Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Relief

LGF has an excellent round-up of where and how to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. There is additional information in the comments.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Do-Over

I just re-did the photographs for one of my recent posts, “This Morning Is for the Birds.” They’re much better now. Go catch it here.

I’m learning.

Jerusalem Wildlife

I had a lot of fun with my camera today after work. (Picasa helped, too.)

Unlike the speaker in Tom Lehrer’s “Hunting Song,” who had to shlep home two game wardens, seven hunters and a cow, I returned from my expedition with pictures of some local Jerusalem fauna: the Palestine sunbird who hangs out in our yard, a parakeet couple and two cats. Here they are.

Mr. Sunbird sips some nectar ...

Palestine Sunbird sipping nectar

Who else do you know who can eat lunch upside down?

Palestine Sunbird sipping nectar upside down

Ahhh. That hit the spot.

Palestine Sunbird taking a break

In brief flight. I caught this one by accident.

Palestine Sunbird in flight

Later in the day: Almost bedtime for the local Jerusalem parakeet population ...

Parakeet on tree branch, just before bedtime

The parakeet in the tree appears to be the mate of the parakeet in the photograph below. (The sunbird has a mate, too, but I haven’t been able to photograph her yet.) I don’t know what was happening here, but judging from the vocal exchange that went on between them, I’d guess that the parakeet in the tree was saying: “Come on, honey, it’s time to go to sleep,” while its mate, on the building, insisted: “Just a little longer, dear. I’ll be right there, I promise.”

Parakeet on building

On my way home, a most irresistible tiger took over my lap. I had no choice but to yield ...

Kitten facing road

Well, all right, he just looks a bit like a tiger. Cute little fellow, isn’t he?

Kitten facing camera

And finally: Her Ladyship snoozing on a convenient stone wall. Ahhh, this is the life ...

Her Ladyship snoozes on the stone wall

I tell you, that cat has it made.

Check out this week’s Friday Ark at The Modulator.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Our Security Guards

Another must-read at Treppenwitz: Please take a moment.

Praying for New Orleans

... and for anyone else in Katrina’s path.

Friday, August 26, 2005


This is one of the trees in the front garden.

It’s taller than our building.

Well, It Had to Happen Sometime ...

My first de-linking.

I wonder why. On the other hand, maybe it’s better not to know.

Hitchin’ a Ride

Before anyone gets the wrong idea from the picture below, Her Ladyship would like to make sure that we humans have a few things straight. One, she is not a basket case. Two, she is not going to hell in a handbasket.

My friend, Her Ladyship’s human companion, is scrupulous about putting her old newspapers in the recycling bin up the street. She takes the papers outside in a plastic market basket while Her Ladyship waits in the garden. When she returns, Her Ladyship jumps into the empty basket to ride the rest of the way home.

Her Ladyship carried home in a basket

Now that’s what I call devotion.

(Check out the Carnival of the Cats at Annoying Little Twerp this week, and the Friday Ark at The Modulator.)

Good News from the Bus Stop

I was at this major bus hub in Tel Aviv today and saw something that restored my faith in humanity at least a bit. Here’s part of the array of bus stops ...

Tel Aviv bus hub

There’s a kind of guardhouse on the other side. I spotted some plastic dishes under the stairwell. What could they be?

Dishes under the stairs at the guardhouse

On closer inspection:

Dishes of cat food and water

Fresh cat food and clean water. Isn’t that lovely?

The Rule of the Velvet Paw

Her Ladyship came out to greet me when I came home last night. When I started to pet her, she appeared to be enjoying it and even lay down near me. But when I pressed my hand to the ground to change my position so that I could reach her more easily, she pounced and nipped the back of my hand, drawing blood.

I don’t know why that happened. Usually Her Ladyship lets me know when she’s had enough attention and wants to be left alone, and even if she doesn’t, most of the time I know when to back off. I figure that the way I positioned or moved my hand may have triggered her hunting reflexes, and she went after the “prey” before she could stop herself.

Well, that was last night. This afternoon Her Ladyship came out to see me as I was leaving to go to Tel Aviv. I greeted her and asked if she would like to be petted. She approached and sniffed my feet, and the next thing I knew, she was using my foot as a pillow:

Her Ladyship’s head on my foot

Her Ladyship’s head on my foot, from closer up

Could this be an expression of reconciliation or perhaps affection? Or is Her Ladyship simply claiming fealty?

