The Jezreel Valley railway or the Valley Train is a railroad that existed in Ottoman and British Palestine, as well as a modern railway in Israel built in the 21st century. It runs from the Mediterranean coast inland along the length of the Jezreel Valley. The historical line was a segment of the longer Haifa–Dera’a line, which was itself a branch of the larger Hejaz railway.
The historical Haifa–Dera’a line was built at the beginning of the 20th century and connected the Port of Haifa with the main part of the Hejaz railway, the Damascus–Medina line. The last stop of the Haifa–Dera’a line within the Mandate Palestine borders was at al-Hamma, today Hamat Gader. Planning and construction took four years. The railway was inaugurated on October 15, 1905 and regular services operated on it until 1948.
Despite several renewal attempts, the line lay dismantled for decades until 2011 when construction started on a large-scale project to build a new standard gauge railway from Haifa to Beit She’an along roughly the same route as the historic valley railway. Israel Railways began passenger service on the new valley railway on 16 October 2016.
The first attempts to renew the historic valley line were made in the 1950s, when the possibility of converting the railway to standard gauge was examined. On June 13, 1962, talks were held between the CEO of Israel Railways Menachem Savidor and head of the Afula local council Yoash Dubnov. Savidor declared that if Afula and its suburbs could guarantee a concentration of 400–500,000 tons of freight to be moved on the railway, the project would be financially viable, and Israel Railways would support it. The plan failed. However, the land was owned by Israel Railways and not approved for building. Some municipalities turned the area of the railway lines into public parks with a billboard or monument commemorating the Jezreel Valley railway. In spite of this, the Ramat David Airbase was expanded onto a major portion of the historical line’s alignment.
Although the atmosphere remained optimistic over the years as proposals for the railway’s revival were raised, and some Israeli railway maps even labeled the line as ‘under construction’, actual work did not commence on the valley railway (besides preliminary design work and right-of-way purchases). Then on February 24, 2010 the Israeli government voted to appropriate the sum of NIS 3.5 billion (later raised to 4.1 billion, equivalent to about US$1.15 billion in 2011 dollars) for the detailed design and construction of the railway between Haifa and Beit Shea’an beginning in 2011. The railway was constructed as single-track but with significant provisioning for double-tracking and electrification in a future follow-up project. It terminates in Beit Shea’an, with the extension to the border crossing at the Sheikh Hussein bridge, which will require significant tunneling and bridging, being planned for a later stage. The renewed Valley Railway opened for passenger service on 16 October 2016 following several years of extensive construction activities.
When originally built in the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottomans had the advantage of constructing the railway in what was then a relatively sparsely populated area and as such had the benefit of being able to lay the railway on the most topographically convenient route between Haifa and Beit She’an. The renewed railway’s route however had to contend with the significant population, which settled in the area since, a complex set of existing infrastructure built up over the years, strict environmental considerations, and the wish to preserve as much open space as possible along the route. Therefore, the new route was in places considerably more difficult to construct and in some spots is less direct than the original alignment.
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Medical advances has brought Israel to make a historic decision! Starting this June the Magen David Adom (MADA) Central Blood Bank is allowing men from the LGBT+ community and people from African countries, especially Ethiopians in Israel, donate blood. This is a precedent in Israel’s medical history. The new machinery is the best in its field and allows MADA to screen blood units for type 1+ HIV, type 1+2 HTLV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis!
Up until recently, Ethiopian Jews were not able to donate blood in Israel. The reason for that was that Ethiopia has a higher percentage of HIV infections and medicine was not common in the Jewish refugee camps in Ethiopia. There was an uproar within the Ethiopian Jews in Israel, the community came together in protest and worked to get that decision changed. The policy in Israel was that no one who was in most African countries and some areas in East Asia in the year before them donating blood could donate blood in fear of contracting one of the diseases mentioned above. In addition, men from the LGBT+ community could not have donate blood if they declare they did not have sexual relations in the previous year.
The new test that are now available to the Central Blood Bank allow technicians to screen for HIV residue in the blood sample that accompanies the blood unit, faster than before.
Another improvement is that now there is no age limit on donating blood. People who wish to donate blood over the age of 65 need to bring a doctor’s approval that the donation will not be life threatening.
How does blood services in Israel work?
