Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tummy Tuesday #15

In honor of Lisaviolet, who started Tummy Tuesday, here is a demure tummy shot of the lovely Lady in Red:

The Lady in Red

You Shall Not Pass

At least, that’s how I translate the yowls I heard from Her Ladyship this morning.

When I looked out of the window, lo and behold—there she was, fending off an intruder, who turned out to be Mr. Neighborcat:

Her Ladyship and Mr. Neighborcat

You don’t mess with Her Ladyship. Eventually, Mr. Neighborcat backed down.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mirror, Mirror

That’s Her Ladyship in the foreground, of course. But look carefully to the right, in the background. Yup, that’s Missy. I didn’t see her while I was taking the picture—only afterwards. What great luck! Two cats in the frame for the price of one, and they’re even looking in opposite directions! “Mirror, mirror” indeed!

Her Ladyship and Missy

Bees on Bread

In the hustle and bustle of the Mahane Yehuda open-air market, the bees feast.

Would you share your hallah with a bee?

Bee on hallah

Or your rugelach?

Bee on rugelach

(I would—but I’d make sure the bees had their fill first.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tummy Tuesday, Three Days Late

And better late than never. Her Ladyship’s furry tummy:

Her Ladyship

(Catch the 110th edition of the Friday Ark at The Modulator. The next Carnival of the Cats will be up at Watermark on Sunday.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Trip to Bet Guvrin

Over Sukkot, I went to Bet Guvrin National Park with some friends. (You can read all about the site’s history at the link I’ve just given, and there’s more information here.)

First, the view. A bit hazy, but beautiful nonetheless:

View from Bet Guvrin

One of Bet Guvrin’s many olive presses. First, the olives were placed in this stone basin; a donkey pulled the stone around and around, crushing them.

Olive press

Next, the crushed olives were placed in baskets, which were compressed upon each other with weights, causing the oil to run out. The compressed, empty baskets can be seen on the lower left side, in the background.

Olive press

A water cistern originally, this underground room was subsequently used as a columbarium—a place for raising pigeons for food or for sacrifice. Their dung was used as fertilizer. Soldiers of Anders’s Army chiseled the word “Warszawa”—Warsaw—in the stone in the center during World War II.

Stone in cistern

The skylight at the center of the columbarium, with pigeons:

Skylight with pigeons

What a way to take a bath! The bather sat or knelt on the low, rectangular stone while a person outside, probably a slave, poured water in from the outside. The water came out through a stone spout, the end of which can be seen on the upper right of the photo.

Bathing room

The spout:

Water spout

Back outside, a tree grows in Bet Guvrin.

Tree at Bet Guvrin

Barbie, Redeemed

Jen Taylor Friedman of Hatam-Soferet absolutely rocks.

Go see why. Go on, go! Right now!

UPDATE: More terrific pictures of Tefillin Barbie.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Welcome, Cheeto

Wonderful news: our office cat has a home! My tour-guide friend and his family have adopted him and named him Cheeto.

I wish them many happy years together.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Here Comes the Friday Ark

Catch the 109th edition of the Friday Ark up at The Modulator.

The next Carnival of the Cats will be up at Laurence Simon’s own Catcall on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tummy Tuesday

Her Ladyship at a slightly different angle:

Her Ladyship

Monday, October 16, 2006

Our New Office Mate

When I got to work today, my two co-workers told me jubilantly that we now had a fourth office mate. He had wandered in some time ago and no one, including our employer, was in any hurry to escort him out.

Our new office mate

He is a red tabby male, neutered and declawed (!), very friendly, quiet and well-behaved. He sat quietly in the office for hours, gratefully accepting attention when it was offered but not asking for it. He seemed to understand that we needed to get our work done. I am fortunate to work in a pleasant office with terrific people, and our new office mate made the atmosphere even better just by being there.

Most surprising of all, he did not trigger my allergic response. Well, all right, my neck itched a bit where he nuzzled it, but other than that I was fine. No sniffles, no itchy eyes, and my airway was clear.

This is one very special cat. If my lease permitted it I would have him home with me in a heartbeat.

As it stands, he really could use a loving, caring home. All three of us in the office are cat-lovers and would like to help him find one.

Today is Feral Cat Day. My thanks to Laurence Simon for posting a photo of the Lady In Red in its honor. In return, I offer a picture of our new office mate at my work station, with the IFOC Catcams on the monitor behind him.

Feline takeover of my work station

Yes, we still got plenty of work done today. But I hope that this post will accomplish another important task: finding our lovely new office mate a home.

UPDATE: Wonderful news: our office mate has been adopted.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An Evening at Ma’ale

Tonight I met some friends at the Ma’ale School of Film, Television and the Arts, where we watched four films by their graduates. They were amazing, and what was even better was that I got to meet a good friend who is herself a graduate of Ma’ale and whom I hadn’t seen for some time.

