Jerusalem, First Day

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I’m always tempted to do this. But, I’m too self-conscious. Or, maybe, it’s because I wonder if I would do it because others have- and not because it’s something deep within me.

It is really easy to effect such an act, since every single time I have flown to Israel, I have never arrived at a gate. Instead, my plane parks on the tarmac and we all get bussed to customs.

What am I talking about? Kissing the ground upon arriving in Israel. Even as I write this- ensconced in my home in America- I feel the pang of Yisrael. (That’s how it’s pronounced in Hebrew.)

Ben Gurion Airport

I- and every one of my children- have always felt at home in Israel. There’s something that envelopes our souls. (My son told me this again as soon as we got to the bottom of the ramp from the plane at Ben Gurion Airport.) But, that doesn’t mean we (like so many Americans) believe that it’s “my country, right or wrong” or “love it or leave it”. No, we know that Bibi Netanyahu needs to change his attitude or be replaced. (Like someone else in a much larger country.)

Anyway, back to our trip.

It’s now almost dinner time. (We left Frankfurt at lunch time; it’s around 7 PM here on arrival.) And, we are off to one of my favorite hotels. No, it’s not a fancy one. As a matter of fact, the first time I came here, it didn’t have air conditioning. (If you know me, you know that’s a major problem. But, they did bring 6 fans to my room, so I would be able to withstand the temperatures.)

Eldan Hotel, Jerusalem

I love the Eldan Hotel because it’s a mile to the old city of Jerusalem. It’s a kilometer from Ben Yehuda Street. (This street is the equivalent of Times Square and Broadway in Manhattan.) It’s near a slew of synagogues, the American Consulate, the King David Hotel, etc.

We dropped our luggage, showered and went to the restaurant for which I had been salivating for a year. And, when we got there…we found that it folded. (As my son said- I hadn’t been there enough to keep it in business.) So, we settled for some schwarma. My son’s and my go-to fast food. (There are very few places one can get this in America, besides.)

Ben Yehuda Street

And, as I said in earlier postings about our trip, my son is participating in a “most exotic beer” contest. So, we searched for a few great beers for him. And, then crashed for the night.

The next day, we went to the Israel Museum. Except it was Tuesday. which meant it didn’t open until 4 PM! So, it’s back to the Kotel (what used to be called the Wailing Wall; now it’s known as the Western Wall- the wall that surrounded the Great Temple). Where my son and I prayed the afternoon prayers. An exhilarating experience for both of us.

Kotel- Wailing Wall

And, then I take my son to my favorite shops in the Cardo. Where he met the artist (and art dealer- Udi Merioz at the Blue & White Gallery ) who befriended me some 50 years ago. Now, my son has the same contact. And, to the jewelry shop (Mira‘s) and Judaica purveyor (authentic- and kosher, Bar-On- this is where Daniel will buy the scrolls  few days hence that make a mezuza a mezuza).

On the way out of the Old City, I stop off at the Armenian shop I have frequented for some 50 years. Where I buy my wine (for evening consumption) and cold water (to survive the heat of Jerusalem.) Another good spot with which my son should become acquainted.

Israel MuseumNow, we head back to the Israel Museum. It’s become more of a museum than we both recalled. Sure, it had great exhibits conerned with Jewish history, but it also had a slew of art. (And, as my son said, we devour art in other places. We don’t need it here. Moreover, someone convinced the curator that a monstrous collection of porcelain sunflower seeds (I think it covered 25 feet by 75 feet on the floor) was a valid artistic expression. Really? It was only 4 PM and I hadn’t devoured six or seven bottles of wine yet.)

And, part of this museum is the Shrine of the Book. Where the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ are on view. But, an almost full copy of Yishayahu (Isaiah, as you call him) dating from the 2nd century before the common era.  And, a slew of codices, including the Aleppo Codex, the oldest complete copy of the Tanach (the full set of the Tora, the Prophets, and the Writing) from the 10th century of the common era.

(By the way, if you look carefully in the picture above, you will see water sprays landing on the “roof” of the Shrine of the Book.  The water, when it evaporates, cools the building, which cooling is critical to maintain the ancient scriptures that are housed within.)

Then, the last part of our trip (at least what I’ll discuss today).  Attached to this museum is a scale model of Herodian Jerusalem.  A way to become familiar with what the Old City (which was the entire city of Jerusalem, except for Ir David) provided its citizens and visitors some 2 thousand years ago.

Beit Hamikdash
The Beit Hamikdash, the Great Temple
Herodian jerusalem
Herodian Jerusalem Scale Model
Beit Hamikdash
Outer Walls around Beit Hamikdash

Hope you enjoy the pictures.  Being there was even better.

Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.





On a somber note, today is the 72nd anniversary of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Blast.  And, the 3rd anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson.  Examples of man’s disregard for his fellow man (and woman).  May this legacy be erased as soon as possible.

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