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Dear friends,
am happy to share a trip post related to the much overlooked Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, written by my friend Talma Gotteiner from https://www.israel-best-trips.com/.


I was invited to a launch of a new map of the old city’s Jewish Quarter that is intended to raise the awareness of both tourists and Israelis to the historic gems and attractions within. In parallel, the city is launching a new touristic discount city-card called ‘JTicket’, which I will describe below. Following the launch ceremony, I visited some of the locations and am happy to share them with you.


To order the Jticket and the new Jewish Quarter map in advance email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call *4987.


Trip Agenda Options

  • The Hurva Synagogue and Plaza
  • Heroes on the Way to You - a multi-sensory experience through virtual reality glasses
  • Bible Heritage Center - Karaite Community
  • Live the Bible
  • The Jticket


Trip Anchors


The Hurva Synagogue and Plaza


The map launch of the Jewish Quarter on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, was conducted at the Hurva Plaza, the center of the Jewish Quarter by the Minister of Construction and Housing, Yoav Galant (top tier and center in my photo and in the map reveal photo), in cooperation with the Society for the Rehabilitation and Development of the Jewish Quarter, headed by Chairman Moti Rinkov (low tier in my photo) and the Israel Mapping Center (middle tier on the left: Ronen Regev, Director General of the Survey of Israel and on the right, Herzl Ben-Ari, General Manager of the Jewish Quarter Development Company).


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The new map presents the Old City of Jerusalem in a special manner using an ortho-photo – a combination of an aerial photograph with a street map. On one side, is a map of the entire Old City and on the other - a map of the Jewish Quarter. On the margins of the map there is a lot of information about the tourist attractions and the main sites in the Jewish Quarter as well as a detailed index of sites and streets. The main tourist routes and sites were marked and, for the first time, all the underground attractions in the Quarter were highlighted. Another new feature is that the map integrates barcodes that can be scanned by smart phones, enabling visitors to hear and read information about the sites they visit.  Among other things, one can find rare historical pictures of Jerusalem, as well as the possibility of connecting to the Wall cameras live, Segway tours and more.


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Visitors to the Hurva Synagogue are offered free explanatory notes in Hebrew, English, French, Russian and Spanish and a children's version.

The breathtaking tour includes the renovated Hurva Synagogue, that has a spectacular 360-degree view of all of Jerusalem from the top of its dome and a visit to the archeological floor of the synagogue. In addition to the synagogue, visitors to the Jewish Quarter will enjoy the huge gold lamp that was transferred from the plaza above the Western Wall to the Hurva plaza following the work on the Western Wall elevator.


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A walk in Jerusalem is always a delight. The ‘Jerusalem Festival of Lights’, was taking place during this visit and I got some incredible night photos as well. Do you recognize the big building?


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Heroes on the Way to You


A new technological project in the Jewish Quarter brings the Bible to the year 2018, with technology that allows visitors to experience the Bible stories - to be in the pit with Joseph and to fight Goliath together with David. Using virtual reality (vive-vr), the participant meets heroes from the Bible.


The attraction begins with a number of group challenges suitable for families of varying ages such as an interactive tablet monopoly, a trivia game, and even tefillin games that can be seen on a large screen, followed by a variety of virtual reality games in which each person plays by himself in the Biblical story settings.


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Bible Heritage Center - Karaite Community


The Karaites reminded me of the Samaritans whom I wrote about recently, in that they also believe only in the written Torah without the oral rabbinical interpretation. However, there are a number of differences in ancestry and history that impacted their beliefs and practices that make them a unique ethnoreligious group.


The Heritage Center in the Jewish Quarter is built on three levels surrounding their synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in the world. The tour begins with a short film about the Karaite community, continues through a museum that provides a more in-depth explanation.


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Live the Bible


This new family attraction in the Jewish Quarter provides you with a special and unforgettable souvenir. With the help of accessories, costumes, backgrounds and advanced technology, you enter into the magical world of the biblical period and become a central part of the story, the best part of which, is that you get to take home a colorful keepsake of your visit to Israel.


