Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Not-real cats

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C is for constructed cats.


As if Israeli cities don't have enough stray cats roaming the streets, some Tel Aviv neighborhoods have added cat sculptures.
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(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)
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Friday, July 22, 2016

The halls of ivy (in Beer Sheva)

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The entire campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is made up of Brutalist buildings.
But just here, in Building 72 (in which the Archaeology department is located!), some ivy has creeped in and up to give a softening effect.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An abandoned old Brutalist movie theater

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On a tour of  Beer Sheva our guide took us to this abandoned movie theater.
Old folks from the neighborhood walked by, listened, and then volunteered their fond memories and fantastic stories of how this cinema was an exciting part of their life, maybe the ONLY exciting part, back a few decades when Beer Sheva was a dusty poor town in the desert. 


No one seems to know what to do with the dilapidated place.
Now that now-thriving Beer Sheva wants to be the capital of Brutalism architecture, this Brutalist building should probably be preserved.
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(Linking to ABC Wednesday B-Day.)
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

The beginning of a pacifier tree

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Meitar now has a pacifier tree!
Maybe there are more in town, but this is the first one I've discovered.
Apparently the custom began in Scandinavia where children at age three give up their pacifier and hang it on a tree, sometimes with an attached good-bye letter.
This "rite of passage" spread to America and now to Israel.
Have you seen it in your country?

(The tree is a silk floss tree and it stands in a pretty roundabout.
See more about this strange spiky tree in previous posts.)
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Friday, July 15, 2016

The Gay Pride parade that didn't happen

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I snapped this picture from my bus window late Thursday as we passed Beer Sheva City Hall.
The young people with the flags were starting to gather for what would be a demonstration of hundreds (some sources say thousands) outside the Municipality to protest the cancellation of the city’s first-ever Gay Pride parade.
Some points from a news report: 
Organizers had canceled the event Wednesday night to protest a High Court of Justice ruling that allowed police to bar participants from marching through the city’s main thoroughfare due to what police called “real concern” for participants’ safety in the face of threats. . . .
The petition asking the High Court to force police to allow the original parade route was filed earlier this week by the Beersheba Pride House and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, who objected to the local LGBT community being relegated to side streets.
After the petition was filed, Beersheba police acknowledged its decision was also made to avoid “offending religious sentiments” in the area, and to prevent traffic disruptions that could delay vehicular access to the nearby Soroka Medical Center, the largest hospital in the country’s south.
For the full article please see The Times of Israel.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cow Appreciation Day

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Today, July 12, is Cow Appreciation Day.


When I volunteered at the Franziskusgemeinschaft community in Austria last autumn, I certainly appreciated the cow.
Her rich milk was made into butter, cream, and cheese; the fresh raw milk was also great to drink. 


She loved to eat the mash that was left over after we pressed apples.
Ah, I do miss the good folks and the friendly animals there at the farm.
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(Linking to Camera-Critters and  ABC Wednesday.)
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

World Chocolate Day, sweet memories

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Today is World Chocolate Day!
July 7, 2016 marks 466 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe.
It arouses sweet memories of a trip to the north on a rainy day in March.
Right there where we were staying, in Kibbutz Degania Beit, was a small chocolate factory! 
Or as their sign says,
Galita, the chocolate farm
Exciting chocolate experience

The store had a precious cocoa tree full of cocoa pods (behind glass!).
The cacao plant was first given its botanical name by Carl Linnaeus in his original classification of the plant kingdom, who called it Theobroma ("food of the gods") cacao.

After lots of free sampling, I decided on a little bottle of delicious chocolate liqueur.

Who knew!  Jews had a hand in the production and spread of chocolate centuries ago. 
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(Linking to signs, signs.)
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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Riding a zany zebra

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A zany zebra, on wheels!
At a fancy-shmancy toy shop in HaTachana, Tel Aviv's old (1892) train station now repurposed into a shopping center and culture compound.

Linking to ABC Wednesday.
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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Looking down on Mamilla

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Another "looking down" shot--the upscale Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem.
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Friday, July 1, 2016

Why this Jerusalem square is named for a caliph

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City Daily Photo bloggers are posting today on the theme "Look down."
Here we are looking down on Omar ibn al-Khatab Square, just inside Jaffa Gate.
Enlarge the photo a few times and you can pick out a bagel pushcart, shopkeepers, tourists, police, Arabs, and Jews.
Under the white canopy a bar mitzvah boy is returning from his bar mitzvah ceremony at the Western Wall, preceded by musicians with drum, flute, and shofar.


