From Darkness to Light, Shabbat Shalom

A week of extremes; from evel to simcha, mourning to joy:

grave of Yaakov Dan in Gush Etzion cemetery

From the cemetery in Gush Etzion and the fresh grave of Yaakov Don z”l, murdered by terrorists,

Sara Litman Biegel wedding

to the wedding of Sarah Tehiya Litman and Ariel Biegel.

Sarah, a beautiful bride, running to dance with thousands and thousands of girls, lights up the huge hall filled with people and hearts around the world.

Tragedy to triumph, darkness to light, Am Yisrael Chai.

Shabbat Shalom to all.


Another Week in Jerusalem

Israel is under attack: during the past 56 days

21 innocents were murdered,

200 were wounded, 20 seriously,

and there were 74 stabbings,

10 shootings, and 12 car rammings.

It is hard to keep track–should one listen to the news or not?

Oh no, another terror attack.

This past week Ezra Schwartz z”l was one of those statistics.

The 18-year old was in Israel on an educational year program,

and was sitting in a van when an Arab terrorist shot and killed him.

His funeral was live-streamed from Sharon, MA.

Funeral Ezra Schwartz 069

People filled the gym in a Jerusalem school to watch it,

finding comfort in community and unity.

John F. Kerry was back in town.

John Kerry at Beit Hanasi

 At his meeting with President Reuven Rivlin,

he signed the official guest book.

Kerry’s motorcade stopped traffic,

but the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Alexis Tsipra

is paying a more low profile visit.

Meanwhile, on the Jerusalem streets,

Isrotel hotel construction

building and construction goes on.

I decided it was time to see what was happening outside,

as watching Facebook and Twitter feeds was too depressing.

A trip to the Old City,

Shuttle Old City 022

found this gate very quiet,

Shuttle Old City 025

and the egalitarian section at the Kotel, Western Wall was empty.


Shuttle Old City 026

there was a line of tourists waiting to go up to the Temple Mount,

during the one hour in the afternoon allowed for non-Muslims.

Shuttle Old City 044

The scene at the Western Wall Plaza was quiet.

Shuttle Old City 040.JPG

This man was writing a note to place in between the stones,

Shuttle Old City 057

those notes get inserted, but often drop to the ground.

Maybe it was the warm sun and the walking,

Shuttle Old City 075

but seeing tourists at eating in cafes

Shuttle Old City 091

and taking photos,

Shuttle Old City 097

and little children on their way home from school,

Shuttle Old City 106

and the young woman with harp in her regular spot,

was so much better than obsessing on the news reports.

Shuttle Old City 113

A group of 180 men were touring on a special trip,

Shuttle Old City 114

boys speaking Arabic were in Mamilla Mall,

Arqab woman Jerusalem

and an Arab woman was shopping alone.

No one knows what will happen next,

what will be new weapon of terror,

box cutters, knives, or scissors,

or where an attack will occur.


Susan B OU Nov 116Kisufim,

Jerusalem Conference of Jewish Writers and Poets,

in Mishkenot Sha’ananim under the Montefiore Windmill.

Susan B OU Nov 119

opened last night  and the auditorium was full.

This week I had too many photos to share in one post,

because in spite of the bad news,

so many good things are happening on Jerusalem streets.

Hanukkah is coming, and so are the suffganiot. 

There are so many choices, it hard to decide which one to try.

We remember, we mourn, then we celebrate life.

Shuttle Old City 121

Shabbat Shalom שבת שלום

The sun is not shining.

The sky is grey.

Buildings are lost in the fog.

The traffic backs up on slippery streets.

It is raining in Jerusalem, Israel.

 As much as we need rain, it is not a pretty picture.

However, any planned Friday of ‘Rage’ is a wash-out.

When we first made aliyah a woman told me, wait,

 when you are here long enough you become unlingual.

It has started. Last week, I could not think of an English word

I needed to express to a woman how much I liked what she had said.

Plus, my Hebrew gets worse and worse, by not using it often enough.

A thought posted on a Facebook comment prompted this popular poster.