The Guest in the Garden

When I looked down from my terrace this afternoon, this is what I saw:

Cat asleep in the garden

This orange fellow lives in the building next door. I would like to make friends with him but every time I try he runs away, meowing at the top of his lungs. Once I even found him in the stairwell of my building. The moment we saw each other, he flew down the stairs, a frantic orange blur.

Well, I hope he had a nice rest.

Kitty Drugs Update

One of the catnip plants on the terrace ...

Catnip on the terrace

... and the new little catnip bed in the front garden.

Catnip in the garden

Yeah, all right. I know I’m growing a weed. But cats like it, and I love cats, so what can I say?

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Well, I am. There’s no getting around it.

I don’t talk much about my personal life or inner feelings on this blog. There’s a reason for that: I’m a private person, and the Internet is as public as it gets. So I tend to keep the shutters drawn pretty tight. I like my privacy.

Still ... I just came back from shiva at Yonina’s apartment a while ago. I met her daughters and some of her grandchildren, which was great, though of course I can’t help wishing that we might have met under happier circumstances.

I got to share stories about Yonina with her daughters as they showed us some of her photo albums. At one point, when they were discussing her involvement in the folk-music scene, they asked each other where her banjo was. I was glad to be able to tell them. (She gave it to a local banjo player several years back.)

Through it all, there was a persistent feeling of “last.” For example, I found myself thinking: This is the last time I’ll ever see this apartment. This is the last time I’ll ever sit on this chair. And I remembered how often I had sat there when Yonina was alive and we talked for hours while she gave me guidance or one of her wonderful treatments, or while I massaged her feet. This feeling, though sad, wasn’t anything particularly acute or dramatic. It was more like a strong and steady awareness of finality: that for me this was the end of an era, one of the most important of my life.

When Yonina’s healing course began, she told us: “The one thing I am willing to guarantee about this course is that it will change your life. I’m willing to sign to that.” In my case she was absolutely right. I owe her a great deal, and wherever she is, I love her very much.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Tiny Slice of Current Events

Meryl’s got a good read, as usual. Here she tells us why she disagrees with Mark Steyn’s assessment of what will happen after disengagement.

Jerusalem Voice went down south last week to protest the disengagement. Here is an account of her experiences.

And here are two columns by Naomi Ragen about her friends, Roz and Paul Schneid, a couple who lived and farmed in Gush Katif for twenty-seven years: Part I, a look at their lives before disengagement, and Part II, the story of what happened once they left their home, quietly and with dignity. The way they and so many others were subsequently treated is absolutely appalling.

I can’t see what good can possibly come out of this. I pray I’m wrong.

I’ll end with a bright spot, also by Naomi Ragen: The Good Our Eyes Have Seen. Even in all this turmoil and pain it’s still possible to find something positive.

Welcome Home, Ilana

My old friend from high school, Harold Berman, writes movingly about bringing home his newly-adopted daughter, Ilana.

A great big mazal tov to Harold and his wife Gayle, and to big brother Micah.

What’s This?


Why, it’s a one carrot dime on pin, of course!

(With special thanks to my dear friend J.)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

When You’re Blue ...

Post cat pictures.

I was going to make these into a cute series, but now I think I’ll just post them one after the other. Cat pictures are a great comfort.

This is the cat I call Silvergirl.

Here she is minding her own business ...

Silvergirl at her post

Getting skritches ...

Silvergirl gets skritched

More skritches ...

Silvergirl gets more skritches

Isn’t she beautiful?

Silvergirl in closeup

Someone looks pleased ...

Still more skritches for Silvergirl

Clever kittycat!

Clever Silvergirl

“Beautiful” Seems Like a Strange Way to Describe It, But ...

It was.

My teacher Yonina’s funeral took place today at Kibbutz Einat, just outside Rosh ha-Ayin. The cemetery is special in two respects: it allows secular burials and has a great deal of greenery.

A Reform rabbi officiated. He had never met Yonina, but did a wonderful job. The ceremony was a mixture of secular and religious, both in its character and those who attended. I think there were more than a hundred people there. At the request of Yonina’s daughter, I sang “I’ll Fly Away,” a song Yonina loved and that she sang with the Kossoy Sisters decades ago.

I still haven’t internalized the fact that Yonina is gone. I suppose it will take some time for it to sink in.

In the meantime, I just deleted Yonina’s listing from my instant messaging contacts list. I didn’t really want to, but it hurt too much to see her name there and realize that I can no longer type How are you doing? and watch her answer pop up a few seconds later in the rainbow text she liked.

