Surprised by Israel

Israel and its people surprised me in many ways — big and small.

One big surprise is that there are many kinds of Jews.  Most Israelis are secular; however, just as we have many types of Christians in the U.S., the practicing Jews in Israel come from many countries and many traditions.

 Orthodox Jews from Poland have their pants legs tucked into their boots.

Orthodox Jews from Poland have their pants legs tucked into their boots.

Young Orthodox woman and baby - note the cell phone.

Young Orthodox woman and baby – note the cell phone.

Barry and I got to see a very Orthodox section of Jerusalem.  When Danny told me that I needed to wear a dress over my jeans and my long sleeved sweater, I thought he was a bit extreme, but no, here is the sign we saw as we entered Mea She’arim section of Jerusalem.

Sign in Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Sign in Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem

Women and girls need to wear a “closed blouse with long sleeves, long skirt, no tight-fitting clothes.” The Mea She’arim area, one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods, is populated mainly by Haredi Jews, an extremely conservative, anti-secular, isolationist expression of Judaism.    They avoid both non-haredi Jews and non-Jews in order to prevent outside contamination of their values and practices.

This banner strung across a Mea She’arim street really shocked me.

The sign is in English

The sign is in English

The sign announces, “Authentic Jewry always opposed Zionism and the existence of the State of Israel.  We pray for the speedy and peacefully  total dismantlement of the state of Israel.”

This ultra-orthodox Jewish group believes that the Messiah is the one who will lead his people to the establishment of their own country. The existence of the country of Israel, they feel, delays the arrival of the Messiah.

The men wear long coats, hats, and have beards.

Some Jewish men wear long coats, hats, and have beards.

Many in this area dress – and live – much as they did 100 years ago in small Jewish towns of Central Europe.  Life revolves around strict adherence to  Jewish law, prayer, and the study of Jewish religious texts.  They have absolute reverence for Torah (Judaism’s most important text, composed of the Five Books of Moses, the 613 commandments (mitzvoth) and the Ten Commandments), and they prize religious scholarship.

Mea She'ari residents.

Mea She’arim residents.

Mea She'ari residents.

Mea She’arim street.

Mea She'ari neighborhood.

Mea She’arim neighborhood.

The men study.  The Israeli government supports the family. The men study. The Israeli government supports their families.  In the Old Testament, God instructs that the Levites study and protect the Torah.

Usually, the women marry young and have many children.

Usually, the women marry young and have many children.

Girls in the Mea She 'ari neighborhood.Girls in the Mea She’arim neighborhood.

In order to prevent outside influence and contamination of values and practices, Haredim strive to limit their contact with the outside world.

This woman actually yelled at Barry and shook her finger at him for taking this photo - so we tried to be suripticious.

This woman yelled at Barry and shook her finger at him for taking this photo – so we tried to be more surreptitious. Three kids are in this stroller; no wonder she is testy, but she does have a cell phone!

This woman was encased in voluminous layers of robes that hid her body completely.  Only her face showed;

This woman was encased in voluminous layers of robes that hid her body.  Only her face showed;

Many of the men were running.  Were they late for prayers?

Many of the men were running. Were they late for prayers?

Then there are the Breslev Hasidim, another example of the diversity within Israel.   They use clapping, singing and dancing to develop an intense, joyous relationship with God.

The  white yamaka is a sign of the Brels

The white yamaka is a sign of the Breslev Hasidim.

Source: http://www.vosizneias.com/assets/uploads/news_photos/thumbnails/600_q28lbjbi3qq5apwesvu6qckblm51unlo.jpg

The Breslev Hasidim and the ultra-orthodox Haredi Jews represent a range of Jewish practices you will find among others in Israel.

Another surprise is Israel is a really, really small country.

Syria and Lebbonon are at the north.

Syria and Lebanon border  the north; Egypt the west, and Jordan, the  east. The areas in green are the disputed territories.

Image from – <http://assets.baptiststandard.com/archived/2002/4_15/images/israelmap.jpg&gt;

Today, Israel (including disputed territories) is not much larger than the 5th smallest U.S. state – New Jersey, which  is about 7,800 square miles (20,000 square kilometers).   The State of Israel covers 8,019 square miles (20,770 sq. km).

Israel used to be bigger – almost twice as big.   As a result of the 6-Day War in 1967, Israel gained much territory.

Israel captured the area colored aqua as a result of the 6-Day War.

Israel captured the area colored aqua as a result of the 1967 – 6-Day War.

In 1979, as a peace offering, Israel gave up the Sinai Peninsula (about  60,000 km2 – 23,000 sq miles – in area)  to Egypt.  Despite large oil reserves having been found in the Sinai and the area serving as a big buffer zone, Israel pulled out of the Sinai in several stages ending in 1982.

