Foto Friday – Worldcam tripping around Israel

Here’s a question: If you take a picture and don’t post it on the Internet, was that picture ever really taken? After all, mobile phones have made photography an immediate experience and smart phones apps have made sharing pictures so easy, its almost compulsory to share our photos not only with circles of friends but with the public at large.

Instagram, with its 100 million registered users, is the most ubiquitous of the photo-sharing programs. Users can use the Instagram social network or share photos over other networks. That’s where sites like This is Now and Worldcam come in.

WorldCam bills itself as “the best way to find the latest Instagram photos from around the world, or around the corner” and answers the need to find Instagram photos taken in a specific locations.

So, for example, if you want to sneak a peek at what people have been snapping at the Tel Aviv bus station, type that location into Worldcam’s easy to use interface…

Or check out the Jerusalem bus station…

Haifa’s bus station…

The bus station in Beersheva…

And no virtual tour of Israel would be complete without the bus station at Eilat!

Worldcam (@theworldcam) was created by Kinda Like a Big Deal – a small creative collective out of Sweden consisting of Oskar Sundberg (@gori) and Per Stenius (@fimpen), helped out by Sam Dallyn (@SDallyn), Johan Sahlén (@jsahlen) and Hugo Wiledal (@etthugo). The site was built using application programming interfaces (APIs) from Instagram, Foursquare, Geonames and Geoplugin.

Click on any of the images to access their Instagram author. Have fun tripping around Israel and happy trails!

Foto Friday – Wiki Loves Monuments Israel

Wiki Loves Monuments is an annual photo contest that spans 35 countries and provides valuable enhancements to Wikipedia articles about national heritage sites. Wiki Loves Monuments Israel is a photography contest organized by Wikimedia Israel, as part of the international competition. If you’ve got pictures to share, there are a few days left before this year’s competition closes on October 15, 2012.

The contest is sponsored by Piki-Wiki — a joint project of WikiMedia Israel, the Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL) and the Center for Educational Technology (CET) as part of promoting the concept of free content on the Web — Google Israel, the Galitz School of Photography, the Israel Museum Information Center for Israeli Art and the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS), which locates, restores and preserves heritage sites in Israel.

Beit HaTira (Castle House), Haifa. Photo by Dan Amr.

Amateur and professional photographers are welcome to submit pictures in accordance with the map below or by referring to an online list of national heritage sites in Israel.

View Larger Map

Images should then submitted via an upload wizard on Wikimedia Commons. A simple registration required but the site is in Hebrew, so you may have to use Google Translate to navigate.

The international contest offered an official contest Android app, available via the Google store, but it isn’t clear whether the app still works. Worth a try, though, if you have an Android smart-phone.

1916 Turkish railway bridge at Nahal Beersheva. Photo by Hayoun Rosenfeld.

The contest offers three prizes: First place: NIS 5,000, Second place: NIS 3,000, Third place: NIS 2000, plus a Crowd Favorite Award of NIS 2,000.

Talpiot Market, Haifa. Photo by Eric Neemann.

In addition, the 10 images that receive the highest score will be sent to international competition where they will be eligible for other prizes.

The winning 10 photographs will also be displayed in an exhibition at Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center mall from November 14 to December 1.

Presidential limousine, Haim Weizmann residence, Weizmann Institute. Photo by Grey Elf.

Photos will be judged on the following criteria: overall quality (photo technique, composition, resolution); originality and last but not least, how useful the image is to the Wikipedia encyclopedia (low resolution images will not be considered).

Montefiore Windmill during renovation, Jerusalem. Photo by Baruch Gian.

The photos must be the work of the person uploading the image and must be uploaded under a free (Creative Commons) license, meaning that the author acknowledges that the image will be used for any purpose as long as proper credit to photograph is given and that the license allow use of images in Wikipedia and other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Water tower at Beerot Yitzhak. Photo by Zev Rothkoff.

Historic images are allowed. For example, contestants may upload a photo of a heritage site that was taken by them in the 1950s.

The judges’ decision and awards ceremony will be held on November 12, and the decision on the international winners will be announced on December 21.

The photos will also become part of the Israel Museum Information Center for Israeli Art, which is responsible for documenting and cataloging information and works by Israeli artists.

So, join the world’s largest photo contest and help Wikipedia in the process! All the of the above images are in the running for the Crowd Favorite Award — click on this link to vote for your favorite.