I’m saving her e-mails, though.

Do they have instant messaging and e-mail in the next world?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Yonina Jacobs, 1937–2005

Yonina Jacobs, 1937–2005

Barukh dayyan ha-emet.

(Jews customarily recite the above Hebrew sentence, which means “Blessed be the true Judge,” upon hearing bad news.)

My beloved teacher, Yonina Jacobs, died early this afternoon. Several years ago she was diagnosed with cancer, and although her surgery was successful, the disease returned later on. Today, it claimed her.

A clinical psychologist and energy healer for more than twenty years, Yonina was a teacher to the end. When she realized that she was dying, she invited her students to come to say goodbye. She wanted to leave with a clean slate, and she talked openly about her dying process, with which she was completely at peace.

I took the above picture of Yonina last April, when we met at the home of a mutual friend. That was the last time I saw her until last week, when this friend called to tell me about Yonina’s situation.

Yonina lived many lives during her time in this world. Among the most fascinating stories she told me were the ones about how, in her younger days, she sang with such folk personalities as the Weavers and the Kossoy Sisters in Greenwich Village. (She also went to school with Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary). “I learned to play the banjo in self-defense,” she said with a grin. The folk musicians had a permit to play in Washington Square Park on Sundays from noon until 6:00 p.m., after which they often went to Yonina’s apartment to jam throughout the night. And that’s just one of the many facets of Yonina’s life.

Several years ago I was privileged to be able to bring a good friend back into Yonina’s life. My very dear friend Larry (Arie) Gamliel, a mainstay of Israel’s folk-music community who died in late 2003, had been a friend of Yonina’s when he was a university student some twenty-five years before. I happened to mention Larry to Yonina—or perhaps it was the other way around—and they reconnected. When Yonina broke her ankle and could not leave her home for several weeks, Larry got a few local folk musicians together to visit and play for her. Larry loved and respected Yonina very much, and I like to think that he was among those who were there to welcome her when she crossed over.

It is a relief to know that Yonina is no longer suffering. But I’m so very sad that she’s gone.

I send my condolences to Yonina’s family, friends, students and all who loved her.

Barukh dayyan ha-emet.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Evening in Downtown Jerusalem

Downtown Jerusalem at twilight, with a near-full moon overhead.

Evening in downtown Jerusalem

Here is yet another bumper sticker urging readers to adopt the writer’s idea of proper behavior. (Jerusalem is full of such stickers.) This one reads: “God will subdue our enemies by virtue of our modest clothing.” It doesn’t even rhyme in Hebrew. Well, it could be feminine rhyme, which would be appropriate, since such exhortations to modesty are usually directed toward women. (As if women are responsible for what men think and do! But that is precisely what the writers of such slogans would have us believe.)

Bumper sticker

Wow, that is magical thinking if I ever saw it. Just wear the right kind of clothing and all will be well.

Yeah, right. I didn’t even buy that one back in high school.

Spot On

I just read Meryl’s Notes on the Gaza withdrawal. She pegged what I’ve been feeling, spot on.

That includes the reasons why I haven’t been writing about disengagement. Like Meryl, I can’t. It is just too painful.

Anyway, go read her analysis. It is excellent, as usual.

Name Change

The parents of wounded soldier Lt. Elroi Mizrahi have decided to add a name to his existing one. Please pray for and/or beam good thoughts toward Elroi Refael ben Galia Glynis.

And thanks to David of Treppenwitz for the update on Lt. Elroi’s condition, a great post on the custom of adding a name and the correct name of the soldier’s mother.

May we hear good news soon.


Just what on earth did this sick creep think he was going to accomplish?

Less than two weeks after Eden Natan Zada murdered four Israeli Arabs traveling on an Egged bus in Shfaram, another Jewish terrorist shot dead four Palestinians near the Industrial Zone at the West Bank settlement of Shilo.
The shooter was identified as Asher Weisgan, 40, from the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rahel.
According to Channel 1, Weisgan admitted to the killings and said he had committed the attack in an attempt to thwart disengagement.

This is particularly horrifying:

According to reports, Weisgan, who worked for Ortal Transports as a driver for Palestinian industrial zone workers, opened fire on his own passengers.

According to Weisgan’s friends, he was “depressed” over the disengagement. Well, what do you know—so is most of the country. No matter which side of the issue you’re on, what is happening in Israel right now is absolutely heartbreaking. But we don’t deal with sadness, depression and heartbreak by going out and committing murder. Anyone who practices such a hideous form of “therapy” is no better than the terrorists who, in order to sate their lust for blood and power, strap on explosive belts and blow themselves up amid crowds of innocent people.

