Saturday, April 30, 2011

Victims of progress

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The main streets of Jerusalem and sometimes even the sidewalks got torn up to have track laid for the new light rail.
These poor victims of the tram-building have been here next to Safra Square on Jaffa Road for several years.
It makes me sad every time I walk by and see antique mailboxes on the ground like this.
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The cast-iron pillar boxes are reminders of Israel's British Mandate past.
Quite a few are still in service in Jerusalem.
Our modern collection boxes are still red, but rectangular and boring.
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These two uprooted mailboxes let me notice for the first time what is written on the bottom:
McDowall, Steven & Co. Ltd.
London and Falkirk
This was a firm of Glasgow-based iron founders.
The company's roots extend back to the early 19th century.
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City Daily Photo bloggers are posting their favorite mailboxes for our May 1 Theme Day.
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants
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To visit Jerusalem's Main Post Office, a big building built by the British in 1938, click here.
An artist's telling of Israel's history is in murals up to the ceiling!
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To read about the former Imperial Austrian Post Office in Jerusalem's Old City, see my post here.
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Mixed memes

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With all the holidays and special events to blog about of late, I've gotten behind in the memes.
This may not be kosher, but I'm going to group three in the same post--for Shadow Shot Sunday, Weekend Reflections, and Camera-Critters.
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At the Garden of Gethsemane, next to the old olive trees.
Doesn't it look like stick-figure people are joining hands and . . . and what?
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Another scene from St. George's Anglican Cathedral, the church we saw in yesterday's post.
The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, or the Knights Hospitaller, was founded during Crusader times and functions as a humanitarian organization till today.
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These birds feel at home in the (British) Jerusalem War Cemetery on Mt. Scopus.
Seen at the recent ANZAC Day commemoration.
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Wishing you all a good weekend.
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Update: Mayday, mayday! I just realized tomorrow is May 1 and we need a City Daily Photo Theme Day post too. About mailboxes.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

The wedding and a legend about Jerusalem

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Mazal tov to the newlyweds!
Yes, I watched the ceremony and loved it.
Nothing like a church wedding, especially if it is in Westminster Cathedral!
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St. George's (Anglican) Cathedral may be the closest thing we have to an old English church in Jerusalem.
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Please enlarge to read how this British coat of arms ended up on the church wall.
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Under the lion, the Hebrew says "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
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Today I saw the almost 2,000 guests in Westminster Cathedral really getting into the singing of "Jerusalem" with words by William Blake. Apparently it is the "unofficial anthem" of England.
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Hear it played and see the words on YouTube.
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I learned this from Wikipedia:

"The poem ['And did those feet in ancient time'] was inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea, travelled to the area that is now England and visited Glastonbury.
The legend is linked to an idea in the Book of Revelation (3:12 and 21:2) describing a Second Coming, wherein Jesus establishes a new Jerusalem.
The Christian church in general, and the English Church in particular, used Jerusalem as a metaphor for Heaven, a place of universal love and peace.
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In the most common interpretation of the poem, Blake implies that a visit of Jesus would briefly create heaven in England, in contrast to the 'dark Satanic Mills' of the Industrial Revolution. Analysts note that Blake asks four questions rather than stating a visit to be true.
According to this view, the poem says that there may, or may not, have been a divine visit, when there was briefly heaven in England.
But that was then; now, we are faced with the challenge of creating such a country once again."
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

From Fiji Islands to Sinai to Jerusalem

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Shalom dear reader. I hope you saw yesterday's post about the ANZAC [Australian and New Zealand Army Corps] Day commemoration because this is a continuation, on a more personal level.

