Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Our new place to pause on the Israel Trail


And now about the February 10 dedication of Mitzpe Noam that I started to tell you about in the previous post.

Many, I think more than a hundred, came to honor Noam Rosenthal and his family.
Noam was a son of Meitar, our town.

Noam was only 20 when mortars killed him along with four other soldiers on July 31, 2014 during the 50-day fight with Gaza.

His mother, father, brother, friend, and his commander,  the mayor, and a representative from Keren Kayemet gave moving speeches.
There was hardly a dry eye in the audience.
Then the red ribbon was ceremoniously cut above the stone compass which shows one of Noam's favorite sayings: "Live always says northward."

His chevreh, a tight-knit group of  fine young men (seen in the photo) who every Friday evening would get together on this hilltop and make music, wrote moving things on the rock about Noam's legacy, how they would always think of him and miss him.

His family wrote these words about memory and memories.

Noam's favorite instrument was the piano; he played mainly classical music.
And so they designed this meeting place in the shape of a grand piano.

I hiked back to the Noam Overlook a few days ago and found it being enjoyed by a few families.

This is the view from the edge of town.
Mitzpe Noam is on top of the hill.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday, hoping wars will someday not be a part of our world.
And for ABC Wednesday, the letter G is for a grieving family and a good boy, gone from us.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Former forest ranger's camp


In honor of F day over at ABC Wednesday, feast your eyes on this fresh fruit!

Friday was the Tu BiShvat holiday and food filled the long table.
A new lookout was being dedicated in memory of a fallen soldier, but more about that in the next post.

The former forester's watchtower and hut reminded us of the early days of Meitar, founded in the early 1980s.

The overlook on the high hill in the forest now looks down on our town of almost 9,000 and Meitar is still growing.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hiking the forest on Tu BiShvat

Hello again.   Happy Tu BiShvat!
Today on the Hebrew calendar it is the 15th of Shvat, which according to ancient Jewish law is considered the birthday or New Year for our fruit trees.
In modern Israel it has become a happy day of going out into nature and enjoying the now-blooming wildflowers, and some groups plant young saplings.
As you see in this photo, the leafy trees are still in their winter leafless stage, but spring will soon come!
Our town is lucky to have the Meitar Forest right in our "backyard."
Many of us were out hiking in the hills today.

At one picnic spot we chanced to meet this couple.
They came from the American Midwest to hike the Israel Trail, which goes right through our forest.
They did not camp right here but had only put up the tent to let it dry from the morning dew while Turkish coffee was being boiled.
Good luck to these brave young souls!

Gotta love modern technology -- charging the cell phone with solar power!

You can learn more about Tu BiShvat customs (there is even a seder meal!) in my previous posts.
And there is more about the 950-kilometer-long Israel Trail, including a map, in these other posts.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Swiss donkey and a black sheep


A fun and unusual night in Boudry, Switzerland, last month.

Every December this nice man takes his calm donkey around to all the Christmas events in the region.
The kids and the people love it.
I especially loved seeing a donkey again.

One farmer brought a young lamb, which I just HAD to hold.

The donkey led the way for a multi-cultural holiday procession through the cobblestoned medieval old town.
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rebar and concrete


One of the many houses under construction in Meitar's newest neighborhood.
In Israel it's all concrete and rebar.
The wood you see in the photo is only temporary.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Toy building blocks for a giant?


More scenes from the new neighborhood being built in my town. 

 Don't these look like toy building blocks for a lucky giant?! 

A lot like Lego Duplo, no?

They were lined up on both sides of the new street,

. . . just waiting to become a new sidewalk.
(Linking to OurWorld Tuesday.  And for ABC Wednesday C is for construction.)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Free range organic farm


Friday a neighbor-friend picked me up and we drove out to visit a big organic farm and to buy goat yogurt, white cheese, and labaneh.
This mega-dog was in a paddock with some bucks and rams.

Many of the cattle were basking in the warm sun.
It is not often that you see free-range cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens these days.
It made me happy.

Only the parrots were enclosed.

The view from the farm's dairy and shop has changed since I was there last summer.
The West Bank (which starts just across the road) is now behind a concrete separation wall.

The security fence and/or wall is not yet finished.
(Linking to Camera Critters and SkyWatch Friday.)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Red clay tiles waiting


It is just speculation on my part, but it seems that red tile roofs are a status symbol in Israel. 

