Yad Vashem

Since 1992, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been holding reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and rescuers once a year. But the tradition is coming to an end, as many have died or are too frail to travel. What might be the last reunion of its kind took place when a 92-year-old woman met up with the two surviving family members that she helped hide during the Holocaust, and their descendants.

Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor introduced Melpomeni Dina (nee Gianopoulou) to their almost 40 family members, all decedents of the Mordechai family, the family of seven that Dina and her two sisters hid during WWII. "There are no words to describe this feeling," Dina told the Jeruselum Post. "It is very emotional for us to be together again."

Keep Reading Show less

Arab and Israeli Martial Artists Join Together to Fight for Peace

Karate chops and high kicks help promote tolerance and understanding in a region fought with tensions.

image via (cc) flickr user emptyhighway

As anyone who actually practices martial arts can tell you, learning how to punch, kick, and chop effectively is less about becoming an excellent fighter than it is about developing a sense of self-discipline and control. Like the oft-repeated adage about jazz, karate isn’t so much about the punches you throw, as it is about the ones you don’t. It’s this duality—the tension between violence, and inner calm—that makes the study of martial arts so compelling. But can karate do more than simply bring peace to those who study it? Can it bring peace to an entire region?

Keep Reading Show less

Get Ready for the Fully Scannable World

A new generation of hand-held molecular data readers offer us a glimpse at a safer, healthier, better informed future.

This month, Consumer Physics, an Israeli startup, will start shipping out a prototype of its maiden product, the SCiO handheld spectrometer, to a group of Kickstarter supporters-cum-beta testers. A pocket-sized molecular sensor capable of breaking down and reporting the constituent atomic matter of various objects, the device probably sounds like a niche interest for the at-home scientist crowd. But in truth, the technology underlying this little, eminently affordable trinket, could revolutionize the way that everyday consumers interact with the world. By allowing us to (as Consumer Physics founders Damian Goldring and Dror Sharon would put it) “Google” physical reality, one day devices like the SCiO may not just provide us with interesting information, but also detect counterfeits, poisons, and other scams, cons, and threats on the fly—among a host of other as-yet-unseen, but inspiring potential applications.

Keep Reading Show less

Better Understanding Israel Through Art

This Place is an ambitious project meant to capture the complexity of Israel and the West Bank, both as place and as metaphor, through the eyes and lenses of 12 internationally acclaimed artists.

Complex issues concerning aspects of Israeli sovereignty have plagued the tiny, controversial country since its official creation in 1949. While these challenging and seemingly intractable problems have been approached and analyzed from many angles, a new traveling photo exhibit hopes to use documentary-style photography as an impartial medium for further exploration. This Place, which first opened October 24th in Prague at the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art, is an ambitious project meant to capture the complexity of Israel and the West Bank, both as place and as metaphor, through the eyes and lenses of 12 internationally acclaimed artists. Those participating include Wendy Ewald, who initiated 14 participatory projects throughout the region with communities that included schools, womens' groups, market stall owners, and high-tech workers, to Fazal Sheikh, who created a grid of 48 aerial photographs, each taken above the traces of disappeared Bedouin villages, meant to narrate a powerful story of community, land, and exclusion. Additional artists invited to take on a six-month residency in Israel, spanning from 2009-2012, include Martin Kollar, Josef Koudelka, Jungjin Lee, Gilles Peress, Stephen Shore, Rosalind Solomon, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall, Nick Waplington and Frederic Brenner. During this time thousands of original artworks were created, many seen in our slideshow above, as well as a series of monographs and a comprehensive catalog.

The show will continue to travel through 2016 internationally, and is curated by Charlotte Cotton, former head of the Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). “By its very nature, This Place is a multifaceted project. It provides entry points and participation in the ongoing cultural discussion about photographic representation of politically and philosophically contested spaces,” explains Cotton. “This Place embodies the idea of photography as itself a multifaceted notion – these incredible bodies of photographic work will be the prompt for discussions, the visual vehicles for sharing ideas and knowledge, as well as the material experience of the personal journeys undertaken by the commissioned artists.”

Keep Reading Show less

Israeli and Palestinian Farmers Unite Over Olive Oil

This simple, collaborative economic program reaps a lot more than it sows.

“There is no real border between Israel and Palestine,” says Muhammad Hamudi, an olive farmer and olive oil producer from Asira al-Shamaliya, near Nablus in the West Bank. He has been working with the ongoing USAID-funded project Olive Oil Without Borders (OOWB) since its inception in 2011. Hamudi is in his mid-50s, with smiling eyes and palms so big an olive looks miniscule in them. “Today the border is here, tomorrow it will be there. The olive oil market has no borders as well. The bridge to the global market is the same bridge for everyone.”

OOWB is a collaborative economic initiative among 34 olive oil farming communities in Israel and the West Bank. It is spearheaded by the Near East Foundation (NEF), a 100-year old nongovernmental organization working on economic development among poverty-stricken communities throughout Africa and the Mideast. The initiative is funded by USAID, which provides financial and operative assistance to foreign nations and regions in need. The program has been successful enough that USAID has just granted OOWB its second $1.2 million round of funding, expected to serve some 2,000 Palestinians and Israelis working in the olive oil business over the course of three years.

Keep Reading Show less

Cycle on the Recycled: A $9 Cardboard Bike Set to Enter Production in Israel

A fully-functioning, water-resistant cardboard bicycle is all set to hit the streets.

The last time your purchased something made entirely from cardboard, chances are it was a box to pack up your belongings. While the sturdy material is perfect for moving your stuff, an inventor from Israel has figured out a way to make cardboard move you. Using nine dollars worth of materials, bicycle enthusiast Izhar Gafni has created a fully functioning, water-resistant bicycle, made, from seat to spokes, entirely of recycled cardboard. The technology makes the environmentalist's choice mode of transportation even a bit greener and easier on the wallet.

Keep Reading Show less