Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's greetings on the occasion of the Sigd holiday:

 "Honored kesim, spiritual leaders and public figures, dear members of the Ethiopian community.

 I greet all of you on the occasion of Sigd which you are now celebrating.

 According to ancient tradition, this is holiday is doubly significant: Private and public introspection, and strengthening unity among the community.

 The State of Israel recognizes Sigd as an official holiday. In recent years, I have learned about the leaders and traditions of your magnificent community, and I have studied about your cultural and religious wealth. I think that the time has come for the entire Israeli public to recognize the beauty and uniqueness of the Ethiopian community. No less important than this is to assist you in your long journey to integrate into Israeli society.

The Tourism Ministry will host a tour tomorrow (14 November) for dozens of ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions stationed in Israel to the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Galilee. The tour has been arranged in cooperation with the Ambassador’s Club of Israel, headed by Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, formerly Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO and Denmark.
The ambassadors and diplomats, accompanied by their partners, will visit the prehistoric caves at Nahal Maarot, Tel Megiddo, the old city of Acco and the Bahai Gardens in Haifa. Participating in the tour will be diplomatic representatives from China, Japan, Egypt, Colombia, Slovakia, Nepal, Croatia, Chile, Belarus, Albania, Austria, Poland, Costa Rica, Kenya, Ghana, Peru and more.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov: “The aim of the tour is to introduce senior members of the diplomatic corps in Israel to the area of the Galilee and, in particular, to the four UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area. The tour is part of a series of marketing and advocacy activities undertaken by the ministry with opinion-formers and journalists from around the world, and the members of the diplomatic corps based in Israel represent an important target group who will submit an authentic and important report to their individual countries.”

Matthew Gould, the British Ambassador to Israel, joined a service of remembrance yesterday to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian service people.

Dozens of World War Two veterans who served in the British armed forces, along with diplomats, British citizen living in Israel and members of the public came together on Sunday at the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in Ramle for the annual services of remembrance.

The ceremony was led by British Defence Attaché Colonel Philip Stack, with an address by Matthew Gould. The ambassador said, “The challenges we face change but the virtues needed, the virtues shown by the fallen, stay the same – vision , courage, collective purpose, a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the future and, as we demonstrate today, a determination not to forget our history.  If we forget how painfully freedom is won, we will lose it.  If we take it for granted, it will not survive. To be guardians of our children’s future we must keep faith with our ancestors’ past.”

William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is famous in own right, but became all the famous in its rendition as the Broadway musical "West Side Story" which is loosely based on the Shakespearean theme.

Now Berta Yampolsky of the Israel Ballet has brought back a treat for ballet fans in the form of "Romeo and Juliet as a classical ballet (staged by Wendy Lucking, to the music of Prokofiev). The ballet, which has been previously presented all over Israel as well as at the Bucharest Opera House, will be performed at the Tel Aviv Center for the Performing Arts on the 9th and 10th of November.

The first performance of this ballet was scheduled for January 1991, but was delayed until June of that year due to the outbreak of the Gulf War. People fortunate enough to get tickets now will have only two opportunities to see this dance classic in Tel Aviv this coming weekend.

UNITED NATIONS, 31 October 2012, (BWNS) – The United Nations’ expert on human rights in Iran has told the General Assembly that he is “deeply troubled” by the situation in the country, describing a “climate of fear” where journalists, human rights defenders and minorities face wrongful arrest and imprisonment with little hope of legal due process.

Ahmed Shaheed reiterated his call for the immediate release of all “prisoners of conscience” in Iran, highlighting the current incarceration of more than 40 journalists and some 30 human rights defenders.

In his report Dr. Shaheed also expressed alarm at the general lack of due process rights in Iran. Of some 99 former prisoners he interviewed, “approximately 60 percent reported the use of prolonged solitary confinement, 80 percent stated they were beaten, and over 60 percent alleged they were denied access to a lawyer.”

On the occasion of the 52nd Anniversary of the National Day of the Federal Republic of Nigeria while also commemorating the twentieth year of Nigeria and Israel resuming diplomatic relations. The embassy of Nigeria hosted an official reception on October 14th 2012 at the Residence of Nigeria in Tel-Aviv.

Ambassador David Oladipo Obasa and his wife Mrs. Olusola Olanrewaju Obasa welcomed HE Minister of Improvement of Government Services Mr. Michael Eitan, who assisted as an honorary guest. Also, among the select group of distinguished guests was the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Etoundi Essomba of Cameroun, Ambassadors, Head of the Diplomatic and Consular Missions, International Organizations and other select guests.

During his speech the Nigerian Ambassador David Oladipo Obasa gave a warm welcome to guests, particularly acknowledging the presence of Mr. Issachar Ben-Yaacov, former head of the Israeli Mission to Nigeria in 1973 when diplomatic relations between the two countries were suspended.

The Festival will take place at Felicja Blumental Music Center, 26 Bialik Street

Tel Aviv from 21 - 25 October. All concerts begin at 20:30

The program features renowned artists from Argentina, coming to Israel

especially for the Festival. Famous Israeli artists will perform with them.

Artistic Director and Founder of the Festival


Programs and Dates

Sunday 21 October

A feast of Argentine music -

Piazzolla, Ginastera, Guastavino, Lasala, Aguirre and others

PALOMAS DORADAS - Tamar Melzer/flute and Julieta Tolchinsky/piano

DUO ETZION/MURVITZ - Yoni Etzion/cello and Batia Murvitz/piano

TANGO ARGENTINO - Daniel Giusti and Oksana Golik - Tango Dance Duo

celebration of Argentinean music with works by Piazzolla, Ginastera, Guastavino, Lasala,

Aguirre and selection of Tango dances 80 NIS / 70 NIS

Tuesday 23 October & Wednesday 24 October

An Evening of Folklore -

Folk Music from Argentina and Latin America


Singer Silvia Iriondo, with Federico Arreseygor /piano, Horacio Hurtado/doublebass

and Fernando Bruno/percussion

Tickets NIS 95 NIS / 85 NIS

Tursday 25 October

Celebrating Argentina – Remembering Piazzolla ALBERTO PORTUGHEIS & Friends

(The renowned pianist Alberto Portugheis returns to Israel after 17 years)

with Sivan  Rotem/soprano,  Vera Vaidman/violin,  Hemda Raz/piano

and Micha Haran/cello, violin

Works by Piazzolla, Ginastera, Guastavino, Gianneo and Kutnowski

Tickets 90 NIS / 85 NIS

for discount you must mencione " Silvia " at the moment to buty the ticket


Felicia Blumental Music Center  03-620 1185

From 10 to 16 hs

For more information, tel:  03-695 3819

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

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov: "This is a national campaign that combines Zionism with the tourism industry's economic value to the economy and employment, without cynicism. We are expecting widespread participation and believe that everyone can leverage the power of influence on their surroundings in order to bring more tourists to Israel. Incoming tourism contributes about NIS 18 billion annually, creates thousands of new jobs mainly in the periphery and serves to improve Israel's image."