In an NPR interview, reporter Nicolas Pelham, who writes for The Economist, discusses the Sinai and the Bedouin tribes that control it in his article, “In Sinai: The Uprising of the Bedouin.”   The Sinai Peninsula is  a very large piece of land, sparsely populated, which has been a conduit for smuggling – including arms smuggling.  The Bedouin, a population of about half a million broadly divide into some 20 to 30 tribes in the Sinai, managed to build up its own arsenal of weapons.

Phelham notes the Sinai has “spun out of control [of the central Egyptian government]. When the Mubarak regime fell, its security forces, which had retained Egyptian control, fled.. . . and   it’s becoming increasingly a full-scale battle between the Bedouin and the Egyptian government”  (from: http://www.npr.org/2012/11/26/165945327/sinai-peninsula-often-ignored-in-coverage-of-egypt).

Recently, I saw the Sinai mentioned in The New Yorker  article that tells of Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean-born Swede, who “advocates for Eritrean asylum seekers. She receives many calls from Eritreans in the Sinai, who beg for ransoms as large as forty thousand dollars while their captors pour molten plastic down their backs”  (April 21, 2014, p. 79).

So although Israel gave the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in a peace agreement, Egypt can’t control the area, and Israel still does not have the promised peace with her neighbors.

Another big surprise is that although I knew Arab and Israeli areas were close, I saw they are actually intertwined even in the capital city of Jerusalem. In the photo below, you can see the wall separating Jerusalem from the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

A closer look at the wall that does cause hardships for Palestianians working in Jerusalem but helps keep neighborhoods safe against the few who are trying to kill all Israelis.

A closer look at the wall that does cause hardships but helps keep neighborhoods safe against the few who are trying to kill all Israelis.

On Maui, what could you do if a few members of one group in Wailuku shelled their neighbors in Kahului?  In New York, what if some Brooklyn residents sent bombs into Manhattan?  In Illinois, what if Evanston residents were mortaring the north side of Chicago? Or vice versa.

The situation is very, very complicated.

Shelling happened as recently as July-August 2014 when Israel launched a military operation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip following the June 12, 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members.

More than 2,200 people died, most of them Gazans – many children– during  seven weeks of Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks, and ground fighting.

“The stated aim of the Israeli operation was to stop rocket fire from Gaza into Israel . . . Conversely, Hamas’s goal was to bring international pressure to bear to lift Israel’s block of the Gaza Strip, end Israeli’s offensive, release Palestinian prisoners and overcome its political isolation. . . .

On 26 August, an open-ended ceasefire was announced. By that date, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) reported that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups had fired 4,564 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, with over 735 intercepted in flight and shot down by Iron Dome [an example of Israel’s great defense technology]. Most Gazan mortar and rocket fire hit open land, more than 280 fell on areas in Gaza, while . . . 224 struck residential areas. The IDF attacked 5,263 targets in Gaza; at least 34 known tunnels were destroyed and two-thirds of Hamas’s 10,000-rocket arsenal was used up or destroyed” (<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Israel–Gaza_conflict&gt;).

The situation there is not good: not good for the Israelis and not good for the Palestinians.

All houses and apartment buildings that I saw in Israel have bomb shelters!

A closer look at the wall that does cause hardships for Palestianians working in Jerusalem but helps keep neighborhoods safe against the few who are trying to kill all Israelis.

View from Mt. Scopus and the wall separating Jerusalem from the Palestinian Authority area.

The wall causes hardships especially for Palestinians, but it provides a barrier between the two sides.

Another indication that Israel is small is that on our way back to Jerusalem from the Golan Heights, Danny’s car was passed by the prime minister’s convoy!  Such proximity to national political leaders does not happen on Maui — and probably not where you live either.

Those flashing lights on Danny's care are from a passing political convoy.

Those flashing lights on Danny’s car are from a passing political convoy.

The country is so small that Barry and I were able to go by public transportation (a bus and then a train; we did have to run to catch the train!) from Eilat at the very south of Israel to Binyamina, which is between Tel Aviv and Haifa in the north.  It took us only about five hours.

Binyamina is north of Tel Aviv and south of Haifa.  We started in Eilat at the very south of Israel.

Binyamina is north of Tel Aviv and south of Haifa. We started in Eilat at the very south of Israel. 

Source: http://hethathasanear.com/images/israel_map.jpg

On Amtrak in the U.S., it takes longer than that to go from St. Louis, MO to Chicago, IL!

In many other ways, Israel is a surprise.  Although pilgrims come from all over the world,  the surprise is who they are.