It is very simple; you can donate blood everywhere you go, literally. MADA operates special blood donation ambulances that you can find everywhere in Israel, in malls, community centers, even army bases, it take up to 30 minutes to donate and it’s easy to do so in the middle of your day.
In order to teach teenagers about the importance of blood donations MADA sends out volunteers to high schools to teach the senior class about blood donations in Israel, after the class the school is arranging an awareness day where MADA sends out local volunteers and they set up in a central classroom for all the senior class to donate blood.
Why is it important to donate blood?
Blood donations are extremely important in the day-to-day work of a hospital. Every patient that goes into the hospital for a procedure (even labor) has his blood tested and at least two units of blood are being prepared in case of emergency. Not only that, but in case of security threats like military operations and wars the hospital that is closest to the area where the tension is highest received more blood units then usual from the central blood bank of Israel.
The most commonly used blood in times of emergency is O-, which is also one of the rarest blood types (along with all negative Rh: A-, B- and AB-) that’s why if you know you are an O- you should donate blood as much as you can (4 times a year is the limit in Israel).
Every person that donates blood In Israel and their closest family members (partners, parents and brothers) receive a yearly “Blood insurance”, meaning, if they need to go through an operation or any procedure that might require them receiving blood units, they will receive all the supply they need. If you do not have such an insurance, you need to find a way to have spare blood units in case you need them.
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Tel Aviv Pride is an annual, weeklong series of events in Tel Aviv that celebrate Israel’s LGBT community life, scheduled during the second week of June, as part of the international observance of Gay Pride Month. The most-attended event is the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, which is the largest in Asia.
The first event that many consider the first ‘Pride’ event to take place in Israel was a protest in 1979 at Rabin Square. The event more closely associated with Tel Aviv Pride, as it is known today was the Tel Aviv Love Parade in 1997.
The parade assembles and begins at Meir Park, then travels along Bugrashov Street, Ben Yehuda Street and Ben Gurion Boulevard, and culminates in a party in Charles Clore Park on the seafront. The parade is the biggest pride celebration in continental Asia, drawing more than 100,000 people in 2011 alone, approximately 5,000 of them tourists. Tel Aviv was the first location in Israel where “gay” events were organised and also the first city in Israel to host a gay pride parade. There were 200,000 participants reported in 2016, making it one of the largest in the world.
In the early years of the Pride Parade, the majority of participants were politically motivated. Later on, as the Parade grew, people who took part came with the notion that the Parade should focus on LGBT rights, equality and equal representation, and should not be used as a stage for radical politics, which are not accepted by most of the Parade’s participants. Gradually, the Parade came to be less political due to the scale and diversity of participation. In recent years, the Parade’s reputation for inclusiveness, along with Tel Aviv’s world-class status as a gay-friendly destination and a top party city, has attracted more than 100,000 participants, many of them from around the world.
This year’s Tel Aviv Pride Parade is June 9th, so if you are in Tel Aviv you should definitely check it out! However, as in all mass events – be careful!
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Ahh Shavuot, one of the three holidays Jews go to Jerusalem, bring their first harvests and celebrating the day God gave us the Torah.
Israeli Children are going to kindergarten and schools with baskets of Fruits (Bikurim) dresses in white with flowers on their heads to celebrate the holiday.
There are festivals celebrating the agriculture in Israel and Shavuot ceremonies in most Kibbutzs in Israel, where everyone are invited to join and celebrate this great holiday.
This holiday has so many different meanings and significant in Jewish history. However, today we are going to discuss the unknown and probably most fun part of this holiday as celebrated in Israel:
The Holiday of Water!
Yes you have heard right! The tradition started with the Jewish community of North Africa that used to throw water at the people praying on Shavuot. The tradition was adopted by Israelis all over the country and every year in Shavuot Children of all ages go out to the streets and throw water on one another.
Since Israel has a water crisis, Children are encouraged to fill their water balloons and toy pistols from fountains all over the city (recycled water).
Tel Aviv loves this tradition so much that they have decided to have a yearly Water-War! It doesn’t take place on Shavuot it takes place on the first Friday of July (when everyone is out of school and can participate).
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As you know the Detroit Birthright Community trip just got back from Israel, we had a blast and shared some special moments!
