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Visit to Nalaga'at Center

Andy on Tue, 05/14/2019 - 19:34

We usually try to cover some of the characteristic events outside the Eurovision bubble which would tell on some of the interesting features of the host city. As part of the press-tours offered by Tel Aviv Municipality, ESCKAZ team has visited Nalaga'at Cultural center -the non-profit arts and cultural foundation that represents a meeting place between deaf, blind and deaf-blind individuals together with the public. The Nalaga’at Theater was established in 2002 with the purpose of integrating deaf-blind people into society, advancing their needs and aspirations and to grant them the opportunity of self-expression and exercising the most basic of their rights – contributing to the society.

Nalaga'at is divided into four sections which are: Theater (which is unique in the world and features deaf, blind and even deaf-blind actors), Blackout Restaurant (the only in Israel and one of 12 in the world), Workshop Center (offering for example Wine and Cheese tasting in the dark, Chocolate tasting workshop, Sign Language Workshop etc) and Kapish Events. Our initial interest was in Children of the lesser God theater play, but unfortunately, it is not screened during Eurovision week, but there's another one - Edgar on 16th of May at 20:30. I have been always fascinated by blind and deaf people and my ambition is to learn sign language one day, so when selecting our plan for Tel Aviv Nalaga'at center definitely had to be in the list.

The event was organized very smoothly, but sadly there were no other media present, and we need to say they should not miss this experience. We were accompanied by a volunteer from the Tel Aviv municipality. First, we had a chance to speak with CEO of the Center Oren Itzhaki and then we could actually enter the Blackout Restaurant - in which food is served in complete darkness, and tried some chocolates there. As Kirill has said it was kind of "eyes opening" experience, to feel what blind people feel - and were amazed by their courage and they act as role models to our society. After the event, we had a chance to speak to one of the employees Galina Bakshiev, who is visually impaired.

HQ Photos were provided by Ella Danino, Marketing manager of the Center. Read more at https://nalagaat.org.il/en

Nalaga'at Center

Second rehearsal of Israel

Andy on Sun, 05/12/2019 - 08:06

Kobi in a black suit with a bow tie start the show in the front of the stage, screens appear behind him. On the 2nd verse, he is joined by his backing choir and together they look simply stunning. There is a variety of screens behind, showing parts of Kobi's face. On the bridge, he starts movement close to the audience on the catwalk, while his team stays on the stage. The last chorus is sung while he is going, and he finally stops for the very end. It is not really a perfect solution in otherwise elegant performance.

Israel - First rehearsal

Eran on Fri, 05/10/2019 - 14:20

Israel, the host country, my country, is now on stage for its first rehearsal. Kobi wears a black suit. He's surrounded by big a-symmetrical screens that show images of him from the video, there are also lights across them, which gives them an old school theatre vibe. 5 backing singers stand behind him in the first chorus. He leaves them and walks on the catwalk. The backing singers each stand in front of one of the screens. The colors ruling the stage are black and white. He sounds amazing, I would dare to say like in the studio. However, the staging is underwhelming.

Dinner with Eatwith

Maxim_T on Fri, 05/10/2019 - 09:22

Yesterday, on May 10th, the ESCKAZ team was invited to attend a very special event "Eurovision Special Feast" which turned out to be very atmospheric dinner organized by the very hospitable local hosts Keren & Yael with the help of the Eatwith program. We thank Hila from Blender PR for the invitation to attend the event for free, as the regular price of the dinner was 312 NIS = 80 EUR. It was really a one-time opportunity, authentic experience of hospitality in local Israelis home.


Dinner for more than 20 guests was held in a modern loft with a veranda, offering breathtaking views of the night Tel Aviv. Right from the very beginning, friendly hosts treated their guests with various cheese and vegetable snacks, their own homemade liver pate and wine. We were pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere around us, as people completely unfamiliar with each other communicated as old friends and in every possible way supported conversations on various topics.

The hosts of this evening were very much inspired by us and our stories about Eurovision, and promised to consult us on the compilation of their future Eurovision playlist. They also told that they are not very enthusiastic about the entry of Kobi Marimi, the representative of Israel this year.

