Thursday, 22 August 2019

Giyus Kal

Having made many Good Luck cards for new soldiers over the years, it was recently time for me to make a card for my eldest son. We have known for many years - actually from the day he was born - that his conscription day would come but of course time flies and it came around quickly! He is now a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and will be so for 3 years. We couldn't be prouder!
Every Israeli male and female from the age of 18 who is Jewish, Druze or Circassian (Arab citizens of Israel are not conscripted) is required to serve three and two years, respectively, of compulsory military service. Some exceptions are made on religious, physical, or psychological grounds. The IDF determines a medical profile for each soldier and, according to that profile, decides where to assign the draftees. The highest medical profile draftees serve in the five infantry Brigades, Field/Combat Intelligence units, and Combat engineers. The second highest medical profiles are assigned to serve in the Armoured Corps, Artillery, Military Police, Border Police, and Aman. The lowest acceptable level of medical profiles are drafted into the combat support and combat service support Arms, such as the Adjutant Corps, Logistics Corps, and the Ordnance Corps
The Army calls upon a potential soldier in a letter called the Tzav Rishon, or "First Draft Notice". This letter states that the teenager must report to a certain place at a certain time for a day-long examination and interviewing. After careful evaluation of the Tzav Rishon's results the army calls the people to enlist when they turn 18 to begin the army process and basic training.
From time to time a public debate emerges in Israel around the issue of exemption from military service in Israel and indeed whether the country should end conscription in favour of an all-volunteer force. In the meantime there is a need for a large army and there is great pride - and of course some fear - in sending our kids off for their national service.
What else was there to do before my son went in but to make a small celebration for him? The barbecue and beers were of course with his friends but I made him a cake and a special card. The Hebrew greeting on the card says Giyus Kal. Giyus means "recruitment," "enlistment" or "induction" and is most closely associated with the army, as in terms like lishkat giyus, or military induction centre; tzav giyus, or draft notice; and mesibat giyus, the party many Israelis throw just before they join the army for their compulsory service. "Kal" means "easy".
I am hoping and praying that his service will indeed be easy, safe and meaningful to him.

* Edited to add that a young man visiting our home pointed out that soldiers salute with their right hand! All future new soldier cards will be made that way. This card will become a collector's piece 😉

Saturday, 17 August 2019


The rectangular building known as the Kishle (Turkish for "temporary encampment") is situated to the south of the Tower of David, just inside and south of the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Over the years I had heard about the excavations under the building that revealed the foundations of King Herod's Palace and was eager to see them for myself. Mister Handmade in Israel and I were recently able to join a tour of the building which first took us the top of the Jerusalem Citadel (another name for the Tower of David) where we enjoyed the panoramic views of the Old and New City.
We continued through the citadel, examining Hasmonean and Herodian walls along the way, then entered a dry moat surrounding the citadel where we were shown a magnificent stepped pool that was part of King Herod’s Palace. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus tells us that Herod's Palace complex, begun in the last quarter of the first century BCE, comprised a palace with two wings divided by pools and gardens and was protected by three large towers on the northwestern corner of the precinct.
In 1898 the moat in which we had walked was narrowed and blocked up to enable carriages to enter the Old City during the visit of the German Emperor, Wilhelm II. Among the enormous changes carried out by the Turks in the Jaffa Gate plaza prior to the emperor's visit, the most significant was the destruction of part of the wall next to the gate, when the moat was filled in with earth. Later the moat was turned into a shuk (market) for Jerusalem traders.
The prison corridor in the days of the British Mandate.

To see the Kishle itself we climbed a circular metal staircase to a fenced roof, before entering the barracks. A long hall of concrete, stone and dirt greeted us. Work beneath the barracks is still very much in progress.
The Kishle was first built in 1834 by Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian ruler of Palestine at the time. The building continued to be used as a military compound when Ottoman rule resumed in the city in 1841, and during the British Mandate it was used as a police station and a prison where some members of the Jewish underground were incarcerated. It stopped being used as a prison after Israel recaptured the Old City during the 1967 Six-Day War, and the nearby headquarters building became an Israeli police station.
Turkish soldiers of the Camel Unit in the Kishle, 1910.
Photo from National Photo Collection of Israel.

Investiture by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, in Barracks Square, 19th March 1918. This image clearly shows the Kishle as a two story building with a tiled roof.
Photo from Israeli Decorations.

Prince Arthur, third son of Queen Victoria, presents medals and honours in Barracks Square. Note the Kishle on the left. 19th March 1918.
Photo from Israeli Decorations.

