Monday, January 31, 2011

Miniature Village on Aza near Tikho Park

At first I thought it was an elaborate birdhouse. By the entrance to the crescent in front of Aza 44-58 (even), just below the little Dr. Tikho Park, someone has built a minature wooden village with mirrored windows. The only sign I saw on it said only, "Don't touch." There are square towers like those on a wild wist fort and small buildings, all connected together. What does this represent?

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox


This week's municiality walking tour covered familiar territory, but I always learn something new with a guide. Why is the Jerusalem theater where it is? Mrs. Sherover, who donated the money for the original building, wanted it across the street from her house. Unfortunately the neighbors have managed to keep public transportation at a distance. The guide insisted that a municipal theater needs access by public transportation, but the theater seems to be doing very well with the nearest bus stop three blocks away.

The plaza in front of the theater has a lovely view -- and lots of benches, which are comfortable unless wet, which they too seldom are this year. Spring,m summer, and fall festivals, fairs, and happenings enliven this plaza. Inside, all year, concerts, movies, dance performances, plays, comedy acts, art exhibits, lectures, concerts in the lobby, and a restaurant with very good salads and tasty soups attract crowds age 5 and younger to at 90 and older.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jerusalem Light Rail

Word now is that the light rail will not be transporting passengers until August at the earliest. According to Yediot Akhronot, the city has budgeted over a two million dollars to teach people, from school children to the elderly, how not to be run over by the train. Since they insist they will allow no other traffic on Yafo from west of the shouk all the way to City Hall, they worry, justifiably, that people will be crossing the street wherever the want to. And since the train is close to silent, pedestrians will have to be very alert."'clang, clang, clang,' went the trolley in St. Louis, but the Jerusalem light rail is close to silent. "'Ding, ding, ding,' went the bell'" but I gather the Jerusalem trains won't bother. Meanwhile getting through the city is slow and I expect the merchants in the shouk are hurting.

Allowing taxis and buses along the part of the right of way now totally closed to all other traffic would keep pedestrians alert, and be a lot more convenient for people who want to go where the train won't. Between the old Shaareu Tzedek building ant City Hall (Safra Square) the train won't be able to go fast anyway because the stops are close together.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox


Friday, January 28, 2011

Israel Museum Reopened

Went to the finally-reopened Israel Museum this morning. Lovely and frustrating. I hope they don't think they've finished labeling the artifacts in the archaeology section. I'm willing to think they have a reason for placing benches where people seated on them can't see anything of interest. Maybe it has something to do with traffic patterns. One is opposite a freight elevator.

We took a Hebrew tour. Good guides always add to my enjoyment. I caught part of one of the English tours. Also good. The tours are free. Ask at the information desk. Several people had fold-up stools I want to try. Because these were identical, I'm pretty sure they rented them at the museum. Next time we go, I'll check that out.

The museum now includes several small restaurants and at least one snack bar. There was live music in the entrance building restaurant, for which you do not need a museum ticket.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

From Flamenco to Balkan

On our walk home after a Flamenco performance dedicated to Cameron ( ) we saw a crowd outside Sigimund's. Two were dancing, others swaying. From inside we heard Balkan music. As we crossed Ha'ari, we could see the violinist and percussionist through the glass sides of the tiny building (really an oversized kiosk). In a taxi we'd have missed that.

This Flamenco concert had less dancing (and fewer dancers) than the last and more singing (and musicians and singers). Except for a headless man a few short riffs by the musicians and singers, including the very pregnant one, all the dancing was by Sharon Sagi, the woman who starred in the previous concert.

The program including filmclips of Cameron (de La Isla) who rose "from the streets" in his words, to be the idol of flamenco lovers.

The music and dance were wonderful, but we would have liked program notes with lyrics. Tantalizing to catch only those few Spanish words I know like girl, tomorrow, and heart.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Year for Trees

This year's celebration of the trees' new year ( ) came a day late but not a grush short. The celebration was Friday morning on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall. The brass band featured a washboard. Where do you buy a washboard nowadays? I suppose in a music store. My old favorites the stilt-walking trees and dryads were back, one orange tree pushing a stroller that cradled a flowering shrub. The prize goes to the giant dragon puppet, moving like a sinuous serpent -- a credit to its three human controllers. At Kikar Tsion an orchestra played. At the top of the midrakhov an Israeli pop group played and the crowd sang along. In between another bandstand provided space for more musicians. One wonderful violinist played what sounded sometimes Celtic and at other times Slavic, making me wonder about the possible influence of the Wild Geese ( ).

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I often get asked directions -- today twice in three blocks. I'm fine helping pedestrians. I know what I know and what I don't. Drivers are more difficult because of one-way streets and prohibited turns.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From Baroque to Iraq

Monday's Etnachta concert was beautifully played Tellemann, Vivaldi, and Buxtehude. From that we walked briskly to Beit Shmuel for an evening of Iraqi nostalgia, anecdotes, and popular music from the 1930s through the 1950s.

An accomplished singer and six wonderful musicians started the music at 8, when the scheduled start time -- which is to say before about half the audience was seated. The evening's MC and narrator also sang tunefully, and so did the audience -- except for us to whom all those Arabic songs were new.

