Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Makhtesh Ramon in the desert


Welcome to the Mitzpe Ramon Visitor Center.
Inside you can learn about this unique area in Israel's Mount Negev region.
The new Ilan Ramon Museum is also inside, commemorating our astronaut who perished when the space shuttle Colombia burned up in 2003. 

The Visitor Center perches on the cliff  500 meters above the floor of Makhtesh Ramon.
Click on the photo twice to see the little people.

The Negev desert has three enormous craterlike makhteshim, which are unique to the region: Makhtesh Ramon, Makhtesh Gadol, and Makhtesh Katan.

The Wikipedia article on makhtesh says,
Although commonly referred to as "craters," these formations are "erosion cirques" (steephead valleys or box canyons).
Craters are formed by the impact of a meteor or volcanic eruption, whereas makhteshim are created by erosion.
The word makhtesh is the Hebrew word for a mortar grinder (מַכְתֵּשׁ‎). The geological landform was given this name because of its similarity to a grinding bowl.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Both count 50 days: Pentecost and Shavuot, both today!

It is a double celebration today, with Jewish Shavuot and Christian Pentecost coming on the same day.

Today Jews celebrate Shavuot, also know by its Biblical names Chag HaKatsir, the [wheat] Harvest Festival, and Yom HaBikurim, Day of the First Fruits.
By tradition today also marks the day of King David's birth and death.
But mainly Shavuot is Zman Matan Toratenu, The Season of the Giving of our Torah.
Seven weeks (shavuot = weeks) have passed since Passover.
It took 49 (+1) days of wandering in the desert for God and Moses to prepare the People for the the biggest day in history.
In today's morning prayer service Exodus 19-20 is read.
All rise in silent reverence to listen to the Ten Commandments with the feeling that we all are standing at Mount Sinai.
The scroll of the Book of Ruth is also chanted, in loving memory of David and of Ruth, his Moabite ancestor, the mother of all converts.

In the dim recesses of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a priest and his reflection.
What almost looks like a flame above his head reminds us that this Sunday is Pentecost for some Christians.
The Book of Acts says that the Apostles were gathered together in one place [in Jerusalem's Upper Room] when suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing wind, filling the entire house where they were sitting.
Then tongues of fire appeared and one sat upon each one of Apostles!
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as directed by the Holy Spirit.
Chag sameach, happy holiday  to you, whichever festival you are celebrating today!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kawas ceremonial guards at the Ascension

On their calendar, today was the great Feast of the Ascension for Orthodox and Eastern Christians.
 Jerusalem's Chapel of the Ascension was first built around 390.
It was destroyed and rebuilt by various conquerors many times.
A mosque and minaret were added next to the chapel in 1620 and the entire site remains in Muslim possession.
The main octagonal edicule surrounds the Ascension rock, said to bear the footprint of Jesus as he ascended, forty days after the resurrection.
It is on the Mount of Olives, in the Arab neighborhood A-Tur.
You can see photos of the 2012 celebration there in my posts about  Ascension along with links to information about the holiday and the place.

Today I want to show you only the Kawasim that were at that Ascension celebration.

Since Ottoman Turk times, these Arab ceremonial guards lead the way and clear the way for processions of Jerusalem's Christian clergy, with a rhythmic tapping of their staffs. 

The Kawas is kind of like the Swiss Guard in the Vatican. 
Some of them are Muslims and some are Christians. 

You can see more nice Kawasim in my posts  about a Papal Mass and in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
They are a wonderful part of Jerusalem.
(Linking to inSPIRED Sunday.)
Sr. Dr. Vassa has a new and very interesting brief video about making the transition from Ascension to Pentecost.  It is about what/why is Church.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Desert safari trucks


Desert safari trucks for adventure tours in the desert.
These two were parked in the small town of Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev.
(S for safari for ABC Wednesday.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Electrifying color


Passing in my bus, I always enjoy  seeing this bonus splash of color in the Negev.
I always wonder who made it.  And why? 
Maybe just for decoration? 
Or to mark the side entrance to the small town Omer?

(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Happy Jerusalem Day!


Here's looking at you, Jerusalem!
Happy Jerusalem Day today!
Photo of the Damascus Gate into the Old City, during the Light Festival in June 2014.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ascension Day in Jerusalem


Happy Ascension Day to the Catholics and other Christians celebrating it today. 