Our guide showed us photographs from the period of the British Mandate. General Allenby was here and in the stormy years that followed the building was used to hold Irgun fighters struggling to establish a Jewish state. They left their mark on the prison walls, below, with the Irgun emblem - a map which shows both Mandatory Palestine and the Emirate of Transjordan, which the Irgun claimed in its entirety for a future Jewish state - as well as the name of the 'artist', Shmuel Matza, a former Irgun fighter and then a lawyer. Detained in autumn 1947, Matza slipped his breakfast fork in his pocket just before the guards accompanied him back to his quarters and when the lights went out and everyone was sleeping, including the police officers, he quietly carved the emblem of the Irgun and his name deep into the prison walls.
The Kishle was slated for renovations in the year 2000. The wrought iron bars of the prison were going to be torn down and replaced with a new multipurpose space for temporary exhibitions and lectures but before any new cement could be added, archaeological digs, led by Amit Re'em from the Israel Antiquities Authority, began in 1999. They lasted two years.
Pulling up the floorboards, archaeologists found layer upon layer of Jerusalem's history. They found an 11th century cloth-dying and leather-tanning factory, demonstrating Jewish life in Jerusalem during the Crusader period, as recorded in the diary of Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Israel in 1172. Around 200 Jews were believed to be living in the vicinity of the citadel. They discovered the foundations of King Herod's Palace, described as the most magnificent dwelling in the entire Roman Empire, lined in marble and decorated in gold. Many believe the palace may have served as the Praetorium, the site of Jesus' trial by Pontius Pilate, along the original route of the Via Dolorosa that Jesus followed to his crucifixion. Next to the palace foundations they found the walls built by the Hasmonean kings at the end of the second century and early first century BCE, and a wall built by King Hezekiah in the 8th century BCE.
The Kishle will eventually be transformed into a large visitor site, including a cutting-edge multimedia archaeological centre within the historic structure, alongside a new, two-story entrance and exhibition gallery building with space for lectures and events. I was happy to see it in it's raw state, before the building work really begins.

* This post has been shared on All Seasons, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday), Sharon's Souvenir's, Our World Tuesday, Foto Tunes, Travel Tuesday and My Corner of the World.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Exactly like Marc

Marc recently celebrated his birthday. He loves the New York Mets and often listens to games on his phone, holding his phone to his ear like it's an old transistor radio. He is also a fan of the author David Baldacci, enjoys walks on the beach and the occasional gin and tonic, his wife told me.
Now, I can't always promise to create an exact likeness for my cards. After all, they are papercuts and not oil paintings. However, I sometimes get it just right and this card was one of those cards. I knew as I was making it that my little paper portrait of Marc looked, well, exactly like Marc!
I have shown Marc holding an old transistor radio up to his ear, listening to a Mets game. He has a gin and tonic in his other hand. A beach scene is behind him, with the sun shining high in the sky. I added the Mets logo and a baseball bat and ball in one corner. A copy of his favourite David Baldacci book, Redemption, is featured too.
I knew that Marc and his wife were going to love the card. They were really enthusiastic about it and both called me independently, brimming with enthusiasm over my design. They couldn't believe how much it looked like him!
Confessions of a New Mummy

Friday, 9 August 2019

A Dancer and a Baker

Young Ma'ayanei celebrated her 7th birthday at the end of July. Her mum showed me a gymnastics photo from her end of year show and asked me to use it as inspiration for the card. I copied the fancy fabric of Ma'ayanei's top and added the colourful scrunchie in her hair and on her wrist.
I hope she liked her card.
Sophie was turning 22. She is a fabulous baker and has shown some amazing cakes on her sophiebcakes Instagram page. Her auntie asked me to make a card for her along that theme. She sent me you a screenshot of her niece's Instagram page and I was able to incorporate some of the photos of her cakes into my design. I created a paper version of her unicorn cake, added some cupcakes, measuring spoons and a spatula, and finished off the card with Sophie's Instagram name.
This was quite a late order but I do like to keep my customer's happy. I made the card in super quick time and delivered it to her husband. I was aware that my customer was actually in London, where her niece lives, but still wanted to order one of my cards. She could have simply walked into any store to buy a card for her niece.
"I can't believe how quickly you made it. I really appreciate it." she wrote to me, then added "My niece would never forgive me if I didn't send a card from you!"
Finally, my best friend back in the UK recently celebrated her birthday. She and I were at art school together, a number of years ago now, and we often discuss our work. My friend, like Mister Handmade in Israel, likes my papercuts, so this year I made her a papercut card. I cut her name in script from white stock and added a pale green paper inlay.
I think she liked it!