The best Weisgan can now expect is a trial followed by a long prison term, possibly for life. But at least he will live, which is more than can be said of the four people whose lives he cut short today in cold blood.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Global Voices

Wow. I just found the Global Voices website. Until about five minutes ago, I didn’t even know it existed.

Let’s see what they’re about. From their sidebar:

Global Voices is an international effort to diversify the conversation taking place online by involving speakers from around the world, and developing tools, institutions and relationships to help make these voices heard.

Hey, that sounds interesting. On their page for bloggers:

Every weekday, Global Voices offers links from bridge blogs around the world in our Daily World Blog Roundup. (“Bridge blogs” are blogs from a country or region that speak to a global audience—see more detailed definition below.) Our editors find many of these links through our aggregator, which tracks several hundred of the most active bridge blogs.


One of reasons we’re so excited about Global Voices is that it’s already helping journalists find new voices to incorporate into stories. If you can help us reach out to journalists, it helps them find the folks we’re featuring on the site ... and helps make the case that blogs aren’t just about technology and US politics.

Yeah, I can definitely get into that. This is what the whole blogosphere is about, right? Connecting people, making their voices heard, yes? Great. I’m all for it.

Oh, how did I find out about Global Voices? Well, I check my referral stats pretty regularly. And I saw that they linked to me. And I’d had no idea.

I guess my post about the birds wasn’t for the birds after all.

Maybe it’s time to learn to podcast.

This Really Brings It Home

I was translating news at work early yesterday morning when the item about the sniper attack on Kfar Darom and its tragic consequences came over the radio. Four IDF soldiers were lightly injured and an officer critically wounded in the subsequent “friendly fire” that occurred during two independent responses to the attack.

Israel is a small country. So I’m not surprised that someone I know knows him—in fact, gives him a ride every Sunday morning on his way to work.

No, I’m not surprised at all today. Just very, very sad.

Elroi ben Galia Gladys is the latest addition to my prayer list. May he have a speedy and full recovery.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

This Morning Is for the Birds

When I looked out my window this morning, I was delighted to see two of Jerusalem’s local wild parakeet population on the cypress tree across the street. One flew away before I could grab my camera. The other stayed on his (her?) perch for quite a while, giving me time to take pictures.

Jerusalem parakeet

Hey, there! Are you ready for your close-up?

Jerusalem parakeet preening

And here’s a Palestine sunbird in all its iridescent glory.

Palestine Sunbird

Head over here for better pictures and more information on our green feathered friends. You can also see closer views of the Palestine sunbird here, here and here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Click for Cathy

The Cancer Ablation Center

Please click the above image to help the sister of Chris Muir, creator of the Day by Day comic strip. The Day by Day home page has more information, and you can click from there too. Either one will help.

Via Meryl.

UPDATE: Operation Clik4Cathy is over. The goal was reached in two days! Head over to Chris Muir’s site for more information.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Well-Versed Kittycat

Most of my half-dozen readers know that Her Ladyship isn’t my cat. In fact, Her Ladyship isn’t even her real name. My friend, Her Ladyship’s human companion, agreed to let me post pictures of her on condition that I keep her true identity private. Hence the pseudonym.

Last night my friend told me she would have to go out of town on urgent business this evening, and asked if I would come to her apartment to give Her Ladyship her dinner. I agreed gladly. (I enjoy feeding cats. It lets me pretend for a moment that I have a cat of my own.) So tonight after I stopped in and gave Her Ladyship her portion of canned food (she always has a steady supply of dry food available and of course plenty of water, both indoors and out), I followed her outside to take some pictures.

Here are a few of them. Her Ladyship among the flowers ...

Her Ladyship in the garden

Wait, I’m not ready for my close-up yet ...

Please wait. I’m not done getting ready yet.

All right. I’m ready now.

But of course I’m beautiful.

Delightful, eh? Well, an additional delight was in store for me this evening. Steve of Blog d’Elisson (also of many talents, and of two gorgeous kitties whom I admire rather addictively from afar) left a sweet comment here today, in verse form. Here it is:

To Her Ladyship
If I could reach across the sea,
I’d give you rubs and skritches.
And then I'd need a piece of tape
To get your hair off my britches.
To me, there’s nothing else that pleases,
Like skritching lovely Siameses.

