Friday, March 2, 2012

Israel Ramble letters - The Trail's Angles
Boaz Thumbnail
Snow Efrat
Snow in Efrat, my paretnts
town, is falling right now,
Friday morning,

Dear Boaz,

As I am writing these lines it is snowing in Jerusalem, and the Golan Highest is all under deep snow. It is raining and storming everywhere, lake kineret is filling up faster, and so are the aquifers and that is good. look at some photos and short movies here. You will have to scroll down and bear with the Hebrew. This issue features the National Israel Trail. Have a great weekend.

Shabbat Shalom

Boaz Pnini

The Trail's Angles

There is a trail. It is called the Israel National Trail, it stretches over 940 kilometers, from Dan to Eilat, from the most North to the most South point of Israel, and people who live nearby often allow trail walkers, perfect strangers, to use their homes for a cup of coffee, sleeping overnight, pitching their tent in their yard, taking a shower, all mostly for free, they are known as The Trail's Angles. Want to walk?!

Personal stories - Have some (water) discipline!
hikers trail
Hikers on the Israel National Trail

Throughout our childhood and teenage years we often went on long daily hikes. There are many ways to know the land, to connect, to feel it and be part of it and many Israelis do it by walking.

There is even a Trail, The Israel National Trail, going from the north most point to the south most point of Israel, from Dan to Eilat. *

One of my most vivid memories was the "water discipline" (The practice of water discipline was cancelled later because of several deaths due to dehydration), which means we had to calculate how much water we drunk so it will last for the whole day, no fresh supply was a coming, the ravines were dry most of the time.

When we became thirsty from the heat, the climbing, the long walk, we won't drink immediately.

We will stop in the shade of a tree to cool down first, then drink only one "shluk" (gulp) from our personal canteen. The most macho thing to do was to arrive at the end of the day hike with your canteen still mostly full, it was an endurance test.

During these hikes, the ubiquitous question was always.. "How many kilometers have we done? How many we got left? Always trying to break our previous distance record. The more weight you carried on your back the more esteemed you were and that includes the girls.

We carried our food and supplies on our backs. I particularly remember one girl in our class that will not let anyone take her back pack, saying; "It helps me to stay balanced", maybe it did.

It was not always fun but we learnt team work, supporting each other as we went through difficult terrain. The reward was in the evening when we reached our destination, staying in a Kibbutz Guesthouse or other place we had never been to. Taking the backpacks, we have carried all day, off our backs was literarily uplifting, we felt light, buoyed, exhilarated, euphoric, like the a mountain climber reaching the top, we have done it, it was worth it.

Boaz Pnini

Bridges 2 Israel

* It took 15 years to build Israel Trail for walking, and it is 940 kilometers long. In 2011 the first 85 kilometers of the Israel Trail for Bicycles was inaugurated.

Water Water Water Water

It is all about the water. Since being a child in the Kibbutz I was always going to the Kibbutz's black board (which is still there by the way) to check "the situation" (hamatzav). Israel is close to the Sahara desert, maybe a little bit too close for comfort. Some people say the conflict is more about water than about anything else, who knows? But the chronic water situation is always in our minds since Israel was born. So, what do we do about it?! Well, my mom for example is the first degree water recycler. She will reuse the shower water to flash the toilet and when I visit I will have to do that too, it is almost a ritual and it is a sentiment more than anything else.

The country problems is not separate from our own responsibility, it is our Israel. She is not alone, there are companies who sell water recycling equipment. Israel is the first country in the world in water recycling for irrigation (called black water), in efficient irrigation's systems and in desalinization.

One of the most fun things to do, working in the Kibbutz fields was roaming the fields opening clogged sprinkles which were sprinkling stinky somewhat purified water, coming strait from the kibbutz "sewage oxidation pool". (It is a kind of a waste-water treatment facility for small villages)

It was not such a high-techy thing to do, we would simply find a loose wire somewhere on a fence, bend it until it broke loose from the fence and then use it to unclogged the sprinkler, and then running like hell away from the revived sprinkler to avoid being sprayed with this darker smelly water.

These sewer pools were actually a magical place, for all the exotic birds and plants which grew there. It was a whole ecosystem by itself, a magic garden of rear birds, plants, butterflies and stench. funny it may be, we liked this stench, it was our stench.. :)

On Shabbats we would take leisure walks to these pools, trying to tread carefully the path, as to not scare the birds by our footsteps, or noise. Magical moments are to be found in the most unlikely places.

