Monday, November 30, 2009

Waiting to become

For That's My World, let's go just across the street in my moshav (village) and see what the neighbors are up to.

Stones waiting to become something useful and beautiful.

Slowly they came together . . .

and became a sturdy beautiful stone wall.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Comments and cannonball

You see this? It is a heavy old Turkish cannonball.
Not that I want to hurl it an anyone or anything, BUT . . . Blogger is making a mess of our comments for the last week or so!

My blog's list of your beloved comments goes crazy somewhere in between Comment Moderation and Publish.
AND, many of the comments that I have left at your blogs have disappeared.
So please do not think I am ignoring you, dear friends.
Hopefully Blogger will fix this soon. According to the Help Forum, many are encountering this problem right now.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

This week's animal sightings

Cat and birds for Camera-Critters Sunday meme
More fun at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The cat was alert to the flashing arrow

"Hey, where did it go?"

But soon the luggage trolleys were redistributed to the empty stations, into the railings with the green arrow. And the airport cat had to scat and seek a new source of amusement.

Sitting at the computer today, on a quiet Sabbath day in my quiet village, I heard unfamiliar bird chatter out in the yard.
A whole flock of wild parrots!
I had to think a second, "Wait, am I still in Australia?" Never have I seen parrots flying in the Jerusalem area!
I had to use full zoom, but if you enlarge the photo you can just make out two parrots in the fig tree.
(The fig branches have lost their leaves for the winter, which gives me a better view of Jerusalem over across the valley.)
Apparently these are the Dhara (pronounced Drara around here) parrots that love to feed on fruits. Well, the folks in this moshav/village certainly have plenty of assorted fruit trees in their gardens. I can guess that now that we have been discovered, the flock will be back again soon.
The most recent information I could find was from this 2004 article in The Times of India:

Desi parrot is Israel's enemy No 1!
1 October 2004

JERUSALEM: Thirty years after they slipped unnoticed into Israel, Indian parrots are number one enemy of the Jewish state. The green Indian parrot, called "Drara" here, have been declared by the Israeli authorities as "harmful" for the fruit growers and their growth needs to be controlled, said the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.
The bird has undergone an "incredible multiplication" during the last few years as its predators have rapidly decreased in numbers, Dr Yossi Lasham, an ornithologist, told the paper. The rich and natural food available all over northern Israel has aided its growth and they have wreaked havoc on date plantations in Amakim, Lasham said. Alarmed by the development, the authorities have issued directives to adopt measures to control or even reduce their numbers.

"Large Drara parrot cause great damage to the cultivators of dates, apples and other fruits," Glozner, a senior cultivator from the Beit Shean valley, said. "We have identified it as our real enemy". "Following the declaration, it would be possible to make a thinning process in places where the bird was causing great damages," the farmer said.
Drara parrots are seen flying joyfully in the national parks in Tel Aviv, where there is an "ongoing dialogue between those living as pets and those who managed to flee, narrating the sweet life outside the cage," the daily said.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Airport synagogue

This is the little synagogue in Terminal 3, one of two synagogues at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The ends of the pews even have the airport logo in the wood.

The table on which the Torah scroll is opened and read.

The covering of the holy ark has a representation of the Temple as it may have looked two thousand years ago.
The words describing the Torah are from the Bible: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace."

Lots of holy books in case you have hours of waiting at the airport.

You can even get a Torah lesson by touching the screen.

Behind the beautiful men's section is the drab little corner where the women must stay in order not to be seen or heard.
Yes, it is an Orthodox synagogue.

The posts at the entrance remind you to leave your luggage trolley outside during the prayer services.
Yesterday was the first time I found the synagogue empty and was thus able to enter and shoot some photos.
Haaretz had an interesting article about this in Nov. 2009. Apparently a Muslim prayer room and a Christian chapel had been in the original plans for Terminal 3, which opened in 2004.
Haaretz says "Ultra-Orthodox political pressure has stalled the construction of a church and a mosque at Ben-Gurion International Airport for the past five years ...."
(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday and signs, signs.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Airport fun

Whenever I go to Ben-Gurion Airport to welcome an arriving friend I like to spend hours enjoying the sights and sounds.
There goes another El Al jet!

Whatever rain we last had seems to have stayed trapped just outside this side entrance to Terminal 3. It is really only an emergency exit, but I was standing inside when a uniformed airport personnel lady waded through the deep water in high heels, making faces as she swiped her card to open the door.

The huge puddle on the roof was perfect for reflecting the clouds though.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

Happy Thanksgiving! I wish my family and friends in America and American expats around the world a joyous and bountiful holiday meal, and may it be a day of blessings given for the many blessings received.

