Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Mystery of Lost Time

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T is today's letter at ABC Wednesday and TIME is tonight's theme at City Daily Photo. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.
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"Traduttori traditori" the old Italian saying claims.
Translators traitors.

Here in the sign for the exhibit "The Mystery of Lost Time" we wish the Hebrew zman ganuv could have been translated more literally as "stolen time," because that is exactly what happened.

One night in 1983 a thief bent the window bars in Jerusalem's Museum for Islamic Art and made off with 106 artifacts and paintings and the whole collection of timepieces.
It was hailed as the costliest theft in Israeli history and included a pocket watch made by famed watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet for French Queen Marie Antoinette that museum officials valued at more than $30 million.

The watches and clocks started to return to the museum just a few years ago.

A deathbed confession and the written will of the thief was the long-awaited breakthrough in the case.

Absolutely NO photos were allowed when I recently viewed the exhibit, but you can see a 2-minute video of the collection here, if you have TIME.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pioneering Protestants in Jerusalem

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For today's That's My World let's look at a disappearing world.
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The Israeli army guard would not let me in the gate to photograph back in November 2008.
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Written in stone on the building are the Arabic and the German for "Syrian Orphanage."
The place is popularly known as the Schneller School or Schneller Compound.
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I could only get pictures through the perimeter fence and the barbed wire.
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Some of the buildings are roofless.
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Some are gone.
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The army, which had used the compound since 1948, moved out two years ago.
The plan is to build 600 apartments for the neighboring haredim (ultra-orthodox Jews).
The Jerusalem municipality talks of preserving some of the beautiful old European-style buildings and using them as public buildings or a museum.
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By chance, a wooden crate was recently found inside the old church.
In it was the original stone altar from 1860!
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Last night, at the symposium I showed in yesterday's post, the altar was brought to the Church of the Ascension on Mount of Olives to be installed and rededicated there, at Augusta Victoria.
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You can get an idea of the history and the great meaning of the Schneller School(s) for the German Protestants (and also see old photos of the orphanage and Johann Schneller and the kids) by looking at the PDF program of the international symposium, "Schneller--a living heritage in the Middle East."
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The history in brief:
Schneller was sent to Jerusalem as a missionary from a Swiss village in 1854.
From the Arabs of Lifta he bought plots of land and started building.
He and his wife and 4 apprentices became the first Europeans to live outside the protective Old City walls.
They rescued orphans following the 1860 Druze and Muslim massacre of 30,000 Maronite Christians in Lebanon.
The children (up to 180 orphans at its peak) found a new home and a fine school in Schneller's Syrian Orphanage.
Schneller's son and then his grandson carried on his work.
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In World War II all Germans and Austrians were deported from Palestine; many were sent to Australia.
The British Army took over the compound.
When the British Mandate ended in 1948, they handed the compound to the IDF.
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To read the whole fascinating story, please see this good Jerusalem Post article.
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Today the Schneller tradition of holistic education for peace and for future leaders continues at their two schools, in Lebanon and in Jordan.
And they still teach German.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Schneller Symposium today

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Another strange view from above.
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The chairs had taken a new twist in the sanctuary of the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives.
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The altar and the wreath for Advent season.

I attended the International Schneller Symposium this afternoon in the "Kaisersalle" of the church.
Here is the panel discussion of the first lecturers.
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The subject was the Syrian Orphanage and the Schneller schools. More about that in the coming days.
The 100-year-old church in the Augusta Victoria compound was named after Kaiser Wilhelm II's wife.
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Russian bridge to a WC in Jerusalem

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Will this qualify for Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridges, you think?
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Here's the story as told by Aviva Bar-Am in The Jerusalem Post:

"Russian pilgrims began visiting the Holy Land en masse in the middle of the 19th century.
To provide for their needs, several hostels were constructed inside the Russian Compound within walking distance of the Old City's holy sites.

But none of these hostels was fancy enough to house the Russian aristocracy.

The nobility preferred the elegance of Beit Sergei, built in 1890 on the initiative of Prince Sergei Alexandrovitch, brother of the ruling czar.

The complex included stately visitors' rooms, bathrooms and showers, dining rooms and cisterns.
The first floor was the service area, with a reception hall, kitchen and other rooms.
On the second floor were 25 rooms, half of which were fairly plain and the other half elaborately furnished with Persian rugs, silk wall hangings, plaster sculptures and brocade curtains.

