Friday, May 27, 2016

Hard and dry labaneh

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In Israel we love to eat the soft yogurt cheese called labaneh, scooping it off the plate with pita.
But Nissim, our excellent guide through the Bedouin part of the Beer Sheva market, explained that labaneh can also be made into these dried lumps.

  
Strained labaneh is pressed in its cheese cloth between two heavy stones and later sun dried.
The balls can be easily stored and for a long time. 
Arabs have been doing this for hundreds of years.
I guess when Bedouin were still largely nomadic, it was easy to transport the labaneh in such form; add water and it is easily reconstituted to soft yogurt cheese.


The labaneh made by Arabs in the southern Hebron Hills is slightly different in shape from that made by the Bedouin here in the Negev.
One version is round and the other is oval.

To see how women in the nearby village of Dirijat produce labaneh, please see my pictures from 2008, when I spent five days living there, learning Arabic.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Two together, to 120!

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My two favorite centenarians, in Chicago!
Today we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Rabbi Herman Schaalman's ordination (1941), and tomorrow is Rabbi and Lotte's 75th wedding anniversary.
My Rabbi is 100 and Lotte is 101.
A double mazal tov and lots of love to both!
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(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Traces of the old Brutalism in our market

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Beer Sheva's municipal market has been "modernized" in recent decades.
But at one edge, in the oldest part of the shuk, you can still find traces of the old standard, Brutalism.
The arches in the photo have the dark, fortress-like feeling of Brutalist architecture.


As we saw in an earlier post explaining this style,  the term Brutalism comes from the French béton brut, or "raw concrete," a phrase used by Le Corbusier to describe the poured board-marked concrete with which he constructed many of his post-World War II buildings.


The newer parts of the shuk are covered with a different material,  which give more light and a lighter feeling.
Just as Tel Aviv's "White City" has become world-famous for its old Bauhaus houses, so Beer Sheva in the desert now wants to be famous for its many (too many!) old and new examples of Brutalism.
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See more about Brutalist buildings in Beer Sheva and also in Zichron Yaacov in my earlier posts.
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Beer Sheva market folks in video

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Tonight everyone in Israel who cares about soccer will be watching the crucial game of HaPoel Beer Sheva vs. Bnei Sakhnin (the team from Arab town Sakhnin).
If Beer Sheva wins, it will be the first time in forty years that the team becomes national champion. 
A One VOD camera crew was in Beer Sheva's huge open-air market, interviewing shuk regulars about their favorite team.


This shot is more interesting because it catches a Bedouin woman's nice dress.
Enlarge the photo to see the intricate embroidery.
Sorry, but spectator sports are not my forte; I can't get into watching games. 

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Here in my little snippet a dyed-in-the-wool HaPoel Beer Sheva fan sings for the team.

But I recommend you go to the professional 5-minute ONE VOD video and enjoy seeing the diverse and colorful characters of our shuk (market) as they praise HaPoel.
It's fun even if you don't know Hebrew.  : )

UPDATE Saturday 11 pm:  Wow, we won, Beer Sheva won the game!!  National soccer champions for the first time since 1976.
Big joy in the stadium and in the city and in homes!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Off and running! Meitar Night Race

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The yearly Meitar Night Race came down my street yesterday! 
At 6:12 pm it was not yet night but at least the setting sun was at their back. 


Running either the 5 K or 10 K can't be all that easy on Meitar's many hills.


The first wave was mainly kids.
They made a circle at the cellist roundabout and headed back.
The adults ran on around our town's ring road (map here).


Police kept wheeled traffic off the designated streets from 6:00 to 10:30 pm.
That also meant no buses on the regular bus route.
And residents were asked not to park on the street.
The race takes a lot of planning.
Glad I was only taking pictures.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

S is for scales and sheep-shearing shears

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For ABC Wednesday, let's say S is for scale.
When is the last time you saw an old balance scale like this?
When I made aliyah to Israel in 1968 the sellers in markets were still using them to weigh and price your fruits and vegetables.
Soon digital scales took over. 

