If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

This Is the Abridged Version

Dear Ann,
I’ve photoshopped my fingers to the bone, and can’t think how to go about describing this trip other than in pictures and captions. (Our favorite literary genre!) If I had more time, I’d write a shorter post. Sorreee!
Tel Aviv Day One
Some cities are easy to map in your mind. (Omaha::Manhattan; Dodge Street::Fifth Avenue.) Some cities I will never be able to map mentally, no matter how many times I visit. (Paris, Washington–curse you, diagonal spokes!) Tel Aviv is one of the easy ones. You have Hayarkon Street, which hugs the Mediterranean Sea. In the north of Tel Aviv, at least, the streets and avenues are either parallel or perpendicular to Hayarkon. It all makes sense, and if you keep track of where the Mediterranean is, that’s West, so you can suss East, North and South. Plus, there tend to be lots of people around who are more than willing to direct you, in effortless English, to your specific destination. (They would also like to know where you are from and what you are doing and how you like Israel.)
Seussian trees in a park above the beach near our hotel. It’s HOT. Can you tell? This was a continuing theme. Hot & dusty. A Biblical climate.
At first I thought it was the jet lag. But I blinked and these ladies were still there, strolling around with their hair color in progress. Whatev!
Cats are to Tel Aviv what squirrels are to New York. The kids never tired of seeing street cats perched on motorbike seats or napping under parked cars, or just sprawled on a cool spot of sidewalk. It seems wrong to call them strays, when they are so blithe and well cared-for. A missing ear here or there, and the white ones are all smudgy gray, but generally in fine fettle. People feed them, and not just scraps. We saw bowls of milk and cat kibble on the sidewalks in the morning.
The Almost-North

A friend who was in Israel visiting his grandbabies drove down from Benyamina to take us to the beginning of the North for a day.
Cesaria. A port town built by Herod with a beautiful ampitheatre. (Whilst photoshopping I noticed that I was sitting next to my age.)
Zichron Yakov. Built by Baron Rothschild; feels a little bit like a village in France. Lovely Dane-designed playground and a most excellent ice cream shop. I discovered the Israeli designer Maya Negri, who designs stuff that looks good on real women and even middle-aged ones.
Meanwhile Back in Tel Aviv
A bedazzled recycling bin. These are on every street, although usually not bedazzled.
Yarn Shop!
The closest I came to being in a yarn shop, Marietta, on Dizengoff (or Arlozarov). It’s only open from 10-1, and I kept passing by when it was closed. Some excellent knitting in there, from the looks of it.
With stockings, I’d almost look frum!
A leafy cafe.
Yes! We were with Orna & co. As we trailed her around her home town, we heard cries of “ORNA!” The shouting would be followed by a huggy reunion. We got used to it!
One of Orna’s friends lives in this amazing building. She wasn’t home, so we took pictures of the entrance.
More of a Gee’s Bend/Denyse Schmidt building.
Tel Aviv is known for its many Bauhaus apartment buildings. I didn’t take pictures of them. So Google!
This building looked like a Yoshiko Jinzenji quilt to me. All those whites/grays and the pop of color.
To Market, To Market
Nice to see friendly faces. Other Ann has one of these, no?
Even late in the day, the market was overwhelming. Here, as Shabbat approached, we saw some religious guys wrapping tefillin on passersby, who said quick prayers. We sat on chairs to rest and peoplewatch for a while.
A few feet away. Not clear what this man was doing apart from being photographed. Flowers and bottled water–not clicking with any ritual observance known to me.
Here come the Krishnas. A lot of religions on one corner, just saying.
Masada Et Cetera
Another day, we went to Masada. Tragically, I left the KayCam in the car. Better photographers than me have been to Masada, so no worries. Despite the 110-degree plus heat, it was thrilling to be there. The story is nearly unbelievable, on many levels, including engineering. Yet it’s well documented and the archeology supports it. When is the Colin Ferrell movie coming out, or has it come out, and I’ve missed it? THIS….IS…..MASADA!
The Dead Sea. Everybody who goes to Israel goes there, it is some kind of rule. It’s a curious experience. Water that does not behave like one’s previous experiences of water.
The best I can do is to say that it’s like floating on one of those foam pool rafts. But without the raft. The water holds you up and it’s so strange that if you’re not careful you will unbalance yourself and topple over face first. Which would be bad. Water this salty is nasty, and stings. After 20 minutes or so of unearthliness, you’re done.
“It’s a dry heat.” Yes. It is.
Now With More Old Testamentiness

