Berenice – the ”Little Cleopatra”

Berenice was born in Rome to Agrippa and Cyprus before Agrippa became king in 36 C.E.  She bore the Roman name of Julia.

She was Herods’ great-great-granddaughter and only thirteen years of age at the time she married Marcus, the son of Alexander, Head of the Jewish Community in Alexandria, and nephew of Philo the philosopher.

With the death of Marcus in 44 C.E, Berenice became a widow at only sixteen. She then married Herod -her father’s oldest brother- and became Queen of Chalcis, a tiny principality in the Lebanon Mountains. She would retain this title even after her husband’s death.

Berenice had two sons by Herod: Hyrcanus and Berenicianus. She was widowed for a second time in 48 C.E, being only twenty years of age.

After Herod’s death, the Kingdom of Chalcis was given to Berenice’s older brother, Agrippa II. Together with his brother and sister, he moved into the new Kingdom’s Residence into close quarters.

Many sources indicate that Agrippa II and Berenice were often found together in official capacities. They would appear in public together, as when Agrippa gave his peace address to the people of Jerusalem just before the outbreak of the revolt against Rome.

The New Testament mentions Berenice’s presence with her brother at Paul’s trial, and in rabbinic literature, she is mentioned as the Queen alongside her brother, the King. In two sources this constant companionship is interpreted as incest.

Josephus claimed that rumors of the siblings’ inappropriate relationship led Berenice to seek a third match.She decided to marry Polemo, King of Cilicia, who had to be circumcised and undertake a Jewish lifestyle. However, this was not a successful marriage. She, later on, left Polemo and returned to her kingdom.

Berenice was present in Palestine during the outbreak of the Jewish revolt against the Romans between 66–70 C.E.  Josephus Flavius described her as a solitary peacemaker, using all her strength in that difficult period of the preliminaries of the revolt. She had made a vow to be in Jerusalem at that time.As required by the vow, her hair was shorn and she walked barefoot.

She made her way to the Roman governor’s palace to ask Gessius Florus and demanded to desist from the violent activities he had undertaken against the Jewish population of Jerusalem. But her efforts were to no avail.

She finally joint venture with her brother to still the Jewish insurrection.

It was during this time that Berenice met Titus and fell in love. He was eleven years her junior.

After the revolt, Titus returned to Rome to assist his father in the government, while Berenice stayed behind in Judea.They would be reunited after four years when she and Agrippa came to Rome in 75.

She lived with Titus at the palace and reportedly acted as his wife in every aspect. This was the time she was at the height of her power and quite influential during this period.

However, being under public pressure, Titus had to restore his reputation for his people and sent her away. When he became Emperor in 79, Berenice returned to Rome but she was not welcome anymore. Titus died two years later.

Berenice was to be remembered as a ”little Cleopatra” in her aspiration to become the Empress of Rome.


Berenice the ''Little Cleopatra''

Berenice the ”Little Cleopatra”


A Jewish Queen Helene of Adiabene


Sarcophagus of Helen of Adiabene - Israel Museum Jerusalem

Sarcophagus of Helen of Adiabene – Israel Museum Jerusalem

A few years ago, to my surprise, I was told that the sarcophagus of Queen Helen of Adiabene, which was in the Louvre Museum, would be lent for a few months by France to be exhibited at the Israel Museum.

She was the queen of a country called Adiabiene, which corresponds to the Kurdish territories of today. According to Flavius Joseph, Ananias converted her towards the year 30 AD before he became a high priest.

Known for her generosity and being a benefactress for the poor of Jerusalem, she brought constant support to the Jewish people of Judea and Galilee.

During a famine, she sent ships to Alexandria in order to bring wheat and cereals to the victims.

The Talmud tells us that she followed the Jewish laws rigorously and that she made numerous gifts to the Temple of Jerusalem, including a golden candlestick for its door.

Helen died in her territory of Adiabene in the year 56-58.

Her body was brought back to Jerusalem and buried in the pyramidal tomb she had built during her life time, north of Jerusalem.

During an excavation in 1863, the French archaeologist Félicien de Saulcy discovered a large limestone tomb near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. He was convinced that it was the tomb of the great kings of the Bible David and Solomon, which explains the name “Tomb of the Kings”,  but it turned out to be of Queen Helen.

This tomb was transferred to the Louvre in full agreement with the Ottoman archaeological authorities at the time.

This venerated Queen will remain forever engraved in the memory of the Jewish people.


