Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Unexpected February Entertainment

-- (See also http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/06/shesek.html )
-- After going to the mall to look for a comfortable chair for M, I took the 31 bus and stopped at the Mahane Yehuda shouk to get matches on my way to the post office to pick up a registered letter. At the supermarket they had told me they were out of matches because there was a match shortage throughout Israel. Of course one of the tiny shops in the shouk (candles, disposable table ware, aluminum pans) had matches.
-- Before I could continue on to the post office, a klezmer band walked by.
-- Over the heads of other shoppers I could see jugglers' batons flying, and, sure enough, strolling jugglers soon made their way between women with plastic bags of produce, young men pushing carts full of empty cartons, school children, and tourists. This was on Eitz Hayim, the long, covered section that runs from agrippas to Yafo.
-- I knew it was Tu Bshvat. In the countryside, Almond trees were blooming. I walked over towards the Shouk HaIraqi trying to decide what fruit to buy so long as I was there. Strawberries were in season, oranges and all sorts of citrus of course (kumquats have become popular here), apples, pomegranates, quinces. Along each alley, in front of stores that usually mostly display nuts, roasted chickpeas, roasted corn, and the like, were tables of dried fruit -- dates, figs, pineapple, apple, pears, cherries, candied kumquats, kiwi -- along with almonds and other nuts. People buy large amounts for tu b'shvat.
-- Consumption of dried and candied fruit for the holiday is a wonderful example of a religious practice that hangs around after the need for it disappears. Tu b'shvat is the "trees' new year" traditionally celebrated (if at all) by eating fruit -- in particular fruit [of the sort] grown in the Land of Israel. When I was a kid in Hebrew School we ate "boksr" (carob) said to be imported from the actual land. My grandparents probably ate raisins, dried figs, and dried dates (if they could afford any of that), because dried fruit was the only kind you could get in eastern Europe in February in those days.
So now, when you can get lovely fresh fruit, Israelis chomp away on dried fruit for tu b'shvat. It helps that dried fruit is sweet! I'll have to ask what Moroccan, Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, Yemeni, Italian, Greek, Turkish, and Indian Jews ate for tu b'shvat with fresh fruit on the trees around them. It is a minor holiday, and probably they paid little attention to it.
-- As I got to the end of the alley (lined with fruit stands and tiny shps : three for housewares, one for fabric and sewing sundries, two for sweets) I began to hear music. At first it was like the background music in a supermarket, but by the time I reached the intersection it was blasting. On the Maheneh Yehuda concourse, four sound stages were set up. At two, fully clad women were doing belly dances. At a third was a brass band. At a fourth a large woman sang in what sounded like Arabic but may have been Moroccan Shluhit (Berber). After a while, a costumed troup of eight dancers appeared and began Balkan line dances. Two women on stilts, dressed like Queens of the May, swayed above us.
--It was rather like being on Dr. Seuss’s Mulberry Street. I didn't get to the post office until three.
Copyright 2006 Jane S. Fox

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006


  • We're told they plan to close the Israel Museum for two years for renovations. We cannot find out what collections will be accessible during that time.
  • This museum is a 20-minute walk from the apartment. It is on the 9, 17, 17alef, 24, and 24alef bus lines.
  • The archaeology section starts with things made longest ago. An archaeologist complains that organizing by chronology keeps visitors from nderstnding the development of pottery or tools, but I like seeing how much "stuff" people accumulated 5000, 10,000, 15,000 years ago and more.
  • How much decorative stuff. As soon as people started making clay pots, it seems they decorated them. And, as far as I know, no one has labeled them "cultic objects."
  • It's not a museum that says much about how people lived before they could leave us messages in writing. But we can guess that tens of thousands of years ago, they already liked "stuff."

Copyright 2006 Jane S. Fox

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