Israelity has moved!

May 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

Israelity has moved! You can now find new posts and updated content over at

Foto Friday – Peaceful Vistas

April 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

Tumultuous doesn’t begin to describe the week’s events. The Boston Marathon Bombing, the explosion of the chemical plant in Texas, and now the (still ongoing) manhunt after the bombers have pushed North Korea and Iranian nuclear threats off the headlines… for the moment. These are crazy days.

Time to take a break with some beautiful panoramic images of places we love.

1980_ Panorama Tel aviv_norm.jpgTel Aviv Coast. Photo by Dana Friedlander.

Panorama1 The wailing wall and Temple Mount_normWailing Wall and Temple Mount. Photo by Noam Chen.

IMG_2795_Itamar Grinberg the Sea of Galilee_normSea of Galilee. Photo by Itamar Grinberg.

Negev - Ramon Crater 4. Dafna Tal.jpg_normRamon Crater at Sunrise. Photo by ​Dafna Tal.

Acre - Akko 11-  St. John church_normAcre (Akko); St. John church. Uncredited.

NormalHaifa 001Night view from Mt. Carmel, Haifa. Uncredited.

All photographs courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

Nostalgia Sunday – Yaakov Gross documents Israel

April 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

Celluloid must run in documentarian Yaakov Gross’ blood. His father, Natan Gross, made films for the early Zionist enterprise. Yaakov emigrated to Israel in 1950 and graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and went on to direct and produce over 30 documentary films for organizations such as the KKL-JNF and Israel Television. He is also heavily involved with the preservation and restoration of the films of early Israeli filmmakers. As part of that labor of love, Gross has digitized and uploaded films made by his father and by himself, as well as films he by others that he has restored, to YouTube.

In honor of Israel’s 65th Independence Day celebrations, Gross has decided to spread the word about his YouTube channel. Several of the videos document visits to the early settlement by dignitaries, royalty and other celebrated personages.

In this first video from 1918, Chaim Weizmann, later to be named the first President of the State of Israel, marches down the main streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem together with other heads of the Zionist CommissionMontague David Eder, Baron Israel Sieff, Sir Leon Simon, Sylvain Levi, Joseph Cowen, Aaron Aharonson, Edwin Samuel, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, Bezalel Jaffe, David Levontin and others — most of whom today are known more as street names than as actual people.

Gross notes that, “This is probably one of the few surviving fragments of the first Hebrew film, “Judea Liberated”, by Yaacov Ben-Dov, a film whose loss was recorded by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in 1927. Yet, I still have hope that I will find it someday.”

The clip entitled Trumpeldor at Migdal is part of the larger 1913 film, Lives of the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, directed by Noah Sokolowski and produced by Mirograf (Odessa) et Mizrah (I. Diesengof, Odessa). The film went missing and was rediscovered in 1997 in the French national film archive, the CNC. It was then reconstructed by Gross on behalf of the Jerusalem Cinematheque and the CNC’s Eric Le Roy into a new, 60-minute long version depicting 20 Jewish communities in the pre-State Land of Israel.

The clip, Allenby in Jerusalem 1917, is part of a movie by Yaacov Ben-Dov and cameraman Harold Jeapes about the entry of General Allenby to Jerusalem following the conquest of the city by the British two days earlier. It was hoped that the British administration would put the Balfour Declaration of 1917 — viewing “with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” — into effect.

The visit by Lord Balfour on April 7, 1925 was one of the most exciting in the history of the Jewish settlement. Balfour arrived on the occasion of the opening of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. These clips show him visiting the city of Tiberias and Haifa’s Technion.

Following the 1937 death of King George V, the coronation of his son was celebrated in Haifa. Gross notes that George VI was the king who witnessed the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. The original film was directed by Nathan Axelrod Collection for Carmel Newsreels, and is presented courtesy of the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

For more historic clips, visit Yaakov Gross’ YouTube channel and the Yaakov Gross website.

Israel celebrates 65 in videos

April 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

Israel is marking its 65th anniversary on Tuesday, April 16. And with a click of the mouse – even if you’re not here — you can celebrate, too.

Start with a good chuckle with comedian Benji Lovitt, who presents a list of 65 things he loves about Israel.

ISRAEL21c has created a beautiful photo collage video highlighting the people and places that make this country so special.
We turned to Israeli singer-songwriter Rosi Golan for her uplifting music and called on readers to send in Israel photos that make them smile. The result: Three minutes of feel-good birthday cheer.

