Entries tagged with “Israel”.


This is the week of the Independence day or in other words of the birthday of Israel according to the Jewish calendar. I decided to offer each day this week on my Facebook wall and in a few Facebook groups a short presentation and some music played by Israeli jazz musicians. While researching on youTube for this purpose I found a few variations on the theme of the national anthem ‘HaTikhvah’ (‘The Hope’). I dedicated an article a few years back to this topic, now I am adding some new versions added on youTube in the last few years and one classic that I discovered. I must confess that I am some kind of a fan of this niche genre. This started more than 45 years ago when I listened to Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Star Spangled Banner’ played live at Woodstock. I deeply believe that anthems are not dead songs, they are precious to many people, and they should not be played only by military bands.

 

(video source OliveJazz31)

 

The first interpretation belongs to pianist Yaron Herman, whom I presented yesterday on Facebook. Yaron lives in Paris and his ‘HaTikhvah here was played together with saxophonist and composer Emile Parisien at the Maison de la Radio in Paris on September 25, 2012 and broadcasted on France Musique Radio the same day.

 

(video source Zamir Daniel)

 

The next one belongs to saxophonist Daniel Zamir and mixes hip-hop and jazz.

 

(video source illanIRISH)

 

US-born Lazer Lloyd is a fine guitarist. He now lives in Israel and plays great music – mostly blues. Here is his version of the anthem.

 

(video source jaywilton)

 

Eugene Marlow’s The Heritage Ensemble is a contemporary world music quintet that records and performs mostly Eugene Marlow’s original compositions and arrangements of Hebraic melodies in various  jazz, Afro-Caribbean, Brazilian, and classical styles. This beautiful jazz interpretation of ‘Hatikva’ is taken from the album ”Making the Music Our Own’(2006) with Eugene Marlow(p), Darmon Meader (alto and soprano sax), Norm Lotz(b), Gary Schwartzman(g), Barry Altshul(d)

 

(video source LES GLASSMAN)

 

Here is how HaTikhvah sounds on the streets of Jerusalem played by organist Isaac Kissel.

 

(video source AntinousIsGod1)

 

Here the ‘classic’. You may remember the name Al Jolson  for his leading role in the first (full length) talking movie ever made, ‘The Jazz Singer’, released in 1927. He is considered the “first openly Jewish man to become an entertainment star in America”. His career lasted from 1911 until his death in 1950, during which time he was commonly dubbed “the world’s greatest entertainer”. According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, “Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock ‘n’ roll”. Here is his rendition of HaTikhvah sang with a beautiful Ashkenazi intonation.

 

 

source https://www.1stdibs.com/art/prints-works-on-paper/salvador-dali-hatikvah/id-a_113778/

source https://www.1stdibs.com/art/prints-works-on-paper/salvador-dali-hatikvah/id-a_113778/

 

I am adding to this collection of musical pieces the lithography that Salvador Dali dedicated to HaTikhvah – plate 16 of his series “ALIYAH, THE REBIRTH OF ISRAEL”. The series were commissioned by Samuel Shore, the head of Shorewood Publishers in 1968, for the 20th anniversary of the Independence Day. They were presented in the comprehensive exhibition of Dali’s works which was exposed in Haifa a few years ago.

 

Happy Birthday, Israel!

 

Andrei Klein s-a nascut intr-un ghetto in Transnistria in perioada Holocaustului. Putini copii evrei s-au nascut in teritoriile ocupate de germani sau in statele fasciste din Europa acelor vremuri, si doar o parte au supravietuit. Numarul celor care s-au nascut in lagare sau ghettouri este si mai redus. Ei apartin unei categorii speciale, tehnic sunt supravietuitori ai Holocaustului, desi multi dintre ei erau prea mici pentru a pastra in amintire fapte si imagini clare. Carnea si sufletele lor sunt insa direct influentate de cele prin care au trecut parintii si ei insisi in primii lor ani de viata. Psihologic ei sunt mult mai apropiati de generatia parintilor lor si a supravietuitorilor cu amintiri clare, decat de a doua generatie care a cunoscut Holocaustul exclusiv din povestiri. ‘Lea, Povestea familiei mele’ (aparuta in 2014 la Editura MEGA din Cluj-Napoca) este prima carte pe care o citesc scrisa de un autor din aceasta generatie si aceasta este numai una dintre trasaturile care fac din lectura acestui volum o experienta originala si surprinzatoare.

