Saturday, May 31, 2014

A grating experience


A lemon about to become zest.

And just to twist the old saying a bit,  "If life gives you lemons, make zest."

Many City Daily Photo bloggers around the world are thinking of ways to interpret ZEST for our June 1 Theme Day.   Should be good.  Go have a look.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Paying for pears from Patagonia!?


Israel has long been a leader in agriculture, so I was quite shocked to see foreign fruit in the supermarket.
Look at these stickers!
The code for the apple I think is from somewhere in Europe.
And the big pear?
All the way from Argentina!  "Fruits from Patagonia" the sticker says!

The prices are high and the taste (of the pears, at least) is low.
What's going on?

Then I remembered our snow storm last December.
And the four straight days of heavy rain and damaging winds.
So much agricultural produce was doomed then.

Now I read that our Ministry of Agriculture agreed to abolish customs duties on apples and pears, beginning last March, for the entire year of 2014.

 Lettuce, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and cucumbers also enjoyed several months of being duty-free this year.
If not this, our cost of living would have skyrocketed.

I hate buying fruits and vegetables at Meitar's supermarket because they have a monopoly and charge way too much.
Next week I'll take the bus in to Beer Sheva and see what the price situation is at the big shuk, the open air food market.

Someday, some year, our farmers might get the promised government compensation for the loss of their crops last winter.

Thursday, May 29, 2014



The incense was ready for today's Feast of the Ascension.

These are my pictures from 2012  but it is the same ritual every year at the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives.
Click a few times on the photos to enjoy the details.

For more about the holy site and about the holy day, please see previous posts.
The Franciscans now have a nice article about last Wednesday/Thursday's celebrations:

UPDATE:  See a little video of this year's celebration:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Jerusalem's big day


"I love Jerusalem"

and "We love Jerusalem."

Happy Jerusalem Day!

Photos from the 2011 light show in the Old City; at Damascus Gate.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Jerusalem Day


Happy Jerusalem Day!

Here is the view from the roof of the Cenacle on Mt. Zion.
This is the Upper Room where only yesterday Pope Francis celebrated Mass and then headed for the airport and back to Rome.

On the ground floor, exactly under  the domed Room of the Last Supper, is the traditional tomb of King David where Jews worship.
At some stage the place also became a mosque, to complicate matters further.
Its minaret is on the left of the photo, towering over a nun in blue.

The big church is the Dormition Abbey; its bell tower is seen in the center.
Click on the labels below this post for more about these important Jerusalem holy sites.
(The towers are for ABC Wednesday.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pope Francis now on the Temple Mount


Eight o'clock in the morning.
Pope Francis is already at the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
The Mufti of Jerusalem is speaking to him.

After that, to the Western Wall.

Watch live at

or with commentary and translation at  
Just be aware that the commentators speaking from Rome unfortunately  make a lot of factual mistakes when speaking about the Holy Land.

Papa Francesco will be running from one event to the next until 8 p.m.  when Israel says farewell to him and he flies home to Rome.
Wishing him strength and all good.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Welcome to Israel, Papa Francesco!

The Pope is finally landing in Israel now!

Watch live at

Watch Pope Francis LIVE now

 Pope Francis just landed in Bethlehem. 
Later, at 4:20 Israel time, he will fly to Ben Gurion Airport to be welcomed in Israel.
Tomorrow the visit continues in Jerusalem.

Watch LIVE his busy day on the Vatican Player

Or on YouTube Vatican Channel:

See also coverage in The Times of Israel newspaper. 

We wish him strength for the packed schedule.
I pray Papa Francesco will both receive and give inspiration to all of us.
UPDATE:  Haaretz now has a live blog and live coverage of the visit at

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pope Francis is about to land in Jordan

The Vatican flag over Jerusalem 

Papa Francesco will be landing in Amman in just a few minutes.

You can follow his busy day, live, on either

His schedule (Israel time):
13:00 Arrival at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman
13:45 ARRIVAL CEREMONY in the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman
16:00 HOLY MASS at the International Stadium in Amman. Homily of the Holy Father
19:00 Visit to the Baptismal Site at Bethany beyond the Jordan
19:15 MEETING WITH REFUGEES AND DISABLED YOUNG PEOPLE in the Latin church at Bethany beyond the Jordan. Discourse of the Holy Father

Convert these times to your local time at

The official Jordanian website for the Jordanian part of the visit is

Sunday and Monday the Pope will come over to Israel.
As he, @Pontifex,  tweeted today,  "Dear friends, please pray for for me during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land."
UPDATE afternoon:  Like all Jewish Mothers, I worry. Like about the Pope's safety in the Middle East. 
But I never imagined that we would be having EARTHQUAKES exactly during his visit! 

Haaretz says "A magnitude 4.1 earthquake struck southern Israel, the Geophysical Institute of Israel said. The quake was felt across the country.
The earthquake's center was in the Dead Sea Rift, a system of faults prone to earthquakes, and the source of most of the powerful quakes which struck Israel.
Saturday's earthquake was the first of its magnitude in this segment of the Rift in recent years."

And Greece just experienced an even stronger quake. Oi ...

