Israel's Good Name

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Keshet Cave

In Galilee, Israel on October 16, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Today, the first real day to vacation on Chol HaMoed, we went to Keshet Cave, a unique shallow cave offset by a huge stone arch on the border with Lebanon. There were a surprising number of vacationing people there, teeming all over the rocks, jostling for space with the random herd of goats that meandered through, grazing leisurely. But, when we finally made it to the famous arch, this is what we saw:

The arch and the cave below it looking out over the low hills of the Western Galilee

An Israeli guy came about the same time as we did and began setting up to go rappelling off the arch. That was quite exciting until a tour group called “Extreme Israel” (or something like that) came and set up an even cooler rappelling site. The guide helped the eager teens into the web of ropes and carabiners and instructed them on the descent. As the small crowd watched the “daredevils” drop into the abyss, several spectators asked how much it would cost for them to participate in the rappelling. The price for a free-fall drop on the side of a mountain is 70 NIS, something I may have considered doing with friends.

Rappelling off the arch and into the cave

Once we’d seen enough of the xtreme sports we left the cliff edge and found a memorial for the kidnapped and slain soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser who were captured by Hezbollah back in 2006 in the general area of the Keshet Cave. I have been to the kever (grave) of Ehud Goldwasser in Nahariya when going for the Yom HaZikaron tekes (ceremony) so now I have covered two of the bases of the history behind the tragedy.

The memorial of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser in the park

Hopefully Gilad Shalit will be returning soon.

Rosh HaShana

In Galilee, Israel on October 3, 2011 at 6:13 PM

This post is one that differs slightly from the norm. But, I hope everyone enjoys it nonetheless.

This past week and weekend contained the two days of Rosh HaShana (New Year) on Thursday and Friday and the subsequent Shabbat. During this stretch of holy days I prayed mostly at the Hesder Yeshiva of Ma’alot along with family and friends. The beauty of praying at the Yeshiva lie in the choices of so-called ethnic forms of prayer. Within the walls of the Yeshiva there were three choices; Ashkenazi (European with heavy German influences), Sephardi (Middle Eastern and North African) and Temani (Yemenite). I stuck to the Sephardi one but ventured into the room of the Yemenites to both bask in the ancient traditions brought straight from Yemen and to say “hi” to my Yemenite friends.

Yeshivat Hesder Ma'alot

What makes the Yemenite prayers so special is the unique pronunciation of the words as well as the traditional form of prayer which has been chanted out for thousands of years. To give a taste of how Yemenite pronunciation of the Hebrew words differs from the pronunciations of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi worlds here is a video that I found on YouTube of a 6 year old boy living in Israel who has learnt from his parents and teachers the traditional method of reading Hebrew:

The sounds of the Yemenite pronunciation is only made better when the one reading it is a hardcore Yemenite. There was one member of the congregation who was dressed in clothing of yesteryear, remarkably similar to the dress of this Yemenite Jew from the late 1800s, mini-turban and all.

Yemenite Jew from the late 1800s

The most vocal of all the members has already been mentioned in my blog in the “An Israeli Wedding” post. He is the soldier in fatigues dancing “The Special Yemenite Dance” (as can be seen here: ). Just recently he also moved into the house next to ours making us neighbours as well.

Here are some more YouTube videos of the unique Yemenite tongue:

Religious school in Yemen:

Yemenite chazan (cantor) reading prayers:

Now, not only was my holiday made special by the Yemenites whom I fraternised with I was also fortunate to stumble upon a local Ma’alot tradition of doing tashlich by the fountain across from the Iriya (City Hall). Tashlich is, for lack of better words, a symbolic approach to ridding oneself of sins by casting them into the water. Usually, or preferably, done on Rosh HaShana itself the residents of Ma’alot who live within walking distance sojourn together to meet in a large crowd to cast sins into the cascading waters. In the two years I have lived here I had not known of this event and just happened to go there while walking and talking with friends. Hidden gems, I say.

The fountain by the Iriya

On a side note, the dolphins in the centre of the fountain are none other than results of the Ma’alot Stone in the Galilee Symposium which I have wrote about before (see and from TouristIsrael who published a slightly edited version of my blog post