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India reopens to tourism beginning with info session hosted by the Embassy of India at the Indian Cultural Center in Tel Aviv.


India is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Israelis, with tens of thousands of Israeli tourists arriving annually, prior to Covid-19. To celebrate the reopening of India to foreign tourists, the Embassy of India hosted a special information session at the Indian Cultural Center (ICC) in Tel Aviv.


Dorit Blaj, public relations officer at the Embassy of India invited guests to use the resources at the ICC- “the first stop en route to India, which is a hub for Indian heritage in Israel. Among the activities at the ICC are free Yoga classes offered twice daily by an instructor from India. On Thursday, November 18 the center will host a book launch by Shaul Sapir about Mumbai heritage walking tours. Information on ICC activities can be found on social media (https://www.facebook.com/ICCRinIsrael/).  



Mr. Naveen Ramakrishna, Head of Chancery at the Embassy, emphasized that with India finally reopening to tourists, the embassy staff stand ready to assist with facilitating travel back and forth between the countries, whether for business or pleasure, individual or group travel.



Counselor Dinesh Udeina then discussed the relevant travel restrictions and guidelines that need to be followed for a seamless trip to India. These include filling out an entry form (https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airsuvidha/apho-registration) and taking a PCR test within 72 hours of one’s departure flight, as well as a Covid test upon arrival (prebooked online https://www.newdelhiairport.in/covid19-test-appointment-booking) in India. Vaccinated passengers can use their Covid 19 certificate (downloaded via the Israeli Ministry of Health website (https://corona.health.gov.il/en), while unvaccinated visitors will need to home-quarantine (in hotel or other place of residence) for a week before taking an additional Covid test. The same visa categories (tourist, medical, conference, etc.) apply, and visa applications can be made online (e-visa): https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html, or in person at the Embassy (cash payment only), and visas take minimum 72 hours to process so travelers should plan accordingly.


For traveling to Israel, the standard Israeli regulations apply, which currently include completing an entry form 24 hours prior to travel to and from Israel (https://corona.health.gov.il/en/flights/), a PCR test 72 hours before travel, and a valid Green Pass (https://corona.health.gov.il/en) . For non-Israeli citizens, additional guidelines and restrictions apply, and the relevant vaccination/Covid recovery certificates must be uploaded in advance to ensure entry into Israel (https://corona.health.gov.il/en/directives/air-travel-covid19-green/?tab=by-air). All passengers arriving must take a Covid test upon arrival in Israel (pre-booked here: https://testngo.femi.com/en/sign-in). 


Following the technical presentation, a series of films were shown highlighting the incredible beauty and diversity of India, further elevating the excitement to travel to India, whether for the first time, or on a return trip. Mr. Pankaj Tiwari, Israel’s country manager for Air India, gave a presentation about Air India, and its services in light of Covid 19. He explained that the airline recently reprivatized, and features a large fleet of over 250 aircraft, as well as being a member of the Star Alliance. For travelers to and from Israel specifically, Air India was the first airline in the world to fly from Israel over Saudi airspace, greatly reducing travel time. Air India also offers the most generous baggage arrangements of any airline, with passengers receiving two checked bags along with their hand luggage for international and domestic legs of the trip. While flights were reduced due to Covid-19, by January 2022 there are expected to be Tel Aviv-Delhi flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, before increasing to six weekly flights by the summer season. Reservations, and more information on flights and club information can be found on the Air India website (https://www.airindia.in/). 


To close the evening, Raz Hellwing, an Israeli tour guide, musician, and expert on travel to India, gave a presentation, highlighting upcoming tours to different parts of India through his company, Masala Chai (www.masa-la-chai.com). 


Travelers are advised to check all relevant government websites prior to travel, as the situation is dynamic and restrictions may be added or removed.


Photos credit Silvia G. Golan 

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Steven Aiello








Jewish and Arab students and educators from 14 cities participate in the MUNOM conference in Malmo as part of the Debate for Peace delegation

The first Model UN delegation since February 2020 recently returned from the MUNOM conference in Malmo, Sweden. In total 14 students and 3 teachers, coming from 14 different cities, participated in the Debate for Peace delegation to MUNOM, hosted by Borgarskolen Malmo.

