Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fireworks for 70th Independence Day


Like every year, when night came, the heavy day of remembering our fallen soldiers and our victims of terrorism gave way to the joy and exuberance of Independence Day celebrations. 
Last night I watched our town's fireworks display from my place.
Enjoy the little video and its sounds!
Happy 70 years of independence, my dear Israel!  
I am fortunate to have lived here for 50 of those eventful years. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Stamped on our memory


Israel came to a standstill this morning during the 2-minute memorial siren at 11:00 commemorating our 23,646 fallen members of the security forces and 3,134 victims of terrorist attacks. 

Israel Post describes the new stamp issued for Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day: 
This stamp features a poppy/red everlasting flower and a military dog tag engraved with the words "we shall always remember" [lenetsach nizkor] against the background of a tombstone with small rocks placed on it by loved ones who visited the grave.
The tab features the official IDF symbol and the symbol of the Ministry of Defense Families and Commemoration Dept.
May their memory be for a blessing and may God console the many bereaved families. 
This information is so interesting. But sadly, so long.
For more about Yom HaZikaron please see my previous posts.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bored police horses


In Jerusalem I would from time to time see mounted police riding around, usually just outside the Old City (e.g. as in my posts here, here, and here).
Today was my first time to see a police horse in Beer Sheva.
He was just standing in the shade near the Central Bus Terminal.

On the vehicle towing the horse trailer is written Mounted Police Unit, Southern District.
Wait! -- Is that horse in the drawing wearing a gas mask??
THAT I've never seen, but I guess it would be needed in riot control.
Actually, maybe it's just my imagination working overtime, maybe he just has a black nose.

I walked in back and discovered a second horse.
Really wanted to ask the officer in charge if I could talk to, I mean pet, one of the nice horses.
Alas, he was in the middle of an animated conversation on his phone and didn't even notice me.
(Linking to Camera-Critters.)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Mosaics of the Magdala side chapels

Greetings to the many Orthodox Christians who are celebrating Easter Monday today.
It might be the right day to give you the final installment of my description of the new Magdala Center on the Sea of Galilee.
(My previous posts are under Magdala.)

Thank you, people of Singapore, for donating this side chapel.
In the reflection is the main Boat Chapel.

I will quote the descriptions from the official website, since they explain it best.

(You can click on the photos to greatly enlarge them and enjoy the details of the wonderfully colored, sparkly tesserae.)

"Each of the four chapels are home to a mosaic that illustrates events from the public life of Jesus and each mosaic is an open window inviting us toward the infinite love of God in the Gospel. Each chapel has enough room for up to 30 people and an expressive mosaic depicting a biblical event near the Sea of Galilee. They are realistic representations in dialogue with the original sites and invite us to meditate the Gospel scene in its authentic context.
The first chapel facing the lake is the Walking on Water Chapel, representing the story in Matthew where Peter’s faith was tested by walking on water with Jesus. “‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?'” Matthew 14: 29-31 NIV"

"The second chapel facing the lake is the Fishers of Men Chapel, representing another story in Matthew where “Jesus Calls His First Disciples”. As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”    Matthew 4: 18-20 NIV"

"The other is dedicated to the daughter of Jairus. This holds great significance because she was the only woman whom Jesus raised from the dead. In this we see the Magdala messages woven together.He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.”     Mark 5: 41-42 NIV"

BTW, you might enjoy the story of Jerusalem's 1867 school called Talitha Kumi.

Our tour group was in such a rush that I somehow missed the fourth important chapel, so you will have to see the photo at the Magdala website.

"One of these chapels is of course the Mary Magdalene Chapel, where we remember the story in Luke of Jesus casting out demons.After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out.” Luke 8: 1-2 NIV"
Duc in Altum at Magdala Center is a Catholic spiritual center being built by the Church of Mexico.
They are doing a really good job.   Do stop in if you are in Israel.
(Linking to inSPIREd SundayWeekend ReflectionsMonday Mural, signs, signs and Our World Tuesday.)

