Monday, December 13, 2010

Rain Outside, Leak Inside

It’s raining! Finally, the winter’s here. I’ll post pics as I can get them.

Last night, just before I went to bed, two things happened: it started to hail (or sleet, I’m not sure which) and I discovered a leaky pipe in the bathroom.

Now, I can change a leaky pipe just fine. But when I tried to close the faucet leading to the toilet tank, it wouldn’t budge. I applied some WD-40, put a cloth around it and tried to turn it gently with a plumber’s wrench. No dice – and I wasn’t about to try to push it.

So I put a bucket under the leak and went to bed to flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder. This morning, I called the plumber. He’ll be on his way sometime before noon. Luckily, I can get some work done at home, so the morning won’t be a total loss. And the leak isn’t that bad. Through the night, it did little more than cover the bottom of the bucket.

And it’s raining. It’s raining.

It’s raining!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Help! I’m About to Be Devoured by a Kittymonster!

Kitty monster

Oh, all right. I’ll come clean: I’m actually about to be cuddled, just as soon as His Fuzziness finishes yawning.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

And I Never Knew

When I was a student at the Junior School of the The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre back in the early 1980s, one of my teachers was Irma Jurist-Neverow. We called her Miss Jurist. She taught singing and performance, and I enjoyed her classes very much.

Occasionally, Miss Jurist would mention some of the things that she was working on at the time. I still remember how she demonstrated how the actor playing one character in her play should call out the name of another. But when I asked her for more information about the play, she wouldn’t give any. That was understandable because the play wasn’t yet published. Still, I sensed that there was more to Miss Jurist than met the eye.

It wasn’t until many years later, thanks to the Internet, that I found out that Miss Jurist was a noted composer, had had a television and a radio show, and released, together with Leonard Elliot, a novelty record album, Fuzzy Peach Pie and Other Lunacies, an erudite parody of classical music.

Here’s the review from Billboard, dated November 30, 1959:

There’s a takeoff on Menotti’s operas here that alone is worth the price of this disc. Many of the other musical satires included are also hilariously successful, and even those that don’t quite make it are good fun. One needn’t be a musical sophisticate to enjoy the broad takeoffs on German lieder, canonic music, show tunes, etc. Leonard Elliot and Irma Jurist render this mad mish-mash with no holds barred.

But Miss Jurist composed serious music as well, as I recently found out. Here is Nina Simone singing “The July Tree,” (lyrics: Eve Merriam; music: Irma Jurist):

I recently found out that Miss Jurist died approximately three years ago at the age of 94. (Some years ago, I tried, unsuccessfully, to make contact with her.) I don’t know whether she would have remembered me, since she taught thousands of students at the Neighborhood Playhouse, from which she retired in 2001 at the age of 89.

I have so many memories of Miss Jurist from our classes at The Neighborhood Playhouse: how she spoke about performing, how she accompanied us when we sang, how she told stories, and the Hanukkah play that she wrote about Hannah and her seven sons (I still have vivid memories of my schoolmate, Andrea, who was in the class above mine at the Neighborhood Playhouse, in the role of Hannah). Miss Jurist also composed one of the most beautiful Christmas carols that I have ever heard in my life. It’s a shame that the song isn’t out there; I feel that it ought to be.

(And in case anyone out there is willing to help make it so, I still have the four-part arrangement that I created for it in my senior year of high school, when I was studying music theory. When I asked Miss Jurist whether I could attempt the arrangement, she said, “If you want to.” When I showed it to her the next week, she said, “I didn’t think you could do it – but you did!”)

I wish I’d had a chance to ask Miss Jurist how it felt to set Eve Merriam’s lyrics to music and have Nina Simone record the song. I’d been right about her all those years ago: there was so much more to her than met the eye. But back then, it was just a guess.

Miss Jurist was so much more than the teacher I looked forward to seeing every Saturday morning... and I never knew.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo Sales Redux

[rant on]

Recently, I got yet another request to allow the publication of a photo of mine in a periodical in exchange for credit. The person who wrote to me explained that the periodical had no budget for contributors. I sent back a polite note saying that I would be happy to allow the use of my photo in exchange for a reasonable fee.

The reply to my email said, in effect: All right, we won’t use your photo, then, and that was the end of it.

But later, on a whim, I looked up the name of the person who had written to me. Turns out that she is a freelance writer with a web page that advertises her services.

