Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tense times in Israel


Yesterday I stood in this line outside the Be'er Sheva branch of Bituah Leumi, Israel's social security institute.
It was like being squished inside a microcosm of Negev society.

With the spike in terror attacks in Israel these last several months, everybody is more tense than usual.
So one older woman told off two teenagers who were sneaking to the head of the line.
In heavily-Russian-accented Hebrew she said, "You have no respect for old people standing here in the hot sun for half an hour, that you push ahead of us?!"
In Arabic-accented Hebrew the boys stood their ground and lied, "It's OK, we have a number already."  (There are no numbers at this stage.)
Then a Sabra with no accent, more well-dressed than the rest of us and obviously not used to being squished, shouted at the security guard who was regulating the "flow" of citizens, "Why do you treat us like animals?!?" (She meant why like cattle pressed into a chute but didn't have the vocabulary for that.)
The guard in tie and jacket answered her, "I only work here. For a security agency. Complain to Social Security about it, not to me."
I really wanted to (but didn't) tell the prima donna, "You think THIS is bad?  Have you ever seen how Palestinian workers in the West Bank have to line up in real chutes at the checkpoints every morning before they are cleared to go to work inside Israel?!"

Only the Ethiopians and the Bedouins stood in stoic silence, knowing that with patience we would all eventually get inside the National Insurance Institute of Israel.
(Enlarge the photo to see one Bedouin man and the woman next to him in traditional dress.)
The second stage, once inside the door, is to wait in another line for one of the two security guards to inspect your bag; once you walk through the metal detector you might also get wanded and patted down; once I was even told to drink from my water bottle (to prove it's not a Molotov cocktail I guess).
The third stage of Gehinnom is then waiting in another line, with your ID card and documents ready,  in order to go stand in front of a clerk behind a computer for a short minute.
Only rarely are you allowed to then enter the inner sanctum and talk to someone higher up who might have an answer to your question.
 So, for  ABC Wednesday today, T is for tension.

Monday, November 23, 2015

New life, green


The greening of Israel.
With the first rains the dry summer brownness gives way to refreshing greenness.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Vienna's Café Museum


It was just a week ago that I set foot in Vienna and in a famous Viennese cafe for the first time.

At the time I didn't realize that  Café Museum was famous.
It opened in 1899 and became a meeting place for the city's artists.

Susie was kind enough to accompany me for several hours on the bus and subway all the way from Pinkafeld in the south (from her farm community where I was volunteering), and she made sure we visit her favorite cafe before she started her long trip back (and left me in the big city).
She knew just what to order.
Just deciding on a coffee can be confusing -- look at this whole poster of choices!

That's us at the round table,  reflected  for James' Weekend Reflections meme.
Wikipedia tells us that "When the café was renovated in 2010, the architect Peter Schwarz followed the original design of Josef Zotti. The half-round sofas are not covered with red pleather as in the original Zotti-design but with red velvet. Also the metal lamps made out of chromium-nickel steel, which reflect the interior of the café, were restored. The light source is inside of the globe, which has an aperture at the top. The light is reflected by the smaller half globe that is attached to the ceiling above the lamp.  Nowadays the café can seat 207 guests."
See this pretty picture of the interior

A strange omen: the sugar packets advertised the Jewish Museum.
I intended to see it but got side-tracked by other things.
Maybe next time.  And may that be soon!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Happy Children's Day today!


Happy children playing ping-pong on the marble table under the linden tree in the courtyard (Hof) of the Austrian Franziskus community (where I just spent a peaceful month).

Happy Universal Children's Day today! 

"The United Nations' (UN) Universal Children's Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide. UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, promotes and coordinates this special day, which also works towards improving children's welfare."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meine Damen und Herren


Today being World Toilet Day,  just wanted to show you these cute Damen und Herren signs on the door of a new WC in rural Austria.

It is inside this little cabin called Wanderhütte Fernblick, in the state of Burgenland, Austria.
Apparently here you can get refreshments and a sit-down during the hot summer hiking months.
The panoramic vista of the hills and valleys is free.

Next to the typical wayside shrine they have a weather stone suspended.
Enlarge the photo a few times to read how it works.
Weda-stoa is Austrian dialect for German Wetter Stein.

Stone wet - Rain
Can't see the stone - Fog
Stone is quiet - No wind
Stone white - Snow

Stone warm - Sunny
Stone ice cold - Frost
Stone is swaying - Storm
Stone is hopping - Earthquake
(Linking to signs, signs and SkyWatch Friday.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Berlin by night and home again


Last night was the first time for me to fly Air Berlin, now Germany's second largest airline.
My Vienna to Berlin and Berlin to Tel Aviv flights were pünktlich, exactly on time and pleasant.
Plus, the cabin crew stands at the door with a smile and a basket of red heart-shaped Lindt chocolates as a way of saying a sweet goodbye!

Too bad my first and only time to see Berlin was only from above.
Maybe someday ...

