Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kindness and justice will I sing

For the weekly Psalm Challenge, here is Psalm 101.

1. Of David. A psalm.

Kindness and justice I will sing; to You, O LORD, I will chant a hymn.
2. I would study the way of the innocent—when will it come to me?!
May I walk about in the innocence of my heart within my house.
3. May I set nothing base before my eyes. I have hated acting wickedly; may it not cling to me.
4. May a perverse heart depart from me; may I know naught of evil.
5. He who secretly slanders his fellow, may I destroy; the haughty-eyed and greedy of heart, may I not abide.
6. My eyes are on the trusty men of the land, to dwell with me. May one who follows the way of the innocent be the one to serve me.
7. May no one who acts deceitfully dwell within my house; may no one who speaks lies stay before my eyes.
This unusual and fine translation is by Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal.
See his interpretation of each psalm at his "A New Psalm" blog. 
The Flame of Justice in our Supreme Court Building in Jerusalem.
See more about the Supreme Court in my earlier posts.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Apus apus, the Common Swift, loves Jerusalem


As the swifts circled above the Western Wall Plaza Wednesday evening, representatives of major faith groups each gave a blessing for the closing session of our First International Jerusalem Symposium on Green and Accessible Pilgrimage. 
Our Jewish Deputy Mayor is on the left, next to a Hindu woman, a Muslim imam, a lady rabbi, an American Baptist preacher, and a man living in the Far East speaking for Shintoism.
You can find more about them in the conference speakers page.

But in my previous post I explained about the Common swifts who return to the Wall every spring and promised to tell you more. 
Here are just a few tidbits I learned in the three days of lectures and round tables:

Prof. Uriel Safrir spoke about the nature of Nature and said that in 40 days of brooding in Israel, each pair of swifts eats 35 million small flying insects.
In this way the birds save us from being "eaten" by these bugs, thus rendering a cultural service, even a disease regulation service.
Swifts, except when nesting, are in continual flight.
Unlike other birds, they cannot just jump up off the ground and start flying.
They need to be a least 2 meters high to jump out and get enough lift to start flying.
That's why they like to nest in the nooks and crannies of old stone walls and old buildings.
The problem with modern architecture is that buildings are so tightly made, of glass and steel or whatever;  no room for the swifts.

So, as Prof. Yossi Leshem revealed, the Israeli army donated 2,000 old ammunition boxes and school kids in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv  made them into swift nest boxes.
Lotan Center writes that  "Leshem has established (with the Israel Ornithological Center) a peace and education initiative, Migrating Birds Know No Boundaries, that allows about 250 Israeli and Palestinian students to track migrations.
 Students meet at the Latrun center to study and band birds. The German and American governments help sponsor the initiative."
See more such blessed initiatives in Prof. Leshem's abstract of his Symposium lecture "Birds: Pilgrims without boundaries."
Our government rightly declared birds to be a national heritage.
The Bible long ago talked about birds in Israel:

"Even the sparrow finds its home and the free bird her nest where she laid her young,"
says Psalms 84:4.
 גַּם-צִפּוֹר מָצְאָה בַיִת, וּדְרוֹר קֵן לָהּ--    אֲשֶׁר-שָׁתָה אֶפְרֹחֶיהָאֶת-מִזְבְּחוֹתֶיךָ, יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת--    מַלְכִּי, וֵאלֹהָי

In Jeremiah 8:7 the prophets says, "The turtledove, the swift and the crane observe the time of their coming."
 גַּם-חֲסִידָה בַשָּׁמַיִם, יָדְעָה מוֹעֲדֶיהָ, וְתֹר וסוס (וְסִיס) וְעָגוּר, שָׁמְרוּ אֶת-עֵת בֹּאָנָה
Indeed, these birds never fail to arrive at the Western Wall (the Kotel)  right on time.

