Saturday, April 20, 2013


If you are an upper member of an airline program, request a Plus seat. Make sure it is an aisle seat even if not near travel partner; buy your meals at the best available spot at the various airports to take on board; realize that your seat only reclines a little and relax! It works!!!

For the second year, the amazing ice sculpture show that drew some 300,000 attendees has returned. This year's theme focuses on Asia with sculptures depicting sights of India, China and Japan as well as under sea and prehistoric times. Because the show opened in time for President Obama's visit, there was a special welcome included! Over 60 ice sculptors from China, and other parts of the world as well as Israel arrived in Jerusalem to design and create the exhibit using hundreds of tons of ice. The temperature is set at -10c and it is hoped the sculptures will last a little longer than last year.
From left: Ashira, Rivi, ChanaT, Talia

Rivi (Zalman's wife and mother of our great granddaughter), Ashira, Talia and Chana Tzipora enjoyed the temporary ice rink. Considering Rivi had not skated for 10 years and the other three had never ice skated, tho Talia had roller bladed, they were all pretty amazing and daring! And in skirts yet!!!

The most amazing sight was that of a dog belonging to rink workers coming out on the ice and never slipping! It was a magnificent Akita with beautiful coloring and an obviously sunny disposition. 

Marc, Batya, Shalom Simcha, Yael, Herbie and I enjoyed watching from the sidelines, the latter two taking pictures of course.  Shalom Simcha at 5 played grown up uncle taking his niece for a walk. Yael at 13 months with Grandpa Marc winning the battle of the eye glasses that all parents/grandparents go through!  (see photos at bottom)

The mission of some 142 participants, led by our friends Robbie and Len Cohn, arrived shortly after
we did.  The opening dinner was held at the Inbal Hotel and we were included! Fun to see many old friends and the entire evening was first class from food to speeches to entertainment. An Ethiopian colonel spoke as well as our prior Counsel General Akiva Tor. He told how his eldest daughter is in a combat unit in the IDF and the younger one will be in next year. He and his wife can't figure it out!

Musicians from Dror Educational Kibbutz in Akko (Acre) played wonderful Israeli music with an infectious beat! I suddenly found myself dancing like a crazy person with Rabbi Jim Brandt, our Jewish Federation director leading! We entertained the other 140 attendees on the floor below the band on the stage. If I look older, it's because Jim is Marc's age! (this photo is posed)

On September 11, 2012, JNF (Jewish National Fund) dedicated the only 9/11 memorial outside of the United States that recognizes the names of the people who were killed on 9/11 as well as their countries of origin.

To partially quote Russell Robinson, CEO, JNF:  "Set against the magnificent backdrop of Jerusalem, the Living Memorial is a moving site from which to mourn the victims of 9/11 as well as consider the thousands of citizens of terrorism worldwide."..."More than anything we hope that this Living Memorial will remind us to reaffirm our commitment to tolerance; the unity of mankind, and democracy. Jerusalem is a battleground of civilization but also a place of hope; what better place to show that civilization won?"
Appears on base of sculpture. Read if you are able as quite interesting.
Although it took a very long time to get there due to faulty directions on the website, the trip was well worth it. This is an incredibly understated and beautiful memorial and it is very moving to see the listing of nearly 3000 names etched in small type on plaques partially encircling the sculpture. The sculpture itself depicts the American flag waving with the stars facing in the above photo.

If any of you wish to go there, however, I advise you to phone JNF Jerusalem and ask for better directions. I intend to tell them that instructing people to follow rather insignificant signs is ridiculous as some face the wrong direction and are too small and others do not exist where they are needed!

Several non religious holidays arrive all at once at this time of year and tho we have been in Israel for all of them before, this is the first time we have participated in the various events.  Yom HaShoa or Holocaust Memorial Day was shortly before our arrival in Israel. However, we attended a memorial service for the fallen from our aunt and cousin's moshav (community with some farming) on erev Yom HaZikaron. There were 10 people memorialized—one a young woman who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a Passover seder in a hotel in 2002 in Netanya was hit by a bomb—with music and readings outdoors at the synagogue. From young children on their parents laps to the old folks, all sat in silence as the evening progressed. It was very moving although it was all in Hebrew.

The next morning we went to Yad Lebanim, the Soldier's Memorial organization inside the Ra'anana City Hall. We watched as various children's groups from younger to older sang and read memorial poems and stories. Meanwhile, the numerous young soldiers from the city who died in various wars from 1948 to the present flashed on a screen. The city was teeming with cars and people paying their respects. Nearly every city of any size has its own Yad Lebanim and every community pays its respects to those who gave their lives for their country.

View from up front, crowd reached back
That evening the kids went their separate ways and we walked with Jennifer and Philippe to the huge community celebration of Israel's 65th Independence Day or Yom Ha'atzmaut in the park. Thousands of people from infants on listened to very loud music from numerous singers, dancers and musicians and watched on big screens and we lasted longer than we might have preferred! We waited for the fireworks which were quite spectacular! I read in the paper that 3 million people celebrated with the free concerts in city parks all over Israel.

Beyond all of the above we celebrated shabbat with two other families and all the Langs participated in the preparation of the yummy lunch (except, of course, Benjamin who is in the army). We also attended a BBQ picnic the afternoon of Yom Ha'atzmaut with friends who take over a small park every year near their home. They were all South Africans except us and everyone brought their own food and shared. Being Jewish, especially in Israel, is very food oriented and not the place to be on a diet!

We made two trips to the beach in Herzalyah which is a short drive from
Ra'anana. The first with Daniella and Simone who took us to an all day breakfast place across from the beach that looked and tasted like any good Southern California beach restaurant. We spent a couple of hours walking on the beach and I took pictures of the three of them showing off their athletic prowess. Our second trip to the beach on Independence Day with Jennifer was to see the flybys on their way to the Air Show in Tel Aviv. We saw perhaps six formations of the different types of planes and helicopters used by the military and tho the sky was blue we had to leave as we were shivering! The weather is once again unseasonably cold.

Benjamin on way to guard duty

Benjamin with his Israel Start Up Map he created
Benjamin requested I take some photos of him for his new website. I did so with pleasure! I also took some in his army uniform when he left for what he thought was a week of guard duty in the south. However, he showed up at home the next day to say the army only needed him for two days. The soldiers who have desk jobs as he does in Intelligence have to serve twice a year on guard duty. Because his base is so close to Ra'anana, he sleeps at home most nights. 

Every trip to Israel and to many other countries as well, we see at least one pre-wedding photo shoot. One or both of us usually joins the pro and we return with one or two photos of a beautiful bride in a beautiful dress. This time, however, we couldn't believe our eyes!

This has to be the tackiest bridal dress ever created! And dig his white hat and casual outfit!

Happy Sweet 16, Daniella!
Grandpa Marc winning the battle this time!

Aunt Chana Tsipora, 9 with Yael
Uncle Shalom Simcha, 5 with niece Yael

Simone, 13 Herbie and Daniella in pensive moment


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