History · Israel · Judaism

Yom HaShoah – the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day

BETWEEN ISRAEL… (by Marilyn)

On Monday, Israel observed a national memorial day: the ‘Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day’ or as we call it ‘Yom HaShoah’. It is an annual day of commemoration for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany (1939-1945).

Yom HaShoah starts at sundown. You start feeling the heavy silence weighing in. Radios play sad songs, tv stations only broadcasts World War II related films/documentaries, restaurants and bars are closed by law. There are official ceremonies like the central one in ‘Warsaw Ghetto Square’ at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Authority in Jerusalem. During the ceremony the national flag is lowered to half mast, the President and the Prime Minister both deliver speeches, Holocaust survivors and their descendants light six torches symbolizing the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust and the Chief Rabbis recite prayers. There are more ceremonies and services are held at schools, military bases and by other public and community organizations. 

At 10:00 am on Yom HaShoah, sirens are sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. During this time, people stop whatever it is they’re doing and stand still; vehicles stop, even on the highways, and the whole country comes to a standstill as people pay silent tribute to the dead.

Israeli police officers stand still as a two-minute siren is sounded before a ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem(c) Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu lays a wreath during a ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

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People stand still on a street as a siren marking Holocaust Remembrance Day is sounded in Jerusalem(c) Reuters

I guess we each have our own individual way of mourning the deaths of our ancestors, family members and re-thinking the almost unbelievable stories from survivors. Most of the Jewish people around the world have grown up with the Holocaust being very present, sometimes loudly sometimes silently. It’s sad that even today people get away with denying it and that there is such a thing called neo-Nazis. Adolf Hitler had a plan he called the final solution -the endlösung- to decimate the entire Jewish people. During Yom HaShoah in Israel you realize: we are still here. The Holocaust is part of us, of our (hi)story and each time we try to imagine what it was like, we just can’t believe it nor contain it. Those black and white images of starving people, concentration camps and gas chambers. We are shocked time and time again. How could this happen? How could the world let it happen? Many have tried to understand, to explain and to analyze. In times like today when the world is plunged in hatred and anti-semitism is never far away, we must open our eyes and see what is going on. We must remember. Never again.

… AND BELGIUM (by Josephine)

As most of the European countries, Belgium also has an infamous Holocaust past. Between August 4 1942 and July 31 1944, 28 trains left the Belgian transit prison Kazerne Dossin in Mechelen. Over 25,000 Jews and Romas were deported, most of whom arrived at the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only 5% survived. Today, the Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights tells their story and most of all, keeps their memory alive.

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A giant wall filled with about 20.000 faces of men and women, young and old alike, staring back at me. It’s an uneasy sight: people who had a life still to live, or had lived their life already. Some of them happy, some of them weary. These could be the faces of our grandparents, our children, our friends and neighbors. These are the faces of the people who were deported from the detention camp Dossin in Mechelen, Belgium. Colored pictures for those who returned, grey for those who did not. The Dossin Kazerne is first of all a place of remembrance, “a material witness to a Belgian war story” as professor and curator Herman Van Goethem describes it. On initiative of a number of Jewish survivors, among them the late Sir Nathan Ramet, the transit camp Kazerne Dossin was turned into the Jewish Museum for Deportation and Resistance, to remind us of its infamous period. Since 2012, the Kazerne Dossin houses the Documentation Centre and a memorial to those who lost their lives. The permanent historical exhibition is now housed in a brand new building, designed by architect Bob Van Reeth, opposite the Kazerne Dossin. The new building is rich in symbolism: the windows for instance, are covered with more than 25.000 bricks, representing the number of deportees.