This is the ancient Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives.

The Eastern churches will be celebrating Ascension next Thursday.
To learn more about the ancient chapel and the holy day please read this article.
You are also welcome to revisit my posts about the Orthodox Ascension prayers of 2012.
UPDATE: The Franciscans just published an article describing the worship at the Ascension Chapel last week. 
(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Women of the Negev


Two young Bedouin women crossing the highway, heading in the direction of Tel Sheva.

Tel Sheva, or in Arabic Tel as-Sabi, is a Bedouin town twice the size of Meitar, my town.
(Linking to OurWorld Tuesday.)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dogs in the desert?


"Dogs are permitted in the national park only when leashed.
Do not release your dog!"

The breathtaking view from the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute at Sde Boker in the Negev.

Down in the canyon is Ein Avdat National Park.

Information about the park is here
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ben-Gurion stands on his head


This morning the usual group went down south to the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute at Sde Boker for this season's last Shishi Zioni session.
We saw two presentations on the subject "Movies and Internet social media as instruments of social change."

This little statue by Dina Babay is part of an exhibition there. 

On the Institute's brochure is the iconic photo of David Ben-Gurion standing on his head at Herzlia beach in 1957.
It is juxtaposed with the equally famous photograph of "The Old Man" proclaiming the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
The caption above says something like "The man who turned worlds upside down in order to stand a nation on its feet."

In this 2009 colored ink print by Moshik Lin the tables are turned: here it is the map of Israel that is upside down.
I think B-G would appreciate the humor because he always stressed that our southern desert, the Negev, should have top priority; and indeed he himself retired to Kibbutz Sde Boker and is buried there.

You can read here all about the exhibition “David Ben-Gurion and his Legacy in the Mirror of Israeli Art."

Ben-Gurion's "personal trainer"  who slowly slowly got him ready to do the headstands was none other than Moshe Feldenkrais (the famous founder of the Feldenkrais Method for mind-body improvement). 
What I didn't know was that Feldenkrais was recruited in London in the early 1950s and brought to Israel to work as a rocket scientist!
Read the fascinating story in Haaretz.
Shabbat shalom.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bird of paradise


A bird of paradise.

The plant itself is really big, here in the inner yard of Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva.
The pictures are from over a month ago; I suppose these Strelitzia flowers are no more.   Spring is way too short in the desert.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Night hike to a Byzantine-era cistern!


A cistern from the Byzantine period, right in my town's backyard, near the Meitar Forest!
Some 1,500 years ago people (farmers? monks? villagers?) collected and stored rain water  down there in a big plastered cistern.

I edited the first photo lighter so you could see the nice handwork, how the folks carved out the stairs and entrance in the soft chalk.
But actually we were out there in  the dark, after 8:00 pm!

The group of about 20 was fortunate to have our neighbor, Dr. Zeev Zivan, as our gude.
The hike was part of the worldwide Jane's Walk  global festival of citizen-led free community walks.
Here Zeev was explaining the blaze for the Israel National Trail.

The whole walk to the wilderness was only an hour and a half but we were blessed to witness both sunset and moonrise.
I came home exhilarated, feeling lucky to live so near the desert and its ancient history!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Pools of Bethesda, St. Anne's, and a video


Enter Jerusalem's Old City through the Lions Gate, aka St. Stephen's Gate, and soon on your right you will find the place of the White Fathers.

The door of St. Anne's  is open.  Welcome.

If the beautiful old basilica  is empty, test its great acoustics with a song.

Outside are the famous pools of Bethesda.
(Click once and then once again to get the photos full size.) 

For some Christians this weekend is the Sunday of the Paralytic, about the story in John 5:1-9 of the healing at the pool of Bethesda. 
But Sr.Dr. Vassa Larin has helpful, welcome advice for us all, based on this story of healing, e.g. our past, no matter how difficult, can be beneficial, "So, let‘s not wallow in the bed of our past, but take it up and walk, to the greater glory of God."

Enjoy Sr. Vassa's video:

 (Linking this post to inSPIREd Sunday meme.)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Revolution and the Monster


How many Revolutions Per Minute can the kids get the merry-go-round to turn?

City Daily Photo bloggers are posting for our monthly Theme Day about the multiple meanings of REVOLUTION.   Give them a visit here.

