A Travellerspoint blog

September 2012

The Jewish Ten Days of Awe in Israel

The ten days of awe are the Jewish High Holy days starting with Rosh Hashana and ending with Yom Kippur. The followers of Judaism throughout the world commemorate more than three thousand years of faith, custom, and history.

There are many similarities in the observance of this period worldwide but some significant differences in the Jewish homeland of Israel. The most important difference is that Israel is both the spiritual and secular homeland to millions of Jews who reside in the Land of Canaan. Many Jews and non- Jews alike view Israel as both a spiritual, political, and historical marvel. It is a very small nation but the center of great controversy and attention.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and a center of controversy!

This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur or the day of repentance. We have just completed this period in Haifa and throughout the world.

One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are inscribed on Rosh HaShanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d's decree. These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year" or G'mar Chatima Tova-- in Hebrew. I enjoy and am thrilled to wander around the beautiful city of Haifa during this period. Friends, neighbors, and yes even strangers greet each other with a warm G'mar Chatima Tova. Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person; righting the wrongs you committed against them, if possible.

Work is permitted as usual during the intermediate Days of Awe with the exception for the Sabbath during that week. Hebrew is the language of Israel and the ancient Hebrew calendar is still used in both religious observances and often in daily secular life. Therefore the people of Israel celebrate the days of awe in the language of the Jewish Torah and follow the calendar used in the days of the ancient temples in Jerusalem.

The ten days of awe begin with the Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashana. This is the day that celebrates the beginning of the world according to Judaism. It is the day of the birth of Adam and Eve. Rosh Hashana is both a day of celebration and also introspection. There are many joyful celebrations throughout the country that include the traditional dipping of apples into honey. This to commemorate the sweetness of life at what traditionally has been the time of the harvest. Special cookies and other foods are eaten at this time to enjoy the New Year. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two rather than one day due to confusion relating to the ancient calendar. It is not one hundred percent certain on which day the holiday was originally celebrated.

Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. It is the last day of the days of awe. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast, and attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishrei.

The name 'Yom Kippur' means 'Day of Atonement', and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to atone for the sins of the past year.

Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The State of Israel comes to a virtual halt with the exception of all the important prayers on this most holy day of the year. Businesses and most public services are closed. Traffic is limited mainly with the exception of medical and security services. People commute to prayer by foot and often visit family and close friends to share this special day. The streets are mainly empty with the exception of worshipers on their way to and from prayer or young kids running outside on the streets or playing in the local parks. The lack of traffic gives the kids the opportunity to ride their bicycles up and down the hilly roads of Haifa or throughout the country.

Children indeed enjoy riding their bicycles on Yom Kippur

Most people fast and spend much of the day in prayer. As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted wheredinga threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of thirteen and women in childbirth do not fast.

Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with illnesses may or may not fast according to their medical conditions.

Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning and continue until just before sundown which ends the religious observances. The evening service that begins Yom Kippur is commonly known as Kol Nidre, named for the prayer that begins the service. "Kol nidre" means "all vows," and in this prayer, we ask G-d to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year. It refers only to vows between the person making them and G-d. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar continuing the tradition of three thousand year

Israel is a nation of individuals. You have the same wonderful qualities of human nature and all the short comings that you have anywhere. The ten days of awe give us the opportunity to make choices and accept responsibility for our choices in the place where it all started!

Posted by eshugerman 11:47 Tagged holidays jewish israel rosh jerusalem yom kippur hahanah shofar Comments (0)

O Jerusalem, Oy Jerusalem!

Surprises and Joys in Israel!

I enjoy having a massage twice a month. My massage therapist, Jona, also immigrated to Haifa Israel from Colorado. She and her husband, David are in my age range. They immigrated to Haifa six months ago. We love to share stories about our views, experiences and yes, adventures as new immigrants to the land of Canaan.This is a post about their first visit to Jerusalem and mine.

My favorite trip is to Israel's capital, Jerusalem to visit the Tower of David, where King David composed the 23rd psalm. When I finish my tour in the Tower of David, I dine at my beloved Arab restaurant, where I enjoy the cuisine of traditional Arab cooking accompanied by a Miller Light. Then, I cross the street towards The Tomb of Jesus, where I am always inspired by the visit. It still amazes me that the distance between The Tower of David, my favorite traditional Arab restaurant and the Tomb of Jesus is less than one hundred meters.

