Queen of Hebrew Music Shoshana Damari Gave Up on Family Life, but She Had No Other Choice and Unique Sites of Israel: Hebron: Cave of the Patriarchs (Ma’arat HaMachpelah) By Nosson Shulman and Fish Out Of Water? Israeli Researchers Have Taught Goldfish To Drive and 58-year-old COVID patient dies after breathing tube disconnects and Israeli Govt Leaders Praise Elimination of Terror Cell, Israeli Arab MKs Call It ‘Execution’By Hana Levi Julian
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
MAGEN DAVID ADOM workers, wearing protective clothing, bring a patient to the coronavirus unit at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan(photo credit: FLASH90)Advertisement
58-year-old Bat-Sheva Halfon died at the Laniado Medical Center in Netanya on Friday after her breathing machine was disconnected without anyone noticing, Hebrew media sources reported on Monday.
Halfon was hospitalized for a month and a half because of a lung infection and caught COVID-19 while in the hospital.
A doctor was recorded saying to Nir Machlouf, Halfon's nephew, that she had probably disconnected the machine on her own and was not able to reconnect it.
Intubated patients are supposed to be under tight supervision in order to prevent cases such as these. Doctors sometimes tie the hands of patients so that they do not accidentally disconnect the breathing tube.
Halfon's arms had been tied in the past but were not when the incident happened.
There are currently over 1,200 COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized in serious condition, and some hospitals are experiencing heavy pressure.
Laniado Hospital said it was investigating the incident and would pass its findings to the Health Ministry. It passed condolences to Halfon's family.
"Laniado has been coping with a large number of patients throughout the fifth wave. Just recently 13 patients waited for hours in the emergency room until they were moved to the COVID ward. The hospital staff along with all of the medical and nursing teams in the country is doing all it can to give the best possible care in these difficult times," the hospital said.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
Israeli Govt Leaders Praise Elimination of Terror Cell, Israeli Arab MKs Call It 'Execution'
Photo Credit: Nasser Ishtayeh / Flash 90
Words of praise – and condemnation – came pouring out of the government cabinet and Knesset on Tuesday, along with the government chambers of the Palestinian Authority, after Israeli special eliminated a three-man terror cell in the Palestinian Authority city of Shechem (Nablus).
The three terrorists, all of them armed, were in a vehicle at the time and were killed while preparing to open fire at members of Israel's "Yamam" counter terrorism force. There were no Israeli casualties, the Shin Bet said. According to the PA's official WAFA news agency, a fourth terrorist was arrested.
All three members of the cell belonged to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, linked to the military arm of the Palestinian Authority's leading Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
The terror cell had been responsible for at least four shooting attacks in the past two weeks aimed at IDF soldiers and Jewish civilians in Judea and Samaria. According to a report by Ynet, the terrorists were planning another attack for Tuesday night. The Walla! News outlet reported that officials ordered the rain after the terrorists were seen getting in their car with weapons and ammunition.
In response, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade terrorist group vowed revenge in a statement published by the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency, saying, "The blood of our martyrs will not be in vain, and the response will come, God willing. Blood will be met with blood."
Thousands of Palestinian Authority Arabs participated in the funeral for the three terrorists on Tuesday afternoon, chanting "With blood and spirit we'll redeem you, O Martyr!"
Other participants chanted "Revenge! Revenge! Saraya and Qassam!", calling on terror groups to avenge the terrorists' deaths. Qassam is a reference to the military wing of Gaza's ruling Hamas terrorist organization; Saraya is a reference to the military wing of Hamas ally, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization. Both are generously supported, equipped and trained by Iran.
The operation was condemned by the Palestinian Authority cabinet, which called for an international probe into the incident. "The cabinet calls upon the United Nations and international human rights groups to condemn this heinous crime and work to bring the perpetrators to justice," the PA ministers said in a statement. The PA Foreign Ministry referred to the operation as an "execution."
