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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Tiberias’

The Kinneret is Rising

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

In the past 24 hours, the Kinneret rose 22 centimeters. At it’s last measurement, it was at 211.50 meters below sea level. With the rainstorm currently hitting Israel, the Kinneret is expected to rise even higher.

The Kinneret Continues to Rise

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Over the past few days the Kinneret has been steadily rising, and on Saturday it rose by 12 centimeters reaching 212.07 meters below sea level, which is 93 centimeters above the lower red line.

The Kinneret is now 327 centimeters below its maximum capacity which is at 208.8 meters below sea level.

The Kinneret’s highest level in 2012 was 211.30 centimeters below sea level.

IDF Base Robbed

Friday, October 19th, 2012

An IDF base a few miles west of Tiberias was robbed Friday morning after masked men entered the base, tied up a soldier, and stole his rifle and several other weapons.

IDF, Hospitals Prepare for Unconventional Attacks

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

In an environment of regional instability and geopolitical threats to Israel, the IDF will hold a series of drills to prepare the country in the event of a biological, chemical or radioactive attack.

 

For the first time, the IDF will simulate a “dirty bomb” radioactive terror attack in Israel.  The exercise, titled “Dark Cloud”, will take place in January in Haifa.  It will include the IDF Home Front Command, hospitals, police, and emergency services.

 

On Wednesday, the Defense Ministry will hold its sixth annual “Orange Flame” exercise to practice a response to biological attacks.  Hospitals in Afula, Nazareth, and Tiberias in the north will practice dealing with 5,000 patients a day exhibiting  symptoms related to contact with biological weapons.  An inter-ministerial committee will concurrently practice containing a national crisis, utilizing polices such as regional quarantines and mass vaccine distributions.

 

Syria is known to have a large cache of VX, sarin, and mustar gases, and Libya was discovered to have a large chemical weapons arsenal following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Landscapes That Devour Their Inhabitants: Ludwig Blum’s Jerusalem Works At Ben Uri Gallery

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

The Land of Light and Promise:

50 Years Painting Jerusalem and Beyond, Ludwig Blum

Through April 24, 2011


Ben Uri Gallery: The London Jewish Museum of Art


108A Boundary Road, St. Johns Wood, London



 

 


When the spies Moshe sent to scout the land of Canaan returned with their report, they testified (Numbers 13:32) that the land “eats its denizens,” many of whom happen to be giants. In fact the spies, to the extent that their propaganda can be trusted, felt so dwarfed by the Israeli landscape that they claimed they must have resembled grasshoppers to the giants, and even felt like locusts themselves. The description of Canaan in Leviticus 18:28 is no rosier; the land has an allergic reaction to disobedient citizens and literally “spits them out.”

 

Plenty of ink has been spilled over the theological implications of those two biblical personifications of Canaan (land as devourer of men and as an entity that vomits evildoers out), but it is worth examining the aesthetic implications of a landscape that overshadows its figures.

 


Ludwig Blum. Jerusalem, View from Mount Scopus Towards the Valley of Jehoshaphat.

1924. Oil on canvas. 49 x 59 cm.

 

Perhaps like no artist before him, the 19th century American painter Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School, depicted American landscapes as magical, untamed Edenic sanctuaries that rivaled their European counterparts. Conspicuously absent – or at least obscured – from the overwhelming majority of Cole’s nationalistic canvases were figures. Finding people in a Cole painting is often like trying to find Waldo.

 

Whatever Cole’s motivations – perhaps he wanted to distance himself from prior traditions that required heroic and mythological characters to justify landscapes’ newsworthiness – he was probably not thinking about the biblical descriptions of the land of Canaan’s “anti-social” personality. But Ludwig Blum’s depictions of Israel, though they rarely address biblical narratives, might very well have been conscious of Numbers 13:32.

 

At age 32, the Czech-born Blum moved to Palestine in 1923, after having served in World War I.

 

Blum’s work, which last appeared in London in 1938 at the Royal Academy and the Fine Art Society, is on exhibit in The Land of Light and Promise: 50 Years Painting Jerusalem and Beyond, Ludwig Blum (through April 24) at the Ben Uri Gallery: The London Jewish Museum of Art.

 

A staunch Zionist – whom curator Dalia Manor in the exhibit catalog calls “a self nominated ambassador for Jerusalem” – Blum’s love of Israel comes through in virtually all of his works. But as Manor explains in her excellent essay, “Portrait of a Country: Ludwig Blum Paints the Land of Light and Promise”, the artist remained a citizen of both his native Czechoslovakia and Israel.

