Thursday, April 30, 2009

The burning bush?

More skies from around the blogging world today over at SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bloggers unite--hunger and Heifer International

This message was in my inbox this morning: "Heifer International and BlogCatalog are calling for an end to world hunger. As part of our Pass on the Gift month, Heifer is asking you to join hundreds of others on April 29 by blogging, posting or tweeting about world hunger."
OK, I'll try.
Israel Independence Day is really too happy a day to dwell on the magnitude of starvation and poverty in the world. Maybe tomorrow . . . If you want the depressing statistics that were supplied, please click here.
The way I helped fight world hunger was to be a "major donor," not of money, but of labor freely given. From 1996 to 2002 I lived at Heifer Ranch in Arkansas, USA, working mostly with livestock.
Here we are, (part of) the resident volunteer crew of ca 1997.
Heifer International has been helping communities around the world since 1944.
In FY2008 Heifer had 869 active projects in 53 countries/provinces and 27 U.S. states. Heifer projects around the world help families achieve self-reliance through the gift of livestock and training.
Click on the Heifer project map to see if your country has projects.
Funding comes largely from donations.
Heifer Ranch is a beautiful 1,100 acres of peaceful pastures and hills.
There we demonstrate to thousands of visitors how world hunger can be eased. We show them some of the animals that Heifer gives, like cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, rabbits, camels, water buffalo, llamas, chickens, and worms. And we prove that volunteers of all ages, from all over, can work and live together in community and thrive.
Hey, maybe you would like to give it a try for a month or more? Read about our Learning Centers, including Heifer Ranch, and how to volunteer at the HI website.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

O happy day!

Happy Independence Day! Israel is 61 years young!
With festivities and the official ceremony taking place on Mount Herzl, we are making the difficult, but logical, sudden transition from the sadness of the Day of Remembrance to the joy of the Day of Independence.
I just have to look past my computer (where I watch the televised ceremony), out my window, and I see and hear the fireworks across the valley on Mt. Herzl. Tonight I am so happy and proud to belong to this great little country!
Tonight ABC Wednesday is celebrating the letter O.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Day of Remembrance

The siren sounded at 8:00 p.m. In the moment of heavy silence we began another Yom Hazikaron, Remembrance Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Enemy Actions.
Since 1860, when the first Jews began establishing neighborhoods outside the Jerusalem city walls, 22,570 men and women have been killed in defense of the Land of Israel.
Death, loss, bereavement--this all too often is our world.
Today and every day we thank and remember those who died that our country may live.
That's My World Tuesday bloggers can be visited here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The bus, the bus!

The bus! Here it is, right next to my house (which is down one terrace, on the left).
This might not sound too exciting to you if you have a car or live in Jerusalem. But for me, it is the only way to the city.
From morning to night, there are ten buses (that means one every few hours); only six on Friday; none on Saturday. Over 600 people live in the moshav (village) but the bus is usually quite empty.
The drivers are nice and stop for you or let you off wherever you want. The ride to Jerusalem Central Bus Station, the last stop, takes about 45 minutes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Bird Trail

(You may want to click and enlarge some of these photos.)
You discover the nicest things when you are out exploring with kids!
Dean was the first to sight these birds. They looked so life-like that he tried shooing them away to make sure they were not real.
Who knew?? The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has a Bird Trail on the Givat Ram campus.
The different little corners along the shaded trail each have a different group: permanent residents, birds that only winter in the area, summer migrants, etc.
The signs are great for learning the names in Hebrew, English, and Latin.
This weekend's edition of Camera Critters is in full swing here. Fly on over and have some fun.

ANZAC Day in Australia, Jerusalem, Beersheva

Because the Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest, our buses do not run from Friday afternoon until Saturday night. Very rarely, but sometimes, I wish I had a car. Like this morning. I would have gone to the 6:00 Dawn Service at the Commonwealth War cemetery on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus.

Instead, I offer you my photos from St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Australia.

April 25 is ANZAC Day. Australia New Zealand Army Corps soldiers were known as ANZACs.
"In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war."
On Wednesday the Turkish General Staff website posted previously unseen film clips and photographs of the Battle of Gallipoli to coincide with the 94th anniversary of the devastating campaign. I actually watched the half-hour video.

I wondered HOW these armies, using ox-drawn carts, camels, mules, donkeys, and horses (so primitive compared to today's equipment) managed to slaughter each other in such terrifying numbers: 55,000 Allied losses and an estimated 250,000 Turkish casualties.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Alone again

Naomi, Eyal, Dean --
It has been a good year. Six weeks staying with my grandsons in their Sydney home; and now five weeks being near them while the family was in Israel.
We had good times together.

Here Dean had just found a hedgehog quill while we explored the woods.