Presenting Lance Corporal Etuate Kori, MFO Fijian Contingent.
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I arrived at the Jerusalem War Cemetery an hour before the 10:00 ceremony was to start.
Trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, the bugler you see here had found a corner outside the chapel, near the memorial wall, to play some "scales" and warm up his horn.
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The printed program indicated he would be sounding The Last Post and The Rouse.
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It would have been a great photo of his back but I chickened out when he suddenly stopped and turned. I continued my walk up and down the many rows of tombstones.
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The nice outdoor commemoration service contained much but lasted less than an hour.
Then guests and soldiers and ambassadors walked over to a shadier place and chatted over refreshments.
Well, they chatted. Everyone was with their mates (Australian for friends or co-workers) and I suddenly was aware of my aloneness and my shyness.
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OK, I had a sandwich, boreka, brownie, and coffee. Can't complain.
People were getting their picture taken with the Australian and New Zealander soldiers in their crisp uniforms, some pinned with many medals. Oh yeah, and with one man wearing a kilt.
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Then for a minute the soldier from Fiji was standing alone. I asked if I could take his picture. Finally, a human being to talk to!
And so human "Eddie" was!
He was so full of gratitude and marveled that he could be here in Jerusalem!
He wanted to drive now to the city center with his MFO mates and purchase a Bible, as a souvenir of the Holy City.
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He asked why I was at ANZAC Day and I said simply because I have three born-in-Australia grandchildren and have lived with them for extended times and love Australia.
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Etuate is probably back now at his MFO base in the Sinai desert.
I thank him and his fellow peacekeepers. God bless and keep them safe and sound.
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From the interesting (with photos and maps!) MFO website:

"The Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) is an independent international organization, headquartered in Rome, with peacekeeping responsibilities in the Sinai. The origins of the MFO lie in Annex I to the 1979 Treaty of Peace between Egypt and Israel, in which the parties undertook to request the United Nations to provide a force and observers to supervise the implementation of the treaty. When it did not prove possible to obtain Security Council approval for the stationing of a UN peacekeeping force in the Sinai, the parties negotiated a Protocol in 1981 establishing the MFO “as an alternative” to the envisioned UN force. "

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ANZAC Day commemoration in Jerusalem


An Aussie or a Kiwi soldier stood with head bowed at each of the four corners of the catafalque.
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This morning ANZAC Day was commemorated for the 96th time.
A time to honor the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
Here are some pictures from the Jerusalem War Cemetery on Mt. Scopus.
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The Australian flag with its stars of the Southern Cross constellation.
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The cemetery, begun in 1917 by the Imperial [now Commonwealth] War Graves Commission, overlooks a Jerusalem much larger than it was during World War I.
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With today's modern technology for making war, it is hard to imagine these men going to battle as "light horse brigades" and, like on this tombstone, even the Imperial Camel Corps.
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The flag of New Zealand in front of the memorial chapel.
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A book with information was in the chapel.
You can read this page and/or learn more at my previous posts about this beautiful cemetery.
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Some of today's invited guests.
I like the Embassy of Turkey next to the Israel Defense Force representatives.
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Following the prayer of remembrance by Pastor Evan Thomas and Psalm 23 recited by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, the ANZAC Day Address was given by Ms. Andrea Faulkner, Ambassador of Australia.
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Everything said was short and to the point, moving but not overly sentimental.
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The poem "We shall keep the faith (1918)," by Moina Michael, "the poppy lady," was read, followed by the laying of wreaths.
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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland brought the small wreath looking like poppies.
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It is nice that UNTSO, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, adds "In the service of Peace."
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The always tear-producing "Ode to the Fallen" was read. All repeat: We will remember them.
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A soldier from Fiji (more about him tomorrow) played The Last Post.
After we stood for one minute of silence, he played The Rouse.
And all said "Lest we forget."
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The national anthems of Australia and New Zealand.
Benediction Prayer.
Catafalque Party dismounts.
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After the official ceremony, those who wished followed Rabbi Apple (Rabbi emeritus of Sydney's Great Synagogue) to the graves of 24 Commonwealth Jewish soldiers.
He read a Psalm and El Maleh Rachamim and we all said Kaddish.
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Everyone gathered for refreshments and conversation.
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In the Jerusalem War Cemetery are 2,515 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 100 of them unidentified.
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On the wall on the sides of the chapel are engraved the names of 3,366 Commonwealth servicemen who fought and died in Egypt and Palestine during the Great War and who have no known grave.
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Who can comprehend such great numbers!
We remember them.
And those who continue to serve in the ANZAC spirit, in our region and around the world, we thank them too.
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Down to earth again

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OK, the holidays are over.
It's back to everyday life.
So for That's My World and ABC Wednesday O-day, let's observe my ecology-minded neighbor's new OUTHOUSE.
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Actually, it is a really nice composting toilet.
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All you have to do is sprinkle some sawdust.
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When the container is ready to be emptied, it can be pulled out through this little back door.
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I should add that the neighbor also has a normal house with conventional plumbing, but this little outhouse is good for visitors.
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It is clean and OK-smelling, nothing like the pit latrines I've seen in my travels. This one is not a pit at all.
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But speaking of pits, I just have to say this well-known expression from the Talmud:
in Aramaic it is מאגרא רמא לבירא עמיקתא Me-igara rama lebeyra amiqta.
Literally:
From a high rooftop to a deep pit.
Meaning:
A person lost his former greatness and got into deep, uh . . . , trouble.
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Take a deep breath