248,000 TOURISTS ARRIVED (10% MORE THAN 2011);


Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov: "The intensive work and focused and professional marketing is showing results in the field. Especially during times of economic crisis, tourism proves itself as a growth engine that injects billions of shekels annually into the economy."

Despite the grave global economic crisis and the problematic geopolitical situation in the region, Israel continues to break incoming tourism records. A record number of 2.3 million visitors arrived during the period Jan-Aug 2012, a 7% increase as compared with last year and 5% more than the record year of 2010. Of these entries, a record 1.9 million were tourists, a 4% increase compared with the same period in 2011 and a 7% increase as compared with 2010. 374,000 entries were day visitors, 26% more than the same period last year.

The 2012 Magshim Israel Yafa (“Beautiful Israel Award”) was presented to KKL-JNF on the 110th anniversary of its foundation. The festive award ceremony took place at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem last week.

Prior to the official ceremony, 500 guests including KKL-JNF personnel from all over Israel, government ministers, chairmen of regional councils and other dignitaries were welcomed at a garden reception.

The award ceremony was hosted by the journalist Oren Weigenfeld who described the virtues and accomplishments of KKL-JNF and the reasons for its selection for this year’s award: "For building a bridge between the Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel, and for developing the land so it could be used for inhabitation and for cultivation."

A video clip featured a variety of projects undertaken by KKL-JNF since its establishment. Rivka Michaeli, veteran actress and Rag Bar Natan, actor and comedian, presented KKL’s achievements via humorous skits and songs. However, it was President Peres who stole the show with his witty anecdotes eliciting waves of laughter.

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted today a Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy with an Action Plan for putting it into practice. This is the first time that the European Union has had a unified Strategic Framework for this vital policy area, with such a wide-ranging plan of action for its implementation.

"Human rights are one of my top priorities and a silver thread that runs through everything that we do in external relations. With this comprehensive package we want to enhance the effectiveness and visibility of EU human rights policy. In order to help put the Framework and the Action Plan into practice, I have also proposed the appointment of an EU Special Representative on Human Rights and I look forward to a swift appointment," said Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, upon adoption of the package.


As the world's biggest aid donor, the EU actively supports human rights and democracy:


This has a budget of € 1.104 billion for 2007-2013. Its key objectives are to enhance respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in countries and regions where they are most at risk, and to strengthen the role of civil society in promoting human rights and democracy.

A commemoration of the 49th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union (AU) took place last week at the residence of the
African Ambassador to Israel. The theme for this year's event was "Boosting Inter-African Trade and Investment."

Representatives from various cultural, political, linguistic and religious communities were greeted at the entrance by African dignitaries.

In his address, H.E. Mr. Joao Jose Manuel, Ambassador of the Republic of Angola, stated that the creation of the
Peace and Security Council in July 2002 has been very instrumental in keeping peace and security- the foundations of progress and sustainable development- among the African States.


British Airways celebrates 80th anniversary in Israel – and refurbishes the Boeing 767s operated on the route

Investing over $40 million (£25m) to refurbish the cabin interiors of its B767 aircraft

British Airways began flying to Israel and the region in the 30’s Since 1932

British Airways is marking these days its 80th anniversary in Israel: the airline, then “Imperial Airways,” operated flights to the region already in 1932.

These early flights were operated by Scipio S17 flying boats, which landed on the Sea of Galilee.

 Nowadays, British Airways operates two daily flights on the Tel Aviv-London Heathrow route, using Boeing 777 and 767 aircraft.

The leaders, who head the various communities of hundreds of thousands of believers, met yesterday with the Minister of Tourism and leading figures from the Christian community in Israel.

The Ministry of Tourism is hosting this week a leading delegation of priests from Brazil. The delegation includes 18 priests, including Evangelical and Catholic leaders from around the state whom their communities comprises tens to hundreds of thousands of believers. This is the first time that a delegation of this magnitude is hosted in Israel.

The delegation touring includes Old Jaffa, Caessarea, Mount Tabor, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Dead Sea and Jerusalem. Last night, Wednesday 9/5, the delegation met with the Minister of Tourism.

Brazil, plays a very important part when speaking of their economical growth, development and their great potential in tourism. In 2011, 57 thousand tourists from Brazil came to Israel – an increase of 9% compared to 2010. Most Brazilian citizens are followers of the Christian religion, when 43% of tourists who from Brazil to the Holy Land, come for religious reasons and for pilgrimage.

Foreign Secretary William Hague met Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor in London.On 19 March, Foreign Secretary William Hague had a working lunch with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who was on a two-day official visit to the UK. During his visit Mr Meridor also met Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt and National Security Adviser Sir Kim Darroch.Speaking after the meeting, the Foreign Secretary said:"The UK and Israel have a strong and deep relationship. I was delighted today to welcome Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Meridor".

Israel extends its condolences to the government of the Republic of the Congo and to the breaved families, and sends its wishes for recovery to those injured in the explosion that occurred in Brazzaville, in which over 200 people lost their lives and hundreds were wounded.

 With the desire to contribute to the medical treatment of the wounded and hospitalized, Israel is sending today, through MASHAV (Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation)   and Israel's embassy in South Africa, and in cooperation with Magen David Adom, South Africa, emergency medical equipment to assist in treating burn injuries. The humanitarian aid shipment will be delivered to the Brazzaville Red Cross.

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Israel and the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
are pleased to announce their joint conference on Energy Security and Energy Strategies
which will take place in Sde Boker on March 18, 2012.

For information, confirmation and transportation please see below.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Israeli terminal ranked among leading airports in the Airports International Council's regional category ranking


Former Israeli President Chaim Herzog's book The Arab-Israeli Wars has been published in the Greek language by Linaios Publishing House, with a special introduction by Isaac Herzog and Michael Herzog. Updated by Shlomo Gazit and translated by Markellos Linaios, this acclaimed book tells the story of the Arab-Israeli conflict since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, covering all the major events, such as: The War of Independence (1948-1949), The Sinai Campaign (1956), The Six Day War (1967), The War of Attrition (1967-1970), The Yom Kippur War (1973), Operation 'Entebbe' (1976), Operation 'Osirak' (1981), The Lebanon War (1982-2000), The First Intifada (1987-1993), The First Gulf War (1990-1991), The Oslo Process (1993-2000) and The Second Intifada (2000-2003).

Some 2,000 parents came to the first Israeli conference on special needs in the haredi community, a topic that not long ago was swept under the rug.

Alei Siach founder Rabbi Chaim Perkal addresses thousands of parents at the conference.

"About 100 people gathered at the Korean Ambassador's residence H.E. Mr Il-Soo Kim and wife Mrs Moonkyung Son on the evening of January 18, for a celebration of Korean culture, marking the beginning of the year of the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations of Israel and Korea. The evening, organized by the Korean Embassy jointly with iAsia website, included an open dialogue with the Ambassador of Korea in Israel, Mr. Ilsoo Kim, and a Korean cooking demonstration performed by Mrs. Moonkyung Son, the Ambassador's wife.

The evening started with short presentations by Ms. Tali Tessler, member of the Israeli Youth Delegation to Korea, in which prominent Israelis under the age of 35 can take part. The members of the program get to visit Korea and meet fellow Koreans who share common interests, mainly in the fields of politics, economics and culture.

