Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the Diaspora


In about 30 minutes we’re walking across the dock to have dinner on the boat of our friend Eve.  She is making falafel for us.  It was on Eve’s boat that we had Chinese food and blintz wrapped egg-rolls for Passover.  Tomorrow we’re all going to meet the English Speakers of Ashdod Club members at their weekly get-together at Cafe Hillel at the City Mall  a 15 minute walk from here.  Most things are a 15 minute walk from here which is great.

One of my favorite places that we visited in Tel Aviv was the Museum of the Diaspora.  It is on the campus of Tel Aviv University.  We spent several hours; you could have spent several days.  Here are my impressions.


ps  I guess my request from the Torah scribe at Masada that the Sox win the World Series (and for world peace) wasn’t so goofy after all.  The Sox are doing great!  Now if the “world peace” part could be so easy…..

Israel Museum of the Diaspora Beit Hatfutsot

“Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, is more than a museum. This unique global institution tells the ongoing and extraordinary story of the Jewish people. Beit Hatfutsot connects Jewish people to their roots and strengthens their personal and collective Jewish identity. Beit Hatfutsot conveys to the world the fascinating narrative of the Jewish people and the essence of the Jewish culture, faith, purpose and deed while presenting the contribution of world Jewry to humanity.”

“Outsiders looking in on this singular people often tend to form stereotype, like the rapacious hook-nosed moneylender of anti-Semitic cartoons. Actually the Jew of the Diaspora might be almost anything: farmer, trader, shopkeeper, silversmith for the Yemenites, slave trader for the Kings of Bohemia, lion tamer for the Kings of Aragon, and his physical traits might vary as much as his choice of trades.

“This spectrum is richly illustrated in a display where lights are continually flashing in the darkness as 16 screens project photographic galleries of Jewish faces throughout the contemporary world. There are some 200 in all – blond Jews, black Jews, sturdy mountaineers and gentle scholars, a vast array of facial characteristics, a cross-section of mankind.”…….

“Beth Hatefutsoth is intended to be a record of achievement, and its prevailing tone is one of victory over recurring difficulties. But there are continual reminders that the great victories are balanced by great disasters, that a recurring theme of Jewish history has been woe. The visitor walking up from floor to floor climbs a circular stairwell in which there hangs from the ceiling a cagelike iron structure 50 feet high designed by Charles Forberg of New York. An eerie light in the center and solemn music help identify this as a memorial column, commemorating centuries of martyrdom. At its foot are “Scrolls of Fires” – illuminated poems recalling the great tragedies that have befallen the Jews since 586 BC, when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed, down to Hitler’s holocaust of 1939-45. ………

“Outside the building the visitor steps back into the peaceful university canvas. Students are running on the grass between courses. The exiles are safely at home. But it takes no more than the distant whine of an Army fighter plane or the siren on an ambulance that may be on its way to the scene of a suicide bombing to recall that the final chapter is not yet written, the story has no guarantee of a happy ending.

©1978, 2003 Robert Wernick Smithsonian Magazine June 1978


One of the security entrances into Tel Aviv University.

“Outside the building the visitor steps back into the peaceful university canvas.”

Located in Israel’s cultural, financial and industrial heartland, Tel Aviv University is the largest university in Israel and the biggest Jewish university in the world. It is a major center of teaching and research, comprising nine faculties, 106 departments, and 90 research institutes. Its origins go back to 1956, when three small education units – The Tel Aviv School of Law and Economics, an Institute of Natural Sciences, and an Institute of Jewish Studies – joined together to form the University of Tel Aviv.

A Role In The Peace Process

Middle Eastern history, strategic studies, and the search for peace are central concerns for Tel Aviv University researchers. The Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation, founded by the Peres Center for Peace, the Armand Hammer Fund for Economic Cooperation in the Middle East, the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African History, the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Morris E. Curiel Center for International Studies are respected sources of information for government and private institutions, the press and the public. University scholars are putting their expertise to work for the peace process, participating in Israel’s delegations to the peace talks, and in joint projects with colleagues from neighboring countries.


A bird waits patiently for what the cat will leave behind.


Art was everywhere.

From one angle this sculpture looked like a butterfly, from another someone running.

You go up some white steps into a huge building and because your friends Nilly and Eitan told you the museum was free on “International Museum Day” you get to skip the cashier line.

In this museum the words captured my imagination almost more than the images did.



We started walking through the museum during ancient times…..

