Friday, February 25, 2011

Workout in the Park

It is GFF - Green scenery, Fresh air, Free equipment, and... it 's near my home. You won't see any hunks with muscles here, as the place is basic, not for professionals; it suits any age and gender though. I have become rather addicted to it - at least twice a week (weather depending and time permitting) for about fifty minutes.

workout devices

The little park has beautiful trees (good for resistance exercises) and trails for brisk walking, jogging and bicycles. In the middle of the park - a tiny round soft spot with five solid basic workout devices, and some benches around it. At first, it is boring , but then you think of the advantages: it saves time and money (near home, free access to equipment), it puts you in shape for the warm days to come , not to mention the good it does to health in general; and so, you joyfully plunge into it.

jogging trail

Kids and dogs belonging to people who stop here for a short work out, can be a distraction sometimes - you would rather play with them :). Dogs, by the way, are not allowed in the park, but this is the Middle East here, nobody gives a damn on what is allowed or not. In the evening the distraction is of a different nature: young couples sitting on the bench, holding hands, chatting and kissing while the moon shyly looks upon them through the tree branches.

having fun

Friday, February 18, 2011

Behind The Black Veil

No, these are not Taliban women in Afganistan, Pakistan, Iran or any other muslim country. The above picture with the women and girls in black was taken in Israel, in the city of Beit Shemesh , near Jerusalem.

'Beit Shemesh' ('House of the Sun' or 'Temple of the Sun' in Hebrew) , named after the sun-goddess Shemesh worshipped here in antiquity, was founded in 1950 near the ruins of the ancient biblical town with the same name.
This city has besides secular residents, a large orthodox population which includes many streams of religious practice , and an ultra-orthodox sector (haredim), It also has... an impressive number of immigrants from english-speaking countries (USA, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia etc..).

The phenomenon of women and girls completely covered up in layers of cloth (with only a few unseen holes in the eye area) is called the Shalim Movement - 'shalim' meaning shawls, veils, cloak. It's strange, as it is not based on the bible, on tradition, or on some religious law; it is more likely a trend acquired from our muslim neighboring countries. The leader of this sect, Malka Benizri, comes indeed from a jewish family that has its origin in a muslim country, and so, I suppose, are most of the women that belong to it.

This sect is still a minority but it's spreading fast among neighborhoods.
The key word with these women is 'tzniut'(modesty). They meet once a week and talk about it. Well, they do take modesty to a level unknown to Judaism, perhaps known only to Islam. Some of them may even do it against their husbands' will. There were reports of girls being beaten up because they refused to wear shalim (the former leader of this movement, a mother of ten, is in prison on charges of child abuse).

I don't live in that area and don't have to stumble upon them, but it's worrying. I think this phenomenon should not be encouraged (to say the least) for several reasons: It's against Nature, it's exaggerated and extreme (extremity could lead to other forms of extremity), the shawls that also cover the whole face including eyes and ears create social barriers , may damage the eyes and physically endanger the wearer (especially the small girls).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Live Danger in a Dead Place.

Several months ago I got attacked by ...a plant. It happened while I was on my way out of the cemetery. My skirt touched a shrub near one of the graves and all of a sudden its fruit opened up sending tens of needles into the lower part of my body. I won't go into details; I'll just say that it was pure Hell.

I know, of course, about the existence of plants whose exterior is covered by thorns or needles, but this was something else. No warning whatsoever of the concealed weapon. I was so shocked and in pain that I wasn't able to even take a decent look at the shrub. A month later I came back to the 'scene of crime' to search for it and take a picture so that I could start some inquiries, but I wasn't successful. I couldn't remember the exact place and shape of the 'villain'.

I'm not familiar with the regulations and restrictions, if any, regarding plants in a cemetery. I think in this particular cemetery there's usually no soil for planting near the headstones, so people bring all kinds of trees/shrubs/flowers, in pots of various shapes and sizes, and place them near the gravestone of their beloved trying to make beautiful the resting place of the dead and pleasurable the visits of the living.

I kept quiet about the incident. I felt it was a kind of punishment from Above for choosing the short way among the graves and thus disturbing the peace of the dead, instead of taking the normal path. I don't know why I haven't used the paved path. Probably, it's the nasty child in me, that resides in everyone, making us , at times, behave badly and do stupid things.

I should have complained to the manager of the cemetery about the shrub, demanding an explanation of their policy as to the sort of plants allowed in the cemetery, but I didn't. I guess I was still uncomfortable with my behaviour, and I was too glad that no lasting harm was done to me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fire and Water

I like it as it is, with its flaws and despite the criticisms. But then, I don't see it often enough to form a solid opinion about it. Anyway , it's going to undergo a big change. First, there will be a public opinion survey regarding its fate; I won't be asked my opinion about the options (renovation or back to street level) as I'm not a resident of the city,

The elevated Dizengoff plaza( square) , has been a love-hate story for the people of Tel-Aviv city since 1978. Named after Zina Dizengoff, the wife of the first mayor , Meir Dizengoff - the square (inaugurated in 1938) is located in the very heart of this lively city.
In 1978, in order to solve traffic problems in the area, the circular pedestrian plaza ( a meeting point of six lateral streets), was raised to a higher level and connected by ramps to the sidewalks ; the traffic uses the lower level.

traffic under the plaza

People walk up and down the plaza , ride bicycles, or sit on the benches for a chat; children feed the pigeons, or play outdoor games. All enjoy watching the fire and water kinetic fountain sculpture erected in the middle of the plaza in 1980. The sculpture created by Yaakov Agam , a renowned artist, has become a landmark of the city attracting tourists as well as locals . It streams fire, water and music as it rotates (it's operated at certain hours) ; it contains all the colors of the rainbow moving and changing. It is a colourful and beautiful piece of art . If the square will be restored to street level, the fountain might be transferred to another location.

the kinetic fountain

boy feeding the pigeons

nice legs

I'm not sure the survey is a good idea when it comes to such an important matter as the fate of a square. I don't think the public has the neccessary knowledge and understanding to decide on this. I'm for improvement and renovation of the square, and perhaps the residents of the city should be asked to offer suggestions on how to beautify the place, clean it and make it more pleasant and attractive.