Monday, October 31, 2011

Yemen in Jerusalem

The Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem is just across the street from President Shimon Peres' official residence.

Judging from the big banner on the side of the museum, they are showing an exhibit of photos from Yemen taken by Israeli photo journalist Naftali Hilger.
See beautiful examples at the website.

About the photo above, the caption says "A Muslim woman in Tihama, 1996. There is no law that sets a dress code, but social norms call for women to keep their faces covered."

And for Monday Doorways here are the two front doors of the museum.

Make sure to enlarge the first photo to enjoy the amazing skin decorations.

This post is a little tour for Our World Tuesday.

Click here for more posts about the Museum for Islamic Art.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

To seek forgiveness

PsalmChallenge is hosted by Robert of Daily Athens.

LinkPsalm 32

1 A Psalm of David. A Maskil.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. [Selah]

5 I acknowledged my sin to thee, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. [Selah]

6 Therefore let every one who is godly offer prayer to thee; at a time of distress, in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
7 Thou art a hiding place for me, thou preservest me from trouble; thou dost encompass me with deliverance. [Selah]

8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not keep with you.

10 Many are the pangs of the wicked; but steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Revised Standard Version translation. For Hebrew-English see Mechon Mamre. For Rabbi Segal's translation and commentary see A New Psalm.
Ceremonial horse trappings. Brass with turquoise and coral inlay. Bukhara, 19th century. At the Museum of Islamic Art, Jerusalem.
Confession booth, St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, Australia.
As a Jew, I sometimes wonder what it is like to make confession to a priest. But I do like how the Catholic church now seems to call it the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

For the early Church, Psalm 32 was considered one of a group of seven Psalms of Atonement.
In Jewish tradition, it is the Psalm recited on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Playful puppies at President Peres' place

Animal pictures for Camera-Critters were the last thing I expected to capture at the Sukkot public reception at the President's house.
But there they were, three dogs.
When they saw each other, they started straining at the leash and finally jumped all over one another in joy.

They will have to learn to be more restrained.
Their jackets say they are "guide dog puppies in training."
And the young man's shirt says "Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind."

Many university students volunteer to be foster parents for the puppies' initial socialization.

Please see an earlier post where I described the breeding and training of these Hebrew-"speaking" guide dogs (bless their heart).

This post's title will be good for ABC Wednesday's P day.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Waiting to shoot

There is one photo I forgot to show you from the open house at the President's residence.

Everyone was waiting for the music and dancing and speech-making to start on the stage in the big garden.
The sun was getting hot.
The official photographers were smoking and waiting and getting bored.
Or maybe I just thought so.
Please, enlarge the picture and tell me what impression you get from their faces and body language.
Anyway, it made me glad to have the freedom of being just an amateur photographer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Protest popping up everywhere

Before we leave the on-going blog topic of the Oct. 17 open house/open sukkah at the Presidential Residence, I want to show you these pretty Ethiopian girls waiting to go on stage and do their dance.
They were one of several folk dance troupes.

President Shimon Peres (in the upper left) was enjoying some of the entertainment before giving a nice speech.
His speech was interrupted by four protesters who suddenly stood up shouting and unfurling small cloth banners demanding affordable housing for the people of Israel.
I was happy that our President listened and relied to them that the government is working on the problem; and he asked the security men to be gentle when escorting the protesters out.
I got a picture of that moment but I don't feel like publishing it, somehow.

The Israeli Andalusian Orchestra, founded in 1994 and based in Ashdod, played.
Wiki says the 50 musicians and lyricists are of Russian or Moroccan origin.
They combine the oud and drum with European classical instruments.
A few weeks ago , Wiki says, the orchestra bowed to pressure from religious subscribers and removed a concert from its subscription series featuring female singer Francoise Atlan. According to Haaretz, some concertgoers threatened to cancel their subscriptions if the concert was not removed from the series.
Strange, the Haaretz article is no longer to be found where it was footnoted.

However, you can go to Huffington Post to read about the curious halacha "kol isha" that says men should not listen to the voice of a singing woman.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Noah's Dove," 1978

O is for olive branch for ABC Wednesday.
Or, more accurately translated from the Hebrew of Genesis 8, a "freshly-plucked olive leaf."

"Noah's Dove" rises from the plaza next to the Jerusalem Theater that I posted a few days ago in reflection.

This week's Torah portion is Parshah Noah. has lots of ways to look at it, and Wikipedia has lots of old paintings of the famous Genesis stories about Noah and the Flood, his naked drunkenness and cursing of Canaan, and the Tower of Babel.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A house like a museum

I want to share with you more of our once-a-year chance to see inside the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem.
Click on the photos to have an up-close look at the art.

Reuven Rubin created the stained glass triptych.
It shows Jacob wrestling with the angel, David entering Jerusalem, and Elijah ascending to heaven.
For the Sukkot open house an exhibit was set up, with art made by special needs people.
The 64 square ceiling panels by Naphtali Bezem tell the story of the return to the Land of Israel.
Just recently they were carefully taken to the Israel Museum to be cleaned of the dust, grime, and smoke that had accumulated since 1971.