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The JTicket


The company for the rehabilitation and development of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem initiated the JTICKET - a combination discount ticket of the attractions and sites in the Old City.


The ticket enables you to choose entry into five sites/attractions available from a list of over twenty including the ones mentioned above and other major sites for example: The Burnt House, the Four Sephardic Synagogues, the Walls Promenade (Northern or Southern), the archeological park Davidson Center, the Western Wall Railway (one way), the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and much more.


Tickets can be purchased at the tourist attractions in the quarter and are usable for a month. Each ticket allows single entry to each site or attraction. I don’t put prices on my website since I don’t update them, but the combination JTicket offers a valuable deal and you should ask about it at the ticket booth.



A few nearby restaurants include: The Quarter Cafe’, ‘Between the Arches’, ‘Holy Café’, ‘Friends Restaurant’, ‘Burgers Bar’, ‘Keshet HaHurva Café Restaurant’ and ‘B’Shaarayich’.




A few nearby suggestions include: ‘The Sepharadic House’, ‘New Victoria Hotel Jerusalem’, ’Dan Panorama Jerusalem’, ‘Dan Boutique Jerusalem’, ‘Mamilla Hotel’ and ‘Notre Dame Guest House’.


My Timeline


This trip filled up a day.

This is what it looks like on the map:



As mentioned above, to order the Jticket and the new Jewish Quarter map in advance call *4987 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..












 The Philippine Embassy in Israel, in partnership with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and Cinematheque Tel Aviv, Cinematheque Jerusalem, and Cinematheque Haifa, will launch the first Philippine Film Festival in Israel in Cinematheque Tel Aviv on Sunday, 08 July.


The festival will open in Cinematheque Tel Aviv with On the Job, a gritty crime thriller which premiered worldwide at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 and was received with a standing ovation at its first screening. Joel Torre, who won a Best Actor award for his performance at the 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in Bucheon, South Korea, plays Mario Maghari, a convicted felon who carries out contract killings during his incarceration to earn money to support his family.


Three other films will be shown during the film festival. On 15 July, Cinematheque Jerusalem will screen An Open Door, a documentary about Philippine President Manuel Quezon’s policy to create a safe haven in the Philippines for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust. The film, one of multi-awarded filmmaker Noel Izon’s trilogy of Forgotten Stories from World War II, has won numerous international awards, including Best Picture/Best Documentary wins in Madrid, Sochi, Bali, London, Java, and St. Petersburg.


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On 22 July, Cinematheque Haifa screens Smaller and Smaller Circles, a screenplay based on a Filipino crime novel – the first of its genre in the Philippines – that won both the Carlos Palanca Grand Prize for the English Novel and the National Book Award. In this gripping whodunnit, two Jesuit priests who also perform forensic work find themselves in a search for a serial killer, and in the process end up confronting class conflict, corruption, and religious dilemmas.  


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The film festival wraps up on 29 July in Cinematheque Tel Aviv with Die Beautiful, a comedy-drama that takes off from a transgender beauty queen’s final request to be made up as a different celebrity during every day of her wake. As friends trickle in to pay their respects, they look back at the events that preceded her death, and celebrate her journey to discovering and living as her true self. The film, which debuted at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival, won the Audience Choice Award and netted lead actor Paulo Ballesteros a Best Actor Award.


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"We're excited and proud to be holding the very first Philippine Film Festival in Israel," Ambassador Neal Imperial declared. “Philippine cinema has been undergoing a renaissance in the past decade, and we’ve seen some truly well-made films emerge during this period.


“This film festival is also, in a way, our tribute to the Filipino woman, who – as the Chinese proverb goes – ‘holds up half the sky’, as a member of our society and as a creative force to be reckoned with. Two out of three of our films feature screenplays written by women, which were groundbreaking in their respective genres – On the Job and Smaller and Smaller Circles. Our final film, Die Beautiful, explores Filipino society’s views on gender, and – when it screened in Manila – opened up many difficult but necessary conversations on how we view men, women, and those who do not fit into the gender binary.”


