all there.
It happened to be the Jewish New Year, so we greeted our fellow VTers with the Jewish custom of having apples and honey to welcome in the new year... but this was BEFORE we began work...
BBQs are not as easy as you may think, so everyone pitched in and gave us a hand preparing the food, moving it all out onto our back porch and even opening the bottles of wine ^O^
As you might have guessed already we had a wonderful time and enjoyed having them all in our home and they are ALL welcome back for a revisit anytime.
People will do anything to attract attention it seems, but can you imagine having a policeman stop you and you are dressed up like this ^O^ It did happen to our friend Ludwig last year when he was dressed up as a hospital patient who had undergone major "repair", he was totally covered in bandages and even had a "bag" for "liquids" ^O^
Purim is the best and funniest holiday of the year, it gives the grownups a chance to let their hair down, or put it up as the costume needs ^O^...this year we decided that the "theme" would be cartoon characters...first you need to decorate and get your dance music ready, but then you are ready to PARTY, friends, food, music, drink and games.
I guess it is written in stone that kids will grow up and become independent, just the way of things. But it is also always a new thing for a parent to realize that their little kid is becoming an adult. Just one proof for me was when our daughter Tal got her first tattoo. She has been asking for one since about age 13 but always told her "When you turn 18"......that time arrived all too quickly. Her she is at age 18 getting her first tattoo as our birthday present to her (it was a surprise by the way).
When hiking or biking in the desert there are a few things you have to remember. Many routes were carefully marked for the visitors, make sure you follow those, because it is very easy to get lost or even get injured if taking a wrong path.
If you're exploring the desert without a guide make sure you have an updated map and that at least one person knows where you're going and when to expect you back.
Ever wondered where green, tasty, salty capers come from? Apparently, it's a part of our desert vegtation and it grows in Mediterranean countries. This wild bush can be seen in many places along the Ein Bokek route. It has tiny white flowers when it blossoms but the capers themselves can be of a different size. Usually, capers are gathered by hand, but I don't know if you can try pickle them later. After all it's a wild bush.
Yes I know that Virtual Tourist is a travel site, but one of the main "attractions" for me when I travel is meeting the people, aside from the physical beauty of a country it is the PEOPLE who make it what it is culturally and artistically so many of my pictures revolve around people, just like my daughter Tal and our friend Xiao shown here.
As I was saying you have to find the Afikoman to end the holiday meal, and the finder gets a reward...usually the children do the "hunting", well these were the only "children" we had this year, they were the youngest ^O^
You can see Ilana, Titi and Tal and how happy they were to share the prize ...