The Jerusalem Biblical ZooBy: C4i

 
Jerusalem has no shortage of famous historical attractions to visit and must-stop locations to see. While anyone visiting is sure to already have a packed itinerary, there is one more place you should put on your list – the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

The zoo is one of Israel's biggest tourist attractions, beloved by families and people of all ages. If you're looking for information on the zoo, you should know that officially it is referred to as the "Tisch Family Zoological Gardens.” That said, if you were asking someone on the street for directions to it, it is known more commonly as the Biblical Zoo. Why? Because the zoo features animals found in the Bible! This blending of biblical education and fun is what has made the zoo such a beloved location for Jerusalem residents and tourists alike!

In fact, you can see our own Rev. Dr. John Tweedie at the Biblical Zoo during season 12 of Israel: The Prophetic Connection! Keep an eye out for it!

But, it wasn't always like this, in fact, the zoo has had quite an interesting history. Far from the institution it is today, there was a time when the zoo was considered a nuisance!

From humble beginnings

Established in 1940, the zoo was originally opened on Rabbi Kook Street in central Jerusalem. At this time, it was a tiny attraction called the "animal corner.” It was founded by a professor, Aharon Shulov, of the University of Jerusalem as a kind of passion project. He needed a place where his students could gather, study, and interact with animals, but he also was very mindful of class and privilege. Part of making the zoo publicly accessible was in the interest of breaking down the "invisible wall” between the general public and the intellectual cliques on Mount Scopus. He wanted university students and professors to rub elbows with the public and find common ground in the beauty of nature.

While his heart was in the right place, Shulov's first attempt with the zoo didn't exactly go as planned. The animal corner became a source of consternation with the locals. Neighbours complained of the loud noises the animals would make (especially at night) and the smell. Some even claimed they were worried about escaping animals (a little hyperbolic considering the zoo mostly held lizards and birds at the time). So the zoo was moved to another small lot on Shmuel HaNavi street where it again became a source of friction. Eventually, in 1947, the zoo was moved to Mount Scopus. At this point the zoo had grown in size and scope and was holding a variety of exotic animals. Sadly, this was just in time for the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the siege of Jerusalem.

The conflict forced the zoo to be moved again, to the neighbourhood of Givat Komuna where thankfully it would stay put for more than 40 years. Shulov still ran the zoo as a passion project. At this time the zoo had been ravaged by the conflict and the keepers where only able to save a few animals, a shadow of what it had grown into at Mount Scopus. Shulov never lost hope though and worked hard to rebuild the zoo, often forgoing his own salary in the interest of supporting the zoo. 

After his retirement, mayor Teddy Kollek, a long time supporter of Shulov and the zoo hatched a plan to move it one last time. The zoo would be moved to a larger location with the support of the city, commercial developments, and private foundations. It would be located in an area accessible to both Jewish and Arab families alike in the Malha valley.

The modern zoo 

Today, Aharon Shulov might not even recognize his animal kingdom! The modern location spans a massive 62 acres and is home to more than 170 species of animals! The vast majority of which are still connected to the Bible in some way. And that's not all, even the trees and plants of the landscaping are all biblically connected, drawing on flora found in the Bible. Even the Visitor's Centre is designed to resemble Noah's Ark. It's an incredible experience that is fun for the entire family.

Other attractions include the monkey islands. These are a series of habitats at the bottom of the waterfall at Moses' Rock. Between the locations and across the water are a series of ropes the monkeys use to swing across and explore! It is a sight that has to be seen to be believed. 

Then there are the aviaries for the Lesser Kestrels, designed to resemble the building from the Morasha district of the city. You might ask why an aviary would try to look more like a city, but there is a very good reason! The neighbourhood used to be a popular nesting ground for these birds and every year scores of baby Kestrels would hatch across its rooftops. So the design honours are part of the neighbourhood's past while also providing the Kestrels with a safe and healthy habitat.

Preservation and conservation is a huge theme at the zoo. Endangered local species are collected for the express purpose of persevering the species with a progressive breeding and reintroduction program that has seen great results. Even the construction of the zoo was done with the local environment in mind, with the goal of minimal impact on the existing landscape. Because of this, animal enclosures were dug directly into the rock face of the hills, rather than flattening these natural slopes and putting up artificial enclosures.

And of course, there is a petting zoo. The hands-on shows are only available during certain days of the week, but they are always a thrill for children (and their parents). If you're visiting Israel with the family, be sure to check the dates and plan accordingly!

If you're going to be in Jerusalem, you owe it to yourself to visit the Biblical Zoo! 
[Comment]

Finding more in lessBy: C4i

I recently had the good fortune to be offered an amazing opportunity, but it came with one big catch – my family would have to move. Moving is never fun, even under the best of circumstances. But having to find a new place in an entirely different city, far away from what has always been considered home, and under a tight two month time frame? Well, that's a different kind of "fun” all together! We made it work, but it did put certain things into perspective. Namely our possessions.