In the Israeli Knesset, Arab-Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi used similar words, claiming Israeli forces had "executed" the cell in a "terrorist action, as defined by international law."
A member of the Opposition's Joint Arab List faction, Tibi warned in a statement at the Knesset podium – delivered to a near-empty chamber — that there will be "no end to the violence" until there is an "end the occupation." Tibi referred to those killed in the raid as "Palestinians.
His colleague, Arab Joint List MK Sami Abu Shehada, likewise called the operation an "extrajudicial execution against three Palestinian youths. . . This is a serious crime that adds to the daily crimes of the Israeli occupation," Shehada added.
"This government, and each and every member of this coalition travel with the responsibility for this deterioration," he added.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised the operation, saying in a statement, "The Israel National Counter-Terrorism Unit, the ISA and the IDF – our forces have proven today, once again, that there is no immunity for terrorists. Whoever harms us – will be harmed."
Defense Minister Benny Gantz likewise praised the forces, noting that he had recently ordered "preventive" actions be stepped up against shooting attacks and troop presence in central arteries and areas of Judea and Samaria.
"We'll continue with proactive operations, prevent [terror attacks] and capture anyone who tries to hurt people," Gantz said.
Border Guard Police Chief Amir Cohen praised the soldiers directly in a conversation with the head of the Yamam force, saying, "You again proved that Israeli citizens have someone to rely on.
"You acted courageously and caused the thwarting of a dangerous terror cell that intended to continue carrying out terror activities," he said, according to a statement by Israel Police.
It might sound like the stuff of fairy tales — or fish tales, rather — but Israeli researchers have been able to train a goldfish to steer a vehicle.
Scientists at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheba say they have trained a goldfish to operate a "Fish Operated Vehicle" (FOV). More specifically, they have taught the goldfish how to direct this vehicle in the direction that it wants to swim.
The researchers wanted to test whether an animal has innate navigational abilities or if an animal is restricted to its home environments, according to a statement from BGU. They designed a set of wheels under a goldfish tank with a camera system to record and translate the fish's movements in different directions to the wheels.
Six goldfish were taught to navigate the vehicle, earning a reward when each one found its way around a small room. According to the study, the reward was a small food pellet, identical to fish food.
The study was conducted by Shachar Givon, a PhD student in the Life Sciences Department in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Matan Samina, an MSc student in the Biomedical Engineering Department in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences, Prof. Ohad Ben Shahar of the Computer Sciences Department and head of the School of Brain Sciences and Cognition, and Prof. Ronen Segev of the Life Sciences & Biomedical Engineering Departments.
It was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Behavioural Brain Research.
According to the study, the results showed that the fish "were able to operate the vehicle, explore the new environment, and reach the target, regardless of the starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies," Givon said.
How to teach a fish to drive The researchers trained a fish to steer a FOV, which was made up of a chassis that housed a platform with a water tank on it. Underneath the platform, four engines connected to four omni wheels were mounted on four sides of the metal skeleton. A Perspex water tank was placed on that platform so that the water reached 15cm. The water level was relatively low to reduce surface waves while the FOV was moving.
They tested whether the fish was really navigating, by placing a visible target on the wall opposite the tank. After a few days of training, the fish was required to navigate to the target. The computer system followed the fish's movement towards the walls of the tank, which moved the vehicle in that direction.
The researchers challenged the fish with several control sessions where they manipulated the environmental settings to explore different skills or strategies, in order to further explore fish navigational skills.
Many of the fish went from needing 30 minutes to find the target, to finding it in under a minute.
They found that "a goldfish's navigational ability supersedes its water environs," according to BGU. The fish were not only able to navigate to the target but could even continue doing so when interrupted in the middle (by hitting a wall, for example). They were not fooled by false targets placed by the researchers.
The study also "hints that navigational ability is universal rather than specific to the environment," Givon explained, "Second, it shows that goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a complex task in an environment completely unlike the one they evolved in. As anyone who has tried to learn how to ride a bike or to drive a car knows, it is challenging at first."