Titlul cartii este un nume, iar subtitlul pare a identifica genul. Lucrurile nu sunt insa asa de simple. Lea este numele pe care l-a purtat una dintre matusile autorului, una dintre cei sase surori si frati, copii ai croitorului Simon Berla nascut in Turda in 1880. Destinul acestei familii de evrei maghiari asa cum este descris in carte pare sa adune la nivel personal o parte din tragediile istoriei secolului trecut, marcat de Holocaustul in care a pierit o treime din evreii care traiau in acea vreme in lume. Simon a sfarsit la Auschwitz, la fel si sotia sa (mama a cinci din cei sase frati), fratii insa au supravietuit. Au supravietuit fizic lagarelor mortii unii, ghettourilor Transnistriei sau lagarelor de munca fortata altii. Supravietuirea fizica nu a insemnat nici pe departe sfarsitul suferintelor, Holocaustul a continuat sa le bantuie viata si cosmarurile, si sa influenteze modul de a fi, increderea fata de oameni, relatiile de familie si capacitatea lor de a iubi. Dintre toti Lea este cea care a avut destinul cel mai nefericit, si de aceea punerea numelui ei pe coperta cartii pare si un omagiu, dar si un simbol al concentrarii de durere si fragilitate care a fost destinul ei si al celor din jur.

‘Bandika, iti daruiesc cartile si scrisorile de familie, fiind convinsa ca de la tine nu vor ajunge la gunoi.’ (pag. 194)

Bandika este numele de alint al autorului, si mostenirea este primita de Andrei, ajuns in anii 70 in Israel ca imigrant, de la matusa Mariska. In mare masura cartea aceasta scrisa si rescrisa dupa marturisirea autorului de-a lungul a doua decenii se bazeaza pe teancul de scrisori ramase de la matusa si pe documente si fotografii de familie. ‘Lea, Povestea familiei mele’ este insa mult mai mult decat o cronica de familie, si ar putea ocupa un loc aparte in literatura Holocaustului daca autorul ar fi avut intentia sa faca literatura. Nu este exact cazul, mai degraba izbucneste din paginile cartii nevoia de a destainui, de a nu lasa acoperite de praful uitarii nici vicisitudinile istoriei, si nici persoanele care i-au fost apropiate (unele dragi, altele cu care s-a gasit in conflict, sau ale caror actiuni le judeca aspru dupa ani).

 

sursa http://laszloal.wordpress.com/tag/andrei-klein/

sursa http://laszloal.wordpress.com/tag/andrei-klein/

 

Prima din cele trei sectiuni ale cartii este cea care imbina cronica de familie cu cronica istorica, redand si documentand biografiile lui Simon si Zali Berla si ale copiilor lor. O familie de origine modesta si destul de tipica evreimii maghiare din Ardeal in deceniile interbelice, si in care evolutia vietii celor din generatia parintilor lui Andrei Klein este curmata de razboi si ascensiunea fascismului la putere atat in Romania cat si in Ungaria, familia fiind de fapt divizata intre cele doua tari europene si Palestina mandatara in care ajunsesera o sora si un frate, Mariska si Jeno. Parintii lui Andrei ajung din Vatra Dornei in ghettoul de la Moghilev, unde in conditii sub-umane reusesc sa supravietuiasca, sa dea nastere unui copil (Andrei) si sa-l aduca inapoi in Cluj la sfarsitul razboiului. Daca pe de-o parte lipsesc din aceste pagini mai multe amanunte si referinte istorice pe care le-as fi asteptat in acest gen de carte, exista si cel putin o poveste extraordinara si putin cunoscuta – cea a inginerului Siegfried Jagendorf, care a organizat primirea a 1200 de deportati la munca intr-o turnatorie care lucra pentru armata germana, asigurand conditii de supravietuire a majoritatii celor deportati si a familiilor lor. Despre acest Jagendorf, figura si faptele lui – care poate il aproprie de Schindler, sau poate de Kaestner – as dori sa aflu mai multe.

Marturia lui Roszi, mama lui Andrei intr-o scrisoare care Mariska, in Palestina:

“Nu mai sunt copilă, dar mă doare tare că nu mai am părinţi. Sunt o femeie de 30 de ani cu părul alb, care am trăit în partea urîtă a vieţii. Sunt după zvîrcolelile refugiului şi trei ani jumate de lagăr de concentrare, unde în condiţii mizere şi inumane l-am născut pe băiatul meu şi, ca printr-o minune, am reuşit să-l aduc acasă în viaţă.” (pag. 86-87)

Soarta membrilor familiei care ramasesera in Ardealul de Nord ocupat de Ungaria horthysta in urma Diktatului de la Viena a fost si mai tragica. O relateaza insasi Lea in scrisori trimise dupa razboi:

‘Două săptămîni am stat în ghetou, după care ne-au dus la gară şi am fost îmbarcaţi cîte 70-80 de oameni în cîte un vagon de marfă. Geamurile vagoanelor erau acoperite cu scînduri. Dacă voiai să stai mai ‘comod’, stăteai în picioare, nici vorbă să te poţi întinde. Şapte zile am călătorit mai mult îndărăt decît înainte, probabil ca să ne înfometeze… Şi au reuşit. Am primit o cantitate minimă de hrană şi apă. Mulţi oameni au murit pe drum.

