Tag Archives: Israel

Buying a Taboun in Yarka

A little over a week ago we were back at Beit Baad Alzitun in Pe’kin to pick up some more of their fantastic olive oil when we noticed a nice, but rusty taboun (domed pita grill).  The owner of the Beit Baad gave us the name and phone number of the nearest taboun manufacturer and assured us that all we needed to do was ask anybody in Yarka where “Abu Taib” is and they would point the way……

We had been to Yarka a few times in the past. Yarka is a Druzi city with a good sized population, not a place where you would think that everybody knows everyone else.  But our optimism, desire for adventure and yearning for home cooked pita had us driving  into Yarka the following day.

Taboun - Pita Grill

Our Taboun - Pita Grill

Yarka is a good sized city, but there is only one main road through it, and even that road is much like an alley in some places.  We drove through about half of Yarka before we found somebody to ask directions of.   He was an old Druze with a pleasant smile, long white mustache and bright blue eyes.  We rolled down the window and asked, “Eyfo Ha Hanut shel Abu Taib shel tabounim?” (“Where is Abu Taib’s store for tabouns?”) hoping that we pronounced the name properly.  He didn’t know Abu Tiab.  The Beit Baad man was wrong – not good.  We repeated, “Abu Taib” and “taboun” hoping he would make the connection.  The old Druze asked, “Abu Saib?” and “saboun?”, making the whole experience even more perplexing.

Fancy Pita Oven for the Industrious Baker

Fortunately, there was a younger, astute Druze watching the scene and came to lend a hand.  Once again we asked, “Eyfo Abu Taib?” thinking for sure he will know Abu Taib.  Nope, the other guy didn’t know Abu Tieb.  We presented to him our Beit Baad Alzitun business card with Abu Tieb’s name and number on the back.  Sensing our confusion, he calls the number on the card and informs us that we need to go to Pe’kin near Ma’alot.   “No, no – that’s the beit baad we know where that is!  Flip the card over to Abu Tieb” we exclaimed.  After a couple attempts he finally got through to Abu Tieb and got the directions to his “factory”.  Not wanting to leave us stranded, this friendly Druze drove ahead and lead us to Abu Tieb’s home / workshop making certain we were at the correct place before leaving us.

Abu Taib and Sons

Pictured with his sons, employees and probably housemates (sharing a HUGE house) is Abu Tiab in the middle and is his oldest son Tieb to the right, and his other son to the left.  “Abu” means father and since his oldest son is Tieb – that becomes his name “Father of Tiab.”   What his name was before Tieb was born will be a mystery until we meet him again.

Time for Drinks to Celebrate the Sale

Bargaining was fun with Abu Tieb – he told me the price, and I counter-offered.  He told me he didn’t understand me and told me the price again, and I counter-offered again.  This happened a few times, until finally he understood and accepted my counter-offer – except he was 10 NIS short to meet my price.    On the way out of his shop there was a stack of pita spatulas.  I grabbed one, called for Abu Tieb who was walking ahead, and gestured that this spatula would be in lieu of the 10 NIS .  Abu Tieb liked this proposal.

Abu Taib an I

After the sale, any sale, drinks must be poured!  Being short on time, we refused the cafe im hell (coffee with hell – cardamon) and the tea but settled for Fanta Orange Soda and water.   Abu Tiab took great joy in serving the drinks and posed with each member of the family while he poured.

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Learning Torah or Loading a Merkava

When the Jews of old were persecuted and the dominate military force of the day was trying to extinguish the light of Torah, we fought back – with Torah learning and tools of war.  We learned this tactic from Yaakov Avinu who, when preparing to meet his brother Esav developed a three-pronged approach – prayer, gifts and war.   Bar Kochba and the Maccabees also used these techniques (sans the gifts) and today in modern Israel – we still continue in our father’s footsteps.

Yeshivat Ma'alot Yaakov

Yeshivat Ma'alot Yaakov - There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael.

Yeshivat Ma’alot Yaakov is a one of the many hesder yeshivot in Israel that offers young men the opportunity to learn Torah and serve in the IDF, protecting our people.   The program is genius and the results are phenomenal.

After graduating high school the boys learn Torah for 1.5 years, and then serve in the IDF for 1.5 years, followed by two more years of learning to complete the program.

The military options offered to the boys are limited to a few, like tanks, artillery, foot soldiery and para-trooping.  The boys are usually kept together in their new military units since there already exists a sense of camaraderie and cohesiveness.

Operations

Hesder yeshiva student during training

Troops

Meeting Time

Tanks

Operations

The fire for learning is not extinguished in their new roles.  Some have pocket-sized seferim and seize time to learn in situations like while standing in line to eat or waiting in their tank.  Many soldiers can be found using their breaks to either learn by themselves or with a chavruta.   Additionally, the shiurim at Yeshivat Ma’alot Yaakov are recorded and uploaded onto the Yeshiva’s website for listening/learning when time permits.

Purim

Yeshivat Ma'alot Yaakov on Purim

At the end of the five year program the young men are polished.  They have developed themselves spiritually, emotionally and physically and are ready to build beautiful families to follow in our fathers’ footsteps.

