Nostalgia Sunday – Nostalgia Online

Get ready to get nostalgic, big time. The wonderful Nostalgia Online site, (at, a collection of documents, videos, audio tracks and images curated by collector/editor and contemporary history buff David Sela, sent out an email this past week announcing that all site content, text and images were now available for download, free-of-charge, for non-commercial use for private studies, homework, research and other educational needs including news report citations. Yay!

Sela, who only a few weeks ago, launched Radio Nostalgia, an online music channel playing Israeli hits from 25 years ago and beyond, has clearly tapped into a wellspring of human emotion: the good feeling elicited from seeing an old movie poster, classic naaley bayit slippers or even the relief felt from seeing a picture of a rusty old kerosene heater and being able to say, “Well, thank goodness we don’t have to use THAT anymore!”

The site is a comprehensive, non-profit enterprise with content written by Sela and a team of volunteer researchers, with materials contributed by thousands of visitors, private entities and institutions all interested in preserving the collective memory of the modern State of Israel. The site is divided into dozens of sub-sites (portals) and tens of thousands of entries, images, presentations, audio and video clips and various visual images.

In addition to Radio Nostalgia, there’s a video archive that gathers together over 1000 YouTube clips, an audio archive with sounds from famous historical events, a collection of downloadable PowerPoint presentations and print materials. There’s even a daily trivia factoid. For example, 34 years ago today in 1978, the film Eskimo Limon (Lemon Popsicle) — itself a nostalgic look back at wayward Tel Aviv youth in the late 1950s — premiered and became a national sensation.

Nostalgia Online also publishes an online magazine called Kova Tembel (in Hebrew) distributed free to 146,000 subscribers, runs an information center and also answers individual questions about the various historical aspects of Israeli culture and heritage.

The Nostalgia Online team assists organizations and institutions in creating displays for employees and/or the public and has also formed a non-government organization (NGO) for the purpose of establishing a museum of Israeli nostalgia.

You can show your support by joining their Facebook page. And if you’ve got any Israeli knick-knacks, bric-a-brac or any other cool old stuff lying around, take a picture and share — it will surely be appreciated!

For old time’s sake, here’s the trailer for Lemon Popsicle.

Haredim gone wild

This is unlikely to help bridge the secular-haredi divide that has engulfed Israel, with all the recent women-in-the-back-of-the-bus and army singing segregation stories.

An Israeli fashion magazine called BelleMode is publicizing a new photo spread that speaks directly to those headlines. The spread features models portraying haredi men and women on a bus. But not only is there no separate seating, there’s some very provocative cohabitation going on.

As the Gawker website put it, the outfits “ resemble the clothing favored by haredim, except with some minor differences. Like, some of the shirts are see-through. And some of the models have forgotten to wear their pants.”

According to an accompanying behind the scenes video for the shoot, the director is heard explaining what he was trying to do. “My feeling is, that in the fashion industry, women have a lot of power, they are at the center. We took that power and decided to centralize/funnel it into a fashion production – that’s both inspired and against a woman’s appearance, to bring all the stuff that’s most irritating to us — the bus banishments, silencing of singing – to bring it and make a production that walks a fine line between being very closed and modest to ripped wide open and sexy. As long as it’s being done in good taste and doesn’t harm the woman, I don’t see any problem.”

You can judge for yourself after viewing some of the photos from the shoot here.

Foto Friday – Benefits of Rain

It’s still raining and I’m still not a fan. My surly attitude notwithstanding, the benefits are beginning to make themselves felt: the water level at Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) rose 55 centimeters in January, and as of yesterday stood at 212.94m below sea level. Which means we’ve just passed the lower red line of 213m below sea level. That’s good news. Or, as Tweeted by Kinbot, a computer generated daily report of the Kinneret water level, “Good show, Israel!”.

Tel Aviv Beach – Wintertime 2012
Photo by Ilan Malester, Courtesy of the Ministry of the Environment

Well, yes. It’s definitely an improvement but reaching the line doesn’t mean we’re done with the drought yet. The lower red line is a fluctuating government-recommended level below which water should no longer be drawn from the lake. Beyond it, there’s the black line, at 215 meters below sea level, the point at which pumping water becomes dangerous and must be shut down. We hit that on November 29, 2001. There is also an upper red line, set at 208.80 meters below sea level, which is the high-water mark. We haven’t been there since the great flood of Tiberias in 1934. So, we still have a way to go.

The rain has also brought out Israel’s storm chasers in droves. Jessica wrote about these hardy — or do I mean foolhardy? — folks two years ago. Since then, the popularity of driving 4x4s and jeeps into the desert or the mountains in search of rushing water has only increased, judging from the activity on the various storm chaser forums, chat groups and recently posted YouTube videos. Even the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) has gotten into the storm chaser act, offering hikes specially geared towards those with taste for flash. Er… flash floods, that is.