This big turkey lived at Heifer Ranch ( in Arkansas. I worked and lived there as a volunteer from 1996 to 2002.
My last Thanksgiving dinner was at the Ranch in 2001.
The Thanksgiving Day in November is not a holiday in Israel, although I've heard that many Anglos living here celebrate it, with all the traditional foods.

Here is one reason we can't bake a whole turkey. Look at the size of my oven!
That is a 12-inch ruler I put inside to show you the smallness of it.
However, our small ovens do not stop Israelis from being the world's Number One turkey consumers. I mean, consumers of turkey. More per capita eaten than in the U.S.A. even!

I think we eat turkey more in the form of sliced white meat for shnitzels, ground turkey for burgers, cut-up pieces for shwarma, and necks for soup.

But still, I will miss the stuffing and cranberry sauce . . . .

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sundial resting in shade


Sundials for ABC Wednesday S-day, in the garden of the Scots Hotel, St. Andrew's, Galilee, owned and managed by the Church of Scotland.

Enlarge the photo to learn that Tiberias is 3, 390 kilometers from Edinburgh.
The clever sundial tells both local time and time in Edinburgh.
The Hebrew writing says "In sunshine I work, but in shade I rest."

We talked about the newly refurbished hotel in an earlier post.
The Scots built it as a hospital in 1824 and it served as such until 1959. Then it was converted into a youth hostel. In 2005 the site was reopened as an elegant boutique hotel.

A strange ship near the shore of the Sea of Galilee, with the sundial in the background.
Salutations to artist Pietro Brosio. At his blog you will find lots more sundials as well as his paintings and fine photos of Italy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mount Tabor

For That's My World I wanted to show you Mount Tabor, as seen from the bus that goes between Jerusalem and Tiberias.

When the bus turns toward the flat, fertile Jezreel Valley, you suddenly see a mountain looming in the distance. It is only 460 meters above the valley floor, but still it "looms."

The hill is strategically located on the main north-south ancient road and was an important fortress during the First and Second Temple, Greek, Roman and Crusader times--the scene of many battles. This Via Maris (Derech Hayam) went from Egypt to Damascus and was one of the most important trade routes in the ancient Middle East.

If you click the photos you can see agriculture on the slopes.
Around the base of Mt. Tabor are Arab villages such as Deburiah and Iksal and the Bedouin Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam.
About half of the population of Galilee (Israel's northern region) are Arab citizens.

In Christian tradition Tabor is identified as the Mount of Transfiguration, on top of which Jesus was transfigured.

Today both the Franciscans and the Greek Orthodox have monasteries on the mountaintop.
You can see the outline here of the Church of the Transfiguration.

The site is accessible by car only from the north side, by a winding narrow road.
Or, you can always climb the 4,300 stairs that were built in the 4th century for the Christian pilgrims.
Psalms 89:12 names two mountains:
"The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name."
For wonderful aerial photos of Mt. Tabor see
and a Franciscan video about the mountain and the church on top. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Angels we have heard on high . . . "

Walking past the YMCA last Sunday morning I was delightfully surprised to hear the bells begin ringing.

The bells were playing Christmas carols!

Yes, there is a Young Men's Christian Association in the heart of Jewish Jerusalem!
In the new city, across the street from the King David Hotel.

The neo-Byzantine-style complex was designed by Arthur Loomis Harmon, architect of the Empire State Building.
More facts about the Y are in a previous post.

British General Edmund Lord Allenby dedicated the building in 1933, and some visionary words from his speech appear above the bench. Click the photo to enlarge.
I love the fact that Jerusalem is rich with different faiths and that no one has a problem if Christmas carols are in the air that we all breathe.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Soaking up the rays

Best when enlarged

Absorbing the warmth of the sun through a stained glass window.
Robin, a fellow Israeli blogger, visited a church in Abu Ghosh and found more of the same.
What IS it about these little critters and church windows??
Greetings to Camera-Critters Sunday friends.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A shop on Via Dolorosa Street

How can it be Friday already??
Time again for James' meme, "Weekend Reflections."

I was trying to get a picture of an example of the famous Armenian tile work in a ceramics shop window in Jerusalem's Old City.
Now I see a whole street came with it, along with the sign Via Dolorosa Street.

New bench at old fortress

At the foot of the old Citadel a bench adds color to the black basalt stone you see everywhere in Tiberias.

I think there is a cafe up on the roof. But otherwise the 265 year old fortress is pretty much neglected and abandoned.

Happy "Bench on Friday" to RuneE at Visual Norway and all the other bench bloggers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Praying for rain clouds

For SkyWatch Friday here are some non-rain clouds above the Sea of Galilee, the lowest fresh water lake on earth.