Cînd uşile vagoanelor au fost deschise am simţit în aer ceva despre care am crezut că este îngrăşămînt pentru pămînt, doar la plecare hortiştii au spus că ne duc să lucrăm în agricultură. Am sărit înaintea părinţilor din vagon, ajutîndu-l pe tata să coboare. Tata putea să umble numai sprijinit în două bastoane. Doi soldaţi SS s-au năpustit către noi, unul din ei a smuls bastoanele de la tata, care în lipsa lor a căzut. Am vrut să-l ajut să se ridice, dar un SS-ist cu arma îndreptată către mine m-a oprit. Alţi doi l-au tîrît pe jos la unul din rîndurile care se formaseră deja. M-am uitat cu disperare după mama s-o ajut, dar era deja lîngă tata.

Presimţind că urmează despărţirea, am păşit pe rîndul care mi s-a indicat, un rînd în care am observat că majoritatea erau oameni mai tineri şi copii mai mari. Eram înconjuraţi de soldaţi înarmaţi, gata să-i omoare pe care care nu li se supuneau. Deportaţii în haine vărgate şi SS-iştii smulgeau copiii mici din braţele mamelor care urlau, iar pe alte mame le înghesuiau în rîndul unde erau şi părinţii noştri. Mai tîrziu, după ce ne-au tuns şi am schimbat hainele cu cele vărgate, am fost repartizate în barăci. Numai aici am aflat că aceia care fuseseră în rîndul celălalt mergeau spre pieire… În camere de gazare şi apoi la crematoriu.

Ne aflam în Auschwitz’

(pag. 108-110)

 

    sursa http://cluj.tvr.ro/andrei-klein-holocaustul-cartea-sa-si-supravietuirea-memoriei_7746.html

sursa http://cluj.tvr.ro/andrei-klein-holocaustul-cartea-sa-si-supravietuirea-memoriei_7746.html

 

A doua parte a cartii este cea mai pasionanta si cea mai surprinzatoare. O mare parte din text este compus din scrisori de familie aranjate oarecum in ordine cronologica, schimbate intre 1945 si 1956 de fratii Berla si sotii si sotiile lor. Sunt si mute ‘gauri’ in acest dialog, scrisori omise, scrisori care s-au pierdut, sau care au fost posibil interceptate de cenzura, caci Lea se alatura impreuna cu fiica ei Jaffa, Mariskai si lui Jeno in Palestina devenita Statul Israel in 1948, in timp ce Roszi si Erno (parintii lui Andrei) si Marci raman in Romania cazuta sub regim comunist. Este marturia unei familii profund sfasaiate de incercarile inumane prin care trecusera aceia dintre frati care supravietuisera lagarelor si ghetto-urilor. Cronica unei familii cu conflicte sordide, cu neintelegeri si tradari, cu minciuni si sinucideri. In centrul ei se afla din nou Lea, intrata imediat ce ajunsese in Israel in conflict cu sora ei mai mare, care isi luase cu ea fata dar il lasase in Cluj pe sotul ei Laci, descris de ceilalti membri ai familiei ca un caracter instabil si neloial, ale carui tradari Lea nu le poate accepta. Destinul ei se termina in tragedie.

‘Nu stiu cati supravietuitori ai Holocaustului traiau la acea data in spitalele de psihiatrie din toata lumea, unde soarta i-a risipit dupa terminarea razboiului, dar in Israel, la 12 aprilie 2007, s-a anuntat oficial: “in spitalul de psihiatrie Beer Jakov traiesc si astazi supravietuitori ai Holocaustului.’ (pag. 180)

Este destul material in acest capitol care se intinde pe vreo 90 de pagini pentru o telenovela cu tenta si sfarsit tragic. Poate candva cineva o va scrie. Tema familiilor distruse de Holocaust combinata cu imposibilitatea supravietuitorilor de a-si relua viata nu este de altfel un gen complet neabordat in literatura Holocaustului, cartea care mi-a venit imediat in minte citind povestea reala a acestei familii a fost Enemies, A Love Story (in idish: Sonim, di Geshichte fun a Liebe, in romaneste – Dusmani, o poveste de dragoste) a lui Isaac Bashevis Singer – care a inspirat un excelent film realizat in 1989 de Paul Mazursky, mare regizor decedat acum cateva zile, si o adaptare teatrala exceptionala pe care am vazut-o acum cativa ani la Teatrul Gesher din Jaffo, cu Sasha Demidov in rolul principal, un personaj cu multe linii comune cu Laci cel din relatarile lui Andrei Klein. Exista insa in saga impanzita cu tragedii a familiei Klein o trasatura diferita si inedita a acestei fracturi familiale post-Holocaust, care nu stiu cat a fost de discutata sau reflectata in memoriile sau fictiunile care s-au scris pana acum. Este vorba despre completa neintelegere si imposibilitatea aproape totala de dialog dintre membri familiei plecati in Palestina / Israel, si cei care ramasi in Europa au trecut prin Holocaust si i-au supravietuit. Povestirile ultimilor despre ororile Holocaustului (atat cat au fost povestite caci multi au ales sa taca in acei ani) sunt intampinate cu o doza de incredulitate de cei care nu au trecut prin asta – exista probabil o limita dincolo de care unii oameni nu pot concepe inumanitatea.