A special poster exhibition is part of an international project to encourage design students from around the world to express their views on the issue of remembering the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem


Northern Israel's Daliat el-Carmel and neighboring Usfiya offer visitors a colorful array of Druze cuisine, crafts and hospitality.

druze3Druze villagers bake pita at roadside stands (Photo: Israel Ministry of Tourism)

The Golda Meir Mount Carmel Training Center is one of Israel's many avenues for improving the lives of disadvantaged peoples in Africa and Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and other countries. 

Israel has had a big influence on early childhood education in Nepal, reveals Yvonne Lipman, the spokesperson for the Golda Meir Mount Carmel Training Center (MCTC), named after Israel's first and only female prime minister.

After embarking to the African continent over 50 years ago, Golda Meir recognized the great need there, and through the Israeli international development organization - MASHAV- decided that instead of giving fish to Africans and other disadvantaged populations, she would give them the expertise to fish for themselves. That is an example of sustainable thinking decades before the idea came into fashion in the rest of the Western world.

Since then, Israel has impacted the lives of millions of people in developing nations through its training programs in agriculture, education and medicine.

Out of the MASHAV model, and begun by Meir herself, was the women's training center in Haifa's Carmel Mountain area. This is the same region where a ravaging forest fire gripped the nation only half a year ago. But at a conference at the end of May, more than 70 women leaders from 38 countries met to discuss the topic of 'Science, Technology and Innovation: Education and Training for Women and Girls.'

It's no secret to anyone, including the United Nations, that women can be a powerful force of change in developing societies. They are the support network that glues people, families and societies together. But they can also lead companies and countries. Tap into training women, and you can change the world from the ground up, as the center's motto indicates.

Taking their motto to the classroom and field

The women at the event were world leaders in their own right, also representing three major development organizations including the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They came to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a program to which women have been invited for training from more than 140 countries.

Out of the MASHAV model, and begun by Meir herself, was the women's training center in Haifa's Carmel Mountain area. This is the same region where a ravaging forest fire gripped the nation only half a year ago. But at a conference at the end of May, more than 70 women leaders from 38 countries met to discuss the topic of 'Science, Technology and Innovation: Education and Training for Women and Girls.'

It's no secret to anyone, including the United Nations, that women can be a powerful force of change in developing societies. They are the support network that glues people, families and societies together. But they can also lead companies and countries. Tap into training women, and you can change the world from the ground up, as the center's motto indicates.

Taking their motto to the classroom and field

The women at the event were world leaders in their own right, also representing three major development organizations including the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They came to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a program to which women have been invited for training from more than 140 countries.

These women have participated in training seminars either in Israel or in their cooperating countries. The MCTC training encourages the women to build support networks among themselves, and in some cases the trainees continue the work of the center by implementing teaching programs in their home countries. The center provides custom-made workshops and programs based on need and request.

"We were founded by Golda Meir in 1961 after a visit she made to Africa and she realized the absolute necessity of helping women over in the African nations to become independent. "Israel had reached its independence in 1948," says Lipman " and so could act as a living laboratory for the newly emerging states."

"On a visit there Meir saw there was a desperate case to help get the women trained and to do something with their people. Together with Mina Ben Zvi, and Swedish Ambassador to Israel, Inga Thorsson, they founded the Mount Carmel Training Center. The founding of the Center was marked by an international women's conference, and we are now holding the 27th women leaders conference. That's the chain," Lipman explains.

Between those 27 biennial meetings, she says, 17,000 people have passed through the training center. "We have four major themes, which are early childhood education, income generation, community development and gender equality."


Trained in Israel, leading internationally

Isn't feminism dead? "We were into gender equality before it came into the UN agenda in Mexico in 1975. Israel was there way before the rest of the world," Lipman says. "We are not talking about feminism. We are talking about women leaders."

At the conference, she says, woman after woman gets up to describe how women in their countries are still not getting higher degrees, but working as teachers and civil servants.

One of these leaders is Stella Tamang from Nepal, a Buddhist in a Hindu nation, who first came to Israel on a training course in 1979 and has stayed in touch since with all the other women from Nepal whom she trained with. These women today are very influential in the early childhood education system in Nepal, says Lipman.

"What Israel - what the MCTC - gave them has strongly influenced early childhood education in Nepal," she notes.

MCTC was also on the scene giving psychosocial support to children in countries hit by AIDS from the earliest days of the epidemic. On the home front, it provides programs for developing the potential of women locally. "We give Palestinian and Israeli women intensive weekends for ... building new realities," she concludes.







An Avant-Premiere of Woody Allan's "Midnight in Paris" - the opening film at the 2011 Canes festival - was screened at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque on Friday evening.
Head of DATA, Diaa Hammad. (left)
Mr. Diaa Hammad, the Second Secretary from the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv and  President of DATA, (Diplomatic Association Tel Aviv) initiated the event along with Tali Farkas from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzilya: Mr. Farkas is a student of government diplomacy and strategy.

The concept behind the evening, as put forth by Mr. Diaa Hammad, was for the diplomatic core in Tel Aviv to get together in casual circumstances and "have fun."
The IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) students who volunteered in helping design the event were enthused to participate, due to data being such a respected platform in which to network with diplomats while learning some of the nuances about the various diplomatic corps.

Just as the dress-code of the event was casual, so was the atmosphere. Clearly, the evening was a success with the contingent of dignitaries in attendance as the relaxed atmosphere dictated that the evening would be centered around a tranquil night at the movies without having to focus on the usual issues parlayed at diplomatic events.
Photo courtesy of DATA

As every year, after the holiday of Pesach, business man and ex- parliament member Raffi Elul and his wife Ofra opens their home in Mazkeret Batia to many friends, businessmen, parliament members and other distinguished members in order to have the Mimuna, a traditional Moroccan ceremony that celebrates the return of the "Chametz" to the table.

President Peres singing with Raffi Elul and his wife Ofra.
Among the guests of honor were the president Shimon Peres, politicians such as Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Tzipi Livni, musicians like David Krivoshei, business figures like Shery arrison, ambassadors and diplomats.

The crowd enjoyed Kuskus and Mufletas and sang along with Einat Saruf, who convinced president Peres to sing alongside Raffi Elul and his wife.



Photos Silvia Golan






The Israel Project and invites you to a special one-day briefing on Tuesday April 5 on "Israel in a Changing Middle East – Opportunities and Challenges" (personal invitation below).

The sessions have been specially prepared for foreign diplomats and senior journalists with the goal of providing access to top Israeli and international experts 'all under one roof' - covering themes such as regional stability, the peace process, economic cooperation and security.

For catering purposes, we kindly request an RSVP including your diplomatic id number by Sunday April 3rd to Ronit Shebson @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   A full program will follow upon registration and kindly bring your diplomatic ID on the day.   Looking forward to welcoming you on the 5th

Israel Project

“Israel in a Changing Middle East - Opportunities and Challenges”

A one-day briefing for foreign diplomats and journalists, key speakers including:

Mr. Dan Meridor  - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy

Lt. Gen. (res.) MK Shaul Mofaz – Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser – Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs

Dr. Khalil Shikaki - Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research

Brig. Gen. (res.) Shmuel Zakai - Former commander of the IDF Gaza Division

Dr Tal Becker - senior policy advisor to Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs and lead negotiator in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during Annapolis.

