Down South

I just got back from spending the last few days in the Negev, the south of Israel.  The trip was really amazing and it was nice to get out of Jerusalem and be surrounded by nature.  I climbed a Crater, went to two different farms.  One where they produce lamb for consumption and an agricultural farm where they grow cherry tomatoes, purple, orange and white carrots as well as many different types of herbs.  Got to listen to a representative of the African Hebrew Israelites community.  If you don’t know who they are I recommend looking them up.

The photos below are a slight representation of my experience while  down in the south.

At the top of Crater "Snapir Gadol" known as the big crater, which is technically the second biggest crater in Israel.

At the top of Crater “Snapir Gadol” known as the big crater, which is technically the second biggest crater in Israel.

At the top of Crater "Snapir Gadol" known as the big crater, which is technically the second biggest crater in Israel.

At the top of Crater “Snapir Gadol” known as the big crater, which is technically the second biggest crater in Israel.

Hiking in a Crater, Machtesh Ramon, in the Negev.

Hiking in a Crater, Machtesh Ramon, in the Negev.

Hiking in a crater in the Negev.  "Snapir Gadol" Known as the "Big Crater" until Israel found a bigger crater, so now the "Big Crater" is the second biggest.

Hiking in a crater in the Negev. “Snapir Gadol” Known as the “Big Crater” until Israel found a bigger crater, so now the “Big Crater” is the second biggest.

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Hiking in a crater in the Negev.  "Snapir Gadol" Known as the "Big Crater" until Israel found a bigger crater, so now the "Big Crater" is the second biggest.

Hiking in a crater in the Negev. “Snapir Gadol” Known as the “Big Crater” until Israel found a bigger crater, so now the “Big Crater” is the second biggest.

A landscape view of a Crater, Machtesh Ramon, in the Negev.

A landscape view of a Crater, Machtesh Ramon, in the Negev.

Ahmadiel Ben Yehuda, part of the African Hebrew Israelites in Dimona talks about what it's like to be a part of his society.

Ahmadiel Ben Yehuda, part of the African Hebrew Israelites in Dimona talks about what it’s like to be a part of his society.

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Making goat cheese with different types of herbs.

Making goat cheese with different types of herbs.

Making goat cheese with different types of herbs.

Making goat cheese with different types of herbs.

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Holding carrier pigeons in order to release them.  Originally the birds where used to send messages to the north of Israel when the people living in the south needed certain supplies.

Holding carrier pigeons in order to release them. Originally the birds where used to send messages to the north of Israel when the people living in the south needed certain supplies.

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Walking through cherry tomato vines.

Walking through cherry tomato vines.

The cherry tomato was first created in Israel.

The cherry tomato was first created in Israel.

A father hands his daughter a carrot that was just pulled out of the ground on a agricultural farm.

A father hands his daughter a carrot that was just pulled out of the ground on a agricultural farm.

A lamb escapes its confinement and a worker lets it back into it's cage.

A lamb escapes its confinement, a worker on the farm lets it back into it’s cage.

A group of sheep from a farm that produces lamb for consumption.

A group of sheep from a farm that produces lamb for consumption.

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From Sorrow to Celebration

I have heard people describe Israeli’s and Israeli culture as being black and white.  The best demonstration of this that I can think is Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, Memorial day and Independence Day.  The two holidays were at the beginning of this week and they fall one right after the other.  The entirety of Israeli’s morn the loss of the fallen soldiers who have fought for the state of Israel and died as well as all those who have been killed from terrorist attacks.  It is a very somber day.  Two sirens go off across the entire country once to memorialize the start of the holiday and the other is the next morning.  When the sirens go off Israeli’s will stop what ever it is that they are doing and stand with their fellow citizens to mourn the loss of the people that have died.

Immediately following Yom Hazikaron is Yom Haatzmaut, Israeli Independence Day.  One goes from extreme sadness to pure joy.  There are tons of parties in the streets all over Israel as well as BBQs during the day.  It is a day where the entire country is off and everyone is out celebrating with family and friends.  I was in Tel- Aviv for Yom Haatzmaut.

Just like the holidays themselves the photos below abruptly jump from Memorial Day to Independence Day.

Israeli Soldiers sit together at the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

Israeli Soldiers sit together at the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

Israeli Soldiers stand for a moment of silence on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) at the Western Wall

Israeli Soldiers stand for a moment of silence on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) at the Western Wall

A young boy looks on as Israeli Soldiers stand watch at the Western Wall on Memorial Day before the 2 minute moment of silence.

A young boy looks on as Israeli Soldiers stand watch at the Western Wall on Memorial Day before the 2 minute moment of silence.