Elijah in his chariot of fire pulled by red horses is fabulous!

On another wall of the reception hall is a massive relief that looks like the Western Wall.
Jerusalem-born artist Moshe Castel died in 1991 and the New York Times wrote this about him:

From the 1950's on, he produced relief paintings, inspired by what he called "ancient predecessors of the Hebrew civilization." A visit to the ruins of an ancient synagogue in Galilee, consisting of basalt blocks into which images and ornaments were cut, led him to use ground basalt, molded into shapes, as his basic material. He embellished the basalt with archaic forms, derived from ancient script, symbolism and mythological signs from Hebrew and Sumerian culture.

Hope you enjoyed your tour for Our World Tuesday. More posts about President Peres' official residence are here.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Naming the doors

After visiting the Presidential Residence on Sukkot everyone exited from the garden, down the stairs, and into the back yard of the equally impressive Jerusalem Theater (both were dedicated in 1971).
Many of us sat down and pulled out our picnic lunch.
But first I snapped a picture for Weekend Reflections and Monday Doorways.
More properly called the Jerusalem Center for the Performing Arts, it comprises
  • the 900-seat Sherover Theater
  • the 750-seat Henry Crown Symphonic Hall
  • the 450-seat Rebecca Crown Auditorium
  • the 150-seat Little Theater
The WizeGuide Jerusalem -- Step by Step excellent guidebook tells a funny story about the doors:
"The Crown Wing

In February 1986, the original hall [funded largely by Miles Sherover] acquired three brothers.
The extended family was funded by the Crown family from Chicago, who had actually planned on their donation being used for a soccer stadium.
After haredi circles torpedoed the stadium plans, mayor Teddy Kollek was forced to convince the Crowns to trade the stadium for a theater.
Stadium, theater -- what's the diff?

But that was not all there was to it.
The new donors demanded that their names appear on more than just the check.
On the other hand, the Sherovers were the ones who had financed the main hall.

What to do? Compromise!

An entrance was added to the complex, proclaiming 'The Rebecca Crown Auditorium,' while the sign 'Sherover Theatre' was added above the original entrance."

Into your hands I commit my spirit

We arrive at Psalm 31 in Robert's weekly PsalmChallenge.

It contains a verse well known to both Christians and Jews but for different reasons.

Luke 23:46 has Psalm 31:5 as Jesus' last words on the cross:
"Into thy hands I commit my spirit."

Taize sings it in Latin (hear the midi music here):

To hear the Brothers of Taize and the people singing "In manus tuas" see YouTube.
A synagogue window at Hechal Shlomo in Jerusalem illustrates that same verse,

"Into Thy hand I commit my spirit;
Thou hast redeemed me, O LORD, Thou God of truth."

It is something I like to say before falling asleep at night, because the first thing we Jews (from little children to old ones) are supposed to say the next morning (while still in bed) is this:

מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך
"I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; great is Your faithfulness."
The entire 31st Psalm can be enjoyed at Mechon Mamre, in Hebrew and English.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

A fox! I saw a fox!!

I saw a fox! -- a big beautiful fox!!
My first time to see a fox in Israel!
Something exciting for Camera-Critters, at last.

You'll have to enlarge both photos to believe me. Follow my arrow in the first picture, where it says The FOX.
Having missed the infrequent bus to my village, I decided to walk home along the road.
Below the road is the valley which burned in 2010; I told you how the Keren Kayemet/JNF forestry teams were starting to clear out all the dead trees in June.

A busload of young teens was just descending to the valley for their hike. Can you see them down below?
Some of them tried a short-cut instead of the trail. Not wise.
It's dangerous trying to climb down the terraces, and some of the girls were screaming in mock fear.
I think the poor fox had never heard such shrill human screams and he hightailed it out of there.
He suddenly emerged just a few meters in front of me.
Don't know which of us was more surprised!

Luckily I had the camera hung around my neck.
The fox gave me a look like, "What are you doing walking on this road, human?"
He ran across the road, but not before looking both ways for possible cars.

Then the fox ran straight up the mountain!
Not zigzagging at all, just straight up to the top.
How he got a foothold in the rock escarpments and how he sailed over felled burnt trees, I'll never know.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The bounty of our land inside the sukkah

On Monday morning some 10,000 people accepted the once-a-year invitation to see the President's Residence, the sukkah, and President Peres himself.
(My previous reports are here.)
The sukkah was so beautiful!
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development designed the natural decorations.
You might want to enlarge these photos to see the artistic details.

A pomegrante "tree."

"String beans" takes on a new meaning!

Vegetables, fruits, and flowers were grouped according to color: orange, green, white, purple, red.

Busy bees were making honeycomb.

