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“के गर्ने ?” Contemporary Times in Nepal: People, Cultures and Architectures

Nepal is a fast changing nation. ‘ke Garne?” – the traditional idiom of acquiescence ‘What to do?’ is becoming a request for action. What was un-dreamable only a few decades ago has become an everyday reality for the Nepalese. This paper traces the changes of Nepal through the writer’s first- hand experience in the country for over 30 years, tells about the nature of people and opportunities today ,and describes current ideas and projects which are now being developed with partners in Nepal.

I was left alone, imprisoned by circumstances on the deck of the rusty old boat between India and Sri-Lanka. It was a magical night on an ocean dotted with reflections of stars on the silvery black ripples. The police officers slammed the gates of the country shut without letting me in. I did not have the visa I needed in my Israeli passport, and could not return to India with my expired single entry: “…do not be upset”, the border police officers said politely, comforting that “it is not personal, it is between our countries” when they saw me worried.

But personal it was when I reached Nepal, rushing with an emergency three days’ visa through India after non-stop day and night travel on the hard wooden benches of the second class trains, in the stale air of cheap oily ‘fooding’ and sweet tea, crammed with millions around me, who insisted to hear about my distant world – about the name of my father, my mother, my husband, brothers and uncles, how old they all are, what do they do for living, how much they earn, what do they eat during the day, how many children they have, and many such details about the rest of the world – perhaps disappointed that it is not so different from theirs. I was sitting on the benches just waiting for those extremely long three days to end. An orange sunset welcomed me in as I crossed the northern border with my old back pack, when a petit man in khaki and red uniform smiled at me at the border station. I was distressed with “…what is wrong now? how many rupees will he demand for ‘bakshish’ ? what will he want now? …”. I was almost paralyzed with worries as he nodded his head left to right and went on with his job till I heard the thump of the seal stamping the visa onto my passport and handed back to me with the same bright eyes and big smile wishing me a good time in Nepal. Only then it hit me that perhaps he is nice to me because he is nice. This smile dissolved my worries and my heart could open again to see and explore the country I entered for the first time. It was a special entry – with long shadows and misty blue hills under the orange skies accentuated by the bright eyed smiles of the curious officer who watched me closely. I had just entered Nepal and could not know that this was the beginning of a life-long trip and the foundation for my very long relationship with the country for the decades to come.

I have mostly learnt from Nepal It opened my mind to see the beauty of humanity – that differences are the wealth of cultures, and that they dissolve when humaneness comes to the fore. I learnt how cultural constructs are so embedded in the environment, and how they evolve through time and social locality, and how humanity can transcend constraints through community wisdom and shared efforts. I was amazed to see how possible is the impossible, and the incomprehensible makes so much sense: I saw the most delightful war.

It was a real war between east and central Nepal that I witnessed in a remote village in north Nepal – a place which, at that distant past some 30 years ago, was linked to the worlds outside the hidden valley by a single narrow, recently opened path that crossed ridges and high mountains. There were no roads, no cars, no telephones, no electricity and no running water – it was still a world enclosed with snow-capped high mountain walls in black granite, in almost complete isolation. I had just come there with a group of porters from Eastern Nepal who brought my equipment for my ‘fieldwork research’ I set out to do for the PhD I had just begun. We all sat around the fire after the dinner we shared with the villagers.

As we finished the salty tea and went on to the Raksi (local hard alcohol) the hosts and visitors discussed and compared their worlds, weaving some songs into the lively conversation. It was fun till a point when suddenly their voices grew louder with a hidden animosity that sparked fire into the gentle debate. The two groups of men grew apart, and the discussion heated: whose rice is better – theirs, of the lower lands in East Nepal, or the rice of the high lands in Central Nepal?. Between argument and competition – it was a fight about the grain of rice, the size, ease of harvesting, husking, threshing and winnowing, and surely, cooking it, the taste of food and, of course, of the women who cooked it. Then it evolved into almost war about farming, traditional rituals and songs, and songs in general. Then, as the Raksi was settling in, the competition grew fierce, and dances were added to prove the point. The thumps shook the floor and the sounds became louder till late, until the fire turned into embers, the Raksi emptied out and the energies drained, till one after the other the men went, or dropped into the corners of the room, muttering some words of praise or of anger and vanished into deep sleep. When the sun rose as early as it always does the next morning, people parted with assured smiles – the villagers went to work in the fields, the visitors went back home in the east, all feeling that they won that war – everyone was reassured that his rice is better, his songs and dances are better, his language is richer and his home is the best.

