Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jerusalem, Part 2

We finished our “Winter in Netanya” tour with a few days in Jerusalem. This was much more relaxed as we didn’t have so many things scheduled. We were able to take the time to really walk around the city.

On the way back to Jerusalem from Eilat we stopped at Kibbutz Ketura and learned more about mariculture as well as the research and development (Arava Institute) they are doing on farming in a desert environment.  They are doing better financially with growing algae than they did in the past with farming (which they are still doing, but they have converted some of the fields to other uses).  They still grow dates and have a dairy.  The stands of experimental trees were interesting.  I enjoyed learning about the environmental experiments.

One of the highlights of the Jerusalem week was seeing the Hadassah hospitals (both of them). We had great guides and I saw the Chagall windows again. The last time I saw them was in 1963. I took lots of pictures. Now that I have taken over 10 years of art classes, I could appreciate them even more.

The Ein Kerem tower will be open this week for patients. It was almost completely finished when we had our tour. Five of the floors, including the operating suites, are below ground. Hadassah has made a big financial commitment to the hospital for many years. We also saw the Mount Scopus facility which is being used as a rehab center. There is a memorial there for the people who were killed in the ambush of the convoy in 1948. It was sad learning about what happened. It was very impressive seeing both of these facilities and how all the different people work together to take care of each other (the politicians could learn a lot from the people there).

On another day Joe and I walked to the Israel Museum and back to the hotel.  Jerusalem has many hills and this was good exercise as well as fascinating to see how many buildings are built on hills, but how they have also maintained some green spaces. We spent four hours at the museum and did not see all of it. We toured many of the archeology sections, the sculpture garden, some art galleries, the model of Jerusalem and the Shrine of the Book (Dead Sea Scrolls). Everything is well organized and we had audio guides as well.

We celebrated Purim while we were there and enjoyed more walking around the city and seeing so many people in costumes (both children and adults).  We walked more again and went to the Mahane Yehuda shuk (market), Ben Yehuda Street (lots of Purim activities there and shops), and through the Mamilla Mall (another pedestrian walkway filled with beautiful sculptures as well as typical mall stores).

On Shabbat I attended an all women’s service (in honor of the “Year of the Woman”) at the Conservative Synagogue. The women did a great job and I found the service to be very comfortable and mostly traditional. In the afternoon Joe and I walked down to the Old City and enjoyed exploring on our own. We found places we had seen on our last trip (2006), prayed at the kotel (western wall) and walked around the outside walls as well. We saw more than the last time, including some Christian sites.  I visited with cousins in the evening.

On the last day, there was still an option for one more tour, so I went to the Herzl Museum on Mount Herzl with some of our group. We walked through parts of the cemetery after the tour, but not the same parts I had seen in 2006. Soldiers were practicing for a ceremony to take place next month.  We took the above-ground train back. The public transportation in Israel is excellent.

In the afternoon, Joe and I walked back again to Ben Yehuda Street (pedestrian mall) which was not so busy now that Purim was over and bought more souvenirs to bring back with us. After a very long flight, we are finally back to New Hampshire and enjoying the spring weather.  Although we have been back for one week now, we still find ourselves a bit fatigued, but gradually getting over jet lag.  I have started painting again and next postings will probably be about spring, art or local events. I even saw turtles out sunning themselves on a rock in the pond on my last walk. Thanks to the readers who continued to follow my “travelog” and you can always contact me with any questions or concerns.