Saturday, May 6, 2017

What do you wirh a problem like Lifta?

Jane Jacobs was a very famous urban planner. She wrote a book The Life and Death of Cities which is required reading for all urban planning students.  Walking tours of cities in her memory have been organized all over the world.  There were at least two walking tours in Jerusalem this past Frirday.

My friend Marc Render and I went to the walk around Lifta. Lifta is an abandoned Arab village atthe entrance of Jerusalem.  It is literally built on the slopes of a mountain.  The  origins of the village go all the way back to the Canaanite period when Egypt ruled this land.  The village has been preserved up to now for two reasons. In the the 50's the government moved Jews from Kurdistan there when they made aliyah. Condequently the Arab homes weren't destroyed as in many other places. Even when they the Jews left, nobody else wanted to live there because of its inaccessibility. No modern roads, electricity, water, etc. Now there is a movement to develope it with luxury apartments.  That would destroy one of the last if not only site like this. There is a whole movement to save Lifta.

Lifta became a prosperous village throughout the ages because it was on the main Jaffa-Jerusalem road. We saw 2nd Temple era ruins. Those large type of stones with the edging as seen at the Kotel were uncovered. Agriculture was a major industry.  There were at least 5 olive presses from the Crudader period with a couple very wellpreserved ones  inside some buildings. In the 16th century the population was 400  in the 16th century and by 1948 the village grew to 2000 people.

UNECO  has declared a landmark site how a geographical site influeced the population and how the population influenced the land by the urging of the Save Lifta group. I believe it should be developed but not as a modern site.  It should be preserved as a part of Israels history dating back to the time when Egypt ruled Canaan through the modern period.  You don't have a future if you don't remember the past.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Even designer genes didn't help me

Thanks to my Greene skinny genes, I've never had to worry about my weight.  Now that I train all year round for my bike rides in Israel, I worry even less. I exercise daily and watch what I eat.  The lighter I am, the less I have to carry when I bike up hills. But all my skinny genes and exercise were almost to no avail on my flight over to Israel on El Al.

I understand all the flight rage going on that has been reported in the news media.  The seats are getting smaller and smaller with less and less leg room.  I felt squished into my aisle seat. What made things even worse, the aisle was narrower too.  I have to admit that many of my fellow pasengers were not as svelte as I am.  Without meaning to, they would brush against me as I was trying to sleep.  Even the food cart rammed into my knee once

I have two recommendations.  First the airliines have to reverse this trend of making us passengers feel like sardines. Give passengers more room especially on long flights. Sqeezing every nickle and dime out of us for an unbearable ride is just criminal.  Secondly, to all my fellow frum co-travelers, you need to loose weight by dieting and exercising. Rambam taught a healthy soul needs a healthy body.  You will feel better and there is a better chance we all will be able to sleep on the plane.