Port Tel Aviv – Saturday is for Friends and Families…

Blonde Beauty...

Blonde Beauty…

After three years of living here in Israel (during the winter months), I still get thrown off by the weekly calendar. In Israel, many businesses close on Friday or stay open until mid-afternoon. On Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, the country basically closes down. Shops, banks, post office, etc. are all closed. Most restaurants remain closed and some reopen when the Sabbath is over.  Sunday begins the workweek.

One of the many things I like about this country is that almost everything revolves around the family. Religious or not, many families gather together on Friday nights for Shabbat dinner. Saturday is family day here. With the weather usually very nice, Israeli families take to the parks, hiking trails, beaches and Port Tel Aviv.

This Port Tel Aviv area, as I mentioned in a previous post, was re-built not that long ago by the city of Tel Aviv, and is flush with restaurants, cafes, and shops of all kinds. On Saturdays the boardwalk is jammed packed with families celebrating the day off together. Most stores/restaurant remain open.

This short video below shows a small part  of the port area, and I think gives you a good idea of what it was like for us last Saturday. Mid-day lighting made it difficult to video so please excuse.

A ‘Winter’ Saturday in Port Tel Aviv…

The images below are of some of the people we ran into that day. (Reminder: Click on any image to begin slide show!)

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The Cat and the Dog…

Cat in the Window...

Cat in the Window…

Eileen and I went to explore the Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv. While walking through the streets of this old part of the city we came across this kitty looking out the window (above). I figured she would make a lovely addition to my ‘Cats of Israel’ collection. As we kept walking we realized that she had a friend.

Look left...

Look left…

Look up...

Look up…

Look forward...

Look forward…

Look left again...

Look left again…

We thought they were kind of cute. What do you think?

The Eretz Israel Museum…

1- museum photos a

Eileen and I recently visited the ‘Israeli and World Press Photo Exhibition’ at The Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. This is said to be “the largest and most important exhibition of its kind comprises a selection of the World Press Photo competition and the best of local photojournalism Dozens of photographers from Israel and abroad are participating in both exhibits, presenting a sequence of events in selected pictures from the past year on topics related to war and peace, politics and society, culture and art, nature and the environment, sports, portraits, multimedia presentations, etc.”

2- museum photos with woman b

The quality of the work was outstanding. The images very moving. It was quite an impressive exhibit.

1- museum photos

The Eretz Israel Museum was established in 1953. It has a large display of archaeological, anthropological and historical artifacts organized in a series of exhibition pavilions on its grounds. Each pavilion is dedicated to a different subject: glassware, ceramics, coins, copper and more. The museum also has a planetarium. Of course there were lots of image making opportunities at the museum.

6- ceramic pots

4- museum photos  2

3- museum photos  1

Mutabak (Mutabaaq): An old family recipe survives in Jerusalem’s Old City…

Making mutabak at Zalatimo's

Making mutabak at Zalatimo’s

If  our friends Joy and Shimon didn’t already know about Zalatimo, we probably wouldn’t be able to find it in the labyrinth of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Zalatimo only serves one dish: a savory/sweet pastry called mutabak, which is handmade-to-order from a 150-year-old family recipe.

Shimon and Joy helping themselves to mutabak...

Shimon and Joy helping themselves to mutabak…

Zalatimo’s history is a family one. Mohammad Zalatimo opened the first mutabak pastry shop in the old city of Jerusalem in 1860, and the following generations have carried on the tradition, all the way down to his great-grandson who can be seen in the images accompanying this blog.

As we learned, mutabak’s surprisingly simple ingredients—tracing-paper-thin dough (almost filo like), white cheese curds, sugar syrup, and a dusting of powdered sugar make for an interesting snack/dessert.  Chef Zalatimo flipped the pastry dough like a pizza, except he turned it over completely with each toss. The dough lands flat on the marble countertop, thinner with each turn until it’s stretched to capacity.

Paper thin dough being stretched on the marble countertop...

Paper thin dough being stretched on the marble countertop…

He followed this with a heaping of white cheese curds (sheep’s milk, we were told, soaked in water to release some of the salt), and folded it all together.

7-arab pastry 2...

Then into the oven for a few minutes, after which it emerged hot and crispy and ready for a final drizzle of sugar syrup and powdered sugar. Served with a cup of sweet Turkish coffee, it was a delicious experience, the perfect snack.

The BBC video below, which I happened to find while doing research, shows you exactly what the little shop looks like, as well as the technique in action!

Atlit detainee camp…

2-bunkhouse 2

The Atlit detainee camp was a detention camp established by the authorities of the British Mandate for Palestine at the end of the 1930s in what is now  Israel’s northern coast, 12 miles south of Haifa.  The British built the camp in an old military base for the Jewish illegal immigrants who tried to escape Nazi persecution in Europe and move to Palestine. Tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants were interned at the camp, which was surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers.

