Monthly Archives: January 2015

The amazing Bialik street – Tel-aviv

Bialik street

Bialik street

Bialik Street is located in the heart of Tel Aviv. It begins on Allenby Street and ends with Bialik Square, where the first City Hall of Tel Aviv was situated.

This is probably one of the most beautiful streets of Tel Aviv. One must take the time to stroll and admire the abundance of beautiful homes and historic monuments, which are a delight to the eyes.

Most of the buildings were renovated in 2009 to celebrate the commemoration of the                                                            Centenary of the City of Tel Aviv.

The first Tel-aviv Town Hall

The first Tel-aviv Town Hall

Some of these houses are of great beauty with all architectural styles coming together,                                                     Ecclectic, International, Art Deco and Modernism.

Next to the old Town Hall there is the Felicia Blumental Music Center, dedicated to the pianist of the same name. The building, constructed by the notable Shenkar family, with its orange color also incorporates the Music Library of the city.

Haim Nahman Bialik House

Haim Nahman Bialik House

Bialik Street is named after Hayim Nahman Bialik, one of the greatest Hebrew language poets, who today is considered to be the National Poet of Israel.

Born in a religious family he studied in a yeshiva (Talmudic school). After that he moved to Odessa, a mythical city of cultural crossroads , where he met Ahad Ha’am, the spiritual Zionist, who became his friend.

He traveled to Palestine for the first time in 1909. In 1920 his friend Maxim Gorki helped him fleeing the Bolshevik dictatorship and Hayim Bialik left his native Russia.

As a very wealthy man with a great reputation,  he was much in demand by the local figures  and was promised that a street be dedicated to his name, where he would build his house in 1925.

Bialik Street has four museums:

The Bialik House, the Museum of the painter Reuben Rubin, the Bauhaus Museum (house of Shlomo Yafé), and, at the Bialik Square, the new Museum of the History of Tel Aviv – Jaffa, where once stood the Town Hall of Tel Aviv.

Six mayors of Tel Aviv held their functions there : Meir Dizengoff, David Bloch, Moshe Shlush (a few days), Yisrael Rokach, Haim Levanon and Mordechai Namir.

Bialik Street un 1930

Bialik Street un 1930


Cafe Sapphire in 1930

Cafe Sapphire in 1930

At the end of Bialik Street there is a cafe with an unusual history. It was called the Sapphire Café, Café Nightingale, Gan Rave and, for fifteen years Café Bialik.

Since its construction in 1930, it became an attraction for students and intellectuals living in the neighborhood. Hundreds of people would come to admire the fascinating new interior design style of the building. On Thursday evenings, the terrace was used as a dance floor.

During the second Intifada a Palestinian person committed a bomb attack on Cafe Bialik.  One man died and several were wounded. It was quickly reopened, but today it covers only a part of its original surface.

In October 2007, the owner of the building, Danielle Weiss, with the permission of the Mayor of Tel Aviv, wanted to destroy this historical building in order to build a high tower.

How ironic… at that specific time the city was making preparations to celebrate the 100th birthday of the White City….

A petition was then signed by the residents’ associations and friends of Tel Aviv . They succeeded in restraining the decision to tear the cafe down..

Additionally, another scandal  was going to be unveiled: the beautiful mosaic of Nahum Gutman, telling the history of Tel Aviv – Jaffa through time was exposed for many years in the square of the old Town Hall and had disappeared mysteriously!

This mosaic was removed during the renovations of Bialik Square and nobody knew where it was. However, it was found in a very dark and rubble place, ready to be forgotten… This scandal reveals once again that the past has little importance for some notables representing this city.

This piece of art was then installed in a new surrounding between Rothschild Boulevard and Neve tsedek,  at the foot of a tall tower so adored by the Mayor of Tel Aviv …

                       whose dream is…  that Tel Aviv will become a Second New York!


Nahum Gutman mosaic - Bialik Square

Nahum Gutman mosaic – Bialik Square






The Jewish Palm tree

Avshalom Feinberg

Avshalom Feinberg

In 1914, Turkey entered the war as an ally of Germany.

The Jews of Palestine were then forcibly conscripted alongside the Turkish soldiers.

In 1915, in order to hasten the victory of the Great Britain on Turkey, a group of friends living in the village of Zichon Yaakov, founded a spy network call ”Nili”

 ”The eternity of Israel will not lie. “

The main members of the network were :

Aharon Aaronsohn, his sister Sarah, Avshalom Feinberg, Yosef Lishansky and Naaman Belkind.

