Israel celebrates 65 in videos

April 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, History and Culture, Holidays, Israeliness, Life 

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!

 

Foto Friday – Wonderful Country!

Eretz-Nehederet-logoIn a speech on his recent visit of March 21, 2013, US President Barack Obama gave Israel’s favorite satirical TV show a big boost.

Obama said, “Now, I know that in Israel’s vibrant democracy, every word, every gesture is carefully scrutinized. (Laughter.) But I want to clear something up just so you know — any drama between me and my friend, Bibi, over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet. (Applause.) That’s the only thing that was going on. We just wanted to make sure the writers had good material. (Laughter.)”

Whether because of Obama or just because, Eretz Nehederet has decided to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Israeli independence — and its own 10 years of existence — with an unusual photo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Unusual because the images by photographer Eldad Raphael provide a behind the scenes look at the art, artistry and hard work that goes into making comedy look easy.

So, here is resident wild man, Yaron Berlad, in a pensive moment…

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Alma Zack ready to risk her life for an underwater gag…

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Mariano Edelman getting in touch with his inner Bibi…

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And the cast lining up onstage.

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To get an idea of Eretz Nehederet’s brand of comedic satire, here’s a clip that went viral around the world. In it, a UN mediator tries to neogiate a peace treaty between Angry Birds, pigs and well… you’ll see…

The photo exhibition, We Have A Wonderful Country runs from April 10 through April 24 at the Tel Aviv Museum. Visit the official Eretz Nehederet page or join their Facebook fan page.

Nostalgia Sunday – Warsaw Ghetto Testimonies

Tonight Israel will mark Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. The central theme for this year is Defiance and Rebellion during the Holocaust: 70 Years Since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. At 10:00 on Monday morning, there will be siren and 2 minutes of silence.

My personal connection to the Warsaw Ghetto is twofold. First is my Israeli mother, who came from Polish family stock, including cousin Estherka who was one of those children that survived by hiding in the sewage tunnels and came to the pre-State Land of Israel after the war.

Second is my own work as the translator of Itamar Levin’s book Walls Around: The Plunder of Warsaw Jewry during World War II and Its Aftermath. The author’s argument is that the plunder of Jews in the Holocaust was not only a product of murder, but also a tool of murder.

What was striking about this plunder was the methodical way in which Jews were initially forced into the Ghetto, (a walled off area that did not exist prior to the Nazi occupation), and then systematically stripped of their possessions, from large items (real estate, cash holdings) to medium-sized (furniture, furs, etc.), and then — once the ghetto inhabitants had been transported to Treblinka and other extermination camps and killed — the small: clothes, shoes, glasses, teeth and hair.

Yad Vashem – The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority has prepared a new online exhibition, Voices from the Inferno. This exhibition presents video testimonies given by the survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and former combatants in the uprising. This unique oral documentation sheds new light on the fate of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, with a special focus on the uprising in which 13,000 Jews were killed (some 6,000 among them were burnt alive or died from smoke inhalation). Of the remaining 50,000 residents, most were captured and shipped to concentration and extermination camps.

In the new Yad Vashem video series, the speakers describe the atmosphere in the Warsaw Ghetto following the Great Deportation of the summer of 1942: continuing aktions, certainty of death, preparing bunkers for the rebellion and storing food. Below is the first video in the series and more videos can be viewed here.

The official Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day will take place on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 20:00, in Warsaw Ghetto Square, Yad Vashem, Mount of Remembrance, Jerusalem.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on television on Channels 1, 2, 10 and 33, and channel 9 in Russian, and for the first time on JLTV in the United States, and by radio on Kol Israel and Galei Zahal. It will last about one hour and a quarter.

There will also be a national gathering at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum at Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot.

Yad Vashem calls on the public to fill in Pages of Testimony to commemorate the names of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Volunteers are available to help Holocaust survivors fill out Pages of Testimony (Call: +972 2 644 3111).

At the same time, Yad Vashem is continuing the Gathering the Fragments campaign in an effort to rescue Holocaust-related documents, artifacts, photographs and art. To donate material: collect@yadvashem.org.il or call (from outside Israel) +972-2-6443888 or (in Israel) 1-800-25-7777).

The oral history department continues to film survivor testimonies. Yad Vashem personnel travel to interview and film survivors in their own homes; the testimonies are housed in the Yad Vashem Archives. To coordinate a visit: testimonies@yadvashem.org.il or call (in Israel) +972 2 644 3752/3.

Nostalgia Sunday – Mimouna photo opportunity

mimounaMimouna, the traditional North African Jewish celebration held the day after Passover, marks the start of spring. Israelis of Moroccan and Algerian Jewish origin open their homes to visitors and offer guests special holiday cakes and sweets containing the leavening that had been off-limits throughout the Passover week.

One of the holiday specialties is mofletta (also spelled mufleta, mofleta, moufleta, etc.), a thin crepe made of water, flour and oil, and eaten warm with honey or jam.

Wikipedia describes Mimouna in Israel as “[having] become a popular annual happening featuring outdoor parties, picnics and BBQs” while politely omitting the locations of said picnics, which can take place on any open patch of grass, be it a park, nature preserve or highway median strip.

In 1966, Mimouna was introduced as a national holiday and — in an extension of an already overly-long spring break — yet another day off from school. It has been adopted by other ethnic groups, mainly in the Mizrahi sector.

And therefore, Mimouna also marks the traditional photo opportunity for Israeli politicians to cozy up to the Maghreb communities in towns like Sderot that are known for their large concentrations of North African Jews.

Tradition also requires that the photos be characterized by uncomfortable “East meets West” encounters between suited Asheknazi pols trying to fit in by wearing a red tarbush, sitting on floor cushions, dancing awkwardly and, of course, eating mofletta as if they’d never tasted a pancake before.

But over the generations, this divide has become less pronounced, the photo opp has become a well-oiled machine and Mimouna has been mainstreamed to the point where it’s everyone’s holiday. At least for schoolchildren, if not for their parents who must go back to work.

The Israel Revealed to the Eye family album project, spearheaded by Yad Ben Zvi, has some wonderful photos from Mimouna in Sderot.

And for an excellent slide show of Israeli politicians getting their mofletta on, visit this post on Maariv NRG.

Matza madness

March 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Food, Holidays, Israeliness, Religion 

My kids were very excited to eat matza at their kindergarten seders, mainly because the teachers slathered it with chocolate spread. I don’t mind matza but I can’t say I’m as eager as they are to crunch on this unleavened bread for the week of Passover.

Yet out there, across the oceans and on the other side of the world, it would seem matza consumption is on the rise.

Without million dollar advertisements and commercials espousing the crunchy blandness this product contains, matza exports from Israel in 2012 amounted to over $19 million. That’s a 21 percent increase from the previous year.

The Israel Export Institute reports that 53 countries import Israeli-made matza.

A whopping 60% (totaling $11 million) of the exported over-sized brittle cracker goes to the United States. While local matza production facilities once triumphed over the blue-and-white made matza varieties, today the trend has turned around. The Israel Export Institute says the US demand rose by 50% from the previous year.

Also asking for more Israeli matza was the European Union which recorded a 13% increase, totaling $4.5 million.

A few fun facts you should know: Each regular square of manufactured matza contains 800 holes and costs the eater 150 calories. On average, Israelis consume one kilogram of matza each – and we only celebrate seven days of the holiday!

The calorie count, of course, is before you slather liver/chocolate/jam/cream cheese/butter/honey on your matza. It’s before you turn your matza slice into matza pizza.

Passover is a holiday for gaining weight. Enjoy the good food!

Chag Sameach.

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