After Masada and a warm float in the Dead Sea, it’s a sandwich and Ein Gedi. Now, this is what a Biblical place name should look like! Caves in stone cliffs. Goats (Ibex).
There’s that frum lady again.
By this time, late afternoon, the adults were trembling with fatigue. The kids, naturally, were up for a camel ride. Luckily there are camel rides at the gas station.
The pavement was so hot that the poor thing had a rug to kneel on for the mount and dismount. He (or she) did not seem at all bothered to be riding children around a parking lot.
The Finest Dairy Case In The World
No trip to a foreign land would be complete without a thorough inspection of the supermarket. Orna nearly wept at the dairy case. You can get any dairy product with almost any percentage of fat, from 0 to 12 to 60, with granola, without granola, with olives, without olives. It’s kind of crazy. But I could see how you’d miss it if you were exiled to a nation with skim, 1 percent, 2 percent and whole. In America, there is no 12 percent yogurt, and our lives are poorer for it.
Orna also claims the baking products are superior and more varied. I liked the packaging.
Zionist Humor
I recognized the face as that of Theodor Herzl, the George Washington of the modern state of Israel. But Orna had to translate and also explain the joke to me. Herzl famously said, “If you will it, it is not a legend. ” This grafito says, “And if you don’t will it…..well OK then.”
Is anybody still here? Because although this is a really long post, I’ve still got Jerusalem. Jerusalem being a major point of the whole trip. 13 more images! Stay strong! Grid your lions!
Schoolgirls on a field trip.
The Western Wall.
I have complicated feelings about the wall, which I didn’t expect. I’d like to see egalitarian practices respected, or at least tolerated, in their own section. The authoritarian atmosphere was alienating. That’s all I have to say about that.
The archeological tunnels are a must-see, so well presented and guided, a world treasure. That part of it was nothing short of gobsmacking. I want to go back again in a few years and see what they’ve dug up in the meantime. Amazing amazing amazing.
A vegetarian’s long wait for a real Jerusalem felafel, with french fries in it, was over at last.
The door to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Inside, 6 churches, each with their own domain and boundaries. Another way of agreeing to disagree, I suppose. We went into all 6. Our guide did a wonderful job of explaining the story to three wide-eyed kids. They’d heard it before, but to hear it in that place was another thing. Women covered themselves as at the wall, but here, voluntarily. No enforcers rushing over to gleefully chide a momentarily bare-armed 13 year old. (Yes, I got a bit New Yorky at that point!. No, I’m not letting it go!)
A Kaffe Fassett moment in a street of souvenir shops.
This man is just taking tea back to his shop, but I also saw vendors loading these hanging trays with cold drinks.
Green door. Blue shirt. Tired boy.
The only knitting photo from the whole trip. Gee’s Bend, meet the Temple Mount. Seems right.
Thanks for bearing with this! Back to our regularly scheduled program!



  1. GOOOOSE bumps, yes! I got goose bumps from your photos…..and tears too! I just love and miss Israel, thank you for sharing…..Post as many as you wish. Who could tire of such beauty?!

  2. Thank you for sharing.

  3. wow.

  4. haven’t been to israel in over a decade. thanks for the photos

  5. Thank you for sharing your terrific photos and exposing all your readers to Israel in all her wonders. Our last trip was just two years ago, and I can’t wait to return.
    You nailed it, of course, on so many fronts. There are so many “must see” and “must do” elements to a trip to Israel, but it’s great to just go and visit and enjoy the dynamism.
    And, damn, next time I go to Tel Aviv, I’ve got to look at all the buildings as quilts!
    Post more of your photos if you can. Yasher Koach!

  6. Oh how I long for 9% cottage cheese. And good tomatoes. And “shoko b’sakit.” Yum.

  7. Amazing photos! I had to share with my family. Thank you.

  8. Wonderful pictures and travelogue. Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Thanks for sharing your trip which helped me wax nostalgic for the two trips I took, 11 and 6 years ago. Antiquities don’t change much, but modern Israel is in constant motion. Glad you enjoyed.

  10. Thank you!! What a great trip!

  11. thanks for the tour!

  12. All the photos are great, but I had to shout with joy at the Kaffe Fasset moments. Gorgeous– now you’ve got to use them as inspiration. (My own KF moment abroad was when a fellow knitter and I spotted the Foolish Virgins tapestry in Oslo’s Kunstindustrimuseet. Simultaneous gasps of recognition!)

