Archive For The “Israeli Culture” Category
Israel is home to a breathtaking array of must-see landmarks, countless holy sites, and stunning nature. A small country with diverse topography, you can find pristine beaches, fascinating archaeological sites, and amazing hiking trails around every corner. There are also natural wonders in Israel – natural sites and monuments created by Mother Nature.
From salt formations to a growing salt cave, and jagged desert landscapes to glorious colors of blooming wildflowers, NoCamels highlights six natural wonders you need to see (or add to your bucket list for post COVID-19 travel!)
Red sandstone rock formations, natural rock arches formed by erosion, rock drawings and ancient copper mines can all be found in Timna Park in the Arava Desert. Visitors and geologists alike are wowed by the incredible landscapes and unique geological structures that have been carved and sculpted by wind and water from different geological periods throughout history.
“It is nature’s playground,” tour guide Madeleine Lavine tells NoCamels. The site “contains remains of ancient Egyptian copper mines and furnaces, spectacular natural sandstone formations, and many hiking trails in the desert scenery,” Lavine explains.
The red sandstone Mushroom rock formation is one of the best selfie spots at Timna, having been carved into a mushroom shape by wind, water erosion and humidity over thousands of years. Timna is located 25 kilometers north of Eilat in the Negev Desert and covers some 60 square kilometers.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is one of Israel’s tourist calling cards with its breathtaking natural beauty of blue-green waters offset by red-colored mountains. Celebrities, politicians, and tourists alike have taken selfies covered in the mineral-rich mud or floating in the deepest salt lake in the world.
“The Dead Sea offers many options for very interesting photographs.” says photographer Ariel Jerozolimski, who took this photo.
While visiting this area, keep your camera at the ready because breathtaking photos of the salt formations reflected in this little body of water will beckon you to keep snapping the shutter at 1,424 feet below sea level.
“The Dead Sea offers many options for very interesting photographs in terms of the people floating, the colors, and the contrasts,” Ariel Jerozolimski, a tour guide and photographer, tells NoCamels. “At specific times during sunset, the contrast between the sea and the reflection makes this a very special for me.”
Unfortunately, the Dead Sea is receding at a swift rate; its surface area today is 605 km2 (234 sq mi), having been 1,050 km2 (410 sq mi) in 1930. The recession of the Dead Sea has begun causing problems, and multiple canal and pipeline proposals have been made to reduce its recession.
So if you are planning a visit to this world wonder, it’s probably best not to put it off for too long.
Malham Salt Cave
Near the Dead Sea is one of the country’s newest natural wonders: the world’s longest salt cave. With salt crystals and stalactites adorning its twisting tunnels, the Malham cave was initially discovered back in the 1980s, but only when international research expeditions surveyed the site in 2018 and 2019 was it properly measured, explored and introduced to the world. This salt cave extends over six miles (10km) – which, according to researchers, is astounding because not only are salt caves rare geological features but they usually max out at half a mile in length.
“Mapping Malham Cave took hard work. The cavers worked 10-hour days underground, crawling through icy salt channels, narrowly avoiding salt stalactites and jaw-dropping salt crystals. Down there it felt like another planet,” Efraim Cohen, member of Hebrew University’s Cave Research Center, tells NoCamels.
Wildflowers in the Desert
There is always something blooming in the Negev and Judean Deserts. While a desert may not strum up images of colorful petals, Israel’s arid landscape is actually rich in flora. It could be drimia or desert hyacinths, crocuses or anemones, or many other wildflowers.
In January-February, beautiful red anemone flowers blanket parts of the Negev Desert. There is even a festival – the Red South Festival – dedicated to these wildflowers, which have red petals and a black center. Following the rainy season, the anemones come out in full bloom and temporarily convert forests and fields into spectacular shades of scarlet red.
Darom Adom (Red South)
“In Jerusalem, we see green most of the year, but when the desert blooms that is really incredible,” tour guide Lavine says, “Colorful carpets covering the desert. It is amazing.”
