Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time vs. timeless


Please click once or twice to see the details!
It is a tradition of the City Daily Photo group for bloggers to select and post our Photo of the Year on January 1. 
I chose this one for several reasons. 

It is from a hot day in August,  when I was standing in the shade of the spice seller's umbrella at Beer Sheva's Bedouin market.
I found it fascinating to be standing next to these two Bedouin women.
The old one was deciding which smooth pebbles and which chunks of incense to buy to take home to her tent or hut and she was consulting or haggling with the seller in Arabic. 

It hit me that yes! -- now I was really living in the Negev, home to some 200,000 Bedouin. 
 (I had just moved from the green Jerusalem Hills area down to the town of Meitar.)

And yes! -- the Negev was once part of the ancient Incense (or Spice) Route.
As in a mirage I started imagining caravans of camels traversing the deserts, laden with frankincense and myrrh!

. . . Which brings us to this season, now winter, when the three Magi are en route to Bethlehem carrying exactly those good-smelling gifts (so according to Christian tradition), arriving on Epiphany.

And just now, when much of the world (but not so much Israel) is watching the clock tick down to midnight and reflecting on the passing of time  and wondering what future time will bring,  I look at this photo and realize the image that many Bedouin still exude -- one of timelessness
Wishing you all a blessed new year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

ABCs Libby's way


When I brought out the alphabet for the first time, Libby's first reaction was to make each letter stand on the head of another letter.
The tower grew taller than my granddaughter.
I like how these kids think outside the box.
(There's even a Y in there for the coming ABC Wednesday.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Last chance to see Herod the Great, The King's Final Journey


I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of Israel Museum visitors have viewed the Herod exhibition since it opened early this year.*
I wish it could stay forever but on January 4, Herod the Great, The King's Final Journey will close. 

The banners are all I can show you of the artifacts on display,  because the no photography rule was strictly enforced and there were guards everywhere inside the rooms of the exhibition.

You can see the man on duty at the entrance is a no-nonsense guy.

Well, OK, this is the one picture I sneaked before being told to go check my bag.

These are the frescoed walls from Herod's Throne Room, in his Third Palace in Jericho.
The scrolling light words on the floor say
The King is dead.
King Herod died in his palace in Jericho in April of 4 BCE.
His body was laid out on a golden bier encrusted with gems.
Wrapped in purple, with a crown on his head and a scepter beside his right hand, he departed for his final journey from Jericho to Herodium accompanied by his family, army, and servants.
At Herodium the mausoleum and sarcophagus he had prepared for himself awaited him.
We invite you to join us on the King's final journey. . . .

On the book cover is the truncated cone of the Herodion in the Judean desert.
An old photo shows archaeologist Ehud Netzer z"l  on site many years ago.

As the museum website summarizes --
The first exhibition entirely dedicated to Herod the Great, Israel’s greatest builder and one of the most controversial figures in Jewish history. Large reconstructions and new finds from Herod’s palaces in Herodium, Jericho, and other sites are on display. Exhibited to the public for the very first time, these artifacts shed new light on the political, architectural, and aesthetic influence of Herod’s rule (37–4 BCE). Herod’s tomb – discovered at Herodium after a 40-year search by the late Prof. Ehud Netzer of the Hebrew University – holds pride of place. The exhibition is held in memory of Prof. Netzer, who fell to his death in 2010 on the site of his discovery.
Have a gallery tour here.
Also see how Silvia Rozenberg, co-curator with Dudi Mevorah, explains in two minutes  how they worked on this tremendous exhibition for four years. 
Herod the Builder would be proud of them.
*UPDATE:  Haaretz  answers my question today (Jan. 1):
"This past Saturday, some 3,500 people checked out the exhibition and almost 440,000 visitors have passed through since it opened in February – a record for a single show at the Israel Museum, which expects the overall number of guests to reach 450,000 by closing day."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nature and nurture


Grandma Dina, Dean, and Libby feed the guinea pigs at the Negev Zoo's petting corner.
I so enjoyed holding the little warm fuzzy. 

(This was just four weeks ago and it was still T shirt weather; now we need several warm layers.)

When you pay for an entrance ticket, the zoo gives you a bag of healthy kibbles to feed the animals.
In my previous post you can see the zoo's concrete tube which serves as a "protected space" in case of incoming rockets and missiles from Gaza.
Linking to Camera Critters.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Small protection


This is the makeshift bomb shelter in the small Negev Zoo on the outskirts of Beer Sheva. 
Painted in Hebrew is "merchav mugan," meaning protected space.

If you hear the Code Red  siren go off, make a run for it, fast. 

Several rockets have been fired into southern Israel from Gaza in the last two days. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A pillar of cloud


Just a few minutes walk from my place in Meitar and I can see the  
B I G   S K Y .

