Saturday, February 28, 2009

Doggie coats

True, it is down to 2-7 degrees C in Jerusalem (36-45 F). But is that cold enough for dogs to need jackets?
This is something I've never seen before. The pet shop across the street from Denmark Square brought out their entire "Winter Collection 2008-9" to display on the sidewalk.
Pretty snazzy coats, eh? But I have never once seen a Jerusalem dog dressed in one.
In Tel Aviv, yes, many. And Tel Aviv is always warmer than Jerusalem. I guess our dogs are just tougher and braver and they grow natural fur coats for our chilly winter.
BTW, snow is predicted here in the central hills tonight. It has been 13 months since the last snowfall. Let's hope and pray you have some white photos to see tomorrow!
Animal pictures from all over are assembled today over at Camera-Critters.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cholent weather

A wintry weekend--thunderstorms and temperatures of 2-6 degrees C (or 36-43 F) in Jerusalem and even colder up here on our little mountain just outside the city.
It's the perfect time and weather for that old Jewish classic, CHOLENT!
First defrost your frozen kishke. Kishke used to be made from a cow intestine but today edible synthetic casing is used. It is stuffed with flour or matsa meal, schmaltz or oil, spices, and I don't know what else.
Take a heavy pot and put in beef chunks, potatoes, white beans, barley, onion, the kishke, and an egg. If there is room throw in a ganef knaidle (dumpling). Cover everything with water, put a lid on, and bring it to a boil.
Just before the Sabbath starts (i.e. before sunset on Friday) put the pan in the oven.
Enjoy the good smell and the warmth all night.
Next day, Yom Shabbat, around noon it will be ready to eat.
Jews are not supposed to light a fire or cook during Shabbat. In the old days in Europe and in Israel, the pots of cholent from the village would be put in the baker's big oven overnight. On their way home from morning prayers at the synagogue, the families would pick up their pan and go home for a heavenly midday meal.
Caveat: Like the American Thanksgiving Day turkey, cholent is said to contain a sleep-inducing agent. Be prepared to feel a nap coming on.
Shabbat shalom!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where the sun stood still

Once you go down from Jerusalem and the surrounding Jerusalem Hills, the lowland of the Shefelah opens up with vistas like this. I snapped this shot from the Jerusalem-to-Tel Aviv bus last Friday.
This bridge goes over the Valley of Ayalon, famous from the book of Joshua 10:12-14 where Joshua needed victory over the Amorites and said, "Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ayalon." And they did, the Bible says, for about a whole day.
Bridges and tunnels are being built for a new railway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It will be Israel's first high-speed rail and also our first electrified heavy railway line. If the line is ever finished, the trip should take only 28 minutes.
SkyWatch Friday is in full swing. Have a look.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Fellowship

In a festive ceremony yesterday the 18th Knesset was sworn in. After President Peres' speech the acting Speaker read the oath: "I pledge to remain loyal to the State of Israel and to fulfill my duty in the Knesset faithfully." As his or her name was called, each MK stood and declared: "Mitchayev ani," pledge I do.
Of the 120 Members of Knesset, 31 are new.
The average age is 53.
A record number of women, 21.
Haneen Zuabi is the first female Arab MK to enter the Knesset on an Arab list, Balad.
Now all we need is a government! After the recent elections, things are quite a mess. Bibi Netanyahu, who did NOT get the most votes, was asked by the President to try to form a government. It is hard to form a coalition out of the 12 very different parties that won seats in the Knesset.
This graffito in the center of Jerusalem says VOTE FOR ARAGORN.
If only he had been running for office! He would have won my vote. If only Israel had an Aragron to lead the country . . .
From his biography:
"Aragorn was known as Strider, a Ranger who lived in the Wild protecting the peoples of Middle-earth. But he was descended from the ancient line of kings, and when he joined the quest of the Ring-bearer, the time came for him to fulfill his destiny. As Frodo Baggins struggled to reach Mount Doom, Aragorn fought the servants of the Enemy and revealed himself to Sauron as Isildur's Heir. After Sauron's downfall the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor were reunited under Aragorn's reign and peace and prosperity returned to Middle-earth."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Frocks for friars