Tens of thousands of Israelis head southward to the desert to take photos and celebrate the country’s wildflowers blossoming.
“In November, you can be in the middle of the desert and suddenly there are crocuses. It feels like there is this joy coming out of the earth,” tour guide Shari Robins tells NoCamels. “It’s surprising.”
Makhtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater)
The Makhtesh Ramon, translated as the Ramon Crater (although it is not a crater but rather an erosion cirque), is a geological wonder in the Negev Desert.
Dubbed the world’s largest erosion cirque, it stretches 40-kilometers in length and includes ancient geological features such as volcanic rocks, fossils, and multicolored sands.
“It is like looking back through a geological lens,” says Robins, a tour guide. “It makes me feel very small while standing in a very large place.”
With 54 percent of the country being desert, it shouldn’t be surprising that the desert is home to so many natural wonders, says Lavine.
There are only five such makhteshim in the world – three in the Negev Desert, smaller than Makhtesh Ramon, and two in Egypt
While there are bike and hiking trails inside the Makhtesh Ramon, standing on the rim of what is also known as Israel’s Grand Canyon, is recommended for truly spectacular views. “It is breathtaking and unexpected,” says Lavine.
Hula Nature Reserve, Galilee
Hula Nature Reserve is an internationally acclaimed birdwatching site thanks to Israel’s location on the migrating bird superhighway. Twice a year, some 500 million migrating birds cross the country’s airspace on their way to and from Africa, Europe and Asia.
Ornithologists have nearly 400 species of feathered friends to observe as they pitstop at the nature reserve during their annual pilgrimage. This is the place to see huge flocks of cranes, pelicans, storks, flamingo, cormorants, herons, ducks of all species, and a wide variety of raptors, among many others
In addition to being a bird paradise, this is the country’s first official nature reserve, opened in 1964.
Bonus: Machane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem
Not a natural wonder in the geographical sense of the word, but a truly unique place in Israel. Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem is unlike any other market in the country. Whether you want to eat or buy food is up to you. A visit to the market is always recommended to soak up the amazing energy of this buzzing hub. The sights, smells and people make this place a natural wonder.
“The combination of human faces, colors, products, the unique atmosphere,” says Jerozolimski, when talking about why his first choice for photography at any landmark in Israel is always the Jerusalem marketplace. “I am a people photographer. At Machane Yehuda, the people influence the photographs.”
Happy 71st birthday, Israel. Without further ado, here are 10 things you may not have known about Israel:
- The Ashkelon National Park is home to the largest dog cemetery known in the ancient world. Archaeologists say canines were interred in this burial ground from the fifth to third centuries BC.
- The Judean Date Palm tree, thought to be extinct, was resurrected following the chance discovery of 2,000-year-old seeds in a clay jar. Actually, Israel is a date producing powerhouse and controls 65 percent of the world’s Majhoul (Medjool) – King of the Date — market.
- There are no car manufacturing plants in Israel but this country is at the forefront of the driverless car revolution. Israel has been dubbed a “smart car hub.”
- The first-ever live heart (not real-life size but rather a miniature heart) was printed at Tel Aviv University using a revolutionary 3D printing process that combines human tissue taken from a patient. The scientists printed an entire heart complete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers.
- If you’re going to have a heart problem, it’s best to do so in Israel. Some 81 percent of patients in Israel undergo life-saving emergency cardiac catheterization within 12 hours of the onset of symptoms, according to an Acute Coronary Syndrome-Israel (ACSIS) survey. The world average stands at 65 percent; in the US, the number stands at 70 percent; and in England, it’s at 66 percent.
- The 10-kilometer long Malham salt cave in Mount Sedom, is the world’s longest salt cave. It is located at the southwestern tip of the Dead Sea.
- Models in Israel must have a BMI of at least 18.5 to appear on the catwalk or in advertisements. In 2012, Israel became the first country to pass a law banning the use of underweight models and requiring advertisers to identify pictures comprising Photoshopped models.
