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Go Holyland

BS”D

Go Holyland is the name of my new Project and – God willing – my future job.  Basically it is a free online travel magazine with tourist information, providing articles on the history and historical sites of the land, on the society and culture, and columns and recommendations.

Sure, it is still relatively new, but it is a work in progress. We began work in May, with the first planning on what to do and how to attack it. We did it wrong, basically, trying to make our own website from scratch, which didn’t work so well. We soon hired a programmer and designer, who could help us with the basics. What we did was to go from a “do-it-all-yourself-easy-designing”-program, basically making it very easy for us to make a very heavy and unorganized website, to using a WordPress theme on a web-hotel. It’s a learning progress, but it’s knowledge much needed and which I really appreciate so far. How much will be used on this blog, which in the future won’t be so active, I still don’t know, but on my Danish blog, Kaltoft.me (which you probably won’t get so much out of, if you don’t speak Danish), I’ve already used several features. And many of them are so simple that I simply don’t understand that I didn’t learn it earlier.

So what is Go Holyland about? Well, as the name says, it is about the Holy Land, Israel and the Palestinian territories, and though it covers an area, which has heavy political implications, the site itself is not political. We relate – of course – to the situation as it is, but without trying to insist on a certain narrative. The site is mostly dealing with Israel and Israelis, but is generally dealing with whoever lives in the Land, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druzes and so on. When we talk about society and culture, true, it is mainly Israel. When/if there will be a future Palestinian state, there will probably be a “Go Holyland – Palestine”, but even though there are talks it doesn’t seem to be a reality in the near future. But let’s see, maybe things will actually happen this time, we can only hope.

Back on track. One of our goals is to let the people of the Land present and represent themselves as much as possible. We prefer to have articles on society and culture written by people living in the land, expressing themselves and how they understand the reality they live in. One reason for doing this, is that we are a little tired of how the foreign media always attempt to be the voice of the area, not letting people who live here express themselves. Everything has to be presented through the narrative of the conflict, while reality is so much more, and we want people outside to see this. We live here, meet the people every day, we are part of the lives here, and we understand that there is so much more to the Land, than just conflict, which really isn’t that total in the everyday picture, as it is made as. Of course, a conflict always has implications on all parts, but people do live, they are not only sitting and relating to that.  So, Go Holyland is an attempt – among other things – to present the outside world for reality here in a positive way.

Go Holyland is also about helping the tourist visiting us. What is there to do here? Where to stay? Where and what to eat? Where to go and how? What to bring and what to expect? All this we attempt to help with. The site is in three parts, a practical information – where you can find information on the weather, the currency, important links and contact information, and what to pack.

There is the Index part, where you so far can find a virtual map, which shows you a number of different objects, which helps you find what you would like to see and where. The good thing about the map is that you can search on a number of categories, for example if you want to find a restaurant, then you enter the dining section (and here you can find different kinds of restaurants, for example Japanese, Italian and so on), or if you’re into nature and you want to find out what nature sites there are to see, then you simply search on that. You can both search and enter index categories. You can also search according to location, so if you’re going to Israel and you know that you’re staying in for example Tel Aviv, then you can simply search on things in Tel Aviv, rather than on categories. That is what makes the map good. What makes it great is the geolocation option. Sure, we’re not the first ones to use this feat, but mostly it has been for locals and I still have to see it in travel e-zines (I actually don’t know if there are any such, which have the map-feature at all). In short, you are situated on Zion square in Jerusalem, you want to eat, and you want to eat Yemenite food, you just don’t want to chase around for it. You want something near you, but you don’t know of any place or if there even is anything near you. No prob, you enter the map, enter the geo-location option, decides to look for items up to two kms from you, search on Yemenite restaurants, and there you are, you see all the Yemenite restaurants within two kms from you. At least those registered.

Then there is the magazine itself, which has four sections, the Editor’s Corner (yup, that’s mine), where the editor writes recommendations and monthly letters. Not much to say about that part besides that. The Columns is for our columnists, where they write columns based on their particular field of expertise in combination with the monthly theme. For example, the theme is food, the columnist is writing as an Israeli Arab, hence the column will focus on the Arab cuisine in Israel (thought example).  So far we have Haim Cohen, pretty darn known chef here, having made television shows and written books about food, as well as owning leading restaurants in Israel. We have Miriam Toukan, Israeli Arab Christian, who was the first Arab contestant in the Israeli version of American Idol (Nolad Kochav – A Star is Born), who performs and otherwise work as a lawyer, representing the Christians in Israel. And we have Shosh Friedman, the Oriental Rose, stage artist, dance instructor, and actress. She is an expert in Middle Eastern dance and music, having initiated her own academic course for dance teachers, and herself taught at the David Yeilin College. Let’s just say that she knows what she’s talking about, when it comes to dance and music of the Middle East.

