Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Too Many Ladas

As I walked the back streets and alleyways of Sofia, one of my regular pleasures while living in Bulgaria, I couldn’t help but notice the many tired-looking cars parked in the older neighborhoods. Many of these vehicles were Ladas, a very popular brand during the heyday of communist rule due to its reputation for reliability in adverse conditions. In the traffic-filled streets of the Bulgarian capital I saw Ladas rumbling ahead alongside sleek, highly polished Mercedes and BMWs. For some reason, I latched onto this make of car, seeing it as a symbol of my temporary home.

During my wanderings, I took pictures of the aging vehicles I saw, often mislabeling them when posting on our Bulgarian blog. For me, every old car I saw was a Lada. My Bulgarian friends corrected me and I learned that my pictures were actually of Moskviches and Trabants.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Israeli Frog Hops Back from Extinction

Considered an extinct species since 1996, and not seen since the 1950s, the Hula Painted Frog (Discoglossus nigriventer) made a surprise reappearance in the Hula Nature Reserve in northern Israel last week.

Stop! A blog post about a frog? Yes, a blog post about a frog!  

We can learn a lot from the following story about the resilience of Nature and the ability of man to make amends for his past mistakes and take positive steps to fix the environment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews

One of the first things I learned about Bulgaria when my wife and I went to live there for two years was that the country’s Jews were spared the horrors of the Holocaust. Despite the fact that Bulgaria sided with the Nazis and that its government passed anti-Jewish legislation and planned for mass deportations, its entire community of 50,000 Jewish citizens survived World War II intact.

How exactly did it come to be that the Jews of Bulgaria were saved?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

16 Years since Rabin’s Assassination: Has Anything Changed?

I can still remember sitting glued to my television set in shock on Saturday night, November 4, 1995. It was one of those pivotal moments when everything changed. After having witnessed television reports of the largest peace rally in Israeli history, we suddenly saw the screen fill with news of the assassination of our prime minister. Yitzhak Rabin (1922 – 1995), one of our country’s greatest generals and statesmen, had fallen victim to the bullet of a right-wing Israeli radical.

How could it be that an Israeli leader working for peace would be killed for the ideas in which he believed?

The disturbing picture accompanying this post is graffiti spray-painted this week on the walls of the home of Hagit Ofran, the “Settlement Watch” director of the Peace Now organization.  The text translates as “Ofran, Rabin is waiting for you.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Are These Writers Nuts?

Here’s the challenge: write a 50,000 word novel during November. That’s 1,667 words a day, every day, for thirty days. Don’t bother to edit now, just write. Who would take on this wild challenge? I have an excuse (I am currently in the advanced editing stages of an already written novel), but some 250,000 writers from all over the world are hitting their keyboards furiously every day this month. Some of them are published authors. Are they crazy?

Welcome to November, designated as the National Novel Writing Month. That’s NaNoWriMo for short, NaNo for even shorter…