Saturday, June 30, 2012

No use waiting for a repairMAN

City Daily Photo's Theme Day is about chimneys, which made me realize that Israel does not have many chimneys at all.

Then I remembered a little place with an old wood-burning heating stove, and I recalled a cold and windy day last January when I took this picture:
Two women up on the roof trying to repair the old chimney so that smoke would go up and out while keeping the rain from dripping down into the room!

Actually I have blogged about two other chimneys over the years but those posts are more serious and not as fun as today's:
City Daily Photo's portal is down right now, so Julie in Sydney is again kindly making a gathering place for the chimney posts from around the world at

Friday, June 29, 2012

Feast your eyes on a Rembrandt

It's not every day that I see a Rembrandt!
This is St. Peter in Prison (The Apostle Peter Kneeling) , 1631.
It hangs in the Israel Museum.
I have been saving it to post today, June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

(Make sure to click on the picture and then once again.)

Today's liturgical feast is in honor of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Peter and Paul.
According to my Ministry of Tourism calendar the main celebration in Israel is in Jaffa, Tiberias, and Capernaum.

Our painting, however, is a scene of Peter's earlier arrest--in Jerusalem.

The Israel Museum writes

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John . . . and . . . he proceeded to arrest Peter also. . . . And when he had seized him, he put him in prison.
(The Acts of the Apostles 12:1–4)

Rembrandt’s painting shows the apostle Peter in his prison cell in Jerusalem following his arrest. A shaft of soft, golden light falls on him from an unseen source, leaving large parts of the painting in total obscurity.
The saint’s attribute is clearly visible, however: two large metal keys signifying the keys to the kingdom of Heaven bestowed on him by Jesus, which in this situation suggest the irony of his jailed state.
St. Peter kneels, his gnarled hands (the hands of the fisherman he once was) clasped in prayer but also in despair, his lined face expressing an old man’s desolation. He cannot know that the Angel of God – perhaps foreshadowed in the mysterious source of light – will soon appear to bring about his miraculous escape.

The simple humanity of Peter is emphasized, and yet the radiance that encircles his face like a kind of halo conveys his sanctity.
This different interpretation of a familiar subject exemplifies Rembrandt’s genius at portraying states of mind and spiritual qualities through the language of light and shadow.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A day of hearing Italian

Today I went to Mishkenot Shaananim for the second day of a conference on "Italy in Israel: The contribution of Italian Jews to the establishment and development of the State of Israel."
The lecture hall was almost full and I and a handful of others were the only ones who needed earphones to hear simultaneous interpretation from Italian to Hebrew.
(Someday before it's too late I hope to know Italian!)
The Italian-speakers spoke rapidly (maybe just to get a lot in within their 20 minute allotment).
The poor microphone got quite a few knocks from the Italkim who spoke with lots of hand movement.
(Italkim is apparently the Hebrew word decided upon to refer to Jewish immigrants/olim from Italy.)

Outside the hall was a big exhibit of photos celebrating 60 years of Italian-Israeli relations.
(Italy recognized the young state early in 1949.)

A nice 1988 photo of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti reviewing the honor guard at the airport in Rome.

And a 1958 image of Randolfo Pacciardi taking leave of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion at his kibbutz in the Negev.
UPDATE: I just started watching the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" about the Crusades.
The opening scene is France, 1184.
The father tries to convince his son to join him and become a Crusader knight.
Before he rides off on his steed, he says,
"Jerusalem is easy to find. Come to where the men speak Italian, then continue until they speak something else. We go by way of Messina. Goodbye!"
UPDATE 2: Oh dear, just two days after I published his photo, Yitzhak Shamir died this evening, June 30. May he rest in peace after 96 years of life full of devotion to the Jewish people and state.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Legio X

Isn't she beautiful?!
And to think, she is just a terracotta antefix.
Made by the Romans here in Jerusalem between the 1st and 3rd centuries of the Common Era.

Our lovely mask-shaped roof edge decoration--or antefix--was used like this, on the covering tiles of a tiled roof.