For those of us who’d rather chase storms from the comfort of a nice warm living room, here are a few recent clips, courtesy of the Israel Nature & Parks Authority.

Floods in the northern Dead Sea region – January 2012

Floods in the Carmel mountain range – Nahal Oron

Initial moments of a flood in Judean Desert dry river beds

And here’s a local news item from northern Israel, reporting on snow on Mount Hermon and flash floods in the Golan and Galilee.

Cat Power cancels TA show over Palestinian issue

Just days after Madonna announced that she’d be opening up her world tour in Israel and spending two weeks in Tel Aviv prior to the debut rehearsing with her massive support crew, her antithesis – both musically, philosophically, and now apparently politically – Cat Power – abruptly announced the cancellation of a show in Tel Aviv three days before it was scheduled to take place.

Power, one of the most respected indie rockers over the last 15 years, was scheduled to perform for the first time in Israel on Sunday night at Reading 3 in Tel Aviv. However, on Thursday, the singer, whose real name is Chan Marshall, posted a message on her Facebook account expressing a change of heart.

“Due to much confusion in my soul, playing for my Israeli fans w/such unrest between Israel and Palestine I can’t play, as I feel sick in my spirit. XX,” she wrote.
She also tweeted: “Music is healing and it is not humane if all cannot have the choice, the right, to attend,” apparently referring to Palestinians who would not be able to travel to Tel Aviv to see the show. The announcement came after Power had tweeted earlier in the week asking her fans to “find a show in Ramallah… for the people of Palestine”.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Does Cat Power actually think there are Palestinians in Ramallah – or anywhere else – who would come out to see her in concert? Even Paul McCartney and Leonard Cohen realized that there’s not enough of an audience for Western music among our neighbors, and they found other ways to show their solidarity for the plight of the innocent members of Palestinian society affected by the situation, whether you believe it’s caused by Israel or by their own leadership. McCartney visited a Palestinian music school and Cohen donated the proceeds from his concert to a fund for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

With a little thought, Cat Power could have come up with something to ease her pained conscience. Ironically, as a friend pointed out on Facebook, the night before her decision to cancel, she performed in Turkey, the same day that Turkish troops killed 13 Kurdish rebels who have been fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast since 1984.

I guess Elton John wasn’t right when he defiantly roared from the stage at Ramat Gan Stadium in 2010 that musicians “don’t cherry pick our conscience” over where to perform. Cat Power seems to do it just fine.

Mozart vs. Madonna

February 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Art, Entertainment, General, Israeliness, Life, Music, Pop Culture 

With news of Madonna‘s return visit to Israel, I cranked up the stereo with The Material Girl’s hits. I was not expecting the reactions my kids gave me.

My eldest son asked me what “that noise” was. My youngest son said “is that music?” Fortunately my daughter said nothing (which means she did not hate it).

Feeling defeat, I slid a ‘Mozart for the Young’ CD into the slot instead. The little ones started to dance – a sign they approved.

My mother – a great fan of classical music – would be delighted to know that her grandchildren in Israel prefer Mozart to Madonna, Bach to Blur.

Then again, I suppose I’m partially to blame.

You see, when we go to concerts with the kids we prefer a quality performance to the nonsense often served up to toddlers.

My two older children (twins aged 4.5) adore Magical Sounds at the Israeli Opera. Actress Nitza Shaul introduces little ones to the lives of the great composers in a sort of combination play-concert-opera. She is mesmerizing, captivating and interesting.

My kids role-play the classical masters long after we see the shows.

Nitza Shaul dedicates a performance to Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian. (Photo: Yossi Tsevker)

After hosting Bach, Mozart and Beethoven in her studio, Shaul is set to launch a production dedicated to Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian (March 6-8), in the theme of Purim, at the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv.

The Israel Stage Orchestra (ISO) is another adult-oriented company that has taken it upon itself to attract the future generation of classical music lovers.

In its current production, The Four Seasons and One Sheep (Feb. 18, 21), the ISO tells the story of Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi with a twist.

The music takes center stage but the ISO adds a story of a sheep to the production which helps the young audience identify the different seasons in the music based on what the sheep encounters. At first my children were a bit frightened by the sheep’s Commedia Dell’Arte theater mask but soon got used to it.

To “put the higher arts in first place, one has to make an effort, and to combine them,” ISO musical director Roni Porat said in the past. “I have no problem with the audience being entertained a little along the way, if the goal is listening to good music.”

The Four Seasons and One Sheep at the ISO.

Indeed, my children liked watching the sheep’s antics on stage but when we came home they were imitating the violinists.

I know there’s nothing wrong with raising classical music devotees, but I wouldn’t mind if they’d let me listen to my music as well.


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