Journey from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Trip Start Feb 09, 2014
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Trip End Feb 19, 2014


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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our Tuesday travels began with a view over the Mediterranean Sea and a visit to the Carmel Market (commonly referred to as the shuk) in Tel Aviv. Tuesday is a special day in this market when local artists fill the Nahalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall with their crafts in addition to the typical food and home goods.

We arrived at the shuk early to avoid the crowds before the usual stampede of locals invaded the street. The shuk is set up in a narrow alley with vendors displaying their goods in small booths set up on each side of the alleyway. The entrance to the market began with the typical cheap clothing ranging from underwear to cheeky T-shirts with slogans such as "Super Jew" printed over the superman icon. The real show began as we continued down through the shuk into the fruit and vegetable section. The fruit and spices at each booth wafted up the street and mixed together to create an amazing perfume of ethnic treats.

We had fresh carrot juice blended on the spot; the selection of dried fruits, spices, and produce was incredible. It made Whole Foods look like a joke. Many locals go to the shuk to stock up on produce for the week, including the Rachel's mother who lives a few blocks away. Rachel is the Director of the Early Childhood Program at Hebrew College and has graciously organized our trip. She was born and raised in Israel and lived in Tel Aviv until she moved to the states in her late twenties. Her insight and passion for sharing Israel’s heritage and culture has been contagious; meeting her mother added a welcoming touch to our first morning in this unique country.

Next we visited the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot where we saw a presentation on Israel’s center of basic scientific research. The visitor’s center emphasizes the role of curiosity, cross disciplinary integration, and basic research in the development of scientific knowledge. The visitor’s center was a recent addition to the institute and allows the public to see what the scientists are doing and the types of questions and discoveries they are making. It was inspiring to see and listen to the personal stories of scientists at the institute and how their early childhood curiosity and passion for science drove their present-day research. To see the video we shot of the center visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpO2G7hpG54&feature=youtu.be 

On the grounds of the Weizmann Institute is the open-air Clore Garden of Science also known as the Science Park. It is the largest outdoor science museum in the world. Here we explored concepts from moments of momentum/inertia to Archimedes’ screw and solar energy.

After lunch at the café at the visitor’s center we continue up to Jerusalem for a scenic view over the ancient city and an early evening picnic of all the good’s we purchased at the shuk in Tel Aviv. Since the city of Jerusalem is at a higher elevation than the sea level city of Tel Aviv the temperature was much cooler; however, this did not seem to hinder a wedding photo shoot that took place on the hillside below us.

 As the sun set we heard the Muslim’s evening call to prayer from mosques across the hillside and inside the old city. The tones merged and the entire hillside came alive with a religious chant bidding farewell to the setting sun. The call was an audible reminder that many different religions share this small piece of the world.

We settled into our room at the Prima Kings hotel, a jolly place full of local color and helpful staff, not far from the American Embassy. Despite the jet lag setting in, our group rallied to make a short walk to the new outdoor mall and Jaffa Gate where we saw the old city’s Crusader walls illuminated at night.

Even the new mall had an ancient feel; in addition to its careful design, which included ancient design elements, all new construction is required to be built of Jerusalem stone- a type of sandstone. Some old building facades were used in the new mall’s construction. These old facades still show signs of the meticulous numbering system that allowed builders to dismantle, move, and reassemble the entire structure, placing each stone back in its original location.

We were told that it is very difficult for developers to successfully complete new civil projects because often in the process of excavation ancient sites are unearthed or tombs are discovered, halting the project until the area can be excavated by archeologists and a determination can be made about the historical significance of the site. In some cases where there are significant finds it is possible a project can be canceled all together to preserve the site. Given that so many people groups inhabited this region over the ages, it’s a small wonder that new buildings are constructed at all.
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