Frocks for friars.
Ordo Praedicatorum, the Order of Preachers . . . Dominicans.
Forty days of fasting, beginning tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.
F is the letter of the day for ABC Wednesday bloggers.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A young city by the sea

Tel Aviv is 100 years old [the Jerusalemite snickers] .
I just came home from a weekend in Tel Aviv. The weather was the wildest this country has had all winter. Notice the palms all bending eastward in the 50mph wind.
In the photo above we are looking down Hayarkon Street, which runs along the seashore. Most of the big hotels and embassies are located there.
Nearer to the water, the Tayelet promenade parallels the sea for several kilometers, all the way to Jaffa (which you can see at the top of this photo, jutting into the sea). Because of the cold wind and rain, almost no one was strolling; quite rare for this popular place.
The old salt-water Gordon swimming pool is being rebuilt. Behind it is the marina.
When peace activist Abie Nathan died last year I posted a tribute to him. I was SO happy to find that the Tel Aviv Municipality had erected this plaque about him. Please click on the photo and read it. You press the button in the rocks and it broadcasts the words from the pirate peace ship radio station that we listened to 1973-1993: "This is the Voice of Peace broadcasting from somewhere in the Mediterranean." So cool!!
And look at this playground only for those over age 14. All the exercise equipment you would find in an expensive gym!
The best part of the city of Tel Aviv is the sea.
With thanks to friend and relative Niva, who adores Tel Aviv, for her home hospitality and guided walking tours last weekend.
Blogger-guided tours around the world will be posted tonight at That's My World Tuesday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tel Aviv weekend

Jerusalem? No way! Welcome to Tel Aviv.
Friday I took the bus westward, toward the Mediterranean coast, clear across the country, a drive of all of 45 minutes.
Rain was starting to coat the window as we entered the big, modern metropolis. Water was flowing in the drainage canal between the highway and the railroad.
The weekend was fun despite the cold, thunderstorms, and strong winds. The sea was wild, with huge waves breaking near the shore.
But it's great to come back home today. There is no place like the Jerusalem Hills, my natural choice.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Achoo! Gesundheit!

I looked out the window this afternoon to find that Jerusalem had disappeared from the horizon. The hills across our valley had also been swallowed up.
The sun looked weird and ominous.
I clicked on the local newspapers. Sure enough, a huge cloud of dust had suddenly blown in from Egypt and was covering Israel.
Sde Dov, Tel Aviv's small airport, did not let planes land. And the Environmental Protection Ministry issued a warning of severe air pollution all over the country and urged the elderly, people with heart or lung conditions, pregnant women, and children to stay indoors.
Well, I hoped I didn't fit any of those categories and went out to take a picture.
We are hoping for rain tonight to make the air easier on the nose and eyes. Achoo!
SkyWatch Friday participants are showing their (hopefully brighter and clearer) skies starting tonight. Have a look.

Into a new year of blogging, with appreciation

To shine even a little bit of light on this little part of Israel--this was the goal when Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo was born one year ago today.

  The predicted snowfall with which I had hoped to launch the blog never came, so I made do with a more typical local February scene--Lara the Cat with her winter fur coat walking under a rain-soaked shining tree. A humble first post.

Blogging has changed me. I look at things now from the viewpoint of how best to share them.

Reading your blogs for the past year has been such an enrichment.
Getting to know you, readers from many countries who make yourselves known by kindly writing comments, is the greatest reward.
 This feeling of community gives us such hope and joy, like a shining star!

Thank you for your friendship and blessings to you all!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A treasure at the Jerusalem International Book Fair

Every day this week over a hundred exhibitors are showing their wares at the 24th Jerusalem International Book Fair.
But it seemed to me like only half the usual number.
Most likely some countries cancelled due to the recent fighting in Gaza and the rockets being fired at Israeli towns around Gaza.
The brave ones who came bearing books came from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Lithuania, Nepal, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, UK, and USA, and of course Israel.

