24 April 2017

Holocaust Memorial Day ~ יום השואה

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.  At ten o'clock this morning sirens sounded across Israel and there was a two minutes silence as a mark of respect as people remembered six million Jewish men, women and children who were killed during the Holocaust.  One does not have to be Jewish to comprehend the magnitude of this loss.  The six million Jews who were killed were persecuted for their religious beliefs.  We remember them today.  In Tel Aviv, as it was right across Israel the sounding of the sirens meant that life came to a halt as the traffic and the people stood still in solidarity and remembrance.

 Yad Vashem have made poignant videos of several Holocaust survivors recounting their personal experiences.  Here is a video recording of Elka Abramovitz.

Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Elka Abramovitz

23 April 2017

Vanguard Modernism and National Modernism

There is currently an exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art entitled, "Vanguard Modernism and National Modernism".   It features selected works of art by artists "In the thirty years which preceded the establishment of the State of Israel and in the first two decades of statehood."   Here are a some of my favourites.

Reuven Rubin 1893 - 1974 Zeppelin over Tel Aviv, 1929 Oil on canvas Gift of Esther Rubin, 1998

Menahem Shemi 1897 - 1951 Self-portrait, 1923 Oil on canvas Gift of Rivka Shemi, 1953

Nahum Gutman 1898 - 1980 Portrait of Mrs Yocheved Ne'eman, 1927 Oil on canvas Gift of Yocheved Ne'eman, 1977

Sionah Tagger 1900 - 1988 Girl in Purple Dress (My Sister Shoshana), 1928 Oil on canvas

Haim Gliksberg 1904 - 1970 Portrait of Author Eliezer Steinman, 1929 Oil on canvas

17 April 2017

Exhibition 3.5 Square Meters: Constructive Responses to Natural Disasters

We visited another superb exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in The Agnes and Benny Steinmetz Wing for Architecture and Design Gallery 3 in the Herta and Paul Amir Building.  I cannot praise it enough.  We spent over three hours totally engrossed in this exhibition.  It was educational, interesting and inspirational. The exhibition is named after the minimum standard of 3.5 square meters per each person in a shelter (as determined by the Red Cross).  It was a broad exhibition in that it tackled many different aspects of humanitarian work and explored how technology, architecture and clever design ideas can help alleviate human suffering in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters.  Here are some highlights from the exhibition:

 Emergency Preparedness Hubs or PREPHubs designed by MIT School of Architecture and Planning
 "PREPHubs serve as interactive architectural structures following a natural disaster, they are transformed into meeting and recovery sites for the distribution of goods and services needed during emergency scenarios.  For example, benches provide a cache of medical supplies, a neighborhood map illiminates evacuation routes, and a pedal powered phone charger serves as a micro off-grid generator."


Home-for-All designed by Japanese Architects
Home-for-All in Rikuzentakata is an architectural concept which was initiated by five Japanese architects following the tsunami in 2011. "Rikuzentakata is a city in located in the Iwate Prefecture.  Local residents requested an observation platform from which they could watch the reconstruction of the city.  The team decided to use local wood from Kesen Cedar trees, which had died due to their exposure to salt water, in the hope that this Home-for-All would become a symbol of recovery from disaster."

Home-for-All explanatory information
Home-for-All design plans and interior

Twitter USGS: Earthquake Social, Since 2009
"The US Geological Survey has been operating a real -time system with crowd-sourced tweets as the only input to rapidly detect, locate and assess the impact of earthquakes felt worldwide.  The system gathers tweets with the word "earthquake" or its translation in several languages using publicly available tools provided by Twitter.  Tweets can also be automatically scanned for words indicative of damage and mapped to estimate the spatial extent of the shaken region."
Twitter Detections marked in red dots

A Home Away from Home, Since 2010 Better Shelter
 "Better Shelter is a humanitarian innovation project and social enterprise based in Sweden.  The project team designs and develops modular temporary shelters for persons displaced by armed conflicts and natural disasters, with the aim of improving their lives by providing them with a safer and more dignified home away from home.  Its robust steel frame is clad with vertical, semi-hard walls, four windows, a high ceiling and a door that can be locked.  A solar-powered lamp provides light and includes a USB port for charging electronic devices.  The shelter is designed to last for three years and is suitable for situation where local materials or construction workers are in short supply, with the additional value of preventing deforestation." 

MyShake app developed by researchers at UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and the Deutsche Telekom Silicon Valley Innovation Center
 "MyShake app runs 'silently' in the background of the phone using very little power - just like step-tracking fitness apps.The app itself has an integrated neural network, designed to separate sensor readings that represent normal human activities from those that look more like earthquakes.  When the shaking fits the vibrational profile of a quake, the app sends the anonymous information to a central system, where it is aggregated with the information from other users."

 Earthquake Desk, 2016 Ido Bruno and Arthur Brutter
The Earthquake Desk was designed to provide a solution by offering both protective coverage and passageways for rescue-team accessibility.  It can withstand vertical loads of up to one ton dropped from a height of 3.5 meters, thus providing resistance to significantly stronger impact than a common school desk.  The research is conducted through the RDFD (Relevant Design for Disaster) research group at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

Disaster Preparedness Open Online Course, since 2013 with Dr Michael Beach
 In 2013, Dr Michael Beach and the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education developed a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on the Coursera platform, titled Disaster Preparedness.  The purpose of the course was to reach people worldwide and provide them with information and practical ways to prepare themselves for a disaster.