See Chabad's nice article on The singing stones of the Kotel

Here's a nice little video of the swifts and those who love and help them, from last year's ceremony at the Wall.
And how swift are swifts?
At level flight they can reach 70 miles per hour!
(Linking to Camera Critters meme.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Swifts at the Western Wall, birds as pilgrims


The First International Jerusalem Symposium  on Green and Accessible Pilgrimage all this week was very educational and downright inspiring.
Here are some of the experts and lecturers, who came from many different countries and faiths.

On the last evening we walked from the International YMCA (the conference venue), through the Old City, down to the Western Wall.
As you see from the sign [enlarge the photo with a click or two], Jerusalem makes an official ceremony every year at this time to welcome the Common Swifts back to Israel and back to their nesting places inside the Wall.

Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, the prime mover of the Symposium, told us that these birds have been returning to Jerusalem for thousands of years.
In fact, they usually come on exactly the same day every year.

Prof. Yossi Leshem, champion of nature and birds in Israel, enthusiastically told how the swifts fly north from southern Africa, nest in the wall and raise their young for about three months, then fly south again. 
They fly incessantly for the next three years, never stopping, even mating on the wing.

Enlarge the photo and look for  two sickle-shaped swifts in rapid flight.
I'll be sharing lots more about the conference and about the swifts in the coming days, but meanwhile please see this video of the swift welcoming ceremony of 2012.
You can see the birds circling around and around above the Western Wall Plaza.
See the map of the nesting places inside the Wall here.
Care was taken not to block the entrance holes when the Wall was cleaned and fixed recently.
See also the abstract of Yossi Leshem's conference lecture about birds as pilgrims without boundaries.
The swifts also nest in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity! 
Exciting! -- Just a few days ago Common Swift chicks hatched in the Schieff House in Tel Aviv.   Watch them through a LIVE  webcam.
UPDATE: A Franciscan Media Center video of the Symposium's opening night gala is now available in English.
(Linking to Camera Critters and Sky Watch Friday.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An amazing historical video for St. George's Day!


 City Daily Photo group is having a Theme Day on the subject of England's St. George's Day, which is today.
See how other bloggers illustrated the day at the CDP website.

St. George's Cathedral may be the closest thing we have to an old English church in Jerusalem.

Dedicated in 1898, the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr, mother church of the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, is home to both an Arabic-speaking and an English-speaking congregation.
It is on Nablus Road in east Jerusalem.
Enlarge the photo and see what's atop the bell tower.  : )
The  interior of the church is in my earlier posts about the organ and about the British symbols; and there's one about the attached guesthouse.
But what I really really want you to see is this amazing little  96-year-old movie of British General Allenby walking into the Old City through  Jaffa Gate to the stairs of the Citadel on December 11, 1917!
There he accepted the Turkish surrender of Jerusalem, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule in the Holy Land.
At the 1 minute mark you even see Lawrence of Arabia! 
Then the troops marched down Jaffa Street in the New City. 

The music of the video is the rousing hymn  sung in England especially on St. George's Day:
"And did those feet in ancient time" also called "Jerusalem" --which is an amazing story in itself! 
See the words here.   
Did Jesus really set foot in England?! 
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors meme.)

Earth Day in Jerusalem


Happy Earth Day!  (if your country is still in April 22)

On Monday  I was fortunate to attend the first full day of the First International Jerusalem Symposium on Green & Accessible Pilgrimage.
"Leaving a positive footprint." 
Experts and good speakers from far corners of the world and from Israel. 

More about this wonderful conference in the coming days.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Make a joyful noise with Psalm 100 !

The little group of Psalms illustrators has finished two thirds of the Book of Psalms today, thanks to our host's nudging.  Thanks, Robert!
Join us for the Psalm Challenge as a reader or contributor over at the blog "robert geiss, A PHOTOGRAPHER'S MIND."

PSALM 100 1 A Psalm for the thank offering.    Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands!  