Friday, April 6, 2018

A farewell to matza


Today is the 7th and last day of the Passover week in Israel.
Last Friday our town's Chabad rabbi and rebbitzin arranged a big community seder with about 45 guests.
It was nice, and four hours long, and at the end the men danced in a circle with gusto!
But because it was the Sabbath, photography was not allowed.  Sorry!

We have been eating matzo for a week.
Only on Sunday, when the stores open again after Shabbat, will we be able to go buy BREAD.
And I bet the big boxes of matzot will be deeply discounted.  :)
Chag sameach and Shabbat shalom.
If you're in the mood to see more about the seder and Pesach, please see my older posts under Passover.

Monday, April 2, 2018

"Holy ceremony" underway


Six Israeli Border Guard policemen were there at the entrance to the tiny room which contains the tomb of Jesus.  To keep order. 
Hundreds of eager pilgrims and tourists were in line, waiting for their one minute inside. 
Hundreds more were there on that Easter in 2012 when I took this picture, filling every space in the huge Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 

Just recently I was surprised and happy to find something new in the ancient church--this police barricade or small fence which now says 
"Holy ceremony"! 
On the sides are the insignia of the Jerusalem District Police. 

I must admit, it is a big improvement over the older ones in the first photo, which say in Hebrew "Mishtarah," which means Police. 
I think it shows more sensitivity.  Slowly slowly we are learning.  It has only been 50 years since Israel got responsibility for the security and safety inside this holiest of Christian holy places.  Be patient. 
(Linking to inSPIRED Sunday,  Our World Tuesday, and signs, signs.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Isaiah's prophecy in a blue mail box

ONE COLOR is our challenge for today's City Daily Photo bloggers' Theme Day. 
This blue "artwork" is signed in the lower corner by Israeli artist Dan Chamizer
He lives in Ein Hod, an artists' colony at the foot of Mount Carmel. 

The funny part is that right next to it are the actual post boxes for the residents of the village. 

The title on top explains why certain animals inhabit the boxes.
"Doar Acharit HaYamim" means Post at the End of Days, meaning, how it is supposed to be --allegorically -- in the future Messianic Era. 

The prophet Isaiah says in chapter 11, verse 6 that

The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion will graze together, and a little child will herd them. 
You can see this verse in the famous Isaiah scroll of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls here:

Happy Easter and happy Pesach to you all! 

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Encounter Chapel at Magdala


The woman in Mark 5:24-34 believed she would be healed of her bleeding if she could only "touch the hem of his garment"  [some think this means the ritual fringe on the bottom of his garment, such as Orthodox Jews wear till today].
She had courage and touched and was immediately healed by Jesus, the New Testament says.
This mural-sized painting of the famous scene is in the lower chapel of Duc in Altum, below the Boat Chapel and the Women's Atrium that we visited in previous posts.

(Remember that my photos here can be greatly enlarged with a click or two.)

The Magdala Center brochure describes The Encounter Chapel:
The basement chapel makes use of original stones found in the excavations of the road and marketplaces near the port.  This interdenominational place of prayer is modeled after the synagogue plan with its 6 columns, colorful walls and placement of stones.
The chapel features a beautiful mural-sized painting of the encounter between Jesus and the hemorrhaging woman (Mark 5:25). 

The stone benches along the walls are also like in the ancient synagogue of Migdal.

The one and only window looks out on the Sea of Galilee.

And the window creates the shadow of the cross.

Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, adds her prayerful presence to the special place.
There is more about the chapel at the website:

To all the Christian readers, Holy Week blessings and happy Easter wishes from me, your Jewish friend here at Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo.
(Linking to inSPIRED Sunday, Monday Murals, and Our World Tuesday.)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sparkling SodaStream water!


The 2018 theme is Nature for Water and the idea is to raise awareness about nature-related solutions to the water crisis.
Over the last few years Israel has gotten itself out of our water shortage; now we re-use a whopping 86% of our water.
So I'm going to blog today instead about a more exciting topic--SPARKLING WATER!

On a blustery January day our group's bus pulled up to the gate for a factory tour.
The sign says Welcome to the SodaStream family.

