Friday, December 31, 2010

Full hearts and newness

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Gentle rain is falling on the thirsty earth. A good sign.
And look -- a heart in the sky!
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Dear blog friends around the world, with all my heart I wish you many blessings and new delights throughout the new year about to dawn.
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Gentle skies to us all, for SkyWatch Friday.
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Shalom, peace, and Shabbat shalom.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flowing olive oil

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Pure, beautiful oil running from the press, extracted from the countless olives I helped my nun friends pick.
This was a magic moment!
It was my first time (2006) to see the whole process with all the modern Italian machinery.
You can see how our region's olives are pressed there, at the Latrun Monastery, in my earlier post.
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And see here how smiling expert olive farmers come from Italy to prune some of our local olive trees.
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Any food eaten with or cooked in olive oil has to be good.
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You're invited to join Rob and Mandy's fun new FOOD meme at Barcelona Daily Photo.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remember the widow, the orphan, . . .

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There were things I could hardly believe when I saw this car.
1. Its PA system was blaring a recorded message.
2. It was parked at a super-busy bus-stop-only curb near Jerusalem's Central Bus Station.
3. No one was inside.
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On closer inspection I found a cup hanging on the open window, waiting for our donations.
The signs enjoined to "Remember first the poor of your own city."
The organization is Yad Ezra Veshulamit, one of many that help the poor with food, clothing, and services.
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In a country of almost 7.5 million souls, 1.5 are under the poverty line.
Jerusalem has one of the highest rates of poverty.
Children go hungry. It's a crying shame.
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When I passed the car again a short time later, the driver was back.
A gray-bearded religious man, he sat quietly, reading Psalms.
I guess he figured that only an extremely hard-hearted policeman would give him a ticket or tell him to move on.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Station X

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For today's ABC Wednesday, let's take X as the Roman numeral for ten.

Station X of the Way of the Cross marks where Jesus reached Golgotha and was stripped of most of his garments by the Roman soldiers.
Enlarge this photo to enjoy the intricate stone carving from Crusader times.
Now it is glassed-in, but the entrance to the 10th Station was from the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The flight of very steep stairs was originally built by the Crusaders as a way of giving pilgrims direct access to the chapels on Golgotha.

Here is a view, through the glass, of the Latin Chapel of the Agony of the Virgin.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

A haunted house in Jerusalem?

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You ready for a creepy story for today's That's My World tour?
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I had always wondered about this secretive historic building on Jaffa Street in central Jerusalem.
Thinking to get a photo from the back I walked into the parking lot.
A guard came running, asking me "What's this?!" and sent me and my camera away.

Next I peered through the locked front gate in the old embellished stone arch marked District Health Office.

From these signs I assumed this was the location of the travelers clinic where you can get immunizations for southeast Asia, India, Nepal, etc.
These are the destinations favored by our young men and women for a year of freedom following their long compulsory army service.

As I was leaning on the locked gate and peering into the dimness, a buzzer buzzed and I just about fell inside.
An armed guard searched my bag and questioned me.
He said I could take a few pictures but NOT to enter the building.
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What is IN there, I started wondering.
Sorry for the blurriness. I must have been shaking by then from the creepiness of the place and my desire to get out quickly.
What you are supposed to be seeing and being duly impressed by is the emblem of the Ottoman Empire on top of the building.
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Only later, safely back home, did I learn the truth about this building!
Here it is, as told in the Yad Ben-Zvi guidebook, Jerusalem, a walk through time:
"In 1882 a Christian Arab youth, the only child of a wealthy family, was about to marry. His delighted parents built for the couple a magnificent house where the wedding would be held, decorated it for the happy event, and invited all their friends and acquaintances.
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But a terrible blow descended on the family: the groom died on the eve of his nuptials.
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The parents, who were unable to come to terms with the enormity of the disaster, decided to hold the ceremony, no matter what.
They dressed the dead groom in his festive garb and seated him on a chair in the hall next to the bride who was wearing her wedding gown.
The guest and the mother circled around the couple and danced.
At the end of the dance, a terrible cry issued from the mother's thoat, she tore her clothes and fainted.
That very day the groom was buried.
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The house remained empty for a long time, since the rumors of evil spirits and curses drove away potential purchasers.
Only at the end of the nineteenth century did the Ottoman Jerusalem Municipality decide to buy the building and turn it into a city hospital [called 'Baladiyeh']. "
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The British used the building, which had since been given a second storey, for their District Health Office from 1918 to 1948.
And since '48 Israel has done the same.
Apparently the Ministry of Health has offices and labs inside "the dead groom's house." Although we will never know . . .
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shadows of a beating heart

