Why We Still Mourn the Temple

By Ami Farkas

Photo: Jack Hazut

Photo: Jack Hazut

The fast of Shiva Asar B’Tammuz – the 17th of the Jewish month of Tammuz – fell on Tuesday of this week and began a three-week mourning period over the destruction of both of the holy Temples that once stood in Jerusalem.

There are five events that occurred throughout history on the 17th of Tammuz that are the cause for the fast: On this date, the first tablets containing the Ten Commandments were broken by Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai and witnessed the sin of people worshipping the golden calf; the daily sacrificial offerings in the Temple ceased when, under siege, the Jews could no longer obtain the sacrificial animals; Jerusalem’s walls were breached; Apostomus, a Roman governor, burned the Torah in Jerusalem; and, later,…

Posted in: Jewish Holidays / religion / Learn

Chameleon Soldiers: Camouflage in the IDF

Three years ago, the IDF’s Counterterrorism Training Center introduced a special department dedicated to the art of camouflage. Since then, the Center has thoroughly incorporated camouflage into its training. In addition to preparing soldiers to rescue civilian hostages and operate effectively in urban combat, the Center now trains them in advanced camouflage techniques.


What is camouflage? More than just a type of design on uniforms, it is the strategy of arranging objects to prevent an individual or group from being noticed. This can be done by using materials such as fake branches, face paints and colored tarps. Through their training at the Counterterrorism Training Center, the soldiers eventually become equipped to blend into all sorts of environments, including mountains, desert and snow.

Preparing a site for camouflage Preparing a site for…

Posted in: The Military / The Israeli Defense Force / Learn

The Magic of Havdalah

Talia Eckstein

Havdalah Service 14th c. Spain.

Havdalah Service 14th c. Spain.

When the sun has set on Saturday evening and the Sabbath has departed, my family performs, what I believe to be, one of the most beautiful of all the Jewish traditions, that of  the Havdalah ceremony. The Hebrew word Havdalah means “separation”— signifying the separation of between the holy and the mundane, between light and dark, between the sacred and the profane, and between Sabbath and the weekday. The experience is meant to give us comfort as we mourn the passing of Sabbath until the coming week.

The Havdalah ceremony utilizes each of our five senses. We turn the lights down and make a blessing on a multi-wick candle to commemorate the creation of fire, we feel the heat emanating from the fire we thank God for granting us its illuminating powers. We make a blessing and…

Posted in: Learn / Religions Jewish FAQ's / 

Getting a Gas Mask for My One-Year-Old

Ami Farkas:

Living in Israel has afforded me countless privileges, such as being able to visit Jerusalem and other holy sites as well as hearing my kids speak Hebrew, just as our ancestors did some 2,000 years ago.

So when I walked out of an elementary school gymnasium earlier this week with a box containing a gas mask for my one-year-old daughter, I didn’t complain or regret my decision to live in Israel. I simply tucked the gas mask neatly into my car, and drove off with the same fortunate feelings of joy and security that I always feel when contemplating my life here in the Holy Land.

Living in the Middle East – with Hezbollah as our neighbors in the north, Hamas our neighbors down south, and a Syrian civil war threatening to spill over our borders to the east – forces…

Posted in: Middle East Climate / Ami Farkas / Hot Button Issues

White Night Tel Aviv

On June 27th, Israel will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Tel Aviv’s annual “White Night Festival.” The party lasts through the night and showcases music, art, and culture from Israel. This incredible party first started as a celebration of Tel Aviv gaining World Heritage Site status from UNESCO in 2003.

Check out the beautiful ad from the event:

Posted in: Culture / tel aviv / Learn