Monday, February 28, 2011


Strawberries down to less than $1 a pound (NIS 7 for a kilo). Huge but good.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Abu Tor Tour

Saturday's Municipality walking tour was to Abu Tor, with an excellent guide who told me things I didn't know even about sights I'd often seen.

I learned that the Peel Commission ( ) met at the Palace Hotel, now being rebuilt inside the old facade.

Behind the King David Hotel we stopped at the 2000-year-old tombs which may have belonged to Herod's family. (The tomb of the best-known Herod was recently found at Herodion, out in the desert but visile on a clear day.

In Abu Tor I learned, among other things, that the large black rooftop water tanks are generally Arab. Water tanks on Jewish rooftops are generally slightly smaller and white or silver-metal colored. In Jersualem even water storage tells you something political.

Copyright 2012 Jane S. Fox

Friday, February 25, 2011

Brunch at Mansfield

Brunch at the restaurant (Mansfield) at the entrance to the Israel Museum was delightful. The food is excellent -- a fresh, varied, beautifully presented, tasty buffet. If you are not staying at a hotel -- or are at a cheap hotel where breakfast isn't much more than toast, cheese, cucumbers, and fruit -- Try this Friday brunch. The view is beautiful and the music live, this week played by a harpist, guitarist, and violinist. When we saw the harp, we asked for Celtic and got it.

You don't need a museum entry ticket to eat at this one of the several museum restaurants. At other times they serve the excellent usual.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sufi Music

The Ottoman History lecture series at the Museum of Islamic Art ( )was capped by a concert of Sufi and other Turkish music. Once again Yinom Muallem ( ) on percussion fascinated me though Eyal Sela's commentary was very interesting. The music that he, Muallem, and Ariel Kassis made together was entrancing. Sela played two unfamiliar wind instruments. Kassis played the kanoune (a kind of dulcimer). Orit Sukari danced gracefully, including demonstrating Dervish turns.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Modern Music Sandwich

Yesterday's free etnachta concert sandiched two odern peices between Shubert and Mendlessohn. The first was Debussy, who has stayed on concert programs for a hundred years. The second, a piece by an Israeli composer, was farther from the classical but not aggressively clashy. One problem I have with modern music is there's nothing I can remember in a piece, no bits of meoldy or rhythm that I have mental hooks for.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Wild Flowers

On the hills and in the valleys outside the city, and here and there within, wild flowers are blooming -- red, purple, yellow and white.

Copyright Jane S. Fox

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Excavating Acncient Debris

Friday we sifted dirt from the Temple Mount, finding small pieces of pottery, bone, shell, metal, glass, mosaic tiles, and one silver coin.

A huge mound of debris awaits volunteers to sift it. After the amteurs wash and pick through each bucketful, an advanced archeological student or trained archaeologist looks throught it again, usually finding one or more tiny bits -- a piece of pottery or a bit of corrosion encrusted metal. Later all the volunteers' finds will be carefully examined and some will be rejected as ordinary stones. Yet the archaeologist who welcomed our family group said that without volunteers the work would never be done. He gave us an overview of the project. When our two hours were over, we looked at some of the already-catalogued finds and talked a little about what they told us.

When the Waqf sent its Jordanian archaeologist away on vacation, bulldozed deep into the hill, and trucked the dirt a few miles downt he Kidron Valley, they were diggin in an area that Herod filled in when extending the Temple and its grounds more than 2000 years ago. The area was disturbed again by Crudader builders. None of these had any idea of preserving the past. So while what was moved and dumped a few years back definitely came from the Temple Mount, it would have been impossible to say where on the hill the earlier items came from, even if the Waqf had not moved them.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox


Thursday, February 17, 2011


A light rail train went past me on a practice run this morning. There is a bell. Sound like metal hitting a thick metal pipe. The driver wasn't using it much, but I expect to hear the sound more when there are more trains, and they take on passengers who will be tempted to run across the road.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox


Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Sunday night's theater production pf Plufenbach and Zufenheim (I may have spelled that wrong, but it doesn't matter) was done in "german" doubletalk (see Sid Caesar explaining and doing this at ) with a few humorous translations into Hebrew. I didn't know i was lost until 15 minutes before the end.

