Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Wrestling Rabbi of Bnei- Brak.

Wrestler-bodybuilder- rabbi- author of religious books - diamond cutter - entrepeneur- donor - businessman - all this in one fascinating figure, that of rabbi Raphael Halperin.

Last week the rabbi (87), a former professional wrestler, died at his home in the orthodox city Bnei- Brak, surrounded , probably, by his large family (12 children from two wives and some 50 grandchildren and greatgrandchildren). May his soul rest in peace!

rabbi Raphael Halperin (Web pic.)

In 1988, Raphael Halperin, a man of many talents , opened an optical store in Bnei-Brak in a charitable attempt to sell eyeglasses at low prices to the many needy residents of his city. (Bnei Brak is considered one of the poorest cities in Israel). This optical store is located on the main shopping street of the city - the rabbi Akiva street - on the ground floor of an old building. A few stone stairs lead from the street down to the store. In front of the store, a huge sign in hebrew -"Optica Halperin" - welcomes the potential customers. Inside, it's quite spacious and the young staff seem to be polite and helpful.

Huge sign : Optica Halperin

the optical store

The rabbi Akiva street, long and rather narrow, is now being upgraded , so everything looks kind of messy - especially the traffic, What immediately attracts a stranger's eye are the many charity boxes of all sizes and shapes scattered along the street, men dressed in black attire, women with long skirts , long sleeves, stockings, head coverings or wigs, and... lots of children. It's very hot and humid outside in August, and I feel particularly sorry for the not so lightly dressed little girls and boys.

big charity box

waiting for traffic lights to change

youngsters in orthodox outfit

little girl- long sleeves-white stockings

'Optica Halperin' has gradually become a chain of more than 120 stores! (with branches even in New-York and Los Angeles ). It still boasts of offering good stuff and service at low prices.
Anyway, its founder and CEO, the wrestler-rabbi Halperin will always be an inspiration to many of us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Made in Moldova

One of the latest 'hot' things on Youtube comes from Moldova, the small country "sandwiched" between Romania and Ukraine (see web map above) which emerged as a republic following the collapse of USSR in 1991.

The capital of this country is Chisinau and the official language is romanian, known as moldovan. Several other languages spoken here are: russian, ukrainean, gagauz, bulgarian, polish.
Its main touristic attractions are vineyards (the country is known for its superb wines) and remote monasteries cut into limestone cliffs.

I must admit I'm very impressed by the dancing virtuosity of the two moldovan kids in the video clip below, but I'm not happy with their moves which I consider too adult for their age; I'm also not happy with what seems to be a tattoo on the girl's upper arm.
The video was filmed at a wedding with the tiny couple of dancers as main entertaining attraction.
What say you, dear readers?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sweet and Spicy

Levinsky spice market is very inviting. The smells here are maddening, you can have a bite of turkish boureka, and sometimes even stumble upon a famous chef in search of some special spice for some special dish. Many come here not just for the products but also for the unique, colorful atmosphere of this place.

The small but rich in stuff spice market is located on a portion of the long Levinsky street ( probably named so after one of Monika Levinsky's ancestors LOL) - in south Tel-Aviv, not far from the New Central Bus Station. The everyday traffic here is terrible , on Fridays - it's all hectic, but.. one survives.

pink of shorts goes well with blue of bag stripes

Levinsky market specializes in a wide selection of spices and dried herbs (local, exotic) , dried fruits, nuts, grains, flour, and Mediterranean delicacies such as: olives and olive spreads, pickles, herring, smoked fish, cheeses, stuffed grape leaves.

spices and dried herbs

dried fruits, nuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts

customer waiting to be served

olives & pickles

vendor posing for the camera

Among the spice/dried fruit/grain shops there are some small bakeries which specialize in turkish/greek style pastries : bourekas, kadaiff, baklava, pita; shops with cookies and turkish delight (lokum, halva) on their shelves , shops that sell olive oil, wines, coffee /coffee beans, tea blends, flavorings for baking.

bourekas (filled with cheese or potato)


And amidst all this ...surprise, surprise - two arab women (apparently unaccompanied by men?!) having a bite in an eatery - and...a lovely synagogue near one of the shops (prayers are always welcomed).

arab women in the eatery


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Bowl of Rice and Ayurvedic Soap

Sometimes I wonder about remote ,unknown to me places, just because I happen to like and use some product manufactured there. So, I find myself seeking information on 'Andhrah Pradesh', a state in India, mentioned on my favorite ayurvedic soap; 'Harderwijk' , a city in Holland where the finest organic apple puree comes from; Costa di Mezzate, city in Bergamo, Italy, which houses the Molino Nicoli, the company which produces the finest cornflour; 'Oak Brook', a village in Illinois, USA, home to the headquarters of Paper Mate, the company responsible for my most beloved pencil . And other such locations.

Andhrah Pradesh (capital city - Hyderabad) is a large state situated on the southeastern coast of India. Historically it's called the "Rice bowl of India" as more than 77 % of its crop is rice. Although agriculture is the basis of the state's economy, information technology (software industry) and biotechnology (pharmaceutical companies) are at the top of the key sectors active in this state.

Andrah Pradesh State Assembly (web pic.)

ayurvedic soap

Anyway, I'm very pleased with the green bar of soap ( 18 herbs among its ingredients) produced there. It gives me the right feeling of cleanliness and freshness that I look for in a soap.

Harderwijk is a small city in the eastern part of Holland. It's main attraction is the Dolphinarium with its dolphin shows. However, it is also known for 'Natudis' , wholesaler of organic food and natural health products which has its headquarters and warehouse in the city. I like their sugarless 'appelpuree' which is based on the well-known Demeter apple. I buy this product mainly in winter , and it is eaten as dessert.

Dolphinarium Harderwijk (web pic.)

organic apple puree

Costa di Mezzate is a commune in the province of Bergamo in Lombardy, Italy.This place houses the Molino Nicoli SpA , the company which produces the fine cornflour (gluten free) for polenta, the yellow boiled dish made from this kind of flour.

After trying various brands, I found out that this particular Nicoli cornflour is the best for preparing the polenta or its romanian counterpart, a staple dish called 'mamaliga', so I make sure I always have it on the shelf. 'Mamaliga' (polenta) tastes great with everything - especially with cheese, sour cream, omelette, beans.

Medieval Castle in Costa di Mezzate (web pic.)

cornflour for polenta

Oak Brook is a village, a suburb of Chicago in Illinois, USA. The place has many recreational facilities: polo fields, a golf course, swimming pools, tennis fields.
Mc Donald's has its headquarters here and so does Sanford, manufacturer of writing instruments and art materials. Paper Mate is part of the family of brands owned by Sanford. (In the past, there was another village , Bellwood , associated with Stanford and Paper-Mate). Anyway, as far as I know their products are manufactured in Mexico.

Paper Mate mechanical sharp writer pencil has been for many years and still is my best writing companion. I just love it. I can't live without it. It comes in a pack of six or twelve; yellow barrel, but also in neon colors. It doesn't need sharpening, it has a pocket clip, and an eraser. Its writing quality is great.

Oak Brook center (web pic.)

Paper Mate mechanical pencils

I'm all in favor of buying local products and encouraging the local industry, but that's not always possible. I suppose I can make my own organic apple puree, and I can even find a local cornflour that will suit my taste. There's ,however, nothing on the local market similar to the indian ayurvedic soap and to the Paper Mate sharp writer pencil.(sigh).