Tuesday, February 13, 2007


  • If you go to Israel on a tour, you'll find events arranged for you -- a celebration at the hotel, a presentation at a kibbutz, excellent speakers. If you go on your own, or stay on after the tour is over, you can be part of local events. Here is a partial list of what to watch for, month by month.
  • January: Remember that rain is a blessing. (See http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/12/watershed.html ) You're likely to have sunny, shirtsleeve days after two or three rainy ones. On partly cloudy days, the sunset will take your breath away.
  • February: Tu b'Shvat, the Trees' New Year. Look for street festivals (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/unexpected-february-entertainment.html ) and bountiful tables of dried fruit and nuts in the shouk, supermarkets, and malls. February is the end of Crembo season.
  • March: On Purim ( http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/03/shushan-purim.html )watch for kids on the streets in traditional and faniful costumes. For evening parties, lots of adults dress up, too. Oznei Khaman (hamentashen) are the seasonal baked treat. Shesek (loquats) begin to appear in ths shouk. After Purim supermarket baked goods shelves start to empty.
  • April: Pesakh (Passover) can be at the very end of March, but is usually in April. By the time it arrives, familiar packaged baked goods are scarce, but an ever widening variety of cakes and cookes based on coconut and potato flour fill tables in the shout=k and shelves in macolet and super. Fresh garlic appears in the shouk. What do the people who buy it by the kilo do with it? Schools are on vacation for the seven days of Pesakh. Ask your hotel and the AACI about English walking tours (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2007/01/holy-sepulcher-church.html).
  • May: After Peakh comes Holocaust Memorial Day, followed a week later by Soldiers' Memorial Day and, the day after that, by Independence Day. ireworks mark the beginning of Independence day. At several venues around town you'll find live music outdoors. In Kikar Safra (City Hall Plaza) there's folk dancing from about 9PM until long after midnight. The next day museums hold open house. Last year, the police had a festifal with historical playlets, robot bomb squad demos, live music, and a lot more. The Israel festival of the performing arts is likely to be in May.
  • June: Jerusalem Day, marking unification of the city after 20 years of separation, can be in late May or early June. Watch for informal parades (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/05/water-on-jerusalem-day.html ), more walking tours, and concerts. In the long evening, eat outside. After a hot day, drink limonana gahroos at a sidewalk cafe(http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/07/mint.html ) .
  • July: Ask about outdoors folkdancing. Last year there were weekly sessions in HUC's courtyard.
  • August: Best month for a walk through Hezekiah's water tunnel (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/11/city-of-david.html ).
  • September: Succot (which is in October some years: http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/all-together-now.html ) is a school vacation. Join the family crowds exploring the Old City. Succa tours can be interesting, and it is also fun to watch the huts go up during the days before the holiday.
  • October: Pomegranates go for less than 50 cents a pound. Buy some and pick out the juicy seeds yourself. Get pomegranate juice at a juice bar ( http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/07/juice.html ). Soufganiot (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/soufganiot.html ) appear in bakeries and on shouk tables.
  • November: Get tickets for the Oud Festival (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/11/oud.html )! Crembo (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/11/crembo.html) appear.
  • December: During Khanuka, walk through neighborhoods where people put their hanuka lights outside (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2006/12/lights.html ).

Copyright 2007 Jane S. Fox

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Noticing Jerusalem

  • The 174 articles in this blog are a guide to noticing Jerusalem.
  • Look up at the stonework around the windows, at the balcony rails, at the roof gardens, and the floors added to older buildings.
  • Look down at the tiles in courtyards.
  • Look out at the views of the mounded southern hills and the eastern hills that tease your eyes with the chance that you have seen the Dead Sea to the east.
  • Notice the little shops still holding on among the chain stores, the odd pieces of sculpture, the trompe l'oeil murals, the seasonal changes of wild flowers in open fields and fruit in the market.
  • Visit the little museums. Go to concerts. Don't let the language intimidate you. Ask for help in English, and you'll get it, with a little garbling.

Copyright 2007 Jane S. Fox

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Gated Communities

  • Jewish neighborhoods built in Jerusalem during the last 50 years of Ottoman rule were gated communities. Typically two long, single-story, apartment buildings flanked a courtyard. At one end was a strong gate; at the other a wall or an equally strong gate. In those days, bandits roamed the land.
  • Under the stones of the courtyard was the communal rainwater cistern. By the end of the summer it was dry. Then drinking water was bought from peddlars. During the 1947-1948 siege of Jerusalem, an elderly resident (gabbai of the Parsi synagog on Shilo Street) told me, people were glad to have the cistern water, though, he said,t hey had to shop down trees for firewood to boil it.
  • In the courtyard there was also the communal baking oven.
  • Jacky Levy has said that in Jerusalem the word shkhuna (neighborhood) properly applies only to this configuration, that brought its inhabitants together for essentials.
  • Walking north on Diskin from Ruppin, just after KKL (which, in spite of what the Carta map shows, does go through to Diskin), turn right at the alley. You will soon be in a very pretty example of such communities.
  • Look up (http://jerusalemblog.blogspot.com/2007/01/looking-up.html . A second floor has been added to most buildings. Look around. Many owners have modernized their properties.
  • As you walk through the Nakhalaot, on both sides of Betsalel, you shoulad be able to trace several other neighborhoods from the same era.

Copyright 2007 Jane S. Fox

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Friday, February 02, 2007


  • The windows on our apartment, double glazed, fit snugly into frames well-fixed in the wall. When the handle is horizontal, the window is a casement that opens inward. When the handle points up, a rug tilts the window so it is open from the top. Handle down, window tightly locked.
  • Wish I had windows like this in Wisconsin when an Alberta Clipper blows.

This entry belongs in 2006.

Copyrigh 2007 Jane S. Fox