But the Detroit Community Birthright trip are not the only people to visit the holy land!
President Trump and his family also stopped by! Look at these pictures from their trip.
They went to visit the Western Wall and have a special moment
They enjoyed a special dinner by one of the best chefs in Israel, and a performance by a famous Israeli singer
They went to Yad VaShem as well
Melania shared a special moment With Necham Rivlin, Israel’s President’s wife, who gave her a book for her son Barron.
After almost 28 hours the President and his wife left Israel to their next destination
The Eurovision Song Contest is the longest-running annual international TV song competition, held, primarily, among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union since 1956. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally.
Eligibility to participate is not determined by geographic inclusion within the continent of Europe, despite the “Euro” in “Eurovision” – nor does it have any relation to the European Union. Several countries geographically outside the boundaries of Europe have competed: Israel and Cyprus, since 1973 and 1981 respectively; Australia in the Australian continent, since 2015 and Morocco, in North Africa, in the 1980 competition alone. In addition, several transcontinental countries with only part of their territory in Europe have competed: Turkey, since 1975; Russia, since 1994; Armenia, since 2006; Georgia, since 2007; and Azerbaijan, which made its first appearance in the 2008 edition.
Israel has won the Eurovision song competition 3 times in the past.
The first time was in 1978 with the song A-Ba-Ni-Bi by Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta:
In 1979 Jerusalem was the host city for the Eurovision song contest and won again with the song Hallelujah by Gali Atari and Milk & Honey song:
Israel did not host the Eurovision for a second year in a row. Later in 1998 Israel has won the Eurovision song contest again with the song Diva by Dana International, who was also the first transgender to win the Eurovision (followed by Conchita Wurst from Austria in 2014).
This year Israel has won 23rd place in the Eurovision song contest with this song:
And to sum up, here is an all-time favorite Israeli song that was written especially for the Eurovision and won 9th place!
Hope you enjoyed these songs.
Until next time…
Growing up in Israel, you live with the knowledge of the Memorial Day for fallen IDF soldiers and the victims of terror. You know everyone is sad, but you don’t quite understand why. Parents explain to their children, but they don’t understand death.
Everyone in Israel either knows someone who died, or know someone who was close to someone who dies. Grief strikes us all.
I was born into a grieving family; two of my family members died in the wars long before I was even born. The first one was my uncle; he died in the 1973 Yom Kippur war.
The second was my mom’s husband; he died during the 1982 first Lebanon war.
When I seven years old, I started going with my mom to the Military Cemetery in Be’er Sheva and stood with my family by my uncle’s tombstone side. I didn’t fully understand what I was doing there, I just knew that I needed to be there, ever since it was part of my yearly routine. Until I drafted to the army. I was so proud to go to the ceremony wearing my uniform, following their footsteps, and then I didn’t stood by my uncle’s side for the ceremony, I stood with my mom by her husband’s side.
As I grew older, I understood two very important things:
- You can miss someone you don’t know. You can wonder how life would look like with them in it, and it’s ok to be sad about it.
- Laughter is an important part of grief. The fact that you are laughing doesn’t mean you forgot. People have had so many beautiful memories with their loved ones, so many shared laughter. Why should it be different when they aren’t here.
One Minute separates Israel’s Saddest Day and Israel’s Happiest Day. One minute separates Israel’s Memorial Day and Israel’s Independence Day. On one stage on Mount Hertzel Israel Remembers her fallen and celebrates the life that they gave us.
The sentence that speaks to it the most, in my opinion, is:
“With their death they have commended us, Live!”
Live so that their loss is not in vain. Live so that they can live through us.
Just as there is one minute between these two days, we will now talk about Israel’s Independence Day. How do we celebrate it?
Every year there is a big ceremony that celebrates Israel “Lighting of the torches” ceremony. there are 12 outstanding individuals that light a torch in honor of an outstanding thing they did. There also is a flag barer demonstration and live performances.
after this ceremony people go out to the streets and enjoy live concerts and activities for the entire family.
Probably the most iconic picture of Israeli Independence Day is families having a barbecue. The day of Independence Day whole families go out to parks around the country and enjoy a family barbecue and some quality family time.
another special thing to do is watch the Israeli Air Force aerial demonstration that goes through almost the entire state of Israel.