 


Temple Mount and the Western Wall, 1943

 

 

“Long before travel abroad became easy and convenient, long before artists would run a career in more than one country, Ludwig Blum travelled back and forth between his two homelands,” Manor writes, “painting in one, exhibiting in the other and feeling at home in both.”

 

It is impossible to tell from Blum’s 1944 painting Tiberias, Tomb of Rabbi Meir Ba’al Haness (the miracle worker) to what extent it might have been influenced by references in the Mishnah and the Talmud to Rabi Meir, who was said to have performed miracles (a prominent one thwarted human trafficking). Blum painted many pilgrimage sites and he might or might not have painted the rabbi’s aura into the scene of his tomb.

 


Ludwig Blum. Tiberias, Tomb of Rabbi Meir Ba’al Haness.

1944. Oil on canvas. 46.5 x 56 cm.

 

 

At first, there do not appear to be any figures in the work at all, but eventually, a boat moving from left to right on the water emerges just below the horizon. Another speck on the water, which casts a long white reflection, could be another boat. A few other white specks on land could be human candidates, but there is no compelling reason to indicate they are either people or rocks.

 

In some respects, the painting is amateurish. The domes – one of which is supposed to be round and the other a bit more pointed – are not symmetrical, and the only word that comes to mind to describe the messy green and brown treatment of the grass and dirt in the bottom left corner is cholent. But the composition is compelling and Blum captures more of a gestural view of the tomb.

 

The exhibit catalog finds influences in Blum’s work of John Singer Sargent (who painted The Mountains of Moab in 1905), David Bomberg (who painted Jerusalem, Looking to Mount Scopus in 1925) and David Roberts, whose Fountain of Job, Valley of Hinnom (1842) Blum copied in 1925. But in Tiberias, Tomb of Rabbi Meir Ba’al Haness, one notices other temperaments: Oskar Kokoschka, Winslow Homer or Thomas Eakins.

 

Timna, Copper Mines (1957), also seemingly devoid of figures (a number of forms are ambiguous, and could be either people or various mechanical objects), shows a lot of busy forms in the bottom two thirds of the landscape, which consists of warm reds and oranges. The mountains on the horizon and the sky are made of much cooler blues and purples, but the overall temperature of the landscape is very hot and consistent with the desert.

 


Ludwig Blum. Timna, Copper Mines.

1957. Oil on canvas. 73 x 117 cm.

 

 

“Blum was the first, perhaps the only Israeli artist to pay attention to industrial projects and landscapes as part of his desire to chronicle the pioneering spirit of the early years of the State of Israel,” according to the catalog, “creating a rare historical document of this project in its initial stages.”

 

Though many of the works in the Ben Uri exhibit focus on the land rather than people of Israel, Blum could paint figures just fine when he wanted to.

 

Pioneer Girl (1947), a genre painting that evokes Jean-François Millet’s works of peasants sowing and gleaning, depicts a woman feeding chickens. The catalog notes the pioneer’s skin is deeply tanned from many hours of working in the sun. But even when Blum used a dark outline to emphasize the pioneer, he couldn’t help blurring the contours of the chickens – thus ensuring they would be less fixed in space and time. The effect is one of chaos and disorientation; the viewer can almost smell the chickens and hear them pecking at their food.

 

 


Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

Something In The Air

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

The land of Israel’s holiness features four cities that are singled out as exceptionally holy, and which are imbued with special qualities. I have had the good fortune to visit all four – Hebron, Jerusalem, Tiberias and Safed – if only for a short time. Each of these cities is associated with a particular kind of holiness, corresponding to the four basic elements: Jerusalem – fire; Hebron – earth; Tiberias – water; and, my favorite, Safed – air.

Why is Safed my favorite? After all, Jerusalem was home to the two Holy Temples, and the Western Wall is accessible to us even to this day. The matriarchs and patriarchs are buried in Hebron. Tiberias housed the last seat of the great Supreme Court of Jewish Law, and is the burial place of the Torah giant Moses Maimonides.

I can say without reservation, though, that Safed is the most beautiful and spiritual place that I have ever encountered. The stone streets with the drainage depressions down the middle, the beautiful ancient architecture, and the ubiquitous blue building walls are all stunning. But it’s not just Safed itself. It is also the view, that beautiful view of the mountains. And the sunsets. It’s easy to see why kabbalah began and developed there. There is something very special about the air. The holiness of Safed’s air is palpable. You can stand in the center of town, surrounded by noise, sights and smells, and still breathe in the holiness. You can tune everything else out.

