Friday, July 24, 2015

Bustling Mahane Yehuda shuk slows down to welcome wheelchair users

Photo: LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible

By Alana Kessler

Nature is everywhere. Depending on where one lives, the landscape may differ, but the outdoors and all it provides is available to anyone. But although nature is available to all, it is not accessible to all. For people with intellectual or physical disabilities, activities such as exploring a neighborhood, going on a hike, and even smelling fresh flowers become a challenge, and for some, might not even be an option. 

LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible makes limitations disappear by adapting nature programs for individuals with special needs in an appropriate and engaging way.

I started volunteering with LOTEM this winter, and since my first visit to a weekly nature club for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, I have been inspired and amazed by all LOTEM does. Holding true to its mission of "making nature accessible," LOTEM provides school programs inside and outside the classroom, clubs, day trips, special events, and much more. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

A window into a top-secret bullet factory – and the Israeli spirit of determination

Photo: Anne Taillandier
The Ayalon Institute Museum reconstructs the incredible story of the clandestine munitions factory near Rehovot where young workers manufactured more than 2 million bullets between 1945 and 1948. 

By Leslie Katz 

Usually you learn about history from books or see it unfold on the big screen. Occasionally, if you're very, very lucky, you meet history in person.

That's what happened last Thursday, when my travel companions in Israel and I met Shlomo Hillel, a 92-year-old Iraqi-born Israeli who played a remarkable and dramatic role in the establishment of Israel.

Hillel was among the young Hebrew scouts who worked at a clandestine underground Haganah munitions factory from 1945-1948. To do so, they climbed through a narrow hole in the ground, down a steep spiral staircase, to spend 10-hour days in a hot, air-choked machine shop shaping metal into bullets to be used in the fight for Jewish independence. The 45 factory workers produced more than 2 million 9-millimeter machine gun bullets overall, ammunition considered key to the early fight for statehood.