Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wink at the moon for Neil Armstrong

A full moon rises over the Jerusalem Hills

Neil Armstrong will be buried in Cincinnati on Friday, the day of the full moon.
The statement Armstrong's family released upon his death requested that the public honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, adding "and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Yemin Moshe windmill works once more!

Two months ago Jerusalem's Montefiore windmill was all wrapped up and minus its dome.

Next to it parts were waiting to be put up--gears and wings and wooden bow things.
Click on the photo and then click again to find all the exciting details.

It is exciting to see new life for our windmill because the last time it ground wheat was 119 years ago!

It was put back in working order using replica parts made in Britain to the designs of the Holman Company of UK that built the original mill in 1857.
The parts were shipped to experts for assembly in Holland and then transported for final fitting to the mill in Jerusalem.
The funding of the restoration and the operating and maintenance expenses for the first few years--some 5 million shekels ($1,250,000)--was raised by the Jerusalem Foundation, Christians for Israel (Dutch Friends from Holland), The Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Jerusalem Municipality.

And here is a picture from August 14. Isn't she beautiful?!
Tonight was the festive rededication of the windmill.
Sorry I could not be there.

Soon, some say, the sails will be turning and flour will be produced and the bread made from it will be sold to visitors.
The mill will operate five days a week at set hours and will effectively become the only working mill in Israel.
The Jerusalem Foundation website says

Inside the mill, the historic four story structure will be restored as it looked when the flour mill was active. There will be four floors: a "Flour Floor" - at the entrance to the mill, the "Mill Floor," on the second floor, which held the heavy millstones, and the "Seed Floor" on the third level, where sacks of grain were emptied into large containers and placed on the fourth floor, the "Dust Floor" at the top.

Visitors coming to the mill will be able to enter at the ground floor, look at the flour milling process and watch a short movie about the establishment of the windmill and [19th century] Jewish settlement outside the Old City walls.
I can hardly wait! I have never seen the inside of a windmill.

The wonderful blog "Israel's History--A Picture a Day" has good information and historic photos of the mill, including one showing how the British army blew up a Haganah sniper's nest at the top of the windmill in 1948.
UPDATE #2: The wonderful The Real Jerusalem Streets blog shows first-hand coverage of the dedication ceremony with all the VIPs.

Watch videos:
The architects explain the history of the windmill and plans for its future.
Hoisting the cap and wings into place.
The first turning, August 28!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Shalom Kitah aleph

Google had a special logo today for the first day of school in Israel.
For the first time ever, school started in August instead of on September 1.
Also a first, a victory of last year's social justice movement--little kids aged 3 and 4 can now attend pre-kindergarten tuition-free.
Over two million K-12 pupils headed back to school today.

May all our kids learn a lot and enjoy being together.
And may they stay safe in this coming year of uncertainty.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

At Mary's tomb--lots of praying going on

Today, on the calendar of the Armenian Orthodox, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is celebrated.
We came here, to visit the Church of the Tomb of Mary in Gethsemane a few days ago; and then,
judging by the entrance, the old Crusader church looked deserted.

But once inside, we were surprised by the smell of incense and the sound of chanting and singing, all over the place!
We waited as the Armenians began the liturgy near the side chapels and then followed them down the 47 stairs to the underground part of the church.

The Armenians continued prayers in front of the sepulcher of Mary.
On the other side of the tomb another liturgy was in progress, but I could not pass through to see who; probably the Syrian Orthodox or the Greek Orthodox, maybe Ethiopians.
The Copts were praying at their own altar, and I can show you those photos in the days to come.
My visiting American Protestant friends did not know what to make of all this, but I enjoyed it very much.
UPDATE: I have added information in the Comments in answer to readers' questions.
(A post for Our World Tuesday.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Camel and donkey wait for tourist shekels

As our poor taxi sputtered and strained to get up the steep incline of the narrow roads to the peak of Mount of Olives, the tourist camel came into view and my tourist friends got excited.

I got a drive-by shot of the smiling camel for Camera Critters meme.