There are still a few more days until the contest closes on 15th October. For any questions, contact the organizers at

Nostalgia Sunday – Good old Simchat Torah flags

All these new-fangled flags! (See Brian and David’s posts below). It’s enough to bring out the curmudgeon in any nostalgia buff. Although, in actuality, the images on Simchat Torah flags have always changed with the times — and with technology.

It’s easy to understand why: the delicate papercuts of 17th century Ashkenaz seldom survived the manhandling (or is that child-handling?) on the part of their owners, and so needed to be replaced and updated. This became even easier to do with the proliferation of print, although again, most flags fell victim to fingers sticky from candied apples or were burned up by the lit candles traditionally affixed to their masts.

For these reasons, very few early Simchat Torah flags exist. Fortunately, there are some intrepid archivists out there whose collections were presented last year at the Eretz Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv.

Erez Israel Museum exhibition of Simhat Torah flags

The formation of the Zionist movement brought about another change in Simchat Torah flags. According to collector Arie Reichman in an essay for NRG, a 1902 flag printed in Russia bore images of movement leaders Theodor Herzl and Max Nordau. Other themes included Jewish settlement and agriculture in the Land of Israel.

With the founding of the State of Israel — in particular following the Sinai Campaign of 1956, according to Reichman — images of Israel’s military began appearing on flags, reaching an apex after the Six Day War.

Some great examples from the collections of Arie Reichman and Dr. Haim Grossman, may be viewed on the excellent site and on my Nostalgia Sunday posting from 2008.

Israel’s plastics industry developed in the 1970s and with it came the “mutations”, as Reichman terms them: washable, reusable plastic flags that came in non-traditional shapes: circles and squares. Computer graphics gave rise to photo-montage imagery and inexpensive, safe-to-the-touch LEDs have replaced candles (as in the image above).

According to a 2010 interview with David Sela, expert in Israeliana as well as the owner and curator of, the newest wrinkle in Simchat Torah flags at that time were the Shas flags, decorated with images of the party’s political and spiritual leaders (available for purchase here).

Channel 10 interview with Davidi Sela,

So the new Masorti Movement and Tevel B’Tzedek ‘Shalom’ flags are part of a grand old tradition of adaptation. And who knows, with the print industry in flux and the rise of mobile computing, in a decade we may be waving our flexible screens aloft, Simchat Torah apps a-blazing, dancing alongside the parchment scrolls that do not change.

Foto Friday – Jaffa Photo Festival

Sukkot is festival time! There are over a dozen festivals, celebrating everything from street theater to hot air balloons, taking place at this moment, all around the country.

The International Photography Festival opened on October 2 and runs through October 8 at the Jaffa Port.

Photo: Miki Alon

This year’s festival, which hosts 200 photographers from Israel and abroad, has taken as its themes community, art and the environment.

Photo: Hayim Yafim

For example, “Present-Absent”, which turns the port breakers into an outdoor gallery.

Photo: Doron Horowitz

What makes a festival interesting is not only the artwork…

Or the exhibition spaces…

what makes it interesting is the people, too.

Including Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai!

If you don’t have an opportunity to get to the Jaffa Photo Festival, visit their Facebook page — and don’t forget to click on “Like’!

Photos courtesy of the International Photography Festival.

Nostalgia Sunday – Sukkot throughout generations

The moon is full, the rainy season has begun and Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, begins tonight. That’s no coincidence; Sukkot’s origins are as a seasonal agricultural holiday. As an added refinement, Jews are commanded (Leviticus 23:42-43) to to live in booths throughout the holiday week to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. Over the years, the custom has been modified to “sitting” in the Sukkah, that is taking meals and — in the case of cold Diaspora climes — a quick kiddush blessing over the wine before running back to warmth.

To honor the holiday, here are a few images of Sukkot celebrations throughout the generations, starting with two images French-born engraver Bernard Picart, the first from Amsterdam in 1722.

This one depicts the customs of the Portuguese Jewish community.

Also from 1700s Amsterdam, an engraving by William Hurd.

In 1949, the young pioneers of Kibbutz Hukkuk actually lived in Sukkot full-time!

Image courtesy of Kibbutz Hukkuk archive via Pikiwiki.

A new stamp issued by the Israel Postal Authority — part of a 3-stamp series honoring the High Holy Days. Happy holidays to all!

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