North Shore Temple Emanuel
a Progressive Jewish Congregation
Shahar Zirkin had been driving in circles on a dark, wooded road outside Haifa, until finally, he spotted a piece of toilet paper strung delicately among the branches of a tree. He turned left, driving slowly, looking for more toilet paper “signs” until he could hear thick, subbass frequencies, punctuated with synthesized audio effects in the distance. To the untrained ear, it might have sounded like the soundtrack to an intergalactic space journey; to Zirkin, a DJ-cum-biochemist and founder of Israel’s annual Doof music festival, it was the familiar sound of psytrance—a subgenre of electronic music. As he approached, the beats reverberated through the woods from the underground, neon-lit party, reminiscent of festivals in the Negev desert or in forests up north, or even on the Indian beaches of Goa.
You don’t often see perfectly chilled martinis served at conferences in Israel, but the TLV Formats Conference was an event that was out of the ordinary. It was held for the second time in September 2017, and hundreds of buyers from television networks around the world came to Tel Aviv to snatch up new Israeli shows—scrambling to get ahead of the huge international TV convention called MIPCOM the following month in Cannes. Over the past decade, Israel has become one of the world’s most prolific exporters of “formats”—industry jargon for concepts and programs.
Members of the Israeli World Music sensation, Yemen Blues, including Yemenite-Israeli vocalist Ravid Kahlani, visited an Arab coffee house in Jerusalem’s Old City to perform “Jat Mahibathi” (“My Love is Coming”) a song from their first album, Yemen Blues.
Ofakim is a working-class city of 30,000 people in southern Israel, twenty minutes west of Be’er Sheva, the regional capital, and thirty minutes from Gaza’s Mediterranean coast. Conventionally referred to as a “development town,” Ofakim was established in 1955 with the aim of drawing newly arriving immigrants away from Israel’s central coastal region and strengthening the country’s hold on the sparsely populated Negev desert.
This is a tale of two paintings by two 17th-century masters. Both depict the same historical event. In every other respect, they present a complete contrast.
The first painting has a fascinating back story. During World War II, an eccentric Englishman by the name of Ernest Onians made a fortune with his invention of Tottenham Pudding, a form of pigswill produced from waste food. Having amassed his millions, Onians became an art collector, purchasing canvases at country fairs and garage sales and accumulating some 500 works in all.