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The permanent exhibition is divided in four parts. My guide, Patsi Ambach-Dewilde, unfolded the history and the ill fate of the Belgian Jews floor by floor. The first three floors cover photographs, documents and testimonies to illustrate the life of Jews (and gypsies) in Belgium before the war, the increasing discrimination and exclusion and the organized destruction of Jews and gypsies in the camps during the war. These 3 floors give a perspective on what the Holocaust meant to Belgians and Belgian Jews alike. The stories make you feel angry and sad, confused and even vulnerable: how can this have happened? But the Museum does not stop here. It also brings up the topic of rehabilitation, coming to terms with the past and Human Rights in general.  I learned that after the liberation, there was no place for Jewish suffering. Survivors simply did not talk about their grief, let alone discuss the things they witnessed and what had happened to them in the camps. They simply had to learn how to live with it. But the most interesting debate this Museum tries to stimulate is this of the Holocaust and Human Rights. By explicitly incorporating human rights not only in the name of the Museum, but also as a general topic, it broadens the context of the Shoah. Not only Anti-Semitism, but intolerance in general are always with us. Attempting to place the Shoah beyond itself by addressing values such as tolerance, respect and responsibility is also one of the keystones of the new Museum, which will leave its visitors with only one idea about the Holocaust: “Never again.”DSC_8465

 

Watch a video about the Museum on Holocaust and Human Rights, Kazerne Dossin by Fans of Flanders with Patsi Ambach-Dewilde here.

A very big thank you to Patsi for her beautiful tour (seriously guys, if you want a guide for this Museum: ask for her https://www.kazernedossin.eu/EN)

Dedicated to Nathan Ramet, Regina & Adolf Predinger-Wechsler, and the millions of people who lost their life due to racism, hatred, discrimination and genocide everywhere and anywhere. May they never be forgotten.

L.Cohen song The Partisan about The Resistance

History · Israel · Judaism · Uncategorized

Chag Sameach & Happy Passover

The Jewish people celebrate Pessach (Passover) to commemorate the story of the Exodus, their liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt and their birth as a nation under the leadership of Moses. According to the Bible, God helped the Children of Israel escape slavery by inflicting ten plagues upon the ancient Egyptians: the Plague of blood, frogs, lice, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts*, darkness and the death of the firstborn. (*I’m not superstitious but Egypt and Israel had a big plague of locusts just last week, weird) The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb so that God knew to pass over these homes and spare them from the curses, hence the name of the holiday. It is said that when the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). Therefore, during the eight days of Passover, no leavened bread is supposed to be eaten, only Matzah.

The rituals unique to the Passover celebrations commence with the Passover Seder. In our family tradition we celebrate the seder with never less than 25 people, gathering over a big meal and some adapted Haggadah reading and singing. In Tel Aviv the Holiday is both observed and ignored, as usual in paradoxical Tel Aviv. On a daily level this mainly means that locals are going away on vacation, tourists are taking over the city, inaugurating beach season and that way too many youngsters from out of town (B&T) come in to party. I like some of those annual traditions; the family Seder, remembering school memories and childhood traditions; where was I last year, what has changed since. It’s always a good occasion for some in(tro)spection. Passover also symbolizes the celebration of freedom. Inner freedom means personal happiness. We don’t have control on most things in life, but the part we do have in our hands, is the liberation from our own barriers, monsters, defenses, roles, patterns and expectations. Being free means being you, the true you.

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Architecture · Art · beauty · Fashion · History · Photography · Tel Aviv

“Lady of the Daisies” – Lea Gottlieb

“Lady of the Daisies” is a tribute to the work of Israeli fashion designer and entrepreneur Lea Gottlieb. Founder of worldwide swimwear brand Gottex – famed for the Seven Suit that sold over one million pieces in 1985 alone – Gottlieb was a prominent and exceptional swim and beachwear designer and innovator of Israel’s textile industry. The exhibition opened with an exclusive VIP launch at the Design Museum in Holon and is running till May 4th. Galit Gaon, Chief Curator at the Museum explains: “This homage to the work of a trailblazing woman who led a vision of design and industry in Israel is an important evolutionary step in the life of the museum. Lea Gottlieb put Israeli fashion on the map with her elegant and flattering designs that have sold to over 80 countries.”

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Lea Gottlieb emigrated from Hungary to Israel in 1949 with her husband Armin who owned a raincoat factory. Lea immediately understood that raincoats were not as appropriate for the climate of the Middle East. Still water-minded, she started sewing swimsuits which launched to instant success in 1956. Gottex was innovative and sophisticated, with products sold in over 80 countries. Over the years, Lea Gottlieb’s designs have featured on the covers of the world’s most prestigious fashion magazines. Prominent figures who have worn her designs include Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Queen Noor, Mrs. Nancy Kissinger, and movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Brooke Shields. Lea Gottlieb continued to design a new collection every year up to 2002. Work on the exhibition began more than six months ago with the process of sorting and selecting pieces from her archives. She also visited the museum to assist in determining the content before she passed away at the end of 2012; she was 94. A memorial book for Lea Gottlieb will be available in 2014.