Business was slow that morning.
The white donkey and his human were lounging over on the other side of the observation place.
A young Arab boy, maybe the son of the owner, got a free camel ride.
The man and the donkey have been a fixture of Jerusalem for as long as I can remember.
See them here with much of Jerusalem in the background, and here elsewhere on Mt. of Olives, and here near the Old City.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The umbrellas of Ramadan

My two visitors and I went up to the top of the Mount of Olives for the panoramic view!
There were even a few clouds on the western horizon for SkyWatch Friday.
It was the third and last day of Id il Fitr, the Muslim holiday which closes the month of Ramadan.

This was my first time to see the many rows of folded sun umbrellas and big black sun shades near Al Aksa mosque on Haram ash-Sharif [the Temple Mount].
I assume they had been added to shelter the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who came there to pray from the burning sun.
Al Arabiya News says that this year over two million came to the Old City for Ramadan, from 48 countries. That can't be right, two million, but it seemed like it in the streets.
(If you click on the photo, and then click once again, it will be big enough for you to find the umbrellas.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"The Honest Toddler" blog--take a look!

My dear daughter contemplating the wonders of fetal growth at Jerusalem's Nature Museum.
I was reminded of this picture by today's post, "The Womb," written by The Honest Toddler.
It is a very different kind of blog that I just recently discovered.
Take a look, have some laughs (but not only)!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Symbolic and functional shpritzim

During this hot Jerusalem summer, with every day in the 30s C, I envy the dome of the Shrine of the Book (of Dead Sea Scrolls fame) which gets a constant shower of cool water to keep the glazed terra cotta tile cladding from overheating.
In this extremely interesting article about the Shrine of the Book, I learned that
Kiesler [the U.S. architect] himself intended for this to feel like a purification of sorts, akin to the mikvah, the ritual bath practice that originated with the Essenes before being adopted by mainstream Judaism. This is also reflected in the fountains that play against the dome.
Like the fact that the space is underground, the water feature also contributes to the maintenance of a cool interior in the extreme Jerusalem heat---and also likely contributes to wear on the tiles, necessitating their eventual replacement and repair.

More photos are at

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From the lion's mouth

F is for fountain, the Lion Fountain!

Finally--a photo of the water without any kids playing inside.
It was 8:40 Sunday morning, too early for fun-seekers.

(A post for ABC Wednesday)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Precious little Ethiopian girl

The Ethiopian Orthodox Christians were at Sunday worship when we passed their church on Prophets Street early this Sunday morning, and this pretty little girl gave us a big smile.
Click and enlarge the photo to see the smile in her eyes too!
(Click once and then once again on the picture that opens.)

The sound of singing from inside the round church could be heard at the gate, but many were standing outside.
Too hot inside maybe?
Jerusalem has been having weather in the 30s C all summer.
More about this nice church and monastery is under my label "Ethiopian Church."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Capernaum--the glass floor

At Capernaum, the alpha and omega theme of the railing is reflected in the modern church's glass floor.
Also visible through the glass are the ancient foundations of the earlier octagonal church which was built around the house of Peter, the apostle of Jesus.

From the window, beyond the rack of priestly vestments,  you can (if you enlarge the photo) see a boat passing on the quiet Sea of Galilee.

Posted are the rules for visiting priests, in several languages.

(A post for Weekend Reflections meme. And linking also to inSPIRED Sunday.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Water, sun, and fun


Fun in the sun under a clear blue SkyWatch Friday sky.

Kids whose families can't afford a real swimming pool play in Jerusalem's Lion Fountain.
The lion is the symbol of Jerusalem.
This fountain was a gift from German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to Jerusalem.
The dove of peace perches atop the Tree of Life.
Sprouts on the tree symbolize the branching of three Abrahamic faiths from a single root.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The smells and bells of The Church

For today's Feast of the Assumption I took my visiting American friends to the Dormition Abbey on Mt. Zion.
We were greeted by the joyful pealing of great bells.

After the festive Mass (in German, English, and Latin) in the magnificent church (over a hundred years old),

we all went down to the crypt and there were some more prayers, with the new Father Abbot (from Ireland) and his Benedictines facing

the reclining figure of Mary in her dormition.

