What’s between Israel and summer?
What has not been said about summer in Israel? We know that it can be overwhelmingly hot. We know most people choose to stay indoors while secretly hoping that it would be over. Others bask in the sun on hot beaches’ shores or enjoy summer festivals celebrated everywhere in the country.
Here, at the Jesus Boat store, everything slows down with the summer’s heat. The Sea of Galilee is a scene of blank canvas. The calm waters produce a smooth mirror-like painting of the surroundings only to occasionally be interrupted by flocks of duck. The mountains are painted gold with highlights of green sprinkled about the landscape against the backdrop of clear, blue skies.
Visitors take their time before leaving for another air-conditioned oasis. They stroll along the museum’s lobby and hang around a bit longer. They enjoy the pleasant scenery, cafeteria and the warm-heartedness of the staff. It is one of the times we really get to know our visitors and some, like you, remain our close friends.
But what is special about summer in Israel? I have been troubling my mind with this question a lot lately. Is there a hidden value to Israeli summer? Is there something different about summer here; something unique to the Holy Land, its people and culture? The answer I came up with was quite surprising.
After careful thought I realized that summer in Israel manifests the Israeli temper out in nature. Israelis have been known to be hot tempered and somewhat rude at times. Their personality is usually a baffling mixture of informal friendliness, warm heartedness and abruptness. Meeting them cannot leave anyone indifferent.
With the summer heat taking over, nature starts looking somewhat similar to an Israeli. Landscape is covered with dry yellow weeds, excruciatingly hot winds blow from time to time and the impression one gets is that nature is becoming rougher and tougher much like the Israeli sabra. Here and there, though, one might find scarce shade spots with sudden cool breezes and win a fleeting moment of grace. Water sources offer ultimate “kindness” and bring out all that is good about being Israeli – The laughs, the informal socializing and friendliness, the refreshments and the fun.
What Summer Does to Israeli Temper
While nature is “acting out”, so to speak, people become easily aggravated by the heat. This reflects in several ways. Even the most civilized Englishman can become angrier on an Israeli summer day and people generally get impatient. The heat is quite hard to bear. Driving requires better skill because drivers might cut your lane without signaling just in order to beat traffic and get to their destination as soon as possible. Did we mention rude? Yes, Israelis can be like that sometimes but they can also take you in and show you hospitality like no other.
Energy of Israeli Summer
Meteorologists in Israel have quite a dull job during the Israeli summer, although it seems temperatures are about to reach record-breaking heights with the recent heat wave which is visiting us these days.
Though the heat may render most of us depleted or even exhausted, summer in Israel is usually full of activities and action. With the sun being late to set down, the days grow longer. A sensation follows that there is more available time on our hands. No one wants to waste it vegging on a couch. Summer quality time is here. It is time for music festivals, picnics, water activities or short excursions in nature. Paradoxically to the overwhelming heat, you feel the air buzzing with activity and if you manage to avoid the “hot hours” (10:00AM-04:00PM), fatigue turns into renewed exuberance. You feel compelled to partake in the action and generally have more strength to step out of your daily routine into this or that summer mini-adventure (Nothing too challenging; something like taking the kids to pick cherries in the Golan Heights or the zoo on a nearby Kibbutz).
How to stay refreshed this summer “Israeli-style”?
A few options really. Most commonly by drinking icy-cold drinks such as Wizzosky ice tea, Frozen Minty Lemonade or an Iced Tea Cocktail on the Rocks (Recipes to follow). You should also try tasting the popular watermelon with Bulgarian cheese combo which no Israeli can do without during summer.
A word of caution, though: Don’t be surprised if after trying these Israeli summer classics you start uttering words in Hebrew all of a sudden. Enjoy!
Wizzosky Ice Tea
4 classic Wizzosky Tea bags
Just a little boiling water
4 cups of cold water
Slices of lemon
1) Steep the tea bags in a little boiling water for 2-3 minutes
2) Sweeten according to taste
3) Add four cups of cold water
4) Add slices of lemon according to taste and ice cubes
Iced Tea Cocktail on the Rocks
3 glasses of “Wizzosky Ice Tea” (See recipe above)
¾ cup of sugar
2 bottles of semi-dry white wine
½ glass of brandy
1.10Ib of fresh cucumbers chopped into small cubes
Stripes of lemon peel (only the yellow part) cut from two lemons
The Juice of two lemons
1 bottle of soda water
1) Mix the wine, the brandy, sugar and lemon peels in a big bowl.
2) Stir well until the sugar is totally absorbed then cover and leave to settle for about an hour.
3) Dice the cucumbers and add to the bowl.
4) Pour Wizzosky Ice Tea into the bowl.
5) Add the soda water and ice cubes
6) Stir well and serve.
Frozen Minty Lemonade (also called Limonana)
2 cups of Water
½ a cup of Sugar (or more according to taste)
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
3½ cups of ice
½ a cup of fresh mint leaves
A few springs of fresh mint for garnish (optional)
1) Mix 1 cup of water with sugar and heat in a saucepan until dissolved. Set aside for cooling.
2) In a blender, combine sugar water, fresh lemon juice, ice, fresh mint leaves and remaining cup of water. Ice needs to be thoroughly crushed and texture should be thick.
3) Taste and add sugar if necessary. Blend again.
Note: If you use a low- glycemic sweetener instead of sugar, you can prepare the drink without the sugar and add your sweetener after. Blend again.
4) Pour to tall cold glasses, garnish with mint springs and serve.
Jesus Boat Store – Bringing Israel to you