Friday, October 31, 2008


Shachar the black cat is the best I could come up with for Halloween. We don't have Halloween in Israel; we don't even have pumpkins!
But I wish lots of fun to all the kids and grown-ups in many countries who will be celebrating this strange night tonight.

The Jerusalem-California connection

Wandering, intentionally lost, in an old neighborhood of Jerusalem (Nachlaot maybe?), I saw two things which my two California blog-"sisters" Elaine and Petrea would appreciate.
I think this is called Shabazi Street.
The graffiti in black: "Who's the Minister of Welfare?"
An answer next to it in white: "Don't know."
This poor old bike, chain dangling, reminded me of Elaine's brand new bike Fifi, lehavdil, vive la difference! Titchadshi (=may you be re-newed by your new possession), enjoy, use it in good health, USElaine!
Like so many old houses in Jerusalem, this one was being gutted. A heap of junk in the yard, even a television. It always makes me sad.
But as I rounded the corner and emerged on a main street, the facade of the old structure gave me hope. The sign says it is being rebuilt as a center for theatre! Even Diss-Is-Culture is involved, an interesting thing to Google.
Actress/blogger Petrea, you'd love it. Good luck on your opening-night play in San Marino on Saturday. Break a leg!
I love Jerusalem. And I love how blogging makes friends of former strangers.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rainy grayness --> sudden brief light

Hundreds of SkyWatch bloggers share the beauty of their home sky every Friday.
You are welcome to look and to join the friendly group.

Israel's dry season, which normally lasts from spring until fall, has finally ended. Tuesday and Wednesday were gray days with on and off drizzle. Yesterday evening thunder and lightning and a big rain; 23 mm fell in Jerusalem and caused gridlock.
On Tuesday at 4:10 pm I noticed out the window a sudden glare of white in the dark gray of the eastern horizon. Jerusalem was caught in the swan song of the sun just before its setting! The city was like a mirage!
I ran over to the other side of our hill to say goodbye and thanks to the setting sun.


Today's favorite picture from Jerusalem's Machaneh Yehuda market.
I had on a backpack full of fruit and vegetables. But this mother carried something really precious.
Like a BabyBjörn kid carrier, but traditional Ethiopian style.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Return of the rain!

The sweet smell and feel of light rain finally returned to the Jerusalem Hills. We have not seen any rain for about half a year, which is normal. That's why it is so exciting to see it now, in its season. Here are some scenes from yesterday's walk through the woods, down just two terraces from my house.
The acorns and the olives were all wet and glistening.

The cypress had bright leaves, "bombelach" (cones), and even yellow flowers.

The thirsty lichens seemed to be drinking it all in.

Pines were dripping.

And the swirled wood of the ktalav (Arbutus) was even more shiny and smooth and dramatic than usual. (My earlier posts about this manzanita tree are here, here, and here.)
Let's hope and pray lots of rain will fall this winter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


O yes! O is the letter of the day. Welcome to ABC Wednesday,
where bloggers have fun playing with the alphabet. You can try too.

Oi veh, I thought, which of the many O words to choose?!
OK, let's take that big word I never know how to spell: ONOMATOPOEIA .

Onomatopoeia (from Greek ονοματοποιΐα) is a word or grouping of words that imitates the sound it describes (e.g. the animal noise meow) or suggests its source object (e.g. click, buzz, or bang). Greek όνομα, onoma, means name and ποιέω, poieō, means I make or I create, so it means name-creation.

Let's hear some Hebrew examples of onomatopoeia. My favorite is bakbuk. It means bottle. Doesn't it sound like liquid being poured from a bottle? bakbuk bakbuk bakbuk
BTW, this is also my favorite liqueur: chocolate! A tiny bit mixed with soda water or even milk, yum. Or on ice cream.

A tiftuf is water dripping, leaking. Or a light rain.
After years of drought Israel may soon run out of water. This tiftuf in the photo is at the Mekorot national water authority station in my village, of all places!

Tof is the onomatopoeiac Hebrew word for drum. Tof-Miriam is what we call a tambourine or timbrel.
This Miriam is one of the female Bible heroes portrayed in a dome in Jerusalem's Dormition Abbey.

