Sunday Is Monday – Shopping In Israel

Sunday Is Monday – Shopping In Israel

“When practiced, Sabbath-keeping is an active protest against a culture that is always on, always available and always looking for something else to do.” Stephen W. Smith

Tel Aviv appears to be a cosmopolitan, secular city. My time in Israel  included two Sabbaths (Friday afternoon through Saturday evening). I awoke the first Saturday morning and anticipated  the beautiful breakfast  I had  eaten the morning before at the hotel. To my surprise, there was no cappuccino and no one was making eggs. There was dry cereal, pastries, hardboiled eggs,smoked fish, salads  and instant coffee – not the Saturday morning brunch at a hotel that I was used to.

After a walk along the beautiful beachfront to Jaffa and back, I was preparing to do some shopping.

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 I was told that everything was closed and there was no public transportation. Coming from a consumer driven society, I didn’t really believe that. This was a tourist area, some stores must be open.  I don’t often have culture shock visiting a country. I expect things to be different. I know all toilets are not created equal. I try to remember to take my shoes off in Asian countries when visiting someone’s home or a temple.  Preparing to be a Sabbath violator, I went out in search of shopping. There were some restaurants and cafes open and a mini market and that was it.   

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In the afternoon we went to the old beautiful city of Jaffa. Jaffa is a mix of Arabs and Jews so I was hopeful.

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We looked at the beautiful old architecture and walked the maze of alleys to the port.

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We had a beautiful sunset  lunch/dinner but no shopping there either.  “Sunday is Monday” said my friend.

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 I was thinking about it.  Does a day of rest strengthen a country and a family? There were a lot of families in the park. The beach was packed with people. Families were strolling around the city. For us Saturday is a day of housework, soccer tournaments, ballet classes, sporting events, matinees, movies and shopping sprees.

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In America Sundays used to be a day of rest. We didn’t have a national religion but all stores and businesses were closed on Sundays so we did have a national day of rest. Some people went to church, visited their grandparents, had a big family meal, went to the beach or the park or for a drive. One day a week we did something different. Our day wasn’t defined by consumption or production. We had fewer choices of what we could do. It was a day to be lazy and read. It was a peaceful ordinary Sunday, a common day of rest which for us  ended in Chinese or Italian food.  As we now search for inner peace through mindfulness and meditation, it is interesting to see  what disappeared when America lost that.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things I Wanted To Do In 2016 – Did I?

Things I Wanted To Do In 2016 – Did I?

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louisa May Alcott

Drink less coffee. Nope

Get more real instagram followers. (travelwellflysafe) A few

Go to Amsterdam. Yes

Go to Anne Frank’s House. Yes

Go to the Van Gogh Museum. Yes

See the tulips. Yes

Meditate everyday.  Have to add this one again.

Train my new puppy. Still doing that.

Be the Pack Leader this time. Nope

Spend more time with my friends.  think I will add this one again-busy year.

Be grateful everyday. Yes

Do more art things in LA. Same

Stretch. Trying

Do more yoga. Less

Go To Paris.Yes

Visit my god-daughter. Yes in Israel.

Go to South Africa.Yes

Go on a game drive.Yes

See the big five.Yes

Be brave. Trying

Hike up Table Mountain. Yes on up Table Mountain

Visit the townships.Yes

Go to Capetown.Yes

Go to Johannesburg.Yes

See my daughter get married.Yes

Fly safe,

JAZ

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Joke I heard in Jordan “ Two Arabs are speaking. The first one says, “I love living in Washington DC, I can say anything I want about President Obama.” “ It is the same in Damascus,” said his friend. “We can also say anything we want about President Obama.”

Petra was not on my bucket list and it should have been. It is a city of rose-colored stone, carved out of rock by the Nabateans in the 3rd century BC. Like Macchu Picchu, there isn’t a lot of information known about it. It is one of the dryest places on earth and how they got water for the thirty thousand people who lived here is a mystery.

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Stephen Spielberg brought it to us in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It is one of the more amazing places I will see in my lifetime. To the American press, Jordan is a country surrounded by evil, but there is no State Department warning at this time about traveling to Jordan, so I decided to go. 

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There are different ways to get to Petra. It is a four-hour drive from Amman airport or a two-hour drive from Aquaba airport. I crossed at the Eilat Arava crossing from Israel. Petra is about two hours away by bus or taxi.

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if you plan to cross into Jordan at the Aqaba/Eilat border crossing, you have two options as of January first  2016. You either need to have a pre-arranged Jordan visa (at least two weeks in advance) from a consulate or embassy elsewhere, or you can travel with a qualified tour company on a tour. In this case the tour company can vouch for you at the border. I decided to do it at the last-minute so my only option was to join a tour.

