The Baha'i Temple
OR Why does this country like to dig??????
After our trip to Haifa, Louie and I decided to lay low. We went to the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv to look over their wares. We bought a few gifts and returned home with some great goat cheese and some delicious pastries. If I continue this way, I am going to look like I was on vacation in a Twinkie factory.
Wednesday morning we decided to get an early start and head for the bus station. It definitely seems we are getting very good at finding our way around. We had scheduled a tunnel tour of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I remember when we were here in 1976, they were just building(or should I say digging) it. We made the 7:40AM bus and we were on our way. Within fifty minutes, we were at the central bus station in Jerusalem. We crossed the street to the #1 bus which we remembered went to the Old City. As we approached the Old City, I noticed that the City Of David was across the way. I knew that it was somewhere around, but I didn't think it was that close. I should have realized that it would be there, because people didn't travel very far in those days. The City of David is a very controversial dig. It was showcased on 60 minutes this past winter because it actually goes under Moslem houses. It is interesting how they date the rock formations and can actually tell you want happened there and why it happened. We went down into a tunnel where the villagers would collect water for the village. Then after an exhausting 2 hours in very hot, hot, hot weather, and looking at ruin after ruin, we concluded our visit. Next, we proceeded to the Old City and our tour of the Western Wall tunnels. This tour took us through another tunnel that paralleled the Western Wall. It is here that we learned that the Western Wall is not actually part of the Second Temple, but the outer wall that protected the temple. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Moslems, when they took over the area. Check out this website for more information and a look at the area. http://english.thekotel.org/ The tour cumulated at a small pool underground with steps that led up to a wall. I wonder if that was the way people got in and out. The tour guide told us that during the rainy season, the roof of the room was open to collect the water and during the hot season it was closed and people had a trap door to lower their buckets. At the end of this tour,we left the tunnel and the guide asked us to stay between two armed Israeli soldiers because we were going to walk through a dangerous part of the Moslem quarter to get back to the Western Wall. Louie remarked that he has seen more guns in the last two weeks, then in his whole life. What a pity, the Israelis have to live like this day in and day out. But, all and all it is a very nationalistic country and it is a pleasure to see those Israeli flags flying from many homes.
It was a great day, but we were both extremely tired and slept well that night.
Our experience at the Kotel
OR Louie eats Falafel
I don't know if I mentioned this before, but the Israelis are extremely warm and friendly. So was the case when we met Louie's sought of cousin and his wife, Rebecca. They picked us up at 6:00 at our apartment. We went to an excellent Israeli restaurant and by the looks of it, we were definitely the only Americans. One important point, Louie has been eating falafel and really enjoying it. This is really a first for someone who is such a picky eater. Aaron( Louie's cousin) is 62 years old and fought in the Six Day War. He was also stationed in the Sinai for three years. Both of his parents are still alive and are survivors of the Holocaust. They came to Israel with his grandfather in 1948. Aaron's grandfather was on Schindler's list. Rebecca is Aaron's second wife. His first wife died when she was 37 years old. Rebecca came to Israel when Gorbachev let the Jews from Vilna, Lithuania leave. She said it was terrible for them and she was so happy to make it to Israel. She came with her sister to be with an aunt who had emigrated in the 1920's. Her aunt was one of the first nurses in Israel who helped form the first major hospital here. Talking to them was like living history. We enjoyed their company and will see them in another week at their house. We are looking forward to meeting their children and discussing Israel from their point of view. It is so hard for parents here knowing that their children will be in the military and not knowing where they are. Israel is very secretive about its military and for good reason.
Next....on to Ashdod to see Sabrina and her family. Sabrina and Eli( an Iraqi Jew) live in a small apartment in the center of town. They are very worried because it is hard for young people to make ends meet. Sabrina told us that they will have to move back to Argentina because Eli will not make any more money here since he has not gone to college. Unfortunately, they do not have the money to get the education they both want. Ashdod is a port city and the third largest in Israel. Apartments are just as expensive as in Tel Aviv.
Today we continued our journey and took the train to Haifa. Haifa is about an hour north of Tel Aviv. Haifa is the home of Mt. Carmel. We climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel and had a great view of the sea. (Hopefully I will be able to download the pictures from the top). Then we walked around the city and went to the Naval and Immigration Museum. It was very interesting to see how the Israelis were able to get as many people as possible into the country during the British Mandate. It has always been the philosophy of the state of Israel that all Jews belong in Israel. Now I see where Leon Uris got his material for his book, Exodus. After that, on to Elijah's Cave where I guess Elijah spent a night. The cave was really a couple of rocks in the side of a mountain and of course people praying and lighting candles. At this point, we were exhausted from the heat so we decided to head back to Tel Aviv and an evening swim.