. . . because it shouldn't be a secret that Israel is a wonderful place to live and to visit
   

ARTS & CULTURE - Opera at Masada; A Jesse Norman Concert too.
More than 3,000 tourists from 14 countries are already scheduled to visit Israel in June in order to see Verdi's opera "Nabucco" in the ancient site of Masada, produced by the Israeli Opera. Most are coming from France, the United States and Canada. Visitors from Japan, South Africa and Brazil are also slated to come. Most will be staying in the Dead Sea hotels.  And many will also be buying tickets for soprano Jesse Norman's concert that will also be held at Masada.(Click here to find out more)
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OUTDOORS: New Bicycle Route in Southern Town
Cycling enthusiasts in the southern town of Ofakim, who can now enjoy the use of a convenient trail that takes them through magnificent countryside and woodland and along riverbanks to archeological sites and carpets of flowers, helped with the planning of this project, and even did some of the work themselves.
   The 60-centimeter-wide single route winds through the local green belt: the 1,500 dunam (approx 375 acres) of Ofakim Forest, adjacent to the town. On its way, the cycling route passes through Nahal Shomariya and Nahal Patish and performs a serpentine figure 8 among the local moshavim.  This route, which is 22 kilometers long, is suitable for cyclists at all levels, including families with children, and it is equipped throughout with signposts and explanatory signs  (Click here to read the full article
)
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SHOPPING - The Jaffa Flea Market, A Healthy Disease
As the work week ends and the weekend begins, in the pre-dawn hours between last call and first light, the sellers start unpacking their wares.  Meanwhile, equipped with warm clothes, a flashlight and ample motivation, buyers begin streaming in from across the country to Jaffa's flea market, filling the market's slender alleys, as have many have for the past 10, 20 or 40 years. Many already know each other, but in the narrow window of opportunity before the break of dawn, most are dedicated to the act of browsing, not speaking.
"Every Thursday I escape between 1:30 at night and 10:00 Friday morning," said Avi Barsheshet, an executive at a company providing military hardware. "I come here and just have to buy something. I've been doing it since age 16."His favorite finds include Judaica, bronze articles and 1950s and 1960s memorabilia.

Buyers, likewise, hail from every imaginable profession, social stratum and locale - men and women, children and parents, religious and secular, urbanites and kibbutzniks. "It's a healthy disease," said Hannah Frucht of Haifa at 4:30 Friday morning. "I've had it for 40 years. I come every week, and by the time Shabbat comes in I'm back in Haifa. The Tel Avivians come to Haifa on Saturdays. Today, those of us from Haifa come here."
(Click here to read the full article)

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ARTS & CULTURE - New Design Museum Opens in Holon
Designed by Ron Arad, Israel’s poster boy of design, the Holon Design Museum (Holon is a suburb of Tel Aviv) and its planners make no bones about wanting to create the famous Bilbao effect. The museum’s first show, “The State of Things: Design and the 21st Century,” opened festively in the presence of Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, along with international guests like Liz Diller of Diller and Scofidio + Renfro and the Spanish design wiz Jaime Hayon. It’s an eclectic mix of more than 100 pieces from the last three years, including iconic designs by industry bigwigs like the Campana brothers, Ingo Maurer, Maarten Baas and Jaime Hayon, as well as some pleasant surprises, like Andreas Angelidakis’s gold-foil chair. For more, including comments on the architecture highlights of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem click here to read the full article .  To visit the web site of the museum, click here.
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ARTS & CULTURE - The 2010 /11 Season of Opera and Dance at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center
Israel's culture scene is vibrant.  Consider these offerings at one venue alone, the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center:

Opera: This year, in June, it’s Verdi’s Nabucco, to which some 4,000 tickets were sold to tourists, and for next year’s Aida there are already 6,000 orders. This season features the world premiere of David Zebba’s Alice in Wonderland, as well as The Magic Flute. Cinderella ,Verdi’s Ernani, Donizetti’s cheerful The Daughter of the Regiment,  Norma, La Traviata (a Franco Zefirelli spectacular) and Porgy and Bess (from Capetown) together with lesser known 20th century pieces by Shostakovich (Lady Macbeth from Mtsensk) and Bartok (Bluebeard’s Castle) with sets by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.

Dance: Visits by such as Alvin Ailey, Nacho Duato’s National Dance Company of Spain and Pilobolus together with Miguel Angel Berna and his newest piece, Goya, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet with Mauricio Weinrot’s Carmina Burana, the Montreal Jazz Ballet, Dwight Rhoden’s remarkable Complexions company, and Sutra, a performance piece that combines contemporary dance with martial arts, performed by monks from China’s Shaolin Temple.
(Click here to find out more)

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RECIPE OF THE MONTH FROM ISRAEL: Fig Dressing for Salads

Ingredients:

2 large
fresh figs
4-6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
4 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Salt (optional)
 
Preparation:
1. Chop the figs and place in a small food processor (with metal blade), or blender.
2. Add oil vinegar and,mustard.
3. Process until you get a uniform mixture that has, a thick consistency.
4. Add spices and blend.
5. Adjust seasoning.
6. Add the dressing to salad, just before you serve it.

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HEBREW PHRASES

Ah-knee roe-tze kos mayim be-vack-a-shah? (May I please have a glass of water?)

Od eh-haad be-vack-a-shah (One more please)

Na-eem meh-ode (Very nice to meet you)

Eyfo ha-sher-oo-teem? (Where is the bathroom?)

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