Sunday, August 31, 2014

A "rusty" discovery in the ancient ruins

Before they added more buildings to the huge and ugly Holyland Towers in Jerusalem the Israel Antiquities Authority had to do the legally required dig before construction could begin.

Here's me in hardhat, back in 2008,   about to go down  to one of the dozens of Canaanite shaft tombs we discovered.
The site turned out to be a Canaanite cemetery from 4,000 years ago.

Here in the back you see a worker pulling up buckets of earth which would then be poured into the sifter.
Look! Our excavation surveyor lady is handing a find to our Arab foreman!  What is it?!

It is metal, turned greenish and encrusted with the "rust and ruins" of the ages!
From the Middle Bronze Age, actually.
Our bone expert was kind enough to make a nice red display "table" by putting his arm under his T shirt.
Enlarge the photo a few times; can you guess what it is?

The ancients did not have buttons so they used garment pins to keep their cloak fastened, as illustrated in this drawing of a lady from Mari.
This reconstructed toggle pin at Jerusalem's Bible Lands Museum has cameos (i.e. good luck charms) hanging from it, with a Mesopotamian cylinder seal at the bottom.
It was a way to wear your important objects.
See more of our work at the Holyland dig here.
Visit City Daily Photo to see how bloggers are interpreting our Rust and Ruins theme day in their own countries.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Their faces should be red, not white.


If all these monotonous white shirts say "Sale"  then it must be the end of season sale at the Zara store in a Beer Sheva mall.

The Spanish international fashion chain got in trouble, with Jews at least, for "innocently" putting this shirt on the market.
Shirt is made in Turkey, by the way.

See the full story at The Times of Israel, which begins thus:
For only NIS 80 ($23), your little tyke can have that fashion forward fresh-from-the-concentration-camp look now on sale at international chain Zara.
The children’s 65% cotton, 35% polyester white shirt with dark horizontal stripes sports a fetching yellow Star of David badge on its left breast. It’s called the “sheriff,” and a closer look reveals that the word is indeed lightly etched upon the badge.

And then see Zara's subsequent  foot-in-mouth apology.   Oi.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Castles in the air


Two days of ceasefire and so far so good.
Now that kids can go outside to play again without fear,  Meitar brought in bouncy castles for them today and yesterday.
(Sorry, but the blue cone the children were climbing up looked to me like a giant warhead of a missile . . . )

The free event was called in Hebrew  Happening Mitnapchim,  an Inflatables Happening.

Linking our clear blue skies, now clear of rockets and Iron Dome missiles after 50 days of conflict, to SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ceasefire starts, electric power stops

Finally, after 50 days of fighting, an open-ended ceasefire begins!
I celebrated by walking to the center of town leisurely and calmly, not worrying anymore  where I would run or drop for shelter if the siren sounded for in-coming rockets.
After being cooped up close to my unit's bomb shelter for most of the summer, it was great to get out and about.

However, some of the errands I needed to do could not be done today.
Why?  Because the Electric Corporation was doing some big project with trucks and cranes and bulldozers.
They had turned off the power in some parts of Meitar from 8:00 to 16:00.

I came to get a book at the library and found it locked,  with a sign "No electricity. Come back this afternoon."
I went to Kupat Holim and found the pharmacy locked,  for the same reason.
Guess they can't function without computers . . . .

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wanted: female train drivers


In just over one year Israel might have her first female "train driver."
Way back when I was a kid in Chicago  we used to say engineer or locomotive engineer (we're talking coal-burning steam engines!).

Israel Railways launched a TV advertising campaign to attract female and male candidates for a new and streamlined one-year training course for passenger train drivers.
See their one-minute video!

Hundreds of men and about 20 women applied for the 36 places.
It sounds like fun.  Would you like to try?

I have lots of posts about our trains.
And this post shows the interior of the Tel Aviv-to-Jerusalem train.

All aboard!
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors  and  Our World Tuesday.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Roadside browsers


Lots of road construction going on between Meitar and Beer Sheva.

