Our special shabbos guests

June 10, 2007

We were happy to host our 2 special shabbos guests from Israel this past Friday night.  One was from Pardas Chanah, the other right outside Tel Aviv.

What’s even better is that one was quite a professional baal koreh but was Yemenite.  I had never heard anything like this before, it was truly awesome.

Hearing them both sing made me really want to go to Israel soon. G-d willing, I will be over there soon.


Pictures of Israel – nice looking gallery

June 7, 2007

I often like to get look at different stock image galleries (i.e. sxc.hu), but I never found one that specialized in Jewish and Israel themes until I stumbled upon one today.

Check out http://www.israelimages.com – really quite a nice assortment of images. Some stuff I couldn’t really find elsewhere, such as
The Western Wall (Circa 1900) (search under pictures->early photography).

Keep in mind that the images (at least the ones I was checking out) are not free, and the cost depends on the way you will be using it (i.e. for-profit website vs. group family gathering). Still, a nice find.

I don’t feel like blogging today

June 6, 2007

Our baby died on this day 5 years ago. 😦

I’m still speechless.

Back on track: a break from the holidays

June 5, 2007

First it was Passover.  Then Counting the Omer.  Then Shavous.  Then Memorial Day.

It feels like it has been a marathon of holidays…not enough time in the week to get everything done that I need to.  Then its Shabbos.

Believe me, not that I mind it.  Its a fantastic time of year to get in touch with one’s spiritual side.  But it certainly does lay the pressure on.

But from here on in (at least, until Tisha B’Av), it looks like things are back to normal.  For now.

I’m an Orthodox Jew, my brother-in-law is a Fundamentalist Christian – Shawarma brought us together

June 3, 2007

So back when I lived in an ultra-Orthodox suburb of New York City, my brother-in-law, a devout Fundamentalist Christian from upstate New York came to live with us. As you could imagine, these are two very different backgrounds. Even so, they aren’t as different as you might think. No group is so closely politically aligned as Fundamentalists, and they have a love of Israel as the Orthodox as well.

My brother-in-law was just finishing college at the time when I started chatting with him about working for my technology team as a designer. We started chatting about it on a Tuesday – by Thursday his bags were packed and he was at my front door!

As he was more used to the pace that upstate New York allows, he found a whole world of difference at this fast paced startup. We were both pretty well stressed out, and needed to unwind from time to time, playing ping pong or whatever time would allow. Good times…

So, what really brought us together the most? Shawarma.

(Yes, I’m still ranting about Shawarma, touted the Middle East’s version of the taco a whole day after the last post.) There was an outstanding place near our house that served the best shawarma in town, with very generous portions. In fact, there was actually a point that he said that he was going to convert just that he could eat it every day! I told him that he could eat it anyway and that probably wouldn’t go very far with his parents 🙂

Alas, he’s moved on. But I’ll save him some shawarma for his next visit.

As Featured On Ezine Articles

Shawarma, the perfect food

June 2, 2007

I guess I’m still hungry after Shabbos. No good travel blog would be complete without a discussion about Shawarma. So matter how you spell it – Shawarma, Shwarma, or שווארמה, that amazingly cooked meat in a lafa with some Israeli salad and hummus – you don’t get much better than that 🙂

Here’s some hot off the presses:

shawarma - hot off the presses!
Photo by Mary B. Bloom http://www.telaviv4fun.com

Here’s a great resource to some great Shwarma places in Tel Aviv.

Haifa – Travel to Israel looking good

June 2, 2007

Hope you all had a good shabbos. When we think of travel to Israel, we all know about Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Well here comes Haifa, the beautiful port city shown below:

Haifa Bay

The Jerusalem Post recently wrote an article discussing the increased prominence of Haifa as a tourist destination. They already boast great sights such as the Sea of Galilee and Bahai Gardens.

Sea of Galilee Bahai Gardens

A recent study by Ernst & Young indicates that Haifa is an up and coming travel spot for the above reasons as well as its business travelers, sailing trips, and the potential to make the domestic airport an international one. In more humorous news, the article goes on to mention that the French are the world’s worst tourists 🙂

Check out the rest of the article –Haifa seeks greater share of tourism

Israel Hotels development at the Dead Sea

June 1, 2007

Dead Sea

The government has approved a plan for the construction of new hotels with a total of 3,200 rooms in the northern part of the Dead Sea. The area, which is under the jurisdiction of the Megilot Regional Council, was granted the status of a development zone, which entails special building rights, insuring that investors will receive grants for up to 24 percent of total project costs.”

This is a boon for the Israeli tourist economy, as it will allow tourists that would normally leave the Dead Sea earlier for other destinations to stay in such a phenomenal location.

read the full article

Lag B’Omer in Meron, Israel

June 1, 2007

There is a custom to celebrate Lag B’Omer in Meron, Israel. It is the Yartzheit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Here is a video of this year’s celebration:

Top 10 Tips for Traveling Abroad

May 31, 2007

Tips for Traveling Abroad

If you are traveling abroad here are the top 10 tips you need to make your trip easier:

  1. Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required. Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport!
  2. Read the Consular Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the countries you plan to visit.
  3. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, the U.S. Constitution does not follow you! While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.
  4. Make 2 copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.
  5. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
  6. Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas. Do not accept packages from strangers.
  7. Prior to your departure, you should register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website . Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts may not be released without your express authorization. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the United States.
  8. To avoid being a target of crime, try not to wear conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.
  9. In order to avoid violating local laws, deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money or purchase art or antiques.
  10. If you get into trouble, contact the nearest U.S. embassy.

(as seen on the U.S. Department of State Website)