Wednesday, October 31, 2012

At holy water's edge


The subject of City Daily Photo group's Theme Day today is "At water's edge."
I am happy to show you very special (some say holy) water--the River Jordan!

My photos are from the Israeli side; the other edge of the narrow river is already in the Kingdom of Jordan.
This place is called in Arabic Qasr al Yahud.
It is just east of Jericho.

The old traditions say that here John the Baptist baptized Jesus, that Joshua led the Israelites across the river into the Promised Land, and that the Prophet Elijah ascended into heaven.

I watched a Canadian group witnessing as to what had brought them to faith and to this holy place.
One by one they descended the stairs and their minister blessed them and dunked them.
You can enlarge the photos; click and then click again on what opens.  It will make the little river look bigger, maybe.
More information on Kasr al Yahud in this article.
To see the other baptism site called Yardenit, favored by Protestants, where the Jordan flows out of the Sea of Galilee, please see these posts.
To visit other bloggers posting their water's edge, go to the nice new City Daily Photo website.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A press car with paranoia


This  vehicle--what is it, a Land Rover?--looked strangely deserted sitting in an empty lot near Jerusalem's Malcha train station.
Judging from the thickness and color of the dust clinging to it, it might have been through the desert.

I think the license plates are United Kingdom.  (Enlarge the picture to read the fine print.)
Wait, what's that written on the windshield?  PARANOIA


A mystery, but a good one for P-Day at ABC Wednesday.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Marking 17 years since Rabin's murder

Yesterday the nation remembered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the 17th anniversary of his assassination.
Youth movements organized the evening gathering in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, national leaders gave speeches at the grave site on Mount Herzl, the Knesset had a session to talk about Rabin, and Galei Zahal, the army radio, brought Rabin's family together with musically talented soldiers for a night of reminiscing and of singing the moving and appropriate songs. 

This picture of the grave was taken early one January morning when no one was there.
Someone had brought a painting and left it.
Others had put stones or memorial candles.

It was mentioned yesterday on the radio that Rabin's grave is under constant surveillance, lest vandals get any ideas.
Just two weeks ago someone defaced Moshe Dayan's tombstone in Nahalal.
The red paint said "Sar hamechdal, beshem hanoflim," meaning the minister of the failure, in the name of the fallen.

Both Yitzhak Rabin and his wife are buried here, in the cemetery of  Israel's leaders on Mt. Herzl, the Mount of Remembrance. 
Their  grave is covered by the unusual tombstones which Rabin's widow commissioned from architect Moshe Safdie.
Yitzhak Rabin is written in Hebrew on the black marble, Leah Rabin on the white.
 A touching story was revealed by Prof. Leonard Fein of Boston and was picked up by Israel's Haaretz when Ted Kennedy died in 2009:

After Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin was assassinated (in 1995), Senator Edward Kennedy dug up some earth from the Arlington graves of his brothers John and Robert, who had also been gunned down. 
He carried the dirt onto the plane to Israel. 
After Rabin was buried on Mount Herzl, Ted waited for the crowd and the photographers to disperse. 
Then, on his hands and knees, he gently placed the American earth onto the freshly-dug Israel earth.
May they all now rest in peace.
A previous year's story about the Rabin remembrance day:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"In the day of my trouble . . ."

Psalm 77 today, for PsalmChallege at Daily Athens Photo.

 To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.

1  I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan; I meditate, and my spirit faints. [Selah] 
4 Thou dost hold my eyelids from closing; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old, I remember the years long ago.
6 I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit:
7 "Will the Lord spurn for ever, and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love for ever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" [Selah]

10 And I say, "It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed."
11 I will call to mind the deeds of the LORD; yea, I will remember thy wonders of old.
12 I will meditate on all thy work, and muse on thy mighty deeds. 

13 Thy way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
14 Thou art the God who workest wonders, who hast manifested thy might among the peoples.
15 Thou didst with thy arm redeem thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. [Selah] 
16 When the waters saw thee, O God, when the waters saw thee, they were afraid, yea, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; thy arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of thy thunder was in the whirlwind; thy lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
19 Thy way was through the sea, thy path through the great waters; yet thy footprints were unseen.
20 Thou didst lead thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. 
Translation: RSV Revised Standard Version, 1971

"HaNavi Yehezkel" (The Prophet Ezekiel), by Alla Grinberg, Mamilla Mall, 2011

"Tefila -- The Prayer," by Sam Phillipe, Mamilla Mall, 2011

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lucky campus cats


These are not just any stray cats.
They are smarty cats, Hebrew University cats!
They even have their own feeding station!

A pan filled with water and two stainless steel dishes for food.