Helene d'Adiabene Palace - Israel Museum Jerusalem

Helene d’Adiabene Palace – Israel Museum Jerusalem


A room without a view

 Image result for photos of banksy hotel bethlehem

The original name is ” Walled off ” Hotel. Its owner is none other than Bansky the” graffiti ” artist, who set his sights on the West Bank and especially on the separation wall of Bethlehem to make a work of art.

Oddly enough the name reminds us of another luxury hotel on the other side of the wall, the      ” Waldorf Astoria Hotel”, which was built recently in Jerusalem.

Its ten rooms are decorated with Bansky arts, furnished with taste, humor, research and provocation. Very little light penetrates. The view, certainly the worst of all hotels all over the world, overlooks this famous wall of separation.

Numerous graffitis parade this wall and continue to recall the years of Intifada, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, nowadays an entrenched population that lives with a feeling of abandonment and isolation while being administered by the ” Palestinian Authority”.


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Banksy's work is displayed in the The Walled Off Hotel in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017. The owner of a guest house packed with the elusive artist Banksy's work has opened the doors of his West Bank establishments to media, showcasing its unique worst view in the world. The nine-room hotel named The Walled Off Hotel will officially open on March 11.

Image result for photos of banksy hotel bethlehem

The seven species of the land of Israël

Due to the seven types of fruits and grains, the main products of the land of Israel, it is mentioned in the Torah as :

“A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.


This is the first element needed to build Personality, the Spiritual and Intelligent side of a person

Wheat field

Wheat field


This provides animal feed, an important element for human existence.









A VINEYARD expresses Joy and Festivity

Life is made of moments of happiness which are celebrated by enjoying a good wine.                    ” The wine delights the hearts of humans ” Psalm 104-15

Grape vine

Grape vine

DATE HONEY symbolises a Good, Sweet, and Abundant life in the Land of Israel

In biblical Hebrew, the word for date palm is Tamar, a woman’s name evoking grace and elegance. The name is popular even today.

Palm Tree with date fruits

Palm Tree with date fruits







The FIG is the symbol of Celestial food

The fig tree is a Messianic tree and one of the first tree to bloom in February.

It has this peculiarity that none of its leaves are the same, like the image of Israel, or the Torah, where every biblical verse can have a different explanation.









THE POMEGRANATE  is the symbole of  Prosperity,  Fertility and Beauty.

It has many seeds. The children of Israël should feel inclined to perform as many good deed (Mitzvoth) as the number of seeds of the pomegranate.



The OLIVE tree is the symbol of a Blessed and Happy family life.

It is also that of Longevity, Hope and of Peace … and is reputedly to live forever.

Olive tree

Olive tree



Beit She’an and the divinities

Beith Shean vue du Tell

Beit She’an ” Scythopolis ” is certainly one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in Israel.

It was one of the ten cities of the decapole located around the Jordan river, a strategic crossroads of 40,000 inhabitants in Roman times and destroyed in 749 CE by an earthquake, the beauty of its vestiges keeps impressing me at each of my visits :

  • His theater (still used for events and shows),
  • Its public hot baths (the most important found to date in Israel),
  • The Cardo ” Palladius ” largely restored main alley adorned with magnificent columns,
  • The ” Nymphaeum ” monumental public fountain, adorned with sculptures and water games.
  • The Temple of Zeus, the King of the Gods whose crushed columns remind us of the relentless violence of this earthquake and of course many mosaics, some of which are exhibited at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem,
  • The magnificent reconstructed mosaic of the goddess Tyche, the Greek goddess of Good Fortune, holding the Horn of Abundance. It was stolen a few years ago, but a reconstruction was made and is exhibited on the site.


  • Goddess Tyche

    Goddess Tyche

Dionysus was also the protector of Beit Shean, the God of grape harvest, vinification and wine, ritual madness and fertility.

Legend tells us that the nymph Nysa nourished him and raised him during his childhood.


An unofficial royal visit..

The funeral of the former President of Israel Shimon Peres was held on 30 September 2016 in Jerusalem.

Many dignitaries from all over the world made a final tribute to  this Great Man. Charles, the Prince of Wales, was among them.

At the end of the ceremony, which took place on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Prince Charles went to visit the Russian Orthodox nuns of the St. Mary Magdalene convent on Mount of Olives, where they live in contemplation.

He brought with him a bouquet of flowers, picked from his Scottish residence’s garden, to lay on the grave of his grandmother, Alice of Greece, born Battenberg, mother of Prince Philip.

                                                         A visit of utmost importance…. 

But who was this Princess Alice of Greece?

