Shalom and Welcome to this week’s In Israel Blog
Pesach – Passover is now less than a week away and as expected the supermarkets are heaving with people and the shelves packed with every cleaning fluid and device known to human kind. Pesach marks the end of the Egyptian Exile and the first step towards nationhood – we don’t eat or own bread and leavened products and it is traditional to clean the whole house and not just the relevant foods and utensils.
The spring cleaning even included the Kotel – Wailing Wall. Many people leave a note embedded in the crevices with their personal wishes. Overtime the space fills up – so recently they were removed in order to free up space.
The holiday will be celebrated with many taking time off and travelling around the country. We recommend the Israel Inside Out Pesach Events – including all the sites with free admission sponsored by Bank Hapoalim. We are constantly adding material as we receive it – so check back and if you know of any events that we have missed please drop us a mail.
Many people will spend some time in the north – so this week’s recommended sites are a picnic spot near Ramot Menashe and the hills near Nazareth where you may just catch a glimpse (but it is the end of the very short season) of the Iris – a famous Israeli flower.
There will be many overseas visitors in Israel over Passover. In general tourism to Israel has remained high and overall 2011 is expected to be very close to 2010 record figure. There is a rise in visitors to Israel as a single destination, but a drop in those on combined trips due to the unrest in neighboring countries. Development of the tourist infrastructure has made the headlines recently with a big tourism conference and the announcement of tax incentives to increase the hotel capacity in the key tourist centers.
With all the talk about visitors we should not forget the residents – Haifa University announced the discovery of the Cerbalus aravensis (after the Arava Desert) a black and white spider with a leg span of up to 14cm – the largest in the Middle East. The story is covered in National Geographic. Last week we were excited to report the sighting of Gazelles in Jerusalem’s urban Gazelle Park – the gazelles are somewhat shy residents and their existence is questioned by many – we can now confirm positive evidence.
On the subject of residents – the In Israel Blog has covered the Jerusalem Light Railway over the last few months as this too many year project reaches its conclusion. We understand that the first passenger journeys will take place next week starting on April 17th. Initially there will only be a few stops on Jaffa Road – free for Jerusalemites and with a nominal charge for others. Later the other sections of the service will be launched. We hope that the promised renewal of downtown Jerusalem will happen very quickly.
Two weeks ago the Old City of Jerusalem hosted a Food Fair – with different tastes and styles from the four quarters of the Old City. There was plenty of music to accompany the food, and there were street stalls, restaurants and cooking demonstrations.
Last week the Israeli Marathon season closed with the Tel Aviv Marathon. Just like in Jerusalem two weeks earlier the weather was very kind. The runners enjoyed the sea views along the Tayelet and a long stretch through Yarkon Park.
In the Negev the first 85Km of the new Israel National Cycle route was opened. Eventually, it will run the length of Israel similar to the Israel National Trail. This first section is understood to be quite challenging and is in the Schoret– Timna – Eilat region. Overall the route is designed for riders with medium ability.
As normal we will wrap with an update on the weather – in general the last couple of weeks have been wintry with some rain. The Kinneret has filled up a little more. We were promised another storm today but it seems to have been an almost non event. This may well have been the last storm of the season – certainly the forecast from now to Pesach is for warmer weather and a very hot day is expected just before the festival with the heat breaking during the course of the night.
Le’Hitraot from Jerusalem