To learn more about Yeshivat Ma’alot Yaakov go to their website > http://www.yesmalot.co.il/about/

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Lag B’Omer – 5770

Last year I was at Khal Chassidim in North Miami Beach, where the Riminover Rebbie orchestrated the Lag B’Omer “bonfire” experience in the parking lot.   The “bonfire” consisted of a metal vessel filled with flaming cotton balls soaked in olive oil.  We sang Bar Yochai and threw candles into the fire from behind the police enforced barricade.    Everything was safe and … filtered… muted… kinda “Super 8 – black and white” like.

This year in Ma’alot in the northern end of the Holy Land, the Lag B’Omer festivities started days before, and it’s almost a completely different experience, it was … “Technicolor” or “Kodachrome” like.

Ma'alot Bonfire

Two Fires are Better Than One

About 4 days before the holiday we recieved an email from my son’s 2nd grade teacher warning us of the dangers of collecting wood.  Dangers being – snakes, spiders and the like.

On Friday morning all of the children brought wood to school for their bonfire in the playground.  Some brought little pallets, some brought little boards, others brought chucks of wood or bags of pine cones.  The children also brought foil-wrapped potatoes, to be eaten with the complimentary pita and hummus.

Madurah Ma'alot

Another Bonfire

After Shabbat – on Lag B’Omer night, tons of kids converged on the hill at the end of our block.  A steady stream of cars unloaded planks of wood, pallets and cardboard, BBQ’s, food and drinks for the long night ahead.   The children were electrified shlepping wood here and pallets there.   They were busy like ants.   There were no parents or teachers to supervise – the high school kids and slightly older handled everything, and everybody, beautifully. The little children did a great job of following directions.

The police and fire trucks came around periodically ensuring that all fires were safe and that everybody was okay.

Big Bonfire

This fire was about 15' tall when I arrived

By the end of the night, well around 3:00 in the morning, there were about 18 fires on the hill.   Kids were chatting, playing guitar and singing.  Their intention was to stay all night long, but… around 3:30 am a storm rolled in and put out the fires.

As I live in Israel and feel the experiences of the holidays, whether they are from the Torah (Shabbat, Pesach, etc.), or  a minhag (Lag B’Omer), or from the government (Yom HaAtzmut), the feeling is more intense, more real, bigger than life – like “IMAX Dolby with Surround Sound”.

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Beit Ba’ad Alzitun – Peki’in

Not more than 10 minutes from our door is Beit Ba’ad Alzitun in the ancient city of Peki’in.  This beit ba’ad is more than just a place to take your olives – it has character.

The social center. Drink some coffee, have a cigarette and relax.

First of all – it’s a social hall, where the owner and friends can be found chatting while enjoying Turkish coffee and maybe a hookah or cigarettes.  The men are most friendly and want very badly for you to join them in their party – even if you do not understand a word they are saying.    Hospitality is extremely important to the Arabs in our area.

Giving the full explaination to a class of 4

Second – it’s a center of education.  By the looks of it, the demonstration table, samples and surrounding benches are used on a regular basis to educate people on olives and making olive oil.  By the way he described the process and in the manner in which he spoke you would have thought he was speaking to a huge crowd instead of four people.

Olives and Oil for Sale. (Notice how cloudy the oil is!)

Third – it’s a store, selling olives, olive oil and olive oil soap.  Products cost a little more and the tithes need to be taken, but the flavor is excellent.

Extracting Machines

These machines separate the oil from the water.

Fourth – it’s a place to get your olives pressed.   If you bring your olives to the beit ba’ad, they charge you 10% of the yield to do the processing.   For another 10% of the harvest they will send workers to harvest your olives.

Harvesting Olives

Harvesting olives by whacking the tree with sticks.

Fifth – it’s a fun place to go to!

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Potting Instructions for genus Israeli

All plants have specific soil requirements for successful and robust growth and the genus Israeli is no different. The genus Israeli, or Israeli, thrives best in a small, fertile and quite beautiful, G-d given plot of land, about the size of New Jersey – coincidentally know as Israel.  The relationship of the Israeli and the land of Israel is profound and cannot be rationally understood – you have to experience it!

Sano-Man

Sano-Man- Just look at that smile!

The Israeli – Israel phenomenon can be seen on a daily basis throughout the land.  It’s in the eyes and smiles of the inhabitants (like the Sano-Man).  It’s in the friendly gestures – the “boker tov’s” from stangers.  It’s the feeling that thy love olim chadashim and are so happy you’ve come.  It’s the feel that we are all connected, no matter where we come from.  It’s the feeling of family.

In Israel the Israeli finds wholeness, they find G-d, they find inspiration, they find internal peace and serenity – they find they have to get dragged on the plane to go back their their houses.

The land of Israel was created and designated for the Israeli by the Highest Wisdom – G-d, therefore we know that the two are made for each other and it is the desired state of existance.   Within every Jewish soul there is a yearning to go to Israel and make it their home.  I know, I talk to the people making aliyah, I hear the stories, I know what people are giving up – money, jobs, homes, security, you name it – it’s all being left behind.

For example, there are 7 new “seedlings” coming from Kaifeng, China to plant themselves in the Holy Land.  You can read the story at Arutz Sheva.   One of the new olim, Yaakov Wang says. “This is something that my ancestors dreamed about for generations, and now thank G-d I have finally made it.”

Let me ask you, would you rather say you live in Detroit or the Holy Land?

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