Avshalom Feinberg chose side when his friend, Aaron Aaronson, who proposed to establish an intelligence network in favor of the British.

Aaron Aaronsohn directed a botanical laboratory research by the sea near the Atlit fortress. In the year 1915 the country was invaded by clouds of locusts and the Ottoman Governor Djemal Pasha asked Aaronson to find a way to fight this scourge. Aaron then received a pass that allowed him to move freely into Palestine with an assistant of his choice …

What could be easier for a spy  ! …

Aaronson travelled to Germany for a study trip. He took this opportunity to go to Alexandria and tried to persuade the British to make an offensive in Palestine, because the state of the Jewish population was becoming more precarious every day.

Asvhalom Feinberg and Moshe Lichansky led by a bedouin guide and disguised as well as Bedouins were trying to cross the Sinai desert as they wanted to meet their friends is Egypt.

But in the area of El Arish, they were attacked by Bedouin raiders. Feinberg was fatally injured. Lichansky was also injured but he was taken by a British patrol to a safe place in , the free area and then went in search for Feinberg, but in vain.

While investigating Moshe Elkana, a researcher of Nili’s history,  met numerous bedouins, who freely cross the desert, and was intrigued by a frequently reoccurring sentence :

                                                             ” The Jewish Palm tree”

In July 1967, a month after the six days war, a Bedouin led Israeli soldiers patrolling in the Sinai to the place where Avshsalom was buried ,

Indeed some dates stones left in his garment’s pocket grew and became a date palm tree.

                         On 29th November 1967, his body was returned to Jerusalem and buried                                                              at Mount Herzl military cemetery.

                                                    The Nili group will also know a dramatic end.

                                        A pigeon carrying a coded message fell to the hands of the Turks.                                                             The group was discovered and they will all die                                                  tragically, a deep repression will follow for all the Jews of Palestine.

''Herzliya Hebrew High School'' first picture of Feinberg's class

”Herzliya Hebrew High School” First picture of Feinberg’s class


”Herzliya Hebrew High School” la première photo de classe de Feinberg Avshalom






The migratory birds


 cigognesDid you know?

Over 530 million birds cross Israel each year during migration, more than 1 million are large raptors.

Israel is, outside of the Isthmus of Panama, the most important gateway to the world of migratory birds.

Flows from northern Europe and northern Asia converge here every year in spring then follow the Red Sea and join the Rift Valley in Africa, then back in the fall.

The main species of migrant birds are the white and black storks, white pelican, the buzzard and the hawk boudrée of Levant.


, Oiseaux migrateurs, pelicans, printemps, Uncategorized, et marquée avec , , , le 27 janvier 2015 . Modifier

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Sir Moses Haim Montefiore

The carriage of Sir Moise Montefiore

The carriage of Sir Moise Montefiore



Moses Haim Montefiore was born in 1784 in Italy, Sephardic Jew, he visited the Holy Land for the first time in 1827 for a few days, this visit changed his life.

He then became a Pious man who respects all religious observances Jew.

Three years earlier, he had decided to retire from his business in the United Kingdom, and devoted himself at the age of 40, thanks to his immense fortune, to help the Jewish population of the  ” Holy Land ”  who lived in great poverty.

He devoted the rest of his particularly long life – he died 101 years old, to the cause of the Jews throughout the world.

The wind mill in the Yemin Moshe quarter

The wind mill in the Yemin Moshe quarter

He was a great philanthrope, not only He fought against discrimination in his own country but also around the world in Turkey, Russia, Morocco and Persia always aiming to alleviate the condition of the Jews in these countries.

In 1855, Moses Montefiore built the first houses outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem, in an area called ”Yemin Moshe” or ‘Mishkenot Sha’a nanim’ ‘meaning the’ Field of the Blessed ” . This very poor jewish community was living inside the old city, in a crowded area where sanitary conditions were deplorable,

The mill built by Moise Montefiore in 1857, has been recently renovated, it never really worked because of the lack of wind in Jerusalem.