The Philippine Film Festival will run from 8 July to 29 July, and includes the following films:


8 July (Tel Aviv) – On the Job, screening at Cinematheque Tel Aviv at 8:00 pm. For tickets, visit https://www.cinema.co.il.


15 July (Jerusalem) – An Open Door: Holocaust Haven in the Philippines, screening at Cinematheque Jerusalem at 8:45 pm. For tickets, visit https://www.jer-cin.org.il.


22 July (Haifa) – Smaller and Smaller Circles, screening at Cinematheque Haifa at 8:30 pm. For tickets, visit https://www.haifacin.co.il.


29 July (Tel Aviv) – Die Beautiful, screening at Cinematheque Tel Aviv at 8:00 pm. For tickets, visit https://www.cinema.co.il.


 Photos courtesy of the Philippine Embassy





Taking place on June 18th in the Henry Crown Auditorium of the Jerusalem Theatre, the final concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-2019 Vocal Series was a performance of G.F.Handel’s “Messiah”. Guest conductor Nicholas McGegan (UK) directed the performance, in which the Shahar Choir (conductor: Gila Brill), the Adi Choir (conductor: Oded Shomrony) and the Jerusalem Oratorio Capellate Choir (conductor: Naama Nazrathy) joined to form one choral body for the event. Soloists, under the auspices of the Israeli Opera, were soprano Tal Ganor, countertenor Alon Harari, baritone Oded Reich and Irish-born tenor Robin Tritschler, making his JSO- and Israeli opera debut.

Handel wrote the original version of “Messiah” in three to four weeks. Premiered in Dublin in 1742, with the composer now already established in London, the work drew such a large crowd that audience members were requested to leave their hoop skirts and swords at home for fear of overcrowding at the concert hall. In his libretto, Charles Jennens interspersed texts from both the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament, frequently using a metaphor — rarely narrative -  to depict the story of the Messiah.  Although the oratorio is primarily contemplative, with no speaking characters and hardly any action, it falls into three parts: Part One deals first with the prophecies concerning Christ’s birth. Part Two, the dramatic pinnacle of the work, tells of Christ’s passion, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, with Part Three consisting entirely of commentary, principally on the resurrection and the theme of Christian redemption.

No new face in Jerusalem, Nicholas McGegan has conducted the JSO in several productions of Handel works. From the very opening sounds of the Overture at this performance, one is acutely aware of Maestro McGegan’s eloquent, finely chiseled approach to Baroque music and to Handel’s masterful instrumental score (here achieved, nevertheless, on modern instruments), uniquely reflecting the rhythmic quality and detailed dynamics of the speech patterns. The performance was served by four very fine soloists. A recitalist, oratorio- and opera singer today in great demand worldwide, tenor Robin Tritschler gave a performance that was expressive and splendidly served throughout by his clean, easeful and mellifluous timbre, as in his sensitive and compassionate rendition of “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow”. Countertenor Alon Harari’s ample, stable voice, his ornamenting, sense of contrast and drama gave credence to the texts, obvious, for example, in his strategically-timed, dolorous singing of “He was despised”. Baritone Oded Reich created the specific mood of each piece, from the gripping “...I will shake the heavens and the earth” to the eerie “...people that walked in darkness” to the triumphant “The trumpet shall sound”, that latter enhanced by the trumpet obbligato role. Soprano Tal Ganor’s signature sound is bright, delicate, precise and pleasing. In “Rejoice greatly”, she negotiated the rapid melismatic moments with agility, assuredness, and exuberance.