Steve, thanks on behalf of Her Ladyship! I feel the same way about Hakuna (a Siamese, too!) and Matata. I hope that someday I’ll get to tell them in person.

But wait! Your Ladyship, where are you going? Oh, well, I suppose even a gorgeous Siamese kittycat can sometimes get tired of being admired ...

Sorry, gotta go. I have important things to do, like making sure no other cats get into this garden.

It’s all right. She’ll be back.

Check out this week’s Carnival of the Cats at Mind of Mog, and the Friday Ark at The Modulator.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Around and About

Laurence Simon made it through the Blogathon, raising close to three thousand dollars (if not more by now) for the Cat Welfare Society of Israel. Kudos, congrats and kol ha-kavod!

Meryl Yourish has a great post today about missionaries and their deceptive tactics.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority’s full-length English news broadcast is finally on the Internet. (This is the longer broadcast, not the ten-minute spot shown at 4:50 p.m. on Channel One, and even that not for very much longer. I didn’t catch the date on which it will be discontinued, but it will be quite soon—within the next day or two, I think.)

Help Kate with some much-needed emergency dental work, if you can.

And finally, notice anything different up top? Yeah, I mean that tiny little sunflower in the address bar (or on the Favorites list). It’s called a favicon, and it’s there thanks to Steve of Blog d’Elisson, whose teaching and help made it possible. Thanks, Steve! Much appreciated. (Hakuna and Matata, be extra nice to him today, OK?) Here’s a link for anyone who would like to learn how to create and install a favicon.

And that’s it for now. Time to go to sleep.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

In the Shade

Her Ladyship poses in honor of Laurence Simon’s heroic efforts on behalf of Israel’s cats in need:

Her Ladyship lies in the shade

Same pose, different angle

Her Ladyship’s late housemate, the Dowager Duchess, enjoyed sunlight and heat, and used to rest happily beneath an incandescent bulb. (Recently I learned that this behavior is typical of Siamese cats.) On the other hand, Her Ladyship prefers coolness and shade.

I’m with Her Ladyship. It’s been terribly hot here these past few days, and I can’t wait till it cools off. I love the spring here in Israel, but since it’s so brief, I guess I have to say I’m a winter person by default. The way I figure it, the shorter days and lack of sunlight are the price we pay for cool weather and rain. I’ll be pleased once November rolls around.

I only hope we have much better news between now and then.

(This week’s Carnival of the Cats will be at IFOC, finishing up Laurence Simon’s marathon posts for the Blogathon. And check out the Friday Ark, too.)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sorrow and Shame

I was going to post more pictures today. But not now. Not after a despicable man named Natan Eden Zada took a gun in his hands and committed murder, shooting four innocent people and wounding twelve others yesterday on a bus in Shfar’am.

Murder is murder, no matter the identity of the perpetrator. Terrorism is terrorism. Zada committed both.

There can be no excuse for what he did. There can be no justification. Only sorrow, grief and shame.

As usual, David says it best in today’s post.

I only wish he hadn’t had to.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Seedy Post

These are fennel seeds in an early stage of their development.


Fennel seeds

More fennel seeds

Monday, August 01, 2005

Dance of the Headlines (or, Let the Interviewee Beware)

(That title was just begging for a “caveat,” but I don’t know the Latin word for “interviewee.” Maybe some kind soul in the blogosphere will tell me.)

Anyway ... I’ll let Brian tell his story for himself.

[I]t was with no small amount of trepidation that I agreed to be profiled in an article in this Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle. The reporter actually found me through this blog and said he was writing a series of articles about the real people behind the headlines living their normal lives in the Middle East. As a former San Franciscan, I would be perfect, he assured me.
With a pick up line like that, how could I say no?
Imagine then my shock when I read the headline of the article about me that appeared in the Sunday July 24 issue of the SF Chronicle: “Settler Hopes for Peace to Take Root.”
The last time I checked, we residents of western Jerusalem were not considered “settlers.” Which got me seriously wondering: had the Chronicle come to consider all of Israel a controversial “settlement?”
Now, as a writer and a reporter myself, I know what happens in the editing process, and I know that the reporter who interviewed me, Matt Stannard, was not responsible for the headline. Indeed he sent me an apologetic email shortly after the article came out expressing his outrage and how he feels “terrible” and “sabotaged” by whoever made what he said was a “last minute overnight change” without his approval.
Still, it highlights a general problem with “balance” when it comes to media reporting in this part of the world.

The “dance of the headlines” referred to in the title follows.

Read it all.