Simon Sebag-Montefiore recounts in his book ” Jerusalem ”

” In March 1840, seven Jews of Damascus were accused of killing a Christian monk and his Muslim servant in order to use their blood for a human sacrifice to Passover. When he had barely returned to London, Sir Moses Montefiore, supported by the Rothschilds, became head of the campaign to save the Jews of Damascene from these medieval persecutions. Montefiore rushed to Alexandria with Adolphe Cremieux, a French lawyer, there they met Mehmet Ali and succeeded to release the prisoners. But a few weeks later, there was a new case of blood libel in Rhodes. Montefiore sailed to Istanbul, where he was received by the Sultan, he persuaded him to issue a decree which refute the rumors of ritual murders. Montefiore experienced its greatest success – this is probably due to his nationality together with his strong diplomacy skills, In that time, it was sweet to be English in the Middle East. ”

Businessman, innovator, investor, founder and director of a bank, its purpose was to                                            promote Industry, Education and Health.

          He received many honors during his life time, he became a Knight and a Baronet.

                            His 100th Birthday was celebrated throughout Great Britain.

He travelled seven times to the Holy Land initially by coach then by boat sometimes accompanied by his wife, Judith, who, despite his poor health followed him. His carriage also renovated, is exposed near the mill.

            He was ninety-one years old when he made his last journey to the Holy land.

                                     He died in 1885 in England, Ramsgate (Kent).

                               There is a famous song in Hebrew on Sir Montefiore

                               Ha’Sar Montifiori Moshe (Moshe Montefiore Minister)

             They also say that he would distribute money to the poor on top of his carriage. 

The coat of arms of the Montefiore

The coat of arms of the Montefiore


The Mosaics of the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes

Mosaics of the Church of loaves and fishes

Mosaics of the Church of loaves and fishes

Mosaic with the nilometer

Mosaic with the nilometer


The Benedictine Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, called Tabgha in Arabic or Heptategon in Latin meaning –  seven sources is located on the shores of  the Sea of Galilee on the ancient roman road – The Via Maris.

The magnificent Byzantine mosaics of the church, dating from the sixth century,  describe  the migratory birds crossing the Holy land and resting at the Sea of Galilee.

Israel is the passage of migratory birds on their way to Africa heading to Europe, one never get tired of watching flights of storks, cranes, pelicans, cormorants, kingfishers, hawks and many others above our heads in Spring or Autumn.

There is also a Nilometer in  this mosaic, a measure that was used in Egypt to know the height of the Nile.

                                     The fact that a nilometer is shown in this mosaic implies either :

                                   That this measure was used outside Egypt and the artist probably an                                                          Egyptian reproduced what he knew best.

                                    We know as well that the nilometer allowed to know the water level                                                    of the lake meaning  a better harvest if there was a lot of                                                              water and higher taxes to be pay by the farmers.

An Rock Hyrax fed by a bird

An Rock Hyrax fed by a bird


The rite of the Sacred Fire

feu sacre 3

It is an ancient ritual that symbolizes eternity, peace and resurrection of Christ.

The Holy Sepulchre is the latest episodes of the Passion of Christ, His crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

Many Christian from the Orthodox faith come to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem during Easter to follow this traditional ceremony of the “Sacred fire”,

From the first hours of the day a crowd of believers eagerly await this miracle. The atmosphere is tense. The Greek Orthodox patriarch enters the Chapel of the empty tomb, and, according to tradition, while he is praying for long hours, appears a ray of light, which does not burn but sparkles and illuminates. The patriarch lit his candles and a bouquet assembled thirty three candles thirty-three as the age of Christ. and, passed, the sacred fire very rapidly among the faithful. Cheers explode some cry others sing,

Outside, the Kyrie eleison “CHRIST IS RESURRECTED. ” Are becoming increasingly pressing, hands tend waving candles to candles.

                                         The secret about the origin of ‘sacred fire’ is carefully preserved                                                                     by the Orthodox hierarchy.

In front of the basilica, the Israeli police maintains order, it is often impossible to get so many people in this sacred enclosure.

This day is made of songs, music, prayers and ceremonies for each church according to their tradition.

Six chretien communities manage the Holy Sepulchre, Greek Orthodox, Latin Rite Catholics, Armenian Apostolic, Egyptian Copts, the Syrian Orthodox and Orthodox Ethiopians. Each of Church controls a carefully defined part of the building.

                                       In the past, the ceremony of the “Sacred Fire” has been repeatedly                                                           marred by fights between people of different                                                                         communities and dramas inside the Holy Sepulchre.

feu sacre 2

the ”CHOFAR” of the King of Spain

The Choffar

The Choffar


This text was sent to me a while ago and I treasured it. I am pleased today to put it on my blog so that everyone can enjoy this amazing story.

A few years ago, King Juan Carlos of Spain invited the Chief Rabbi of Israel Yonah Metzger to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the death of Maimonides, Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon (Rambam). A Doctor, Philosopher, Talmudist and above all a man with great abilities of decision-making,  the Rambam was born in Cordoba, Spain.