This 5 meter high stainless steel visual display at the seashore promenade measures the level of Israel's national lake by means of advanced digital technology.
In Hebrew the lake is called the Kinneret, from the work kinor, which meant harp or lyre. You can see that shape in the cut-out.
The openings of the top and bottom represent the Jordan River.
The lake has been shrinking for the last five years due to drought.
This little harbor used to be full of water.
The digital figures in the fancy display did not show up well in the photo, but I can tell you the lake is 214.29 meters below sea level (roughly minus 703 feet) at its surface. That is 5.4 meters or about 18 feet short of being full (or "below the upper red line" as we say).
Now the boats in the former cove are rotting on dry land.
We Israelis are quite obsessive about following the level of our beloved Kinneret. Twitter even has KinBot, a Kinneret bot.
If the level drops about one more meter, we will have to stop taking water from the lake . . .

and start importing water from Turkey and quickly build more desalination plants.
Let's pray for a rainy winter that will save the Sea of Galilee.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nuns in the olive branches

Judging from the lack of olives on the trees in my neighborhood, this seems to be an off-year.
Olive trees have what is called alternate-year bearing.

These Russian women, however, were diligently picking every olive they could find.

This nice scene was at the Gorny (or Gornensky) Convent for Women last month.
The woman in black is a nun but I'm not sure about the others. Maybe they were nuns in mufti (in civilian clothes). Sort of like in "play clothes."
Gorny is a huge walled-in area built by the Russians in 1871. On the slope above Ein Kerem.

It is just 45 minutes walk from my house, but to enter the locked gate of the convent is to enter another world.
As if a village in old Czarist Russia had been lifted up and plopped down in the Jerusalem Hills.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Roman theater in Tiberias!

A real revelation awaits you for R Day at ABC Wednesday--a recently uncovered Roman theater!

All photos are clickable.
Above you see, going from right to left, the Sea of Galilee, the southern shoreline of hotels of modern Tiberias, the dig at which I recently volunteered, and in the foreground a different dig (not mine) which is being done by paid workers for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

After my group of volunteers and staff had worked down below at our site from 5:30 until 13:00, we walked up (in the intense heat) to visit the other dig going on on the slope of Mt. Berenice.

We were welcomed and guided by one of the archaeologists in charge.

Look at this!! Those lucky ducks are working on a Roman theater!
The Romans began building Tiberias in 18 C.E. and the oldest parts of the theater belong to that time.
Off to the right, under the black shade net, was a later structure (3rd-4th century) whose mosaic floor survived, complete with a Greek dedicatory inscription.

Four rows of seats remain in good shape.
The staircase up to the auditorium (where the public sits) is a much later addition, from Byzantine times.
There was room to seat at least 5,000 spectators.
The present-day mayor of Tiberias has big plans to turn the theater into a much-needed venue for big performances. He will use the 22 million shekels that Ehud Olmert gave in 2006 to encourage the citizens of the city. In the summer of 2006 missiles fired from Lebanon were exploding all over the Galilee region, and the people really needed some encouragement.

Our guide the archaeologist is also a restorer. He marveled at the fact that he had no restoration work to do on the perfect floor of the orchestra, 18 meters in diameter, paved with limestone flagstones.
What you see above is the crack made by a big earthquake.
I'm not sure which earthquake. Tiberias is over 200 meters below sea level and sits on the bottom of the Great Rift Valley, scene of many recorded quakes over the last 2,000 years. The last big one was in 1837, very destructive.
You see a hole at the base of the stage? There were several of them in a semi-circle on one side of the orchestra. Someone had an idea that maybe they were for fence-posts, and that the fence enclosed wild animals. Something like gladiators??

The impressive rounded outer wall of the theater is from the local black basalt.
All of this was so well preserved because it was 15 meters below ground less than a year ago.
Covered by alluvium, a landslide from the quarry higher up the hill, and spillover of garbage with which the Municipality had filled the big hole made by the quarrying.
Great progress has been made in the excavations which began only last January.
Well yeah, where there is funding, work can go fast forward.

The site is not open to the public at all, yet.
Seeing the Roman theater was a great field trip for our group.
Now if only we could know and see who had belonged to these two sandaled feet discovered at the site . . . .
More information here although Haaretz newspaper title mistakenly calls it an amphitheater (which is round or oval, like a stadium). Ours is a theater, open to the north.
And the official report from the Israel Antiquities Authority, with some aerial photos, is here.
To see how the theater was barely visible, in a photo from 2006, I recommend going to Bible Places Blog.