Well, I thought, that’s interesting. Here we have a freelancer who charges for her services, but feels fine asking others to give theirs away for free. Then I thought: Hey, be fair. Maybe she volunteers her services for that publication.

Well, if so, then that’s laudable. Many of us donate our time and skills to causes that we cherish. But as I see it, there’s a big difference between doing so of our own free will and being asked to do so by a person we’ve never met. Why should I give away my work for free just because the article in question is about a cause I value?

I’m starting to think that the next time someone asks me for the use of a photograph in exchange for credit, I will say something like this:

“Sure, I’ll let you use my photo in exchange for credit... as long as it’s the same kind of credit that the banks, utility companies and supermarkets will accept. If that isn’t what you had in mind, then please do us both a favor and don’t waste my time. And what is this issue of giving credit, anyway? What value does it have, except for expressing, at best, a vague hope that perhaps someone else at some unknown point in the future will pay me for my work instead of you? Will that make your conscience feel better? Nope, sorry, I don’t think I feel like dying of exposure today. When you’re willing to give me value for my work in negotiable currency, then we can talk. Until then, have a nice day, and don’t let the door hit you in the rear on your way out.”

[rant off]

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Carmel Relief Fund

Click here to give to the Carmel Relief Fund via Israel Gives. The page also has real-time updates about the fire and relief efforts.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Visit to the Temple Mount

Recently, I visited the Temple Mount for the first time in my life. My guide is extremely knowledgeable, and my visit there was fascinating. We were there for well over two hours, and on the way out, my guide told me: I probably haven’t given you even a tenth of the information that’s available.

Here are several of the photos that I took up there.

Light and shadow in the new (and supposedly temporary) passage to the Mughrabi Gate:

Light and shadow on the way to the Mughrabi Gate

Capitals from columns from various eras:

Capitals from various times and places

Light and shadow from the crenellations along the eastern wall of the Temple Mount:

Crenellations, light and shadow

My guide pointed out damage from a power saw on this column of pink marble:

Column with damage from power saw

There is currently a court order in effect that any debris removed from the Temple Mount must be accompanied by an archaeologist. But the Waqf, in its zeal to erase any evidence of Jewish presence from the Temple Mount, evades this order simply by not removing the debris, but leaving it there, or redistributing it in various places on the Mount.

Dome with waste pile

Another waste pile with possible archaeological finds:

Waste on Temple Mount

According to my guide, these olive trees are hundreds of years old. Some of them are perhaps as much as a thousand years old. They were being harvested when we were there. Imagine eating olives, or using olive oil, from a thousand-year-old olive tree.

Ancient olive trees

Approaching the Dome of the Rock under a clear blue Jerusalem sky. (No, we didn’t go in. Non-Muslims haven’t been allowed inside the Dome of the Rock in a decade.)

Approaching the Dome of the Rock

The rear of a mihrab (a structure whose function is to point the way to Mecca, the direction of prayer for Muslims) with an uprooted tree

Rear of mihrab with uprooted tree

My guide told me that sarcophagi were often reused as water troughs. Here is one example just outside one of the gates leading to the Temple Mount:

Sarcophagus made into water trough

See the rest of the set here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

For RivkA

On my way home from some errands yesterday, I passed the front yard of a building that had something in it that made me laugh. I thought of taking a picture of it, and then thought: How can I think of taking pictures now, with RivkA....

I began to walk away. I hadn’t gone two steps when I heard RivkA’s voice in my mind, loud and clear, saying, “Oh, take the picture!”

So I did. Here it is.

For RivkA: In the front yard

RivkA, this is for you. I hope that wherever you are, you can see it and have a chuckle.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Barukh Dayyan ha-Emet

(Hebrew: “Blessed be the true Judge” – the blessing recited upon hearing news of a death)

RivkA is gone.

RivkA at her son's bar mitzvah

I took this photo at RivkA’s son’s bar mitzvah. This is how I remember her: positive, optimistic, joyful.

This is how I saw her during one of the first times that I met her many years ago. She was dancing and smiling and singing, so full of life. This is how I will always remember her.

Please see her blog, Coffee and Chemo, for funeral information.

May RivkA’s family, and all who loved her, be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Out and About

New pictures! Finally!

