Friday, April 25, 2014

The Incident with the Solar Garden Lights

Sunlight. If there is one thing that Israel is blessed with, in abundant proportions, it's sunlight. High tech companies are busy developing ways to best harness Israel's solar riches. In the Arava Valley, in the southern desert, Ketura Sun is the country's first solar field, consisting of 80 dunams (8 hectares or 20 acres) at Kibbutz Ketura. The field is made up of 18,500 Suntech photovoltaic solar panels that produce a total of 9 million kilowatt hours per year. Residents of Kibbutz Yahel, where my wife and I were founding members, have solar panels covering their roofs, not only to produce electricity but also to keep their houses cooler.

On the roof of our home in the Judean Hills, similar to houses and buildings all over Israel, we have solar panels to heat our water. We don't have as much sunlight as in the Arava, but still there is more than enough to go around.

During the spring months, sitting on our patio for breakfast, barbecues, or to read, or chat is a very enjoyable experience. Recently we planted additional spices in our herbs garden, cut down the tree that died after being severely damaged in the December snowstorm, and as a special treat, we purchased four small solar garden lights, to enhance the garden at night.

After a full day's exposure to strong sunlight, the garden lights failed to light up. What had we done wrong?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Israeli Republic of Iran

Prominent Iranian writer Jalal Al-e Ahmad visited Israel before his country's Islamic Revolution, seeing in the State of Israel a model for Islamic Iran. His words are especially significant today.

In February, 1963, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, a prominent Iranian writer who is credited for helping lay the groundwork for his country's Islamic revolution, visited Israel at the invitation of the Israeli government, along with his wife, Persian novelist Simin Daneshvar. His report of the trip, "Journey to the Land of Israel" was harshly criticized by the revolutionary clerics who had seen Al-e Ahmad as an ally in their struggle against the West, and against the Shah.

What upset the clerics so much was that Al-e Ahmad saw in the Israel of the early sixties a model for the future of Iran. Writing in eloquent Persian, the author stated that Israel was a velayat, or guardianship state, due to the fact that it speaks for not only its citizens, but also for the Jews of the Diaspora, who outnumbered the citizens of the state.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Where Do You Go for Inspiration?

The other day one of my Twitter author friends commented that she hadn't accomplished as much with her novel during the week as she would have liked. My tweet in response was, "Relaxing on the weekend can help you write your novel more than you know."

Sometimes the best way to make progress with your writing and/or editing is by taking a break. I'm not referring to a situation where your progress is stymied by writer's block (I've previously written an article detailing How to Cure Writer's Block.) I'm talking about a situation when your writing is proceeding slowly, but surely, according to your vision, but, you need to come up for air, get refreshed, and recharge your batteries.

Getting away from everything, even for a short time, can reignite your creative juices. Take a step back from your writing, stop thinking about your plot and characters for awhile, and instead clear your mind. Taking a break from your work-in-progress can help you refocus on your writing.

So, where should you go for inspiration? Sometimes the answer is right in your backyard. Join me as I step outside.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Words of Simon Schama

The Story of the Jews subtitled "Finding the Words 1000 BC - 1492 AD", is the first of two volumes to accompany the acclaimed television documentary series.

In a video introducing the documentary, which was produced for BBC and is now being shown on PBS, prize winning author and Emmy Award winner Simon Schama states:
"What ties us together is a story.

The story kept in our heads and hearts.

We told our story to survive.

We are our story."

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Walk North of the Old City of Jerusalem

Damascus Gate
Having lived in Israel for over forty years, I am constantly amazed that I can still discover new places, cultures, and religions about which I know very little. There are magnificent buildings, churches, and gardens I have not previously explored. There are shops I have not visited and restaurants where I have yet to eat.

The solution to this is to continue to travel around Israel and learn even more about the country, its history and traditions.

This time my wife and I took a walk north of the Old City of Jerusalem, along Nablus Road in the eastern part of the city. This is the Arab, Palestinian half of Jerusalem, a bustling commercial hubbub rarely visited by Israelis, yet there is much to see, including a cave where many Christians believe Jesus was buried after his crucifixion.