23 October 2016

Sandwiches from the Druze ladies at Ha-Carmel Market

The small team of Israeli Druze ladies who have a stall at the Ha-Carmel Market have a wide range of delicious produce on offer such as; olives, stuffed vine leaves, pickles, tabouli salad and a red spicy paste which closely resembles harissa.  They also do a gorgeous savoury take-away sandwich right in front of your eyes made from home-made flat bread with a choice of either a cream cheese, or a humus filling.  Other optional sandwich fillings include tabouli salad, olive oil, a chopped hard boiled egg and spicy harissa paste.  This is a hearty, nutritious sandwich.  
It costs 20 ILS = 4.23GBP, 5 USD, 4.75 Euros, 

Here is an interesting link from Wikipedia regarding the Israeli Druze (Arabic: الدروز الإسرائيليون‎‎, Hebrew: דְּרוּזִים יִשְׂרְאֵלִים

22 October 2016

Medjool dates

There are many different cultivars of dates. The Medjool date (pictured above) which is from Morocco is also grown in the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories. Phoenix dactylifera, commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around Iraq. The species is widely cultivated and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.

Nutritional value
Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%; the remainder consists of protein, fiber and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc.

Top ten date producers – 2013
(1000 metric tonnes)
 Egypt 1502
 Iran 1084
 Saudi Arabia 1065
 Algeria 848
 Iraq 676
 Pakistan 527
 Sudan 438
 South Sudan 432
 Oman 269
 United Arab Emirates 245
Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

21 October 2016

Lulav Hebrew: לולב

File:Arbaat haminim.jpg
 This is a photo of the Four Species (ארבעת המינים) in Judaism. 
A Lulav is a closed frond of the date palm tree.  It is one of the Four Species used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot/ סוכות.  The other species are the hadass (myrtle), aravah (willow) and etrog (citron).  When bound together they are referred to as the lulav.  

The biblical reference to the four species in Sukkot can be found in Leviticus Chapter 23, verse 40. The etrog is referred to as "Citrus fruit" (Etz Hadar), and the Lulav is referred to as "Palm branches" (Kapot t'marim).  Each species is said to Kabbalistically represent an aspect of the user's body; the lulav represents the spine, the myrtle the eyes, the willow the lips, and the etrog represents the heart.

20 October 2016

The longest journey begins with a single step ...

I am mentally preparing myself to participate in National Novel Writing Month thereby devoting the entire month of November to writing a new, previously unpublished work of fiction comprising of 50,000 words.  I asked Google approximately how many pages that would equate to when writing a novel and the answer on the screen said 250 words per page therefore a total of 200 pages.  Gulp!  

Apart from writing endless diaries at boarding school in England which I'm sure would have been good practice, the most I have ever written is a couple of short stories which have never seen the light of day.  No, actually that is not true I did pluck up the courage to show one of the short stories to a friend of mine called Lillian who had published several books and whose opinion I valued.  Her feedback was encouraging and constructive.  

That aside, being expected to write a 50,000 word novel in four weeks is like asking a person who occasionally goes to the gym to climb Mount Everest.  I feel apprehensive, ill-prepared and totally out of my depth but I've decided, I'm going to give it a go.  Even if I only manage to write 5000 words or 10,000 words I will at least have tried and made a start instead of procrastinating.  As well, I think having to write under pressure within a specific time frame in this case four weeks will teach me to be more disciplined in my writing.  The NaNoWriMo website suggests that participants should aim to write about 2000 words a day.  The idea is for the participants to begin writing on the 1st of November 2016 and finish their novel by 11:59PM on 30th November 2016.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

For anyone interested, here is a good article by Colin Robinson from The Guardian newspaper dating from 28th November 2013 entitled, "How to write 50,000 words in a month".  One good piece of advice contained within the article is from a man called Andy, he says, "If you want to hit the word target, you have to lock away your inner editor."

18 October 2016

Israeli Discoveries and Developments That Influenced The World ~ Exhibition at Ben Gurion Airport

Going on holiday is great but leaving Israel is difficult for us especially when there are always excellent temporary exhibitions on display at Ben Gurion airport in the long corridor leading to the International Departure Hall in Terminal 3.  This is such a fantastic idea to utilise the public space within an airport as a gallery.  Last time there was an exhibition of photographs of Native Flora and Fauna.  This time there was a Science, Technology and Space exhibition of "Israeli Discoveries and Developments That Influenced The World".  I only wish we had more time to do justice to this great exhibition and had not felt so rushed with the thought of our imminent departure.  It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to see this and other previous exhibitions which were held at the airport again but this time not at the departures hall but at a more tranquil venue perhaps at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.  In haste I took photographs of as many of the images and the corresponding explanatory texts as possible before rushing off to the departures gate to board our flight. 











 More information about this exhibition can be found at the following link:

16 October 2016

Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot/ סוכות ~ Happy holidays חג שמח

As an expatriate, it is so interesting to be living here in Israel especially during the Jewish holidays and to observe first hand the different traditions and customs.  Here are a selection of photographs showing temporary fragile dwellings put up outside restaurants and in the balconies of apartment buildings during the week long holiday of Sukkot/סוכות as well as an extract explaining the significance of this holiday. 

The Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot/סוכות began at sundown on 16th October and it lasts until nightfall on 23rd October (24th October outside of Israel).  It is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (varies from late September to late October).  The Hebrew word sukkot is the plural of sukkah, "booth" or "tabernacle" which is a walled structure covered with s'chach (plant material such as overgrowth or palm leaves).  A sukkah is the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during harvesting, a fact connecting to the agricultural significance of the holiday stressed by the Book of Exodus.  As stated in Leviticus, it is also intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.  Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.  On each day of the holiday it is mandatory to perform a waving ceremony with the Four Species ארבעת המינים. The holiday lasts seven days in Israel and eight in the diaspora .  The first day (and the second day in the diaspora) is a Shabbat like holiday when work is forbidden.  This is followed by intermediate days called Chol Hamoed when certain work is permitted.  The festival is closed with another Shabbat like holiday called Shemini Atzeret (one day in Israel, two days in the diaspora, where the second day is called Simchat Torah.  Shemini Atzeret coincides with the eighth day of Sukkot outside of Israel.

Happy holidays ~ חג שמח

15 October 2016

November is National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month otherwise known by the acronym NaNoWriMo.  The aim is to write a 50,000 word novel by 11:59PM on 30 November.  The mission statement of NaNoWriMo is and I quote: "National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page."

I discovered this website quite by chance towards the end of November last year and by then it was too late for me to participate so I made a mental note and promised myself that I would become a participant in November 2016.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to write a novel.  I have made several attempts and have written a couple of short stories, more recently my efforts have been hit and miss (more miss than hit) and have not gone further than the first paragraph.  I have always been too harsh and self-critical so now is the time to put aside my self-doubt and let my creative juices flow.  I will do my best.  Even though it is only the 15th October, I wanted to write a blog post about NaNoWriMo in order to encourage other budding writers out there to join in.  I wish all of the people around the world who are participating in the 2016 edition of NaNoWriMo good luck.  I hope we can all make a positive start in achieving our individual goals and even if we don't all succeed in writing a 50,000 word novel in one month at least we will know that we have tried.
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