But that doesn't keep the goat herds from coming quite near the construction sites and the busy highway.
Enlarge the photo to see the goats browsing
Linking the clear hot summer sky to SkyWatch Friday.
UPDATE:  Here's a nice sheep + shepherds video (from the rainy season, when fields are green.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Culture war on schoolbags


Big displays of schoolbags and pencil cases in the malls remind us that Israeli kids will soon be heading back to school.
Not that they had a real summer vacation this year, what with the war and all.
Will the fighting, which started up again last night,  be over by September 1?
If not, parents will not be willing to send their kids back  to the many unfortified school buildings here in the South.

If you enlarge the photo you can find Hello Kitty and superheros and other foreign themes.
(Oh, and also find the arrow pointing to the mall's protected area.)
I read here that one supermarket chain started promoting book bags featuring characters from beloved old Israeli children's literature instead.
The article calls it Culture War.
Who will win, you reckon? 

Photo from Israel21c

UPDATE Aug. 21:

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Desert Embroidery" by Bedouin women


Bedouin handicrafts on exhibit at a gallery in Beer Sheva.

This embroidery is made by Desert Embroidery, the Association for the Improvement of Women's Status, in the town of Lakiya (just a few miles west of Meitar).

From their nice website:
In the 1980's, a group of Bedouin girls got together to improve life in their village. In 1996 the Association for the Improvement of Women's Status achieved official recognition as the first Bedouin women's non-profit organization in Southern Israel. 
Today we run a successful embroidery program to generate income for Bedouin women and preserve traditional handicrafts. 
We operate a mobile library serving over 1,500 children, as well as educational programs for women and youth. 
We invite you to visit the Desert Embroidery Visitor Center or browse the fine handmade embroidery products we offer. 
See a nice little video of the kids at the mobile library on YouTube.

The temporary exhibit of Bedouin crafts is  at the Artist's House of the Negev.

The gallery is in an old house in the Old City of Beer Sheva.
(Linking to signs, signs  and to  Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pagoda-style roofs in Bedouin village


I have been following live broadcasts of  Pope Francis' August 13-18 pastoral journey to South Korea.
At today's Mass he spoke to 50,000 young people from 23 countries gathered in the Castle of Haemi and preached (in English!!)  on the theme of the 6th Asian Youth Day--“Asian Youth! Wake up! The Glory of the Martyrs Is Upon You!”

Some of the Korean architecture reminded me of  a few houses I see from my bus between Meitar and Beer Sheva.
The pagoda-style roofs seem to be a popular theme in newer Arab houses.
The ones in my photo are on the outskirts of  Bedouin village Umm Batin,  also known as Abu Kaf. 

Why do they need such big villas next to their farm, you ask?
Bedouin families average six to ten children.
Israel bans polygamy,  but Bedouin men often marry two to three wives and can have families with as many as 25 children.

 The Negev desert makes up 60% of the Israel’s land mass, but it is a sparsely populated area that holds only 8% of the country’s population.
About  700,000 people live in the Negev.
This includes over 200,00 in  Beer Sheva.
It also includes an estimated 200,000 Bedouin citizens.
UPDATE:  Broadcasts and videos of the Pope in Korea can be seen at
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ashen camouflage

A few days ago I wrote about the recent fire in part of our town's eucalyptus grove down in the wadi.
 Well, it turns out that the black ash on the ground helps in camouflage!

See anything?

Enlarge the photos with a click or two.
Can you find at least 13 partridges in the first picture?! 

Here is a shot from last spring, when green leaves and flowers were still to be seen after the rainy season.

Whenever I startled these funny birds in the Jerusalem Hills, they would always run and hide or run fast and take to the air.
Here in friendly Meitar in the Negev, wild animals are laid back and calm, as if they know from experience that no one will hurt them.
More about the hogla ( Hebrew for partridge)  at my post on Deir Hajleh [literally, in Arabic, the monastery of the partridge].

Linking to Camera Critters.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tikkun of fan


With a sudden  high-pitched screech my faithful summer companion let me know it was time to pull the plug.
I tried to bring her back to life, I did, first with a cleansing from  pervasive desert dust.
Not knowing much about motors, I unscrewed the motor, turned it over, and . . . well . . .,  looked at it.
Unscrewing the timer, I was fascinated by all the numerous tiny plastic cogs.
I tried to imagine the small Chinese working fingers that  had carefully assembled the timer.

Reassembled everything, tried the switch and . . . nada, nothing.