Of course, Jews come to Jerusalem.

A Jewish man in the Old City Jerusalem.

A Jewish man in the Old City Jerusalem.

Arabs too.

Muslim Arabs coming by bus to Jerusalem to pray.

Muslim Arabs coming by bus to Jerusalem to pray.

And Christians.

Israel is so small that we walked next to another  visiting pilgrim - one that had body guards.  Someone told us the President of Malaysia and his wife were visiting. xx

Israel is so small that we walked next to another visiting pilgrim – one that had body guards. The Prime Minister of Malaysia and his wife were visiting.

We were all on our way to Visitation Church - where Mary received the blessing of the Lord xx

We were all on our way to Visitation Church – where Mary received the blessing of the Lord – and saw these colorful women being interviewed.

Not surprisingly, I felt amazed to be in the actual places of the Bible.

Visitation Church

Visitation Church

A wall of the "Magnifica" in many different languages.

A wall of the “Magnifica”-  in many different languages  on the wall of the Ein Karem Church of the Visitation.

Visitation Church

Visitation Church

The Magnificat: Song of Mary – “My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.  For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.  For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name. . . .”

St. John the Baptist Church

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist

Another surprise is in contrast to the ornate Catholic and Protestant churches, I saw that most of the Jewish synagogues are very humble and simple.

Synagogue near St. John the Baptist Church.

Synagogue near St. John the Baptist Church.

Another humble synagogue

Another humble synagogue with a Christian church behind it.

The important rabbis of this synagogue.  They put their emphasis on learning and studying.  Simplicity is important.

The important rabbis of this synagogue. The rabbis put their emphasis on learning and studying. Simplicity is important.

Also, I expected military presence in Israel, but my surprise was that it felt okay (although I’m a Quaker).  I even felt very safe.

After Israelis graduate from high school, almost all are required to join the army.  The exceptions are Arab Israelis (although they can choose to join), kids from the Orthodox Jewish families, and those with significant physical or mental problems.

So we saw soldiers and their rifles almost everywhere we went in Israel.  However, we could tell they were professional and well trained.  For me, seeing those young Israelis with their rifles was not like the scary experiences of seeing a gun-brandishing guy on the Chicago El or another with an attitude at the Tucson swap meet  – those incidences were scary!  The Israeli soldiers are defending the existence of Israel – the one place where Jews can live without worry that their government and its citizens may one day choose to destroy them.

Young soldiers with their rifles are everywhere in Israel.

Young soldiers with their rifles are everywhere in Israel.

Whether on-duty or off-duty, Israeli soldiers carry their rifles.

Whether on-duty or off-duty, Israeli soldiers carry their rifles.

On the trains - everywhere

On the trains – everywhere.

Young Israeli soldiers on a field trip.

Young Israeli soldiers on a field trip.

Another really big surprise for me – Shabbat, the time for Jewish prayer, rest, and celebration lasts from sundown on Friday until several hours after sunset on Saturday.  Shops close, public transportation stops, no one is to work, drive a car, cook, or even press an elevator button!  Shabbat affects everyone, religious Jew or not.  Some Israelis like Shabbat even if they aren’t religious because it is a time for family and rest.  Others just find all the closures as irritating.  Shabbat certainly has to be considered.  Barry and I tried taking the light electric train one Friday afternoon in Jerusalem.  The sun was shining brightly, but the trains had already stopped – at 2:30 p.m.!  We were told that the train conductors needed time to get home and prepare for Shabbat.  Thankfully, an Arab taxi stopped for us.

On a Saturday late morning in Eilat, Barry and I waited for a Christian Ethiopian restaurant to open.  We hung out on this bench watching a few people pass by.  And yes, that's a beer Barry is drinking.  It was still Shabbat - almost nothing was open!

On a Saturday late morning in Eilat, Barry and I waited for a Christian Ethiopian restaurant to open. We hung out on this bench watching a few people pass by. And yes, that’s a beer Barry is drinking. It was still Shabbat – almost nothing was open!  

Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of vegetable and often very spicy meat dishes, usually in the form of wat (also w'et or wot), a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 20 inches in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour.

Our Ethiopian lunch – minus its usual meat ingredient. 

Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of vegetables and often very spicy meat dishes, usually in the form of wat (also w’et or wot), a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 20 inches in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour.   Our lunch was good and spicy — and we were happy to find a place to eat on Saturday during Shabbat.

Although most Israelis are secular, the country has Hebrew, the language of the Bible, as its official language and the government promotes Jewish holidays and practices.

Another surprise –  the buildings in Jerusalem are required to be  made from Jerusalem stone — which glows golden as the sun sets.

