Monday, 25 June 2018

9/11 Living Memorial Plaza

I have mentioned the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza in a blog post before, but we took a visitor to see it a good few weeks ago and I decided that the beautiful memorial warranted a blog post of its own.
The 9/11 Living Memorial is a cenotaph located on a hill in the Arazim Valley, just north of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. The Hebrew word arazim means cedars, but if you look around, there are no cedar trees here. The name was given to the valley in 1923. It seems that the early Zionist pioneers who first settled this region mistook cypress trees for cedar trees.
The 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza, built on 5 acres of hillside, remembers and honours the victims of the September 11 attacks. The cenotaph is made of granite, bronze and aluminium and is in the shape of an American flag, waving and transforming into a memorial flame 6 metres high that reaches for the sky. The folded part of the flag is reminiscent of the collapse of the towers in a cloud of dust. In a glass window at the base of the cenotaph there is a metal shard from the foundation of one of the fallen Twin Towers. It is inscribed with these words in English and Hebrew: "This metal piece, like the entire monument, is a manifestation of the special relationship between New York and Jerusalem."
Memorial plaques on the wall around the plaza commemorate the names of the 2,779 victims who perished in the disaster, including five Israelis. The names of the victims are embedded on metal plates and placed on the circular wall.  It is the first and only monument outside of the United States which lists the names of all the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
The plaza is intended to be a diplomatic stop for visiting prime ministers and ambassadors and can comfortably hold 300 people for ceremonies. It was designed to echo the shape of the Pentagon and has an indentation in the floor that represents the rut created in the land where one of the planes crashed in rural Pennsylvania. 
The 9/11 Living Memorial was planned and designed over the course of eight years by landscape architect Yehiel Cohen and the award-winning artist Eliezer Weishoff, an Israeli multidisciplinary artist who has designed logos, posters and postage stamps to mark many of Israel's historic events. Other designs by Weishoff include the "Bird" sculpture for the Jewish National Fund, which can be seen at the entrance to forests and national parks, and coins for the Bank of Israel and the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corporation. This memorial was commissioned by the Jewish National Fund at a cost of ₪10 million ($2 million). The inauguration ceremony was held on 12th November 2009 with representation from the US Ambassador to Israel, James B. Cunningham, members of the Israeli Cabinet and legislature, family of victims and others.
The plaza is strategically located within view of Jerusalem's main cemetery, Har HaMenuchot. The seating is amphitheatre style and the location of the memorial, amid the Arazim Valley, is fittingly contemplative. While official ceremonies are occasionally held here, the handicapped-accessible site is free and open to tourists and locals. Israeli school children often visit the site on school trips to learn more about the terrorist tragedy that took place on American soil.
The Arazim Valley is part of Jerusalem Metropolitan Park, a 43-kilometre park being developed around the city of Jerusalem. 100 years ago the Jerusalem hills were the exclusive province of nature, which surrounded the Old City and the new city that had just begun to grow on its outskirts. Today there are still foxes prowling on the edges of Jerusalem, as well as jackals, rodents and all kinds of birds. When we visited the 9/11 Living Memorial the spring flowers were still in bloom. We spotted beautiful Pink Butterfly Orchid, or Orchis papilionacea, among the more usual collection of cyclamen, anemone and asphodels. Green organisations succeeded in halting a building development project which threatened to bury all this beauty under concrete and cement. Subsequently, an alternate plan was conceived, to develop the Jerusalem Metropolitan Park on the outskirts of the city.
The memorial to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York fits in beautifully with the Jerusalem landscape and its location in Arazim Valley, at the approach to Jerusalem, is a very moving way to express Israel's and the United State's shared battle against terrorism.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Tehilla's Album

The Beatles had "The White Album". R.E.M.'s sixth album was "Green". This album, created for Tehilla's Bat Mitzvah, should definitely be known as "The Pink Album"!
The Bat Mitzvah girl knew exactly how she wanted her album to look. Her favourite colour is pink, so everything had to be that colour. It was requested that I show her wearing a dark pink dress on a lighter pink background. She wanted pink flowers in the corners of the album. It was okay to add her name and the date of her Bat Mitzvah in gold letters.
Tehilla's loves music and Zumba, so I was asked to add some music notes to the cover, and to show her holding her pink microphone as well. She goes to an after school drama class, so a stage with curtains was requested. Fortunately it didn't have to be pink! She likes chopped Israeli salad, chips, avocado and Fanta. Oh, and her dog teddy too.
Tehilla's album opens the Hebrew way, from right to left. When you read a Hebrew book you open the rightmost page and flip pages until you get to the leftmost page (just the opposite of an English book). The Hebrew writing on the cover displays her name, the words Bat Mitzvah, and the month of her Bat Mitzvah celebration.
I also decorated five pages inside the album. Each page had a pink flower on it, then, clockwise from the top left, I created a page with music notes on it, a page showing Tehilla's dog teddy, a tiny stage with red curtains representing her interest in drama, and a page with chips, chopped Israeli salad and an avocado on it. Of course there was a page with her pink microphone too.
There was rather a lot of discussion over the colour of Tehilla's green-blue eyes and blonde-brown hair, which apparently goes lighter in the sun, but we got there in the end!
"Thank you so much. She absolutely loves it and is happy with everything how it is." her mum wrote to me after receiving my sketch.
"The Pink Album" was released in June 2018 😉