But the performance was also a celebration of Handel’s choruses, as the singers here highlighted the work’s emotional agenda and messages, the dramatic potential of each text and the astonishing variety of Handel’s choral writing, whose course constantly shifts between a kind of “speaking” music, which declaims speech patterns in the text, and a more lyrical “singing” music, with keywords emerging for all to hear. The singers were highly attentive of McGegan, as they displayed confidence, the three choirs singing as one, their diction articulate (and British!), their performance of contrapuntal sections, however complex, well delineated. Their buoyant singing bristled with dynamic- and textural variety, at times subtly restrained, at others, gregarious and arresting. As to the pivotal Hallelujah chorus, when completed by Handel with no little anxiety and distress, the composer reportedly told his servant, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne, with His company of Angels.”

Following the first performance of “Messiah” in 1742, one critic referred to it as the “Sublime, the Grand and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestick and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear.” “Messiah” is one of the few pieces in music history to enjoy popular success during its composer's lifetime and never fall out of favour since his death. Most of today’s audiences have heard the oratorio countless times, know it word for word and approach each presentation with just a touch of trepidation: will this be simply “another” performance of ”Messiah”? In the case of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s event, the answer was a definite “no”! Maestro McGegan pooled his forces into creating a production that was wholehearted, fresh, exciting and elegant.

Nicholas McGegan (photo: Steve Sherman)







Dear friends,
am happy to share a trip post suitable for the Israeli summer months, written by my friend Talma Gotteiner from https://www.israel-best-trips.com/.


I was thrilled to be invited to a seaside trip, courtesy of Ashdod’s Tourism office. It was full of activities, amazing food and fun so I’m happy to share it with you. Talma


Trip Agenda Options

  • Breakfast at Aramis on ‘Lido Beach’
  • Group Tour of the Port of Ashdod
  • Surfing at Lee Gal on ‘Lido Beach’
  • Yacht sailing trip from the Marina
  • Municipal Project ‘Hofix’ for Teenagers
  • Touchable sculptures on ‘HaKshatot Beach’
  • Lunch feast at ‘Vox Beach’ on ‘HaKshatot Beach’


Trip Anchors


Port of Ashdod


The “bad news” is that you can only visit the port as part of a group bus-tour. The “good news” is that the Municipality organizes group tours once a month and the Port itself organizes a group tour every Sukkot Holiday (Feast of the Tabernacles usually around September), which you can register for. The group tours are suitable for ages 9 and above and you’ll need to bring photo ID.


The visit takes about an hour and includes an introductory meeting at the visitors’ center with a film and a number of interactive games that demonstrate different aspects of the port’s functions followed by a bus tour of the port itself.


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Surfing at Lee Gal, Lido Beach


If you want to take a surfing lesson with two first place surfing champions in Israel, you are welcome to visit the siblings Gal Dahan and his sister Shiran Buchbut Dahan, owners of the Lee Gal school, club and café in Ashdod.


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Lessons are suitable for children aged 6 and above who know how to swim. They also teach sailing on SAPs and do kayaking. If you live in Israel, they even have summer camps for children teaching all of the above. They are open daily including weekends. The café is open on weekends and serves kosher food without a kosher stamp of approval (i.e. no seafood etc.).

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Yacht Sailing Trip, Marina


Captain Jackie Savag, offers yacht trips like the one we took, sailing trips on a bigger boat called ‘Israel-1’ suitable for big groups and extreme sailing on banana boats. To do justice to the experience, I prepared a video.


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Additional Options


Breakfast at Aramis, Lido Beach


Although we had a delightful breakfast at Aramis, just meters away from the sea, I was under the impression that it was no less charming for evening entertainment. Now that the FIFA world cup series is ongoing, you can sit, preferably outside in the breeze, and watch the games, while having a Mediterranean style meal. Roman Kabilov, one of the musketeer owners welcomes you!


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Municipal Project ‘Hofix’ for Teenagers, All Beaches


‘Hof’ in Hebrew means beach. The municipality has a special arrangement that both employs and serves teenagers aged 14-18 on al the beaches. In short, it’s a cheap rental service of beach chairs, sunshades and equipment. Each piece is rented at 2 NIS.


