Friday, July 11, 2014


Standing tall . . . 

. . . with our bases covered.
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Battering ram

Sometimes you feel like the battering ram, and other times you just feel battered. 

An air raid siren blared for the first time in my town in the Negev this morning at 6:00.
Now we had a second alert at 6:00 pm.
We sat for ten minutes in the house's bomb shelter and waited for the boom that--thank God--never came.

If you want to keep up with the news from Israel and Gaza as it happens, this live update is a good resource.

The monumental sculpture "Battering Ram"  is by Dror Eshed, 2004, in the Ben Shemen Forest.

(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Welcome to my MAMAD bomb shelter


Come on in!
My  bomb shelter is ready for whatever may come.

In answer to hundreds of rockets, the army began its major counteroffensive on the launchers in  Gaza early this morning. 

At least this time around we don't have to worry a threat of poison gas, so the sealed carton with my gas mask will stay sealed.   -- Always look on the bright side of life,  ta dum ta dum.

(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

In the bus


The newer Metropoline buses I take from Meitar to Beer Sheva (about a 40 minute ride)  have all the comforts.
Free WiFi, USB sockets, folding tray tables for your laptop, plush seats, individual overhead A/C and lights, a clock, and curtains or shades.
In front, a screen shows and announces the coming stops.
When the driver opens the underneath luggage compartment door, the screen shows who is taking which bag.
There are seat belts, of course, but Israelis consider it not cool to ever use them.
A ticket costs 7.50 shekels ($2.20), but as a senior citizen I pay only half price.

Some passengers get on the bus and immediately connect their gadgets.
Sometimes I start to imagine  these are their infusion lines.
UPDATE:  Well, I won't be going in to Beer Sheva any time soon.
Yesterday several Grad rockets were aimed at the city; one or two were shot down by Iron Dome.
And now tonight this about Omer, the town between us and Beer Sheva:

Bedouins throw fire bombs at southern Jewish community of Omer

Matti Siver
Published: 07.06.14, 23:26 / Israel News
Masked protestors from Tel Sheva, a Bedouin town bordering Beersheba, are throwing Molotov cocktails and hurling stones at cars at the entrance of the southern Jewish community of Omer.
Damage was caused to several vehicles.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Balaam and his talking ass


Today is Shabbat Balak. 
This means the Torah portion for the week is Parashat Balak, which is roughly Numbers 22-24, one of my favorite Bible stories.
Balak, the king of Moab, hires Balaam, a non-Jewish prophet, to curse the Israelites.

 Balaam gets on his donkey and rides off to curse the People. 
But three times the she-ass tries to avoid a confrontation with an angel, who is holding a drawn sword and blocking their way. 
The man's eyes have not yet been opened and he is angered by his donkey's erratic behavior.

"When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down [refusing to budge] for Balaam. Balaam's anger was kindled and he struck the ass with his staff." (Numbers 22:27)

 "THEN THE LORD OPENED THE MOUTH OF THE ASS  and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you that you beat me these three times?'
 'You have been playing games with me!' shouted Balaam at the donkey.  'If I had had a sword in my hand just now, I would have killed you!' 
The donkey replied to Balaam, 'Am I not your ass, upon which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Was I ever accustomed to do so to you?' 
And he said, 'No.' "

"Then God opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way ...  and he kneeled and prostrated himself on his face."

Finally Balaam reaches his destination and opens his mouth to curse, but blessings come out instead. 
In fact, the words of Balaam are to this day sung  in our daily morning prayers:
 "Ma tovu--how good are your tents, Jacob, your tabernacles,  O Israel."

Balaam and His Ass,  1622
Pieter Lastman, Dutch, 1583-1633
Oil on panel
At the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

(Linking to Camera Critters meme.)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Waiting for the bus


In yesterday's post we saw the multilingual buses.
The big building with the reflecting doors and windows is the new Beer Sheva Central Bus Station. 
Some people prefer to wait for their bus outside.
The air conditioning inside is freezing and sometimes all the seats are taken.
See also the inside of the terminal with its antiquities under glass!
(Linking to Weekend Reflections, although you'll have to enlarge the photo to find the reflections here.)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Learn while you wait


Something new on the newest Metropoline buses that depart from Beer Sheva Central Bus Station!
A good way to use your mind while standing in line for a ticket?
"Have a nice day."