The exhibition showcases the history of Gottex swimwear through costumes, inspirational photographs, films and catalogs. The main gallery includes swim and beachwear designs in addition to works of art that acted as original inspiration. Curated by fashion researcher Ayala Raz, this aspect of the exhibition pays direct homage to the life and work of Lea Gottlieb. It is known that Lea Gottlieb loved flowers, partly because they had helped her save her life from the Nazis in her native Hungary. When out in the street, she often held a bunch of flowers up to her face, so that Nazis would take her for a regular peasant girl. Flowers figured prominently in Gottlieb’s fabric designs, usually in bold, eye catching colors. She was particularly fond of hibiscus. Sophistication was the name of the game.

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The second gallery focuses on contemporary design and Creative Director Molly Grad’s transformation of the Gottex brand in recent years. A specially commissioned model designed by Molly Grad is presented. This unique piece is accompanied by Grad’s sketches, illustrations and quotes to represent her world of inspiration. Grad explains, “The illustrations in the exhibit are like my fingerprints, a representation of my personal process and primary experience as an artist and creator. They are not indicative of a specific moment or time, but rather an ongoing approach. I have always drawn, ever since I was about three years old. Wherever I go, I always bring a pencil.”

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Design · Fashion · History · Neve Tzedek · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Fabric & Form – Fashion and Israeli art

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Being from Antwerp, I must have been born with a sense of fashion, style and design. Being a blogger, it was about time for some fashion. Of course there will be a broad Antwerp Fashion post by Josephine, but today is about the Tel Aviv scene. And not to be underestimated. Yes the country is barely 65 years old, yes we still have a lot to learn and yes I could go on about all we are lacking in the field of fashion and style. But I’d rather share the good news and focus on those pioneers paving the way for the Israeli fashion, design & art industry. Thursday night was the opening event for “Fabric & Form: Fashion & Art exploration” – the Cutting Edge of Israeli Fashion, Art & Design initiated by TLVStyle. The first ever 3-day interactive and creative journey into the world of Israeli designers and artists. The event opened for the Tel Aviv Arts Council community with an exclusive gala at the historical and charming Lili&Bloom. An audience eager to discover the intricacies of Israel’s fashion world and get up close and personal with Israeli designers, artists, stylists, and bloggers. The curators (Galit Reismann, Deborah Shahar and Rei Dishon) are exploring the relationship between the garment as an art and the art as a garment.

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During the weekend (Friday from 10am & Saturday till 09pm) Lili & Bloom will be open to the public, free of charge, for a celebration of Art, Fashion and Tel Aviv’s urban style. The collective of designers includes 10 fashion accessories designers and 6 fashion designers: Northern Star by Nadav Rosenberg, Adam Gefen, Michal Basaad, Maria Berman, FROG by Einat Burg, Daniella Gelfer, Tamar Branitzky, Inbar Shahak, Sailor by Efrat Shahar, Avital Coorsh, Sharon Vaizer, Osnat Har-noy, Liza Arjuan, Michal Ben Ami, Toosh JUDTLV and Studio SFOG. Among the artists: Danit Peleg, Katerina Nevler, Gidi Smilansky, Hadas Malin, Ben Gal, Eleonore Millstein, Jonathan Goldman and Signor Gi.

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All photos taken with Canon EOS M

General · History

For all the women that made us women.

Today is International Women’s Day. This is the day to thank all the women who have ever fought or are still fighting for women’s rights somewhere in this world. Here are a few of the women we believe kick ass!

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Nawal El Saadawi has been called the godmother of Egyptian feminism with the rebel gene. She has written many books on the subject of women in Islam, paying particular attention to the practice of female genital cutting in her society. She is founder and president of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights.She has been awarded honorary degrees on three continents. In 2005 she won the Inana International Prize in Belgium.