But the reason this post is going to ABC Wednesday's X-day is because of what is stamped on these old tiles:
When the Tenth Legion, stationed in Jerusalem, was not engaged in destroying the city it was busy building up the infrastructure of the area.

As the exhibit is described in the Israel Museum
In peacetime, Roman soldiers were employed in public works.
The most hated of these were the back-breaking construction projects: paving roads and building fortresses, walls, dams, and aqueducts.
The legions would record their labors for posterity with Latin inscriptions carved in stone.
The produced their own building materials in special workshops, stamping them with military symbols to prevent their sale on the open market.
The tiles shown above were made at the kilns discovered (and preserved!) under what is today Jerusalem's International Convention Center.
Notice the sandal-print of a poor Roman soldier who goofed and stepped on the tile as it was drying!

Here is another Roman numeral X.
The limestone stone reads LEG X FRE COH IIX.
It is the inscription of the Eighth Cohort of the Tenth Legion Frentensis.
(For more about Jerusalem's Roman history you can click on my labels Tenth Legion, Romans, Roman kiln, Roman pavement, Roman theater.
Or, see Wikipedia about Legio X Frentensis.)
UPDATE: As Rob reminds me in a comment now, it was the Legio X Frentensis, headed by Peter O'Toole--oh, I mean Roman governor of Judea Lucius Flavius Silva--that laid siege to Masada in the years 72-3.
And also that the Tenth Legion had a garrison at the present-day Arab village of Abu Ghosh, just outside Jerusalem. They chose to build a fortress there because it was close to the Roman road going from Emmaus to Jerusalem.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Keeping watch at the gate

Stand back in the corner, inside Jaffa Gate, for half an hour.
Keep your eyes open.
You will see all humanity pass through.
(A post for Our World Tuesday, and for Toby's meme, Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors
and for Louis' Monday Doorways.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chagall windows for Psalm 68

With thanks to Robert Geiss at daily athens photo for prodding us to take the PsalmChallenge every Sunday for the past 68 weeks.
We in his meme group will come back to our psalm illustrating again in September, God willing (and Robert willing).

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm. A Song.
1 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
let those who hate him flee before him.
2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
as wax melts before the fire,
let the wicked perish before God.
3 But let the righteous be joyful;
let them exult before God;
let them be jubilant with joy.

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds—
his name is the Lord
be exultant before him.

5 Father of orphans and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
6 God gives the desolate a home to live in;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious live in a parched land.

7 O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain
at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9 Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;
10 your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

11 The Lord gives the command;
great is the company of those who bore the tidings:
12 ‘The kings of the armies, they flee, they flee!’
The women at home divide the spoil,
13 though they stay among the sheepfolds—
the wings of a dove covered with silver,
its pinions with green gold.
14 When the Almighty scattered kings there,
snow fell on Zalmon.

15 O mighty mountain, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
16 Why do you look with envy, O many-peaked mountain,
at the mount that God desired for his abode,
where the Lord will reside for ever?

17 With mighty chariotry, twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands,
the Lord came from Sinai into the holy place.
18 You ascended the high mount,
leading captives in your train
and receiving gifts from people,
even from those who rebel against the Lord God’s abiding there.
19 Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.
20 Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death.

21 But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.
22 The Lord said,
‘I will bring them back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
23 so that you may bathe your feet in blood,
so that the tongues of your dogs may have their share from the foe.’

24 Your solemn processions are seen, O God,
the processions of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
25 the singers in front, the musicians last,
between them girls playing tambourines:
26 ‘Bless God in the great congregation,
the Lord, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!’

27 There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead,

the princes of Judah in a body,
the princes of Zebulun,

the princes of Naphtali.

28 Summon your might, O God;
show your strength, O God, as you have done for us before.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings bear gifts to you.
30 Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds,
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute;
scatter the peoples who delight in war.
31 Let bronze be brought from Egypt;
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God.

