Sunday, July 31, 2016

Our skyline in the middle of nowhere


City Daily Photo bloggers are presenting "My city's skyline" for today's Theme Day.

"City" is kind of a big word for my town.
Meitar has only ca. 8,500 residents.
Construction began in 1984 on the yishuv kehillati, our planned community; and it continues to expand, one neighborhood at a time.
The photo above is taken from the center, looking toward the Northern Neighborhood.
Just north of the planted forest, just across the Green Line, are the Southern Hebron Hills in the West Bank.
 Geographically Meitar is on the transition area where the Negev Desert meets the Hebron Hills.

A shot of the east edge of town, taken from the "desert" that surrounds us.
I like to hike out here in the lonely hills.
All these photos (which you can enlarge greatly) are from the half-year dry season; in the winter when rain comes, it all looks a lot greener. 

Just after twilight the perimeter lights go on.
They share poles with the Sabbath eruv wire.
We don't have a fence.
This photo is looking west, toward the Mediterranean Sea and the Gaza Strip.
Less than 60 kilometers to Gaza, not so far as the crow  as the rocket flies.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

African proverb: The little ant at its hole is full of courage.


At the end of yet another hot day in the mid-30s I went for an hour's walk in the desert right around sunset, when the breeze starts.
Right in the middle of the path a zillion ants were scurrying in and out of their tunnel.
It was one of those times that I wished I had not worn sandals.

You can click once or twice on the photo if you really want a closer look.
(Linking to Camera-Critters.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Siamese-twin peaches

Summer in the Negev desert is a long hot and dry season that tries one's soul.
Will it ever end?
About the only good, refreshing thing about Israel summer is the many kinds of fruit that flood the shuk.
Even these Siamese-twin peaches.
(I once read that  double peaches are thought to be caused by drought stress at the time of flower bud formation.)
UPDATE: I added an explanation in the Comments about how produce is sold in the open-air market or shuk.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Not-real cats


C is for constructed cats.

As if Israeli cities don't have enough stray cats roaming the streets, some Tel Aviv neighborhoods have added cat sculptures.
(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)

Friday, July 22, 2016

The halls of ivy (in Beer Sheva)

The entire campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is made up of Brutalist buildings.
But just here, in Building 72 (in which the Archaeology department is located!), some ivy has creeped in and up to give a softening effect.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An abandoned old Brutalist movie theater


On a tour of  Beer Sheva our guide took us to this abandoned movie theater.
Old folks from the neighborhood walked by, listened, and then volunteered their fond memories and fantastic stories of how this cinema was an exciting part of their life, maybe the ONLY exciting part, back a few decades when Beer Sheva was a dusty poor town in the desert. 

No one seems to know what to do with the dilapidated place.
Now that now-thriving Beer Sheva wants to be the capital of Brutalism architecture, this Brutalist building should probably be preserved.
(Linking to ABC Wednesday B-Day.)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The beginning of a pacifier tree


Meitar now has a pacifier tree!
Maybe there are more in town, but this is the first one I've discovered.
Apparently the custom began in Scandinavia where children at age three give up their pacifier and hang it on a tree, sometimes with an attached good-bye letter.
This "rite of passage" spread to America and now to Israel.
Have you seen it in your country?

(The tree is a silk floss tree and it stands in a pretty roundabout.
See more about this strange spiky tree in previous posts.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Gay Pride parade that didn't happen


I snapped this picture from my bus window late Thursday as we passed Beer Sheva City Hall.
The young people with the flags were starting to gather for what would be a demonstration of hundreds (some sources say thousands) outside the Municipality to protest the cancellation of the city’s first-ever Gay Pride parade.
Some points from a news report: 
Organizers had canceled the event Wednesday night to protest a High Court of Justice ruling that allowed police to bar participants from marching through the city’s main thoroughfare due to what police called “real concern” for participants’ safety in the face of threats. . . .
The petition asking the High Court to force police to allow the original parade route was filed earlier this week by the Beersheba Pride House and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, who objected to the local LGBT community being relegated to side streets.
After the petition was filed, Beersheba police acknowledged its decision was also made to avoid “offending religious sentiments” in the area, and to prevent traffic disruptions that could delay vehicular access to the nearby Soroka Medical Center, the largest hospital in the country’s south.
For the full article please see The Times of Israel.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cow Appreciation Day


Today, July 12, is Cow Appreciation Day.

When I volunteered at the Franziskusgemeinschaft community in Austria last autumn, I certainly appreciated the cow.
Her rich milk was made into butter, cream, and cheese; the fresh raw milk was also great to drink. 

She loved to eat the mash that was left over after we pressed apples.
Ah, I do miss the good folks and the friendly animals there at the farm.
(Linking to Camera-Critters and  ABC Wednesday.)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

World Chocolate Day, sweet memories


Today is World Chocolate Day!
July 7, 2016 marks 466 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe.
It arouses sweet memories of a trip to the north on a rainy day in March.
Right there where we were staying, in Kibbutz Degania Beit, was a small chocolate factory! 
Or as their sign says,
Galita, the chocolate farm
Exciting chocolate experience

The store had a precious cocoa tree full of cocoa pods (behind glass!).
The cacao plant was first given its botanical name by Carl Linnaeus in his original classification of the plant kingdom, who called it Theobroma ("food of the gods") cacao.

After lots of free sampling, I decided on a little bottle of delicious chocolate liqueur.

Who knew!  Jews had a hand in the production and spread of chocolate centuries ago. 
(Linking to signs, signs.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Riding a zany zebra


A zany zebra, on wheels!
At a fancy-shmancy toy shop in HaTachana, Tel Aviv's old (1892) train station now repurposed into a shopping center and culture compound.

Linking to ABC Wednesday.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Looking down on Mamilla


Another "looking down" shot--the upscale Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Why this Jerusalem square is named for a caliph


City Daily Photo bloggers are posting today on the theme "Look down."
Here we are looking down on Omar ibn al-Khatab Square, just inside Jaffa Gate.
Enlarge the photo a few times and you can pick out a bagel pushcart, shopkeepers, tourists, police, Arabs, and Jews.
Under the white canopy a bar mitzvah boy is returning from his bar mitzvah ceremony at the Western Wall, preceded by musicians with drum, flute, and shofar.

To take the looking-down photos I had climbed many tall stairs to reach the top of  Phasael Tower observatory.
Built in the 1st century BCE,  Phasael was one of three huge guard towers built by Herod the Great close to his palace in Jerusalem's Old City.
Its upper section, with the smaller stones, is a much later Mamluk reconstruction.

All of this is today part of the Citadel,  the Tower of David museum of Jerusalem's history.

In this informative article by guides Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am, we learn why the plaza was named for a Caliph:

One of the Old City of Jerusalem’s liveliest streets is actually a small plaza called Omar iben Al-Khatab Square, named for the second Caliph of the Islamic world.. . .
Brilliant, sensitive, tolerant and an administrative whiz, Omar visited Jerusalem soon after Muslim Arabs conquered the Holy City in 638. Omar revered many of the Old Testament’s most significant personalities, and greatly honored Judaism’s holy sites – including the peak on which Solomon erected the magnificent First Temple.
Thus when he ascended to the Temple Mount and found it overflowing with trash, Omar was enraged. He immediately ordered the rubbish removed — and, say some, he helped clear it out with his own hands.
At one point Jerusalem Bishop Sophronius invited the Caliph to join him for prayers inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Omar is said to have refused, explaining that were he to accept, Muslims might immediately ravish this most important of Christian sites and replace it with a mosque dedicated to Islam. He then proceeded to pray outside the church — exactly where a mosque named for the Caliph is located today.