We have completed a full week in Israel and we are all still standing, some of us better than others. A number of the group has been sick during this trip, so that has not been great, but everyone seems to be having a really good time. Being together as a family is what is important, and getting the three generations together is really special. Drew, my dad and I had a really amazing conversation at lunch which was worth the whole trip!
We started our touring today at the Israel Museum. There are a number of group members that don’t like museums, which was me when I was younger, but these museums have been really interesting. The Israel Museum had a very large scale model of Ancient Jerusalem, with the Temple from around 70 BC. The city must have been amazing for its time. Later in the day we got to see the walls of the city up close, and they are amazing works of engineering for over 2,000 years ago. One of the base stones was over 600 tons (that’s over 1,000,000 lbs). I have no idea how they moved the stones from the quarries, nor how they cut them so perfectly in the first place.
The Israel Museum is also the home of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest version of the bible every found. The museum has an entire wing of the museum dedicated to these scrolls called The Shrine of the Book. The exhibit is very interesting, including the quality of the handwriting for over 2,500 years ago. The parchment that the scrolls were written on were made of animal skin and were kept in caves so the weather wouldn’t affect them. We didn’t have much time to see much more in the museum, but there was lots more to see.
After visiting the museum we headed to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and had lunch. Most of the group went to a sit down restaurant, but my brother and I went to the local fast food joint. Schwarma, kebabs, felafel, grilled chicken and more served on a pita or a bigger flatbread that looked very similar to a burrito back home. I enjoyed my kebabs and my brother had a chicken pita that was good as well. Rob didn’t love the felafel as much, but I much prefer street food to sit down restaurants. I really enjoyed the street food in Bangkok 15 years ago. The flavors of the meat were amazing!
From lunch we took a tour of the tunnels under the Old City that were build by the Muslims. They built the tunnels to raise the level of the city so they would have a shorter walk to the great temple. The valley below was a very long walk to get to the temple mount, so they built an entire system to cover the valley and built an entire layer above. This was instead of just filling the entire area in with dirt. This is how they built things back in that time period. This new level was built with archways underneath to support the upper level creating all these caves below. The caves covered the original Western Wall, which had one foundation stone that was just amazing. I have no idea how that stone was cut, nor how they placed it in the wall of the temple. As I said above, it was over 1 million pounds. I don’t care how many men you have, nor how many animals with carriages, that is an engineering marvel.
We came out of the tunnel tour and celebrated Ilise’ 52nd birthday with some ice cream. What else for my wife? Her favorite food in the world is ice cream 🙂 In this case it was more like gelato than ice cream, but it was good none the less. We are back at the hotel now and will probably head out to dinner later. Tomorrow we head out of town on an archeological dig and then Tuesday is Noah’s big day.
‘Til next time ……