32 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;
sing praises to the Lord,
33 O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34 Ascribe power to God,
whose majesty is over Israel;
and whose power is in the skies.
35 Awesome is God in his sanctuary,
the God of Israel;
he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed be God!

Four of the 12 tribes of Israel as portrayed by Marc Chagall in four of his 12 stained glass windows at Hadassah Medical Center synagogue, Jerusalem.
You can click once on the photos and then click again to see the artwork up close.
Translation used today: NRSV.
Rabbi Segal notes that "Psalm 68 is widely acknowledged to be the most difficult psalm to translate and to interpret. It includes thirteen terms found only here in the Bible, historical “references” otherwise unknown, and phrases which read awkwardly at best."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

That's a lot of bull

That's a lot of bull! A real poster boy.

Sion was giving away posters at the big AgriTech exhibit in Tel Aviv.
I might have liked one but carrying it on the buses, train, and tram would have been a problem.

Sion is an Israeli company for bovine artificial insemination and breeding.
More about their hundreds of Holstein sires and the Israeli breeding system--click here.

To see their clever logo, go here.
There is a good play on words there, if you know Hebrew.
(A post for today's Camera-Critters.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fiddling with art

Perfect for Weekend Reflections--a very special violin case.

By Moshe Chaimovitch.

Part of the Musical Instruments exhibition now at Mamilla Mall, across from Jaffa Gate.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jerusalem by night

For SkyWatch Friday, the black dome of the heavens above Jerusalem!

The Old City was lit up last week with dozens of dazzling light displays for the 4th International Light Festival.

At the foot of the newly rebuilt Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter--a whirling "Meetings Composition" with its movements triggered by the location of the spectator.

At the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer--dynamic illumination to nice music.

Illuminated narrow street in the Armenian Quarter.

At Jaffa Gate--the Italian "Cupola."

But even with "just" her normal illumination, the Old City is beautiful, so beautiful.
Here, the Western Wall and above it, the Temple Mount with the Muslim Dome of the Rock and el Aksa mosque.

The Citadel or Tower of David.

Hundreds of thousands walked along the old city wall and entered by various gates.
Enlarge the photo to see the people.
In the sky above the Latin Patriarchate, a big Vatican flag.

The Old City and the new city.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Going out in style

This elegant carved and painted wood carriage was made in Szarvas, Hungary, in the 19th century.
Would you believe?--it was used for funerals!

The sign next to it at the Israel Museum says this about the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish burial society) carriage:
Accompanying the dead on their final journey towards burial is part of the tradition of honoring the deceased and is already mentioned in Rabbinic literature as one of the essential deeds "for which one is rewarded in one's lifetime and also earns a reward in the world to come."
Funeral processions were held with due ceremony, and the deceased was carried in a special vehicle, such as this majestic carriage from Hungary.

Please enlarge the photo to read about our Jewish way of death and mourning.
Julie's Taphophile Tragics is about cemeteries and the interesting stories in them, but I think this wagon might qualify for the meme.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Woman and watermelons in water

Look at the rapt attention of these kids to an 11-minute DVD projection at the Israeli section of the new fine-arts wing at Israel Museum!

You too can be mesmerized by a 7-minute video of DeadSee .

Artist Sigalit Landau (born 1969) explains her DeadSee creation:

A cord of two hundred and fifty meters penetrates five hundred watermelons forming a six meter spiral raft in the saturated salt waters of the Dead Sea. The spiral turns as a whirlpool reversed from it s normal direction.
I am floating locked inside the spiral layers between the center and the periphery of the sweet raft. I am reaching out against the direction of the turning raft towards a small area in the spiral where the fruit is wounded, red and exposed like myself to the sting of the salt. The salt solution of the dead sea enables everything to float on its illusive surface. The spiral gradually becomes a thin green line abandoning the viewer.
The film was shot in mid August 2004 in the area of Sdom south of Masada

(The woman with watermelons in water is for W-day at ABC Wednesday. And the spiral is a gift to blog-friend Cloudia of Comfort Spiral in Hawaii.)
UPDATE Jan. 26, 2014:  More about this artist at

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beep beep! Honk!

