Mini Israel

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Where else can you see the whole country in one day? From Jerusalem’s holy sites to the desert’s magnificent views and then straight to the bustle of Tel Aviv? This experience is possible only in one place: the Mini Israel Park.

With hundreds of amazingly exact models of the most important architectural, historic, archeological, religious and social sites of Israel, including 25,000 7cm high miniature residents within the models themselves!

Mini Israel is an exciting attraction that features over 385 beautifully crafted exact replica models of Israel’s most important historical, religious, archeological and modern sites, at a scale of 1:25.

The models are situated among rich greenery, Bonsai trees and thousands of miniature figures of all types Israelis.

The park is located in Latrun-, just off the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, 20 minutes from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

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Shabbat Shalom

Once a week all around Israel and the world, Jews celebrate Shabbat – The 7th day of creation in which GOD rested. There are many, many ways to celebrate Shabbat such as total rest at home, hiking, going to parties and more. Many Israelis love to take their family and hike on Shabbat. They use this time in order to appreciate what they have and enjoy the land.

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Tel Aviv

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History

Tel Aviv is the first all-Jewish city in modern times. Originally named Ahuzat Bayit, it was founded by 60 families in 1909 as a Jewish neighborhood near Jaffa. In 1910, the name was changed to Tel Aviv, meaning “hill of spring.” The name was taken from Ezekiel 3:15, “…and I came to the exiles at Tel Aviv,” and from a reference in Herzl’s novel Altneuland, in which he foresaw the future Jewish state as a socialist utopia.

Most Jews were expelled from Jaffa and Tel Aviv by the Turks during World War I, but returned after the war when Britain received the mandate for Palestine.

The population of Tel Aviv gradually swelled, particularly as Jews were stimulated to leave predominantly Arab Jaffa by unrest in the 1920s. Arab forces in Jaffa shelled Tel Aviv in 1948 prior to the beginning of the actual war. Jewish forces responded by capturing the city two days before declaring independence. The declaration was made in the home of the city’s mayor Meir Dizengoff.

Because Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan after Israel became an independent state in 1948, the temporary capital and home of the government offices was in Tel Aviv. Several government offices remain there and Tel Aviv is still home to foreign diplomats from countries (including the U.S.) that don’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Modern Tel Aviv

Israeli Economy Grows At Over 6.6% Annually

 תל אביב המודרנית

Today, Tel Aviv is Israel’s second largest city (after Jerusalem), with a population of 380,000, and among the big city problems it shares is traffic congestion. Things are more spread out in Tel Aviv than the smaller cities, but it’s still often easier — and faster — to travel by foot. Walk along the Orange Routes, for example, to get acquainted with the city. Though much of the city is a drab gray, many buildings, especially along Rothschild Boulevard, actually have an interesting architectural pedigree that can be traced to the Bauhaus architecture of pre-Nazi Germany. There are more than 5,000 Bauhaus buildings, the largest number in any one city in the world. In fact, the city’s “outstanding universal value” led UNESCO to recognize it as a “World Heritage Site.” Tel Aviv is also known as, “The white city”, named so in account of the the bright colors of the building style: white, off-white, light yellow. There are over 1,500 buildings marked for historic conservation in Tel Aviv.

When desert cliffs turn into waterfalls……….

Waterfalls and rivers in the middle of the desert?

Once or twice a year, the cliffs of the Judea and the Negev desert turn into beautiful, astonishing waterfalls.

When it is raining in the desert in Israel, the ground (Chavar in Hebrew) turn into a cement like substance that does not allow big amounts of water to percolate through it. The result is that vast amounts of water start to flow toward lower ground. Those waters quickly gather into streams and rivers and create this special phenomena of Shitafun שטפון, or flash flooding.

ALWAYS check the weather BEFORE hiking in the desert!                                                                   Even if it rains 30 miles from you and you have beautiful sunny skies above you, you could be tapped in a flash flood. In some of the canyons, the flood water can be as much as 12+ft tall.

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The cliffs of the Judea desert during a flash flood. The water traveled all the way from the mountains of Jerusalem.

 

 

Safed Cheese

Deep in the old city of Safed, a city of mysticism in the upper Galilee, nestled Hameiri Cheese factory.