Early this morning they headed off into the sunrise, back to Australia, back to the other side of the world. Goodbye dear Dean and Eyal, shalom sweet Naomi and Guy. . .
God, why did you have to make the world so big?!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sky love

Last Friday Jerusalem's sky still had some clouds.
Visiting daughter Naomi and I took the kids to the Israel Museum.
These "kids" stand on the roof and welcome young visitors to the Youth Wing.
Dean and Eyal loved playing in this part of the Sculpture Garden. And why not? The letters spell ahava, Hebrew for LOVE.
Robert Indiana designed "Ahava" especially for the Israel Museum. The artist avoided his usual bold colors here because the sculpture is positioned in a way that makes it possible to sky-watch through the letters.
It is said that this angle alludes to the marriage of heaven and earth, with love.
OK, I have to turn off the lights now. Israel is finally observing Earth Hour in all our big cities, starting tonight at 8:00 in Tel Aviv, 8:10 in Jerusalem, etc.
Another round of SkyWatch Friday is starting tonight. Take a look.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

A bit behind the rest of the world, Israel's cities and hopefully citizens will finally observe Earth Hour and turn off the lights from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. tomorrow.
It's funny to see Israel at the top of our planet in this photo.
Now I can't stop singing the old song along with Al Jolson, "I'm sitting on top of the world,
just rolling along, just rolling along. I'm quitting the blues of the world, just singing a song, just singing a song. . . . "

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Names, not numbers

Holocaust Heroes and Martyrs Remembrance Day is the official name. The shorter, blunter name we usually call this day is Yom HaShoah.
At 10:00 this morning all movement stopped. Israelis got out of their car or chair or whatever and stood in silence for two long minutes. Only the chilling wail of every air-raid siren in the country was heard.
I happened to be out walking on the campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Flags were set out in the center of the plaza. Someone had just sung "Eli, Eli." Then the siren blared. Each young person went into his/her own thoughts and/or prayers but we all stood together, Jewish and Arab students, religious and secular, in uniform and in civilian. It felt right, standing with my people.
And, the greatest blessing--beside me stood my daughter and her two little sons--Jewish, Israeli, Hebrew-speakers, and very much alive! My grandkids have names: Dean and Eyal.
The 1,500,000 children killed in Hitler's death camps had learned to answer to the number tatooed on their arm. The emphasis of this year's Shoah Day is "Children in the Shoah."
As I tried to contain my tears, our near-by siren blast came to an end. But still no one moved. We all remained motionless, listening as far-away sirens from all parts of Jerusalem tapered off and finally became silent. It was as if we all wanted to savor the feeling of standing together, united in the intensity of remembering.
"Names, not numbers" is my contribution to today's ABC Wednesday.


An artist friend lives just down the mountain. He has started playing around with "carving" light-weight cast stone blocks, 128, commonly known in Israeli Hebrew as "Etung" blocks. Apartment buildings are built with them.

So far there is the little sheep and these Biblical figures.
A work in progress.
Ahh, talent and time, the perfect combination . . . . Must be nice.
For little corners of other bloggers' worlds please visit That's My World Tuesday.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sidecar and all

You're right, it's not a Hog; it is a BSA.
So how does it qualify as an animal for admission to our friendly weekend Camera-Critters meme?

The sign reads "Veterinary ambulance. House calls. Dr. Ariel S..."

The license is for a "collectors' vehicle."
 The rucksack looks as old as the motorcycle.
I like this. I would call this doctor, if I had a pet, and if I lived in Tel Aviv.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Below in the darkness, but shielded

A dark flower (that appears, briefly, in the secret places of our woods always around Holy Week). For the Orthodox Christians, now under the heaviness of "Good" Friday and Holy Saturday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Eyes in the sky

Regular readers might be fed up already with three days of "Mifletset" / Monster posts this week, but this photo was taken specially for today's SkyWatch Friday group.
Eyes in the sky?
No, it is not some new secret Israeli radar.
It's just a giant slide dedicated to the children of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A campus of their own

Welcome to the Safra (Givat Ram) Campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
While my daughter and her family are back in Israel (from their new home, Australia) for an academic visit, they are living on campus.
This fiddler greets the guests of Belgium House Faculty Club. Except that this week of Passover almost all of the guests and staff went on vacation. Naomi and Guy were given the key to the little hotel and unlock this front door by themselves!
Hmm, I wonder if my little Dean will want to take up violin. At his age (5), his mother began her violin study, with Suzuki lessons.
For this Pesach week when the campus is deserted, Dean has to settle for the company of "Draped Seated Figure" by Henry Moore.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Matza week at the Mifletset-Monster

We are still in the week-long holiday of Passover, still eating matza instead of bread.
Kids on Pesach vacation love to play on, in, and under the Mifletset (meaning Monster) in Jerusalem.
My picture of little Eyal posted yesterday was shot from the cavernous inside (bottom) of the sculpture.
An earlier post has more information about the Mifletset (aka The Golem).
Here's my visiting daughter and grandsons, with a profile view of the sculpture.
First you climb up to the top
and then slide down one of the three tongues.
Pesach week is when many religious Jewish families can come to this park.
Everybody gets into the act.
Even somebody's bearded grandfather!
Go over to ABC Wednesday to enjoy other bloggers' M-Day posts.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"He is not here"

"When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint his body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, 'Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?' But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away."
Mark 16:1-4

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Entering into the mystery

Entering into the mystery as night falls.
For those who contemplate the darkness and the tomb, who wait for light or an opening, this Easter Vigil night is for you.

