Leon's No Newsletter 73 Touring in the snow.
Last Sunday I went for an echo examination of my heart. I heard it beating and felt comforted. I took Ettie's car for a test that is required by the Israel dept. of transport to make sure the car wasn't a danger to other human beings on the road. They weren't satisfied because the old Renault was leaking gas and oil and was polluting the environment. Who ever heard of a 12 year old car polluting the environment?
You can see pictures of Ein Kerem, one of Jerusalem's quaint neighborhoods in the Jerusalem corridor and other Jerusalem neighborhoods, on my website (just click on the link you'll find on the main page).
We went there to the Sisters of Zion monastery on Saturday with friends Carmela and Haim to listen to a concert by a beautiful ex Russian singer.
The only decorations in the church are two windows depicting angels or saints in red and blue stained glass at the top of the dome which makes any sound echo with reverent resonance. The singer, however, didn't entertain us with holy chants but with German and Russian love ditties sung with obvious pleasure and delight. Altogether it was a surprisingly light hearted entertainment in a place with a very serious appearance.
It was a day of culture. I felt like a real culture vulture. In the evening we saw an excellent, thought provoking play by the famous Israeli playwright, Hillel Mittlepunkt called "Goodbye Africa" in the Jerusalem Theater.
Idi Amin's picture on the poster advertising the play promised violence and I was happy that the violence was only in the unseen background.
The play is about some Israelis who start out having a vacation in Uganda, where they had been part of Israel's efforts, 30 years earlier, to establish friendly relations with developing Africa.
Every moment that passes, however reveals a new sinister event of those early years which brings one, towards the end of the play, to the conclusion that that Israel's actions in Africa weren't as honorable as they appeared to be to most people.
The group says a final goodbye to Africa only after they save themselves from being indicted for accessory to murder by arranging the murder of a witness to their dishonorable deeds of bygone years.
Last week's snow wasn't as severe as the week before. I knew it was going to be light because it only started snowing at night. When my tourists for the day called from Tel Aviv to find out if it was okay to tour I said "sure", a little snow isn't going to put us off from touring Old Jerusalem.
I finally met them in front of the Central Bus Station; they were a couple from London with 3 brave, young kids, ready for a walk in the snow.
We started off with a taxi ride to the top of the Mt. of Olives for a spectacular view of Jerusalem in the snow. Then the taxi drove us to the Jaffa Gate; by this time it was raining quite hard and we ran for cover to the Tower of David Museum.
One should tour this museum according to the chronological order of historic events depicted by the models of the city as it looked in each of its various periods in history. Each model is located in a part of the building which dates from the period in question.
The history of the city starts from Father Abraham and ends with the British Mandate of 1917.
Unfortunately the toilet took priority over chronology and is located near the British Mandate Period exhibit, so we started our tour at the historical end and finished at the beginning. The visit turned out to be more interesting for the kids this way than visiting according to the planned chronological system.
The most impressive part of the museum is a tower from the days of the Herod the Great and the Macabbean kings of Jerusalem, known as Phazael's tower.
(This is the oldest visible remnant which one sees entering the Old City by the Jaffa Gate, all the other buildings are either Ottoman Turk period or British Mandate period.)
It's a high, square structure built with stones with the typical margin around the edges, which is the way of identifying stones from the Herodian and Macabbean period.
When it was time for lunch we ran through the rain to my favorite humus restaurant but to our great disappointment it was closed; probably the humus maker doesn't like the rain.
Instead we found a dairy restaurant in the Jewish Quarter that served pizza and "shaksuka" (fried eggs and tomatoes), both very popular dishes for kids.
Touring with kids is definitely one of my favorites. On Saturday Tamar, my (nearly 4 year old) granddaughter and her parents toured with me at Ein Gedi, one of my favorite nature parks and I think the favorite of everybody who's ever gone hiking there among the water falls, the rich plant life the Ibex (wild goat) and Hirax. (mountain hare)
Ein Gedi means spring of the lamb and is famous for the dates that grow there. I pointed out to Tamar that her name means date. She took a great interest in the limestone and the fossils of fish, animal and plants that one can find in it. We also splashed in the water, Tamar's favorite activity.
This week we plan to picnic among the Kalaniot (red anemones) which are blooming at this time.
Wishing you a great no news day