Two of my favorite quotations…….




Chodorov Synagogue Ceiling

The lovely ceiling paintings of the 17th century wooden synagogue of Chodorov were consumed by German fire in World War II. Only black and white photographs survived, but artists could use these and surviving bits of contemporaneous work to bring back to life their scampering animals and green meadows.

The museum has a genealogical center so I stopped to look up my family name, Lipnik. My mother’s maiden name was Horowitz and I assumed there would be thousands of hits for that, but not for Lipnik.


You can see the computer cursor in my photo of the screen where I was researching.


The Hebrew letter Aleph

A wonderful exhibit showed the importance of the alphabet, writing, reading and learning to Jews.



This diorama spoke to me as I’d been practicing the Hebrew alphabet and not having an easy time. I don’t remember it being so hard as a kid.


Newspapers took great importance to the Jewish community as it linked them to the national and social movements around the world. I remember my mother talking about family members reading the Jewish newspapers. My Aunt Jennie was quite a socialist. And my mother voted for someone Dean Alfange who ran for Governor of New York on the Socialist Labor Ticket He lost, but I won as I had his son for my Constitutional Law professor at U Mass so managed to get a B in the class after getting a D in the midterm. Actually I did really well on the final but got the D (rather than something worse) because of my mom. It probably should have been an F. I understood the work in class, but there was something about that mid-term. But none of that matters any more except as an aside to this photo.


Now when lots of Jews leave a place they call it a “Brain Drain.”

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The Jews of Lublin Poland 1619.

Lublin once served as one the most important centers of Jewish life, commerce,

culture, and scholarship in Europe. It had the world’s largest Talmudic school.


Images of the Jewish world seen through a candelabra cut from the wall.

There was an exhibit devoted to the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann. I followed the story told in the paintings by Peter Zvi Malkin. Two articles about him follow. One is his obituary from the New York Times. The other is a really fascinating article from the Smithsonian.

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times, 2003

Peter Zvi Malkin

Peter Zvi Malkin, a former Israeli intelligence agent who in 1960 captured Adolf Eichmann in Argentina, and who afterward captured him again and again on paper in his second career as a painter and writer, died on Tuesday in a rehabilitation facility in Manhattan. He was believed to be 77, and he had homes in Manhattan and Tel Aviv.

Mr. Malkin, who was recovering from a blood infection he contracted several months ago, choked to death after vomiting, Gabriel Erem, a longtime friend, said.

A Mossad agent for 27 years, Mr. Malkin was the author of a memoir, “Eichmann in My Hands” (Warner, 1990). Written with Harry Stein, it chronicles Mossad’s pursuit and capture of Eichmann, an architect of the Final Solution, the systematic Nazi program to exterminate Jews.

A master of disguises, Mr. Malkin often posed as an itinerant painter during intelligence-gathering missions. Repelled and fascinated by Eichmann during the time he spent guarding him in Argentina, he began surreptitiously sketching his portrait. Eichmann was later spirited out of the country by Mossad to stand trial in Israel; he was convicted of crimes against humanity and other charges and executed in 1962.

In an interview last night, Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, called Mr. Malkin “an absolutely extraordinary man, probably the last century’s greatest intelligence agent.” Starting in the late 1970’s, Mr. Malkin assisted Mr. Morgenthau on several cases, including the investigation of Frank Terpil, a C.I.A. operative convicted of selling weapons and explosives to Libya and Uganda. Mr. Terpil fled the United States and remains a fugitive.

A two-volume collection of Mr. Malkin’s art, “The Argentina Journal” and “Casting Pebbles on the Water With a Cluster of Colors,” was published by VWF Publishing in 2002. Mr. Malkin, who retired from Mossad in 1976, was also a private consultant on counterterrorism in later years.

Zvi Malchin was born, most likely on May 27, 1927, either in Poland (according to his son, Omer) or in British Palestine (according to Mr. Malkin’s Web site).

“With him, it depends on what passport you’re looking at,” Omer Malkin said by telephone yesterday. Mr. Malkin adopted the name Peter and anglicized the spelling of his last name as an adult, his son said.

Mr. Malkin’s son and Mr. Malkin’s Web site agree that Mr. Malkin spent his early childhood in Poland. In 1936, with rising anti-Semitism there, his family settled in Palestine. Mr. Malkin’s sister, Fruma, and her three children remained behind in Poland. All died in the Holocaust, along with many of Mr. Malkin’s other relatives.