On weekdays, you can walk inside to view two squat towers within the courtyard that held the bathrooms; indeed, bridges leading to the upper stories are still in place."
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And today, 120 years later, the public toilet is located in the bottom of one tower!
It is one of my favorites, always clean and with TP. : )
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(More pictures of Sergei's Courtyard here, here, and here.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Police horses on a calm walk

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First time for me to see horses inside the Old City walls.
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At least these mounted police were not in riot gear as they are when they ride security for the Palm Sunday procession from the Mount of Olives.
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Maybe they were just headed to the nearby Kishle, around the corner from the Jaffa Gate.
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Now an Israeli police station, it was built in the late 19th century by the Turkish governor as a military garrison (Kishle in Turkish). During Turkish rule and later, during the British and Jordanian periods, the building served as a jail.
The street looks a mess because of infrastructure improvements going on.
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The horses are for Camera-Critters Sunday.
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A streetlamp-induced shadow

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Walking toward home one dark night, I suddenly felt the presence of some strange entity lurking beside the garbage bins.
I raised my eyes from the street and . . .
Yikes! A grass-skirted "native"!
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I quick took a flash picture to see what the devil it was.
Nothing more than a weird CD holder, but in the dark it sure made my heart skip a beat at first sight.
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Neighbors put out all kinds of things the night before garbage collection.
I doubt if this guy ever made it to the garbage truck. Hope not.
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The shadowy shadow is for Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Looking for looking glass

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Three reflections, all near the Jaffa Gate entrance into the Old City of Jerusalem, for James' Weekend Reflections.
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In the Franciscans' door we see some local men, a tourist, and the Jaffa Gate.

Another door that is an actual mirror, at least on its outside.

The gated entrance to Christ Church is reflected at the Tower of David Museum's entrance gate.
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Unproductive clear skies

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Another sunset in the Jerusalem Hills for SkyWatch Friday.
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November and Israel still has clear skies and abnormal warm temperatures in the mid or high 20s C.
No rain since last spring.
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Groups, interfaith groups, rabbis, and individuals have been going to mountain tops, onto the Sea of Galilee, or next to graves of long-dead tsadikim to pray (and even fast) for rain.
So far, beseeching God to open the heavens has not brought the much-needed showers.
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Shabbat shalom
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks

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A blessed Thanksgiving to all the Americans!
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In whatever country we are, let us give thanks for the food on our table and for the friends at the table.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pool of the Towers / Hezekiah's Pool

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The post yesterday told of my first-ever visit to the Petra Hostel.
On the roof one woman was sitting on a mat and another was living in a tent behind her line of laundry.
You probably recognize the Citadel or Tower of David across the street.

Right behind the hostel was this giant pool, surrounded by residential houses.
I was so excited to see it! I had read of its existence but could never get a view of it.

It looks like a dump now, but what a history it has!
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Two thousand years ago King Herod and the Romans built aqueducts and a system of pools and cisterns in order to enlarge the water supply of Jerusalem.
The pool shown in the photos above was fed by an aqueduct from the Mamilla Pool, as explained in an earlier post.
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This huge interior rock-cut pool is today called, in Arabic, "Ḥammâm el Batrak" (The Patriarch's Pool).
Some call it, perhaps erroneously, Hezekiah's Pool.
Josephus called it the Amygdalon pool, possibly a corruption of the Hebrew Ha-Migdalon, meaning the Pool of the Tower(s).
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UPDATE!   What a difference two years can make!   See Tom Powers' blog report of the first-ever concert inside the cleaned-up pool!!
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stairs, stones, and schools

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ABC Wednesday is already on letter S.
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So many times I have entered the Old City at Jaffa Gate and walked right past the old Petra Hostel.
A few days ago I gathered courage and entered this dilapidated old building, refuge of backpackers and other penniless types.
Slowly, so as not to slip on the well-worn stairs, I climbed to the 3rd floor and then up onto the flat roof.
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SPECTACULAR view!!
New west Jerusalem and old east Jerusalem!
The Old City and Temple Mount and beyond, to the Mount of Olives and the desert!
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But my favorite photo from the roof was not off into the distance but rather straight down.
Enlarge it, please.
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The Arab girl was bending over, opening a grate, cleaning it as the final step in her big work of hosing down the courtyard and scrubbing the stones.
Shining stones, still wet!
Aren't they beautiful?
It's like in archaeology when we pour water over an ancient mosaic and all its colors come to life!
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I wish the young lady could see her work from above and be proud.
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Not sure, but I think, judging from a basketball hoop, that the enclosed area is part of St. Dimitri's School.
It is a private school sponsored by the Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church.
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I see in a 2008 news item that St. Dimitri's was then celebrating the renovation and revitalization of its building.
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Apparently the EU has a Comprehensive School Upgrading Program for a few selected Palestinian schools in east Jerusalem which "revamps the schools and upgrades the electricity networks, sanitation facilities, sewage systems, carpentry and mechanical works and general classroom conditions (paint, floors, and ceilings). It also funds new school equipment like computers, fax, and copy machines, as well as school management software."
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Along with two partner organizations, the EU provides "extensive teacher training around teaching methods, interfaith education, inclusion and appropriate methods of maintaining discipline and openness in the classroom."
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The need is great and I wish them success.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Feeling welcome at St. Stephen's Monastery

