Sunday, September 29, 2013

Centralized mail


The houses here in Meitar do not have mailboxes.
Every family has to go check its own little box at one of two distribution places  at the center of town.
My landlady's post box, which I share, is on the highest row and my arm just barely reaches into it when I stand on my toes. 
Meitar has grown to  something like 7,500 residents so you can imagine how many rows of ta-ei chaluka boxes there are.

We  have a (literally)  hole-in-the-wall post office, way too small, and only a few people can fit inside.
If the line is long you have to wait outdoors.
The governing Local Council has promised  a proper post office will be built by April.
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sky and his sky-blue eyes


The young man was obviously very proud of his Siberian Husky.
He was happy to pose (the dog) for a picture on my blog.
He had given Sky a free run on the lawn near the fountain (the fountain in yesterday's post about Be'er Sheva becoming Israel's "Water City.")
(You will enjoy Sky's blue eyes more if you click a few times on the photos.)

Actually Sky and I had met ten minutes earlier when the three of us were "trapped" on the narrow traffic island in the middle of a busy boulevard.
My little camera was in the palm of my hand at my side  as we stood waiting for the second green light.
The Husky sniffed my hand and, to my surprise, gave it (my hand, not the camera!)  a lick.
UPDATE:   I see on YouTube that some  Israelis are doing urban mushing with their huskies!
(For Camera Critters meme.)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Off in a corner, by the fountain


Be'er Sheva, the landlocked city in the Negev desert, has started trying to brand itself as Israel's "water city."

All around this nice fountain near City Hall are cozy seating ensembles.

This couple was enjoying the morning with some knitting and newspaper reading.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Courthouse under clouds


Ever since autumn started a few days ago the Negev is definitely getting some welcome new cloud cover.
Here is the sky over Beer Sheva, "the capital of the Negev."
This is the new court building, Heichal Hamishpat.
You can enlarge the photo nicely with two clicks. 
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday and Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

K is for "Kiss, hug, and GO!"


A month ago, just before school started, I saw workers  paint a space blue and stencil in a disabled symbol in front of Meitarim School.
Apparently the public needed to be educated as to what the new parking [or not] space was for, because today I saw a sign has been  added.

The Hebrew gave me a laugh! 
It says "Chabek, nashek, ve-SA!"
These three imperatives mean "Hug, kiss, and GO."
And then, to make it even clearer: "This space is only for picking up and letting off"  [referring to your schoolchildren passengers, of course]. 

Needing a picture for K Day at ABC Wednesday, I snapped the sign.
Now I'm thinking how this sign somehow reminds me of  the old Australian joke  "Koala: eats roots and leaves."

BTW, says  "koala" comes from an Aboriginal word meaning "no drink," as these animals get enough fluids from the eucalyptus leaves they feed on.
(Linking also to Lesley's signs, signs meme.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

More on our only lion's death


Tonight The Times of Israel has Lider's death as their top story (well, I mean at the top of the page). 
Please see their article, "Lider, the lion king of Jerusalem, dies at 16."

From it we learn that  Lider "was put to sleep last Thursday after veterinarians and keepers decided that his difficulties in walking and standing, brought on by chronic back pain, were insufferable."

The paper also informs us that 
Asiatic lions are an endangered species, with only around 300 left in the Gir Forest Sanctuary in India and another 330 in captivity.   Zoos around the world are engaged in a breeding program to try and save the faltering species from extinction.
However, with the relatively small number of Asian lions available – by comparison there are over 1,600 African lions in captivity – inbreeding is common and as a result many of the animals have genetic disorders affecting their health. Lider himself was born sterile as a result and an illness that afflicted his nervous system was likely brought on by genetic problems.

The animals in the Lions Fountain  will hopefully live forever.
Germany donated the fountain to Jerusalem in 1989.

The lion of Judah is the official emblem of the City of Jerusalem so we have a special place in our heart for lions, living or dead. 
(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Our Jerusalem lion has died


If you click a few times on this March 2012 photo you can just about see the lion and his lioness friend.
The Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem has just announced his death:

Dear guests, We are sad to inform you of the passing of Leider the Asian lion, who was a long time resident at the Asian lion exhibit.  In recent years, Leider suffered from back pains and found it difficult to move, caused by a degeneration of the nerve system.
Leider was sixteen years old, a ripe old age for Asian lions, and his ailments continued to develop and worsen.  The zoo's veterinary staff worked very hard to treat him. At the beginning of September, he underwent CT scans, and it was discovered that there was no way to alleviate his suffering.