Today’s Nepal is very different

It is a republic of fast changes, accelerating urbanization, where openness and education have transformed it to a land of possibilities. Nepal today is un-comparable to its past of discrete communities, each with their own language, economy and lifestyle, controlled by a disaggregating regime. Since the demise of the monarchy, the decade of insurgency which followed, and after the tough beginning of the new era where people were fighting on the streets of cities and in mountain villages to define their democracy, today, the recent division into provinces that had fragmented the dysfunctional centralization seem to have found the appropriate scale for the nation, perhaps more familiar to a people with a long history of tiered Panchayat councils. Nepal today is a liberal democratic republic with political stability and cooperating coalition politics.

The people of Nepal today are completely different. Mobile phones are everywhere, even in the most remote villages. Computers are common knowledge even where they are inaccessible, communication networks, radio, TV and the internet, have brought the world to the remote people of Nepal, and the new roads have shattered the barriers of distance. The cities are bustling with cars and motorbikes as the young entrepreneurs are immersed in the screens of their smart-phones, latest models, setting up a new project or arranging the next deal.

The enormous difference between the young Nepali adults and their parents’ generation cannot be underestimated, particularly in the towns and cities of Nepal which are growing at an overwhelmingly accelerating pace. It is a generation which was born into democracy and struggled for the emerging liberalism, educated people who grew in a Nepal of open borders and fast communication, in the modest homes of the evolving middle classes, where free economy and private enterprise has become the ideal and the challenge. This, together with the creative mindset that was born from the necessities of poverty in Nepal’s ‘previous life’, of traditions, joint-family and close social groups, makes the young adults of Nepal a unique group of able, educated people who are eager to take on the new challenges of the 21st century despite the scarcity of means at hand.

It is this generation that is shifting the meaning of the most common idioms of Ke garne? . ‘What to do?’ epitomized the Hindu-Buddhist traditions in Nepal denoting the historical stance of acquiescence, acceptance and passivity to a certain extent: ‘Sansaar yestai chha’ – life is like this” they say. Today ‘ke garne’ is being asked in an active mode – towards taking steps of action for change, taking on challenges – a dynamic stance of taking action to make a difference.

Nevertheless, while GDP and GNP are growing, and personal income increasing even in the more remote villages – poverty – merely a comparative concept, not a condition to be measured by US$ income per capita – has increased. Communication has brought home absences and created poverty, yet, at the same time it is also shaping the new challenges and drive for change which characterizes the shift of Nepal towards its dynamic life today. Having grown alongside Nepal and followed the way it has evolved, my own relationship with the country has changed. In the past I refused to join foreign investors or aided projects as I cherished the local worlds which were self-sustaining and content, and I felt strongly that ‘development projects’ were patronizing, or judgmental at best, resulting in using up resources where wealth is extracted and the balanced sustainability derailed.

My first accidental visit in the 1980’s, after that night on the old Indian boat on the silver ripples of the Sri Lankan ocean, has been most rewarding for me. Contrary to the well meaning border policemen, my travels to Nepal have become personal affair which has changed my life. I feel privileged to have many friends from all walks of life – people of the aristocracy of Kathmandu and the poorest of the Dalit in far western Nepal; I know state politicians and local leaders, urban professionals, lower-middle class craftspeople, farmers in remote villages and Buddhist priests in isolated monasteries of the high mountains. I have known them for years and we travelled pieces of our lives together. We shared boiled potatoes and ‘lagar’ (mountain buckwheat bread), happiness and troubles, and we brought new insights to each other’s lives -I feel most fortunate for knowing them, and knowing Nepal so intimately through them.

It is for them, and for the fast shift in Nepal today that I have begun to engage in several initiatives in Nepal. This I do with my colleague and friend, Yoram Ilan Lipovsky under the umbrella of IAT – Ilan Advanced Technologies, partnering Nepali and Israeli entrepreneurs of vision and ideas, working together to strengthen weaker links or add a missing link by initiating projects which cater for Nepal’s contemporary needs. The guiding concept is that knowledge is shared, development and adaptation is done together in Nepal, mostly by the Nepali and for themselves, and profits are shared between us as partners, with a certain percent allocated for humanitarian work in Nepal to acknowledge our special relationship with Nepal.

