Living In Israel | Craft x Stew
Category name:Living In Israel

Women’s Wellness Retreat In Nahsholim

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9532506182_048a0d456d_zsource: Orientalizing

I’m a yoga dropout.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. I used to go every Thursday, but I stopped for a few weeks to visit my daughter  in the US. I meant to start back again when I returned to Israel, but apathy took over, and I never did.

Luckily, my yoga teacher is a woman with a merciful and forgiving nature.

When she and a few of her colleagues put together a yoga retreat in Nahsholim, dropouts were allowed to participate too.

Nahsholim, for those few of you who are not experts on Israeli geography, is located on the Mediterranean Sea. It was important during ancient times for it’s ports.

As you can tell by the photos, the place is gorgeous. The beach is spotless.  The water is a deep blue-green color. And, there are so many interesting shells, it’s almost impossible not to crunch them as you walk.

15369698450_a772de871a_zsource: Dany Sternfeld

Classes

There were a number of activities, some being offered several times, so that you could design your own schedule.

  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Restorative Yoga
  • Guided Beach Coves Walks
  • Chair Yoga on the Beach
  • Creative Writing Workshop
  • Massage (optional)

All of this was offered at a set price of 200 shekels (about 45-50 US dollars) except for the massage. There was an extra charge for the massage.

Between the unbelievable view, the classes, and the new friends, the retreat was an amazing experience!

15531628546_5c45c2abd8_zsource: Dany Sternfeld

The Takeaway

I learned a new form of meditation. I don’t know what the official name for it is, so I’ll just repeat the instructions.

First locate a beautiful view. We had the ocean, but I think a park, the sun shining on snow or your front yard would be fine.

Next close your eyes and just listen. Hear everything for 1-2 minutes.

With your eyes still closed, feel. You might feel the sun on your skin or the breeze in your hair. Continue for 1-2 minutes.

Now smell. Take a deep breathe and smell the air.

Finally, open your eyes and look. See the beauty of nature. And realize that you are a part of it.

I found this meditation extremely relaxing and plan on continuing it on a regular basis.

If you try out this mediation, please send me a comment. I’d love to hear about your experience with it.

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History and Culture at Beit Hatfutsot

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Beit Hatfutsot Outside View

source: Talmoryair

I’ve had a friend from the US staying with us for the last week, and yesterday we went to Beit Hatfutsot (or The Museum of the Jewish People) in Tel Aviv.  She was told her husband was in a 35 year old photograph, and she desperately wanted to see it. We never did locate the picture, but we did have a great time.

Beit Hatfutsot Inside

source: Ricardo Tulio Gandelman

Beit Hatfutsot uses an enormous assortment photos, videos, paintings, and sculptures to explore the history and culture of Jews from all over the world. The exhibits are not in chronological order, which I would have preferred, but each section is very clearly presented in both English and Hebrew. There was never any doubt as to what we were viewing.

We didn’t see everything the museum had to offer since we were on a tight schedule, but I did spend a lot of time enjoying the exhibits on art and artifacts from everyday life. There were a couple of objects that really made history come alive for me.

Beit Hatfutsot Haggadah

source: Sodabottle

One was a replica of a centuries old haggadah which I believe was made from leather. Just looking at it made me realize, in a very visceral way, how many years the Passover tradition has been celebrated. It made me feel very connected to the generations of Jews that came before me.

Beit Hatfutsot Painting

source: Beit Hatfutsot

Another favorite was a painting of the Jewish slaves leaving Egypt. When I’ve heard the story of the exodus from Egypt in the past, it has always sounded like an army marching across the desert. In the painting however, it was depicted with groups talking, a mom nursing, people lagging behind, etc. More of a communal walk and less of a carefully orchestrated march. Again, an important part of history became more real for me.

So, how do finish up a very serious afternoon of history and culture? With food and music of course!

After leaving the museum we took a train to Jerusalem and shared a truly amazing meal at Cafe Ne’eman. It consisted primarily of delicious whole wheat bread, butter, omelets, israeli salad and tuna. Plus, there were tiny little cups of fruited tabouli salad, jelly, olives, all kinds of cheeses and both avocado and herbed tahina spreads for the bread. For dessert, chocolate and nut yogurt and two tiny rugelachs (pastries) were included. To top it off, the entire meal was elegantly presented on a three tiered serving piece. Only Israelis could come up with a feast like that!