Friday, May 23, 2014

The future of the past: Historic Site Preservation Week

So many learning opportunities now in Israel during the Annual Historic Site Preservation Week!
You will be hearing in posts to come about the houses of worship we visited on a Beer Sheva synagogue tour. 

But first, look how a full day of lectures began!
It's so Israeli!
The audience joined the accordionist in singing the good old songs of the Palmach days.
It got us in the mood to hear about local history, as well as the present and future of Beer Sheva. 

The low-ceilinged auditorium where we alternately froze and baked from 8:30 to 14:30 was in the old Yad Labanim building.
See more about it in the post where we talked about Brutalist architecture.

The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites tries to protect the irreplaceable historical buildings and heritage sites associated with Israel’s re-birth.
That means places from before about 1949, but not after.
If funds can be raised, over 250 sites are in need of restoration work.

As one architect speaker said in her presentation, holding on to a place, remembering and cherishing it, and hopefully restoring it--all this first begins in our collective memory.

And another spoke of "the future of the past."  
In order for our youth to understand and appreciate our past, that past has to have a future.
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bedouins do Zumba in Meitar

 After our brisk hour's walk in the desert surrounding my town, the women's march for at-risk children (see previous post) reached the end point,  Meitar amphitheater.

Bottles of water were waiting for us.

And  arcticim (popsicles) were distributed.

Then the invigorating music started and two Zumba instructors got the girls up and dancing.
The Jewish youth (in white march T shirts) lasted for a song or two.

But the school group in orange were full of energy and enthusiasm and danced on and on, into the night!
Their shirts say Hura Local Council, so I assume they are from Hura, the Bedouin town close to Meitar.

At one point the Zumba teacher took the microphone and told "the wonderful girls in orange who were so nice to join the march" that she had a song especially for them;  it was Arabic music and words. 
It was heart-warming for me to see the mix of the two Israeli "sectors" having fun together, or at least next to one another.
It made me glad I moved to the Negev.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Women's march for children at risk

Meitar hosted a women's march!
Groups and individuals from as far away as Beer Sheva came to walk along a brand new section of our tayelet/promenade,  which will eventually go all round Meitar's periphery.

Hundreds of women and children and a few guys registered (with a 20 shekel contribution)  and got the white T shirt saying "Nashim tso'adot lema'an yeladim," meaning Women march for the sake of children.

It was a fund-raiser and awareness-builder  for the Summit Institute, which works for "psychosocial rehabilitation" and tries to find foster homes for at-risk children. 
Foster care is not so well known in Israel, I understand.

A Summit woman came to the march starting point bearing balloons.

She was soon noticed and mobbed by the mothers.

Soon we were all stretched out along the new promenade.
In this section it parallels Nahal Habsor, the Besor River.
The river, or at least its bed, is to the right; the outer-most houses of Meitar's newest neighborhood, under construction, on the left.

The musicians led on and gave us energy with their African drumbeats.
The late afternoon sun was still plenty hot. 

You can enlarge these photos, remember.
See two girls in orange?
They walked up behind me, giggled, and said "shalom!"
Their shirts said "Hura Regional Council" so I realized they were Bedouin from the nearby Bedouin town of Hura!
Turns out that their whole class and teacher came to march with us.
More about that in tomorrow's post!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pseudo seashore

 S is for seashore.
Sure, but in Beer Sheva, in the Negev desert??

Pretend you see blue sea and sky and sand.

Imagine these are soft lounges to lie on and sunbathe.

Surf this pipeline (in your dreams).

So funny, Beer Sheva is trying to brand itself as the Water City (Ir HaMayim).
(Linking to ABC Wednesday and Signs, signs.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Another mural under the road


One more for Monday Murals.

Doesn't he look a bit like our blog-friend Rob who blogged Barcelona and now photographs Amsterdam? 

The face is in the same run-off water tunnel under the road in Meitar where the grandkids and I found this rat.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lucy Goosie's Lag BaOmer


Bad blogger, that's what I am tonight.
Forgive me, but I just can't get psyched to put on shoes and socks and venture out now, after 10 p.m., to the periphery of Meitar to look for and photograph the traditional bonfires of our Lag BaOmer holiday.
It's not that I mind getting all smokey-smelling and having to wash my hair and clothes, it's just that I'm lazy tonight.

But maybe even better than bonfire photos,  I give you this detail from artist-friend Lucy Ridsdale's painting called Cleansing Fire.
Thanks Lucy! 
The Hebrew letters say Lag BaOmer.
To know more about this holiday you could see the short explanation by the Velveteen Rabbi 
or the more detailed ones at  Jewish Treats blog.
Or watch the short video about the spirited yearly hilula celebration on Mt. Meron.
UPDATE:  My Australian friend Lucy Ridsdale is an amazing young woman.
See her in an olive tree in an earlier post. 
She is a painter and a perpetual pilgrim.  In fact she earned a degree on the subject of pilgrimage.
Right now she is finishing a Master of Arts in Ritual Chant and Song in Limerick, Ireland.
You never know what she'll be doing next.
Take a sample taste of her blogs:
Taking the Long Way Round [Ireland]
La Via de la Plata, Pilgrimage on a Camino de Santiago
One step at a time is good walking [her 1000 km on the Bibbulmun Track in Australia]

We can all learn a lot from this Wild Goose.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Moonlight Stone-ata


In olden days men really knew how to build a terrace wall, didn't they?
This one in the hills west of Jerusalem was probably made by 12th century Crusaders.
To the right of the corner, a tall staircase ascends.