Until next time…
While it might sound odd until the year 1961 there was no public discussion about the holocaust. Although monuments were built; remembrance days were set, museums such as Yad V’Shem were opened, Poets were writing about the holocaust, and the memory of the holocaust was set in the national memory of Israel. The private memory of the holocaust on the other hand, was mostly ignored, the survivors did not tell their stories and they were mainly asked, “Why didn’t you riot?” they were treated as guilty for their conditions.
In 1961 it all changed when Adolf Eichmann Was caught in Argentina by the Mossad where he lived under false identity and put to trial for his crimes during the holocaust in Jerusalem.
The first session of the District Court on criminal case 40/61 was held on April 11, 1961, at Jerusalem’s “Bet Ha’am.” The trial terminated on December 15, 1961 with the reading of the verdict, whereby Eichmann found guilty on most of the articles of the indictment, was sentenced to death. The commencement of the trial was preceded by long months of punctilious preparation. The Israeli police set up a special unit, “Bureau 06,” for the purpose of assembling the relevant documents; selecting witnesses and preparing them for their testimony; setting out the prosecution line; and discussing various legal issues. 1,600 documents were selected, most of them bearing Eichmann’s signature. Likewise, a list of 108 survivor witnesses was prepared, as well as another of expert witnesses – historians and other scholars.
In the annals of public awareness of the Holocaust period, nothing rivals the Eichmann trial as a milestone and turning point, whose impact is evident to this day. The trial introduced the Holocaust into the historical, educational, legal and cultural discourse, not merely in Israel and the Jewish world, but on the consciousness of all peoples of the world. Sixteen years after the end of the Holocaust, it focused attention upon the account of the suffering and torment of the Jewish people, as recounted to the judges. It’s powerful, and one could claim, revolutionary, consequences continue right up to the present day.
The trial set the first milestone of a years’ long process, an ongoing turnabout in shaping an awareness of the Holocaust in Israeli and world public opinion. The trial broke down the reluctance of many Israelis and Jews to approach the Holocaust, due to the powerful impression left by the personal testimonies of over a hundred witnesses who were called upon to recount their experiences during the Holocaust. Echoes of the trial finally attracted attention and awareness to the Holocaust survivors living among us, who had hesitated prior to the trial, to tell their personal stories, owing to a reluctance and an absence of openness among many native-born Israelis.
The trial brought about a significant change among Israeli youth in their attitude to the Holocaust. For them and other young Jews, the Holocaust was a remote and abstract issue. The trial was a significant step in conveying the Holocaust to Israeli and Jewish students, a process that reached fruition in the eighties and nineties, in the form of school delegations to Poland; to the sites of the former ghettoes and camps; and with youngsters writing essays about their own roots. As a result of the trial, the Holocaust is now perceived as an integral part of their identity as Israelis and as Jews.
Today, during the Holocaust Remembrance Day Israel stands still, not only there is a 2 minutes memorial siren that sounds through the country, but also TV channels change their daily routine and show personal testimonies, movies and documentaries about the Holocaust. Schools have memorial ceremonies and talk about the Holocaust with the students of all ages. There is a new movement that became a tradition in Israel is to go to the Holocaust survivors houses and hear their stories, the tradition is called “Living room Memory”. 24 hours that are dedicated to remembering, the ones that didn’t make it, the ones that did, and the horrors of the Holocaust.
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The one thing we all need after Passover is a chance to relax from all the Matzoh!
What is a better way to relax other then reading a book and listening to music? so here are the top 10 Israeli song on the radio.
If you want to hear more Israeli music – go to Glgltz.co.il and listen to live Israeli radio
10. Zahav (gold) – Static & Ben El tavori
9. Ba Eli (came to me) – Aviv Geffen and Orit Shachaf
8. Snow – Adi Olmansky
7. Hakol (everything) – Avior Melasa
6. Basof (in the end) – Idan Amadi
5. Hashemesh Tizrach (the sun will rise) – Guy & Yahel
4. 26 – Natan Goshen
3. Hakol od lefanay (everything is ahead) – Htikva 6
2. Mabit mehatzad (looking from the side) – Omer Adam
1. Yafe lach lehiot meusheret (Hapinness looks good on you) – Eyal Golan
I hope you enjoyed these top 10 Israeli songs!
Until next time…