Monday, December 29, 2008

That's My (Other) World

Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo is now in Australia, until early February, visiting family. Seems like this is a good time to be out of Israel, judging by the news. Sigh . . .
Yesterday my daughter took me and my two little grandsons by bus and train to Circular Quay. Thousands of tourists were down there but we found room on a beautiful ferry boat to Rose Bay and Watson's Bay. Sydney was in sunlight in the morning, but the sky over the city looked like this from the beach in Watson's Bay where we had a mid-afternoon fish and chips picnic. Very dramatic rain clouds.
It is so beautiful here--big sky, big country.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

SkyWatch today IN the sky

Shalom SkyWatchers. After two days and two nights in planes, today I safely completed the journey from Israel to Sydney, Australia.
How beautiful it was to sit back and savor the fabulous sights above the clouds!
What a world!
Happy Sky Watch Friday to all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nazareth midnight mass on Internet, live

Midnight mass in Nazareth will be broadcast live in half an hour on Israel TV and on the Internet. You can go to and click on "Christmas Mass" at 11:55 pm Israel time. We are GMT +2 hours.
I imagine a video of it will be available there afterwards, on Christmas Day.

Happy Chanuka from my computer to yours!
It's really only the 4th day, so tonight we lit 4 + 1 candles.
Right after watching midnight mass on my little notebook computer, I am going to pack it up and together we will head to Ben-Gurion Airport. Saturday morning, God willing, I'll be in Australia!
So goodbye for a few days. Merry Christmas or happy Chanuka to all you friends out there!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wise men

Wise men with gifts.
Welcome to W at ABC Wednesday.
Merry Christmas to all the Christian friends.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chanuka in Jerusalem's Old City

Shalom everyone and happy holiday. Tonight at home I lit the second candle of Chanuka.
The photos are from 2006, the sixth night of Chanuka, so you see six big flames and one for the shamash, the servant "candle."
Here is the big Chanuka menorah in context. Please click on the picture to see it better.
To the right--the Western Wall. Above it, on the Temple Mount, is the Moslem shrine called the Dome of the Rock. On the horizon, the Mount of Olives with its many churches.
And below is the Western Wall Plaza archaeological excavation where I was working then. It is much deeper down now, and the dig is being completed this month, with exciting discoveries.
Little tours from around the world await your participation at That's My World Tuesday. Pay a visit, you'll enjoy your trip.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A modern chanukiya

Chanuka began at nightfall tonight with the lighting of the first candle.
The candle at the left is the shamash, the servant candle which lights the others.
Tomorrow night there will be two candles and one shamash. Every night another candle is added and the light increases.
The chanukiya (menorah) is traditionally placed in a window or near the door or is lit outside in order to "publicize the miracle" to everyone.
Here is a photo from last year. This is how the chanukiya will look on the 8th and final day of the Festival of Lights.
Chag sameach--happy holiday!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Man-child on the burro

Donkeys are the best! This unique manger scene inside a warm donkey was made in Peru.
A very moving telling of the trip to and from Bethlehem, as told by the donkey, was written by cowboy poet and veterinarian, Dr. Baxter Black. You can find it here.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Camera-Critters is a meme for all animal lovers to visit and join. Who is YOUR favorite animal? Come over and post it, welcome.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Red leaves and green leaves

Latroun Monastery, home to Trappist monks, is the only place in Israel I have ever seen poinsettias growing.
These are pictures from last December.

Here's the story (from Wikipedia):
"The plants' association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson 'blossoms' sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan monks in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sleigh bells in the sky?

Good-bye smoggy Tel Aviv, hello blue Mediterranean

Hello dreamy evening sky over Europe
Well, these shots are from my short flight to Switzerland a year ago, as evidenced by the Swiss cross.
BUT . . . as SkyWatch Friday opens next week I will be winging my way to Australia!
It is time to meet (for the first time) my one-year-old grandson and to see how much his five-year-old brother has grown. The boys will be on summer vacation and free to have lots of fun with Savta Dina for six weeks.
I have to be at Ben-Gurion Airport at 3:00 a.m. Christmas morning (Thursday), flying at 6:00. Tel Aviv to Madrid. Change planes. Fly to London, wait 6 hours at Heathrow, and only then start the flight back east, over Europe again, this time in the direction of Sydney, with a short stop in Bangkok. Landing in Australia on Saturday morning. From the first take-off to the last landing: 39 hours. zzzzzzzzzz...
Obviously, I will be out of blogging range for a few days. So to all who celebrate it, merry Christmas to you! If my jet passes Santa's sleigh and reindeer in the sky, you will hear about it.
SkyWatch Friday has all kinds of tales and photos by hundreds of sky-watching bloggers around the globe. We always expand our horizon by visiting some of them.

The land of milk and honey

Israel is a leading dairy production country.
Glass milk bottles went out of use about 1960.
Now we have plastic bags.
In larger stores you can find a few cartons for sale but they are more expensive than bags.
Only the milk in bags is price-controlled.