As an adolescent, Mr. Malkin joined the Palestine Jewish underground. After the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, he was recruited by Mossad; he eventually became the organization’s chief of operations.

In the spring of 1960, Mr. Malkin was part of a team of agents sent to Buenos Aires to kidnap Eichmann, who was living in a suburb under the alias Ricardo Klement. A creature of meticulous habit, Eichmann was rigorously punctual, returning home by the same bus each evening from his job at a Mercedes-Benz factory.

On May 11, Eichmann alighted from the bus and walked toward his house on Garibaldi Street. Mr. Malkin approached him and uttered the only words of Spanish he knew, “Un momentito, Señor.” He grabbed Eichmann’s arm. As he told The New York Times in 2003, he wore gloves so he would not have to touch the man.

Concerned about bystanders, Mr. Malkin was unarmed. In an interview in 2003 with Midstream magazine, a monthly Jewish review, he explained, “Obviously, we couldn’t tell people, ‘We are going to capture Eichmann, so please stay away.’ ”

Mr. Malkin and his colleagues wrestled Eichmann into a waiting car and drove him to a “safe house,” where he was interrogated for 10 days. Standing guard over Eichmann during this time, Mr. Malkin began quietly to draw him, using the sketch pencils, acrylic paints and makeup he carried in his disguise kit.

He drew on the only surface that came to hand, a South American travel guide he had purchased for the trip. The results, portraits of Eichmann and other images of the Holocaust superimposed on yellowing pages of maps and text, are hauntingly beautiful. The images, along with Mr. Malkin’s later work, may be seen on Mr. Malkin’s Web site,

Besides his son, of Los Altos, Calif., Mr. Malkin is survived by his wife, the former Roni Thorner; two daughters, Tami and Adi, both of Israel; and eight grandchildren.

Because of the extreme secrecy Mossad demanded, Mr. Malkin for many years said nothing about his role in Eichmann’s capture. As he recounted to Midstream magazine, he broke his silence only when his mother was on her deathbed. “Mama,” he told her, “I captured Eichmann. Fruma is avenged.”


Eichmann’s Long Hand










December 25, 2005

Peter Zvi Malkin | b. 1927

Chasing Evil


Peter Malkin wore a pair of fur-lined leather gloves when he seized Adolf Eichmann on a street in suburban Buenos Aires. It was 1960.

For 15 years, one of the chief engineers of Hitler’s Final Solution had escaped capture. Now Malkin, the point man of a small team of clandestine Israeli agents, helped to wrestle him into the back of a waiting car and, Malkin would recount in his memoir, “Eichmann in My Hands,” written with Harry Stein, pressed his hand over Eichmann’s mouth so he could not scream. Malkin wore the gloves, he wrote, because “the thought of placing my bare hand over the mouth that had ordered the death of millions, of feeling the hot breath and saliva on my skin, filled me with an overwhelming sense of revulsion.” But the leather and fur weren’t enough. They were quickly “soaked through with his spittle.”

It was the beginning of strange intimacy. Malkin – whose sister had been killed along with her children in Poland during the Holocaust, after Malkin, his two brothers and his parents managed to flee to Palestine – had already prepared a bedroom for Eichmann in the safe house where the agents would keep him hidden until, against international law, they could spirit him out of Argentina to stand trial in Israel. Malkin had made the bed with fresh sheets and laid out a towel and toiletries and a pair of striped pajamas. The room, where Malkin would spend much of the next 10 days in solo shifts watching over one of the 20th century’s greatest murderers, was spare and tiny; captor and captive, alone, were never more than two or three steps apart. A blanket covered the only window.

Malkin would wash and shave Eichmann’s face, tracing, over and over, the contours of his cheeks and jaw. Malkin fed him, lifting a spoon to his lips, and dressed and undressed him. (The memoir implies that Eichmann’s hands were kept loosely bound, yet the leader of the Israeli team, Rafi Eitan, told me recently that, after the first day, Eichmann’s hands were not bound during the daytime.) Malkin held Eichmann’s hands, aiding him as he did deep knee bends for exercise.

And when Eichmann said that he adored fine red wine, Malkin stole an expensive bottle that another agent had been saving for the Sabbath. He served him wine and played him music – a flamenco, a tango – on an old wind-up record player.