And last time, even a pillar of cloud!
Linking to SkyWatch Friday.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Nativity, Ethiopian style

When I still lived near Jerusalem (sigh . . . ), I loved wandering alone in the Old City, getting lost, and seeing what I would discover off the beaten path.
Once I found a Churches Street, turned up al-Battikh Ascent, and then onto little Ethiopian Monastery Street.
Shyly I stepped into the empty courtyard of another world.
The building said "Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate."

A man saw me and invited me to see the monastery church and he graciously opened their 17th century book of gorgeous Bible illuminations  with text in Ge'ez.
Enlarge the photo twice to see Mary and child.
Later I realized this man must have been the head clergyman. 

Here is the beautiful old manuscript.

Up on the wall, a peeling but still touching scene of the Nativity.

Click to see "Ethiopia extends her hands to God."
To all you Christians  who can't be physically present in Jerusalem or Bethlehem tonight, I wish a silent and holy night followed by a merry Christmas.
Shalom from your Jewish Israeli friend Dina.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Strange bedfellows


A poster on the door of the children's section of Beer Sheva library.
It is one of the Steimatzky Books ads from a recent campaign.

Click through the other clever bed mate photos at Literary Companion Campaigns.

The Hebrew at the bottom says
Or as Steimatzky has it in the English version of their ads,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Going toward the light

Happy December solstice.
There is light at the end of the winter tunnel, and now we start moving to longer days, slowly slowly.

Grandson Eyal climbs up the challenging slide the hard way . . .

and slides back down with glee!

The long snaky tube slide is in Rabin Park in Meitar.
The park is at the bottom of a wadi.
Normally the stream bed is dry but in last week's stormy days, water was running through half of it.
Rain water run-off is channeled down from the neighborhoods that are above the wadi, and then flows out into the desert.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Short days still


Sunset in the Negev desert.
Just two short blocks from my house in Meitar.
For SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fourteen camels killed by a train


blogged once  about the danger of camels wandering onto the road down in the Negev desert.

But today 14 camels must have been grazing on the railroad.
A Dimona-to-Beer Sheva train hit them and all the camels were killed.

See the news item at Ynet.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

W is for water wheel


Near the pedestrian mall in Beer Sheva's Old City they have recently built this pretend-acqueduct.

One end is a pool of water.

The other end is here at the water wheel.

It clatters around and around,

moving a few drops of water.

It was, of course, to the Negev and to Beer Sheva that Abraham our father came thousands of years ago.
The story about his wells in Beer Sheva is worth reading -- in Genesis 21:22-34.

Or here is a summary from The Jewish Magazine

Abraham was allowed to settle on the lands of king Avimelek, who ruled the land of Gerar. But they entered a dispute about a well which Abraham used but which had been taken by Avimelek's servants. Abraham dug a new well at Be'er Sheva and gave Avimelek seven lambs to enforce the oath to be peaceful towards each other. The well was dubbed Be'er Sheva (be'er means 'well' and sheva can be interpreted as 'seven' or 'oath.').

(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lawrence, Lawrence!


Peter O'Toole, dead??
How can this be?!
I just assumed my hero would never leave us--my Lawrence, my General Silva, my Don Quixote . . .
He was the only movie star I ever cared about; he was very special; he was inspiring.

Go in peace, dear Peter O'Toole.
Thanks for all those moving moments on the screen that are often replayed in my heart. 
Your memory is truly a blessing.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Deserted streets of snowy Jerusalem (by guest photographer)

Thanks to "ester," my friend who lives in Jerusalem, for taking these photos Friday morning and sharing them with us all.

Walking in the street up the hill toward the New Gate of the Old City.

A giant Christmas tree and Santa Claus with real snow.

 Only one woman praying at the Western Wall.

The shuttered shops inside the Old City at 8:56 a.m..

The golden Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
On the horizon, the Mount of Olives.
More about Israel's snow storm in my previous posts and in the newspapers, e.g.  the Jerusalem Post.
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snow is getting dangerous

Photo by my friend "ester"

The snow continues to fall in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Hills, in the Galilee and Golan, in the West Bank, and in the highest altitudes of the Negev.
No one expected so much snow (over 47 cm right now)  and for so many days.
What began as fun and pretty has turned into a national emergency.
The worst is that some 30,000 households are still without power.
With below-freezing temperatures it will be a cold night for these families with no heat.

Drivers are told to stay home.
Hundreds got stuck in snow on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway last night and waited up to 10 or 12 hours to be rescued.
The police and the municipalities could not cope and called in the army.
They were taken to Binyanei HaUma convention center which quickly became a "refugee center" for a thousand people. 

Streets inside Jerusalem were impassable and even the tram slipped off its tracks.
Trees are breaking or toppling over from the weight of the snow.

For us living down in the Negev the rain will continue tomorrow.
In my town, Meitar, we had trees down from fierce winds and some flooding in schools and public buildings.
In my apartment the electricity, telephone, Internet, and cable TV takes turns going on and off for the last few days.