 I traveled with Tourist Israel. https://www.touristisrael.com/. I googled tours to Petra and contacted a few but they were the best fit for me. The agents were professional online and answered my many, many questions promptly.  You have a choice of different tours – one or more days. All the Israeli tour companies work with  Jordanian tour companies on the Jordan side. The drivers in both countries were excellent. The border crossing  is smooth on both sides. The people on the tour were interesting and from all over the world so that was fun.The tour guide was informative and funny. My only caution would be in the store where the money goes to the Women’s Development Project (hopefully, because I saw no women and assumed that was cultural). I was given prices in dollars but charged the same number they gave me in dinars (which is a lot more) and I didn’t catch it so be aware of that. 

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Remember that It is a border crossing in the Middle East  and information can change at any time so check right before you go.There are visa fees and border crossing fees. You actually walk across the border here. There is a few minutes of no man’s land between the countries  and it is little surreal.

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The Jordanian guards seem bored and relaxed. The Israelis are serious and vigilant. The border closes at 8PM ( we got there at 745). Borders are serious business. Follow the rules.  Answer the questions and  no joking around.

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The best time to visit Petra is in the spring or fall because it is very hot. I was there in October but there was a heat wave so it was summer hot.

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Petra stretches over a massive 60 square kilometer area and you’ll end up doing a lot of walking with very little shade. Dress appropriately for the heat but also remember you are in a Muslim country. Always be respectful of local culture.  if it gets too much there’s a choice of camels, donkeys and horses to do the hard work for you.  It involves.negotiating with kohl eyed Berber men on a price.

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The city was built in a canyon for protection.

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The Siq is the main entrance to the lost city of Petra.

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In my  opinion, the Siq is one of the greatest attractions of Petra. The gorge stands between 91-182 meters high and is no more than 3 meters wide for the 2km it takes to reach the city.

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The Treasury will be the very first thing that you see when you reach the end of the Siq. You can’t miss it. As you walk through a passageway big enough for one camel , someone will be playing the music from Indiana Jones. As with all World Wonders, it feels very touristy.

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The Street of Facades is a walkway with various cutouts that have been weathered by the elements and time. Stroll along this walkway imaging what it would have been like to arrive into this great city at the height of its power.

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The theater is small by Roman standards, but still worth checking out as it is carved out of the pink stone, right into the wall. You are not allowed to enter the theater, but you can climb up to a viewing platform to get an unobstructed view and some decent photos.

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The royal tombs are coolest place you can visit in the lost city of Petra. Be sure to make the climb up to the top for a fantastic view of the city. Take your time to look at the market stalls along the way for some interesting souvenirs. The view inside the tombs is stunning as well.

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  I did not get to the Colonnade Street or the  Monastery. It was very hot and our tour guide was discouraging the donkey and camel rides. I think he was worried about the time and getting us back.

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 Petra is a huge site. There are many day tours but I think one day is simply not enough time to explore this massive, beautiful ruins.

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You need two days at a minimum. Two full days would give you the perfect amount of time to see all the sites at a pace conducive to photography and enjoyment. Stay over night in Wadi Musa ( he nearby town) or under the stars in the Wadi Rum. The Wadi Rum is the desert of  the Bedouins and Lawrence of Arabia and I definitely should have stayed there. It looked amazing.

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We were driving back through the Wadi Rum at sunset. It is “vast, echoing and godlike”said TE Lawrence ( of Arabia).

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Fly safe,

JAZ

What Kids Said When Donald Trump Won

What Kids Said When Donald Trump Won

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

“I don’t think he will make a good president. He doesn’t know how to use his Twitter account and so I presume he will be hopeless at nuclear codes.”

“If Donald Trump deports my mom can I come live with your family?”

“He seems very bossy.”

“This is a hijab. It’s really hot. I don’t sleep in it. If you have questions, ask me. Don’t say terrible, scary things.”

“I don’t think he will be on the list of good presidents in the history of good presidents in the US.”

“If the president says bad things about Mexicans, then other people will too.”

“If he is a bully, how did he get to be president?”

“I woke up to find out that Trump was President and my sister was using my expensive shampoo.”

“I really like it here. I don’t want to leave.”

“Will I have to be a slave?”

“He might be a good president if he controls his anger.”

“Will I have to wear numbers on my shirt?”

“I’m not speaking to white people today. It is their fault,”

“He gets angry and interrupts people. He goes bankrupt a lot. I don’t thing that is good for a President.”’

“Im worried my brother who has leukemia will lose his health care.”

