Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Russian cafe for kids in Jerusalem's Book Fair


Off in the Russian books corner, in a sweet little cafe setting, young kids found one place to enjoy themselves at Jerusalem's recent International Book Fair.

Some were doing craft activities with a mom or dad.
Some were dressed up in props, e.g. babooshkas, I guess in order to do some role playing.
But the religious kids were glued to the screen, where I think a Russian fairytale was being shown.
It was their one chance, because strict Orthodox Jewish homes have no television.
Today's Theme Day at City Daily Photo is about cafe chairs.
Visit CDP bloggers around the world and see what they came up with.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Running" without impact


"Want to try the ElliptiGO?" the nice young man asked.
"Uhh, I'd rather just take pictures, like with YOU on it," I answered.
I had never even seen these things! 
So ta-da!  here is Tzion Gidoni demonstrating the "run without impact" principle of ElliptiGo.

You can make it stationary like the one on the right and exercise at home.
But the best, Tzion said, is to take it out on a trail or the street.
Their Facebook page calls it an outdoor cross trainer.
Videos of the thing in action are at the ElliptiGo  American website and at the Israeli website.
Are you familiar with this "bike" with no seat in your country? 
Friday is the big Jerusalem Marathon.
Today, yesterday, and tomorrow is the Jerusalem Marathon Expo at Binyanei HaUma Conference Center, which is where I saw the ElliptiGO and lots more stuff for runners.

More power to them!   I am glad just to be able to walk long distances.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Green grasses in Noguchi's garden


While at the Israel Museum for yesterday's Purim celebrations, I took some time to get away from it all, walking down to the quiet lower slopes of the art garden.
For the first time I took a close look at Negev, a row of limestone discs, each 2.8 meters in diameter.
Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz created this installation in 1987.

 But soon I found myself immersed more in Mother Nature's winter artwork.
An almond tree was shedding its white gentle petals at the foot of the giant round stones.

The natural boulders and flowers were just like on the ancient terraces of the Jerusalem Hills.

Under the olive and pine trees, cyclamens were all over the place.
Even the rosemary bushes were blooming.

Back home I see that my WizeGuide book explains the "sculpted garden" thus:
For the five-acre (16-dunam) "sculpture" that he created for the Israel Museum, Isamu Noguchi used dramatic contrasts, which are known as harmonic combinations in Japanese culture . . .
He used concrete, which is artificial stone, and natural Jerusalem stone; simple local vegetation and paths made of delicate gravel imported from Japan. 

All I know is that, alone in the garden, I felt peaceful solitude, happy to be in nature yet in holy Jerusalem at the same time. 
And grateful for this winter's generous rains that enable us to see green for a few months of the year, before the spring and summer sun bake it into a dry brown.
Hmm . . . perhaps it was those harmonic combinations that both excited and calmed me.
(The post "Green grasses in Noguchi's garden" is for ABC Wednesday  G-Day.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Shushan Purim in the city

I went into Jerusalem today in search of Shushan Purim pictures.
Entertainers were juggling and clowning at the tram station near the Central Bus Station. 

This cute  jester was the first to make eye contact and make me smile.

 Followed by the happy bear.

The winged lady on tall stilts greeted a lovely lady from India wearing her native dress (NOT a Purim costume).

At the Youth Wing, the Israel Museum had promised a "wild street party."
My favorite was the father dressed as a Buddhist monk.

The Museum also had a little circus performance.
This little toddler was standing on one hand of  (what must have been) her father.
They did all kinds of dangerous-looking stunts.
I had to leave because the grandmother in me was too worried.

The cleaning staff put their brooms aside to look down at the acrobats.

Over in Machane Yehuda market things were lively too.
A group of  young people came snake-dancing down the shuk street, attracting others to join in as they formed a circle and and danced, singing  a spirited Jewish song.
I'm quite sure they were not religious, and it made me happy to see this holiday where secular and religious can all make merry and celebrate Purim with joy.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Nimrod and "venahafoch hu"

(All photos can be much enlarged)

 I first heard of Nimrod at the archaeology exhibition called "The Early Years, The 70th Anniversary of the Museum for Jewish Antiquities Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus."
He was revolving on a screen, the photography produced by the Computerized Archaeology Laboratory.

Then last week I saw the real thing, for the first time!

Nimrod had been commissioned for the Hebrew University but was rejected and ended up here at the Israel Museum instead. 
What a story!