Honey in an important symbolic food at the start of the Jewish new year.
We dip apple slices in honey and say the blessing to ask for "a sweet new year."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rocket, robot, satellite

OK, so as I started to tell you in Monday's post, thousands of people lined up to get through the tight security check and into our President's annual Sukkot open house and open sukkah.

Here is a 3-ton Shavit rocket (22 tons when loaded) pointing toward the sky.
The exhibits this years were on Israeli advances in science, agriculture, and the environment.
The Israel Aerospace Industries rocket was mounted on a simulated launcher.

The clouds made the day a perfect temperature and nice for SkyWatch Friday.

A pretty satellite with blue panels unfolded, compliments of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

The performing robot was a big hit.
Come back again soon to see the art works and archaeology inside the President's Residence and the amazing hanging flowers, fruit and vegetable displays in the sukkah.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Plant a free tree for Gilad

Want to plant a tree in Israel, for FREE, in honor of Gilad Shalit and his family?!

Just click here and write a few personal words to the family. It's easy.

Be quick--the offer expires on Sunday.

The Keren Kayemet / Jewish National Fund is offering one free tree per person to be planted in celebration of Gilad's release.

For over a hundred years the KKL/JNF has worked to make Israel green with forests.
But today they do much more.
The seven action areas are Forestry & Ecology, Water, Community Development, Security, Education, Research & Development, and Tourism & Recreation.

Keren Kayemet workers call themselves "Caretakers of the land and people of Israel."

This blog has shown other examples of their good work.
I hope thousands of people around the world will respond to this free tree offer.
(Normally one tree is purchased for $18.)
I'm hoping there will be a Shalit grove or wood or even a whole forest!

And YOU will enjoy having your own baby tree growing up in Israel!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Welcome home

Not a dry eye in Israel today.
Noam and Aviva Schalit can fold up their protest tent.

Now our boy is home.

"N" is for nachat.
Nachat in Hebrew means contentment.
But if you say it the Yiddish way, nachas, it becomes more a feeling of pride in the achievements of your children or even in your own doing good by helping someone or some organization.

I watched the Israel TV coverage of Gilad's return today from 7 am to 9 pm, and there were many times I was filled with nachas--from Gilad and all who worked to bring him home.
When my laptop screen showed our first glimpse of Gilad, I instinctively reached for his cheek and cried out "Oi, Neshama!!!" with tears of joy.

Noam said tonight that they have experienced the rebirth of a son.
Gilad is everybody's son; yours too.

Watching the step by step process of the prisoner exchange all day has been emotionally exhausting.
Now I can go to sleep, knowing the boy is safely home with his family, in his own bed, in their home in the Galilee.

Baruch matir asurim, blessed is he who frees the captives.
Baruch podeh umatsil, blessed is he who redeems and saves.
(The Ns here are shared with the friends at ABC Wednesday.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our President opens his doors to the people

Today I accepted President Shimon Peres' invitation and came to his house, Beit HaNassi.
Well, I together with ten thousand curious Israelis and some tourists.
The official Presidential Residence is open to the people but once a year, for Sukkot.

I'll show you more of the festivities soon, but first let me post some presidential doors for the Monday Doorways meme before Monday is over.

And for Our World Tuesday too.

I was trying to snap the tall bronze doors when a strawberry woman suddenly walked through.
(Many of the exhibits today were about Israeli agriculture and science.)
The guidebook calls them "Italian-style" doors.
You can see some of the 63 painted squares which decorate the ceiling of the reception hall, which is used for formal ceremonies.

The inside of the tall doors is of wood.

The guards let us peek through the door of a more cozy meeting room where the President talks with his VIP guests.

Not exactly a door but this is the entrance to the beautifully decorated sukkah, which is what our festival of Sukkot is all about.
The Hebrew above is from the Bible. God is saying "Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit."

Let it be so.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

A perfect psalm for Gilad Schalit

The genius of the Psalms is that at least one of them speaks to one of us at just the one right moment in our life; and so it has been down through the generations.
Today's Psalm 30
for Robert's PsalmChallenge, for instance.
I started thinking about it last Monday; then on Tuesday it took on a whole new meaning.
After the news broke about Gilad Schalit's imminent release, I suddenly saw Psalm 30 as Gilad's psalm.

1 A Psalm of David. A Song at the dedication of the Temple.
I will extol thee, O LORD, for thou hast drawn me up, and hast not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to thee for help, and thou hast healed me. 3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved."

7 By thy favor, O LORD, thou hadst established me as a strong mountain; thou didst hide thy face, I was dismayed.

8 To thee, O LORD, I cried; and to the LORD I made supplication: 9 "What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise thee? Will it tell of thy faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be thou my helper!"

11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, 12 that my soul may praise thee and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.
Translation: RSV
Hebrew original text at Mechon Mamre
Stickers at the Gilad Schalit protest tent, Jerusalem
Spontaneous dancing at the Jerusalem Hug a few years ago