In 1997, I visited Israel for the second time. At that point in my life, I was on what I call the cusp of becoming more observant. I was taking it very slowly, which is the best way to do it. I had just bought a place in a largely Jewish neighborhood back home, feeling that if I were to move forward in my observance, I would want and need support.

I stayed with a friend in Rehovot, and rented a car for the duration of my three-week stay in Israel. Many people – Israelis and Americans – thought that I was out of my mind for driving in Israel. But I like my independence.

One day I drove to Safed – not an insignificant trek – and stayed in the nicest hotel in the city, figuring that since I was paying nothing to stay with my friend in Rehovot, I would treat myself. It was Friday night, Shabbat, and I was watching television in my room. I even remember what I was watching.

Dinnertime arrived and I was hungry. However, the dining room was filled with families, and I felt self-conscious sitting by myself. I went back to my room and planned to order room service. The problem: the only thing that the hotel would deliver to my room was chocolate cake. Why, I don’t know. This is not ordinarily a problem; I like chocolate cake as much as the next person – but I wanted a real dinner. So I decided to drive to a nearby city, one with – unlike Safed – eating establishments that would be open despite it being the Sabbath.

Now, in addition to being the most beautiful city in the world, Safed is the most confusing city in the world. I drove around and around, out of the old city and into the new – while 12-year-old boys yelled at me for driving on the Sabbath. It felt like I was in the eye of a storm.

Finally, I was out of Safed. Since Safed is located way up on the top of a mountain, the drive down is quite precarious. There are no streetlights and no guardrails. But I was determined to get dinner. Suddenly, my engine cut out. Nothing worked. Nothing. No brakes, no motor, no power steering. I was rolling down a mountain, helpless.

Almost reflexively, straight from my soul, I said, “God, if you save me, I will keep your Sabbath.” And somehow, while I’m not sure why, I wasn’t scared. If God chose not to save me, I believed that there was a reason. I tried to steer uphill, without the power steering. Nothing. Not knowing what to do, I turned the engine off, and then turned it on again and hoped for the best.

The engine started working. My life was no longer in danger. God had clearly intervened in a very open and miraculous way. He quite literally saved my physical life – and my spiritual life as well. We often miss smaller moments of intervention in our everyday lives, but you couldn’t miss this. There was clearly a sign here, an open miracle, and it changed my life forever.

I gave up my quest for dinner. I went back to the hotel and had my chocolate cake. It was the best chocolate cake I had ever eaten.

The screaming boys were right: I needed to keep Shabbat. And I have done so since my return to the U.S. a few weeks after this experience.

There is truly something in the air in Safed.                Temima (Donna) Gorshel Cohen grew up in a suburb of Boston, and attended Wellesley College and Boston University School of Law. She and her family currently live in Brookline, MA. She can be reached at donnagorshelcohen@rcn.com.

Traveling In Israel With A 12-Year-Old

Friday, October 16th, 2009

   Seeing Israel is one thing. Seeing Israel through the eyes of a 12-year-old is another, especially when the child is your grandson or granddaughter.

 

   What is described as the “ultimate journey,” begins when Randy, my wife and I, board El Al flight no 28, to the Jewish state. Security is tight. How tight? They ask our grandson the name of his rabbi at his day school. He knows it!

 

   “Israel is fun,” Randy wrote on a postcard halfway through our trip. What youngster would not enjoy riding a horse at “The Ranch,” in Havatzelet Hasharon, north of Netanya

(www.the-ranch.co.il). Saddling up, he moves out onto rolling sand dunes along the beckoning, blue Mediterranean.

 

   Or racing around in go-carts at GO Karting Poleg (www.gokarting.co.il), around and around the indoor track popular with kids and adults alike.

 

   Our base is an apartment in coastal, cosmopolitan Netanya between Haifa and Tel Aviv. To overcome jet lag, we rest for a day and later surf, swim and bask in the sun.

 

   Randy and our niece, Jeanette, 12, who, with her parents, will travel with us, immediately take to Netanya, with its large French and Russian population; its croissants, and borsht, its Saturday-night, carnival-time atmosphere in the city’s festive Kikar Atzmaut. Pizza parlors, cafes, and stall after stall of costume jewelry and crafts. “A lot to see,” says Randy as he picks out a new magen david which he wears the entire trip.

 

 


Randy with two soldiers of Zahal at the Kotel

 

   “Today I went to Jerusalem and saw the holiest place in Jewish history,” Randy wrote in his journal about the trip to the Kotel, the Western Wall. “So much history holiness … praying … touching the Wall,” Randy tells me with an awesome look on his face as we walk around the square. He takes pictures with Israeli soldiers; they all look so proud.

