Friday, 29 April 2022

Shokeda Forest and the Black Arrow Memorial

The Darom Adom (Red South) festival is held annually in the northern Negev, a desert and semi-desert region of southern Israel. I have blogged about it before, back in 2015 and 2014. Fields of anemones, a perennial in the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family, colour the desert red and are a huge attraction, bringing thousands to the area. Last month Mister Handmade in Israel and I decided on the spur of the moment to visit the Shokeda Forest once again and, though the anemone season was nearing its end, the green fields all around were still flecked with numerous red patches.
The Shokeda Forest is a eucalyptus forest located east of Moshav Shokeda in the north-western Negev region (the southern part of Israel, near the Gaza strip). The KKL-JNF (Jewish National Fund) began to plant the forest in the 1950s. The woodland includes eucalyptus, tamarisks, pines and casuarinas, and it is studded with well-preserved heritage sites, play areas, picnic sites and cycling trails.
According to a survey conducted by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority, the anemone is the most recognised and loved flower by Israelis. In 2013 anemones were chosen as the national flower of Israel. Though the red anemones can be found across Israel, the flowers in the north are red and white, but in the south, the anemones are only red. This is thought to be because the southern anemones are "less spoilt" and can survive the harsher desert climate. 
After our walk through the forest, we drove the short distance to the Black Arrow Memorial, Andartat Hetz Shahor in Hebrew. It is located in the Gaza Envelope, the populated area of Israel that is within 7 kilometres of the Gaza Strip border.
The Black Arrow Memorial, which overlooks the Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia, Jabalia and Gaza city area and is situated only 900 metres from the border with the Gaza Strip, commemorates the battle heritage of the Paratroop Brigade that fought in reprisal operations in response to enemy infiltrations into Israel in the years leading up to the 1956 Sinai Campaign. The memorial contains stone pillars bearing descriptions of the paratroopers retaliatory actions, as well as schemes of battles fought by the corps. Another memorial commemorates the fallen soldiers. Audio explanations in Hebrew and English at the site explain the background to the retaliatory actions and operations in the then Egyptian-held Gaza and the Jordanian-held West Bank.
Some background information. In the 1950s and 1960s Israel suffered loss of lives and property damage from infiltrators from neighbouring countries. The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) conducted military reprisal operations as a deterrent. Between the end of the War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign of 1956, over five hundred Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks and over a thousand others were injured. Commando Unit 101 was established in August 1953 to provide a military response. The unit carried out cross-border patrols and operations for five months until it merged with the 890 Paratroop Battalion. The commander of Unit 101 was Major Ariel Sharon, who later became a general and politician who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006.
In 1989 a group of 890 Battalion veterans established a lookout point in memory of their commander, Captain Saadia Elkayam, who fell in battle during a reprisal operation in Gaza in February 1955. One year later the Black Arrow Association was founded. Black Arrow was the IDF code name for the Gaza operation in which Elkayam fell. Working together with the regional council in the north-western Negev and KKL-JNF, the Association transformed the Black Arrow site into an impressive memorial that perpetuates the memory and legacy of the fallen paratroopers and tells the story of the reprisal operations.
The Gaza Strip viewed from the Black Arrow Memorial
Close to the memorial is the old Armistice Commission building and a site that commemorates the first water pipeline to the Negev. The Armistice House is a single-storey house with a tiled roof which served as a venue for meetings between Israeli armistice commission delegations and representatives from Egypt when they were negotiating a ceasefire. The building witnessed a number of important events: after Israel's War of Independence it hosted talks on the armistice agreement with Egypt, which was signed in Rhodes; it served as a meeting place where Israelis and Egyptians could discuss infringements of agreements and settle their differences; the captives from the Bat Galim, the ship seized by the Egyptians after it attempted to pass through the Suez Canal in 1954, were returned to this spot; and the bodies of IDF soldiers who fell in the 1956 Sinai Campaign and other military operations were brought here too.
At a bend in the road leading to the Black Arrow Memorial a rusted metal standpipe bearing an explanatory sign commemorates the first water pipeline to the Negev. In 1947 Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, drilled fifteen wells in the area and a pipeline was laid to carry water to the three KKL-JNF outposts and the eleven points of Jewish settlement established in the Negev at the end of the Yom Kippur fast in 1946. The pipeline crossed this site.
Photo credit: Yaakov Shkolnik