Princess Alice de Battenberg

Princess Alice de Battenberg

She was a remarkable woman.

During the Second World War, she had hidden a Jewish family in her own home. In 1994 she posthumously received, for her bravery, the title of  :

                                                          “Righteous Among the Nations” 

For this occasion a ceremony was held at the Yad Vashem Holocauste Museum in Jerusalem, where the Prince Consort Philip was the guest of honor and he would
visit his mother’s grave on the Mount of Olives for the first time.

There is also a second Royal tomb to be found in crypt of the convent; that of the great-aunt of Prince Charles, the Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia, murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Princess Alice of Battenberg was born on February 25th, 1885 at Windsor Castle.

Queen Victoria, Alice’s grandmother, felt very close to the little girl and soon realises that her granddaughter suffered from congenital deafness. She was taught lips reading and was able to speack correctly. even mastering several languages.

At the age of seventeen, Princess Alice met Prince Andrew of Greece for the first time, and fell in love. The respective families marked reluctance due to Alice’s young age however the couple will be united and their marriage announced. They got married and separated a few years later but have five children together.

The princess gives birth to four girls and a boy.

In 1911, further to the murder of Alice’s stepfather and the tension due to the war in the Balkan, the Greek royal family fled into exile and settled in Lucerne in Switzerland.

Eventually the Princess would return to Athens in 1938 to remain there until the end of the World War II, helping the Red Cross and dedicating her life to the poor and the sick in field hospitals. She converted to the Orthodox religion and became increasingly mystical to the verge of insanity.

In 1949, she founded an order of orthodox nuns, which was inspired by the one created by her aunt,  the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, born princess of Hesse.

Prince Phillip and his mother

Prince Phillip and his mother

The princess attended the coronation of her daughter in law Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, wearing the outfit of her religious order.

In December 1967, following the “Colonels coup d’etat” in Greece, she had to leave her country again. She came to live in Buckingham Palace, near her family.

She died in London on December 5th,1969. and was buried in the chapel of Windsor Castle.

Princess Alice’s last dying wish was to be buried in Jerusalem.

In 1988, her remains were finally transferred to the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, where she rests next to her aunt, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia.


Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene

Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene







An astounding story


The dismiss Grec Orthodoxe Patriarche - Irineos I

The dismiss Grec Orthodoxe Patriarche – Irineos I

Due to transactions of church property, made secretly with Israeli settlers, the former Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church Irineos I, is living behind locked doors in the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem since 2005.

His successor, Theophilos III, does not authorize his lawyer,  doctor or any visitor to enter the house ” prison ” of the former Patriarch.

He spends his days completely isolated, praying, reading and writing, always wearing the black traditional costume of the Greek Orthodox clergy. Irineos still considers himself the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church.

A Muslim Palestinian from the old city regularly brings him food in a basket, which he pulls up with a rope through one of the windows, overlooking an alley in the old town.

The allegations against the former Patriarch are based on the fact that he signed sales agreements with Jews wanting to increase their presence in the majority of the old Arab city of East Jerusalem.

Three important buildings in the Jaffa Gate were the subject of leases of 198 years and were sold to a group of anonumous investors…  the shops, the Imperial Hotel and the Petra Hotel are located in the Jaffa Gate at the intersection of Christian, Muslim and Armenian neighbourhoods.

According to the ‘Camp David’ agreement” of 2000, the Christian and Muslim areas, whose population is Arab, would remain under Palestinian control and become the new Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, whereas the Jewish sector would be Israeli.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate holds 20 percent of the old town.

In 1990 another scandal was revealed. The Hospice of Saint John, near the Holy Sepulchre, was acquired through a foreign company, but funds came from the Housing Ministry, which was headed by Likud Minister David Levy at the time…

Obviously, a lot of money was involved with these properties agreements, but not enough related documents could be found. The financial Manager, Mr. Papadimas, vanished with           $ 700,000, and claims from his exile that a proxy of sale had been signed by Patriarch Irineos I, who replied to this statement that the document was fake!

Some think that the Patriarch Irineos wanted to remain in good favor with the Israeli authorities. However, one cannot ignore the fact that that many criminal investigations are underway in Greece concerning the scandals, accusing the Greek Church to be involved in the antics traffic, and of rigged trials and sexual offenses.

This movement of acquisition of property in the old town and the new city of Jerusalem is an indisputable fact, which worries the local population, because the number of settlers implanted in Jerusalem is continuously growing.

Hotel Petra at Jaffa gate- Jérusalem

Hotel Petra at Jaffa gate – Jerusalem