Saturday, January 20, 2018

Winter skies, winter tree

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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.
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(Linking to Sky Watch Friday.)
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The lure of Jordan water

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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.)
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Monday, January 15, 2018

A good signal?

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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.  ; )
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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Soldiers with ponytails

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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!

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(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)
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Sunday, January 7, 2018

At Kasr al-Yahud River Jordan baptism site

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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.
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(This blog has five posts about Kasr al Yahud baptism site, if you'd like to see more.)
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UPDATE Jan. 10: The Franciscans today published their short video of Sunday's pilgrimage to the baptism site:
http://www.terrasanctablog.org/2018/01/10/faithful-on-a-pilgrimage-to-the-jordan-river-for-the-celebration-of-the-baptism-of-the-lord/
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(Linking to signs, signs,  inSPIRED Sunday and  Our World Tuesday.)
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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Both Nativity and Epiphany today

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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! 
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(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday.)
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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Camels in waiting

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Does this camel have its own prayer rug to kneel on?


The camel's handler was busy on his phone while waiting for paying customers.


A second dromedary was hitched to a fire hydrant, probably hoping someone would want to take a short ride just for fun.


From our bus I could see more camels on the other side of the highway.


It's a long outdoor market selling ceramics and souvenirs.
Gas station and restaurant.
And everyone knows the Last Chance coffee bar here.
It's on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, and it's your last chance to make a pit stop before the desert, before making the descent to the Dead Sea, hundreds of meters below sea level.
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(Linking to Camera-Critters.)
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Monday, December 25, 2017

Correction! -- The REAL conservator appears!

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Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it today!
(I couldn't find a decorated indoor tree in the Negev to post, so this one up in our Meitar Forest will have to do. )

Being Jewish I don't do Christmas, but I DID get a present just now in the form of an unexpected comment.
Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo blog is honored and surprised to hear from Georgios, the actual restorer from Golgotha in the Holy Sepulchre!
He wrote
Dear Dina . My name is Georgios and i am the man in the foto. I am Greek and i was working in the conservation of the wall paintings in Greekorthodox chapel in Golgotha. We were 3 professional conservators from Greece and we restored and cleaned the wallpaintings ,the icons and the Jesus on the Cross. It was an unbeliavable and fansinating experience. Thank you for your fotos.

This is the man in my recent blog post title Overhead Work in the Holy Sepulchre.
If you missed it, please take a look now at the four photos of Georgios at work.

After trying to find information online about the conservation work, I confess that I  assumed him to be a different expert, and thus made a big mistake in that post.   :(
My apologies to all!  That will teach me to be more careful in reporting and to "assume" nothing.

Shalom dear Georgios,
Thank you so much for miraculously showing up here in the blog on (new calendar) Christmas Day!  Thanks for your graciousness in forgiving my case of mistaken identity.  And thank you for sharing with us how it felt to give your help to such a holy place as the Holy Sepulchre.
I wish I could have talked with you; I was so moved watching you work.  God bless you for your loving contribution to Golgotha.
May you have a blessed Christmas season.
With much respect,
Dina
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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

All candles brightly burning

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The 8th, final, candle of Chanuka tonight!


Tomorrow is the last day of the festival of lights.
The name of the 8th day is Zot Chanuka.  See why here.
According to tradition this last day is the essence of the holiday. 


Still unlit candles,  just waiting for their chance to shine.
What a difference, eh?  
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Chag sameach, happy Chanuka!
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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Overhead work in the Holy Sepulchre

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In the 12th Station of the Cross I was surprised to see a man working ABOVE the heads of the many pilgrims and tourists.
I was there at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre a few weeks ago.
Had to take the pictures in the dark, so click a few times on the photos to enlarge them and see a bit of detail.


Everyone was waiting in line for a chance to kneel under the Greek Orthodox altar and touch the stone of Calvary.
Being Jewish and not Christian, this is not something I do, so I was quite happy to instead watch the work going on overhead.




UPDATE, CORRECTION!  The restorer's name is Georgios and he is from Greece (and not from the Jericho school, as I had wrongly assumed)!  Do see his wonderful comment below!
I also made a new post about him here.
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(Linking to  inSPIRED Sunday  and Our World Tuesday meme.)
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

A message from the Mosque of Omar

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In Jerusalem's Old City last week I peeked through the locked gate of the Mosque of Omar and was surprised to see this sign in the courtyard. 
It is apparently sura 3:51 of the Quran which quotes none other than Jesus! 
The banner says
[in Arabic:] There is no god but Allah. 
"Jesus Said:
'I am indeed a slave of Allah,
Allah is my Lord and your Lord,
so worship Him Alone.' "


The mosque, with its tall minaret, is right across the lane from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  
I wonder how many Christian pilgrims on their way to the church  pause a second to look at the mosque and at the unexpected message on its wall. 