But while most of these projects are based in appropriating advanced technologies to the unique conditions and particular needs in Nepal, the first and most important of these is our initiative is to preserve and promote the diversity of cultures by the creation of The Center for Cultural Excellence of Nepal, which we feel is the most urgent and pressing initiative, as I shall expand below.

Under the pressure of time

Nepal is transforming at an ever growing rate in recent decades – fast urbanization, economic emigration of laborers and professionals, and the growing consumption of cheap products and ready-mades have resulted in the fragmentation of communities and dissolution of traditions. At the same time that new employment opportunities help integrate the more remote villages into the Nepali economy, they detach the locals from the historical seasonal programs which balanced the traditional division of time between agriculture, manufacture and social and religious production. In practice, this means complete transformation of lifestyle, and loss of local knowledge, histories, crafts and languages: the cultural richness and self sufficiency are taken over by monetized economy.

This is neither good nor bad – as a common Nepali proverb explains: ‘Sansaar yestai chha’ (Np.: ‘life is like this’). It is what it is – like the weather, as I learnt from a close Nepali friend long ago, when he asked me, somewhat shyly, to explain a perplexing puzzle he could not resolve about us, ‘bideshi’s (foreigners). He asked why we say ‘good weather’ or ‘bad weather’ – and continued to explain his bewilderment when I raised an eyebrow: ‘after all, weather is weather’….

What has been unique in Nepal until recently is that artistic production, whether painting, sculpture, dance or music, has been inseparable from everyday life of the people, and has found its place in the crafts of pottery, brass casting, stone and woodcarving, architecture and decoration, ritual objects, jewelry, textile etc. as well as folk or religious music, dance and theatre. In contradistinction to the European traditions, where the production of the arts was patronized and produced for consumption by aristocratic courts or the churches, and the artist is a cultural hero, in Nepal it has been produced by the people and belongs to their everyday life. The artist is everyone, artistry is everywhere, and art is there to serve and to be used.

There is more in the loss of diversity. “There are only 56 languages in Nepal” once a German linguist explained to me, and emphasized : “languages, not dialects”. There were more, as I learnt from my Dalit friends in Humla during a three days’ ritual of dispelling a prophesy of misfortune to the life of a young man. There were dances around the fire through those freezing cold nights of November, when the men were singing the whole of the Mahabharatha. It was not Hindi, nor Nepali, nor any local language I ever heard of . They said it is in the original Khas language of west Nepal, that they did not necessarily understand – but they knew the words to sing together. This is still there – but disappearing. Today, the children of my Manangi friends do not speak their mother tongue, and the Nepali of my friends in Kathmandu is better than their English, they say.

The vanishing of this rich cultural diversity and the disappearance of the traditional arts and crafts in Nepal is a great loss – not only for the Nepalese, but for the heritage of the world just as much. It is only obvious that cultural discourse of people, environments and social practices is embedded in their cultural products and enhances their formal and aesthetic value as they reflect the social and historical processes which have produced them. The unique situation of Nepal – it geographical fragmentation, and relative isolation till recent decades, particularly of the more remote districts, have prolonged the historical ways of life and preserved its tangible and intangible cultural products, which have made Nepal particularly unique. In contemporary Nepal, this is now under threat of disappearing, and the sense of urgency is pressing.

Turning a problem into an opportunity has been my mother’s lifelong and indissoluble frame of mind – a holocaust survivor who refused to surrender to trauma or difficulties. It proves relevant here too: at the same time that contemporary life takes the traditions off the main streets of culture, this can now be studied, framed, and put on display to remember, study and promote. Todate, Nepal has had no institutions nor frameworks for doing so. There is a handful of the museums in Kathmandu valley do display some wonderful objects under layers of urban dust. Until recently, such efforts have fossilized everyday culture or architecture which was alive everywhere outside those institutions, and hence the disappointment of the visitors, local and tourists alike. Until recently, it would have been absurd to display the trivia of everyday life on museum pedestals. But now things have changed.

