Monday, April 30, 2007

Samaritan Passover: The Silence of the Lambs

Today we went to Mt. Gerizim in the region of Samaria, in the west bank, in the north, to view the Samaritan Passover. While graphic, I have chosen not to post the most graphic photos. The Samaritans are a sect claiming descent from the northern kingdom of Israel, and carry out a ritual sacrifice of sheep that follows ancient traditions. At 3 pm there is a fire lighting ceremoney in 5, deep, plaster lined pits and these fires are kept burning for about 5 hours in advance of the cooking. Each pit is lit separately with chanting. About an hour before the sacrifice there is more chanting and prayer. The chanting is rhythmic and becomes more intense leading up to the sacrifice. The sacrifice involves the killing of about 30 sheep. They drain the blood into a channel, prepare the sheep, then cook the offal and skins separately as a sacrifice, then cook the whole sheep on a spit, with 5-6 sheep in a fire pit. It was one of the most intense and amazing things I've ever witnessed. Hundreds of people watched in bleachers like the kind you see at a football game. I counted at least 15 tour buses in the village! Right after they made the first cut, a guy fainted about 4 rows behind me! I had to take off all my clothes when I got home to wash and take a shower to get the smell of burning lamb out of my hair. We couldn't eat any leavened bread or prepared food in front of the Samaritans because it goes against their beliefs. I had a big lunch before I left the Albright, and I didn't really feel like eating last night after what I saw and I didn't really feel like eating the next day! Although Australia has the best lamb I've ever tasted, I don't plan on eating any of it for a while. Although I enjoyed the experience, I did not really even want to look at my photos for a few days.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tel Aviv Hash, Aussie Run 680: Yaqum, South of Netanya

The following description of the run, is an edited version of what the hares (Fer Fox Sake and Russian Bride) wrote:
Strewth Cobbers , how do you make the warm amber taste used for down downs better than an abo's jockstrap? Simple you add the greatest bonzer known food to it - even mothers milk does taste better with a savoury spread, made from an extract of brewers yeast, eaten on sandwiches and toast. or from a spoon in conjunction with the amber fluid.

So there we were standing around like shags on rock waiting for any more hashers to turn up , a motley bunch of four decided to run along with the hares, the hares gave the ducks guts and it was "on On" - what was real beaut woz that Goldo had to check it out more times than she has ever done because there were so few on the trail. Richo, Clair and Up the Duff Pausey also ran around looking chooks with no heads trying to find the start of the trail.

Eventually we went over the bridge next to the servo and thru the sand where all the whingers thought they were on a dead cert until the drongos realised that there were two trails but they did not chuck a spaz. At the next hold like a bunch of derros, the hashers took forever to find the trail and then again thru the sand we hit the cliffs where luckily and for a bloody change there were no poofters on the beach swinging their wedding tackle around ,

Setting off again down to the never never, we thought that the hashers would chuck a spaz, and with no seppo's on the run, the hashers were flat out like lizards drinking trying to find the trail. We eventaully got to the half way and introduced the all time international classic "C'mon on Aussie C'mon" complete with a Mexican wave.

The second half gave the option for the most daft short cut option, just run accross Hwy 2 or continue on. They continued on to right till we got to a tunnel under the road where some noggin had decided to drop a bondi cigar at the entrance in between setting the hash and running it.

Well Goldo and Up the Duff Pausey spat the dummy and decided to LONG CUT and run over the bridge ahead. What nongs. Then again tempting fate, we ran back down the side of the bloody Hwy

The servo could have been seen but the hares wanted to cheese off the pack a bit more so went to the back of beyond and woop woop before the on in.

Back at the circle the walkers waited and drank amber fluid as the pack ran in. Fer Fox Sake sharing a Sheila moment complained that with his shaved legs (done for sporting reasons to make him go faster) that he now has sympathy with the other sheilas that running thru scrub scratches your legs more when they a softer than a rug rats bum.

Now to continue the Anzac Spirit with each down down the hasher had to first lick a spoon of vegemite (think vegemite shooter) before doing the down down , and fair suck of the sav bottle not one wanker did not like the taste it made warm beer taste better

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Achziv and Akko Trip

Today we went to the archaeological sites of Achziv and Acco in the north. Achziv is a largely unexcavated coastal site within view of the Lebanese border (waves) with 11th c. chamber tombs cut into the bedrock. Acco was an important Bronze Age through Crusader site, and is interesting to me because of a portable ship’s alter found there with ship graffiti on it like you see at Kition in Cyprus.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Die Zauberfloete: Mozart’s Da Vinci Code

Tonight I went to see the Mozart’s Opera, The Magic Flute, at the Palestinian National Theater. It was performed by a touring group from England, so of course it was in English, although one of the production people was with the music program at Melbourne Uni! The sets were minimal, which reminded me of the way the way the RSC performs.
I’ve always wanted to see the Magic Flute ever since I taught a course on Black Athena because Mozart was a mason and there are many coded references to Masonic philosophy, Egypt and Enlightenment in the opera. I thoroughly enjoyed it - especially at the price of 20 sheckels (about 5 dollars), which is less than a sandwich costs in Melbourne. Maybe Dan Brown will write his version!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ani Lomedet Ivrit!

