Many people think of Israel as being hot and all year round. But this is far from the truth. While it’s true that Israel weather is famously steamy in July and August, it is definitely not this way all the time. Israel’s weather also differs from that which you will encounter in North America and Western Europe. Here, you will basically experience two different seasons: winter from late October to mid-March, and summer from April to October.
Uganda’s political history is one that has been scarred by tumult and struggle. The notorious Idi Amin, who became known as the Butcher of Uganda (which makes me shudder) was the President of Uganda and military dictator from 1971 to 1979. During this time, Amin’s rule was marked by ethnic persecution, numerous human rights abuses, and untold corruption. Sadly, the exact death toll of Ugandan people during his reign is unknown. Some estimate it to be around 80,000, while others put it as high as 300,000.
Tu B’Shevat is a festival that dates back to a time when tradition called for thanking the creator for what nature has provided in plenty. Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees, is a holiday of great important in Israel. It is actually a festival of trees celebrated by Israeli Jews where they devote their time during the day taking care of what nature has offered and appreciate the natural resources of the country.
Today, the movement to go green affects all facets of life. Your decision to treat the Earth kindly may alter the kinds of food you eat, your daily commute to work, and the amount of garbage you throw away each day. It may even affect where and how you vacation.
There are a few different places in this world that, when asked, I consider to be “home.” Among them are the New York and Panama. But sometimes there is a difference between what your heart calls home and what your head calls home. Today, I am happy to call the city of Chashmonaim, Israel home; home to both my head and my heart.
In the wake of the recent Russian-Georgian conflict, hundreds of new Georgian Jewish immigrants have relocated to Israel, and Nana is one of them. Today she meets me in Tel Aviv to share her story. She joins me at a table in a lovely Georgian restaurant, where we are served beef dumplings and pickles, amid a décor of purple glass chandeliers and gilded mirrors. It’s a touch of pre-Soviet Georgia in contemporary Tel Aviv.
Claudio meets me in a quiet street in Jerusalem, where he has recently settled after immigrating here a year and a half ago. He joins a number of other recent immigrants from Venezuela that comprised the highest growth rate in Israeli immigration in the last year. As we walk together, Claudio shares the story behind his immigration.
When Nina agrees to meet me to discuss her experiences as a Ukrainian immigrant living in Israel, she says she is proud to share her story. “I cam e here almost twenty years ago,” she tells me with a soft smile. “And every day I think about how happy I am to be here, and how much I miss my parents’ home in Shargorod.”
Tunisia has been in the news lately because of the recent popular uprising that led to the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The 1500-member Jewish community there, concentrated in the capital city of Tunis and the island of Djerba, has experienced anxiety about the implications of the country’s instability for the group’s safety. A few Tunisian Jews have already begun to make the move to Israel. And as these changes occur, one Tunisian immigrant watches with particular interest.
Raffi greets me near dusk at the entrance to a Tel Aviv park. He has only recently completed aliyah, after emigrating to Israel from his native Sweden. Raffi has agreed to share his story, against the backdrop of the social and political climate today in his native country.