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Celebrate Israel @ 73!

Yom HaZikaron – Israel Memorial Day – honors Israel’s fallen soldiers, as well as civilian victims of terror attacks against the Jewish state. This year, Yom HaZikaron begins the evening of Tuesday, April 12 and ends the evening of Wednesday, April 13.  Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day – begins at the close of Yom Hazikaron and ends Thursday, April 14.

Israel’s breathtaking landscape is the stuff of fairytales

By Abigail Klein Leichman | Photos © Noam Chen

A fairytale location, says Israeli photographer Noam Chen, “is someplace you find yourself disconnecting from the troubles of the world, just drowning in the beauty and serenity of the place and forgetting about everything else.”

The fairytale locations he shares here were photographed using his special techniques that turn beautiful landscapes into dreamy scenes with an unreal quality. Yet these magnificent images do exist in Israel – even if tourists cannot come enjoy them just yet. So sit back and let your imagination run wild as Chen’s photos take you to magical places. It’s a perfect antidote to a year of pandemic-induced stress.

Our fairytale tour begins up north at Nimrod Fortress in the Golan Heights.

“It’s the largest fortress in Israel, and its magnitude and lush green surroundings makes it feel a proper fairytale location,” Chen says. “You can use your imagination to see royalty there.”

The magnificent Nimrod Fortress in northern Israel. 

The Golan Heights and the Galilee are blessed with many fairytale-like water elements.

“Among the streams and waterfalls of the North, you can go and find quiet and mesmerizing little spots that transport you to another place,” says Chen.

Sa’ar Falls in the Golan Heights

Moving a bit southeast to the Upper Galilee, we come to the Hula Valley, which has it all: fields of wildflowers, thousands of migrating birds, clear lakes teeming with wildlife.

Wildflowers in Israel’s Hula Valley

Rosh Hanikra in the upper Western Galilee is famous for its Mediterranean grottos reached by cable car.

“When you go into the grottos, the thing that pops out immediately is the dreamy turquoise color of the water which makes you feel you’re entering another world,” Chen says. “Outside the grottos, the white cliffs overlooking the sea are certainly a fairytale setting.”

The grottos of Rosh Hanikra

About 20 minutes south of Rosh Hanikra is Nahariya, a beautiful beach city of the Western Galilee where Chen spent his childhood.

A Nahariya beach

The Tal Shahar Forest in central Israel, otherwise known as Cyclamen Hill because of the wildflowers that dominate the landscape in February and March, is surely a proper fairytale setting. “You just need a princess in the middle of the field,” Chen remarks.

The sun shining on the cyclamens in Tal Shahar Forest

Having lived in Tel Aviv and in the United States for many years, Chen came back to the north of Israel during the Covid pandemic and recently relocated to Jerusalem. He’s exhibited across the world and hopes to do his next show in Israel’s capital city.

Just south of Jerusalem is the Gush Etzion region, where you’ll find Herodian (also called Herodium) National Park. Here, in the first century BCE, King Herod challenged the forces of nature by building one of the most daring structures of the ancient world.

Overview of Herodian in the Judean Desert

“The story behind it is what makes this a fairytale location,” says Chen. “It was a huge palace complex and Herod chose it to be his burial site. The Judean Desert landscape around it takes it to another level.”

One of the most popular tourist sites in the southern Judean Desert is the salty Dead Sea, the lowest place on Planet Earth.

“In spite of the fact that it’s a popular tourist destination, the Dead Sea still has many spots that not everyone knows about and that literally looks like an alien landscape with features like salt flats,” says Chen.

Salt flats in the Dead Sea

“It really looks like a different world down here,” he adds. “At sunrise and sunset there are the most beautiful skies.”

And for our last fairytale location, here’s a glimpse of the gorgeous Red South fields of the Negev when carpeted with anemones.

Red South anemone fields in southern Israel

To achieve his trademark effect, Chen combines different exposures in order to capture the big contrast between highlights and shadows in the frame.

“But the most important thing is to keep it real,” he says. Even when the image is the stuff of fairytales.

For a look at Noam Chen’s work, visit https://www.instagram.com/noamc_official/

CT marks Yom Hazikaron & Yom Ha’atzmaut

Honor Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks, and celebrate Israel’s 73rd birthday at these virtual events. All events are FREE. Zoom link will be provided upon registration.

TUESDAY, APRIL 13

Virtual Yom Hazikaron Ceremony
The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven will host a communal Yom Hazikaron ceremony for fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terror, which will include a message from Meron Reuben, the Consul General of Israel to New England.

THURSDAY, APRIL 15

Journey to Israel with PJ Library in New Haven
PJ Library of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven will host an outdoor celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut. Children will be treated to a Story Walk, get stamps for a “passport”  and receive a goodie bag filled with souvenirs, and listen to Israeli music. Story Walks will be scheduled in 30-minute time slots to ensure social distancing. Jewish Federation is located at 360 Amity Road, Woodbridge. For more information, call (203) 397-7439.

Jewish Rock Radio All-Star Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration!

5:30 p.m. — JCC Stamford, United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, and UJA/JCC Greenwich and many community partners will host a celebration of Israel’s 73rd Birthday with Jewish rock radio all-stars, including: Nefesh Mountain, Rich Recht, David Broza, Rabbi Josh Warshawsky, Josh Nelson, Rabbi Lisa Silverstein, Chava Mirel, Shimon Smith, and Laurie Akers. To register, visit ujf.ticketspice.com. For more information visit ujf.org.

7 p.m. — The celebration continues with a global celebration of Israel hosted by the Jewish Federation of North America. Join a Global Celebration of Israel presented by Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA). The program includes a farewell to Reuven Rivlin as he completes his term as Israel’s tenth president, as well as special appearances by Israeli Olympic hopefuls and many more. Attendance if FREE. For more information or to register, visit jewishtogether.org.

SATURDAY, APRIL 17

Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration with fireworks in Bloomfield
B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom in Bloomfield will host a socially distanced celebration of Israel Independence Day on April 17 at 8:30 p.m. Havadlah will be followed by a fireworks display. Arrive 15 minutes early to pick up your Havdalah candle and more. If forecast calls for inclement weather, check the BTS website (btsonline.org) by 5 p.m. on April 16. BTS is located at 180 Still Road, Bloomfield. For more information, call (860) 243-3576. Registration not required.

SUNDAY, APRIL 18, 2:30 p.m.

Come Fly With Us…Over Israel!
Join us for an aerial flight over Israel with retired Israel Air Force pilot Lt. Col. Alon Moller, hosted by the Southern New England Consortium (SNEC) and Partnership 2gether with Afula-Gilboa. Attendance if FREE. To register, visit ujf.ticketspice.com. For more information visit ujf.org.

Main Photo: The white cliffs of Rosh Hanikra

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