After meeting the guests in a relaxed atmosphere and a glass of wine on the veranda, everyone was invited to a large table, where the first courses were already waiting for us.

We were fed homemade bread with sesame, to which 5 types of additives were offered at once, ranging from ground tomatoes in olive oil and beets with cheese to the most delicious garlic paste.

After that, beef seasoned with delicate cheese sauce with nuts, stewed cabbage stuffed with cheese, steam fish balls with vegetables and sauce, melted cheese wrapped in grape leaves, eggplant with feta cheese and nuts were served on the table. The hosts actively offered their guests various alcoholic beverages, for example, red and white wine, vodka (which we were somewhat surprised with).

During a short break, we managed to get acquainted with one interesting guest who was born in Russia, since childhood she lived in a suburb of Riga, and in the mid-70s she moved with her parents, first to Israel, and then to New York, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. At this dinner, they were with the whole family. We learned that her husband was actually from Moldova, and they met in Israel. Adult sons (25 and 29 years old) feel their affection for Israel, so the youngest is now in Israel with a charitable mission, within the framework of which he helps children of killed and wounded soldiers to cope with the psychological shock.

At the table next to us was a married couple from Switzerland, who now live in Israel. During our conversations with them, we decided to inquire about their opinion about the representative of Switzerland, Luca Hänni. It turned out that they do not particularly follow Eurovision, but the name of Luca was familiar to them. As we learned, our companion grew up and went to school in Switzerland with father of Luca Hänni, which made us wonderfully surprised. It turned out that they were very close and practical inseparable friends during their stay in Switzerland. Our companions were very happy and proud of their friend and Luca.

Independence Day Concert

Andy on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 08:04

In the evening almost whole TeamKAZ went to the Independence Day concert on Rabin Square. The first part of the concert was labelled Hallelujah Eurovision and was obviously devoted to the contest. From the contest artists, though there appeared Hovi Star, some other acts, as well as Tel Aviv Youth members, have performed vocal and dance covers.

In the second part of the concert performed Transistor Band performing hits of the legendary and my favourite Israeli singer Arik Einstein. We with Ruslan danced the whole evening and the square sang together with the singers.

Also, we were able to enjoy an amazing firework display.

Yom HaZikaron and Independence day in Israel

Eran on Wed, 05/08/2019 - 07:08

Yom HaZikaron is the Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. It's an official memorial day that was enacted into law in 1963. It's the day when Israelis stops and honor the fallen soldiers of the country. Since Jewish tradition sees the day starting from sunset to sunset, the events of this day will started on Tuesday evening.
A few things that you should know (and probably already noticed) as tourists:
* There are two sirens heard; the first at the preceding evening at 20:00, that will last for 1 minute. The 2nd on Yom HaZikaron day at 11:00, and this one is 2 minutes long.
* In the preceding evening all stores and restaurant are closed. Grocery stores and supermarkets will be open on Yom HaZikaron itself. Restaurants will still be closed.
* There will be no rehearsals for Eurovision on Yom HaZikaron. That is why rehearsals started a day earlier this year.
* In addition, radio will play only sad songs from Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening. TV will air special programming at the same time.

And then things take a drastic turn. On Wednesday evening Yom HaZikaron ends and the Independence Day begins. It "is the national day of Israel, commemorating the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948" (from Wikipedia). It's a day of ceremonies, celebrations and parties, and you'll notice Israelis tend to party hard. This will take place from Wednesday evening to Thursday evening.
A few things that you should know as tourists:
* Grocery stores and supermarkets will be closed early on Wednesday. Restaurants are supposed to remain open and will probably be packed.
* There will be road blocks on Wednesday evening. It's not only for security reasons; Throughout the evening and the night there will be shows going on, known in Israel as "Bamot Bidur" (Entertainment stages). There will probably hundreds of them throughout the country. These shows are free and open to all. If you'll go to one of them you'll see insane amount of people attending, including families. The performers are usually Israeli biggest music stars. Check out who's performing in your area.
* Rehearsals for Eurovision will go on regularly on Thursday.
* most grocery stores and supermarkets will be closed on Thursday, but you might find a handful of AMPM stores open.