Partly, Malkin wrote, his ministering to Eichmann was an attempt to preserve him for public justice. In captivity, Eichmann became passive and seemed utterly incapable of caring for himself (Malkin had to bark orders at him to get him to move his bowels), and Malkin worried that his body and mind would deteriorate irreparably before he could be put on trial. Partly, too, Malkin’s caring was calculated seduction: he hoped that Eichmann would reveal the whereabouts of the fugitive Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, and that Eichmann would sign a document stating that he was traveling to Israel to stand trial of his own free will. But meanwhile, in a way, the killer became Malkin’s muse.

Malkin – an explosives specialist in the fight for Israeli statehood before he was recruited into the Israeli intelligence services – was an expert in disguises and an amateur painter, avid and skilled. Within the room’s close walls, with oil-based pencils from his disguise kit, he began to evoke Eichmann on the pages of a guidebook to South America, which he’d brought along on the mission. The first portrait (above) was done in black and gray on a map of Argentina. Eichmann might simply be a tired clerk, an accountant worn down by numbers, with just a tentative suggestion of emotional depth, of self-reflection, of conscience, in the blurred black irises of the eyes.

“Then I flipped the page and did him in his SS regalia,” Malkin wrote. “I continued drawing in a kind of frenzy. Now I had him watching a railroad train, counting the cars; now in abstract, lying prone atop a flatcar, bearing a machine gun; now, on facing pages, appeared Hitler and Mussolini; now my parents and, in muted pastels, her eyes immense and brooding, my sister, Fruma.”

As days and nights went by, Malkin told none of the other agents about his portraits of their prisoner; Eichmann was the only one who knew, remarking, when Malkin turned the guidebook and showed him a work in progress, an image of himself, “Nice. Very nice.” Nor, at first, did Malkin tell anyone about their conversations: dialogues spurred by Malkin’s questions about the killer’s motives; talks driven by the prisoner’s fear for his family; chats about music or the pair’s “shared love of nature and the wild.” Malkin wasn’t supposed to converse with Eichmann at all; talk was to be left to sessions with the team’s official, harsh-tongued interrogator. And except as Eichmann ate or went to the bathroom, he was supposed to be kept blindfolded. Malkin broke this rule as well. “We found ourselves co-conspirators of a sort,” he wrote. “He knew as well as I did to fall silent at the sound of approaching footsteps.”

The touching of the face; the portraiture; the talks of Eichmann’s beloved young son and of all the children, like Fruma’s, he had sent to death (discussions during which Malkin barely controlled his voice and his rage, as he strained to coax words from Eichmann that would somehow offer explanation of his deeds); the removal of the blindfold – Malkin wanted desperately to see into him. By the end of the 10 days, the memoir relates, another of the agents, the team’s only woman, would accuse Malkin: “You act like you’re in love with him.” But the object of desire was elusive. In words, Eichmann gave up little beyond versions of what he would ultimately claim in court in Jerusalem, that in orchestrating the killing of millions he had merely followed orders. And in art, Malkin could create of Eichmann only unyielding surfaces.

During the years to come, Malkin would rise to be chief of operations in the Mossad, Israel’s famed intelligence agency. Later, in retirement, he devoted himself to his art. He collected and painted on maps from all over the world. Israel Perry, the owner of the Manhattan gallery that represents Malkin’s work, told me that Malkin used the maps for inspiration, to pull himself back into the past, back toward people and scenes that had floated by in his widely traveled, covert life. In this way, he found other subjects, other faces besides Eichmann’s; in this way, perhaps, he found other, easier paths to the human soul.

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Visiting some Israeli Military Museums

May 31, 2012

Ashdod Marina


Shalom from Ashdod,

   Yesterday we rolled our way to Ashdod, as in roll to the port side then roll to the starboard side, then roll to the port side, then starboard, then port, then starboard from when we left Herzliya just past 8 am until about noon when we arrived in Ashdod.  I took a preventive sea sick pill ( after being on land for a month I need a bit of help with my sea legs) and so I was fine.  I can’t say that about everyone.  But it all worked out.  I drove most of the way, but it was simple because we just drove south with land on our port.  Randal drove past the big Port of Ashdod with the huge cargo ships were anchored and then into the marina.  Our friend Eve and marina manager Yoram Greenberg were there to catch our lines.  Instantly DoraMac attracted attention and right after lunch I gave a boat tour while Randal attached a new plug to our power cord so we could plug into the marina power source. 