I will be happy to see the sun again.

You can keep up with the bad situation through our local newspapers, e.g.

Shabbat shalom

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A rare snow paints Jerusalem white

Photo by my friend "ester" who lives in Jerusalem 

Haha, the Cool Globes exhibition in Jerusalem was meant to warn against global warming and today the globes were covered with snow.
They were not just cool but downright freezing!

The capital city is getting three days of snow.
So far it is up to 15 centimeters in some neighborhoods.
See news at  timesofisrael.com/as-snow-begins-to-fall-in-jerusalem-school-called-off/

My friend code-named ester went out in the snow and took pictures and emailed me some.
But it was a day I really wanted to be back in Jerusalem in person.
For more about Cool Globes see my summer posts here and here .
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Viscount Allenby


V is for viscount, which is a nobleman ranking below an earl or count and above a baron.
As in  Viscount Allenby, of Megiddo and of Felixstowe.
Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby (1861–1936)

The only thing left in Allenby Park in Beer Sheva is the bust of the Field Marshal who conquered the city from the Turks in 1917.

The bust is behind locked gates and hoarding now.
It says that the park will be developed and renewed as part of the "new Old City."
By December 11 (today!), 1917, Allenby was already way north of Beer Sheva, accepting the Ottoman surrender of Jerusalem.
See a funny story about that in my post
UPDATE, 2017: More about the Allenby statue:

"In the year 1923, the British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel unveiled a monument in Allenby's honor in Beersheba, with a sculpted bust of Allenby by sculptor Abraham Melnikov, set on a 15-meter high Turkish column. During the 1936-38 Arab Revolt, the monument was destroyed by rioting nationalists and the British Mandate government replaced it with a simple stone monument, without the figure of Allenby, and the inscription: "Allenby 1917-1918" in English and in Arabic (without Hebrew, as a gesture to the town's Arab residents). In 2005, the modern monument was unveiled with its restored bust of Allenby."
  -- Source: a good article about the ANZAC Trail in the Negev.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Only dry readers may enter the library

I was happy to discover the Joseph Meyerhoff Public Library in Beer Sheva.
Interesting system: to borrow one book you leave a 50 shekel deposit in cash or check, or for two books NIS 100.

At the entrance a page from Bechalomi, a book by Miriam Yalan-Shteklis,
 a beloved Israeli writer and poet famous for her children's books:
I think there's no need to make poems and songs.
They make themselves.
And how do they do that?
That's their secret. 

And a sign on the door that struck me funny down here in the Negev desert:
the Management

Maybe kids get their clothes wet walking through the fountain right outside the library in Fannie and Max Targ Square, next to the Beer Sheva Conservatory of Music?
(Linking to Our World Tuesday, signs signs, and Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mommy longlegs


I've heard of "Cast a Giant Shadow" but this shadow  is ridiculously long.

It was 3:45 when I set out for a walk in the empty spaces down where my street in Meitar ends.
The sun was low and by 4:38 it was already down.

I love the desert!
(Linking to Shadow Shot Sunday.)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Iguana with open mouth


This lizard  in the Negev Zoo near Beer Sheva is an Iguana iguana or Green iguana, native to South America.
Enlarge the photos a few times to see his amazing textures.
He has impressive spines and dewlap.

Suddenly he opened his mouth wide.
Wonder what he was saying to the female.
(Linking to today's Camera Critters.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Goodbye John, hello Francis


Meanwhile, back in the Jerusalem Hills for a weekend visit, I discovered a new painting  had been added to the church at St. John of the Desert  Franciscan convent.*
The protective shield made it hard to get a good shot; on the other hand, it was good for Weekend Reflections.
Apparently it was necessary because pilgrims would kiss the icon and leave lipstick marks (or so I was told).  

I guess the resident hermit monk who painted it thought that the only red St. Francis needed on him was his stigmata on hands and side.

The older painting it replaced was quite unusual in that it showed John the Baptist holding a scroll written in Hebrew ("Behold the Lamb of God . . . "). 
You don't see much Hebrew on church walls.
*Franciscans in Israel use the word convent not necessarily to refer to a women's religious community, but rather to differentiate it from a monastery.
Monks or nuns in a monastery live a more secluded life, while those in a convent [think "convention"]  are more apostolic and can work outside the walls.
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rain on the trampolines, kids in the sky


For SkyWatch Friday -- three grandkids bouncing into the cloudy sky of Beer Sheva!
Eyal had never flown up from these trampoline things so he refused to leave the shopping center without having a go at it.

Dean was so high he could have done a somersault.
He had mercy on my heart and did not,  thank God. 

The first raindrops started falling as Libby laughed and sprang upward to meet them.

Only the two operators were not smiling.
They wanted to hurry and close up before the rain got any worse.