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"The Beating Heart Caring for Jerusalem" by Yaacov Agam
creates shadows for Shadow Shot Sunday.


I guess back in 1984 when Agam made his kinetic sculpture for Hadassah, the hospital and the country must have had enough water to keep the fountain flowing and the heart beating.
No more . . . We are drying up.
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Here is a video of the now-old artist explaining his beating heart sculptures.
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The Torah says no to the making of graven images.
Agam believes that part of the reason for that prohibition is that Judaism embraces the value of life, and life is not static. Life is in a state of continual change and therefore the art of Jerusalem should be different from those of all other civilizations.
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Agam was born in 1928 in Rishon Lezion, then a small, semi-rural settlement. His father, Rabbi Yehoshua Gipstein--who devoted his life to Jewish religious learning, meditation, and fasting--refused to register his son in a school because no place in a religious school was available.
So the boy grew up without any formal education and almost without the company of other children.
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Fortunately for himself and the world, at age 18 he went up to Jerusalem and then to Zurich to study art.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Not a bridge for donkeys

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I would never have gotten a donkey to walk over this bridge.
They are so afraid of the open slits.
You can't blame them.

The bridge spans the cold water of the Areuse River.

When the snow up in the Swiss Jura Mountains thaws, it gathers into the river, and the river gets quite some speed as it flows down into Lake Neuchatel.
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This is the inside of the bridge whose outside we saw last week for Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridges (after I ran out of Jerusalem bridges).
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Next to it an elevated section of the new superhighway was then (2006) being built.
The concrete and the wood, side by side but so different.
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Wonderful counselor

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Everyone seems to be singing Handel's "Messiah" these days, or at least the Hallelujah Chorus part of it.
This flash mob in a food court made a surprising and inspiring singing of it!

The words come from our own prophet Isaiah (9:6):
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
Or as a Jewish translation leaves it:
"and his name is called Pele-yoets-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom."
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I sighted this almost ceiling-to-floor lovingly-made banner at the Jerusalem University College, Institute of Holy Land Studies, Machon America'i campus on Mt. Zion.
The golden protruding letters spell Pele yoets.
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Wishing all the blessings of Christmas to all the Christian friends today.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa gives trees at Jaffa Gate

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A Palestinian Santa gives trees to Jerusalem's Christian residents, an annual gift from the Municipality.
This is a photo from last December. You can see the whole happy story at http://jerusalemhillsdailyphoto.blogspot.com/2009/12/santa-claus-at-jaffa-gate.html .


A distorted Jaffa Gate and folks with their new Christmas trees are reflected for James' Weekend Reflections.
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Merry Christmas to all, far and near.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buy some zalabia pastry? Shoes?

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For sale in the Old City: a mountain, illuminated from within, of the Arab pastry zalabia.
It is deep fried and Americans might call it funnel cake.
But zalabia has been around the Middle East for a thousand years.
The sugar- or honey-syrup is often dyed red or orange.
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According to the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, some Jews eat them during Chanuka and Purim.
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Way too sweet and gooey for me, but this makes a colorful photo for Rob and Mandy's new Food for Thoughts meme over in Barcelona.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bibelausstellung

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A wandering biblical exhibition has wandered from Linz and other European cities all the way to Jerusalem.
"Die Wanderausstellung 'Expedition Bibel' des Katholischen Bibelwerks Linz" opened last month at Augusta Victoria on the Mount of Olives.
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If my translation is right, the banner says "Bible Exhibition -- Discover our Bible with all the senses."
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The cutest part of it was this game for children.
I think they are supposed to stick the correct animal through the little doors, depending on what OT or NT passage is quoted.

