Adventures in Israel

by Sandra Bruce

Israel is a fascinating country, as I discovered in January when I went there for 2 weeks to teach and explore. This post is about my trip and contains lots of pictures. Go ahead, get a cup of coffee or tea and get comfy…I hope you enjoy my visuals and story! All the photos were shot with my iPhone.

One thing, quickly, before I get into my post…I have 6 spaces left in my Artistic Alchemy Zephyr workshop for this Fall. If you are thinking of attending, now is a great time to sign up.

First, everyone wants to know how I landed a gig in Israel. It’s a long story, but basically: Joel and I consider ourselves cousins, and Joel is cousins with Gail on the other side of his family who is a quilter in Jeruselem.  I met Gail and her husband Avi a few years ago when she and her husband were visiting the US. She is on the board of IQA, Israel Quilters Association, the guild of Israel. They are very active and bring in international teachers.

Gail fondly referred to me while I was there as her “cousin”. To my happy surprise Joel decided to meet me there to hang out with us. Gail is a truly giving and sweet person who worked very hard to make my trip memorable. She accompanied me to my 4 teaching cities and graciously had me as a guest in her home for the week following my teaching.

I began the Argonne Jet Lag Diet 3 days before my trip, which I have always had success with in international trips. It worked like a charm. It IS weird, but I recommend it highly.

Packing for a long trip like this, with winter weather and 2 different classes to teach was a challenge. I got it all in my 2 big suitcases.

This was my view for the 12+hours over (and 15 hours back)…the back of the seat in front of me. It’s always good to know where you are! I did watch a lot of movies too.

Arrived! The airport in Tel Aviv…beautiful mosaics on the wall.

Here is the wonderful Sunday morning view from Gail’s balcony, of Jerusalem.

Gail and I left Jerusalem for my first teaching spot in Tiberius, which is on the Sea of Galilee. On the way we stopped to visit her friend Hava, who is an art quilter and teaches in a studio in her home, complete with an array of Berninas. I met some of her students and we had fun chatting.

One of Hava’s quilts (looks a bit familiar in her technique, eh?)

Here is the location of Tiberius, on the Sea of Galilee.

I love this shot I got of the water. Dreary days can make for good photos.

We walked around Tiberius for the afternoon. Two diners were brave to be sitting outside.

My first class was a small but very enthusiastic group, who worked studiously on my “Color Dance” quilt pattern. Here is Hagar working.

We were looking out the classroom window onto the Dead Sea. When lunchtime rolled around I got my first look at how Israelis do a spread of food. Wowie !!

After class ended we left to head to our next stop, Zikhron Yaakov.

Signs in Israel are in 3 languages: Hebrew, Arabic and English.

The hotel in Zikhron Yaakov had  beautiful floors throughout.

I can’t say enough about the spreads of food. Varied, fresh, and always delicious. This is part of breakfast in the hotel. Part!

My class here was Matrix…these ladies were eager and happy.

On to my next destination, Ashdod, on the Mediterranean. “Color Dance” was the choice of workshops here.

Happy quilters, and hard working!

Somehow I neglected to take any photos in my last workshop, in Jerusalem. It was also a great group of ladies and a good time was had by all. Some of the ladies traveled so that they could take both Matrix and Color Dance workshops. To all of the IQA ladies, I say thank you for having me visit and teach to your guild, you were the best!

Back in Jerusalem with my teaching concluded, it was time for exploring and adventures. Our first night back we headed to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Goush for a fantastic dinner at the Arabic restaurant “The Caravan”. In Israeli restaurants small plates are brought out before the entrees appear. The best hummus I ever ate, hands down, was in Israel.

Traffic in Jerusalem…just like other big cities, snarly and a bit crazy!

The annual IQA quilt show was hung at The Jerusalem Theatre while I was there and I was so glad to be able to view it.

Here is Gail with her entry.

Gail, Joel and I ventured out Saturday morning to the famous market, Machane Yehuda. Here are a few shots of this ancient, whirling, bustling place:

Check out that juicer, it works even with pomegranates.

The “cones” below are paprika. No, I don’t know how they did that!

Baklava, below, in its many forms. Yuuuuuumy…

Below, olive heaven.

On our walk I even spotted Jerusalem’s Bernina store!

From here, on to the Old City of Jerusalem. We brought our umbrellas.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Christian quarter, contains 2 of the holiest sites of Christianity, the sites where Jesus was said to have been crucified and his tomb. This is a major understatement, but history abounds here in this beautiful church. A few shots:

And of course, the Western Wall. The space allowed for men is way bigger than the space allowed for women.

I loved all the beautiful stone that I walked on, all over this country.Think over the centuries how many have walked here. If these stones could talk….

