Tag Archives: Mandy Katz

“Beautiful Israel:” See it Here

One of the cheesier keepsakes I’ve ever bought in Israel came, not surprisingly, from a touristy shop on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street. A fridge magnet, it shows a zebra on a grassy veldt under the slogan, “Hello from Israel!” Of course there are no zebras in the Holy Land, but you had to stop and think there for a minute, didn’t you?
A cliche?

A cliche?

Aside from gags like that, you’d be hard-pressed to find visual surprises among Israel posters, souvenirs and postcards. You can probably picture most of them without even springing for a stamp: sober depictions of daveners at the Wailing Wall; shots of dusty ruins; sunset glinting off the Dome of the Rock; cartoon maps dotted with little icons showing camels in the Negev and snorkelers in the Red Sea and so on. Flip through a handful and you start to feel faintly gritty and sun-baked, like the end of a hike in the desert.

Here’s what you won’t see on the racks in Israeli tourist shops:

Delicious Israel

Hila Weiss: Delicious Israel

These are the tastes and sights that populate Israel today—its markets, its landscapes and especially its cuisine, where a heightened attention to quality and freshness rivals western Europe. And they are the visual building blocks of Hila Weiss, a 32-year-old photo stylist and photographer living in Tel Aviv.

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A Dangerous Place?

Senior Editor Mandy Katz reports from Israel:

Megiddo, an ancient city overseeing the mountain pass from Mesopotamia across the Jezreel Valley, supposedly saw some of history’s fiercest battles. Indeed, many Christians expect an even bigger conflagration there, as the site is also called “Armageddon,” a variant on its Hebrew name of Har-Megiddo. Today, all that remains is its “tel,” or mound of ruins – an archaeological park in a rural area of the Galilee. From an open car window, you can smell ripe watermelons on the vine as you drive past farm fields

There was no great clash of armies at Megiddo when our car was broken into this afternoon, in a parking lot so sleepy that our girls didn’t think twice about leaving iPods and their little purses on the seats. In back, like more sitting ducks, were seven pieces of luggage and two backpacks containing precious laptops). After wandering the ruins for 45 minutes, we came back to find the front passenger seat sparkling with translucent green niblets of shatter-proof glass and the purses gone. In them were maybe $40 total, along with the youngest’s summer reading notes and postcards to her friends (written and stamped), and the eldest’s brand new driver’s permit, iPod and custom-made trombone mouthpiece. The luggage, luckily, remained.

“Indeed, Israel is a dangerous place.” Continue reading

Jerusalem Gets Botoxed s

Senior Editor Mandy Katz reports from Israel:

Jerusalem’s had work done. Well, not the Old City, which changes little from day t— er, century to century. In the Old City, it can take 500 years for a new layer of architecture and culture to pile itself atop a previous one: Hebrews to Romans to Byzantines and Crusaders to the hodge-podge that prevails today.

It’s the areas around Jerusalem’s original precincts that are getting The Treatment. Take the formerly gritty and non-descript Mamilla neighborhood that faces the Old City’s Yafo Gate entrance. Less than five years ago, you needed the courage of a Maccabee to cross the dusty Yafo Road raceway to reach the gate. Two years ago, street traffic was diverted to a tunnel below but the area was still a mess. Passing too many times to count through the gaseous new tunnel over several days in August ’06, we wondered what could possibly be happening in the massive, scaffolding-shrouded construction sites above and around. Continue reading