The next day it was in the 30s (90s F.) as usual.  Hot!
(Did I mention that I hate this apartment's air conditioner?  Too cold, too dry, noise, expensive,  have to shut the windows.)

And the rockets were flying so I was afraid to take the bus to Beer Sheva to look for a new fan. 

I normally never pray about material things, but finally I asked God if he knew how to fix fans.
Would you believe??   The very next morning  the fan was giving blessed wind in my house!

Alas, it  worked only for a day.   But I was grateful for that little sign from above.

I made peace with the realization that a 10" Chinese box fan's lifespan is not forever.
Fan had cooled me every summer since 2006, so I thanked her and said farewell.

A new one arrived today to our post office in Meitar, by mail,  from an online supplier in Tel Aviv.  A lifesaver!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Eucalyptus emergency


Blackened earth and the acrid smell of ash!
What happened to our eucalyptus grove down in the wadi??
Our beloved nature place where the grandkids and I used to have adventures! 

I found this brush fire putter-outer lying on the ground and stood it up next to a eucalyptus that had lost its bark to the fire.
This is a common emergency tool in Israel, just a wooden stick and a piece of rubber, primitive but effective.
What's it called in English, anyway?

Only the tree and bush skeletons were left in part of the grove.
I wonder how the fire started.
Maybe from a falling rocket, but the local authorities didn't want to tell us?
"Keep calm" is the watchword these days, after all. 

OK, keep calm, Dina, and forget that this wadi is just two blocks from my house.
(Linking to ABC Wednesday E Day)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Our holiday of love, in a mall, in a ceasefire

Happy Tu B'Av!
Today is the Jewish minor festival celebrated on the 15th of the month of Av (in Hebrew, Tu B'Av).

I explained its lovely customs and roots from the days of the Talmud in these three posts:
Dancing in the vineyards in the moonlight 

The Feast of Xylophory 

The Day of the Breaking of the Ax

In recent years, in Israel, the holiday of love has started to look a lot like the Valentine's Day that other countries celebrate.

In the Negev Mall in Beer Sheva today lots of stands had sprung up with Tu B'Av gifts.
On the white chocolate lips it says "Especially for you, with a kiss."

Today is the beginning of a 3-day ceasefire, so people were so happy to get out of the house and away from the bomb shelters, they flocked to the mall.

But still, big signs pointed to the huge building's "protected area."
When the rockets are falling, believe me, you want to know where to run in the 90 seconds before the explosion.
This 3-story mall has a big skylight of glass in the roof.
Even the elevator is of glass.
The arrow in the photo points to stairs.
Imagine the mothers with kids in a stroller having to get down to a lower floor in 1.5 minutes.
(Linking to  signs, signs  and   Our World Tuesday.)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another Meitar soldier buried


Another thing the setting sun did was to get reflected in the bus stop plastic.

It felt so symbolic that the reflected sun was going down, that the light of day was fading,  right next to the army's death announcement for Staff Sergeant Noam Rosenthal, son of Martin and Osnat, of Meitar.
He was just 20, a combat medic in the Armored Corps.

Noam was the second (and please God, the last) boy from Meitar, my small town, to die in the Gaza operation.

photo: IDF Spokesman's Office 

Noam and three of his comrades  were killed on the night of August 1 when a mortar shell fired from Gaza exploded in a staging area inside Israel's  Eshkol Regional Council, near the Gaza border.
Fifteen other  soldiers were wounded in the incident.

As I heard on TV,  they had just come back from combat and were getting some sleep on the ground next to their tanks when the mortar hit. 

Within seconds these small but deadly mortars reach our border area with only a shrieking sound of warning;  no Red Alert sirens, no Iron Dome. 
The families who live in Sderot and in kibbutzim and moshavim near Gaza have suffered from sporadic mortar fire for years. -- Imagine their children who are growing up in this constant fear.  Innocent civilians . . .
(Linking to Weekend Reflections.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light / What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?


The setting sun glowed tonight through an Israeli flag.
The roundabout at the center of Meitar has been decked out with flags for the last month.

The sun dips into the Mediterranean Sea, along the beaches of the Gaza Strip, which is about 30 miles or 50 km west of my town.

