Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Winter Tel Aviv Sunrise

Sunrise in North Tel Aviv / late December 2015 / (C) D-A Vider, 2015
Winter weather in Tel Aviv brings beautiful sunrises. Here is Frankie's latest picture from the balcony on Zabotinsky & Sokolov. Got to get up early these days to catch the sunrise. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Israel's Canyons: Negev Desert Hideouts

Cut into the stone landscape, Israel's canyons are small, reflecting small amount of water available to erode canyons

Israel's Negev desert is full of interesting hiking trains. There are a few canyons cut into a stone landscape worth visiting. The canyons are a hiding place for animals and people. Most canyons are small (no American style Grand Canyon here) and are still eroding. Most with steep walls and almost no flat bottom floors. This makes foot travel challenging, even with horses or camels. Local Bedouins use these canyons to hide from storms (sand or rain) as well as short cuts. On weekends, organized groups make the treks up and down the canyons. After two days of rain, I joined a group of hikers from Tel Aviv on a five kilometer (3 miles) hike. The way out started in a boulder strewn section. Wide large boulders, some hard to believe water moved here from above, covered the first third of the climb (about one kilometer). Along the hike we heard birds up on the walls and came across a few donkeys. Rains from the last storm left a few shallow pools. A few plants started to sprout fresh leaves. The fresh greenery accounts for the donkeys on the walking paths. Since Israel is not a destination for hikers, the people in organized group hikes tend to be local Israelis. That said, tourists can till enjoy the wonderful landscape. Ask a hotel concierge for help, they will connect you with a guide or group for a day hike. Tourists who are interested in seeing the beauty of the land will love a desert hike.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Leaving Tel Aviv Bubble: Negev Desert

Beautiful layered rock formation cut by a water stream. Water remains from last two day's rain
It seems like Tel Avivians think life is centered around central Israel. There is Tel Aviv, and a few suburbs around. Once in a while, we seem to remember there is a beautiful country all around us. We also notice how a three hour trip can take us to a whole different environment. The Israeli Negev desert is a beautiful and calm domain. Mostly empty, with it's own slow pace. After a rain storm, Israelis flock to see what water remains and catch a glimpse of rejuvenated plant life. A few weeks to a month after strong rains, flowers fill large expanses. We call it "red south" (darom adom) - after the large expanses of red poppies flowering for a few days. This year the rains have not yet created the usual flowering. The dry wadis (rivers) collecting rain water from surrounding areas are active with flash floods. Smaller streams usually collect water for a few hours and eventually dry up in days. There are a few beautiful areas where water and wind cut stone canyons. More pictures from this trip in later posts. This is an abstract detail of a small water pool.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Intel's 2004 Guide for Doing Business in Israel ruffles feathers

From the book "International Business: Theory and Practice" by Ehud Menipaz, Amit Menipaz (Google book preview)

A long time ago (probably as far back as 2004) Intel published guidelines for "doing business in Israel". Israel's bloggers hit on this document recently when a photo from a trade-show presentation was posted on social media sites. Apparently the document was written by an outside consultant to help American visitors from Intel to get along with Israeli technologists and business managers. Intel has benefited tremendously from their Israeli operations. From chip design to semiconductor manufacturing, Israel has been one of the more productive and certainly innovative locations for the company. That said, Intel has also been very much and American company. This was true for the company until recently, when the company started to branch out around the globe. What Israelis did not worry about a decade ago, is the image of how we do business and cooperate with foreigners. Intel can somehow guide their workers to work better with Israelis. Some foreigners from around the world may not feel the need to do so. I wonder if companies like Yamaha (from Japan), Samsung (from S. Korea) or ABB (from Sweden) will guide their managers when dealing with Israelis. Comments welcome...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tzfat (Safed) Artist District

A large "Rabbi carrying a Torah scroll" statue on top of gallery in Zafed (Tzfat) - Israel's artist colony city in the north

Northern Israel is a mix of different cultures. The most prominent is Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures living in close proximity. While the world around Israel seem to be literally burning, norther Israelis are trying to make a peaceful co-existence a daily routine. One outstanding example is the city of Tzfat (Safed). A small city at the very north of the country. Historically it holds a mystical place to Jewish Kabbalah followers. With a million immigrants from the former soviet republics, the city was designated as first an artists colony, then a tourist destination. Both efforts by the Israeli state left their mark. But unfortunately did not turn out as initially expected. Tzfat today has a small artist population and a few small hotels. To the Jewish Orthodox community it serves as a vacation spot in the north. Some tourism, both Jewish and Christian, make this one of their sites. We visited the city on a rainy Sunday morning. The city was almost deserted with very few tourists. A few art galleries were open and welcoming. A few restaurants were close to business, not expecting any diners. But the old city, with a series of old Jewish Synagogues and small art studios in renovated century old homes was wonderful. The attraction to Christian tourists is close proximity to many original Christian sites in the Galilee, most prominent the Sea of Galilee.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Carmel Market Night Life & Legal Graffiti @ TLV #6