Tuesday April 5, 10am – 4pm
Mamilla Hotel, 11 King Solomon Street, Jerusalem.
We look forward to welcoming you. Detailed program will follow upon registration.
RSVP with diplomatic ID numbers by Sunday April 3 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 054 807 9065







A program at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem gets Arab children and Jewish children from different neighborhoods talking and creating together.

Via the MFA
For most of the children, the museum workshop is their first encounter with peers from the other side of Jerusalem. (MFA)

Female artists, playwrights, and performers are expected at a four-day festival in Holon that will explore how creative women view the world.

Anna Levine Thomson in Bridget. Thomson will have a dialogue with director Amos Kollek at the International Women's Festival. (Photo: Osnat Kollek)


Theater, dance, music and art are all on the program for the annual Holon International Women's Festival, March 9 to 12 at the Holon Theater, south of Tel Aviv. From a satirical cabaret "starring" biblical heroines to a chamber music marathon, the festival aims to attract women - and men - from all walks of life.

"For me, the most important goal is to showcase the talents of young women - the next voices in theater and music," says artistic director Ori Egoz, a 38-year-old playwright and theatrical director.

This is Egoz's first time on the job under the festival's general director, Guy Telem. The festival has been running for 15 years and opens the day after the 100th International Women's Day.

"As usual, we will feature female performers from Israel and abroad," says Egoz. "I tried to put together a good combination of new voices in the arts as well as voices that have something different that they want to say and ideas they want to investigate in drama, music and dance."

Among the many planned dance performances will be Efrat Nehama's Partitions, exploring religious barriers between women and men; and Miriam Moses' choreographed work on how daily interaction with soldiers affects children at play in Samaria.

"We will also have a memorial tribute to Sara Levi-Tanai, one of the first ethnic choreographers in Israel, on the 100th year since her birth," says Egoz. Levi-Tanai, the founding director of Inbal Dance Theater, gained worldwide notoriety for theatricalizing Yemenite rituals and folk customs. "She created a whole new language," says Egoz.

A tribute also is planned to Lia Van Leer, Israel Prize-winning founder of the Haifa Cinematheque, the Jerusalem Cinematheque, the Israel Film Archive and the Jerusalem Film Festival.

Ori Egoz is artistic director for the women's festival, which takes place in Holon this March. (MFA) 

Bridget, Elvis

Films starring American actress Anna Levine Thomson (sometimes spelled Thompson) - such as Bridget (2002) - are to be screened at the nearby Cinematheque Holon. Following a showing of her Fast Food Fast Women (2000), Egoz will moderate a discussion with the director, Amos Kollek, and Thomson. The actress appeared at of the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2000, where the movie premiered.

"This is very important for us," says Egoz. "Thomson is considered by Kollek as his muse. She is completely unpredictable and very brave. She gives a sharp and emotional performance conveying a lot of pain in her characters."

A whimsical yet rousing highlight is to be an Elvis Presley tribute show, Sing to the King, featuring Israeli singers Riki Gal, Ruti Navon, Karolina, Yael Kraus, Tamar Eisenman and Yael Deckelbaum, who will also debut her second album, Joy and Sadness, at the festival.

Why Elvis, at a women's festival? Egoz laughs. "We thought it would be a way of taking a manly symbol, the king of rock and roll, and giving it to the Israeli queens of rock and roll," she replies. 
A comedic drama by actress Hilary Friedman, who manages a group home for autistic adults, will examine her experiences there in the form of a dialogue with an autistic woman.


Alcoholics, drug addicts and YouTube

An Arab-Christian playwright from the Culture Lab in Nazareth will present her play about women in a support group for wives of alcoholics and drug addicts. Samira, a drama by Anat Barzilai, delves into the mindset of a would-be Palestinian "martyr" and the preparation behind her failed suicide mission.

In another innovative piece, dancer-choreographer Renana Raz will present YouMake ReMake, an all-female version of her unique interdisciplinary event in which performing artists "upload," onstage, their response to their favorite YouTube clips.

Described as "creating a mindful dialogue with the original clips," the troupe of performance artists will give the audience "a new look at how YouTube influences our lives as creators," explains Egoz.

Among guests from abroad will be the Portuguese singer Lura, considered the successor to Cesaria Evora, performing "very vivid ethnic music," and a chamber quartet "marathon" featuring members of the Israel Women Composers Forum, jazz pianist Katya Tubul and folksinger Sharon Azaria.

Exhibitions, workshops and conferences are planned for the days before and during the event, including a major conference on March 2 exploring Israeli business women, sponsored by Status magazine; gatherings of female physicians and architects; and a women's health fair.

"I hope the audience will be varied and colorful, and will give those who come the possibility of listening to different views," says Egoz, who has been juggling her planning of the festival with her directing duties at Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater and at the Holon Theater.

"This is the power of art," she explains. "Taking subjects and emotions we all deal with - anger, jealousy, love, hate - and showing how writers and performers handle these emotions differently according to their special way of looking at them."

IMTM 2011  - Israel's International Mediterranean Tourism to highlight voting for the Dead Sea in the New7Wonders Contest.


This year, the IMTM is spotlighting the votes that the Dead Sea has won in the New7Wonders contest. The contest was launched in 2007, with initial participation of 440 sites from 220 countries. In the final stage that’s currently taking place, the competition features 28 sites from various countries – and the Dead Sea is among the finalists. The finalist sites represent a breathtaking array of global tourism and heritage sites.

Like the previous competition in which seven wonders created by people were chosen by over 100 million votes, a professional panel chose the 28 finalist sites. Next, the final voting phase began. Over a two-year period, people from across the world have cast their votes for their seven favorite wonders, by internet or SMS. The short list is to be published in November this year, and over a million people are expected to vote. For the Dead Sea to enter the competition, collaboration was necessary between Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.

Organizers of IMTM are promoting the Dead Sea marketing campaign through global voting, featuring it in advertisements for the event. At the opening ceremony, awards for People of the Year in Tourism will be conferred on key people in Israeli culture and tourism - members of the Israel Opera and the Dead Sea regional councils. Against all odds they created the “Nabucco at Masada” project - the largest cultural event ever staged in Israel.

Eyal Shmueli, publisher and editor-in-chief of Israel Travel News magazine, and one of the architects of IMTM says: "The Dead Sea’s reaching the contest’s final stage is a tremendous milestone in making Israel a tourism magnet; it marks the growing recognition that the Dead Sea is enjoying. Apart from the honor that Israel would get by winning, taking part also has major significance for regional development, creating jobs in the Eastern Negev, demographic growth, and important implications for developing the State of Israel. So at IMTM we have taken on the task of helping the Dead Sea to be chosen as one of the seven new wonders - and we all hope that we’ll pull it off.”