‘Si eu am suferit mult cu boala baiatului meu, Baby, si din cauza tensiunilor permanente cu arabii, a problemelor de securitate din tara si a razboaielor. Degeaba i-am explicat toate astea, Lea nu intelege. Imi pare rau ca a trebuit sa treaca prin traumele deportarii, dar asta nu schimba situatia …’  (pag. 118)

Ultima parte a cartii este si cea mai scurta si cea mai lipsita de surprize. Este relatarea copilariei, tineretii si maturitatii autorului, incluzand episodul emigrarii in Israel (sau ‘alia’ – urcare cum numesc israelienii aceasta tranzitie in care ei vad o fireasca repatriere). Experienta lui Andrei Klein cuprinde poate elemente necunoscute cititorului roman, dar desigur nu si israelienilor, ea are foarte multe elemente tipice biografiilor a mii de emigranti din Romania ajunsi in Israel la inceputul anilor 70, in perioada de crestere economica si euforie politica de dupa Razboiul de Sase Zile. Interesante sunt intalnirile cu unii dintre membri familiei si in special cu matusa Mariska, cea care apare in acest ultim capitol intr-o lumina diferita decat cea dezvaluita de comentariile si corepondentele din capitolele precedente. Relatarea se incheie in anul 1990, cu hotarirea autorului de a reveni in Romania, poate ca mai multe detalii despre motivatia acestui pas destul de greu de inteles pentru cititorul israelien ar fi fost interesante, dar ele nu sunt povestite aici.

‘Lea, Povestea familiei mele’ este o carte greu de lasat din mana din momentul in care ai intrat in vartejul de amintiri, pasiuni si conflicte descrise in carte. Andrei Klein nu este nici istoric si nici scriitor de fictiune, si totusi la sfarsitul lecturii ai senzatia ca ai aflat lucruri inedite despre o perioada dintre cele mai sumbre din istorie, si ca ai cunoscut o galerie de personaje bine conturate, ca dupa lectura unui roman de calitate. As indrazni sa spun ca aceasta carte ar merita sa se bucure de editii suplimentare. Una in primul rand in limba maghiara – caci maghiara este limba ‘de acasa’ a autorului, limba in care sunt scrise scrisorile de familie care constituie o mare parte din text, si desigur cititorul cunoscator de maghiara va putea extrage si mai multe informatii din citirea textelor originale. Apoi, o mare parte din tragediile Holocaustului care au lovit in asa masura familia Klein s-au petrecut in timpul ocupatiei Ardealului de Nord de catre Ungaria, si in anul in care s-au implinit 70 de ani de la deportari asemenea marturii ar fi importante intr-o Ungarie in care antisemitismul si revizionismul istoric sunt din nou in ofensiva. Dar si o noua editie romana ar fi binevenita, poate cu cateva adaugiri. As adauga de exemplu o scurta cronologie istorica, deoarece nici pentru cititorii romani nu sunt destul de bine cunoscute detaliile istoriei, si datele mentionate permanent de-a lungul cartii ar putea fi mai exact puse in context. As clarifica inca niste detalii ale relatiilor de familie, as mai adauga niste ilustratii – tatal autorului a avut o expozitie de intarsii in lemn anul trecut in Cluj, ilustrarea acestui talent ar adauga o dimensiune personajului sau; la fel verisoara Jaffa a fost artista, exista reproduceri ale lucrarilor sale? Merita de asemenea corectata ortografierea numelor unor localitati israeliene – este folosita in unele locuri ortografia maghiara, ceea ce nu este justificat intr-o carte in limba romana.

Pana la a doua editie care sa completeze si sa repare unele mici detalii, aceasta carte merita insa transmisa din mana in mana, citita, discutata. O recomand cu caldura.