Boaz Pnini

Bridges 2 Israel

Politics after all
Shimon perez
Barbara Walters interview with Shimon Perez
I know, I said no politics, but some things I cannot pass over, likeBarbara Walters interview of Israel's president Shimon Perez earlier this week. espcially you should not miss the last minute of this recording.
Food for thought - The greater context
Israel has no meaning outside the greater context of earth and life, I mean, imagine a chunk of land floating through space.. and earth has no meaning without the rest of the universe, I mean.. imagine earth without a sun etc.. and then watch this amazing Carl Sagan presentationfrom 22 years ago and see Israel from space. From young age I was fascinated by space, we had only one telescope in the Kibbutz.. I remember my dad coming to wake all of us children up at around 4:00am before down. to watch a comet, but that is a whole different story maybe for a future Ramble.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Israel Ramble letters
Boaz Thumbnail


Thank you all for your responses to my survey, it has been helpful and educational. Most of you liked the new format, the personal stories and photos and my renderings about Israel. I do worry that the newsletter format will feel too formal, because I would like these letters to be from me to you. I write them as they come and wish it to be a kind of Israeli buffet you can scan and then eat only what seems palatable. I usually do not write directly about political and religious subjects. I am more interested in what may bring us together, our commonalities, rather than in our differences and I am not broadly educated in those subjects. Today's Israel Ramble letter features Lake kineret.

Personal stories - Suddenly a man wakes up and feels he is a nation.. and start walking..
89 KB
Shlomo Artzi 2012

Shlomo Artzi 1970

One of our synagogue friends had asked me on Shabbat about a Israeli song,"pitom kam adam" - Suddenly a man wakes up in the morning .He feels he is a nation and start walking And to all he meets on his way he calls out 'Shalom!

The original singer Shlomo Artzi, his songs were the milk and honey of our childhood (and also our scorn sometimes), is still creating and singing even now, some 40 or 50 years later. I believe in some ways Israel artists rather than the politicians are leading the way, simply because they are freer to say what they really think, feel and sense, and implant new ideas and reflect the mood of the time. They do not get all the other singers singing opposite songs right at them.., they can say things indirectly, insinuated, they can be much more effective on the national psyche if you like, reflecting the spirit of the time and where winds are blowing, but I am afraid I am getting too philosophical.

It is for me a quintessential Israeli song, it has hope in it, it brings together the past, present and future, and the close connection between the personal and the national is palpable.

I remember asking one of my family members once how he was and he answered me by talking about the government, the national and the personal at that moment merged. When you are in Israel it often feels you are taking an active roll in shaping the national reality, it is especially experienced when serving in the army.

Then I remembered this Israeli flash mob in Jerusalem I really enjoyed, based on that song, watch it here. Here is the original 1973 Shlomo Artzi rendition, and watch here for a more currentversion only for the younger generation please, do not watch it if your not under 20. If you have the eyes you can sense, by the difference of these 2 renditions, what had transpired in the last 40 years in Israel.

Boaz Pnini

Bridges 2 Israel

Food for thought - My humble opinion about media coverage

I am sure most of the newspaper reporters and media people are doing their best in bringing us news, without which we will be in the dark. Having said that.. trying to know Israel, or anything for that matter, through the media is like trying to know a person by his balance sheet, or by the car he is driving, it does tell you something, but it can be very superficial and only partial. Like the Russian doles, the babushkas, you see the outer one, but inside there are few hidden ones.

Add to that the fact that the media is focuses on the extremes, good and bad, but have you heard about the warm smile Mr. Israel gave to his neighbor this morning, unlikely, but it is a part of reality, and life is made by little small moments, rather than by the sensational we are being bombarded with every second every day.

The media has to sell and extreme sells and it often has to respond to the lowest common denominator, that's what sells best.

So I am going to stop here, before getting too heated,

Boaz Pnini

Bridges 2 Israel

It is not funny - A response from the Israeli Donkey Association
One of our donkeys in the Judean Desert

OP-ED from the Donkey Association in Israel

Your Donkey Business article on your February 20th issue had come to our attention and we would like to bring to your attention what had really happened on that day, so that you may be better informed.

We like to let you know that our donkeys are spread all around your earth and they are on a special mission. It occur to us that you think you are in control of us, but lets put things right. As we slowly chew plants along the road, we are here to teach you patience. We like roaming around and then we like to make you feed us and groom us and give us a warm place to sleep in, you call stable. It has astonished us that you think you are our master where in fact we make you do all these things for us.

It has been documented in our annals this very story of your 1966 year, we have our own donkey calendar however, and on that day our donkey stationed in your Kibbutz called Yavne, feeling the urge to run free, had opened the gate of his stable to go where he wishes. Then you heard about it and sent your children chasing him, but for your information, this same donkey had made this voyage frequently out of his stable and back without you noticing, so your big clamor that day had no reason or purpose.