Jerusalem stone is the facade of the buildings throughout the city.

Jerusalem stone is the facade of the buildings throughout the city.

Beautiful Jerusalem stone

Beautiful Jerusalem stone

Jerusalem stone

Jerusalem stone

Fancy buildings or more humble - they all are of Jerusalem stone.

Fancy buildings or more humble – they all are of Jerusalem stone.

More surprises, big and small, were part of our visit to Israel.  But this post is long enough.  More will follow.

I hope you will go to Israel and find your own surprises.

Shalom & Aloha,  Renée

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Jerusalem: What’s Outside the Old City Walls?

Jerusalem is much more than the Old City – although that part is very historic and wonderful.  Outside the walls is a vibrant city of education, museums, markets, and places of religious significance.  Jerusalem also serves as the capital of Israel; many businesses, government offices, restaurants, and hotels are throughout the city.

King David Hotel

King David Hotel

Nelson Mandela has been at the King David Hotel

Nelson Mandela has been at the King David Hotel

Stephen Hawkings has been here too.

Stephen Hawkings has been here too; that’s his enlarged thumb print – and many other famous (and not famous) people too.

King David Hotel outdoor restaurant

King David Hotel outdoor restaurant

American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem - lovely

The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem – lovely

Religion and history intertwine everywhere outside the walls too.

You’ll find Hebrew University –

Founders of Hebrew University include Albert Einstein

Founders of Hebrew University included Albert Einstein

Hebrew University

Hebrew University

Barry and I spent three afternoons on the Hebrew University campus and in its terrific the dining hall :)

View from Mt Scopus and the Hebrew University botanical gardens

View from Mt Scopus in the Hebrew University botanical gardens

In Jerusalem, you will find many beautiful and peaceful places.

Jerusalem lights from the top of Notre Dame

Jerusalem lights from the top of Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral - outside the New Gate in Jerusalem

Notre Dame Cathedral – outside the New Gate in Jerusalem

Even outside the Old City walls, Jerusalem is filled with religion.  In Notre Dame

Even outside the Old City walls, Jerusalem is filled with religion. Painting in Notre Dame.

Mount of Olives.

Mount of Olives.

The Jerusalem YMCA is a notable landmark.

The Jerusalem YMCA is a notable landmark.

YMCA

YMCA

YMCA: “Here is a place whose atmosphere is peace/Where political and religious jealousies can be forgotten and international unity be fortified and developed.”

near the Lion's gate xx

The Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Mary Magdalene – its seven onion domes gleam in the sunlight near the Lion’s Gate.

Danny, Ruth, & Barry.  Our friends were showing us around important religious sites.

Our Israeli friends Danny & Ruth showing Barry and me around.

Our friends  showed us important religious sites — and the ordinary places of Israeli life.

Yes, McDonald's is here in Israel too.  But they are kosher so some serve meat; others serve dairy products.

Yes, McDonald’s is here in Israel too. But they are kosher McDonalds, so some serve meat; others serve dairy products.

Nahalat Shiv’a , the third Jewish neighborhood outside the Old City Walls was founded in 1869, has small houses built around inner courtyards with water cisterns at the center.

Nahalat Shiv’a , the third Jewish neighborhood outside the Old City Walls was founded in 1869; it has  small houses built around inner courtyards with water cisterns at the center.

Notice, all the buildings in Jerusalem are made of Jerusalem stone.

Notice, all the buildings in Jerusalem are made of Jerusalem stone.

Jerusalem stairway

Jerusalem stairway

Besides being able to wander around the city, we found that Jerusalem has wonderful museums.

Although not very big, the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Arts is interesting — and it is open on Satuday, during Shabbat.

Islamic art reflects  religious  beliefs and traditions.

Islamic art reflects religious beliefs and traditions.

Shia and Sunni xx  As well as sharing beautiful art, the museum gives information about the Muslim religion.  Here the sign explains the difference between the Shia and the Sunni Muslims.

Music is integral to Islamic arts.

Music is integral to Islamic arts.

The museum also contains a section on watches and clocks.  The most significant timepieces are by Abraham Louis Breguet (1747-1823), inventor of some of the greatest technological innovations in modern watch making.  Because the watch was so complex,  the “Marie Antoinette” although commissioned for her wasn’t finished until 23 years after her execution!

The Marie Antoinette watch by

The Marie Antoinette watch by Breguet

The humble donkey was the theme of one exhibit.

The humble donkey was the theme of one exhibit.

A museum that  you must see in Jerusalem is the Israel Museum.

Entrance to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem xx

Entrance to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. TripAdvisor rates the museum as 5.5.  I agree.