Nothing will make you more aware of how much stuff you own than a move. Having to suddenly account for every appliance, item, tchotchke, and bauble in your home - from the familiar mugs that you use everyday, to all the old fixtures and books in the basement you forgot you even had – will make you painfully aware of just how addicted to excess you've become.

I don't consider our family particularly materialistic. None of us would fit into the stereotypical image of a valley girl shopaholic, or a mid-life crisis disaster trying to reclaim his youth with expensive knick-knacks. But, we're still products of a materialistic culture. Of a market system that lionizes the cheap and disposable, that would rather see you replace something when it wears out than repair it. Every day we're bombarded by advertising, and the message is clear. "You need this.” "You'd be a better wife/husband/fan/person if you owned one of these.” "If you don't keep up with this year's model, you'll be left behind,” and so on. We live in a culture of excess, and none of us are excluded.

As much as you might want to believe that kind of messaging doesn't influence you, it does. Denying it is as ridiculous as a fish insisting that its indifferent to water. Our society places a value on more. We're all after a heavier pay cheque, a bigger lawn, a more hi-def television.

At a certain point, you have to wonder, when is it enough?

It's a question we need to grapple with because if we stack our priorities and behaviour up against what we find in the Bible, we'll see that we've gone sadly off course. Yes, there is nothing inherently wrong or sinful about buying things or pursuing bounty, but it isn't a virtue either. What's more though is that giving material goods such a high priority in our culture and our lives has squeezed out other, more worthy, pursuits from receiving the attention they deserve. The more material clutter in our lives, the more we put between ourselves and our faith.

So how do we moderate the effects of materialism and prevent it from damaging our faith?

Recognize the gifts that God has already given us

"Count your blessings” might be an old refrain, but it is a true one. One of the best ways to liberate yourself from empty desire is to take real stock of your life and look at all the ways God has already blessed you.

In a culture that is systematically engineered to create want and desire, it's all too easy to forget about what you have. But all of us have things to be thankful and grateful for, often an embarrassment of riches when you get right down to it. From the blessing of our living conditions in a nation free from violence and war, to the relative comfort of even the most humble of apartments, to the food that stocks our cupboards, we all have a lot to rejoice in already. When you sit down and take stock of what you have compared to so many others, it seems almost shameful to ask for more.

Trust that God will provide what you really need 

If you want to break the shackles of want, you're going to have to let go of the chains. This means you need to give up some control and trust that God will provide what is actually necessary in your life.

This doesn't mean you have to live like a monk, it's about finding a more healthy relationship with the things you own. Possessions are nice, luxuries are nice, but they shouldn't be what motivates you. When you start to place more importance on keeping up with the latest iPhone, or expanding your collection of vintage LPs than your relationships, your family, and your walk with the Lord, those possession become idols.

Ask what you can give

Instead of focusing on what you can get, focus on what you have to share with others. This doesn't mean you should be giving away all your possessions, or suddenly become an ATM for everyone in your life. It's about a state of mind. It's about asking what you can do rather than what you can take, and finding a deeper fulfillment in that than just collecting another bauble or product that will fail to live up to its promises. 

Giving is fundamental to Christian life. If we want to reflect God's goodness on Earth, we need to replicate His behaviour - and God is the ultimate giver. He gave us this world, our lives, and His very Son to pay for our sins. If we want to live in His image, than we need to adopt a similar attitude. Look for ways to give and do for others as an alternative to materialism.

There is nothing wrong with having nice things or buying items that make you happy, but there needs to be a balance. If your possessions are starting to get in the way of your connection to God, it is time to re-focus your priorities. Worldly objects are ephemeral, but your soul is eternal. Which one do you think is the better investment?
[Comment]

Ordering Coffee in the holy landBy: C4i

 
If you're going to Israel, you absolutely need to make some time to stop at a few cafés. Café culture is celebrated in the holy land, and patrons are encouraged to take their time and leisurely enjoy not only their brew, but conversations with other customers, and the constant spectacle of Israeli street life. There is a reason Tel Aviv is known as the café capital of the world!

But, if you're used to just running into a Tim Horton's and ordering a double double, you might be in for some culture shock. Ordering a cup of the good stuff is very different in Israel, and if you don't know the local lingo you're going to end up with a mystery cup of joe you probably won't like. Nobody wants that, so here is a cheat sheet on how to order the perfect cup while taking in all that the holy land has to offer.

The plain and simple

Drip fed coffee like we have in the west isn't very popular in Israel. If you go into a café and just order a "coffee” they're going to serve you "botz” or "mud.” This isn't an insult! This is the what the locals call their typical coffee, a rich black Turkish variation that is stronger and richer than what you'll likely be used to. It's brewed like an espresso, with near-boiling water forced through very potent grinds under high pressure. It might take a few sips to get used to, but give it a try. For many people, once they adjust this becomes their favourite coffee!

If you're not feeling adventurous though, there is still a way to get the coffee you're used to. Instead of asking for a "coffee,” ask for a "Nescafe.” I know, it sounds weird, but it has nothing to do with the Nestle's product we associate the name with here. Nescafe is just what baristas in Israel use to refer to the milkier, lighter coffee we enjoy in the west. Don't worry about not being able to get it the way you like it either, their cafés keep cream and sugar on hand just like anywhere else.