Semi-Legal grafitti on Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian street (near Carmel Market)

or Israel's Secret in Economic and Technology Competitiveness- Lively Night Life

When most Tel Avivians curl up under fluffy down comforters (there is a term in Hebrew which describes curling up under a down on a cold night) - parts of the city just start buzzing with activity. Around the Carmel market, Tel Aviv's large open air produce shopping district, cafes, restaurants and all kind of off-beat shops welcome a different kind of crowd. Mostly young, more visitors and European techies than in other parts of Tel Aviv, they start an evening of quiet drinking, eating and sometimes business meetings. These meetings are usually based on personal relationships, more than just meetings held in offices. I call this hidden element in Israeli culture one of Israel's secret technology advantage. Personal connections in business not common anywhere else. While in silicon valley start-ups are well funded and do their business negotiation in modern facilities, when New York entrepreneurs connect in Brooklyn bars, in Boston they have Harvard square out-of-the-way joints, Tel Avivians conduct business over a small plate at night with a beer or cup of coffee.  


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bialik House Light Show - Mosaic Projection

Mosaic and tinted windows historical collage reflected at the Hanukkah Beit Bialik light show

The Bialik house light show lasted ten minutes and repeated over and over. Live it was an exciting presentation. The blend of Hanukkah, an historic location and projecting light made for a unique experience. Tel Aviv's city hall with artists residents put on shows of all kind. This one is just one example of the artistic and cultural life in Israel. During the holidays there are so many attractions, attendance is spotty, sometimes disappointing. But it's nice to see people out and enjoying the night life. Even for an off beat show at a hidden city street.

Bialik House Light Show - ON FIRE

A house on Bialik street "set on fire" at the Hanukkah light show, Beit Bialik, Tel Aviv, Dec. 9, 2015

Light show on Bialik house (actually the community center building at the end of Bialik street two doors from the official history Bialik house) attracted a few dozen viewers. The show itself was a light projection on three buildings. This building was "set on fire" with light at the beginning of the light show. The picture's colors are a bit "hot" but the effect is true to life. Enjoy! (see also previous post on the light show)

Light Show ON Bialik House - TLV

Menorah projected in a light show at Biyalik house, Tel Aviv (9-Dec-'15)

Hanukkah is one of the most celebrated holidays in Israel. The children are on vacation from school. Sufganiot (essentially stuffed doughnuts) are the sin food of choice. Music and shows (mostly for children) are put on celebrating in many styles the holiday of lights (musicals to puppets to drama). Last night, the city of Tel Aviv put on a projected light show on the Hayim Nachman Bialik house. This historic house, renovated to original grandeur, was the actual home of the Jewish people's first "national poet" - essentially giving the writer and poet an honorary position after the founding of the state. Bialik street has gone through an amazing renovation phase, today looking very much like the 1920s to 1940s when it was built and a center of Jewish culture. Bialik street is a short, but situated in south Tel Aviv which is going through a major renovation phase. Pictures from the work being done will follow. More pictures of the light show to follow (also look for my Facebook and Twitter posts).

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

North Tel Aviv Construction

Beautiful repeating geometric shapes in new north Tel Aviv neighborhood, Derech Namir, Nov. 2015

Tel Aviv proper does not have large tracts of land for new construction. The few empty areas have been spared so far are falling in the hands of developers. Old areas which can be cleared (as the old produce wholesale market on the Cheshmonaim street and the IDF headquarters) are also turning into target for luxury apartment builders. The shift from low cost mass construction to luxury is steady and strong. Waves of large immigration, which defined Israel's construction style in the past, are not expected in the near future. With the continued economic growth of the state, both consumers and builders are looking to buy bigger and better-finished apartments. Also the demand to live in the Tel Aviv area is stronger than ever before. Building large luxury neighborhoods in central Israel is strong now and should continue unless a major economic change hits.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tzfat (Safed) old City

Safed old city at a cold rainy afternoon, the tourists and locals are staying in...

Winter rain in Israel keeps the locals indoors. Yesterday at Safed, a beautiful old city in the north, tourists were few and far between. Art studios were empty so one can linger and speak with the artists. Many restaurants did not bother to open, but the soup was hot and tables were easy to find. Israelis would not be considered daring cold weather people. Even when rains come in intermittent waves, walking the narrow streets of the old city was nice. Green hilly views all around were a refreshing break from Tel Aviv concrete jungle landscape. The old city goes back centuries. Some Jewish institutions (synagogues, yeshivas) are still attended by generation long family lines essentially making this city a testament for life here. The remains of the old city are made up of small homes, mostly two stories high with narrow streets. Built for foot traffic more than animal and machine (cars simply do not fit in these narrow streets). Safed was considered a center of Kabbalah teaching and writing since the 16th century (Jewish mysticism). A few restored old synagogues are a great peek into Jewish life here in the last few centuries. History of the city is a fascinating story reflecting the changes (and wars) in the Israeli upper Galilee region. With the Russian immigration during the 1990s the Israeli government encouraged artists to settle here. This accounts for a number of artist galleries open to tourists.