IMTM Is the annual central event of Israel’s tourism sector. Its mission is to encourage incoming and outgoing tourism, plus domestic tourism in Israel, and to strengthen joint ventures with other countries. This is the 17th consecutive year of the event. Alongside the foreign nations taking part are Israeli representatives, tourism associations from around the country, hotels and airlines, car rental organizations, and tourism-service providers.

The event is organized by Ortra Ltd. and Israel Travel News, and sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, the Israel Hotel Association, EL AL, IATA, Israel Tourist & Travel Agents Association,

and Tel Aviv – Jaffa Tourism Association.

Israel's mostly-cooperative climate; new, quality grape varieties; and the expertise of young winemakers who've studied abroad, add up to up to a wine revolution.
"We have a retinue of winemakers who are internationally trained and internationally experienced," Daniel Rogov, wine and restaurant critic for Ha'aretz. (MFA)

(Via the MFA website)

Noah may have started off on the wrong foot when he planted his vineyard in Israel, but at least his descendants are getting it right. Around the world, Israeli wines are winning prizes and accolades, which is intoxicating news indeed for local winemakers.


 Top American wine maven Robert Parker says, "The wines are getting better all the time and some of them are superb." Wine magazines likeWine Spectator write "…Quality is on the upswing" and leading wine critics - and just plain folks looking for something to drink with dinner - are discovering that Israeli wines aren't just for Friday night Kiddush (blessing) anymore.

 So what's changed since the average bottle of Israeli wine was a sticky, syrupy non-experience? (Which is an apt description of the wine produced by the Carmel Winery when it was founded by Edmond James de Rothschild in 1882.) Plenty. Both in terms of knowhow and the unbridled Israeli passion for winemaking.

Daniel Rogov, resident wine and restaurant critic at the Hebrew-language Ha'aretz daily says of the industry today: "We have a retinue of winemakers who are internationally trained and internationally experienced, some Israeli-born, some not. We have world class winemakers and that's very important.

 Zichron Yakov was the first location in Israel where Carmel Winery began making wine (MFA)

"Second, the wineries have gone really state-of-the-art. The big and medium wineries all have very modern facilities, and all the techniques for making very fine wine. Third, and most important, we are learning more and more and developing our vineyards better in terms of technology," says Rogov.

Three years ago, he points out, Mark Squires, who writes for Parker, visited Israel and wrote about our wines and gave them a great deal of praise. "Some 13 or 14 wines scored over 90, which [means they are] really outstanding wines," Rogov says.

From Rothschild to ribbon-winners


Whether it's on the wind-swept hills of Israel's Golan Heights or the low-lying lands of the Negev, there's a branch of a major winery or one of some 200 or more independent, boutique wineries in operation. Carmel Winery's wine development director Adam Montefiore notes: "Israel has joined the world of quality wine producers, and added to its history in this area, which is as long as anyone's."

 A quality wine "…has to have good balance between all its elements - the fruits, the tannins, the woods have to be in fine balance," Rogov explains. "For it to be a good quality wine, it also has to have what I call a good structure; that it's built so that it will last for more than just a short period of time - it will cellar nicely for a minimum of five years, in some cases 75-80, but not with kosher wines. And third of all, one of the axioms I subscribe to is: Not all wines have to be great, but all wines have to give the drinker pleasure."

 "It's in the eye of the beholder," says Montefiore. "What I consider a quality wine differs from what you or your wife thinks. Wine is like music - everyone can choose what they want. Some people like basic music, some people like Bach. Some like rock or hip hop… So basically a wine that's tasty to someone is a good wine. And it's the variety of wine that makes it so interesting."

 Citing success at growing grapes at higher altitudes like in the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights and more recently the Judean Hills; Israel's mostly-cooperative climate; the planting of new, quality grape varieties; and the expertise of young winemakers who've studied abroad, Montefiore isn't surprised by Israel's achievements. "Add to that the desire of the wineries themselves to make better wines and the current increase in the pursuit of quality and it adds up to a wine revolution," says Montefiore.

 "Revolution" is a word he frequently uses to describe various turning points in Israel's wine-making history, beginning with Rothschild's early efforts and culminating with his Carmel and other large wineries that are competing with the production of high-quality wines by the country's smaller boutique wineries.

 It's a winner's revolution as well, at least based on Carmel's September triumph. One of its wines won the Decanter International Trophy, a prize considered the "Oscar" of world wine awards. His company's Yatir boutique winery was also cited by Parker, "the highest possible third party recommendation," Montefiore insists. "When someone like Parker tastes Israeli wines and says they are good, then its official."

The Yatir Winery owned by Carmel Winery was cited by Robert Parker (MFA) Indeed, when Parker first reviewed Israeli wines in 2007, he awarded 14 of them more than 90 out of a maximum 100 points (world-class). Meanwhile, UK wine critic Oz Clarke included two Israeli wineries, Domaine du Castel and Yatir, in his Pocket Wine Book 2010. Clearly, Israeli wine has earned a place at the table alongside other outstanding international wines.

Israelis need "wine education"


That's pretty amazing in a country where Rogov notes "people still drink Diet Sprite with their meal when they dine out." So there's plenty to teach Israelis about the value of good wine. "I'm not saying that we've arrived," says Montefiore. "I'm saying we're on a journey, and if we look where we were some 20 years ago, and we look where we may be in another 20 years, it's very exciting."

 Some new trends in Israeli wine-making include planting more vineyards at higher altitudes like the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights and Judean Hills. Old vineyards are being re-used to produce better-quality wine, and Israelis are becoming bigger fans of sparkling wines, both cheap and expensive.

 Both in general and specifically, regarding Israel and consumers of kosher wine, Rogov notes three distinct new directions: "Number one is going from low quality to high quality; number two is a move to preferring red wines over white wines. Another direction, in Israel and with consumption of kosher wines in general, is people drinking more wine because they recognize this as part of cultured life," not necessarily involving ritual, he adds.

 Montefiore insists, however, that currently the "most exciting thing is the revolution at Carmel." With its 40 percent of the industry, "when the biggest winery turns around and starts producing high-quality wine and says: 'We're producing quality table wines instead of Kiddush wines, and we're going to reduce the amount of wine we produce to increase quality, it's an amazing turnaround for the industry." It's also a sequel to the developments that launched the quality Israeli wine-making that's becoming so widespread.

Golan gold - apples to grapes


Wander around Israel and there's plenty of evidence of ancient wine-making, even remnants of a production site on the Spice Trail near Avdat built some 2,000 years ago. So it's no surprise that similar evidence also turned up on the Golan Heights, notes Golan Heights Winery marketing director Arnon Harel. But it was apples, not wine, that Golan farmers were interested in when a professor from the University of California at Davis visited the scene in the 1970s.

 "He was brought in to look into apple growing, and he said that we had ideal conditions in the area to raise wine grapes," says Harel. "It was an experiment and we didn't know if it would succeed." So it was that seven Golan Heights communities and one in the Upper Galilee formed the Golan Heights Winery, launching an experiment that transformed the production of Israeli winemaking.

 With the help of American-imported technology regarding which barrels and containers to buy and other insider information, Harel and his associates "…were surprised because suddenly we were producing high-quality wine in Israel, where before that, we produced mostly sweet wine." When the first bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon was opened in 1983, Israel had a prize-winning wine of its own.