The most popular local flavor

Are you the type who wants to blend in as a tourist and see if you can pass as one of the locals? Then order a "hafuch.” This is the most popular non-botz coffee drink in Israel. The "upside down” is basically an Israeli macchiato, that's a cup filled about halfway with steamed milk with an espresso gently poured on top. The milk helps to take some of the bitterness down of the strong Israeli espresso while still allowing you to enjoy the rich flavour. 

Want to really look like you know what you're doing? When you get a cup of botz, top it with a dusting of "hawaij.” This is a mix of cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger that will give your cup a little extra zing. A very popular, very Israeli way of enjoying a drink.

Cooling it down

Okay, so maybe a steaming cup of coffee isn't what you're looking for after walking around all day in the hot sun. No problem, Israeli cafés specialize in a variety of cold coffee drinks – but you need to know what you're ordering.

The main difference is between "ice coffee” and "cold coffee.” An ice coffee is a rich, sugary treat. Very similar to something like a frappucino here, it features crushed and blended ice mixed with coffee, flavouring, and milk. You can get it in a variety of different flavours and it's the perfect thing for a late afternoon pick me up when you need a jolt to the nerves that will go down smooth.

Cold coffee, or "café kar,” by comparison, is less complicated. This is just strong coffee poured over ice. You can get it with milk or sugar, but the typical custom is just to drink it straight. This is the drink for people who can't get the caffeine in their system fast enough – sipping down two espresso shots like a glass of water is enough to wake anyone up!

Savour it

The tips above are just the basics. They're enough to make sure you get the cup you want, but the cafés of Israel have a lot more to offer! Once you've adjusted to the way things are done, experiment a little! Ask the waiter what they recommend, order what some other patron just ordered, live it up!

Café culture is one of the foundations of Israeli life. If you're in the area, make sure you don't miss the chance to experience it yourself!
[Comment]

The Hardaga Family – Righteous among the nations By: C4i

 
In April 1941, the Germans marched into Yugoslavia. The invasion was swift and decisive. The Yugoslavian forces crumbled nearly immediately under heavy German artillery bombardments and hostile air raids, attacks that didn't restrain themselves to military targets, but specifically hammered city centres an population dense urban areas. During this ruthless blitz, the city of Sarajevo was put directly in the crosshairs. Bombing runs destroyed buildings, businesses, and homes. 

Including the home of the Kavilio family.

The Kavilios were a Jewish family living in Sarajevo that, thanks to the bombings, suddenly found themselves destitute, homeless, and stuck on foot during a Nazi invasion. Ground forces were already quickly spreading throughout the country, capturing cities, taking over the local offices of power, and imposing the Fuehrer's twisted will. Their situation could not have possibly been more fraught. 

Not knowing what to do, Joseph, the father of the family, gathered his wife and children and set off towards the factory he owned for shelter. This was a desperate plan. As a piece of industrial infrastructure, there was a good chance the factory could be targeted by further bombing runs (he'd essentially be taking his family from one disaster to another), and as a business registered under a Jewish name, the Nazis would be pounding on its doors as soon as they took the city (which the Kavilio's knew would only be a matter of time). Joseph knew that taking his family to the factory would only delay the inevitable, one way or the other, but had no other alternatives.

Thankfully, Mustafa Hardaga came along.

Mustafa was the head of the Hardaga family. Well-to-do and traditionally Muslim, the Nazi invasion was threatening to them, but did not immediately spell doom as it did for the Kavilios. Mustafa knew Joseph, he owned the larger building complex the Kavilio's factory was located in, and by sheer, miraculous, chance he stumbled upon the family as they were walking to take shelter. He asked Joseph why he was walking with his entire family, why they were carrying what seemed to be a mishmash of luggage and belongings. When Joseph told him what had happened and what they planned to do, Mustafa immediately put his foot down.

The Kavilios would not take shelter in the factory, in a building he owned. No way. Not a chance. Instead, they would stay with his family.

Without hesitation, without flinching, Mustafa, a Muslim, took the Kavilios into his home. More than that, he took them into his heart. For observant Muslims there are many rules about modesty and appearance, for women in particular. Respectful women are supposed to wear a veil and cover themselves in the presence of strangers, which of course could pose a problem when all of a sudden an entire family of strangers has come to live with you. 

For Mustafa though, this wasn't an obstacle. He simply declared the Kavilios part of his own family. Problem solved.

These were not empty words either, they truly were embraced as family. The Kavilio's stayed with the Hardagas as the German invasion tore through Yugoslavia. They were sheltered from both Nazi soldiers and local sympathizers, but the situation was still precarious. When an opportunity presented itself, Joseph sent his family to Mostar, which was under Italian control at the time. It wasn't "safe” exactly, but it was far better than being in the jaws of the tiger. Joseph on the other hand stayed behind. He had to sell the business to ensure his family had some resources to draw on and tie up a few other loose ends. This proved to be a nearly fatal mistake.