Israel Museum

Israel Museum

Mosaics

Ancient mosaics

Beautiful pieces by August Rodin and other famous artists.

Beautiful pieces by famous artists are throughout the museum.  This one is by Auguste Rodin.

Ancestor pole.

Ancestor pole – by the Asmat people.

Human shaped coffins - 13th century

Human shaped coffins – 13th century

Large mask

Large mask – Judean hills

You can see one of the oldest human portraits known. Found in the Judean Hills and Judean Desert, from the Neolithic Period, 9,000 years ago, this prehistoric mask is one of a group of masks that have been scattered around the world, but they are now exhibited in the Israel Museum – together for the first time.

Each mask has its own personality.

Each mask has its own personality.

Our docent made what we saw even more interesting.

Our docent made what we saw even more interesting.

Monorahs xx from around the world are on display

Menorahs from around the world are on display

A reconstructed synagogue from Cochin, India, is within the Israel Museum.

A reconstructed synagogue from Cochin, India is within the Israel Museum.

A replica - within the walls of the Old City

A replica of within the walls of the Old City

Another fantastic museum is the informative and moving Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum.  Go there too.   Trip Advisor rates this museum as  5/5.

Visitor looks at pictures of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

A visitor looks at pictures of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem.  The museum commemorates the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust during World War Two.

Image from – http://www.vosizneias.com/wp-content/

Janusz Korczak  memorial

Janusz Korczak memorial

Image from: http://magazine.baruchhaba.com//wp-content/uploads/2012/07/janusz-korczak-memorial-8795c21818ccd53d9dcd33713453bb4b.jpg

Barry and I spent about four hours in the Israel Museum and about that much time at the Holocaust Museum.   We want to go back to both since we didn’t see everything; we found both very interesting.

Also the Bible Lands Museum is highly recommended; it explores the peoples and cultures mentioned in the Bible.  TripAdvisor rates it 4.5/5.

People of the Bible.

People of the Bible.

Image from – http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/0c/a9/51/0ca951d2eb12214283df0a4ef8e52899.jpg

And more museums are coming.

Future Jerusalem museum

Future Jerusalem museum

Jerusalem has fantastic restaurants,  markets, music, history, culture, and religions.  It is a modern bustling city that you are sure to find interesting.

Sunset in Jerusalem

Sunset over the hills of  Jerusalem

I hope you too can go to Jerusalem.

Aloha & Shalom, Renée

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Let’s Get Cooking: Cashew and Coconut Cream Cheese from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

“Cashew cream cheese is rich, slightly tangy, and incredibly satisfying,” notes Chef Simon.

Cashew and Coconut Cream Cheese (gluten free, dairy free, & vegan)

Ingredients:

– 2 cups ( .47 L) of cashew nuts. Soaked in ample water for 12 hours. Drained and rinsed.

– 2 cups ( .47 L) of coconut milk

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of soy sauce

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of sea salt

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of agar agar (a seaweed based thickener, available at Asian grocery stores). You can play around with this quantity. The more you use, the firmer your cheese will be.

Process:

In a blender, combine cashews, oil, 1 cup of the coconut milk, (if you have coconut yogurt, you can use 1 cup of this instead to result in a more tangy cream cheese), plus the soy sauce and salt. Blend at high speed until very smooth.

In a saucepan, combine the other cup of coconut milk and agar agar, bring to a boil while stirring. Boil for 2 minutes.

With the blender running, introduce the boiled milk/agar mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Do this while the mixture is still hot and runny. When completely combined, pour into a container and allow to set in the fridge for several hours.

Chef Simon says that recipes such as this one aren’t replacements for cow’s milk. Instead, they are worthy for the most discerning foodies out there, vegan or not. “If their creaminess, tanginess, and plain satisfaction factor remind you of dairy, well, lucky you” (UbudLife Vol. 21, Dec.-Feb. 2015, p. 43).

Enjoy.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

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Let’s Get Cooking: Coconut Yogurt from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

According to Chef Simon, this coconut yogurt is just as delicious as the most amazing Greek yogurt – and it’s simple to make.

Coconut Yogurt (gluten free & optional dairy free)
– 1 litre (4.227 cups) of good quality coconut milk
– 1 spoon of live yogurt
– 4 250 ml (1 cup each) screw-top jars – or any other packaging, which stores a litre of yogurt. Preferably use glass.

Make sure you use a coconut milk with a reasonably high fat content (a real coconut would be best- about 3 grams of healthy fat, the boxed kind perhaps not so good. Check). This will guarantee deliciously rich and creamy yogurt.

If you want your yogurt to be completely dairy free, you’ll have to use a spoon of existing dairy free yogurt, such as soy yogurt. Non-dairy culture starters are available too.