They even had the tfillin that observant Jewish men put on their arm and head when praying.
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I was at the church for the Schneller Symposium that day. The lights were out in the Bible Exhibition and I think it was not officially open just then, but I just had to duck in quickly and snap a few furtive photos.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I wonder as I wander

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These Ws are for ABC Wednesday.
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We photo bloggers are prone to wanderlust.

While wandering around the Swiss Alps, I was always relieved to find a yellow Wanderweg sign and know I was actually still on the trail.
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Now that Israel is getting some long trails (like the Israel Trail and the Jesus Trail), we are also getting some standardized signage.
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Last month I found a new (I think not quite official) sign added.

The writing under the yellow arrow says "The Gilad Schalit Trail (temporary name)."
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Hamas in the Gaza Strip has been holding our young soldier prisoner for the last four and a half years.
More information about this in my previous posts.
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The pensive, sung in a minor key, Christmas carol comes to mind--"I Wonder as I Wander."
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I hope that everyone walking these renamed paths will wonder about Gilad, wonder when he will be freed to return to his family, free to hike the peaceful hills.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

So many

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All your manger needs (and then some!) can be found in the Old City shops and

in the Franciscan church's gift shop in Ein Kerem.
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bridges abroad

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That's it. I have run out of Jerusalem bridges for Louis' Sunday Bridges.
What would happen if I posted, just once, something from my volunteer years in Switzerland?
Yalla, let's do it!
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Here's a favorite wooden bridge for hikers over the fast-flowing River Areuse, at the foot of the Jura Mountains.
Nicely juxtaposed is the new highway, just being built then, in 2006.
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Red and green

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The only downside of living in The Jewish State is that when bloggers around the world are posting about Christmas--decorations, shopping, tree-trimming, snow, Christmas spirit--I can hardly find a "season appropriate" photo here in Jerusalem.

Does this count?

It's red and green . . .
It lives (if barely) in the Christian Quarter of the Old City . . .


It's wrapped for winter I guess, standing in a cold arcade.
Sigh . . .
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Herrnhuter Stern, reflected

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Shadows of night at Church of the Ascension in the Augusta Victoria compound on Mount of Olives.
Strange what tricks stairs play on otherwise-normal shadows.
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And by day, a nice reflection of the fortress-like walls.
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The German Lutheran church is decorated with a Moravian star, a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. And indeed, Bethlehem is very near.
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Wikipedia has the interesting story of how the Moravian star's geometry took shape.
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In German it is called the Herrnhuter Stern, named for the Moravian mother community in East Saxony, Germany, where the decorations were first commercially produced.
The Herrnhut Star Company in that city has been producing original Herrnhut Advent and Christmas stars for over 160 years.
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(The reflections and shadows are "Christmas gifts" for James at Weekend Reflections
and Hey Harriet at Shadow Shot Sunday.)
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Shabbat shalom to all.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peaceful winter sky

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Strips of clouds all in a pile, at 4:52 this afternoon, after sunset.
Hard to believe that just five days ago the country was under the worst storm anyone could remember, and now it is so clear and peaceful.
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Shalom to all at SkyWatch Friday.
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Cookie cutter food

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Blogger friends Rob and Mandy over at the always-entertaining Barcelona Daily Photo are inviting us all to contribute to their new meme. "Food for Thoughts" will be about food, eating-places, and anything food-related.
Yalla!
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Making Christmas cookies--yes, right here in Jerusalem!
I sighted the girls decorating them in the little restaurant of Christ Church guesthouse.
(It is just to the right of the Jaffa Gate as you enter the Old City. )
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Christmas cookies are pretty symbolic Food for Thought, no?

Which is taller, the cut tree or the potted plant?
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A little more about Christ Church, the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East, here.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lady in white, welcome!