Before being able to join his family in Mostar, Joseph was captured by the Nazis. And just as the Hardagas protected him, he protected them, never revealing the identity of those who sheltered him for so long. 

As an illegal Jew living in Sarajevo, Joseph's fate was clear, he was scheduled to be transferred to Jasenovac, the so-called "Croatian Auschwitz” which would have been the last anyone had ever heard of him. But God had other plans. Around the time of his capture and sentencing, Sarajevo was hit with a massive winter storm. Heavy snowfall and bitter cold prevented the widespread transport of prisoners. Instead, Joseph was pressed into a chain gang along with other Jews, Serbs, and Roma who had been rounded up, forced to clear the roads in preparation for their transport.

This was cruel, inhumane work. Joseph and his fellow prisoners worked in sub-zero temperatures in crude clogs and thin coats, totally unsuitable for the conditions. It was slave labour, with gruelling days of hard heavy work rewarded with nothing but starvation rations designed to wear the prisoners out and break their spirits. Joseph's fortune to post-pone a trip to Jasenovac could have been seen as a twisted mercy.

Think about where this left the Hardagas. They defied the law, endangered themselves, and successfully helped smuggle a Jewish family out from under the Germans. Joseph was caught, but miraculously was able to withstand interrogation and never uttered their names. They came so close to being caught and were able to do so much good. Anyone else would have walked away with a clear conscious, they had done their part. 

Not the Hardagas. Zejneba, Mustafa's wife, couldn't let it go. She couldn't stand the thought of Joseph and his fellow captives suffering like they did. She knew injustice when she saw it, and she knew that men and women taken away in chains just for the blood that ran in their veins was the height of inhumanity. So she took another risk. Zejneba, despite all warnings to the contrary, despite the death sentence the Nazis promised for those who would aid enemies of the state, would brave the snow, the guards, and the guns to smuggle food out to the workers on the chain gang. She chose justice.

Joseph's story took more strange turns. After being caught trying to escape, Joseph was punished with an even harsher work load repairing water and sewage lines in the freezing cold in a place called Pale. However, a few weeks into this sentence, a guard, one Captain Reichman, quietly informed the prisoners that he would be leaving the hut door open that night. Everyone understood, he was giving them a chance to escape – and Joseph took it. He ran into the night, travelled miles to get back home, and the Hardaga's took him back in again.

Joseph stayed with the Hardaga's for some time before eventually joining his own family in Mostar. When the war ended and they returned to Sarajevo, the Hardaga's were waiting with open arms, welcoming them into their home until they could get their feet under them. They were as close as families could be.

After many years, the Kavilio's felt the call to return to Israel. They petitioned Yad Vashem to recognize the Hardaga's bravery and add them to the righteous among the nations. They were added, and in 1085, Zejneba came to Israel to plant a symbolic tree for her family in Israeli soil.

In any other story, this would be the end. Good people recognized for their actions, happy decades at peace, grandchildren grown and healthy. But this isn't any other story, and the ending could have been tragic.

Fifty years after the inhumanity of the Holocaust, Sarajevo found itself gripped in another vice of hatred and murder. The Serbian army laid siege to the city, cutting it off from all resources, turning the streets into a deadly killing field of artillery bombardment and sniper fire. Zejneba and her youngest daughter Pecanac were stuck in the middle of it. This time, it was Muslims who were the target of racially based hatred, and with an iron ring tightening around the city with every passing day, the Hardagas seemed doomed.
And they would have been without the intervention of the Kavilios and the Israeli government. Coming full circle, the Kavilios worked with Israeli authorities to secure the entire Hardagas family safe passage out of the line of fire. They were taken out of the city and eventually flown to Israel where they resettled. The Kavilio's finally repaid the debt they owed for more than half a century. Two families, divided by faith but united by shared compassion and empathy were able to save each other in a world full of hate. 

When asked about what she thought of her family's story, Pecanac said, "When I was growing up, my mother Zejneba always said, ‘You can’t control how rich you will be, or how smart or successful you will be, but she said you can control how good you will be.” A lesson we can all stand to learn.
[Comment]

When Gaza terrorists go low, the IDF goes high-techBy: C4i

A new weapon in the war against radical terrorism has been deployed in the West Bank – lasers.

No, this isn't the stuff of sci-fi fantasy, but a practical response to a recent wave of low-tech terrorist attacks floating over the Gaza boarder. Since last March, Israeli families have had to live in fear of incendiary kites and balloons reducing their homes to cinders, with literally hundreds of these simple, but dangerous, weapons indiscriminately launched into civilian neighbourhoods on a regular basis. Now the IDF is fighting back.

Bolstering the usual defensive line along the border fence is a new force, a new kind of weapon in the war against terror. A system of cutting-edge lasers and sensors designed to detect incendiary devices and neutralize them mid-air before they have a chance to harm anyone. Good news for Israeli families who have lived the past several months under a perpetual cloud of uncertainty and fear!