Center for cultural diversity

Turning a problem into an opportunity has given rise to our vision of regeneration. More specifically – the creation of a new home for Nepali cultural life of past and present – a place to preserve, study and debate and create everything, directly or indirectly related – a true center dedicated to the Nepali arts and crafts, to archive and display, a place for study and enjoyment of historical and contemporary paintings and sculptures, photographs and documentary, the artistry of architecture, of brass casting, of blacksmiths’ and silversmiths’ works, jewelry and textile, stone and woodwork, costumes and even cookery. It will become the center for the performing arts – of singing and music, of dance and theater. Education is to have a pivotal importance to the activities of the Center: beside classroom and workshop for children and adults to study and gain first-hand experience in the arts and crafts, it will be a place where local knowledge can be transmitted – alive and real. Furthermore, the historical collections will be but a part of the new digital library, equipped with the most advanced technologies to link it to the world’s best libraries, where access will be free and open to all, giving everyone an opportunity to develop. Such a place will become the new home to celebrate Nepal’s rich diversity and enjoy its differences when bringing in visiting exhibitions, performances and scholars. A place such as we envisage will become a central hub for cultural life in Nepal today – a link between historical traditions and contemporary discourse, which engages Nepali and bideshis alike, a place for cultural preservation and regeneration – a contemporary link between Nepal’s past and its future.

The creation of a national treasury of Nepal’s cultural history is our most important project initiative, where the collection will serve as a national cultural anchor for the country and serve as a reference point of identity to communities and individuals, and preserve peoples’ histories.

Regeneration: urban, cultural and economic vision of an architect

At this historical juncture architecture and urbanism can provide an adequate response and a vision for what is an urgent national necessity. Like temples or churches, the greatest of the world’s museums are important secular shrines to celebrate humanity’s cultural wealth. Such museums are mostly located in city centers and provide a magnet for visitors, locals and tourists alike, and become a magnet for many related social, cultural, commercial and educational activities which give the area around them a special identity in the urban context.

The vision for the new Center for Cultural Excellence of Nepal is free from the history-burdened centers of cultural repositories as in Europe and the US. It will be a new type of multi-functional complex which, in the context of Nepal, it will be a reflection of the country – almost an oxymoron – a place for the arts and crafts of Bahal’s (residential courtyards) and palaces brought together, for creativity of people in villages and cities, a reflection of urban and rural life, where ‘high’ and ‘low’ traditions merge and blend: a place to celebrate differences and enjoy the diversity of Nepal.

Furthermore, in practice, as we see it, regeneration is a process in the ways in which this long term project is developed – a process of partnering, sharing knowledge, learning, training and working together on the conservation and adaptation of historical architecture and new technologies, to create a facility that can make the knowledge of Nepali culture accessible to all. Such a project will create a new center in Nepal for its cultures to be preserved, remembered and referenced to, and perhaps transformed and made relevant to contemporary life, perhaps in a different form.

This project is designed to be economically sustainable in the long run. It was initiated by friends from inside and outside Nepal with whom we share our love and admiration for the vanishing traditions of Nepal. To-date this vision is well received and shared by many, and we pray that these new insights will prevent commercial market pressures or economic forces from thwarting our efforts to making this happen.

Besides, separately, and in addition to this – our intimate knowledge of Nepal, our in-depth involvement with the advanced technologies in Israel, together with our intention of working together in full partnership, has given rise to several new initiatives, where we plan to share Israeli and Nepali knowledge, learn, develop and train people in the process of implementation. Some of our initiatives are briefly outlined below :

STEAM – We believe that education is the foundation for the future so that every child has the right to fulfill his/hers potential and realize their dream. In the world of the 21st Century, the STEAM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics – are the basis for contemporary life and development. This, plus the Plus framework we devised, where we designed a program to support the personal growth of the students, as individuals and as a social beings, and work to develop their social skills. The integrative approach of the program is an imperative in this century, where the screens are taking over unmediated contacts even among the younger of children.

RMI – No other country in the world is as fragmented by mighty mountains and deep river valleys which have made many of its parts inaccessible, hindered development, and prevented many from receiving good medical care they equally deserve. Our Remote Medicine Initiative (RMI), where advanced communication can bring medical care to distant places where there are no sufficiently experienced specialists, or no doctors at all. Together with one of the ten best hospitals in the world, Sheeba Hospital in Israel, we are working to make medical knowledge and experience accessible to even the more distant clinics and hospitals in remote parts of Nepal, guide treatment, relieve much pain and save many lives.

DMI – Our Disaster Management Initiative, brings together all the authorities and government instruments that operate when major disaster strikes (like earthquakes, landslides, fires, accidents, etc.), by identifying specific local needs, developing facilities and networks in order to bring the facilities of the center closer to the remote districts and reach in time. Strengthening the links between central and provincial governments will enable timely rescue and provision of supporting services to save lives.