Sunflower seeds on the hoof:

Sunflower seeds on the hoof

A bicycle in purple and green:


A dropped kippah:

Dropped kippah

A crescent moon:

Crescent moon 2

Buildings at the old Jerusalem railway station:

Old railway buildings 1

A big, fluffy cloud:

Big fluffy cloud

Rain as seen through a windshield a week ago Friday:

Rain en route

Monday, October 04, 2010

Getting the Picture

Several months ago, I got an email from a blogger acquaintance. He had seen several photos that I had taken on a controversial subject and wanted to know whether he could use them for a story that he was planning to write that he hoped a newspaper might pick up.

I said: In principle, yes, though I would prefer to be paid. Trustingly, I waited for him to get back to me with more specific information, such as which newspapers he planned to pitch his story to, so that we could come to an agreement about payment.

What I didn’t know was that he had taken my agreement in principle as agreement in fact, and went ahead and published my photos on his blog, which is carried by a well-known newspaper. He posted my photos without telling me – and, it turned out, without giving me credit either.

A short time later, I learned that my photos had appeared, uncredited, on my acquaintance’s blog at the newspaper. My acquaintance added the credit later – not in a caption but in a talkback, with both my first and last names misspelled – only after being reminded to do so. When I wrote to him, protesting that he had posted the photos without having gotten back to me, he said that I had given him permission to use them. He added that he had thought that I, like him, would consider it more important to get the story out than to be paid.

When I asked the newspaper for payment for the use of my photos, the editor ignored me. Only after I called them repeatedly did the editor’s secretary turn me down in her employer’s name. My protest that I had not agreed to anything specific and that my acquaintance had not told me that he had a blog at the newspaper and intended to post my photos there availed nothing.

Since I felt that pursuing the matter would end up costing me more than the amount that I was owed for the photos, I decided to cut my losses. I also decided that this would be the last time that I allowed anything like this to happen. From that day on, I copyrighted all the photos on my Flickr page, and even sold a few over the next several months.

Fast forward to several days ago, when I received an email from a freelance writer abroad. She had found a photo on my Flickr page that she felt would be perfect for a story she was writing. Would I allow her publication to use my photo in exchange for credit?

I answered that I would be happy to allow the publication of my photo in exchange for a fee, which I named. She replied that she didn’t have a budget for photos, and said that she was sorry that she wouldn’t be able to use my photo for her story.

I’m sorry, too.

I want to make it clear that I have nothing whatsoever against the freelance writer. I’m acquainted with quite a few freelance writers, and I know that they work very hard for very little. My complaint is with the publication that employs her and others like it. They are the ones who make the decisions, and they are the ones who have decided, for whatever reason, that while they are willing to pay those who write for them, they expect to receive photographs for free.

Well, I have no intention of giving my work away for free. If that means I get a bit less exposure, so be it. I have no desire to do what some of my musician friends describe as “dying of exposure” – being persuaded to play a gig for free in the hope that somewhere in the audience is a talent scout or producer or someone else who may one day do what the person in charge of the gig could not be bothered to do: pay the artist for his or her work.

All over the world, as the journalism industry collapses and piracy decimates the music industry, unemployed and underemployed professionals are suddenly struggling to find paid work. People who agree to photograph, write or perform for free (except at charity fundraisers) are undermining others’ livelihoods. We still have to pay for food, rent, clothing. Doctors, plumbers, accountants and schoolteachers expect to be paid for their work.

So do I.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Incident on the No. 37 Bus

I took the No. 37 bus from Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood a few weeks ago. Since I hardly ever go to Ramot, I'd never taken it before, so I asked the driver some questions about the route when I got on. The driver said nothing to me about the bus being segregated, nor was there any sign stating any seating policy at all.

After I had finished speaking to the driver and was making my way to a seat, one passenger, a Haredi man, said something to me just before he got off the bus. Since my mind was on planning my route back to town, I didn’t pay attention at first, but suddenly I realized that what he had said was “Helek ahori” – “Rear portion.” No “Please” or “Thank you” – just a curt two words ordering me where to sit.

(Now, as I write this, I am reminded of the well-known story in the Talmud [Eruvin 53b] in which the scholar Beruriah shows her irritation with the saying in Pirke Avot 1:5 that one should not talk too much with women:

Rabbi Yosi the Galilean was once on a journey when he met Beruriah. He asked her, “By what road do I go to Lod?” “Foolish Galilean,” she replied, “did not the rabbis say ‘Engage not in much talk with women’? You should have asked, ‘Which to Lod?’”