See how fat and happy they appear?
The white one was crunching away at dried cat food when I came to the beautiful Mount Scopus campus yesterday  morning.

There are no classes on Fridays so the campus was empty and the cafeteria near the cats' place was closed; but still, someone had put out  food for the cats.

My discovery of a dedicated feline feeding station started my day on a happy note.
(A post for Camera Critters meme.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

A window to the past


The Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus gave a wonderful tour this morning.
More about that in the coming days.
In the Museum for Jewish Antiquities I was leaning over, trying to read in the glass  display case about the 1931-35 excavations in Samaria, and a reflection kept getting in my way.
Then I realized it must be a sign from James and it wanted to join in his Weekend Reflections.
It was one of many high windows, with a graceful grate and a tree branch.
But why the light became bands of pink and pale blue, this I don't understand.
The historic building, built in 1941 in the International style, has a magic all its own, even without the fantastic treasures inside.
Maybe today's persistent colored reflection was like a window to the past.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The return of the clouds


The moment of sunset in the Jerusalem Hills!
So nice to see clouds again after a long hot dry season.
Finally--I have something for SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cute? Conversation piece? Macabre humor?

Oi veh, now I've seen everything!

Remember those large ancient coffins from Deir el-Balah in Museum Eretz Israel and also those in the Israel Museum?
I showed you the pictures for Taphophile Tragics meme.
The Deir el-Balah cemetery was south of Gaza,  a stronghold established by the Egyptians on the main route from the Nile Delta to Canaan.

Now, for only $37, you can have a 7 inch/ 18 cm high coffin pencil holder for your desk!
The clay adaptation of the real coffins comes with a certificate of authenticity from the Israel Museum.

If you don't believe me take a look at 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

O is for opus sectile

Opus sectile  is my O word for today's ABC Wednesday meme.

Opus sectile is an art technique that was popularized in the ancient and medieval Roman world.
Materials such as marble, glass, and mother of pearl were cut and inlaid into floors and walls to make a picture or pattern.
The material was cut into thinnish pieces, polished, and trimmed further according to the chosen pattern.

My first three photos are of a display at last month's 13th Annual Studies of Ancient Jerusalem Conference in Jerusalem.

Remember how I told you about the sifting project, sifting rubble from the Temple Mount?
Well, that's how these opus sectile fragments were found.
It is believed that the tiles above are from Herodian times, some 2,000 years ago, from Herod's expansion and repaving of the Second Temple courtyards. 

I think it was sifting staff member Frankie Snyder who made the above "puzzles," one a known pattern from Byzantine times and one from a Crusader church.

Enlarge the photo and see how the actual stone pieces are inserted into the painted model.

I was so impressed!

Here is an opus sectile floor in situ.
It is in the Herodian Quarter (Wohl Museum) in the Jewish Quarter.
The affluent Jewish house from 2,000 years ago is one of six such houses discovered and excavated in 1969-1983.
Their design was influenced by the Hellenistic-Roman style.

Here in between our shadows is a partially-uncovered opus sectile floor at Susita (Hippos) in the Golan Heights. 

If you want to learn the language of regular mosaics (not opus sectile), the Getty Conservation Institute and the Israel Antiquities Authority  developed a wonderful
Illustrated Glossary in pdf.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy birthday Augusta Victoria


Someone very important has a birthday today!
She is Auguste Victoria, yes--the Empress--wife of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

I know because I liked the new Facebook page of  the Kaiser (from which the old photo is borrowed), in which he shares their journey to Jerusalem in 1898.

When  Jerusalemites  hear Augusta Victoria, we normally think of this Arab hospital atop the Mount of Olives.
Click on the photo and then once again to see the name on the entrance gate.

 The hospital has a front door you wouldn't believe!
Augusta Victoria  was built in 1907-10 as a hostel for Christian pilgrims and as a rest home for the German population in Eretz Israel.
Many of the materials were imported from Germany.
It was the first building in the country to have electricity, powered by a diesel generator.

 The adjoining Lutheran church has a Kaisersalle with a beautiful old fireplace.
See the crests and names of  the Kaiser and the Kaiserin?

The Kaiser's Hall is often a venue for conferences and lectures.

You are welcome to see my posts about the Augusta Victoria complex, including the huge bells in the belfry, here.

The reason "Kaiser Wilhelm" is journaling his trip on Facebook is because next week the Tower of David museum will be opening an exhibition about his visit in Jerusalem as covered by the journalists of 114 years ago.
(This is a contribution to Our World Tuesday and Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A patriarch, an emperor, and an alp

For Robert Geiss'  weekly PsalmChallenge, here is Psalm 76.