                        During the ceremony, Rabbi Metzger gave the King a beautiful long, curved                            shofar in silver with the royal crown engraved on the silver trim.

                        King Juan Carlos examined it at length and asked  :  ”Is this from Africa ?”                               ”No, Your Majesty, it comes from the land of Israel”

Increasingly perplexed the King asked if this item was used in bullfights but RabbI Metzger politely explained that Judaism forbade making animals suffer unnecessarily.

                       ” So what is the use of the animal horn ?” continued the king.

The Rabbi then reminded the king of a painful chapter in the history of the Spanish Jews.

After more than five hundred years, the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry ended abruptly when your ancestor, King Ferdinand and his wife Isabella, expelled my ancestors following the incentive Inquisitor, Torquemada.

The Jews who had so contributed to the development of their countries had to flee, abandoning their properties and moved to more hospitable countries. However, some Jews remained in Spain keeping secretly their laws and customs. They behaved like devout Catholics but respected the laws of the Torah, lighting the Shabbat candles in cupboards, so that no one would notice.

On Holidays, the Marranos secretly gathered in basements to pray.

They prayed fervently with a very low voice so as not to be discovered by the Inquisition, which would have burnt these heretics at stake.

For Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) they were faced with a dilemma, prayer could be whispered but how to use the shofar without attracting the attention of neighbors ?

A Jewish-born-conductor found an original solution :

He proposed to the king to hold a free concert and to present various wind instruments from all countries and all periods.

The King who loved music was delighted. The Conductor offered a certain date, which in fact of course  was the date of Rosh Hashanah.

The King, the Queen, ministers and courtiers sat in the front row, the remaining listeners took to the rear, amongst whom were many Marranos.

The musicians presented different instruments, like a flute and a trumpet shepherd. At some point the conductor himself proposed to blow in a ram’s horn, which he presented as the oldest known wind instrument. The King and Queen were interested in this curiosity and observed the instrument. Then the Master brought it to his mouth while in the back of the room Marranos  whispered the two blessings:

                  ”Blessed are You, Lord our Gd, King of the Universe who sanctified us with His                       commandments and commanded us to listen to the sound of the shofar’ ‘      

                     as well as:

                  ”Blessed are You, Lord our Gd, King of the Universe, who gives us life,                                         sustained us and has sent us to that period’

The Conductor sounded the shofar as required by the Halacha and the spectators were silent. At the end of the service, they applauded …….

”Today Majesty”, continued Rabbi Metzger,”we meet five hundred years later in much more friendly circumstances. As Chief Rabbi of Israel I am happy to return to Spain.

Thank you on behalf of our people, now the Jews can live freely in your country, they enjoy complete freedom of worship and on Rosh Hashanah they can blow the shofar in the restored synagogues.

I am honored to give you this shofar publicly without hiding it because you are concerned about a sovereign democracy”.

When accepting the shofar, the King declared :

”Chief Rabbi, I received many gifts and trophies from many personalities from around the globe, but this gift carries historical significance and I am extremely grateful for this and for that Shofar story” !

Rabbi Metzger then told the King that he wanted to bless him, as recommended by the Sages.

When he finished his blessing Rabbi Metzger opened his eyes and saw that the king was much moved.  He wept without trying to hide …..


Le Roi Juan Carlos et le Rabbin Metzger

King Juan Carlos and Rabbi Metzger

In fact, historically, the mother of King Ferdinand I, who signed in 1492 the expulsion of Jews from Spain and  let the Inquisition settled… was Jewish. She was called Juana Enriquez, and her mother Paloma bat Gedaliah  (Paloma daughter of Gedaliah)

The paternal grandfather of Juana Enríquez is Alonso Enríquez, Lord Medina de Rioseco (1354-1429), whose father is Fadrique of Castile and mother, Paloma bat Gedaliah (born Jewish), granddaughter of Shlomo ben David Ha-Zaken traditionally from a branch of the descendants of King David by exilarchs of Babylon.

Thus his great-grandson son Charles V descended from the Jews of Babylon [1]

Document: Publications genealogists HRMoser and Vajay, INRIA 2005


Marranos burnt on the woodshed

Marranos burnt on the woodshed



Doña Gracia – A Noble Dame

d gracia
Doña Gracia was a jewish noble Lady who played a particularly important role in the middle ages. Her exceptional destiny intrigues and fascinates us till today …

Born, in Portugal in the early 16th century, in the noble and very wealthy  Benveniste family, which fled Spain at the beginning of the Inquisition.