First I'll give you the story as told by the University's Archaeology Institute (I think they begin by talking about the early 1940s, the pre-State days):
The Hebrew University commissioned  the first version of the Nimrod statue from Israeli sculptor Yitzhak Danziger.
The planned sculpture was to be placed at the entrance to the Museum for Jewish Antiquities, however the order was cancelled and the completed sculpture never reached the University.

The statue depicts young and naked Nimrod, the hunter, carrying a bow on his back and a falcon on his shoulder.
Danziger drew his inspiration from the ancient Near Eastern cultures and the description in Genesis 10:8-9:  "Cush also begot Nimrod, who was the first man of might on earth. He was a mighty hunter by the grace of the Lord."

The shape is reminiscent of ancient Egyptian statues and its name is connected to the Mesopotamian heritage.
Nimrod is a corruption of the name of the Assyrian god Ninurta.
The Nubian sandstone from which the statue was carved conjures an image of exotic cultures. 

The ancient Near Eastern sources of inspiration for the statue and their conception of a young and daring figure were viewed by many as an aspiration to identify with proto-Jewish sources.
For this reason the statue was considered a symbol of the movement of Young Hebrews, called "The Canaanites," which emerged in Palestine at the end of the 1930s.

The mention of Nimrod as a negative figure in Jewish midrash, as well as the bold creativity of the sculpture, its unorthodoxy, and perhaps even overt sexuality are what caused the University to reject its inclusion in the museum over seventy years ago.

Today, the Nimrod statue stands at the entrance to the Israeli Art Wing in the Israel Museum.

Now, if you still have patience, please click on the sign and read how  the art history folks at the Israel Museum tell the same story but with a very different emphasis.
Especially the part about
. . . In the 1940s a group of intellectuals calling themselves "Young Hebrews" identified closely with this sculpture.
Dubbed "Canaanites" by their opponents, they connected to the ancient cultures of the land and called for a total break with Judaism and Jewish history.
Nimrod became a symbol for many youngsters at the time, as the most extreme expression of a native identity based solely on this geographic heritage. 
And the final outcome? -- as it says many times in the Book of Esther, read today on Purim, "Venahafoch hu" -- just the opposite happened.

(This post links to Weekend Reflections and Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The megillah of Esther, in German!

Be sure to enlarge this one! (you know, one click, then another)

Every year at this time, Megillat Esther is unrolled and read out in the synagogue to tell the story of Purim
Tonight and tomorrow morning in my village (just outside of Jerusalem), and Sunday evening and Monday morning in Jerusalem. 
The scroll is read in Hebrew, of course, to recount the deeds of brave Queen Esther, of her uncle Mordechai the Jew, the Persian King Ahasuerus, and the evil Haman back in the 5th century BCE.

So you can imagine how I did a double-take when I walked near the scroll pictured above at the Jerusalem International Book Fair!  -- It was in old German and lavishly illuminated! 

German art book publisher Taschen  has just published their facsimile of the Esther scroll.
It is produced from a very fine and rare example of the scroll held by the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library in Hanover, dated 1746 and measuring 6.5 meters long (over 21 feet).
 The artist of the Hanover scroll was Wolf Leib Katz Poppers, a Jewish scribe and illustrator from Hildesheim.

From the limited edition of only 1,746 copies you can buy one from Amazon for only $744 or through Taschen for about 500 Euros.  

It comes with a commentary volume by Falk Wiesemann containing an introductory essay, the biblical text of the Book of Esther in German, Hebrew, English, and French and a fold-out sheet with an overview of all the illustrations. 

Please see a pdf of the facsimile with more description and some of the beautiful colored illuminations.

The Book of Esther is only ten short chapters and is an exciting story. 
You can read it in English next to Hebrew here.
Interestingly, it is the only book of the Bible that does not mention God. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Making merry in the shuk


Purim is on Sunday, and Shushan Purim will be celebrated in Jerusalem on Monday. 

But the entire Hebrew month of Adar is meant to have extra joy in our lives.
So these religious boys came singing and dancing in the middle of the the market, Shuk Machane Yehuda, a few days ago, to everyone's delight.

For more about the holiday please see my previous Purim posts.

Shabbat shalom and chag sameach! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The fig tree waits


 In contrast to the wild almond trees that are currently full of white blossoms, the old fig tree stands, branches exposed.

Not even one fig leaf to cover its winter nakedness.