Hope it makes you smile, or at least gets you thinking…

This sunset photo was taken on the road back from a visit to Gaza border.

poster from FAcebook comment on Hebrew

שבת שלום

Inspired from original text by Devorah Goodman Horev.

Hebrew version hopefully to follow next week,

meanwhile that thunder was really loud and close.

Would be nice if a rainbow would follow this storm.

Israeli Summer Heats Up

As the summer weather heats up, I slow down.

Sipping an ice coffee while walking

has become a routine.

Jerusalem graffiti

It seems I am not alone, this man who

   walked into my new graffiti photo had a drink in hand too.

It took me a couple of weeks to get to Yoel Salomon Street

Jerusalem umbrellas over street

to see the Jerusalem, Israel streets’ hottest summer display,

dozens of colorful umbrellas strung above the narrow lane.

There used to be so many used book stores lining the streets,

Another used book store closes

but another book store is closing,

and these signs were plastered announcing the sales.

At least on the other side of the street there are happier signs

Beit Avi Chai outside building

of summer children’s programs at Beit Avi Chai.

signs hung for summer programs on Jerusalem  streets

Summer festivals will be starting soon,

summer in Kikar Safra

and posters are up for summer events

in Kikar Safra, Government Square.

But this week leading up to Tisha B’Av

is also ten years since the end of Gush Katif.

I wrote about a visit to the new Netzer Hazani four years ago.

Since that time,

photo of Gush katif community before 2005

beautiful communities like in this poster,

are now remembered in Gush Katif Museum in Nitzan.

gush katif museum

In the courtyard the wonderful sand is displayed.

seats in Gush Ktif Museum made form moving boxes

Moving boxes are used as seats for a video in the museum.

The army was organized and provided everyone boxes

to pack up their lives and leave their homes,

then every last one was knocked down

and every last Jew left the Gaza Strip.

rocket fired from Gaza into Gush Katif

All was not ideal in Gush Katif.

Yaakov Gross keeps a Gazan rocket

that fell into his house in Gush Katif

in his still temporary store.

But after leaving Gush Katif, what have we gotten in return?

The government promised peace,

and instead we got ten thousand rockets

and Israelis have suffered through three wars.

bomb shelter next to park

In southern Israel,

an outdoor meeting place has to have a safe area

five seconds away.

inside of pipe used as bomb shelter

And who can forget

 last summer as millions of Israelis had to run to bomb shelters.

Some in the south had to huddle in cement pipes

as protection from hundreds of Hamas rockets

that were fired at Israeli citizens day and night.

Gush Katif new community

People are slowly rebuilding.

After ten years

new house old house Gush katif

some families have nice homes,

while some are still in temporary living conditions.

green around home from new Gush Katif home

One garden stood out in the neighborhood,

newly rebuilt in the sand.

Garden of Gush Katif Museum in Nitzan

The names of the destroyed towns are listed,

and the pain and division of the nation

are symbolized in this monument.

Tens years on that summer still makes no sense.

Hopefully you will remember,

as there are those who are trying to erase history,

and the Jewish connection to this land.

Beer Sheva: Old and New City

So much in Jerusalem, Israel, is old and new.

We used to joke that a good friend is defined as

someone who leaves Jerusalem to visit you in Beer Sheva.

With family in Beer Sheva, over the years,

we have visited the desert city many times.

ANZAC cemetery Beer Sheva

I used to say the only place that was green was this cemetery.

The Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery,

or the ANZAC cemetery, as most of the British soldiers

buried here were Australian and New Zealanders,

who fell in the World War I battles against the Turks,

ending the domination of the Ottoman Empire.

But things are changing, 

Carasson Science Park in Beer Sheva

Carasso Science Park opened in 2013,

and is the largest science park in Israel.

Park in Beer sheva

Remembering the British,

monument to Allenby in Beer Sheva

is Allenby Garden.

The park was established in early 1900s by the Turks,

After WWI, it became a memorial to General Edmund Allenby,

was destroyed during the Arab uprising in 1929,

and was finally rebuilt in 2014.