  After an afternoon rest, Linda, Charmaine and I walked the 15 minutes to an area with an Art Museum and Center, mall and supermarket.  On Wednesday there is an open market that we will visit next week.  It is just a walk down the beach.

  So that’s it.


I honestly can’t keep the different parts that eventually came to make up the Israel Dense Forces straight. What I will always remember about the IDF are the young, khaki-uniformed Israeli “soldiers.” You see them everywhere. “Because of Israel’s small size, soldiers often travel from front to home, a commute that is rarely more than two hours.” The Israelis by Donna Rosenthal. And I’ll remember coming into Israel and having to answer questions over the VHF radio to prove we weren’t enemy. But they weren’t scary people over the radio nor when we got to the Herzliya Marina and had to answer more questions. What was the hardest question to answer in a way they could understand, and they never did, was that I had no family or friends in Israel, had never been before, and wasn’t planning to move permanently. And the Israeli Naval ship, docked across from us at the marina, that broadcasts pop music at night and what sounds like prayers in the morning.


They look like kids on their way to a college class, and it the US they very well would be. In Israel right after high school comes military service; boys serve 3 years and girls 2. I saw them while I was walking in Tel Aviv from the Diaspora Museum to the Eretz Israel Museum several weeks ago.


The IDF was formed out of a number of armed groups which operated before 1948. The Haganah (Defense), the semi-legal defense organization of the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine, was established in 1920 to defend Jewish settlements from Arab attacks. During the Arab Revolt which began in 1936, differences of opinion emerged within the Haganah regarding defense policy. While the Haganah followed a policy of restraint and carried out only defensive actions, those who called for retaliatory measures broke off in 1937 to form the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) or IZL. When the IZL decided to cooperate with Britain after the outbreak of the Second World War, a small group seceded and created the Lochamei Herut Israel (Freedom Fighters for Israel) known as the Lechi. During the spring of 1941, the Haganah formed the Palmach (Striking Companies), a mobile force of full-time soldiers, in order to assist the British in defending Palestine from Rommel’s offensive which by this time had reached the borders of Egypt. These various forces, which continued to exist until 1948, maintained separate political allegiances. The Haganah, formed by the Histadrut (the Jewish Federation of Labor) and taken over by the Jewish Agency after the Arab riots of 1929, enjoyed the widest support within the Yishuv. The IZL had close connections with the non-socialist Revisionists and most of the Palmach leadership was associated with Achdut HaAvoda, the Labor Party’s primary rival from the left. The Lechi included individuals from across the political spectrum who were united by their support of an unrelenting struggle against the British administration in Palestine. On May 26, 1948, the Israeli Provisional Government issued Order No. 4 which established the Israel Defense Forces and explicitly prohibited the maintenance of any other armed forces within the territory of the state. During the following months, the IZL, the Lechi and the Palmach were absorbed into the IDF, which became a non-political, tightly controlled and centralized body. Compelling+Content/Eye+on+Israel/Society/9)The+Role+of+the+Military +in+Israel.htm

Randal and I visited the Palmach Museum, the Etzel Museum and the Hagana Museum all museums dedicated to the history and importance of these military/defense organizations to the existence of Israel. My favorite was the Palmach Museum where you “joined” a group of new recruits in Palestine and remained with them through their training and through the battles of 1948. Some of them lived, some were wounded and some were killed. It was a very moving exhibit done through a series of videos as you moved from location “sets” through the museum watching their lives unfold.


House of the Palmach…The Palmach Museum

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Artist Ludwig Blum’s son and 12 fellow soldiers were killed attempting to destroy a British bridge in 1946. Blum’s portrait of Moshe Dayan 1949

Ludwig Blum

Blum served in the Austrian army in WWI, a war in which his older brother was killed. A fervent Zionist, he moved to Israel in 1923. His eldest son was killed in a military operation in 1946; Blum himself served in the civil guard in 1947–48, remaining in Jerusalem throughout the War of Independence. During the war, Blum made a series of portraits of Jewish freedom fighters, all wearing the firm but emotionally restrained expression that Blum projected onto his canvases.

While I’m writing about the Palmach, I’m going to include a former member who most of the world knows for a totally different reason than the defense of Israel; Vidal Sassoon.

“In 1948, as the British Mandate was drawing to a close, Sassoon arrived in Palestine where he joined the Palmach in the fight for Israel’s independence. In the manner of the young men and women who had flocked to Spain in the previous decade to fight on the Republican side during the Civil War, Sassoon’s decision to participate in the Zionist struggle for independence, like that of the other volunteers who came from Europe and America, was rooted in a commitment to Jewish pride and honor.

