Nostalgia Sunday – Christmas stamps & cancels

Each year since 1967, the Israel Postal Company (formerly the Israel Postal Authority) has honored Christmas with a unique stamp cancellation.

These “cancels” were made only at specific locations, namely the cities holy to Christianity: Bethlehem, Nazareth, Tiberias, Jerusalem and — in a nod to the modern day pilgrim — Ben Gurion Airport, too.

christmas cancels

Even IDF military post issued in Bethlehem (top row, center) got the special cancel. A full list with images of cancels is available on the Israel Philatelic Federation website.

Since 1993, Israel Post has also issued a special stamp and first day cover for collectors. Some examples:

2005-first-day-cover

2007-first-day-cover

2011-first-day-cover

This year’s stamp (an ATM label of varying postage values):

2012-Christmas-ATM-label

A few words about philately in Israel. The main organizer is the Israel Philatelic Federation, which has an online searchable database and also maintains a philatelic library at its Tel Aviv offices.

The Philatelic Federation oversees the country’s collectors clubs, holds stamp exhibitions in Israel and sends representatives to exhibit at fairs overseas. Learn more about their activities by visiting their website.

Collectors — or people looking for a Christmas gift for the philatelist in their lives — can purchase stamps via the Israel Postal Company website.

And, to our readers celebrating Christmas this week — happy holidays!

Foto Friday – Ronsho’s Perfect Tel Aviv Storm

Photographer Ron Shoshani loves Tel Aviv and wants to show his city in its best light. You might think that a blustery weekend such as this presents a challenge but in fact, Shoshani finds that storm clouds suit his textured hyper-realism…

And the rain that washes away the dust and grime also brings out the city’s colors…

These colors that are then enhanced through the magic of his digital paintbox to create photographic eye candy, as he calls it, that all but leaps off the screen.

When we first profiled Shoshani (also known as Ronsho) back in 2010, he had just embarked on what has become a long-term project: recreating Tel Aviv’s image for the international audience.

As he recently recounted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Nowadays every self-respecting city is interested in tourism and has a portfolio of photos showing its potential and the beauty of its landscapes. Tel Aviv has as much to offer as those other cities, I’m absolutely sure…

“I realized that my city deserves such a portfolio, deserves it as a modern developing city, endlessly interesting for tourists. A city of business and entertainment, the sea and nightlife, wonderful parks, fascinating museums, and diverse architecture.

Ron-Shoshani_TLV-winter_7

Also since 2010, Ronsho has also become a regular contributor to the local edition of Time Out. Every photo posted to his Facebook page gets umpteen “Likes” from an ever-growing group of followers and he recently opened an online gallery so that his fans can purchase hard copies of his work. Definitely worth a visit — and a “Like”!

Nostalgia Sunday – Modern Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is famous for its International Style architecture, so much so that in 2003, UNSECO named it to its World Heritage List. At that time, UNESCO called “The White City”, “an outstanding example in a large scale of the innovative town-planning ideas of the first part of the 20th century… [and] also an outstanding example of the implementation of these trends taking into account local cultural traditions and climatic conditions.”

As one who actually owns an apartment in one of these Modernist structures, I would like to tell UNESCO a thing or two about the innovative trends of the last century. One one hand, yes, the architecture is outstanding. On the other hand, the materials used to build them never stood a chance against the harsh Mediterranean conditions. But ongoing maintenance is almost impossible under the system of joint ownership in which buildings are run by a tenants committee. By “almost impossible” I mean, if half your neighbors are seriously crazy and the other half are engaged in bitter, long-standing feuds, you will never reach an agreement about fixing anything, and your building will come to look like crap.

This is the real and true reason for why most of the “White City” buildings aren’t very. So it is nice to delve into the US Library of Congress’ G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection and see Tel Aviv as it was supposed to be under the urban plan of Sir Patrick Geddes: modern, clean, functional and flowing.

Above, I believe is the turnabout towards HaYarkon and Gordon Streets. Below, Dizengoff Circle as it once was: pleasant, walkable and, above all, level.

Fortunately, there are a few brave souls out there who have taken on the challenge of raising awareness about the city’s — and the country’s — Modernist heritage. Among them is Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus Center, an organization dedicated to creating a platform for Bauhaus architecture and design in Israel. Here’s their building today, at 99 Dizengoff Street…

And here’s how it was in the 1930s!