Have a safe day
Israeli flag

Picture by Ishai Parasol

Songs in the Square

Andy on Tue, 05/07/2019 - 22:16

In the Memorial Day evening, some of ESCKAZ team members have attended Songs in the Square concert, which took place on Rabin Square (the Square that hosted previous Israel Calling event).

The concert featured such artists like Boaz Sharabi, Berry Sakharof, Dudu Tasa, Dikla, Hadag Nachash, Miri Mesika, Moran Mazor, Nasreen Kadari, Narkis, Subliminal, Idan Amdi and Tel Aviv Youth. Between the songs, there were stories of the fallen Israeli soldiers. The event has ended with Israeli anthem. Memorial day is one of the most important days of the year for the Israelis and it was quite an emotional experience to share it with them.

Today also marked release of the very special song: Starring President Rivlin and the singer Boaz Sharabi, more than 20 choirs and singing groups, kindergartens, artistic gymnastic groups and dancers from the dance department of Beit Halohem and others gathered at Beit HaNasi and were the human background, some 500 people, for the song “Halevai” (“If Only”), written by Boaz Sharabi, words by Ehud Manor.

Welcome to Tel Aviv, Welcome to The Manor

Andy on Fri, 05/03/2019 - 16:40

We have safe and well and experienced no issues so far. On my way through Kyiv I met lovely ZENA and her team, and we told her that the one whom we meet first or last usually wins. Now let's see who is the last.

Accreditation center is pretty conveniently located and easy to find, but they give nothing but accreditation badges. There is a mobile app with schedules and shuttle bus etc info, but for now, nobody knows how one can get passwords for it. We have not seen any Rav-Kav distribution points for press and other guests as announced earlier. Delegations in the airport are invited to use new VIP lounge, but for press it is much quicker to use the usual way.

And welcome to The Manor - which will be our home for the next days. It is a lovely restaurant/loft which we will be staying in. Apparently, it's quite fashionable and looks exotic. Feel free to visit it on non-Eurovision days.

Check it's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/The-Manor-%D7%94%D7%9E%D7%A0%D7%95%D7%A8-88603…
And the Time Out article at https://timeout.co.il/החיים-היפים/עיצוב-אדריכלות/תבלין-הבית-אופיר

Welcome to Israel - a local view!

Eran on Thu, 05/02/2019 - 17:14

כיכר השעון ביפו מגדל שעון תל אביב - יפו Clock tower  Square Jaffa Tel Aviv Israel

Hi guys, it's Eran again, here's some info and tips for people visiting Tel-Aviv for Eurovision.

About Tel Aviv
Here’s some info about the real star, the host city of this year’s Eurovision, Tel Aviv, or officially Tel Aviv-Yafo. It’s a rather young city, only 110 years old, also known as “The First Hebrew City”, “The White City”, "The City That Never Sleeps" and “The Capital of Cool”. It’s the 2nd largest city in Israel after Jerusalem, and considered to be its younger more modern little sister.

What to see in Tel Aviv?
For those of you coming from Europe, you might think the city is too Americanized, and you won’t be so wrong about that. Tourists have said it remind them of Southern California. Unlike a big European city, you won’t come across historical monuments that often, we’re writing history right now. Every neighborhood in Tel Aviv offers a different vibe and atmosphere. If you want to walk through the old neighborhoods and explore some of the city’s history, you can start at Jaffa’s Old City and Port, and have a visit at the flea market, or tour the Neve Tzedek neighborhood. Check out Tel-Aviv beaches and the beach promenade if you’re looking for some fun in the sun. If you’re interested in art, you can pay a visit to the Tel Aviv Museum, Nahum Gutman Museum of Art or the Eretz Israel Museum. There’s also some great shopping in Tel Aviv, visit HaCarmel Market and Levinski Market for grocery shopping. Azrieli Mall and Dizingoff Center are both of Tel Aviv most popular shopping centers. For those looking for more luxury boutique items, TLV Fashion Mall boasts some of the hottest brands in fashion. If you’re rich - you can go straight to Kikar Hamedina (wink, wink). Two of the biggest parks around are Hayarkon Park or Gnei Yehoshua, where you can jog or just lay in the sun.
For more information on current events and other recommendations, please visit Secret Tel Aviv (https://www.secrettelaviv.com/).