On that very day the aforementioned donkey your children had been chasing, amongst them a child you called Boaz. We must informed you that our donkey found your chasing after him quite funny and grotesque and above all unnecessary, but knowing your human weaknesses, we understood.

So, we just wanted to put things right for the sake of proper human donkey relationship in the future and to keep you informed of things as they really were.

Your devoted servant,

The Israeli Donkey branch of Donkey International

Friday, February 24, 2012

Israel Ramble letters - All is well

Israel Ramble letters

It is time for a break, enjoy this ramble and taking a pause, until some more rambles, next week. probably 2 rambles or 3 a week seem to be enough. Today photos featuring - Ashdod, beaches of my childhood.

Personal stories - attempting a poem.. taking a break

Boaz Thumbnail
All is well in the holy land

All is well

In the land of Israel,

People cry and people laugh,

Isn't it all part of life?!

Babies are being born

By the normal rate

Children are attending schools,

Smart and bright not being fools

People rise

People fall,

And rise up again

Aren't we all?!

The unseen forces of the land,

Keep playing their part,

Causing young and old,

To be moved and often bold,

The markets are bustling,

With the merchants cries,

To buy cheap potatoes,

Or meat on the fly,

People are people,

Aren't we all?

Wanting peace and quiet,

Being happy most of all,

So all is well in the holy land,

Along the beaches of Mediterranean sand,

Till next Ramble,

On Monday,

Enjoy the weekend,

Boaz Pnini

Bridges 2 Israel

The land of Israel - Live broad cast from the beach of Ashdod
Ashdod dune
There was nothing more satisfying than rolling down from the top of our private dune near Ashdod beach (to enlarge click twice on the photo)

On summer break we often went to Ashdod beach, fighting the jelly fish and braving the high waves, drawining almost in salty waters, being heroes of the moment, conquerers of the sea, or so it felt in our young bodies.

When visiting Israel I often visit the beaches of my childhood, taking off my shoes, enjoying the long untouched stretch of open beach. Now you can too, if you have IE browser.. Watch live or watch stills, that's exactly how it feels.

Israel creative and innovative forces - Saving lives in Haiti
Israelis are often first responders in natural disaster areas around the world watch this
Food for thought - The rich man who went to sleep peacefully
Once upon a time there was a rich man, he had many factories and employed many people and had a big loving family and lots of worldly possessions, he was a good man. Once he was asked how can he go to sleep and not worried about everything he can lose.
His answer was that it does not really belong to him, so everyday before going to bed he will return all that he has to the care of g-d the almighty and go to sleep peacefully owning nothing, and in the morning he will barrow it all back.
I do not know were I heard this story, but it really garbed me. If you know its source, please let me know so I may give credit where credit is due.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Israel Ramble letter is here, featuring the Hula valley, a donkey story from my childwood, the first moments of Israel history and more, Enjoy - Boaz

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Here is a link to my last Israel Ramble letter Click here. In it you will find a song that was just born, Israeli humor, and dead sea photos - enjoy!

Boaz Pnini
Bridges 2 Israel

The hawk photo relate to tomorrow Israel Ramble

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Boaz Photo thumbnail.jpg

Growing up in a religious Kibbutz in Israel

I grew up in a religious Kibbutz south of Tel Aviv. When thinking back to those days one thing that sticks out is Shabbat. Everything stops and I mean everything. No cars, no turning electricity off and on, no cutting toilet of paper, no talking about money, no working, wearing your special cloths for Shabbat. Can you imagine everything stopping in Seattle?! No noise.

Our synagogue

So what is left then? What left is quiet. Eat, Pray, Sleep and read the weekend newspapers, and then you take a stroll in the kibbutz paved paths eating and spitting sunflower seeds everywhere, it was a pleasure spitting those sunflower seeds everywhere don’t ask me why. You can try it yourself sometime. Shabbat was peace. Putting the work week behind you and focusing on the important things in life, food, prayer and sunflower seeds..

Now visiting “my kibbutz” on my Israel expeditions is a whole different story, bitter sweet kind of thing, but my soul is happy to go back there and roam at night in the familiar paths of my childhood, saying hello to trees I have climbed as a child and to people who vaguely remember my face. Being taken on a tour by my 7 years old nephew who shows me around in “his” Kibbutz, watching the sunset together, he is showing me all the places I grew up in as if it is all his, what a chutzpah.

So, this is an early Shabbat Shalom,

Boaz Pnini

Bridges 2 Israel

PS. An afterthought; The one time when I do feel somewhat like that peace in Seattle is when it snows and everything must stop, and all is quiet, it is somewhat similar.

The silo we climbed as childeren

Tuesday, February 14, 2012