It’s a sad day for the Israeli music and culture. Arik Einstein is dead. For folks who do not know that well Israel, Arik’s loss is like if Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen (may them live long and happy lives) would go. A symbol of the Israeli culture, a symbol of his generation. I know no better way to honor musicians who go than playing their music. Here is one I love, it’s called Me and You, the music belongs to Miki Gabrielov, the words are Arik’s:

Me and You,
We will change the world
Me and You,
And then all the other will join …

 

source http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.560371

source http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.560371

 

Este o zi trista pentru muzica si cultura israeliena. Ieri seara a murit Arik Einstein. Pentru cei care cunosc mai putin Israelul, pierdera lui Arik este similara pentru israelieni cu cea a unui Bob Dylan sau Leonard Cohen (sa fie sanatosi si sa cante pana la adanci batraneti). A fost un simbol al culturii israeliene si al generatiei sale. Nu cunosc o modalitate mai buna de a onora amintirea unui muzician care a plecat dintre noi decat a-i asculta muzica. Iata un cantec pe care il iubesc in mod special, se numeste Eu si Tu. Muzica este compusa de Miki Gabrielov, cuvintele ii apartin lui Arik:

Eu si Tu,
Vom schimba lumea
Eu si Tu,
Si atunci toti ni se vor alatura …

 

 

A few more below. There are so many. A year and two ago the Israeli Army Radio dedicated a special broadcast for his music, they played a full day of his beautiful songs, and it was not enough.

Inca cateva in continuare. Sunt atat de multe. Acum un an sau doi Galei Zahal (postul de radio al armatei) a dedicat o emisiune speciala muzicii sale, o zi intreaga de transmisie, si nu a fost destul pentru a le reda pe toate.

 

 

יהי זכרו ברוך

May his memory be blessed

Fie-i amintirea binecuvantata

 

For the Israel Independence Day this year I chose to present a cycle of works who have entered already the thesaurus of the Israeli and Zionist artistic mythology. Many of the visitors of the recent exhibition of the works of Salvador Dali in Haifa were surprised to see that one full wall was occupied by what seemed to be a real declaration of love for Israel and the Jewish people, while in the same room other paintings, statues, objects which looked very much like Judaica art completed the image.

 

alyah

 

There have been multiple discussions and interpretations concerning the history of this cycle of 25 prints published first in an edition of 250 copies in 1968. What was the real attitude of Salvador Dali towards the Jews, taking into account that contrary to many of his fellow artists in the surrealist generation he showed sympathy for Hitler and chose to stay and live in Franco’s Spain? Did he change his political views in time? Was he a descendant of the converted Jews keeping in secret his Jewish ascendance?  The answer is maybe simple, but we should avoid to make it simplistic. It’s a commissioned work, ordered and paid by the  Shorewood Publishing and Israel Bonds in 1968 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the State of Israel. And yet there is more than this, because the exploration of the Jewish theme seems to have extended in Dali’s work well beyond this commission. Yes, the market of the Judaica (Jewish traditional) art may have been a lucrative one among the prosperous collectors, many of Jewish origin. The works in this cycle and beyond have however feeling, sensitivity, and I may say a dose of respect which is somehow unexpected from the extravagant artist who did not hesitate to blow artistic and taste conventions.

Let us walk though a few of these works, and try to explain their meaning from the perspective of the Zionist angle. I have used some of the commentaries written by David Blumentahl at http://www.js.emory.edu/BLUMENTHAL/Salvador%20Dali%20Aliyah.htm (You can see there also all the drawings in the cycle)

 

photo-6

 

A few of the first drawings in the cycle connect the reality of present Israel to the historical roots of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. One of these is ‘The Wailing Wall’ - the last reminiscent of the walls of the Second Temple, which is drawn by Dali from photos taken before the War of Independence (there is a large plaza today in front of the Wall, and men and women are not allowed to pray together, at least at this moment in time (there is a whole dispute regarding the enforcement of the Orthodox rules in this place raging today).

 

camps

 

‘Out of the Depth’ takes its title from a verse in the Psalms “Out of the depths have I called unto you, O Lord.” It’s the name of the cantata by Bach and the phrase was used by Martin Buber for a small book of Psalms translated into German and published in Nazi Germany in 1936. The horror of the Holocaust is in the Zionist narrative the very foundation and the ultimate justification of the existence of the national home of the Jewish people.

 

photo-4

 

‘On the Shores of Freedom’  shows one episode of the illegal immigration which in the years after the end of the second world war and the independence of Israel brought to Israel survivors of the Holocaust despite the blockade imposed by the British rulers over Palestine. The name of the ship can be clearly seen, it’s Elyahu Golomb which dates the episode described in the painting in the year 1946.

 

photo-3

 

‘A Moment in History’ processes a famous photograph in which David Ben-Gurion reads the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, on May 15, 1948. Ben-Gurion wears a tie, it is said it was the only time in his life when he wore such a garment. He also seems to have a Dali mustache?

 

photo-5

 

The exultation of the moment of the proclamation of the independence was immediately followed in the historical narrative by the fire of the War of Independence. This is the moment caught by Dali in ‘The Battle of the Jerusalem Hills’.

