Collecting – Life Moments

A little girl, red basket in her hand, walks along the beach. Every other step, she bends down and picks up a shell. When the basket is full she dumps its contents with her mother; who sits nearby, and she continues. The sun is going down, its time to go home. When she gets home she will line all the shells on a special shelf. She likes to collect. She has 30 Barbie dolls, all types; they are from different nationalities and life-styles: “exercise Barbie”, “fashion Barbie,” “stewardess Barbie” and more. Each Barbie gets a shell as a present.

As kids we collect toys. I remember my son’s obsession with having all the different Power Rangers and then all the Ninja Turtles. It seems that with each year there was a new interest. It’s hard to let go, so the comic books, the Transformers, the baseball cards and the key chains all found their place in the basement. All of these are mementos of childhood. Each generation has it’s own collective interest.

There is an interesting show at the New Museum called The keeper. The exhibit is dedicated to the act of preserving objects, artworks, and images, but what makes it most interesting is the passion for accumulating Teddy Bear images by artist Ydessa Hendeles. I have seen another show of her work at the Helena Rubinstein Museum in Israel where she collected wooden dolls from the past century.

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Her installation takes most part of the second floor but other artists tell their story through the display of model houses or, for example, a drawing describing the horrors of the holocaust or painting by Hilma of Klint found after her death.

At ICP here

The exhibit is called “Public, Private, Secret” and is about people telling their story. There is a dialogue between and about the diversity of photographic and visual culture in a wholly unique and unexpected way. Each of the artists presented,tells their own story and by that telling we are experience and are drawn to be part of that story.

One photograph is a compilation of photos of people at a fashion show. We see their expressions and imagine what they see, what they think.

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Collecting is not only about art. We all love shopping for cloths and by this act we do collect. The idea of letting go of a favorite sweater or jacket is hard so we are left with a collection of “favorite cloths” that don’t always fit or may be out of the current fashion.

When my family moved to Westport from the city, the movers complained about the number of book boxes we had. We built a library on the second floor; needless to say it was not enough. We tried to categories the books according to our interests, religion, math, art, travel and more. My collection of cookbooks found it’s place in the kitchen and again some books were delegated to the basement.

Life would not be interesting without friends. It could be someone we met on a flight that becomes a friend or someone we see at the gym. Over the years we keep collecting friends. The friendships are the ties that help us go through life. We share happy and sad moments.

What I find fascinating is that as we age, our collective memories make up the building blocks that helps with the challenges of what we call The Third Age. Each experience enriches us. Our mind is like a computer that’s filled with data.

I spend the last week in Israel visiting my Mom. The Biennale of Israeli Ceramics at the Erez Israel Museum is an exhibit not to be missed.

There is also an interesting Picasso show at the Israel Museum. It’s called Drawing Inspiration. What strikes me is that at the age of 86 Picasso painted 365, which is an artistic autobiography, and one can look at as a collection of life-moments.

I started asking my mom to tell me about her life in Tel Aviv. To which school did she go? Who were her friends? Where was she when Ben Gurion declared the birth of Israel? I want to collect these memories, these are her personal stories and through them I get a glimpse of her in a different time and place.

I have seen the performances of an artistic group called Public Movement at the Tel Aviv Museum where they reenacted the declaration of the state and then took a group of ten people through the museum, behind the scenes and through the exhibits. There is a show at the Guggenheim museum called But a storm in Blowing from Paradise: contemporary Art from the Middle East and North Africa. The show presents works by artists from different countries including an interesting video by Uri Gersht walking in Eastern Europe and an installation of sand by Attiya. This exhibit also hosts a performance by the Public Movement Group. I signed up for a one-on-one briefing about art in Palestine before 1948. I did not know but according to their research there is a void and although art was created at that time there is hardly any art to be found by Palestinian artists at any museum in Israel or the West Bank. When I arrived at the museum, it was in the middle of installing a new show. I was met by an agent and was lead through back doors to a room on the 7th floor by the agent who proceeded to tell me the story of the lost art. Here again I found a collection of memories.

In the age of technology when we hardly stop to smell the roses or send a hand written note or read a book in real print, Collecting takes on a different meaning.

 

 

 

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From Fès to Rabat – honoring the king

We arrived to Fès which is North of Casablanca at night. The Hanair Hotel sits on hill and we could see the whole city from our room.