“I am hopeful that Donald Trump will not end the world or the country.”

“He got the most votes. He won fair and square.”

“I hope he is a great president and he doesn’t build a wall and send my friends home. I hope he is the best, kind, amazing president.“

“I’m scared people will hurt me because I am a girl.”

“Im ok with the outcome as long as he makes America better again.”

“Black people don’t vote for white people unless they’re like cool. He said what people wanted to hear, and they voted for him. Also, don’t tell anybody this, but I cried in the bathroom this morning when I found out.”

Children are listening, Speak to them. Let your intelligence and not your fear guide your words.  Hear them. Listen to what they have to say. Make them feel safe.  Read to them.  Encourage them to read books by authors and about people who are different then you are. Teach them about the world.

Fly safe.

JAZ

Dying Around Thanksgiving

Dying Around Thanksgiving

“There is no death. People only die when we forget them,” my mother explained shortly before she left me. “If you can remember me, I will be with you always.” Isabel Allende

My mother died the weekend before Thanksgiving. Now I always associate the planning for Thanksgiving with the helplessness I felt knowing that my mother was dying. I need a constructive way to get through the day.  It involves lighting a memorial candle,  going to temple and saying the prayer honoring the dead.  I do something she loved in nature or in culture and I talk to her in my head.

I was supposed to be ready when my mother died. She was ninety-one when she went into the hospital for the first time since the birth of her children. She had a long life.  “Who is the president?,” they ask to check her mental capacity. The correct answer was Bush. Her answer was “Don’t get me started.” I should have been ready, but I wasn’t.

When we lose a parent as an adult, we are supposed to be prepared for this normal life passage, or at least be  more ready to accept it when it does happen. We are expected to pick ourselves up, close the wound quickly and move on. We should not require so much time to “get over it.” This loss is expected and in the natural order of things.

Losing a parent is extremely difficult for most adult children if you have had a good relationship with your parent and even if you haven’t. (That is harder) My husband had left a couple of years before that so loss was becoming a theme in my life. My mother was my best friend and my support system throughout that time.

She was not religious.  But she went to temple one day a year to say the Prayer of Remembrance for her parents. When I was twelve I started offering to go with her. She replied that  she didn’t need company. She was going to say  “Yiska”.  It sounded very mysterious. Yizkor is the Jewish memorial prayer for the dead. The word means remember.

My mother  didn’t believe in celebrating death. She would say, “Do for people while they are alive.” She had stopped going to funerals  for her dying friends many years before. She must have done a lot because one hundred and fifty people who I did not know showed up for her memorial service and many spoke. They were her theatre community.  They were the people she had met and given theatre tickets to throughout her life. She opened their world or she shared their love for the arts right up to the end. They became her friends and ranged in age from thirty five to a hundred. 

My mother had requested that her ashes be spread over Lincoln Center and Broadway, so she did not miss anything. ‘When you come and visit me, see a play, ballet or an opera”, she said. None of us knew when we said yes, that it was illegal, but we did it.

I sit in temple feeling a weird kind of peace.  “Who is in the first seven days of mourning?”, asks the rabbi.   “Who is in the first eleven months of mourning?  Who is celebrating a yortzheit today?” I stand and say her name.  The ritual seems to help me. As we start the prayer, “yit gadal va yit gadash….  I struggle to keep up with the words in Aramaic. I have the same conversation with my mom every time I say the prayer.  “What are you doing in temple on such a beautiful day?” she asks.

I leave the temple thinking of  a conversation that I recently had with my children. “Can you get us Hamilton tickets in NY?” asks my son. “No,” I reply.  “If Nana was alive, we would have seen it already,“ said my daughter. “If Nana was alive, we would have seen it in preview, at the Public Theatre for half price,” he answered. My son said that he would try for the day of show ticket lottery when he is in New York. The legacy lives on. 

Happy Thanksgiving and Fly Safe Mom

JAZ

Just A Lot Of Walls – Urban Art In Lisbon

  Just A Lot Of Walls –  Urban Art In Lisbon

“I was here but now I’m gone. I left my name to carry on. Those who liked me, liked me well. Those who didn’t can go to hell'” The bathroom wall

Like any subculture, street art has its own slang. You don’t need to know it to appreciate the art but some words that pop up are spot jocking (putting your work up next to a popular artist for some attention), child style, tiling, (both self-explanatory ), reverse graffiti (creating art by taking off and not applying paint) and one that I heard a lot on my street art tour of Lisbon – intervention. (Sainer)

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It’s not a word I hear often unless it involves rehab. Intervention is a street art term used to disrupt public space as opposed to street art which is decorative. My  street art guide in Lisbon used the word  as a form of urban  artistic expression. Art intervention is art specifically designed to interact with an existing structure.  I guess with that definition  all street art can be called an intervention.