Fauja Singh. Fair enough he’s a man. But men deserve some credit too. Fauja is the oldest runner alive. He runs for women’s rights. Recently he organised a mini-marathon to register his concerns over the recent incidents and generate social awareness for the rights and security of women in India.

Golda Meir was an Israeli teacher, kibbutznik and politician who became the fourth Prime Minister of Israel in 1969. Israel’s first and the world’s third woman to hold such an office, she was described as the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics years before the epithet became associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir “the best man in the government”; she was often portrayed as the “strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people”. A famous quote by Golda Meir: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

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Ellen  Johnson Sirleaf. Africa’s first female President (Liberia) and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Her work has had a significant impact on women’s rights and peace movement. Prize motivation: “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

Margaret Cho. Korean American comedian and women’s rights activist. She is best known for her stand-up routines, through which she critiques social and political problems, especially those pertaining to race and sexuality.

Gloria Steinman. A leader of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 1960s and 1970s, Steinman helped create both New York and Ms. magazines, and helped form the National Women’s Political Caucus. An intelligent, independent woman who cleared the path for all us writers!

WOMEN who KICK ASS1(From left to right)

Ayaan Hirsi. Ali is a Somali-Dutch feminist and atheist activist, writer and politician who is known for her views critical of Islam. She wrote the screenplay for Theo van Gogh’s movie Submission, after which she and the director both received death threats, and the director was murdered. The daughter of the Somali politician and opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse, she is a founder of the women’s rights organisation the AHA Foundation. On visiting Israel she said: “My main impression was that Israel is a liberal democracy. In the places I visited, including Jerusalem as well as Tel Aviv and its beaches, I saw that men and women are equal.”

Coretta Scott King. Civll and Women’s Rights activist and the widow of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During a solidarity speech in 1968, she called for women to “unite and form a solid block of women power to fight the three great evils of racism, poverty and war”.

Manal al-Sharif. principal campaigner for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. One of her more famous campaigns is the 2011 women driving campaign, for which she was arrested for a week.

WOMEN who KICK ASS3-001(From right to left)

Amelia Earheart. The first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. “One of my favorite phobias is that girls, especially those whose tastes aren’t routine, often don’t get a fair break. It has come down through the generations, an inheritance of age-old customs which produced the corollary that women are bred to timidity.” She disappeared during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937.

Eleanor Roosevelt. “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Roosevelt was a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly for her stands on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Japanese Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees.

Benazir Bhutto. The first woman to lead a Muslim country in modern history and become prime minister of Pakistan.

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Hilary Rodham Clinton. American Politician. Her famous speech in Beijing in 1995, in which she declared that “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights”, inspired women worldwide and helped galvanize a global movement for women’s rights.

Shirley Chisholm. First black female elected to Congress. She later became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The second female justice (after Sandra Day O’Connor) and the first Jewish female justice. Before becoming a judge, Ginsburg spent a considerable portion of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of women’s rights as a constitutional principle.

Happy Women’s day to all us women!

Marilyn & Josephine

Antwerp · Architecture · History

Antwerp from both sides.

They say “the river Scheldt (Dutch: Schelde) owes its existence to God, and Antwerp owes its existence to the river Scheldt”. Thanks to this river Antwerp is the 2nd largest harbour in Europe and the 4th in the world. Both the Right (the historical city) as the Left Bank of the Scheldt are unique places to visit. There’s the vivid historical city center, with tons of shops, restaurants and tourist attractions on one side, and there is nature and 20th century nostalgia on the other side. With its Casino’s, the restaurants and even a small beach the Left Bank was indeed a popular place for entertainment.  There’s not much left of those glory days now, but you can still feel the swing of the 60ies and the 70ies when you go for some delicious moules-frites (mussels with fries) on the terrace at Sint Anneke beach, while enjoying the view on the historical city across the river. The Sint-Anna pedestrian tunnel, build in 1932-1933, is a true beauty (if a tunnel can ever be called beautiful) which is definitely worth a visit. Let me just tell you with some pictures I took today what I can’t express with words:

(c) sien josephineAbove: The statue of Pieter Paul Rubens, Antwerp’s most famous painter, keeping an eye on the Groenplaats (historical city)

