Nostalgia Sunday – Yaakov Gross documents Israel

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.

Foto Friday – President Obama comes to visit

Barack-Obama-visit-2013_logoUS President Barack Obama leaves today and soon it will be all over but the shouting. Although, this being Israel, probably the shouting will continue.

In anticipation of Barack Obama’s first official visit to Israel since becoming US president over four years ago, Israel’s Government Press Office switched into high gear with new media applications such as a smartphone app — compatible with both iPhone and Android — featuring real-time updates, video, photographs and behind-the-scenes glimpses at the visit. (The app is available in Hebrew and English and will soon be available in Arabic as well).

The busy bees at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Prime Minister and the President of the State of Israel were working overtime to keep their Facebook pages, Flickr photo streams and Twitter feeds updated with news of the impending visit, starting with preparations on the Ben Gurion Airport tarmac…

Barack-Obama-visit-2013_0_500wPhoto by GPO

There, an Dome Battery defense system was on display for the American president to review. President Obama was then whisked up to Jerusalem and the International Convention Center to deliver a speech on policy before an audience of students.

.Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Outside stood activists from all sides of the political and social spectrum, from the Green Peace activists climbing up Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge in protest of exploratory drilling in the Arctic Circle…

.Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

While on the other side of the street were supporters of Jonathan Pollard, calling for his pardon and release from US prison after 28 years in jail.


The visit to Jerusalem include a stop at the Israel Museum for a remarkably Israel21c-like presentation of Israeli innovations that improve daily life for people around the world. Here, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama observe Radi Kioff, a Druze Israeli citizen who was wounded while serving in the Israel Defense Forces during the first Lebanon War. Kioff, a paraplegic, is aided by the ReWalk exoskeleton that enables him to walk upright. (You read it here first in 2008).

Barack-Obama-visit-2013_5_500wPhoto by Kobi Gideon / FLASH90 / GPO

The welcome at the Palestinian Authority was a little less public protest, a little more Yanqui Go Home

.Photo by Issam Rimawi/FLASH90

All went well at the joint press conference with President Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, held at the Muqata Presidential Compound.

.Photo by Issam RImawi/FLASH90

And soon it will be time to bid our guest — laden with hopes, wishes and messages from all sides — goodbye.

Barack-Obama-visit-2013_9_500Photo by GPO

Supersol gets spooky online

March 20, 2013 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Food, Technology 
Supersol's logo in Israel

Supersol’s logo in Israel

I hate grocery shopping in Israel. I might hate it in the Old Country too, but I don’t remember it so well. But here, I have no problem recalling my recoil. The aisles are too narrow, the lines are ridiculously long and slow, the store (in winter) has no heating, and whoever heard of a bag boy (or girl).

That’s why I’m delighted that my wife Jody actually likes going shopping. She’s got it down to a science. She can do an entire week’s shop at once. She’s made a computer list in Microsoft Excel that includes every product we usually buy in the order in which they appear when doing a clockwise spin through our local Supersol Deal. If they move products around, Jody even adjusts the spreadsheet.

But every once in a while, if Jody is sick or out of town on shopping day, the job falls on me. And what Jody can do in an hour takes me two…or three. I always pick the wrong checkout counter, the one with the “I was here” person sneaking back in at the last moment, and the clerk who is either too talkative, too glum, or both at once.

But that’s all changed now. Supersol recently released a new version of its e-shopping website and this time, they’ve got it right. Mostly.

The site, which is being heavily promoted in the Hebrew press (and even in the English media in Israel, although with an ad all in Hebrew – go figure) lists every product in the store, neatly arranged according to category, with a special section for “deals.” If a product is out of stock, that’s indicated. You can choose a delivery time for the same day or a date in the future and, so far in our experience, Supersol has kept to it (they come in two-hour slots).

The website goes one step further, which will either delight you in its efficiency or horrify you in its sheer Big Brother-ness. When Jody first logged on, it asked for her credit card. The site then pre-populated its virtual shopping cart with all of the items Jody regularly buys.

Now, it’s no secret that e-commerce sites track what you buy – and that’s usually very helpful. If you want to view one of your past orders at Amazon, it’s right there. But there’s something spooky about discovering that a real world cash register is logging your purchases too, especially when that data migrates from one form to another (i.e., the printed receipt to your online basket).

Yes, it saved Jody a lot of time not having to go and re-select items she regularly buys. But you have to then wonder: what else does the supermarket know about you? Is it correlating your purchases with other demographic data in order to offer you deals you don’t need but won’t be able to refuse? Could it, if not now but perhaps some time in the future, track your estimated family calorie intake and deliver that to your HMO’s online system to deliver dietician recommendations?

