Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pomegranate losing its green

The green pomegranates on the trees are gradually turning red.
It seems like just yesterday that each fruit was a pretty red flower.
The color green is our July 1st theme at City Daily Photo theme day.
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jerusalem Cinematheque

Welcome to Jerusalem's wonderful Cinematheque.

While you wait outside one of the screening halls for your film to begin, have a seat on the plush chairs all in a row.

Or sip a coffee in the corridor.

Each table has a different scene from a famous old movie.

Or stand outside on the patio by the row of flags and watch the Old City wall turn golden in the setting sun light
From Mt. Zion you can see just how big the red tile roofed Cinematheque is.
The green is the Valley of Hinnom.
Behind, to the west, is new Jerusalem.
See a historic photo of the building at the website, long before the Cinematheque renovated and moved in in 1981.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Xerxes on an old scroll from Italy

Fortunately there is a name with a Jewish connection for today's ABC Wednesday X-day.

Xerxes, King of Persia, is Achashverosh in Hebrew and became Ahasuerus in English Bibles.
Enlarge the photo and see if you think that is Xerxes on the throne on the top of this beautiful old Scroll of Esther.
The story of Purim is told in the Book of Esther.
Esther is a Jewish girl who becomes Queen to King Xerxes and through her bravery is able to thwart an attempt to slaughter all the Jews living in Persia at that time, about 2,500 years ago.

This parchment scroll was made in 1616 in Ferrara, Italy.
"The Bible in Manuscripts and Printed Books" is a wonderful permanent exhibit that I found at Israel's National Library while I was there, at the Hebrew University, for the big book giveaway.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A semi-secret passageway

Outside, on the Old City's Christian Quarter Road, are the souvenir T-shirts and all the hustle and bustle of the Arab bazaar and of passing tourist groups.
But if you pay attention to this door within a gate, and if you have the courage to step through, you will be entering a secret other world.
The quiet courtyard feels ancient, quiet, and mysterious.
It is the Greek Orthodox monastery and Church of Prodromos [the Forerunner], also called the Church of St. John the Baptist.
Its 5th century crypt is the oldest surviving church building in Jerusalem.
The upper story was destroyed by the Persians in 614.
It was rebuilt by St. John the Almoner, Patriarch of Alexandria, and later, in the 11th century, by Italian merchants from Amalfi.
Only the the small bell tower and the present facade of the upper story are modern.

In 1099 many Crusader knights who were wounded during the siege of Jerusalem were cared for in this church.
After their recovery some of the grateful knights dedicated themselves to helping the sick and protecting pilgrims to the Holy Land.
Calling themselves the Knights of the Hospital of St. John, they later developed into the military order of the Hospitallers.
More information at Sacred Destinations.
This post is for inSPIREd Sunday and That's MyWorld.
I'm glad you came through the doorway!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The People of the Book

I blogged about Israel's National Library before, with its stained glass windows (some of the largest ever made) that show Isaiah's vision of eternal peace (here and here).
But this morning the library was the scene of something totally different:
a giveaway of 30,000 books, free!
The photo above I took a half hour before the books were brought out, but hundreds of people were already standing around the tables outside, securing their places.
I didn't have strong enough elbows or long enough arms to get first choice at the books.

When the poor library workers couldn't get through to the tables, they put boxes on the ground.
The crowd pounced on each new box.
Sort of like a feeding frenzy.
The non-fiction books were either extras or material that the library could not use, books that had been donated to the library over the years.
Most were in English, with some in Russian, German, French, and Hebrew.
The Jewish National and University Library website says this "donation to the public" will go on for four days or until all the books are gone.
More of the story at the Jerusalem Post.
Among the throng were mothers with babies strapped to them, men in wheelchairs, religious and secular, students and older folks.
"The People of the Book."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Segways on the bridge

Summer is for touring Jerusalem on Segways.
These three young people on the bridge were admiring the view to the east just before sunset.
The mountains of Moab in the Kingdom of Jordan, across the Dead Sea, were just visible in the haze.
Mount Zion is on the left in this photo.
Below is Gehinnom, the valley (guy) of Hinnom .

Here is their bridge as seen from the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

I posted here about the Bnai Brith Bridge and its famous handprints in the concrete.
This post joins others at Robin's Summer Stock Sunday and Louis' Sunday Bridges.
UPDATE: In response to comments I add some more information:
How does a Segway work?
Mostly you only see these silent electric vehicles being ridden along the Armon HaNatsiv Promenade. A 1.5 hour guided tour costs $55. See their route on this map.
Me? I'd rather walk.

Shadows and decaying elegance

The shadow of the fence lined up nicely with the drip irrigation hoses, so I took a picture for Shadow Shot Sunday.

