Shalom and Welcome to this week’s In Israel Blog
So the bitter sweet Memorial Day & Independence Day (Yom Hazikaron & Yom Haatzmaut) are behind us. We commemorate those who fell for our country and wish Israel many happy returns. As expected almost the entire country was on the move to somewhere and the clouds of mangal (barbecue) smoke hung thickly over national parks and private gardens alike. There were the customary fireworks in every town and at the official state ceremony. Every year the Bureau of Statistics releases population data – there are now 7.746 million citizens of Israel and an estimated 178000 babies have been born since last Yom Haatzmaut.
The next significant day (or burning date) is Lag B’Omer – the 33rd day between Passover and Shavuot – this coming Saturday night. It is a date with various traditions from the mists of time. It is celebrated with bonfires in every corner of the country and every self respecting teenager will be out most or all of the night. Lag B’Omer is not an evening to leave the windows open! The main Lag B’Omer celebration will be in Meron – at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai the legendary Kabbalist who hid in a cave studying during the Roman Period. Rabbi Shimon died on Lag B’Omer and tradition holds that he asked that the day be marked as a celebration. Lag B’Omer also marks the beginning of the spring wedding season and in some traditions three year olds receive their first haircut on Lag B’Omer.
There are some exciting street events coming up in Jerusalem including the Israel Ballet in Safra Square as part of the Israel Festival opening. There is also a street party in the Aza Street area and street performers. See Jerusalem Street Events for more details. This will be followed early next month with the Jerusalem Opera Festival including a performance of Verdi’s Jerusalem opera at the magical location of Sultan’s Pool by the Old City Ramparts.
This week’s recommended sites are in the Judean Desert close to Jerusalem. This is the perfect time to visit – hot enough that it is really feels like a desert and you can appreciate the oasis; yet not so hot as to be unbearable. Ein Gedi (David’s Stream) is a firm favorite; and despite the disappointing winter it seems to have plenty of water in all the pools and waterfalls. The wildlife is also in fine form – plenty of Ibex with their newborn, and many birds including the Fan Tailed Raven – it is a real paradise and an easy opportunity to get close to nature. Check out the Ein Gedi Photo Album. We wrapped up our trip by crossing Route 90 and going for a dip in the Dead Sea. It has been a while since my last dip and I had forgotten how the floating sensation is so weird. We also covered ourselves from head to toe in the black mud. At least one of its amazing powers is the relief when you wash it off!
You will also find a link in our Dead Sea Guide that will allow you to vote for the Dead Sea as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. If you can plan your time then we recommend being there late in the day – the Mountains of Moab in Jordan and their reflection in the Dead Sea are spectacular.
The direct landing path in to Ben Gurion Airport takes you over the Hiriya refuse dump, and over the years this has been an unavoidable eye sore from the air and the ground as well as providing the area with some unmistakable odors during the summer months. Active use of the site stopped a few years ago. We are pleased to report that it is part of the Ariel Sharon Park, which when completed will be three times the size of New York’s Central Park. The opening ceremony of the first phase took place this week. The Ariel Sharon Park has cycle paths, and view points, streams and there are three recycling plants working on the refuse. A bus takes visitors to the top of the 60m high former refuse dump. (JPost article)
Israel Inside Out would like to wish the Adler family Mazal Tov on the arrival of their new daughter. They have named her Like as in the approval feature on Facebook – many connotations of approval and individuality – we wish her every happiness. For all our readers on Facebook please show your approval for Israel Inside Out and be generous with your Likes!
We did not expect to be still talking about the weather by the second half of May. We expected that by now things would have settled into a very steady late spring pattern of generally warm days with a few extremely hot and heavy desert days. Well we have experienced this weather pattern, but over the last couple of weeks we have also had a fair number of cold, overcast and wet days. I don’t believe that it has had a significant impact on the water supply, but, it is definitely unusual.
Finally in a recent Gallup study Israelis were rated as the seventh happiest people from a list of 124 countries. On average 63% of people are happy with their lives. The happiest country was Denmark with 72%. I guess that a combination of sun, sand, sea, humus and holiness work their magic. So come and join us for a few days of happiness! (Ynet article)
Le’Hitraot from Jerusalem