Friday, February 29, 2008

Erev Shabbat

Candles floating in water. Another week comes quickly to an end and the Sabbath now begins. Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Helpful helicopters

Not one but two helicopters landing at Hadassah. The hospital is now building a bigger helipad atop its tall emergency medicine building. I am always saddened seeing such copters fly over my house, wondering who has been hurt, and where, and why.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The sun is back! There is no pleasure quite like taking a nap in the sun on a warm day in cold February. Here is my friend Lara waking up from a catnap.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jerusalem on the hill


Day after day now of cold and gray, gray and cold.
Here's the view from my house: just across the valley is the western edge of Jerusalem.
The religious neighborhood is called Har Nof, meaning "mountain with a view." Well sure!--They have a view of US.
That dense property development over there is way too dense for me.
But at least some of that community's 20,000 residents can look out over the Jerusalem Forest.
The forest, planted in the 1950s as the green lung of the capital, today spreads over 1200 dunams (300 acres).

In the right foreground of the photo stands the Ein Kerem campus of Hadassah Hospital.
I love looking out my window and having Yerushalayim right there!
My dream come true.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New chair


Here it is, the chair of my dreams!
First used one of these ergonomic invented-in-Norway chairs while living as a volunteer at Heifer Ranch in Arkansas.
(YOU can volunteer there too. See .)
But try to find a kneeling chair in Israel. Not easy. No one ever even heard of them.
Found on the Internet one business that sells the real Scandinavian ones but who can afford 1900 shekels?
And then yesterday there miraculously appeared a post on with a used kneeler for sale in Jerusalem! I went to the lady's apartment, plopped down just NIS 250 ($69) without even bargaining, and shlepped the thing home on two buses.
It's so exciting! Haven't bought myself furniture since 1969.
Jango is the Jerusalem Anglo Community Protexia website. It says:

"Janglo was started in June 2001 as a free community service to help people in the Jerusalem area exchange information about 'stuff,' like jobs, apartments, events, and sales. About a year later, we launched a similar site, Taanglo, for the Tel Aviv area. Both email lists quickly took off and became some of the most popular sites for English-speakers in Israel. . . ."
It's great. I love how people come together as part of an online community, helping each other with information and advice. Sort of a smaller version of the greater phenomenon of all of us in Israel feeling like family.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Into the hill country, to a town of Judah

I was out wandering alone down near the spring when these Russian monastics came by and asked me directions to Ein Kerem.
Ein Kerem is the lovely ancient village believed to be the birthplace of John the Baptist. From here near the spring it is only maybe a mile and a half walk.
 I pointed (we had no common language) to the path that goes around the hill, through the woods, down to the valley of Nahal Soreq.
It can be a problem when the our trail signs are only in Hebrew.
Having lost the way plenty of times in my life, always glad to direct a pilgrim in the way he should take!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Windows into Heaven

I've seen a lot of different identifying signs in tourist buses--but never an icon! 
This bus was parked down by our local monastery today, waiting for its group of Russian pilgrims to return from their visit to some holy places associated with John the Baptist.

In Christian tradition, an icon is not meant to be looked at as a work of art; it is to be gazed upon as a "window into heaven."
So here you have a photo of a window in a window now on a computer screen

Friday, February 22, 2008

Shabbat shalom

Shabbat shalom. Wishing you the peace and rest of the Sabbath.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just kidding

It's kidding season! Today I had the good fortune of passing the neighbors' cheese dairy and goat farm right after a doe had dropped twins.

With bedtime nearing, I remember what Rabbi Yosef, head of Pumbedita Academy in Babylon in the early 4th century, said in the Talmud tractate Berakhot 57a: "He who dreams of a goat, his year will be blessed; he who dreams about goats, his years shall be blessed, as it is written (Proverbs 27:27): 'The goats' milk will suffice for your food.'"

May we all have such sweet dreams.
BTW, this quotation is excerpted from a wonderful book, Desert and Shepherd in Our Biblical Heritage by Nogah Hareuveni of Neot Kedumin-The Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pruning the olive trees

On hearing a chainsaw somewhere down in the woods this morning, I grabbed the camera and quickly walked to the lower terraces to investigate. But, to my great relief, it turned out to be a beneficial cutting. Some Italian farmers had been brought to prune the olive trees. They snipped and sawed with the confidence that comes from skill, good judgment, and years of experience. The men spoke only their dialect of Italian, so with sign language and a smile I got their approval for picture taking.
The olive fruit needs strong sunlight in order to produce lots of oil. Ideally every olive should enjoy direct sunlight for at least part of the day. Pruning reduces the density of the foliage and lets sun penetrate into every part of the tree.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ktalav in the rain

Welcome to the Jerusalem Hills!
My first try at blogging, and I wanted to welcome you with a rare snow picture. But the predicted snow just didn't happen today on our 640-meter hilltop. Lots of rain fell though, a blessing in this almost drought year in Israel.

The ktalav tree took on a whole new look, its smooth bark glistening in the rain.
Later, in the hot dry season, the bark will flake and peel off.
In Hebrew ktalav (often mispronounced as "katlav"), genus Arbutus, in English the Eastern strawberry tree.