OK, today is Ride to Work Day, but this is ridiculous!
A guy was riding a horse, without a saddle, in the middle of one of Jerusalem's noisiest and most congested intersections, during evening rush hour!

Actually the annual Ride to Work Day was started by some Americans and refers to motorcycles, not equines.

I have done four motorcycle posts in my four years of blogging.
I love both motorcycles and horses, but riding either on Israeli streets these days is too foolhardy for me.
Add Image(Hoping this quick look at the corner of Agron and King David Streets will qualify as a tour for Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A blessing etched in steel

Next Sunday's psalm will be the last until September.
Our fearless leader in Athens, Robert Geiss, has somehow gotten our little group (which you are welcome to join) to illustrate the first 67 psalms and now we will get summer vacation!
Visit his PsalmChallenge at daily athens photo blog.

1. For the leader; with stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.

2. May God be gracious to us and bless us; may He cause his face to shine among us. Selah.

3. That Your way be understood throughout the earth, Your salvation among all nationalities.
4. May peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You.
5. Let nations exult and shout for joy, because You rule the peoples with equity, and nations You guide throughout the earth. Selah.

6. May peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You.
7. The earth yields its produce; may God, our God, bless us.
8. May God bless us, that all the ends of the earth fear Him.

"Birkat Cohanim" (The Priestly Blessing) by Etchi Werner-Nyiri, at Mamilla Mall, 2011, based on Numbers 6:22-26:

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
The translation of today's psalm is by Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal.
His notes about Psalm 67 are worth reading, for example:
The terminology of verse 3 is drawn from the priestly blessing (Num. 6:24–26), cited several times in the Bible. Here the original application to “you” singular is transferred to first-person plural, “us.”
And also this:
Psalm 67 anticipates a new world, an ideal world. The psalm addresses the duality of God’s relationship to mankind as previously encountered in Psalms—He is God of both Israel and the world. Here, in this ideal, the two blend smoothly.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The night life of Old City cats

This curious or maybe bewildered kitten didn't know what to make of this installation.
Neither did I.

It is one part of "Residents of the City" and was created by Bernardo Shkolnick.
Umm, I wonder what city he refers to.

It was part of last week's Old City of Jerusalem Light Festival. (See more in previous posts.)
Their website explains

The installation shows a representation of the different parts of our own personality in 5 stereotypes. The diverse mixture of these psychological stereotypic elements in each one of us creates the infinite kinds of human beings that we meet everywhere walking in the city . Skolnick uses ordinary illuminated display-window mannequins to represent these universal stereotypes as “humans” of diverse ages involved in different activities.

Near the "artwork" on Muristan Street I found the evening gathering place of the Old City's countless cats!
They must have felt secure behind the fence that protects this monument.

You can click on the photo and read the interesting history.

The complex in back of this stone is called the Muristan (bimaristan meaning "hospital" in Persian).
After the Hospitaler knights left their headquarters on the Temple Mount, they took up residence in the Muristan.
The order was founded during the First Crusade and is also known as the Order of St. John.
These knights, entrusted with caring for the health of Crusaders and pilgrims, built a hospital here.
We learn from the inscription, "the Grand Priory in the British Realm" followed their example in more recent times.
(This cat post is for Camera-Critters.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Italy at the Jaffa Gate

An estimated quarter of a million Israelis, Jerusalemites, Old City residents, and tourists flocked to the week-long Festival of Light, and this cupola just outside Jaffa Gate greeted them and elicited many oohs and ahhs!

Against the black night sky (for SkyWatch Friday) and next to the illuminated city wall, the dome truly was spectacular.

Enlarge the photos to see the hundreds of tiny lights.

Especially when you looked upward from the inside.

The Festival website says

Artist: Luminarie De Cagna, Italy

At the Jaffa gate, a dome will rise which resembles a building from the Italian Renaissance, because of its size and shape.

