Old Market Photos: Apples, Walnuts and Spices in Mahane Yehuda

Mahane Yehuda apples
In December 2017 we visited the old market (known in Hebrew as a shuk) in Jerusalem called Mahane Yehuda. On a Friday the market is bustling: you can buy fruit, chocolate, wine, baked goods, fish, spices, meat and more! On a Saturday night the place converts into little bars and places to eat. We also visited on Saturday night, but because of the crowds and a broken oven in one restaurant, we ended eating a meal back on Emek Refaim Street, near where we were staying.

walnuts in Mahane Yehuda
My husband bought some wine and some nuts for our hosts that were visiting on Shabbat. My daughter bought some chocolate in a bag. Each little chocolate candy said: “Hatan v’ Kalah” – Groom and Bride. This was because our excuse for visiting Israel was the wedding of a relative. She gave the candies to her class members upon return to the U.S.

spices in Mahane Yehuda
I did not explore the spices carefully, but I am sure I would find some that are unfamiliar. The sign on the left by the rose spices says: “Please do not touch with your hands!!! Thank you!”

Have you ever visited an old market? What did you buy? What did you see?

Assorted Israel Photos in Celebration of 68th Birthday

israel picnic table flowers
Last week on May 12 Israel celebrated its 68th birthday. And since I was working, I missed our local celebration (here’s a local Edison parade from a few years ago). Well, now I have a little time; I can share with you a few more photos from our January/February trip to Israel.

We went to visit my niece who teaches high school English in an international school north of Tel Aviv. The high school is in a youth village called HaKfar HaYarok – literally, the Green Village. Above is a picnic table with a pot of flowers. Wouldn’t you like to study math or social studies in February while sitting at a sunny picnic table?

Old City of Jerusalem, inside Jaffa Gate entrance

Here’s my daughter inside the Old City of Jerusalem, right near the Jaffa Gate.

And here’s a similar photo inside the Old City of Jerusalem – how is this different from the one above?

Hula Valley, Galil, Israel Views

Ah, birds in flight – probably cranes – at the Hula Valley nature reserve (previous post on this blog).

Even more birds in flight – how they fill the Hula Valley skies.

In many spots in the Hula Valley you can see the Golan Heights off to the east. Here’s a dramatic photo of the Heights rising over the farms below. Before 1967 when Israel captured the Golan Heights in a defensive war, Syrian soldiers used to fire shots from the mountains down on the farmers below.

Back to Jerusalem


These two photos (above and below) are both Jerusalem shots. The carnation in a pot is located in the quaint neighborhood of Yemin Moshe, a “suburb” of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was built in the late 19th century. I understand buying a home there now would cost you quite a pretty penny (can you afford a yacht?).

Finally, this is a cute bird diving into a little fountain with Jerusalem lions. It was near our hotel (the Inbal), north of the old train station that was renovated (and we did not get a chance to see – lots to do for our next visit).

Because there is some nature in this post (can you spot some?), I am including this post in Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Israeli Flowers in January

Tel Aviv daisy
One of the cool things about visiting Israel at the end of January was in all different sorts of places I found flowers! I am not used to flowers in January; I grew in the Boston area where what one found on the ground was usually snow. I photographed a variety of Israeli flowers in January. The yellow daisy above was somewhere near Tel Aviv.

daisy in Hakfar Hayarok
Here is a similar yellow flower – also north of Tel Aviv, in a different spot. We had visited my niece who is teaching English in an international high school. I am wondering if keen-eyed nature bloggers can suggest difference between these two daisy-like flowers.

Jerusalem pink flowers
These lovely dark pink flowers were growing in a garden in Jerusalem right behind Yemin Moshe.