  13. Wow, fabulous. I went to Israel when I was a kid (and I just shocked myself by calculating that it was 30 years ago). Now I want to go back!
    I remember the cats, and Cesaria. I guess in a place that old, a lot of stuff stays pretty much the same. :->

  14. incredible!!! i completely forgot to make dinner. 🙂

  15. I would love to visit the Holy land and your photo’s made me want it more!

  16. thanks for sharing your trip with us. always wanted to make this journey…

  17. Thought I would make it to israel when backpacking back in 1983. Didn’t make it and now I feel like I’ve seen what I missed. Thankyou for taking the time to upload and caption.
    And like Gretchen said – great Kaffe Fasset moment!

  18. More!more!

  19. Thank you Kay! GREAT pictures!!

  20. oh my,,, now you made me homesick!
    I especially like your description of how to get by in Tel Aviv. Aren’t we the friendliest? (sometimes)
    Thank you.

  21. Wonderful photos! Looks like you had a great trip. Thanks for sharing. I’ve always felt conflicted about visiting Israel but your post made it look more appealing. Thanks again.

  22. Constant reader, first time commenter…… WOW!!! I have never been to Israel, but it just moved up to the very top of my list of places I MUST SEE! Thanks so much for the photos!

  23. My lions were thoroughly gridded and I really enjoyed reading this post about your trip.

  24. Thanks so much for sharing — I’m sure it was a bittersweet trip.

  25. Ha!
    Dodge=5th Ave. Classic!
    Great pics, I’m sure you had an amazing time.

  26. I returned a year ago from a year in Israel–and I didn’t expect to miss it, but I do.
    The yogurt is better, yes. And the baking products, well, not necessarily better, but different. Your fruit-stand picture made me miss the fruit–the passion fruit and tiny pineapples especially.
    The cats are the best. The missing ears, or the missing pieces of ears, are not because of fighting. When a street cat is trapped and brought to a vet to be fixed (a controversial practice there), they also cut off a small piece of their ear so that everybody knows which cats have already been trapped and which haven’t. After my year in Israel, I returned with one of those cats, whose white fur is now quite bright, and I think the missing ear piece gives her a certain charm!

  27. really great stuff. thank you for sharing. your children are beautiful.

  28. Dear Kay,
    I loved the pictures of you and your beautiful family on vacation. You all looked so good, and were having so much fun. I especially liked the photo with you in your “stockings”, and the other one with the three of you under the waterfall. I know you were “sitting next to your age”, but in these pictures, your happiness renders you ageless.
    Also great to see Orna, to see such enduring friendship between you all.
    Take good care.

  29. Someone just reminded me on my birthday that it is the 30 year anniversary of my Israel summer (yikes). Did you go to Masada at sunrise, I still can’t believe how beautiful it was (and then I can’t believe it was 30 years ago!!!)
    Glad you all had such a beautiful trip.

  30. Wonderful!

  31. More! I want MORE pictures! We get a lot of tourists from Israel here in Thailand – and your pictures made me want to go there! Thanks for sharing.
    OT … hope you guys don’t mind, but I made a “backwards” Mason-Dixon washcloth so I could better use up all the yarn, working from the inside out … turned out okay, thanks for the pattern! (I will use up all the yarn indeed – using a regular bind off until just a couple inches are left and then going from the other direction and slip-stitching – crochet – back to the bind off, thereby using ALL the yarn!)
    Riki in Bangkok, still eagerly awaiting the DVD…

  32. Thank you for going to all the work to post these. I feel like I have had a most interesting travelogue.

  33. What wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing!

  34. Loved looking at all the photos with your humorous comments. I want one of those mannequin heads!
    Diane L./Bloomington,IN.

  35. What an amazing journey! It seems like you have done something really special for your kids. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  36. This was equally as thrilling and beautiful as Ann’s pictorial on her cruise. It left me breathless.
    (And now I want french fries. And Lions.)

  37. I may be stuck at home with never-ending piles of laundry and mending and ironing but I’ve just taken a computer-side trip to Isreal and I am so grateful to have been given that chance! Thank you so much for sharing! (And, after breakfast, I shall make sure all my boys have gridded their lions for the day ahead!)

  38. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures of your family. It makes everything so much more personal. Now I really want to go to the Holy Land. Please thank your kids for me.

  39. Photos are great! Thanks for sharing. Love the kitty and the dye jobs!

  40. I love that you see quilts everywhere, tagged with the artist’s name, even. And I like your brief comment on egalitarian practices.
    We get french fries in falafel here, too! And pickles. I’ve come to expect nothing less.

  41. great photos… thanks for sharing!