The Bauhaus Center also functions as a gallery. The most recent show is of works by painter Sali Ariel who depicts the city and its architecture in lively splashes of color — it may not be white but it’s definitely more in keeping with the real Tel Aviv spirit!

Foto Friday – Elyssa Frank’s MADEINISRAEL Hannukah CELEBRATION!!!

Photographer Elyssa Frank is passionate about Israel. Leaf through her MADEINISRAEL page on Facebook, read her comments and you’ll see that enthusiasm shining through. This week, Tel Aviv-based Frank was in Jerusalem, viewing Hanukkah in the city through her own unique lens and voice…

Frank delivers a personal message through her comments. In this image of the women’s section at the Western Wall she wishes all a genuine, heartfelt ***HAPPYHANNUKAH***.

“to me, Israel is a country of CELEBRATION. . . so , when there’s a birthday & its during Hanukah. . . its the sweetest celebration ever. . . even sweeter when its your best-friend. . .”

Frank caught this ghostly image of a Hannukia, the nine-branched holiday candelabra, on a dark lonely street. She writes: “fo’ SURE. . . i thought i was having some weird spiritual siting as I wandered through the HOLYstreets of the OLD CITY of JERUSALEM. . . 3rd night. . .”

On the lighter side she notes, “ISRAEL’s the masters of the POP-UP shop. . . DONUT factory. . . on-the-spot!”

Although, in fact, there is a price to pay for the lighter side:
“****OMG***
thats a wild berry chaser. . .
and yeah, thats just STUFFd with CHOCoLATE!
O my HOLY DIET!!!! woo. . hoo!!!!!
living the holiday of SOFgayNYOTS!!!!”

This past Monday, Frank attended TEDx Jerusalem (as did I), an independently organized TED event. Like its parent, TEDx Jerusalem was “devoted to ideas worth spreading” and the day featured some of Israel’s most inspired speakers and inspirational ideas.

One such idea came originally from New Orleans-based artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang, who turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die I want to ___.” The answers written in by her neighbors became an unexpected mirror for the community.

Chang’s “Before I die, I want to ___” video is listed among the 10 Most Motivating and Life Changing TED Talks and chalkboards have sprung up all over the world. This week, Elyssa Frank snapped a shot of the latest — a different kind of wall in Jerusalem.

I had such an eye-opening, inspiring & enjoyable day. . .
I left with a few ideas i would like to share:
Strive to ALWAYS b UNIQUE. . .
BE YOU, its the strongest BE you can be. . .

Amen, amen! And a genuine and heartfelt happy Hannukah to all!

Nostalgia Sunday – Israel Revealed to the Eye

Israel Revealed to the Eye is a marvelous and massive photo project taken on by Yad Ben Zvi that will attempt, as much as possible, to be the nation’s family photo album.

Israel Revealed to the Eye is a communal initiative with the purpose of recording, saving, and preserving the photos that document the state and the country, its residents and its history.

This is being done through a project aimed at visual documentation through preservation of photos in private albums.

The project, which began during the centennial celebrations in 2009 of the founding of Tel Aviv, was expanded in 2011 to cover the towns of Kiryat Shemona, Rosh Ha’ayin, Sderot and Yeruham with more cities to be added.

The photos are collected in local documentation centers with backup files in central archival institutions and networks.

Dr. Nirit Shalev-Khalifa, the Ben Zvi Institute’s coordinator of the photo project states, “Treasures of the past are found in every home: in photo albums, documents, and mementos. Every person living in Israel is partner to the development and history of the state. His or her private photo album reflects the different types of life present in Israeli society and its diverse social communities: in development towns, agricultural settlements, new residential settlements, and in the cities.”

The photos are available for research, study, exhibitions, outdoor cultural and artistic events, and publications, and are available to the general public both at Yad Ben Zvi and online.

Visit the Israel Revealed to the Eye website to see more family and community photos from Hanukkah celebrations in years gone by. If you have photos to share, contact the archivists at: ybzpic@ybz.org.il

And of course, visit their Facebook page — you can post photos there as well!

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