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Above: view on the guild halls on the Grote Markt (16th Century) (c) sien josephine

Above: detail of the wrought iron gates which used to indicate the line between the docks and the public street (late 19th century) (c) sien josephine

Above: easy Antwerp transportation: these city bikes take you everywhere as long as you dock them in another station within 30 minutes.(c) sien josephine

Above and under: enjoying a nice stroll on the boardwalk along the Scheldt between Antwerp’s North and South side

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Above: time for some nice Belgian fries, while enjoying the view on the Cathedral (under)(c) sien josephine

Under: view on the Left Bank from the boardwalk.(c) sien josephineUnder: the entrance of the Sint Anna pedestrian tunnel (build in 1933)   (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephine  Above &under: inside the pedestrian tunnel (the wooden escalators also date back to 1933)(c) sien josephine

Under: inside the pedestrian tunnel: 572 meters long and 31,57 meters underground.(c) sien josephine

Under: the Left Bank in the windows of the Sint Anna pedestrian tunnel exit

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Above & under: view on historical Antwerp from the Left Bank(c) sien josephineUnder: Sint Anneke beach (by (c) Jens Mollenvanger)

(c) Jens Mollenvanger

All pictures are copyright protected 

(c) 2013 Sien Josephine

Architecture · History · Lifestyle · Photography · Restaurants · Tel Aviv

Tel-a-visitor

Sometimes I want to write about Tel Aviv. Sometimes I just want to show it to you. Christina Marien is a big fan of Tel Aviv , a loyal visitor, a returning customer. Luckily she always has her camera with her. Proud to introduce her as our guest photographer for this post. Here are some random TLV pictures. Thanks Christina.

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Lilienblum Street

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Brasserie  Top class French food open 24/7 –  Ibn Gvirol Street

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Coffee & Snacks on Rothschild corner Maze

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Coffee & Snacks on Rothschild corner Herzl (oldest kiosk)

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A common sight, wedding photos on Rothschild Boulevard

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Delicatessen Yehuda Halevy Street 79/81

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Sunset happens everyday

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Another common sight in Tel Aviv: hot guys

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Fresh fruit juice on Shenkin Street

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Israel has the best watermelons in the world

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Habima Theater

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Joselito

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Famous Dizengoff Square Fountain by Yaakov Agam

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Tel-O-Fun

History · Israel · Tel Aviv

Jaffa, the port(al) to history.

Ever enjoyed a Jaffa orange? Its excellent and sweet taste is known throughout the world. However, not a lot of people know that the oranges are exported from a city with a richer history than the content of Madonna’s bank account. Even fewer people know that partnerships in growing and exporting these oranges are an example of Arab-Jewish cooperation despite the political tensions. All politics aside, Jaffa’s history left me feeling like i just came out of an unknown bed in which i had a great time: confused and excited.

Jaffa - view from north

According to legend, Japhet (the son of Noah – the patriarch who saves himself, his family and all the world’s animals when God decides to destroy the world because of mankind’s evil deeds), founded Jaffa (Yafo in Hebrew). Jaffa has seen rulers from all corners of the world. From archeological discoveries and ancient documents, historians learned that Jaffa existed as a port city some 4.000 years ago. During that time it provided Egyptian and Phoenician sailors. From biblical accounts that mention the trade of cedars from Lebanon for construction of King Solomon’s Temple, to the story of Jonah and the whale, over Greek legends of the beautiful Andromeda and Perseus and the Biblical visions of Apostle Peter, the history of Jaffa seems like a never-ending story. Alexander the Great, Roman legions, Richard the Lion Heart, Muslim sultan Saladin, Napoleon and General Allenby all conquered the city. The port of Jaffa played a huge role in medieval pilgrimage to Jerusalem and in the increased Jewish immigration in the 19th and 20th century. In short: throughout time, people were very attracted to this economic, religious and vibrant place.

By the beginning of the 20th century the population in Jaffa had grown considerably. A group of Jews left Jaffa for the sand dunes to the north and started a settlement outside the congested city. This settlement, known first as Ahuzat Bayit (lit. “Homestead”), grew to be the city of Tel Aviv. The increased immigration also led to tensions between the Ottoman empire and the new arriving population. In the midst of the First World War, believing their military security to be at risk, the Ottoman authorities deported the entire civilian population from Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The Jews were to be resettled in Egypt, Jerusalem and cities in central and north Palestine. They were not allowed to return until after the British conquest of Palestine.

