Art-Spring??

I will start this post with an unpublished post from last year:

“It’s April and although they say:”April showers brings May flowers” the sky is grey and it is hard to believe that we will ever get some sun and that the buds will come out from the frozen ground.  To lift me out of my melancholic mood it was time to find some art that will bring flowers into the world.   The Brooklyn Museum has two great shows: “Kehinde Whiley” show which is called “A New Republic” and Basque’s “The Unknown notebook”.

It’s April 2016, and you’d think nothing changed.  It’s like in the movie, “Groundhog Day”. Each April we think the weather will warm up but NOOOOO, we need a winter coat when venturing outdoors. Storm King sculpture park opens its door April 6th as one of the signs of change. Like daffodils coming from the ground.

Museums open the season with interesting shows. The Met at Bauer which opened at the “old” Whitney building with a show called “Unfinished”. It’s an historical review of works that the artist left deliberately unfinished  or let us the viewer decide left to our imagination.

Michelangelo work is divine, the image is so angelic.

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Andy Warhol leaves us wondering whether we will get a complete guitar image if we just follow the numbers.

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Picasso lets us wonder if his painting of man gazing at a semi nude  model is indeed a partial work or he really intended it to be partly penciled in and to think the it was painted on a dish towel.

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The Moma opened with two shows Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty

Degas is familiar with his ballerinas but he is a master using a monotype print technique. We can see the phases of the work, first it’s the black and white drawing and then the adding of color. Degas made these monotypes in 1818 as a way of searching for a new way to capture new life. You can see that what’s important is the process of innovation and less the finished product.

The other artist that is  having a retrospective and  was unfamiliar to me is :

Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective. A “forest” of palm trees welcomes the viewer. Marcel is Belgian. He takes us through his mind and gives us a glimpse at his thoughts. His works were created at the time when other artists did Pop and Minimalistic Art. He turns to poetry and ask “what is art?”. His answer is whimsical and playful. He plays with modules/eggs as objects that hide something. He pays homage to Magritte’s pipe and the folk tale of the raven and the fox. He created an installation that one feels like walking into the fable, surrounded by the words that describe it. He continues creating his own museum. His art is apolitical and poetic. A must see.

 

The Jewish Museum brings lots of color in the form of Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History; Isaac Mizrahi fashion designs from the 70’s and 80’s. One can imagine wearing these today. His fabric boards which welcome the visitor let us enter his world and we can feel as though we might be designing the fabric.

The weather continues to play tricks on me. The sun is out but you still need to wear a winter coat and add a scarf and gloves. Next I will be walking in and out of the galleries in Chelsea so hopefully it will get warmer…

 

Contemporary art in old palaces

I returned few weeks ago from a trip to Morocco. As you read in previous posts we immersed in the culture and the jewish community but what picked my interest were two exhibits that showed that Morocco is moving forward.

The museum of contemporary art in Rabat was build by King Muhammad V in the last ten years and houses art by Morocco artist from the 60th till now. You can the influence of world art on the Moroccan artists.

The photo in the middle is of the king.

Next I found out that in the last 6 years Moroccans have been hosting a biennale in Marrakech and as this was out next stop on the trip I could not pass this opportunity to see it.

Artists from Africa and the middle east were invited to place their art in old palaces. It was fascinating to see Elanazue humongous piece as a wall hanging among the ruins of the palace. Each artist was given a space to crate and the results can be seen through some of the photographs.

My fascination with placing contemporary art in old mansions led me to the newly opened Renwick Gallery in Washington Dc. The show is called WONDER. Nine contemporary artists created site specific installations. Each artist took over a gallery. The artists used material that are found and therefore it gives the feeling of craft and not the usual paint or photography. Light plays an important roll in viewing the works. It does leave you with a sense of wonder and amazement.

 

 

COME TOGETHER-Aipac 2016

“Come Together”. This is what the Aipac conference organizers chose to use as their slogan for this year. Its election year and it is important to stress that the relationship between Israel and America is bi-partisan. It does not matter which party the candidate comes from as long as s/he supports Israel. The idea that this year: 18,700 people gathered for two days of lectures and presentations and one day of lobbying is heart warming. I have been coming to this conference for the last 12 years and each time it gives me strength to see so many activists coming together and knowing that what brings them together is ISRAEL. The lobbying agenda does not seem to change much since I started coming to the conference. Iran, Foreign Aid and the security of Israel are the three topics that we make sure that our representatives pay attention to. This year we ask that they will sign a letter; one in congress and one at the senate.