 "They brought in international experience, which allowed them to tap into new things," one observer of the Israeli wine scene notes about the winery, located in Katzrin, the largest Israeli town in the Golan Heights. "That started the whole wave in Israel of everybody trying to make better wines, followed by the boutique wines revolution… They were the catalysts. They planted in high altitude areas and decided: 'We want to make the best wine possible.'"

 The Golan Heights Winery now produces four million bottles a year for export and a million that are sold in Israel. Some 60,000 people visit the site annually, as part of the increasing wine tourism in Israel, which naturally ends with tastings.

 "We had dreams but we didn't know if they would work out," says Harel of the winery's early days. The key to their success: "You have to love it, and feel connected to the earth you plant in, and be a happy person, because wine is a happy product."

A boost from boutiques

 Similar words are heard from 200 or more Israeli boutique winemakers, who got a jump on the continuing quest for quality some 20 years ago, during another major change in the industry, and continue to produce outstanding wine.

 At about the same time as a food revolution began in Israel in the 1980s, with the opening of higher-class restaurants, young wine-lovers started to make their own wine, resulting in the opening of a number of boutique wineries.

 "There was almost a whiff of peace in the air with Oslo… Israelis felt unthreatened for the first time in a long time and started traveling more abroad, seeing the wine and food there and saying: 'I'd like some of that.' There was a better economy then, as well. So all these things together meant that there was a kind of wine revolution in Israel, manifested by these boutique wineries springing up all over," says Montefiore.

 Today, there are between 200 to 400 Israeli wineries, depending on how you classify them. Some are one-person outfits just getting by, while others have succeeded to the point where they were bought by larger wineries.

A lucky few wineries have achieved international success by dint of the hard work and vision of winemakers who never dreamed they'd go into the business of producing high-quality wine.


Raising the bar at Ramat Raziel

 That's what happened with Eli Ben-Zaken, who planted two grapevines outside his house on Moshav Ramat Raziel opposite the chicken coops back in 1988, never thinking of it as anything more than "a hobby… It was never a dream to become a major winemaker."

 But today, as proprietor of the Domaine du Castel family-owned winery in the Judean Hills - which launched the boutique winery revolution and has always pushed the envelope when it comes to quality - he's delighted he took the path to producing world-class wines despite having no formal training in winemaking.

Having already headed up a culinary revolution in Israel in the '80s with the Mama Mia restaurant he started with Sergio Molcho, which produced its own pasta, the Egyptian-born and European-educated restaurateur, who came to Israel in 1970 after first volunteering to fight for Israel during the Six Day War, just couldn't find an Israeli wine he liked enough to serve.

 "I was always curious why there was such a difference in quality between Israeli and European wines," he says as we sit in a wine barrel converted into a chair in the tasting room of his establishment, which produces 100,000 bottles a year, half for export. "So in 1988 I just decided to make some wine for my friends," based simply on what European winemakers taught him or what he read in books

Four years later, he and his wife Monique had a hit on their hands: The first 600 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which Ben-Zaken called Castel Grand Vin or "The Big Wine of Castel" were given to enthusiastic friends and some were even sold. Domaine du Castel, with its symbol combining the nearby Castel fortress, the Lion of Judah and three stars representing the three Ben-Zaken children Ilana, Eitan and Ariel who would grow up to work in the winery, was on its way.

 "It was a strange feeling - as if someone had just taken me by the hand and shown me the path. I couldn't just ignore it," the silver-goateed winemaker recalls. People told him he was crazy and should plant in the north, but he knew otherwise. "This area has produced wine for a few thousand years, I think even before the First Temple period…The Romans took Jewish slaves to work in the vineyards in Rome because they were so skilled."

 Ben-Zaken also likes the feeling of continuing that tradition while competing with the world's best, declaring: "I'm a Zionist, and I'm very proud to show that we can make wines as good as those in Europe." And he's proud to have launched the boutique winery revolution that "raised the quality of wine in Israel and has shown the big guys, the large wineries, that there is a market for this in the Israeli public."

There were only three boutique wineries when he opened. Now there are some 30 to 35, as well as popular wine tours, comprised of foreigners and locals, who travel on what he notes has become a regional wine route.

 While on a visit to the winery recently just after harvest - which came early this year because of the intense heat - the grape leaves still clinging to the vines look like rows of dancers clad in greens, reds and browns, and a red tractor stands ready to travel to any of the 37 acres of vineyards.

 Some had already been pruned in advance of the next harvest, looking a little sad but also indicating a new beginning. Planting new vineyards, Ben-Zaken says, "is like having babies, very touching. Its new hopes really, like children - you invest in something you will see the results of only much, much later."

 Ben-Zaken himself admits that in the early days "it was really touch and go - we could have failed easily," but he received a boost from the woman he refers to as the winery's godmother, Serena Sutcliffe, Wine Master of Sotheby's in the UK.

The ubercritic wasn't very likely to taste a wine from a barely-known Israeli winery, but a journalist friend of Ben-Zaken's had a colleague who was going to be meeting with Sutcliffe and asked if he'd like to send along a bottle.

 "I had nothing to lose, it was my first vintage," he recalls. "And a month later we got a letter saying: 'It's fantastic, a real tour de force, extraordinary and unlike any other Israeli wine…' The letter for us was a marketing tool, but for me a stamp of approval that good wines can be produced here, in Israel."

 What makes his Blanc du Castel Chardonnay, and two red wines, Domaine de Castel Grand Vin and Petit Castel - the latter two blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec - so special?

 It's not just the French method of high density, low yield, or its great terroir - outstanding soil and climate - Ben-Zaken says, but "the way it's prepared… it's delicate, there's finesse to it, an elegance. These are not big blockbusters; they are subtle and release layer after layer."

 The winery also uses what a guide refers to as "the Rolls Royce" of French oak barrels, each costing more than $1,200, where the wine sits for up to 24 months, in keeping with the winery's motto: "We give time to time."

 Ben-Zaken also is delighted with letters from around the world - including Japan - "from people saying: 'We just opened your wine last night and had to write how much we enjoyed it.' " While he believes the nation's wineries need more government support to improve, he's pleased to be setting the tone for quality wine in Israel and welcomes any challenge from Carmel or the other "big boys," adding: "When something succeeds in commerce, others still want a piece of the cake."

 Setting the bar high for quality in Israeli wine, he can also afford to laugh now about the fact that his family almost moved from Egypt to Australia - where wine-making is booming and there's much more land. As for the future, having set such high standards, "We think with the vineyards aging and us learning more and more, we hope we will be able to make more high-quality wine."

 While he'd still prefer to spend less time behind a desk, when he does get a chance to walk through his vineyards, the feeling is "nothing but pleasure." His winemaking success also has reminded him that "we pass through our lives…and the question is not only what we've taken for us, but what we've left behind, and I'm very proud and happy that I have left something behind."

A filmmaker for 25 years, Zeev Dunia now runs a successful boutique winery in the Judean Hills. (MFA)
 From video-making to vineyards

One of the most fascinating elements of Israel's boutique winery revolution is the proliferation of boutique wineries opened by people who get the wine bug and leave their previous careers behind.