Gur is a lion cub or a puppy. Grrr

Zvuv is a fly. Well, actually this is more a picture of a stinging insect. What he did was zimzem--he made a buzzing noise.

Has is the verb asking you to hush. Sha, sha means shhh, be still.

Rishroosh is the sound of waves lapping on the shore, like above at the Sea of Galilee.
The most well-known and well-loved use of the word is in the song by Hannah Senesh. (Can be heard on YouTube.)
ELI, ELI (Halicha L'kesariya)
Eli, Eli
Shelo yigamer le'olam:
Hachol vehayam
Rishrush shel hamayim
Berak hashamayim
Tefilat ha-adam.
Oh God!
Let it last forever,
the sand, the sea,
the lapping of the waves,
the glitter of the stars,
the prayer of men.
(translation by anonymous)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spice is the variety of life

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You are welcome to join in and share your home place.

(Photos can be seen full screen by clicking on them.)
Shalom and welcome to Jerusalem's Old City. This is Rechov HaShalshelet (in Hebrew) or Bab el Silsileh (in Arabic), a main bazaar street in the Muslim Quarter.

Come into the spice shop, a pleasure to the nose and eye. What here is labeled "coffee spice" is cardamon. In Arabic and Hebrew it is called hel. Ahh, so fragrant added to Turkish coffee, and healthy for the heart too.

Spices from near and far! The owner must have a fortune invested here.

And he sells incense too. Remember how the three Magi/Wise Men brought frankincense and myrrh to Bethlehem for Christmas? Here it is!

Need some nard? It smells heavenly.

Shelves full of spices. Or perhaps you buy a hooka/nargilla/shisha, yes Madam?
Then you can put that (some of these leaves) in your pipe and smoke it. :)

Then too, there's essence. So many oils.

This is a picture of what I love about Jerusalem, the Old City, the Street of the Chain, and this shop: you literally rub shoulders with residents of every religion and with visitors of every color from all over the world. And as we all know, variety is the spice of life.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How many Followers for a Pope's blog?

This blog has been heavy on the Jewish topics for many weeks. High time to give some attention to Israel's other religious groups.
Today the world General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops concluded at the Vatican. For the first time ever a rabbi was invited to address a plenary session of the Synod. Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, gave a brave speech (which you can read at Zenit news service from Rome).
But what I thought you bloggers would enjoy is this: Zenit's article entitled "A Blogging Benedict XVI?"

Or, here is another, lighter, version of what happened, as reported by Catholic News Service:

Pope Benedict as Bible blogger?
Posted on October 14, 2008 by John Thavis
VATICAN CITY — The Synod of Bishops on the Bible heard an unusual suggestion Tuesday morning when a Hong Kong observer asked Pope Benedict to start up his own daily blog on Scripture.
Agnes Kam Leng Lam, president of the Catholic Biblical Association of Hong Kong, said people need to experience Scripture in small but significant doses.
“To put it in a nutshell, I’d like to suggest to you Holy Father to start a multi-language blog to shepherd today’s world by scriptural verses, daily verses,” she said on the synod floor. The pope’s blog should include simple reflections that relate Scripture to real-life situations, she said.
Lam included advice that’s probably good for any blogger: “Remember, brief texts, Holy Father, and plentiful images, and this will be very attractive to the young generation and to today’s people.”
The talk apparently provoked a positive reaction and some laughter, but the pope, who was presiding over the Oct. 5-26 assembly, didn’t say whether he’d be blogging anytime soon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Insides outside

The marvelous annual Sculpture by the Sea is on in Bondi, Australia. These critter photos were taken by my daughter and son-in-law, who live in Bondi.
As Naomi wrote in her blog, "These animals had their insides showing."

My two grandsons here loved the flying whale.
No, this is not Jonah being spewed out of the great fish's belly. It's Dean, under the baleen!
Naomi and Dean befriend the urchins.
Thanks for the use of your fun photos, Naomi!
Lots more animals are appearing today over at Camera-Critters, waiting for your visit.

Let there be light -- Shabbat Beresheet

Today is Shabbat Beresheet, the Sabbath on which we begin the Torah-reading cycle anew, starting at Genesis.
After all our soul-searching and repenting of the past month, God has hopefully given us a clean slate to begin the new Jewish year.
Every year on this Hebrew date we read all over again how God created the world, and every year we are given a fresh chance to create our own worlds all over again.