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But let me start at the beginning.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and joined the shabbaton group for a Havdala service that featured Eli Gold, a comedian we heard before. It was a nice way to begin the three day marathon of seriuos lectures and presentations.

Sunday 8am started with breakfast for the national council with Tal Becker (Hartman Institute) telling us that Israel as a home for the Jewish People achieved a state of normality, Israelis want and need to be treated like part of the Hevre-like any other country. We are safer then we were in ’67 or ’73. There are thriving Jewish communities in Israel that are exceptional in technology. Our society has many challenges but we have to remember how much we have achieved. “The work we do at Aipac is a privilege that we should be proud of.”

This was a nice way to officially start the conference before an interview of Ambassador Ron Dermer by David Horowitz (editor of Times of Israel). The ambassador talked about the major threat on Israel: IRAN , IRAN, IRAN..It sounded like a broken record and although we have been talking about it for the last 10 years, it is still the most important issue we lobby for. He reminded us that Israel never asked for an American soldier to risk his or her life for our country but we need the monetary help and the back up of the American government. As for peace, President Abbas is not part of the solution. He refuses to sit down and negotiate.

Next we heard from John Jickenlooper, Colorado governor who talked about the BDS  (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement which divides us. Colorado, under his leadership to divest from any fund that ascribes to BDS. He also talked about the partnership regarding conserving water and aerospace. Colorado has a lot to gain from collaborating with Israel.

The first breakout session I chose was called “A Military Edge: Ensuring Israel’s Military Superiority.” Ron Prosor who was the Israeli ambassador to the UN talked about the challenges of using the UN as a place for talking and trying to bring the Arab world, Saudi, Egypt and Jordan to align with Israel. Daniel Tab from the Uk talked about the wave of immigration to Europe which is changing the map. The world is changing, the Arab world used to be first in math and architecture but there hasn’t been any further innovation. Their society cannot move forward. Israel needs to have an edge or Q. M. E.  (Quantitive Military Edge) to be secured. The next breakout session was about an Israeli TV show called FAUDA. It tells the story of an elite army unit whose soldiers train to go into the West bank dressed and behaving as arabs in order to target terrorists. Fauda means chaos in Arabic and its also used as a code word when the soldiers are discovered. It is fascinating. From the clips we could glimpse into the life of the Palestinians as well as the dilemma that confronts the Israelis.

The evening program started with Vice President Biden’s speech followed by Buji Herzog; the opposition leader who described his new peace/separation plan. He believes that we need to move from hoping for peace and a two state solution which he does not condemn but rather try to break the stalemate and combat terror and dis pare by encouraging investment and state-building in the areas that will form a future Palestinian State. Israel is a resilient nation and can overcome any challenge. He emphasized the importance of US-Israel relation.

The main attraction for day 2 were the presidential candidates. In the morning we welcomed Hillary Clinton and in the evening we heard from Kasich,Trump and Cruz.

Hillary talked about the shared alliance and commitment to strength of  Israel. She said that the next president will immediately face a world with peril and opportunities .

Kasich talked about his first trip to Bethlehem where he met Avital Sharansky. He promised to honor the legacy of President Truman. He mentioned the Jewish community of Ohio and the memorial for the holocaust. He believes that everyone needs to live his life bigger then himself to provide hope for a better world.

Trump started by talking about Iran and promised to dismantle the Iran deal. He continued by telling us about his marching in the Israeli day parade during a “dangerous time”. He promised to veto any resolution against Israel that will come in the UN. He said he will meet Netanyahu immediately after becoming president.

Cruz started by mentioning the story of Esther, as Purim will start in two days. He mentioned Elie Wiesel who said that silence encourages the tormentor not the tormented. He called to defend together the US-Israel friendship to the next generation and stand strong together.

Paul Ryan , the speaker of the house spoke as well and also condemned the Iran deal.

It was a long day. These last two days were filled with speeches.

Tuesday morning we heard from Bibi Netanyahu via video and Senator Melendez who is a great friend to Israel.