Due to the challenges of the last year and a half, it was the first MUN for several delegates, and most of the students only met one another for the first time at Ben Gurion airport. Despite that, the group meshed quickly, highlighting the importance of fully integrated Jewish-Arab delegations, with Druze, Jewish and Muslim students working together.

At the conference, the delegates engaged in an intense 3.5 days of debates and negotiations, representing countries including China, Russia, the US, Iran, Myanmar, Zambia, Palestine, Turkey and the Netherlands. Among the topics discussed at the conference: Bioweapons; fair treatment of refugees and elimination of discrimination; cooperation in outer space; women’s rights in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and preserving cultural heritage in East Africa.

In addition to the conference, the delegation hosted discussion circles on the topics of racism and identity, together with local students, and engaged in several meetings with local, municipal and national initiatives to address anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia. On Friday evening the group held shabbat prayer services and qiddush together.

At the closing ceremony on Saturday afternoon, Alessio Cornacchia (Ben Zvi High School, Qiryat Ono) won Best First-time delegate in the GA 1 committee, Shahar Tabenkin (Rishonim school, Herzliya) won Outstanding Delegate of the GA3 committee, and Shahaf Navon (Ben Gurion school, Petah Tiqva) won Best Delegate of the General Assembly plenary.



Emma Konig (Hadassim school, Even Yehuda) said that the delegation experience was “life changing”: “In one week, I developed really strong connections with people from diverse backgrounds that I had never met before, and experienced some unforgettable times with them. This trip gave me new friends, a new perspective, and memories I’ll not forget in a lifetime.” Mohamed Abu Rkik (Neve Midbar, Nitzana) added “I was happy to participate in this special experience, it is fun to meet different people and learn from them and about them.” Hala Keadn (Al-Andalus School, Baqa Al-Gharbia) explained that she "learned how to accept the thinking and differences of others, even if it was not the same as I thought. I made new friends and learned to listen first before I judge anyone. The difference is something special. I have a lot to learn, so I want to thank everyone who contributed to this special experience."

Elene Segal, who accompanied the delegation as the MUN coordinator from the Hand in Hand school, Jerusalem, remarked that it was “a memorable experience with remarkable youth who rose to the occasion at every opportunity.” Her colleague Alaa Yassin from Almanara school in Jisr Azarqa, stressed that the trip "supported delegates' personal growth, triggers self-confidence and self- esteem", and that "MUN offers students’ skills they wouldn't otherwise gain in a high school setting, it gives students an opportunity to develop writing skills, public speaking, teamwork and leadership skills.

Debate for Peace director Steven Aiello expressed gratitude to the MUNOM staff and Malmo Borgarskola principal Martin Roth for hosting the conference, and to Peter Vig and Adrian Kaba for being the catalysts of the delegation. 

Photo credits: Alaa Yassin and Elene Segal


Steven Aiello




Pasta della Casa, a pasta factory by Chef Moshe Barel, specializing in the production of fresh pasta products for the last 30 years, was the venue hosting an evening of culinary experience with Accademia Italiana della Cucina – The Israeli Chapter of the Italian Academy of Cuisine

The Academy is an international body, with branches in over 70 countries and over 200 chapters in Italy alone


As you turn the corner onto Derech Afek Street in Kfar Saba, the front of Pasta della Casa Factory and shop, comes into full view 


Dr. Cinzia Klein, Academy Delegate of the Israeli chapter and Chef Moshe Barel greeted us with a cordial handshake and a Buona sera and Shalom. 



As you walk into the shop entrance a showcase displays a marvelous variety of home-made pasta produced on site, wines and other Italian specialties. The site was decorated in an Italian style, with Italian music playing gently in the background. The front patio, an open-air place offers a variety of the best pasta: chestnut and cream ravioli, in sage butter, peas and chestnut chips; mushroom and and truffle sauce tortellini; short pasta filled with fresh wild mushrooms, oregano, olive oil and white wine, fried potato gnocchi.