Leider was loved by the visitors and the staff. He came to us at the age of two years and became popular among the visitors and zoo members. He had a happy life and we are all saddened by his passing.
There are nice photos of Leider at
Pictures and tributes will be coming in on Facebook at The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

Rest in peace, dear old Jerusalem lion.
(For Camera Critters.)
UPDATE: January 2014: A new lion has come from Sweden to replace Leider.  See the funny video of his first encounter with Israel's bright sun.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Parched earth but promising clouds


Normally Israel has no rain for half a year, from spring to autumn.
Summer is hot and dry and very   l o n g . 
Now that I have moved south to Meitar maybe the blog should be known as Desert Daily Photo?

Today I saw real clouds over the Negev! 
The wind at sunset was actually cool!
How exciting.
Some light rain even fell further to the north.
I am so ready for this change of season.
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Beer Sheva's old mosque, a museum for now

Mazal tov to James on the 4th anniversary of his Weekend Reflections meme!

Here is the minaret and dome of Beer Sheva's historic mosque.
It was built in 1907, in the Ottoman era.
 When the town was conquered in 1948 by Jewish forces, in Israel's War for Independence,  the mosque was left standing.
Today the building serves as a museum of the city's  history.

 The mosque is reflected in the glass entrance of the Negev Museum of Art which is just across the courtyard.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The First Station (of the train, not of the Cross)

While over at Hels' excellent "Art and Architecture, mainly" blog,  I learned a lot from her post "Saving an Ottoman-era railway station in Jerusalem."

It made me realize that I still need to show you my last photos of the work in progress, back in April.
Later in the spring the First Station was opened to the public as an entertainment and cultural venue, so now my pictures are history. 

The end of the line!
Built in the 19th century, the rail line from Jaffa on the coast ended here in Jerusalem's German Colony.

Looking in the other direction, you see the actual rails don't extend very far anymore.
The were covered over in nice wood and bricks and made into a  bike + walkers' path extending for miles. 

 The venerable old train station was saved from the decay that had begun when this rail line to Jerusalem was closed in 1998. 
(Today the Israel Rail again reaches Jerusalem, but ends at a new modern and ugly station.)

The day I passed by, the workers were building a big wooden deck for the expected visitors to the new venue.
Enlarge the photo to see the cute "luggage wagons" soon to be kiosks.

Rebar was laid before concrete was pored.

A fancy fence, a sign of things to come.
For background of the station and the railroad you can see my 2011 post "Shadows and decaying elegance."
And for a laugh, see the misspelled traffic sign that briefly hung at the end of the tracks until it was discovered by bloggers and newspapermen and became a laughing stock.

All about the new "Place for food and culture"  at their website,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jerusalem Hills jackals singing


Imagine being down in the valley next to the ancient spring just before nightfall, alone, and suddenly a jackal chorus rings out all around you!
Here is the video from May 25.
The jackals kept well hidden but they were close, judging by the sounds.

I walked down there often; it was just below the moshav where I lived for seven years in the Jerusalem Hills (also known as the Judean Hills).
Since moving to a small town in the Negev I have seen but one jackal and heard many.
The desert is all around us;  I know they are there.
(Linking to ABC Wednesday J-Day and Camera Critters.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Palms for the succah


The dates are not yet fully grown but they look heavy and golden in the late afternoon sun.
(Even prettier if you click and enlarge them 2x.)

My new home of Meitar has many many date palm trees.
Short ones and tall ones.

The Meitar Regional Council  (seen in this photo) has been busy planting even more of the impressive  palm trees  to beautify the town (especially now before the October local elections). 
The Sukkot holiday starts Wednesday so the Council has made palm fronds available at a central distribution point.
The branches make good "roofing"  when building  our temporary sukkah booths.

Watch salvage LIVE, now, of Costa Concordia!!

The big day is here!
They are  attempting  to raise the capsized Costa Concordia today, now,
and we can follow it LIVE at

Praying for safety for the workers in this dangerous unprecedented operation.