The learning part of the conference is over and it’s now time to lobby which is the most important action. The impact of 18,000 people on the hill with a unified message of Israel is too powerful to describe. Each congressman and senator will be visited by an activist. Lets hope we can bring peace and be successful in pleading the case for Israel.

 

Marrakesh – a kingdom unto itself

It takes four hours from Rabat to Marrakesh. The road goes through Casablanca and what a better way to pass the time then to watch the movie Casablanca!  As Rick was saying goodbye to Ilsa we entered the red city. The first stop when we arrived to Marrakesh was Jardin de Majorelle or as it is known: YSL garden. In 1923 Jacques Majorelle decided to live in Marrakesh, he purchased a palm grove and asked the architect Paul Sinoir to build an artist studio in Art Deco style. In 1980 YSL acquired the garden and restored it and installed a Berber museum in it. The “Majorelle Blue” with green palm trees and cactus cast a magic spell when you enter  the garden. It is the perfect first step into this mysterious city.


Marrakesh is more of a tourist city then the other cities we visited. The weather is warmer and there are palm trees everywhere.

We continued with a tour of the mellah and visited the only synagogue left inside the walls . There used to be 35 synagogues. As the community shrunk they closed. We were told that there is a daily minyan.

When I found out that the Marrakesh Biennale will take place during our trip I booked a tour. Their Biennale is spread among five sites. We visited two of them which were located in old palaces. I will write about the art in a different post. As it is Friday we got ready for shabbat and joined the Ohayon family for Kabalat Shabbat.

Marrakesh is known for palaces and magnificent hotels. We visited the Mamounia hotel and had a cooking class at La Madison Arab . I  know there are many more palaces and grant hotels to explore and we only scratched the surface.

Saturday morning we drove towards the Atlas Mountains to visit a Berber village. The guide explained that that the Jews arrived to Morroco as merchants and settled in small villages all around the mountains. These are humble dwellings. The houses were build from mud. We visited Zohara who demonstrated the art of making Moroccan tea. As a tea lover I found it fascinating as she did not use any measuring but only her hands and estimated the timing by the color.

The medina in Marrakesh starts with the Djemaa El Fena  Square. Water sellers, fortune tellers, snake charmers and henna ladies welcome the visitor even before entering the shouk. I was looking for the traditional tea pot which I found and got some glasses. I will practice the Moroccan tea serving with the mint from my garden.

The trip is almost over. It’s been an incredible journey. This country is mysterious  yet magical, complex and intriguing.

There is more to explore so maybe I will be back…

 

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..

Rendezvous in Casablanca – Weekend by the sea

It’s been 35 years since I visited an Arab country.  The first time was during our honeymoon to Egypt. I remember thinking at the time that even though Israel had signed a peace treaty I should not speak Hebrew. Well, after getting a cup of coffee, being polite, I said “TODA”. The waiter smiled and wanted to know all about the Israeli girls in Tel Aviv. There went my cover…

Fast forward last week, I flew from Israel through Paris to Casablanca. Men wearing long galabias, women with head coverings are the sights that welcome at the airport. I remind myself that I’m here on a JDC mission to explore the life of the Jews in this country. 350,000 Jews lived in Morocco prior to the 1950s and Jews have lived in Morocco since the 18th century. But only few thousands are left today. The king’s grandfather, King Muhammad the V protected the Jews during WWII.  Many Jews left after the six day war due to unrest but those who stayed do not currently have to fear for their safety.

There is something mysterious about this country-Morocco.  Maybe it’s the bright colors or the delicious food or the stories about Alibaba and all the evil eye superstition. I knew on coming that there is a lot to uncover.

We left the airport and  drove four hours South to the seaside town of Essaouira. The landscape reminded me of southern Israel. Flat, fields of wheat, some sheep grazing. Very picturesque.  Essaouira is a port city.  Its buildings are painted in blue and white. The sand is soft, the sea was calm but we heard it’s the best place for surfing. We entered the Medina, the walled city, walked through the shouk, picked fish at the port which we had cooked for lunch.

The Jewish history is rich but out of the 35,000 Jews who lived here, one is left.We visited the Rabbi Chaim Pinto synagogue which is used for ceremonies. The cemetery which is located by the sea had silhouettes of women and men on the gravestones but no names. We were told that the Rabbi had a list of who is buried where.  Later the custom changed and we found some graves with Hebrew writing but it was hard to find a name as the letters eroded over time. There are two other synagogues that are being restored but most of the houses in the Jewish Quarter (the Melach) were destroyed.

