Sea Israel & The Jerusalem Zoo

Whether you’re a tourist in Israel or you live here, enjoying the Jerusalem Zoo is an experience for everyone. And soon that experience will be enhanced even further with the Window on the Mediterranean by the Sea Israel: The Gottesman Aquarium. This new conservation center and attraction will educate and raise awareness about Israel’s aquatic habitats. There will be a focus on the seas of Israel.

The construction has already begun for this new center and the opening is scheduled for 2016/17. As Dr. Yehoshua Shkedi, the Chief Scientist of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said,
“A successful and attractive aquarium that will draw many visitors will be the most effective tool to promote aquatic conservation and education in Israel.”

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo was originally established in 1940 as a small children’s zoo. From 1950 until 1991 the zoo was in Givat Komuna near Romema. In 1991 the zoo closed to begin the process of moving to the new location, and it was reopened in 1993. Today there are 250 dunams of land and is a beautiful place for children and adults to enjoy animals of all sorts.

How Trips to Israel Really Make a Difference

Programs like Birthright have received a lot of attention. Do they really work? Does it make a difference if you bring young adults to Israel to see the country first hand? Apparently it does. The Jewish News found that 54% of first-time visitors from England to Israel had an improved impression of the country after being there. The survey was a combined initiative by the newspaper and EasyJet.

As easyJet explained, “Our research, in conjunction with the Jewish News, has helped us better understand why passengers choose Tel Aviv. The most striking finding was the destination’s growing popularity with young travelers who viewed it as a relaxing, beach destination. One of the reasons for launching new flights from Gatwick is because Tel Aviv’s appeal has been growing.”

Daniel Taub, in an Op-Ed that accompanied the survey, said that the results confirm “the troubling fact that widely-held perceptions of Israel are disconnected from, and far more negative, than the reality. The fact is that the majority of people will never visit Israel and their inaccurate preconceptions are unlikely to be corrected.”

He said that the survey raised two important questions. Daniel Taub’s questions were: “If more than half of visitors to Israel are so pleasantly surprised by what they see with their own eyes, can the media truly be fulfilling its responsibility to present that reality accurately?” and “If the reality is truly Israel’s greatest ally, what more can we do to enable people to experience the reality of Israel?”

The Emergence of an Israeli Soap Opera

Some soap operas that are shown in Israel have been in the works for months, if not years. Not so with Daniel Taub’s Hahatzer (“Rebbe’s Court”) that was more of an emergence. “I certainly didn’t intend to write it,” he explains. “But when I suggested a soap opera set in the court of a Hasidic rebbe – a cross between ‘Dallas’ and ‘The Chosen’ – they asked me to write a sample episode,” the British-born and educated Taub adds.

The idea behind the soap opera that takes place and is broadcast in Israel came to Taub as part of a think tank which was seeking to develop unique content for the Jewish TV channel in Israel, Channel 10-Tchelet. Before he wrote the series, he had actually never watched an entire soap opera ever, in Israel or the UK. To write this, he ordered script-writing books on the Internet and looked at old scripts. He then wrote around 26 episodes and it became one of the biggest successes on that channel, getting prime time screening on Saturday nights.

The soap opera screened in Israel but he didn’t write it just for the entertainment value. The idea was to try and use the soap opera and the dilemmas that the characters face to break down stereotypes. Taub is most keen – through his work also as the Director of Strategy and Planning for the Yad Hanadiv Foundation – to turn Israel into a society that is “committed to Jewish values and equal opportunity for the benefit of all its inhabitants, carrying forward the philanthropic tradition of the Rothschild family.”

Indeed, Taub is particularly perturbed by the very prominent religious-secular divide in society in Israel. Hence Hahatzer is fighting against this.