jwfe223's blog

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This Year in Jerusalem: The Pleasures of Passover in the “Promised Land”

Passover has always been one of my favorite Jewish holidays. I remember going to my Bubbie’s (grandmother’s) house as a kid, and looking forward to eating the smorgasboard of sugary treats that she would have—my favorites were the red and yellow, candied half fruit slices.

Passover fruit slices

Photo credit

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It’s Not a State Emergency, It’s the Jerusalem Marathon

It's a bird, it's a plane, no...it's a marathon....

In Israel, there are usually two times when traffic comes to a standstill and the roads are eerily quiet. One is Yom Kippur (or Day of Atonement) the Jewish holiday that brings an end to the “Days of Awe” at the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  Yom Kippur is a serious holiday, with most observant Jews spending the day in synagogue, fasting and praying that God will hear their prayers of atonement and inscribe them in the Book of Life for the coming year. Everything shuts down in W. Jerusalem, not a shop is open, nor a car to be found on the street. It’s quite something to experience; the only point of comparison that comes to mind is the quiet that descends upon American cities on Christmas day when pretty much everything, except some ethnic restaurants and movie theatres, closes. Of course it’s not quite the right comparison because Yom Kippur is a solemn time for reflection, and Christmas is a grand celebration (consumer and otherwise), but it’s the best I can muster.  Yet another difference, while observant Jews fast and pray, secular Jews bike in the streets.

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Snow, Glorious Snow!

This morning we woke up to a white Jerusalem.

Snowman at Basta Pasta

Suffering with the cold has been rewarded with the ephemeral beauty of a (temporarily) snow-blanketed city.

Old City in Snow March 2, 2012

(Photo Credit Israel_Shield via Twitter)

Snowy Al-Aqsa

(Photo Credit: @Majdool via Twitter)

 

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Jerusalem Cold and the Dirty Laundry Blues

Though the title of this post might make a good name for a band, it accurately reflects the sentiment of the last week.The Kotel/Al Aqsa in Snow 2008

(Photo credit Ynet, by means of snow in Jerusalem 2008 blog post)

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The Power of Music

Sunday morning I awoke to the news that Whitney Houston had passed away.Whitney Houston in Dimona with the Hebrew Israelites in 2003

(Photo credit: Size Doesn’t Matter Blog)

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The Price of Peace Education

A week ago I spent the morning meeting with an Israeli cultural anthropologist and education scholar well-known for his work on Peace education, Prof. Zvi Beckerman. As soon as I entered his office, I immediately felt at home, as the books from some of my favorite rhetoricians-- Kenneth Burke, Chaim Perelman, and others-- were sitting right there on his shelf, piled up and in plain view.

Rhetoric books

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Eat, Eat, Eat

After settling into our new digs, we walked over to Shlomi’s for a simple but satisfying meal of vegetable bean soup, borekas (delicious filled pastries, pictured below, photo credit: Jim Ridolfo), and pita on, oddly enough, Abraham Lincoln Street.  

Plate of borekas and Arabic language cellphone ad for Orange.

[Photo: Bulgarian-cheese filled borekas above, Arabic language ad for Orange cell phone company below, photo taken by Jim Ridolfo]

And eat, eat, eat is what we’ve continued to do. The weekend begins here on Thurs. evening and lasts through Friday until Saturday night at sundown, when the Jewish Sabbath comes to a close. Like the people living here, the city also pauses to rest a bit, as public transportation and most shops and restaurants shut down from Friday night sundown until three stars appear in the sky on Saturday night. Consequently, Friday morning is the time when people catch up with friends, and the city hums with life, as everyone bustles about to buy groceries and make preparations for the Sabbath.

 

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Settling in...

Jim and I arrived in Israel last Thursday afternoon around 2pm, and we had the good fortune to be picked up at the airport by our dear friend Shlomi (who will get a separate blog post dedicated only to him in a few days—keep an eye out!).  Of course, since many Israelis drive cars that are smaller than American ones, Jim had a concern that our luggage might not fit in Shlomi’s car. In the end, I confess, there actually were five pieces: 1 big packpack and one garment bag for Jim, 1 big suitcase, 1 small duffel carry-on (whose straps broke from the weight of my Arabic language-learning books and which I had to replace with a rolling carry-on in the BWI airport!), and one backpack full of electronic devices for me.  But it all fit.

Red duffel bag and purple suitcase packed.

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6 Months, 4 Suitcases, 2 Professors, and 1 Big Adventure in Israel/Palestinian Authority

How does one pack for six months of living in one of the most famous and fought about regions of the world?  This is the question that I’ve been thinking about for the past few days, as I waded through jeans, shoes, books, dresses, and other sundry items trying to figure out what was important enough to warrant space in my one suitcase. It’s not until you have to put your wordly belongings in a suitcase that you begin to realize just how many of them there are, how many you’ve come to take for granted, and how many you so easily can (and probably will) live without, perhaps temporarily, perhaps more enjoyably.  As I sat on the phone with Human Resources switching health plans, AT&T suspending U.S.

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