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The only street art tour I could find was a private tour given by the street art collective Underdogs. http://www.under-dogs.net/ They have a gallery with exhibitions of interesting street artists, affordable editions at their shared store space, and public art and community programs. They do not do group tours  and instead invest their time in promoting artists and art  education in the community. (Bicicleta Sem Freio)

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My tour guide Marina Rei shows up full of passion and enthusiasm for the art on the streets of her city.  She is excited about the artists in residence and the educational programs  she has just completed.

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Underdogs was started by a famous Portuguese street artist named Vhils.  The word underdog means to struggle against something more powerful than you. They are “underdogs pushing to be top dogs .”  (Vhils)

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The tour includes works by Alexandre Farto AKA Vhils, PixelPancho, How & Nosm, ±MaisMenos±, Finok, Okuda, Nunca, Clemens Behr, Bicicleta Sem Freio, Wasted Rita, Sainer and Ernest Zacharevic. (Clemens Behr)

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Their souvenir shop and offices share space with a paint store. Classic artists, students, serious street artists and vandals come to buy their paint. ( ±MaisMenos±,)

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Their art gallery is in an old warehouse area just starting to be gentrified. The current exhibition is by Spanish street artist Okuda.

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Street  Art started in Lisbon around 1974 when the Carnation Revolution overthrew the Authoritarian regime. Almost all  the territories became  independent.(A Lei Do Meis Forte -Nomen, Slap ,Kurtz, Exas,Lukas)

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Graffiti and tagging began with the new democracy. (Merkel’s Puppets -Nomen,Slap,Kurtz)

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Murals appeared around the city similar to those in unstable South American countries portraying the problems and the dreams. There are still references to it throughout the city.

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The old warehouses of Clube Naval de Lisboa,  are now covered in a work of art by Bicicleta Sem Freio, a group of Brazilian artists. They create murals around the world.

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My favorite work that I saw that day  was a series of girls  by Lithuanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic. He sees himself as a fine artist who paints in the streets and that is evidenced by the combination of spray paint and detailed art.  I really wanted one of these. The last time I thought about cutting a piece of street art out of the wall it was by a guy named SAMO in New York. 

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The  outdoor walls in Lisbon have become a lot of blank canvases for the artists. It is sometimes  a strong form of communication and sometimes it is quieter.  But, there is always a splash of color.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Watching TV Journalists On Election Night In The USA

Watching TV Journalists On Election Night in The USA

“Accepting that life is insane, that bad things happen to good people and that you can find the courage to be grateful for the good in every situation and still move forward is hard (even terrifying), but heroic.” Richie Norton

They were expecting the first female president. After eighteen months of constant TV coverage, it was almost going to be over. As the results became clear, a sort of shocked, glazed expression came over the newscasters’ faces. All the polls were wrong. The nation was much more divided than people thought and the journalists missed that point. It appeared that the media was unaware of how unhappy and afraid many people in this country were.  As the night wore on, it seemed that they had never entertained the possibility that the Republican nominee could win. Therefore, many of us who watched, read and listened to them for eighteen months, were unprepared as well.

The media had a clear anti-Trump stance. For the first time, I knew who the media would be voting for. The coverage of the fighting, name calling, birth places, taxes and emails had overshadowed what turned out to be the main issue of the campaign for the voters.   Change or more of the same?

The 2016 election has exposed the desperate need for political reform in this country. I found myself stuck with two dismal choices. There were many rational reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton – staggering health costs due to Obama care, corruption, economic insecurity, and pro war views. I had more reasons not to vote for Trump.

 Trump voters were not all crazy racists haters. They were loyal, no matter how inarticulately they said it. They were also people who wanted change. They wanted to change the power structure in the Democratic and Republican parties.They didn’t care what the media was saying.

There is a reality here. In their eyes, the educated, elite, traditional politicians were unable to give economic security, avoid terrorist acts, find a health care program that works for everyone or stop Isis. The time was ripe for an outsider to come in with passion and force as it has happened throughout world history. The media in their elite complacency missed that.

I am a Democrat. I’m a little fearful of what is to come. But a President’s to do list doesn’t always match up with what gets done. We don’t know whether the worst will come or not,  but we do know that this election brought out the worst in people. We need to find a way to remember the principles of this country and the Constitution.  At this moment in time, it is best to support the process and call on our highest instincts to unite us. 

Fly safe,

JAZ