Wednesday, October 22, 2014
The bridge in Mostar, one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and this despite the fact that it's actually a reconstruction of a 16th century Ottoman bridge. The original Stari Most, as it is called, was destroyed in 1993 during the Bosnian War.
Read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Ethan Rosen, an Israeli-born lecturer at the Vienna Institute for Social Research, returns to Israel to attend the funeral of a long-time family friend, but declines an offer to write the friend's obituary. But when an obituary appears, written by Rudi Klausinger, a colleague up for the same professorship position at a prestigious Viennese university, Rosen is quick to compose an article disputing statements Klausinger included in the piece.
Except, the arguments to which Rosen objects are actually quotes from an article he had himself previously published. In essence, he engaged in a dispute with his own writing. And then a cassette arrives, stories and instructions from the dead friend relayed from beyond the grave. Rosen is called back to Israel once again when his father, an Auschwitz survivor, becomes ill, in desperate need for a kidney transplant. Klausinger shows up as well, in search for his biological father.
Friday, October 10, 2014
A heavy snowfall greeted my wife when she flew into Sofia, and we realized our adventures would have to wait. We settled into a daily routine of working, shopping, laundry, cooking, and living ordinary lives in a strange and unfamiliar country. Still, we were eager to venture out from our apartment and begin our explorations.
Just around the corner from where we lived I discovered a very small chef's restaurant, called The Golden Apple. On my way home at the end of one of our first work weeks, I stopped in and made dinner reservations. It was Friday night and it would be good to go out.
The waiter brought menus to our table, and we asked for the English version. Realizing that we were newcomers to the country, the waiter asked, "Have you ever tried rakia?"
Read the rest of this article on Eat Stay Love Bulgaria.
Monday, October 6, 2014
An outsider reading this extensively researched review of the way women are treated in the modern Jewish State might think that the author was describing Alabama of the 1950s. With women segregated to the back of certain public bus lines; prevented from singing in the Knesset and banned from some official ceremonies; and forbidden to pray according to their beliefs at Judaism's holiest site; it would seem that Israeli society is suffering from a severe case of gender discrimination.
"The cold, hard reality facing woman in Israel today is that while Israel has made certain strides for women's rights, it has not achieved the mission for which it was created. It is not equal for all, regardless of gender," Sztokman says. But what is more alarming, in her opinion, is that "there is a growing faction of Israelis who are threatening not only equal rights for women, but also their fundamental freedoms and their presence in society."
What follows is a report from the battlefield, detailing the war against women in the Israeli army, on the buses, in the courts, and on the streets of the country. The combatants on one side of the conflict are, initially, religious feminists. Their enemy is not just the ultra-Orthodox extremists who abuse them verbally and physically; the problem, the author states, is much greater. Sztokman's book sets out to tell how these feminists, and their allies, are "protecting the world from the spread of religious extremism."
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The name of the country in Montenegrin, the local language, is Crna Gora, which means Black Mountain. This is because of the dark, nearly black pine trees that once covered the mountains. Today those slopes are covered with dense green forests overlooking wild mountain rivers and beautiful, clear lakes.
Driving south from the Bosnian border, we headed into Durmitor National Park, a mountainous range popular with skiers and snowboarders in the winter, and hikers and bikers during the rest of the year. In the distance we could see Sedlo Mountain (height 2,180 meters / 7,152 feet), which looks like a horse's saddle.
Read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Israel "is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable," Cohen wrote in a July, 2006, column. "The idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now."
Stating that there was no point in condemning the fetid anti-Semites of Hamas and Hezbollah, Cohen suggested that Israel "pull back to defensible -- but hardly impervious -- borders. That includes getting out of most of the West Bank -- and waiting (and hoping) that history will get distracted and move on to something else."
Referring to that article repeatedly in his new book, Israel: Is It Good for the Jews? (Simon & Schuster, September 2014), Cohen explains that "the word 'mistake' was itself a mistake." The mistake, he simplifies, was the "belief that somehow the Arab Middle East would politely make way for European Jews."
Saturday, September 20, 2014
This was the start of my correspondence with Bulgarian author Stoyan Valev (When God Was On Leave; Time To Be Unfaithful; The Bulgarian Decameron). He wrote to me in Bulgarian and I responded in English. At some point, Google Translate failed to correctly relate our messages, as Valev assumed that I was married to a Bulgarian woman who would help me with translations.
The following is my interview published on Knigi News. The questions were given to me in Bulgarian and I wrote my answers in English. I am sincerely grateful to friends who helped me with translations to enable this interview. I must admit that what pleased me most was the description of my image that accompanied the article. The caption was: "Ellis Shuman, writer and friend of Bulgaria".