  42. Was that camel for me?!!!
    OK, I have to ask this. What on earth is the prupose of wrapping what looks like black insulating tape around your arm before praying?
    And can you really not get 12 percent yoghurt in the US? I always think you have more choices in Fairway than we do here, but perhaps not… perhaps I am just overcome by the Fairwayness of it all.
    Glad you had a fab time x x x

  43. Kay,
    Thank you so much for including us along on your trip to Israel!!
    I have enjoyed your pix and will return to bask in that dry heat whenever it gets too wet for too long here. [Oregon = also God’s Country]

  44. Wonderful travelogue, not long at all. It only once cup of coffee to read. Thanks for sharing your trip.

  45. I haven’t been back since my son, now 46, was bar mitzvah-ed at the Kotel by an itinerant rabbi. My kids have been back many times. It was a wonderful experience then, and I can see it was then, too. But a knitting shop only open for three hours?

  46. What beautiful pictures and what beautiful children!

  47. Thank you for these photos and for sharing your adventure with us — including the knitting at the end!

  48. Who knew next year in Jerusalem was all about the butterfat? I’m dreaming of 60% yogurt.

  49. I love that you see knitting everywhere in everyday life. Thanks for the photos.

  50. No, no, don’t stop ! Loving it.

  51. Oh, made me want to go back there right now – but then again, your pics did take me back there. Thanks for the trip.

  52. I just got back from Jerusalem. So I loved your photos. Amazing country. thanks for sharing.

  53. Beautiful pics! Looks like a wonderful trip.

  54. thank you I loved it

  55. I actually teared up, yes, at work, at your photo of the glorious backgammon boards. Known to us, as children, as Shesh Besh. My Lebanese father taught us all to play as children, and my brother was so good he began to play for money in middle-school. Against the teachers no less-ahh it was a different and simpler time. Thanks for that heart warming memory. Now, where’s my board?

  56. Haven’t been back for years. Your photos almost bring back that wonderful hot pine tree and felafel smell.

  57. Sometimes other’s travel photos are a bit ho-hum. However, I found yours compelling. I have always wanted to travel to Israel, first, and, second, your commentary is so obliging!

  58. ORNA!
    You must have been exhausted when you got back but what memories. Did Olive miss you?

  59. Lovely tour. glad I kept my lions gridded to the end. And when did Carrie turn into a grown up?!?ORNA!

  60. G.A.W.B.S.M.A.C.K.E.D.
    [southern version of gobsmacked]
    The ultimate Kaycam travelogue of all time. It’s all in there……..

  61. Thanks for sharing. Made me homesick.
    Yes-I agree with you about the kotel being more egalitarian and I believe there is a place there that is but maybe only on Shabbat or special times.
    It feels like all of Jerusalem is becoming ultra ultra.

  62. Oh! I’m so glad that you were able to get to Zichron–I spent several summers excavating nearby, and no trip into town was complete without a stop for ice cream. All Zichron needs to make it completely perfect is a yarn store…

  63. Thanks for taking us along on your journey — it was fun! And the photo of the three of you in the waterfall is precious.

  64. Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed all of it!

  65. Someone already said it.. Wow… but also you see the news about the troubles in Israel and Palestine.. and then you see this… life goes on, history sits there waiting. We forget this, thanks for the insight.

  66. You do “frum” really well. Just sayin’. Thanks for sharing your trip. What a wonderful experience — and so very, very lovely.

  67. Thank you for sharing that. Your pictures are beautiful.

  68. Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing as I know how long it must have taken you to get that in order. You have a real knack for taking the “right” pictures!

  69. Thanks so much for sharing your lovely trip with us. Makes me want to go — that’s the best kind of sharing.

  70. Fabulous, fabulous! I love it.

  71. Thanks so much for sharing. This is why I love you gals because you open my eyes to the world around me (and not just the knitting world).

  72. Your photo travelogue is gorgeous. I cannot imagine going anywhere with a temperature over 90 degrees. I have a hard enough time doing anything over 85.

  73. Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane! I went to all the same spots 15 yrs ago. Hot! Dry! Yes, I miss it all! Your photos do such a great job of capturing the mixed cultures there! Thanks.

  74. Kay. Amazing. Thank you.

  75. Thank you, Kay, for a wonderful journey. I feel like I traveled along w/ you and had a really good time.

  76. Lovely post. You just made Israel a little more real to me.

  77. I love it all, but especially the Kaffe moments!

  78. Beautiful post! Someday I’ll get there…

  79. There IS a Masada movie! Or a mini-series, which may be even a better and cheesier idea: http://www.amazon.com/Masada-Complete-Mini-Peter-OToole/dp/B000S0KYTE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1277927528&sr=1-1
    Epic, to say the least.