Reaching 25 meters high and spreading over 20 meters wide, the dome in Jerusalem is a true spectacle and an impressive entrance for visitors to the city.

Luminarie De Cagna is an Italian family concern that was founded in 1930. Back then the firm illuminated buildings and squares on festive occasions with oil and carbide lamps. Soon they switched to electric lights and since 2006 they have been using LEDs only for new projects. The LEDs are chained into great curtains of light or mounted on a wooden structure. In this way, whole streets and even squares are fully lit.

Even something for Weekend Reflections!
The tourist bus caught a reflection of the cupola just before it drove under the bridge on which the dome stood.
There is more about the Light Festival in my previous post and more will be coming.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The stuff of archaeologists' dreams

The "4th International Festival of Light in the Old City of Jerusalem" is in full swing.

This animated line of dig "volunteers" swinging buckets of excavated dirt from one to another was my favorite part!
It looked so life-like I wanted to join them!

Enlarge the photo and you can find the one guy down on the ladder, heaving the heavy buckets up over his head.

Meanwhile projectors went on and off, highlighting different areas of the big dig going on at the Givati Parking Lot.
It's just outside the Old City wall, next to the City of David.

Adding to the atmosphere was the background music--the clicking of many small pickaxes on ancient stones.
From time to time pictures of the discovered treasures lit up the back wall.
These scenes in the quiet Jerusalem night were heartwarming; I felt proud and lucky to be an archaeology worker in Jerusalem.

This best part of the Light Festival could very well be an illustration of what archaeologists dream about at night.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Votive offerings, ex-votos, and tamata

For OurWorld Tuesday and V-day at ABC Wednesday I show you some votive offerings that can be found all around Israel.

Here is a string of votive offerings, also called votive deposits, on the iconostasis of a Greek Orthodox church in Jerusalem.
(You know, click on the photo and then again on the opened photo, to see the details.)

It can be made of thin embossed metal or sometimes stone and the image on it reminds God of what the person is praying for.
It can also be in thanksgiving for a wish already granted, and then it is called an ex-voto.

A votive offering can also be something of value, like jewelry or these dollars that were left at the Greek Orthodox monastery church in Tiberias.
Stuck in the frame of the icon you can see little photos of people on whom the visiting pilgrim is asking a specific blessing or healing.

This one at the Gerasimus Monastery near Jericho emphasizes a breast, so hopefully someone was cured of breast cancer.

Strange, but sort of hidden or stuck behind the icon in the previous photo were these baby dolls.
They too are votive offerings, from couples asking for, or thanking for, the birth of a child.
Wikipedia has more information about ex-votos and votive offerings down through the ages.
I just learn now that the Greek Orthodox ones such as this post shows are called tamata (singular: tama).
This whole thing about votive offerings is fairly new to me (I'm Jewish, remember), so I'd appreciate anything you readers can add from your own experience and sightings.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Putting a face on death

Welcome to the archaeology wing of the newly re-done Israel Museum.
Behind the glass wall and reflected in the floor are six anthropoid clay coffins standing at the entrance to greet you.
(Enjoy the big version by clicking on the photo and then once again on the photo that opens. )

A 2005 Israel Museum publication explains these tall sarcophagi:

Late Canaanite period, 14th-13th century BCE

South of Gaza city, at Deir el-Balah, some fifty pottery sarcophagi were unearthed from a large, ancient cemetery.
Located near the sea, the site had been protected from plunder by massive sand dunes.
The sarcophagi were fashioned by hand, using the coil technique, the method employed for creating large vessels.
They were then fired with their lids in an open fire.
The lids were later refired in kilns located nearby, which accounts for their darker color.
Similar cemeteries have been discovered near the Nile Delta.

Several features of the Gaza sarcophagi shows clear signs of Egyptian influence.
At times the lids bear depictions of mummy-like figures, indicating the face, wig, arms, and hands of the deceased.
Many of the faces have small beards, perhaps symbolizing the beard of Osiris, the Egyptian god of death, into whose realm the deceased was about to enter.
The bodies of the dead, usually more than one, were laid unembalmed in the coffin, along with funerary gifts such as pottery food bowls.
If the deceased was wealthy, elaborate jewelry and vessels made of stone and bronze were also added.