This old seller wouldn't have it any other way, though.
He sits in the Beer Sheva shuk, in the almost-all Bedouin part of the market, and wastes for customers.
He offers a mishmash of sewing thread, hand shears for shearing sheep, matches, and used containers.
Bedouin who live in unrecognized villages, those not on the national electric grid, need jerrycans to transport kerosene for their generators.
Oh, and next to some spices or some kind of seeds are packets of Pertixine, a powder for the control of mites and lice on poultry and animals.

Our guide (you see his hand) on this fascinating Jane's Walk tour through both parts of the market told us not to be fooled by the old man's humble appearance.
Turns out that in the 1960s he was a top gashash in the army.
In the IDF only Bedouin are gashashim--trackers, reconnaissance scouts--because they know the land and the desert like the proverbial back of their hand.
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Desert Embroidery, for World Fair Trade Day

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Today is World Fair Trade Day!


And what better example of fair trade than Desert Embroidery, the Association for the Improvement of Women's Status, begun by the women in the Bedouin town Lakia.



The women in the association do fine traditional embroidery by hand.
Each works in her home and then brings her creations to the center to be finished into products that are sold in their shop.


To quote their website:
In the 1980's, a group of Bedouin girls got together to improve life in their village. In 1996 the Association for the Improvement of Women's Status achieved official recognition as the first Bedouin women's non-profit organization in Southern Israel.
Today we run a successful embroidery program to generate income for Bedouin women and preserve traditional handicrafts. We operate a mobile library serving over 1,500 children, as well as educational programs for women and youth. We invite you to visit the Desert Embroidery Visitor Center or browse the fine handmade embroidery products we offer. 

The colors and patterns handed down over the generations tell a unique story, depending on how they are blended; that is why each young Bedouin woman embroiders a dress of her own to tell her own life story.
Please take a look at the website  which explains what the brave women of Lakia have accomplished.
Your heart will swell.
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UPDATE: This paragraph tells fascinating things about the symbolism of Bedouin embroidery!
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(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Little sparrows on big sacks

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Two sparrows feasting on rice.
(Enlarge the picture if you can't find them.)

More pictures of Beer Sheva's big open-air shuk/market in yesterday's post.

Remember when rice-throwing at weddings was banned in some places in the USA?
Apparently the notion that eating rice would kill birds was a myth
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(Linking to Camera Critters.)
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Busy pre-Sabbath buying at the market

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Get your fresh cherries, "only" 40 shekels (!) (about $10) per kilo. 
All the other fruits and vegetables are a lot cheaper. 


Friday is a busy day in Beer Sheva's open-air shuk.


The market and all stores close mid-afternoon on Friday and open again on Sunday.


Did you notice, there are almost no women in the photos?
I think they are all at home, frantically cooking and cleaning to be ready for the Sabbath that starts before sundown.
Then the real day of rest begins.
Shabbat shalom, Sabbath peace to you. 
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

A heart for our Air Force

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Our community of Meitar was treated to a flyover at noon today in celebration of Israel's Independence Day!


Several formations came over low and fast right above my street.


A Boeing showed how they do in-flight refueling of fighter jets.


Strange how a white heart appears at the wingtip in this photo!
(You can enlarge it with a click or two.  See it?!)
A sure sign of our love for the Air Force and for all our boys and girls in uniform.
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Happy 68th Independence Day, long live our little country!
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UPDATE:  Just published--a first-hand account of the turbulence endured by the press photographer assigned to the Hercules cargo plane (in my 2nd photo).  But he got great aerial photos of Israel!
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Holiday fireworks in Meitar video

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Happy 68th Independence Day, Israel!
Wednesday night at sundown we made the transition from sad Remembrance Day to happy Independence Day.
 Here's a little video of  fireworks in the center of my little town in the Negev, as seen from a friend's roof on the edge of town.
You can hear one of the many neighborhood dogs barking in protest against the explosive noise.

Chag Atsmaut  sameach -- happy Independence Day!
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(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)
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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Remembrance Day


Yom HaZikaron is the hardest, most painful day of the year for us.

