Monday, October 31, 2011

No Angry Birds Over Here

Shalom Girls and Boys:

I am sooo excited. Remember I mentioned Israel's Minister of Education in my last post? Guess what? His ministry is at it again, only this time they've decided to use a project in biodiversity to help encourage us to live in peace with our Arab neighbors. And the best thing? It's a project revolving around beings that have wings and fly.
Yup. You guessed it....

BIRDS! As in these friendly feathered creatures.
Aren't they the picture of peace? We don't have any angry birds over here. Angry people...sometimes. But not birds. In fact, last year I wrote a post all about birds in Israel. Maybe that's what inspired the Education Ministry? I sure hope so.

Their new project called Ken La Tzipor -- Yes to Birds -- is being organized together with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and it's being used in all the schools located in Israel's northern region. I mean ALL the schools. Every school where Israeli Jews and Arabs attend. A lot of Israeli Arabs live up north, which is why this project is meant to promote peaceful coexistence through biodiversity. How? Every Jewish and Arab student up north is going to be asked to pick their favorite bird as part of a lesson in coexistence. To help them choose they're going to receive special workbooks on birds in Israel, and playing cards that have pictures and information on all the fine feathered friends living over here. Not the half billion that pass by every Spring and Fall (230 species!) The ones that call Israel their home.

My first question is, are they going to have a party or a meeting for the Jewish and Arab students picking the same birds? I hope so. Stay tuned. I'm going to try to find out.

My next question is, what about the rest of us who fly and have wings? Peace through insect biodiversity. That's edgy, don't you think?  What's that? You say no, it has too much sting.
We'll see.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Zvuvi is Watching His Diet

Shalom Girls & Boys:

What will it be? A cream cheese or a chocolate spread sandwich?
CHO-CO-LATE, CHO-CO-LATE. That's what real Israeli kids eat -- or USED TO EAT during the 10 o'clock snack break at school. And if the school day lasted until 2:30 p.m., then for lunch too! But not any more. Nuh, uh. Today it's a real NO NO because  a lot of Israeli kids have'm just gonna say it. FAT!

There used to be a time when it was hard to find a fat Israeli kid. We used to come home, do our homework and then s-w-i-s-h out of the house we went, straight to the park, playground, anywhere outdoors where we could play soccer, climb trees and ride our bikes. But then our country became this hi-tech capital, with a computer in practically every home, know the story. You've got the same problem. We're all sitting on our tachat -- that's backside in Hebrew -- much too much and snacking while we're playing, and gaining pounds and inches.

Not good, said Gideon Saar, Israel's Minister of Education, when he saw the latest kids' health and weight statistics. So starting this year he's insisting on healthy eating in school. The Education Ministry is even giving kids colorful boxes divided into sections for fruits, vegetables and healthy sandwiches. Minister Saar says now he's going to go after the vending machines. I mean give a kid a break! Or at least a toffy. Not him. Instead, he's coupled healthy eating with a new Move Your Body program.  Instead of sitting and eating, we're doing Zumba in school.

You know what they say: If you can't beat them, join them. So now I'm going to school so I can be schooled in healthy eating habits. The principal says I have to make sure that my parents eat healthy as well. She didn't like it when I told her they always eat on the fly.
ZVU-VI she shouted. What kind of sandwich did your mother make for you today?
I opened my colorful lunch box that Eema packed with cucumbers, carrots and apple slices. Slowly, I lifted the top of the pita bread and peeked inside the sandwich.
Hummus and tehini I mumbled.
EXCELLENT! she said.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

I'm On My Way to See the Largest Simhat Torah Flag

Shalom Girls & Boys:
It's Rally Round the Flag time. The Simhat Torah flag. We're all going to dance and sing, and wave our flags. But first I'm flying over to the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv where they have a really cool exhibit of Simhat Torah flags through the ages. The coolest flag of all is the largest Simhat Torah flag ever.

This got me thinking: How and when did we Jews start the custom of making special Simhat Torah flags to hand out to kids like you and me, so that we can march (or fly) around the synagogue with them? Sometimes I can be serious (not often, it's bad for my image), so I did a little research and here's what I discovered. The tradition of making flags goes all the way back to 17th Century Ashkenaz, which was in Eastern Europe. I even found sample flags. Maybe they'll be some of the flags I'll see today!

I must be getting really serious (Oh, oh, time to take my temperature!). I even found a historian at Tel Aviv University named Dr. Chaim Grossman who researched Simhat Torah flags. He says the flags created in Ashkenaz were made out of such thin paper that there was no way kids like you and me were going to take good care of them. So sorry, there are no flags going allll the way back. Dr. Grossman also doesn't know exactly how the custom began, but he thinks it was probably taken from a different culture.

So, you know what I did? I looked up the history of flags.  I gotta be honest. It just wasn't fun enough. So I found something better. How to make a Simhat Torah flag  and a Youtube clip of Simhat Torah in Israel.

Gotta go. But first a quick quiz: what flies? Answer: Simhat Torah flags and Zvuvi.

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