 

photo-7

 

Victory and celebration are represented by Hatikvah, a visual representation of the national anthem of Israel. The words were written by the Jewish-Polish poet Naphtali Herz Imber during his stay in the Romanian city of Iasi in 1877, and the music is a transcription by Samuel Cohen of a tune popular in Eastern Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Cohen later recalled that he had heard first the tune in the Romanian variant – Carul cu boi [The Ox Driven Cart] (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatikvah). The same tune inspired the opening of the very popular symphonic poem Vltava by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana

 

photo-2

 

Commission or not, Salvador Dali created a series of work which are among the best in the Jewish and national Israeli imagery. I will let Blumenthal speak again (source http://forward.com/articles/136676/dali-and-the-jews/):

As for the “Aliyah” series, Blumenthal concludes simply that it was a professionally executed commission, pointing out that some of the greatest artworks in history have been as much — compositions by Mozart and Bach and, this writer would add, paintings by Rafael, Rembrandt and others. “Part of the responsibility of a scholar is to say that this stuff, even if it’s commissioned, is serious,” Blumenthal said. Indeed, when one lets the art of “Aliyah” speak for itself, its bold expressionism and moving imagery answer the question on their own.

Hag Atzmaut Sameah! Happy Independence Day! Happy Birthday, Israel!

 

Below are a few pictures taken this morning during a short tour in Tel Aviv and Yaffo.

 

 

Beit Tamar is the name of the building that stands at the intersection of the streets Chelouche and Shabazi in the Neve Tzedek area of Tel Aviv – restored by somebody who liked a good laugh.

 

 

My profession almost never leaves me, so I learned a new meaning of the acronym WWW ….

 

 

… as well as a new place where open source is being largely used.

 

 

Good news! The rock of Andromeda is in our hands!

 

 

Yes, there is a lighthouse in Yaffo.

 

 

There is also a church at the end of the tunnel …

 

 

… and there is a new and beautiful fountain also (or at least I do not remember having seen it before).

 

I am spending a short vacation traveling all over Israel with old friends from Bucharest. It’s their first visit in Israel, but for me it’s maybe the 20th time I have the joy to be guide to family and friends coming to Israel, to share with them some of the beauties, history, real life here.

I do not have too much time today (I am busy as I am on vacation!) but I would like to share a few snapshots taken in Tzfat (Safed), one of our stops today.

 

 

Safed has a long and troubled history. While a Jewish presence was almost permanent for the last two thousands years, the political and military control over the city changed hands many time in this interval. The last change was in 1948 when the Jewish forces won after fierce fights the battle over the city. In the years that followed the former Mosque Market became the artists district of the city, with many remarkable artists settling here, opening ateliers and galleries.

 

 

This is how the closed Galleries Alley looks today.

 

 

 

From the galleries alley one can access the Yosef Caro synagogue. The original synagogue was built in the 16th century by the famous rabbi who authored Sulkhan Arukh - the book of interpretations of the Halacha written for the Jewish communities in the aftermath of the expulsion from Spain. Destroyed twice by the earthquakes in 1759 and 1837, it is now a beautiful example of the Sephardic style synagogues.

source http://www.embassyofisrael.co.uk/

 

These are maybe the most Israeli two days in the year. Memorial Day – the day we remember the soldiers fallen in the wars of Israel and the victims of the terror attacks against Israel precedes the celebration of Independence Day – the day of re-birth of the Jewish state.

 

source http://www.offshore-radio.de/one.htm

 

On all holidays I search the Internet for information connected one way or another with the holiday. For Independence Day this year I researched a little the history Israeli rock bands and I picked a few relevant names, sounds and images. The search itself was interesting, as I found out that while building again the country and the nation, young Israelis had time to listen to what happened on the musical scene in the world and created a local musical scene that was for the last few decades challenging and interesting, searching for the ways of expressing the problems and the emotions of the young and not so young generations here. I hope that you will enjoy what I found.

 

(video source spirtw72)


The Curchills were one of the first Israeli bands to play psychedelic and hard rock in the 60s and 70s, they played in English most of their songs and worked with local star Arik Einstein.

 

(video source Korozzz)

 

Sipurei Pogy (Pogy’s Stories) is a collection of songs by Kaveret a band which became popular in the 70s, combining catchy songs and humorist texts. It is said that one of their concerts was attended by half a million people at the time the whole population of Israel was three million. I am not sure where these half a million people gathered, but even as a story this is record-breaking.

 

(video source lahatuna)

 

Tamouz founded in 1976 were short-lived, but they had a huge hit Sof Onat HaTapuzim (End of the Oranges Season) and launched the solo careers of two popular singers Shalom Hanoch and Ariel Zilber.

 

(video source speedyjew42)

 

This recording of Mashina dates back from 1992, at the Arad festival, which used to gather the best Israeli bands and singers until a tragic accident in which several young people died led to its interruption.

