Thursday, 28 March 2013

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

the day after rocking the casbah

Palestinians living in central Hebron were amazed to hear the sounds of music emerging from their street at 4 am. 'We ran to the window and saw soldiers dancing,' one of them says. 'We used to be afraid of them, but today they are part of the neighborhood'

"The soldiers were singing out loud a song we never heard before and dancing with their rifles in their hands", Naoul recounts.

"It looked like a dance group in uniform," adds 15-year-old Rima. "At first I laughed, but it's not entertaining at all. It shows their ridicule towards us."

"We have gotten used to them. They have lost any sense of shame and so they allow themselves to dance in the middle of the street."
Rima has already encountered Israel Defense Forces soldiers dancing or singing on the streets of Hebron in the past. "Sometimes, when the muezzin announces a prayer, they imitate him or repeat his calls. This is another symbol of their contempt, but we have gotten used to that too," she says.
But both the mother and daughter admit that the soldiers sometimes manage to make the local population happy. "For example, when the small children play football, the soldiers join them and they play together. That's actually nice. For us they are already part of the neighborhood."

Rock the Casbah: Behind the scenes - Israel News, Ynetnews,7340,L-3916366,00.html

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

israelis are fun

"The situation in Hebron now is pretty calm, and when you don't have any incidents, soldiers get bored and this is what they do"

And here's the original video:

Monday, 25 January 2010

winter in Israel

I think it's almost fair to say that this year Israel is experiencing a winter that's almost worth the name. It has actually been raining a lot, and today we have maybe the coldest day of the year.

Of course I'm saying this now because starting tomorrow the temperatures will increase and the sun will shine again.

So, here's the forecast for next week:
(the temps are in F. In degrees Celsius it ranges from about 13 to about 24)

And, to be able to understand what this means, take a look at the Israeli annual averages:

Amazing, isn't it?
Notice that from May to September (and also April and October in some places) there's pretty much 100% of sunny days. And that doesn't mean some clouds, it means really sunny.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Yom Kippur 2

Yom Kippur, 5 p.m. - I saw the first two cars driving in 24hours. Since yesterday afternoon all the traffic stopped and people would either walk or ride bicycles.

As the gentile I am, I had two options for Yom Kippur: either go to the Kinneret Lake for a rebel barbecue (pork served, of course) or simply stay home, rest and work something. With my injured foot, the 3rd option of going to see how people who don't go to synagogues walk the middle of the roads and how they gather in the social centers in the city was just not possible.

I ended up staying home, so the only thing I noticed about this holiday was in fact the absolute absence of cars. I admit: I kind of enjoyed the silence. The dorms in the Technion are also almost empty because everybody goes home to "celebrate" the holiday.

Anyway, it's funny to remember the european movements that promote days without cars. Environmental friendly and stuff. Nahh.... that's no good motivation. Replace it for some religiousness and the social pressure of everybody doing it and you'll see the cleanest roads you could ever imagine.

And more, no one can have a smaller ecological footprint than a Jew on Yom Kippur: they don't drive, they don't turn on electrical devices, they don't make fire, they don't do anything, they don't even shower, they don't even eat! It's a day to make up with God.
Do that for an entire year and it will be like you weren't even here. I'm guessing you won't be...

Anyway, those two cars I saw were kind of lonely, there's no traffic yet. Let's wait another hour. Can't wait to see people and ask how does it feel after a day like this.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Yom Kippur - these people are insane

I didn't write anything for a long time. Had planned on posting about the trips to the desert and the Dead Sea, but it has been indefinitely delayed.

Anyway, last friday/saturday it was the Jewish new year which I celebrated with one of my friends' family. It was a very nice dinner with lots of food, mainly chicken and the traditional dish Gafilta Fish, and lots of apple with honey to have a pure and sweet new year.

The new year, רוש השנה (Rosh haShanah), also marks the beginning of the so called holiday season. It is followed by יום כיפור (Yom Kippur), the Day of Atonement, which will be next sunday/monday.

Here's a short description of the holiday, from Wikipedia:

"Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn of the Jewish Holidays. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrey. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a "book" on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt (Vidui). At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one's self absolved by God."

So far so good. Actually I know some people who usually don't care about any of the religions aspects, nor are they believers but in this day they spend 25 hours without food, ten of which are spent praying in a synagogue.

The insane part is that, unlike other religious days when people are allowed to not observe them, on Yom Kippur you actually CANNOT drive or eat outside or do anything. ALL stores are closed because on this day it is actually forbidden by law to work. It's not just a holiday when you don't have to work, you are FORBIDDEN.
I can't invite my friends for a barbecue (the ones who eat on this day) because probably the people around will go insane at us. Well... either we go spend two days in the middle of nowhere or we stay at home and eat in the dark so no one will sabotage us. Of course the eating in the dark is made up, but all the rest is actually true!

Let's see what happens anyway.

Some links:

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Holocaust Day - יום השואה

At 10 sharp this morning the sound of a siren was heard all over the country for two minutes.
I knew this would happen, so I stayed in my room. It's not war, relax, everybody already knew.

"On Yom HaShoah and Yom Hazikaron, the air-raid sirens are sounded throughout Israel to mark national moments of remembrance/silence. The accepted practice is to stop and stand at attention, no matter where you are (even cars on the highway just stop in the middle and the drivers stand outside their cars!)."

Of course I couldn't resist looking out the window to see if people actually stop doing whatever they are doing - including driving - and stand up in memory of the holocaust.
They do! (at least the ones who were at the gate of the Technion)
It was amazing to hear the sound go down and see the people in the streets getting in their cars and starting to move, all at the same time as if everything was alive again. It was like a ghost-movie moment.

Note: in Israel today is the Holocaust Day and next week, one day before the Independence Day, is the Memorial Day which is a national holiday. These days are observed according to the jewish calendar, so they float in the gregorian calendar.
14 Nisan: Holocaust Day (יום השואה, Yom Hashoah) - Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day
4 Iyar: Memorial Day (יום הזכרון, Yom Hazikaron) - Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day
5 Iyar, 5708: Independence Day (יום העצמאות, Yom Ha'atzmaut) - anniversary of the proclamation of the state of Israel in 1948