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Photo by Israel Antiquities Authority
This is SO cool!
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The battering waves, wind, and rain in our weekend storm caused part of the ancient maritime cliff in Ashkelon to collapse.
Then yesterday a person walking along the sandy seashore sighted a marble statue being lapped by the now calmer waves!
Authorities were notified. The Israel Antiquities Authority immediately sent the Ashkelon district archaeologist. The municipal council sent a crane.
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I watched wide-eyed as the TV news showed the 200 kg, 1.2 meter statue being slowly raised to the top of the cliff.
Next, her pedestal was brought up.
What a way to do archaeology!! No digging necessary!
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She is a beauty, the ca. 1700 or 1800 year old lady from the late Roman period.
Very delicate feet and sandals and a lovely toga.
Her head and arms have probably been missing since antiquity.
She once stood in a Roman bath house.
Miraculously she was not damaged in her fall to the beach.
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Do see the slideshow at Haaretz, especially photo 3/13 of the statue suspended in midair.
Or photo 1/4 at the Jerusalem Post article.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Volunteers under the vault

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Fun with "V" today for ABC Wednesday.
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Very old vaulted ceiling being made whiter.
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Volunteer friends from Arkansas spent half their vacation in Israel scraping, schpachteling, sanding, and painting.
The three of us did the work for neighbor friends last summer.
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Volunteers Mark, Kristine, and Dina make the V for Victory sign.
Victorious under the now-white vault!
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Wild weather in the Middle East

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"Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
. . . "
The events in Israel over the past twelve days sometimes made me think of Robert Frost's poem. A few days after our forest fire inferno, winter suddenly struck the country with snow, rain, gale force winds, and a sandstorm.
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The photo, albeit from December 2008, shows how weird and dark the sun gets over Jerusalem during a duststorm.
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From Friday until today I shut myself into the house, but still the fine particles entered.
They entered my eyes and nose and throat. Oi .
Jerusalem suffered with ten times the "legal" amount of air pollution until this morning when some rain washed our air.
Ahh, so nice to breathe again.
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The 9-meter waves battered the Mediterranean coast and did great damage.
A Turkish ship sank 8 miles from Ashdod Port, with all crew members rescued.
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Everything that could blow over did so. Huge damage to agriculture. And the hothouse flowers meant for Europe's Christmas markets.
Thousands of trees down. On people inside their cars, and on electric wires. Thousands of residents are still without electricity.
Trees on the railroad tracks stopped the trains. No visibility closed airports for a while. The waves were too dangerous for ships to dock. Winds gusting to 110 km/h were too much for cars on the highways.
Flooding of streets and houses.
Schools were closed in the northern Golan Heights due to snow.
Mt. Hermon already has 120 cm of snow.
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Land mines from previous wars in the Golan Heights have washed down or shifted positions.
Future hikers are warned to stay on marked trails.
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The homeless (2000 known to the welfare authorities and ~ 1000 not known) are being offered shelter and hot meals and showers to save them from the freezing cold.
Jerusalem, the coldest city, is down to 7-8 degrees C (about 45 F).
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But our neighbors are also suffering. We are all in this together!
The low pressure zone and SW winds blew sand from Egypt and wild weather into Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. In Egypt 18 are dead from the storm.
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May we all make it through this latest trial, and soon.
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Such is our world in the Middle East, these last few days, for That's My World Tuesday.
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bridging the two towers

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Hadassah Medical Center is an ever-expanding university hospital on a hill in the forested Jerusalem Hills.
Like a small city almost.
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They must have known I needed a bridge for Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridges, because they started building this new bridge.
It begins in the new Tower parking facility, which has room for 1000 cars and is only one of many parking buildings and lots. Shuttle buses circle the campus, ferrying people from their cars to the buildings.
The bridge goes over to the still under construction 19-storey Hospital Tower which is being built to house 500 beds, 60 intenseive care beds, and 20 operating rooms.
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The one little single-lane road that goes through the campus is hardly wide enough for buses, ambulances, construction vehicles, cars, pedestrians, baby strollers, and wheelchairs.
You take your life into your hands when you have to walk along that road.
So the new bridge is a welcome way to cross over.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Room to swing a cat