Monks in the market

Orthodox Christians will be observing Holy Week starting tomorrow, their Palm Sunday.
So yesterday these monks still had time to visit our Mahane Yehuda market.
Almost all of them carried a camera. But I was the only one photographing them. I guess Jerusalemites are so used to the diversity in our city, and the Jewish shoppers were so anxious to finish their Passover Week food purchases before Shabbat, that no one even looked twice at the rather unusual sight of monks in the market.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Blessing of the Sun

The Blessing of the Sun (Birkat HaChama) is prayed only once in 28 years. Yesterday morning Jews all over the world gathered together to recite the blessings and Psalms that thank and praise God for his work of creation, both then and now.
Apparently this is a tradition from the Talmud. But who knew? I didn't. This time around, word spread quickly, thanks to the Internet and publicity from Chabad.
Over 50,000 people (!) did the ritual Wednesday at Jerusalem's Western Wall.
New Zealand saw the sunrise first and some of her 7,500 Jews said the prayers before any of us.
I myself stood alone in my back yard and prayed after I saw the sun come up over Jerusalem on the horizon.
According to ancient rabbinical calculations, every 28 years the sun returns to its original alignment with other heavenly bodies, the same place it was on the fourth day of creation as told in the Book of Genesis.

If you'd like to read the short service, click on the special Chabad website. Other how-to information at
My photo is of the sun rising over the Golan Heights above the Sea of Galilee.
Now let's go over to SkyWatch Friday and see what skies other bloggers have shared.

Seder Pesach together

Chag sameach--happy Pesach! I just got home from our nice family Passover seder in Yavne, on the other side of the country.

Even the youngest, my 17-month-old grandson Eyal, was holding and trying to read the Haggadah.
"Mah nishtana . . . Why is this night different from all other nights?" the children sing.
Well, for one reason, an added bonus this year, my son-in-law's parents (who hosted us at their house) had the rare pleasure of having all their eight young grandchildren together under one roof. A real blessing and lots of nachat (pride and joy) for them.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let my people go . . .

"Let my people go"--everyone knows those words that God told Moses to say to Pharaoh.
In Hebrew, "Shalach ami veya'avduni."
Hey, look, there is a second part in that sentence:
"Let my people go, that they may serve me."
From a Greek Psalter, 9th century, Yetsiat Mitsraim
ABC Wednesday is celebrating the letter L today.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Passover prep: That's My World

Some of the kids of my moshav got together today to learn and teach how to make matzot.
Matza is the unleavened bread that we will eat instead of fluffy regular bread for the next week, remembering our quick-exit exodus from Egypt.

The flat hot bread that came off the taboon was really tasty.

Meticulous house-cleaning, grocery shopping, and preparing food for the seder meal of Erev Pesach--most Jewish Israelis can currently say That's My World, pretty much ALL of it.
For more about mountains of store-bought matza you might see my last year's post.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

Today is Palm Sunday. Christians around the world mark Jesus' "triumphal entry into Jerusalem."
And Jerusalem is THE place to celebrate this first day of Holy Week!
However, today my one-year-old grandson Eyal made his triumphal entry into my house and we had a great day together, just the two of us. So I could not cover the prayer services and the procession for you. But things don't change much from year to year, only the faces of new pilgrims from abroad; so I offer you my photos of Palm Sunday 2007.
On Palm Sunday morning, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional place of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, each of the various Christian communities has a time for their public worship. I hope you can feel the spirit (or Spirit) of the joyful throngs in the church through my photos in the Picasa album.
In the afternoon everyone gathers on the Mount of Olives to begin a joyful procession all the way down to the Old City, entering the city walls through the Lions (St. Stephan's) Gate, and gathering again at the old Crusader church of St. Anne's. En route there is singing and dancing and waving of palm fronds and olive branches. (And lots of security.) Click here to zip through a slideshow of the colorful scenes of pilgrims, monastics, clergy, and mounted police.
If you still have time, you might enjoy my story about a donkey in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Happy Palm Sunday to all the Christian friends (except for the Greek Orthodox who celebrate it one week from today).