Jerusalem pink flowers in front of the old city
This shot of the dark pink flowers focuses on the Old City of Jerusalem behind the garden. It was a lovely view.

thick leaves pink
This pink flower with thick leaves was in a location north of Tel Aviv. In Israel one can often find flowers and plants with thick leaves; the thick leaves store water, and almost no water falls in the summer, so the plants have to store it up to stay alive.

thick leaf vegetation
This is some kind of thick leaf vegetation by the Mediterranean sea north of Tel Aviv.

thistle in Hula Valley
I photographed this thistle in the Hula Valley. Contrast this green look of the thistle in a winter with abundant rain with the thistle I photographed back in 2008 in a drought.

wildflower in Israel, Har Adar
A tiny wildflower peaked out at me when I visited the backyard of a friend who lives in Har Adar, Israel, a beautiful village on top of a tall hill, the tallest hill in the west Jerusalem hills. Maybe it’s some kind of geranium? (See cranesbill that grows in front of my house, as a contrast). There was also abundant rosemary growing in the area. When I grow rosemary in New Jersey, it almost always dies in the winter. In the Jerusalem area, even the winters are cold, they are not as cold as in New Jersey, so the rosemary spreads and makes itself known. How nice to have rosemary naturally in your backyard!

yellow wildflower Tel Azeka
Enjoy some yellow wildflowers I found by Tel Azeka (a few minutes by car west of Beit Shemesh).

It’s been a while since I last posted. In the Nature Notes blogging world, something awful happened last month. I was hoping to get a comment on my last post from one of my favorite bloggers, EG Wow (real name: Tina Forrester). I learned to my horror that Tina and her husband had died in a terrible car accident. If you have never visited her blog, oh, sigh, you are in for a treat. But you will never really learn how warm and friendly her comments were when she commented on other blogs. May her family and friends know no more sorrow.

Hula Birds: Gallinule, Lapwing, Egret

Hula Valley birds
Among the birds I saw at the Hula Valley in Israel: gallinule (moorhen), lapwing, egret, crane, pelican. My daughter saw a small blue bird fly by quickly twice – this may have been a kingfisher.

A bit of history about this magical (to me, at least) place in northern Israel:
Back in the 1950’s the malaria-ridden swamps of the Hula Valley were drained. However, this caused ecological damage. From the leaflet of the Hula Agamon Lake: “Over the years the peat earth that is typical of the Hula(organic earth the the remains of plants and animals) dried up, broke up, sunk, and even started to burn underground. The worst thing was that the phosphates and nitrates in the earth were washed into the Kinneret and polluted its waters.” In the 1990’s earth was restored; the project included digging canals that allowed the control of water in the area.

One of the major benefits of the 1990’s work was this ornithological spot, unique in the world. Over this area twice a year no less than 500 million birds migrate.

Learn more here:

This bird is a spur-winged lapwing or spur-winged plover.

Here is a gallinule – note that orange beak.

nesting box
Here my daughter is standing by a white nesting box. We didn’t see any birds near the box, but the box reminded me of the boxes we saw at Cape May. According to the literature we were handed when we entered, these are for white owls. It seems the white owls eat voles, and voles do damage agriculturally, so eliminating the voles is a good thing.

I got some good photos of the handsome egret.


egret in flight
I believe this is an egret in flight.

The most abundant bird species in the area are the cranes.

Those spoonbills sure have funny beaks. (see

This furry-looking guy is a muskrat.

rainbow in hula lake
Ah, after rain on and off, it’s nice to be rewarded with a rainbow!

rainbow with birds
Even better, here is the rainbow with birds flying by.

Notes on visiting Hula Agamon Lake: don’t do what we did and try to walk the whole thing. We should have rented the golf cart. It’s a big area! There are also bikes available to rent. It would be great to visit during a migratory period, but I feel fortunate that I got there at all.

For more nature notes, visit:
Nature Notes

Park Britannia Flora: Cyclamen, Anemones, more

israel Park Britannia landscape
I have always wanted to see the spring flowers in bloom in Israel, and on my recent trip, I had that opportunity. Too bad my daughter thought the day too cold for an outdoor trip, but to me it felt like April in Boston.