The sheer size and the gorgeous front cover of this old book was breathtaking!

The gentle lady at the Jewish National Fund booth explained that the Golden Book, Sefer Hazahav, was a list of those who donated money to the JNF's various projects from 1901 to 1911.
It was the first Goldenes Buch; by now there are 26 more.

Click to enlarge this picture and you will see that Dr. Theodor Herzl himself gave 10 Pounds Sterling. The book was handwritten and bound in Basel, Switzerland, appropriately.
Following the First Zionist Congress of 1897 Herzl wrote in his diary: “Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State.”

The great achievement of the Fifth Zionist Congress held in Basel in 1901 (the time the Golden Book was begun) was the establishment of what would become know as the Jewish National Fund or Keren Kayemet LeYisrael which was to raise funds for the purchase of land in Palestine.
The famous tin JNF Blue Box graced Jewish homes throughout the Diaspora. Families would put their spare coins in the "pushke" and feel connected to the dream of a future return to the homeland.
The saplings you see above represent the 220 million trees the Jewish National Fund has planted, some of which I see looking out my window on the now-green (once bare) Jerusalem Hills.
I say THANK YOU to all those good people in the huge old Golden Book who dared to dream and to give.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Enchanted electromagnetic earth

The 24th International Book Fair is on this week in Jerusalem. It happens every two years and it is always a pleasure to experience.
Yesterday I saw LOTS of books, but one exhibitor was promoting maps and globes.
Don't you just love maps and globes?!

But I did a double-take when I noticed one globe was levitating as if by magic:

"How does that work??" I asked the seller lady.
Like a magician proving there were no strings attached, she instinctively passed her hand above the globe. She was flustered when the earth suddenly fell out of orbit.
But she did know to tell me that it was held up by an electromagnet.

Back home, I found this explanation at ThinkGeek:
"A magnetic field sensor continually measures the height at which the globes are suspended. This sensor feeds that data into a micro computer in the base of the unit. This computer then calibrates the electronic magnets at the top of the frame based on the distance between the globes and the top magnet to keep the globes correctly positioned."

Pretty cool, eh?
The ABC Wednesday group (join us!) is celebrating the letter E tonight.
Hope you enjoyed the enchanting electromagnetic earth globe. Come back tomorrow for more about the Jerusalem Book Fair.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Within the Old City

Jerusalem's Old City, inside the old Turkish wall, may be only 0.9 square kilometers in area; but the intensity, the history, the mix of religions and peoples--these are very big.
It is said that even before the creation of the world, God had the map of Jerusalem on his palm. What a lovely image, that legend.
One of the best views of the Dome of the Rock is from the roof of the Austrian Hospice.
Stepping out of the gate of the quiet old Austrian Hospice, you immediately merge into the bustling pedestrian traffic of the Muslim Quarter. This man is selling hot saḥlab, the pudding made from ground orchid tubers.
Tourists like these always flock to the narrow streets of the Muslim and the Christian Quarters.
It is like one big souk (or shuk in Hebrew), an endless bazaar.
Bright colors abound.
A favorite souvenir--ceramics and the famous Armenian tiles.

"Please, come into my shop. You are welcome!" The Arab shopkeepers invite the pilgrims in in many different languages.
You, too, dear blog readers, are welcome in Jerusalem. Hope to see you here someday. Shalom!
For a hundred new blogger-guided tours of far-flung places, visit That's My World Tuesday, starting again tonight.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Know hope


The main streets of Jerusalem are all torn up (see Jaffa Road here), having track laid for the new light rail.
Sometimes even part of the sidewalk gets dug up.
Today I saw these latest victims next to Safra Square.