One concept to varied projects –

There are several initiatives we are working to develop and share with Nepal – like the advanced technology earthquake warning system, air-lifted mobile hospital unit, and others. ONE CONCEPT unifies what is seemingly disparate , but not dissimilar projects, which, in our view, are founded on common grounds. All these initiatives begin with our intimate knowledge of Nepal on the one hand, and our long history of working together closely with the most advanced technological industries in Israel, in the academies, in practice, and in education, on the other. In bringing these together, tailoring them to the needs of Nepal, and sharing this with Nepali partners – we believe that our joint efforts and working together will be equally beneficial for all, and contribute to make the relationship between Israel and Nepal closer. Amen.

This insightful guest article has been graciously shared from the esteemed book ‘Nepal Israel Relations- Dynamism of cooperation oppertunities, connections and actions’, with the hope that you find it enriching and valuable.

Israel : A Nation That Honors Its Literary Figures on Currency

In a world where countries often honor political leaders, military heroes, and monarchs on their currency, Israel stands out by celebrating its literary giants. The Israeli shekel, adorned with the faces of famous poets, writers, and cultural figures, reflects a deep respect for the arts and a unique cultural identity that values intellect and creativity over political power. This article explores the significance of this choice, highlighting the literary figures featured on Israeli banknotes and what it reveals about the country’s values and identity.

The Cultural Currency: Honoring Literary Figures
A Nation’s Tribute to the Arts

Israel’s decision to feature poets and writers on its currency is a profound statement about the country’s values. It underscores a national reverence for cultural and intellectual achievements, and a recognition that literature and art play a crucial role in shaping national identity and heritage. This approach contrasts with many other nations where currency often celebrates political and military figures, emphasizing power and conquest.

The Faces on the Shekel: A Closer Look

Leah Goldberg (100 Shekel Note)

Leah Goldberg, one of Israel’s most beloved poets, graces the 100 shekel note. Born in 1911 in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia), Goldberg immigrated to Palestine in 1935. Her poetry, characterized by its lyrical beauty and emotional depth, explores themes of love, nature, and Jewish identity. She was also a prolific translator, bringing world literature to Hebrew readers. Featuring Goldberg on the currency highlights Israel’s appreciation for her contributions to Hebrew literature and her role in cultural education.

Shaul Tchernichovsky (50 Shekel Note)

Shaul Tchernichovsky, depicted on the 50 shekel note, is celebrated as one of the great Hebrew poets of the early 20th century. Born in 1875 in the Russian Empire, Tchernichovsky was a physician by profession but his passion lay in poetry. His works are infused with themes of nature, love, and the Jewish national revival. He also translated Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” into Hebrew, enriching Hebrew literature with classical influences. His presence on the shekel signifies the blending of cultural heritage and modern national identity.

Rachel Bluwstein (20 Shekel Note)

Known simply as Rachel the Poetess, Rachel Bluwstein is an iconic figure in Israeli literature. Born in Russia in 1890, she immigrated to Palestine in 1909. Her poetry, marked by its simplicity and emotional resonance, often reflects her personal struggles and deep connection to the Land of Israel. Rachel’s poems are widely taught in Israeli schools, and her legacy as a pioneer of modern Hebrew poetry is celebrated through her depiction on the 20 shekel note.

Natan Alterman (200 Shekel Note)

Natan Alterman, a towering figure in Israeli poetry, appears on the 200 shekel note. Born in Poland in 1910, Alterman moved to Palestine in 1925. He was a prolific poet, playwright, and columnist, known for his vibrant language and powerful imagery. His works, which often address social and political issues, have left a lasting impact on Israeli culture. Alterman’s inclusion on the shekel underscores the importance of literature in shaping public discourse and cultural identity.

Cultural Significance and National Identity

Literature as a Pillar of National Identity

Israel’s choice to feature literary figures on its currency is a reflection of how deeply intertwined literature is with national identity. These poets and writers have not only contributed to Hebrew literature but have also played pivotal roles in the cultural and ideological formation of the modern State of Israel. Their works often explore themes of exile, return, and the struggle for national identity, resonating with the collective experiences of the Jewish people.

Educational and Inspirational Value

By honoring literary figures on currency, Israel promotes education and cultural awareness. These banknotes are not just legal tender but also serve as daily reminders of the country’s rich literary heritage. They inspire citizens to appreciate the arts and recognize the contributions of poets and writers to society’s moral and intellectual fabric.

