The New Year is just around the corner, bringing change, and, as is often the case, more of the same. It’s also that opportunity to look back on the last year, and in this column, The Times of Israel’s weekly top five — or six, if we just can’t cut off at five — we’re taking some time to look back on the best top five articles of the last year.
Our weekly top five is a chance to consider what’s happening around the country, whether in art, food, nature, places or people. True, we often mold it around the time of year, or certain holidays, and that helped eliminate some options. But many of the suggestions work year-round, and that’s what we looked for in this week’s roundup, the best of the best.
1) It’s generally true that readers love any top five that relates to food, whether making it or eating it. We’ve had several, from our first, which was a shakshuka roundup, to a survey of soups during the chilly winter and a personal favorite, a look at five eateries that specialize in home-cooked foods. But the clear winner in the food category was the top five falafel joints written by Times of Israel’s military correspondent, Mitch Ginsburg, who surveyed Jerusalem’s best falafel, the food that has saved him time and again.
2) While falafel, delectable as it can be, is the kind of food generally eaten on the run, attention must be paid to the times when sitting is what’s needed, taking time to quaff a beverage that’s made with consideration and care. We haven’t covered coffee per se, but we have written about DIY drinks for the hot weather and, my personal favorite, day drinking hot-spots in Tel Aviv, by the inimitable Michal Shmulovich. She covers a lot of ground in this piece, and be sure to read #4, the bar we hope Bruce Springsteen will visit, if the Boss comes to Israel (sign the petition!).
3) It’s not all about food or drink; attention must be paid to what’s done in between those moments, and we’re not talking about work or laundry. So let’s stick with the downtime opportunities, when we’re seeking some fun in the sun, or shelter from the storm. Several readers have told me they tried to do every activity on our top five Friday outings list from last March, which is high enough acclaim in my book. Please note that the Matronita exhibit at Ein Harod has moved on, and in its place is an exhibit about culture for children on kibbutzim, from the 1920s through the present day, featuring films, crafts and photos.
4) I’ve always had a fondness for hidden corners, places to sit quietly and read, contemplate the shifting clouds in the sky or discover some hidden treasure. Our top five hidden corners around town was written back in May, when the sun was starting to get hot and I wanted to encourage shady spots, but they’re all great spots to visit, even when the sky is gray and the wind is blowing. I’ll add one detail, regarding a spot that I recently rediscovered, the Trumpeldor Cemetery on Trumpeldor Street in Tel Aviv that is fascinating during the day, and even better at night. With some 5,000 graves of the city’s founders, earliest residents and historical figures, it’s literally a stroll down the memory lane of Tel Aviv, and smack in the center of the city.
5) Finally, a nod to the birds that soar and fly in these parts, using Israel as a stopover airport, so to speak, as they make their way to points south and north at various times of the year. Yoav Perlman, my birdwatching source, has put together his own Best Moments of 2012 in his birding blog, which is worth a read. As for me, I headed to the Hula Nature Reserve shortly after interviewing him about the late fall bird migration, where we saw flocks of pelicans and storks, and the birdwatchers themselves. Now when I see a flock of birds soaring and hovering in the sky, I know they’re aiming for that column of thermal air, trying to stay warm in the cold winter days of 2012-2013.
Happy New Year.