Today, the Jewish population is small but when you visit the cemetery you find graves of tzadikim from the 18th century and a royal blue building marks the grave of Soulela, a young girl with whom the prince fell in love. The king, at that time, decreed that all Jews had to convert to Islam, and many did…. but Soulela refused. The legend tells that they dragged Soulela around the city and left her head on a stick. Her remains are buried here. She is a symbol of the strong Jewish identity and the pride the Jews in Morocco have to their believes. [Some would argue that Soulela’s behaviour contrasts favourably with that of Maimonides, who as a young man in Fès reportedly converted to Islam see here – ed] As we saw in Essaouira the graves are painted white. The name of the cemetery is “Beit HaChaim” which translates as “The House of the Living”. There is a strong belief in Morocco in praying  at the graves  of the tzadikim, scholars, and asking for a blessing.


  
Next to the Mellah ( Jewish quarter) is the King’s palace. We tried to take a photo of the guards but were chased by the palace guards who demanded that we delete them. The artwork on the palace gates is typical of Moroccan intricate carving. Fès is know for its artists. We visited a pottery factory and watched the potter literally grow a tagine dish and of course had to shop, for some to bring home.


  
The medina is the largest in the country. We walked through the narrow alleys and through the shouk, shopping for carpets and leather goods. It was exhausting.  When you buy any item at the shouk the haggling starts, it is a ritual that left us tired.

We left Fès and rode the bus to Rabat, the capital. We had a “date” with a Colonial Major and Mr. David Toledano, the head of the Jewish community in Rabat to lay a wreath at the tomb of King Muhammad the V and King Hassan the II. After laying the wreath, the Rabbi said El Moleh Rachamim and the colonel thanked us for coming. King Muhammad the V protected the Jews from the Vichy government during World War II [see here] and that was our way of saying thanks.


 
Lunch was held at Mr. Toledano’s home and Mr. André Azoulay who is the advisor to the king joined us. This is a Muslim country and although the Jewish population feels comfortable, it is important to know the King. Mr. Azoulay talked about the Israeli dignitaries who visited Morocco and about his desire to help negotiate peace in Israel. There used to be an Israeli embassy in Morocco but it closed when the Intifada started. Today Israelis need a visa to visit Morocco, many come on a “Roots trip” to look for their ancestors graves and homes. Mr. Toledano’s home is in an area called Sale where the we saw the American embassy and others.  Also in attendance was the US Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew Lussenhop and Kyle Spector, Foreign Service Officer.

In the afternoon I decided to check the newly built Contemporary Museum. It has a nice exhibit of Morocco Now art since the 195’s. As we were planning to visit the Moroccan Biennale in Marrakech, it was a good preview.

On the way back to the hotel we passed the Palestinian Embassy which brought to mind the reality, as comfortable as we feel now it can all change in a heartbeat..

New beginnings – 2015

Martin Buber said :
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

I believe that traveling opens our mind and Intrigues or awaken our senses. Life is a journey so in a way we start traveling the minute we are born.

I started the year 2015 with a trip to Hong Kong . We were invited to a chinese wedding on January 1st. I like numbers so somehow I saw the hidden reason to the trip. We are celebrating 33 years of marriage (3+3=6),2015 sums to 8 and 8-6=2 which where we started our family which grew to 8+6=14, 1+4=5..Ok , I am not getting crazy just having fun.

The sun welcomed us in Hong Kong , with no fog in the morning we ventured to Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha.
We got to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car at the hotel which allowed us to skip the line. Getting off the cable car it feels like you stepped into Disney Land, which is only a subway stop before we reached the island.

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There was even a kids talent show but the Giant Budhah is impressive and eating vegeterian lunch at the monastery was a treat, they dont cook meat or fish because they don’t believe in killing living things.

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The sun continues to smile upon us so we took the car to the Victoria Peak ( the peak). As it was clear we took the peak circle walk and got a 360 view of the Harbour, China Sea and Hong Kong city. The building looked like a lego set but very close together.

We took the tram down , the grade is so steep that the buildings outside seem to lean at 45 degree angel.