I visit The Western Wall,or Kotel. It is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the ancient Jewish Temple's courtyard, and is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism outside of the Temple Mount itself. According to the Tanakh, Solomon's Temple was built atop the Temple Mount in the 10th century BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Second Temple was completed and dedicated in 516 BCE. Two thousand years ago Jews were expected to pray in The Temple. According to classical Jewish belief, the Temple acted as the figurative "footstool" of God's presence and a Third Temple will be built there in the future. I wrote about my first visit to this incredible city in my blog. I am pleased to share David and Jonas first visit to Jerusalem with the readers.

After being in Israel for nearly three months, we finally left Haifa and took a day-trip to Jerusalem. David’s nephew — heretofore called Zach since he didn’t give us permission to use his real name — is studying at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem for six months. A Yeshiva is an Orthodox Jewish college or seminary It is always a delight to spend time with Zach. He gave us a walking tour of Jerusalem.

We travelled from Haifa to Jerusalem by train. The trip normally is about an hour. The train ride from Haifa to Jerusalem was delayed at Beit Shemesh for about 30 minutes. This is the town where the incident occurred where a member of the Haredi spit on Jewish girl for not dressing modestly enough. Although my arms and legs were covered, I was a bit nervous about my modern dress and liberal approach to Judaism. It is a sad commentary on life in Israel that conflicts about religious ideology are common. These conflicts are both among and between followers of faiths.

When we arrived in Jerusalem, it was well past lunch time. We met Zach at the mall, and instead of partaking in some of Jerusalem’s better food offerings, we ate in the food court in the mall. Zach opted for McDonald’s since it was one of the 30% that are kosher in the city. While we were eating, a nice old woman came by with a plastic cup. I didn't quite understand what she wanted, but Zach gave her a few shekels and she went away.

First of all, there are two Jerusalem’s, so to speak. Modern Jerusalem is equivalent to cities in the United States, complete with malls of grandeur, high rise apartments a modern transportation system and fabulous malls.. You can find almost any products here that are sold in America. Many of the stores are the same. We can shop at Ace Hardware and eat at McDonald's. The Jerusalem mall where we met Zach could have been Any Mall in the USA. English is widely spoken. The mall like much of the architectural in this glorious city is picturesque, Many of the houses, apartments and other buildings are built on and along the winding hills of this beautiful and ancient city In fact, Jerusalem is one of the most beautiful cities that I ever visited. The physical beauty and spiritual glory of Jerusalem make it a wonderful place to visit. Zach asked me how many cities that I have visited. That’s hard to say, but most are in the states. I would gage the number to be at least thirty.

Zach said he was helping the needy, or giving tzadakah, David called the old woman a schnorer, although he admitted she was nice about it. Then, or as they say in Hebrew, ah-har-chok (I’m not going to tell you how I remember that word) another schnorer came by wanting money. She even had a little brochure. When we didn't give her any money, she took her brochure back with a huff.

The night before going to Jerusalem I was kind of worried about riding the city bus — with the potential for bombings and other security issues. Nevertheless, once there, I got onto buses and trains without a second thought. Two days later, David read me a news story about how a female Israeli soldier was stabbed by a Palestinian on the same train-line we rode.

In Haifa, we have a bus pass that is good for buses within the city. In other words, we wouldn’t be able to use the pass to take a bus from Haifa to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, it can only be used in Haifa. Well, the same bus system is used throughout Israel, and so we tried to use our pass on the Jerusalem city bus It worked! We were given a transfer, and on the city-train a transit official was checking for passes.

Well, maybe he saw something on the transfer that indicated Haifa instead of Jerusalem, and he demanded to see David’s ID. He took the ID and kept it for almost the entire ride. While he had the ID, it was kind of scary because we had no idea what was going on or even why he wanted it in the first place. Were we going to be thrown off the train? Arrested? Forced to pay 6.60 shekels (around $1.75) for the fare? The trip took maybe 15 minutes, and the security official held onto the ID almost the entire time. After making several phone calls, presumably to verify David’s veracity, the ID was returned and we proceeded toward Old Jerusalem.

