Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Israel Flashbacks, pt. 1

In 2007, my husband was invited to collaborate on a scientific project with some scientists at the Weissman Institute in Rehovot, Israel. We flew to Israel in January with our four children and lived there for six weeks. Our children were 7,5,3, and 4 months. It was a magnificent adventure. At the time, we had very limited internet connection and I was unable to upload our photos. I never attached photos to my blog posts. I'm working on an Israel scrapbook and need to coordinate the blog posts with pictures I took. I am going to copy and paste some of those entries for my Travel Tuesday series.

Traveling to Jerusalem

Friday began early for us. We finished packing for the weekend and then ate breakfast. By 9:00 we met Josh, our guide for the day. Josh has lived in Israel for a year and a half and has been to Jerusalem many times. I was glad to have him as a guide because, by the end of the day, we realized there is no way we could have found and seen all the sights we saw in such a short period of time.
I realize that many of you will never have an opportunity to go, so I’ll try and describe what it looks like. First, we live near Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is a fairly new city–built in the late 1800’s and looks much like any modern city. There are high rises all over with businesses, apartment buildings, etc.

We live southeast of Tel Aviv. Rehovot was founded by farmers and is still known for its orchards. When I think of Israel, I typically think of dry, desert, barren land. But neither Tel Aviv nor Rehovot is that barren. Rehovot has palm trees and orange trees all over. Even the road dividers have orange trees. The Weizmann institute campus is positively lush, abounding with trees, flowers, grass, bushes, etc. So I’ve had to revise my original picture of Israel. I realize that when you go east of Jerusalem and south, you are truly in wilderness and desert area. But the part of Israel that has become somewhat familiar to me really has a lot of green.

So we drove east of Rehovot to Jerusalem on the freeway. I was surprised by all the trees I saw. As we came closer to Jerusalem, it became more and more hilly and rocky. We drove through a canyon.  We started to see villages and small towns built on the hills. And quite often, we saw roadside stands. I hear the strawberries are delicious this time of year. At various intersections and bus stops, we saw hitchhikers thumbing their ways to various places. There were quite a few young orthodox men thumbing rides. If you were stopped at a light, you were bound to see these young men walking down the line of cars, asking for a ride.

From what I’ve read in guidebooks, this is common on Fridays as everyone is trying to get home for the weekend before Shabbot begins.
And then we drove into Jerusalem. It is so hard to describe. But from what we saw, Jerusalem is literally built on a mountain or tall hill. And the city is built up from the valley to the top. I know many of you have seen pictures of the beigish-whitish limestone city. And all I can really say is that it really does look like that.

It just really hit me hard that Jerusalem is a city that is 3000 years old. You can feel it and see it as you look at ancient, old, and modern buildings.
Jerusalem is a holy city-sacred to three major religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Everywhere there are churches built by the Christians from multiple denominations. The Dome of the Rock is very prominent. And then the fact that the city was conquered and established as the city of King David–himself a Jew–just permeates the whole feeling of the city.
I better stop there and start a new post so I don’t overwhelm you.


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