Saturday, January 31, 2015

Who'll pay the upkeep?

Friday, to begin Tu B'shvat celebrations ( ), the city hosted a sort of street fair at the "First Station," Jerusalem's Ottoman-built railway station ( ). Vendors sold organic fruit and vegetables, jewelry, Ethiopian food, and strange balloon creatures. A brass band competed with quieter musicians while an improv trio performed in a side room. Young kids played games at low tables and restaurants did well.

Outside walkers crowded the promenade along the old railway right of way, while bicycles, pedal cars, and segways thronged the parallel bike path.

I found the tree tour. The guide cared about trees and their politics. I learned that chopping down a tree requires a permit. Even topping a tree without a permit is now a criminal offense. Not that this prevents trees from being destroyed, with or without permits.

I asked how the park, which runs for miles, was paid for. "By contributions." And the maintenance? "The Municipality is now responsible but has not yet appropriated money."

Some time ago the City of Jerusalem decided not to accept land donated for parks unless money for upkeep was included in the donation. This park's origins are more complicated, but I hope they come up with the needed sum soon.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Israel and Morocco

As soon as I got the notice that the Andalusian Orchestra of Ashdod would be playing at Beit Shmuel, I ordered tickets. Wonderful concert and experience as always. The conductor asked how many people understood the lyrics. About half the hands went up -- not that he could see. And how many do not? The rest of us raised our hands. "Next time," he told us, "Those of you who don't understand should sit next to those who do and ask for explanations." At some of the other concerts, they have projected Hebrew translations on a screen.

The orchestra brought three solo singers, all of whom appear regularly in Morocco as well as Israel. Strange that. There are no direct flights.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Turbaned woman with rolled carpet

The rolled up carpet was taller than the woman by about a quarter. She was young, slim, by dress religious, by the evidence of the carpet strong.

She placed the carpet in the baggage compartment under the intercity bus. We got off the bus before she did, so I don't know how she managed the carpet at her destination. Or how she had arrived at Jerusalem's Central Bus Station. Or how she had maneuvered the carpet up the escalator. Perhaps it fit in the elevator?

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Monday, January 26, 2015

Cross the bridge

Alongside the light-rail bridge at the western entrance to Jerusalem is a pedestrian walkway. It is separated from the tracts, sort of attached to the side. From the train, you cannot see it.

Given a lift to Jerusalem Saturday night, we were dropped off under the bridge. We found the walkway, and walked across to the tram stop at the Central Bus Station. The walkway's pavement is translucent and lit at night, while the street side is transparent, a bit disconcerting for an acrophobe. Still worth the walk.

From the stop across from the bus station, you can get to the bridge if you walk with the tracks and the station to your right. Once on the other side it is a bit of a walk to the Supreme Court building, the nearest attraction, so just walk to the next stop or turn around and walk back.

The bridge does not fit visually with anything around it. But it is beautiful, especially if you look at it while riding the train. And if you think of it as David's lyre, it belongs here.

Copyright Jane S. Fox 2015

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Learned from a television show

About Bulgaria I had this stored in memory: that their king had kept the Nazis from killing Bulgarian Jews.

Channel 20 on Yes cable had more of the story in a segment about today's Jewish community in Bulgaria. It was no surprise that many Bulgarians helped Jews when they were under attack. Kings have never been able to protect whole communities all by themselves. But I was surprised to learn that the Bulgarian church came out strongly against deporting Jews and priests spoke up and put their own lives on the line. Not a single Bulgarian Jew was sent to a death camp.

Jews have lived in Bulgaria since before there was a Bulgaria. They came in when the Romans did, centuries before the nation was founded. Later, Jews exiled from Spain took refuge in the country. Ladino traditions remain.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Friday, January 23, 2015


"What's winter weather like in Jerusalem?"

Two weeks ago children joyfully greeted a few snowflakes. This week I'm pushing up my T-shirt sleeves to take in more sun.