Old Jerusalem is a walled city, a citadel. The outer wall was destroyed and later rebuilt by the Ottomans so is only 500 years old, young compared to many of the inner walls of which might be 2000 years or older. There are parts of Old J. that are drivable, as in one-way only and be prepared to go about 5mph. Most of Old J. must be walked as the streets are too narrow and since Jerusalem is built on hills, steps to go up and down. All the roads in Old Jerusalem. are paved with rectangular tiles, the same off-white/light-tan materials of which the buildings are constructed. The tiled streets are smooth and well-worn: a lot of traffic goes through the city. Throughout Old Jerusalem are plenty of shops, street vendors, and small food markets.

There are four quarters in Old Jerusalem: Armenian, Jewish, Arab and Christian, although Armenians are Christians too (Eastern Orthodox).

As we entered the archway of Old J., there were a couple of people begging or schnoring. We found ourselves in the Armenian sector, and I was amazed at how much of a tourist trap Old Jerusalem can be. I mean it is a tourist trap to the max. We wandered through the Armenian sector down alleyways and side streets into the Jewish Quarter and went to the Western Wall. Where else?

Going down the steps to the Wall we came upon even more schnorers. One guy came up to David and started praying in his ear, all in Hebrew of course. I watched the man as he was whispering his prayer to David. It seemed to me it was all a big scam to rip-off tourists. For all we know instead of prayers, the guy was hurling insults and saying vulgarities. Finished with the prayer, he expected payment. David gave him a few shekels and the fellow was not pleased,

When we were in the Arab Quarter a little boy saw Zach and ran up to him and went, “R-rr-ow!” I thought he was being a cute, a rambunctious kid. Neither Zach nor the boy’s father thought it was cute. Then I realized that the reason the boy did that may have been because he is Palestinian. He may have been taught that Jews are bad, evil, and even need to be killed. David told me that same kid threw a rock at us but missed. Perhaps he was just a kid acting silly, I hope that is the case. I was so entranced with the Old City that I didn’t notice any tensions at all in the Arab section. But David said that he did and felt uncomfortable there.

I had seen pictures of the Wall It looked pretty much like the photographs. We had to go through a security check and found ourselves in a huge courtyard. I went to the female side and David and Zach went to the male side. The female side was really crowded and there were hundreds of orthodox women praying and reading at the Wall.

I’m sorry to say, the are around the Wall didn’t feel like a Holy Place to me. It also felt like a tourist trap. When I was at the wall, I looked up hoping to see G-d, and I saw a beautiful blue sky. I didn’t feel closer to G-d at the wall of course, feeling close or connected to G-d is something I never feel and have never felt. I’m so jealous of those people who have that connection. I classify myself as a hiloni or non- religious. Sixty per cent of Israelis are "hilonim"

So after leaving the wall, we walked around "The Old City". This ancient city is so exciting. There are tunnels and interesting paths…it’s hard to describe. Individual quarters are not marked, so you don’t know when you’re leaving the Armenian Quarter and entered the Jewish Quarter. Nevertheless, we visited all the Quarters, including the Arab Quarter.

Here’s what David didn’t like about Jerusalem: the schnoring.

Here’s what I didn’t like about Jerusalem: nothing. Yes, it does snow and can get very cold in Jerusalem, and I don’t like that, but the weather was fine the day we came. I liked everything about the city. The city has it all! If Israel is the center of religious/political controversy and global unrest, Jerusalem is the hub.

Zach, if you’re reading this, here are some of the cities I’ve been in: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, London, Edinburgh, New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Denver, Phoenix, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Tijuana, Belize City, Matamoros, Dallas, Houston, Amarillo, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Mazatlan, Nashville, Cleveland, Vancouver, Baltimore, and your home town of Louisville to name a few.

Posted by eshugerman 09:53 Tagged king western wall israel david haifa jerusalem 23rd psalm Comments (0)

Visiting the Sea of Galilee!

Touring Israel

The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias, is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately 53 km in circumference, about 21 km long, and 13 km wide. Yes, the Sea of Galilee isn’t really a sea; it’s a fresh water lake. The Red Sea was actually the Reed Sea in the ancient world. The lake has a total area of 166 km and a maximum depth of approximately At 211.315 meters below sea level. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake overall (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake).

The lake is fed partly by underground springs although its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south. Israel's National Water Carrier, built in 1964, transports water from the lake to the population centers of Israel/Palestine, It is the source of much of the country's drinking water.
The fact that the Sea of Galilee is actually a freshwater lake surprises many visitors and newcomers. I was one of those surprised. It is full of fish but fishing has been banned since 2010 due to fear of exhausting the population of marine life.