2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! 5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations. .Translation: Revised Standard Version Photos  (can be much enlarged by clicking):1. Drum circle and dancing at the 2007 Jerusalem Hug2. Men dancing at the 2009 Kurdish Jews' Saheraneh festival.3. Entering Damascus Gate (in 2007, before it got a good cleaning and restoration)..

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Clouds on the water, water in the clouds


The cafe behind the sculpture could be a nice place to sip coffee and watch the reflected clouds drift by.
The Israel Museum is very spread out and offers various little restaurants along the way. 
I myself prefer sitting  outside and eating a PB&J sandwich from home.

Israel is having cold, cloudy, even rainy days this week--unusual for April.
Yesterday the top of Mt. Hermon had 2 cm of SNOW.

(A post for Weekend Reflections.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Video from the Palace of Versailles online today

A short video by the Franciscan Media Center  about the Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre exhibit became available just now:
You can choose your language. 

The video shows what I blogged about on Wednesday. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hundreds of centuries-old apothecary jars!

(All photos can be enlarged with a click, then one more click.)

In yesterday's post we talked about the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum, located on the Via Dolorosa, in the Flagellation Monastery,  near the Lions Gate.

One of its unique treasures is the Pharmacy of St. Saviour's Monastery.

Here is how the Custody of the Holy Land website describes it:
 "The Pharmacy of St. Saviour's Monastery in Jerusalem dates back to as early as 1620. However its real development  must be attributed to Fr Anthony Menzani of Cuna (1650 - 1729) - a friar physician and pharmacist. 
It was described as one of the finest pharmacies in the Christian world at that time. 
Fr Anthony worked tirelessly practicing his medical art day and night. But he also loved his pharmacy. After many years work Fr Anthony invented and formulated the well renowned "Balsam of Jerusalem' which was an important remedy for various ailments for about two centuries in Europe and the near East."

"Commissioned by the Custody of the Holy Land to the firm of Boselli in Savona, near Genoa in Italy, the collection was embellished by supplementary pieces coming from Venice. The Savona pots are dated from the middle of the 17th century up to the 19th century. 
Many of them have the firm's mark on the bottom (a hawk with crown) and also the signature: "Giacomo Boselli Savona 1791". On the face of the jugs, along with the name of the drug and decorations, are painted the coat of arms of the Custody of the Holy Land and that of the Republic of Genoa."

Here is the Lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venice.

The photos from 1893 are so nice.

Today's Franciscans describe their former pharmacy in the sign:
. . .
Located in the main monastery of the Custody, it was the only pharmacy in Jerusalem for many centuries.
The pharmacy served the needs of friars, pilgrims and local population, irrespective of creed.
If you'd like to delve into the fascinating details, there is an article for you at Jerusalem Balsam website called
Franciscans Medical, An Early Glimpse at Western Medicine in Jerusalem 1700-1840:
The Case of the Jews and the Franciscans Medical Activity, by Zohar Amar and Efraim Lev.
See also my posts about the  Materia Medica in the History of Jerusalem  exhibit that is or was at Shaare Zedek Hospital:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jerusalem's Christian treasures take a trip back home to Europe (until July 14)

UPDATE 2, April 19:   A short video by the Franciscan Media Center  about the Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre exhibit became available just now:
You can choose your language. 

Recently I ventured into this nice Franciscan museum  in the Old City for the first time.

This old (17th century?)  scale model*  of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, crafted from olive wood, ebony, and ivory, is one of the many unusual things on display.

It's a good thing I saw this while it was still in Jerusalem, because recently it and 250 other "unknown" Christian masterpieces were carefully crated up and shipped to Europe and as of yesterday are  being shown at the Chateau de Versailles!
Yes, in Paris!

