Packed up and on our way! Our first stop this morning was Qumran – the place where they found the Dead Sea scrolls. Here we learned about the Essenes (zealots) – it was amazing to see how they built and harnessed water, witness the number of mikvah baths. It is difficult to imagine this in a desert! Not only were they great builders, these are the people who saved and brought so many of the scrolls from the Temple in Jerusalem. Along the way, we also saw the many reservoirs built by the JNF for several of the kibbutzim and moshavim in the area. Here in Israel – they farm in the desert!
Many of us have not been to Israel for many years and were amazed to see the growth, the construction and delighted to see so many tourists – from all over the world – Korea, Argentina, Italy, Nigeria – just to name a few! At Qumran – we counted 15 buses of tourists – we couldn’t imagine what it will be like in Jerusalem – we were told that our hotel is full!
Ah…Jerusalem! We entered the City singing “Jerusalem of Gold”!! To be sure – all of us felt a little something special as we cast our eyes on this precious City! Our leaders chose to have us visit the Tower of David Museum, just inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City. The museum is the history of Jerusalem – through the ages – what better way to get a perspective of this special city!
Our speaker this evening was Minister Rafi Eitan, from the Pensioners (Gil) Party. Many of you may know him for his work in the Mossad in the capture of Adolf Eichman. We were all so impressed with his tireless energy and devotion to the Jewish people. He described what he is doing for the senior citizens and Holocaust survivors and… with all his work, he also finds time to sculpture!
Touring the Old City – by Susan Horwitz and Frances Dvorchik, Toronto Canada
Today, being Thursday, we began our tour in the City of David – we had a very special tour – something that most tourists don’t experience. Susan and Neil have really planned a wonderful and interesting program. Not only did we see the ancient water system from the time of King David, but also we were able to see the current excavations being done by archeologists of Hebrew and Haifa University. It was a joy to see students digging and sifting through the rubble of what is a parking lot. One could feel and see the enthusiasm as they worked on the excavation of Queen Helena’s palace! We were told of an ancient seal that was found recently – in fact, we had an exclusive, beating out the press, it was reported in the Jerusalem Post on Friday! After lunching in the Jewish Quarter – filled with tourists – we went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where we met with the Director of Public Affairs and learned about an new strategic development program assessing Israel’s image at home and abroad.
Friday – by Susan Horwitz & Frances Dvorchik, Toronto Canada
Whew, a day to enjoy Jerusalem on our own! Some of us went to the Friday concert at the Anna Ticho House, others shopped or visited with family and friends!
We enjoyed our Oneg Shabbat, and the group gave some very good renditions of favourite Israeli and Yiddish songs. Sadly, it is the last Shabbat that we will share this year in Jerusalem, and it is hard to believe that 8 weeks is almost passed! Shabbat Shalom!