Newsletter 60: An Archaeological Discovery
On Wednesday afternoon I was waiting as usual outside the government tourist information office at Jaffa Gate for my tourist for the day to show up. I had rushed to get there on time at 2:30. I thought I had the wrong time, but when I called I was told that he would turn up only at 3 PM.
While I waited I read a few pages of my book by Eliezer Schweid. Eventually he turned up and I got started; first I took him first to see a map of Jerusalem to show him where we'd be walking, Then I decided to give him a special treat by taking him to the roof of the Greek Catholic hotel to see the view.
It is a truly magnificent view; there was the 4th century Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the 7th century Dome of the Rock in the palm of our hand. Even though a 12th/13th century market had been built on top of the 2nd wall of Jerusalem of the 2nd Temple Period, from here one could easily imagine where it would have been.
Archaeology has helped imagination with some new archaeological excavations at Herod's Gate. The wall clearly ran from David's Tower, right next to where we were standing, to Herod's Gate. This is a new theory about the line of the wall; borne out in the excavations.
David's Tower and the Western Wall are the only two 2nd Temple period structures that have been visible above ground in Jerusalem for 2000 years. All the rest is below ground.
If you want to find Jewish remains in Jerusalem and the rest of Israel you need to look underground, not above ground.
By revealing pieces of ancient Jerusalem hidden by 2000 years of buildings archaeologists are revealing how false are the claims of various conquerors to original ownership of Jerusalem and the promised land.
On my way to Tel Aviv a very attractive, well shaped, rather heavily built lady sat next to me in the bus. She looked tough like a healthy Russian peasant woman whose cheeks were still rosy from the early morning freshness.
I was wondering if she wasn't one of those female wrestlers, but soon cancelled that idea because she looked to happy and contented.
We started chatting and I found out that she worked very hard, getting up every morning at 3 o'clock to work in a bakery near Afula. She had left after work to visit her aunt in Jerusalem who had just written a book. She was holding a plant from her aunt's garden in Jerusalem that she was going to plant in Afula.
She represented the true Israeli not one of those nouveau riche who spend their time in the "shoppes" of the ultra-mode that you read about in the glossy magazines that abound in Israel and which are totally boring.
I didn't have much luck with busses yesterday; I had lots of waiting to do and ended up late to Prof Stephan Reif's lecture on texts from the Cairo Geniza.
More than 200000 texts were found there in the Ibn Ezra synagogue.
Among all these Prof. Reif showed a picture of a letter from a Rabbi living in Ashkelon at the time of the Crusader conquest in the 12th century asking for help to immigrate to Cairo because the Crusaders were killing the Jews in Israel.
Another letter was a referral by Maimonides to a young man to receive a post in a Jewish community.
Last week I once again had the privilege to guide a group of tourists to the Galilee. We stayed at the Kibbutz Nof Ginossar Guest house.
Since I didn't have a computer handy all I could do after waking up at 5 AM was to take a walk round the Kibbutz. I walked through their banana fields, passed the dairy and even found that they had markers set out to indicate a walking route.
I could breathe the fresh Galilee air and enjoy the view of the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee and get a bit of exercise all at the same time. I can't say that this has become a habit but I've done it a few times now in Jerusalem round my neighborhood.
Since my three year old granddaughter has started ballet lessons Wednesdays has become an important day for Ettie and I. Ettie accompanies her there and sometimes I join in when I'm not too busy. We can watch the development of a prima ballerina from the beginning of her career. She has the necessary costume and great enthusiasm.
Wishing you a great No News Day