Monday afternoon's free concert was in complete contrast to the previous week's presentation of modern Israeli music. Last week it was interesting to hear the composers explain what they were trying to do, and once or twice i had the feeling of understanding they had done it -- rather like Sunday's play. This week's concert was the sort of classical music that seems very clear, though I expect the composers could have explained depths I miss on an intellectual level.

Two hours after the concert ended we were back at the Jerusalem Theater for a dance performance, Srul. First time I'd seen a bucyle and multiple walkers used in a dance performance. There were program notes, but I could have used supertitles explaining each scene. Nevertheless pleasurable.

Row 9A may be the best in the Sherover Theater.

Copyright 2012 Jane S. Fox

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Psalms Museum and Rav Kook's House

On our way from Beit Ticho we turned into the courtyard of the Psalms Museum. As we noted the paving covering a rainwater cistern, typical of its day, a woman asked if we had come forthe NaturePreservation Society tour. "We're members," we said, and we attached ourselves to her and the one person who had heard about the tour. The nature Preservations Society ( ) does good work but indifferent publicity for their Jerusalem tours in English. This tour covered the Psalm Museum and other buildings around the courtyard including Rav Kook's House, and Beit Ticho, down the lane.

The Psalm Museum ( ) is and unusual place worth a visit. It is the work of one dedicated man. The display of his paintings extends behind the building, around the back and side of Rav Kook's house. I don't know of many tours that go here. It's in a part of the city where the walking is easy, so if you have a free hour, take it in.

Nearby Beit Ticho ( ) where the admission is also free, often has interesting exhibits. Not yesterday, though, but I did see the video about Anna Ticho's life, interesting if you fill in between what's said.

Rav Kook's house does have an entry free. We arrived when their guide was giving a tour. They also have a video of the man's life and plan a modernized exhibit this summer.

If you walk back out Ticho Lane and cross HaRavKook Street you'll see a gorgeoud building, built to be the Italian Consulate, now a Franciscan Institution. Down the street a little is an "Art and Antiquities" store with the stranges objects in its display windows. Sherut's (shuttles) still pick up passengers on HaRav Kook, though they can no longer turn into Jaffa Road ( ).

A lovely walk now connects HaRav Kook Street to HaHavatselet. One thing the Jerusalem Municipality does well is benches.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finding Artifacts from the Temple Mount has informaiton about volunteering to help sift the dirt that the Waqf ordered scraped off of and excavated out of the Temple Mount a few years back. All archaeologiests can tell now is that the artifacts you'll find came from the Temple Mount, not their exact location. Makes this a slightly different kid of archaelogy. But because of where the dirt came from it's so rich in artifacts from thousands of years ago that you're sure to find lots.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Friday, February 11, 2011

Turkish Guest Towels

Not what you'd call "turkish towels" at all, the towels in the exhibit of Ottoman embroidery at the Museumfor Islamic Art ( ) are large but delicate. The Ottoman Empire lasted a little under 500 years, if you count from the fall of Constantinople in 1453, longer if you count from Osman I's reign over Anatolia. Osman's people were Turkic, from Central Asia. (The Ottoman Empire ruled the Land of Israel for hundreds of years.)

These towels, from the royal palace are the finest cotton batiste with silk, silver, and gold embroidery in broad bands. They were probably the work of royal wives and concubines who had little es lese to keep them busy. An explanatory video shows some of these women, looking remarkably western. I suspect those pictures were the work of the wived of English diplomats. In the 18th and 19th centuries "taking a likeness" was an "accomplishment" taught any gentlewomen who had the talent to learn.