At least 2/3s of the audience had come from Iraq in 1950-1951. They sang along, which is always fun, and vocally remembered the scenes and experiences. "Paradise," the narrator called it. Hindsight remembers 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) but surely not the intensity of the discomfort. They'd brought children and grandchildren. The atmosphere was rather like a high school reunion.

The Jewish community lived in Iraq 2,500 years, having followed the prophet Jeremiah's admonition to build houses and plant trees in their exile, for return to the land of Israel would take many years. By many years he probably meant 70, but you know how quickly time passes when you're busy.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Hafetz Haim school

The century-old building of the Khafetz Khaim school on Jaffa Road (across from the sundial, next to the Ottoman police post) is being gutted. About a decade ago the shops along the road were torn down, preserving only the arches. I expect a new building will go up behind the school's facade.

The way they taught at this school was considered overly modern in its early years. The methods are now those of people who fear the modern world and who, without knowledge of history, look back to 17th century Poland as ideal.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jerusalem Light Rail hahahahaha

A friend who has not been in Israel for a year asked whether the light rail system was running. Hahahahaha.

There has been progress, or at least change. Tracks are laid. Station shelters are in place with electronic signboards ready to show when the next train will arrive.

Some time in mid April.

Meanwhile Jaffa Road is closed to all vehicular traffic. For three months there will be no transportation, public or private on Jaffa Road. Of the first time in at least 3,000 years.

The light rail project is 13 years old. described the warning mural.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Friday, January 14, 2011

New mural

Past the top of the steps to Shiloh Street you can see a new mural by Mayan Fogel. I picture the artist as one of the many American students, with long hair and long skirts, who live along the old alleys. The artist has pictured a woman wearing a shvis (a tied-back scarf, which tells us she is married, Jewish, observant, and probably Misrkhi), a long jacket and skirt, and sneakers. She is reaching for two birds perched just out of her reach. The strange perspective, muted colors, and signature say, "I'm not graffiti."

In the shouk (market), within the appendix between Mahaneh Yehuda Way and Hafetz Hayyim (near the Jaffa Road end), new benches provide a welcome amenity. Near them a man sells food grinders. Does he make a living from that?

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra

Tonight's concert (30 NIS for people who were at the Etnakhta concert Monday) -- early 20th century French music.

The soloist, a Russian pianist, played an encore by Brahms. I'm told Russian soloists expect to play encores.

The walls of the lobby outside the auditorium are bare -- first time I've seen them without art. In other lobbies the current paintings are not anything that holds my interest. Sculptures to the right of the main entrance are worth looking at though.

If you ever lose something at the Jerusalem Theater, ask the receptionist just inside the door to the offices (the entrance in between the ticket office and the main entrance). I left my pocket diary at the etnakhta concert and got it back before the Jerusalem Symphony concert. It's full of names for which I have no faces, times with no indication of related events, and odd notes. Also has both Israel and US phone number, plus one each from England and France.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox


Israel Flamenco

At last night's flamenco ( ) concert at Beit Shmuel we sat in the center of the seventh row of an auditorium with just the right slope. Nine women tapped and stamped, legs mostly hidden beneath long skirts. Their bodies said, "You don't need to see the mechanics of the artistry." Arms, and hands, and stance are always visible, and the lone male dancer provided contrast.

One barefoot for some, ballet slippers for others, so not-flamenco dance, demonstrated the dancers' wider training.

The male singer had and authentic your-voice-won't-last-if-you-go-on-like-that sound.

Beit Shmuel's Hirsch Theater is a popular, smaller venue. Last week we saw Ruddigore there.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Saadia Gaon 14

The front yard of the apartment building at Saadia Gaon 14 (on the other side of the valley from the Israel Museum) displays either an art installation or a creative way to get plastic containers out of the house. Large opaque plastic jugs -- the kind that hold bleach, fabric softener, detergent, and the like -- are arranged around the space. Lots of them. Yellow, green, red, blue, and gold. Abobe six or seven of them are miniature windmills -- not the picturesque Dutch kind like the Rehavia and Yemin Moshe wind mills, but the thin bladed modern kind. Under two or three of these jugs lie on their sides, set with electric clocks, perhaps run from batteries charged by wind power. If this weren't art, neighbors would complain. I'll make a note of the name prominently displayed -- probably the name of a well=known artists whose art I can't say I exactly appreciate, but I did stop and look and smile.

Two signs say "Medad (Yisrael) Daniel." Can't find him on the Web.

Copyright 2010 Jane Schulzinger Fox


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Basher remains

At the center of Khafetz Khaim Way in the shouk, Basher continues to delight with cheeses. The counter that once presented an array of salads most varied, specialty pastas look very up to date but not as ready to eat.

My favorite bourekas place ( ) has not compromised quality. They've added more "ice" (sort of slurpee) machines near the sakhlev urn. You'd think ice'd be for summer, leaving sakhlev for winter the way ice cream was for summer and krembow for winter. But today is so hot, and I wore so many layers, that passiflora (passionflower) ice was refreshing.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

The birds have flown away

The birds that decorated the Ben Gurion airport are gone. The Lekhem Tushia outlet on Azza Road has moved across the street and up the hill.