1. For the leader; with instrumental music. A psalm. Of Asaph. A song.

2. Renowned in Judah is God; in Israel, His name is great;
3. His pavilion was in Shalem; His dwelling place in Zion. 
4. There He shattered the fiery arrows of the bow, the shield and the sword―the war.    Selah.

5. You are resplendent, more majestic than the mountains of prey.

6. The stouthearted were despoiled; they sank into their sleep; and none of the brave men could find their hands.
7. From Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both chariot and horse lay stunned.

8. You―You are awesome! Who can withstand You? Your rage is from antiquity.
9. From heaven You pronounced legal ruling; the earth was quieted with awe
10. at the rising of God to judgment, to save all the lowly of the earth.  Selah.
11. Indeed, human wrath shall acknowledge You, and the last remnants of wrath You shall gird about You.
12 Make and fulfill vows to the LORD your God; all those around Him shall bear tribute to the Awesome One.
13. He breaks the spirit of princes; He is awesome to the kings of the earth.
Translation by Rabbi Benjamin Segal . He speaks of today's psalm as "Pax Jerusalem."
1. Abraham and the King of Jerusalem
stylized representation,  at the Tower of David
According to Biblical tradition, Abraham met with the king of Salem [in Hebrew: Shalem]: ". . . Melchizedek, king of Salem,  brought out bread and wine . . . and said, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth' "
Genesis 14:18-19

2. A majestic  Swiss Alp

3. Statue of Hadrian, apparently used for the ritual worship of the emperor, was discovered in a camp of the Roman army.
One of the few extant bronze sculptures of an emperor from the Roman Period . . .
117-138 CE, bronze and lead
At the Israel Museum.
Discovered in the camp of the Sixth Roman Legion Ferrata, Tel Shalem, Beit Shean Valley.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dean and Dina do archaeology

It's National Archaeology Day today in many parts of the world.
Click on the map to find activities to attend  in your area.

Israel is not participating but that's OK--every day is an archaeology day in The Holy Land! 
I'll show you what grandson Dean and I did when he came to visit in July.

We rose with the sun, took two buses to Mount Scopus, and walked way over to these stairs.
At the bottom, in Tsurim Valley, you see our destination, the long black tent.
On the horizon to the left is the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

Please click on the photos you want to see in closer detail. 

I had booked (and paid for) Dean and me to work four hours at the sifting project, officially called the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation.

Just one Swedish family showed up; but on some days a big group or dozens of volunteers will come to work. 

First a nice staff archaeologist welcomed us and talked about the history of Jerusalem and about the sad need for such a sifting project.

In what at first looked like the Western Wall, "stone" by "stone" was rotated to reveal posters full of information for our guide's lecture. 

Each one chooses what he hopes to be the lucky bucket and pours the wet material onto the screen.

 Dean loved hosing it down with a pressure sprayer.
Wet sifting (see video!)  is much more revealing than the old method of shaking the dry material back and forth in the sifter.

I was proud of how my 8-year-old patiently and conscientiously examined each piece, looking for interesting finds.
Into the white plastic cups at the edge we sorted any pieces of pottery, plaster, glass, bone, metal, mosaic stones, and worked stones.

We didn't find any coins, seals, or jewelry, but the warm personal encouragement and teaching from Yuval was a treasure in itself.

 Everyone would combine their finds into sorting buckets.

 Then at the end of each 2-hour stint we all gathered at the exhibition tables and compared our finds of the day to pieces that had been found during the past ten years.

Orderly arrangement from First and Second Temple periods to Roman, Early Islamic, Mamluk and Ayyubid, Crusader, and Ottoman periods, all the way to Israel statehood days. 

Despite the heat, Dean wanted to continue till early afternoon.
We each took home a nice certificate to remind us of Dean's first initiation into archaeology.
I'm hoping he will want to work in the field when he is a bit older, just like his grandmother.

Happy National Archaeology Day from Jerusalem! 
 The Smithsonian has an article, albeit somewhat misleading and with some mistakes, about how the Muslim Waqf used bulldozers to dig into the Temple Mount and build a new mosque,  illegally.  Tons of  excavated earth was just dumped in the Kidron Valley.   This is why our salvage sifting of it  is necessary.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Reflections on, and of, shoes


For me it might be confusing, with the sudden profusion of limbs.
But smart little Libby had no problem putting the shoe on the right foot.

Kids love  the many mirrors at Jerusalem's Bloomfield Science Museum.
Wanna see Crocs for a giant? Click here.

