Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ready, Steady, Build!


If I had to operate any of this heavy machinery in the hot dusty desert, by the end of the day I'd feel as if I had been under the steamroller.

I don't know how the operators, who are usually Bedouin, work all day with no food or drink now during the month of Ramadan.

But the new neighborhood in our town has to get built.

And work goes on, winter and summer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

X-ing out your enemy

(Give the photo a click or two to read the text.)

My word of the week for ABC Wednesday is  XENOPHOBIA.
(zěn'ə-fō'bē-ə, zē'nə-) Fear and contempt of strangers or foreign peoples.
In ancient Egypt the custom was to inscribe on a figurine the name of your enemy and appropriate curses. 
Then in an ancient ritual the figurine was smashed and the curses were activated, in the belief that this would break the enemy's power.
One such clay figurine bears on its chest the name Rusulimum (Jerusalem) and names of other enemy Canaanite cities.

I myself almost "fainted" when I first saw this display at Jerusalem's Tower of David Museum!
What an idea! 
Talk about the power of words . . . Talk about hatred of foreign peoples . . . !
Can you imagine ever doing such a thing
(BTW, "thing" and "word" are both expressed in Hebrew by the word davar. In the old days, a word was not just a sound you heard. No. A word was a thing in itself, having its own existence, carrying power. And if you know a person's name, you have power over him; you call out his name and he stops and turns around.)

The clay figurine is a copy of the original, courtesy of the Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels.
The execration (!) text is from Egypt, 19th to 18th century BCE.
1382, from Latin execrationem, noun of action from execrari "to hate, curse," from ex- "out" + sacrare "to devote to holiness or to destruction, consecrate," from sacer "sacred"

1. the act of execrating
2. a curse or imprecation: "The execrations of the prophet terrified the sinful multitude."
3. the object execrated; a thing held in abomination
See also "execration" in Jeremiah's strong words: Jer. 42:18:
Shalom, dear blog readers, and blessings be upon you.
(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The giant silo--so near yet so far


I always wanted to see the inner workings of a giant silo like this one in Kiryat Gat.
But it looks like my view from inside the train will be the closest I ever get.
At least I learned some interesting facts from the Shintraco Ltd. website:

The silo can store 30,000 tons of wheat.

"The Company carries a broad range of seed, animal feed and food products, such as wheat, wheat fodder, barley, corn for animal feed and others which are imported from Eastern Europe, Western Europe and South America; sugar imports primarily from Europe; millet imports (bird food) from China and Europe and smaller quantities from the US, as well as sesame seed imports; raw and peeled from the Far East India, China, as well as from many African countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, and others)."

"Shintraco Ltd. was established in 1991 by Shalom Hatuka and Geneva's Proalim S.A.   Shalom Hatuka started his career as an agriculturist. The contacts he made over time (within the Arab sector) and his command of the Arabic language helped him in his activities as an importer.
The cancellation of Israeli government limitations on flourmills in Israel, which had restricted mill owners to purchase only US wheat, represented a breakthrough in wheat imports to Israel. Flourmills began to demand imported wheat from other countries in order to mix different types of flour together, which allowed for prices to decline. Because of its international connections, Shintraco has transformed quickly into a reputable importer of wheat."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lots of arches


An evening view out the windows of a new building going up in Meitar.

Meitar was founded in 1984 here in the northern Negev as a yeshuv kehilati, what I like to translate as a planned community.
Over the years,  five neighborhoods have been built, one after another.
Now Number six is in progress.
See this aerial orthophoto from 2014 to grasp the layout.

I'm so curious what this will be.
A public building, I'm assuming.
The architecture looks almost like a mosque, but we have only a small percentage of Bedouin families living in Meitar, probably not enough to warrant a mosque. 

Maybe this sloping hole in the ground will become a big mikva, and the building is really a synagogue?
Time will tell.
Meanwhile, for ABC Wednesday, W is for wonderfully weird windows and walls.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Goat cheeses for Shavuot


Happy Shavuot!
Today is the Jewish holiday during which we feast on dairy food.
For all kinds of reasons why, please look at Chabad and/or About religion.

Just recently I discovered this dairy that creates all kinds of goat cheese, yogurt, and labaneh.
It is a 20-minute drive from my town and is really in the middle of nowhere.
This is a rare independent farmer (i.e. not a kibbutz or moshav) and his family raises goats and cattle and does lots of good things.
More about them later, after I can go back for a longer visit.
Meanwhile, chag sameach, happy holiday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A good sign for Burgerim


Seen from the bus in Beer Sheva, a sign on the way to a Burgerim fast food place?
It's an unusual contribution to Lesley's meme,  "signs, signs, a weekly meme of interesting, funny, ridiculous and unexplainable signs."

Burgerim opened its first place in Tel Aviv in 2008 and is now a successful Israeli franchise, with more than 80 stores in Israel.
The idea is to sell to each customer several different kinds of small burgers instead of one giant (and messy) one.
In Hebrew, burgerim is the plural of burger. 
I've never eaten there, but here is a short video telling the story, if you really want to know.  :)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sand volleyball in Beer Sheva


Sand volleyball, swimming pools, green lawns.
The good life, summer in Israel.

It was the view from the bridge this afternoon.
I think all those fun things are part of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev sport complex.
I've never really seen them before; lucky I climbed up to the Double Helix bridge and looked down.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Happy Jerusalem Day


Happy Jerusalem Day!  
"We love Jerusalem" on the Damascus Gate (from a light festival a few years ago).

Friday, June 3, 2016

Meitar from afar


Here's the 6:00 pm summer-blue sky over my town in the Negev desert.

And this is the same angle but from a higher elevation, after we walked up a hill.
If you enlarge the photo, you can see our Northern Neighborhood on the right.
It was the first section of Meitar, begun in 1984.
To the left is the Southern Neighborhood, which followed.
Off in the distance is Hura, a Bedouin town about three times bigger than Meitar in population.
Meitar has over 8,000 souls.
Shabbat shalom and happy Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Almost-evening light in the Austrian countryside


A late afternoon in November in the Austrian countryside gave nice light for today's Theme Day on Highlight and Shadow.

See what other CDP bloggers did with this subject at the website, City Daily Photo.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A bed


Sighted yesterday at the edge of town, where they are building a new street and a whole new neighborhood.
Maybe even bulldozer operators need to stretch out and rest during their long work day?


Friday, May 27, 2016

Hard and dry labaneh


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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Two together, to 120!


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!
(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Traces of the old Brutalism in our market


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.
See more about Brutalist buildings in Beer Sheva and also in Zichron Yaacov in my earlier posts.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Beer Sheva market folks in video


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. 


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


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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

S is for scales and sheep-shearing shears


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.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Desert Embroidery, for World Fair Trade Day


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.
UPDATE: This paragraph tells fascinating things about the symbolism of Bedouin embroidery!
(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Little sparrows on big sacks


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
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Busy pre-Sabbath buying at the market


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.