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Many cities in the world have an Open House weekend once a year.

Jerusalem had her Houses From Within weekend last month with over a hundred significant sites open to the public free of charge, some with guided tours.
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But no one anticipated the huge turnout at St. Etienne/St. Stephen's Monastery, home to the prestigious École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem!

Curious Israelis crowded into the basilica, filling every pew and even the monks' choir stalls.
Many had to stand. Or we sat on the floor.
Who ever heard of such a thing?!
In one Shabbat afternoon alone, about a thousand Jews came to see and hear (and that's not counting the morning tours and open house)!
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One lone man stood in front of the throng and without a microphone explained this place, his home. He somehow made himself heard, and he also make himself understood and appreciated.
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Thank you for your gracious guidance, Fr. Jean-Michel de Tarragon, O.P. [Order of Preachers, i.e. Dominicans], priest, friar, scholar, teacher, photographer, and the in-charge of a huge old photo archive from glass plates.
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I see on the Internet that yesterday the Catholic Church had a day to honor men and women religious, those called to the vowed life, the monks and nuns of the cloistered and contemplative vocation. Pro Orantibus Day (For Those Who Pray).

God bless all the monastics, of whatever kind, in every country.
This post is for "That's My World," and I must say, without these Brothers and Sisters our world would be a poorer place.
In case you missed Frere Jean-Michel's guided tour, you can enjoy a 12-minute video walk through St. Stephen's and the Ecole here.
Great photos and info in French here.
And other posts and links are under my label "Ecole Biblique."
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bridge to a magic lamp

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At least four such bridges span the two sides of Mamilla Mall.

This sculpture at the mall is "Aladdin and the Three Wishes" by Ossi Yalon.
His stepping over onto the magic lamp seems bridge-like.
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And it's all for Sunday Bridges, headquartered in San Francisco.
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Live fish

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With the shopping center reflected in their aquarium glass, these fish seem to be floating in air.
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For Camera-Critters Sunday.
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It's all a facade

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The shadow-producing spikey things in the concrete of this new yeshiva are, I presume, what the cladding will be fastened to the wall with.
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For sure they are good for Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday.
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Since the 1920s, when the British (Mandate) made it mandatory, all new buildings in Jerusalem must be cladded with Jerusalem stone.
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But as we can see with this 19th century house in the old Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot, "It's all a facade."
What faces the street is handsome new Jerusalem stone, but in the shadows lurk the original thick and strong building stones.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Cathedral organ mirrors

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Two mirrors are needed for the organist because he sits with his back to the choir, minister, and congregation.
People and pews are reflected here, and they are going into James' Weekend Reflections meme.
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A different view in the mirrors, gotten by my scrunching down to pedal level.
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The organ was built by the Rieger Company of Austria which specializes in constructing organs requiring minimal service, for places with wide variations in temperature and humidity.
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Dedicated in 1898, the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr, mother church of the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, is home to both an Arabic-speaking and an English-speaking congregation.
It is on Nablus Road in east Jerusalem.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

A rare airport-closing fog

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Some mornings our village on the hill wakes up to a cloud of fog sitting in the valley around us.
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Last Monday night and Tuesday morning we had no fog in the Jerusalem Hills, but 45 minutes west of here Ben-Gurion International Airport was totally covered with fog.

So thick it was that the airport was closed to landings and take-offs for 8 hours, something unheard of in Israel.
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Apparently the fog could occur intermittently but instead of joining queues over Israel, the pilots chose to land safely in Cyprus, Jordan, and Egypt and wait until they could guarantee a landing at Ben-Gurion.
Thank God for nice neighbors.
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But why is our "alternative airport" in the neighbor countries and not in Israel itself, we started wondering.
Ovda Airport near Eilat used to serve that purpose but it is owned by the military.
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And as Transportation Minister Katz said yesterday,
“Most countries have an air force; in Israel the air force has a country. The main problem is that even when the government decides that an alternative airport is necessary, the air force expresses reservations and things don’t go ahead."