I waited a few hours in Ben Gurion Airport until the first train to Beer Sheva and was rewarded with a nice sunrise on the way south.
Back home already at 8:15 am with the good earth of Israel smelling fresh from RAIN (so pleasant when you haven't seen rain since last spring).
The end of a marvelous 37 days in Austria.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Kiss


A poster on the street outside Belvedere.
Merisi Vienna  made sure I got into the right gallery to see the famous painting by Austrian Gustav Klimt.
Read more about The Kiss including "It is a symbol of Vienna Jugendstil—Viennese Art Nouveau—and is considered Klimt's most popular work."
I am right now in Berlin airport, having just left lovely Vienna.
Tomorrow I'll be back in the Negev desert.

Upper Belvedere in Vienna


Sphinxes at Vienna's beautiful Belvedere.

The early 18th century palace in the reflecting pool this evening.

And here with its neighboring city street.

In the distance, the spires of Old Vienna.
(Click to enlarge the scene.)
I have been here since Friday and tomorrow I start back to Israel.
Not much time, but enough to fall in love with the city.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Embassy of France in Vienna


Flags at half-mast this morning at the French embassy in Vienna.

Many Austrian police at the gate.

"Je suis Paris" and hand-written letters were being brought by citizens.
(Photos can be much enlarged with a click or two.)

This afternoon I passed the embassy again.  More flowers.  More people standing in silence, in shock and in sympathy.

What a sad day for France and for the civilized world.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Vienna by night


After a month of working on the farm in rural Austria I came up to Vienna today.
My first time! 

I started wandering around the city on foot early afternoon and walked until after six.

It was great to see many of Vienna's spectacular public buildings lit up when night fell.

This shot is interesting because it caught the reflective tires of a bicycle.
So many bikes and going so fast!  They have a lane right on the sidewalk.
I had to remember to stay in the pedestrian lane of the sidewalk and not get hit.

The huts are of a big Christmas market that will soon start.
I'll be here in the city until Tuesday, then back to the reality of Israel.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A strange sky


A strange sunset here in rural Austria.
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Unter den Linden


What a relief -- no more raking leaves in the courtyard.
(Can you tell it's R day at ABC Wednesday?)

The leaves have all fallen and now is the time for community members here in Austria to clean the gutters and sweep the roof.

The one tree in the courtyard kept me busy raking the grass this past month.
The linden tree is about 110 years old!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Simpsons, in a little medieval village?


The colorful colors were out of place.
Was I seeing right??

The Simpsons on an old Gasthof in the medieval village of Friedberg, in the state of Styria (aka  Steiermark), Austria??

But there was the name: Simpson PUB.
Yesterday was Monday, their Ruhetag or rest day, and it was closed; otherwise I would have popped in to check it out and take a picture.  :)

Monday, November 9, 2015

One of the Austrian synagogues destroyed on Kristallnacht

Tonight is the anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Israel Museum just posted this good summary on Facebook:

November 9 - 10 1938.
"Kristallnacht," the Night of Broken Glass.
The Nazis unleashed a wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms against Jews in Germany, Austria, and in occupied areas of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.
30,00 Jewish men arrested.
7,500 Jewish-owned business had their windows smashed and their wares looted.
267 synagogues destroyed, countless Jewish cemeteries desecrated.
91 Jews murdered.
Zachor.  Remember.

This used to be a synagogue in Stadtschlaining in Burgenland, Austria.
It was devastated on Kristallnacht.

We discovered it yesterday, on Sunday, so the gates were locked.

"Synagogue, built in 1715
In commemoration of the ordeal of our Jewish fellow citizens --
 many of whom were murdered in 1938-1945
-- Israelitische Kultusgemeinschaft Graz  1988"

The former synagogue now houses an organization for peace work and conflict resolution.

Jews first lived in the village in 1697.
By 1857 there were 650.
By 1934 all but 19 had moved away.
In March 1938, with the Anschluss, these 19 were driven out of their hometown.

This is part of the history in German.
But you can read more in English:
A factual and brief history of the Jews of Stadtschlaining in the Austrian Archive of Synagogues.
A fascinating story of what one American woman found when researching her grandmother's life in this town.

(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Friendly Austrian sheep


When I worked at Heifer Ranch in Arkansas, the joke was "If you had to look through a slatted fence all day you would have rectangular pupils in your eyes too."

Here is Austria we went for an Ausflug today and visited an open-air museum of centuries-old farm buildings in Bad Tatzmannsdorf.
This big mama ewe was on display too.

Giving the sheep sugar treats was verboten.

But we did pick up some apples from the grass and the sheep loved them.

Unlike in America, sheep are allowed to keep their long tail.
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Austrian reflections: churches, candles, and muddy pants


Austria has given me a few pictures for James' meme, Weekend Reflections.
First, in the entrance to the St. Vincent old people's home, which has a nice modern chapel of its own*, you see steeples of the two big churches of Pinkafeld.
The Evangelische Pfarrkirche and the Roman Catholic church were both built in the 18th century.

In the door of the Rathaus, Pinkafeld's city hall, the main street of the old part of town is reflected.
Notice the "1639" above! 

Back at the Franziskus community where I am spending the month, the candles in the little gift shop (where everything is made by the 18 members) show through the window, while on top the courtyard and house are reflected.

And near the window, a telltale sign that this is a working farm.
*One of the nuns was sitting in the chapel praying, so I didn't take pictures there at St. Vincent's.
Too bad, because they have an interesting modern wooden "crucifix," but the cross has no crossbar so Jesus simply has outstretched arms.