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Please ENLARGE !
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After the holiday high, it will be nice getting back to the normal delicacies of day-to-day life, like this big beauty, half blown away.
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Meanwhile, happy last day of Passover or happy Easter Monday to you.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Celebrating newness of life

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Peace and Easter joy to my Christian friends out there!
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A painting by a local artist friend.
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For pictures of glorious light, opened tombs, and the Holy Sepulchre, you are welcome to click on my label "Easter."
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The Psalm-bloggers are contributing Easter posts today to Robert at Daily Athens. You are invited to link yours too.
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May you all enjoy your holy day as we Jews prepare for tonight and tomorrow, the holiday of Shevi'i shel Pesach, the 7th and final day of Passover.
Chag sameach!
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

A world turned on its head

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The Church of St. Alexander Nevsky in the Old City yielded two photos for James' Weekend Reflections.
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Floor tiles are reflected by the special glass protecting the sides of this ancient stone structure.
If you look into the glass on top of it, you see this:

Two tiers, up to the ceiling, of paintings, winding all around the sanctuary and then some!
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Some are life-sized depictions of Russian Orthodox saints.
The others are illustrations starting at the Mount of Olives, followed by the Stations of the Cross, and ending with the Resurrection. The famous 19th century artist N. Koshelev painted them.
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I have the feeling that the upside down cross reflects the suddenly topsy turvy inner world of the disciples on this Holy Saturday long ago. Yesterday they had lost their Master, today he was in the grave, and they did not realize that the next day would bring resurrection. They thought they had lost everything.
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The Alexander Nevsky church was built in 1896 over important archaeological discoveries found in 1858, including what is believed to be the Judgment Gate.
Christians believe that Jesus passed through this city gate on the way to Calvary.
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For decades this building was decaying because of a lack of money and was not often open.
Now it has been restored and is open all day. But not many pilgrims or tourists seem to know this, and this very special church is mostly empty.
Next time you are in the Holy City, do pay it a visit.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Ear- and earth-shattering thunder

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What are we to make of this?!
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It is said that on this day, Good Friday, Jesus agonized on the cross for six hours and during his last three hours, from noon to 3 p.m., darkness fell over the whole land.
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Well, just before noon today the sky over Jerusalem and my village turned black.
For just a few minutes big tear-like drops fell from the heavens.
And then--a clap of thunder like I have never ever heard, its first part a shrill screech like a bomb falling and then a huge boom, right over my head!!
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"And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, . . . the earth shook and the rocks were split . . ."
So says Matthew 27:50-51.
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And now, just after 3:00, the sky is calm and much brighter.
It is finished.
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Here is the tapestry icon of the Epitaphios ("winding sheet") from the previous post.
It hangs in the Greek Orthodox Catholicon, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
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Has anything strange happened in your world this Good Friday?
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keep looking up

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I'm just a Jew, what do I know--but I have a feeling that during Holy Week Christians can sense Jesus peeking through into their lives.
And I think that whether they are religious or not, they try to catch a glimpse of him too.
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Especially as the intensity grows, from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday, from Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday.
Here in the Holy Land at least, this is all quite palpable.
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At such times the sun sends dramatic shafts of light into the dim Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
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A protected tapestry on the wall reflects the same dome of the Greek Orthodox Catholicon.
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Light is all around.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nutella

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Not so nice news for ABC Wednesday N-Day.
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Pietro Ferrero, CEO of the Ferrero Group holding company that produces Nutella, Kinder, Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tac mints, and other sweet things, died today at age 47 after an accident in South Africa.
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A cbcnews article explains that

"Ferrero's namesake grandfather, Pietro, started the company in 1942, supplying products for a pastry shop run by his wife, Piera, in Italy's northwestern town of Alba. Because it was hard to obtain ingredients for sweets during the Second World War, the elder Pietro Ferrero decided to exploit something Piedmont had in abundance — hazelnuts — and invented a confection using a sweet paste made from the nut."
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Since then Nutella has sweetened the lives of so many!
Thank you, Ferrero family.
May Pietro rest in peace.
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Hat tip to Fabrizio at Torino Daily Photo for the news.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

