Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Thoughts On Yom Ha’atzmaut

Earlier this week was Israeli Independence Day or Yom Ha’atzmaut.

I don’t want to tell about about the Israel that you see on the news. We all get enough of that when we turn on our televisions or open the local newspaper. I want to tell you about the Israel that I have been to and I hope that one day, you will visit Israel for yourself.

Foodies will be high heaven when they visit Israel. There are more than enough options to please any palate (vegan included). I haven’t been to Israel since 2005, but my mouth waters at the memory of some of the food that was consumed.

There is nothing like a home cooked Bedouin meal with bread fresh from the oven.
If hospitality means good food, the Druze homeowners who invited American strangers into their home for a meal understood that meaning of the word.

The beaches in Tel Aviv are some of the most beautiful beaches on earth.

Putting my toes into the Mediterranean was heaven, given that I was visiting when the East Coast was experiencing the usual cold January weather.

If there is one place that you visit in Israel, I recommend that you go to the Dead Sea. Besides the skin nourishing mud, the floating in the Dead Sea is an experience that you must have for yourself.

And finally, for the history buff, Jerusalem is the ultimate one two punch of history and the modern world. One cannot help but see where the past and the present collide.

Jerusalem, if I forget you….
Jerusalem, where the past and the present collide.

Happy 71st birthday, Israel. May you have 71 more.

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Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu Book Review

Any politician that climbs the political ladder will no doubt have a controversy or two attached to their name. Benjamin Netanyahu, also known as Bibi, is the Prime Minister of Israel.

Earlier this year writer Anshel Pfeffer published a biography of Benjamin Netanyahu entitled Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu.  Netanyahu is the first Israeli Prime Minister to be born after the state of Israel was created in 1948. Born in Jerusalem and partially raised in the United States, Netanyahu is used to political controversy. A political animal who learned his political lessons in both Israel and the United States, the author argues that not only is his subject’s political career will soon be in pieces, but that modern Israel, for better or for worse, is defined by his leadership.

This book is part biography, part analysis of the subject’s political career. I think this book is an important read, especially if one is interested in world politics. It shows that a politician is a politician or a politician, regardless of the country they lead.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On Israel’s 70th Birthday And The Opening Of The US Embassy In Jerusalem

 

Today is the 70th birthday of the modern state of Israel. It was also the unveiling of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

I love Israel. It is a beautiful country with warm, giving people and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.

But even with that, I have concerns the new embassy. Not about the embassy, it should be in the Jerusalem. It is after all the Israeli capital city. In most countries, foreign embassies are usually found in the capital city.

I have a feeling that you  know who made the decision not because it is the right thing to do, but to appeal to his base. Many in his base (i.e. the right-wing Evangelicals) believe that the modern rebirth of Israel is the start of a new era that ends with all non-believers and non-converts dying and not going to heaven.

And of course, the day would be incomplete without violence from the world’s best crybabies, but I prefer not to focus on them today.

Either way, the fact that Israel is 70 is an amazing feat. Happy 70th birthday Israel!

 

 

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Ten Best Movies Of 2017

2017 is nearly up. Surprisingly, it was a good year for the movies. Below, without further a due, is my top ten list of movies that premiered in 2017.

  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The next chapter in the ongoing saga of the rebellion against the empire was nothing short of perfection.
  2. The Post: The story of the revelation of The Pentagon Papers is as relevant today as it was in 1971.
  3. Beauty And The Beast/The Shape Of Water: Both the live action adaptation of the 1991 animated Beauty And The Beast and The Shape Of Water proves once more that love wins over hate and only through tolerance and respect of others, can we create the world we wish to have.
  4. Darkest Hour: Gary Oldman is sure to win multiple awards playing Winston Churchill, who must decide to negotiate with Germany or go to war.
  5. Lady Macbeth: In 19th century England, a young lady is forced into marriage and has an affair with one of the estate workers.
  6. Lady BirdA gripping and realistic coming of age story set in Sacramento in the early 2000’s.
  7. Thor: Ragnarok: When Thor’s previously unknown sister Hela returns to Asgard, he must save his land and his people from his sister.
  8. Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman finally receives a proper film adaptation. Starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins, this film, well is, a wonder.
  9. The Lovers: Tracey Letts and Debra Winger play a married couple who are openly seeing other people, but somehow find the spark has returned to their marriage.
  10. Battle Of The Sexes: The true story of the tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King is as much a story about tennis as it is about feminism.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Big Sick: This unconventional romantic comedy hit both the comedy gut and the heart.
  • The Women’s Balcony: When a new Rabbi takes over an Orthodox temple in Jerusalem, the women stage a coup to get their husbands and their temple back.