(A post for James' Weekend Reflections meme.)
Bonus:  Shoes and Jews --

According to the 16th century Code of Jewish law (the Shulchan Aruch), when putting on shoes, the right shoe goes on first. When tying shoes. the left shoe is tied first. When shoes are taken off, the left shoe comes off first. This custom is based on the belief that the right is more important than the left. Therefore, the right foot should not remain uncovered while the left is covered.

 The Kabbalists describe the body as "the shoe of the soul." Just as shoes protect feet from the dirt, so too does the soul require the body as a shoe to protect it during its journey in the physical world.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"The last great cavalry charge in history"

These are pictures I took in Sydney, Australia,  in 2009.
Written in the concrete wall is


Erected by members of the Desert Mounted Corps 
and friends 
to the gallant horses who carried them 
over Sinai Desert  into Palestine
1915 - 1918

They suffered wounds, thirst, hunger and 
weakness almost beyond endurance but never failed.
They did not come home. [*]

We will never forget them.

There is also a plaque in the ground, unveiled on October 31, 2007,

"commemorating the 90th anniversary of the charge at Beersheba which took place at 4.30 pm on Wednesday 31 October 1917.
The success of the charge led to an earlier conclusion of the Desert Campaign in the Middle East in World War I.

             In memory of
the gallant men and horses of the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments that took part in the charge and those that made the supreme sacrifice."
* Over 29,000 horses were shipped to the Middle East for the war but at war's end, they could not be returned to Australia.  See what was done with them here.

I tell you all this because October 31, 2012 will be the 95th anniversary.
The Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv kindly sent me the invitation partially copied below.

If anyone can attend, the Embassy would like you to RSVP by tomorrow.
I hope to be there for these very special events.

Be’er Sheva Commemoration
Annual Memorial Service

Wednesday 31 October 2012
The Australian Embassy and the Municipality of Be’er Sheva invite you to the commemoration of the 95th anniversary of the battle of Be’er Sheva.  The commemoration marks the fall of the Ottoman controlled city of Be’er Sheva to British and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops on 31 October 1917. The historic charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade of the Australian Mounted Division played a critical part in this major battle.
The service will take place at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery
at 10:30 on 31 October. (Ha’atzmaut St. Be’er Sheva)

 Other commemorative events:
31 October
Pratt Foundation
8:45   Refreshments and morning tea
9:30  Tribute to the Australian Light Horse Brigade
Park of the Australian Soldier
(Abba Ahimeir St. Be’er Sheva)
Enquiries: Mr Peter Adler, Pratt Foundation 

Be'ersheva Municipality
11:30 Commemoration service
Turkish Memorial Monument
(Tuviyahu St. Be’er Sheva)
Enquiries: Ms Malka Reisner, Be'ersheva Municipality  08 6463910
Society for the Heritage of WWI
15:00 Re-enactment of the charge of the Australian Light Horse
Beit Eshel
Enquiries: Mr Ezra Pimental, Society for the Heritage of World War One -  054 9413155
Be'ersheva Archaelogy Museum
12:00 - 15:00 Temporary exhibition by Sgt. Thomas Henry Ivers, an artist who served in the Australian Light Horse
The Archaeology Museum
(60 HaAtzmaut St)
Enquiries: Mr Goel Drory, Museum Curator - 052 2767113
28th October 
Kinneret Academic College
16:00 Ceremony in Honour of The Australian Light Horsemen at the Battle of Semakh
(Kinneret College, the Sea of Galilee near the historic Semakh Train Station)
Enquiries: Mr Ziv Ofir, Deputy CEO, Kinneret Academic College

Dear readers, see also Beersheva's Park of the Australian Soldier 
and about this month's re-enactment: The Light Horsemen Ride Again.
I hope to bring photos of the  war cemetery for Taphophile Tragics  in two weeks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cardboard kids and vegetables


 It's a balancing act for Israelis to stay afloat.
In the last few weeks the price of food has gone way up.
The grocery bill is said to be 16% higher now. 

And then came the cucumber shortage, pushing the retail price for them up by 150%.
Oi, and we are a nation that eats salad even for breakfast!

Some say a few recent cool nights affected growth and caused the shortage.
Others blame it on not enough foreign workers.

The secretary general of the Vegetable Growers Association said that due to the shortage of a steady supply of farm laborers to harvest the crop, and the reluctance of the government to increase the number of visas granted to foreign agricultural workers, farmers have cut back on their planting of cucumbers, a labor-intensive crop, by 30%.
(Photos are from last spring's AgriTech exhibition in Tel Aviv.)
UPDATE:  The day after this post I went to Machane Yehuda shuk (market) and bought a kilo of cucumbers for 4.50 shekels.  That's only $1.20.  The price was a bit above normal but still affordable.  
Supermarkets would charge a lot more, I imagine.