A Counterpoint to Political Power

In a region often marked by political tension and conflict, Israel’s celebration of literary figures on its currency offers a counter-narrative to the glorification of political power. It suggests that cultural achievements and intellectual contributions are equally, if not more, valuable. This approach fosters a sense of pride in cultural and intellectual accomplishments, promoting a more balanced view of what constitutes national greatness.

Israel’s practice of featuring famous poets and writers on its banknotes is a testament to the nation’s deep respect for cultural and intellectual contributions. This unique choice reflects a national identity that values literature and the arts as foundational elements of society. By honoring literary giants like Leah Goldberg, Shaul Tchernichovsky, Rachel Bluwstein, and Natan Alterman, Israel not only celebrates its rich cultural heritage but also inspires future generations to appreciate and pursue the arts. In a world where political figures often dominate symbols of national pride, Israel’s approach offers a refreshing perspective on the power of literature and culture to shape a nation’s identity.

Nepali litterateurs awarded in IMTM Festival Israel

Nepali litterateurs living in Israel have been awarded the “Bhanubhakta Gold Medal” by the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation. The award ceremony took place at the International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM Festival) held at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Ground, Ramat Aviv.

The award was given to seven Nepalis devoted to the fields of art, literature, and social service. These individuals have significantly contributed to organizing the Bhanubhakta bicentenary celebration in Israel, as announced by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation. The honored literary figures included Bhagawati Basnet, a litterateur and Head of Bhanubhakta Bicentenary Celebrations in Israel; Krishna Thapa, a litterateur, artist, and President of the International Nepali Literary Society Israel Chapter; Subas Kharel, a social worker and President of NRN Israel; and litterateurs Sunita Rai, BJ Bidrohi Rai, Nirmala Khadka, and Laxmi Pokhrel.

The awards were presented by His Excellency Ambassador Prahlad Kumar Prasai in the presence of Mr. Aditya Baral, Senior Director of Nepal Tourism Board, and Joint Secretary and Spokesperson Mohan Krishna Sapkota.

Also present at the occasion were His Excellency the Ambassador’s wife, Ms. Sita Prasai; Counsellor and Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Khadga Prasad Dahal; Second Secretary Ms. Roshan Khanal; Attaché Kamal Koirala; and the team from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation of Nepal, led by the Joint Secretary. Representatives from Himalayan Expedition, Adventure & Sports, King Akbar Travel & Tours, Karnali Travel & Tours, and Euro Travel & Tours also participated from Nepal.

At the opening ceremony of IMTM Tel Aviv, Amir Halevy, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism of Israel, praised and appreciated the top Israeli tourism professionals, hoteliers, and travel and tour operators.

The tourism fair, which ran for two days (February 10 and 11), attracted 30,000 visitors. Tourism professionals, hotel operators, and travel agencies from 70 different countries presented their stalls at the fair organized by the Israel Ministry of Tourism in Ramat Aviv.

I was so happy and thrilled to be awarded in this way. Thanks to all who helped me to get this award, especially Bhanu Bicentenary Executive Committee Advisor Mr. Narendra Raj Prasai, NAI publication, and my dearest friends in Israel.

A Beautiful Memory of Bialik Square


A Beautiful Memory of Bialik Square

Every morning, I find myself wandering the charming streets of Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, making my way to Bialik Square. My routine usually includes picking up a newspaper and indulging in a freshly baked croissant or a delicate pastry from one of the local bakeries. But beyond these simple pleasures, it’s the beauty and serenity of Bialik Square that draws me in, day after day.

Bialik Square is a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city, a place where time seems to slow down. In the heart of the square, vibrant flowers bloom in a riot of colors, complemented by the gentle ripple of water flora in the central fountain. The park is dotted with numerous benches, often occupied by caregivers and their employers, who bask in the morning sun, exchanging soft conversations and serene smiles.

At the center of this picturesque square stands a metal statue of Chaim Nachman Bialik, the celebrated poet for whom the square is named. Bialik, an iconic figure in Israeli literature, is known as the national poet of Israel. His works capture the essence of Jewish life and culture, and his legacy continues to inspire generations. As I gaze at his statue, I often find myself wondering about his life and the profound impact he had on Hebrew poetry.

