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President Rivlin officially opens the visitors’ center at the President’s Residence for the general public to register after a trial period in which 30,000 people visited 

To mark the official launch of the Visitors’ Center, President Rivlin appears in a short film which can be seen at https://youtu.be/e5DISkf-rw8

President Reuven Rivlin:

“The President’s Residence is the home of all Israelis. Not of the majority, but of the whole people. The gates of the President’s Residence were not built to keep Israeli society out, but rather to give them a dignified entry to their own home. This house, when it was built in the past and now in the present, embodies a commitment that Israeli society should visit, host and be hosted at the President’s Residence in a pleasant, enriching, dignified and respectful way.” 



When taking office, President Rivlin announced that the President’s Residence would the home of the Israeli people and would allow anyone who wanted to visit and get to know Beit HaNasi. From his second year in office, a trial period began during which 30,000 visitors came to the President’s Residence. Today, the president is announcing the official opening of the gates of the Residence of the Presidents of Israel and inviting the general public to register online for the Visitors’ Center and workshops at Beit HaNasi. The visit includes a tour of the residence, information about the presidency and its role and an insight into the lives and stories of the presidents of Israel. In addition, the tour includes “Israeli Hope”, President Rivlin’s flagship program to encourage civility and partnership amongst all parts of Israeli society. 

Already, the President’s Residence hosts tours, workshops, and seminars - both for the general public and for a wide range of special groups. Since it opened, the Visitors’ Center has hosted nearly 30,000 people, including:

· 4,000 educators 

· 2,000 academics 

· 4,000 commanders from IDF, Police, Prisons Service, Mossad and Shin Bet 

· 3,500 fellows on various leadership programs and senior leaders from the public, private and third sectors 

As part of President Rivlin’s vision and the national goals of the presidency, the Vistors’ Center and its workshops welcomes groups from across the geographical and social range of Israeli society. Since it opened, groups have visited the President’s Residence from all across Israel: Raanana, Be’er Ora, Tel Hai, Sde Boker, Yarka, Kiryat Gat, Kfar Saba, the Hefer Valley, Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim, Tirat haCarmel, Eilat, Ein Nakuba, Degania, Eli, Sderot, Jaffa, Beitar Illit, and others. 

What does the visit include?

· A tour of the President’s Residence including the ceremonial areas, the history, the stories, the art, and the archeology

· Information about the institution of the presidency and the presidents of Israel whose personal stories are woven into the history of the State of Israel

· Discussion of the partnerships within Israeli society and its centrality in the vision of the presidents, particularly President Rivlin’s flagship “Israeli Hope” program 

“Israeli Hope” is the president’s flagship program to strengthen civility and partnership between the four main groups that make up Israeli society – secular, national-religious, ultra-orthodox and Arab – in key civic areas including education, academia, employment, sport, local government and others. By creating broad partnerships with government ministries and philanthropic foundations, “Israeli Hope” aims to strengthen the ‘together’ in Israeli society while respecting and giving space to each of the groups that make it up, and by so doing to strengthen the prosperity and resilience of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. 

How to book a visit?

Visiting the President’s Residence is by free guided tour only. To book a tour, please send an email to the Visitors’ Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., giving details of the group and a phone number for further details and final confirmation of time and date of the visit. 

For more information, please visit http://www.president.gov.il/VirtualTour/Pages/ToursAndVisits.aspx 


Photo  Credit President's Office



The 24th Olive Festival in the Galilee

 I am happy to share with you some impressions from a preview trip to some of the Galilean Druze villages that will participate in the 24th Olive Festival that will be taking place over two weekends this November.

Festival Dates:

1-3 Nov 2018 between 10:00-16:00

8-11 Nov 2018 between 10:00-16:00

Trip Agenda Options

Druze Village Beit Jann

  • Dabour Cosmetics Visitors Center
  • The Ancient House
  • Ajiel Cave

Druze Village Hurfeish

  • Olive Oil Visitor Center Abu Afif
  • Embroidery Lace Hurfeish
  • Lunch at Ibtisam Faras

Trip Anchors


The Ancient House in Beit Jann

This authentic ancient house is presented by its 10th generation owner, Nidal Halabi. After a tour of the arched house and the inner water cistern, Nidal tells about the Druze culture and customs in the large guest room or Diwan where cakes and coffee are offered. Nidal also offers guided tours of the village including his ancient house that take up to 3 hours.