The fish "were able to operate the vehicle, explore the new environment, and reach the target regardless of the starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies," the researchers said in the study, "These results demonstrate how a fish was able to transfer its space representation and navigation skills to a wholly different terrestrial environment."
"Navigation is a critical ability for animal survival and is important for food foraging, finding shelter, seeking mates and a variety of other behaviors. Given their fundamental role and universal function in the animal kingdom, it makes sense to explore whether space representation and navigation mechanisms are dependent on the species, ecological system, brain structures, or whether they share general and universal properties," the researcher said.
The study suggests that fish can learn and adapt to the speeds of other animals and that the way they get around is not specifically related to their species, but something more universal related to others. but something more universal related to others.
Other studies While the BGU researchers aimed to find new insights on navigation mechanisms as they relate to animals, this isn't the first time a goldfish drove around a tank. In 2014, a design lab from the Netherlands developed a similar contraption that allowed a goldfish to drive itself around a room. Dutch design collective Studio Diip added wheels and sensors to a fish tank so the fish would drive it y swimming in a certain direction.
The team used an object algorithm to track the position of the fish and to move the cart. They watched the fish move the apparatus using a webcam positioned above the tank.
Caption: A goldfish in water. Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay
Unique Sites of Israel: Hebron: Cave of the Patriarchs (Ma'arat HaMachpelah)
"And Ephron's Field….And the cave within and all the trees in the field…was confirmed as Abraham's as a purchase in the view of the Children of Heth…Afterwards Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah…which is in Hebron, in the Law of Canaan (Genesis 23: 17-19)"
An entire chapter in the Bible is dedicated to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, showing the site's importance in scripture. Today we will visit this holy site, which unfortunately is not on many tour itineraries, but should be!
Abraham was told by G-d to go to Jerusalem and sacrifice his son Isaac. Just as he was about to offer up his beloved son, an angel of G-d stopped him, revealing it to be only a test for Abraham. On his return trip to his home in Beer Sheva (going south on today's route 60), he passed through the city of Hebron and heard that his beloved wife Sarah has passed away. Heartbroken, he wanted to bury Sarah in the best plot of land, the Cave of the Patriarchs, owned by Ephron. Abraham asked the local Canaanites who revered him, to intercede on his behalf with Ephron to sell his field and cave. Ephron agreed, but at the outrageous price of 400 shekels in the currency "Most accepted by Merchants". Despite its high price, Abraham accepted and paid him.
Why was Abraham so insistent that she be buried in this cave?
According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was once herding his cattle when one of his oxen went into the cave. Abraham went to catch him and immediately smelled the aroma of the Garden of Eden. He also discovered that this was also the burial spot of Adam and Eve, and knew that this is where he wanted his family to be ultimately buried.
Another question arises: Why did Abraham have to buy property which already belonged to him because G-d had promised Abraham that he and his descendants would inherit Israel as an eternal possession? Jewish sources reveal three places in Israel where their leaders bought their own "inherited" land, so no one should later claim that they were stolen (as many in the UN and Islamic world claim today):
The Temple Mount (located at Mount Moriah) bought by King David (2nd Samuel: 24: 18-25)
2. Joseph's Tomb which was bought by Jacob in Shechem (Genesis 33: 18-19)
3. The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron
Abraham, Isaac, Rivkah (Rebecca), Jacob and Leah are all buried here.
This grand building you see today was built on top of the cave by the infamous King Herod more than 2000 years ago.
Indeed, as you enter the building, you are walking on flooring more than 2 millennia old!
The cave itself, which is under the building, has been inaccessible for the last 700 years, when a fanatical Islamic empire called the Mamelukes took control and sealed the cave to all. They banned Jews, Christians and all non-Muslims from even entering the building.