The Culture & Society section deals with the society as today, as well as articles on historical events, which had an impact on the society of today, so it’s basically about lives then and now. It concerns all part of society, music, sport, art, and so on and so on. We are not totally up to par when it comes to writers, but hopefully we soon have the team in place. The Sightseeing section deals with the static, sort of speaking, about the sites that you need to see. For example, we have articles on the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque, the Holy Sepulcher, and the Hurva Synagogue, but those articles are articles about the sites, not the people or the events (well, to a certain extent) taking place around them. Those articles would be found in the Culture & Society section.

That’s what we have so far. What is coming up? Well, in the Index section we plan to add an event page, where we will publish upcoming events, as well as a travel agency and tourist guide page, where people can find travel agencies and – surprise – tourist guides. That is being worked on as I write this, so hopefully that will be ready soon. We already have some events to publish, and they will be found on the front page until further notice, but until we have travel agencies and tourist guides interested in publishing, we won’t publish those pages (it simply doesn’t give sense).

In the future we are planning on establishing an online shop as well. Not selling our products, but rather to give a stand to people we want to partner with, whether it be selling books dealing with subjects connected to the Holy Land, Dead Sea products, or Judaica. We are still working on the planning in this respect, so let’s see how it progresses.

So, there it is, Go Holyland Travel Magazine and Tourist Information!

Take a look at the site, give us a like on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter! It’s all free and we are here for you:o)

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Jessica, the owner of askanislamist, posted this interesting post at her blog. I can only encourage the readers to visit her blog and spend some time reading her posts.

askanislamicist

Okay, so this has been sitting in my ‘to post’ folder for a while, so now it feels a bit dated, but I’m posting it anyways because… well, because it’s my blog and I’ll do as I like, really.  But for the datedness – mea culpa.

So continuing my desire to post cool stuff before I delve into horrible ridiculousness, Nahida has an absolutely brilliant post over on the fatal feminist about how the Western desire to depict the Prophet (peace be upon him) intersects with racism.  Check it out!

Also, apropos of nothing, here’s a video of a very responsible cat walking a very confused dog.  I particularly appreciate the dog’s look.  “I… I don’t think I like this?… But I? … Okay..”

Okay, now that we’re filling sufficiently chill and full of good idea and reasonable arguments – Richard Dawkins!

So for those who haven’t heard, Professor…

View original post 937 more words

A little update

BS”D

 

It’s been some time – again – and for that I am terribly sorry, but my program does not allow me much time, unfortunately.

Things have happened since last time, and I am now doing two programs, meaning that I am ending up with two MAs when done. The reason why is a little confusing, but nevertheless this is where I’m at now. So beside the Religious Studies program in Hebrew University, I am also doing an MA in modern Middle Eastern studies at the University of Copenhagen, with focus on Israel.

So what does that mean? Well, besides the obvious, less time and more stress, it also means that I can unite two approaches I really wanted to unite, namely the study of religion and how religion exists in and with its surrounding secular environments. When I write secular environments I basically mean the surrounding society which is concerned with mundane matters, matters that might be conducted by otherwise religious people, but still doesn’t belong to the realm of the sacred.

More about that later.

This semester offers course in contemporary trends in the study of religion (at HU), the history of modern ME studies (at UC), issues in the study of Second Temple period Judaism (at HU), politics and religion (at HU), and religion in the ME, where I will be focusing on the implementation of Shari’a in Israel (at UC). Particularly the last is something I really find interesting.

 

But all that simply fades compared to the most amazing thing, I’m going to be a dad:o). My wonderful wife is supposed to give birth in a little more than a month, so I’m very excited. It is simply an amazing experience to have contact with the little guy, even before he’s born. To feel that he’s part of our lives, even without being around us. Coming home and saying “hi” to him, and feel his reactions is one of the greatest things I ever experienced, and even though I was scared in the beginning I simply can’t wait to see him now.

 

Anyway, just felt it time to give an update. Take care out there!

One Day!

This is my new motto: One Day!

I’ve been listening to Matisyahu’s “One Day” and it has greatly influenced and strucked me deeply.. Az, toda lecha achi:o)..

And somehow he’s putting words on my thoughts, on my feelings and my hopes, that we one day may be living together in peace and acceptance of eachother, no matter our differences..

So from this day, my motto is One Day! Especially with big emphasis on ONE!

One day we’ll be living in peace..

Under One sun..

Humankind living together on One world..

Praying to One G-D..

Okay, so some of you probably will disagree, or at least doesn’t share all my hopes, but still, I believe that One Day, we will know the truth, whatever that may be.. And One Day we will accept that we don’t have to hate each other just because we don’t look alike, act alike, think alike, but accept that we’re different, though we’re still One humankind.. We all descent from One man, we all live on One planet, and we’re all just One person among billions of people..