There was tranquility in the air, it felt like a vacation. Tomorrow we will go to Casablanca to meet the rest of the group and start our mission.

Ma’al-salamah (with peace) Essaouira.


  Portuguese arch , star of David signify a Jewish home  Annual “Fantasy” commemoration of Independence from the French
 Rabbi Chaim Pinto grave in cemetery. Nameless graves identified by chart.Which would you have for lunch??

  Berber Musicians  Argan nuts.

It was mostly a boring ride but we did discover some goats on a tree.  Yes it’s an argan tree and they just wanted to eat some nuts and entertain the passengers.

Casablanca is a bustling city, lots of people on the streets, just hanging , walking , haggling to sell something or just busy going to work. It’s a business city. We took a driving tour and saw some nice villas and lots of construction.

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King Hassan II commissioned a French architect to build a mosque that will provide Casablanca with a single landmark monument. He was hoping to finish it for his 60th birthday but it took few more years. The result is the third biggest mosque in the world. 25,000 worshippers can be inside and 80,000 outside. It took around 10 years to build the mosque.  The moorish designs are incredible. I must say it is intimidating to imagine so many people listening to one person. The influence that one person, the imam, can have on all those who came to pray is scary.

great mosque womens sectionWomen’s section at the mosquedsc05915The Mosque in Casablanca

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The Hammam at the bottom of the mosque. It has never been used.

 There are 3 Jewish clubs in Casablanca. We ate at the one that has some tennis courts. We had a nice kosher meal and continued to the only Jewish museum in the arab world to see some of the treasures that were collected after the Jews left.

The Jewish community in Casablanca amounts to a few thousand Jews. There are many synagogues, most of them are family synagogues.  Few primary Jewish school, a co-ed Maimonides high school, some kosher butchers. We visited the Neve Shalom primary school. The kids were singing in Hebrew  and getting ready for Purim. At the high school we met with students.  Jewish and Muslims who are studying together and learning to respect each other. We visited an old age home and a clinic that serves the needy with their health needs. From a glance you can sense the pride that Jewish Moroccans have for their country and heritage. Although the young generation leaves the country to study abroad and, for the most part not return, the hope is that the king will continue to favor the Jews and maybe more will come back.

As they say in Arabic, Inshallah or in Hebrew Amen..

We bid goodbye to Casablanca and to Rick’s cafe and Humphrey Bogart and continue North to Fez. Stay tuned for the next post.

 

Art: New York – Tel Aviv

I am sitting at the  airport waiting for a flight to Israel reflecting on last week art exploration. I will miss the Armory show but i know I will see some art on my travels.

A weeek ago it was raining, sitting at home was not an option but seeing the show that just opened at the Guggenheim Museum was the thing to do.

It’s a show by two artists who collaborated together over 30 years. It’s really a retrospective by the Swiss artists Peter Fisceli and David Weiss. They use the alter ego of a rat and bear. One is ugly and one is cuddly. Their work spans multi disciplines. You can find incredible videos, sculptures of basic shapes like a circle or drawing with words that describe the world from their eyes. On the third floor there is a display of duo sculptures  which describe opposites emotions  as sad and happy, high and low and more. One feels like one is walking into the mind of the artists.

It is an unusual retrospective as the work is not set in a chronological order. One feels like an explorer and can be part of the creation of the art.

Next I chose to explore some exhibits in Chelsea. Here is what I was able to see within two hours.

Paul Kashmir Gallery on 515 west 27 had a show of Kenneth Nolan, bright colors, not so exciting. I think the show closed and he is showing some new artist.

Fredericks & Freiser Gallery on 24th street has a group show. Mostly it’s bright colors and geometric shapes. One artist in particular caught my eye; Cary Smith. I have seen his work at the Aldrich Museum, his work is  refreshing and it  makes me happy just think of it.

On the same Street, a few galleries east, Jack Shainman Gallery is showing a South African artist name Claudette Schreuders.  The sculptures are great but the lithographs are even better and  are actually affordable.

I will  have to go back to pick one.