In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel liberated Hebron. Chief Rabbi Goren of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) was so excited for the return of Jewish sovereignty for the first time since the 2nd Temple Era, that he drove himself to the Cave building and reached Hebron several hours before the IDF entered, and hoisted the Israeli flag atop the building.
Immediately, non-Muslims were permitted by Israel to enter the building for the first time in centuries. In a failed, unreciprocated gesture of peace, Israel allowed the Palestinians to take control of the majority of the building in the late 1990's (See yellow area on the below map where non-Muslims are banned from entering), with Israel retaining a smaller section that allowed Jews, Christians and people of faith from all over the world to experience its majesty (see blue on the below map).
On your next trip to Israel, I highly recommend you put a visit to Hebron into your itinerary! To take a one of a kind virtual tour of Hebron right now, click here.
Queen of Hebrew Music Shoshana Damari Gave Up on Family Life, but She Had No Other Choice
Damari, whose Yemenite roots were part of her appeal, touched the American dream, but preferred the Israeli one. Two men who spent four years making the documentary film 'Queen Shoshana' discuss what they did– and didn't – include
May, 1948: Zionist organizations were working feverishly to help tens of thousands of Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel who have been detained in camps in Cyprus, due to a Britain's longstanding policy of barring Jewish immigration. The immigrants, many from Poland and Romania, were living under difficult conditions in the camps and frequently suffered from hunger.
Delegations of Hebrew teachers were organized by the kibbutz movement and sent to the camps. A special committee for the Cyprus detainees collected clothes and shoes. The Joint Distribution Committee was tasked with handling culture and, in that capacity, they brought Shoshana Damari to Cyprus. She was only 25 years old, but the singer was already quite well-known.
"The sounds of 'Ani Mitsfat' and 'Kalaniot' can be heard everywhere, in every camp," the Israeli newspaper Davar wrote on May 28, 1948, referring to two of Damari's most popular songs. The would-be immigrants "kept the concert programs that we sent – 10,000 of them – and are memorizing the songs."
Alongside Hebrew-language hits that Damari sang, with music by Moshe Wilensky, she surprised the detainees by singing the traditional Yiddish folk song "Raisins and Almonds." According to reports in the Hebrew press, the song was the highpoint of the show, and left the audience in tears. Damari, too, got choked up at times and had to pause her singing.
The above anecdote is featured in "Queen Shoshana," a documentary film now being broadcast in two parts on Hot 8, and emphasizes the notion that Damari's personal story is intertwined with the history of Zionism. But in addition to her status as the queen of Hebrew music, the documentary sheds light on less known aspects of her life – for instance, her career on the international stage, filling concert halls like Carnegie Hall and Radio City in New York, and her friendships with artists such as Nina Simone and Nat King Cole.
Damari is portrayed as a feminist and the film highlights her choice to focus on her career over her marriage and raising her daughter. Rare, fascinating and sometimes invasive archival footage shows the pain of her husband, Shlomo Bosmi, who served as Damari's impresario when she was first starting out. But after her career took off, he became the man who waited for her in Israel and raised their daughter.
Kobi Farag and Morris Ben-Mayor worked on the film together with Shauly Melamed for almost four years. They dug through Damari's personal estate and other archives. Her royal crown and glamorous dresses are still there, but her halo has faded a bit with the passage of time.
Damari worked on behalf of the Zionist enterprise in the years preceding and following the establishment of the State of Israel. At the time, a culture of modesty reigned. The pomp and glitter of her performances defied that culture. I asked Farag and Ben-Mayor to what extent did Damari view herself as exceptional, both in terms of her performance style and her talent.
"Shoshana indeed had some Hollywood traits," Ben-Mayor replied. "To me, she's kind of like Norma Desmond, the heroine of 'Sunset Boulevard.' And by 'Hollywood,' I also mean a kind of Hollywood darkness."
"I believe that when she started out, she didn't see herself as exceptional, because there were other singers of a similar type then, like Esther Gamlielit and Bracha Zefira. But later, by the time she was performing overseas, I assume she had already recognized her talent and that she was an exotic, exceptional figure."
