Saturday, September 5, 2009

More cisterns

The lively kitten in the flowerpot was playing hide-and-seek with a litter-mate.
She is my contribution to Camera Critters meme today. However, the other photos are in response to the many readers who got excited about cisterns in new Jerusalem in yesterday's post.

Jews began moving out of the overcrowded walled Old City in 1860, when the first Jewish neighborhood in new Jerusalem was built. Many of the new houses where built around a courtyard which could be locked at night for better protection. Robber bands and wild animals were a danger then, outside the city wall.

Big cisterns were built underground.
Today the openings into the cisterns are plastered shut or locked. Some pumps have become quite decorative.

The three photos above (which are clickable, as usual) show the courtyard of the late Rabbi Kook's yeshiva and of the Museum of Psalms.

The slight curve signals the vault of a cistern below the street.

The two photos above are from the old neighborhood of Nachlaot.
The complex of city center neighborhoods, officially known as Lev Ha-Ir (meaning the heart of the city), was declared an area to be conserved. The are quite charming now.

Can you imagine the hardworking mothers who once gathered here draw water and to wash the laundry and exchange the latest news?

A courtyard of one of the many the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods near the market. Often all the houses surrounding the courtyard made up one little "neighborhood," with a name of its own.
They have big families. With all the little kids playing outside, the openings to the deep cisterns are today carefully blocked.

The beautiful cistern roof in Sergei Courtyard!
The building houses the Jerusalem branch of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

As we said yesterday, the SPNI is campaigning to have City Hall allow the re-opening of some of Jerusalem's 11,000 cisterns so that rainwater can be caught and held and used, instead of going down the drain.
After five straight years of drought, we need to conserve any rain that might come.


Reader Wil said...

Thank you Dina for this post, which "unveils" another part of Jerusalem! All those photos are so picturesque!

richies said...

Using the cisterns for conservation seems like a good idea. In Proverbs 5:15 it says to drink from your own cistern in referring to being faithful to your wife. An interesting analogy.

An Arkies Musings

CathM said...

This 'courtyard' living seems to echo the living in 'compounds' arrangement of Western Africa. I like the idea of 'community' and 'communal living' that both espouse.

Leif Hagen said...

Dina - interesting posting about cisterns. I'm giving your blog address to my father-in-law. He's a retired Lutheran minister who lead a tour group to Israel; he has an keen interest in Israel.

spacedlaw said...

Nice informative post and cute kitty.

sweetnorms said...

you have a very interesting post, love those pictures and the cute kitty.

Edith said...

thanks for sharing those lovely pictures, very nice..

Vagabonde said...

You have delightful photographs in this post, Dina. I especially like the first two photos, they are so picturesque, but all of them are great. There is a water war of sort here also in Georgia with Alabama and Florida about the water coming from the Chattahoochee river, it has been going on for a long time. I think that as time goes by there will be more water problems round the globe.

Kay said...

I love the 2nd and 3rd photo in particular. They look like they could be paintings. I like the idea of the courtyard.

i beati said...

I love the cats dotting the already picturesque landscape..sandy

Dianne said...

the cisterns sound like a smart thing to use

your photos are lovely
the cat is sweet

Carla said...

How interesting! Thank you for sharing today:)

Jacob said...

Fascinating series of photos, really caught the essence of this part of your city!

Cloudia said...

What wonderful stonework, Dina!

I never experienced Jerusalem this intimately and I'm blow away by your words and photos.

Catchment water is used in rural Hawaii areas too, I had a big tank outside my Kona coffee shack that collected the water channelled from my tin roof. Why not use it?

Thanks for helping me to walk those amazing streets!


Comfort Spiral

Pietro said...

Very attractive the courtyards and interesting the slight curve which signals the vault of a cistern below the street.
Thanks for sharing these beautiful places, Dina!

Hilda said...

The courtyards are shared? That's interesting. I've just read about the tulou of Fujian, China. The idea is similar but on a very different scale. I'd rather have your version — it's more sane.

wenn said...

hi, nice pictures!

Cezar and Léia said...

Cute kitty and beautiful pictures!
Thanks for sharing
purrs and love and Happy Critters

Robin said...

Lovely photos Dina. You always remind me that I really don't get to Jerusalem often enough.

Rocky Mountain Retreat said...

Beautiful and informative post. I learn a lot coming here.
We used to gather tons of rainwater in our yards in large barrels to water the gardens. It was amazing how much we could collect and store away for the drought times of the season... I think it's a fantastic idea.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

That moon shot was something else. I"m struck by how little light pollution there is in your community. Also, the cistern story is fascinating. I lived in a house with an active cistern as a child and, indeed, it was a creepy thought-- a dark hole with water that would swallow up children.

Jew Wishes said...

The photos are beautiful, and your post makes the history behind them, come alive.

The stonework is amazing.

Have a great week!

Jew Wishes said...

I have awarded you, Dina!

Barbara Martin said...

Dina, you provide an interesting look at life where you are. I need to come by more.

My internet has been acting up the past few days, crashing when I least expect it. Makes for difficult and annoying forays into blog land.