* This post has been shared on Wednesday around the World, Little Things Thursday, The Creatively Crafty Link PartyShare Your Cup Thursday, BFF Open House Link Party

Sunday, 17 June 2018

The China Anniversary

May-June is birthday and anniversary time in the Handmade in Israel household. Mister Handmade in Israel's birthday is coming up soon, mine was in May, and our 20th wedding anniversary was a week or so ago. Of course I made a special card to mark the day.
The 20th anniversary is the china anniversary and the anniversary colour is emerald green and white. I made Mister Handmade in Israel this card with some "china" on it - a teapot covered in little hearts pouring tea into a cup - and added our names and 20 Years. Those teeny tiny hearts were very fiddly to cut out! I added a bright green paper inlay and cut the card out of white stock. The 20th wedding anniversary symbols were well and truly covered.
On my birthday Mister Handmade in Israel took me horse riding. It is something we have done once or twice before, though I am certainly no great expert. We went to Chava BaKfar in the nearby moshav of Kfar Rut, which is named after the ancient village of Kfar Ruta that appears on the Madaba Map in the area of the new settlement. Chava BaKfar was founded in 2006 and specializes in several types of horse riding including therapeutic riding, jumping and dressage, Western riding and nature treks. We took a nature trek and our guide led us through a local area, where he pointed out mosaics and the ruins of Khirbet Kfar Rut. We spotted birds of prey, many butterflies and saw several beautiful deer. It was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. 
My birthday present was tickets for the play סימני דרך (Road Signs) at the Jerusalem Theatre. It is a musical play about the life of Naomi Shemer, the composer of the Six-Day War anthem "Jerusalem of Gold". The play depicts Shemer at four junctions in her life, when she is forced to fight for her personal and professional future. It incorporates songs she wrote and composed, and portrays Shemer not as a national icon but rather as she really was: a complex artist, a revolutionary feminist, a woman who was not afraid to make herself heard, a private individual - who was funny, witty and warm - and the great woman of the songs.
Mister Handmade in Israel and I haven't seen so much Hebrew theatre in the years we have lived here but we both thoroughly enjoyed the play. I now see many more theatre visits on the horizon.
Naomi Shemer wrote the song "Jerusalem of Gold" for the Israeli Song Festival held on 15th May 1967, the night after Israel's nineteenth Independence Day. The song described the Jewish people's 2,000-year longing to return to Jerusalem. At that time, the Old City was still controlled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and under its sovereign rule. Jews had been banned from the Old City and the rest of Jerusalem east of it, losing their homes and possessions and becoming refugees. All Jews were barred from either returning or entering the areas under Jordanian control, and many holy sites were desecrated and damaged during that period. Only three weeks after the song was published, the Six-Day War broke out, and the song became a morale-boosting battle cry of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Shemer herself sang it for the troops before the war and the festival, making them among the first in the world to hear it.
On 7th June, the IDF wrested East Jerusalem and the Old City from the Jordanians. When Shemer heard the paratroopers singing "Jerusalem of Gold" at the Western Wall she added a new verse to the song, about shofars sounding from the Temple Mount, a reference to an event that actually took place on that day.
For those of you not familiar with Naomi Shemer's beautiful song, here it is, sung by Shuli Natan, who, in 1967, was a young unknown singer. When Naomi Shemer heard her voice, Shemer knew that Natan was the one to sing her new song about Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Two Mums

A new customer contacted me and asked me to make a special card for her Mum. Mum's interests include volunteering once a week at old age homes where she, along with other volunteers, takes along music and gets all the oldies up and dancing. She also volunteers at a local school where she helps the students with their oral Bagrut in English. (Here in Israel a Bagrut certificate is awarded to students who pass the required written (and in some cases oral) subject-matter examinations with a passing mark 55% or higher in each exam.) Mum also loves to dance the Twist with her husband (I included a little photo of them dancing together on the card), plus she loves Frank Sinatra. But her favourite pastime of all, her daughter told me, is baking biscuits for her three soldier grandsons every week.
"Thank you so much for the card. It's perfect." my customer wrote to me, then later reported back that "She [mum] loved it."
This next rather humorous card was based on a photo sent to me. My customer's mum was at a demonstration on a rather chilly day in London. She was photographed in a blue mac and matching rain hat, holding up a sign with a rather different message to this one! I changed her sign to one mentioning all of her grandchildren, and added some flowers to brighten the picture. It was a fun card to create.
Returning to the theme of baking, this was a request for "something sweet" for a 13 year old girl. I popped an iced cupcake onto the card, along with balloons, stars and flowers, and added the big yellow number 13 to mark her age. And while we are discussing baking, these are some Zebra Fudge Cookies that I made recently. They were chocolaty, chewy and very pretty too. If you'd like to make some, the recipe is here.