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I wanted to check the contemporary art galleries and to my delight some familiar names, Gagosian, White cube, Lehman Maupin opened branches in HK, Central Island. Well two were closed Haanart , a chinese gallery opened a show for a HK artist .

To celebrate New Year we chose to eat at Mamason, a mix of chines, thai food with a set menu and moscow mule and champagne. After we walked to see the fireworks. I have never seen the streets so crowded. Police was everywhere, the streets were blocked for car.Everyone was celebrating and going from bar to bar.

The next day I read that 35 people died in a stamped in Shanghai.

The wedding took place in a party hall , it seems that pictures are very important. The bride and Groom and three albums done before the wedding with different dresses and in different locations.
The ceremony was basically signing a document witnessed by a notary.
After the relatives were lined up for photo op and bringing red envelop which has money in it and gold jewlery to the couple who in return were serving tea to the relatives for the gifts.
The meal had 13 courses served family style. No dancing just pictures and food. We learned that the bride and groom were up since 5am with other rituals.

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The next morning we boarded a flight to Cambodia.

So, what’s for dinner?

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I have been meaning to write this post since I came back from India….. I promised to post some recipes so here it goes.

When we were in Udaipur we had the privilege of participating in a cooking demonstration.

Spice is what gives food a definition. Two weeks eating Indian vegetarian dishes I came to the conclusion that there are five basic spices that are used in different combinations. In the spice box we can find, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt,cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds. All these help with digestion (fennel), brain memory ( cumin) and blood ( turmeric) in addition we use a combination of spices called Gara-masala which has black pepper, cinnamon, black cardamon, cloves, coriander seeds, bay leaves and cumin seeds roasted and ground.

Dal is one of these dishes that we find almost in every meal. It consists of lentils, red, yellow, black or white.  It is a source of protein so no need for meat.

Ingredients
1 cup of any kind of lentil
2 finally chopped onions (you can make a paste in the food processor)
10-12 cloves garlic
1/2 teas turmeric powder
1 teas red chili powder
salt to taste
1 teas garam masala
3 medium size tomatoes,finely chopped or paste
4 tbls oil or ghee or butter (ghee is a clarified butter that’s used in many Indian dishes
1 tbls chopped coriander for garnish

Method:
Boil the soaked dal (lentil) with 1/2 liter water in a pressure pan or over an open pan for 10 minutes.
Take pan, add the onions and crushed garlic till brown then add all the spices and the tomatoes.
Mix well and cook till oil and masala seperate.

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Then add boiled lentils and mix well. In the end, add pinch of garam masala and coriander, cover for two minutes.

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During our trip we had plenty of Chai Masala which is a black tea spiced with dry ginger, green coriander, black pepper, cinnamon and milk. The spices are combined, not roasted and ground into a paste.

The recipe for this delicious tea is:
1 cup water
2 pinches of chai masala

Bring to boil, add Assam tea or any tea leaves, now add 1 cup milk and sugar to taste. Bring to boil for two minutes, cover for two minutes , strain and drink.
It’s a refreshing way to start the day instead of coffee.

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There are others dishes and let’s not forget the bread. In India, we did not use utensils but used the bread as a fork.  The food tastes great.

Chapati is the bread that’s made each morning. They say that the first chapati is given to the cow (well they are sacred), it’s made of:

6 cups of whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups water.

Slowly, slowly add the water and make a medium dough. It can be stuffed with spinach or onion or even condensed milk for sweetness.
method: mix well, roll little dough, put the filling in the center and cover it from all sides. now roll it again and apply ghee or butter to both sides and fry on a special flat pan.

It sounds a bit complicated so I promise a demonstration and a complete meal soon.

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Bitea’avon!

Where is home?

Israel is the country that shaped my personality. The place where I grew up, went to school, army and university. There is a feeling of belonging that cannot be explained in words.
I have been away from home, my family, my kids, my grandkids for almost a month. The home I created with my partner for life, the home we build together, the children we raised. This home is the US.
In the last month I have travelled from the US to Israel to India to Israel and back to the US. I explored new country, met new people, formed new friendships, spent time with my mom.
I feel like a tree, the roots are in Israel, the trunk is me, growing, the brunches , the leaves , the flowers are what I did and will continue doing …
Life is a journey and although this blog started as a travel journal I invite you to continue exploring with me. Let the tree grow…

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