The live yogurt or dairy-free starter is for the probiotic bacteria to turn our coconut milk into yogurt. If you’re okay with a trace of dairy, use plain unsweetened live yogurt. Check the list of ingredients; it should mention the bacteria cultures it contains (and say “live culture.”)

In a thick-bottomed pan on a low heat, bring your coconut milk to a gentle boil. Let it bubble away for about five minutes – stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and let the coconut milk cool down to about 40 degrees Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit). If you’re not sure, stick your clean finger in the milk. If you’re able to keep it there for at least a minute, you’re on the right track.

Now introduce your bacteria to the milk by stirring it in.

In another pot of boiling water, boil your jars and lids for two minutes to sterilize. Allow them to cool down before pouring in your yogurt mixture. Screw the lids on tightly.

If you’ve got access to a warm place, simply storing these jars for 24 hours will be sufficient to create yogurt. If not, you can use a cool box. Line up the jars and cover them with 40 degree Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit) water. Close the cool box and leave for 24 hours. By then, your yogurt should have cultured and can be kept in the fridge for at least another week (but it tastes so good that it’s not likely to last that long).

Enjoy.

Aloha and sanpai jumpa, Renée

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Let’s Get Cooking: Creamy Cashew and Vanilla Milk from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

Vanilla cashew milk

Vanilla cashew milk

<http://ohmyveggies.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/cinnamon_vanilla_cashew_milk.jpg&gt;.

In Bali, not only can you eat wonderful Balinese and Indonesian foods (think peanut sauces and chili, coconut and lemongrass and pineapple), but also a wide range of delicious food, especially in Ubud, for health-conscious yogis.

One good example of someone creating healthy, tasty choices is Chef Simon, a whole foods chef, energetic healing practitioner, and a permanent resident at Bali Silent Retreat. In his article, “Dairy and Beyond,” he writes, “There’s no surer way to feel deprived than eating or drinking a watered down, gluten free, dairy free, cruelty free alternative of a glorious food product. Most dairy alternatives are a great example. . . .

Milk was once stored in bags made out of a cow’s stomach. Allegedly an ancient cowboy left his bag lying around in the sun for too long and thanks to an enzyme in the cow’s stomach called ‘rennet’ this produced, solely by chance, the first cheese. It took generations of sheer brilliant invention, luck and determination to create the dazzling range of cheeses that the world knows today. . . . The Europeans are still leading . . . to create alluring nuggets of salty, crumbly, creamy and often plainly addictive cheese. . . . [Although] moldy cheese is mainstream, I’m not sure whether Mediterranean maggot cheese will ever make it to the supermarket shelves though.

I digress, as this is not about dairy. Nor is it written for people who somehow are deprived of dairy. These are recipes that are delicious. They don’t involve animal products. They are super-healthy. I prefer to drink cashew milk; it somehow feels fresher.

Creamy Cashew and Vanilla Milk (gluten free, dairy free)

– 1 cup (236.6 ml) of raw cashews, soaked in plenty of water for 2 to 6 hours, drained, rinsed

– 4 cups (946.24 ml) of water

– 1 teaspoon (4.5 grams)  sea salt

– Stevia or sugar to taste. Suggestion, 1 tablespoon (14.3 grams) sugar or the stevia equivalent

– 1 vanilla pod, scraped.

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and creamy. This may take a few minutes depending on your blender. Taste and make sure you can’t detect any bits. Serve cold. Or use as you would use milk in any recipe. (From: UbudLife,  Vol. 21, Feb. 2015, p. 44-45).

Enjoy.

Coming soon, Chef Simon’s recipes for coconut yoghurt and for cashew and coconut cream cheese. Aloha and sanpai jumpa, Renée

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Thought for the Day: Look Closer

In the Museum Laksi xx Pura, Ubud, Bali

In the Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali

“With so much contradictory information available, there is more reason to travel than ever before: to look closer, to dig deeper, to sort the authentic from the fake; to verify, to smell, to touch, to taste, to hear, and sometimes–importantly–to suffer the effects of this curiosity,” says Paul Theroux in The Last Train To Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari. 

Go — find out for yourself, and then don’t be too sure that what you see is true.

Do you see what I see?

Do you see what I see?

Aloha and Sanpai jumpa, Renée

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Jerusalem: Inside the Old City Walls

Following the Israeli War of Independence in 1948,  Old City Jerusalem was captured by Jordan, and the Jewish residents were evicted.