Farag added, "It's also connected to how much your environment makes you feel special. Saadia, her brother, brought her into the Shulamit troupe, and Shlomo, her husband, recognized her talent and may also have helped her navigate her dream."
"When she moved to the group Li La Lo, she was already exceptional amid that theatrical troupe. So even before she believed in herself, her early environment pushed her and polished her talent, and she began to believe that she was something special."
Problems with Wilensky
One of the challenges Farag and Ben-Mayor had to cope with was the oral legend surrounding Damari's relationships: She was rumored to be a woman who loved many men and had many affairs. The film hints at it, including clear hints that she had had a relationship with the composer Moshe Wilensky, who wrote the music for many of her songs, though it never says so explicitly.
"As one of the interviewees says in the film, we're all sexual creatures, we're all human beings," Ben-Mayor said. "And I would add, what's wrong with that? I don't think we should label Shoshana as a man-eater to diminish her and her talent."
"If you make a documentary film about a man who slept with 100 women," Farag added, "he comes off as a macho man and it remains a film about, say, Serge Gainsbourg the artist. But if you make a film about a woman with urges, its true importance immediately gets distorted."
"Our film doesn't ignore it, but tries to keep it in proportion," he continued. "Not everything people said about her is true, and we weren't necessarily interested in investigating it all."
Damari's encounter with Wilensky seems like a meeting between an artist and her muse. On the other hand, it's clear that he got tired of her, and after their creative ties ended, said harsh things about her. To what extent did she behave like a diva?
"When we began working on the film and mentioned it to friends and others, everyone asked whether we'd talk about her affairs, her rivalries, her feelings of superiority," Ben-Mayor said. "And our answer was always that we're actually seeking to show her complexity. Of course we heard all the gossip and every possible story."
Farag added, "First and foremost, this was a professional relationship that led to Shoshana being what she was. But it also led to Wilensky being who he was. In a relationship, any relationship, there are cloudy days and sunny ones. They had disagreements, but there was also love and respect for what they had created together until their dying day."
The film features nice archival footage about her encounters with artists like Nina Simone and Nat King Cole, truly the greats of the era. On American radio, they said she looked like Ava Gardner. But she never reached the top ranks. Did she miss out on the American dream?
"Perhaps, but as she says in the film, 'I could have become an American singer with cleavage, but should I have abandoned my own lane? A lane I fought for all my life and for which I sacrificed my family and everything else?' In the end, that was her choice, like all the other difficult choices she made," Ben-Mayor said.
"Let's not forget that in the United States, she was marketed as an Israeli national singer, as an exotic voice from a far-off land," he continued. "I don't see how it would have been possible to turn her into an American star."
"She tasted quite a bit of the American dream," Farag added, "but she apparently felt that she was very much from here and that they needed her here. This was a time when the state wasn't taken for granted, and she was part of the story of the state in the making. She had a role to play. In 1948, she went to the United States for the first time and performed at fund-raising galas for the state. And she raised quite a bit of money. She didn't feel American. She felt like a woman of the world, but also like an inseparable part of something that was happening here."
Damari says she wouldn't have given up her career to nurture her family and be a mother, which was a rare statement for the time. What kind of emotional price did she pay for that?
We know that during the final years of her life, she spoke with her daughter, Navah, every day by phone," Ben-Mayor said. "Sometimes these were loving conversations and sometimes they were painful, loaded ones."
"I assume Shoshana searched her soul throughout her life and not just at the end. On the other hand, I don't think she could have chosen otherwise. For her, the stage was the most important thing of all."
"When you have a talent like that," Farag added, "the world grabs hold of you. She apparently expected that those around her would understand her. Even her husband understood that there was something bigger than him there, that he couldn't keep her close, he had to let her fly."
The film is based on Damari's enormous estate, among other things, but she remains a fairly private individual through it all. For instance, we get no inkling about her political views or how involved she was in writing the songs she sang. Did you leave out large parts of her life on purpose?
