Warning: this is a long blog, many photographs.

From our room in the guest house, we look west toward Haifa and Mount Carmel.  Mount Carmel stands for a range of mountains that run southeasterly from Haifa and the Mountain by that name.  From our room or often, on the roof of the guest house, I can set up my tripod and take pictures of the sunset and, if the sky is clear, of the full moon, end of February and beginning of March, and of the moonset over Haifa.  I have provided some of those images below.




Sunset, Mt Carmel in the distance


Sunset, Mt Carmel in distance; twin towers Hebrew University




Moonset over Haifa, in distance.


Haifa at Night


Full Moon, March 2, 2018


stormy day, school grounds


Day after full moon, craters shown on top right of moon




sunset, Mt Carmel in distance


Sunset, Mt Carmel


Haifa, lights in the distance, at night

Events:  Muslim Wedding Preparation, Contract Signing; Visit to Hula Valley with the Gifted and Talented Program.

One of the basic reasons for returning as volunteers through the Pilgrim of Ibillin at this particular time of the year is the marriage of the daughter of one of our closest friends Salha Edress.  We have already participated in two events in which many people were preparing food for the many guests invited to the wedding.   For a Muslim wedding, in addition to the signing of a contract before the dates of the wedding, the wedding event is spread over several days.  The wedding of Ruba Edress will take place beginning April 2nd and culminating on April 6th.  The contract signing took place on March 8th at Ruba’s home.

Preparations:  We were invited by Salha to come to her house to see and participate in the preparation of food for Ruba’s wedding events.  The first event for us was on February 7th when her friends spent the day cleaning dishes and utensils for use for the different meals that would be served, and making and freezing raw kibbeh.



Mixing ground meat with bulgur wheat, minced onions, and middle eastern spices

At the end of all of this work, men and women gathered for a sumptuous meal.


Food ready, people to come


Ingredients for a meal: raw kibbeh topped with a mixture mostly of ground beef with some rice and pine nuts (darker dish on left and right) and finally with yogurt, and of course, pita bread.


take one of the raw kibbeh, crush the kibbeh on your plate, put some of the mixture of ground beef, some rice and pine nuts (not pictured) on top and finally put some yogurt on top, and enjoy

The second preparation event took place on March 3rd.  Two of the items being prepared today used a lot of dough.  When we arrived, a great quantity of dough was being prepared.


This dough was used to make two kinds of mezze, small dishes served in the middle east before dinner (our experience is that after mezzo, there is no room for dinner).

One kind of mezze is made with a small piece of round dough, flattened, and on which is placed and olive and then some cheese with the olive.  It is rolled into  ball, dropped into a liquid and then rolled in sesame seeds.



Jane helped with the final task on these delicious middle eastern treats.


One other dish was being made, some dough rolled flat and filled with a mix of lebne, parsley, and za’atar.



Finally, another kind of kibbeh was being made.  For this, as you will see, a small amount of a mixture of ground meat, burgul, and spices, was formed into an open container shape into which ground meat and pine nuts was placed, the meat container was carefully closed and the resulting mezze item placed in a container for freezing.


More pictures showing the preparation.


And some of the other participants at the preparation


One more event: a visit to the Hula Valley with the Gifted and Outstanding Student program. The Ministry of Education offers a program throughout the state of Israel for nurturing gifted and outstanding students.  Students in the third grade are tested and evaluated for general scholastic ability/general level of intelligence; for artistic talent; and talent in sports.  Students in grades 4 through 9 are eligible to participate in the program.  The Gifted and Outstanding Student program at the Mar Elias Schools welcomes students from Ibillin, Shaab, Sachnin, Basmet Tabo’n, and Kawkab.  There are 170 students in the program that meets on Thursday afternoons and all day on Friday (the Mar Elias elementary school does not meet on Friday).

Jane and I share birdwatching with the director of the Gifted and Outstanding Student Program, Enaya, so she invited us to go with them on a day long trip to Hula Valley.  Hula Valley is noted as a stopping place for birds on their migrations in the spring and the fall between Europe and Africa.   While we knew that this is not a major time for migration, we still hoped to see some birds not present in our daily living circumstances,  we were not disappointed.


Some initial photos


First critter, a swamp hyrax


Swamp Hyrax

Large Catfish


Next a turtle


An animal with which we were not familiar: a Coypu


And finally some birds: Eurasian Coot


Black Winged Stilt






Teal, showdown, this is my place to rest!