What’s extraordinary about Ma’ale is that its students come from the religious population ... and no subject is taboo. The school’s students and graduates do fantastic work, often making films about topics that require a great deal of courage to take on.

Here is a list of what will be showing when. Highly recommended. I hope to go back tomorrow night as well.

Tummy Tuesday: 13 or 22

(This post is in honor of the King of Catbloggers, Laurence Simon, who celebrates his birthday today. Check out his site—catblogging is only one of the many excellent facets of his Internet presence. Till 120 in good health and happiness!)

When I work downtown, I have my choice of bus lines home: the 13 or the 22.

The 13 is the no-nonsense line. It lets me off within a block of my front door and is the one I usually take.

The 22 deposits me several blocks—and a whole world—away. If I take the 22, I get off near a beautiful local park and walk home to the sounds of wild parakeets and the sight of gorgeous plants and trees.

And the Lady in Red. Oh, yes, the Lady in Red.

Today, the 22 arrived at the stop downtown before the 13 did. I hopped on eagerly, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Here is the Lady in Red’s sun-dappled tummy:

Lady in Red, dappled

Here is a portrait:

Portrait of a Lady in Red

And here is the Lady in Red imitating a lioness:

Imitating a lioness

Thank you, Lisaviolet, for starting Tummy Tuesday.

This Year’s Sukkot Set

My set of arba minim against a blue Jerusalem sky:

My set of arba minim

(For more about Sukkot and the arba minim, head over here and here. Great music, too!)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fun at Work in Tel Aviv

The appointment was originally scheduled for last week but was postponed until today. So, early this afternoon, I took the train to a Tel Aviv recording studio in order to record a telephone menu for a local computer applications company. Yes, the kind that says: You have reached the offices of So-and-so Company. To be put on hold, press 1.

It was great fun. I enjoy being in the studio almost as much as I enjoy a good hike (more about that later).

Now here’s the kicker. Turns out that the young man who got me this job happens to be none other than Aviv Azerad of Assaf Frischman and the Halutzim—the group that did “Yalla, Ya Nasrallah.” I had no idea of that when we first began working together, though; I found that out later on, to my delighted surprise.

Israel is (still) a very small country.

The link above points to the video that the group produced, not the earlier one with all the military video clips. YouTube has taken that one down for terms of service violation, believe it or not. But the video of the group performing the song on an Israeli television program is still there. By the way, they have another song and video out, a humorous look at the past year.

After the work was done, we headed out for a bite to eat. I asked Aviv whether he would let me take some pictures of him to post here, and he consented.



A bit wacky:


Crazy (his description):


That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: the Three Faces of Aviv.

Friday, October 06, 2006


This is Fluffy, a neighborcat I met last week.

Here he is posing for his portrait ...

Fluffy poses for his portrait

... and here he is resting. Posing is such hard work, y’know.

Fluffy rests

And that ledge is just the right height for the chin of a tired kittycat, too.

Check out this week’s Friday Ark at The Modulator. The next Carnival of the Cats will be up at Curiouser and Curiouser on Sunday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Post-Yom Kippur Appeal

Last night, as Yom Kippur began, the apartment of neighbors of mine caught fire. They were in the synagogue when it happened, and they rushed back to find that just about everything they owned is gone.

They had no insurance, and they’re dealing with some other heavy challenges as well. They have three children in and around their teens.

Donations via PayPal are being accepted at this e-mail address: jacob [at] jerusalemcapital [dot] net. (If you decide to donate in this way, please add a comment that the donation is for the family mentioned above. Also, I know the owner of the e-mail address personally and can vouch for his integrity. Any donation you send there will reach the family who needs it.)

If you’d prefer the snail-mail address of one of the people who is coordinating donations, please e-mail me and I’ll send it to you.

In the merit of helping those in need, may we be blessed with a good and sweet year.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Public Service

The Jewish New Year season actually begins one month before the New Year itself, during the Hebrew month of Elul. This is the time that we begin to prepare for judgment, search our souls and seek out God and each other to make amends for any offense we may have caused during the year.

It is also the time when Jews all over the world recite special penitential prayers called selihot. (Selihot are also recited during specific times of the Jewish year and on fast days.) Sephardim begin to recite selihot at the beginning of Elul, while Ashkenazim begin them the week before Rosh ha-Shanah. Selihot also form part of the prayer service on Yom Kippur Eve and of Ne’ilah, the closing service of Yom Kippur.

(A personal aside: when I lived as a house-sitter in an apartment directly opposite the Western Wall some years ago, Elul was a particularly challenging month for me. Yes, it was wonderful to live opposite Judaism’s holiest accessible site, but sometimes it was a bit hard to get any sleep. You see, in many communities the recitation of selihot includes the blowing of the shofar, and selihot are generally recited after midnight, and starting a month before Rosh ha-Shanah ... you get the picture.)

The backbone of the selihot service is the recitation of the Thirteen Divine Attributes. According to Jewish tradition, the recitation of these Divine attributes arouses Divine mercy during times of trouble and during the penitential season.