It is also a beautiful moderately populated part of northeast Israel that I love to visit.
It is a wonderful area for hiking, swimming and other outdoor activities.The Sea of Galilee is not only Israel’s main water source but it has a huge religious significance and a major touristic value for Israel. It is an area of mountains and beaches and terrific wildlife. I spent much of my life in Colorado and derive great joy from the area. My visits include both hiking, visiting holy sites, and dining in Tiberius.

One of the most marvelous aspects of my life in as a new Israeli citizen is that I can visit religious and historical sites that I only read about in The United States. The bus trip from my home in Haifa is two hours. I can route my trip to include a short stop in Nazareth and Acre and return home on the same day!

Judaism and Christianity trace much of their roots back to this region. I practice Judaism but like many Jewish Israelis thrill to visit the holy sites of other faiths. Many Israelis share my desire to study and understand the faiths of our neighbors. Twenty per cent of Israelis are Christians, Muslims, Druzes and others within the borders that existed prior to the 1967 war. Only Jerusalem is holier to the followers of Judaism and Christians flock to this region to walk the paths taken by Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that many Jews, Christians, and Muslims live together in Harmony in Israel amazes me. I came to this country five years ago unaware of the amazing blends of faiths and cultures that Israel is made of!

The Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) is situated in northeast Israel, near the Golan Heights, in the Jordan Rift Valley. The valley caused by the separation of the African and Arabian Plates. Consequently, the area is subject to earthquakes and, in the past, volcanic activity. The area is also subject to violent storms and torrid summer heat.
I learned the hard way during my first summer trips to always wear a hat and carry a large bottle of water. Public transportation in the area is limited. Therefore, I and my friends hire a private cab for our tours. The costs of such cab rentals are usually negotiable and the driver is often versed in knowledge about the region.

The modern name, Kinneret, comes from the Old Testament or Hebrew Tanakh "sea of Chinnereth".The name Kinneret may originate from the Hebrew word kinnor ("harp" or "lyre")), in view of the shape of the lake.

There are 35 species of fish in the Sea of Galilee today, including sardines and St. Peter’s fish, which I like to eat while we’ are there. Perhaps the “two small fish” Jesus turned into a feast for the 5,000 in John 6 were actually sardines from the lake.!

Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of Lake Galilee. In those days, there was a continuous development of settlements and villages around the lake and plenty of trade and ferrying by boat. Fishing was a huge industry. One of Jesus' famous teaching episodes, the Sermon on the Mount, is supposed to have been given on a hill overlooking the lake. Many of his miracles are also said to have occurred here including his walking on water, calming the storm, the disciples and the boatload of fish, and his feeding five thousand people in Tabatha.

In 135 CE the second Jewish revolt against the Romans was put down. The Romans responded by banning all Jews from Jerusalem. The center of Jewish culture and learning shifted to the region of the Kinneret, particularly the city of Tiberias. It was in this region that the the so-called "Jerusalem Talmud" is thought to have been compiled. It became a great center of study and Jewish legal capital of the time.

Tiberias is the main city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee (in Israel called the Kinneret), Established in 20 CE, it was named in honour of the emperor Tiberius. Tiberias is one of the four Jewish holy cities mentioned in the Talmud along with Jerusalem, Tzfat and Hebron.

The city of Tiberias became almost entirely Jewish since 1948. Many Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews settled in the city, following the Jewish exodus from Arab countries in late 1940s and the early 1950s. Over time, government housing was built to accommodate much of the new population, like in many other developing towns. Over time, the city came to rely on tourism, becoming a major Galilean center for Christian pilgrims and internal Israeli tourism. The ancient cemetery of Tiberias and its old synagogues are also drawing religious Jewish pilgrims during religious holidays.

The city was built by Herod Antipas, the son of King Herod, around 20 CE in honour of the Roman emperor, Tiberius. At first, Jews wouldn't live here because the city was built on an ancient burial ground, making it "unclean" according to Jewish religious laws. At the beginning of the 2nd century, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai came here for the healing waters of the hot springs. He performed a purification ceremony to sanctify the city, and it became the centre for Jewish learning and spirituality in Eretz Israel. The Mishnah was completed here and it is traditionally believed that in later years, the Jerusalem Talmud - despite its name - was compiled and edited in Tiberias.