- Tel Aviv has the highest number of dogs per capita in the world with one dog for every 17 people.
- 80 percent of Israelis eat fresh fruit and/or vegetables daily. To put that number in perspective, according to the CDC, 90 percent of Americans do not eat enough fresh fruit and/or vegetables on a daily basis.
- Bamba, the country’s best-selling snack food, is a global phenomenon thanks to studies that show how it helps protect children from developing peanut allergies.
Israelis are now required to wear face masks outdoors in a mandatory directive issued by the Health Ministry that went into effect this week. The Health Ministry has said that these masks can be store-bought, homemade, or makeshift but that they must cover the nose and mouth.
Officials have recommended against buying traditional N95 or surgical masks, mainly because they want to leave them for the health care workers. In recent weeks, Israel has faced a shortage of personal protective equipment, including masks, for medical workers though that has changed in recent weeks due to shipments from China, and deliveries coordinated by the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency.
A mask from Yarden Oz’s collection called Happy People. Meanwhile, fashion designers, artists, seamstresses, and textile industry workers are suddenly finding themselves out of work, like 25 percent of Israeli population currently jobless. Besides not being able to open their businesses, general spending on non-essential items such as clothes, art, and jewelry has been affected. Many in the industry have felt compelled to help the best way they know-how.
While there’s been no official call in Israel on the apparel industry to make face masks, unlike in New York, many of these fashion and fabric experts have started their own initiatives to make them — using patterned cloths, unique patchwork, and fun-loving designs.
Tel Aviv-based fashion entrepreneur Dana Kira and restauranteur Alon Levi saw both of their businesses come to a grinding halt when lockdown measures were put in place last month amid the coronavirus outbreak. They were both looking for what to do next when, separately, they contacted a mutual Batel Bar Giora, a fashion designer with Israeli brand Feyge. She made the connection between the two after realizing they had the same idea — to create handcrafted face masks from reusable cloth.
The idea behind their product is to make colorful and quality cloth masks that can be reused, in order to minimize waste, and give people an alternative to disposable masks, which are necessary for health care workers, Alon Levi writes in an email to NoCamels.
Kira contacted fellow designers in Tel Aviv, such as Amit Shalom from Israeli brand BoBo who donated leftover materials from their businesses. This gave the duo a supply of fun, colorful and unique designs. All masks are sewn locally.
“It is very important for us to make our masks accessible so anyone can afford them,” explains Levi. The masks are sold at two apiece for NIS 68 ($19). A range of masks is found on the brand’s Instagram page. Free delivery is available anywhere in Israel.
A collection of masks from Ruth Lenk, the designer behind The Creative Adult. They aren’t the only ones who found themselves looking to fill a void. Ruth Lenk, a Netanya-based quilter and art teacher started a Facebook page in November to sell her quilts. Sewing masks only followed when she created masks for family members to follow the Health Ministry’s directive.
Lenk tells NoCamels she was encouraged by those family members to start selling those masks on her page, The Creative Adult, and decided to launch an initiative to donate a mask to a hospital worker every time she sold one. She says she is also looking to donate masks to elderly care facilities and programs for at-risk kids. Lenk sends photos of options to customers who choose what they like and says she has been overwhelmed by the interest she has received.
Yarden Oz, a 28-year old wedding and evening dress designer who has designed bridal gowns for some 400 women, found herself without work when Israeli wedding celebrations were limited to small numbers and then banned altogether. She decided to take the opportunity to design a collection of fashionable fabric masks that “will bring some color and joy to this era” and support the battered economy, she writes on the official website of her brand, Happy People. Her mask designs are also found on her Instagram page.
A mask from Yarden Oz’s brand Happy People.
Courtesy of NoCamels.com, here’s the list of top Israeli movers, shakers, and influencers for 2018 spanning the arts, sciences and just about everything in-between.