Contact: Nidal 050-756-0249


Late Lunch at Ibtisam Faras in Hurfeish

Enjoy a personal experience of Druze hospitality. Ibtisam invites you to partake of her family recipes of the delicious Druze cuisine in her lovely courtyard. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Reservations at: 077-2308292


Additional Options

Dr. Dabour Cosmetics Visitors Center in Beit Jann

Dr. Ziad Dabour, the founder, was born and raised in the village of Beit Jann, situated at the heart of the Meron Nature Reserve where he grew up hearing about the traditional methods for using local plants. Years later he studied pharmacology and medicinal herbs until receiving a doctorate degree in medical science from the Technion. After serving as the chief pharmacist in the IDF for several years, he currently lectures on clinical pharmacology and organic chemistry on top of furthering the development of the dermo-cosmetic industry in the Galilee.

The products developed at his laboratories focus on medical skin products, facial care, anti-aging, hair-care, and toiletry. All are based on natural herbal ingredients that are extracted and formulated using advanced biotech formulation methods. At the visitors center, you will be able to hear more about his products and purchase them.

Address: Dabour P.O. 1042 Beit Jann


Phone 04-9803711

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: https://drdabour.com/


Ajiel Cave

Ajiel cave also known as the Crusader or Byzantine cave is a three hundred square meter cave that served as a source of water and hiding place for the villagers. It was also used for prayer in a secret church of the first Christians in the Galilee.

You can reserve a guided tour at 04-9802457 or 050-9802457.



Olive Oil Visitors Center Abu Afif

The Olive Oil Visitor Center Abu Afif invites you to meet with a Druze family and learn about the production of traditional olive oil that has been passed on through the Afif family from father to son.

The tour includes a lecture regarding the olive harvest season and oil production, an explanation about the different types of seed oils and essential oils and their quality and even a bit about soap production. You will be able to try out the press and experience oil tasting and even register for one of the additional workshops offered such as preparation of natural olive oil soap, preparation of a tray of the oriental sweet called Kanafeh and a workshop for preparing authentic Druze dishes. At the visitors center's you can also enjoy a light Druze meal based on baked goods from the Taboon with Labane cheese, olives, and honey and purchase a wide variety of Galilean products from the region.

Contact: 050-654-7638



Embroidery Lace Hurfeish    

The embroidery lace house at Hurfeish is an employment initiative for women living in the heart of the Druze community. Once a week, the women of the village gather in a large stone house, learn knitting and embroidery, and create decorative and fashion items in a traditional style.

A visit to the site includes an explanation of the project, the status of Druze women in the past and present, and a short tour of the village nucleus. In the tradition of Druze hospitality, guests will be greeted with coffee and cake. The visit should be scheduled in advance. For those interested, there is a possibility for registering for a knitting or embroidery workshop.

Address: Road 89, Hurfeish

Contact: 077-9964487



The main meal at Ibtisam in Hurfeish was described above.

In the morning we enjoyed a light meal made by a local catering called Sajtag. You are welcome to contact the owner Tagrid and arrange for your own private meal.

Contact: 04-9803496


My Timeline

This trip filled up a day.

More information on the festival events can be found at the following website:

Olive Festival Hebrew Website: http://olivefestival.org.il/

Festival Dates:

1-3 Nov 2018 between 10:00-16:00

8-11 Nov 2018 between 10:00-16:00

I hope you enjoy!


Photos Silvia Golan




Tel Aviv Museum of Art  Modern Times 50 Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art
October 12, 2018 - February 2, 2019
Sam and Ayala Zacks Pavilion
Curator: Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at PMA
Curator in Charge: Suzanne Landau
"By modernity, I mean the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent."
- Charles Baudelaire, "The Painter of Modern Life" (1864)
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art (TAMA) is pleased to present, for the first time in Israel, 50 masterpieces from the world-renowned collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), following their exposure at Palazzo Reale in Milan. This is a historical and significant collection, presenting a rare opportunity for the Israeli audience to explore some of art history’s greatest moments.
The exhibition spans a period of 90 years of artistic development, from the late 19th to the 20th century, including canonical artists of European art such as Pierre Bonnard, Constantin Brancusi, Georges Braque, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Salvador Dalí, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, van Gogh, Juan Gris, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, and Auguste Renoir.
With different styles, divergent time periods and art movements, the exhibition ties together landscapes, cityscapes, village scenes, interiors, still lives and portraits. Their presentation at TAMA will create an intriguing dialogue between PMA's inspiring works and TAMA's modern art collections.
The exhibition is the result of cooperation and joint efforts of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
About the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) | http://www.philamuseum.org
Founded in 1876, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the United States’ oldest public art museums and has long been recognized as one of its finest. With a remarkable collection of over 240,000 works that span more than 2,000 years of artistic production, the Museum is international in scope and stature.
The breadth and diversity of the Museum’s collections are perhaps most apparent in a number of spectacular works of art ranging from Peter Paul Rubens and Pietro da Cortona, to Alexander Calder’s mobile Ghost, Marcel Duchamp’s installation of The Large Glass in 1954, and Cy Twombly ten-part series of paintings entitled Fifty Days at Illiam.
About the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (TAMA) | http://www.tamuseum.org.il
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is Israel’s foremost modern and contemporary art museum, welcomes close to 550,000 visitors annually. Established in 1932 by Tel Aviv’s first mayor, the Museum has developed into a complex of four buildings in the very heart of Israel’s vibrant cultural metropolis. Tel Aviv Museum of Art mounts over 30 exhibitions annually. In addition to viewing its renowned collection and world-class exhibitions by international and Israeli artists, visitors also enjoy the Museum’s rich array of cultural events, including concert series, performances, dance, films and educational programs for children and adults.