Maybe that was why the gentleman spoke so tersely. Anyway, back to the story:)

I got a few quizzical stares from some Haredi men, but I just smiled and stayed alert. I remained where I was, in the front portion, and nobody bothered me. In fact, a Haredi woman sat across the aisle from me in the single-seat section of the bus on the left-hand side. Later on during the ride, another Haredi woman took the window seat next to me. When I got off the bus, I noticed that at least one Haredi man was sitting in the very back seat.

Although the trip was peaceful, I still didn’t like feeling as though I had to be vigilant every time the bus stopped and people got on, wondering whether someone was going to make trouble.

This is not the way things should be on a public bus. This is not the way Egged should be running its business. And this is not why I pay a good chunk of my hard-earned cash for a bus pass every month.

Incidentally, I wrote up an account of the incident in Hebrew and sent it to the email address that the Ministry of Transportation has made available for complaints about forced gender segregation on bus lines (email and fax number on request). I got no response.

Jerusalem’s Old Train Station in Twilight

Old train station

A Sign

No-parking sign outside kindergarten

A polite no-parking sign posted outside a kindergarten. It reads as follows:

When you park on the sidewalk,
you put us in danger

When you park on the sidewalk,
you force us to walk in the street

When you park on the sidewalk,
you show contempt for the law and for others, and this is the message that you are giving to your children

Don't park on the sidewalk... not even when it's raining!
And don't put anyone's life in danger.

There's parking around the corner and across the street.

Let’s hope that people listen.

Aftermath of a Bomb Scare

And thank goodness that a scare was all it was....

The police van, specially equipped to deal with bomb scares, about to return to base:

Bomb-defusing van

The police officer has just finished rolling up the crime-scene tape, and people and traffic can go about freely again.

Aftermath of a bomb scare

The Sketch and Its Subject

Pinocchio, the framer’s cat, has many fans all over the city. Her human companion tells me that well-known people come to visit her frequently. One of them, an artist, did a sketch of her. Here is the sketch next to its lovely subject:

Sketch and subject

Here is the lovely subject on her own:

Pinocchio's eyes

And for a bonus, here is what I found the other day when I went to pick up the newspapers at work:

Cat on newspapers

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Like many cats I’ve seen, Kitten likes to bury his food, or at least pretend to bury it. The other morning, I was almost out the door when I saw the mess. Kitten had accidentally spilled a good portion of his water bowl over his food and spilled most of the food, too.

Since my work days are now fairly long, I prefer to leave Kitten with enough dry food in his bowl to last him the day. Moving into turbo gear, I scooped the soggy food into in a paper towel, washed and dried the bowl, filled it with fresh dry food, and moved the water bowl out of range. Then I headed out, and on the way to the bus stop I left the soggy food, in its paper towel, for the local strays.

I still made the bus and was on time, but when I got home, I told Kitten, "That was a bit too close for comfort, Fuzzmonster. Now you owe me. That's gonna be double cuddles from you for the next few days."

He continues to make good.

Something for the Soul

Or: Yowza! I’m on a podcast!

Menachem Vinegrad of Radio Upper Galilee has featured a song from my CD, Day of Rest, on his podcast, WorldWaves, today!

Download it... or head over to the page... or listen here:

Most of the podcast is in Hebrew, and my song is about twenty minutes in.

Menachem and his wife, Yehudit, are the founders of the Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival... which will be featuring the one and only Christine Lavin this coming spring.

Thank you, Menachem!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Pinocchio Receives Her Fans

Or could it be Basement Cat thinking up some nefarious plot?

Pinocchio on the chair

You decide.

(Yeah, I lolcatted her.)

Welcome to Israel...

... where even the buses say “Shannah tovah” (Happy New Year)!

The bus says "Happy New Year"

The Great Kashering Caper, Part 2

Or, the Frying Pan edition...

First, the frying pan is taken apart and subjected to a process known in Hebrew as libbun kal – in other words, heated until it is red-hot.

Frying pan 2

Now it cools....

Frying pan 3

Still disassembled, all its parts are immersed in boiling water....

Immersing the frying pan

... and rinsed in cool water.

Immersion in cool water

Finally, it is put back together.


Result: one kosher frying pan!

(Well, actually, two.)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Forty-Five Minutes

Today, I was remembering how the US secretary of state harangued the Israeli prime minister over the phone for forty-five minutes for daring to allow construction in Ramat Shlomo, as though she were his boss and he were her employee.

I find myself wishing that Bibi would pick up the phone and call her, and have her listen to the children crying for their murdered parents for forty-five minutes... and then listen to the Palestinians cheering the murders and handing out sweets for another forty-five minutes.