Guard tower...

Guard tower…

The detainee camp in Atlit is a declared Israel National Heritage Site. At the camp we were able to visit one of the original barracks. The British put the immigrants in these barracks before deporting them to Cyprus.

Crib with baby shoes in barracks...

Crib with baby shoes in barracks…

Immigrant's clothes in the barracks...

Immigrant’s clothes in the barracks…

Cots for immigrants waiting for deportation to Cypress...

Cots for immigrants waiting for deportation to Cypress…

There is a replica of a boat on site that  simulates an illegal “immigration ship”. We were able to tour the boat with a group of observant Jewish women, which is probably a good subject for another blog.

Replica of illegal immigrant boat.

Replica of illegal immigrant boat.

Authentic immigrant ship in fron of railway boxcars that took the immigrants to the camp...

Authentic immigrant ship in front of railway boxcars that took the immigrants to the camp…

The structure where the immigrants were sprayed with DDT was reconstructed. As we walked around the room, looking at the shower stalls, the huge red laundry canisters, and the mikvah (woman’s ritual bath) I couldn’t stop thinking of what it must have been like, fleeing the holocaust, making it to the holy land, and when you arrive you’re taken to a ‘detainee camp’ before being sent to Cypress. Wow!

Open shower stalls...


Open shower stalls…

Immigrants clothes thrown here before taking the showers...

Immigrants clothes thrown here before taking the showers…

The mikvah, Jewish women's ritual bath...

The mikvah, Jewish women’s ritual bath…

The Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS) says “between the years 1934-1948 some 122,000 Illegal Immigrants, most of them from the holocaust and pogroms in Arab countries, were brought to the shores of Palestine in 92 boats, hastily refitted to maximum capacity. These immigrants ran the British Mandate blockade in defiance of the infamous white paper limiting Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel.”

The Western Wall, The Kotel, The Wailing Wall…

Whenever Eileen and I visit the Old City in Jerusalem, which is quite often, one place that we must always visit is the Western Wall, the Kotel, which is the most significant site in the world for the Jewish people. We know that it is the last remnant of our Temple.  People from around the world, of all faiths, come here to pray. It was formerly called the “Wailing Wall” by European observers because for centuries, Jews came here to mourn the loss of their temple.

Why is the Kotel so important to the Jewish people?  The Wall was built by King Herod just before the time of Jesus and is part of a structure that retains the western part of Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock now stands, and the ceremonial plaza Herod created on the Temple Mount itself. Walls surrounded the western, southern, and eastern sides of the Temple Mount.  The western wall is the only one to survive the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 586 BC.

On our last visit to the wall I decided to video the area and share my experience. I say “my experience” because Eileen is not allowed to go to the area of the wall where the men pray. A separate area for women  is available for them to pray.

The women's area of the Western Wall...

The women’s area of the Western Wall…

When you enter the Kotel through one of several security checkpoints, you arrive at the main plaza which is located in a former  Arab neighborhood that was next to the wall. The neighborhood was razed after the ‘6 Day War’ in 1967 and the current plaza was built in its place. The plaza is used by both men and women and groups gather here before and after heading to the wall. It also is the largest outdoor synagogue in the world.

AEPi fraternity members made a visit to the wall and had a photo-op.

AEPi fraternity members take a group photo in the plaza…

Men who would like to go to the Wall must wear a hat or take a head covering, at no cost, from a box beside the entrance to the prayer area. Men are also asked if they would like to put on Tefillin. You know what that is right?

Putting on Tefilin at the Wall...

Putting on Tefillin at the Wall…

At the prayer section of the Western Wall, grass grows out of the upper cracks. The lower cracks have been stuffed with bits of paper containing prayers.

Men praying at the wall. Cracks are stuffed with prayer notes...

Men praying at the wall. Cracks are stuffed with prayer notes…

Orthodox Jews can be seen standing at the wall, chanting and swaying.

Orthodox Jews praying at the wall...

Orthodox Jews praying at the wall…

On some days Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are held at the Wall. Even when these aren’t being held, families come to pray at the wall together.

Father and son...

Father and son…

Members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are often found praying at the wall. On previous visits we were able to observe the swearing-in ceremonies of new IDF members in the plaza. All Israelis,  men and women, must serve in the IDF, usually at the age of 18-19. Orthodox Jews who cannot serve must do “National Service” instead, working in hospitals, schools, etc..

IDF members praying at the Wall...

IDF members praying at the Wall…

To the left of the wall is the entrance to the inside prayer area. The wall continues into the area for the men to pray and study.

Praying in the inside...

Praying in the inside…

Studying inside...

Studying inside…

I hope that this gives you an understanding of what you will see in the video…Sholom!