To quote The Times of Israel --

"Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism formally began at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday as sirens wailed throughout the country, signalling a solemn minute of silence at the start of an annual remembrance marked with candle lightnings, memorial services and melancholy songs.
This year’s memorials commemorate 23,447 men and women who have died in uniform or as victims of terror attacks. The past year saw 68 Israeli soldiers and police die in the line of duty, as well as 32 civilians killed in terror attacks.
. . .
The Defense Ministry’s Families and Commemoration Department expects some 1.5 million visitors at the nation’s 52 military cemeteries and hundreds of smaller military sections in civilian cemeteries.
Wednesday morning’s commemorations begin at 11:00 a.m. with a two-minute memorial siren that will bring the country to a standstill and launch the official state ceremony at the Mount Herzl national military cemetery, as well as military cemeteries nationwide."

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(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)
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Monday, May 9, 2016

Making a mandala deep in the quarry

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As explained in the previous post, one of Friday's Jane's Walk walks went down into Beer Sheva's ancient quarry. 
Guide Shir had us play some nature games, e.g. each of us had to find something natural that interested him/her and collect eight examples of it.


A botany student came up with a flower in different stages of development.


The geology student found a flint that had been knapped thousands of years ago.


Always attracted to spirals, I brought dry snail shells.


And then we arranged them on the earth into a mandala!
Click on the photo to see it well.


Long live this ancient quarry and long live these nice young people who love the earth and our Land!
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(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)
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Saturday, May 7, 2016

The ancient, wild, huge quarry in Beer Sheva

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A nice, comfortably small group turned out for one of the Jane's Walks on Friday morning.
Shir was our good guide, extolling the value of slow meandering, taking us through fun exercises in positive psychology, and opening our eyes to better engage with nature.


Nice boys, eh?  I think they are students at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
One studying geology said that we were sitting in part of a canyon formed millions of years ago, the Afiq (Gaza-Beersheba) canyon.


Today the quarry is in between Beer Sheva's residential blocks.
Its area is about 8 acres and it is very deep.  And very exciting!
(With a click or two you can enlarge the photos.)

The Ottomans (who controlled our area for 400 years) quarried stone here from 1900 to 1917  to build  their city of Beer Sheva (the area now known as the Old City).


Let us pray the quarry never becomes a construction site!
I hope it stays wild, but the next-best thing is an envisioned Geo-botanical Park and Center for Environmental Education in conjunction with the Nature Protection Society.

Here is the relevant part in a 2010 Jerusalem Post article called "Blueprint for Beersheva" --

One of the more underrated projects in the 2020 brochure is “The Quarry,” which lacks, at this point, a targeted completion date. To Beersheba activist Ethelea Katzanell, that’s unfortunate.

“The quarry – a hole in the heart of the city – is really an important ancient geological site located between the Bet and Daled neighborhoods,” she says. “Lots of people don’t even know it’s there – it’s fenced off, so you’d have to make a special effort to see it.

“I’m surprised this project isn’t being pushed forward – it has a big potential for quick implementation, and doesn’t involve a tremendous amount of money.”

The influential Katzanell serves on a host of city advisory boards. “I’m on the Environmental Committee, the Historical Site Committee and both the Tourist and Beautification Committees,” Katzanell laughs, as she ticks the assignments off. “Anything having to do with what the city offers people, both residents and tourists alike. To me, the Quarry is such an important asset to Beersheba, and one so close to completion, we should be moving ahead on this now.

“The history is fascinating. It started back in the 1980s. when the BGU Geology Department studied the area and proposed turning the quarry into a geological site – you can see the strata going back millions of years. They presented the idea to the city as an educational and tourist site very much like other geological sites all over the world. Nothing happened. They couldn’t find a sponsor.

“In 1994, the project was resurrected. An English version of the proposal was written up and presented again. All the city offices signed off on it, permits were approved, everything was ready – even a sponsor had been found, a French donor.

“Just as it was ready to go, the sponsor, for whatever reason, withdrew. And the project dropped out of sight, again.

“In 2007, I heard a rumor that the project was going to be killed – that a tower was going to be built on the Quarry site,” Katzanell continued. “I was horrified. I rewrote the project for a third time, included everything that had been proposed before, and turned it over to “Earth’s Promise,” a local environmental organization. Together with their experts, geologists and environmentalists, they proposed the creation of a Geo-botanical Park and Center for Environmental Education, in conjunction with the Nature Protection Society. The Park would include all the geographical distinctions, the strata marks, plus all the unique local vegetation for teaching and study.