And then get the president on an extension, and ask them both exactly why they think that the checkpoints should be removed.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Or should that be “crash”?

This giant screen at the Lev Talpiot shopping center in Jerusalem’s Talpiot industrial zone shows advertisements to the entire area. When I passed by the other day, it was having some trouble.


Oh, dear. Someone call tech support right away!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Sun Has Teeth

I’ve been saying that for years. One doesn’t fool around with the Middle Eastern sun.

Which is why I didn’t take my frying pans to be kashered by blowtorch last Friday. Not only did I feel that I wouldn’t be up to the trip – but I also felt that I couldn’t justify exposing the young man who does the work to the extra heat when the temperature was already close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I figure that the job can wait until the weather is cooler.

I do need to go on some errands tomorrow morning, though, and I wonder: will I be able to step outside without the sun eating me for breakfast?

I am so ready for this heat wave to be over.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Claiming Fealty

Her Ladyship lies on my foot, claiming fealty (and evidently trying to stop me from going anywhere):


The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

My Latest Voiceover Work

Here it is – a video for an excellent and important organization, Bishvilaych (“for you” in Hebrew), which promotes women’s health throughout Israel.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I wrote a few days ago about going to have some kitchen utensils kashered in the Geula neighborhood. Now I would like to write about two incidents that took place while I was there.

When many of my utensils had been boiled and rinsed, it was time to start putting them back into the bags that I had used to carry them there. I lifted a bag with my left hand, shook it open, and tried to put several stacked pots into it with my right. It didn’t work. I needed someone to help me hold the bag open.

Since Geula is mostly a Haredi neighborhood, it is likely that most of the people who come to have their utensils kashered are members of the Haredi community (as opposed to the national-religious community, for example). I don’t know how often people from outside the community use this service. I was dressed modestly, wearing a long cotton skirt and a high-necked shirt with sleeves to my elbows, but it was obvious that I was not Haredi. (The young man who boiled and rinsed the utensils did not look as though he belonged to the Haredi community either.) Several men in Haredi dress were standing to my left, waiting to have their utensils boiled and rinsed. I looked up at one of them. Our eyes met for a moment. He could see what I was trying to do – anyone in the room could see it – but before I could take a breath to ask him for help, he looked uncertain for a moment and then turned away.

I turned to the next man in line and said, “Please, would you hold my bag open so that I can get these pots inside it?” He did, and I thanked him.

I noticed that the man who did not help me was younger than the one who did. Was the younger man perhaps afraid that if he was seen having any contact with a woman who was not a family member and obviously not from his community, he or his family would suffer some sort of reprisal? That wouldn’t surprise me. Unfortunately, it’s common in very closed and strict Jewish communities here. A person’s chance to get a good shidduch (marriage match), place in school or acceptance by the community can be compromised if he or she is seen doing things that the community frowns upon, even if those things are not necessarily wrong or against Jewish law.

After the pots had been boiled, I began to dip them in the mikveh. As I worked, I noticed a young girl waiting nearby. She looked to me to be in her early to mid-teens, was dressed according to Haredi standards, and held several knives with serrated edges and plastic handles in various colors, the kind that many people here use to cut vegetables. Since I knew that I would be taking much longer than she, I offered to dip her knives for her. She shook her head. I moved aside so that she could dip her knives, and then went back to dipping the pots.

When I was done, she was still there. Perhaps she had more items to dip than I had seen – I don’t know. As I picked up my bags and prepared to leave, I smiled at her and said, “Shabbat shalom.”

She didn’t answer. Thinking that perhaps she hadn’t heard me, I smiled at her once again and said, “Shabbat shalom.”

She tightened her lips and turned away.

I left, wondering why she had done that. Was she perhaps upset with me because I had taken so long at the mikveh? But I had shown her that I was willing to step aside for her. Had she been taught not to talk to strangers? Or was it perhaps because I wasn’t a member of her community and therefore not religious enough for her taste? (If she really thought that, then I wonder what she thought I was doing there, taking all those pots and pans to be boiled on such a hot day.) I guess I’ll never know, but I felt sad about it. I confess that I still do. We talk so much about Jewish unity... and yet, here were two instances where Jews turned away from a fellow Jew even as she was engaged in a mitzvah. What does this say about us?