A liter of bag milk costs 4.68 shekels.
At today's exchange rate (it changes everyday), that would be US$1.27.
The blue bag in its holder  is 3% fat, and the red is 1%.
 I go through almost a bag a day, the milk is so good!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Old chanukiot

Yay, only four days until Chanuka, the Festival of Lights!

In Jerusalem's lovely Beit Ticho small museum is the late Dr. Avraham Ticho's international collection of antique Chanukah lamps.

We say chanukia in Hebrew in Israel, although in the Diaspora you more often hear it called a menorah.
Sunday night we will light the first candle.
Then, every night we add one additional candle, until at the end of Chanuka there are eight candles and one servant candle burning brightly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vacuuming the bottles

Our little moshav-village in the Jerusalem Hills (aka Judean Hills) believes in recycling.
The "cage" next to the little grocery shop quickly fills up with our empty plastic bottles.
I always wondered how they empty it . . . until one day I came at just the right time and saw the truck for the first time. Look at that huge VACUUM tube!
Maybe next time I'll be in time to see and hear the vacuum in action.
To see other ideas for the letter V, truck on over to ABC Wednesday.

Vacation turned deadly

What a tragedy, but this time not terrorism. A group of travel agents and families from St. Petersburg had just landed in a small airport north of Eilat and were on a tourist bus en route to Eilat, Israel's southernmost city on the Red Sea. On a curve in the mountainous area the bus went over, falling over 60 meters into a ravine.
Some 30 Russians are wounded and 26 dead. God help them.
We just watched live coverage of the rescue on the Internet.
The small and secluded city of Eilat has a small hospital. They stabilized the wounded but can't keep all of them.
Soon the helicopters will be flying over my house with some of the wounded and landing at Hadassah hospital just across the valley.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Local pride

These murals are scenes of real shops and the real people you can find in Jerusalem's big outdoor fruit and vegetable market, Shuk Machaneh Yehuda.
A juice stand where you can watch your carrot or orange or pomegranate juice being made.
Felafel stand on the right. To the left, shwarma meat turning and roasting, ready to be shaved off the spit and put into pita together with your choice of salads.

The whole sides of the building are beautiful murals of the local people.
The weekly guided tours of photo bloggers' home towns are starting now at That's My World Tuesday. Join up!

The Monster and the Lamplighter

A grayish day in Jerusalem today but the clouds produced no rain.

From the bus I saw a man in a boom lift, putting up a streetlight.
The Monster seemed to be looking at him and protesting, "Hey, how can any human be taller than I am?!"
(If you missed my September post about "The Golem" aka Monster and want to see him better, please click here. )

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Up and at 'em

Jerusalem's big, bustling, bright Central Bus Station is full of life, and sometimes even surprises!
This stilt-walker was working together with a young man to promote something to the public. I'm not sure what they were selling, but it was fun to see.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Urban animals

Thought it would be fun to share all the animals I saw in one day in Jerusalem.
Can you find the little sparrow on the huge Herodian stones of the Western Wall?
This kitten was busy chasing a bee.
In the old days (up to ~mid-20th C maybe) houses had gutters to channel rain into underground cisterns. Residents of the houses surrounding the courtyard would draw their water from openings such as this one, now capped.
The same kitten followed us into the Museum of Psalms. Acted right at home, like he owns the place. Well, he was born there so it IS his home.
One of the MANY Old City cats. This one walks down Saint Francis Street in the Christian Quarter.
More animals will be on display starting tonight courtesy of our Camera-Critters blogger group. Enjoy your visit or contribute a critter of your own. New creatures always welcome!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sax and the Santa Claus

Just when I was despairing of every finding anything in Jewish Jerusalem to post about Christmas decorations . . . voila! One shop over in the (Arab) Christian Quarter of the Old City had photo-blog fodder.
But why is this Santa Claus playing a saxophone?
 Is he collecting for the Salvation Army?
And why has he ditched the reindeer in favor of a hot air balloon?
This is not as I remember . . . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Night falls quietly

Just before 4:00 p.m. the sun still warmed the four tall eucalyptus trees down at our local monastery.
Then only the colored church windows caught the last bits of sunlight.
SkyWatch Friday is beginning now. Fly on over to visit.

Crossing the threshold

At the wise prodding of readers like Australian Ann, today I actually entered the Iran Bazaar that I showed the outside of yesterday. Many fascinating old things inside, and even archaeological antiquities!
The proprietors fit right in. They were friendly and let me roam and gaze and take pictures.

