Thursday, October 27, 2011

Combating Israel’s Gender Segregation


The modern state of Israel usually maintains its image as a country where women enjoy full equality with men. However, incidents involving gender segregation have been surfacing more frequently recently. Now, women are ready to fight back. A sing-in protest has been organized to remind everyone that women are people.

Last month I wrote how the ultra-Orthodox residents of the town of Beit Shemesh were trying to impose their extremist ways on the women of their community, including violently attacking a religious girls school which they felt imposed on their interpretation of modesty.

The ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim was in the news when residents divided their streets into men-only and women-only sidewalks, separated by fences and cloths that would prevent the opposite sex from being seen.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Druze Villages on the Carmel


Halabi is playing a shepherd’s tune on his flute to the delight of his guests. The Sheep Restaurant is a popular stopping point at the entrance of Daliat-el-Carmel, a Druze village high on the slopes of Israel’s Mt. Carmel, a short twenty minute drive from Haifa. A few minutes before, as the diners were enjoying dishes of lamb mixed with rice, pine nuts and walnuts; kebab with minced meat and mint; grilled chicken breasts; stuffed vegetables and fries; Halabi was strumming chords on his oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument common to Middle Eastern music.

‘Welcome back my friends,” Halabi greeted us upon our arrival, although it’s not clear whether he actually remembered us from our previous visit a few years ago. He was eager for us to try the business meal, which started with tasty homemade humus, tehina, pickled vegetables and sour labneh, all accompanied by Druze pita, which is similar in shape and texture to an oversized pancake.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest


This post is slightly different than my previous ones. Today’s “blogfest” is a one-day festival interconnecting the blogs of aspiring writers across the Internet, introducing readers to other like-minded bloggers.

I learned about this “blogfest” at a blog called The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment, written by Matthew MacNish from Cumming, Georgia. As Matthew writes in his introduction, he runs his blog “in an attempt to help other novice writers avoid the mistakes I made in the beginning of my road to publication.” That is the reason many new writers turn to the blogs of others: to get advice and encouragement and to learn from the experience others gained as they wrote their way to publication.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Setting Gilad Shalit Free


A yellow ribbon is tied to the rearview mirror over my dashboard. I received the ribbon one afternoon a few months ago when I drove by the protest tent outside the prime minister’s home in Jerusalem. Activists at the tent and all over Israel were marking five years since Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by the Hamas. Pressure calling for a deal with Hamas which would set Gilad free had been constant since he fell captive but has been growing even stronger in recent months.

Last night the Israeli government approved a deal which would set Gilad Shalit free. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Tribute to Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011


Right from the start, let me say that I have never owned, or used, an Apple electronic device. The computers I operate have always been PCs or laptops, empowered by Microsoft operating systems from one version of Windows to the next. My phone is certainly not smart, yet it’s endowed with features and services that I don’t know how to use. I enjoy digitally recorded music, but I’ve never purchased it online nor listened to it on a gadget small enough to fit in my pocket.

In addition, I can’t recall offhand a single Pixar movie I’ve seen. For me, a tablet is something to be swallowed before bedtime and an application is something to send in the mail. 

I am a digitally challenged adult. Yet even so, everything in my day to day use of modern technology has been made possible in its present format by the innovation and vision of Steve Jobs.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mozart’s Last Aria, a Review


According to Wikipedia, the cause of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s death on December 5, 1791, at the age of 35, “cannot be known with certainty. The official record has it as hitziges Frieselfieber (severe military fever)” while researchers “have posited at least 118 causes of death.” The article states that “the most widely accepted hypothesis is that Mozart died of acute rheumatic fever.”

But what if something more sinister was involved? In October, 1791, not long after the premier performance in Vienna of his opera, “The Magic Flute”, Mozart told his wife that he knew he would ‘not last much longer. I’m sure I’ve been poisoned,’ he said.

Who but a madman would poison such genius? This is the question raised in the new novel by Matt Rees, Mozart’s Last Aria. Rees, author of the award-winning Omar Yussef series about a Palestinian detective, calls his historical whodunit mystery a “crime novel in A minor.”