Nuseir Yassin, aka NAS Daily
With over 11 million Facebook followers, it’s hard to miss one of the 1-minute, often-charming videos posted daily by Nuseir Yassin, better known as NAS Daily (“Nas” means “people” in Arabic). Yassin grew up in the northern Israeli-Arab city of Arraba and went on to study at Harvard before becoming one of the most successful content creators on social media over the past two years.
Alyne Tamir, aka Dear Alyne
Any fan of NAS Daily has seen and heard Alyne Tamir, Yassin’s American-Israeli girlfriend and travel companion, who appears in a majority of his videos. But she is also an authentic, master creator in her own right.
Netta Barzilai, Winner of the Eurovision 2018
Israeli singer Netta Barzilai shot to international fame after clucking her way to first place in the 63rd annual Eurovision international song contest (much to the bewilderment of Americans). Her female empowerment hit “Toy” for the #MeToo era resonated with audiences and she earned Israel its 4th win in the contest since its debut in 1973.
Erel Margalit, Social and Tech Entrepreneur
Dr. Erel Margalit is one of Israel’s most prominent social and tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The founder and chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), which invests in and builds startups, he also served in the government as a Knesset member for the Labor party in 2015-2017
Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff are known to international audiences as the co-creators of the wildly popular, award-winning series “Fauda,” which first premiered in Israel in 2015 and on Netflix in late 2016. The show portrays the complicated conflict between Israelis and Palestinians through the story of an Israeli counter-terrorism unit operating in the West Bank and trying to capture (or kill) Hamas terrorists.
Dr. Tal Rabin heads the Cryptography Research Group at the IBM T.J.Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. She grew up in Jerusalem and earned a PhD in Computer Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, after which she pursued an NSF postdoctoral fellowship at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science.
Hossam Haick, Award-Winning Scientist
Professor Hossam Haick of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is the developer of a unique technology enabling medical diagnoses based on breath.
Dr. Orna Berry is an award-winning scientist, high-tech entrepreneur, and senior executive with over 30 years experience in the tech and science fields. A leading businesswoman dubbed the “first lady of Israeli high-tech,” she was Israel’s first (and only, so far) female chief scientist at the Economy Ministry’s Israel Innovation Authority, serving in that role in the late 90s
Professor Yuval Noah Harari is the best-selling author of the 2014 book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” which shot him to fame and is set to be adapted into a movie. The book focuses on human history within the framework of evolutionary biology, tracing the evolution of our species to the modern age and has sold some 10 million copies in over 50 languages.
Linoy Ashram and Sagi Muki, Star Athletes
Rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram thrilled Israelis in August this summer when she broke the world record in the clubs-handling round at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Minsk, and then went on to win gold in the
Israeli judoka Sagi Muki, meanwhile, generated headlines for two reasons this year. First, he won two gold medals, one at the 2018 European Championships for the under-81 kg class, held in Tel Aviv in April, and a second at the Judo Grand Competition held in Abu Dhabi in October. Second, he participated in the latter competition wearing an emblem of the Israeli flag in an Arab country (amid threats from the International Judo Federation), and for the first time ever, the Israeli national anthem was played – a historical moment for all Israelis.
Eyal Shani and Yotam Ottolenghi, Celebrity Chefs
Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani is world-famous for his signature dish – roasted cauliflower – and stands behind the Miznon, a popular Tel Aviv restaurant, which he then took to Paris, Vienna, and Melbourne. This year, the Miznon made its debut in New York, bringing Israeli high-end “street food” to the Big Apple.
Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who co-wrote the best-selling book “Jerusalem” with Sami Tamimi, has a similar take on the evolution of Israeli cuisine.
Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot, famous worldwide for playing Wonder Woman, was selected by TIME magazine this year for its annual list of 100 most influential people of 2018
Adam Neumann, ‘We’ Entrepreneur
Another return entry is Israeli-born WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, who was also listed this year in TIME magazine’s “100 most influential people of 2018” for “revolutionizing the way we work and reimagining how we live.”