Friday, February 20, 2015


Jerusalem's street light are close together and bright. This morning at 4, I looked out on bright snow. Reflection surely cannot increase lumens, but wow it was light outside.

Something heavy has driven along our street. The tracks are deep. I'd say we had more than six inches on the ground, but for all the constant weather reports, I've heard no number for the accumulation.

No bus service, and no one with any sense will be driving for a while. I actually have seen no cars, though our street is never busy. It looks as if there was only the one truck. Most streets are too narrow for a plow, there is anyway no place to push the snow to, and it should be melted away in two days. The radio says the trains are running between Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh. From the Jerusalem train station to anything else in Jerusalem (except the zoo) is quite a climb, though.

A sound change in the language has made the word for hills into a homonym for the word for cities. This makes reports and forecasts a bit unclear. Is it the cities of the Galil or its hills which can expect more snow? Both, of course, but I wonder which is in the forecast. Have to look it up online.

The heating system can only get the apartment up to 66 degrees F, trying for 68. Not bad, really.

Israelis are always told to conserve water. Almost always. Yesterday the warning went out, "Leave a tap running overnight to prevent, the pipes from freezing."

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snow forecast again

Ynet reports the roads into Jerusalem are packed. Israelis like the idea of snow.

Very pretty until the power goes out or the water goes off. I'll leave a tap dripping to prevent this apartment's taps from bursting, but last time a water main was out for hours. I've filled empty bottles. Had those last time. THis time will also fill a bucket. Where to put it so we don't knock it over? In the shower, I guess.

Tonight's concert has been postponed to next Wednesday. They phoned about that. I had already seen the postponement on their website. I've laid in food for three days. The stovetop is gas. But the heat is electric. We'll leave the shutters up, because they, too, are electric.

If I had boots, this might be fun.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Israel Museum Archaeology Collection

Although the Hebrew tours usually have more depth, we took the English tour for its timing. The guide (Rachel) was excellent. Wide knowledge. The collection starts with hand axes from 1,500,000 years ago. And a pleasant but loud voice. We whizzed past the alphabet room. I've been there. If you go to the museum, don't miss it.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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Sunday, February 15, 2015


The temporary exhibit at the L. A.Mayer Museum for Islamic Art ( ) consists of a room ful of pictures of donkeys plus a short film about donkeys. The film is interesting. I was interested in looking at some of the pictures for a minute or two I think I missed something.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mme.Butterfly Ballet

The Israel Ballet's production of Mme. Butterfly features a young, slight ballerina. Not only is her dancing beautiful, but she looks the part.

The opera singer whose Aria's add to the performance looks the way opera singers who sing the part usually look. The young dancer is much more convincing as a young girl, who has probably not yet completed her geisha training, and who is fooled by Pinkerton.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dust storm

The Environment Ministry says the entire country is experiencing the worst air pollution in five years.

You don't need instruments to know the air is full of dust. I feel dust in my nose and mouth. The sky would be mostly blue if it weren't a brownish grey. The wind is sharp and cold. In parts of the city built 100 or more years ago, walking isn't bad, but in wider areas gusts threaten to throw me off balance.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Monday, February 09, 2015

Holy Trinity

At the large Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Church in the Russian Compound, Saturday morning's walking tour guide tried to explain the difference between Eastern Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Bemusement. The difference, as she explained it, is in theology -- belief -- and she stuck to one basic difference in the Credo. Bemusement reigned. As she said, Judaism has many divisions, but they are not about theology but about practice or whose authority to accept when deciding how to act.

Not that Christians find their differences any easier to understand. In a Byzantine History class we read about the differences between homoousios and homoiousios, between monophysites and dyophysites, between the Arians and and those who believe in consubstantiality. Wars were fought over these beliefs. Christians in the class found the subject arcane. As for me, I still have to look up the definitions. And the spelling.