The pasta melted in the mouth

We all cheered and praised chef Moshe Barel and the outstandingly professional and efficient staff

Apfel Strudel and other delicious specialties crowned the charming evening

Bartenura wines were poured and special offers were given to shoppers in the store


According to Dr. Klein, the Incontro Ecumenico is a culinary meeting, one that is held on the same date by all the worldwide chapters of the Accademia

The theme of the meeting was the book published by the Academy: “Il Bosco e il SottoBosco: castagne, funghi, tartufi, frutti di bosco nella cucina tradizionale italiana” (Forest and undergrowth: chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles and berries in the regional culinary tradition). The book was offered to Chef Moshe Barel as well as to the other delegates and guests of the Accademia.

Chef Barel will be given an award during the SixWeek of the Italian Cuisine in the World. 

A brief of Jewish Pasta History was held by Mr. Roberto della Rocca Vice President of the Israel-Italy Chamber of Commerce, symposiarch of the event together with Ms. Klein.


Among the notable personalities attending the aperitivo were Mr. Emanuele Oldani, Italian Consul in Israel; Ms. Sarah Eti Castellani, Deputy Head of Mission; Ms. Giulia Calabrese in charge of the Press and Media Affairs of the Embassy of Italy in Israel; Mr. Rocco Palma, in charge of Cultural Affairs of the Embassy of Italy in Israel and a member of the Accademia, H.E. Mr. Amos Radian, a former Israeli ambassador to Italy; Ms. Sabrina Fadlun, vice delegate of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina as well as other dignitaries and members of the Academy.


We all cheered and praised chef Moshe Barel and the outstandingly professional and efficient staff

Facebook  Accademia Italiana della Cucina - Delegazione Tel Aviv

Photos Stellusz 



The Philippine Embassy in Israel, in partnership with the Municipality of Rishon Lezion, organized at the weekend a special screening of Quezon's Game, a feature film that uncovers the story behind Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon's decision to provide safe haven for Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust in Europe. The screening was held in Rishon Lezion's Cultural Hall, and graced by Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific, Rafael Harpaz. Ambassador Harpaz recently assumed his post as DDG for Asia and the Pacific after completing his term as Israel's ambassador to the Philippines.
From 1937 to 1941, the Philippines welcomed close to 1,300 Jewish refugees under what would come to be known as the "Open Door" policy. In 2009, the municipality of Rishon Lezion decided to honor Quezon's legacy by constructing the "Open Doors Monument" in its Holocaust Memorial Park. In a recent meeting with Philippine Ambassador to Israel Macairog S. Alberto, Mayor Raz Kinstlich affirmed the municipality's continued interest to engage with the Philippines and honor Quezon's memory by signing a Sister City Agreement with the municipality of Quezon City in the Philippines.
In their opening remarks, Ambassador Alberto, Mayor Kinstlich, and Ambassador Harpaz acknowledged the presence of "Manilaner" Margot Pins-Kestenbaum and the family of fellow Manilaner Max Weissler. Ms. Pins-Kestenbaum and Mr. Weissler were among the Jewish refugees who had fled to the Philippines to escape the threat of the Holocaust in Europe, and to this day refer to themselves as "Manilaners" in fond memory of the city that became their second home. They retain close ties to the Philippines, and lent some of their personal photos and documents to the Embassy for inclusion in the temporary exhibit that was displayed in the lobby of  the Rishon Lezion Cultural Hall before the screening. 
"It is my sincere hope that this story will not be forgotten ... so that [the next generations] will remember what our forefathers did, learn from it and let it guide their actions in the future," Ambassador Alberto declared. "I see that the seeds of hope and kindness planted by the previous generations have grown into great trees, that bear the fruits of solidarity. May the bond between the Philippines and Israel remain strong."
Quezon's Game, which was helmed by multi-awarded director Matthew Rosen, is produced by ABS-CBN films and Kinetek Productions. 
Photos courtesy: The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv



In Exclusive Event: Jewish-American Astronaut Jessica Meir Addresses TAU Governors

“We have to work together to truly preserve our planet for the future,” says Jewish-American trailblazer.