In conjunction with the exhibit, which includes large and small rugs, and pottery of similar motifs, the museum is presenting a series of lectures by Rafi Yisraeli on the history of the Ottoman Empire. Last night he taked a bit about the young teenaged boys who were drafted, mostly from Christian areas, and brought to Istanbul to be converted to Islam and educated in complete isolation from their families They grew up to be immensely loyal to the empire, entering the top levels of its administraiton. So I've read and so Professor Yisraeli said. A remarkable triumph of education.

COpyright 2011

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Young Jerusalem Drivers

Headline in the local paper: It's Official. Young Jerusalem Drivers Worst in Country.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Guides can be a bit vague about how the bits of aqueduct in and around Jerusalem are connected to each, though I'll bet there's a book or at least an article diagramming that.

I'm pretty sure there was only one aqueduct leading into the city, the one from the high hills a little south of Bethlehem. Romans had the first parts of this built to supplement the water supplied by local springs. I started to say, "The Romans built," but I highly doubt any Romans did the labor of building. Roman engineers did do the equally important design work. Guided tours sometimes get permission to take tourists through the tunnel ( )that brought the water through the last hill before crossing the last valley.

Near Yemin Moshe ( ) you can see another bit of the water system from the Roman period. To the left of the path from Yemin Moshe to the Cable Car Museum ( ) runs a rectangular-cross-section stone channel on a level with the path and in places slightly lower. Some of the thin slabs that topped the aqueduct are gone. I'm surprised they weren't all taken for building material long ago. But there's so much re-useable building stone around.

One guide, who spent much of her childhood in Australia, said, "In Australia they'd build national park around a find like this." Well, if they found a 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct in Australia, I should think they'd pay a lot of attention to it ;=)

The Talpiyot water tunnel was used through much of the period between Roman control and British control. I don't know about this channel, but it doesn't look as if it had to be excavated. A lot of archaeology in Israel is done by noticing what's clearly visible and figuring out what it is and when it was built.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

First Car Train Accident

The accident between a light rail (trolley/tram) train and a car in Jerusalem was reported today.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Fire-fighting Plane

Not a Jerusalem story (I hope) but (shere in Jerusalem) I just saw on TV a test of a Russian forest-fire fighting plane that was really amazing. The plane "lands" on its belly on the sea and scoops water into its belly as jets continue to move the plane forward. Up moves the plane to drop its water on any nearby fire.

Not any use for a fire in Colorado but I suppose they've got similar planes in California.

I'd never seen the like. Imagine piloting that!

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Bridge and Hourglass

Santiago Calatrava's Jerusalem Chords light rail bridge ( )looks odd and out of place when you approach the western entrance to the city, when you look at it from the Central bus station or indeed from anywhere else close up. You wonder whether there's a master plan to rebuild the city in glass and stainless steel (sign to avert the evil eye).

But seen reflected in Anish Kapoor's hourglass sculpture at the top of the Israel Museum's hill ( ) the bridge sails towards the buildings, not playing their music perhaps but eager to reach them.

Upside down.

Turn around and see the bridge's distant beauty right side up. Turn back and walk around the sculpture on days clear, cloudy, and overcast.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011


A friend in her 70s did not get a flu shot and did get the flu. She phoned her HMO and told her doctor how she felt. After listening to her answers to his quuestions, he made a housecall to check out her lungs.

This sensibly kept her away from the hospital and from the clinic waiting room. Last time I heard of a doctor's housecall was in England, years ago, when a National Health Service doctor came to the house to check on a newly-arrived visitor whose symptoms could have indicated one of those tropical diseases public health services want contained at once.

Israelis have mandatory health care under a multi-provider, single-payer system. An agency similar to the US Social Security payes HMOs the same fee for each person they insure. Citizens pay a health tax to the National Insurance, a tax proportional to their income. People on welfare pay the same percent of their welfare checks as high-tech employees pay of their paychecks.

It seems to work.

Copyright 2011 Jane S. Fox