In any case, I think she got it wrong. She did not mention the filioque clause, which seems to be at the basis of the difference. If I understand the difference. Which I probably do not.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Sunday, February 08, 2015

Theater Games

Each member of the improv trio said one word, repeat. You've probably seen improv troupes create a scene this way.

In Hebrew, "and when I saw" is a single word. So is "and at my house."

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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Saturday, February 07, 2015


Highs were in the 70s today (23 Celsius). Forecasters say highs in the 40s (8 Celsius) on Wednesday with the possibility of snow.

Dry and dusty today. Heavy rains predicted by the end of the week.

Jerusalem winter weather is generally variable, but this seems extreme.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox


Wednesday, February 04, 2015


Poppies are blooming. I enjoyed their bright red blooms as I walked through the Valley of the Cross on my way to the Assyriologists' conference at the Bible Lands Museum Monday and Tuesday. Blue skies, warm sun, tiny yellow flower clusters setting off the poppies in the grass -- perfect walking weather.

The conference was about a trove (technically called "an archive" for being found together, though their provenance is either murky or secret) of hand-sized, cuneiform-inscribed tablets from the Babylonian Exile, some of them dating to very near the time when Judeans were first forcibly resettled in what is now Iraq. Scholars have been studying them for only a few years. The conference was about the contents of some of them, inferences which might be drawn from them, and what we know about the culture around them. Most or all of them are business documents such as contracts and promissory notes.

The museum has a lovely, temporary exhibit featuring these tablets and putting them in their context.

Their language is Akkadian, difficult to read because each cuneiform symbol can have more than one sound and each sound can be represented by more than one symbol. We're used to that in English: though, through, enough, thought, sew, sow, threw, cuff, cough. But English has only 52 letters (upper and lower case) plus ten numerals and a few other symbols such as &, %, and $. Cuneiform has several hundred.

Professional scribes handled the writing and reading. They signed their names to the tablets and dated them. In fact the names and dates are particularly interesting, for men and women name themselves with their given names, patronymics, and sometimes family names. From this and the dates scholars have been able to put together several family trees and, from the contents, figure out what kind of farming was going on and who was earning a good living at it and how. I learned, for example, that entrepreneurs put together plowing teams of oxen to be rented out during the short planting season, and that the owner of the lead ox received least payment because it did not have to be as strong.

I was left with questions whose answers may already be known. For example, the Judeans probably already know Aramaic, and the neo-Babylonians probably had also started speaking Aramaic, Yet the contracts are drawn up in Akkadian, a language which had been in the area for millennia, by local scribes who had trouble transcribing the newcomers'foreign names. Was there a legal requirement that contracts be written in Akkadian?

Scholars are left with many other questions. this keeps them happily employed.

The exhibit is quite good. It displays many of the tablets. Explanations, translations, derived family trees, and more are in the catalogue. You can read the catalogue at the table opposite the entrance to the temporary exhibit. It might be worth buying a copy upstairs.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Off putting way in

Walking on Yafo, with Beit Yoel (housing the Village Green) on your left, cross Yosef Rivlin and continue the tiniest bit , not quite to Shlomtzion HaMalka. On your right will be an archway that doesn't look like it goes anywhere you'd want to. Enter anyway. Graffiti cover the walls of a short passage.

But you can already see the upscale restaurants on the way to Yoel Moshe Solomon Street.

Along with Yosef Rivlin, Yoel Moshe Solomon, before he made is way to Petakh Tikva, founded Nakhalat Shiv'a in 1868. Some of the buildings still stand. cross the street and you cam make your own way through courtyards and alleyways to Kikar HaMusika, a new project adding performance space inside and out to modern Jerusalem.

Saturday's municipality walking tours, both the Hebrew and the English, went through the center of the new city, from the Russian Compound to Zion Square ( ) (named for the city's first cinema) and on to Nakhalat Shiv'a. I already knew most of the places and history, but not all. These walks always teach me something new and take me to at least one place I haven't been before, often to one I'd never discover on my own.

Copyright 2015 Jane S. Fox

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