September 17, 2018

Refugees and asylum seekers awarded diplomas in Levinsky Park

With Gaby, from Eritrea

Meet four among English Level 3 students who completed the course along with a hundred more students of English (Levels 1 and 2), Hebrew (Levels 1-3), computer basics, Photoshop, photography, and pattern making and sewing! All classes are held in Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station.

With Omar, from Darfur

Fellow teachers Hal and Judith flank Shibli and Ibrahim, both from Darfur

Way to go, earnest dreamers working hard six days a week and attending night school two to four times weekly. Next semester begins in a few weeks.

September 08, 2018

"Have you a sweet year" — celebrating Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah greeting card and honey cake

On September 9, 2010, Atlanta neighbors nine-year-old Taiwanese Peter Chiou and his mom, Sophia, gifted me the Rosh Hashanah greeting card and honey cake shown in the photo. Their greetings and cake remain timely and fresh.

The delightful Chiou family from Taiwan were my neighbors when veterinarian Tony Chiou was conducting research at Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center. With Sophia, also a veterinarian, we shared foods, customs, books, and ideas. Just before Rosh Hashanah, I described our custom of eating apples dipped in honey, symbolizing hopes for sweetness in the coming year. They soon surprised me with their gifts.

This post was originally published September 9, 2010, 5771 in the Jewish calendar.

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June 18, 2018

Youth dancing ballet in Tekoa

Be'eri (on the far right)

I rode with my cousins from Jerusalem to Tekoa, just south of the city to attend their granddaughter Be'eri's ballet recital. The annual event showcases youth dance ensembles in the settlement. Be'eri —Hebrew, for my well was our draw.

Post-recital at her home, a "caravan" — Hebrew, for trailer Be'eri changed into a sequined shirt in honor of my Tel Aviv street Calico.

Kitty shirt

Our family feasted on falafel with all the trimmings followed by blessings of thanks for the meal.

Be-eri's elder sister and a cousin blessed outdoors.

Close to nightfall, quick introductions to special neighbors — horses, several members of a cat colony, and sheep in the distance and a selfie of those whom the lens could capture. Hugs all around when my cousins and I left to return to Jerusalem from where I continued by bus to Tel Aviv.

Tekoa is a Jewish settlement (population: 4500, in 2017) on the edge of the Judean desert. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this. Entering and leaving settlements requires passing through a checkpoint. While the location is off for me, think cognitive dissonance.

May 15, 2018

2018 Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim and Ismaili friends

Images from “Jerusalem in Detail”
Israel Museum | Oct. 1917 - April 2018

May the holy month of Ramadan that begins this evening be affirming and that you follow tenets of your faith in safety —  observing teachings that root your community to its origins and bind you as a people of social, spiritual, and personal reflection, cleansing, and renewal.

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May 04, 2018

In Tel Aviv: Reunion with Amir Habaya at Frishman Beach

Amir Habayba and I at Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom, 2003
Our first reunion since Amir Habayba and I met, in 2003, in the Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom (Arabic and Hebrew for Oasis of Peace) cooperative village! The years and distances (he is now a UK citizen living in Belgium) vanished with bursts of laughter and joy in sharing memories, updates, ice cream, crushed watermelon drinks, and many hugs.

Here we are today.

At the Tel Aviv seaside Calypso Restaurant, 2018
Amir's beloved friends Rola Shehadeh, Khaled, and their ADORABLE Lolo with whom he drove from Jerusalem to spend a beach day, joined us, expanding the friendship circle with everyone babbling in two of three languages — Arabic, English, and Hebrew!

With Rola, Khaled, and ADORABLE Lolo 

April 12, 2018

In Tel Aviv: Holocaust (Shoah) Remembrance Day

When the SS murdered Romanian-born Leah's parents in front of her,
a Christian neighbor heard the screams and gunshots
and dashed into the house, grabbed the 9-year-old child survivor
insisting she was hers and hid Leah in a crawl space 3 years.

Note: I first published this post on Yom Hashoah 2009.

Today, as every year on the 27th day of the Hebrew month Nisan, at 10 A.M., a two-minute siren wailed nationwide. The sound calls us to remember the six million Jews — one-third of world Jewry then, among them 1.5 million children that the Third Reich systematically exterminated in less than five years. Five million more victims perished, including German opponents of Nazism, Gypsies/Roma, Serbs, Polish intelligentsia, resistance fighters from all nations, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, people with disabilities, habitual criminals, and the "antisocial" such as beggars, vagrants, and hawkers.

Listening to the siren, activities and conversations stop and traffic halts: drivers and passengers exit cars, busses, taxis, and trucks, and pedestrians stand still. Yom Hashoah memorial ceremonies follow at the Knesset (Parliament), the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, and in schools, organizations, and institutions nationwide.

At the corner of Tel Aviv's Allenby and Yavne Streets, in the first public Beit Avot (Home for the Aged), I joined the residents, most of them Shoah survivors, for their memorial ceremony.

Watch the video (5:21 minutes).

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April 11, 2018

In Israel: Restrooms for Refugees

Two public restrooms funded by individual donations
to provide basic solutions to untenable conditions

Thrilled to support human dignity for our African asylum-seeking friends and partners.

Asylum-seekers are required to apply for visa renewals every month or two (for families, every six months) at the sole office of the Israel Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration (PIBA) in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv. Instances of frivolous rejection are not uncommon.

Please, join the “Restrooms for Refugees - Israel” GoFundMe campaign to install basic facilities, shelter, and sanitary conditions to alleviate the denigrating conditions they experience waiting outside often in burning sun on dirt ground that turns to mud in pouring rain.

To donate to the campaign, click here. Thank you.

About GoFundMe, the world’s largest social fundraising platform, with over $5 billion raised so far. With a community of more than 50 million donors, GoFundMe is changing the way the world gives. For more information, click here.

April 01, 2018

Palestinian Israeli Girl Scouts on Palm Sunday

Palestinian Israeli Girl Scouts on Palm Sunday

Happy Easter to my dear Christian friends. 

חג הפסחא שמח לידידי הנוצרים היקרים. בתצלום בנות הצופים פלסטיניות ישראליות ביום ראשון הדקל נוגעת ללב

I hope Holy Week from Palm Sunday through today, Easter Sunday, has been significant and affirming. May the moral life and universal, humanistic message of Jesus, and resurrection —revival and new beginnings inform our visions and actions. 

Thousands of Christian pilgrims observed Holy Week in Jerusalem’s Old City. 

Watch the video (3.5 minutes).

March 16, 2018

Stephen Hawking 1942-2018

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.

March 10, 2018

George Orwell 1903-1950

To see what is right in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle.

January 15, 2018

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have celebrated his 89th birthday today

I knew I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed ... without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

When daily I witness monster triplets — institutional racism, economic injustice, and militarism, Dr. King's call to speak clearly and resist nonviolently is always on time to ensure freedom and basic rights for natives, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and guests everywhere.

January 01, 2018

Welcome 2018. Mind the dove.

An image painted by British street artist Banksy
on the separation wall, West Bank.

Photo credit: REUTERS