So One Day everything will be better.. And if we will it, that day could be tomorrow..

Sometimes I lay
under the moon
and thank G-D I’m breathing
Then I pray
don’t take me soon
cause i’m here for a reason

Sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
because

All my live I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we dont wanna fight no more
there’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

one day x6

It’s not about
win or lose
’cause we all lose
when they feed on the souls of the innocent
blood drenched pavement
keep on moving though the waters stay raging
In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
it might drive you crazy but dont let it faze you no way (no way)

Sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
So my negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
because

All my live I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we dont wanna fight no more
there’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

one day x6

One day this all will change
treat people the same
stop with the violence
down with hate
one day we’ll all be free
and proud to be
under the same sun
singing songs of freedom like

one day x2

All my live I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
there’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

one day x6

Criticizing Israel and Anti-Semitism

YOU’RE AN ANTI-SEMITE!!

This is an accusation I’ve often witnessed in discussion (or should we say “fights”) about Israel.. Okay, sometimes I’ve thought it myself about the person criticizing Israel, but often I’ve been confused about just what was Anti-Semitic in the persons criticism..

For example: A person has a hard time about the settlements in the West Bank, especially the attacks some settlers make on Arab civilians (it does happen, let’s not pretend it doesn’t).. Does this make him Anti-Semitic? Of course not, not the criticism in itself.. As long as he isn’t against the existence of Israel (even as a Jewish state), then he can’t be labeled as an Anti-Semite, not even an Anti-Zionist, not even if he doesn’t condemn Hamas, Fatah and whoever you can think about amongst the Palestinian groups.. He might not even be anti-settlement, but just anti the attacks that some settlers are making against Arab civilians..

Criticizing Israel for its policies against Gaza, isn’t Anti-Semitic in itself either.. Believing that Israel is still occupying Gaza and criticizing that, isn’t Anti-Semitic (though it might be ignorant)..

It isn’t Anti-Semitic before the moment, the person criticizing is making attacks on Israel and equate Israel with Jews, trying to conspirate about Jews and Israel.. Then we can talk about Anti-Semitism..

But how often does that happen? Right now people are going crazy about the Goldstone Report (myself included, don’t worry;o), but calling it “Anti-Semitic”? Please, we’re doing ourselves as Jews and Israel as an independent state a great disfavor, when we try to equal every kind of criticism of Israel to Anti-Semitism.. Maybe we should begin to differ between what is Anti-Semitism, what is Anti-Zionims and what is Anti-Israelism.. Satmar, as an example, isn’t Anti-Semitic, while they’re certainly are Anti-Zionist..

Let’s keep the discussions fair, okay? In a discussion where one thing means everything and everthing means nothing, we’re not going to come to a common understanding of anything..

Take care

S”A

Shalom

Hey world..

So, my first greeting was “shalom“.. A word meaning “harmony“, not “peace“, as many actually thinks.. Shalom comes from “sh’lemah“, meaning “perfectness“.. Wishing someone “shalom“, means that you wish that his (or her) life may be in harmony, that he may be in perfect rest and be relieved of all worries, living in harmony..

Though the greeting has this, I guess, beautiful meaning, I always feel that it’s a bit, I dunno, cliche to use it.. Not that it’s wrong, but somehow this has been something that people just expect you to say, when they know that you’re a Jew..

Okay, I’m religious, so it isn’t that I don’t use it, but mostly in the full form, “Shalom Aleychem” (or more informal to my friends: Shalom aleycha achi!, and then we hug and stuff, it’s so great, we love each other, ya habibi!)..

In Israel I choose to use the more informal “ahalan“, being this wannabe Arab that I, apparently, tend to be sometimes..

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is: Hey everybody! I’m new, or my blog is.. This is actually my first English blog, already have a Danish one, but since only 5½ million people speak Danish, I thought I wanted to spreaden my “clientel” a little:o)..

A little about me: My name is Shmuel Aryeh.. I live in Denmark, where I study Hebrew studies, which is about everything related to Israel and Jewishness. Hebrew, Israeli politics, Jewish history and religion, Israeli history and culture, Jewish identities and so on.. Very interesting.. Especially if you’re interested in these things:o)..

I’m 31 years old (or young), planning on making Aliyah (moving to Israel), working on a project (I won’t tell so much about here), looking for my other half, and doing whatever a person in my situation, position and age are doing..

So, what is this blog about? Well, mostly about my thoughts.. And since my thoughts mostly are focused on my religion, being Jewish, politics, Israel and things related to this, this is what this blog will be about mostly.. So, for everybody who thinks that these things are interesting; welcome to, hope I’m going to come up with something good:o).. For the rest of you, well, I’m sorry, you’re welcome to join anyway:o)

Take care out there

S”A

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