Bialik Square is not just a park; it’s a cultural and recreational hub, particularly for the elderly. A nearby center provides a space for seniors to gather, sing, and play. The sound of their laughter and the melodies of their songs fill the air, creating a vibrant, communal atmosphere. It’s heartwarming to see the joy and camaraderie among the elderly, as they share stories and create new memories together.

Some snaps

The square is also a melting pot of cultures. On any given day, you can see groups of Nepali and Filipino friends mingling outside, their animated conversations adding to the lively ambiance. These interactions highlight the diversity and inclusivity of the community, making Bialik Square a microcosm of Tel Aviv’s multicultural tapestry.

Architecturally, Bialik Square is a gem. The surrounding buildings, with their 1920s Bauhaus design, add a touch of historical elegance to the area. The clean lines and functional beauty of the Bauhaus style are a testament to Tel Aviv’s rich architectural heritage, earning it the nickname “The White City.”

Walking through Bialik Square is like stepping into a living poem. The harmony of nature, art, and human connection creates a serene yet dynamic environment. Each morning, as I leave the square, I carry with me a sense of peace and a renewed appreciation for the simple joys of life. Bialik Square is more than just a part of my daily routine; it’s a sanctuary that celebrates the past, embraces the present, and inspires the future.

Chaim Nachman Bialik: The Life and Legacy of Israel’s National Poet

Chaim Nachman Bialik, often hailed as Israel’s national poet, was a towering figure in Jewish literature. His works, infused with deep emotion, cultural pride, and a profound connection to Jewish history and the Hebrew language, have left an indelible mark on the literary world. This article delves into the life and legacy of Chaim Nachman Bialik, exploring his early years, literary career, and enduring influence.

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Bipin Joshi – You’re not alone


Dear Bipin Joshi,
You’re not alone ..

On October 7, a Nepali student, Bipin Joshi, was reported missing from Kibutz Alumim in Israel. It is believed that he was kidnapped by Hamas, plunging his family and friends into a state of profound concern and sorrow. Bipin is a cherished individual, known for his warm heart, infectious smile, and unwavering kindness. His absence has left a void that is deeply felt by all who know him.

In this time of uncertainty and distress, words often fall short of capturing the full spectrum of emotions we experience. However, poetry has a unique way of transcending these limitations, offering solace, and conveying the depth of our feelings. This poem is a tribute to Bipin Joshi, a testament to his spirit, and a beacon of hope for his safe return. It reflects our collective yearning for his presence, our admiration for his character, and our unyielding belief in the power of hope and resilience.

As you read this poem, let it serve as a reminder of Bipin’s light and the indelible impact he has on our lives. Let it also be a call for empathy, solidarity, and action in times of crisis. Through these words, we honor Bipin and reaffirm our commitment to standing by him and his family during this challenging period.

In the fields of Kibbutz Alumim,
Bipin Joshi worked with dreams,
From Nepal he came, so far away,
In Israel’s light, he’d hope to stay.

But on a night so dark and cold,
October 7th, stories told,
Terror struck, and shadows grew,
Ten friends lost, in the cruel view.

Oh Bipin, where have you gone?
Taken away, leaving us to mourn,
A hero’s heart, so brave and strong,
In our hearts, you still belong.

You saved a friend with hands so bold,
Throwing back grenades, a story told,
But darkness took you, led astray,
To an unknown place, so far away.

Seven months have passed us by,
With every tear, with every sigh,
We wait for news, for a sign,
Hoping you’ll return in time.

Oh Bipin, where have you gone?
Taken away, leaving us to mourn,
A hero’s heart, so brave and strong,
In our hearts, you still belong.

In the silence, we hear your name,
In the sorrow, we feel your pain,
Every dawn, a prayer we say,
For you to come back, one fine day.

Oh Bipin, where have you gone?
Taken away, leaving us to mourn,
A hero’s heart, so brave and strong,
In our hearts, you still belong.

From the mountains of Nepal you came,
To fields of hope, to dreams aflame,
Bipin Joshi, you’re not alone,
In our hearts, you’ve found your home.

Tel Aviv Museum of Art: A Historical and Cultural Beacon

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art stands as one of Israel’s foremost cultural institutions, embodying the city’s vibrant artistic spirit and its commitment to fostering creativity. Established in 1932, the museum has grown from a modest collection into a world-class institution renowned for its diverse exhibitions, innovative architecture, and significant contributions to the global art community. This article explores the rich history of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, its evolution over the decades, and its current role in the art world.

