Two Days in Jerusalem

Not long after visiting Haifa, Michal, Moshe and I drove to Jerusalem, a city where Moshe lived for three years while attending university and working in the Prime Minister’s Office (in a security position). We checked in to the Eldan Hotel, which has free parking and is centrally located next to the YMCA and across the street from the King David Hotel. Shortly after, we walked to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City via the nearby Mamilla pedestrian mall.

We quickly arrived at the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem, just inside the Jaffa Gate and adjacent to the pedestrian mall. We’ve often visited the excellent displays of Jerusalem’s history under various rulers; this time we came to see “Allenby at the Gates of Jerusalem,” which marks 75 years since the British armies, led by General Allenby, captured Jerusalem in December 1917.

“The exhibition presented an impressive collection of documents and photographs of the day of the conquest and the surrender ceremony held at the entrance to the Tower of David. After the British army entered Jerusalem, General Allenby used the entrance to the Citadel as a stage to address the crowds that had gathered to await him. In the declaration he read, he pledged to safeguard the holy places. This marked the end of Ottoman rule in Jerusalem. The exhibition included an original film documenting the period.”
(tod.org.il/en)

There was an accompanying exhibit of life in Palestine during the British Mandate period. It’s indisputable that the British had a major impact on the Yishuv (pre-state Israel). Just one example: the British edict that requires until today that all buildings must be clad in Jerusalem stone, a type of limestone which turns golden in sunlight, especially noticeable as the afternoon sun sinks towards the horizon.

We went with Moshe to Teddy Stadium, home to four professional football (soccer) teams. The basement is full of numerous studios, running the gamut from various martial arts, to dance, other exercise routines such as yoga, and even water polo. Moshe participated in a class with the teacher of his own Krav Maga instructor in Arizona.

Moshe enjoys practicing Krav Maga, which is a military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces from various methods of hand-to-hand combat. Unlike other martial arts, Krav Maga is not a sport, but a serious technique to quickly disable an opponent.

We sat on the sidelines and watched the intensive 90 minute session, which looked exhausting. Afterwards, Moshe said he’d been “beat up” pretty good, but he enjoyed the workout. He didn’t miss the opportunity to ask me do some exercises, to show the young people that us older guys can also be active and fit.

For dinner, we joined two of Moshe’s friends for an excellent fish dinner in the famous Machane Yehuda market. This covered shuk is busy during the day with local shoppers and tourists enjoying the many restaurants, bars, fruit/vegetable stands, and innumerable stalls selling nuts, dried fruit, spices and more. At night, numerous tables and chairs are set out to serve the diners and bar patrons who populate the shuk.

In the morning we returned to the Jewish Quarter, where we met a few of our friends. Our objective was the office of JerusalemU, which had greatly impressed us on a previous visit. JerusalemU impacts hundreds of thousands of young Jews by reaching them frequently with meaningful Jewish and Israel digital media content. Its commitment is to strengthen the emotional and intellectual connection of young Jews to Judaism and Israel.

Aaron Rosenberg, who’s in charge of seeking folks like us for the organization, had arranged a private showing of their latest film, “Sustainable Nation.” The hour-long documentary follows three individuals who are doing their part to bring various sustainable water solutions to an increasingly thirsty planet.

The most affecting moments of the documentary were hard-to-believe scenes of female Africans and their children trekking great distances, sometimes miles, to fill jerrycans with “clean” water, or at least as clean as they have access to. But the featured, innovative Israeli company (Israel is the most efficient water saving country in the world, with many companies working in the field of water supply and sustainability) has brought clean drinking water to many villages, freeing the women from hours of backbreaking labor. Instead, they now have time to engage in small but liberating moneymaking ventures to improve living conditions for their families.

Using solutions developed in water-poor Israel, the three individuals representing different endeavors strive to change the status quo of a world where one in 10 people lacks access to safe drinking water and population increases require a large increase in food production. “But water is just the beginning. The work of this visionary trio highlights the nexus between food, energy and water and underscores how solving these enormous challenges can help free women, and the world, from life threatening poverty, illness and lack of opportunity.”

Consider contacting Aaron at jerusalemu.org before your next visit to Israel. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on what Israelis do to better the world and how you can help in the effort.

After an excellent lunch in the Jewish Quarter, we visited the new Plugat HaKotel museum, one of the many worthwhile, small museums hidden away in the Jewish Quarter. We saw an excellent film about the group of young people who defied the British near the end of the Mandate period by blowing the shofar at the Kotel on Yom Kippur, an act that was strictly forbidden and punishable by a jail sentence. This small but greatly significant act was a catalyst in restoring Jewish sovereignty over the Western Wall and eventually over all of Jerusalem.

On our way out of town, we again went to Machane Yehuda, this time to shop and to have a light supper at one of the many Iraqi restaurants in the neighborhood. After the large “workman’s lunch” that we had had in the Jewish Quarter (a large plate of filling food plus salads at a very reasonable price) we were very happy to just enjoy a large bowl of Iraqi soup, be it kuba (dumpling), meat, or in my case, lentil soup.

The hour long trip home was uneventful, but we had all enjoyed a busy and enjoyable two days in Israel’s premier tourist attraction. Any tourist to Israel who doesn’t include at least three or four days in Jerusalem doesn’t know what he or she is missing!

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.
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