Here’s a round-up of some of the other Yom Ha’atzmaut 2013 videos on the Web:

• Gorgeous photos of Israel set to Matisyahu’s ‘Sunshine’ makes you want to get up and hike around the country.

• The Fountainheads — a group of young Israeli singers, dancers and musicians from the Ein Prat Academy for Leadership — released an original birthday song that has hit a positive note with YouTube viewers around the world.

• The international educational organization StandWithUs took a quirky angle and shows off 65 things the Israel advocacy group likes about Israel in just 65 seconds!

• AACI (the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel) asked its members why they make Israel their home. For some it was about being Jewish, for others it was all about the food.

• The Ministry of Foreign Affairs celebrates 65 years of achievement.

• The UJA Federation in Canada and the US Center for Jewish Education organized video competitions for the 65th anniversary, with the winner receiving a trip to Israel. Here are two of the submissions:

• And if you’re looking for a real party to attend – in Israel or abroad – YouTube is brimming with promos for Yom Ha’atzmaut parties. The Tel Aviv Student Union presents the most original advertisement with its updated version of first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion calling on everyone in the state to celebrate.

Happy birthday, Israel!


An Israel’s “greatest hits” tour

April 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
From the Herod exhibit at the Israel Museum

From the Herod exhibit at the Israel Museum

What do Shai Agnon, Lea Gottlieb and Herod all have in common? They could all be considered “greats” in their respective fields. Shai Agnon is arguably the greatest Hebrew writer (well, he certainly was at one point), Lea Gottlieb, the co-founder of Gottex, was queen of Israeli bathing suit design, and Herod…well, who built bigger and badder than the Second Temple’s main dude?

Now you can catch a “greatest hits” retrospective of all three in Israel. Maybe not in a single day, but for themed tourism, it doesn’t get more creative than this.

Start your travels modestly, in the snug home of Shai Agnon, hidden away on a hilly side street in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood. Agnon’s house has been turned into a museum. In truth, it’s really only his dining room and his library upstairs that have been preserved, but the audio tour included in the low NIS 20 price is comprehensive, telling the Nobel Prize winning author’s history in loving detail. There is a gallery of historical photographs of Agnon with various dignitaries, and you can still see the Dead Sea from the one corner in the garden that isn’t blocked by new building construction. Plan on spending about an hour.

An hour is also what you’ll need at the Holon Design Museum, where the featured exhibit until May 4 is on Lea Gottlieb whose firm Gottex created stunning, ethnically influenced swimware that, with its Middle Eastern motifs and wrap around shirts and skirts, would be just at home at a dinner party as on the beach. Indeed, some of Gottlieb’s creations were so elaborate they never made it off the runway.

The exhibit, which takes over the entire museum except for one small room dedicated to industrial design, the museum’s usual fare, presents Gottlieb’s bathing suits on models in a single, darkened space. Signage in English and Hebrew explains Gottlieb’s influences, which ranged from Arabia to Monet. An interesting note I hadn’t known previously: Gottlieb and her husband originally set out to make raincoats when the immigrated to Israel from Hungary after World War II.  Gottlieb died last year, while the exhibition was in the making. It’s NIS 35 to get in.

As famous as Agnon and Gottlieb were in their day, Herod the Great was even more so 2,000 years ago when he ruled over Israel on behalf of the Romans. The colossal new exhibition at the Israel Museum – its largest ever undertaken – transports much of Herod’s recently excavated tomb and burial site from Herodian, south of Jerusalem, to Israel’s capital.

The story of the tomb’s discovery is as compelling as Herod’s well-known building projects. Archaeologist Professor Ehud Netzer spent much of his career searching for Herod’s tomb – mostly in the wrong place – until he finally unearthed it in 2007. Netzer was deep in the process of preparing the exhibit when he tragically fell from a construction wall at Herodian and died in 2010.

The exhibit includes what is presumed to be Herod’s tomb (it was painstakingly pieced together after being smashed to bits by Jewish zealots during the Great Revolt, less than 70 years after Herod’s death) and digital recreations of what his palace and eventual burial complex would have looked like when they were complete. It is breathtaking.

The Herod exhibit (included in the regular admission price to the Israel Museum) continues until October and makes a fitting cap to a tour of Israel’s greatest hits.

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    Israel is often seen as a place of conflict and strife. In reality there is much more: there's business and research; art and culture; community and family. At ISRAELITY, Israelis blog their daily thoughts, experiences and insights. It's the real Israel, not the media's Israel. It's people living ordinary lives in an extraordinary place.
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