  80. Wow, those are great photos of a wonderful trip. Thanks so much for sharing them!

  81. Loved every bit of your post. Thanks for sharing, havne’t been there but my MOM has…. many years ago

  82. Best photo journal evah.

  83. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing!

  84. GREAT photos!!! Krishnas with accordions?! Two strikes!

  85. Wonderful. The images were compelling and your commentary interesting and thoughtful—as always!
    Thank you for sharing your trip, and opening your lives up to us. We missed you, but this was worth the wait!

  86. WOW. Absolutely amazing, looks like an incredible country. Agree that the yarn shops should be open longer, though.
    When I was about 15, I wasn’t allowed into St Marks Cathedral in Venice because I was wearing shorts. My mother gave the unamused guys at the entrance hell. Then, I was embarrassed – now, I’m very proud she didn’t let it go either! (although I still didn’t get in…)

  87. Thanks for the wonderful photos – likely to be my only form of visiting Israel. Looks like a fabulous trip!

  88. Very Fab! You’re a great Mom. Great pics, too. Thanks.

  89. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us! So beautiful!

  90. Kay, thank you ever so much for sharing your trip with these amazing photos (and commentary, of course!)

  91. Wonderful, simply wonderful. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your photos and observations. Very enlightening, in a Kay sort of way (*grin*), for those of us who have not yet had the good fortune to visit.

  92. Oh Kay, how beautiful! I am going to steal a copy of that man with the to-go tray of teas. Wouldn’t I look smart with a tray of ice coffees like that?

  93. Thanks for sharing your trip and beautiful pictures and thanks for your blog, which I always look forwarding to reading.

  94. Wow! Thank you so much!

  95. Wonderful – more please.

  96. What lovely photos! Never apologize for sharing such a wonderful adventure.

  97. Super duper photos and words. Your point of view is right on. Love the “. . . well OK then” in Hebrew graffiti. Much to think on.
    Always enjoy how you see a quilt or design or (knitting) inspiration in the scenery. That feeling is so good and endless and universal.
    Thank you.

  98. Outstanding tour! Thank you!

  99. This was just the best!

  100. Wonderful. Green door, blue shirt, tired boy, yes. But frum lady – no – looking just peachy!
    Loved, loved, loved it all. Thanks.

  101. BTW, what does that word “frum” mean?–LoveDiane

  102. Thank you so much. I now want to plan a trip to Israel immediately !

  103. Beautiful Kay. i can’t imagine–thank you for sharing!

  104. Thanks Kay, that was awesome. I read for the knitting stories, but Israel, wonderful to see and hear about.

  105. Absolutely fabulous photos … I felt like I was there. You have an incredible scrapbook in the making!!!

  106. Kay, I’m certainly enjoying your “travelblog”, and you inadvertently helped me with one of the answers in yesterday’s NY Times crossword puzzle–MASADA!
    You really should get out your Kaffe scraps and make one of those quilts on display in the marketplace. Then hang it out your apartment window for all the world to see. (The kids will be embarrassed, but they’ll get over it in time.)
    Mary G. in Texas

  107. Lovely! Thank you so much for posting those.

  108. Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed the pictures. Someday I will go.

  109. Thank you for this!! My heavens. How wonderful.

  110. Many who want an egalitarian section of the kotel go all the way down to the end of the western wall by Robinson’s Arch. You can stand on Herodian era pavement in front of the entrances to 2000 year old shops. Another spot is in the tunnel which parallels the wall on the left. This section is actually nearer to the Holy of Holies. Glad you enjoyed your trip

  111. I love that land and its history, and hope I get to visit someday. Thanks for sharing.

  112. What an amazing trip – once in a lifetime! Have to admit the heat would have me drooping, though. I’d be wabbit at the end of the first day :o)

  113. Thank you for the virtual vacation! I showed your pictures to the other members of my family, they were so evocative.
    And what a lovely young woman your daughter has become! I’ve been reading your blog long enough to feel I’ve watched her grow up. Best wishes!

  114. Wow! I was just catching up on your blog after our vacation (Williamsburg and Baltimore — not nearly the logistical effort from western NY.) Thank you for sharing all of your pictures! Beautiful, historic places!

  115. Now, Kay, some of us love our spokey streets,after a while one learns them. DC native, CA transplant

  116. Love the photos.
    I’m frum and I don’t wear stockings in the heat btw.

  117. I’ve been reading your blog for over a year, and was so excited to see you post photos my neighborhood! I love the way your photos and captions showed Tel Aviv… And yes, I do miss the dairy every time I travel to the states.


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