 Zeev Dunia was previously head of the video and television production department at Jerusalem's Hadassah College of Technology when he was bitten by the winemaking bug while making a film about the process in 1994-95.

 "I was a filmmaker for 25 years. At first I wasn't particularly interested in the subject [of wine]," Dunia says as he pauses to check the grapes. "But as the film was done, which took about a year because it followed the process of wine-making from the vineyard to the glass, I started to develop unconsciously some sort of interest that grew.

 "This happens to quite a lot of people - they discover wine and without really having any training, it becomes more and more something you get involved with, and that's really the magic of wine. If we had to describe what's so special about it, it's that it's never the same. Every bottle of wine is slightly different… the more you get into it, the more it surprises you," he says.

 Dunia now owns and runs SeaHorse Winery in Bar Giora in the Judean Hills. This small but outstanding operation produces about 1,500 cases of wine annually.

"There's a lot of passion involved, whether you are a grower in the vineyards or a winemaker," says Dunia, who uses the French method of dense planting and low yield and takes pride in "the unique varieties of wine" he produces, particularly his Zinfandel and his latest addition Chenin Blanc.

 A few years ago, the visiting wine critic of La Figaro and a Gallery Lafayette representative at an exhibit in Tel Aviv told him that his wine was "the best wine we have ever tasted in Israel."

Wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect himself from the sun, he spends time in his vineyards every day, sometimes to shoo away the deer that have a fondness for his grapes. He says that winemaking grants him a deeper connection to the land on which his grapes grow.

 "One thing that has happened over these past 10 years is that I really understand the importance of working the land and what it does to us. Before that, I felt I was a citizen of the world, could live anywhere and do my thing. Now, once you have planted something in the soil, you cannot leave… And I think we should be more attentive to the importance of agriculture, not in the sense of business… It's our future."

Bottoms up, please

 Still, despite the awards and expansion of Israel's wine scene in recent years, all is not rosy, with the industry struggling with the issue of export vs. local consumption. While Israelis consume between five and seven liters annually, "that's simply not enough" to maintain the industry, which must count on local sales to survive, says Rogov, noting similar problems in vineyard-saturated California and Australia.

 "Twenty years ago, everyone was uprooting apple orchards to plant vineyards; now they're uprooting vineyards to plant apple trees, and we may face a situation like that in the end." Too much expansion is to blame, he says, predicting that as many as half of those passion-driven boutique wineries may close.

 The other problem is the lack of an Israeli wine culture, he says. "When Israelis started traveling abroad, they began to realize that wine is a part of the cultured place in life, and you would've thought that would've increased local consumption. It hasn't. What it has done is that people who really understand wine are drinking better and better wine, but overall, not more people are drinking wine.

 "We have to get people to drink more wine," he adds. "I'm not talking about turning people into alcoholics but…drinking for the pleasure and the company. So I think more and more people have to be made aware of that."

 "Wine is culture," says Montefiore. "In France they have wine on the table like we have ketchup on the table in Israel…If we can get Israelis to drink more wine and less vodka and coffee, then we'd be a quieter place.

 "Thucydides, the Greek philosopher, said that man became civilized when he planted the vine and the olive tree. Wine has been a part of our culture for a very long time, and what we're trying to do is make it a symbol of modern Israel."

Wine tastings across the United States are bringing increased interest in Israeli wines (MFA) 

Ramping up on exports, one sip at a time

 The bottom line, of course, is sales, and Israeli wines - branded in a new campaign with the logo "Mediterranean Inspiration" - are making steady progress abroad, with some $18 million worth of wine exported by the beginning of November, continuing an upswing that was only halted temporarily by the recession last year.

 Between bringing journalists to Israel who'd never considered Israel a "wine country" to organizing presentations abroad, Michal Neeman, business development manager in the Food and Beverages department of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, senses the export market is promising.

Witness a recent event promoting Israeli vintages held in Houston, where there is "a lot of interest in wine," she says. A luncheon with VIP guests for people from the trade was followed by a tasting event for wine enthusiasts at a local wine bar. "The response was amazing," she says. "Over 400 people paid to come and taste the wine. Some of the wineries simply ran out of good wine."

 According to Neeman, more unexpected regions are expressing interest in Israeli wine as well, including Japan, Korea and Taiwan. A Japanese delegation is expected this month as guests of the Foreign Ministry, and as part of its branding efforts to promote Israel's image, they realized they had to play up local food and the emerging quality wines, says Neeman.

 While Israeli wines must still struggle with complaints that they are too expensive, overall "interest and curiosity about Israel wine is growing. Now we're at a point where some people have heard about it; it's not totally unknown. They are curious to come over," she says.

 "I did a wine-tasting event in Paris in January and there were three journalists who expressed an interest in coming to Israel. That's a change because for a while it was difficult to bring people here, and now they're interested… What's so impressive to me each time and is really nice is that people are amazed by the quality of the wine they drink." Middle East politics aside, Neeman and her team, in conjunction with other government and industry bodies, are winning over wine lovers, one sip at a time.

That's only natural, says Montefiore, who believes Israeli wines can be good ambassadors. "While once it was the Jaffa orange and the kibbutz that symbolized Israel, now its quality wine and high-tech," he notes.

 Moreover, Montefiore feels that sending someone wine from a particular place in Israel "is like sending someone a picture of a time capsule from that spot. So that's why wine is such a beautiful product to represent Israel in giving gifts. It's of international quality and represents the place, agriculture and industry of the country and its culture, and an industry which started 5,000 years ago."

 As for Noah, if he could see the state of Israeli wine-making today, Montefiore is convinced "he'd be so happy that the area where he first planted is now making world-class wines."



Hag Chanukkah SameachHanukkah is an 8-day Jewish festival celebrated to remember the "miracle of light" and the triumph of the Maccabees in reclaiming the Second Temple.


The story begins in 175 B.C.E when the Jewish people lived in Israel and the Second Temple was standing in Jerusalem. At the time, Syrian Greeks ruled under King Antiochus IV.

Antiochus IV wanted to reign over the Jewish people; therefore, he forbade the practice of Judaism and forced the Jewish people to believe in the pagan Greek gods. Many Jews resisted while other Jews accepted the beliefs and were known as Hellenists.


Amongst the resistance, one Jewish priest, known as Mattityahu motivated the Jews to challenge and revolt against the injustice set forth by the king. Led by the youngest of his 5 sons, Judah Maccabee lead all of those who had not become Hellenists in revolting against the Syrian king. They fought against the Syrian Greeks and forced them out of Jerusalem, and thus, the Maccabees regained control of the Second Temple despite finding the holy altar dedicated to the Greek gods. The Maccabees had the Temple restored and purified, then dedicated a new altar to the service of G-d.

An important component of the holy Temple required the daily lighting of a seven- candelabra Menorah. However, the Maccabees were faced with a huge dilemma as they only had enough oil to last for one day. The oil ended up lasting for eight days, and because of this, was seen as a miracle of G-d. In reference to Hanukkah, people always refer to the 'miracle of lights'

How to celebrate Hanukkah?

