Winter of Birds festival opens in the Galilee

Seagulls (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Tens of thousands of people from all over the country are set to participate in the fifth annual Winter of Birds festival. It is scheduled to open next Friday and will continue until December 24.
Every year the event draws many visitors, such as nature lovers, bird-watchers, artists and photographers.
Various events will be held to acknowledge the birds that migrate during the winter. Among these are a photography and painting exhibition; nature activities; sailing trips following the birds in Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee); and professional tours. The festival is the initiative of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, in collaboration with the Tourism Ministry, the North Tourism Center, Keren Kayemet Le’Israel- Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Nature and Parks Authority.
The festival aims to expose the public to the Galilee’s beautiful landscapes and the rich variety of birds that pass through, some of which nest there.
Experts expect a particularly large number of migratory birds in the Galilee from a variety of species.
Among these are thousands of gray cranes, hundreds of thousands of water birds such as herons and ducks, as well as thousands of cormorants, tens of thousands of birds of prey and black kites, and hundreds of thousands of songbirds.
Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom describes the festival as one of the most spectacular festivals held in Israel. “It provides a rare opportunity to experience Israeli nature at its height,” he says.
Southern residents attend security dialogue with IDF officials
Dozens of residents of the South and the center of the country, alongside senior military officials, attended a dialogue circle in Tel Aviv last weekend concerning the implications of the summer’s conflict with Gaza and the uncertain future of the country in the absence of a diplomatic process. The event was held at the Suzanne Dellal Center, run by the Council for Peace and Security and the Movement for the Future of the Western Negev.
Speaking at the event, Lt.-Col. Aviv Feigel, CEO of the Council for Peace and Security, said, “The possibility of renewed gunfire from Gaza is, unfortunately, yet another expression of a lack of clear and consistent strategy that aims to achieve the Israeli government’s political goals, maintaining the ‘conflict management’ approach in place of a sincere effort to reach a solution.”
As part of the dialogue, residents of the South shared their testimonies and personal experiences of Operation Protective Edge and its predecessors, and the consequences they have today.
Jerusalem cantor graces Tel Aviv’s Shabbat of Song
Renowned cantor Chaim Adler left his usual post at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem last weekend to join the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv for a special Shabbat of Song. Adler and his choir led the Shabbat services and dined at the synagogue along with 150 guests from the area.
The Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv is undergoing a revival in an attempt to restore it to the glory of its heyday decades ago. For the first time in more than 20 years, the synagogue now has a regular minyan on Friday nights and Shabbat mornings. The revival is being pioneered by newly appointed president Shlomo Pivko. Weekly events, including Friday night dinners, free seudot shlishiot (third meals) and champagne kiddushim that are open to the community and arranged by volunteers such as Saul Sadka, Deborah Danan and Chavi Bar-Ze’ev, whose husband Itzhik also serves as interim rabbi.
During last Friday night’s meal, Adler and his choir led the guests in song and dance, singing songs composed by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, whose yahrzeit was marked last week.
Stun grenade thrown at restaurant in Azor
A motorcyclist threw a grenade at the Ezra and His Sons restaurant in Azor, near Holon, on Sunday night.
Paramedics administered first aid to one person who was lightly wounded and took him to a hospital. Police were investigating the circumstances of the incident.
Women’s movement to embark on Peace Train to Sderot
Hundreds of women from around the country are set to take a train to Sderot on Tuesday to the 2014 Sderot Conference for Society and Friendship in a call to citizens, politicians and policymakers to take forceful action to achieve a diplomatic agreement.
The Peace Train is an initiative of the Women Wage Peace movement, a new organization founded on the heels of Operation Protective Edge. The organization in made up of women from all sectors – Jewish, Arab, secular, religious – from all over the country who seek to impel the government to restart the peace process.
The group stated that in light of recent incidents around the country and the loss of a sense of security, there is a growing need for a unifying activity that reflects the will of the state’s citizens to live here safely. Women Wage Peace is a non-partisan, broad and growing movement that involves thousands of influential women in the public and political spheres.
The movement called on both men and women to join them in their journey to the conference. Women Wage Peace will hold a panel discussion at the conference dealing with the role of women in conflict resolution and in leading a civil peace movement in Israel. The group noted that in the last 15 years, a common feature of conflict resolution around the world was that women were involved in the process. They stated that in Israel military response decisions are made only by military and political leaders and that there is no social civil dialogue that takes into account the needs of the public and offers an alternative. The panel will examine how women can lead the civil peace process in an attempt to break what it describes as outdated divisions of Left and Right and in an effort to bring out the voice of Israeli society and its diverse needs and ambitions. Speakers on the panel are women who are leading the movement and who represent a variety of communities in Israeli society.
BGU takes helm in Israel’s contribution to UNESCO’s International Year of Light
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced last week that it will take the lead in organizing events in Israel to mark UNESCO’s International Year of Light next year. The initiative, which aims to recognize the importance of light-based technologies, will be marked by a variety of events for the public and academic researchers.
BGU explained that it is the only Israeli university with an Electro- Optics Engineering Unit and that it recently won the tender for the NIS 175 million National Photonics and Electro-Optics Research Center with the Soreq Nuclear Research Center – NRC that will serve as a branch of BGU. The research center and the Year of Light initiative are led by Prof. Gaby Sarusi from the Electro-Optics Engineering Unit.
“We were delighted to hear that two Nobel Prizes were awarded in 2014 for two important works in light, optics and photonics. The first, in physics, was awarded to three Japanese scientists for their discovery of the efficient blue light emitting diode (LED). The second, in chemistry, was awarded to Stefan Hell and his team for the invention of the superresolution fluorescence microscope, which enables the imaging of single molecules with light. This once again reinforces the importance of light, optics and photonics to humanity.
Israel was one of the sponsors of the resolution in the UN General Assembly in 2012,” said Prof. Ibrahim Abdulhalim, the head of the Electro-Optic Engineering Unit at BGU.
“BGU is proud to take the lead in the UNESCO Year of Light, reflecting our leadership position in the world of photonics research,” stated BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi.
The UNESCO campaign asserts that “Light is at the origin of all life. It plays a central role in human activities and has revolutionized society through medicine and communications, entertainment and culture. Light-based technology is a major economic driver with potential to revolutionize the 21st century [as electronics did in the 20th century]; the industry creates jobs and provides solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.
”Light is also important to our appreciation of art, and optical technologies are essential in understanding and preserving cultural heritage. As light becomes a key cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century, it is essential that its importance is fully appreciated,” the campaign continues. “It is equally vital that the brightest young minds from all areas of the world continue to be attracted to careers in this field.”