After the British took control of the area, tensions between the Jewish and Arab populations of the city start to become more frequent. This led to a wave of attacks: the Jaffa riots in 1921 (leaving many Jewish residents to flee and resettle in Tel Aviv), the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine (inflicting great economic and infrastructural damage on Jaffa) and the 1947-1948 attacks (following the 1947 UN Partition Plan). Because of these attacks, thousands of people fled from Jaffa, leaving nothing behind but cats and dogs. Poverty threatened the continuation of Jaffa as a thriving city. In 1968, the Government of Israel and the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality decided to establish a corporation for the Development of Old Jaffa. It’s primary task was to avert the total destruction of Old Jaffa’s glorious past.

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Old Jaffa has since become one of Israel’s biggest tourist attractions. The city now consists of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Its narrow alleys are lined with artists’ quarters, art galleries and shops filled with jewelry, archeology (whether real or false is to be contested) and of course, oranges. The sight of the ancient port and the rocks, set against the back drop of the modern city of Tel Aviv, the romantic paths and gardens in Old Jaffa and blue Mediterranean waves nearby, excite all senses. Today the city of Jaffa is more vibrant and cultural than ever, with terms like avant-garde and bohemian chic written all over its streets. It is a home to contemporary theater and art, tons of restaurants, antique stores, souvenir shops and of course the famous flea market. All this resting on Jaffa’s historical heritage which will never disappear.

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UP: All things for the home at One Bedroom יהודה מרגוזה ,12,68136 Tel Aviv-Yafo.(c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine

History · Israel · Judaism

Jerusalem of Gold

The Italians say: “Vedi Napoli e (poi) muore” or:  when you’ve seen the magnificence of Naples you’ve seen everything, and it’s safe to die. Italians obviously have never been to the Old City of Jerusalem. Being one of the oldest cities of the world, Jerusalem is marked by religion and conflict. During its long history, it has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Jerusalem is also a holy city to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The spiritual power of this city is omnipresent. It’s hard not to feel even the littlest emotion stir inside you when you touch the stones of the Western Wall, when you enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or when you see the sun touching the golden Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem has been on my “things i absolutely want to see in my life”-list ever since i was a kid. We entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate (inaugurated in 1538!). This gate is named after the port of Jaffa, from which the Prophet Jonah (the guy who got swallowed by a whale) embarked on his sea journey and pilgrims debarked on their trip to the Holy City. For us it was simply because Highway 1, the connection between Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Jerusalem, leads to this entrance. Our “pilgrimage by car” took about an hour an ended in a modern garage. I am very thankful to live in the 21st century and not having to do the whole Jaffa-Jerusalem road by foot, cause when you enter the Old City it’s all little cobbled roads and rocky steps. Not to forget about all the people crawling like little ants in between hundreds of food stands and small souvenir shops selling crosses, menorahs and djellabas. Obviously business is not divided by religion here. If you visit Jerusalem be sure to wear comfortable shoes and be well-rested, for it is a workout if i have ever seen one.

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(c) sien josephine DSC_3687 (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephineThe Old city is divided into 4 quarters: the Muslim, the Christian, the Armenian and the Jewish quarter. Because there is a lot to see in the Old city of Jerusalem and we only had a few hours before the start of Shabbat we concentrated on two places of visit. The Christian quarter contains the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (or the Church of the Resurrection). It is said that on this place Jesus was crucified (Golgotha), buried (the Sepulcher) and even resurrected. The Sepulcher can be reached through countless other little churches, all connected to one another by narrow hallways. Without our Israeli friends guiding us through the city we probably would still wander around in this maze of holy stones, scented by heavy incense.