The new defence system is actually the combination of two separate systems. The first is the Sky Spotter, a high-tech visualization and target-acquisition system. This automated watch dog is what the military calls a "Passive Early Warning” system. It scans the sky in real time using multi-spectral investigative sensors to identify and locate possible threats. The system then plots their most likely course given their speed, altitude, and the prevailing conditions and estimates an impact area. 

The IDF has been using the Sky Spotter to coordinate with local fire departments and mobilize response teams to the likely location of kite and balloon strikes before they touch down. The spectacular response time made possible by this technology is one of the reasons the damage done by these terrorists attacks has been so successfully contained.

But, wouldn't it be better to not have to mobilize the fire department at all? That's where the second piece of technology comes into play - Rafael’s Drone Dome.
Rafael is a high-tech military contractor that has already been working with the IDF to develop countermeasures for threats such as aerial drones and roadside improvised explosives. Their system uses a directed, high-intensity laser to super heat these devices and safely deactivate them without placing a soldier or anyone else at risk. 

The new combined system utilizes the tracking ability of the Sky Spotter to locate incoming incendiary kites and the Drone Dome's high-powered laser to obliterate the devices in mid-air. With the incendiary components ignited in the air, they don't have a chance to spread on the ground, resulting in much smaller (often non-existent) fires for ground teams to deal with. 

While this technology is an encouraging advance for the safety of Israeli citizens, it is a technology that should never have been necessary in the first place. Until Gaza recognizes the counter-productive and futile nature of such attacks, and denounces the radical elements responsible, meaningful peace will continue to be unattainable in the West Bank. 
[Comment]

Israel's solar power aspirations are a guiding light to the futureBy: C4i

In 2009, Israel's Knesset set an ambitious goal – to make 10% of all of Israel's energy renewable by 2020. At the time, this struck many as an unrealistically tall order. After all, renewable energy only accounted for a paltry few decimal points of a percent of Israel's annual energy needs.

Today though, the image is much different. Thanks to widespread incentive programs, increased adoption of solar panels by private homeowners, and other clean energy developments, Israel is already up to 2.6% renewable energy. But, it is the culmination of years of effort that will really take Israel into a renewable future – as represented by the world's tallest solar tower.

The Tower

Dubbed the Ashalim Project, the plant is actually comprised of three separate sites. These massive fields work like technological green-houses, gobbling up sunlight and repossessing it for energy. While each part of the project is impressive, the site of the tower is particularly striking. Resembling the impact crater of a technological meteor that has landed in the Negev desert, the tower stands in the center of dozens of concentric rings each made up of thousands of high-tech solar mirrors, radiating outward. It is an incredible sight, representing a national commitment to solar energy at a scale that has never been seen before.

Each site works in concert with each other utilizing both solar thermal energy (concentrating and converting the heat generated by the sun into harnessable energy) and photovoltaic (converting light into electricity using semiconducting materials) generation techniques. 

The tower uses an uncommon method of turning light into usable energy. All of those thousands of concentric solar mirrors reflect and focus the heat of the sun on the very top of tower, which in turn heats a massive boiler used to spin a turbine. It is an absolutely incredible feat of ingenuity.

The other sites are focused on conventional photovoltaic conversion and solar thermal energy. More than 500 THOUSAND mirrors collect and concentrate the heat of sun and direct to a delicately arranged series of glass-insulated pipes. These pipes absorb that heat and transfer it to oil that is constantly circulated through those pipes which in turn heats water into steam to power turbines. The oil is reused and 90% of the water is captured and re-used making it not only clean energy, but one of the most efficient production sites of clean energy in the world. 

Put together, the three sites will provide approximately 300 megawatts of electricity daily, effectively doubling Israel's renewable energy output. 

Why renewable energy?

For many nations, the push towards renewable energy is a relatively recent phenomenon, mostly spurred on by economic and environmental concerns. For Israel though, renewable energy has been a long time fixation, dating back to the foundation of the country. David Ben-Gurion famously promised "to make the desert bloom” and a key part of that vision was securing a source of renewable energy. In 1949, Ben-Gurion established positions and offices for top researchers to examine revolutionary, and at the time unthinkable, renewable energy options. While other nations enjoying the post-war boom were happily burning up coal and gulping down fuel to heat their homes and run their cars during the '50s, Israeli minds were already prototyping and designing solar and wind alternatives, spearheading much of the work that has allowed solar energy to develop to the mature point it has now.

Part of this was practical. When Israel was an early nation, it was believed that there were few natural fuel sources within its borders. With often contentious political relationships with its oil supplying neighbors, it was indeed a savvy idea to consider alternatives. But it also is a continuation of the same attitude of self-sufficiency and innovation that drove many of the early kibbutz, the idea that a community should be able to come together and find solutions to their common problems. 