Flowers are placed on all of the graves at Mt Herzl.  The military cemetery for fallen soldiers.

Flowers are placed on all of the graves at Mt Herzl. The military cemetery for fallen soldiers.

Young professionals tour Mt Herzl to learn about the significance of Memorial Day.  Traditionally in Israel people wear white to commemorate the day.

Young professionals tour Mt Herzl to learn about the significance of Memorial Day. Traditionally in Israel people wear white to commemorate the day.

A heart formed in rocks is placed on a memorial grave at Mt Herzl for those that were Holocaust survivors and then were killed when fighting for Israeli Independence.

A heart formed in rocks is placed on a memorial grave at Mt Herzl for those that were Holocaust survivors and then were killed when fighting for Israeli Independence.

A man stands at Mt Herzl in the sea of all the graves surrounding him.

A man stands at Mt Herzl in the sea of all the graves surrounding him.

A group of Soldiers wait for a ceremony to start at Latrun to mark the start of Memorial Day.

A group of Soldiers wait for a ceremony to start at Latrun to mark the start of Memorial Day.

The start of Independence Day in Tel- Aviv in Rabin Square.

The start of Independence Day in Tel- Aviv in Rabin Square.

A group of kids have a shaving cream fight on the streets of Tel Aviv to mark the start of Independence Day.

A group of kids have a shaving cream fight on the streets of Tel Aviv to mark the start of Independence Day.

Rabin Square on Independence Day in Tel- Aviv

Rabin Square on Independence Day in Tel- Aviv

A young girl and her dad watch the fireworks and other performances in Rabin Square on Independence Day in Tel- Aviv

A young girl and her dad watch the fireworks and other performances in Rabin Square on Independence Day in Tel- Aviv

Rabin Square on Independence Day in Tel- Aviv

Rabin Square on Independence Day in Tel- Aviv

Independence hall the night of Independence Day was packed with people sitting outside and celebrating.

Independence hall the night of Independence Day was packed with people sitting outside and celebrating.

A group of young adults jump into a wading pool on the streets of Tel- Aviv on Independence Day.

A group of young adults jump into a wading pool on the streets of Tel- Aviv on Independence Day.

Two young adults pose in front of a plaque on Independence Day in Tel Aviv.

Two young adults pose in front of a plaque on Independence Day in Tel Aviv.

A group of young men celebrate Independence Day on the streets of Tel Aviv while driving in a car and partying the the roof.

A group of young men celebrate Independence Day on the streets of Tel Aviv while driving  and blasting music from their car and partying on the the roof.

A group of Orthodox Hasidim Jews listen to music and dance on the boardwalk on the beach of Tel- Aviv on Independence Day.

A group of Orthodox Hasidim Jews listen to music and dance on the boardwalk on the beach of Tel- Aviv on Independence Day.

Israelis watch a military air show on the beach of Tel Aviv to celebrate Independence Day.

Israelis watch a military air show on the beach of Tel Aviv to celebrate Independence Day.

A surfer on the beach of Tel Aviv on Independence day as the military air show fly's above him.

A surfer on the beach of Tel Aviv on Independence day as the military air show fly’s above him.

My thoughts are with all those that are in Boston right now.  Please stay safe.

Women of the Wall

Today is Rosh Chodesh which means “Women of the Wall” are out in full force and praying at the Kotel (Western Wall).  Recently “Women of the Wall” have been in the news here in Israel.  They are an organization that fights for women’s right at the Kotel.  They fight for the right to conduct prayer services, read from the Torah, sing out loud and where Tallit (prayer shawls).  Currently a woman is not allowed to do any of these things at the Kotel.  While if one were to look upon the mens section you can see all of these things on a daily basis.

Two women were arrested today while trying to pray because they were wearing tallit.  There were men protesting “Women of the Wall” as well as women.  And probably almost every freelance and agency photographer that currently works here in Jerusalem.


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Left-wing Meretz parliament members Tamar Zandberg and Michal Rozin and Director of "Women of the Wall" Lesley Sachs pray at the wall on Rosh Chodesh.

Left-wing Meretz parliament members Tamar Zandberg and Michal Rozin and Director of “Women of the Wall” Lesley Sachs pray at the wall on Rosh Chodesh.

A woman from "Women of the Wall" almost gets arrested today on April 11, 2013 for wearing a prayer shawl.

A woman from “Women of the Wall” almost gets arrested today on April 11, 2013 for wearing a prayer shawl.

Director of "Women of the Wall" Lesley Sachs gets arrested for wearing a Prayer Shawl today on April 11 2013.

Director of “Women of the Wall” Lesley Sachs gets arrested for wearing a Prayer Shawl today on April 11 2013.

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