You can click to read more about it,  see a slideshow, and  view a video at the website of the Palace:

And the Custody of the Holy Land explains it thus: 

The Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre in Paris

Paris, 16th April 2013

An important exhibition of Christian treasures from Jerusalem opens today in Versailles, in the presence of the Custos of the Holy Land, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Guardian of Bethlehem, Fra Stéphane Milovitch and the Franciscan friars of the Commissary of Paris.

The Halls of the Crusades in the Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, house an exhibition called Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre. Gifts from European Royal Courts to Jerusalem from 16th April to 14th July.
This is a particular event: for the first time 250 “unknown” masterpieces that were sent to Jerusalem over the centuries are on display in one place. They are offered to the public for three months by the Friars Minor of the Custody of the Holy Land, who still use many of these precious implements at the most solemn celebrations in the basilica which encloses the Calvary and the empty tomb of our Risen Lord.

The pieces are sumptuous chalices, crucifixes, lamps, candelabra, ciboria and liturgical vestments given by European sovereigns as a mark of devotion to the Saviour, but also to assert the power of their lineage and nation.

The works will be displayed according to their origin – in particular from the Holy Roman Empire, the kingdoms of Spain, France and Portugal, the Republic of Genoa – showing how the European court rivalled in generosity.

Open every day, except Monday, from 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., the exhibition is organized in collaboration with the General Council of the Hauts-de-Seine Department and also has a second venue: the House of Chateaubriand, in Châtenay-Malabry. Here the public will be able to admire nine pictures, also belonging to the Custody. The lengthy work of preparation for the Paris exhibition began three years ago and in the end will also be of benefit for the nascent Terra Sancta Museum, which the Custody intends opening in Jerusalem in 2015.
* UPDATE: Meanwhile I find this good information at

 A striking example of more recent Palestinian art occupies the central spot of the northern hall. It is a small model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with inlaid work, in olive wood and mother of pearl, from the 17th-18th century.
The model represents the Basilica of the Resurrection after the Crusader restoration of the 12th Century, separated from the surrounding buildings. During the 17th century a number of similar devotional objects were produced by craftsmen in Bethlehem and sold to western pilgrims as souvernirs of their pilgrimage. 
The craftsmen based their work on the detailed plans of the sacred edifice drawn and published by the Franciscan Architect Fr. Bernardin Amico, who served the monasteries of Bethlehem and Jerusalem from 1593 to 1597.
Various sections of the roofing can be lifted, so that the inside can be seen.
 The model which is one of best preserved, is an excellent example of the type of work initiated by the Franciscans in Bethlehem, in the handicraft of applying mother of pearl inlay to olive wood.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Celebrating Independence Day via Internet TV


That's what I said today when the Independence Day Air Force fly-over was cancelled for Jerusalem.
We had such heavy winds and cloud cover and only 15 degrees C.
The rest of the country had better weather and did get to see the planes, however.
At least I have my dramatic photos of the planes from a year ago. 

So for ABC Wednesday N is for nuts, but for Nature too.
Some 1.3 million Israelis flocked to parks and forests today to barbeque and celebrate.

For me, N is also for nachat,  that special feeling of being proud of those you love.
We had so much of nachat over these two days, the Day of Remembrance and then our 65th Independence Day.
First, the twelve torches that were lit on Mt. Herzl by 14 Israelis who have done much (as I wrote in yesterday's post). 
Then the 120 outstanding young soldiers who were honored at the official residence of President Peres this morning.
To see their bright faces and to hear some of their stories of service and attitude made me kvell (to feel overflowing nachat), as if I were their mother.
Actually we all feel that  all the soldiers are our children.

Then at noon youth from all over the world competed in the annual Bible contest.
So young yet they know the Tanach so well.

And tonight I watched the awarding of the Israel Prizes to the older scholars and teachers and researchers and builders of our country.

So many citizens who have given so much to our people. 
So inspiring.   God bless them!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Independence Day! Join us live!


