Shalom and Welcome to this week’s In Israel Blog
Summer is really here, the past few weeks have been hot in fact unseasonably hot for the time of year – enjoyable for tourists and locals alike with the sun brightening everybody’s day and making the evenings really pleasant to enjoy the outdoors and the cafes. The swimming pools and beaches (See for example Tel Aviv Beaches, Palmachim Beach & Haifa Beaches) are pretty busy – what better way to pass the time of day and let the heat pass.
In fact the beach has been in the news over the past week as Tel Aviv hosted the European U20 Beach Volleyball competition featuring teams from around 30 countries around Europe. Tel Aviv’s Gordon Beach was turned into an international sporting arena with seating for 1000 people in the main arena. It was popular with locals and tourists and a really welcome initiative that it was free admission. The overall competition was won by Poland (men) & Austria (women)
As mentioned in our last In Israel blog the Great Israeli Cottage Cheese Revolt has spread to different areas. Social protesters have set up demonstration tent cities in the major cities (such as on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv) demanding reform in the housing market to make it more accessible for students and young families.
The summer is also a popular time for special events – some such as the Israeli Glass 2011 Exhibition taking place in Tel Aviv are indoors and offer excellent air conditioned refuge; whilst others such as many of the activities in Jerusalem’s Summer Events take place in the great outdoors. We have launched a new section – IsraelInsideOut Events – check back regularly as we keep this updated with the major happenings on Israel’s culture and entertainment scene.
We have also launched a new forum where we provide you our readers with a spot to tell us about your favorite recommendations in Israel – see Your Favorite Places and Recommendations. Come and share your secrets with us and check out what other people are recommending. One of the first posts is about rafting on the upper reaches of the River Jordan – just right for the summer. We are also working hard on some other exciting developments on Israel Inside Out– watch this blog for further news.
From time to time we have carried news of some impressive archaeological finds such as Hirbat Madras. Recently a site called Tel Shikmona near Haifa has been re-excavated and a house from the period of the Kingdom of Israel has been rediscovered. Rediscovered because apparently it was found in a previous excavation and then partially buried under debris. The long range plans are for an archaeological park on the site. For more details see Tel Shikmona Excavations
Another startling find was made in excavations in a drainage ditch near the Shiloach Pool of an ancient gold bell presumably worn by a high ranking official sewn to a garment – possibly that of one of the High Priests in accordance with the description of the priestly clothes mentioned in the book of Exodus. The theory goes that the person lost the bell and it fell into the drainage ditch below the road. The City of David is one of our favorite sites in Jerusalem.
It has also been announced that the Qasr al Yahud (The Jewish Castle) site is now open daily. Christian tradition associates this site with the baptism of Jesus whilst in Jewish tradition the crossing of the Jordan by Joshua and the Children of Israel must have taken place close to this area as it is close to Jericho.
The Hebrew month of Av starts on August 1 and this year the 9th of Av falls on Tuesday 9th August. In Jewish tradition the 9th of Av is associated as a day of tragedy and is marked as the day of destruction of both Temples. Therefore, this week’s recommended activities take place in and around the Old City of Jerusalem – the Burnt House has some striking finds and an impressive multi-media presentation that personalises the destruction. We then recommend taking in the view of Jerusalem – perhaps from Mount Scopus (where the Talmud recalls that Rabbi Akiva laughed with confidence that just as Jerusalem’s destruction had been predicted by the prophets so too their prediction of Jerusalem’s restoration would surely happen) or perhaps from the roof of the Hurva Synagogue – one of the best views in town. Meanwhile check out the Hurva Views video with a special mix of the legendary Jerusalem of Gold.
Finally, one of the coolest videos of Israel is now available on line – courtesy of a (French- American – Aussie) skateboarding crew called Cliche and Skateboarder Magazine – some great views of instantly recognisable and more obscure sites in Israel. For those of you are tempted to try this yourself – you can see that the streets of Zion are pretty hard even for the pros!
Le’Hitraot from Jerusalem