The monks gave everyone a little bundle of greenery, symbolizing the beauty and joy of God's creation.
For more photos and impressions about this place and this feastday, please see my labels below (Mary, Dormition Abbey.)
Bonne fĂȘte!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where Mary visited Elisabeth

E is for Ein Kerem, the beautiful village in the hill country of Judea, known as the birthplace of John the Baptist.
In the photo, Antonio Barluzzi's Church of the Visitation.
(For ABC Wednesday.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Harbor lights


A few beautiful old fishing boats in the little harbor of Kibbutz Ein Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The photo is fresh from yesterday evening, taken right after we had eaten the famous St. Peter's fish at the famous Ein Gev fish restaurant.
I am busy with two visiting American friends (hence my rather erratic blogging and blog visiting) this month.
We took a quick 2-day trip up to the north to visit all their holy places around the Sea of Galilee.
(A post for Our World Tuesday, with thanks to the team which has kept the meme alive and well for exactly one year now.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Monkey bars

These cute little girls waved at us just after we entered the New Gate into the Christian Quarter of the Old City.

Nice how they see a home security measure as fun monkey bars.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Something new in the quiet gardens of the Sisters of Zion in Ein Kerem!

Is it not a wonderful way to give a tree a new purpose in life?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Celebration for a kids' Torah

Never have I seen chairs set up at the Western Wall Plaza.
But on Wednesday there were THOUSANDS of them!
Little plastic "handcuffs" tied the chairs together and ensured orderly rows.

The sign at the stage revealed the reason: in a few hours the writing of a children's Torah scroll would be completed and dedicated, all with much joy and fanfare.

Apparently Chabad has a program in which a child, or an infant's parents, can pay one dollar and have one letter of a Torah written for him or her.

I learn in this article about Wednesday's event that
Three decades ago on his birthday, the Rebbe spoke of the special power children have to make the world a better place. All over the globe, their “very breath free of sin,” could fuel a dramatic demonstration of unity that could change the planet. In order to accomplish this, he urged that every Jewish child possess a letter in a Torah scroll written specifically for them. All it would cost is the symbolic amount of one dollar, ideally coming from the child’s own funds or sponsored by parents and family members. Each letter would link Jewish children the world over to the foundation of their heritage.
To read all about it, please see

Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Two days of fires

Fire was burning in the forest that surrounds my village yesterday afternoon and again today.
This evening these two tired and brave firefighters were trying to stop one spot of smoldering.
They had to pull themselves up the steep slope with a pickax.

In the end they dumped all their remaining water onto the hot spot.
You can see some fire trucks on the old Roman road, up high.
There is no way they can get closer to the fire way below.
The little flame retardant-dropping planes can't get very low here either.

All my favorite hiking trails from the spring up into the wadi are now black, brown, and white with ash.
But thank God, our village was saved and no one was injured.
The fire was stopped at the outermost street of the moshav.
Let us pray there is no flare-up during the night.
My evacuation backpack is ready, just in case.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Feast at the Church of the Transfiguration

The festive Mass for the Feast of the Transfiguration was broadcast live as streaming video.

Hundreds ascended to the top of Mount Tabor, believed to be the place of Jesus' transfiguration, and packed the beautiful Franciscan basilica.

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land, and many other priests conducted Mass in the upper part of the church.
Enlarge the first photo to appreciate the splendid golden mosaic.

Cameras of the Franciscan Media Center were grinding away (including one on a huge long boom).

The view of the Jezreel Valley from the top of Mt. Tabor, the lone rounded mountain in the region, was splendid.
Someone really picked a good place for the transfiguration.
UPDATE: Archbishop Pizzaballa is no longer the Custos of the Holy Land.  He is now the Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem.

For more about Mt. Tabor and the Transfiguration please see my posts here.

(Linking to inSPIRED Sunday.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A monk at the door

A monk at the door.
This fine Sunday morning I took my visiting American friends to Mass at the Benedictine monastery in Abu Ghosh.
The sung worship of the monks and nuns sounded so nice in the old and beautiful 12th century Crusader church.
(Fellow Israeli blogger Toby has a meme called Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors; you are welcome to look in or come in.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The monastery cat

I was just trying to get a shot of the door to John the Baptist's grotto when this cat jumped from the ledge.

Then she slowly climbed the tall stairs, sniffing as she went.
(A cat for Camera Critters meme.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Love it

Look what Google has today for our Jewish holiday of love, Tu B'Av!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Carpal bones and curiosity

"C" is for curious children, cranking levers to make bones articulate.

At Jerusalem's nice old natural history museum.
For ABC Wednesday.