3.5 Square Meters: Constructive Responses to Natural Disasters Exhibition can be seen at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art 
until 9th September 2017.

15 April 2017

Don Quixote ~ דוֹן קִישׁוֹט

The Saint Petersburg Russian Ballet Theater are currently in Tel Aviv.  They have been here since the 12th April and will have their final performance this evening, 15th April.  They will be performing Don Quixote ~ דוֹן קִישׁוֹט
at the Opera House in Tel Aviv.  Do try and go to it if you can, I am sure it will be a stunning performance they have a very good reputation worldwide. 

My husband and I went to see the final performance of The Saint Petersburg Ballet Theater.  It was magnificent, absolutely first-class.  The talented dancers, the beautiful highly colourful costumes, the clever stage design.  It was a wonderful opportunity to see them perform and we were so glad that we went. They have two other performances planned.  On 17th April they will be at the Beersheba Performing Arts Centre and on 18th April at the Rappaport Center in Haifa

13 April 2017

Vegetarian stuffed artichokes

Yesterday evening I made stuffed artichokes for dinner and it occurred to me that this would also be a good dish for Passover as there are none of the prohibited ingredients in it.  Jewish people who are currently not eating rice could replace it with small broken pieces of  matzo  If you interested in trying this dish, you can find step-by-step instructions on how to make it in the link below:

1 kg artichokes, outer leaves removed (you need the artichoke hearts for this recipe)
2 carrots, finely chopped
½ cup of peas
½ cup onions, finely chopped
a bunch of dill, finely chopped
2 tbsps of pine nuts, ground in a mortar and pestle
2 tbsps of rice
salt and pepper 
¼ cup of olive oil
 (A word of warning to people with nut allergies, there are ground pine nuts in the stuffing mixture of the original recipe but these can be omitted if you are allergic to nuts).

 Bon appétit ~ Enjoy your meal ~ בתיאבון

12 April 2017

Kite-boarding and kite-surfing in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tel Aviv

 On blustery windy days in Tel Aviv whilst most of us try to stay out of the wind, there are a dedicated group of people who seek the wind as it enables them to take part in their hobby of kite-boarding and kite-surfing.  It was windy here yesterday but instead of seeking shelter from the wind, I headed to the beach to watch this exhilarating sport.  The people out on the water were clearly professionals.  They made the sport look so effortless and easy and yet I get the feeling that there must be an enormous amount of skill involved in steering the kite at speed and having a clear path in the water away from others whilst keeping the kite out of the water.  It looked great fun and I envied their free spirit.

Kite-boarding is a surface water sport combining aspects of wake-boarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, skateboarding and gymnastics into one extreme sport. A kite-boarder harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kite-board similar to a wake-board or a small surfboard, with or without foot straps or bindings.  Kite-surfing is a style of kite-boarding specific to wave riding, which utilizes standard surfboards or boards shaped specifically for the purpose.  There are different styles of kite-boarding, including freestyle, free-ride, down-winders, speed, course racing, wake-style, jumping and kite-surfing in the waves.

Wind strength and kite sizes
Kitesurfers change kite size and/or line length depending on wind strength—stronger winds call for a smaller kite to prevent overpower situations. Kitesurfers will determine the wind strength using either an anemometer or, more typically, visual clues as shown in the Beaufort scale.  All modern kites dedicated to kitesurfing provide a "depower" option to reduce the power in the kite. By using depower, the kite's angle of attack to the wind is reduced, thereby catching less wind in the kite and reducing the power or pull.  Wind speed, rider experience and weight, board size, kite design and riding style are all interdependent and affect the choice of kite.  An experienced rider generally carries a 'quiver' of different sized kites appropriate for the wind speed range. A typical kite quiver might include 8 m², 10 m² and 12 m² traditional "C-kites". Exact kite sizes will vary depending on rider weight and desired wind ranges.  Bow kites have a wider wind range than C-kites, so two kite sizes (such as 7 m² and 12 m²) could form an effective quiver for winds ranging from 10 to 30+ knots for a 75 kg (165 lb) rider.

Wind direction
 Cross-shore and cross-onshore winds are the best for kiteboarding. Offshore winds pose the danger of being blown away from the shore in the event of equipment failure or loss of control. Offshore winds are suitable in a lake or when a safety boat is available, however they are generally more gusty. Direct onshore winds carry the risk of being thrown onto land, and are thus less favorable.

10 April 2017

The Passover Seder

Jews Celebrating Passover. Lubok, XIXth century.

The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of PassoverThe Seder is a ritual performed by a community or by multiple generations of a family, involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.  This story is in the Book of Exodus (Shemot) in the Hebrew Bible. Traditionally, families and friends gather in the evening to read the text of the Haggadah, an ancient work  The Haggadah contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings and rituals, commentaries from the Talmud and special Passover songs.  Seder customs include telling the story, discussing the story, drinking four cups of wine, eating matza, partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate, and reclining in celebration of freedom.  The Seder is performed in much the same way by Jews all over the world. The Seder is the most commonly celebrated of Jewish rituals.

*The image of Jews Celebrating Passover. Lubok, XIXth century is reproduced here with the courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

  Happy holidays ~ חג שמח

How to Prepare a Passover Seder

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