Nice expressions in Hebrew, English, Russian, and Arabic, the languages most heard in Beer Sheva.
"Have a pleasant ride." 

But look closely!
The original words are transliterated into Hebrew letters and are written phonetically.
It looks quite funny.

Toda! on top is the Hebrew word for thank you.
Then is says, on the right:
thenk yu
(Linking to Toby's meme, Whimsical windows, delirious doors.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Soroka hospital


 A side entrance of the huge Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva.

The hospital serves the Negev, the southern region of Israel.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The sad and so difficult day

An unusual tombstone, made from our local stone, in Meitar cemetery

After 18 long days of hoping and praying, waiting and searching, the bodies of Israel's three kidnapped boys were found yesterday.
The funeral services will begin soon for 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach  at the synagogue in the family's home community of Elad;   of 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel will depart from the synagogue in his home town of Nof Ayalon;  and  of 16-year-old Gil-Ad Shaer will depart from the central synagogue in his home town of Talmon.

Everyone will then come together at the cemetery in Modiin where the boys will be laid to rest side by side. 

 May God somehow console their parents and families. 
A whole nation comes together in mourning. 
Live coverage now of the very moving funerals. Watch even if you don't know Hebrew.

Follow the liveblog at The Times of Israel for full information.



This car makes me smile every time I walk by it.

It makes me fantasize how I would celebrate summer if I had a car.
There would be places to go, people to visit.

But then again, there would be payments to make, insurance to buy, fuel to fill, repairs to make.
In truth I am grateful for two good legs, a daypack,  and the ubiquitous Israeli bus network.
City Daily Photo bloggers around the world are posting today on our July 1 theme, Celebrating summer.  Pay them a visit. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bon appetit


Bordering  Meitar is a big farm field that is tended by a neighboring kibbutz. 
Back in May I stepped in for a closer look, wondering what they had planted  in the endless furrows.

"The field is sprayed. Danger - poison!"
it says in Hebrew, Arabic, English, and I think Thai. 
(Linking to Signs, signs meme.)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Archaeologist Yuval Peleg z"l


In May 2012 this top archaeologist, Yuval Peleg,  was our guide for a Yad Ben Zvi Institute  tour to the Inn of the Good Samaritan and to the monastery of St. Martyrius.
We learned so much that afternoon.
Here above he is explaining the big rolling (or sealing) stone at the gate.
The Martyrius site was  discovered in 1982 when the city of Ma'ale Adumim was being built.  Now it is right in the middle of town.

To our shock and sadness, Yuval Peleg was buried this morning in his hometown, Ma'ale Adumim.
Yesterday he and several Palestinian workers were  beginning to investigate  a cave near Sebastia in the West Bank when big rocks rolled down the hill and crushed him.

May he rest in peace and may God comfort his young family, now suddenly in mourning.
The profession will miss Yuval and his big smile. 

I could write a small book on my own almost-brushes with death at various expeditions around Israel over the years.
Archaeology, at least for those of us who actually work with pickax and turia,  is a profession fraught with danger.
Maybe that is part of what makes it so exciting.
(Todd Bolen's blog has more links about the accident and about Peleg.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gethsemane at closing time


A few more pictures from my recent short trip back to Jerusalem, these for Skywatch Friday.
Such a blue late afternoon sky above the Mount of Olives!
The golden tiles of the mosaic reflected the setting sun with blinding light. 

I never noticed there is a little mosaic on the side of the facade too.
Enlarge the photo to see it better.
I came at closing time (for a special event) and the usual throngs of tourist groups were gone, allowing one to see and hear much more. 
Inside, the mosaics of the ceiling of the Church of All Nations were recently painstakingly cleaned and repaired and now they sparkle.
UPDATE, Thursday evening:
I should have added this nice video about the restorers.  You will be happy you watched it.
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What would John the Baptist say?

Some pictures for John the Baptist on his birthday! 

Enlarge the photo above and see John baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan.

The gift shop at Kasr il Yahud, near Jericho, is full of souvenirs for pilgrims.