“I’m surprised another sponsor hasn’t been found. This is a relatively modest project in terms of cost, and the city has already signed off on it. The Quarry Project could be completed pretty easily. I’m hoping that now, in 2010, we can finally move ahead with this.”
(Linking to ABC Wednesday and Camera Critters.)
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Friday, May 6, 2016

Jane's Walk tours in Beer Sheva

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Four tall buildings are going up on a small, formerly quiet residential street in Beer Sheva's Gimel Neighborhood.
And the neighbors, the old-timers, are not happy about it.

This afternoon the worldwide Jane's Walk citizen-guided walking tours began in Beer Sheva.
More over the weekend.
Check the link to find a Jane's Walk in your area.
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(Linking to Sky Watch Friday.)
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Monday, May 2, 2016

Double Helix bridge by night

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Beer Sheva's new Double Helix bridge is especially beautiful at night!


Once you get yourself or your bicycle up the tall escalator . . .



you can go over to the growing Advanced Technologies Park.


The bridge spans the railroad tracks.
The big building is Beer Sheva North/Ben Gurion University train station.
(Central Station is the other train terminal in Beer Sheva.)

More about the Double Helix in my earlier posts.
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(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)
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Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Being present with a whiff of cardamom"

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Come into Jerusalem's Old City spice shop, a pleasure to the nose and eye.
What here is labeled "coffee spice" is cardamon.
 Ahh, so fragrant when added to Turkish coffee, and healthy for the heart too.

I enjoyed this article which says
"Frequent mentions of mindfulness — slapping the word on every object and practice — don’t make us more mindful. “People have this magical belief in words as if they’re incantations. The more people use it, the less you’re distinguishing yourself from anyone else,” says [linguist Geoffrey] Nunberg, who views mindfulness as “being present with a whiff of cardamom.”
[Italics are mine!]

See how other bloggers illustrate "Smell," our May Theme Day subject, over at City Daily Photo portal.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pedal power

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“Full Gas in Neutral”
"An interactive installation comprised of 30 interactive and colorful bicycles. 

Each bicycle is attached to a flag pole, at the end of which is a surprising element activated by pedaling. 
The installation, which was placed at Safra Square in August 2013, was created by the artist Anat Berman and the architect Ilan Berman." 

More about it here.

(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Matza shmura!

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Look what a wonderful gift I received yesterday on the Eve of Passover!


And expensive too!
Every box is sealed with a sticker bearing a serial number and rabbinical certification of authenticity and kashrut.
Normally only very observant Jews go above and beyond to invest in matza above and beyond the standard square white, uniform, factory-produced matzot.


The box held three hand-made shmura matzas specifically for use on the festive Pesach seder table.


The back of the box has a handy guide to the elements of the seder.
Especially stressed is the requirement for every Jewish man and woman to eat matza three times on this night of our "going out from Egypt," each time the required minimum is about 27 grams (or some ancient authorities say 15 grams), i.e. "kezait," ("like one olive").


So, very carefully (because if one matza breaks, it is not kosher for the seder), I tore off the outer cellophane, cut the strong sticker, took out the plastic bag from the strong box, unwrapped the waxed paper, and . . .


tada!  The three precious matzot shmurot!
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In Hebrew, shmura means guarded.
Every stage of the making of this once-a-year specialty is carefully guarded, from farm to packaging.
"The wheat is plucked after the kernels start to harden but before they sprout new shoots. Kosher supervisors monitor the grain even as it’s growing to make sure the wheat isn’t sprouting."

This quote is from an article in Haaretz called Why Does Shmura Matza for Passover Cost More than Filet Mignon?.
You will enjoy reading it, I'm sure!

To see the process: a 2-minute video
and/or an old-fashioned video starting from the wheat growing, 11 minutes.
 
Chag sameach, happy holiday!
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(For more information and photos please click on the matza and Passover labels here below:)
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(Linking to Our World Tuesday and ABC Wednesday.)
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