Monday, 25 April 2022

There’s a Love That’s Divine

My customer and I were at university together. We recently found each other again on Facebook and, after seeing my work, he wrote to me to tell me that he and his wife were soon to be celebrating their silver wedding anniversary. He wondered if I could design an anniversary card based on their wedding photo.
My customer scanned a photo from their wedding day and sent it to me. I carefully copied his dark suit and all the little details on his wife's wedding dress. I then added a silver number 25 to mark the number of years they have been married.
My customer requested the line "There's a love that's divine and it's yours and it's mine" as the greeting on the front of the card. Apparently it comes from the song they opened the dancing to at their wedding. I was impressed! I haven't a clue what the first song was that we danced to at our wedding 🤣
The card was very well received. "Thanks for the fantastic card that arrived in the post this morning" my customer wrote to me then, on the day of their anniversary, he shared the card on Facebook. "A big shoutout to Lisa Isaacs at Handmade In Israel for a wonderful card joyfully received!" he wrote. His wife commented too: "Thank You! It's brilliant!"
* This post has been shared on Link-up Potpourri, The Good. The Random. The Fun.
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Max and Ben

Max was turning 18. I have made many cards for him over the years, including this one for his Bar Mitzvah, but on this occasion his auntie didn't suggest a particular theme. She did send me a recent photo of her nephew, so I decided to simply create a paper portrait of him holding up a big number 18. I added some balloons and stars as well.
"He really liked it!" his aunt told. "It looks just like him."
Ben has also received birthday cards made by me for many years. This year's card had a locksmith theme, since that's what he is currently working as, while spending time in the USA. His mum requested a USA flag somewhere on the card too.
I cut out various keys and locks and added a big Stars and Stripes to this small card. As a matter of interest, the 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 U.S. states, and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from Great Britain and became the first states in the US. The colours of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolises hardiness and valour, white symbolises purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Friday evening marks the start of Pesach, or Passover, and my family and I will celebrate the Passover Seder. You can read more about it in two of my previous posts here and here. 'Chag Pesach Sameach', a happy Passover festival, to all celebrating.

Monday, 11 April 2022

Aliza's Album

Aliza's Bat Mitzvah party was delayed due to Covid-19 but she was finally able to celebrate it last month and was able to put the album I made some weeks ago to good use. Her mum asked me to show Aliza with the family's Maltese dog, Buddy, on the front of the album. She plays the guitar, likes to make and eat sushi and enjoys watching Netflix on her laptop computer. Mum told me that Aliza's outfit of choice is currently a white T-shirt, a black knee length skirt and blue denim jacket.
As requested, I showed Aliza holding Buddy with one arm. Her guitar is in her other hand. She is wearing her denim jacket. Behind her is her laptop computer, with Netflix open on the screen and next to her is a plate of sushi. The album opens the Hebrew way (Hebrew books open from right-to-left). Aliza's name appears at the top in English and the Hebrew words בת המצווה של עליזה, Eliza's Bat Mitzvah, are at the bottom.
Mum initially told me that Aliza's favourite colour is yellow but then Aliza requested pale pink. She also asked if I could add musical notes in two corners of the album cover.
I decorated several pages inside Aliza's album. The first page, above and below, showed a burger and chips, which was apparently the theme of the Bat Mitzvah party and is another one of Aliza's favourite foods. 
Next I cut out a tiny guitar, below, and a saxophone. Mum told me that Aliza is much more into playing the guitar but is learning to play the sax this year too. The following page showed Aliza's favourite Marvel icons, which she specified were Spiderman, Ironman and Black Panther, then I created a page showing the emojis she uses the most on WhatsApp. I added a little mobile phone with Whatsapp open on the screen as well.
Finally, the last page in Aliza's album was devoted to Buddy the Maltese dog.
Aliza's mum was happy with the album. "I am so pleased we found you online. This is gorgeous and she's so excited!" she wrote to me, then followed up by telling me that "Aliza loves it".