Tag Archives: israel

My Easter around the world

Sharing nice memories from Easter with friends in various countries.

2008 – Budapest: no photos (and not many memories unfortunately)

2009 – Tokyo. A pleasant picnic in Ichigaya, I believe. I was telling my Japanese friends that I couldn’t stand mayonnaise until I tasted the Japanese one.

Tokyo Easter

Tokyo Easter – click on the images to enlarge them

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Following the Beaten Path: Part 6 – deciphering native English accents in Karmiel instead of Safed

My friend, Israeli writer and public intellectual Yuval Ben-Ami set off to see what it is like to re-examine his country′s main tourist attractions with a critical native eye (all posts here), and I decided to virtually follow his path (all posts here).  In my blog posts I share my memories on what it was like visiting those places as an expat in Israel. This is how Yuval describes his idea, and here I describe mine (which is also Part 1 of my journey – the Western Wall). I virtually followed him to five touristic places (listed below). I could not follow him to Safed, as I have never been there, but, having read Yuval’s post several times, I decided to replace it with Karmiel.
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Following the Beaten Path: Part 5 – Yodfat instead of Masada

My friend, Israeli writer and public intellectual Yuval Ben-Ami set off to see what it is like to re-examine his country′s main tourist attractions with a critical native eye (all posts here), and I decided to virtually follow his path.  In my blog posts I share my memories on what it was like visiting those places as an expat in Israel. This is how Yuval describes his idea, and here I describe mine (which is also Part 1 of my journey – the Western Wall). I have followed Yuval to the Baha′i Gardens (Yuval′s post and mine) and Nazareth (Yuval′s and mine), and the Sea of Galilee (Yuval′s and mine. Although his journeys have a different sequence, a recent reading made me return to his text about Masada, but this time it wasn′t easy to follow him.

Several people sang praises to the sunrise view of the fortress of Masada and told me it was a must. When I complained that I found it difficult to reach, people said there were buses or that I should look for company on Couchsurfing. In May 2010 it looked like I found company, but in the end the trip was cancelled. I visited Israel two more times and never reached Masada. Oh well. After all, I have seen a desert sunrise on Mount Sinai in Egypt, at Beerot campsite, and in Sde Boker. Yuval suggested that in parallel to his post on opera in Masada I write about hitchhiking in the Negev or something of that sort. I was hesitant. But today another Israeli writer gave me a new idea. I had never given the story of Masada much thought, so I almost skipped what Yuval wrote about Josephus Flavius and the Jewish revolt against the Romans, which, the story goes, ended in a mass suicide. Ellis Shuman, who I exchanged Twitter follows with recently, elaborated on the story and decided to post his old article on Twitter the other day, so I noticed and read it. Yuval writes:

Masada is about imagining. Don’t limit yourselves to one version of the tale or notions of scale and proportion, time and space that are not your own. Make your own Masada. Herod saw a dramatic geological formation and turned it into a palace, the rebels saw a palace and turned it into a fortress. Later came monks who saw a ruined fortress and turned it into a monastery. Finally, Israelis came and turned it into a symbol: a tourist attraction, an excavation site, a McDonald’s, an opera venue.

Ellis Shuman writes:

Josephus modeled much of the Masada legend on his own personal adventures. The story of the mass suicide, of rebels fighting against the Roman Empire and preferring death to enslavement, all were experienced by Josephus at the siege of Yodfat in the Galilee.

I must admit I have read very little about Masada and never been there, but hey, I′ve been to Yodfat! Continue reading

Following the Beaten Path: Part 4 – disappointment at the Galilee

My friend, Israeli writer and public intellectual Yuval Ben-Ami set off to see what it is like to re-examine his country′s main tourist attractions with a critical native eye (all posts here), and I decided to virtually follow his path.  In my blog posts I share my memories on what it was like visiting those places as an expat in Israel. This is how Yuval describes his idea, and here I describe mine (which is also Part 1 of my journey – the Western Wall). I have followed Yuval to the Baha′i Gardens (Yuval′s post and mine) and Nazareth (Yuval′s and mine). From there, Yuval moves on to Kinnereth, or the Sea of Galilee, so let′s follow him. Continue reading

Cyprus reflections: a Middle Eastern collage

I continue blogging about my recent trip to Cyprus: all posts can be found using this tag. This post is inspired by my considerations as to where to put Cyprus on my travel map. It’s beyond geographical Europe, but South Cyprus is in the EU, so I categorized it as Europe. Still, traveling there made me think about the position of Cyprus in relation to its Middle Eastern neighbors.