There is a song in Hebrew for these beautiful red flowers that show up all over the landscape in February in Israel: kalaniyot. The English name for these flowers is anemones.

anemones in Park Britannia
The ones I saw were not yet open. I asked my son who is spending the year in Gush Etzion if he saw any red flowers, and he said, oh yeah, he did see a lot of red flowers. Probably wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t said anything.

cyclamen rakefet
This is rakefet – cyclamen in English. Turns out there is a song for rakefet as well!

almond blossom
This is an almond blossom. That one, too, comes with a song: Hashkedia porahat. In about one month parts of Israel will be full with these blossoms.

I saw this chicory flower as well. I think the Hebrew is olesh.

Tel Azeka
There is history in the park as well. Supposedly, somewhere in the plains David battled the Philistines.

Tel Azeka city scape
I’m not sure what city that is in the background, but when you reach the top of Tel Azeka on a clear day, you can see far in many directions. I think the general area is called Emek HaEla – Valley of Ela.

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Jewish Holidays and Nature

Gerber daisy in front of our house

It is Jewish holiday season, and ideally, I would be writing a lovely post about how the Jewish holidays are related to the seasons. In reality, I feel I am constantly preparing for the next holiday (in between having more than plenty of web work). The flower above is one of the gerber daisies my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day (with my husband’s help), and I have managed to keep it alive for the whole summer. Yay, me.

The upcoming holiday this week is called Sukkot, and we do indeed interact with nature. Here is the little booth called a sukkah that we eat meals in for seven days. We cover the top of the sukkah with light natural material called schach, and through this natural material we can sometimes see stars at night. Some people actually sleep in their sukkah.

sukkah door
Here are some of the decorations inside our sukkah. This is from last year – on Wednesday, it will be a mad rush to finish cooking and decorate the sukkah. In New Jersey, it often rains, so we don’t want to decorate too early. Hard enough to keep the decorations going.

This was our old sukkah, that we no longer have. It took too long to put up, so my husband gave it away. We now have a pre-fab sukkah, but I can’t paint the walls. I have to decorate with this velcro tape. I don’t enjoy that as much.

As this post is related to nature, here are some not yet shared nature photos from Israel:
rocks on the top of Mount Meiron
Those are rocks on the top of Mount Meiron. Learn about my hike on Mount Meiron.

pink flowers on Meiron
Love these delicate pink flowers from Mount Meiron. No idea what they are. Any guesses? Update: might be a bindweed – convolvolus oleifolius.

bright red trees in front of Tel Aviv Museum
These trees had bright red blooms in front of the Tel Aviv Museum last May. Any guesses? Flame tree (Delonix regia)? Seems quite similar to the red trees in this Tel Aviv image. Tel Aviv in late May probably has a similar climate to southern California (maybe warmer and more humid).

Getting back to Jewish holidays and nature, the holidays follow the lunar calendar. So the moon is important. Tonight my daughter noticed the moon looked quite full, but it’s not quite the 15th of the month. It’s 13 Tishrei, so I suppose that is close. This year Thanksgiving and Chanukah will coincide, but according to this post, it will not happen again until … year 79,811. Will you be around to celebrate?

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Photographs Near Dusk or Dawn

Jerusalem Israel approaching dusk buildings on Jaffa Street
What do these photos of Jaffa Street (Rechov Jaffo) in Jerusalem and (below) one of the Moorlyn Theater in Ocean City, New Jersey have in common? They were both taken as the day moved away from dawn (Moorlyn Theater) or towards dusk (Jaffa Street shots). If you photograph closer to dusk or dawn, you will often capture beautiful, golden light. Back in 2009, a reader described, regarding a photo of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, “the late afternoon quality of the light.” Ever since then, I’ve been more conscious of capturing photos during those golden hours of the day.

Moorlyn Theater Ocean City NJ boardwalk
The Moorlyn Theater is on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey. They feature both movies and live shows. This photo was taken the morning my daughter and I woke early for sunrise.