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My family resided in Safed, or Tzefat in Hebrew, for generations. My father is of the 6th generation that lived in Tzefat צפת. Our family story is of a family that left Spain in 1492 due to the inquisition and decided to emigrate to Constantinople (Today’s Istanbul in Turkey). After many months of traveling, they reached the city and stayed there for a few years. But they wanted to be in the Holy land, so they packed their belongings and went out on a tiring and dangerous journey to Israel.  Once they reached Israel, they found Safed and its spirituality and decided to reside there for generations and generations. When you go and visit the Meiri Museum, please take a moment to located the Vovik or Toyster families and send me a picture.

“My grandfather’s grandfather came here in 1840” Meir HaMeiri, the present proprietor of HaMeiri Cheese states “in the years after the tragic earthquake and subsequent Arab attacks almost destroyed the Jewish community. Emissaries were sent from Tzfat to Jewish communities throughout the world to find support for the decimated and discouraged Jewish community in Tzfat. When one of the emissaries arrived in Iran, my great-great grandfather announced that he would do more than send money to Tzfat….he would bring his family to live there!”

Meir HaMeiri, circa 1840, brought his family to Tzfat, and they moved into the building at the bottom of the Old City, just above the cemetery. There, Meir began to produce cheeses.

“Many villages copied our cheeses” today’s Meir HaMeiri said “but the HaMeiri Cheeses of Tzfat were the originals.” The dairy, HaMeiri Cheeses of Tzfat, uses sheep’s’ milk to produce their unique brand of delicious salty and smooth cheese, and the center is in the same building where it all began in 1840.

 

 

Shabbat Shalom – Nachlaot, Jerusalem

Nachlaot is one of Jerusalem’s most interesting areas. A cluster of neighborhoods in the center of the city, Nachlaot is characterized by its narrow, windy lanes, quaint, stone houses, and pretty, hidden-away courtyards, and was originally built in the 1870’s by Jews looking to escape the increasingly crowded and noisy Old City. In recent years, Nachlaot has grown to become one of Jerusalem’s most popular neighborhoods having been hugely gentrified over the past thirty or so years, and taking an hour or two to stroll through the streets, you can understand why.11800614_973388326017035_6385490663648572029_n

Tanks under the snow

Israel tallest mountain is the Hermon -Approximately 6600 ft, or 2248 meters above sea level. It is also the ONLY ski resort in Israel. Snow in the Hermon can pile up to 12 feet and even more, which also means that there is no border fence between the ski resort and Israel. Israel protect this border by advanced means and special units (will discuss at a later time) and to this day there were no incidents at the site.

During the 6 Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, fierce fighting took place on the mountain who has a great strategic adventure due to its height. As a result of those battles, there are several remains of armored vehicles both in the Golan and on Mt. Hermon. During the ski season which is usually Feb. – late April, Israelis actually ski over a Syrian Tank and other remains without even knowing they do so.

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תל מראשה Maresha

Tel Maresha is the tell of the biblical Iron Age city of Maresha, and of the subsequent, post-586 BCE Idumean city known by its its Hellenised name Marisa, Arabised as Marissa.5211195971_94d9525676_b

Mentioned already in the Book of Joshua (15:44), Tel Maresha expanded greatly in the third century B.C.E. and became a well-planned Hellenistic city. The Idumeans and their neighbors outfitted the cave complexes below with a variety of industrial features, including columbaria for raising doves, olive presses for producing oil, and looms and dyeing bins for manufacturing textiles. What is more, the chalk excavated from the Tel Maresha caves supplied a ready source of fresh building material for the city above.

The Bar Kokhba Rebellion against the Romans 132-135 C.E.

The Bar Kokhba revolt marked a time of high hopes followed by violent despair. The Jews were handed expectations of a homeland and a Holy Temple, but in the end were persecuted and sold into slavery. During the revolt itself, the Jews gained enormous amounts of land, only to be pushed back and crushed in the final battle of Bethar.