My photo is from 2009 when daughter Naomi and grandsons Dean and Eyal come for a visit to Jerusalem.
In back of them is The Monster, in profile view.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Proposals to protect our fish population

Lots of fish on ice are always available at Beer Sheva's open-air market.

For ABC Wednesday, P is for protecting our population of Mediterranean fish.

According to this article in Haaretz --

Restrictions will soon be imposed on commercial fishing in the Mediterranean Sea in order to stem the decline in fish populations, the state promised the High Court of Justice this month. . . .

Among other limitations, the state will restrict fishing by divers during the May-June spawning season along the Mediterranean coast. The use of trawlers – boats that drag large nets along the sea bed, sweeping up everything in their path – will be prohibited from June to August near the shore and at depths of less than 30 meters. . . .
According to environmental advocacy organizations, the two dozen or so trawlers operating along the Mediterranean coast are responsible for the decline in fish populations, both because they account for around 70% of the catch by Israeli fishermen in the sea and because of the nets’ deleterious effect on marine habitats.. . .

But according to Uri Sharon, a spokesman for the fishermen who owns a trawler, the real culprits are pollution and the Aswan Dam, which reduced the amounts of food sources and marine life reaching the Mediterranean from the Nile River.
Menakhem Ben-Yami, an expert on Israel’s fishing industry,  argued that tens of thousands of amateur fishermen use nets and poles, without facing any catch restrictions. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Science and beauty on 32 tiles


This unusual work of ceramic tiles hangs in the staircase of our Meitar Local Council offices.
Click a few times to enlarge the photo and you will find a variety of subjects. 

A metallurgical engineer and enameller named Boris R. created it in 2008.

You can tell Boris is an engineer.
(Linking to OurWorld Tuesday.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Myrrh, women, tombs, and a video


For Orthodox Christians, today is the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearers, remembering the women disciples who came to the tomb and found it empty. 
In the picture are two 1st century tombs in the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea and St. Nicodemus, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
When I visit, I always have a feeling these burial places in the modest Syriac Orthodox chapel may be the real place, instead of the famous one inside the edicule in the rotunda.

Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin, of  Coffee with Sr. Vassa fame, offers a good episode about Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearers (and why the women were right and the Apostles were wrong):

 (Linking this post to InSPIREd Sunday meme.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

For the Armenians


This khachkar cross-stone in Jerusalem's Old City  recalls the Armenian genocide, a painful and complex chapter of history still waiting for wider recognition.

Yesterday, after prayer, eighteen Jerusalem churches rang their bells one hundred times to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide.
Today, after a memorial Mass at St. James, wreaths were laid at the monastery in the Armenian Quarter.
At noon there were demonstrations at the Turkish consulate in Jerusalem and at the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv.
In the afternoon all the Patriarchs of Jerusalem gathered at the Holy Sepulchre for a memorial Mass.

In Armenia one and a half million victims were yesterday canonized.
There is also a  video of today's ceremony at the monument in Yerevan, Armenia, to which Israel sent an official delegation of several Knesset members.
For more about Armenian Christians in Jerusalem see my earlier posts.
May justice be done, as we remember this tragedy.
To learn more:


Video of "Face the Shadow," Armenia's 2015 song for the Eurovision contest.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fireworks for Independence Day


Independence Day fireworks, with and without bokeh.

I watched from my back yard, so the neighbors' house got in the way a bit.

Israel has reached the ripe old age of 67 years.   Mazal tov!
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Yom HaZikaron ceremony at our cemetery


At 11:00 a.m. sharp the siren sounded and at Meitar's cemetery  all of us stood in a collective remembering of our defense forces dead and of the victims of hostile actions [terrorism].

Speeches and Psalms and prayers, all very moving.

Wreaths were laid at the Yizkor memorial wall of the small military section of our cemetery.
The quotation from Jeremiah 31:19 says, "For as often as I speak of him, I do earnestly remember him still."

Two graves were added to the military section during last summer's fighting.

Just last July I shared with you Captain Liad Lavi's funeral.
May he now rest in peace.

Please give a thought to the thousands of bereaved families for whom every day is a Day of Remembrance.
And remember that about 600 fallen soldiers and terror victims are from the Druze, Bedouin, Circassian, and Arab (both Christian and Muslim)  communities.
At sunset tonight we will make the sudden transition from the agony of memorial day  into the festivities and fireworks of Independence Day.
You can't have one day without the other.