To take the looking-down photos I had climbed many tall stairs to reach the top of  Phasael Tower observatory.
Built in the 1st century BCE,  Phasael was one of three huge guard towers built by Herod the Great close to his palace in Jerusalem's Old City.
Its upper section, with the smaller stones, is a much later Mamluk reconstruction.

All of this is today part of the Citadel,  the Tower of David museum of Jerusalem's history.

In this informative article by guides Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am, we learn why the plaza was named for a Caliph:

One of the Old City of Jerusalem’s liveliest streets is actually a small plaza called Omar iben Al-Khatab Square, named for the second Caliph of the Islamic world.. . .
Brilliant, sensitive, tolerant and an administrative whiz, Omar visited Jerusalem soon after Muslim Arabs conquered the Holy City in 638. Omar revered many of the Old Testament’s most significant personalities, and greatly honored Judaism’s holy sites – including the peak on which Solomon erected the magnificent First Temple.
Thus when he ascended to the Temple Mount and found it overflowing with trash, Omar was enraged. He immediately ordered the rubbish removed — and, say some, he helped clear it out with his own hands.
At one point Jerusalem Bishop Sophronius invited the Caliph to join him for prayers inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Omar is said to have refused, explaining that were he to accept, Muslims might immediately ravish this most important of Christian sites and replace it with a mosque dedicated to Islam. He then proceeded to pray outside the church — exactly where a mosque named for the Caliph is located today.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Room enough

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New plots are ready at my town's cemetery.
Which brings to mind the old Yiddish proverb,

As long as a man lives, the entire world is too small for him.  After death the grave is big enough. 

Azoy lang der mentsh lebt iz im di gantse velt tsu kleyn; nokhn toyt iz im der keyver genug.
 אַזוי לאַנג דער מענטש לעבט איז אים די גאַנצע וועלט צו קליין; נאָכן טויט איז אים דער קבֿר גענוג.

For ABC Wednesday, Y is for Yiddish.
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ready, Steady, Build!

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If I had to operate any of this heavy machinery in the hot dusty desert, by the end of the day I'd feel as if I had been under the steamroller.


I don't know how the operators, who are usually Bedouin, work all day with no food or drink now during the month of Ramadan.


But the new neighborhood in our town has to get built.


And work goes on, winter and summer.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

X-ing out your enemy

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(Give the photo a click or two to read the text.)

My word of the week for ABC Wednesday is  XENOPHOBIA.
(zěn'ə-fō'bē-ə, zē'nə-) Fear and contempt of strangers or foreign peoples.
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In ancient Egypt the custom was to inscribe on a figurine the name of your enemy and appropriate curses. 
Then in an ancient ritual the figurine was smashed and the curses were activated, in the belief that this would break the enemy's power.
One such clay figurine bears on its chest the name Rusulimum (Jerusalem) and names of other enemy Canaanite cities.

I myself almost "fainted" when I first saw this display at Jerusalem's Tower of David Museum!
What an idea! 
Talk about the power of words . . . Talk about hatred of foreign peoples . . . !
Can you imagine ever doing such a thing
(BTW, "thing" and "word" are both expressed in Hebrew by the word davar. In the old days, a word was not just a sound you heard. No. A word was a thing in itself, having its own existence, carrying power. And if you know a person's name, you have power over him; you call out his name and he stops and turns around.)

The clay figurine is a copy of the original, courtesy of the Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels.
The execration (!) text is from Egypt, 19th to 18th century BCE.
execration
1382, from Latin execrationem, noun of action from execrari "to hate, curse," from ex- "out" + sacrare "to devote to holiness or to destruction, consecrate," from sacer "sacred"

1. the act of execrating
2. a curse or imprecation: "The execrations of the prophet terrified the sinful multitude."
3. the object execrated; a thing held in abomination
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See also "execration" in Jeremiah's strong words: Jer. 42:18:
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Shalom, dear blog readers, and blessings be upon you.
 