 

(video source 1975clum)

 

Zikney Tzfat (The Elders of Safed) brought for the few years of their existence a wind of punk and grunge on the Israeli rock scene.

 

(video source EifoHayeled)

 

Another popular band of the same period was Eifo HaYeled (Where’s the Child).

 

(video source taikang)

 

Crossing into the new millenium Beit HaBubot (House of Dolls) is one of the bands which focuses on melody and is closer to mainstream.

 

(video source hadagnahashofficial)

 

Formed in the 90s HaDag Nahash (The Fish-Snake) is one of the most influential bands today, combining rock and hip-hop, and bringing in their recordings and concerts a strong social and political message.

 

(video source fistuker)

 

One of the most popular bands today is HaYehudim (The Jews) formed also in the 90s and the name of the song is HaZman Shelach (Your Time).

 

(video source tseder3)

 

Last but not least, here are Etnix which combine rock with Middle-Eastern sounds.

Happy Birthday, Israel!

I discover each time I am here the beauty and fascination of Jerusalem, this place unique on Earth for its combination of faith and history, of landscape, people and emotions. The weekend Liliana and me spent here was a quiet interlude in a busy period with many challenges. Jerusalem welcomed us with fresh air and a cool night (well, cool at least relative to the humid heat of the seashore area where we live) which we used for a guided tour on the ramparts of the old city.  We had already met the guide in one of the previous tours, a young Jerusalemite architect, passionate about his city, its history and people named Noam.The tour took us on the fortified walls of the old city which are not that old actually as they were built in the 17th century during the reign of sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The portion of the walls we walked was the one between the Jaffa and Sion gates, then on the way back we strolled inside the Jewish Quarter and stopped in a few of its more significant places.

I will focus my rendering of the night tour around two of the pictures I took, quite significant for the complex and complicated history of this place.

 

The start of our tour was at the Jaffa Gate. The tower gate and the plaza at the entry of the Old City is marked by ceramic tiles signs created in the 20th century by Armenian ceramists. I wrote about this tradition in a previous blog story about a tour that was dedicated to the Armenian presence in Jerusalem. Look at the two signs. The upper one (‘Jaffa Gate’)  is from the 20s or the 30s of the previous century, during the British Mandate. You can see that the first language is English, as the mandatory laws demanded. The lower sign (the name of the square) has a more complex story. If you look with attention you can see it has two frames. Actually it’s been made in two stages, about 20 years apart. First was the sign written only in Arabic and English which was made during the Jordanian rule over the Old City, in the period Jerusalem was divided and no Jewish presence was allowed in the Old City. Then, after 1967, when the city was unified again under Israeli rule the Hebrew name of the square was added on the upper side of the sign. The same Armenian ceramist made the two parts of the sign.

 

Here is another picture made on the roof of one of the most famous buildings with Biblical significance in the Old City of Jerusalem. In the building below according to the tradition no other than King David is laid to rest. Jews, believers or not, come to pray and pay respect to one of the greatest kings in the history of nation, a saint and a prophet for the other religions. Psalms are being read here all day, all days of the year. The church watch tower belongs to the Dormition Church built at the beginning of the 20th century because it is on the same place that Mother Mary is said to have risen to heaven, and the Last Supper took place. The mosque structures built atop the roof mark the fact that King David of the Jews is also Nabi Dawud, a prophet in the Muslim faith. The symbols of the three religions superpose and interleave with an amazing density on this small and disputed territory.

Here are a few more snapshots from the Thursday night tour.

 

 

The Tower of David (actually built during King Herod) and the new complex of Mamilla.

 

The Abbey of Dormition appears at the end of a narrow street.

 

A portion of what is left of the Cardo – heart of the city in the Byzantine period.

 

Entry Gate of the Beit-El yeshiva.

 

 

Old City of Jerusalem, close to midnight.

 

 

 

 

 

If elections were hold today in Israel a political party that never existed and a politician who was born only in the imagination of TV script writers and comical series directors would have good chances to exceed the minimal percentage and enter the Israeli Knesset. The name of the party is The Central Liberal Party (Hebrew acronym is MeLeL) and the politician’s name Ruby Polishuk. The Israeli electorate would not view something exceptionally new in MeLeL which is largely inspired from the liberal-secular Shinui party which about one decade ago increased dramatically it’s presence in the Israeli Knesset up to 15 mandates and entered Ariel Sharon’s government under the leadership of maverick and contested journalist Tommy Lapid, just to implode and disappear from the political scene three years later due mainly to internal conflicts. They would neither get too impressed by the idea of a mediocre politician, all but unknown to the wider public getting into the position of the minister of Social Progress, a ministry with a great name and no budget, as social progressing the weak layers of the society is a great idea in electoral slogans, but not one that gets any attention when elections are over. After all one third of the members of the Israeli Knesseth are ministers or vice-ministers, and a real Mrs. Polishuk was a MK, fact that seems to have been unknown even to the authors of the series. Polishuk is BTW a game of words with multiple meanings in Hebrew, the most obvious being the combination between politics and the Mid-Eastern open market (‘shuk’) the place of all bargains and tricks under the hot sun of the Levant.