Nineteen years later on June 5, 1967, Israel was surrounded by enemies says Steven Pressfield in The lion’s gate: on the front lines of the Six-Day War, “The Soviet-equipped Egyptian Army had massed a thousand tanks on the nation’s southern border. Syrian heavy guns were shelling her from the north. To the East, Jordan and Iraq were moving mechanized brigades and fighter squadrons into position to attack.

Egypt’s President Nasser declared that the Arab force’s objective is ‘the destruction of Israel.’  The rest of the world turned a blind eye to the new nation’s desperate peril.

By June 10, 1967, the Arab armies have been routed, ground divisions wiped out, air forces totally destroyed. Israel’s citizen-soldiers have seized the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. The land under Israeli control has tripled. Her charismatic defense minister, Moshe Dayan, has entered the Lion’s Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem to stand with the paratroopers who have liberated Judaism’s holiest site-the Western Wall, part of the ruins of Solomon’s temple, which has not been in Jewish hands for nineteen hundred years. It is one of the most unlikely and astonishing military victories in history.”

Changing borders

Changing borders

From: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/8f/da/23/8fda238e8c9210992e7aa99c24516cde.jpg

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Old City Jerusalem, a walled area of a 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi) is within the modern city of Jerusalem.  Today the Israeli government mainly controls the area, which it considers part of its national capital, but Jews are not allowed by the Palestinian Authority to visit some places holy to the Muslims within the city walls; internationally the Old City is considered part of occupied Palestinian Territory.   However today, Jews, Christians, and Muslims can visit sites very precious to each religion: for Muslims, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque; for Jews, the Temple Mount and Western Wall, and for Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  In 1981, Old City Jerusalem was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Within Jerusalem Old City Walls.

Within the  Old City Walls of Jerusalem.

From – http://wikitravel.org/upload/en/7/70/Map_jerusalem_oldcity.png

As of 2007, the total population within the walls was 36,965; by religion, 27,500 Muslims, 5,681 Christians,  3,089 Jews, and  790 Armenians. [4]Wikipedia}

At the Lion Gate xxx - after prayers on Friday - lots of Muslims coming from the Dome of the Rock xxx

At Lion’s  Gate – after prayers  many Muslims coming from  mosques in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City Jerusalem.

At the gate next to the new gate xxx More Muslims coming from prayers.

At New Gate – Muslims coming from prayers.

On a Friday early afternoon, as Barry and I walked down from the Mount of Olives toward  Old City Jerusalem, we saw thousands of Muslims, mainly men and boys,  leaving through the gates of the Old City.   Buses had brought some – perhaps from Jordan or other nearby communities. One friendly Muslim man suggested that Barry and I go to a cafe and wait until most of the men left before making our way into the Old City.  However, we kept walking (and saw more Muslims than I’ve ever seen in one place).

Small stalls sell to the temple goers.

Small street stalls selling to those leaving the mosques.

Muslim couple

Muslim couple

A Muslim girl in Jerusalem.  Photo - by Barry

A Muslim girl in Jerusalem.
Photo – by Barry

A Muslim girl surrounded by a sea of men.

Muslim men after prayers in Jerusalem.

Muslim men after prayers in Jerusalem.

We felt safe - but these two young Israeli soldiers were the only military we saw.

We felt safe – but these two young Israeli soldiers were the only military or police we saw.

The Dome of the Rock - the temple sacred to Muslims and the site of the Jewish temples before they were destroyed.  The Muslims pray at their temple, (the gold dome was paid for by King Hussein xxx.

The Dome of the Rock – the mosque sacred to Muslims and the site of the Jewish temples before they were destroyed. The gold dome was paid for by Jordan’s King Hussein.

The Jews, who feel they are not holy enough to pray at the site of their first two temples and the place where man was created, go to the remnant of the Western Wall (“The Wailing Wall”) of the Second Temple.

Near the Wailing Wall of the Old City, Jerusalem.  Jewish boys and their teachers.

Near the Western Wall of the Old City Jerusalem. Jewish boys and their teachers.

A Jewish woman, who gave us blessings (because we gave her money) near the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

A Jewish woman, who gave us blessings (because we gave her money) near the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Neil, our great guide, explaining the succession of holy places built, destroyed and then rebuilt at what is now the Muslim Dome of the Rock xx

Neil, our great guide, explaining the succession of holy places built, destroyed, and then rebuilt at what is now the Muslim Dome of the Rock.

The Second Holy Jewish Temple (between 516 BCE and 70 CE), replaced the First Temple, destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jews went into exile.  Jewish belief is that the Second Temple will in turn be replaced by a future Third Temple after the Messiah comes.

The remnant of the wall from the Jewish second temple - now known as the Wailing Wall or Western Wall.

The remnant of the wall from the Jewish Second Temple –  “The Wailing Wall” that is now known as the Western Wall.