The cast-iron pillar boxes are reminders of Israel's British Mandate past.
There are quite a few still in service in Jerusalem.
These two uprooted mailboxes let me notice for the first time what is written on the bottom:

McDowall, Steven & Co. Ltd.
London and Falkirk

I see from the Web that this was a firm of Glasgow-based iron founders.
The company's roots extend back to the early 19th century.

Oh, and can you see the nice graffiti next to the heart? -- KNOW HOPE

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kosher field cutlery

"Jewish Tactical -- Kosher field cutlery." That's what the package said, honest.
At Jerusalem's huge open-air fruit and vegetable market there are several Judaica stores as well. Yesterday I was somehow surprised to see these multi-purpose milk and meat cutlery sets on sale next to the mezuzot.
Each one has a fold-out fork, spoon, knife blade, and can and bottle opener.
The red one is for meat dishes only. The blue one is labeled MILK and is for dairy food.
Jews who observe the kosher laws never mix meat and dairy food in the same meal. Dishes and utensils also must be kept separate, one set for meat and one set for dairy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Looking down at the setting sun

Forty hours it took to fly from Tel Aviv to Madrid to London to Bangkok to Sydney.
Window seats all the way made it bearable.
This was the sunset somewhere over Europe.
All the dramatic changes of light and clouds in these photos happened within just 18 minutes.
This play of light around the wing was especially exciting!
And at the beginning of the sunset the flight attendant was ordering us to close the shades. What was he thinking?? Obviously he knew nothing about SkyWatch Friday!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rome and Jerusalem

Today is the Vatican's 80th birthday.
Yes, really, only 80 years old. It is an official holiday there today. Vatican City became a sovereign state on February 11, 1929 after an agreement between Pope Pius XI and Mussolini led to the signing of the Lateran Treaties.
Enlarge this photo of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center and you see the Vatican flag flying. Imagine, stepping into Vatican territory in the middle of Jerusalem!
Notre Dame received its first pilgrims in 1888. The building's history is at their website.
I found this paragraph the most interesting:
"Large groups of pilgrims began coming to the Holy Land in 1882 under the direction of French Assumptionists. . . . Notre Dame de France Pilgrim Center met the requirements for the new types of large pilgrimages in which 500 pilgrims would arrive and depart at the same time on special ships equipped with chapels. At Notre Dame de France, the pilgrims found accommodations commensurate with their numbers. The Assumptionists assisted them spiritually and served as guides as they visited the Holy Places."
So, happy birthday Vatican City.
Hey bloggers, have you checked out the Vatican's new dedicated channel on YouTube? Click here and see daily videos of what Pope Benedict is up to.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The joys of citizenship and democracy

Google Israel has this cute logo today for our election day.
This morning I was in a voting "booth" in Bet Ha'am in my moshav (village). Actually you just go behind a cardboard screen, select one of 33 little ballots (for the 33 parties running in this national election), put it in the envelope, come out and push it into the slot of a locked cardboard box. The four officials sitting at a long table then return your identity card, which they had checked against the list of registered voters.
The polls close in two hours from now, at 10 p.m. The votes will be counted by hand (!) and eventually we will know who are new leaders are, for better or for worse. Despite the cold and stormy weather over 50% have come out to vote so far.
Election Day is a national holiday. Schools were closed and most people did not have to work. Stores were open and did a thriving business.
Fortunately I returned from Australia just in time. Israel is one of the few Western countries that does not allow absentee ballots. In fact, one out of eight eligible voters is currently either residing abroad (or studying or traveling) and will therefore not be voting. About 650,000 Israelis live outside the country.
I myself have been elsewhere for the last several elections. So today it was a special privilege for
me to feel part of the democratic process again, to be home.
D is for democracy. To see what other bloggers have chosen for D-day, please visit ABC Wednesday.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thanks to "Sydney Meanderings" Ann

Today was my first full day back home in Israel. But I find that many of my thoughts are still of Sydney...
Many thanks go to Ann of Sydney Meanderings for coming into town on a Sunday to take me on "a wander." It was the first time for me to meet a blogger friend in person. Such fun when two photo bloggers go on a meander together!

