Thursday, January 29, 2009


In the basement of the Islamic Art Museum ( ) is a long rectangular room not very well suited to concerts and lectures. Last year it was the venue for a wonderful concert ( ). The musicians were on a little platform in the center of the long wall. My seat in the middle of the second row of plastic chairs was great. The folks at the far ends may have felt out of it, though we were all an appreciative audience.

This year I've been attending a lecture series there. Rafael Yisraeli's explanations of the bases of fundamentalist Islam are a mixture of admiration and wariness. He lectures frojm along the short wall by the horse armor. From the seats I've had, I had trouble making out what he wrote on the whiteboard and people in the irregular rows ahead of be often block my view of the lecturer, but the content puts what I already know into a broader context, diluting my ignorance.

Copyright 2009 Jane S. Fox


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Free Weekly Concerts

Tickets for the Israel Broadcast Authority's free concerts are handed out in the small lobby inside the Jerusalem Theater's side door. Concerts are every Monday at 5 (except this coming week when it is on Tuesday) and tickets are available from 4 PM. You'll get a ticket marked "void" for some old concert indicating a seat that doesn't matter because seating is open. The IBA uses the tickets only to count the house.

While you're waiting for the auditorium doors to open, have a look at the art in the temporary exhibitions. Right now on display are gorgeous pictures that Ethiopean Jews embroidered in painstaking chainstitch. Wish I could afford to buy one.

Last week's concert featured a chorus that proved its ability singing plain song and a Monteverdi mass, then wailed a modern setting of a sixth century Arab poet's lament on her brother's death. After the first few notes we were very sorry he had died and by the end those who remained in the concert hall felt her pain sharply.

In contrast, this week's concert was a joy of percussion. I doubt I'd download this music. The exileration and delight came from sight as well as sound. Nor does a video enchant me as PercaDu ( and ) did in person. I'll buy a ticket to their next concert. They play with the Philharmonic, as you can se and hear on the Youtube, but on Monday I liked them best when the piece was pure percussion.

Anyone know the name of that strange instrument they play? The announcer said it looks like a lying saucer, but I thought it looked as much like a covered, circular, Weber grill. As the announcer commented it sounds a bit like a steel drum.

Copyright 2009 Jane S. Fox

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Botanical Gardens

According to a plaque, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens were founded in 1953, long before I arrived in Jerusalem. Yet I had never been. All around is greenery, here trees from Australia, there plants from southern Africa, but the sound of traffic on Herzog below never stops. On Jerusalem streets, only one block from any main street, traffic noise fades to nothing. But on the hillsides of the Botanical Gardens are no buildings to muffle the sound. I hope that Jerusalem's rapacious builders are kept at bay, leaving botanical refreshment to contrast with the noise. Within the garden is a monument to a man in Japan, who in the mid=1970s, had been praying for peace for 20 years.

Copyright 2009 Jane S. Fox


Monday, January 26, 2009

Andalusian Orchestra

The musicians of the Andalusian Orchestra having gone on strike for higher pay, their concert was cancelled. My sympathies are with them. They are indeed underpaid. But I did want to go to that concert!

Copyright 2009 Jane S. Fox


Thursday, January 22, 2009


The feeling of virtue from using solar power to heat the water for my shower is washed out by the amount of water that must run until what comes from the tap is hot.

I fill the kettle and a pan to boil an egg, but the water's still running cold.

The washing machine, built on the European model, is filled from the cold water tap. The machine then heats the water to the temperature you indicate. True much laundry is washed in cold water, but there ought to be a way to fill the machine from the cold water in the hot-water pipe.

A note: if you rent a flat, ask whether there's a solar water heater, but don't say "solar," which means diesel fuel in Hebrew. Ask if there is a "dood shemesh." If there is, don't turn on the supplementary water heater on any day that has four hours or more of sunshine, or you'll get water that's way too hot and waste electricity as well as water.

Unfortunately this winter far too many days have hours and hours of sunshine. That rain is needed. Water is scarce. I do hate running that tap till the water flows hot.

Copyright 2009 Jane S. Fox

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stop Lights

The municipality has placed stoplights at the corner of Rav Berlin and Aza and a little way down at the corner of HaTibonim. Getting to the bus just became safer.

When the sirens went off, rising and falling, I though it unlikely that rockets were on the way to Jerusalem. In any case it's hard enough for the sun to get to the windows of this flat. I turned on radio and TV. After a few minutes they announced that a "technical problem" had set off the warning.

If I'd been walking down the street would I have felt different? If people around me had seemed disturbed? I wonder how the cellphone lines held up. I don't have a service that surfs the Web, but many people do, and even I might have phoned to ask someone to turn on the radio.

Copyright 2009 Jane S. Fox.


Monday, January 12, 2009


Carriages (or cars) for Jerusalem's light rail wait not far from the Hebrew University's Mt Scopus campus and Hadassah Har HaTsofim.

I'm told the new mayor suggests the light rail system is an overly expensive boondoggle. Throwing good money after bad is not an action to be undertaken lightly, but the inconvenience of laying the tracks is so great that Jerusalemites feel they deserve some increase in convenience sometime.

Today the bus ride from the central bus station to the shouk (about a 7 minute walk if you don't hurry) took 35 minutes. In Jerusalem a severe jam makes you wonder if there's been an attack, but no sirens were heard, vehicular traffic flowed from the other direction (much of it coming from a feeder road), and the sidewalks were full of pedestrians walking normally towards the bus station and towards the shouk. Jaffa Road's constriction to two lanes was the culprit.

Abandoning light rail would require paying to fill in excavations. I suppose the rails would bring a good price for scrap. The decorative bridge, with its abstract David's-harp-flying buttress, which the last mayor insisted would be as symbolic of Jerusalem as the Eiffel Tower is of Paris, would be Israel's bridge if not to nowhere at least to no purpose.

Copyright 2009 Jane S. Fox


Sunday, January 11, 2009


The rain waited until I was settled in the flat I've taken for a month oh H.arlap -- gotten leben, salt, lemons, cucumbers, onions, garlic, olive oil, butter, a whole-wheat roll, and laundry detergent at the makolet across the street; walked to the shouk (changing money on King George St on the way) and found a bus back (roadwork has moved bus stops); and walked up to get frozen trout from the supermarket. Buying fresh fish on a Sunday seems iffy. In such a dry year I rejoice in the rain, which is not quite the same as enjoying it.

Renting a flat is always chancy. Our sunny apartment on ben Labrat in 2006-7 spoiled me. This one is much pokier but just as convenient and should do fine for a month. In 2008 I rented a flat on Aza for a month. Cheerier than this one, but we were burgled. Police said a previous tenant probably copied the supposedly uncopiable key. Landlord replaced the lock with one whose key was supposed to be harder yet to copy. Next year, when we expect to stay longer and so will have more with us, I plan to change the lock myself.

Friends email for inside info on the current war. All I know is what I read in the newspaper and hear on the radio. Since Ha'aretz, Yediot, Reshet Bet and Galei Tzahal are all available on the Web, that gives me no info I couldn't get anywhere with an Internet connection. I also eavesdrop on busses, but heard no one saying anything about the situation (ha-matzav) today.

Copyright 2009 Jane S. Fox