Sometimes I wonder how John would react if he could see the modern version of his desert  baptismal site,  complete with tourist buses,  Israeli army patrols,

refrigerated trucks bringing ice cream to the kiosk,

and groups of young North Americans being dunked by their pastor,
while being photographed and filmed,

to the accompaniment of guitars and songs.
What do you think?
(More blog pictures of Kasr al Yahud here.)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Damascus Gate like you've never seen it

If you look at the Damascus Gate long enough, it starts to look back at you.

Here are some of the projections onto the magnificent gate during the Jerusalem Festival of Light.

 A few showed courses of stones tumbling down or fire on the walls, and that was difficult to watch.
May it never happen.

I wonder if this painting with light could be considered momentary murals.
Either way, I send them now to Monday Murals meme.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Olive trees of over 900 years

After seeing the Garden of Gethsemane from outside its Franciscan walls in the previous post, some readers wished to see the inside.

Olive tree trunks' rings are difficult to count.
So recently carbon dating was used to determine the age of these venerable trees in the garden where (tradition says) Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion.

Three of the trees were found to be from the years 1092, 1166, and 1198.
 The study was made by the National Research Council of Italy Trees and Timber Institute and by academics from five Italian universities.

See the pillar of stones supporting this leaning tree?
You can enlarge the photos to see better.
It was 7:45-8:00 in the evening when I was there.

The garden is next to the Church of Gethsemane, properly known as the Basilica of the Agony, popularly known as the Church of All Nations.

These olive trees are among the oldest known to science.
But to the pilgrims who pray there, a century more or less is not what moves them, sometimes to tears.
Here is more about the recent study, and Wikipedia has more about Gethsemane.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The softness of evening


Last Sunday was I think my first time to be on the Mount of Olives after 8 pm.
It's quite beautiful with the Church of All Nations illuminated.
Inside the walls are the ancient olive trees of the Garden of Gethsemane.
The gold onion-shaped domes further up the hill are the Church of Mary Magdalene and the Russian Orthodox convent.

The deep blue sky over Jerusalem is for SkyWatch Friday.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

World Sauntering Day

Grandkids Dean and Libby, 2011,  Australia

Happy World Sauntering Day!
Never heard of this day till today, but I am all in favor of sauntering whenever possible.

The Wiki article about the day explains, "It is simply to walk slowly, preferably with a joyful disposition. Sauntering has been spoken of most notably by many of the naturalist writers in history including Henry David Thoreau and John Burroughs. . .
Its purpose is to remind us to take it easy, smell the roses, to slow down and enjoy life as opposed to rushing through it."

I think we photo-bloggers are already in the habit of sauntering, otherwise we would miss all those nice things waiting to be seen and photographed.
I learned of World Sauntering Day at this nice Jewish Treats blog post, where it is compared to the positive  Jewish character trait known as zreezut (haste).
He says
Jewish living is about balance. One needs to know the appropriate time for z’reezut and the appropriate time for “sauntering.” Indeed, one does not exclude the other. Slowing down allows one to be more aware of others, which may provide a chance to discover new mitzvah opportunities (which one can then hurry to take care of).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lighting up the night


For ABC Wednesday, W is for white women.

This year's Festival of Light in Jerusalem has 27 places of wonderful light.

These dancers in illuminated costumes danced to ballet music in the cool night air  just outside the Old City wall near the New Gate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Forest fire burning above Abu Ghosh

I just returned to Meitar from a few days visit to my previous hometown in the Jerusalem Hills.

 My bus left Jerusalem at 1:35 and when we  passed Abu Ghosh at 1:50  a really big forest fire was burning!

Apparently they closed that part of Highway One (Jerusalem <-> Tel Aviv) right after.
Dozens of firefighting units and planes are battling the fire.
News says it is around Kibbutzim Maale Hahamisha and Kiryat Anavim and the Israeli Arab town of Abu Ghosh.

This is the turn off to those villages, from Highway One.

The houses of Abu Ghosh.

Now, at 5:55,  news reports the fire has been "contained,"  but it ain't over yet. 

Oi,  I hate forest fire season. 
Good  luck to the folks in the hills.