Following on from the last In Israel blog; during December Haifa has celebrated the Chagei Chagim (or festival of festivals) an inter-faith event marking the diversity of Haifa’s population and as a microcosm of inter-faith diversity in Israel generally. It marks the festivals of Chanuka, Christmas and Eid al Adha. This festival has been running for almost a century; since 1914 and everybody has a fun time. See this report on Anglo-List
On the subject of the weather, the dry fall (that made the conditions so horrific during the Carmel fire) finally broke with a long weekend of terrific storms that included snow in some parts of the Golan. The rain was welcome, but caused some damage; trees almost everywhere; damage to Tel Aviv port and also to Caeseria; and a ship sank off the coast of Israel in the storm. It reminds me of the famous story of Honi – it is recorded that he stood in a circle and demanded rain – telling Heaven that he would not move until it rained. It did rain ; but, only a light drizzle; he demanded real rain and got a storm and he complained again saying that was too damaging – until it was just so. On the positive side the Kinneret water level rose a few centimetres; and an ancient 1.2m statue was discovered having apparently been exposed by damage to cliffs in Ashkelon. Meanwhile the rain has disappeared completely – fine sunlit days and chilly nights – perfect weather for rambles, sports and getting out and like Honi we will continue to seek perfection.
The tree planting season will get underway here in about a month (on 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat) and it has been announced that the target is to plant 1M trees on the Carmel in 2011. The government declared that the country will approach the rebuilding initiatives in the Carmel with the same determination that was needed to put out the fire.
We reported that this year has been a record breaking year at Ben Gurion International Airport with over 11 million people passing through and this followed on from reports of the arrival of the 3 millionth tourist on 2010. The Ministry of Tourism also reported that November saw more than 310000 visitors; the highest monthly record. Overall it is expected that this year will see 3.45M visitors showing a 26% year on year rise; including around 1.2M Christian pilgrims. We look forward to welcoming all our readers in 2011.
Last week I spent a day in the Old City of Jerusalem. I had a real Jerusalem moment when I watched a Bar Mitzva procession – they celebrated in style – the boy walked under a canopy with his family friends, South American drums and shoferot. Of course the event was more important than the traffic and even a police car had to wait until they moved on. The Christian Quarter was very full with pilgrims.
I visited one of my favourite spots in Jerusalem – The Rooftop Walk – as always I enjoyed being on top of the very middle of the Old City (where the North-South & East-West arteries cross) and the great views of the four quarters – Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Armenian. I discovered that like most people I tend to take a seat in the same spot each time I visit, but that moving around a few metres in each direction gives a much enhanced perspective. Highly recommended on your next trip – meanwhile enjoy our Old City Jerusalem Rooftop Album.