The stones  looked especially beautiful in the soft half-light of dawn.
Enlarge the photo 2x and see them better. 
I took this picture at 5:37, in between the full moon's setting and the bright sun's rising (as you may know from the previous two posts).
The mystical in-between time brought to mind the Hebrew song Karev Yom:
(you can listen here)

The day is approaching that is neither day nor night
Most High, let it be known that Yours is the day and Yours is the night
Place guards over Your City all day and all night
Lighten the darkness of the night with the light of day
The day is approaching that is neither day nor night . . . 

Friday, May 16, 2014

A moon on the window pane


In the previous post we watched how the big moon set, with the rising sun following on its heels.
As I stood outside the room where I stayed last night,  taking pictures of the celestial events, I glanced back and saw the moon reflected in my window.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

All within half an hour


I went north for an overnight at friends' house in my former village.
This morning at 5:27 the moon shining on  the olive leaves made them even more silvery than normal.

Ten minutes later the moon was setting in the beautiful still-cool Jerusalem Hills.

Sunrise followed moon set at 6:00, gradually spreading light in the Soreq Valley.
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Camels in a pen for a change


From the window of a bus you often see camels standing or grazing.
Hence the frequent road signs saying "BEWARE OF CAMELS NEAR THE ROAD."

Here in the photo is the first time I saw camels in a corral.
Please enlarge it 2x to see them better. 

In back are the sheds and huts of one of the many Bedouin settlements that are spread out all over  the Negev.
UPDATE:  Apparently Saudi Arabia is starting to warn about a link between their camels and the deadly MERS sickness that is claiming many human lives. 

And today, a few cases reported in the USA:
See also 

There are NO CASES of MERS in Israel, yet.
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Life under the bridge


Finally! -- a mural to contribute to Monday Murals!
And it turned out to be just a few minutes from where my kids were renting a house in Meitar. 

I was expecting the little tunnel under where the street crosses the wadi to be dirty (from the rare flow of heavy rain in the streambed).
Or maybe there would be bugs or scorpions or MICE . . . .

But no!
Instead we found that other people had been there before us, people with paint and brushes. 

A strange grandmother, you say, to take her visiting grandkids and venture  into an unknown, unused tunnel?
Well, as Vonnegut said, "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."

We made it fun by shouting and waiting for the echo to return.
Dean, Eyal, and Libby, artists themselves, enjoyed examining the artwork on the walls. 

And there was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
We exited onto the stone-paved bed of the wadi and went on to explore the desert in her winter green.
Too bad the family had to return to Australia a few weeks ago.
I wish them exciting adventures down under.
(Linking also to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sabra flowers for my sabra daughter


Flowers, just in time for Mothers Day!
Even though it is Mothers Day in much of the world today, but not in Israel.
Dedicating these sabra blooms to my sabra* daughter, Naomi, the wonderful mother of my grandchildren, in Australia.
("Sabra" is a Jewish Israeli born in Israel.  They say that the natives, like the sabra fruit, are prickly on the outside but sweet and tender inside.)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bedouin shepherds


Here in the Negev I usually see Bedouin girls or boys watching the sheep and/or goats.

But if we enlarge this photo (click two separate times), we see an older man and woman in the traditional Bedouin garb moving their flock.

In the early morning sun the bus cast a giant shadow as we drove southward.
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Cross this bridge and live!


Tired from cleaning and cooking all day, I needed to get out of the house and commune with nature a bit just before sunset.
Meitar's Olive Tree Garden is just a few blocks away.
I discovered that the little bridge over the most-of-the-time dry wadi actually has a name!

Gesher arichut hachaim  the sign says.  
    Longevity Bridge.

Here's to long life!  Lechaim!
And Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stuff for sale


Apparently a bustling street market springs up every Friday morning in Beer Sheva's Old City.

I think it might also be on one or two additional days during the week.
Seems to be for clothes, books, food, trinkets, and "art." 
Someday I will have to take time and walk around this market.

I am still learning about Beer Sheva, which is about 45 minutes from my place on the infrequent buses from Meitar.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Small-town Independence Day celebrations


 Last night Israel made the transition from solemn Memorial Day (see previous posts)  into happy Independence Day.
Two tall angels (or fairies?) on stilts greeted folks at the entrance to Meitar's amphitheater.


We sat on the lawn to watch local talent onstage.

Hungry ones filled the little commercial center, indulging in ice cream, felafel, and pizza.
Independence Day continues today (Tuesday) with thousands (millions?) of Israelis doing the traditional barbeque.
I'm happy to be staying home to watch the TV specials from the President's House, then the yearly International Bible Quiz, and later the awarding of the Israel Prize, and lots more.

Happy 66th birthday, Israel!
(Linking to ABC Wednesday Q-Day  with the Bible Quiz.)