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Thoughts On Lorde Cancelling Her Tel Aviv Concert

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”-Vladminir Lenin

Recently, Lorde decided to cancel her summer 2018 concert in Tel Aviv, bowing to the pressure from anti-Israel activists.

Her decision bothers me for two reasons: the first is that music is music is music. Music brings us together. It bleeds through the political and social boundaries of class, race, religion, etc. Second is that she fell victim to the haters whose only goal is to see Israel wiped off the map and her citizens either murdered or forced into exile.

Pallywood has won once again. Pallywood for those unaware is the purposeful creation of fake news to create a myth that Israel is the big bad in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Palestine is the innocent victim.

 

What’s worse than the lies being spread is the fact that millions around the world believe the lies. A rather sad example of this is the recent UN resolution in which most of the member countries voted against the US moving their embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to a new location in Jerusalem.

I suggest Lorde and every other musician who is thinking about cancelling their upcoming concerts in Israel re-think their decisions and do their homework. Her decision shows (at least from my point of view), that hate and prejudice still rule and that human dignity and mutual respect/understanding are still being forced from the spotlight.

 

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Thoughts On The Move Of The US Embassy to Jerusalem

My regular readers know that I regularly disagree with everything Donald Trump has done since he took office last year.

Yesterday, he did something that I kind of, sort of, maybe agree with. He announced that the US will not only recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, but also that at some point in the future, the US Embassy will move from it’s current location in Tel Aviv to a new location in Jerusalem.

I have been fortunate enough to visit Israel twice in my life. It is a beautiful country with warm and friendly people and food that is beyond delicious. I encourage anyone who has not been there to go. It will be an eye opening and life changing experience.

As much as I want to applaud Mr. Trump for finally doing something right, I can’t. Something tells me that he is a) doing this without thinking it through, as he has done in the past and b) only making this announcement to please his base, instead of doing what is right for the country. His base, I might add, is partially made up of white Evangelical Christians. Some of them believe that the modern state of Israel exists to fulfill a biblical prophecy in which the Jewish people convert to Christianity. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not changing my religion anytime soon.

As far as I am concerned, Jerusalem is and will always be the capital of Israel. It is a beautiful city brimming with life, history and spirituality. And it will always be the spiritual home of the Jewish people. Period.

 

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Five Best Summer Movies Of 2017

The summer of 2017 has been a very interesting for movies. Listed below is the best movies of this past summer.

1. Wonder Woman

Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, this feminist blockbuster finally broke through the boys club solo movie superhero franchise. After watching her superhero brothers in arms have multiple movie franchises of their own, Wonder Woman finally began to tell her own story. It was the perfect combination of light and dark, growing up and classic bad-ass superhero. All in all, I say it was a good movie.

2.  The Big Sick

Based on the real life romance of Kumail Nanjiani and his real life wife, Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan play out the ups and down of their courtship, including Emily’s extended hospital stay. Also starring Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily’s parents, this film takes the standard romantic comedy and flips it on its head.

 

3. Lady Macbeth

A young woman is married off to a much older man who is need of a wife and an heir. Living in an isolated English country house, she has an affair with one of the servants. The film has the bone chilling psychology of a feminist Hitchcock thriller combined with the imagery and narrative of a Wuthering Heights adaptation. Starring Florence Pugh, the film is a completely new spin on the traditional BPD (British Period Drama) that goes where few stories in the genre would dare to go.

