E in Gedi — The first time I visited Israel more thaN 30
years ago, I treated my copy of “Israel on $50 A Day” (or whatever the amount was at the time) as if it were a bible. I used it to book cheap hotels, to find cheap restaurants and heeded its advice to flash my student ID card anywhere and everywhere.
The nugget of philosophy emerged on a walk in a verdant field below the hills of the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Tivon. It was just a few weeks before Israel’s 50th birthday and I asked a friend, an Israeli commando veteran and a prize-winning military engineer, what Zionism meant to him.
“What is Zionism? This is Zionism,” he said pointing to the lanes of blooming wildflowers, and dozens of others catching the late winter-early spring spectacle.
Jerusalem — Residents of Mamilla, a century-old neighborhood located right outside the Old City of Jerusalem, have been eyewitnesses to many important events in the city’s turbulent history.
In 1948 and 1967, they either fled or shuttered themselves in their homes as soldiers fought on their doorsteps. Now, during happier times, they watch tens of thousands of Israelis march to the Western Wall to celebrate holidays.
* El Al Israel Airlines has announced several moves to upgrade its fleet and level of service. Israel’s national airlines has acquired one state-of-the-art Boeing 747-400 aircraft for long-haul nonstop routes. The new planes are equipped with advanced sleeper seats and an improved video- on-demand entertainment system. Upgrades have also been completed on the El Al 747-400 jumbo aircraft and four of its 777 aircraft.
Dubbed as the “first luxury lifestyle hotel in Jerusalem,” the 194-room Mamilla Hotel opened in the spring without the fanfare of a grand opening. Though the opulent hotel has already attracted its share of big-name local and international celebrities, such as Israeli-born, Hollywood actress Ayelet Zorer (“Angels and Demons”), it actively promotes itself as the “centerpiece of Jerusalem’s cultural, architectural and urban fabric.”
The Israeli Philharmonic, now in its 74th year, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its musical director, Zubin Mehta, this season with concerts featuring leading conductors and soloists from around the world. The Philharmonic will give the premiere performance of Indian composer Naresh Sohal’s “The Divine Song,” in honor of Mehta on Feb. 3. ... Guitar Gems 2009, the 4th International Classical Guitar Festival and Competition, is taking place in Netanya this week.
Lufthansa, the largest foreign carrier serving Israel, announced last week a partnership with low-cost carrier JetBlue.
JetBlue passengers originating in 11 U.S. cities and San Juan, Puerto Rico, will enjoy one-stop reservations and seamless baggage transfer to Lufthansa’s network of more than 400 destinations worldwide, according to a release.