You can see some of the jewelry masterpieces here.

Be sure to check this link to see the amazing faces of the sarcophagi.

The partial excavation at Deir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip was done in 1972 by Trude Dotan.
This review of her recent book, Deir el-Balah: Uncovering an Egyptian Outpost in Canaan from the Time of the Exodus, has some interesting gossip about the dig.

To discover Hershel Shanks' idea about Joseph being buried in such a coffin, see this blog.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Through fire and water

This painting from 19th century Iran is quite amazing and deserves close scrutiny, so please click on the photo and then click once again.

Also amazing is what the Israel Museum writes on the wall next to this picture (it is part of the temporary exhibition "Divine Messengers: Angels in Art":

Pharaoh and His Army Drowning in the Red Sea
Isfahan, Iran, 19th century; Qajar style
Oil and lacquer on cardboard

In the center of the composition, the angel Gabriel holds out a "written decree" [shtar gzar hadin in Hebrew] to Pharaoh, who rides beside him.
Pharaoh knows that his end is near and therefore lifts up his hands in defeat and cries out to God:
"Yes, I have sinned. There is no God but Allah and Moses is his messenger . . . "
On the left, Moses and Aaron stand with the Israelites, who have safely crossed the Red Sea.
I wonder what the source of this interpretation is. It seems very strange to me.

Be that as it may, the main reason I show you this painting is because it seems to illustrate many of the verses and ideas in Psalm 66, today's psalm for Robert's PsalmChallenge meme.

1. For the leader. A song. A psalm.

Shout with joy to God, all the earth;
2. sing out the glory of His name, make His praise glorious.
3. Say to God, ‘‘How awesome are Your deeds! Before Your great strength, Your enemies cower;
4. all the earth bows to You, they sing out to You; they sing out Your name.” Selah.

5. Come see the miracles of God, Awesome-of-feats, for humans.
6. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the waters on foot.
There we rejoiced in Him.
7. Ruler forever by His might; His eyes survey the nations; let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah.

8. O peoples, bless our God; cause the sound of His praise to be heard,
9. He Who has animated our life, and has not let our foot slip.

10. Indeed, You have tested us, O God, refined us as silver is refined.
11. You caused us to enter a net, set fetters round our loins.
12. You have let men ride over our heads; we entered fire and water.
But You have brought us out to abundance.

13. I will enter Your house with burnt offerings, I will pay You my vows,
14. that my lips spoke, that my mouth uttered when I was in distress.
15. I will offer up fat offerings to You, with the burnt sacrifice of rams; doing (sacrifice of) bulls and goats. Selah.

16. Come hear as I tell, all you who fear God, what He did for my life.
17. To Him I called out with my mouth, exaltation on my tongue.
18. Had I seen iniquity in my heart, my Lord would not hear.
19. But God did hear; He listened to the sound of my prayer.
20. Blessed be God who did not turn away my prayer or His loving-kindness from me.
Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal, whose translation I use today, titles his study of Psalm 66 "As a Nation's Salvation Becomes One's Own" and yet calls it inclusive, saying that it "radically avoids ethnocentricity."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

NASA pics of transit of Venus !

No, sorry, it's not the sun and Venus; it's just the full moon rising, as seen from my village in the Hills of Jerusalem.

BUT-- you can see stupendous photographs of the transit of Venus at NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day: for June 9
and also here.
More here.
(A post for SkyWatch Friday.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Photography from a powered parachute!

This man has to have the most exciting photography job in the world!
Above the world, actually.
He makes photos of the earth below while flying in a powered parachute.

You can see his flying machine on the cover of his book, Knafayim shel tsipor (Bird's Wings).
Asaf Solomon stood still a minute for this picture with his book and with Or Solomon at the big AgriTech exhibition in Tel Aviv.