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OK, I confess, even to the Camera-Critters animal lovers--it's me swinging the cat.
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But Lara LIKES it.
Back and forth, then from side to side, while I say "hoy-dash, hoy-dash" (just like Saba Yisrael taught us to say when my children were small enough to swing).
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As a finale, I stand Lara on her hind feet and we do "mechi mechi capa-im," hand-clapping with her front paws.
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Lara is not mine, not a pet. She is an outdoor cat, fed by my neighbor-friends. Born in the wild.
Lara and I are best friends.
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Dressed for winter

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Dean in the Shadows is a photo from 4 years ago, when he came to visit from Australia.
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But my grandson's layers of warm clothes show how it starts to feel again here near Jerusalem.
My radiator on wheels is now ON!
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Today is our first real winter day, with strong winds, cold, and a little rain (only 1 mm in Jerusalem in 24 hours).
Strangely enough, it also looks like a dust storm. The day is yellow and Jerusalem over on the horizon is not visible. The dust is painful to the eyes and throat.
Like we've forgotten how to do winter.
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(The shadows of my shutters are for Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday.)
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Reflections of Chanuka Past

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I know, I know, Chanuka ended last night. But I just HAD to share these memories for James' Weekend Reflections.

The proper way is to display your chanukia (Chanuka menorah) in a window or at the door or even outside in order to "publicize the miracle" that a cruse of ritually pure olive oil lasted for 8 whole days when the Temple of old was rededicated.

I wonder . . . would showing the Chanuka lights on Skype webcam would qualify as "publicizing the miracle"?

Reflections even on my old table.
And my mouse pretended it was part of the celebration by bearing light and changing to the colors of the candles.
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Tonight we return to the two Sabbath candles.
Gam zu le-tova. Shabbat shalom.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Welcome to you, clouds!

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Clouds are returning to us after an extra-long dry spell (like 8 months!).
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The weatherlady promises a weekend of rain, thunderstorms, wind, and cold.
Woohoo, bring it on!
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Happy SkyWatch Friday.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ner shmini

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Tonight we lit the 8th candle.
And ate latkes and soofganiot.
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Happy last day of Chanuka!
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Underground Prisoners Museum

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The Underground Prisoners Museum, in Jerusalem's Russian Compound, is introduced for ABC Wednesday's letter U.

Hundreds of both Jewish and Arab prisoners were held here by the British police from 1920 to 1948, during the British Mandate.

Many of the young fighters in the pre-state Jewish underground movements were jailed and some were executed.
Everything from cells to workshops to synagogue is set up as it originally was.
Anyone who wants to understand and feel our history should really take a guided tour in this place.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Rain helps end the fire

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In the week since last That's My World Tuesday Israel has been through trying times.
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We are mourning the loss of 42 men and women in the service of their country; all burned because a bus was engulfed just after the forest fire started on Thursday.
Some 250 housing units burned either totally or partially.
50,000 dunams (12,500 acres) of the Mt. Carmel forest, 5 million trees, were on fire.


The good part is that many nations came to Israel's aid.
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In the photo, in orange and blue, are just some of the fire fighting aircraft crews that came from ten countries.
Israeli pilots accompanied them in every sortie over the flames.
In 82 hours the fire was stopped.
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Yesterday and today 4 Israel Air Force bases held ceremonies for the departure of the international teams. IAF medals were presented to 192 foreign crewmen, and all the delegations received a certificate of gratitude from the commander of the IAF.
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But before leaving, they were taken around the country to visit the holy places.
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The water-dropping planes that Turkey graciously sent us flew up to Lebanon to battle the fires that are burning the majestic cedars.

The other good news is that for the first time in 8 months RAIN started falling all over Israel last night! Just in time to cool down the smouldering ground in the Carmel range.
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Above you see the welcome clouds over Jerusalem at 4:18 pm today, as seen from my village.
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The Boston Globe has incredible images of our fire online today, including the airplanes.
WARNING: On Photo 6 they give you a choice whether to open it; please PLEASE skip that difficult one.
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Thank God it is over.
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