Off to 20th street, the Jack Shainman second gallery which is really his first, has a show of three artists; El Anatsui with his metal scrap pieces that creates a carpet, Bernd and Hila Becher show their series of  water tower photographs and Maya Lin who designed the Vietnam memorial with sculptures and video that’s called “What is Missing”.  This group show is called “Of a Different Nature”. Each of these artists is great on his/her own.

My next stop was at David Zwirner Gallery. You have to take off your shoes and enter the mystical, magic world of Doug Wheeler. A play with fluorescent light. You can see the relations between light and space. It’s called “Encasements”.

To finish the day I stopped at Sikkema Jenkins Gallery on 22nd street to see the Amy Silman show. She had a retrospective a few years ago at the Boston Museum but here we see some familiar work and as well as some new and exciting pieces.

Five days in Israel, I had to check what’s new at the Tel Aviv Museum. I saw an amazing exhibit by the prolific, complicated artist Roee Rosen. It a survey of his works but this was not clear when you enter the exhibit.  There are four portraits and names of artists and I assumed that these are artists that Roee was inspired or influenced by. I asked myself whether he curated his own show or maybe some are his works and wondered, is so, which ones? Well, after spending two hours between the works that touched on different mediums: video, painting, writing, photography and the printed book I was still not clear whose work I was experiencing. Honestly I was confused, something did not compute. On further research I realized that my assumption was all wrong. Roee invents characters and creates body of work for them so Justin Frank, Maxim Komian, Mishkin are all Roee. The work “A virtual Journey through Eva Braun’s Eyes” is all from Roee’s own imagination.

He is either a genius or has multiple personalities, or maybe both… I will leave it to my psychology friends to analysis.

I think this show is a must-see but needs time to understand  the complexity of the work.

In the past few years I have started to work with clay so when I saw the display in the basement of the museum of what looked like a potter’s workshop I was drawn to explore.

Ben Hagari video of pottery starts with him making a vessel on a wheel. You only see hands, then the artist covers himself with clay and moves slowly towards the fire… while a snake crawls on him. The movements of creating the pot and the snake slithering seem to be in rhythm. It is amazing.

I find it interesting that the two shows; Peter Fisceli and David Weiss at the Guggenheim and Roee Rosen at the Tel Aviv Museum, although continents apart are both complex body of work by very creative prolific artists.

 

 

Art-Miami 2015

The week after Thanksgiving I flew South to Miami. Even with global warming, New York has started to get cold so a little sun and little art made sense.

Well…. I did see Art but although it was not cold it rained and was windy.

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Janet, Ronit and the Pink Ladies, Adele and Eva

Janet, Ronit and the Pink Ladies, Adele and Eva

 

When it comes to Art Basel – Miami 2015 it was an uber plethora of fairs. Close to 20 different fair and museum shows and gallery pop-ups . There was no way I could cover it all but here are some of my favorites.

Pink was the color chosen to welcome the fair goers: Untitled on the beach  and design Miami among them

Ceramic was everywhere, creative and looking primitive but colorful.

 

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Hass Brothers

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley

Katsuyo Aoki

Katsuyo Aoki

Kusama

Kusama

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Talking about primitive…. the Perez Museum had a show of Aboriginal Art from Australia. I found it meditative and sometime … my eyes just saw dots. Maybe that’s what Kussama saw when she created her Christmas tree.

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The main fair at the convention center was full of big name artists and some emerging ones at Nova.

Overall there was comfort in seeing familiar names and colorful works. It brings a smile and elevates the spirit when it rains outside and the news is not so uplifting.

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Thursday morning , The Rubell’s presented their collection which this year was themed, No Man’s Land showing women artists and offered with an artistic breakfest created by their daughter Jennifer. This year we were treated to buttered bread.

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Hanukah is here! At Design Miami there was an installation called EL SOL, sun,  by FR-EE  Fernando Romero Enterprises, a Mexican artist using Swarovski crystals to create an installation that explores humankind’s relationship to the sun

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TO LIFE

It’s almost 30 days since my uncle ( Dod Amy) passed away. He was my mother’s younger brother. He was battling brain cancer for the last two years . When my mom called to tell me that she went to visit him , she was crying and found it hard to describe the way he looked. She said that his touch was soft, he could hardly smile but his blue eyes shined. When my cousin called to tell me that my uncle sailed to the other world I changed my plans and was on the next plane to Israel. This was mid October. My original plans were to come at the end of October  to celebrate Ima’s birthday but being with her during this time was important. Tears of sorrow mix with tears of joy welcomed me when I stepped off the elevator, as my mom said , now I got you for extra two weeks.

