Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mt. Hermon - The Eyes of the State

On Monday, I went on a trip to Mount Hermon, the northest point and also the highest point in Israel. This mountain, within the region called the Golan Heights, is considered "the eyes of the state" for its strategic position - its height serving as a primary source of warning from possible neighbors' hostility acts. There's, of course, some army presence on the mountain equipped with the latest tracking system.

military post

In winter, the Hermon area, is a ski resort, the only one in the country. The ski site is operated by the people of the small settlement Neve Atib. There are in fact three inhabited places on the mountain: a druse town, Madged-El-Shams, a druse village, El-Kynia, and the jewish moshav (agricultural community) of Neve Atib.

snowman welcomes the visitors to the site

Maged-El-Shams - the druse town

Now with the summer here, one could see only some very distant patches of snow on the highest peak of the mountain which is...on the syrian side of the border.

During summer, besides being a refuge from the scorching heat, the Hermon mountain area offers a variety of recreational activities:rock climbing, hiking, cable cars to climb up the mountain while having a view of the entire region, studying its unique flora and fauna, exploring its streams and waterfalls.

cable cars - up and down

arrival on the summit

flowers of Hermon

On our way back home, we just had to buy cherries. There's nothing like the cherries from the orchards of the Golan Heights.


Friday, June 17, 2011

At the Green Village

Last month, on Shavuot holiday, I attended a summer happening at the Green Village. Hakfar Hayarok, as it is called in hebrew, is a rural oasis in the middle of an urban, bustling area. It is a youth village, originally an agricultural one. Nowadays, agriculture studies are given within the framework of the versatile Life Science department established here. The village is experimental in many ways , and offers an interesting variety of educational programs and courses,.

main entrance path to the village

"Shavuot" (the feast of the Weeks) commemorates the giving of the ten commandements by God to Moses and the israelites on Mt. Sinai. It also celebrates the concluding festival of grain harvest which begins at Passover. In addition, it is known as the holiday of the first fruit. It is customary on this holiday, among other things, to eat dairy foods, and read the book of Ruth.


The green little village looked very festive with its balloon and ribbon decorations, posters and agricultural exhibits.
The atmosphere was one of great joy and fun.

tractor exibit

The Happening included - touring the village, eating of salads and cake, all-family activities such as: stretching out balls of dough to thin sheets and introducing these sheets into a special oven ( taboon) to bake an airy kind of pita bread; driving a tractor, playing ball games , contemplating the livestock.


putting salad into a pita bread-pocket


The happening ended in the late evening hours with a rich artistic program (songs, dances, declamations) performed by the youth
living and studying in the village.

the stage

Do watch my video! Enjoy the sight of the dances on the stage (at the end).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Science and the Gray Hair issue

The prestigious Weizman Institute of Science, located in the israeli city of Rehovot, has a vast, beautiful campus with about a 100 buildings and hundreds of scientists, technicians, and research students. The institute focuses on all the major sciences: chemistry, biochemistry, biology, physics, math , computer science - and encourages both basic and multidisciplinary research.

Main gate to Weizmann Institute of Science

In October 2009, Prof. Ada Yonath, director of the Structural Biology Department received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (along with two other scientists, an american and a british) for her achievements in the study of the structure and function of the ribosome (a part of the cell that synthesizes protein and translates the information of the DNA). Naturally, she was invited by the Media to tell about her research and her feelings of being the first israeli woman to get a Nobel Prize.

Prof. Ada Yonath

Ribo... what? asked the man in the street.
Strangely, Ms. Yonath's appearances on TV interviews, elicited discussions (especially among women at the mall/ the hairdresser's/ the park ) on her... gray hair rather than on her scientific achievements; the bottom line suggesting that as a woman scientist she should perhaps devote some of her research time to finding out ways to prevent or 'cure' the phenomenon of gray hair.

Although gray hair is supposedly a sign of wisdom , people do not want this process of graying to happen to them as it makes them look older and can have undesirable effects on their life emotionally, socially, economically. Hence their expectations that science will do some miracle about it.

Well, most people don't know much about science, scientists, scientific projects, the priorities and the financing of these projects. What they do know is that there are lots of "breakthroughs" (for which scientists are awarded prizes) that are turned into drugs which may or may not help alleviate suffering - but few real preventive or curative solutions to age related problems.