When our sumptuous meal was completed, we took a bus to the city center, watched a couple of very talented street performers and then headed back home to sleep.

All in all, it was an exhausting, but completely memorable day.

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The Spice Store

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Spice Store 1

I have a new favorite store. It’s located just a few blocks from my home and it sells every spice and seasoning you can possibly conceive of.

Spice Store 2

Among the many goodies I found were both cinnamon bark and cinnamon sticks, edible roses and what I think were preserved lemons. Plus it had at least a dozen kinds of halva (a sweet treat made from sesame paste), pickled lima beans, and all kinds of middle eastern pastries. In addition, it had an enormous selection of unusual grains, wines, and olives. I feel like the list could go on for days. Yum!

Spice Store 3

I skipped all of that though, and spent my time at the spice counter. It had dozens of spices to choose from but in the end I purchased a tiny clear box of saffron, a bag of garam masala and a bag of za’atar.

The next time I go I’m going to check out the wet bins. I saw a wet mix made of all kinds of slivered nuts and dried fruits. I have no idea what it is, or what it’s used for,  but I’m thinking it’s got to be delicious.

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Bat Yam Beach Trip

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Bat-Yam-500x375source: Eran Sandler

I took a trip to Bat Yam beach yesterday with a few friends. Bat Yam is located on Israel’s Mediterranean Sea coast and is very beautiful.

Bat-Yam1-500x375source: philrieberer

I was afraid to take my camera because the sand might have damaged the lens so I found a couple of photos on Flickr that show exactly what it looks like.

Bat Yamsource: Or Hiltch

You might be interested to learn that Bat Yam has “ladies only” days each week.  Except for the life guards, a large portion of the beach is restricted entirely to women (and young children). This is done for religious reasons, as many Israeli women will not show their bodies to men.

On a side note, having lived in Israel for almost ten years, I knew better than to spend an entire day exposed to the harsh sun. Instead, I made myself an impromptu beach shelter. Everyone was amazed at how well it worked.

No pictures are available but here are instructions:

1) Gather several beach towels, 1 large sheet, 4 strong rubber bands and 4 screw-in broom/mop handles with holes at the top.

2. Attach two of the handles together using the rubber bands so that they make a v-shape. Repeat with the other two handles.

3. Push each of the upside down v-shapes into the sand, about 3-4 feet from each other. These are your two walls. They should look very similar to the two ends of a swing set.

4. Drape the sheet across the walls. Since there is no “roof support” that sheet will drag slightly in the middle.

5. Use the beach towels to create the floor of your shelter.

Once the materials were gathered, the entire process took about 5 minutes and stayed up the entire day.

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A New Camera And A Quick Game

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Ever since I left the US four years ago, I’ve been telling my old friends how beautiful my new home is. I just got a new camera two weeks ago, so I decided it’s finally time to prove it. Here is the view from my  balcony at dusk and then, sunset.

How many of you can guess, just from the architecture, which country I now live in? (Looking for clues in previous posts is cheating!)

park-1B

park-2B

park-3B

If the architecture isn’t enough of a clue, here are three more:

1. My current country is in Asia, but near the African border.

2. My current country is the most religiously significant country in the world.

3. My current country is constantly in the US news.

Please send me an email with your answers.

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Recycled Yard Art In Jerusalem

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Yard Art, Jerusalem Style 1BOn the way to a family barbecue in Neve Yaakov, my husband and I had to change buses in Jerusalem.  We were surprised to see that the house right behind the transfer stop had an entire yard decorated with pacifiers and toys.

Yard Art, Jerusalem Style 3At first, we thought the home owners just had an unusual sense of humor, but my niece later explained that the yard art was recycled from items that children had thrown behind the fence while their parents were waiting for a bus.

Yard Art, Jerusalem Style 2

Rather than getting upset or throwing out the junk dumped into their yard, the family transformed it into  unique outdoor decor.

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