The abrupt transition from the somber Day of Remembrance to the joyous Independence Day  will happen very soon, at sundown.
The State of Israel's 65th birthday!
Join us for the festivities on Mount Herzl, broadcast live.
Our soldiers do fancy marching displays only once a year and this is your chance to hear the band and watch the young men and women.

The TV broadcast starts at 19.50 our time.
Israel is GMT +2 hours.   Time and Date can help you convert the time zones.
Go to and click on the flashing red words to open the TV coverage, and click for full screen.

First comes the ceremonial lighting of 12 torches, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel.
The theme this year is the national legacy and the preservation of national cultural assets for generations to come.

Quoting The Times of Israel,  the honorees will be
1) Colonel (Ret.) Dani Shapira, one of the first Israel Air Force pilots, who went on to spend 57 years flying planes as a service pilot and test pilot.
2) Historian and researcher Muki Tzur, for his work on investigating the settlement of Israel and the kibbutz movement.
3) David Blumberg, chairman of the board of the National Library.
4) Tamar Ross, researcher and presenter in the field of philosophy of Israel.
5)  Meir Buzaglo, mathematician and philosopher, who has worked to renew interest in Jewish poetry.
6) Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Tzur, who will light a torch together with Iris Halperen, principal of the Haviv school, who has spent over 24 years in education.
7) Bilah Ben Eliyahu, presenter on contemporary Jewish literature.

8) Eliyan Elkrainu, the first Bedouin to preside over an academic institute, the Ahva Institute.
9)  Daphne Shimshon, the daughter of Indian immigrants. Her father was a community leader who was active in gaining full recognition of the community as being Jewish.
10) Rino Tzror, veteran journalist and radio host.
11) Ron Hedvati, a ranger for the Council for the Preservation for Heritage Sites and the founder of a museum in Kibbutz Ein Shemer.
12)  Agatha Farchick, a Ukrainian-born youth leader in the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement that this year marks its 100th anniversary, and Eliyana Elbaz, a youth leader in the Revisionist Youth movement that is marking its 90th year. A year and a half ago Elbaz’s father, who was active in the security forces and the police, was killed on his way to a mission. They will light a torch dedicated to the country’s youth.

The saddest day, year after year


Memorial Day events began Sunday afternoon  with a ceremony at Jerusalem's Yad LaBanim, an association for bereaved families.
(Every city has a Yad LaBanim to honor its own fallen soldiers.)

Update: I see now how the Jerusalem Post defines it:
"Yad Lebanim (“A Memorial for the Sons”) is the organization that supports bereaved families in cooperation with the Defense Ministry and official government bodies. The Jerusalem memorial, located near the government quarter, is the central memorial for soldiers killed in action in the capital."

The architecture is so unusual, with pyramids and underground halls.

In an earlier post I tried to explain the symbolism.

Inside one pyramid are the names, so many names.
At the afternoon ceremony Prime Minister Netanyahu said this:

We remember, we weep, and we hurt.
Each family has its own grief, and the grief felt by every one of us merges with the pain of the entire nation of Israel: pain over the life that has been cut short, pain over the fact that all that is now left is memorial day.
There is no real remedy and there is no full solace.
 But there is one deep and fundamental consolation: the knowledge that thanks to those who have fallen, the State of Israel was founded and the Jewish people’s stature took a turn for the better.    Thanks to them, we live here, forever.
. . . 
UPDATE: Today the wonderful blog The Real Jerusalem Streets posts a photo of Yad LaBanim covered over with "tents" for shade and security to the VIPs who spoke at yesterday's Yom HaZikaron ceremony.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Aaron, big brother of Moses

For our weekly PsalmChallenge, centered in Athens at Robert Geiss' blog, here is

1. It is the LORD Who is king—let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned on cherubim—let the earth quake.
2. The LORD is great in Zion, and exalted is He above all peoples.
3. Let them praise Your name: “Great and awesome, holy is He.”