“That was the best year of my life,” Sassoon later told a British newspaper. “When you think of 2,000 years of being put down and suddenly you are a nation rising, it was a wonderful feeling. There were only 600,000 people defending the country against five armies, so everyone had something to do.” Sassoon served in combat. “I wasn’t going over there to sit in an office,” he told the Jewish Chronicle. “I thought if we don’t fight for a piece of land and make it work, then the whole Holocaust thing was a terrible waste. But this way at least we got a country out of it.”

The next two military museums we visited were the ETZEL Museum and the Hagana Museum this past Monday.

Center Israel Tours:

Etzel Museum -Tales from the underground


The Etzel Museum in Tel Aviv tells of heroic battles against the British and Arabs, but also the chilling story of Jews fighting Jews.

With the green lawns of the Charles Clore Park on three sides and the azure waters of the Mediterranean on the fourth, the stone and black glass Etzel Museum building on the Tel Aviv shoreline is certainly impressive. A blue cloudless sky and attractive layered Jaffa skyline in the near distance are additional factors making the museum building stand out – while at the same time somehow blending in with its surroundings.

An enormous Israeli flag flaps high in the sea breeze above the museum, built over the ruins of a former Ottoman-period building. The museum is dedicated to the memory of operations officer Amihai (Gidi) Paglin and 41 fighters of the pre-state paramilitary Etzel (an acronym for Irgun Zvai Leumi, or National Military Organization) who fell in the campaign to conquer the nearby Arab town of Jaffa, and also documents other battles that Etzel members fought in during the 1947-8 War of Independence.

Active in Palestine from 1931 to 1948, the Jewish underground organization retaliated against attacks by Arabs on the Jewish population and rebelled against the British government’s ‘White Paper’ policy that imposed restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine.

The integration of the Etzel fighters into the newly-formed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was brokered in an agreement signed between then-I.Z.L. Commander-in-Chief Menachem Begin and Israel Galili on behalf of the government of Israel. But even after the agreement was signed, there remained a great deal of bitterness between Begin and Ben-Gurion and their supporters, much of which centered around the June 1948 Altalena affair when Palmah soldiers attacked an arms-carrying Etzel ship close to the Tel Aviv shore.

The Etzel Museum on the Tel Aviv beachfront belongs to the Museums Unit of the Ministry of Defense, which explains the four “girl soldier-guides” manning the reception desk. The day Metro visited, the museum was empty, apart from the soldiers and a young security guard – which on the one hand was useful as nobody got in the way of photographs or obliterated the prolific texts alongside exhibits, but on the other was a little eerie.

On the beach immediately across the promenade from the museum a few dozen mostly young Israelis sunbathed or rode surfboards close to the shore. A foreign television crew was busy setting up equipment in the shade at the side of the building, as a municipal worker attempted to clean the pathway around them. (Same when we went, empty except for an auditorium full of soldiers and some who, on their cell phones, yakked it up where we were watching the video so an older, museum man told them to be quiet. We bought senior tickets, and paid the extra 5 shekels for the “Military Museums group ticket. There was a mix of Hebrew and English at the displays and they switched the video about Etzel history to English when I thought to ask. )

The first portion of the museum deals with the organizational structure of the Etzel. A map of Israel according to the UN partition resolution of November 29, 1947 is displayed on one wall, alongside another map with the boundaries of Israel following the armistice agreements of July 1949.


1947 Map (my photo)

The map is accompanied by explanations and documents of the Etzel’s response to the partition plan and the hostilities that broke out after the plan was announced.

A model of steel helmeted soldiers defending their post, surrounded by sandbags and barbed wire, greets the visitor on the first corner turned in the museum, set out in serpentine fashion. An electronic map serves as an introduction to the entire exhibit showing Etzel positions, attacks and raids and the capture of Arab villages during 1947 and 1948, including the infamous attack on the village of Deir Yassin in the Jerusalem corridor. Maps, documents and photographs are on display as well as a diorama presenting the heroism of two Etzel women fighters, who chose death over surrender, in the battle for Yehudiya.

Up on the next floor one finds a description of the attack on Ramle. Fifty-one Etzel fighters died in the battle and many were wounded. On the same floor an area focuses on the fighters’ training and purchase of arms, as well as somewhat tongue-in-cheek details of the ‘requisitions’ of British ammunitions, which included 20,000 81mm mortar bombs swiped from a British train transporting ammunition to Arab fighters in Gaza.