 

source http://www.facebook.com/RubyPolishuk

 

While the first season of the series mainly followed the process where the new minister installed as a puppet and cover-up by handlers Humi Schalit (media personality Amnot Dankner in a combination of parody and homage to Tommy Lapid) and Kozo Avital (Guy Loel as the cynical media master in tune with all the political tricks and image manipulation) build the persona of the minister of the ministry with great goals and no budget, the second season that just ended takes a more serious tone and builds the portrait of the politician with a human dimension that was hard to guess previously. To a great extent this is due to the excellent acting of Sasson Gabai, one of the lead Israeli actors, but also to the smart and sensitive writing and gradual building of the character. In a country where every move of the politicians is under the permanent scrutiny of the media, with the tiny dimensions and huge contrasts of Israel it is just natural that the weaknesses of the politicians are our own weaknesses, and the tricks they play at national level are an extension of the tricks of survival that each of us play in the day-to-day life. Gabai’s Polishuk represents the corruption and lack of principles we put on the account of the politicians who lead us, but he also one of us in his mistakes. So seem to be many of the other characters around and those who followed the two seasons of the series until now may have started to care for the single mother and divorced office manager Solly Barzel (Hanna Azoulay Hasfari), for the young, ambitious and always gaffing communication manager Tkuma (Shir Gadani), for the neglected wife Monique or for other members of the staff of the minister. There is something of us in many of those and this helps us identify them as some among us.

 

source http://www.ynet.co.il/PicServer2/02022009/1999655/2_gd.jpg

 

I will not tell too much about the end of the season which is IMO simply genial, human and painful, open and making us want to see a third season come true. As with real life drama mixes into the comical thread which was dominant for most of the two seasons.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrZPPZeSn0w

(video source TheIsraeliNetwork)

 

What comes next? I do not know yet if there will be a next season of ‘Polishuk’ – as a viewer I certainly wish it. Israeli viewers cannot miss making the parallel with the wonderful British comical series ‘Yes. Minister!’ which a few seasons later became ‘Yes, Prime Minister!’. In real life the liberal center melted and disappeared in Israel, and the nationalist and religious extremes are nowadays dominant. A Prime-Minister Polishuk would be almost pure fantasy relative to the reality of today’s politics, but maybe a fantasy worth enough for the Israeli voters to make a party that does not exist and a politician which was never born exceed the minimal representation percentage in the elections.

 

 

I am no fan of ceremonies and speeches. The one yesterday was however one that I would not miss as the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzlya celebrated its 2010-2011 graduates. And two of the speeches at the rather long ceremony said things that really interested me and I will share them here.

Professor Uriel Reichman spoke about the history of the college that he founded in 1994. It’s a private college and no funding comes from the state budget. (for full disclosure the taxes we paid were approximately the double we would have paid in a state university). 1400 students graduated this year in one of the six schools specialized in law, computer sciences, business, economics, government and diplomacy, psychology. About a quarter of them come from other countries and more than half of those in the generation that graduated this year chose to make alyah and build their life in Israel. Approximately ten percent of the students who are coming from weaker economic families benefit from scholarships covering their studies. Combining the theoretic studies with the practical applications, encouraging free and independent thinking, creativity and personal initiative the college is today the best or among the best in all the fields it educates the students. I would add that the fact that the college is located in Herzlya transformed the city in many ways – some good, other like the increase in the cost of lodging not that good – but certainly they inject energy in the life of this northern neighbor of Tel Aviv.

The second speaker who impressed me was the head of the students union. I was expecting one of these speeches full of thanks for the professors, memories of the good time spent together and promises to meet in 10, 20 and 50 years. These were not completely absent, but there was also something else. The guy, towards his 30s, a man who like many other learned, worked, and went to the army service during his studies had his first daughter born a few weeks ago in the very hour when Israel transits from Memorial Day to Independence Day. He shared with the audience the feelings and wishes for his daughter – the dream to see her grow in a Jewish and democratic country, a homeland where any Jew can come at any time he decides to return and live in his country and where non-Jewish citizens can live their lives in full and equal rights, a country with recognized and safe borders, a country that is proud of what its citizens have achieved and standing in deeds by its moral principles, a country inspired by its history and tradition but where any man and woman can walk, dress and behave as they wish without interfering or imposing on the way other walk, dress and behave. A beautiful dream yet to become true that the graduates of this year will need to wok hard and sometimes fight to achieve.

And yes, I am the proud father of a BA graduate in Computer Sciences. Congratulations, son!