September 29, 2017

Yom Kippur in Israel. The thrill and the drill.

Ben-Gurion International Airport is closed. No public transportation, no traffic, no broadcast TV or radio, businesses closed, schools closed. Blessed stillness for 25 hours.

To all who are observing Yom Kippur, May You Be Signed, Sealed, Delivered in the Book of Life.

September 20, 2017

"Have you a sweet year" — celebrating Rosh Hashanah

Nine-year-old Peter Chiou's Rosh Hashanah
card and his mom's honey cake

Years ago, the delightful Chiou family from Taiwan were my neighbors in Atlanta — veterinarians Sophia Chiou and her husband, Tony Chiou who was conducting research at Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center. We shared foods, customs, books, and ideas. Just before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I described our custom of eating apples dipped in honey, symbolizing hopes for sweetness in the coming year. They soon surprised me with nine-year-old Peter's card and his mom's honey cake.

An auspicious start to Rosh Hashanah, then and now.

This post was originally published September 9, 2010, 5771 in the Jewish calendar. 

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August 04, 2017

16th Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance March: LGBTQ and Religion

Decked out in my hat, shades, sunscreen

I was thrilled to be among the 22,000 people who joined the 16th Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance March yesterday. Spirits soared above heavy security by police and border patrol soldiers. This year, the theme was “LGBTQ and Religion” in response to those who claim to oppose the LGBT community in the name of religion (especially in the "holy city" of Jerusalem). Not far away, extreme-right groups held a counter-demonstration, surrounded by a tight police cordon. Their themes: “Jerusalem is not Sodom” and “Do not let them adopt children.”

In speeches and songs and on banners (my favorite, "Born This Way"), signs, T-shirts, and headgear marchers identified as gay, straight, transgender, asexual, religiously observant, and secular. Youth groups, NGOs, political parties from left to right, and protestors seeking an end to the Occupation also marched. At the spot where Shira Banki was stabbed to death in 2015, marchers stopped to lay white flowers and hold a moment of silence for the teenager who had been marching to support her gay friends.

A free Israel is Jewish and democratic

Seculars marching with pride

"LGBTQ against pinkwashing"
[Hebrew terminology explains the pun:
qibus is washing, and qibush is occupation] 

Click the video to listen to the marchers singing, drumming, and dancing and watch them laying white flowers where Shiri Banki was murdered. (Video and edit by Micah Danney for the Times of Israel.)

Related post
Jerusalem Pride March 2007: You may not stand over the blood of your fellow man . . . לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל-דַּם רֵעֶךָ

May 29, 2017

African asylum-seeking community represented in Tel Aviv Museum of Art exhibition

Curator-guide Ruti Director with Darfurians Taj Jemy and Idris Korni

Following the tour (Hebrew) of "Regarding Africa: Contemporary Art and Afro-Futurism," Taj Jemy,  Idris Korni, and curator-guide Ruti Direktor share visions for engaging the African asylum-seeking community and Israeli artists in mutually rewarding partnerships.

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art exhibition is a multimedia prism reflecting sub-Saharan African post-colonial realities and visions; and, aspects of the imagination, fantasy, and reality of the south Tel Aviv African asylum-seeking community.

Click Artists to view images of paintings, sculptures, photographs, architectural models, and videos. Click each image to learn about the artist and view their other works.

May 27, 2017

Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim and Ismaili friends

Last evening, I walked along the Mediterranean Sea to join my friends in Jaffa for the Shabbat evening meal. Once there, lovely was hearing the melodious chanting call of the muezzin to Muslim believers to come to prayer. On this eve of Ramadan, a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting, and nightly feasts, Muslim residents of the neighboring streets were enjoying their evening meals at tables set up close to their homes and in restaurants under decorative colored lights.

Later that evening, setting out to return home, kind celebrants guided me to the main street, Jerusalem Boulevard. They graciously responded to my Hebrew "khhag sameakh" — an awkward though well-meant happy holiday greeting. I always panic scrambling for proper Arabic expressions though I have studied them many years, flunking courses, tutorials, and attempts to teach me. NOTE: Learn languages as early and as young as possible!

Related post
In Beit Jala, the West Bank: Breaking the Ramadan fast