Following the infiltration of a British army camp near Pardess Hanna, Etzel fighters also ‘requisitioned’ weapons, ammunition and an armored vehicle from the British paratroopers stationed at what is today a large IDF training base known as Mahane 80 on the main Wadi Ara highway.

A large exhibition is dedicated to battles waged in the liberation of Jerusalem, and operations with the pre-state Haganah and Lehi militias. Two interesting dioramas deal with a stronghold of the British in the city, Zion Gate and in the background, the Old City of Jerusalem.

Another section concentrates on operations in the north such as the battle at Mishmar Hayarden, cooperation between forces of the Haganah and Etzel in the defense of Safed, and the taking of the Wadi Nisnas Arab neighborhood in Haifa – in present times the venue for an annual co-existence festival of art, music and culinary delights held during the month of the Hannuka, Christmas and Ramadan holidays.

The last section of the museum deals with the Altalena incident. The Etzel’s armaments-carrying ship had embarked from the port of Marseilles. Upon arrival at the shore of the newly-founded State of Israel opposite Kfar Vitkin, Ben-Gurion’s demands that the armaments be handed over to the unified Jewish forces were refused. An attack on the ship was ordered, and a massive explosion set off by a shell destroyed the ship and cargo.

So what did I learn from visiting the military museums? For the most part, Jews pretty much only had themselves to depend upon. That the people who came to Palestine and worked to make it into the State of Israel have a great deal to be proud of. That the military museums in Israel make you see that it’s really as much the story of people as weapons and artillery. That Israel is a huge success story given all it has had to fight against. What they don’t talk about is how to make peace. And I don’t remember seeing any mention of help from American Jews. But then military museums are for boasting about a country’s military history and success. I found myself getting stuck again with what to write. Going to the military museums was a bit like going to Jerusalem, just feelings. How half of the military struggle was to smuggle Jews out of refugee detention camps in Europe and Cyprus and smuggle them into Israel. The Exodus movie is based on a true story. So anyway, I’m going to slap my hands together as our friend Eve does and say, “it’s finished.”

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“I was with my regiment in Givat Haim….when I was ordered to arrive a the shore to intercept a boat carrying weapons. I asked, whose boat is that? Just a boat, they told me. What boat? I insisted, finally they told me it was an Etzel boat. I said I could not possibly fight against it. Are you disobeying orders? They demanded. I said, definitely! I have a brother in the Etzel and they might be there. What do you want, for me to kill them? That a man will fire on his brother?…” Shalom and several others who would not fire, were arrested. “A few days later,” Shalom tells, “they brought us before three judges…I was asked, ‘will you die for your country? Fighting its enemies?’ I told them the Etzel and Lehi were not the country’s enemies. Later they let us go”.. from an Etzel Museum handout.

The exhibit dealing with the Altalena is the last section of the museum. A large encased flag of Israel, flown on the deck of the Altalena, hangs on the wall. In the accompanying text one reads that the flag was saved minutes before the ship blew up, an Etzel fighter risking life and limb in an effort to rescue it.

Under a model of the ship, photographs and additional text, a large white lifebelt from the ship is propped up against the wall, the name ALTALENA silently shrieking of the tragic circumstances that brought Jews to battle Jews in the State of Israel – appropriately memorialized in a museum just meters from the sea.

Our final military museum was the Hagana Museum which we visited because we’d bought that “group ticket” and because we passed by it going somewhere else. By that point we were military museumed out. is the official site of the Hagana.

“Hagana was founded in 1920 to defend the Jewish community in Palestine against Arab violence. It fought and repelled murderous attacks in 1920,1929 and throughout the Arab rebellion in 1936-1939. In the Second World War Hagana was deployed to fight an eventual German invasion. It also mobilized 30,000 to fight with Britain against the Nazi enemy, and participated in the conquest of Lebanon and Syria. After the war Hagana launched in Palestine a civilian and armed struggle against the British authorities, which blocked immigration of Holocaust survivors and banned new Jewish settlements”


Personalizing history: seeing Eliahu Golomb’s somavar made me think of the one we had at home so that’s the photo I took away from the Hagana Museum.

A somavar in the home of Eliahu Golomb, the founder and leader of the Hagana who lived there and operated from it until his death 11 6 1945. His house served as the central headquarters for the Haganah.