Amazing still photos also now coming in:

The Telegraph's live blog states

"...some of the debris inside the cruise ship which may spill out over the course of the day:
Trapped inside the upturned hull are more than 24,000lbs of fish, nearly 5,500lbs of cheese, 1,500 gallons of ice cream in tubs, 24,000lbs of pasta, 2,000lbs of onions, more than 2,000 pots of jam and nearly 17,000 tea bags.
Rotting beneath the waterline are more than 17,000lbs of raw beef, nearly 11,000 eggs, 2,346 hot dog buns, 815lbs of rabbit meat and more than 1,000 gallons of milk.
Some of the food and drink is sealed, presenting less of a pollution risk, including 18,000 bottles of wine, 22,000 cans of Coca-Cola, 1,000 bottles of extra virgin olive oil, 46,000 miniature bottles of spirits and 10 bottles of communion wine for the ship's chapel"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cookies and coffee and borekas to go


Don't you wonder who took the trouble to build a tower of cookies?

The Ne'eman Bakeries are always popular places, for instance this one in the bustling Beer Sheva Central Bus Station.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Tzohar Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur has ended.
The long 26-hour fast has ended.  What makes it difficult is not the lack of food or even the lack of water, but with no coffee it is hard to feel fully awake.

Special prayer services were held inside this school building which is only ten minutes walk from my house (a good thing since it was 37 degrees or 99 F outside, the hottest Yom Kippur in sixty years).
I went  there yesterday evening and today.
I have heard a lot about  Tzohar  but this Yom Kippur was my first experience with the organization.
From Arutz Sheva I learn that
 "As part of its annual effort, the Tzohar organization will be organizing prayers at 250 locations around Israel for Yom Kippur, aimed specifically at secular Israelis who would most likely not attend services otherwise. Some 40,000 people are expected to participate altogether."

Here in Meitar there was a good turn-out, a mix of secular and religious men and women, young people, and even little kids.  (By religious I mean Orthodox Zionist Jews.)
The Tzohar machzor (Yom Kippur prayerbook) was provided.
It seems to be a mixture of Ashkenazi rite with some optional Sepharadi piyutim.
It has helps, like a tiny man printed in the margin who changes back and forth from sitting to standing.
The prayer leader even announces the page number from time to time (otherwise it is easy to get lost in the hundreds of pages). 

What surprised me (dare I say, shocked me) was to hear two of the ancient prayers sung not to their traditional melody but to the tune of "Hatikva" (our national anthem) and of  "Erev shel Shoshanim."
Googling now, I see that it is a trend to adapt recent Israeli song tunes to the words of some prayers.    Neh neh . . .

Tzohar chairman  Rabbi David Stav has said that “Now more than ever we are seeing that Israeli society wishes to deepen its connection to Jewish identity, in a pleasant and non-coercive manner.”

Well, let's hope that today our prayers, no matter how they sounded, were heard in heaven and that we have been "written and sealed" in the book of life for the new year.
A new beginning!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Signals in the sky and horses below


Giant horses in a Beer Sheva roundabout and an even taller army/police tower in the sky in back of them.

From the other direction.
You can enlarge the photos with two clicks.
Linking to SkyWatch Friday.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Increasing happiness

For ABC Wednesday, I is for
ISRAEL IMPROVED  its rank in the latest United Nations commissioned World Happiness Report.
We are now the 11th happiest country in the world.

Just looking at Maayan's  smiling pretty face made me happy today.

Maayan was keeping watch on the Negev Museum of Art in Beer Sheva's Old City and she was happy to tell me, the newbie,  about her museum and all the other nice places to see down here.

At the top of the list in the 2013 World Happiness Report are these countries:
1.  Denmark
2.  Norway
3.  Switzerland
4.  The Netherlands
5.  Sweden
6.  Canada
7.  Finland
8.  Austria
9.  Iceland
10. Australia
UPDATE:  Friend Kay of Musings in Hawaii  has brought to my attention that the OECD (to which Israel was recently admitted)  has its own Life Satisfaction  "happy list" and there Israel is #17. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

2 bundles of gold treasure dug up near Temple Mount!

 What the Hebrew University is calling the Menorah Treasure was shown to the public for the first time today.
It was discovered in the Ophel, in the circled part of my photo, outside the southeastern part of the Temple Mount wall.
With two clicks you can enlarge the picture a lot.

UPDATE:   Hebrew U. has just put up a video about the discovery!