If you are travelling here in winter, bring at least one very warm layer, a raincoat, and lighter layers as well.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Wednesday, January 21, 2015


It made sense for Hebrew to borrow crispy, crunchy, and mushy. Words to express those food terms didn't exist. But on a TV cooking show I heard freshi. Freshi? As in "add chopped parsley at the end so the shakshouka will have a freshi taste." I wonder if freshioot is next.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Walking the tracks

Some years back, whoever decides such things decided thtat the railway line into Jerusalem, running through a highly populated area, was too dangerous to cars and pedestrians. They overbuilt a new railway station way out at the approaches to Jerusalem (near the Malha mall) and closed the last part of the century-old route. (A few weeks ago they stopped all trains into Jerusalem. Though the reason given was needed repairs, I thinkspect the company wants to get its customers out of any habit they might have in preparation for using the line now being built from near the Central Bus Station, via Modi'in, to the airport, and thence to Tel Aviv.)

A decade or so after they stopped running trains to the Ottoman-built station on the edge of the German Colony, the new light rail trams started running. In the city center they run along a Jaffa Road now closed to all other traffic, which encourages pedestrians to walk on and over the tracks, but so far no one has been killed, even on Independence Day, when the trams gently push through crowds.

On the train tracks through Baka, the city built a beautifully landscaped promenade and bike path from Talpiyot to the historic station, now known as The First Station, where dacnces, fairs, music, and occasional ice skating attract crowds. The old tracks support the walkway. Steel sleepers stick out at the sides. First I knew sleepers could be steel. Along the way are descriptions of the railway's history. Cafes and sellers of fresh fruit invite you to refresh yourself.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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Thursday, January 08, 2015


Zigmund's ( ) is now a tiny bar and tobacco shop. No delicious soup any more.

The meat restaurant up the street from it lasted less than a year. The bagel sandwich shop across Aza is now a an art store. Lekhem Shel Tomer, just beyond the bus stop, sells excellent bread and provides a small cafe where I have seen folks eating pastries and sandwiches. The coffee shop down the street is now a bar, flanked today by a pizzaria with a cafe next to it, around the corner on Mitudella. Strangely the sushi restaurant on the other side of Azqa has stayed in business several years.

If you want hardware (right side going up Aza) or books (left side going up Aza) you are still in luck.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Annie Get Your Gun in Jerusalem

Program notes for a community theater group's production of Annie Get Your Gun apologized for the play's depiction of Native Americans and women. I have a feeling there were a few changes in the script. Although they made refernces to squaws, characters addressed these women winth honorifics: Mrs. Littlefoot. Sitting Bull was the most admirable character, and I wondered whether the original script had him reading Annie's letter to her while she was illiterate and generally being the wise old man.

The character most maligned was Frank Butler, protrayed as an attractive male chauvanist pig. The accounts I've read say the real Frank recognized Annie's value to the performance from the start and had a relationship with her whose equality was remarkable for the time.

Copyright 2015 by Jane S. Fox


Monday, January 05, 2015

Snow forecast

On the streets, on the bus and tram, I hear sheleg, snow.

Snow is forecast for Jerusalem late Wednesday, if the temperature dips to freezing at just the right altitude. The municipality published helpful information, including a warning to stock up on food and water, and felt it necessary to say, " If there is a risk of freezing, allow the warm water tap to drip to prevent water freezing in the solar [water heater] pipes (freezing water causes pipes to crack). " Note the revelation in parentheses. Jerusalemites are not used to freezing temperatures

They've just announced the closing of the main route from the west into Jerusalem four hours before the first possible flake might fall.

It is a hilly city, and I wouldn't want to drive that highway in the snow. Pipes aren't insulated. People don't have snow shovels. But most relevant is the trouble the mayor got into for not being well enough prepared for the last snowstorm, 13 months ago. Wasn't it Jane Byrne who got elected mayor of Chicago when her predecessor was blamed for snow problems? And Chicago is flat.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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