When Hadrian first became the Roman emperor in 118 C.E., he was sympathetic to the Jews. He allowed them to return to Jerusalem and granted permission for the rebuilding of their Holy Temple. The Jews’ expectations rose as they made organizational and financial preparations to rebuild the temple. Hadrian quickly went back on his word, however, and requested that the site of the Temple be moved from its original location. He also began deporting Jews to North Africa.

The Jews prepared to rebel until Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah calmed them. The Jews then satisfied themselves with preparing secretly in case a rebellion would later become necessary. They built hideouts in caves and did shoddy work building weapons so that the Romans would reject the weapons and return them to the Jews.

The Jews organized guerilla forces and, in 123 C.E., began launching surprise attacks against the Romans. From that point on, life only got worse for the Jews. Hadrian brought an extra army legion, the “Sixth Ferrata,” into Judea to deal with the terrorism. Hadrian hated “foreign” religions and forbade the Jews to perform circumcisions. He appointed Tinneius Rufus governor of Judea. Rufus was a harsh ruler who took advantage of Jewish women. In approximately 132 C.E., Hadrian began to establish a city in Jerusalem called Aelia Capitolina, the name being a combination of his own name and that of the Roman god Jupiter Capitolinus. He started to build a temple to Jupiter in place of the Jewish Holy Temple.

As long as Hadrian remained near Judea, the Jews stayed relatively quiet. When he left in 132, the Jews began their rebellion on a large scale. They seized towns and fortified them with walls and subterranean passages. Under the strong leadership of Shimon Bar-Kokhba, the Jews captured approximately 50 strongholds in Judea and 985 undefended towns and villages, including Jerusalem. Jews from other countries, and even some gentiles, volunteered to join their crusade. The Jews minted coins with slogans such as “The freedom of Israel” written in Hebrew. Hadrian dispatched General Publus Marcellus, governor of Syria, to help Rufus, but the Jews defeated both Roman leaders. The Jews then invaded the coastal region and the Romans began sea battles against them.

The turning point of the war came when Hadrian sent into Judea one of his best generals from Britain, Julius Severus, along with former governor of Germania, Hadrianus Quintus Lollius Urbicus. By that time, there were 12 army legions from Egypt, Britain, Syria and other areas in Judea. Due to the large number of Jewish rebels, instead of waging open war, Severus besieged Jewish fortresses and held back food until the Jews grew weak. Only then did his attack escalate into outright war. The Romans demolished all 50 Jewish fortresses and 985 villages. The main conflicts took place in Judea, the Shephela, the mountains and the Judean desert, though fighting also spread to Northern Israel. The Romans suffered heavy casualties as well and Hadrian did not send his usual message to the Senate that “I and my army are well.”

The final battle of the war took place in Bethar, Bar-Kokhba’s headquarters, which housed both the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) and the home of the Nasi (leader). Bethar was a vital military stronghold because of its strategic location on a mountain ridge overlooking both the Valley of Sorek and the important Jerusalem-Bet Guvrin Road. Thousands of Jewish refugees fled to Bethar during the war. In 135 C.E., Hadrian’s army besieged Bethar and on the 9th of Av, the Jewish fast day commemorating the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples, the walls of Bethar fell. After a fierce battle, every Jew in Bethar was killed. Six days passed before the Romans allowed the Jews to bury their dead.

Following the battle of Bethar, there were a few small skirmishes in the Judean Desert Caves, but the war was essentially over and Judean independence was lost. The Romans plowed Jerusalem with a yoke of oxen. Jews were sold into slavery and many were transported to Egypt. Judean settlements were not rebuilt. Jerusalem was turned into a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina and the Jews were forbidden to live there. They were permitted to enter only on the 9th of Av to mourn their losses in the revolt. Hadrian changed the country’s name from Judea to Syria Palestina.

In the years following the revolt, Hadrian discriminated against all Judeo-Christian sects, but the worst persecution was directed against religious Jews. He made anti-religious decrees forbidding Torah study, Sabbath observance, circumcision, Jewish courts, meeting in synagogues and other ritual practices. Many Jews assimilated and many sages and prominent men were martyred including Rabbi Akiva and the rest of the Asara Harugei Malchut (ten martyrs). This age of persecution lasted throughout the remainder of Hadrian’s reign, until 138 C.E. (Encyclopedia Judaica)