The same drive can be seen today in both Israel's quest for renewable energy, and its modern innovation in water management. Despite all odds, Israel is indeed making the desert bloom.
[Comment]

Learning to wait on God's timeBy: C4i

Not too long ago, our family was recently blessed with a new addition, the first of this generation. It's been an exciting time for everyone as we've delighted in our new shinning star as well as become suddenly familiar with new roles like "grandmother” and "uncle,” figuring out what those mean in our family. In the midst of so many new things, we've also become accustomed with a concept known as "baby time.” This is the extra padding of time that needs to be accounted for whenever our little star is going to be involved in something. Want to meet for a quick cup of coffee? What used to be a quick 10 minute drive is lucky to be done in about 40 baby time minutes of pre-changing, feeding, and organization. Trying to plan out when to meet for dinner – better bump that reservation up another hour! 

Nobody minds, being a bit more deliberate is a small price to pay for such a blessing.  It's normal, every family has to get used to this kind of change. So if we can adapt to baby time fairly easily, why do we seem to have such difficulty adapting to God's time?

Humans, by nature are impatient. When we want something, we want it right now, or at the very least we want to know how soon it's going to be coming. This can be something as routine as dinner, as trivial as a new episode of a favourite TV show, or even as serious as the questions and prayers we ask God. No matter the context, we sit on pins and needles waiting for the results. 

But of course, God doesn't act according to our timetable. God works on his own schedule which is in a scale unimaginable to us mortals. You have to remember, He is omniscient and all knowing, existing in all times at once. To Him, a year of time could be like the blink of an eye, a fleeting flutter of barely noticed movement, while a single moment could be stretched to an infinity. So while we know God always answers prayer, we also have to recognize that He rarely does so according to our convenience. And this isn't always easy. If we get impatient waiting for the morning coffee to brew, how much more nervous are we going to get when waiting for an answer to prayer?

We have to learn to wait on God. Not just as an act of patience and humility (although that should definitely part of it) but also as an expression of faith. 

When you really think on it, waiting on God should be a source of strength and security, not nervous agitation. When we wait patiently on God, we're not just being respectful, we are demonstrating our trust in Him. It recognizes that our mortal worries and insecurities are nothing in the face of His divine grace and that all things can be left with Him. In this way, waiting on God should be restful and replenishing, we know we can leave our concerns in His hands, not frustrating and exasperating (as it too often feels). 

I'm reminded of the story of Jesus and the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee. When a storm rises on the winds and the churning waters threaten to claim their small boat, the disciples begin to panic. They fret and worry and plead in the face of the coming storm. But Jesus wasn't worried, He was sleeping. Jesus could rest in the middle of a storm because He could wait. He was totally assured in the protection of His Father, so there was no need to panic. When the disciples wake him, Jesus calms the waves but He also chides them, asking the group "where is your faith?” This is something we should remind ourselves when facing our own personal storms.

When we find ourselves waiting on an answer to prayer, we should use it as a chance for rest, for assurance and strength. God is always with us and always watching over us. There is no need to rush Him. We can wait. After all, if we can all adjust our schedules to account for a family member, we can also adjust our patience for God.
[Comment]

5 Ways to enjoy the Negev desertBy: C4i

A desert might not seem like the best vacation destination in the world, but the Negev desert has a lot more to offer than just sandy dunes and sunshine. Covering nearly half of Israel’s landmass and home to uncountable hidden secrets and scenes of beauty, the Negev desert truly is the heart of Israel. If you come to the country and don't spend at least some time exploring what it has to offer, you'd be doing yourself a disservice.


But what exactly is there to see and do? Read on to find out.


Camel Rides

Take yourself back in time with a camel ride through the Negev desert. There is no better way to experience the sheer scale and beauty of the Negev than from on the back of one of these magnificent animals, just as millions of pilgrims have through millennia.


There are many different companies that offer safe, comfortable camel tours with experienced handlers. These groups often take predetermined routes that show off the natural splendor and majesty of the area. If you're looking to take some unforgettable photos while in the Holy Land, a camel ride through the Negev is sure to provide some choice opportunities.


ATV Tours

Are camels a bit too sedate for your tastes? Do you prefer your rides to have a bit of kick? Then consider joining an ATV tour! These high octane tours will have you exploring the back trails and hills of the Negev, using the power of an all terrain vehicle to get up-close-and-personal with spots other tour groups would have to enjoy from a distance.


Shivta

Shivta houses the astounding remains of a 6th century Byzantine city. These ruins, dotted with monastic churches, cisterns, still-paved streets, and assorted dwellings have to be seen to be believed. Remarkably well-preserved, you'll swear you've been transported back in time as your explore the remains of this ancient city. There is no entrance fee to Shivta, it is a public treasure. You're free to take in this ancient site at your own pace, or join a guided tour that will add additional illumination and historical context to your visit.


Shivta is so unique, it was given status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its historical importance.


Museum of Bedouin Culture

The Museum of Bedouin Culture makes for an interesting stop while you're exploring the Negev. Located about 20km north from Be'er Sheva, the museum includes a number of interesting exhibits showcasing the Bedouin way of life. In addition to artistic works and cultural touchstones, you can take an up-close look at authentic clothing, textiles, and jewelry as well as examples of Bedouin agriculture and engineering. The Museum provides an excellent overview of the nomadic tribes of the Negev and contextualizing them in modern Israeli life.