Many Jewish rabbis and tzaddikim (sages) requested to be buried in this holy city. One of them was the great Torah scholar Rabbi Akiva, who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE and taught thousand of students. He was imprisoned and tortured by the Romans for supporting the Bar Kochba rebellion in 132-135 CE and was eventually killed. Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (the "Rambam") has his tomb here. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Jews make the pilgrimage to their tombs. The tombs and adjoining sites strikingly simple to me as does the tomb of Elijah the Prophet in Haifa. Perhaps the greatest tribute that we can pay these great scholars is to pay homage to their deeds and acts rather than to the sophisticated surroundings.

Tiberias consists of a small port on the shores of the Galilee lake for both fishing and tourist activities. Since 1990s, the importance of the port for fishing was gradually decreasing, with the decline of the Tiberias lake level, due to continuing droughts and increased pumping of fresh water from the lake. It is expected that the lake of Tiberias will regain its original level (almost 6 meters higher than today), with the full operational capacity of Israeli desalination facilities since 2014. The city has lots of cafes, shops, and of course religious shrines. My friends and I enjoy wandering around the city and "kibbutzim" with the local residents. The city offers some nice hotels and guest houses.

Posted by eshugerman 09:47 Tagged travel israel jesus bible christianity galilee judaism Comments (0)

Who Has the Right to Call it Football?

Who Has the Right to Call it Football?

I grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in the years when today's football heroes the Steelers were the goats of the beloved game. I am now the tender age of sixty four. The Steelers of my era lost more games than they won, but they established a tone that still defines their teams of this era -- the blood and-guts, hard-nosed style of Pittsburgh's Team. In the '50s, the Steelers were 54-63-3 under four different coaches and finished with more wins while lossing only twice. The Steelers owned by Art Rooney were then called the Pirates.The Steelers of the early 1960s were not much better if at all; however, we still loved them and derived great joy from following our anti-heroes. They played their games in Pitt Stadium and Forbes Field. The Steelers made the playoffs for the first time in 1947, tying for first place in the division at 8–4 with the Philadelphia Eagles. This forced a tie-breaking playoff game at Forbes Field, which the Steelers lost 21–0. That would be Pittsburgh's only playoff game for the next 25 years; they did qualify for a "Playoff Bowl" in 1962 as the second-best team in their conference, but this was not considered an official playoff.

I was blessed in those years to live near Pitt Stadium and Forbes Field. I enjoyed watching the Pirates, Steelers, and Panthers compete and even saw the last game of the 1960 baseball World Series. It was the first time that the Pirates brought a championship to the city. Bill Mazeroski became a hero to sports fans everywhere.

It is now forty six years since I left the steel city in 1966. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL)/ The Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC. Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowl titles (six), won more AFC Championship Games (eight) and played in (fifteen) and hosted more (eleven) conference championship games than any other AFC or NFC team. The Steelers share the record for most Super Bowl appearances with the Dallas Cowboys (eight). The Steelers won their most recent championship, Super Bowl XLIII, on February 1, 2009. Yes, things have certainly changed since my era.

I still follow my beloved Steelers in my new home of Haifa Israel. I watched their last Super-bowl appearance from 6,000 miles away in Israel. The game was broadcast on several networks in the Middle East. I watched it through the METV while sipping a beer at a local pub. I was stunned to listen to the game both in English and in Hebrew simultaneously. All the other patrons were non-Americans, but many of them understood the rules of the game and helped me cheer for my favorite team. Still, there were tears in my beer when the game was over. The Steelers lost a heart breaker to the Packers.

The national sport of Israel is soccer. In Hebrew it is called football. My friends and I joke a lot as to which country has a right to call its national sport football. I enjoyed a certain glow from the sense of solidarity from sharing my football ardor with my new Israeli neighbors. It has indeed become a small world since my days growing up in the steel city. One of my toughest challenges in life is adjusting to the world of modern mass communications, however when it comes to the Super-bowl- thank goodness for satellite television.

The contemporary history of the world's favourite game spans close to one hundred and fifty years. It all began in 1863 in England, when rugby football and association football branched off on their different courses and the Football Association in England was formed - becoming the sport's first governing body.