Founding and Early Years

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art was inaugurated on April 19, 1932, in the home of Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff. The museum’s founding was a testament to the cultural ambitions of the young city, which had been established only two decades earlier. Dizengoff’s private residence, located on Rothschild Boulevard, became the museum’s first home, symbolizing the city’s commitment to cultural enrichment and artistic development.

In its early years, the museum focused on collecting and exhibiting works by both Israeli and international artists. The collection initially comprised mainly local art, reflecting the burgeoning art scene in Tel Aviv and Israel. The museum quickly became a central hub for artists, intellectuals, and the general public, fostering a vibrant cultural community.

Expansion and New Buildings

As the museum’s collection and reputation grew, the need for a larger, more suitable space became evident. In 1959, a new building was opened on King Saul Avenue, designed by architects Dov Karmi, Zvi Meltzer, and Yacov Rechter. This modernist structure marked a significant milestone in the museum’s history, providing ample space for exhibitions and activities.

The new facility allowed the museum to expand its programming and outreach, hosting major exhibitions of international and Israeli art. The 1970s and 1980s were particularly fruitful decades, with the museum acquiring important works by modern masters such as Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock. These acquisitions solidified the museum’s status as a leading art institution not only in Israel but also in the international art scene.

The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion

Helena Rubinstein Pavilion (Habimah Square)
This is section where private fine art courses are also conducted by famous Artists.

In 1959, the museum also inaugurated the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, located in the heart of Tel Aviv. This pavilion was dedicated to contemporary art, showcasing cutting-edge works by emerging and established artists from Israel and around the world. The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion played a crucial role in promoting contemporary art and providing a platform for experimental and avant-garde projects.

The Herta and Paul Amir Building

The most significant expansion in recent years was the opening of the Herta and Paul Amir Building in 2011. Designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen, this architectural masterpiece features a striking geometric design with cantilevered structures and expansive, naturally lit galleries. The Amir Building added 18,500 square meters of space to the museum, including new galleries, an auditorium, a library, and educational facilities.

The addition of the Amir Building transformed the museum’s capabilities, enabling it to host larger and more ambitious exhibitions. It also underscored the museum’s commitment to innovative design and architectural excellence, enhancing its status as a cultural landmark in Tel Aviv.

Notable Exhibitions and Collections

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art houses an extensive and diverse collection, ranging from classical to contemporary art. Its permanent collection includes significant works by Israeli artists such as Reuven Rubin, Nahum Gutman, and Michal Rovner, providing a comprehensive overview of the country’s artistic evolution.

In addition to Israeli art, the museum boasts an impressive collection of European and American art. Highlights include works by impressionists and post-impressionists like Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, and Vincent van Gogh, as well as modern and contemporary pieces by artists such as Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and Jeff Koons.

The museum is also known for its dynamic temporary exhibitions, which have featured works by renowned artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Anselm Kiefer, and Marina Abramović. These exhibitions attract a global audience and contribute to Tel Aviv’s reputation as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city.

Educational and Cultural Programs

Beyond its exhibitions, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is deeply committed to education and community engagement. The museum offers a wide range of educational programs, workshops, and lectures aimed at diverse audiences, from children and families to students and art professionals. These programs foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of art, encouraging creativity and critical thinking.

The museum also collaborates with local and international cultural institutions, universities, and schools, promoting cross-cultural dialogue and exchange. Its public programs, including film screenings, concerts, and performances, further enrich the cultural life of Tel Aviv and its residents.

The Museum Today

Today, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art continues to thrive as a beacon of culture and creativity. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, offering a rich array of exhibitions, programs, and events that reflect the dynamic and diverse nature of contemporary art.

The museum’s ongoing commitment to innovation and excellence ensures that it remains at the forefront of the global art scene. Its vision for the future includes expanding its collections, enhancing its educational initiatives, and continuing to serve as a vibrant cultural hub for both local and international audiences.

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s journey from a small collection in a mayor’s home to a world-class institution is a testament to the power of art to inspire, educate, and unite. As it continues to evolve and expand, the museum remains a vital part of Tel Aviv’s cultural landscape, embodying the city’s spirit of innovation, creativity, and inclusivity. Its rich history and ongoing contributions to the art world make it an essential destination for art lovers and a cornerstone of Israeli cultural heritage.