It has been growing next to our underground spring for who knows how long. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

F is for flotilla

For fun, enlarge the photo and guess what the flotilla is fashioned from.
(Yes, it's  ABC Wednesday F-Day.)

I saw this at the Israel Museum and found it fascinating.
Materials?  Ready? --
Fishing wire, dental floss, aluminum, and ram's horn!

Israeli Uri Nir, born in 1976, made these ships in 2000.
He calls them  Yom Kippur Flotilla.

Here is how the museum explains:

Ram's horns (shofars) make up the core of Yom Kippur Flotilla.  The shofar, symbolizing the ram that was sacrificed in place of Isaac, is blown on the Jewish Day of Atonement to evoke the Lord's mercy and forgiveness.
In the olden days, the sounding of the shofar would signal entry into war--and, indeed, the title of the work alludes to the Yom Kippur War that broke out in October 1973.
Nir's depiction of the fleet is reminiscent of naval battle scenes from European genre paintings of the 17th to the 19th centuries.
The curvature of the horns resembles the rolling waves, forming an intimate bond between a solid from the realm of terrestrial animals and the flow of the liquid sea.
Finally the shofar constitutes an ancient musical instrument whose sound is produced by blowing it.  Here the carved horns refer to a different type of wind: the marine wind blowing the ships to an unknown destination.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fleeting beauty


I wish the white almond blossoms in our Jerusalem Hills would stay forever. 

You can enlarge the pictures with a click and then another click.
Only the fragrance I can't share with you.
(For OurWorld Tuesday.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bound by the people of the book


Which strikes your fancy more--the refined style of artistic leather binding or the back-to-nature earthy binding?

Both were displayed at last week's Jerusalem International Book Fair. 
On the tables of the oversized artistic books white gloves were available; on the other hand, the signs said "Do not touch." 
So I "touched" the gorgeous books only with my camera. 

The top photo is of books from the Jerusalem Leather Studio.
A short video on their website shows the artisans selecting ostrich skin or full-grain leather and then hand-tooling 22K gold.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Terracotta under glass


The window is reflected in the showcase and also on the glass floor.
In the display case are Roman roof tiles stamped LXFRE. 

The tiles and many other ceramic elements were manufactured here, under the floor of the Jerusalem convention center, in a Roman kiln, some 1,900 years ago. 
LXFRE  stands for Legio X Frentensis,  the famous Tenth Legion of the Roman Empire. 

The kilns were discovered I think in the 1950s, when the foundations were being dug for the huge Binyanei HaUma convention hall. 
Two of the kilns were left in situ and the building was built over them. 
Sometimes (rarely), the basement room is unlocked and you can go in and observe the antiquities up close instead of through glass. 
See a Roman soldier's sandal print in one tile in an earlier post and in this one too.
(Linking to Weekend Reflections and Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Paradise of books and trees


In  winter season Israel's trees are either green (those who do not shed leaves) or they are bare (like the fig) or they have no leaves but are in glorious full blossom (like the almond is now).

 Many decorative cardboard trees mimicked Nature's situation at this week's 26th Jerusalem International Book Fair. 
It was pleasant to be browsing books beneath a variety of trees. 

Some bare trees even sprouted WORDS! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A crowded sky


Our skies were grey this week.

As I waited for the tram on Jaffa Street, near the Central Bus Station, I looked up and realized that all those mechanical things above me did not even exist when I moved to the Jerusalem area in 2006.
Not the electric lines for the light rail (not even the tracks existed yet).
Not the huge cranes building a station deep underground (for a high speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway that may never be finished).
Not the sloping mast of Calatrava's Bridge of Strings.

The city I have known these six years is in a perpetual state of construction. 

Here is the top of the bridge as seen from Binyanei HaUma, the convention center, where the International Book Fair is going on.
(A click, than another click, will enlarge it nicely.) 
Happy SkyWatch Friday  and happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Two cupids fighting over a heart


Two cupids fighting over a heart 
ca. 1780
Jean-Baptiste Pigalle,  French 1714-1785
Israel Museum
Oi, is that heart about to be stomped on?!

Getting a head start on Valentine's Day, I'm hoping that all you blog-friends will get and give lots of love tomorrow and every other day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ethiopian Jews at Jerusalem International Book Fair


 There was some lively singing and Ethiopian shoulder-shaking dancing going on this afternoon at the Jerusalem International Book Fair!