(Linking to ABC Wednesday.)
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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The giant silo--so near yet so far

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I always wanted to see the inner workings of a giant silo like this one in Kiryat Gat.
But it looks like my view from inside the train will be the closest I ever get.
At least I learned some interesting facts from the Shintraco Ltd. website:

The silo can store 30,000 tons of wheat.

"The Company carries a broad range of seed, animal feed and food products, such as wheat, wheat fodder, barley, corn for animal feed and others which are imported from Eastern Europe, Western Europe and South America; sugar imports primarily from Europe; millet imports (bird food) from China and Europe and smaller quantities from the US, as well as sesame seed imports; raw and peeled from the Far East India, China, as well as from many African countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, and others)."

"Shintraco Ltd. was established in 1991 by Shalom Hatuka and Geneva's Proalim S.A.   Shalom Hatuka started his career as an agriculturist. The contacts he made over time (within the Arab sector) and his command of the Arabic language helped him in his activities as an importer.
The cancellation of Israeli government limitations on flourmills in Israel, which had restricted mill owners to purchase only US wheat, represented a breakthrough in wheat imports to Israel. Flourmills began to demand imported wheat from other countries in order to mix different types of flour together, which allowed for prices to decline. Because of its international connections, Shintraco has transformed quickly into a reputable importer of wheat."
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lots of arches

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An evening view out the windows of a new building going up in Meitar.


Meitar was founded in 1984 here in the northern Negev as a yeshuv kehilati, what I like to translate as a planned community.
Over the years,  five neighborhoods have been built, one after another.
Now Number six is in progress.
See this aerial orthophoto from 2014 to grasp the layout.


I'm so curious what this will be.
A public building, I'm assuming.
The architecture looks almost like a mosque, but we have only a small percentage of Bedouin families living in Meitar, probably not enough to warrant a mosque. 


Maybe this sloping hole in the ground will become a big mikva, and the building is really a synagogue?
Time will tell.
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Meanwhile, for ABC Wednesday, W is for wonderfully weird windows and walls.
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Goat cheeses for Shavuot

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Happy Shavuot!
Today is the Jewish holiday during which we feast on dairy food.
For all kinds of reasons why, please look at Chabad and/or About religion.


Just recently I discovered this dairy that creates all kinds of goat cheese, yogurt, and labaneh.
It is a 20-minute drive from my town and is really in the middle of nowhere.
This is a rare independent farmer (i.e. not a kibbutz or moshav) and his family raises goats and cattle and does lots of good things.
More about them later, after I can go back for a longer visit.
Meanwhile, chag sameach, happy holiday!
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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A good sign for Burgerim

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Seen from the bus in Beer Sheva, a sign on the way to a Burgerim fast food place?
It's an unusual contribution to Lesley's meme,  "signs, signs, a weekly meme of interesting, funny, ridiculous and unexplainable signs."

Burgerim opened its first place in Tel Aviv in 2008 and is now a successful Israeli franchise, with more than 80 stores in Israel.
The idea is to sell to each customer several different kinds of small burgers instead of one giant (and messy) one.
In Hebrew, burgerim is the plural of burger. 
I've never eaten there, but here is a short video telling the story, if you really want to know.  :)
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Monday, June 6, 2016

Sand volleyball in Beer Sheva

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Sand volleyball, swimming pools, green lawns.
The good life, summer in Israel.


It was the view from the bridge this afternoon.
I think all those fun things are part of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev sport complex.
I've never really seen them before; lucky I climbed up to the Double Helix bridge and looked down.
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(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)
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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Happy Jerusalem Day

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Happy Jerusalem Day!  
"We love Jerusalem" on the Damascus Gate (from a light festival a few years ago).
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Friday, June 3, 2016

Meitar from afar

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Here's the 6:00 pm summer-blue sky over my town in the Negev desert.


And this is the same angle but from a higher elevation, after we walked up a hill.
If you enlarge the photo, you can see our Northern Neighborhood on the right.
It was the first section of Meitar, begun in 1984.
To the left is the Southern Neighborhood, which followed.
Off in the distance is Hura, a Bedouin town about three times bigger than Meitar in population.
Meitar has over 8,000 souls.
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Shabbat shalom and happy Sky Watch Friday.
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