We are in the third day of a 3-day ceasefire.
If we awake to Red Alert sirens early tomorrow morning you will know that Hamas did not extend the ceasefire, and we will be watching the sky for in-coming rockets.
Linking to Sky Watch Friday.
UPDATE Friday morning:  Promptly at 8:00 am Hamas renewed their rocket fire.
In the last two hours 20 rockets were fired at our south. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Better to be in the bus station than in battle


Beer Sheva's Central Bus Station was packed with soldiers this morning!
I felt like hugging each of them and saying a big thank-you!
The whole country feels the same way.

Some 30,000 IDF reserve soldiers who were mobilized for Operation Protective Shield are gradually being released.
I think I could tell by the dust on their boots which ones were  going home and which ones were coming in to take their place.
The ceasefire has held for the last two days and we have withdrawn from Gaza.
But  many thousands of our boys will remain deployed along the border as we wait and see what happens next.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

First World War -- 100 years ago, in Gaza

Today marks 100 years since the outbreak of World War I.

Many do not realize that thousands, many thousands, of young Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in that war are buried in Israel.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains four cemeteries in our region.

One is in Ramleh, not far from Ben Gurion Airport.
Recently I posted about the British Cemetery in Beer Sheva  here and also about the yearly  Australian Light Horse commemoration.
Please see ANZAC Day for my posts about the World War I cemetery in Jerusalem.

But the fourth cemetery is one I will never be able to visit.
It is in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.
So here are two photos from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, on the Find A Cemetery page.

Gaza War Cemetery contains 3,217 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 781 of them unidentified. 
Second World War burials number 210. There are also 30 post war burials and 234 war graves of other nationalities.

The CWGC gives this:

Historical Information

Gaza was bombarded by French warships in April 1915. 
At the end of March 1917, it was attacked and surrounded by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in the First Battle of Gaza, but the attack was broken off when Turkish reinforcements appeared. 
The Second Battle of Gaza, 17-19 April, left the Turks in possession and the Third Battle of Gaza, begun on 27 October, ended with the capture of the ruined and deserted city on 7 November 1917. 
Casualty Clearing Stations arrived later that month and General and Stationary hospitals in 1918.

Some of the earliest burials were made by the troops that captured the city. About two-thirds of the total were brought into the cemetery from the battlefields after the Armistice. The remainder were made by medical units after the Third Battle of Gaza, or, in some cases, represent reburials from the battlefields by the troops who captured the city. Of the British Soldiers, the great majority belong to the 52nd (Lowland), the 53rd (Welsh), the 54th (East Anglian) and the 74th (Yeomanry) Divisions.

During the Second World War, Gaza was an Australian hospital base, and the AIF Headquarters were posted there. Among the military hospitals in Gaza were 2/1st Australian General Hospital, 2/6th Australian General Hospital, 8th Australian Special Hospital, and from July 1943 until May 1945, 91 British General Hospital. There was a Royal Air Force aerodrome at Gaza, which was considerably developed from 1941 onwards.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Plowshares or swords?


"And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares  and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,"  is what Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 2:3-4.

The prophet Joel, in contrast, said this:
"Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning-hooks into spears;  let the weak say: 'I am strong.' "

Chapter 4 of the biblical book of Joel is sounding very modern right now.
It is worth a read.

The Oliver model plow, USA, 1860,  was lovingly restored for the Tractor Museum in Ein Vered.
I saw it in Tel Aviv at the 2012 AgriTech fair.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Going through some 2008 photos I came across this one.
Just an innocent Jerusalem street getting some innocent below-surface work, a bulldozer, and men digging inside a trench in the earth.

But now of course it reminds me of the Gaza terror tunnels network.
Don't want to think about it; too awful.
Especially after this morning when one of our soldiers, Hadar Goldin,  was most probably dragged down into one by terrorists during what was supposed to be a ceasefire.
UPDATE Aug. 3:  Late last night the IDF rabbi declared the officer dead, based on "findings from the battlefield," or "forensic evidence."   There will be a funeral this afternoon.
As the Jerusalem Post reports, " Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Brigadier Gen. Rafi Peretz, declared Goldin dead.  The decision was made according to the findings of a special board, headed by Peretz, who considered medical, halachic and other relevant considerations."