The Mosque of Omar, built in the 1460s, has a fascinating story in itself.
You are welcome to read about it in two of my earlier posts
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Tomorrow is Friday, the Muslim holy day, and al Aksa mosque will be packed.  After the prayers big protests are expected against Trump's declaration on Jerusalem.  Palestinian officials have called for "days of rage."  Let's hope and/or pray that no one loses his life. 
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(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday.)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Choosing a prayer spot

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How many of us would conquer any shyness and just do the prayers wherever we find ourselves when the set prayer hours arrive?
Just put off your shoes, kneel down, and do the prostrations?
In Israel you see Muslims (well, mainly men) praying in many public open spaces.
Like this Bedouin father on the lawn at Beer Sheva's Soroka hospital last week.


While exploring the medical center's sprawling campus I discovered this dedicated [Muslim] "Prayer Room."


The door on the right, as you can see from the water running out, is the place to do ritual ablution before prayer.


Soroka's Prayer Room is open at these times during morning, noon, and evening for the five obligatory prayers.
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UPDATE: I read now that Soroka was the first Israeli hospital to open a Muslim prayer room, sometime before 2003.
After a petition was filed in 2013, the High Court of Justice instructed the six largest hospitals to also build such a prayer room.   See article in Haaretz .
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While this is not exactly the "inspirational" religious architecture that bloggers share every weekend at inSPIRED Sunday, still, I'm linking it to the meme.  And also to Our World Tuesday.
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Friday, December 1, 2017

Homemade gifts--but with a difference!

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City Daily Photo bloggers have as our December 1st theme the idea of gifts.


Lucky me--my sweet daughter recently came up to Israel from down in Australia for a short visit.
And she came bearing gifts. 
I was excited to see for the first time the fruits of her labor, her artistic ideas made into physical objects on her new laser engraving and cutting machine!
Like the replica of the Golden Record that was sent into space 40 years ago. (If you're too young to remember the launch of NASA's Voyager I and II, Naomi wrote about the record on her website.)


Another gift I love is Naomi's pleasant-to-the-touch cork coasters.
As she explains,  "These cork coasters are laser engraved with an image of a labyrinth inspired by the famous Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France. The labyrinth has for centuries attracted people to walk its lines in meditation. Even on this smaller version, running your finger along the lines can bring about calmness and serenity."


These little hearts are really offcuts from the wood and acrylic that Naomi works with.
I gave a few as symbolic gifts to new friends and it really won their heart.


Just for fun take a look at some of Naomi's 90 unusual creations at her online Etsy crafts store called Eclipse9Laser.
You'll even find Tolkien- and space-themed Christmas tree ornaments now!
And more new and unexpected things every week.

As Naomi explains,
"In my previous life I was a university lecturer and researcher in aerospace engineering. I also worked as an engineer for Lockheed and NASA, designing satellite systems. I love all things aerospace, engineering and science.
Now I'm making cool (ok, geeky) laser engraved gifts and items - things that I love and find exciting. I hope you love them too!"
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A bizarre accident, 2 smashed cars

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This big Border Police vehicle managed to do a lot of damage to two parked cars on a main street of my town early last Friday morning, thankfully without injuring any people.


Police were already there investigating, and this one was measuring distances with his meter measuring wheel.


A parked towing wagon had also been hit and was on its side. 


I really wonder how and why this happened.
Click one or two times on the photos to get the full "impact."
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Friday, November 24, 2017

Gray on gray

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It was a cool gray day in Jerusalem today, with a few drops of rain.
Heavy clouds were sitting on Mt. Scopus at the end of the street.
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(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Olive oil by the barrel

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T is for tugging.


Dani, the in-charge of Kibbutz Gezer Olives had just driven two heavy barrels of our fresh oil back from the olive press.


And they had to be off-loaded to the entrance of the kibbutz bomb shelter where the oil would later be bottled.


American volunteer Ashlea took a whiff.


Dani made the taste test.


Ashlea got a capful of the precious fruit of our olive-harvesting labor.


Luke, a WWOOFer from New Zealand, tried it too.


Only I, as reflected in the pure oil, was busy with the camera and mercifully too busy to drink.
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(Linking to T-day at ABC Wednesday and OurWorld Tuesday.)
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