Buried treasure found in Jerusalem announced today!!
OMG, it is so beautiful!
And 1,400 years old! 
See the gold at 
and also

I just wonder how archaeologist Eilat Mazar and the dig volunteers were able to keep it secret since April, when they discovered the treasure! 

(Linking to Our World Tuesday meme.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lives hanging in the balance


Our fate hangs in the balance during these Days of Awe, the Yamim Noraim, in more than only  the traditional spiritual sense this year.

The days from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur are also called the Ten Days of Repentance, a time of serious introspection where we recognize our wrongs of the past year and go about trying to right those wrongs before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, hoping to be sealed in God's Book of Life for the coming year.
Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, Friday-Saturday, this year. 

In the stirring words of  the ancient liturgy:

"On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed
how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created;
who will live and who will die;
who will die at his predestined time and who before his time;
who by water and who by fire,
who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst,
who by storm, who by plague,
who by strangulation, and who by stoning.
Who will rest and who will wander,
who will live in harmony and who will be harried,
who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer,
who will be impoverished and who will be enriched,
who will be degraded and who will be exalted.

[tshuvah, tfilah, tzedaka]
Remove the evil of the Decree!

  This means that by our re-turning, praying, and doing acts of kindness and charity we can change everything, even change God's mind and bring his mercy upon us!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Join the prayer vigil for peace in the Middle East, live from Rome, now.
At least Pope Francis is doing something positive about it, bless him.
UPDATE:  The 4-hour televised peace vigil called by Pope Francis has just concluded, at midnight our time. 
 The Israeli papers are already saying good things about it. The Times of Israel says "The peace vigil marked something of a novelty for the Vatican: Nothing of its kind has ever taken place in St. Peter’s Square ..." It says the Vatican estimated 70,000 were present.

See also the Yediot article "Pope calls for end to Syria spiral of death" at,7340,L-4426847,00.html

The official translation of Francesco's homily is here:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Home for the holidays as the nations keep talking


While walking from Beer Sheva's shuk (market) to the Central Bus Station earlier this week, I was surprised to see a long flatbed truck parked at the side of the busy street  loaded with two army vehicles.
Then I remembered:  I'm not in Jerusalem anymore. 

It looked like they had been working hard.
It made me wonder where they had been, where they were being taken, and who and where were the soldiers who patrolled  in these open  vehicles.

With the nations talking and talking and talking about Syria, at least the reserve soldiers who had been called up last week got to go back home for the Rosh Hashana holiday for a few days.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Taking stock


It was exactly one month ago today that I said goodbye to the Jerusalem Hills sky and moved down to Meitar in the Negev.

In packing I thought I had way too much stuff, but my boxes filled a measly one-third of the moving van.
Now  if I can just finish UNpacking, I'll be happy to sit back and enjoy my new place.
(Linking the little bit of my former sky to SkyWatch Friday.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

H is for High Holy Days and happy new year


 Happy new year 5774. 

Tonight, Erev Rosh Hashana, we dipped apples in honey in hopes of a sweet and peaceful year ahead.
 And the yellow dates you see on the other plate--the blessing to be said after eating a date tonight is
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ
May it be Your will, Lord our God and the God of our fathers, that there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us.

Here are more simanim, symbolic foods, that belong to the Rosh Hashana meal.
The fish head gets the blessing
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁנִּהְיֶה לְרֹאשׁ וְלֹא לְזָנָב
May it be Your will, Lord our God and the God of our fathers, that we be a head and not a tail.

To the right are patties made from leek.
The Hebrew word for leek is related to the verb karat, to cut, so the rabbis of old made this blessing: 

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּכָּרְתוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ
May it be Your will, Lord our God and the God of our fathers, that our enemies, haters, and those who wish evil upon us shall be cut down.

See more simanim and their blessings at Chabad's "Rosh Hashanah Seder According to Sephardic Custom." 

Chag same-ach / happy holiday  and shana tova / a good year  to you! 
(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

A 10-minute walk to the library!


 Meitar, where I now live,  has a public library!  Yay!

The library building was built in 2003 with the help of over a million shekels from Mif'al Hapais, Israel's national lottery.
"You win, the country wins" is the motto of the Pais.
Since 1951, using the money people pay for lotto tickets, Mif'al Hapais has given more than  five billion dollars to funding of community projects all over Israel.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)