Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Holiday of Spring & Freedom.

You know, the Passover is one of the main Jewish festivals, and it is especially important for those, who came from the former Soviet Union. "Let my people go!" - was the slogan of Moses in Egypt and of Soviet dissidents, fighting for human rights of Jewish people. Now we live in our own and free country.
Each Passover eve we gather with the family and friends to recover the story of the great exodus. For the year 2006, the first night of Passover will be April 12th.
Passover is the 8 day observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II.

A time of family gatherings and lavish meals called Seders, the story of Passover is retold through the reading of the Haggadah. With its special foods, songs, and customs, the Seder is the focal point of the Passover celebration.

Leading up to the first night of Passover, the home is cleaned and cleared of all yeast foods, called hametz. The important thing in this tradition is that the home is simply cleaned towards the upcoming spring.

The Passover legend and traditions.
About 3000 years ago the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians under the rule of the Pharaoh Ramses II.

According to the Book of Exodus - Moses, a simple Jewish shepherd, was instructed by the Lord to go to the pharaoh and demand the freedom of his people At first Moses' plea of let my people go was ignored. Moses warned the Pharaoh that G-d would send severe punishments to the people of Egypt if the Israelites were not freed. Again the Pharaoh ignored Moses' request of freedom. In response G-d unleashed a series of 10 terrible plagues on the people of Egypt.
The holiday’s name - Pesach, meaning "passing over" or "protection" in Hebrew, is derived from the instructions given to Moses by G-d. To protect themselves, the Israelites were told to mark their dwellings with lamb’s blood so that G-d could identify and "pass over" their home.
When the Pharaoh finally agreed to freedom, the Israelites fled through the desert. They would quickly bake the dough in the hot sun into hard crackers called matzohs. Today to commemorate this event, Jews eat matzoh in place of bread during Passover.

The rules surrounding Passover are strict and many, with only special foods, utensils, and dishware allowed.
The centerpiece of the Seder table is the Seder plate, a special plate containing the 5 foods that remind us of the struggle of the Israelites in their quest and journey to freedom.
During the Seder 4 glasses of wine are poured to represent the 4 stages of the exodus.
At the Seder the Haggadah, the Book of Exodus, is read and the history celebrated with its stories, songs and prayers.
It’s a beautiful custom that people bring gifts one to another during Passover celebration. You are welcome to see unique gifts, incensed with my own graphics, which I have prepared to this festival.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Yael's Jerusalem Drawings

Here are two of Yael's last drawings coming from her Jerusalem impressions.

Yael Pushkin drawings, illustrations

Yael Pushkin drawings, illustrations, Jerusalem

Old City Of Jerusalem

Here are some pictures from my walk through the Old Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, old city, christian sites, holyland
Jerusalem, old city, christian sites, holy land, muslim sites, Jewish holy sites
Jerusalem, old city, christian sites, holy land, muslim sites, Jewish holy sites

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Trip to the Negev Desert.

Rarely does one find a country so small with landscapes so varied as in Israel. In this tiny country of approximately 8,000 square miles (a little smaller than the state of New Jersey), it takes a few hours to drive from the snow-capped mountains in the north to arid desert expanses in the south.
The Negev desert in southern Israel is a remarkable arid region.

Comparatively small, the Negev has had, however, an intriguing history of settlers, occupiers and passers through including Nabateans, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, British, Bedouin and Israelis. This rich socio-historical tapestry is linked to a landscape that is well endowed with historical sites, sublime landscape scenery and a robust and varied fauna and flora. The great variety of wildlife to be found here is intricately woven into the past and present of the landscape that results from an interaction between the people, the geography and climate.

Our first station was in the Mamshit National Park, where we could observe the ruins (partly reconstructed) of ancient city of the Nabateans.
We were almost late to see flowering desert. Though it happens in March, in the 20-th the desert was already yellow and brown. Few blossoming bushes could be seen in oasis along streams. The weather was hot, still not as hot as to disturb us to hike.
We enjoyed the fascinating scenery composed of mountains, streams valleys, caves, colored sand and rare trees.The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth and the largest "Natural Spa" in the world, is also one of the world's true natural wonders and a unique tourism destination.