Category Archives: Israel

Will 2011 Be Our Year?

I know it is only late January, but… It isn’t too early to start thinking about Eurovision 2011.  As usual, the contant rule changes (both internationally and here at home) have led to a new shake-down.  For the past few years, the representative singer was selected by some committee, and the public could only choose between four or five songs (also selected by the committee, written, on request, by major local composers).  But this year, the public will also get to vote on the singer. Yeah!  Stuff starts happening soon, with the final selection broadcast on 08 March.  We are hoping to get someone great with a kick-ass song to represent us in Germany.

Meanwhile, Eurovision Times listed the public’s choice of the Worst Eurovision Songs of all times. Several of my sister’s favorites are listed here (specifically numbers 10 and 11).  Actually, I thought that Dancing Lasha Tambai was hysterical and way better than some of the bland pop songs.  Hmmm…

Meanwhile, a new Avodah? Labor party internal explosion, with Barak leaving (along with Vilnai and two others), may be a Really Good Thing. If Yehimovitch can pull things together, we may have a rejuvinated Avodah, getting back to the good ‘ol labor ideals that helped found this nation.

Even geeks get sentimental: IBM puts out this fab video to celebrate 100 years of social and technological innovation.  RISC! System 36!  Punch cards! Fortran! Makes me weep with nostalgia.

Fire Watch

The Big Blaze: The fire that started in the Carmel Forest next to Haifa on Thursday is still burning out of control, with no hope for containment today. We’ve had firefighters from Greece and Bulgaria, with other help from Turkey, the US, and more… Ultra dry conditions and high winds have turned this into a nightmare. Death toll is at 41 right now.  Ein Hod (entire village) is destroyed; thousands evacuated. Additional fires have broken out in the Kriyot, Ma’alot, and elsewhere.  Arson suspected. If you are interested in following the news feed, Ynet has their English version feed at

Honoring the Good: William Cooper is honored at Yad V’shem.  Hat tip to my mom.

Rebuking the Idiots: The answer to the question, “Can you be an anti-Semite and still be a symbol of diversity?” is NO!  Glad that Wayne State recognizes Helen Thomas for the bigot that she is.

A Moooving Factoid

From the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs: (And yes, we have one…)

Israeli cows produce the largest amount and highest quality of milk in the world Israeli cows have the world record in milk yield. Their average milk output is higher than even Dutch and American cows. What’s more, Israeli cows produce 40% less methane gas than that produced by cows in other nations. The lower emission has environmental significance, as methane gas is considered the principle contributor to global warming.

The Year in Statistics

Fun and interesting facts: Yediot Achronot ran a multi-page spread right before Rosh Hashana about where we are as a nation, some demographic data, and some curious trivia, all wrapped around a lovely photo of what is dubbed our most international battalion, part of the Paratrooper corps. These guys range from Sabras (born in Israel) to guys who have only been here a year.  Countries of origin include Guatemala, Ethiopia, France, United States, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Romania, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Scotland.  Each is saying Happy Rosh Hashana in his language. Here’s a part of the picture:

Some interesting demographic data:

  • Our entire nation consists of 7,645,500 people (up 1.8% from last year).
  • 4.1 million (71.7%) are Sabra’im (born in Israel).
  • 5.77 million Jews, 1.56 million Moslem Arabs, and about 315K other (Christians, Druzim, etc.).
  • Life expectancy is 79.7 (men) and 83.5 (women).  (Compare that to 75.7 and 80.7, respectively, from the US.)
  • The most densely populated place in the country is Bnei Brak, with 21,031 people per square kilometer. (Compare that to 4,200 for Gaza!)
  • Here’s my favorite one of all: in the past year, 2.5 million Israelis made international flights.  Granted, many of these are repeat travelers, but stack that up against the US, with a population of 310 million and only 68 million passports issued!  Yes, that is right; only 22% of Americans have passports.  Shocking.

A quiet Yom Kippur: Apart from the usual hot spell that seems to always arrive in time to make the fast more difficult, it was a quiet day.  Terri refused to repent for her many sins, which include lunging, chasing cats, eating garbage, rolling in stinky things, eating cow poo, carrying mouthfuls of kibble onto the bed to eat, horking up on the sofa, and shedding.  Of course, I can’t question the wisdom of Wendy Francisco. May we all have a year with more wagging and less barking.

Headline of the Day

From Ynet:

Organigan to the Rescue!

Thank you, Galil Tzmachim! Kudos to the incredibly patient and knowledgable gardener at Galil Tzmachim (the nursery at Misgav). She recommended a natural material made by Organigan (an Israeli company) that should work on my whitefly infestation. (BTW, turns out that whitefly in Hebrew is ash hatabak.) Ironically, this woman looks a lot like my Seattle friend Megan who is also a whiz with all things green.

Naughty dog alert:  I ran into a friend on our morning walk. She was with one of her grandkids, a little toddler clutching a large pastry. Suddenly, I saw that Terri was chewing and gulping, and that the kid was sans sticky bun. She (the toddler) looked a bit confused, and Terri looked a bit guilty. But only a bit. Problem with most dogs is that they bolt their food, which is one of the reasons that they can get poisoned. They gulp something down before they realize what it is. Dogs also have a very poor sense of taste. Despite their incredibly powerful sense of smell, dogs have very few taste buds compared to humans, which is yet another reason why they can gulp down the most disgusting things.

A global class: My latest class for STC has 32 students spanning 7 countries and 13 time zones. Tres cool. While waiting for class to start, I played some Israeli music for them, and then a classic Turkish song. (The guy in Turkey was very impressed.)  We’ve five students from India, so I’ve promised to play Indian music next week (and yes, I have some). It is probably a major culture shock for some of the more insular American students.

Belated Happy Tu b’Av! It has turned into Israel’s version of Valentine’s Day (the secular name for the holiday is yom ahava, or Love Day). Shmaltzy love songs on the radio, specials on chocolates, adds for flowers, romantic get-aways, etc.  Since our holidays are tied to the lunar calendar, Tu b’Av syncs with a full moon, and last night it was an absolutely magnificent moonrise. Terri and I celebrated with a long walk and extra parmesan on our pasty.

A Biblical Garden

It may not be paradise, but…: We enjoy the benefits of a hot climate.  On our morning walk, Terri and I pass fig trees, passiflora (passion fruit), olive trees, dates, and more. This morning, I scoop up one ripe passiflora and one ripe fig.  Lovely.  You can’t do that if you live in Michigan!

There is a lovely hike in Nahal Amud that includes a small bustan (planted garden). It has been lovingly filled with all manner of fruits and herbs that were mentioned in the bible, including figs, dates, pomegranates, grapes, and more.