Edgar Degas, The Ballet Class, c. 1880

Credit line: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1937


Vincent Willem van Gogh, Portrait of Camille Roulin,1888

Credit line: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee, 1973




US embassy in Israel and International Photography Festival bring Food for Thought Program to Israeli high school students


On October 11-12, 30 students from communities and towns all over Israeli participated in the Food for Thought program, a collaboration between the US Embassy in Israel and the International Photography Festival. The students came from all over the country to learn from Henry Hargreaves, a renowned professional food photographer from New Zealand and NY. Hargreaves shared with them techniques for taking more interesting and aesthetically pleasing photos, and especially of creatively using food products and ingredients for thought-provoking photos.



The program brought together students from different cultures and backgrounds for a day and a half of intensive, project-based learning. The students were taught not just about photography, but about the message behind photos, and how food can represent personal stories. They also had the chance to try local desserts, like Kanafe and other Arabic sweets, and shared photos and stories about foods that were important to each of them. The students who came are participants in Debate for Peace, a Model UN-based leadership program. Their final product, a photo-book, will be on display at the annual International Photography Festival in Tel Aviv from November 22- December 1.



Terry Davidson, Counselor for Public Affairs, US Embassy Jerusalem, told Diplomacy that “the students displayed incredible connectivity and developed genuine friendships, bridging gaps that too often exist between Jewish and Arab students in Israel.”. He added that “the US Embassy is pleased to support Debate for Peace, as this program has a tremendously positive impact on youth, gives hope and shapes the leaders of tomorrow.‎"


Diplomacy also spoke to several of the participants to ask them about the experience:


Marina Gejekoushian (17 years old from Jerusalem):


Q. How was the experience you had in Food 4 Thought?

A: I enjoyed participating because I got to look at things from a different angle, and I also had the opportunity to meet new people from different backgrounds and religions. I think this project shows people how open-minded we all are because we are willing to work together.


Q. Did the project make you think or feel different about photography and peace?

A: I think this projected helped me take better photos, from different angles and perspectives. I am proud to be part of this program and project, because I got to work with great people and it has shown me how we are working towards our goal--achieving peace.


Daniel Kazikevich (turning 15, from Zefat):

Q. Do you think this project can help to bring peace or something similar?

A: I do believe that such a program can help bring communities closer. Obviously, there’s a difference between diplomacy and culture, but this is a great step for people who are new to the concept and can lead to a greater understanding between different kinds of people: Arabs, Russians, Europeans, Americans, etc.


Q. Did the project make you think or feel differently about photos and peace?

A: I don’t look at photos as a way of showing peace, I see pictures as statements, that somebody/something has achieved something. Also, when looking at the news, usually the pictures are sadder, and showing the less nice parts of a county, so you get used to seeing photos as a way to show the negative side. I always look at the overall experience rather than just one picture.

 Photos: Debate for Peace



An especially festive event marking the outset of the 2018-2019 concert season in Tel Aviv was the debut performance of the Orpheus Opera Ensemble, established, directed and conducted by Yair Polishook, an artist familiar to many of us as a baritone in the world of opera and oratorio. Stage direction was in the hands of Shirit Lee Weiss. Taking place in the Zucker Hall of Heichal HaTarbut, Tel Aviv, on October 3rd, Tel Aviv, the new ensemble presented the Israeli premiere of G.P.Telemann’s three-act opera “Orpheus or The Marvellous Constancy of Love”.