The minyan I attend on the High Holy Days, the Leader Minyan, draws on a fascinating variety of traditions. The tunes we use come from various Jewish communities throughout the world, modern Israeli rock songs, folk songs and even a bit of Disney. It was there that I first heard a particular prayer from the selihot service called “Be-dil va-ya’avor.” This Aramaic prayer, which alludes to the tradition of reciting the Thirteen Divine Attributes that I described above, asks God to remember the good deeds of our ancestors and be merciful to us in the merit of this recitation.

In our minyan, we sing “Be-dil va-ya’avor” as a simple chant, and over the years I have come to look forward to it as a high point of the approaching end of Yom Kippur. But when I searched for the text on the Internet, the only place I found it was in this section of Daat, a large, comprehensive, Hebrew-language Jewish studies site that, in one section, contains the texts of all prayers recited by the Mizrahi community throughout the year.

So as a public service, I have decided to make the text of “Be-dil va-ya’avor” available to English-speaking readers right here on Elms in the Yard. I will include a translation as soon as I can, and if any readers are interested, I will post or send an MP3 file of the tune—not the whole song, mind you, but enough to grasp the basic idea. In the meantime, here is the text, complete with vowelization:

רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן קְיָמֵיהּ דְּאַבְרָהָם רְחִימָא, בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן קְיָמֵיהּ דְּיִצְחָק עֲקֵידָא בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן קְיָמֵיהּ דְּיַעֲקֹב שְׁלֵימָא בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן קְיָמֵיהּ דְּמשֶׁה נְבִיאָה בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן קְיָמֵיהּ דְּאַהֲרׂן כַּהֲנָא בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן זכותיהּ דְּיוׂסֵף צַדִּיקָא בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן קְיָמֵיהּ דְּדָוִד מַלְכָּא מְשִׁיחָא בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן קְיָמֵיהּ דְּפִינְחָס קַנָּאָה בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אִדְכַּר לָן צְלוׂתֵהּ דִּשְׁלמה מַלְכָּא בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, אָרֵים יְמִינָךְ וְאַצְמַח פֻּרְקָנָךְ בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, בְּכִסּוּפֵי אַפִּין אָתֵינָא לְמִקְרֵי קַמָּךְ רַחֵם עֲלָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, גַּלֵּי גְבֻרְתָּךְ וּפְרק לָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, דִּינָן אַפֵּיק לִנְהורָא בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, דִּינָא דְחַיֵּי טָבֵי גְּזר עֲלָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, הַדְרָךְ שַׁוִּי עֲלָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, וְלָא תִתְפְּרַע כְּעובָדָנָא בִּישִׁין מִנָּן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, זִיוָךְ אַשְׁרֵי עֲלָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר
רַחֲמָנָא, חֲשׁוב עֲלָן טַבְוָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, טַבְוָן סַגִּיאָן אַיְיתֵי עֲלָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, יִתְגַּלְגְּלוּן רַחֲמָךְ עֲלָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, כַּתְבִינָן (חַתְמִינָּן) בְּסִפְרָא דְחַיֵּי בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, כַּתְבִינָן (חַתְמִינָּן) בְּסִפְרָא דְרַחֲמֵי בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, כַּתְבִינָן (חַתְמִינָּן) בְּסִפְרָא דְצַדִּיקֵי וַחֲסִידֵי בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, כַּתְבִינָן (חַתְמִינָּן) בְּסִפְרָא דִישָׁרֵי וּתְמִימֵי בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, כַּתְבִינָן (חַתְמִינָּן) בְּסִפְרָא דְפַרְנָסָתָא טַבְתָּא וּמְזונֵי טָבֵי בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, כְּבשׁ חֶמְתָּא וְרֻגְזָא מִנָּן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, לָא תַעְבֵּיד גְּמִירָא לָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, מְחׂל וּשְׁבׂק לְחוׂבִין וְלַעֲוָיָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, נְהוׂר טוּבָךְ אַנְהַר עֲלָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, סְעִיד וּסְמִיךְ הֱוֵי לָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, עֲבֵיד עִמָּנָא אָתָא לְטַב בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, פְּתַח שְׁמַיָּא לִצְלוׂתִין בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, צְלוׂתָנָא קַבֵּל בְּרַעֲוָא בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, קַבֵּל צְלוׂתִין וּבָעוּתִין בְּעִדָּן עַקְתִּין בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, רַחֵם עַל נִשְׁמָתִין בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, שַׁתָּא טַבְתָּא אַיְיתֵי עֲלָן בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, תּוּב מֵרֻגְזָךְ בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:
רַחֲמָנָא, וְלָא נֶהְדָּר רֵיקָם מִן קַמָּךְ בְּדִיל וַיַּעֲבֹר:

Gemar hatima tova.