Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo part 3 – The Birds

1. Noah’s Ark and Servals – 2. Wild plain3. The Birds

Please comment if you know what sort of bird this was 🙂 there was meant to be some other exotic birds in the big greenhouse but they were hiding and no where to be seen.

Raptors (no not the Rapture!) ie: a walk in cage with eagles, buzzards, vultures and kites.  There is a pile of mice or rats that they were eating.

Lots of different parrots, the white Cockatoo reminds of one of famous British Christian author/speaker and Jerusalem resident Lance Lambert’s pets

Orthodox Jews (teacher and kids from religious school I think) are watching the penguins being fed.

1. Noah’s Ark and Servals – 2. Wild plain – 3. The Birds

Portsmouth and Jerusalem

The antisemitism watching blog ‘Seismic Shock’ (front page here) has come up with good stuff again.
I was particularly interested about the boycott Israel meeting that happened in my home city of Portsmouth.
I was hugely relieved that there are no names of churches from my city involved, but usual attacks from various characters mentioned by Seismic and general political blogs like Harry’s place (not specifically pro-Israel, but have very good expose of unpleasant extremism stuff regularly)
The focus on the blog talked about the get together from various Methodist churches, it is sad when antisemitism comes from not just from stereotypical skin heads but from within churches, and this creates division and gives a poor impression to non Christians in my community.
For me this is not a representation of Jesus, but slander aimed at a nation that is not perfect but we are biblically obliged to pray for.  Its important we reject the common error of replacement theology (that is that Israel of the bible was permanently rejected by the new covenant of the church which Paul says is false in Romans)

In addition to this, modern day BNP-style political thugs the EDL, were on the news for protesting and intimidating Muslims also in Portsmouth outside the Jami Mosque.

Some people maybe scared to visit Israel because of fears of terrorism, but in reality, I feel safer on the streets at night in Jerusalem than Portsmouth.  As the recent above story and immense dislike of the neighbouring city of Southampton, there is a fair amount of political craziness from Pompey.

Someone else I know did this kind of comparison of two cities they have lived in and showing the nicest parts of each.

There is some similarities here, both cities once had the same football club owner at the same time.   Both have a lot of history, although Portsmouth is 800+ years old, Jerusalem is about 4 times older and has about 700,000 people compared to Portsmouth’s 200,000 odd.

Both places you walk somewhere and bump into someone you know in the street.

Some of these comparisons are often more to do with the relative (Israel = 7 million, UK = 65 million) size of the country, thus the logistics of supplying things into this place as opposed to any political reasons.  Some things come out in the shops much later here in Israel (like the iPhone that wasn’t officially on sale until Autumn 2009)  also because of reasons like the unique nature of the Hebrew language which I guess was only probably implemented recently.

I have not mentioned things like terrorism threats as actual attacks are these days a rarity and certainly less deaths than an average robbery or domestic murder in a western city.

There is a wide range of different ethnic groups here, people are free to practice their own religion without much interference.

Of course both places share some bad things like lack of parking too.

Better things in Jerusalem

Excellent family life, most children have two parents, divorce/separation rate seems low

Not much crime or drugs

Not much issue with drunks/alcoholism

Vast range of places to eat out

Vast range of coffee shops and easy to get wireless internet

Fruit and vegetables are plentiful locally and cheap

Old city markets are great to get beautiful carpets, ornaments, spices, ceramics

People like to socialise a lot, but not always around alcohol, so going out is safe and fun for everyone in almost all cases.

Warm Mediterranean climate, its been often over 30 degrees in November.

Attractive design of buildings with consistent white stone facade on the outside gives this city a unique character

Most houses have their hot water heated using solar panels on the roof

Police and soldiers in the street all around give a sense of security and safety

Mobile phone usage seems quite cheap and there’s no problem with signal (despite this city is on several mountains)  120% (ie: lots of people have two) of Israelis have mobile phones.

Bus service is cheap and quite easy to get anywhere – just remember to hold on tight once you get on as they don’t wait for you sit down…

Immigration unlike many other countries is actively encouraged (if you are Jewish) A blessing to Jews who have previously lived in nations that were hostile or dangerous to them.

Better things in Portsmouth

Food (tinned/packaged) is much cheaper

You are never more than 1/2 a mile from a curry restaurant

You are never more than 100 yards from a pub

Road safety is above average, and most people’s cars have to be in safe and good order

Electrical fittings, switches, etc in shops and houses are not often wobbly or fall off in your hand

Health & Safety is strict, so you won’t walk past building sites where workman work around the public without fencing etc.

Bus drivers are mostly polite and don’t drive off until you have sat down

Relatively good amount of political stability

Going to bordering countries (France, Spain, Channel Islands) requires simple security clearance without being asked lots of questions

Its easy to buy spare parts for your car, IT hardware, other specialised things without having to have them imported from somewhere else

Very little risk of drought, and water infrastructure works well

Note: I don’t really like political debates and so I am quite fussy about whats allowed in comments below.  Sensitive subjects are welcome in a private message.

Camping on the beach

I went camping with our young adults group at church, on the coast at Rishon LeZion which is south of Tel Aviv.

Sunflower Man! Camping on the beach, my friend here thinks he is a Middle East superhero from this big orange towel.

Nearby there were some outside showers which are there to wash sand and salt off you, these were being used by some divers in frogman outfits to wash off their prize catches.

The only thing is they proceeded to gut the fish also here, not so pleasant for other people at the beach to have to walk in fishy guts, yuck.

Crabs, along with lobsters are not kosher, therefore very few Jewish people even completely non-religious eat any type of shellfish.   I am wondering if there are Arab owned fish restaurants that cater for tourists that want all type of sea food.

I slept on the beach without a tent, this was great as the temperature was just right once in a sleeping bag borrowed from another Bridges for Peace staff member, it was super comfy so I slept really well, and there was time for worship, football and card games before it started to get dark.

The next day after a bit of a lay in and getting some lunch – off to a place called Midras back towards Jerusalem for caving!  This was kind of scary, I have done this before, but this seems extra difficult, these rabbit hole sized gaps are small meaning pushing yourself on your stomach had to be done, as well as alternating between feet first or head first and sometimes going around tight right-angles, with people behind you.  My fear was people stopping in front of you meaning you cannot head any direction.  Every so many metres of distance was a small cave that maybe 6 people could gather in.

Here this cave was interesting, it reminded me of the Sarlacc, the creature embedded in the ground with teeth from Star Wars Return of the Jedi, however after climbing down, its actually a Columbarium Cave which means dovecote in Greek.  Doves were raised for food or for ritual purposes and was popular during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Our friend Stephenson who is originally from the Caribbean was quite nifty at climbing these little alcoves to get on a platform at the top.

This pyramid shamed structure made of dressed stone is the only one of its kind in Israel, the top three rows are missing.  Its likely it was erected as a shrine to those buried in the caves nearby.   This is known in Hebrew as a Nefesh. (soul)

This tomb has a sliding stone to close it shut, just like the tomb of Jesus and other ancient tombs built for wealthy people I have seen in Jerusalem.
It was in use at the end of the first century until the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 CE)   Sadly it was vandalised 15 years ago.

There is a lot of tombs and holes around the place, some not so obvious as hidden by bushes.

This was a really good weekend with some exploring and fellowship with folks I know well and new people too.