Then I looked more closely at the ground and noticed some kind of soft jute-like mesh for new plantings.
My first time to see this system.

They seem to be rehabilitating the area behind the old Jerusalem Railway Station that was built in Ottoman times, in 1882.
It was the terminus of the railroad that ran all 86 kilometers from the Mediterranean port of Jaffa up until the year 1998.
The train did not run again until 2005 when a modern station was constructed in the Malcha neighborhood.

As you can see from this shot of the front, the boarded-up old station is decaying fast.

End of the line.
Shadows fall across the last section of track terminating at the bumper thing.

End of the line?
Yair Wallach wrote a fascinating article .
The character (in this little play) with whom he is exploring (trepassing) in the building says that the old Jerusalem Railway Station is
"a different kind of ruin. A ruin full of promise. It’s a crack through the wall of the past. It’s a time warp. But as long as it stands ruined, we can dream: we can dream of trains and passengers, we can dream of journeys to other cities and countries, and we can dream of a different Jerusalem.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hot potato

The Cafe Paradiso window was nicely reflective for James' Weekend Reflections, but the sacks of potatoes slung over the railing were what caught my attention.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lunar landscape by my son

My son the photographer took this picture on the night of the lunar eclipse this month.
You can click and enlarge it a bit.

Edo lives in Los Angeles and does professional photography.
Thanks for e-mailing me the moon, dear Son!
UPDATE: Edo says he used a 70-200 lens with a 2x extender, Canon body and lenses.
And that he photographs events, people and corporate on location.
I'm happy to share the beauty with all at SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A rare mitzvah, with great festivity

My village had a simcha, a joyous event, a few weeks ago.
See? It even says so on the van:
simcha -- joy, emuna -- faith, osher -- happiness
The van drove slowly through the moshav, its loudspeakers blasting ecstatic religious songs, and parked at my neighbor's.
A new Torah scroll was going to be dedicated!
My neighbor had paid (a lot!) to have it made and to have a scribe write it.
Many gathered on their patio for refreshments.
The men entered the house for afternoon prayers and to see the final letters of the Torah penned.
Then the sefer Torah was brought out under a canopy (like in a wedding) and there was dancing and singing in the street!

The procession began, headed by the lights and music of another van.
The source of this custom is the Biblical book II Samuel 6:12-15:
"And David went and brought up the ark of God … into the City of David with joy.... And David danced with all his might before God.... And David and all the House of Israel brought up the ark of God with shouts and with the sound of the shofar [ram's horn]."

You can see Jerusalem on the hill, on the top left of the photo.
We snaked through the streets of the village (population about 80 families).
More and more people came out to join in the festivities.
Many men were given the honor of carrying the Torah, which was decorated with scarves.
Women threw candies on the crowd, to the delight of the children.

The parade stopped near the synagogue.
All the scrolls came out from the synagogue to welcome the new Torah.

There must have been almost a dozen.
A Chabad page says that
"As the procession approaches the synagogue, the chazzan (cantor) approachs the Holy Ark and proclaims:

'Torah scrolls, on behalf of the holy congregation that prays in this synagogue, you are requested to come and greet the Torah that ____ son/daughter of ____ has merited to write and dedicate at an auspicious hour to this synagogue.' "


Then everyone stood still and the appropriate prayers were said.

The scrolls returned to the Ark and made room for their new neighbor.
The men prayed the evening service.
Like other mitzvah events, the dedication of a Torah is followed by a mitzvah meal.
Our seudat mitzvah took place at the moshav's community hall, Beit HaAm.
I tasted kubbeh soup, a rich broth with meat-stuffed dumplings and vegetables, for the first time.
It was one of those nights when you feel really happy to be Jewish and to be living in a friendly little moshav in the Jerusalem Hills.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Windows 1888

Welcome to the Ws at ABC Wednesday.

Once I wandered through the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.
Weird windows inside!
Like this round one in an internal wall.

The top floor is the strangest.
This other interior round window seems to be half covered by a mirror.
Wherever I wandered I kept wondering, "Where is everyone?"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Good-bye trees, thanks guys

Having just missed the infrequent bus to my village yesterday, I started the 35-minute walk home along the road.
But what's this?!
Almost all the trees, albeit dead trees, along the right side of the road had been cut down!

Then I saw the sign:

KKL [Keren Kayemet LeYisrael] is thinning out the forest in this area
in order to create firebreaks and to keep the forest healthy.
You can call us at 02-6204672.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
KKL, Mountain Region

Carefully I looked over the steep and now bare slope.
Down below, a man was attaching a rope or chain to the log so he could skid it out with the tractor. (Click on the photo to find him.)