Allenby park and trail

One day when it is not so hot,

ANZAC trail Beer Sheva

it would be interesting to follow the ANZAC trail.

Art Museum in Beersheba

Across the road is the Negev Museum of Art,

the main art museum in southern Israel,

housed in what was the 20th century Governor’s house.

The current exhibit is called,

“Pulp and Fiction”

where all pieces are made out of paper.

Pulp and Fiction Lost Forest by Jan Fairbairn-Edwards from  France

“Lost Forest” by Jan Fairbairn-Edwards of France

The Burmese Story by Naamoa Aaronson

and “The Burmese Story” by Naama Aaronson of Israel

are just two of the works.

Who knew that paper art was started 35 years ago

at the Beer Sheva Station of the old Turkish railway?

large mosque in Beer Sheva

More of the old city and new

in the same area is the one mosque,

seal on mosque

built by the Turks.

It went unused as a mosque for decades,

and was the city’s Archaeological Museum.

Since 2011, it has been home to the

Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures.

stone in courtyard of Beer Sheva mosque

Ancient stones with Thuluth, Arabic and Kufic script

are in the courtyard.

Inside the restored mosque,

paryer rugs on display in Beer sheva mosque

is the current exhibit of old prayer rugs,

special lamps with Arabic writing

with new glass lamps decorated in Arabic hanging above them.

Turkish flag in Beer Sheva

A Turkish flag flies at the Train Yard Compound

which was restored and opened in 2014.

Bedouin man

Bedouins are still around.

Beer Sheva old and new

Going into and out of Beer Sheva

one can see the old and new,

with the new train track over the old Turkish one.

But it is at Be’er Avraham,

Abraham’s Well,

Abraham's well in Beer Sheva

located near the Beer Sheva River,

that one can really appreciate the old and new.

An international visitor center,

showcasing the life of Avraham Avinu,

in a 3D presentation, opened in 2013.

In old days, to get to Beer Sheva,

it seemed it took as long as a camel trip,

standing on those Egged buses

on hot Friday afternoons.

With the new modern highways going to Beer Sheva,

 it is not like it used to be,

 see the Old City and new neighborhoods.

but we will have to find another way to define good friends.

Tosca at Masada

There are times that you just have to leave Jerusalem

in order to see something special.

A performance of Tosca at Masada

is really something to see.

Operas are usually about

Tosca stage

 the stars and their voices,

orchestra close up

the music,

Tosca at Masada

and the actors on stage.

 Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca,

produced by the Israel Opera Company,

view of stage

is being performed at Masada in the desert.

Tosca at Masada

The seating is constructed in the desert sand,

and stands stories high.

metal structure at Tosca

The support pipes inside are amazing.

It is hard to show just how big the stage is.

opera stage

Stage left, there are stairs.

Tosca at Masada stage view

Do you see them now?

stage  for Tosca

They are under that giant statue.

Masada opera

The stars have a hard time hearing the music

since the stage is so large,

and use special microphones.

view of food and Dead Sea at opera at Masada

From the top of the seating area

there is a view of the Dead Sea overlooking the vast food court

Masada view from opera

and the huge parking areas for buses.

large lights for Opera

These are not jobs for those with fear of heights.

During the day workers have to be careful of the heat.

Operas are usually filled with drama.

Tosca, set in Rome in the year 1800,

 is full of

opera Tosca


opera singers on stage


Floria Tosca on stage

and torture.

Floria Tosca, a celebrated singer, did not have an easy life.

Alter boys in Tosca

But this stage is also filled with young faces,

and beautiful music,

Daniel Oren conducts at Masada

led by talented Israeli conductor Daniel Oren.

Masada orchestra

At this dress rehearsal, he repeatedly interrupted

and sang as he conducted the precise way

 he wanted this masterpiece to be staged.

The Italian lyrics of this tragic opera

are translated into Hebrew and English.

The production is big and beautiful.

But at the end of the day,

it is all makeup and make believe.

opera dressing room

This “tortured” actor can smile in his dressing room,

while the audience winds their way back home,

slowly on the road along the Dead Sea.

More than a show, it is an experience.