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Newsletter 28: An Afternoon Tour


Dear friends and family,

Yesterday I had to take a lady and her three children to meet their father in Tel Aviv. We had about 4 hours to kill before the set meeting time. So I had to think of some place to show them that would interest both mother and children.

The mother set the tone by reading me a list of possible historic places. We decided that the caves of Bet Guvrin would be both fun for the kids and of historic interest. Everybody liked the idea of crawling through caves especially since they were of historic Jewish interest.

There are thousands of these caves dug thousands of years ago by the dwellers of a town called Maresha, mentioned in the Bible as one of the cities of the tribe of Judah.

Immediately at the beginning of our journey we hit a traffic jam in the middle of Jerusalem and I made an on the spot decision to take another, longer route out of the city which would take us past the Old City. This was okay because the family hadn't yet seen the Old City and I had a chance to fill them in on some history of Jerusalem which would later be a useful help to a better understanding of the historical significance of Maresha as one of the outlying towns that defended the approach to Jerusalem and a town the supplied the people of Jerusalem with food.

I believe that the only way to understand Israel and the Jewish people is to understand the centrality of Jerusalem in the development of the Jews as a nation.

The way to Maresha leads past the famous tank museum of Latrun and, of course I pointed this out to the group. They decided that tanks didn't interest them, but we'd go next to it where we would find a MacDonald's. We didn't find a MacDonald's, however, instead we found Mini Israel. I thought this would be a good place to give them a summary of all the places to see in Israel, because Mini Israel is a miniature version of most of the important historic and tourist sites I Israel.

It's very beautifully done and we walked around and talked about the places we saw. The place they all liked best was a miniature of the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem and we talked about it for a while. I saw they liked animals so I suggested going to the Safari inRamat Gan. A great place where you can drive in your car while looking at the animals roaming freely in the wild. This got everyone excited so off we drove to the Safari. Unfortunately we found it had closed at 4 o'clock and it was now nearly 5, so we settled for driving around the outside and looking at some of the more docile animals like the Eland, the impala and the ostriches. They looked very happy roaming freely around the big space with lots of trees. The kids loved it.

Then we went to Old Jaffa, to distinguish it from New Jaffa. Even though there isn't anything new about New Jaffa it's not as old as Old Jaffa. Old Jaffa is where the ancient harbor is located. It's one of the most ancient harbors in the world and the reason that Jaffabecame one of the most famous Mediteranean cities in Biblical time. The Egyptians came here and it was a Canaanite city for a long time. Even Solomon turned it into a great harbor for the Israelites of ancient times. Jona sailed from Jaffa, according to the Bible.

Well the time had eventually come to fetch dad from the Sheraton hotel, where he was giving a lecture. Then we all went to a great restaurant called Mesa, which means table. It really has a long table in the middle of the restaurant where everyone sits for their meal. It was great except that I was the only one eating vegetarian.

We has lots to talk about at dinner so it went on till quite late. Another time I'll tell you about the things we talked about.

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