En Avdat

A true oasis in the desert, En Avdat is one of the Negev's most striking natural wonders. This spring is located in a barren area dominated by sheer cliff-sides that seem almost totally devoid of life. But water from four separate springs combines together to create a secret, tranquil pool in the middle of the canyon creating a scene straight out of a dream. The effect is completed each morning and evening when wild ibexes in the area come down for a sip, an image of resilience and life in the midst of adversity.


Be'er Sheva

Known as the "city of the Patriarchs”, Be'er Sheva is one of the Negev's most prominent destination. One of the largest cities in Israel, Be'er Sheva is worth a visit just to sample the culture alone. While the city might not seem like much on first blush, there is a lot for the curious tourist to explore and experience. Major attractions such as Abraham's Well, Tel Sheva, and the ruins of a Chalcolithic settlement from the 4th millennium BC are obvious highlights, but more off-beat attractions exist too. Be'er Sheva is a city steeped in culture, combining Israeli, Bedouin, and Ottoman sensibilities, offering some of the most unique culinary and cultural experiences available in Israel. Check out the Thursday Bedouin Market for handmade treasures you literally can't get anywhere else in the world.

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Explore the history of Tel Aviv on the new Independence TrailBy: C4i

- Photo by Ricky Rachman
 
Tel Aviv is a city famous for its attractions. The thriving nightlife, the world class restaurants, the art galleries and major businesses. But what about its roots? What about the history that the city was built upon? With everything else going on, it can be easy to forget these roots - which is exactly why the city has seen fit to draw some attention to them in the form of the new Independence Trail.

Inspired by Boston's famous Freedom Trail, Tel Aviv's Independence Trail allows both residents and tourists alike to explore the rich history of the city that may otherwise be hidden in plain sight. This guided path through the city allows curious travelers to enjoy the experience at their own pace and make detours and stops as their curiosity demands. The golden bricked path (which is illuminated after dark for night time explorers) covers over a kilometer of the city's sprawling downtown core while marking ten essential stops along the way.

It all starts at the most appropriate of all Tel Aviv locations – an espresso kiosk. Or maybe we should say the espresso kiosk. At the corner of Rothschild Boulevard and Herzl Streets sits an unassuming little slice of history, the very first kiosk to grace the streets of Tel Aviv. For a city defined by its quaint little cafes and exotic street stalls this may be surprising, but kiosks were not always part of the city's urban experience. The very first kiosk in the city was established at this exact location in 1910, quickly becoming a hub of the community and local culture. It wasn't long until fellow entrepreneurs noticed the opportunity and other kiosks started sprouting up in the area.

Today, the Kiosk (that's it's name, just "Kiosk”) still stands, serving up strong coffee amidst some of the city's most popular restaurants and bars. As far as places to start a tour, it doesn't get much better. Grab a jolt of caffeine and head on down the path to the next location. 
The Nahum Gutman Fountain tells the history of Tel Aviv as a city. Originally installed in Bialik Square, the mosaic decorated fountain now sits at the end of Rothschild Boulevard. Intricately detailed, the mosaics that wrap around the fountain and stand as pillars rising out of the water visually recount the story of how the port city of Jaffa became the modern Tel Aviv we know and love today. This is the kind of outdoor installation you might not notice if you were just wandering around the downtown core, but it is well worth slowing down and taking a quick stop to appreciate.

Next on the path is what could be considered the very foundation of Tel Aviv. The home of Akiva Aryeh Weiss, the man who founded the first neighborhood of the city. Known initially as "Ahuzat Bayit” the neighborhood was an early effort of the freshly created Building Society to establish a more healthy community. Seeking an alternative to the congestion of Jaffa proper, the Building Society sought to establish a new community with the goal of a "Hebrew urban centre in a healthy environment, planned according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene.” Families submitted their entries (which were written on sea shells) in a lottery to determine who would get a lot of land in what would become Tel Aviv. Only 66 families were drawn, a relatively small number to found a city. But these families prospered, and from these humble roots the city we recognize now as Tel Aviv bloomed. 

The path then winds to the Shalom Meir Tower, which was once the site of the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium, the first Hebrew-speaking high school in the area. You can browse the visitors center for information on the site's history, or keep moving on to the Tel Aviv Great Synagogue. This incredible building is a marvel of engineering and design. Featuring a massive dome, an Italian inspired plaza overhang surrounding the building, and an array of light fixtures, it is a site of beauty and history halfway through the path.
Next, the Hagana Museum offers an opportunity to soak in the culture of Tel Aviv. The somewhat modest looking building contains three floors of exhibits depicting the true history of the establishment of the Jewish Yishuv (the per-zionist Jewish community living in Palestine)  during the British Mandate and the story of the community defense force, the Hagana (the predecessors to the modern IDF) that defended the Yishuv. There is a ton of history packed into those three floors, a site more than deserving of a visit.