Jerusalem Jaffa Road tracks for lightrail
Here is another shot of Jaffa Road in Jerusalem on a late Thursday afternoon in May. Note the tracks for the lightrail and the many people walking the streets. Thursday night in Jerusalem is a bit like the American Saturday night, as people usually don’t have work or school the next day. There is a sharp contrast of the golden basking glow of the apartment buildings and the shadows of the street area.

For more skies, visit Skywatch Friday. Hoping to link this up to Toby’s Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors as well.

Tale of Two Museums: Tel Aviv Museum and Israel Museum

Tel Aviv Museum
Tel Aviv Museum, May 2013

In late May when I visited Israel, I had the opportunity to visit two museums: Tel Aviv Museum and Israel Museum. Enjoyed both. This post is a review of those visits, and then some questions for readers about museum visiting.

Tel Aviv Museum

If you like 20th century art and/or you are interested in the history of the modern State of Israel, the Tel Aviv Museum has collections of artists from the pre-State era to contemporary times. When we (I went with Hannah Katsman) visited in late May, there was an exhibit of paintings by Angelica Schatz, the estranged daughter of the founder of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. She had a difficult life; she was Boris Schatz’s daughter by his first marriage, and his first wife took Angelica with her when she left Boris for another man. Her paintings were influenced by European painters of the 20th century. Angelica moved to Israel after her father’s death; she never really knew him.

A huge benefit of the Tel Aviv Museum that the Israel Museum did not have was the TA Museum has free wifi. So I was able to read about the exhibits online as we viewed them. Free wifi is a big plus for a museum.

Israel Museum

The Israel Museum is located in the center of west Jerusalem. It has more variety than the Tel Aviv Museum, and it is close to the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament building).

If you like studying prehistoric times or the times of the Tanach (the Jewish bible – stands for Torah – Neviim (Prophets) – Ketuvim (Writings)), the Israel Museum has a lot to offer. I remember seeing the bones of a woman from – how long ago? There are also exhibits of Judaica from around the world, such as the sukkah from Cochin, Southern India that was dis-assembled and re-assembled in the museum. There was a special exhibit about Herod, but as there was so much to see in the regular exhibits, we felt no need to wait online for the special exhibit. As I am using the Israel Museum website to research this post, I will add it could use some better details of regular exhibits and better navigation. It took me a while to find information about the sukkah from Cochin.

hallway inside the Israel Museum
hallway inside the Israel Museum

The previous time I had been in the Israel Museum was in 1980 – the museum has grown a lot since then. What I remembered from 1980 was the sculpture garden. Unfortunately, the link on the website for the Billy Rose Art Garden gives an error. A big #Fail on this museum website! I had done some drawings in 1980 in the sculpture garden, in particular one of a woman fallen (Isha Nofelet). I can’t find anything about this sculpture in the excellent Wikimedia page on the garden. Here is one photo of part of the sculpture garden:
Israel Museum sculpture garden

Batya wrote about the Israel Museum on this post. You can find out what caught the eyes of Mrs. S. and family on their 2012 visit.

What I Would Do Differently

I would probably review the exhibits on the museum’s website the night before, to know what to expect, to make better choices and to get an idea about the details of the exhibits. When you are going to a museum with another person, each of you has your own ideas about what is worth seeing. If you know in advance you want to see or linger in a certain collection, it’s easier to say so if you have more information about the exhibits.

Tell us your experience with museums.

What is your favorite museum? Best features? Why would you recommend a museum?

Modern: Jerusalem Chords Bridge

Jerusalem Chords Bridge
The Jerusalem Chords Bridge was completed in 2008. It is part of the city’s new lightrail system, located close to the central bus station. The bridge is a modern take on the ancient David’s harp. The bridge was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Batya photographed the bridge from a different view point here. Called Gesher HaMeitarim in Hebrew, it was quite pricey to build. You can see photos of the bridge crowded with pedestrians in green shirts marching for special needs education on the blog Real Jerusalem Streets.

Thursday Challenge theme is MODERN (Contemporary, Fashionable, Architecture, Interiors, Advanced, Cool,…).