Here we are on Thursday morning and Harry and I met Celia to begin our adventure. We went to Hadassah hospital today for the first stop on our tour. This is a wonderful place that i think demonstrates how all of the different communities of Israel could work together. Debbie Rice set up a VIP tour of the facility. Incredible! They have built the hospital to wihstand virtually any attack that could happen. We got to see the ER unit of the hospital which was state of the art. We also got to see the childrens unit of the ER which was very well thought out. then onto the Womens and Childrens unit of the hospital and finally the 12 Chigal windows. They were magnificant. The serenity of the chapel could really make you understand the meaning he was trying to accomplish.
From the hospital we went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum. With the purpose of insuring the world does not forget, Israel has done an incomparable job. Harry, as some of you know, was born in Germany and left right after Kristal Nacht. At the end of the tour, a tour where you saw and heard from survivors of the Holocaust, there is a data base where you can look up your relatives and see what happened. Harry was able to find information on 3 of the six relatives he was looking for. It was then time for a stiff drink. The best we could find was a beer. Then we went to the childrens part of the museum. This is where you learn about the 1,500,000 children murdered by the Nazi's. It is something that the mind simply cannot comprehend. How can anything like this ever happen. Yet, it is happening again today, it is just not happening to us.
Our next stop is Old Jerusalem. We entered through the Jaffa gate and into the Arab market we went. As Celia said, watch your wallet. (no problems). the hub bub of the market was fantastic. Lots of stalls and lots of people selling stuff...all made in China i think. Celia took us around and we learned about the moving of the walls throughout the 36 times the city has been occupied. And we walked and walked. We went up to a spot that you could see the 4 quarters of the city. Israel has done a great job of cleaning up their part of the city since the 1967 war. But, if you look over to the Arab part of the city it is the difference between night and day. Right next to each other you see the clean part of the Jewish, Christian quarters and the antennas and electrical wires of the Arab quarter.
We then walked about Jerusalem and learned about the Roman roads and such and how the different layers of excavation came about and how the learnings are going on even today with this vibrant city growing around the efforts. the city has grown nearly 7 fold since 1948.
Now for the biggest thrill of all, we went to the Kotel, the Western Wall. When Israel won the 7 day war in 1967, what we now see of the Western Wall had not been seen in hundreds of years. there were houses in the way layers and layers of history. But there it was in all of it's present day glory.
Standing perhaps 75 feet tall with perhaps another35 feet below that, here the Jews come to pray. They come to pray in freedom and safety. They come with other Jews to their special place, to where G-d told us to build a temple. They come to where, like no where else in the world, they can feel like a Jew. Where it is not unusual to wear a Kippa and where you can touch the same wall that was touched 2,000 years ago by our ancestors.
There were many of the ultra-orthodox at the wall yesterday, as i am told there are everyday. Men on one side and women on the other side. Harry and I went to the men's side and prayed. There were many places to have prayer as all you needed to do to start a minyan was to grab a table and start leading.
I was put off by some of the Ultra-orthodox as they seemed to be there to ask for money. But they did not bother me and i certainly did not bother them. It did seem to take away from the spirituality of the experience. We will see how it is on Shabbat.
We had fun finding a cab but finally did. On the way back I was so tired I fell asleep. No problem, because the traffic was so bad I got a 30 minuet nap.
Dinner was outstanding. Harry had poached Salmon he said was the best he ever had. He got the recipe from the chef, and then tried to change it. I said "harry, you said it was the best you ever had." He agreed and will make it as soon as he gets home.
Update on todays activities after we go to dinner I can't figure out to post the pictures so i will wait until i get home. Mandy and Becky, you both get elected to show me again how "simple" it is