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."
Here is a story related by Yanki Tauber, content editor of

What Is A Chassid?LET THERE BE LIGHT (1:3)

In 1907, when Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch was staying at the health spa in Wirtzburg, Germany, a group of chassidim came to spend a Shabbos with the Rebbe. Among them was Reb Yosef Yuzik Horowitz, his son-in-law Reb Feivel Zalmanov, and Reb Elimelech Stoptzer.

The Rebbe prayed for many hours that Shabbos morning, as was his manner. Meanwhile, the chassidim made kiddush and consumed a respectable quantity of l'chayims.
Later, when the Rebbe had finished and they sat with him to the Shabbos meal, Reb Yosef Yuzik asked:
"Rebbe, what is a chassid?"
Replied the Rebbe: "A chassid is a lamplighter. The lamplighter walks the streets carrying a flame at the end of a stick. He knows that the flame is not his. And he goes from lamp to lamp to set them alight."

Asked Reb Yosef Yuzik: "What if the lamp is in a desert?"
"Then one must go and light it," said the Rebbe. "And when one lights a lamp in a desert, the desolation of the desert becomes visible. The barren wilderness will then be ashamed before the burning lamp."

Continued the chassid: "What if the lamp is at sea?"
"Then one must undress, dive into the sea, and go light the lamp."
"And this is a chassid?" Reb Yosef Yuzik asked.
For a long while the Rebbe thought. Then he said: "Yes, this is a chassid."

"But Rebbe, I do not see the lamps!"
Answered the Rebbe: "Because you are not a lamplighter."
"How does one become a lamplighter?"
"First, you must reject the evil within yourself.
Start with yourself, cleanse yourself, refine yourself, and you will see the lamp within your fellow. When a person is himself coarse, G-d forbid, he sees coarseness; when a person is himself refined, he sees the refinement in others."

Reb Yosef Yuzik then asked: "Is one to grab the other by the throat?"
Replied the Rebbe: "By the throat, no; by the lapels, yes."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Music in the market

These Israeli boys just plopped down and started making music in Shuk Machaneh Yehuda market. In exchange for music and a photo I was happy to put in a coin.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Funny-color sky over Jerusalem

The sky was such a strange and ominous color at 4:30 the other day. A few tiny drops tried to fall and then stopped. A good thing, too, because I was on a guided walking tour of 19th century Jerusalem and wanted the camera to stay dry.
This building from 1904 was once home to Lemel Elementary School.
Click on the photo to better see the clock's Hebrew letters used as numbers.
Close to 400 bloggers contribute every Thursday and Friday to SkyWatch, and every week our numbers increase. You're welcome to visit the very different skies and to share your own sky.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This too shall pass

Having time before the next bus back to my village, I went exploring today in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit HaKerem.
The morning after! Just yesterday all these palms were the sekhach, the roof cover of sukkahs. Now the holiday of Sukkot is over and the sukkah-booths are being dismantled.
Flowers or birds? Don't they look like colorful crested cranes?
Even stranger than the car itself was its Hebrew lettering. On the left door it says "Gam zeh ya'avor" written from right to left (as is normal in Hebrew) and on the right-hand door the same sentence but written in mirror image and going from left to right.
At home I looked at the website. Baruch Hadaya is a 16th generation Jerusalemite. Wow! He is an artist, a storyteller, a jeweler.
He says that "Gam zeh ya'avor," meaning "This too shall pass," engraved on his rings, is based on a story about King Solomon. You can see or hear the tale here.
Hadaya says, "This story reminds you that when you have a bad day, it will pass. And when you have a good day seize the moment, enjoy it, appreciate it because you should know it would not last forever."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

N is for nun

The fall collection of N words is over at ABC Wednesday.

Living near the Holy City Jerusalem, naturally I notice nuns.

Now you see her,
now you don't.

One Torah and two Torah teachers

Just remembered, I DO have a photo (not mine) of a real Torah scroll.
On the right is Rabbi Herman Schaalman of Chicago. He has been my rabbi and spiritual father for 47 years. A truly great man.
Ktav has just published Rabbi's book, Hineni--Here I Am. In it is his amazing life story and his even more amazing original theology.