Haaretz has a very telling interview with El Al Airlines chief pilot in which he explains the sorry situation, and why Ben-Gurion can't use its ILS instrument landing system, and why fog can shut down the country.
Catch 22.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Topless music

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Located in the Old City's Christian Quarter, this is the old 19th century Imperial Hotel -- on a normal day.

But yesterday was not your normal day.
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For some strange reason, unknown to me, five young tourist men were up on a third floor balcony serenading Omar Ibn al-Khattab Square with brass band music.
Maybe the guys were simply celebrating the fact that they were here being warmed by Israel's still-summer-like sun. They were bare-chested.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Redeemer church restorations and reflections

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R-Day at ABC Wednesday

Regretful rethinking of plans was called for this morning.
I had come to the Old City for a haircut but found all the Muslim places of business closed.
Then I heard loud booms and realized (hoped!) that it was from the Muslim ceremonial canons.
Right! It was Id il Adha holiday starting today!
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Redeemer Church was right near, so I went in.
Its bell tower is the tallest structure in the Old City and the view must be great.
But the only way up is by a narrow spiral staircase. Sorry, I can't do that, not even for the blog!
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Restorations!!
Yay, work is going on down in the bottom!
The present church was dedicated in 1898 by Kaiser Wilhelm II. But under it are medieval remains of the Church of St. Maria Latina. It was first built in the 8th century by Emperor Charlemagne.

I'm anxious to see what they do with it.
Please enlarge the photo to read all the sponsors and plans.
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Reflected in the door of a chapel is the cloister.
The two-storied cloister is the best-preserved in Jerusalem.
Once the fighting Crusader monks of the Hospitaler Order of St. John lived there.
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The cloister and the courtyard are a green oasis of peace and quiet in the middle of the bustling Old City.
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The bell tower and dome of the German Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.
And way behind it, on the crest of the Mount of Olives, is the tall tower of the other Lutheran church at Augusta Victoria, named for Kaiser Wilhelm's wife.
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Id mubarak to any of you celebrating the holiday today.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

How to give tsdakah

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I've long been wondering how to use this funny photo.


The meditation that appeared today on a favorite Orthodox Christian website may have the sought connection.
Here it is, from Word from the Desert, Meditations on the Orthodox Life from the Early Church Fathers, Ascetics, Saints and Righteous:

An old man said, “There are monks who do many goods works, and the evil one sends them scruples about quite little things, to cause them to lose the fruit of the good they have done.
When I happened to be living in Oxyrhynchus near a priest who gave alms to many, a widow came to ask him for some wheat.
He said to her, ‘Bring a sack and I will measure some out for you.’
She brought it, and measuring the sack with his hand, he said, ‘It is a big sack.’
Now this filled the widow with shame.
I said to him, ‘Abba, have you sold the wheat?’
He said, ‘No, I gave it to her in charity.’
I said to him, ‘If you gave it all to her in alms, why did you complain at the amount and fill her with shame?’”
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Danger overhead

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With great fanfare the Bridge of Strings, built for Jerusalem's new light rail, was dedicated in June 2008.
But so far only pedestrians cross the bridge because the tram completion is way behind schedule.
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Just recently the overhead wires on the catenary masts were electrified.
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Perhaps to remind the workers of this new situation, several orange cones were strung up, with a cable dangling below and the sign "DANGER -- HIGH VOLTAGE."

So . . . new wires, full of power, have joined the sky view in front of the strong cables of the Bridge of Strings.
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UPDATE: I should have explained better that pedestrians can walk safely on either side of the bridge, well apart from the tram rails, as seen in my bridge walk here and here.
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For Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridges.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Taking refuge in an olive tree

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Is this not the Cheshire Cat?

The two saucer-eyed kittens up the tree were escaping from the rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Different angles

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The booth in which the ticket sellers stand seems to have been just made for James' Weekend Reflections.
In the lower part of the box office, even the building across the street is reflected, complete with its parapet.
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Or, you can capture the ancient stones of the Citadel itself, and red benches as a bonus.

If you climb on a bench and raise the camera way over your head, you can catch a few red roofs and satellite dishes of the Old City reflected in the main gate of the Tower of David.
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Hmm, I wonder what people thought, seeing me kneeling in front of a box office photographing glass.
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