We met outside St. Mary's and walked down to the peaceful Royal Botanic Garden with all its plants and birds and bats.

A first for both of us, we took a guided tour of the elegant interior of old Government House.

This interesting obelisk stands in Macquarie Place, near the pub where we indulged in a fish and chips lunch.

I never knew the "Customs House" is now the library until Ann took me inside.

We ended up at always-exciting Circular Quay.
Thanks, Ann, for all your kindness, guiding, stories, and friendliness! You are the only Australian I really talked to in my whole six weeks there. And that made a great difference.
Other bloggers will be guiding readers on tours today over at That's My World Tuesday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Just a hop, skip, and a jump

Quantas, "The spirit of Australia," it said on my plane. Just yesterday I saw downtown Sydney looming just beyond the terminal window, and these two kangaroos were about to jump over her.
Farewell, dear Australia, full of spirit.
This afternoon, after more than thirty hours in two airplanes, I saw the shores of Israel again and Tel Aviv with her skyscrapers. The captain had just announced "We have been informed that it is forbidden to photograph Israel from the air." What's with that?!
It was hazy and a warm 23 degrees. On the road back to my village in the Jerusalem Hills all the almond trees are now white with flowers. How exciting!
How good it is to come back home.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Packing the laptop

That's it. My six weeks with the family in Bondi is over.
Thanks to Naomi (here at the fountain) and son-in-law Guy for hosting me in their home.
Hard to say farewell to my little grandsons. Dean and Eyal are wonderful!
The sky beckons. See you all in two days, God willing.
Back home to Israel, my real and only HOME! Shalom!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Red Mass

In Israel and the United States we keep courtroom dress quite simple and modest.
 So forgive me if I got excited to see Sydney's law professionals in full regalia--17th century adornments, red robes and funny wigs!
The annual (since 1931) Red Mass was celebrated at St. Mary's Cathedral on Monday.
The tradition can be traced back to France and England of the Middle Ages.

Here His Eminence Cardinal George Pell greets the wigged lawyers after the special Mass.
"Red Mass is convened in Sydney at the request of the St Thomas More Society, for the benefit of all members of the Australian legal community, regardless of political or religious belief. It affirms, in a public and collegiate way, our common ideals of justice, dispensed without fear or favor. In their personal capacity [italics mine], it is attended by lawyers of all persuasions, including judicial officers of both State and Federal jurisdictions, solicitors and barristers, and the Attorney-General and shadow Attorney-General of the day."*

After Mass and morning tea, we all crossed the street to St. James', Sydney's oldest church, for the Anglican "Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication to Mark the Opening of the Law Term."

There I managed the courage to shoot a few stealth photos of the judges in scarlet.

Both churches were almost unbearably hot. People were fanning themselves with the booklet.
The horsehair wigs looked hot and itchy.
BTW, the ceremonial "full-bottom wig" with long curls reaching the shoulders costs over US$4,000.

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Reverend Dr. Peter Jensen, asked the lawyers to rise and make this act of dedication:
"Creator God, in our various functions
in the legal profession and in the wider community,
we dedicate ourselves afresh
to act with discernment and balance,
with integrity and compassion
as we strive to faithfully serve in the administration of the laws and usages of this land,
that our system of justice may be upheld
and the values which underlie it preserved.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
I am not sure how to think about this very new-to-me mixing of church and state. 
Robed judges kneeling and all. . .
Oh, and there will be a similar prayer service at the Great Synagogue on Friday afternoon, and also prayers at an Orthodox church.
But, getting back to St. Mary's, I enjoyed this part of their explanation:
"The Red Mass is a votive mass of the Holy Spirit. It often commences with the ninth century hymn to the Spirit, Veni creator Spiritus ("Come, Holy Ghost").
 The red robes worn by the celebrants recall the tongues of flame which descended on the Apostles at Pentecost, filling them with courage and enlightenment. The colour red also recalls the blood of martyrs." *
*from the booklet given us at The 79th Red Mass