This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for October, 2013

Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 27, 2013

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No collection of Prague photos would be complete without the city’s most over-rated tourist attraction, the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square. The dial of the clock shows the position of the sun and moon and astronomical information (this site explains how the the clock works; there’s also an interactive animation). The clock was constructed in 1410. It is the third-oldest clock of its kind and the oldest working astronomical clock in the world.

Every hour, when the clock strikes, lots of tourists (and pickpockets) gather below to watch the show.

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The top of the clock features the “walk of the apostles,” in which the doors above the clocks open and the apostles appear in pairs, bearing their attributes. The thorns on top of the angel’s head are meant to discourage pigeons.

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While the apostles make their appearance, four mechanized figures move their heads back and forth. The figure on the left, below, is Vanity (he’s holding a mirror in front of his face at this angle). The one on the right was originally a bearded Jew holding money bags. Now he is the generic figure, Greed or Usury.

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Death, on the left, pulls a rope, which causes a bell to toll. The figure holding the lute is a Turk, who represents pleasure.

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At the end of the bells you hear a rooster crowing but it doesn’t actually move.

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I played around a bit with colour because it’s hard to find something new when photographing a subject that has been photographed to death.

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Finally, check out this video, which shows an elaborate video-mapping to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the clock:

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

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Spanish Synagogue

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 27, 2013

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The Spanish Synagogue is a Moorish revival building built in 1868. It is used as a concert hall and is part of the Jewish Museum. Despite its name, the congregation is not Sephardi. It’s actually a Reform congregation. The photos are a bit wonky and don’t do it justice because (a) photography wasn’t allowed, so I had to take these photos quickly, (b) I was exhausted by the end of our 3-hour tour of the Jewish Quarter, and (c) I find Moorish revival architecture rather boring. If you like lots of gold and Moorish arches, you’ll love the Jubilee Synagogue, which I photographed on another day.

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View of the organ loft on the second floor:

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Partial view of the dome. It would have been fun to stand directly underneath it with a wide-angle lens, but that would not have been possible without attracting attention.

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Posted in Judaism, photography, Prague, travel | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

High Synagogue in the Jewish Town Hall

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 27, 2013

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The High Synagogue wasn’t part of our tour of the Jewish Quarter. In fact, I didn’t know what it was when I photographed it, so I took only a few quick shots. We were buying cheese and meat in the store in the Jewish Town Hall. On the way out, I noticed a lovely synagogue and took these photos. Although it dates back to 1568 (the same year as the Jewish Town Hall’s completion), it was destroyed in the great fire of 1689 and rebuilt in 1883.

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Prague’s Klausen Synagogue

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 24, 2013

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My favourite synagogue in Prague’s Jewish Quarter is the Klausen (= “small,” from Latin claustrum), because of its light and elegant interior. The original building was constructed in 1573 and destroyed by fire in 1689. The current building was built in 1694, although most of its current architecture dates from the reconstruction undertaken in the 1880s. The Nazis destroyed much of the interior and used the building for storage. Now part of Prague’s Jewish Museum, it houses an exhibit of objects associated with the life cycle and festivals. Normally I would have photographed this building with a much wider lens but since photography isn’t allowed, I used my normal zoom lens, shot from the hip and hoped for the best.

The shot below was taken from the women’s gallery and shows the baroque 17th century Torah ark.

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Closer view of the Torah ark, taken from the ground floor. The spiral columns are typically baroque.

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This gate leads to the Altneu synagogue. The emblem of the Prague Jewish community, a yellow hat within a Star of David, appears in many places.

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Gothic gabled facade of the Altneu synagogue.

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The Jewish Town Hall, built in 1586, has two clocks. The one with Hebrew letters runs counter-clockwise. If you need kosher food in Prague, the Jewish Town Hall has a small store. Just remember that it opens midday and that you have to allow time for the security interview.

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“More is More” Shawl

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 24, 2013

More is More Shawl
After I got back from Prague, I caught a cold. One day when I happened to be at home during daylight hours and felt well enough to crawl out of bed, I photographed a shawl that I finished a couple months ago. Its name, “More is More” shawl, is tongue-in-cheek, because it started out as a Less is More shawl. However, I quickly grew bored with counting to four (four rows stockinette, four rows seed stitch, rinse and repeat) and started improvising. The shawl is knit with Aade Lõng Artistic 8/2 in “lamb.” The yarn is actually a bit darker than these photos appear. I should have shortened the exposure a bit (when I have time, I’ll fix them and replace these photos). It was much softer than the “rainbow” colourway. The shawl starts at one corner, increasing along the top edge, and worked to the opposite corner. Below: a row of eyelets, some random welts, an embossed heart pattern, couple bands of seed stitch, and directional eyelets.

More is More Shawl

More eyelets, an Orenburg-inspired diagonal peas pattern, more welts, and a picot cast-off.