Over centuries, the Jewish people have commemorated this event by lighting a Hanukia, also referred to as a Menorah. The Hanukia has nine candleholders; of which the first eight are in remembrance of the days the oil lasted, as where the ninth candle is used to light the rest. At sundown, the family gathers and says a prayer to light the menorah. Every night one candle is lit.

What to eat on this holiday?

Sufganiot, also known as a Jelly Donuts are very popular during the holiday as well as Latkes, also known as Fried Potato Pancakes. The foods during this holiday contain a lot of oil in remembrance to the miracle.

Events in Tel Aviv?

Tel Aviv:

Bialik House: Hanukkah activities for children December 3 - 9, 10:00 - 14:00

Tours in Jaffa "The Three Monotheistic Religions"

More Events at:

by Axel Angeles




Ambassador of Spain to Israel, Mr. Alvaro Iranzo hosted the welcoming event to the arrival of the world reputation fashion designer Javier Simorra from Spain.



Mr. Simorra himself arrived from Spain to attend the event and it seemed that he was especially excited to meet Israeli businessmen and fashion icons.

Ambassador Mr. Iranzo congratulated Mr. Simorra and wished him success in Israel.




Ambassador Iranzo added that the brand Javier Simorra and Mr. Simorra himself are a source of pride to Spain and he is delighted to welcome him to Israel.

Fashion Designer Mr. Simorra himself Spoke of his excitement to arrive to Israel, a country his respect and cherish, and added that the excitement is intensified due to the opening of the new franchise in Israel.





Mr. Simorra thanked ambassador Iranzo for his hospitality and said that the head of the diplomatic mission to Israel from Spain is also a source of pride to the country.

Among the respected guests were Israeli fashion models, agents, businessmen, and politicians.


(Photos: Eliran Avital and Yoni Tobeli)



The Foreign Ministry's Emergency & Crisis Management Center will receive an official citation for their dedication over the years in helping Israelis in distress.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will hold a special conference on Wednesday, 27 October, to mark World Development Information Day. This day was declared by the United Nations in order to focus international attention on global development challenges in the 21st century. This is the first time a conference of this sort is being held in Israel.

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon will address the opening session of the conference. At a later session, staff of the Foreign Ministry's Emergency & Crisis Management Center ("Situation Room") will receive an official citation from civil aid organizations for their dedication over the years in extending help to Israelis in distress.

The event is being organized by MASHAV – Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs – in cooperation with civil aid organizations in Israel. Dozens of representatives of civil society, government ministries, the business sector, academia and the media will participate.

The conference will comprise six sessions on topics relating to aid and sustainable development. The final session will examine the role of the Israeli media in the global and Israeli development assistance agenda.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hopes that the conference will raise public awareness in Israel of the importance of development issues, and strengthen the cooperation between civil society and various government ministries in their development efforts. In addition, this day serves as a reminder of Israel's commitment to participate in international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2000. 






From the foothills of Mt. Sinai to the edges of Rabin Square, one commandment has stood firm

throughout the generations: Thoushalt not kill. Do not kill a person. Do not kill an idea. Murder is a crime that may never be forgiven or forgotten.

(Communicated by the President's Spokesperson)

This evening, the President of the State of Israel commenced the remembrance events marking 15 years since the assassinationof Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabinz”l with a candle lighting ceremony in the President’s Residence. The President made a speech and lit a “Yitzhak remembrance candle” in the slain Prime Minister’s memory.


In his speech, the President described the days and the evening preceding the murder, and addressed reports that today’s youth does not remember who Yitzhak Rabin was: “A ‘Yitzhak remembrance candle’ was lit this evening on the 15th anniversary of his murder. This is a candle of the commitment to peace. He vowed that its flame will never be extinguished. From the foothills of Mt. Sinai to the edges of Rabin Square, one commandment has stood firm throughout the generations: Thou shalt not kill. Do not kill a person. Do not kill an idea. Murder is a crime that may never be forgiven or forgotten. Neither the flow of time nor attenuation nor euphoria nor fatigue can avert us from this commandment. We observe a day of remembrance because we must fight against forgetfulness. Such forgetfulness is the enemy of humankind, and also endangers democracy.”


The President described the character of Rabin’s leadership: “Yitzhak knew that a leader does not rest on yesterday’s laurels. He led according to a vision. He knew that in today’s volatile reality, he who tarries is in danger. He who dares, reaches far-flung, powerful realms. Yitzhak did not fear what may come because he knew that there is no escaping it, and that it must be faced head-on. You make what you must out of it, in order to see the morrow come, even if at a higher price than today’s rates. Yitzhak was determined to move forwards towards peace, although he was aware of the difficulties from without and from within. The difficulties were not merely theoretical. He felt a tailwind at home and stood against a raging wind from the outside. He did not try to sugarcoat tough situations or evade dealing with them. He let neither himself nor others harbor false hopes. He knew that confronting the new reality would involve heavy risks, but that thereby, and sometimes only thereby, lay the greatest chances.”


At the end of his speech the President said, “The tears have not dried up. The candles have not expired. Nor has the evening. We shall return to the oath secreted in our hearts – we shall not forget his image. We shall not digress from his path. Peace is his last will and testament.”

Participating in the ceremony were the Rabin family, officials from the highest echelon of the Israeli government, members of the youth movements, and schoolchildren from the Rabin school in Shoham. Family representative Yuval Rabin also gave a speech in memory of Prime Minister Rabin.





In the middle of the hot Israeli summer the telephone rings at Silvia Golan's Office. She has been requested to produce the cultural segment of the annual event of president's house Shimon Peres.

Without second thought she agreed and started to prepare the South American style event.

The idea was to include Latin music and dancing. Silvia Golan loves president Peres and she assumed, based on knowing president Peres fond of Argentinean dancing and music, that this kind of show will entertain him.



Organizing the event had to be in complete secrecy and besides the participants nobody had to know about the event.

The event took place at August 4th 2010 at Har-Zion hotel's pool in the beautiful hills of Jerusalem. The place was decorated tastefully and the catering was Latin style include the traditional South American chorizos.


 The schedule contained speeches and honor decorations, and after the formal part of the evening was finished, the show began.

The first segment was Tango dancing participating 4 top dancers (Dvora Gutman- Tango instructor from Germany, Luis Canaan- Tango instructor from Argentina, Danny Greenberg- Tango instructor from Israel and Silvia Golan).




The continued with Latin rhythm as Dori Skalt and Dvir Ohana conducted a magnificent Salsa dance. Afterwards the guests enjoyed Waltz dancing by Benny Sharvit and Danielle Kovrigaro.
The rhythm kept going up with Brazilian Dance by Ana Celia Da Silva and Moran Mai -Golder which concluded the show.



After the show president Shimon Peres asked Silvia Golan to introduce to him all the dancers and requested details on each and every one of them. The dancers gladly discussed and took photos with president Peres.

After the full meal it was time for free dancing. President Peres made sure he won't miss one dance, despite many requests that he will rest.  

President Peres commented that it was a memorable event that he won't forget soon.


Photo Silvia Golan








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