Which means: I study Hebrew. Yes, the symbols make more sense than this Nabatean rock art from the Wadi Rum. I can read street signs now and know about 100 words, which is about 90 more than I knew when I got here. However, some of the signs look a lot like Greek letters, but have different values. When I'm tired (like today) I start to read them that way and they don't make much sense. I swam almost a mile earlier today before Hebrew and Arabic. We pay for the Arabic lessons by the month and I'm dropping them after today, because it's too much and I need to finish the book I'm writing.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

If There's Global Warming, Why Is It So Cold?

I was going to go to the hash in Tel Aviv today, but ended up not going because it was cold and rain was predicted. It has not really rained here, but I just decided I didn't want to be stuck there trying to get to the bus station in the rain, like 2 weeks ago, when I slipped and hurt my knee. There was supposed to be a Jerusalem hash today, but no one showed up for it. I think I'll give up on them. I ended up just going for a run on my own. I am soooo over being cold, although at least my room isn't unbearably cold anymore.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Some of the American Expats in Oz think things are difficult, but consider what happened to me yesterday. I always keep my laptop locked to something and 2 days ago my lock just fell apart. The Office Depot in Jerusalem does not carry computer locks and I had to visit 20 stores (both in Palestinian east Jerusalem and in Jewish west Jerusalem) before finding one in the Christian quarter of the Old City. Last night I had pretty much given up and ordered a Kensington lock on E-Bay. Even with the shipping it came out a dollar cheaper than what I paid in Jerusalem.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

April 7, 2007: The 300

I went with my friend Dalit tonight to see the 300 - about the Spartans fighting the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae. It was based on the Graphic novel by Frank Miller (Robocop & Sin City). The dialog and the movie was a little hokey in parts, (I don't think Leonidas ever had to fight an Orc!), but I still really enjoyed it. Dalit and I were among just a handful of females at the movie.
Earlier today I ran 5 miles and went with 2 of the other fellows into the Old City and we had lunch at the Austrian Hospice. I bought some Nike socks there - just 15 sheckels for 3 pairs - about the cost of 1 pair in Australia.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Completing Our Pilgrimage

Part of the pilgrimage experience is to record the completion of the successful pilgrimage, which is what we’ve done here. Being a pilgrim works up a powerful appetite, so we went to Abu Shukri for hommous afterward!

Ascending the Via Dolorosa

The more serious pilgrims slowly make their way up the Via Dolorosa or way of sorrows toward the final stations in the church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Jesus is Korean!

Starting off a bit later, and behind the pilgrims was this group, made up of visitors from California (of course) and Korea, who re-enacted Jesus' last hours. Instead of the corn-fed Midwestern type that dressed as Jesus when I was here 6 years ago, a Korean pilgrim played the role of Jesus, wearing a wig, splattered with fake blood, wearing a crown of thorns and burdened by a cross. He was escorted by other pilgrims dressed as Roman centurions, including the same skinny old guy I remembered from 6 years ago, yelling, “come on, Jesus”. There were also some Korean interpretive dancers wearing sparkly outfits befitting the guest alien of the week on Star Trek and a woman with a mike I dubbed Kareoke Mary.

Megalo Paraskevi: Stations of the Cross

At 12:30 we began the official stations of the cross led by the Franciscan Friars through the Old City of Jerusalem. Good Friday (or big Friday in Greek) is the most important holiday in the Christian calendar for many because it marks the time of Jesus crucifixion and death.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

April 1, 2007: Triumphant Entry into the Old City

The day ended for us with our entry into the Old City through the Lion Gate and from there we made a beeline for the Austrian Hospice and some hearty Austrian fare including schnitzel, potato salad, and a torte. Tomorrow also marks the beginning of Pesach (Passover) celebrating Moses delivery of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.

April 1, 2007: Palm Sunday Procession

Today, a group of us participated in the Palm Sunday Procession from the Mt. of Olives to the Church of the Virgin Mary in the Old City. I reckon there were about 5000 people - groups of nuns, pilgrims, and priests from all over the world, many marching troops of boy and girl scouts, the Patriarch of J’lem and a Papal Nuncio.

April 1, 2007: Spontaneous Singing

Everyone carried palm fronds or olive branches (I tried to sell mine to small children for 5 sheckels), and various small groups were spontaneously singing and dancing throughout the route. The narrowness of the roads made for a long slow procession of several hours and I was stiff from my run/fall of the previous day. I saw many students from my Hebrew class along the way.