Women at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Women praying – and leaving wishes – at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Jewish men at the Wailing Wall.

Jewish men at the Western Wall.

Women hanging over the separating barrier to watch a Bar Mitzva xx on the men's side of the Wailing Wall.

Women hanging over the separating barrier to watch a bar mitzva on the men’s side of the Western Wall.

Jewish men and women have access to the Western Wall, although at different sections.

The women prayed too.

The women praying – at the Western Wall.

Coming from prayers

Coming from prayers

Kids dancing on a metal grate near the Western Wall; they can have a good time any where.

Kids dancing on a metal grate near the Western Wall; they have a good time everywhere.

Birds flying near the Western Wall.

Birds flying above the Western Wall.

The Temple Mount area above; below, the Western Wall.

Police presence is very discreet.  This is one of the only times I saw a mass of law enforcement officers - near the Wailing Wall.

Police presence is very discreet. This is the only time I saw a mass of law enforcement officers.

In the Old City streets –

The Jewish bride and her family had been evicted from their home nine years ago - and still don't have enough money to give the daughter a bridal shower.  These Jewish girls want to help.

The Jewish bride and her family had been evicted from their home nine years ago – and don’t have enough money to give the daughter a bridal shower. These Jewish girls want to help.

Lots of small business entrepreneurs.

Lots of small business entrepreneurs.

Inside Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, with Barry, Danny, & Ruth.

Inside Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, with Barry, and good friends Danny, & Ruth.

It seems that everyone has a presence within the Old City wall.

Lists of the Catholic & Protestant Churches and Muslim Mosques inside the Old City, Jerusalem.

Lists of the Catholic & Protestant Churches and Muslim Mosques inside the Old City Jerusalem.

The Swedish Christian

The Swedish Christian Center.

Christ Church, Anglican inside the Old City, Jerusalem

Christ Church- the oldest Protestant Church (Anglican) in the Middle East – inside the Old City Jerusalem

The Greek Orthodox and the Arab Orthodox Centerxx

The Greek Orthodox Patriachate and the Cultural Centre & Museum, Arab Orthodox Society of Jerusalem

Church of the Holy Scplacure xx- many Christian pilgrims

Church of the Holy Sepulchre – perhaps the most sacred of Christian sites.

Within the Christian Quarter of the Old City is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,  venerated for its last  four  Stations of the Cross, the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, his burial, and resurrection.   Christian pilgrims have been coming here since the 4th century.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Christian pilgrims

Christian pilgrims

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepluchre.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

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Today, the church is controlled by Greek Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, & Roman Catholics under complicated arrangements.

Orthodox Christians

Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is controlled by Greek Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, & Roman Catholics under complicated arrangements.

Besides coming to Jerusalem for the religious and historical significance, many come to shop.

Many things to buy inside the Old City, Jerusalem.

Many things to buy inside  Old City Jerusalem

The Nigerians are the biggest shoppers in Jerusalem!

The Nigerians are the biggest shoppers in Jerusalem!

Modern Muslim girls in the Jerusalem market.  They had been taking photos with their iPhones.   Modern Muslim girls in the Jerusalem market. They had been taking photos with their iPhones.  :)

Everyone is there: Jews, Christian backpackers, xx.  Can you find the woman with a hijab covering her face? xx

Everyone is here: Orthodox Jews, Christian backpackers,  secular people. Can you find the woman with a hijab covering her face?

For some, the Old City is their home.

School girls

For some, Old City, Jerusalem is their home.

Old City Jerusalem is divided into four unequal sections: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Christian Quarter.

Welcome to the Jewish Quarter

Welcome to the Jewish Quarter

Jewish man

Jewish man

Jewish man coming from prayers.

Jewish man coming from prayers.

Near the Wailing Wall - pizza and prayers

Near the Wailing Wall – pizza and prayers

The Fiedler Family's mailbox in the Jewish Quarter.

The Fiedler Family’s mailbox in the Jewish Quarter.

Bagel anyone?

Bagel anyone?

Snacks of  humus, shackshuka, lahme bahagin . . .

Snacks of humus,
shakshouka, lahme bahagin . . .

You can find wonderful Middle Eastern food within the Old City walls.

Stop for coffee in open plazas within Old City Jerusalem.

Stop for coffee in open plazas within Old City Jerusalem.

And if you don’t have money, the Jewish Chabad provides free meals near the Western Wall.

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Come explore.

Come explore.

The doors are open within Old City Jerusalem.

The doors are open within Old City Jerusalem.

Old City Jerusalem is waiting for you.

And what’s outside Old City Jerusalem?  That report is coming soon.

Shalom, Renée

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