Foto Friday – Natural Beauty with Eddie Friedman

Eddie Friedman believes that photos are a vital documentation of our experiences, culture, history and most importantly our memories. That belief is deeply ingrained: after they survived the Holocaust, his parents were left with less than half a dozen photos. “That fact had a strong impact on my life,” he states.

Friedman has been taking photos since 1958, when he came to the USA from Czechoslovakia. “Freezing images in an artistic and expressive way, recording and preserving memories, telling a story and sharing it with others; all of these are a deep passion of mine. Beauty is all around me waiting to be captured. Translating this beauty into an image brings me much fulfillment and satisfaction.”

Friedman loves the land of Israel and says that he looks for ways to present both ancient and modern images. His website is an online gallery of Israel’s culture, religions and peoples. His nature photography is equally powerful…

Capturing cacti, thorns and thistles, long the metaphor for the Israeli spirit…

Finding the country’s beauty by looking just below the surface…

And doing what he loves best: sharing moments in time…

Friedman’s work was recently presented in People and Places – A Photographic trip Around the World, a group show sponsored by the AACI. More images can be found on his website where there’s much, much more to see.

Foto Friday – Meet the High-Rises

The headlines this week are all about the housing crisis. Initially, the protest against high rents and purchase prices started in Tel Aviv but by the end of the week had spread to country’s the north, south and east. The “Tent City” protesters have talked a lot about the luxury apartments that the municipalities, and by extension, the government, favor. But given that a picture is worth at least 500 words (adjusting for inflation), here are a few of the outstanding projects that really stick in the average non-homeowner’s craw.

Akirov Towers. Most prominent resident: Minister of Defense and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

The Ramat Gan Diamond Bourse, which was first to define the TLV-RG urban skyline.

To the south: the Neve Zedek Tower casting its long luxe lifetyle shadow over quaint and trendy Neve Tzedek, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tel Aviv. To the North: The Yoo Towers, designed by the master, Philippe Starck.

The rest of the country is not free of this luxury high-rise scourge. Worse yet, the farther out you get from the center, the funnier the names get. Meet Haifa’s Sail Tower and Netanya’s Sea Opera.

And Jerusalem’s Holyland, the project that launched a thousand corruption lawsuits!

Foto Friday – Rick Blumsack tackles Jerusalem

Rick Blumsack finds inspiration for his photographs in simple encounters with people, wildlife and his surroundings. The former Cambridge, Massachusetts resident now makes his home in Jerusalem where he contributes to The Jerusalem Post and recently participated in his first Israeli group show, People and Places – A Photographic trip Around the World, sponsored by the AACI.

In addition, Blumsack serves on the media team of the Israel Football League… and if you didn’t know there was American-style football in Israel, then you haven’t been driving by Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium. On any day of the week it is alive with flag football players – men, women, young boys and girls.

The stadium is named for Robert and Myra Kraft, owners of the NFL’s New England Patriots and one of the driving forces behind flag football in Israel. Sadly, Myra Kraft passed away this week of cancer at age 68. David has written more about this remarkable woman here.

It’s a point of great pride that IFL teams sing the national anthem, HaTikva, at every game.

Beyond the confines of the stadium, as he wanders through Jerusalem, Blumsack finds the encounters he seeks with people enjoying simple pleasures — like these two young men at rest, heads atop their cycle helmets…

Or this painter, working intently in the heart of Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market…

And children enjoying green spaces within the urban environment.

More works can be seen at Rick Blumsack’s website.

Foto Friday – In search of the yakhmur

The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, also known as The Biblical Zoo, features animals from the Land of Israel with special emphasis on those species mentioned in the Bible. Many of those Biblical mentions, it should be noted, relate to their consumption. Specifically, defining which animals are considered kosher and listing ten native ungulate (hoofed) species permitted for consumption: “These are the beasts which ye may eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat; the ayal, the zvi, and the yakhmur; and the aqqo, the dishon, the teo and the zemer.”(Deuteronomy 14:4-5)

But what are the aqqo, dishon and zemer? A new archaeozoological study conducted jointly by researchers at the University of Haifa and Bar-Ilan University, has examined zoological findings at 133 sites around Israel dating back to the beginning of the biblical period, the late Bronze Age (12th century BCE) and up to the Persian Era (7th century BCE) and is exploring the possible answers to these questions.

