Friday, April 30, 2010

Jerusalem's dearth of statues

After CDP bloggers chose statues for our Theme Day, I realized that it is almost impossible to find a statue of a person on the streets of Jerusalem.
Maybe it's the influence of the old biblical prohibition against making graven images.

The Tower of David Museum does have statues, however, as it must in order to show the history of Jerusalem. They are copies of the originals.
Here is the infamous emperor Hadrian.

One of those Roman soldiers who lived here in Jerusalem when they turned it into the pagan Aelia Capitolina.
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants and see what statues their cities offer.

Russian reflections

Here is one of the towers of the old (19th century) Russian pilgrim hostel reflected in the fountain in Sergei's Courtyard.

Even the upper "bowl" had the reflection, and fish as a bonus.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cloud Strider

Just after sunset last night this giant rose up on top of the mountain.

I saw a long-haired celestial being seemingly striding toward the right, trying to catch his or her bright halo!
Do you see that? Or something different?
We all have fun with the sky at Sky Watch Friday.

Root balls on Jaffa Road

For a long, long time Jerusalem's main street, old Jaffa Road, has been torn up [as in my post from November 2008].
Vehicle traffic was reduced to one congested lane and pedestrians had to walk just about single file along what remained of the sidewalk. Stores suffered.

Yesterday, in front of the Generali Building I was glad to see the street flat again, with the tracks for the future light rail already laid, and lots of room to walk.
Look! We are even going to get trees!
I hope someone makes places to plant them before their root balls dry up.
There were no workers in sight. Oi, hope no one grabs that axe!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two bloggers meet

The Shabbat before last, one of my blog-friends became a RLF, a real life friend!
Robin and her husband and their two kids drove half way across the country (45 minutes) to come up to the Hills of Jerusalem to visit me.

Robin is the photographer and author of her always-interesting blog "Around The Island."

At the local monastery, sweet Maya drank cold water emerging straight from the rock.
Ein el-Habis is most likely the spring that John the Baptist also drank from.

Itai and Maya took a seat next to the friars' new aviary.
The bench is new as well.
 You just have to weld some scrap metal posts, saw some wood and attach it, and voila--a bench that cost nothing.

Thanks for your visit, Robin. I had a great time with you and your family.
It's really fun to know you all in person now!
The one other blogger-friend who became a RLF is Ann of "Sydney Meanderings."
A year ago she took me on "a wander" through her wonderful city. Thanks Ann!
That seems so far away now and like such a long time ago.
I wonder who the next will be . . .

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Counting the omer with objects of the spirit

Omer and Objects of the Spirit -- for O Day at ABC Wednesday.

I saw this at the Jewish art museum at Hechal Shlomo in Jerusalem and was delighted to learn that it is a modern, artistic version of an omer calendar!
The acrylic on wood creation is called Saphyr, Sefirat haOmer counter [sefira means "counting" in Hebrew].
American artist Tobi Kahn made it in 2002.
Saphyr is a 7 x 7 sculptural grid with 49 pegs that mark the 49-day interval between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot, between the commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
This 49-day period begins on the second day of Passover – when an omer , or measure of barley, was offered at the Temple in Jerusalem – and ends on the day the wheat harvest began. Symbolically, the time between the two holidays traces the path from physical freedom (the Exodus) to spiritual freedom attained by the acceptance of the Torah.
Special calendars are used to count off the seven weeks of the omer.
Since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, we can no longer bring the offering.
Instead, we now "count the omer" each night during this period by saying a blessing and enumerating the day.
The omer also became a time of semi-mourning during which many observant Jews refrain from cutting their hair, listening to music, or celebrating marriages.
After nightfall tonight, we will recite "Today is twenty-nine days, which is four weeks and one day of the omer." That means you can see many men in my village, who normally are clean-shaven, with quite a beard by now.
The mourning is normally associated with a 2nd century plague said to have decimated the "24,000" disciples of Rabbi Akiva who died "because they did not treat each other with respect."
It has been suggested (at the Jewish Museum in New York website) that "Each peg on Kahn's counter is unique, but they all fit together as a whole, their combined form suggesting the rooftops of a village. The dark color of the work reflects the mood of the omer period."
The interior of each of the compartments, designed to hold the sculpted counting pegs, is painted gold to symbolize the spiritual journey embodied in the interval between the two holidays of Passover and Shavuot.
Richard McBee, talking about "Reinventing Ritual at The Jewish Museum," offers this:

"The wooden pegs are sculpted in unique shapes, each a different miniature sculpture that in its own way represents the uniqueness of each day as we perform G-d's commandments. Here counting becomes a physical act, forcing us to feel the difference of each day and place it in the next slot. This very uniqueness comes together as we count. The counting of the Omer represents the relationship between a person and his or her community. Beginning with one, we become an ordered multitude. Kahn's message is direct: each day and each person counts."

Monday, April 26, 2010

More about Jerusalem's ANZAC dead

Let us continue yesterday's ANZAC Day commemoration post.

So many Commonwealth soldiers died in the battles to push the Ottoman Turks out of Eretz Israel (then known as Palestine) during World War I.

There are British military cemeteries in Gaza, Beersheva, Ramla, and Haifa, and several in Jerusalem.

In yesterday's post we saw the Australian Memorial just outside the gate of the Jerusalem War Cemetery.
At the opposite end of the central avenue of the lovingly cared-for cemetery is a chapel.
Its interior is dedicated to the soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who fell in Sinai and Palestine, 1916-1918.

"From the uttermost ends of the earth" indeed!

Above the lintel is St. George slaying a dragon.

The graves of 24 Jewish soldiers are grouped more or less together.
This tombstone was the only one of the cemetery's 2,515 tombstones on which visitors had put a pebble, the Jewish custom for paying respects.
The Jewish graves had little wooden star of David markers with the symbolic Australian poppy on them.
Rabbi Raymond Apple, rabbi emeritus of the Great Synagogue of Sydney, was at the ANZAC Day ceremony yesterday to read appropriate prayers and Psalms.
(I believe he made aliyah to Israel in 2006, following his retirement.)

I like what this family had chosen to inscribe on the stone of Lance Corporal M.I. Trachtenberg, age 36:
"Scholar of St. John's College, Cambridge. Beloved by all."
For That's My World , this week my heart has been much with the Australian world.
On the joyous extreme--the birth of an Australian granddaughter named Libby (meaning "my heart" in Hebrew) in Sydney, and on the solemn side--the commemoration of ANZAC Day in Jerusalem.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ANZAC Day in Jerusalem

The Cross of Sacrifice is a symbol that stands in all British military cemeteries in the world.

The Imperial War Graves Commission began to issue directives for cemeteries in 1917.

Welcome to the Jerusalem War Cemetery on Mount Scopus.
Please click to enlarge the photos and read the nice words.

ANZAC Day was commemorated on April 25 not only in Australia and New Zealand, but also in Israel.

"Their name liveth for evermore" proclaims the Stone of Remembrance, the second of the two monuments which are standard in all such British cemeteries.

A wreath was placed even by the "Office of the Quartet Representative."

You can read the story of the Allied Forces' Egyptian Expeditionary Force on the sign.
It is the reason that there are now 2,515 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery.
A nice article in Haaretz summed it up thus:

" . . . Australian and New Zealand Army Corps conquered Palestine in the winter of 1917. General Edmund Allenby's forces, including ANZAC troops, boasted some 75,000 infantry soldiers, 17,000 cavalrymen and 475 cannons. They started out from Egypt, moved northward through the Sinai Desert, and advanced as fast as they could lay railway tracks; some 56,000 laborers and 35,000 camels were employed in this enterprise. Gaza was destroyed almost completely. After conquering Be'er Sheva, the troops advanced toward Jerusalem.
The residents of the country welcomed them enthusiastically, as an army of liberators.
'All are kind and have nice faces,' the author Mordechai Ben Hillel Hacohen wrote. "Their faces are good like the faces of big children.' "

Just outside the gate is the Australian Memorial from 1935.
The inscription reads:
So very many tombstones . . .
They are uniform: the soldier's unit's symbol, his name (first initial and family name), number, age, and date of death. Some families formulated a short personal inscription.
Most of the stones show the symbol of the man's religion.
Tomorrow I will show you examples of the 24 Jewish graves.