The traditional Ethiopian music came before and after talks by young Rabbi Sharon Shalomauthor of From Sinai to Ethiopia, and Shira Shatu, a Mandel Fellow writing her thesis on the aliyah of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

The event was to honor the 20th anniversary of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews.
Refreshments were compliments of the Canadian Embassy.

I love the International Book Fair, held every two years!
You never know what you are going to discover there.
(For ABC Wednesday, E is for Ethiopian Jews.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shalom, Pope Benedict, thanks for your visit to Israel


So! Pope Benedict XVI is leaving the Chair of Peter!

Here in my photo he is leaving the gold and red chair on stage after celebrating an outdoor  Mass in Jerusalem's Kidron Valley.
That was is 2009.
It took me five blog posts to show you all the interesting things from that once-in-a-lifetime happening.
Tonight the Franciscan Media Center in Jerusalem released a very moving short video of the Pope's historic visit to Israel (and other places), together with his reading of his letter of resignation before the Cardinals.
In several versions of the video, his Latin is translated on screen:
 to English here and to Italian here,  while French is here.
(Linked to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

On Mount Tabor

 From the top of Mount Tabor you can see in all four directions.
The fertile Jezreel Valley lies below. 

In Christian tradition Tabor is identified as the Mount of Transfiguration, on top of which Jesus was transfigured.
In Israel the Feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated in the summer, in August I think.
But for some (so I hear from Christian friends in the USA), today is the day.
So happy Transfiguration Sunday to those denominations which  mark it today. 

(More about the holiday and Mt. Tabor in my earlier posts.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Here kitty-kitty


 The cheetah and the child, face to face.
The fearless girl is my granddaughter, Libby.
At Jerusalem's wonderful Biblical Zoo, February 2012.

More about the cat:

(A post for today's Camera Critters meme.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Zoo doo


"Ask me about composting at the Zoo" his sign says.
I think most of us would gladly ask this nice young man.

Hint: enlarge the photo. See anything funny?

This article about  the Green Team at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo says
"We make our own organic compost by mixing organic matter (Zoo Doo) from our animals, mixed with plant material producing an excellent fertilizer, great for gardening."
(Linking to Lesley's meme, Signs, signs.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Divan decorations, 8th century


D is for decorations below the dome of the divan. 
Definitions:  a divan is a public audience room in Muslim cultures.
These reconstructed partridges and windows are from the 8th century bathhouse at Khirbet al-Mafjar in Jericho.
The site is also known as Hisham's Palace. 
You can enlarge the photo to enjoy them better.

The explanation at the Israel Museum, where they are displayed, says
Eighty partridges decorated the area below the dome of the divan (reception room) of the palace bathhouse, one of the palace's most spectacular rooms.
The room was embellished with mosaic floors and carved stucco (plaster), which covered most of the walls and the ceiling.
The choice of motifs reveals a strong Persian-Sassanian influence. 

(A post for ABC Wednesday D-Day and Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Happy Waitangi Day to New Zealand

City Daily Photo bloggers are helping our New Zealand members celebrate their national day, Waitangi Day.
You can see what connections different bloggers have to New Zealand at the CDP portal
My own fondness for NZ is based on Middle-earth and Hobbits and such . . . .

 But Jerusalem's big link to New Zealand is, sadly, in the [British] Jerusalem War Cemetery on Mt. Scopus.
Every April I attend the ANZAC Day Commemoration Service there.

(The photos here can be much enlarged with two clicks.) 

The World War I Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers were welcomed by the Jewish population as liberators in Jerusalem in 1917, having fought their way from Egypt, through the Sinai, Gaza,  Beersheva, up to Jerusalem.

The Memorial Chapel was erected by men of the Egyptian Expeditionary Forces "to the honoured memory of their comrades who fell in the Palestine Campaign 1914-1918.

Above the lintel quoting the Apocrapha Book of Maccabees, it says "The interior has been decorated by NEW ZEALAND in honour of the members of the NEW ZEALAND EXPEDITIONARY FORCE who took part in the operations in Sinai and Palestine 1916-1918."

"From the uttermost ends of the earth" -- yes, how true.
Represented are Hope, Humanity, Faith, and Patriotism.
Happy Waitangi Day, Kiwi friends.
We thank your ancestors who died fighting here in the Holy Land.   May you never know war again.
To learn more about ANZAC Day in Jerusalem and about the lovingly-tended big  cemetery of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on Mt. Scopus, please see my posts here, here, here, and here.
Or click on my label ANZAC Day.