Wishing all our readers a very Happy New Year with every Blessing, Joy and Happiness. L'Shanah Tova!
Much has happened in the past year and we apologise for the rather lengthy absence from this blog. One of the highlights this year has been a visit to Israel in June to celebrate Gay Pride with around 200,000 participants. It was an awesome experience.
The last time I visited Israel was in 2007, so it has been quite a while. It was also Raphael's first trip to Israel, so he was naturally very excited. As the plane touched down at David Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, we all erupted in spontaneous applause. The view as you fly into Tel Aviv at night is spectacular as the plane flies across the dark Mediterranean and then suddenly, as soon you hit landfall, you are greeted by a city aglow with light. It's beautiful.
We were greeted every day by a blue sky and warm sunshine. And we met so many wonderful people during our stay there. We could not resist visiting the famous gay beach at Hilton Hotel which was packed with the most adorable men in their sexy swim wear.
The Pride March itself was on Friday and the guest of honour was Conchita Wurst from Austria, winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Both of us are Eurovision affectionados and there is a gay club called Evita which has special Eurovision evenings. We visited the club on our last night in Tel Aviv and since our flight was at 5am, we decided that there was no point in going to sleep and so we danced the night away at Evita. There was a good mix of European and Israeli entries and when they played Ofra Haza's "Am Yisrael Chai" the club erupted with an energy that was palpable. It was one of the highlights of our trip.
Of course a visit to Israel would not be complete without visiting Yerushalayim. We took the bus from the main bus station in Tel Aviv (it takes about an hour and only costs a few Shekels). I was struck by the quality of the WiFi on the bus - better than in many hotels. We shlepped all across this amazing city in the searing heat but never grew tired of the beautiful architecture and historic significance of this great city. A visit to Mea Shearim is de rigeur and its a bit like stepping into Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. One could imagine being in 17th century Poland, were it not for the fact that smart phones are visible everywhere. We rounded off the day with a Gin and Tonic in the famous King David Hotel and then had a meal in a Kosher French restaurant which accommodated to an eclectic mix of Israelis - secular as well as Charedi.
By the time we got back to Tel Aviv around midnight on the last bus from Jerusalem, we were totally exhausted and we had so much information to process that it took us a while to get to sleep.
So if you have never been to Israel, visiting Tel Aviv during Pride is the most wonderful experience. We flew Ukrainian Airlines, which was much cheaper than British Airways or El Al (though you have to stop in Kiev and change planes). The service was excellent and the (male) cabin staff adorable. We even got an upgrade to Business Class on our flight back to Kiev.
Well, the High Holy Days are almost upon us and we would like to wish you a very sweet and happy L'Shanah Tovah. And Gmar Chatimah Tovah (may you be inscribed in the book of life).
After the High Holy Days I am planning a Book Review on Derek Flood's groundbreaking book "Disarming Scripture". Derek has written a blockbuster in my opinion and he tackles head on the violent scriptures that we would all rather ignore. Derek's blog The Rebel God can be accessed at www.therebelgod.com.
Shalom and Kol Tuv to you all.