The first performance of this three-act opera took place in Hamburg in 1726 at the Gänsemarkt Opera House, of which Telemann himself was music director. Ten years later, the opera was given the new (and more accurate) title of “Vengeful Love, or Orasia, the Widowed Queen of Thrace”. When the text was finally published in 1736, Telemann’s name did not appear on it, his (and Handel’s) friend German theorist Johann Mattheson described a concert performance of the opera as a “wretched concoction” and the opera sank into obscurity. It was unearthed in 1978; its release on Harmonia Mundi was recognition of the fact that the work was indeed the product of Telemann’s pen. Apart from one small section, the score has survived virtually complete. Based on a libretto by Frenchman Michel du Boullay, Telemann has added to the actions of Orasia, widowed Queen of Thrace. As well as murdering Eurydice, of whose love for Orpheus she is jealous, she eventually kills Orpheus himself. In keeping with Hamburg opera taste of the time, Telemann inserted arias in French and Italian - in language and, and no less convincingly, in style. The majority of the score is in German, but arias of languid sorrow and choruses are mostly in French, and those expressing rage and love are, most fittingly, Italian arias. Telemann’s orchestral writing also reflects Hamburg’s more adventurous approach. Brilliant and subtle, it not only serves as the accompaniment as Telemann uses the instrumental ensemble to heighten and reflect the drama.


Six very fine and competent Israeli singers of the younger generation were cast in the solo roles, their singing of Telemann’s exquisite ensemble sections also providing much delight. Daniela Skorka’s gorgeous, creamy voice, musicality and involvement gave pleasing expression to the role of Eurydice, a relatively small role – Eurydice is dead well before the end of Act 1. Singing with joyful, innocent simplicity showed her as very much the opposite of Orasia in personality. Soprano Tal Ganor’s natural, lively stage presence and expressive face made for a warmly lyrical-, then aggressive Ismene (Orasia’s handmaiden); she also played the role of the nymph Cephisa, with its music of beauty and brilliance. With much confident singing, tenor Eitan Drori gave vivid portrayals of the complex, scheming and tragi-comic Eurimedes as well as of the wicked Ascalax, as he indulged in the pictorialism in arias of both. His duet with Orpheus (Oded Reich) “Angenehmer Aufenthalt” was indeed one of the evening’s highlights. The role of Pluto was assumed with imposing resonance and authority by bass Pnini Leon Grubner; no large role, it nevertheless offers some splendid music, as in the da capo aria “Ruhet, ihr Folten gemarterter Seelen”.


With his changes in emphasis on the plot, Telemann’s “Orpheus” becomes a Baroque psychodrama, as it revolves around Orasia, Queen of Thrace, with her narcissism and obsessive love-hate personality. Totally immersed in the role, Hadas Faran, equipped with a suitably substantial voice, displayed secure handling of the bravura and soaring notes which Telemann calls for at the most dramatic moments of her tirades, as she gave potent meaning to the two Italian vengeance arias and to her final, pared-down lament in French. Telemann’s Orpheus, with his anti-hero tendency, is a character more richly complicated than Gluck’s hero as he navigates the roller coaster of love lost, won again through hardship and devotion, and finally, irrevocably lost. Baritone Oded Reich’s realization of the tragic character of Orpheus is profound and insightful, a man loved but spurned, helpless and alone in his own suffering. Reich’s acquired dramatic insight and convincingly emotional performance integrate deftly with his musical reading of each aria, served well by his stable voice and luxuriant palette of baritone colors.


Stage- and costume design was undertaken by Maya Meidar Moran. Backed by long, transparent, colored drapes, with which the singers interacted at times, the stage was otherwise bare. But it was a space bristling with movement and physical- and emotional energy. There being no static moments, there was much to follow in the artists’ movements, body language and expressions as they made maximal use of the stage space. There was a mix of costumes - from modern day-wear to lingerie, to night-wear, to risqué cabaret wear and modish rainwear (the latter effective in the scene in Hades). Certain of the costumes seemingly imparted clear messages as to the universal questions of physical attraction, promiscuity, impulsivity, and jealousy.


With stylish, nuanced playing of Telemann’s outstanding instrumental score - accompaniments, dances, occasional folk elements, and splendid obligato playing - the small Baroque instrumental ensemble added delicacy, flair, and elegance to the musical canvas. The enthusiasm of Polishook’s conducting was tangible, bringing out the best in- and creating balance between his uniformly strong singers and ensemble and keeping the action moving at a natural pace. Add to that Telemann's subtle use of modulations, of different keys to fit the personae, and of occasional dissonances to underscore the harshest of emotions and one is sorely tempted to invalidate Johann Mattheson’s judgment. With this sparkling, festive performance of G.P.Telemann’s “Orpheus”, Yair Polishook’s vision of an Israeli Baroque opera company of home-grown talents has made a compelling case!  

Photo: Yoel Levy