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The Hofix kids are located next to the lifeguards’ huts. We even visited the lifeguards who told us about their work. Ashdod has seven lifeguard huts throughout its beaches that all meet an international standard for declared beaches. The standard defines a number of criteria for proper management including safety and cleanliness. Most importantly, all the beaches in Ashdod have free entrance and free parking.


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Touchable Sculptures on HaKshatot Beach


This is a new artistic project for the public that was organized by Ashdod Tourism. Sculptors were given the leftover tetrapods that were used to build the piers for decoration. These were then placed in a number of locations in the city. We met one of the central sculptors at work, Eliasaf Miara who told us about the technical challenges of painting objects exposed to the salt and weather conditions on the beach. Despite the difficulties, I think they were able to create a delightful arrangement perfect for selfies and playful children. You’re not only allowed to, you’re invited to touch them!


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Lunch Feast at Vox Beach, HaKshatot Beach


I’m calling it a feast because that is the lavish experience that we had. Vox Beach is a local restaurant that specializes in Georgian and European cuisine. It has two leading chefs each responsible for one of the cuisine styles. The photo below depicts the manageress in the middle, the two lead chefs and our attentive waiters.

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Our meal began with a sample of regular starters: salads, a beef carpaccio, paté de fois gras and caviar blintzes.


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It continued with Georgian starters: Emroli (a cheese filled pie), Sambusiki (cheese dumplings), Hinkali and Chiburiki (two kinds of meat dumplings) and Khachapuri (an egg and cheese boat).


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It moved on to the main course - a terrific mixed grill:


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and concluded with mouth-watering desserts:


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As its name suggests, the place has Karaoke nights on Thursdays and Fridays.




This post is all inclusive.




I am linking the following hotels: ‘West Boutique Hotel Ashdod’, ‘Leonardo Plaza Ashdod’, ‘Sur la Mer Boutique Hotel’ and ‘Penthouse Hotel’.


My Timeline


This trip took a day.

This is what it looks like on the map:






P.S. If you're interested in travel-related offers, you're welcome to view my 'best deals' page. Subscribers also have 'members only' benefits. To subscribe go here.


Embassy of India Tel Aviv  4th International Day of Yoga 21 June 2018

 In the year 2014, the longest day of summer solstice, 21 June, was adopted as the International Day of Yoga through a UN Resolution that was proposed by India and co-sponsored by 177 nations. Since then, the International Day of Yoga (IDY) is being celebrated all over the world with great enthusiasm and positive spirit. The Indian Diplomatic missions all over the world, take the lead in organizing events to mark the IYD.

The Embassy of India in Israel has been celebrating IDY since 2015 every year on 21 June. This year, the Embassy will organize the event at Port Tel Aviv, with the scenic backdrop of Mediterranean Sea.

The event is being organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Sport of Israel, Tel Aviv Yafo Municipality, Port Tel Aviv, Reebok, Ella Yoga, Yoga Teachers’ Association and Air India.



The program is from 1815- 2145 hrs and includes:

  • Indian classical music performance,
  • Sun salutations and Ashtanga Yoga practice by a renowned teacher from India Mr.Vijay Amar
  • An official ceremony attended by the Ambassador of India in Israel and Israeli dignitaries,
  • Common Yoga Protocol practice by senior yoga teacher from the US Mrs. Carrie Owerko and;
  • Entertaining dance performance by Mr. Arun Kalakshethra and his dance group.

This year’s event may be aired live to several parts of the world. The event is free of cost, open to all, suits all yoga level practitioners. Just bring your mats and enjoy the spirit of yoga.

In today’s world of stress and conflict at several levels, Yoga brings a message of health, harmony, constructive and focused thinking and holistic wellbeing. We invite you to celebrate with us this eternal spirit of Yoga for generating and spreading the message of peace for the larger good of humanity.

You may register your participation by visiting our event page: https://ww.facebook.com/events/172049570165920/


Picture of Vijay Amar – credit to Embassy of India