4. Indeed, “A king’s might is loving justice.”  It was You who established equity; it was You Who made for justice and righteousness in Jacob.
5. Exalt the LORD our God and prostrate yourselves toward His footstool. Holy is He.

6. Moses and Aaron among His priests and Samuel among those who called out His name: they called upon the LORD, and it was He Who would answer them.
7. In a pillar of cloud He would speak to them; they obeyed His statutes and the law He gave them.
8. O LORD our God, it was You Who answered them; for them You were a forgiving God , though exacting retribution for their misdeeds.
9. Exalt the LORD our God, and prostrate yourselves toward His holy mountain, for holy is the LORD our God.
Translation: Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal.  See also his commentary on the Psalms.
Photos: Aaron the Priest and the Blooming Staff  by Ossi Yalon
Based on Numbers 17:16 ff.
Several of her biblical sculptures were shown at the Mamilla mall 2011 exhibit "Bible Stories."
Yalon's Aladdin and the Three Wishes wishing well appears on my blog here, and see the artist's own comments in the Comments there, too! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Out of the frying pan into the fire


"Out of the frying pan, into the fire."

This old idiom means going from a bad situation to one that is even worse.
It often refers to the necessity of making a choice between equally difficult options.

Why does this silly photo maybe illustrate the saying?

Because lately I have found no nice reflections for James'  Weekend Reflections and when I was about to make fried rice today  I suddenly saw myself in the oil and ran to get the camera.
I felt stupid taking a self portrait in a frying pan.
I hoped neighbors weren't looking toward my kitchen window.
I was that desperate to finally have a photo for the meme.
I made the choice: click

Was this jumping out of the frying pan, into the fire?
Did a daily photo blogger even have a choice? 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

140 beaches open today


Yay!  Good news for beach-goers!
Swimming season officially opened today at Israel's 140 public beaches.
Lifeguards will be on duty until October 3. 

Like at this beach and promenade in Tel Aviv.
And at all the other Mediterranean beaches north and south of Tel Aviv.

In addition to the Med, there is the Dead and the Red.
The photo above was taken by my daughter in 2007 when the Dead Sea had a lot more water than it does today.
Across the sea you see the Mountains of Moab in the Kingdom of Jordan.

I have not been down to Eilat in several decades and have no pictures for you of the Red Sea.

Across the Sea of Galilee you see the Golan Heights, beyond which, Syria's civil war is raging.
Fortunately the level of the Kinneret  (Sea of Galilee)  has risen again after the heavy rains at the beginning of this winter.

This picture of a public beach in Tiberias is from three years ago, when the lake  (from which much of our drinking water comes) was dangerously low.

Let's hope for a  fun and safe season for all who venture into the water.
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)
UPDATE: See also Tourist Israel's selection of Israel's best beaches.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flowers on stone stairs


These might be the last of the flowers for a while.
Soon Israel will be in her  brown dry season. 

 February and March this year were the driest for the past 50 years.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mosaicist, Greek Orthodox

(All photos can be enlarged with two clicks.)

M is for  mosaic-making monk in a monastery.

He kindly let me watch how a modern mosaic is painstakingly made, in his workshop at the very old St. Gerasimus Monastery near Jericho.

See more about St. Gerasimus Monastery, also known in Arabic as Deir Hajleh and in Hebrew as Beth-Hogla, here:
Lots of photos and info at

Mosaic carpets in various stages of progress.
Maybe you'd like to order one?
(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)
UPDATE: Thanks to Pasadena Adjacent's use of the word smalti in her comment,  I learned a nice new word and found this great illustrated glossary of mosaic terms:    and they even have a blog about mosaics!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yad Vashem, meaning

The siren blared at 10:00 this morning, and everything and everyone in Israel stopped and stood silently for two minutes.
Yad Vashem, the Knesset, schools, and TV all had heart-wrenching ceremonies, speeches, and testimonies for Yom HaShoah, the day of remembering the Holocaust victims, heroes, and survivors.
UPDATE:  See a video of the siren and streets.