The plant is huge, spread out in many buildings, in the brand-new Idan HaNegev industrial park.
SodaStream moved here and closed its much smaller factory in the West Bank less than four years ago.

Our tour started with a little lecture in the Visitor Center where all the varieties of soda makers are on display.
Here is how to make flavored soda water at home:

We also got to see the funny video with Mayim Bialik and Hodor about the Lost Tribe of the Homoshlepians, the primitive people who used to schlepp water around in plastic bottles.  :)
Watch it here!

Then our guide took us into the factory!

You don't see many workers because so much of the production is automated.

But if something is a bit off, you do need a person to get right in there and fix it!

Our SodaStream guide needed amplification to make her voice heard over the machine noise.

Watching the robots is a bit mesmerizing, even in my little videos!

This man is from Peru!
SodaStream prides itself on fostering a happy work atmosphere filled with mutual respect and equality among its 1,700 employees.
Jews and Arabs, new immigrants and native-born Sabras, all ages, all work together in peace.
Every day a bus from Jerusalem brings 80 of the Palestinians who worked in the previous factory in Mishor Adumim.  (And travel time is paid.)
And 40% of the workforce are Bedouin--Israeli citizens from the close-by Bedouin city of Rahat or from the Negev's many unrecognized villages.
And half of those Bedouin are women!

Just outside SodaStream's gate you can see Rahat (well, you might have to click a few times on the photo to see the houses).

It was early afternoon Friday when our bus left in order to be back home in Meitar before Shabbat.
What warmed my heart that cold day was this picture of two smiling young men bringing platters of food or goodies as a nice little Sabbath Eve extra for the "SodaStream family" that stayed on to work, 24/7.
At the official website you can click on your country for local information about SodaStream.
SodaStream came to Israel in the 1970s, and today its headquarters are here and the products are exported to 47 countries.  Soon China will join that list too!

Learn all about SodaStream over at Wikipedia and check out the links at the end too.
And happy World Water Day!

Friday, March 16, 2018

A tale of a tail for sale


I was surprised to see something new in our local supermarket's meat department.
I was then somehow shocked to read the label; it said (and I translate literally from the Hebrew)  "TAIL OF A CALF."
I was really curious by then because never have I seen a whole long tail for sale!
After sneaking a photo for the blog, I came home and started googling.

OK, so I did already know there is something called oxtail, but oxen are not used for that anymore; and if you do see it for sale, the tail bone is chopped into smaller pieces.

Apparently there is a new approach to eating meat based on a 2004 foodie classic, The Whole Beast, Nose to Tail Eating by chef Fergus Henderson.
As one kosher butcher explains it,
"Nose to tail eating is a philosophy in which one eats the entire animal thereby honoring the animal's sacrifice and reducing food waste." 

Here is how an Australian organic food blog talks about it.

I am not qualified to explain about the historic complications of kosher tail requirements.
There is something about having to remove the sciatic nerve and having this nikkur done by specially trained menakrim.
In fact many Jews believe/d -- mistakenly -- that eating beef hindquarters is forbidden.
But if you are interested please see "Cow butts are kosher" in the blog The Kosher Omnivore's Quest.

Your input is welcome, dear readers.
P.S. Speaking of beef, here is a favorite photo of mine from Jerusalem's shuk (open market):
(Linking to ABC Wednesday. My K is for kosher.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Seeing eye dogs, eyes, and balloons


It's not every day that you see a guide dog; but today I saw TWO.
This beautiful mature one stayed quietly at its master's feet in the Wilhelmina Auditorium from 9:00  to 2:30.

Beer Sheva's Soroka Hospital gave a study day about various eye problems and treatments.
How the dog sat through all those lectures I don't know.
Poor thing was too low to even see the slides on the screen.

One of the talks included videos of eye surgery, including sticking needles into the eye.
Oi, not for the faint of heart!  But amazing what the surgeons can do to save vision.

Comic relief came unintentionally, haha!
At the end of the day the Eye Department balloon decorations had somehow gravitated to the EXIT stairwell and the old folks were trying to climb through them.