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(c) sien josephineUp: the Stone of Anointing, which tradition claims to be the spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea.DSC_3675 (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephine

In the Jewish quarter lies the Western Wall or Kotel.  The wall is a remnant of the ancient Temple wall. The Jewish quarter has had a rich history, with a nearly continual Jewish presence since the eighth century BC. The Wall has been subject of many conflicts. According to the legend anyone who prays in the Temple in Jerusalem, “it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer”. A lot of people come to the Western Wall to pray and wail (therefore the wall is also known by its other name: the Wailing Wall). There is also a practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers to God into the cracks of the Wall. Fun fact: the Rabbi of the Western Wall receives hundreds of letters every year addressed to “God, Jerusalem“. He folds these letters and places them in the Wall. Twice a year the Rabbi collects the notes left in the Wall and buries them in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

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There’s a famous Jewish song called “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of gold”). The song was written by Naomi Shemer in 1967 and originally described the Jewish people’s 2000-year longing to return to Jerusalem. A final verse was added after the Six-Day War to celebrate Jerusalem’s re-unification, after 19 years of Jordanian occupation. I believe the saying “Jerusalem of Gold” has a wider meaning, that expands to all religions and nationalities who are touched by the presence of this historical and holy place. It’s a place of emotional, monetary and religious richness. Of gold in every meaning of the word. It’s what people have fought over for thousands of years and are still fighting for. This is a place that has conquered my heart and i hope to return to its splendor and greatness lots of times.

Food · History · Judaism · Tel Aviv

Hanukkah, a festival of lights

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Every night, we light the candles of the Hanukiah to commemorate and celebrate the miracle of Light: the Jews only had enough oil to create light for one night, but the miracle made it last for 8 days…

 photo 2-1Jewish family spirit, Tel Aviv December 2012 – photo by Sharon Erde www.twitter.com/sharonerde

Being a secular Jew doesn’t mean I don’t honor values and follow rituals of the Jewish holidays. Families always gather around a big food table.  Family & food. Celebrating the miracle of oil also means eating fried food. While some of us yearn for Sufganyot (they’re like doughnuts and come in various shapes, colors and with many different fillings); some rather eat Latkes (Yiddish word) or Levivot (Hebrew word) which are a kind of potato pancake.  Here’s my favorite recipe for you to try at home – thank you Ameloush and thank you Doda Anny from Belgium…

Ingredients:photo 1

  • 5 potatoes (big red ones preferably)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • salt, pepper and white pepper
  • canola oil to fry in

Preparation:

1. Heat +/- 1 to 2 cm of canola oil until boiling and ready to fry
2. Meanwhile, start peeling and grating the potatoes (feel your muscles?)
3. With your hands, squeeze out all the water from the potatoes (very important!)
4. Add the shredded onion, eggs, flour, salt&pepper and mix with a spoon or  photo 2with your hands
5. Make flat round shapes with your hand/spoon and fry till golden brown 6.Before serving, make sure you use a lot of paper roll to remove as much oil as possible.
7. Bete’avon, you can eat your latkes with sugar, mustard or whatever other weird family ritual you have.

Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song, part. 1; there’s also part 2 & 3 if you want more…

Lyrics:

“Put on your Yamakkah, here comes Hanukkah… so much fun-Hakka to celebrate Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the festival of lights… instead of one day of presents, we get eight crazy nights. When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree, here’s a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me.

David Lee Roth lights the Menorah, So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah. Guess who eats together at the Carnegie deli, Bowzer from Sha-na-na, and Arthur Fonzerrelli. Paul Newman’s half Jewish; Goldie Hawn’ss half too, Put them together–what a fine lookin’ Jew. You don’t need deck the halls or jingle bell rock, cause you can spin the dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock-both Jewish!

Put on your Yamakkah, it’s time for Hanukkah… The owner of the Seattle Super Sonic-ahs celebrates Hanukkah. O.j. Simpson- not a Jew… But guess who is…hall of famer Rod Carew-he converted! We got Ann Landers and her sister dear Abby, Harrison fords a quarter Jewish-not too shabby! Some people think that Ebenezer Scrooge is, Well, he’s not, but guess who is: all three Stooges.

So many Jews are in show business… Tom cruise isn’t,but I heard his agent is. Tell your friend veronica, it’s time you celebrate Hanukkah…I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely Hanukkah. So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your mara-juanic-ah… If you really, really wanna-kah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy
Hanukkah! Happy Hanukkah!”