Tomorrow I will post the mosaic inside the chapel.
But now let's concentrate on the wall of names around it.
The JERUSALEM MEMORIAL was unveiled by Lord Allenby May 7, 1927.
It commemorates the 3,366 Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First World War in operations in Egypt or Palestine and who have no known grave.

The quotation from the Bible refers to Moses but is also applicable to the poor soldiers.

How sad not to have a marked grave . . .

At least the relatives have a name to touch and adorn with a poppy.

Of the 2,515 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery, 100 of them are unidentified.
The stone says simply:

For ANZAC Day--chairs for the living next to tombs for the fallen, all overlooking the city of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem owes so much to these young men who came from so far away to help.
On Lt. Godsill's tombstone, part of Binyon's poem, known to every Australian and to those of us who love Australia:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Israel's Supreme Court Bridge

The pedestrian bridge (under which our walking tour group walked) goes over the highway and over the Fire Department and joins up with the main foot bridge that takes you into Israel's Supreme Court building.
We talked more about the big bridge in my post "The straight and narrow." More photos of it there, too. It was built in 2005.
The architects, Ram and Ada Karmi, explain that the location of the Supreme Court at the entrance to the city, near the Central Bus Station, emphasizes its accessibility to all Israelis.
These two Jerusalem bridges are for Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridge Series.
Why not contribute a bridge from your own city? It's fun. Come, let's all meet in San Francisco!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

For the Armenians

In honor of this day, let's visit the Catholic church of the Armenian rite located in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.

This khachkar, or stone-cross, greets you in the courtyard.
Yes, today, April 24, is the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day.

I read on an Armenian website that "A liturgy for the Armenian Genocide victims will take place in Armenian churches of Israel and Jerusalem Patriarchate of the Armenian Apostolic Church on April 24. The liturgy will bring together Israeli Knesset and government members, as well as representatives of the Armenian community of Jerusalem."

The main altar.

Down in the crypt everything is darker.
This, the 4th Station of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa, commemorates where Mary saw Jesus passing with his cross.
The tradition is that Mary fainted or swooned or expressed her sorrow with convulsions of grief, hence the name of the churches that have stood on this spot since at least the Middle Ages: the Church of Our Lady of the Spasm.
A solitary nun sat in silent contemplation in the small glassed-in modern chapel in the crypt.
Whatever the historical facts and numbers of victims really are, may God bless the Armenian people, who carry their painful memory like a heavy cross, unacknowledged by many countries.
UPDATE: Nestor at "Every day is a holiday" has posted a short thoughtful history of the events.

Shh, napping cats

Shabbat. It's a good day for a catnap on a warm shed roof, between the fig tree and the grapevine.

" Oh no, that human with the camera again? Let me sleep."

B-i-g stretch . . .

Friday, April 23, 2010

Imagine having a dozen

Well, no, my grandchildren are not replicating by the dozen as this photo for James' Weekend Reflections would have you believe.

It is just Eyal having fun at Jerusalem's Science Museum.
He and his big brother Dean and their parents were back in Israel for a visit one year ago.

On Wednesday Eyal himself became an older brother.
He is two and a half now.
Aww, look how tender he looks holding his baby sister.
Thank you, all my blog-friends, for the warm wishes you wrote today and yesterday. Naomi and Guy are enjoying them too.
Baby's name will be Libby. In Hebrew, the word libi means "my heart."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's a girl!

Mazal tov! We have a new life in the world!
My granddaughter was born yesterday in Sydney, Australia.
Praise God, all went well and quickly.
Naomi and Guy walked into the hospital and 10 or 15 minutes later the baby was born.
Just 4 hours later they were back in the comfort of home.
Well done, dear daughter Naomi!

Here is baby and abba Guy, her happy and proud father. After two sons, this is their first girl.
These are the first photos. More will come soon, I hope.
Meanwhile baby and grandma are bonding via Skype webcam and our blogs. :D
I'm happy to share such good news with all you friends in Blogland.
May we all know only good news and nachat and peace!