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Following the Beaten Path: Part 3 – road trip past Nazareth

My friend, Israeli writer and public intellectual Yuval Ben-Ami set off to see what it is like to re-examine his country′s main tourist attractions with a critical native eye (all posts here), and I decided to virtually follow his path.  In my blog posts I share my memories on what it was like visiting those places as an expat in Israel. This is how Yuval describes his idea, and here I describe mine (which is also Part 1 of my journey – the Western Wall). Yuval′s second blog post was about the Baha’i Gardens, so I wrote about them too. His third post was about Nazareth, so let′s follow him.

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Following the Beaten Path: Part 2 – Baha′i Haifa

Having read a series of stories by my friend, Israeli writer and public intellectual Yuval Ben-Ami, where he set off to see what it is like to re-examine his country′s main tourist attractions with a critical native eye, I decided to virtually follow his path. In my blog posts I share my memories on what it was like visiting those places as an expat in Israel. This is how Yuval describes his idea, and here I describe mine (which is also Part 1 of my journey – the Western Wall). Yuval’s second blog post was about the Baha’i Gardens, which he calls a journey to “extraordinary study in “otherness” within the Israeli and Palestinian framework,” so let us follow him – back in time.

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Following the Beaten Path: Part 1 – Western Wall

“Being a tourist, …” “You as a tourist,” “Many tourists say so” – the label ′tourist′ followed me everywhere when I lived in Israel in 2009-2010. Locals seem to be very economical about words, perhaps since the times when words had to be hammered in a rock to be transmitted to future generations. So, when encountering something strange or unexpected, they usually searched for a word they already knew to define new reality. If a foreigner is not an ethnic migrant (oleh/~ah) or a guest-worker, this person must be a tourist. In the beginning I used to get offended. “If I was a tourist, I would be here for fun! I would not have to report or account to anyone!” Israelis are used to seeing plenty of lobster-skinned, hummus-instagraming temporary visitors around them. Did I look like one? The secretary of my Hebrew school had no doubts. “Are you an olah?” she asked, registering me for a class. I started explaining, “No, I’m a…” “I see, a tourist…” “No, I′m not a tourist, I study here.” “With the Birthright?” “With a student visa.” “OK. A tourist.” My friend N., a PhD by now, once turned up at a Purim party dressed as a tourist – in a stereotypical poorly matched outfit of sneakers, baggy pants, a cap and a T-shirt that read “I <3 Israel.” Towards the end of my first stay I embraced the label, and this year was the first time when I actually went to Israel as a tourist, with almost no business to take care of. Also, this fall my dear friend, writer and public intellectual Yuval Ben-Ami started exploring his native country as a tourist and blogging about it for +972mag.

Reading Yuval′s stories brought back lots of memories about my own visits to the nodes of what Yuval calls the Beaten Path. When I traveled to some of these places, I wrote articles for Lithuanian press, blogged, emailed, and took notes for later. As you probably know, my old dream was to be a travel writer, like Yuval is. Whereas Yuval′s stories from the Beaten Path are political and highly critical (here’s how he describes the purpose of his journey), mine are simply wanderings of an individual who didn′t know what to expect. Still, some of these stories reveal various ruptures, beauty and diversity that is not readily visible to locals′ eyes. After a brief discussion with Yuval, I decided to virtually follow his path with my own stories from these places. I will put together notes that I have from my blog entries, articles, Facebook posts and emails to family and friends.

Unsurprisingly, Yuval starts with his native Jerusalem, specifically, the Western Wall. Below is a collection of my visits to the well-known touristic object – obviously, very different from Yuval′s.

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Remembering a trip to the Dead Sea a year ago (updated!)

What to do on Valentine′s day not to make it become cheesy? I found a great solution this year – I went to a local feminist gathering. But it′s also a good chance to remember that last year at this time I was somewhere far away, exploring one of the most special places on Earth – the Dead Sea. Update: in 2015, I went there again and took better photos.

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