During the shiva I spend lots of time with my mom, my aunt and cousins. My uncle was a great person. He loved life. He loved his family and loved spending time at sea.

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My mom tells a story how he always loved tinkering and fixing or building stuff. One day when they could not find him at the end of the school day, they did finally discover he was busy fixing a clock. He wrote beautiful letters to his grandkids.One in particular was timely. He wrote it 20 years ago on the week that Yitchak  Rabin , the prime minister of Israel was murdered. He wrote to his grandson that it was the worst week in Israel he remembers. The prime minister was killed by a Jew. He also tells about putting his sandals away and wearing  socks and shoes as the weather got cold. Nov 4th 2015 marked the 20 year since Rabin was murdered. Saturday night October 30 there was a rally for democracy and peace at Kikar Rabin. The tel aviv municipality put photos of Rabin in the square , you can see how Rabin life interweaves into Israel history. The crowd was a mix of young scouts and older people from the right but mostly left.  President Clinton  was the guest speaker. He spoke of the special relationship he had with Rabin and the need to continue on the path for peace. Yonathan Ben Arzi, Rabin’s grandson called for the need to change. Singers sang and the narrator stressed the need to unite and speak in one voice, voice of peace, because if we don’t change the murderer has achieved his mission. We can not be divided. It was powerful and exciting to stand and be counted.

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Today November 11 we will celebrate my mom’s birthday. I wish her a long healthy life. May she have lots of nachas from her grandkids and great grandkids. My mom is an inspiration with her smile and caring for us all.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY IMA, TO 120.

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Is it Saigon or Ho-Chi-Minh??

We arrived at the last stop on our vacation. It’s the longest time that we have been away from our family and we miss them all.
The capital of Vietnam has had name changes that reflect the ruling “party” and just like in olden days when a new king came to power the old temple gods were destroyed, so too in modern day Vietnam.. the names of cities change with a change in ruling power. The capital of the South was called Saigon but when the North won the war and the name changed in 1975 to Ho chi Minh to honor the North’s communist leader. (see)
The sheer number of motorcyclists is mindboggling.  They even take to riding (or is it swarming) on the sidewalks during rush hour. It’s like an army attacking the road. You’d think that you’d get used to seeing this mode of transportation but it is endless…

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We walked around central city and took the elevator 49 floors to the top of The Bitex center to get a 360 degree view of the city.

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The architecture is a mix of French colonial with magnificent building mixed with more typical small building.

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We visited the Post Office building which is a working post office, then off to the Notre-Dame Cathedral and to the Presidential palace or as it was renamed The Reunification Palace. Lots of important meetings took place here and there is huge bunker in the basement. It’s an impressive building built in the 1960 architecture style surrounded by palm trees with a helicopter pad on the roof. It is associated with the 1975 fall of Saigon to the North , yet it is as though time stood still.

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The war remnants museum is a reminder of the Vietnam War. There is an exhibit that details the US involvement and an exhibit of war photos among them the famous naked girl running from a napalm bomb. I have been reading the book ” The Girl in the Picture” which gives a detailed description of those days. There are also photos of the victims of Agent Orange the chemical weapon that was used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Remnants_Museum

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Vietnamese use herbs to cure almost anything.  We visited the Fito museum which is an old house in the Chinatown neighborhood and learned that the bones of different animals can produce different medicines. Dried herbs are used with water to remedy other stuff. Cinnamon for example mixed with water can cure diarrhea.

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To finish our tour we visited two temples. One is a religion called Caodi which is a monotheistic religion established in 1926.

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Our adventure is almost over. We started in Hong Kong which is reminiscent of New York with the tall buildings and a modern skyline.  Then we flew south to Cambodia to embrace the ancient temples of Ankgor Watt . We then continued to Vietnam; starting in the North and going down south as-if following the communist Viet-Cong on their way to conquer the south. It is a different world. We tasted different foods with different spices. We learned about the religion.  We talked to people who grew up after the war yet carry in their DNA the effects of the war.

Vietnam is a communist-run country with strong capitalistic influences. The government is corrupt but there is no alternative…  yet. There is beauty in that world and I am glad we chose to go there.

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