NORTH Women and men of all ages took part in the annual Cross-Kinneret Swim last weekend, the 60th time this event has taken place. This year, the president of the Carmel Academic Center, 72-yearold Prof. Nahum Biger, participated, as did the dean of students and senior law school lecturer Dr. Orna Aligon.Last year’s swim boasted some 12,000 participants. Contrary to the past two years, when the popular event was nicknamed the “Kinneret March” due to the shallow water, this year the lake was much more full and some 500 meters longer, stretching from Kibbutz Ha’on Beach to the Tzemah Beach.Alongside Biger swam his brother Dr. Yoram Biger, 61, a senior optician at Maccabi health services; his nephews Ido, 34, and Noam, 51; and Noam’s daughter Roni, among other family members. Nahum Biger said the family tradition of participating in the swim was in memory of his mother, who had crossed the Kinneret 23 times before the age of 70. She died four years ago at 95.In 1957, Nahum Biger took part in the first Kinneret swim with three of his friends.Students tour Golan Heights battle sites This week, for the ninth consecutive year, some 40,000 youth from all over the country participated in a journey to mark the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The 10-day “In the Footsteps of Fighters” project on the Golan Heights, which began Sunday and runs through Wednesday, is a flagship armypreparation project of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau. Designed for 12thgraders, it aims to foster love of the land and a meaningful service period in the IDF. During the program, the teenagers visit battle sites and learn about the range of options for serving in the army.Students from 450 different schools are taking part in this year’s project through various educational frameworks. In addition to visiting battle sites in the North, the students will learn about the heroic deeds of IDF troops and listen to lectures from combat soldiers.“There is no doubt that the project is one that encourages the most significant enlistment,” said Diplomatic-Security Bureau head Amikam Svirsky.CENTER Israel’s first vegan festival draws over 10,000 visitors Over 10,000 people turned out last week for the country’s first vegan festival, according to the NGO Vegan Friendly, which organized the event.The aim of the party, which took place in Yakum, was to promote a healthy lifestyle and animal rights. Moderating the event was radio broadcaster Shai Goldstein.Vegan Friendly states that it strives to make a vegan lifestyle more affordable and accessible in Israel by offering vegan-friendly menus alongside regular menus at restaurants, marking vegan shelf products, and initiating social projects such as the vegan barbecue on Independence Day and cheese-free Shavuot celebrations – events that the organization says have been successful and well-received by the public. Festival-goers perused dozens of food stalls, including Felafel Beribua, Cafe Luisa and Buddha Burger. Other stalls sold jewelry, natural cosmetics, health food and vegan pet food. Standup comedian Amiram Tovim performed at the event, along with singer Michael Grailsammer and several cover bands. There were many children among the festival’s visitors, and for them there was a show by children’s star Gili Comes to Visit, as well as circus performers and a puppet show.There was also a drumming workshop, creative workshops, sports activities and clowns.Vegan Friendly founder Omri Paz said, “Even we, who believe in this important and influential event with all our hearts, did not expect this number of people. This event is the fruit of collaboration between good people who care and want to give to the revolution in their free time.The outcome was amazing. We apologize to those who wanted to come but couldn’t due to the large number of people. Of course, we can always learn, grow and improve for our next festival.”All proceeds from the event will go toward activities promoting animal rights and veganism as a way of life.TA museum hosts Psalms art exhibit, book launch An art exhibition is opening at the Rubin Museum in Tel Aviv, accompanied by the launch of the book David’s Psalms, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and the Gefen Jerusalem Publishing House announced this week.The exhibition includes 40 paintings inspired by selected verses from Psalms, by painter and theater designer David Sharir. David’s Psalms, which showcases Sharir’s paintings, is one of two books that Schechter and Gefen have co-published as part of a “Psalms project.” The second book is A New Psalm by Rabbi Benjamin Segal, which provides English commentary alongside each of the 150 Psalms. Dr. Shula Lederman, a senior lecturer of Jewish art at the Schechter Institute and Bar-Ilan University, wrote the book’s introduction.Sharir, who held his first exhibition at the age of 19 in Tel Aviv, has presented his work at exhibitions in museums and galleries across Israel, Europe and the US.“I started painting the verses that spoke to me,” he said of this latest exhibit. “One verse led to another, which opened another window into a visual world and slowly created a series of 40 pictures. I refrained from reading interpretations.I did not want to deal with associations and the vision of other commentators, but rather, to choose verses and give them my personal visual interpretation. In certain cases I trimmed or cut verses to get a more coherent picture that both upholds the integrity of the text and the visual composition.”By way of example, he pointed to Psalms 8:4-6: “What is man that you are mindful of him.... You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.”According to Sharir, “this verse actually says that God entrusts all of creation to man; He tells him, you are close to God. Believing that this person fulfills their God in creation.” He noted that his interpretation included a comparison between the status of women and men: “Wherever a man is mentioned and the poet refers to a male only, I, as a modern man, could not get the idea that the act of creation was meant only for man, and I painted both man and woman together.”SOUTH Int’l science conference takes place in Eilat Eilat’s Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences held an international science conference this week. A joint initiative of scientists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, the conference focused on understanding the relationships between living organisms and physical processes that determine their living environment.Participants included 55 scientists and students from all the universities in the country and from leading research institutions around the world. The conference aimed to establish closer cooperation between Israeli scholars and researchers from abroad, and to create a local community focused on the relationship between physical and biological processes.One of the conference organizers, Dr. Roy Holtzman from TAU’s Department of Zoology, who is also a resident scientist at the Inter- University Institute, explained that in recent years, cooperation among engineers, physicists, mathematicians and biologists has been accelerated in an effort to help them solve major questions in biology.For example, he said, almost all kinds of reef fish release eggs or small fish into the water, which drift out into the heart of the sea and spend the first few weeks of life there. The chances of them returning to the reef depends on their responses to the currents, which may take them further away from the reef. Some of the challenges sea researchers face, he said, include mapping the directional flow, understanding the behavior of the small fish, and understanding where the reef fish come from.“[We in Eilat] understand perfectly the clear importance of such research – if the origin of adult fish in Eilat is Egypt or Jordan, where the nature conservation (or lack of...) will impact heavily on Eilat’s wealth of reef fish,” he stressed.