Then at my bus stop a sweet younger dog was waiting for the bus.
Her jacket says she is a guide dog for the blind puppy in training.

The bus stop is right outside Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Many students there volunteer to take such puppies into their homes for a year and go everywhere with them in order to socialize them.

You can see how the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind works in my earlier post.
And this post shows some playful puppies at our President's open house.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday and Camera Critters.)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A 21st C Purim Spiel?!

Today is the happy holiday Purim!
It's also our monthly CDP Theme Day and City Daily Photo bloggers are busy interpreting the idea "play."
I'm going to try to link the two by using PLAY as a noun.

Purim Spiel is the Yiddish term for the boisterous plays, sometimes even mini-musicals, that are thought up and put on every Purim.
So Spiel, pronounced shpeel, means a play and in Europe Jews have been keeping this Purim custom for centuries.

In Meitar this afternoon the Scouts put on a whole carnival. (More about that later.)
On stage was Tooti the Superhero.
Instead of  Esther saving her people from wicked Haman, we had Tooti, a woman with super powers, saving humanity from some kind of alien invasion (or something ...).

Here's a tiny video so you can hear as well as see our modern little Purim Spiel:

Happy Purim!
UPDATE: Here are nine life lessons we can learn from the Purim story of the Bible.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Magdala's Women's Atrium


Step into The Women's Atrium and be moved.

Some Franciscans were visiting Duc In Altum at Magdala Center, too.

Smartphone + biblical sandals for the friars of our time.

After Jesus "drove out the demons" from Maria Magdalene, she became his faithful disciple.
And Magdala is the town of her birth.  So of course there is a pillar for her.

The other columns are for Susanna & Joanna (Luke 8:3), Martha & Mary (Luke 10:38), Salome (Mark 15), Simon Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 8:15), Maria Cleophas (John 19:25), and "many other women" (Aliae Multae) who supported Jesus (Mark 15:41).

But the coolest thing here is that one pillar has been left empty, waiting for YOUR name! 

As the brochure explains,
"One unmarked pillar stands for women of all time who love God and live by faith.  Each woman can spiritually inscribe her name as a poignant reminder of her role in the history of humanity."

The baptismal font stands solidly in the middle of the atrium.
The mosaic on this side is called Descending as a Dove, recalling how the Holy Spirit descended while Jesus was being baptized in the Jordan River.

Water flows from the center, making meditative ripples.

Quoting again, 
"The cupola reflects the sky, [seven] stars and sun's rays with a piece of an image from Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of Jesus, found on the 'tilma' of a native Mexican in 1531.  Her folded hands signify the importance of women who accompany Jesus in the mission of extending the kingdom through prayer."

(More about the tilma here.)

The golden Latin phrase encircling the image on the cupola echoes an idea from the letter on the Dignity of Women (#31) by Pope John Paul II.   It can be translated:
In this holy place, 'the Church gives thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the mystery of woman, and for every woman, for her eternal dignity and for the wonders God has worked in and through her in the history of humanity.' 
And one last message from the Magdala brochure (check my photos above to see what is referred to):
Magdala is a crossroad of Jewish and Christian history.  To reflect this, the walls have been painted with the same colors found in frescoes of the 1st century synagogue [i.e. discovered on their grounds and which I'll post about soon].
The mosaic on the floor of the atrium imitates the meander style pattern found in the synagogue.  Upon the floor mosaic stand 8 columns replicating a Byzantine style church.  The columns are inscribed with the names of New Testament women.
The combination of Jewish and Christian artistic elements in the Women's atrium symbolizes the connection between the Judaic and Christian heritages.  For Christians, it is a reminder of the continuity between the Old and New Testaments, and the Jewish roots of Christianity.
In case you missed my previous two posts, you can find my photos of the exterior of this new spiritual center here and about the unique Boat Chapel here.
More about Duc In Altum's side chapels and the downstairs Encounter Chapel and about the antiquities in coming posts.

Lots more about the work in progress at their website, .
(Linking to inSPIRED Sunday.)