She married Francisco Mendez-Nassi, a banker, whose fortune was even greater than hers.


Doña Gracia or ” Beatriz Luna, ” according to the name adopted as alleged Catholic, was of a great beauty, rich and cultivated.

On the death of her husband, she decided to leave Portugal and took her only child with her, along with some other family members. Life was becoming unbearable for the ”Marranos” as the Inquisition began to dwell beyond Spain and Portugal.

The Marranos were Jews who, like Doña Gracia, secretly remained loyal to the faith of their fathers, while claiming an apparent adherence to the Catholic Church. They suffered deep oppression.

She went to Antwerp, where her brother in law ran the Bank for the Mendez-Nassi family and settled there.

But even there the Inquisition was soon to join them.

After the death of her brother in law in 1549, she left Antwerp with her daughter,  sister and widowed niece to Venice, She took away as many goods as she could and was hoping to find a far away land which would allow her to  live her Judaism in peace.

She decided to join her nephew in Constantinople, the famous Don Joseph Nasi who became Minister of the Sultan in Turkey, one of the most influential man in Europe.

But the King of France, persuaded the government of Venice to prevent them from embarking and put that Noble Dame and her family in prison and confiscate all their properties.

Don Joseph Nasi using his influence with the Sultan managed a Master coup : for some time the Sultan policy was disturbed by the competing merchants of Venice.

Therefore the Sultan sent an emissary with a query asking firmly the release of Dona Gracia and to restore her fortune.

It took two years for the Sultan to get satisfaction.

Doña Gracia eventually settled in Constantinople in 1552 and became the center of world aid to persecuted Jews and Marranos. She spent her fortune to this cause.

Unfortunately, due to political changes, the situation of the Jews in Turkey deteriorated and became as dramatic as in Europe. Much of the wealth of Mendez-Nassi was confiscated.

                              The dream of Doña Gracia was to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine!

                          That any persecuted Marrano Jews would have a peace of land where they                                         could finally live and transmit their ancestors traditions to                                  their children          

                     Many remnants in Safed and Tiberias remind us, nowadays, of the generosity                           of this benefactor and her image remains forever etched in our memories.                                                           
                                                             A Great and Noble Lady                                                                                                                         
                                                                        Doña Gracia










The Jerusalem Syndrome

A visitor walking barefoot winter and summer in the old city of Jerusalem

A visitor walking barefoot winter and summer in the old city of Jerusalem

For centuries, thousands of visitors have been visiting Jerusalem.
Among them there is a small number – victim of what experts call the ”Jerusalem Syndrome”.
This is the result of an emotional  trauma caused by the proximity of the Holy Places …
There are about forty people each year from among two millions of tourists, who have been hospitalized in Jerusalem for believing to be either the Messiah, Mary Magdalene or any other biblical character.
In the Capital they are being taken care of by the Emergency departments of Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital. These ”would-be Messiahs” with their eccentric and bizarre behaviour are attracted by the mystique of the Holy City and are completely losing touch with reality. They become psychotic upon entering Jerusalem.
Contrary to what was expected, the year 2000 was not the safe haven for all these “false Messiahs.” Only a few arrived in Jerusalem, and were taken care of by the Israel Police, psychiatrists and psychologists.
Specialists from the Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital in Jerusalem published in August 2000
in the British Journal of Psychiatry a study that reported on this syndrome:
”Jerusalem, a city that combines the sense of the sacred, history and paradise, has an unparalleled attraction for believers of various religions of the world – especially the Jews, Christians and Muslims.
When people dream of Jerusalem, they do not see modern Jerusalem and politically controversial, but the City Religious Scripture and biblical.
Since 1980, psychiatrists of Jerusalem met with a growing number of tourists, arriving in Jerusalem, suffer psychotic decompensation. Because of the high incidence of this phenomenon, it was decided to direct all such cases to a single institution – the psychiatric hospital in Kfar Shaul – for psychological counseling, psychiatric intervention and, if necessary, admission to hospital. Over a period of 13 years (1980-1993), 1200 tourists with serious mental problems were taken to this hospital in Jerusalem . Of these, 470 were admitted to hospital which sees an average of 100 tourists per year for this condition, including forty need to be hospitalized.”
An old Palestinian man with his donkey on the Mount of Olives like in a Biblical time

An old Palestinian man with his donkey on the Mount of Olives like in a Biblical time