Moving on….we visited The Israeli Museum on a very cold and windy day. The Dead Sea Scrolls (replicated) are housed in this unusual building.

There were many soldiers at the museum this day. Israeli kids out of high school are required to serve for a certain length of time, and in many capacities, I was surprised to learn.

Some of my favorites from this museum, first,a sculpture by Rodin.


A delightful travel poster from the 1920’s.

What’s not to love about a mosaic with birds?

A painting by one of my favorite painters, Egon Schiele, from 1915.

Gail and Joel, the cousins, posed for me in the museum 😉

We were fortunate to land on the last day of an exhibit at the Italian-Jewish Museum, of textiles made by Italian Jewish women in the early part of the 1900’s.

Below, a  little wallet made by a bride for her new husband, pictured here.

Such intricate embroidery!

On to The Islamic Museum.

The founder, Sir David Salomons, had a clock and watch collection which was housed in the bottom floor of this museum. It was fascinating and beautifully displayed.

The most famous watch here, called The Marie Antoinette, has an amazing story, which I will tell you in brief. Made by the Swiss watchmaker Breguet (and finished by his son), purportedly commissioned by Marie’s lover Count von Fersen in 1783, it took 40 years to complete….of course Marie Antoinette never received it. It was stolen from this museum by a master thief in 1983 but recovered in 2013, and is valued at 30 million dollars. It contains every device known at the time it was made, and contains gold, platinum, rubies and sapphires. The best part…you can see through it.

Also at the Islamic Museum are some examples of beautiful calligraphy, which I was most interested in, having spent a career as a calligrapher and illustrator. I can picture the artist and his pen in motion.

Moving along….to Tel Aviv, and the Tel Aviv Museum, and a welcoming from Roy Lichtenstein.

A couple of my favorites from this huge museum. A painting by Klimt, “Friederike Maria Beer”, from 1916, which I was not familiar with. Large, and wonderful to see in person. It was a commission by Austrian socialite Friederike Beer. Klimt asked her to turn her jacket inside out because he liked the pattern of the lining better than the outside! The background motifs were taken from a Korean vase she owned.

Also, here, an exhibit of the wonderful painter Hilma af Klint. Her story is so unique. She was a Swedish painter who was involved with various spiritual movements,  and way, way ahead of her time.This is a large piece also, from 1907.Museum-hopping always requires coffee breaks, doesn’t it?

One more…a very large  photo (several feet wide) by an upcoming Israeli artist, Daniel Tsal. Of course the subject matter attracted me, a young man sewing.

A shot of Tel Aviv’s skyline.

What got into us? We stopped in a fun food court to have a hamburger 😉

I must show you this…Israel has some of the most organized parking garages I’ve ever seen. You could almost eat off the floor of this one. Lights tell you which spaces are available up ahead. Tires squealed on the polished floor.

My time is almost up…we walked Jerusalem one last time. Blue skies peeking!

My last breakfast in Israel, in a warm and cozy cafe.

This smart bird snagged a bag of chips from a market on the street and retreated to a wire where he pecked it open and enjoyed its contents, spread on the ground!

My last shot, checked into my flight home. Left at 1:00am, arrived in san Francisco at 6:00am. I was very glad to be home after that long flight, but happy after this memorable trip! If you made it this far I say, “thank you”, and I hope you enjoyed my story. Shalom.

34 thoughts on “Adventures in Israel

  1. Hi Sandra, I had goosebumps reading your post and thought I was walking right behind you. Great read and thanks for sharing your memorable trip. Nancy Rich

  2. Thank you for sharing…what a wonderful, amazing trip…I first visited Israel in 1966 and last nearly 30 years ago…how it all has changed…

  3. I so enjoyed all the pictures of your fantastic trip and I agree the food pictures Wow and they made me hungry
    Sharon Crowder

  4. I loved your travel blog! Israel is such an interesting and complicated country. When I went, I was not able to go to all the museums we would have liked to visit. I’m glad your timing was such that you got to see textiles and calligraphy. And I’m impressed with the pictures you took with your iPhone. Beautiful.

  5. Wow – amazing post, I so enjoyed the virtual tour of your experience there! I can imagine you will have much creative inspiration from that trip! Oh my the birds are bold there – taking bags of chips! How fortunate you are to get to visit Israel!

  6. Oh Sandra what a wonderful trip. I have been to Israel twice and still saw new things in your pictures. I love that country.

  7. Oh my gosh Sandra! You told me so much about your trip, but seeing your photos and descriptions, made your trip for me so real. I certainly didn’t imagine all of this when we talked. Absolutely so beautiful to see and read! You were so blessed to take this trip and we’re so blessed that you shared it so vividly for us! Thank you! Thank you! And, so happy you were able to go there. You are a hard worker with your amazing talent, and you deserved this! Love to you, Linda M.

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