NASA astronaut Dr. Jessica Meir on Thursday addressed Tel Aviv University's 2021 Board of Governors Meeting, discussing her missions to space, life under extreme environmental conditions, and the relationship between her research and combating climate change.

Meir, who is also a marine biologist and physiologist, delivered her remarks by live broadcast at the Yehiel Ben-Zvi Academic Symposium, entitled “Between Climate Change, Space Research and Life under Extreme Conditions,” held on the TAU campus. This year's symposium topic highlights TAU’s prioritization of climate change research. As part of this campus-wide effort, TAU recently launched the Center for Climate Change Action.

WATCH: Dr. Jessica Meir honoring late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.

Meir, the fourth Jewish woman and 15th Jewish person ever to travel to space, was born to a Swedish mother and an Israeli father, who grew up in Tel Aviv. During her virtual presentation to the symposium, Meir spoke of her connection to Israel and displayed several images of the country captured from outer space. “Israel is a very important part of me,” she said, also mentioning the personal items she brought to the International Space Station including an Israeli flag, Hanukkah socks bearing Stars of David and menorahs, along with a commemorative coin honoring late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. Meir has celebrated her Jewish identity and ties to Israel on her widely followed social media accounts.

“We take a lot of photographs from the space station which can be used by scientists on the ground to see things like our changing planet,” said Meir from her current station in Houston, Texas. “By looking at things like the retreat of glaciers from the space station, at the same vantage point from which we’ve looked at for decades, scientists can make measurements and understand what’s going on with the ever-pressing battle with climate change.”

Answering a question from the crowd, Meir elaborated on the impact of space research on climate change.

“I’ve been an avid environmentalist since well before I got to space, and I assumed it would resonate even more loudly [once there]—and it really did,” said Meir. “You cannot avoid seeing how fragile it is, how special it is, and how we need to protect it. You don’t see borders from space, at least the ones we’ve imposed upon ourselves. We have to do what we can and work together to truly preserve our planet for the future.”

In 2013, NASA selected Meir to join its highly selective astronaut program. During her first space mission in 2019, Meir and fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch made history when they completed the first all-woman spacewalk. Meir has to date participated in three space missions and spent a total of 205 days in space. Among her many honors, Time Magazine named Meir as one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

“I want to dedicate this talk and our time today to the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia, and, of course, Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli in space who was part of this mission,” she said of the tragic 2003 accident in which all seven crew members perished.

In addition to Meir, Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection and TAU alumna Tamar Zandberg spoke at the symposium.

“Addressing the diverse challenges of climate change will require more than national policy,” she said. “It will require unprecedented collaboration across sectors and regions. It will also require joint, advanced research and studies. Space technologies can help in tackling major climate problems.”

TAU Rector Prof. Mark Shtaif chaired the symposium that was moderated by Prof. Colin Price, Head of the Environmental Studies Department, Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. The symposium is held in memory of Yehiel Ben-Zvi, a former TAU Vice President.

“There are many challenges, but also many opportunities to help us forge a more sustainable planet and have a cleaner, more just world for our children and grandchildren,” said Price. He explained that Tel Aviv University’s strides in combining space research and climate research include the multidisciplinary advances at TAU’s Center for Nano-Satellites and New Space, the Minerva Dead Sea Research Center, and the Center for Climate Change Action. As part of TAU’s national and global contributions, he added that the University will work with Eytan Stibbe, who is slated to become the second Israeli to travel to space next year.

TAU professors Dr. Ram Fishman, School of Social and Policy Studies, and Dr. Vered Blass, Porter School of the Environment and Earth Studies, concluded the symposium. They respectively spoke about tracking the effects of climate change on low income populations, and assessing the impact of new technologies on sustainability. They also explored the impact of COVID-19 on the environment.

WATCH: Jessica Meir's full speech at the 2021 TAU Board of Governors Meeting

Photo courtesy NASA.