It reminded me of a story that I heard a rabbi tell about twenty years ago. He had been on a crowded bus in Jerusalem when a pregnant woman of non-observant appearance got on. I don’t remember the exact scenario, but as I recall the story, he was standing near a young yeshiva student who was sitting on the aisle.

When the young yeshiva student saw the pregnant woman board the bus, he didn’t move to give her his seat. The rabbi, who was already standing, was surprised and asked him why.

“She’s not religious,” the yeshiva student said with a shrug.

At this, the rabbi seized the yeshiva student by his shoulder, hauled him out of his seat, dragged him to the back of the bus and gave him a scolding. “Who’s your rabbi? Which yeshiva do you go to? Was it there that you learned such atrocious behavior? How dare you act this way? You’re causing a hillul ha-shem [desecration of God’s name]!” he said.

I don’t remember what the student answered. I only thought, as I made my way home with my newly kashered pots, that twenty years later, we still have far to go.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Call for More Hours

I just got word at the end of last week that because of a decrease in workload at one of my workplaces, my hours are to be reduced as of the end of this month. So I'm putting it out there: I'm an experienced translator (Hebrew to English), editor, writer and voiceover artist. I'm equally happy working at home or in an office – and I’m particularly happy working in a recording studio! If you hear of anything that you think might be right for me, please let me know.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why I Couldn’t Make My Bed

A few days ago, I stripped my bed and washed the linens. When I went to make my bed again, this was what I found:

Why I can't make my bed

I didn’t have the heart to disturb his nap, so I made my bed later.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Building with a Face

At least, it looked that way to me.

Building with a face

The Great Kashering Caper

Recently, I received a set of beautiful pots and pans from a dear friend. They needed to be kashered (made kosher) – immersed in boiling water and then in cool water – and then dipped in a mikveh.

So I went to work. First, I scrubbed them all clean – not very difficult, since they were already gleaming. Some of the pots had copper bottoms, which I cleaned with a mixture of equal parts of salt, flour and white vinegar. The mixture cleaned the copper on contact, but didn’t polish it. I buffed it to a shine.

Then I waited twenty-four hours, as Jewish law requires, before taking the pots and pans to the Geula neighborhood for kashering.

Near one of the central intersections in Geula is a small street. At the end of the street are some stairs. Just above these stairs is a room with several boilers, a vat of boiling water, a tub of cool water and some benches. This is one of several places where a procedure known in Hebrew as hag’alat kelim – purging of vessels – is performed.

Pots in which food is cooked in water are made kosher by immersion in boiling water. Utensils that use fire to cook, such as frying pans, must be blowtorched. (I’ll have that done next week.)

Here are some photos that I took during the process. First, the schedule – anyone in the area who needs to have kitchen utensils made kosher can do so every Friday at specific times.

Kashering station

Immersing a pot in a vat of boiling water:

Kashering process: the vat of boiling water

Immersing the just-boiled pot in a tub of cool water:

Kashering process: the cool water tub

The mikveh where I dipped the pots after they were kashered:

Immersion of vessels

The journey home:

The journey home

Stay tuned next week for The Great Kashering Caper: Part 2!

Rosh Hodesh Elul

Former Jerusalem city councilwoman Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, waits with our Torah scroll outside the Western Wall plaza. A month ago, Anat was barred from entering the plaza for thirty days... for the crime of carrying a Torah scroll away from the women’s section toward Robinson’s Arch, where Women of the Wall is permitted to hold its Torah service.

Anat Hoffman waits with the Torah

When we were at Robinson’s Arch, there were two bar-mitzvah services in progress. Interestingly enough, neither one took place on the wooden platforms that had been built for Women of the Wall. Our group stayed above, where there was enough room for everyone.

Here is one group:

Bar mitzvah at Robinson's Arch

Here is the other:

Another bar mitzvah

I know of quite a few religious and traditional families who chose to hold their bar- or bat-mitzvah services at Robinson’s Arch. I don’t blame them. They simply do not want to be forced to adhere to the increasingly strict regulations at the Western Wall plaza. The women do not want to have to stand on chairs and lean over a fence – compromising their own physical safety – in order to watch their sons read Torah.

The Western Wall is not what it was when I was first there in 1983. It is no longer a national site, no longer welcoming, particularly for women, who now have a fraction of the space that we once had, and highly restricted indoor access to the Kotel.

It’s sad.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Two Views of Kitten

On his chair, wide awake:

Kitten on his chair

On the sofa, stretched out and napping:


The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.