4. The Women’s Balcony

After the collapse of the women’s section in an Orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem, the men turn to a new Rabbi. The problem is that the new Rabbi has very different ideas than what has been done before. The women are not pleased and take things into their own hands. Despite being set in a very specific community, the film is universal in its message about the consequences of pissing women off.

5. Menashe

Set in the ultra-Orthodox community of Borough Park Brooklyn, Menashe (Menashe Lustig) is a widower who has lost custody of his son to his in-laws. He has been told that he can only take his son back when he re-marries, but he is not inclined to re-marry and is trying to prove that he can be a good father without re-marrying. A story of of faith and fatherhood, this film speaks to all of us, regardless about the trials of being a parent and observing the rules we live with.

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The Women’s Balcony Movie Review

Women are often underestimated. When men think they have played all of their cards, the women reveal the winning hand.

The new film, The Women’s Balcony, tells the story of the members of a small congregation in Jerusalem. In accordance to Orthodox custom, men and women pray in separate sections of the shul. When the women’s balcony is damaged during a Bar Mitzvah service and several members of the congregation are injured, the men turn temporarily to a new Rabbi. This new Rabbi has ideas on how the services should be conducted and how the members of the congregation should comport themselves. Unfortunately, this means the women are completely excluded from services.

This does not sit well with the women, who will not take this new Rabbi and his ideas lying down. Their husbands, meanwhile, seem to be taken in by the Rabbi.

Will this congregation split for good or will they find a way to come together again?

I really enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed it because it is funny, charming, human and still feels very relevant in 2017.

I recommend it.

The Women’s Balcony is presently in theaters.

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Max Beckman in New York and Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven Review

If we know nothing about a culture, except for their art, we have learned all that we need to know. Art speaks when words are not enough.

New York City’s The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently opened two exhibits that represent the power of art.

Max Beckmann was one of the premiere artists of his day. Known as an expressionist artist (a term that he rejected), he often used himself as the subject for many of his paintings. Forced to flee his native Germany in the 1930’s due to the extreme dislike of his art by the Nazis, Beckmann spent ten years in the Netherlands before emigrating to the United States.

Earlier this year, his art was put on display by the The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I found his art to be unique and interesting. They are wild, imaginative, introspective and free. Unlike other artists, Beckmann was uninhibited, he painted what he thought and felt. Though I knew nothing about him before I visited the exhibit, I knew who he was an artist immediately just by studying the paintings.

Max Beckmann in New York is at the Met until February 17, 2017.

Jerusalem is the eternal city. The home of three of the worlds major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it has been at the epicenter of art and conflict for more than 1000 years. Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven tells the story of Jerusalem through various art forms from the years 1000-1400. Using books, jewelry, weapons, pots, bowls and religious artifacts, this exhibit speaks more about the history of Jerusalem than any history book could ever state. That is where the strengths of the exhibit lie, telling the story of this era in Jerusalem history in a unique and creative way.

Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven is at the Met until January 8, 2017.

I recommend both.

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Jerusalem Maiden Book Review

There are some people who are lucky enough to be born with a gift of talent. The question that often comes up, especially when this gift goes up against the world they live in, will they follow their gift or will they tow the line and pretend that they are satisfied?

Talia Carner’s 2011 book, Jerusalem Maiden, revolves around this conflict. In the last days of the Ottoman Empire, Esther Kaminsky is a young Haredi woman living in Jerusalem. Her life is laid out for her. Within a few short years, she is expected to marry a young man chosen for her, bring his children into the world, keep his house and live the life that women in her community have lived for centuries.

Other girls might be satisfied to live this way, but not Esther. She is a gifted artist living in a community where art is forbidden and a young lady, especially an unmarried young lady is expected to live and act a certain way. Just as Esther is about to rebel and choose her own life instead of living the life expected of her, tragedy visits her family.  She must choose between her heart and the obligations that weigh on her young shoulders.

This book was recommended to me and and I am very glad that it was. Stories of young people rebelling from strict religious doctrines are not new. What makes this story stand out is Esther’s choices and how she works to find a balance between what is expected of her and what she wants from life. I especially appreciated the ending. While it was not the typical ending for a story of this nature, it felt like appropriate.

I highly recommend it.

 

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