According to the researchers, “The first three species have been easily identified, but the rest have been disputed over the years. Besides the fact that there is no species today as the zemer, the names of other species have been translated over time between different languages and only hundreds of years later returned to the Hebrew language, so that the biblical yakhmur and teo were not necessarily the species as we know them today.

“Our archaeozoological findings reinforce the assumption that there is some significance in the order of appearance of each species in the Bible’s list of animals deemed clean for consumption. By arriving at a more precise identification of the animals, we can more confidently confirm that at first domesticated animals are named and following that the verse mentions the animals in order of their importance for human consumption in the biblical Land of Israel,” the researchers stated.

The study was based on the hypothesis that animals described in the Bible existed at the time and place of its writing. “Based on the animal remains that were examined, the zvi mentioned in Deuteronomy includes the mountain gazelle and Dorcas gazelle. The ayal includes the red deer and Mesopotamian fallow deer, which is also a member of the deer family.”

The archaeozoological remains indicate that the aqqo can be identified with the ibex or what is still known as the wild goat.

The biblical dishon has been given various identities over the years, including affiliation with the rhinoceros.

Archaeological remains from the time of the Bible, however, do not show any hint of rhinoceros; the researchers explain that it is most likely to be an Arabian oryx.

The teo mentioned in Deuteronomy is a species that over the years and due to the various translations of the name, has been identified as bison, even though such an animal has also not been found amongst the archaeological remains. The current study suggests that the teo be identified with buffalo, which was a commonly hunted animal in biblical times.

And what was the yakhmur? According to the researchers, an analysis of the biblical text and the animal remains that they examined indicates that the Bible’s yakhmur was in fact an antelope of the hartebeest species, a large African antelope that became extinct in Israel but is still found in eastern Africa.

Finally, the zemer has also been given various identities in translation, including the giraffe. This is a highly unlikely identification of the zemer, seeing as here too, there is no hint of archaeological remains of giraffes in the biblical land of Israel. Based on their new analysis, the researchers propose that this species is a member of the ibex family.

Not that anyone’s going to make a meal of him but that’s still probably a relief to the latest addition to the Biblical Zoo, a baby giraffe who was born last week. The tot is only a mere 2 meters tall and both baby and mother are doing well.

Foto Friday – Tel Aviv Water War 2011

Every community has its traditions that stand convention on its head. Crunchy granola hippies have Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. Educated Ivy Leaguers have International Talk Like A Pirate Day. And here in the arid, sun-parched Middle East, on the first July of the year, Tel Aviv holds its annual Water War.

For seven years running, the Water War has turned Rabin Square into a soggy mess o’ fun, as young and old run around in bathing suits, jump in the fountain and drench one another with bottles, buckets, balloons and water guns filled with H2O.

It may seem odd for a country with a ongoing drought to engage in this activity. Indeed, there have been efforts on the part of the Water Authority to cancel the event. But the Water Warriors maintain that the water used in battle is drawn only from the Rabin Square fountain, the logic apparently being that it’s God-given purpose is to moisten the corpus Tel Avivorum.

And apparently that is so. The TLV Water War is reportedly the world’s biggest water fight.

Photographer Guy Prives has been documenting the event and this year was moved to put together a slide show featuring the Women of the Water War. (I am assured there are men there as well).

Channel 2 News also felt the event was clip-worthy and blogger Erin Amsili has posted more great photos of Water War 2011 showing Rabin Square in all its watery glory — definitely worth a look.

This clip is from last year but the theme remains the same: there’s no end to the summer fun in “The City That Never Stops”.

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