More is More Shawl

More is More Shawl

<More is More Shawl

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Video: Jerusalem Oratorio Choir at Manofim

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 22, 2013

The Jerusalem Oratorio Choir sang European and Israeli songs about wildflowers. The Hebrew songs are פרח הלילך and את תלכי בשדה.

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Manofim: “Like a Plastic Plant”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 22, 2013

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Last night we went to Manofim (Hebrew word for cranes, the kind used for construction), an exhibit of contemporary art in Jerusalem. The exhibits are held at many different venues around the city, for one week only, Oct. 17-24, 2013. Each evening, lectures and performances are held in conjunction with a particular exhibit. There are also workshops, street performers, and theater events. This is the sixth year of the exhibit, and our first time attending it.

Beit Ticho (Ticho House on Rav Kook Street) was the venue for “Like a Plastic Plant,” an exhibit by multi-media artist Einat Arif Galanti. Her photos, still-life (pictured above and below), and stop-motion video explore the relationship between plastic and genuine flowers and vegetation. Last night’s events began with a discussion between Arif Galanti and Avinadav Begin (who looks remarkably like his famous grandfather, Menachem Begin). Begin spoke about the paradox of fruits and flowers that are considered native to this country (for example, pomegranate, olive tree, and local oak), which originate in other places. Arif Galanti compared her work to the water colour drawings of Anna Ticho, the artist whose work is permanently on exhibit at Beit Ticho, While Ticho depicted native flowers in local settings, Arif Galanti’s photos place wildflowers in cultivated European settings, which consciously mimic classic painting styles. (I hope I understood that correctly; my Hebrew isn’t great.)

This still-life is plastic flowers and real fruit encased in plexiglas. The fruit has decayed and covered with mold, while the plastic flowers are pristine.

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Einat Arif Galanti (below). I couldn’t get a good shot of Avinadav Begin because I was sitting rather far back.

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Pair of Arif Galanti’s wildflower photos, framed by the couple in front of me.

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After the lecture, we walked out of the gallery accompanied by the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir (I think they were singing Brahms). We were given plastic roses and invited to “plant” them in the garden behind Beit Ticho.

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Manofim

The choir sang on the stone terrace above the garden. I’ll post a video later. The whole event took about an hour, from the start of the lecture to the end of the choral performance.

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Manofim

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Sun-Printed Fern Fabric: A Taste of Summer in the Fall

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 22, 2013

Sun-printed fabric with ferns

I had to share this stunning piece of fabric made by Pam of Gingerbread Snowflakes. Pam’s blog is a delicious compendium of crafts, recipes, and gorgeous photography. A few months ago, she created sun-printed fabrics with ferns from her front garden. I have plenty of sun but no ferns or sun-printing supplies. Pam has ferns and Pebeo Setacolor Transparent paints. Eventually the sun made an appearance in her part of the world (yes, even in Oregon) and she created this beautiful fabric. I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do with it but I love the jewel tones and graceful ferny design. Thanks so much, Pam!

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Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 15, 2013

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Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery is a daunting subject to photograph. The sheer number of graves gathered in such a small area (although it’s larger than you might think) can be overwhelming. The cemetery contains around 12,000 tombstones, although the number of burials could be as many as 100,000. When they ran out of space, more earth was brought in, creating layers. It’s generally accepted that there may be as many as twelve layers of burials. The cemetery was in use from the late 15th century to the late 18th century. Rabbi Loew of Prague is buried here, along with other prominent Jewish residents of Prague, such as David Oppenheim and Mordechai Maisel.

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The stones of cohenim (priests) are often adorned with carved hands, a symbol of the priestly blessing.

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In these photos I was experimenting with colours and textures. The mix of cool blues and warm browns is an appealing combination.

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The sun was bright that day and hit these stones at a diagonal angle.

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The cemetery is a surprisingly peaceful place, if you can ignore the hordes of tourists crowding the paths, behind a rope. You’re not allowed off the outside paths, so I took a lot of photos with a zoom lens. This photo reminded me of people sleeping, with their heads resting on the shoulders of their neighbours.

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In this photo I emphasized the bluish tinge of the stones and earth.

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Pinkas Synagogue, Prague

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 14, 2013

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The Pinkas Synagogue is a memorial to the 80,000 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis during World War Two. The building was built in 1535 by Aaron Meshullam Horowitz between his house and the Old Jewish Cemetery.

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View of the interior of the synagogue, with the names and dates of the victims inscribed on the walls. The work was designed and executed from 1954 to 1959 (for more details, see the Jewish Museum site). Because the synagogue is close to the river and very low, it has suffered extensive flood damage in the past and the names have been repainted.

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On either side of the Torah ark are inscribed the names of the ghettos and camps to which the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia were deported.

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On the second floor is an exhibit of some of the children’s drawings from Terezin (1942-1944), created during a course of art classes taught by  Mrs. Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (1898-1944). Before she was deported to Auschwitz, she filled two suitcases with 4,500 drawings and hid them. They were recovered after the war. See the Jewish Museum site for more details.

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View of the sanctuary from the women’s gallery on the second floor.

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