Go to the AgriTech website and click on the box "A Bird's Eye View of Agriculture in Israel" to see a short and amazing slideshow of some of his best shots.

Under Asaf's hand you can see his handout: each of the 18 boxes shows one aspect of what his photos are good for.
Artistic aerial photography and postcards of Israel, of course, and coverage of special events like hot air ballooning.
But also to find drainage problems in farm lands, to document the extent of forest fires, to better see roof solar panels and to map acres of greenhouses, to document building violations, to plan water reservoirs . . . and much more.
Asaf is also helping archaeologists see "the big picture" that they can't grasp while standing on the ground.

Channel 10 News made a video of Asaf in action!
You can watch it at the photographer's website, .
Just don't get too jealous.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A city in a garden

I had planned to post an altogether different photo for ABC U-Day, but that was before I encountered the useful knife sharpener of yesterday.

Still, I beg to inform you that URBS IN HORTO, meaning "city in a garden," is the motto of the great City of Chicago.
Chicago, that beautiful and friendly city by the Lake, city of my birth, place of my first 22 years of life.

Imagine my surprise when, among the hundreds of exhibiting companies and institutions at the 18th International AgriTech in Tel Aviv, I came upon a booth of the State of Illinois.

I just stood gazing at the photo--had it included just a few more blocks, our apartment would have been visible.
Ah the memories--swimming and fishing in Lake Michigan, climbing the lake's snow mountains when it froze, riding my bike on the cycling path, riding horses on the bridle path . . .
Where else could a kid have such fun in nature in a city of millions?

And now that I know Chicago's motto, I heartily agree that Chicago is an urbs in horto.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Useful and utterly unassuming

U is for USEFUL and that's what this man's craft is.
You see him sharpening my little Fiskars scissors from Finland, the pair I've been using constantly for twenty years.
Every few years I walk to the back of Shuk Machane Yehuda market and am happy to find the man in his humble booth, still ready to work.

When at the end he lifted his nose from the grindstone, so to speak, his kind eyes had the hint of a smile.
Then he resumed his reading of the Hebrew prayerbook, which I had interrupted.

We had exchanged a total of five words:
"Efshar?" meaning CAN YOU [sharpen this]?
"Mutar?" meaning MAY I? as I showed him my camera.
"Kama?" How much?
"Shmoneh" Eight [shekels]
"Toda!" Thank you!

Only these few words; but sometimes two people of few words, both utterly unassuming, can have the best communication between them.
(This post joins the unending ABC Wednesday meme.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

In the Russian bell tower

Ascension Day was my first time to visit the Russian Monastery of the Ascension.
(I showed you some of the graves there last Tuesday.)

Everyone knows its tall landmark bell tower; you can't look toward the Mount of Olives and not see it rising on the crest of the mountain.

And guess what!
This was the only way up the tower.
Needless to say, I climbed to the first level and not to the very top.

Right next to the convent we saw this big Muslim cemetery and a mosque.

Beyond, one sees the modern tower of the Hebrew University Mt. Scopus campus.
(You can enlarge all the photos here.)

To its right is the tower of the Lutheran Augusta Victoria.
Off to the top right, in the haze of summer heat--the eastern desert.
While we were up there looking out in all four directions, our tower's bells rang!
The guidebook says
Sent from Russia to the Holy Land port of Jaffa [on the other side of the country] in 1885, the bell weighed eight tons and was too heavy to transport by horse.
In the end a special wheel-shaped wagon was built to house the bell, which was pulled, pushed, and rolled by Russian pilgrims--most of them women--all the way to the Mount of Olives.
The trip took three weeks and several pilgrims fell by the wayside.
But eventually, singing hymns, the group reached Jerusalem and the bell was lifted into the tower.
Aviva Bar-Am, Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem
I hope you enjoyed this tour for Our World Tuesday and just a glimpse of a Muslim cemetery for Taphophile Tragics. Shalom!
Linking also to inSPIREd Sunday.