That's My World -- matza

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Goodbye bread.
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Hello matza.
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Pesach begins this evening.
No bread for us, or any food with leavening, for the seven days of Passover.
Jews who observe the biur chamtetz ritual burned their last remaining morsels of bread in little bonfires this morning.
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For more fun posts about matza and for the deeper meaning of the "bread of affliction," you are welcome to click on my label MATZA.
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I'm getting ready to take the last bus from my village up to Jerusalem for the seder meal.
See ya later. Chag sameach--happy holiday!
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Singing on the path of Life

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While you are reading today's post, which is for Robert's PsalmChallenge, please click here and enjoy the singing of verses 1 and 11 of Psalm 16.
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The song is one of many created at the Taize monastic community in France.
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____________________________________source____________
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PSALM 16
1. A michtam. Of David.

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” 3 I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”

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4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.

I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

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11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mt. of Olives donkeys, now and then

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We passed silently as Peter the donkey and his human half-dozed, waiting for tourist groups to come by.
The pair has been working the Mount of Olives and the Old City for many years.
I remember the Arab man steadying my young relative on the donkey's back, back when we were all a lot younger.
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Hours later we saw them ascending the steep slope of the Mt. of Olives.
From the short shadows (for Shadow Shot Sunday), it must have been almost noon and the day was hot.
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The picture brings to mind a scene two thousand years old, of a man riding a donkey down the same Mt. of Olives toward Jerusalem. But then there were crowds, and they were shouting Hosanna.
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Palm Sunday blessings to all the Christian friends.
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And here, another Palm Sunday donkey story, also for Camera-Critters.
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Slideshows (in case you missed them last time):
Morning services for Palm Sunday in the Holy Sepulchre
Afternoon pilgrimage of the faithful from Mt. of Olives to the Old City
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Seeing Jerusalem from both sides

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For Weekend Reflections here is old and new Jerusalem reflected in a window on the Mount of Olives.
If you enlarge the photo you can see three arches which are inside the church. It would be fun if they were strange rainbows in the sky instead . . . .
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Here is the same window as seen from inside the church of Dominus Flevit, another of architect Antonio Barluzzi's unique creations.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sprucing up for the holidays

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A friend and I walked down to the Kidron Valley and up to the Mount of Olives this morning.
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One stop was the Russian Orthodox Convent and Church of St. Mary Magdalene.
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On the rails and benches outside the church, rugs were hanging, just waiting for a good beating.
And an airing-out.
A mop stood at attention.
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And I thought only we Jews were frantically trying to get the houses and yards clean before Pesach. It looks like Christians too are busy with pre-Holy Week spring cleaning.
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A Russian Orthodox nun was carefully re-painting a tiny white spot where the paint had chipped off the wall.
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Such devotion to details and to cleanliness.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's bloomin'?

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Strange flowers, no?

Trees and flowers are in full bloom.

Spring has sprung, and soon the holidays will be here too.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Maronites

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Shalom! Want to visit the Maronites today for That's My World?
Mighty nice place for ABC Wednesday's M-Day too.
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Just ring the bell.
Well, OK, not THIS bell.
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Look for the doorbell near this sign in the Old City, not far from Jaffa Gate.
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Foyer Mar Maroun is a beautiful old (1895) guest house for pilgrims.
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Their nice website says it has 27 rooms and that "The house is managed by Maronite Nuns from the congregation of St. Therese of the Child Jesus [Therese of Lisieux], who are also responsible for other parochial activities concerning the Maronite Parish in Jerusalem."
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"The Maronite church is an Eastern Catholic Church on the seat of Antioch, in full communion with the Holy See of Rome.

Historically, the origins of the Maronite Church are to be found amongst those monastic and lay people who gathered around the saintly hermit Maron, an early 5th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. These Christians who accepted his way of life and worship were soon identified as 'those of St. Maron - the Maronites.' "
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This is the only Maronite church in Jerusalem.
The local community is small.
Most Maronites live in Lebanon (see the Cedar of Lebanon on the altar?).
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The liturgical language is Syriac (Christian Aramaic).
Hear some hymns in this ancient language at YouTube.
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The roof of the Maronite monastery and guest house has a panoramic view.
Here we are looking east over the Old City and the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives.
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Would you like to book an overnight here? I would!
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