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Switch to Forum Live View The Heart of Jewish Life - Israel
3 months ago  ::  Jun 08, 2015 - 4:18AM #271
NahumS
Posts: 1,864

Summer is here in Israel- watermelon, peaches and nectarines (and still some apricots!), popsicles and heat. We have the transitional heat waves (sharav in Hebrew) that mark the beginning and end of the summer as well. It gets hot, dry and still and I feel like I'm going to jump out of my skin. And then the wind blows like crazy at night and temperatures get back to normal. So far, my fuchsias have survived the heat, and I'm very grateful for that. Every year I plant a few- and usually lose them. One survived from last year and is growing beautifully in a pot under a tree in a protected place in my garden and it flourishes.


So why do I keep planting fuchsias? I guess I fantasize about having an English cottage garden and everything that goes along with that: unchanging stability, well-bred gentility, cool weather and time to enjoy all of the above. And except for the cool weather, I suspect that these are as much fantasies to most of the subjects of that sceptered isle as they are to Israelis like me. But it makes good reading - and dreaming. So I plant new fuchsias almost every year and hope that they survive the heat. 


This year, however, is Shemittah - the sabbatical year. My garden is at rest, and I'm not planting anything new, just tending what's already growing to keep it alive. I have bought a few new plants in pots and they live on a covered porch or the entrance to our house, but just barely. The old established plants are doing better. Our garden is quite nice- the roses are getting a little wild looking, but they keep blooming nevertheless, and it's very green and other seasonal plants provide some color. Normally, I would plant some annuals to fill in the bare spots, but not this year. We have a gardener that comes by every couple of weeks to trim and cut the grass (the "lawn" is minuscule- about 30 feet by 8 feet). He's a graduate of our local yeshiva and quite expert regarding the laws of Shemittah, so I rely on him to do everything (and there's not much of everything to do except to trim and clean during Shemittah) right. The watering system is automatic (a necessity in Israel), so there's not much to do besides pick up the odd bit of trash that blows in from the street. Some neighborhood amateur photographers have taken some nice pictures in the garden, and my kids bought me a pair of (ceramic) sheep and a bench. So the sheep graze silently and I sometimes have the time to sit on the bench and read. This Shabbat my grandchildren came to vist so we enjoyed sitting there and watching  a family of feral cats that have moved into my garden frolic on the grass.


I've writen this rather placid description to remind myself( and the gentle readers, if anyone really reads this) that life in Israel isn't always dramatic, conflicted, intense and generally overwhelming. Sometimes we eat watermelon and read  a book while sitting on a bench in the garden. 

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2 months ago  ::  Jul 02, 2015 - 10:05AM #272
NahumS
Posts: 1,864

Israel is a small country, and it's not unusual when we know people in tne news. This week a young man was murdered by terrorists in a drive-by shooting near Shilo. He was coming back from a basketball game with friends.


His father, a famous clarinetist, played at our son's bar mitzvah and we often see him at the celebrations of friends. It's always heart-breaking to hear of the death of a young person, and it's even more painful when there is some personal connection. That happens too often....


Ramadan is meant to be a month of spiritual elevation and renewal. It's tragic that some people who call themselves Muslims see this as a special time to murder Jews. 


But some good news: a mikveh from Second Times was discovered in the village of Ein Kerem - near Hadassah Hospital on the fringes of Jerusalem. The village is known for artists and churches (according to Christian tradition, John the Baptist came from there). Now there is proof that there was a Jewish settlement there in Temple times.
 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4674922,00.html


Sunday we mark the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, the beginning of the 3 weeks ending with the 9th of Av which commemorates the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem. This mikveh is a message hewn in stone, across the millennia, reminding us that we have returned to the land of our ancestors, who likely purified themselves in that mikveh before going up on pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.  

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