After that is the Bank of Israel Visitor's Center, an exhibit examining the history of finances in Israel. Look through hundreds of differently designed coins and notes from different periods of Israel's history.  From ancient shekels to the notes used during the British Mandate, to the evolution of the modern NIS, there is lots to discover. An economic history lesson might not sound like the most thrilling stop, but the keen presentation and bracing history of the exhibit keep it fresh and inviting for visitors.

Then it's off to the Tel Aviv Founder Monument remembering those whose efforts forged the city. The names of the 66 families chosen more than a century ago to set down Ahuzat Bayit are inscribed here overlooking a fountain that sits where they dug the first well to supply the city. Just down the path sits the ninth location, a statue of Meir Dizengoff, the first official mayor of Tel Aviv. The statue depicts a relatively humble looking man on the back of a horse, commemorating his habit of riding his horse home from City Hall on Bialik Street to his home nearly 2 km away each day.
Finally, the Independence Trail ends, fittingly, at Independence Hall. This is the spot where on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion and 25 other signatories signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence, officially ending the British Mandate and establishing Israel as a sovereign state. 

You can enjoy the Independence Trail either as part of a group or on your own through the use of a downloadable application for a self-guided tour! Either way, you're sure to walk away with a deeper appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of downtown Tel Aviv. 
 

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The Slyvan Adams Velodrome hopes to turn Tel Aviv into a cycling paradise By: C4i

- Photo by Guy Yehiel/Tel Aviv Municipality

When you think of great countries for cycling, what do you picture? Do you think of the quaint European towns like Copenhagen or Amsterdam where bicycling is a daily way of life? Or maybe you think of long distance races like the Tour De France or the Athens-Savannah marathon through Georgia, where athleticism and stamina are key. 

One man, Sylvan Adams, wants to bring both ideas to Tel Aviv and make it the premier bicycling capital of the world. This might surprise anyone who has been to Tel Aviv and knows it as a city of automobiles and crowded, hot streets - but the change is already underway.

Adams, a real estate mogul from Montreal who immigrated to Israel in 2016, takes cycling seriously. As a two time world outdoor cycling champion who has been cycling competitively for more than 20 years, it is a subject near and dear to his heart. But his passion for the sport is only one reason he wants to bring a cycling revolution to Tel Aviv. The main reason is cultural. Adams wants to see a transformed Tel Aviv that is free from the congestion and exhausting commutes the city has become known for.

Tel Aviv has a traffic problem. With large neighbourhoods and satellite communities separated by an overtaxed network of highways, even relatively short commutes can stretch to hours of driving each day depending on conditions. When they finally reach their destination, drivers need to fight over the increasingly scarce (and expensive) parking options in the city. While all of this is frustrating for commuters who just want to make it into work on time, it is also ruinous to the environment. Each and every vehicle stuck in a traffic jam or circling the block looking for a parking spot is just another exhaust pipe pumping out smog and creating fumes that threatens to choke the skyline.

But, Adams is betting a developed cycling network could alleviate many of these problems. He envisions a modern Tel Aviv that embraces both cars and bicycles, taking the burden off the motorways, reducing pollution in the city, and putting more people on the street to browse the city's amazing street kiosks and shops. A greener, friendlier Tel Aviv if you will.

"Amsterdam was a congested, car-centred city until the 1960s, when a deliberate plan was made by visionaries to transform it into a bike paradise,” Adams told the Canadian Jewish News in 2016, explaining how a city can't just leave the development of a bike culture to chance, it has to build it. This is the logic behind both the Israeli Cycling Academy, an organization dedicated to developing the sport of cycling in Israel. While working to develop cycling teams and events, the Academy's most ambitious project is far and away the Sylvan Adams Velodrome.

Massive in scale, the velodrome, under construction right now, will be the most sophisticated indoor cycling arena in the Middle East. Built to Olympic specifications, the arena features a track over 250 meters in circumference. The wooden track has steeply sloped sides that go up to a dizzying 45 degrees. When professional cyclists hit these sloped turns at speed, they look more like they are flying than riding! The facility will also include robust training facilities and publicly accessible resources. The idea is to both build up the Israeli Cycling Academy and team, as well as promote interest in the sport among the public. 

Just last month, professionals put the new track through its paces when veteran cyclists peddled their way across it during an official ceremony commemorating the arena. Built to hold hundreds of spectators, Adams hopes that the Veledrome will be fully constructed and ready to host the 2021 World Junior Championships for track cycling. After that, he, along with the ICA, hope to make the arena the number one location in the area for cycling enthusiasts. 

It might be easy to write the Velodrome off as a purely symbolic gesture towards a cycling Tel Aviv, but Adams thinks otherwise. Citing the success Britain achieved in 2002, when the country invested in a number of velodromes to support the Commonwealth Games. Those facilities and the major press surrounding the events inspired an entire generation of cyclists in the UK, helping to shape future city policy and design to encourage cycling. To Adams and his fellows in the ICA, the velodrome is just the start of Tel Aviv's future on two wheels.

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The PURPOSE of C4i is to call Christians to express love in action to the people of Israel.

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