14 March, 2008

Two weeks in Israel – a summary

Filed under: Family,Israel by Joel @ 12:10 pm, 14 March 2008.

The last two to three weeks have been pretty trying for Israel. But I happen to want to talk about the two weeks before then, just to give a few highlights (fairly extensive highlights?) from my trip to Israel for my brother’s wedding. (more…)

19 July, 2007

Unerasable graffiti

Filed under: Hebrew,Israel,Judaism,Semiotics by Joel @ 3:03 am, 19 July 2007.

Graffiti at Efrat’s entry road There was some strange Runic-looking graffiti along the southern entrance to Efrat that I saw a number of times on the way to the Trampiada before finally identifying it. I eventually recognised the rightmost symbol of the large text as being the Hebrew letter yod (י) in an ancient Hebrew script (כתב עברי). The script we use today is a variant of the Assyrian script (כתב אשורי; or “square script”) adapted from that borrowed from Imperial Aramaic around the Babylonian Exile.

After recognising the first letter, I realised that I could identify (with confirmation online) that this large text was actually the Tetragrammaton, in Judaism the ineffable and most sacred name of God, albeit that its letters were highly stylised. Altogether, we have the phrase “יראת ה’“, “fear of God”.

Now because, for those who can read it, the graffiti includes the Name of God, does this mean it cannot be erased as would usually be the case with this four-letter name? (more…)

15 July, 2007

The taste of Tel Aviv

Filed under: Israel by Joel @ 1:42 am, 15 July 2007.

This trip to Israel was in many ways an altogether different experience of Israel to my last, when I was here for 11 months in 2002. Firstly, whereas that was for the most part an organised programme, here I was travelling in my own freedom. But mostly, whereas that was 2002, this is 2007, and the matzav (“situation”, a reference to Israel’s relationship with its neighbours) is on a practical level very different. Then I didn’t take buses, visit centres of town, markets or shopping centres, and barely entertained crossing the Green Line. These restrictions did reduce the risk of being blown up significantly (although I was near to many attacks in one way or another), and yet isolated us from some Israeli experiences. Maybe as a result of the increased freedom this time, I also tried to see places I did not explore much last time. For instance, some more eastern parts of Jerusalem’s Old City, Ramallah, Efrat, Hebron a little, and Tel Aviv.

IMG_9196panoout Tel Aviv might seem like the odd one out there, the others all being hotly disputed and potentially dangerous territory. Nonetheless, the Jewish tourists to Israel tend to be divided into those who love Tel Aviv and those who avoid it. Some might say it’s a matter of Tel Aviv vs Jerusalem, and it seems I’ve been pushed into the latter camp. Thanks to Shimrit, my sister-in-law-to-be, I finally had somewhere to stay, if but for a few nights, to sample a little more of the city than I had known. (more…)

11 July, 2007

Out of the frying pan, into the freezer

Filed under: Israel by Joel @ 11:05 pm, 11 July 2007.

Well that’s what I imagine it is going to be like. From Jerusalem at 32 degrees to Sydney at 15 degrees. Then again, maybe not into the freezer. That was Montreal. Fridge, then.

A day’s flight awaits.

19 June, 2007

Visiting Arafat

Filed under: Israel by Joel @ 5:40 pm, 19 June 2007.

IMG_8429out On one of my first few days in Israel, the idea came up between me and Ilana of going to visit some Palestinian area in the West Bank, partially because she would soon be becoming an Israeli citizen, and so legally forbidden from going there (without a uniform). In fact it would be my first time visiting anywhere in the West Bank (including Jewish areas). She had already been to Bethlehem in a group, so Ramallah was the prime option. We set it for Friday (1 June), when she wouldn’t have any work. Raf decided he would join us too… Although the day before he claimed that he would be too hungover from Thursday night’s parties to be able to join us, Ilana managed to convince him to take it back. (more…)

4 June, 2007

From the hills of Efrat

Filed under: Israel by Joel @ 3:59 pm, 4 June 2007.

I thought I should give the world a few updates, now that I have the time and internet connection to do so. Firstly and most importantly, I have a phone number in Israel, where I’ve been since the 25th of May, thanks to Brucey’s generosity (it was her number previously):

+972 547 981 703

Secondly, my main goals in coming to Israel for 7-or-so weeks were to: (a) see friends and family, such as my cousin Harry and his wife of nearly four years, and my brother’s fiancée, both women I had not met before; (b) travel a little and see different sights, along with an Israel different from the one I saw in 2002; and (c) find somewhere to do some focussed traditional Jewish study, to improve my skills and knowledge in the area and have had some experience. (more…)

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