Did you ever wonder where Israel's Holocaust memorial's name comes from?
I noticed this sign for a little 1928 synagogue in Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem some years ago, and it was an Aha! moment.
It  quotes "Vanatati lahem beveiti uvchomotai  yad  vashem."

So, I found the verse comes from Isaiah 56:5, where God says
I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument [yad] and a name [va-shem], a monument and a name better than sons and daughters;  I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

Everyone should spend some time at Yad Vashem.

The little synagogue with the marble sign is for the Jews of Yanina.
Wiki helped me with this one:
"According to oral folklore Jewish communities inhabited the site of the modern [Greek] city of Ioannina [or Yanina] as early as 70 C.E.
. . .  There was a Romaniote Jewish community living in Ioannina before World War II. The Nazis deported the majority of them (1,860) to concentration camps during the final months of German occupation in 1944.
Almost all of the people deported were murdered on or shortly after 11 April 1944, when the train carrying them reached Auschwitz-Birkenau."
(Linking to Signs, Signs meme.)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה

Sunday today, and I add my post to those of other blogger-Psalms-illustrators at Robert Geiss' PsalmChallenge.

This evening and tomorrow Israel commemorates יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה
"Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day"  or Yom Hashoah.
When I moved to Israel, 23 years after the Second World War, young Israel's entire (Jewish and Arab) population was only 2.5 million.
This year, 2013, my country  is home to  6,000,000 Jews.
Just a thought, remembering the 6 million who never knew a State of their own.

Psalm 98
1 O sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvellous things.

His right hand and his holy arm
have gained him victory.
2 The Lord has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody.
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who live in it.
8 Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.
Translation: New Revised Standard Version

Both photos are from the website  Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart DFG-Viewer
where the manuscript pages  can be enjoyed in high resolution.
The Stuttgart Psalter was created in France in the years 820-830.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

World Stray Animals Day


I wonder where this litter of kittens found food after the only restaurant in our village went out of business.

Did you know?   Thursday was World Stray Animals Day.
The organization's website calls it  "The day for compassion, care, and action for stray animals worldwide. . . .  April 4 is the worldwide celebrated day to give special attention to the 600.000.000 stray animals in the world."

See their Facebook page for all the activities that took place in many countries.
(A post for Camera Critters meme.)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Knock knock


This pretty house in the old Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem is always prettiest in the spring.

As was usual on doors in the old days, the Hebrew letters inside the star of David say ZION.
I always wanted to try one of those fist/hand doorknockers.
Sun is going down now.  Time for the quiet of the Sabbath.  Shabbat shalom!
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013



Sun setting behind the Jerusalem Hills, as watched from Mount Herzl tram station.

It's a far cry from how the sun looked during the awful dust storm Israel had on Monday.
For SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Get a grip

Today I bought myself a present:  my very own pliers.
But I was surprised the hardware store only had ones with plastic coating on the handles.
I remembered my volunteer years (1996-2002) when I worked and lived at Heifer Ranch in Arkansas.
My work in livestock  often demanded fixing or opening or closing something out in the field or in barns or pens, and the one and only tool that went everywhere with me was a simple pair of pliers.
Its bare metal handles could double as a lever or a hammer or a poker or whatever.

I was proud to wear the pliers in a holster on my belt, sort of like a status symbol for us  two or three volunteers privileged to work with the animals.

Anyway, the pliers reminded me of something strange  I recently discovered in the sculpture garden of the Israel Museum.

(Like always you can enlarge the photos.)

I couldn't find the identifying tag for the metal creation.

The gate was half-hidden in the flowering rosemary bushes.

Couldn't find pliers on the sculpture.
But the deformed handle of a pickaxe gave a kvetch to my sometimes-archaeology-worker's heart.
UPDATE: Don't miss the Spooky Men's Chorale singing "Don't Stand Between a Man and His Tool"!