Happy Hanukkah…may the light shine… in and around you….

General · History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Tel Aviv Alive & Kickin’

Let’s start this post with a little note to my fellow Belgians or should I say Europeans. I wouldn’t be discussing the recent tensions in the Middle East as this is certainly not a political blog. But as apparently everyone seems to own the conflict, I guess I do have a say. Maybe the media are the first to blame as they should stand for “impartial” and “objective” reporting? At university they taught us the media is the watchdog of democracy. Not what I see when I watch Belgian news about Israel. And as for the people’s opinion: maybe I wouldn’t know better either if I’d just watch your news and read your newspapers. But at least I won’t feel I have the right to preach, convince nor judge. I live in Tel Aviv since six years and I still feel I have no right to judge. Because I do not know war. I did not grow up with terror. I did not go to the army. So why do Europeans feel they have the right to? Most of them have probably never even been in Israel. Yes I’m bothered with that hypocritical solidarity. That being said; my blog is about my life, my life in Tel Aviv, both as a stranger and an insider. And I decide to focus on the bright side of it, the creative, the stimulating, the talent; what makes us wake up in the morning and smile. And I can tell you this: Tel Aviv is alive and kickin’. Towers still grow like mushrooms, people going to the beach, party in clubs, eat and drink 24/7, real estate is still unaffordable, there is still no parking and too much traffic, three new boutique hotels just opened around my corner, and the sun still shines…

All photos by me & my broken Ipod touch – maybe soon I’ll get a real camera…

photo 2 Life is good @ Delicatessen: my Filofax, the blackberry, some sun, a knitting project and a “hafuch” or two or threephoto 3 Old versus New on Mazeh Street

photo 4 Old versus New on Mazeh street

photo 5 New boutique hotel Alma

IMG_1123 Yarn Bombing on Nahlat Binyamin Street

IMG_1477 TLV view from Jaffa

photo 2 Electric art on Pines Street, Neve Tzedek

photo 1 Sunset at Fortuna Del Mar @ Tel Aviv Marina

photo 3 Kalisher Street

photo 1 Sunset at Topsea Beach

IMG_1480 Super Jew is Coming soon – Drawing by Julien Roux

Antwerp · Architecture · Art · History

Architectural Antwerp, pt. 2: the boundary between city and port

Compared to it’s European neighbors, Belgium is a small country geographically. Historically however, Belgium is the center of the European Union. The same with Antwerp. Being an important harbor for centuries, Antwerp has always had an important place on the economical map. Antwerp is part of the world, and the world is part of Antwerp. A lot of international exchanges have taken place, and are still taking place (for example diamonds). Because of that, Antwerp represents a huge international diversity and connectivity. This is why so many people are drawn to this little city in this little country. Antwerp gives you both the feeling of comfort and being close to one and another. On the other hand it gives you an overwhelming feeling of non-stop movement, cultural diversity and international importance.

To capture this aspect and to make it more “touchable”, a museum called the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom, or Museum by the River) opened its doors in 2011. The MAS is a landmark on the boundary between the city and the port, and it does so by telling the story of people with diverse perspectives on the world who came from a multitude of backgrounds. The MAS tells the story about the past, present and future of Antwerp. Because diversity is not a static feature, but always in motion, a special building was needed. It’s a difficult mission to bring a building – which is itself static – to a new level. The design was inspired by a sixteenth-century storehouse. The galleries are stacked up like ‘boxes’ creating a spiral tower with large expanses of glass. As you go up on the escalators from the ground floor to +9, you have a constantly changing view of Antwerp. In my opinion, the special window panes resemble the flow of a river. But not only the building is an eye-catching element! The square in front of the MAS is a work of art by Antwerp’s most famous living artist: a 1,600-m² mosaic entitled ‘Dead Skull’ by Luc Tuymans, his first public work to be permanently on display. The MAS is an architectural beauty (even though the local opinion about the architecture is divided). I had my doubts about it too, but seeing it all come together: the light of sunset on the red stones, the calmth of the river and the rush of the harbor, it somehow seems to work out.

Read the article about the MAS in the New York Times here

All pictures are copyrighted Sien Josephine (c)

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