Just for fun, you can view this post while hearing "In a Persian Market."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mazal tov

Need your Persian carpet repaired or cleaned? Want to buy some old and beautiful things?
Like to hear some Farsi spoken? Then welcome to the Ghatan Brothers' Iran Bazaar, located in the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall in central Jerusalem.
I have never been inside. But when I passed this morning, something told me to take this photo for a certain two Iranian bloggers. Now, back home, I see Mashhad (Iran) Daily Photos is celebrating its 200th post. Congratulations to Meead, the blog's founder, and to Sara, who continues the work. We are all invited to share their celebration cake.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Ubiquitous Nachman of Uman

Today's letter for ABC Wednesday is U. So it should not seem unusual for us to post about the ubiquitous Nachman of Uman, Ukraine.
Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, was the founder of the Breslov (or Bratslav) branch of Hasidic Judaism.
" The Breslov approach places great emphasis on serving God through the sincerity of the heart, with much joy and living life as intensely as possible.
Its Hasidim see Torah life as the means to a joyful existence, and their approach to worship is very personalized and emotional, with much clapping, singing, and dancing. . . .
Besides the regular daily services in the synagogue, Rebbe Nachman advised his followers to engage in hitbodedut (literally, "self-seclusion") on a daily basis.
In this distinctively Breslov practice, the individual Hasid engages in a free-flowing verbal communication with God for one hour a day.
During hitbodedut, the individual pours out his thoughts and concerns in his mother tongue, as if talking to a close personal friend.
The goal is to establish a close, personal relationship with God and a clearer understanding of one's personal motives and goals."
(from Wikipedia)

Wiki claims that "A few Breslovers also use a form of mantra meditation by repeating a word or phrase over and over. . . .
A small group of modern-day Breslovers use the Na Nach Nachma mantra, which is based on the Hebrew letters of Nachman's name.
This mantra was not used by Rebbe Nachman himself, but was taught in the 20th century by Rabbi Yisroel Ber Odesser.
However, this group is not part of mainstream Breslov, and is rejected by most adherents."

I think Wiki is underestimating.
Judging from the ubiquitous graffiti, printed signs, and Na Nach kipot all over the place, there must be MANY who believe in the power of the mantra. In Jerusalem, at least, and in Tsfat for sure.
One of the results of reciting and writing the mantra, so they say, will be the hastening of the coming of the messiah.
Every time you add one more syllable: Na, nach,, nachma, nachman me-uman.
Uman, in the Ukraine, is where Rebbe Nachman is buried. Every Rosh Hashanah tens of thousands of Breslovers make a pilgrimage to his grave.
If you want to know more about how this mantra was revealed in a mysterious "Letter from Heaven," please read here.
Meanwhile, be happy!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The keys to the city--take them already!

December 9 is the anniversary of a major event in Jerusalem's modern history, but I doubt if anyone will think of it. The only reason I know is because of my explorations this week.
I found a tall office building and from a top (10th) floor window was lucky to get this view to the west. The huge building with the long blue windows is the new Central Bus Station.
But what was that little circular park in back of it??

I went down and discovered this little playground, but no name.
But across the street was a tiny sign on an old wall that said Kikar Allenby, meaning Allenby Square. Aha!

And an old monument! Its inscription reads:

If you click to enlarge this photo and contemplate the figures etched in stone, you may see hooded Crusader knights with shield and sword!! Like these British soldiers they, too, conquered Jerusalem (in 1099).
But wait . . . I always heard that General Allenby accepted the Turks' surrender at the Citadel, just inside the Jaffa Gate, in the Old City. So, back home, I asked the Google god to help in my quest for answers.
Here, written by Aviva Bar-Am in her Jerusalem Post article "Authentic Romema," is (one version of) the amazing story:
"In the wee hours of December 9, 1917, two British army cooks from the 60th London Division left their Jerusalem base in search of fresh eggs and vegetables for their commander. Less than six weeks had passed since Commonwealth troops had breached the Turkish lines in Israel for the first time and conquered Beersheba; earlier that very morning the British had captured Jerusalem from the Turks, as well.
As the cooks walked through a deserted field on an exposed hill, they were accosted by a number of residents anxious to surrender the city. Among them were four policemen, several youths, the Jerusalem mayor Hussein Selim el-Husseini and a photographer from the American Colony.
Upon sighting British soldiers, the Jerusalemites lifted their arms. They held a white sheet that had been hastily torn off one of the beds at the American Colony’s hospital. Attached to a broom handle, the sheet was the Jerusalemites’ makeshift flag of truce. The mayor then handed the cook and his aide a tender of capitulation, explaining that the Turks had fled the city.
When the soldiers returned to base, they told their commander what had happened. He was so upset that the ’ceremony’ had taken place without him, that he ordered the mayor to return to the hill, and conducted a second surrender. However, that officer’s commander was furious that he hadn’t been present at either surrender, so he held a third ceremony on the same spot.
But General Sir Edmund Allenby, commander in chief of the British-Anzac Egyptian Expeditionary Force, was unimpressed by the three surrenders. On December 11, 1917, he entered the Old City of Jerusalem and conducted yet another capitulation ceremony. Unfortunately, the mayor was unable to attend — he is said to have contracted pneumonia after standing on the exposed hill for the three previous ceremonies and to have died soon afterward.
Ignoring the location and circumstances of the fourth and final surrender, soldiers of the 60th London Division decided to erect a three-meter-high monument near the original site in 1920."
For more photos and stories from around the world visit the friendly blogger-tour guides at our new That's My World Tuesday. Free tours! No tipping, except maybe to leave a comment. :)
UPDATE Sept. 2014:  A photograph of the surrender to the two British soldiers is now here!
UPDATE July 2019: More about the famous surrender photo --see here.