"Shoshana is no longer with us. So many questions were left on the cutting room floor, because only she has the answers," Ben-Mayor said. "Ultimately, this is a film, not life itself. We work with the information we manage to get and can't answer questions we don't have the answers to. When we opened the container where her estate is stored, we felt lucky as documentary filmmakers. On the other hand, there was a feeling of discomfort, because we were invading the privacy of someone who has passed on. So we also realized that we had to draw a line that we wouldn't cross."
The film doesn't say a word about Yaffa Yarkoni, her rival. Why not?
"The ostensible rivalry between Shoshana and Yaffa was dreamed up by the media and the gossip rags," Ben-Mayor said. "In real life, they felt great affection for one another and admired each other. In one clip that didn't make it into the film, from Damari's funeral at the Cameri Theater, there was a touching moment when Yaffa, already very old, laid a wreath of poppies on her coffin and cried." The gesture was a nod to Damari's song "Kalaniot," which means "poppies" in English.
"Part of what was very amusing about Shoshana was her regal arrogance, which was permeated with a lot of humor and self-awareness," Farag added. "She wasn't really threatened by Yaffa, but she sometimes liked to amuse herself with this rivalry. In their later years, they mainly enjoyed working together and laughing about it. Sometimes they did joint interviews. But the relationship wasn't really significant for Shoshana."
Idan Raichel is sorry
Damari won the Israel Prize and a long list of other prestigious awards, but as is evident in the film, her story had an unhappy ending. She was largely alone and forgotten, until she had a comeback, to some extent thanks to Israeli musician Idan Raichel. I asked the filmmakers whether they view her as a tragic figure.
"I think she liked being alone," Ben-Mayor replied. "She chose solitude, with all its difficulties. There were many people around her, including dear friends, but my feeling is that she preferred her own company."
Did she suffer from racism because of her origins?
"We have to tell the truth; Shoshana didn't suffer much from racism," Farag said. "She came here during the early wave of Yemenite immigration, in the 1920s, straight to Rishon Letzion rather than to a transit camp like the later immigrants. Of course she lived in poverty, like everyone did at that time, but she wasn't discriminated against."
"Indeed, the opposite was true. People at that time saw Yemenite culture as reflecting the power of diversity and the ingathering of the exiles," he added. "Her relationship with Wilensky created something local and Israeli that could only have happened in this land."
To what extent will her music stand the test of time? Contemporary music seems to have drifted very far from what she represented.
"At one of the last memorials for her," Farag said, "Idan Raichel got up to speak and told Shoshana, at her grave, that he was sorry to say, but nobody in the younger generation listens to her songs any more, and that not all songs remain the way we hoped they would after we die. There were tears in his eyes when he added that if any young singer today makes it in Israel, it's largely thanks to her and the path she paved, even if they don't know it."
Your films about Yossi Banai and Shoshana Damari, as well as "Photo Farag," are largely based on archival material. This week, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation's governing council announced that it was raising the price on the use of the corporation's archival material. Does this worry you?
"Israel's history was largely documented by the only station we had here," Farag answered. "Our parents paid the television and radio license fees for years, as we did, which makes us shareholders in the material. All Israelis are. The recently announced move to raise the corporation's archives fee to 3,000 shekel ($950) for the use of a single minute of archive footage destroys any possibility of people like us producing films that weren't made for the corporation."
"In other words, any film that uses archival material and isn't funded by the corporation will have zero financial feasibility," he added. "It seems like someone is trying to wipe out competition and preserve exclusivity. In our view, it's a monopolistic move. The broadcasting corporation has millions that belong to the public, and it ought to find a way, and a price, that won't undermine Israeli productions."
Farag added that their films could not have been made under the new rules. "We're launching a battle and taking this opportunity to call on the communications minister and the culture minister to intervene, and, of course, on all creative artists to join us."