Friday, January 26, 2018

Wind-whipped palms


You could tell the direction of this morning's cold strong wind by the direction of the palm branches. 
Despite the gray sky, the Negev did not get rained on.
Today's rain, and even some snow, fell more to the north. 

We visited Idan HaNegev, a big industrial park that is being built near the Bedouin city of Rahat. 
The huge SodaStream plant is already in operation there, and we got to go in to see and hear the machines and the workers.
More on that in future posts. 
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Winter skies, winter tree


It's definitely winter now in Israel: rain clouds, bare branches, and jackets.
And fruit is growing on the sabras.
A picture from our trip to Zippori in the Lower Galilee last Wednesday.
(Linking to Sky Watch Friday.)

The lure of Jordan water


Thursday/Friday was the Feast of Epiphany (Theophany) for the Orthodox Christians in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan.
Hundreds of pilgrims and their Patriarchs and clergy came in procession to Kasr al Yahud to worship and celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, perhaps at this very spot on the River Jordan.

When my Jewish group from Meitar visited there a few weeks ago, this sweet little Russian boy was the only one touching the waters of the holy Jordan.
The wooden steps on the other side are already in the Kingdom of Jordan, across the border.

See my previous posts for more about this baptism site.

UPDATE! There are now videos and photos of the day's events at the Baptismal Site - Qasr al Yahud Facebook page!

(Linking to Weekend Reflections.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

A good signal?


Oi veh, that man is VERY high up!
Seen from the bus to Beer Sheva at noon today. I think we were just passing Tel Sheva Junction. 
I'm having fun imagining that the little white dots (caused by the bus window reflection) are the signal emanating from the cell tower.  ; )

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Soldiers with ponytails


As our town's touring group was leaving the Jordan River baptism site, these two soldiers asked if they could ask our guide (on the right) a question.
I think it was something about the big Christian significance of the Kasr al Yahud site.
Sorry I couldn't hang around and listen but I had to hurry and get some photos before 4 pm closing time.

These soldiers on guard there at the Jordanian border (the river is the border there) belong to the IDF's Nahal Brigade.
You can tell by the color of their beret, "glow stick green."

Such nice girls!

(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

At Kasr al-Yahud River Jordan baptism site

For the Latin church (the Roman Catholics) today is the feast day called the Baptism of the Lord.
Hundreds walk in procession down to the Kasr al Yahud baptism site on this day.
I was there on a much quieter day, just a few weeks ago.

Our bus passed the minus 300 meters sign and continued to descend even lower to the Jordan Valley, a bit north of the Dead Sea (the lowest spot on earth).

Flags greeted us at the entrance.
The Israeli flag and that of Nature & National Parks Protection Agency, and also of the Judea and Samaria Civil Administration (because it is in the West Bank, east of Jericho).

You had better pay attention to the rules.
Don't even THINK of wading across the river.

The other side is already the Kingdom of Jordan.
The border runs down the middle of the River Jordan and that is why the sign says, Do not pass, in Hebrew, English, and Russian. 

A new Greek Orthodox church has been built on the other side and we could see the Jordanian flag waving in the breeze of late afternoon.

Many Christians step into the water for a renewal of their baptism.
Some new Christians get the total immersion with the help of their priest or pastor.

The river is very shallow now after 4-5 years of drought.
In the rainy stormy weekend we just had, the level of the Jordan rose by 35 centimeters.
It's not likely you will need this red lifesaver, but it hangs on the tree just in case.
(This blog has five posts about Kasr al Yahud baptism site, if you'd like to see more.)
UPDATE Jan. 10: The Franciscans today published their short video of Sunday's pilgrimage to the baptism site:

UPDATE April 12, 2020:  good news! --
(Linking to signs, signs,  inSPIRED Sunday and  Our World Tuesday.)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Both Nativity and Epiphany today


This manger scene, with its gift-bringing three Wise Men (or Magi or kings) dressed in white, can be good to illustrate the two holy days being celebrated in Israel today. 
For Catholics and Protestants, today is the Feast of Epiphany. 
For the Greek and Russian Orthodox, Copt, Syrian, Romanian, and Ethiopian Christians, January 6-7 is the Feast of the Nativity. 

The creche welcomes visitors at the gate of the Monastery of St. Gerasimus, or in Arabic, Deir Hajla. 
Our busload from Meitar was there two weeks ago. 

If you enlarge the photo you can see the braided palm work, which is a specialty there.
The Greek Orthodox monastery is near Jericho,  not far from the baptism site Kasr al Yahud on the River Jordan.  
At an altitude of several hundred meters below sea level, the centuries-old St. Gerasimus is the lowest still-lived in monastery in the world, our guide said. 

You can see more in my previous posts from a few years ago here
If you are celebrating one of these two feast days today, I wish you a blessed and happy day! 
(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday.)