This was my first time to see such a roof in its "becoming" stage. 
The clay tiles were in neat little stacks, just waiting for Shabbat to be over so the roofer could start to lay them. 

A whole new neighborhood is being built in my town in the Negev. 
You can see here that the street and houses are still under construction.  (With two clicks you can open the photos to full size and see better what I men.)
(My neighborhood is up behind those trees on the hill; it was the first part of Meitar to be built, in 1984.)
Almost all the new houses have flat roofs, except for these two here in the photo with the sloping roofs. 
The red one sticks out like a . . . like a status symbol. ;-)

UPDATE: Just found this article in Haaretz:
"The rise and fall of the red roof: Israel's white picket fence."


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Great Synagogue of Basel


The Great Synagogue of Basel was built in 1868.

But, it says on the plaque, the first synagogue of Basel existed already in 1200.

A friend took me to Basel on a cold gray day in December.
We looked at the exterior of the impressive building but everything was locked up.
It was a Shabbat afternoon and not a soul was to be seen.

But we can learn from the Jewish Virtual Library website that

the Great Synagogue is a national landmark.  The synagogue, first built in 1868, was expanded and renovated several times over the past century-and-a-half. The Great Synagogue, at Leimenstrasse 24, houses two synagogues, a choir, mikveh, and is beautifully designed. Next door to the synagogue is the community center, library, and day school.
That website, by the way, tells the not always happy history of Jews in Switzerland since the Middle Ages;  very interesting, and not what you'd expect.

The nice website of the Basel Jewish Community, however, paints a rosy picture of today's Jewish situation:

Around 2000 Jews live in and around Basel, a dynamic commercial and industrial city with a rich culture and located in the heart of Europe. Founded over 200 years ago, the Israelitische Gemeinde Basel (IGB) is one of the largest Jewish communities in Switzerland. It is equipped with all the necessary organizations and a well-developed infrastructure. The community is an institution under public law, and legally on equal terms with the churches. As a so-called united community, the IGB includes Jewish members of any religious orientation. It is run according to the rules of the Halacha.
While the majority of the members of the IGB identify with a non-practicing direction of Judaism, there is still a vibrant religious life in this Community. Daily Shacharith as well as Minchah and Ma’ariv services are carried out. Before the Shacharith service, a Daf Yomi takes place daily. On almost all shabbat mornings, the Synagogue Choir Basel contributes to the service. The IGB is one of the few communities in Europe, in which all shabbat as well as Yom Tov services are led by a full-time and professional chazan [cantor].

You can click on my photos a few times to see the details.
And don't miss  panoramic views of the interior at Synagogues360.
UPDATE: The building has undergone many changes in its long history, including the addition of the two domes.   Here is how it looked in 1930:

(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday,  ABC Wednesday and Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Go in peace

A funeral is beginning right now in Chicago, at Emanuel Congregation. 
My beloved Rebbetzin, Lotte Schaalman, died on Friday, at home, exactly on her 102nd birthday. 
I wish my equally beloved Rabbi, who is nearing 101, the strength now to carry on without his helpmate. They were married for 75 years. 
I thank them both for all they have given me and my family. 
Mrs. Schaalman so often impressed upon me what I think was her life-philosophy, saying "I never promised you a rose garden."   -- We take what comes and make the best of it. 
Rest in peace, dear Lotte, you deserve a little rest after a long lifetime of taking care of everyone else. 
May God bless you and welcome you.

(A photo, not my own, from ca. 2014, maybe.)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Door in the window for an indoor/outdoor cat


This cat and I were friends in Switzerland but only once in my two months there was I lucky enough to see her go up the cat ladder and into her humans' home.

Here she is jumping up to the first ledge.

Then up the ladder to her first-floor apartment.

And in she pushes through the ingenious cat door in the window! 
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Centuries-old furniture still in daily use


A is for antique furniture.
I think they might be from the 17th century and they are still in everyday use in the monastic community's refectory in Switzerland!

And you really must enlarge the photos to see the exquisite detail of ornate carving.

Are those numerals?  Do they really say 1663??

Two antique chairs flank an old clock.
The swinging pendulum and the loud ticking are almost hypnotic.
I soon learned not to sit near the clock in the semi-darkness and silence of early breakfast.
(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)