The truth is, I’ve long since given up expecting privacy online. I try to keep my Facebook posts non-controversial, although last year’s photo of me in a dress for Purim might get me in hot water with a potential new client if taken out of context (I make a point of not friending clients, for that very reason).

Beyond the privacy issue, there’s another – even greater concern – with shopping online and it’s the exact opposite of the computer: it’s the people. No matter how careful you are making your list on the Supersol website, someone is still going through a physical store and picking products off an actual shelf. They’re not the highest paid employees and so sometimes they make mistakes. Actually, so far, every time.

In one case, it was no big deal: they delivered the wrong flavored yogurts. But the second time was more annoying: Jody ordered organic chicken but got ordinary cluckers, but for the organic price.

To their credit, the store admitted the error and hand delivered the correct chicken to our home a few days later. But the problem isn’t going to go away. It’s not like an operating system that over time learns your preferences and gets better. Minimum wage employees will always mess up. There’s just not enough incentive.

The question is: at what point does the annoyance outweigh the benefit. There are a number of tests around the world involving cars that drive themselves, for example. And they’re pretty accurate for the most part. But all there needs to be is one fatal accident and the entire endeavor will fail. No one will give up control when their life may depend on it.

Getting non-organic chicken isn’t in the same category, of course. But will online grocery shoppers waive perfect delivery for the convenience of ordering in their pajamas? Is there a magic balance point?

For Jody, the answer is she’ll probably keep going to the physical store. Remember, she likes it there. I, on the other hand, would probably eat that antibiotic-filled chicken and drink the peached-flavored yogurt instead of the vanilla we really wanted, in order to avoid stepping into that dreadful store.

How about you? Where’s your breaking point? Does this sound like a technology you’re ready to embrace? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

Foto Friday – Yosef Adest’s 52 Frames

Yosef Adest is a self-described Photographer/Video Producer Entrepreneur, Oleh from the US and Tel Aviv resident. Adest also has a flair for organizing group projects.

Case in point: Fifty-Two Frames on the Second Floor, a new exhibition spearheaded by Adest that opens this coming Monday at Tel Aviv’s Cookies Cream Bar. The exhibit features photos from 52 Frames, a project he organized on Facebook, in which photographers from around the world share the best of their weekly work produced according to different themes.

The theme of Love, for example, yielded this image of kissing couple. Adest commented that he’d just met them that same day. “I had them in this ‘just about to kiss’ pose for about 5 minutes!”





That photo is of Adest’s trusty Canon camera (which he uses for for point-and-shoot photos) as photographed by his in-studio Canon 5D Mark 3. He provides online followers with instruction — for example, How to set up an ‘infinity white’ product shot in less than 10 minutes — and offers critique as well.

52 Frames has a “cousin” project, also organized by Adest, called Photography Project 12, a group of professional photographers who commit to posting one new photo each month, according to a challenging theme, for example practicing the HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo technique, in this case on Dizengoff Street…



52 Frames also organizes monthly (more or less) Photo-Walks that are open to the public in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, New York and Manchester UK.

Photographers interested in joining the 52 Frames group should contact Adest via his Facebook page or website. To follow the progress of these projects, give Yosef Adest Video & Photography a “Like”. And to learn more about how he works his magic, take a look at this “Behind the scenes” video of how the “Physics” shot came about.

How I created this anti-gravity shot in a 5 min timelapse. from Yosef Adest on Vimeo.

More examples of his work:

Yosef Adest Video – Demo Reel from Yosef Adest on Vimeo.

BTW, you may remember Adest’s name from the humorous Sh*t Anglos in Israel Say viral video that made the rounds in 2012. Just for laughs, here it is again!

Foto Friday – This is Purim TLV NOW

Rachel-Neiman-Purim-2013Purim is here and spring is in the air! Granted, as on Purim every year, it will rain but right now the weather is still balmy and dry, and kids of all ages are out on the streets, wearing costumes and celebrating the moment.

And speaking of this moment, This is Now TLV is on fire! We’ve written before about this website, which streams Instagram photos marked with the hashtags #thisisnow and #tel-aviv but today’s photostream is more active than ever. Purim is clearly the holiday for taking pictures of yourself, your friends or your pets in costume, holiday food and drink, street celebrations, parties and just plain fun.

Below is a small sample of what was happening at 1:00 PM on Purim 2013 in Tel Aviv. Click on the image to see what’s happening right now! And if you’ve got a Purim photo to share with This is Now TLV, take a another minute to submit it to the Israel21c photo competition before it closes on Monday — show the world that Israel loves a good party!

This is now TLV Purim

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