 

   Next, a must on any tour: Chain of Generations program and its striking glass sculptures, artistic illuminations and video presentations (www.thekotel.org). Then the informative tour through the Western Wall tunnel which parallels the entire length of the Temple Mount. He is moved, he says, “because there is so much history behind that Wall.”

 

   Over the next 10 days – with necessary breaks – you just can’t tour every day with kids – we make it to Yad Vashem, the Tank Museum, Mini-Israel, Masada, The Dead Sea, Haifa’s Carmel Center, Tel Aviv port and Independence Hall, Weizmann Institute, Tiberias, Safed and more.

 

   Randy plants a tree in the JNF forest at the religious Kibbutz Lavi, near Tiberias, in memory of his other grandmother, Sharon.

 

   At the Museum of the Diaspora, Ramat Aviv, (www.bh.org.il) excellent guides and visuals trace Jewish history. “I knew a lot of that,” says Randy.

 

   Driving along the Haifa-Tel Aviv Highway No. 2, a statue of Herzl on a water tower looms over us. Randy knows who Herzl was, “If you will it, it is no dream,” he volunteers.

 

   In Tiberias, we don’t have to tell him who Rambam and Rabbi Akiva were. At their tombs, images are reignited in prayer; new facts imparted by guides.

 

   Kids enjoy being with family, especially new cousins their own age. Israeli cousins want to practice their English which prompts Randy to exclaim after a sumptuous dinner, “Thanks. Good food!” After the trip, they will communicate via e-mail, Facebook, Skype; for Randy, another bridge to the Jewish state.

 

 


Randy on a tank at The Memorial Site and Armed Corps Museum, Latrun

Photos by Riva Frank


 

   A trip highlight is the Memorial Site and Armed Corps Museum, Latrun (www.yadlashiryon.com). This Taggart fort still shows scars of the tough battles fought over it. Randy eagerly climbs up onto every tank: Shermans, Centurions, and Israel’s own Merkava. I don’t have to ask their reaction to this site; you could see it on their faces and hear it in their language: “Cool.”

 

   Young people are aware of danger, too. “Are there Arabs over there?” Randy asks during our long drives, sometimes near the border. “Yes, there are,” we answer, but comfort him that Israel has good security and, certainly all Arabs are notterrorists. Not righteous to hate an entire people.

 

   The point is made – without words – when a friendly Arab taxi driver in Jerusalem drops us off to pick up our car at a parking lot and adds, “follow me” as he goes out of his way to guide us out of Jerusalem.

 

  We scoot around the country and stop at the The Ayalon Institute in Kibbutz Hill, Rehovot (www.shimur.org.il). A top-secret operation took place here between the end of World War II and Israel’s independence: The Haganah secretly manufactured bullets in an underground bunker.

 

   Randy has visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. After spending two hours at Yad Vashem (www.yadvashem.org) in the Hall of Names, he searches but can’t find his great, great- grandparents’ names. “I’ll work on it from home,” he says.

 

 


Randy with Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau

 

   At Yad Vashem, we meet Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the former Ashkenazi chief rabbi, who that day had honored the late Feodor Mikhailichenko as “Righteous Among the Nations.” The man saved the rabbis’ life and Mikhailichenko’s daughters are present to accept a medal. We take a photo of Rabbi Lau and Randy.

 

   In Netanya stands the Wingate Institute, the National Sports Institute of Israel, which offers free tours (www.wingate.org.il) and which is named after British-born Major General Orde Wingate – who trained the Haganah. Located on 120-acres of landscaped gardens, it prepares Israel’s Olympic athletes as well as the country’s sports instructors and teachers. Randy’s and Jeanette’s eyes light up as we watch the athletes practice, especially the skilled Israeli Olympic female, volleyball team.

 

   Regarding sports, on our last day, Randy asks:

 

   “Sabi, maybe you can get me a surf board?”

 

   “But Randy, it’s too big to lug on the plane.”

 

   “No problem. Get it now. We’ll store it. When I come back, I’ll have it.”

 

   I have no doubt he’ll be back.


 


 


   Ben G. Frank is author of “A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe,” 3rd edition; “A Travel Guide to Jewish Russia and Ukraine,” and “A Travel Guide to the Jewish Caribbean and South America,” Pelican Publishing Co., Gretna, LA.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/travel/traveling-in-israel-with-a-12-year-old-2/2009/10/16/

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