Others were cutting down tall pines, sawing them up into smaller lengths, stacking them and getting them ready to load on trailers, boiling a pot of coffee . . . .
I felt a tinge of envy . . . .

Last July a forest fire killed these trees in the valley.
That's my moshav (village) in the photo.
The only road out of our village was closed, with fires burning on both sides of the road.
The fire was stopped at the very gate of our village, thank God.
It was a scary time watching the flames come nearer.
There was no way for the fire trucks to get down into the valley, and the few small planes could not work fast enough.
That is why I am so glad that the wake-up call is being heeded now.
Keren Kayemet-Jewish National Fund is on the job, bless them.
And I did, I called the telephone number on the sign, and said a big thank-you.
Even got to speak to the head Forester of the Mountain Region, Eli Yaakov.
He said "Before new trees can grow, the burnt ones must be cut down."
Let us hope and pray the new trees will never feel the pain of a forest fire.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Milking a hollyhock

Oh crop! -- I forgot to crop out my shielding hand.
Oh well, at least it shows you this hollyhock is taller than me.
I was shooting into the setting sun, trying to catch the shadows of the stem and buds coming through the back-lit petals.
That would be for Shadow Shot Sunday, of course.
Now if you enlarge the photo and find at least two ants, it can count for Camera-Critters too.
The hardy hollyhock appeared out of nowhere last month, sprouting up between ancient floor stones.
This month it is tall and blooming, with not a drop of water.
Hollyhocks give it their best for a short time during the hot dry Israeli summer and then they are gone.
That should qualify it for inclusion in Robin's meme, Summer Stock Sunday.
Nu, have I milked this flower for all it's worth?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sarah gets a shower

Early morning pre-opening Mamilla Mall life is reflected in the store window in this picture for Weekend Reflections.
I was shocked to see the cleaning man throw a bucket of water on one of the Bible Stories statues.
But our matriarch Sarah just laughed.
She seemed quite tickled when the cleaner scrubbed her with his broom.
The statue is "Sarah" by Rita Paran, based on Genesis 21:6:

ו וַתֹּאמֶר שָׂרָה--צְחֹק, עָשָׂה לִי אֱלֹהִים: כָּל-הַשֹּׁמֵעַ, יִצְחַק-לִי. 6
And Sarah said: 'God hath made laughter for me; every one that heareth will laugh on account of me.'
[This was after God had promised the barren Sarah that she and Abraham would bear a son in their old age.]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Birds of Paradise

A rare bird of paradise flower in Jerusalem.
A bird-of-paradise bird, literally!
The sculpture's Hebrew name is Tsipor Gan Eden, meaning "bird of the Garden of Eden."
Sculptor Judith Shacher quotes Genesis 1:
And God said, ". . . Let the birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens."
So God created . . . every winged bird according to its kind.
And God saw that it was good.
And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply . . . and let birds multiply on the earth."
And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

From manna to challah


Tomorrow it will be time to stock up from the stacked up loaves of challah.
You can see signs of their braided shape on the fallen paper.
If you like challah with sesame seeds, enlarge the photo.
At the Sabbath table two challot are held together and the Hamotsi bread blessing is said over both.
This is in remembrance of our 40 years in the desert when each morning the Israelites found manna on the ground, encased in two layers of dew to preserve its freshness.
But on Saturday, the Holy Sabbath day, no manna fell from heaven.
Instead, the people would gather a double portion on Friday.
Moses explains this in Exodus 16:22-26.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vats and vineyards

Let's visit vats and vineyards for ABC Wednesday.

Click on the transparent sign to read names of the various vats.

This is a reconstruction of what a winepress would have looked like in Byzantine times, about 1,500 years ago.
It is part of the Biblical Garden at Yad Hashmona.

As this mosaic picture shows, the treading floor was a large area, normally covered by mosaics, where the grapes were laid and crushed by the feet of the workers, extracting the juice.

A small hole in the center of the treading floor was for a secondary crushing of the grapes.

Juice flowed from the small filtering vat into the collection vats.

Workers went down the steps to collect the juice into vessels or to clean the vat.

Fermentation took place in the jars and a cool storage area, such as a cave, was used to store the wine.

During the Roman and Byzantine periods there were hundreds of winepresses in the fields, villages and cities of the Holy Land. explains
. . . each Roman soldier consumed a liter per day, or 6,000 liters per day for one Legion stationed in the Galilee. The wine has medical advantages - killing bacteria and making the drinking water safer. The wine was often diluted with equal portion of water, and used as their drinking water, keeping the soldiers healthy (and happy). This may have been one of the Roman soldiers advantages in the battlefield. To supply this demand the wine was produced in a short period of a month or so, producing a low alcohol (4%) sour wine.