Both codes stemmed from a common root and both have a long and intricately branched ancestral tree. A search down the centuries reveals at least half a dozen different games, varying to different degrees, and to which the historical development of football has been traced back. Nevertheless, the fact remains that people have enjoyed kicking a ball about for thousands of years and there is absolutely no reason to consider it an aberration of the more 'natural' form of playing a ball with the hands.

On the contrary, apart from the need to employ the legs and feet in tough tussles for the ball, often without any laws for protection, it was recognized right at the outset that the art of controlling the ball with the feet was not easy and, as such, required no small measure of skill. The very earliest form of the game for which there is scientific evidence was an exercise from a military manual dating back to the second and third centuries BC in China

American football was started in 1879 with rules instituted by Walter Camp, player and coach at Yale University.

Walter Camp was born April 17, 1859, in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Yale from 1876 to 1882, where he studied medicine and business. Walter Camp was an author, athletic director, chairman of the board of the New Haven Clock Company, and director of the Peck Brothers Company. He was general athletic director and head advisory football coach at Yale University from 1888-1914, and chairman of the Yale football committee from 1888-1912. Camp played football at Yale and helped evolve the rules of the game away from Rugby and Soccer rules into the rules of American Football as we know them today.

The NFL, or the National Football League, was formed in 1920. The popularity of college football grew as it became the dominant version of the sport in the United States for the first half of the 20th century. Bowl games, a college football tradition, attracted a national audience for college teams. Boosted by fierce rivalries, college football still holds widespread appeal in the United States. The Super Bowl is one of the most widely watched sporting events in the world including my new home in Israel.

While Israel is technically part of Asia, the sporting landscape makes the tiny nation more in line with the European continent. Soccer rules in Israel, as it does in the rest of the non-American world, and while the country has its own hierarchy of professional leagues, Israeli teams often face European competition in international matches through UEFA (Union of European Football Associations). In Hebrew the term for soccer is football. It is the national sport of Israel and most of this region. I have learned the rules of the game as part of my new life and enjoy watching and playing somewhat. It is still not the same to me as the American gridiron.
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. At the turn of the 21st century, the game was played by over 250 million players in over 200 countries, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field of grass or green artificial turf, with a goal in the middle of each of the short ends. The object of the game is to score by driving the ball into the opposing goal.

In general play, the goalkeepers are the only players allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms (unless the ball is carried out of play, where the field players are required to re-start by a throw-in of the game ball), while the field players typically use their feet to kick the ball, occasionally using other parts of their legs, their torso or head. The team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is tied at the end of the game, either a draw is declared or the game goes into extra time and/or a penalty shootout, depending on the format of the competition. The Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by the Football Association in 1863 and have evolved since then. Association football is governed internationally by FIFA—Fédération Internationale de Football Association(English: International Federation of Association Football) — which organises the FIFA World Cup every four years.

The structure of Israeli soccer, which is governed by the Israeli Football Association, is similar to that of English soccer and a number of other continental soccer federations. The best teams play in Ligat Ha'al, the Premier League; second tier teams play in Liga Leumit, or the National League; and third tier teams play in Liga Artzit, or the Nationwide League.

Each of these leagues has twelve teams. Big cities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa are typically represented by at least one or two teams in the Premier League, and teams from smaller cities populate the other leagues. At the end of the season, the teams in each league with the two worst records are relegated to a lower league, and the two best teams move up a league.

Soccer has been a part of Israeli culture already before the modern state existed. Prior to 1948, men and women making aliyah from Europe founded social movements that they hoped would guide the cultural and political development of the future state. These movements were all encompassing--creating their own settlements, building their own infrastructure, establishing societal norms, and even fielding their own soccer teams. Two of the most prominent movements--the right-wing Revisionist Zionist Movement (Beitar) and left-wing Workers' Federation (Hapoel)--survive today on Israeli soccer fields.

Israelis of all ages, backgrounds and both genders love the game. Many Israeli youngsters dream of being future stars of the sport. Israeli football stars are indeed heroes to the citizens of this great state. The malls are adorned with shops that specialize in "football" equipment and memorabilia.

That brings us to the question of 'Who has the right to call it football?'. I have to lean toward soccer which involves a far greater use of the foot than the American genre of the game. Nonetheless, I still prefer the American version of the game and of course the greatest heroes of the game - the mighty Steelers.

Posted by eshugerman 12:55 Archived in Israel Tagged football soccer super haifa pittsburgh bowl steelers Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]