The Hagana Museum describes the horrors of the situation in the country on the eve of the formation of the Hagana organization, the activities of the organization in the efforts to get a Jewish state, the development of the organization and its achievements. The main exhibition is arranged according to thirty subjects, tracing Israel’s defense history from 1878, when the first "shomrim" or watchmen were organized to protect the early settlers, through the Haganah’s establishment in June 1920, the quelling of disturbances in the 1920’s and 30’s, and the struggle against the British authorities up to the War of Independence.

The Hagana Museum on Rothschild Avenue is the central museum for the history of the Hagana, the Jewish military organization for the defense of the Jewish settlements during the time of the British Mandate in the Land of Israel. The Hagana Museum is housed inside one of Tel Aviv’s first houses which served as the central headquarters for the activity of the Hagana Organization. The Hagana Museum spreads over three floors and tells the story of the development of the central defense force of the Jewish settlement during the British Mandate. At the Hagana Museum are displayed a collection of weapons, documents, photographs and certificates, which describe the history of the organization- its first days and its great importance for the defense of the Jewish settlements during the Arab attacks, the foundation of the Jewish "Tower and Stockade” settlements, the Jewish clandestine immigration into Israel, the Jewish War of Independence, the foundation of the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. The house in which the Hagana Museum is housed used to be the home of Eliyahu Golomb, one of the founders and leaders of the Hagana and is also considered an architectural gem. It has illustrated tiles, stone carpets and decorated walls. In two of the rooms the original furniture remains and one can learn from it about the way of life of the time in old Tel Aviv. The Hagana Museum named after Eliyahu Golomb belongs to the Museums Unit of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Jericho and Bethlehem


  We have been in Israel almost a month and my expertise on the Israeli-Palestinian question is less than zero.  I say less than zero because I really know nothing but have a bias towards Israel.  Add to that the fact that I was brought up in America by parents who taught me to treat everyone equally no matter who they were.  People weren’t groups, they were Individuals.  It’s hard to unlearn that and I hope I never do. I certainly don’t want to be stereotyped so why would I want to do that to anyone?  Being a professional librarian meant treating everyone who came into the library equally. At times I failed, something I’m definitely not proud of.  I want to believe most people will do the right thing if nothing gets in their way.  Believing anything else would make the world a more scary place than it already is.  And we’d probably not be out here traveling around in it.


Palestinian Jericho and Bethlehem



Not far from Jerusalem we had this reminder that Israel is a desert country.

Our guide told us that the actual term seal level and its measurement comes from the Mediterranean Sea. We stopped at a sculpture of a hand making the symbol for 0 because that’s where we were…sea level heading down to Jericho which is below sea level and maybe the lowest city on earth a 846 feet below sea level.


Awakening Sea Level 2010 by Or-nah Ran

We stopped to look at this sculpture on our way to Jericho.  When I realized the artist was a woman I had to do more research.

  “Or-nah is not traveling in a train that stops in stations on its way to any final destination. She travels in different trains to various places. Sometimes the train leads her, sometimes she drives the train. Sometimes the train stops in an undisturbed landscape, and Or-nah says: “Here, I am not needed”. Sometimes she stops in a place and she feels: "I will not be requested here”; and there are the blessed locations where she gets off the train and says: "This is my call."


A hand making the symbol for 0 (Zero) because it is located at Sea Level: no feet about and no feet below.


The sculpture was born out of pride and timidity

Pride for the ability of the organization to pave a road through the desert, to change a rock to flying dust to direct water to wherever road they would walk.

Timidity for feel humble due to the insignificance of humans in the infinite world; feeling apologetic and willing to compensate for the loss of the desert’s quality

Its beginning was in a different place and in a different subject – huge fossils that are discovered during quarrying, whether lying in their demise, or moving to a different place.Unfortunately the current place was chosen, at sea height, on a small leveled platform that was created during paving/ the fossils are awakened to life with a woman’s yoga stretching movement.

The sculpture was built with a complicated process. The skeleton was constructed with steel sheets according to a ceramic model that was scanned with a three dimensional scanner, and was brought to the sight in four large parts, where they were joined together and covered in a peel of screens and plaster unto which was poured cement. While working on her sculpture Or-nah decided to leave its top portion as an exposed, steel skeleton. This part was coated with colored Polioria.

The texture of the sculpture’s face relates to the surrounding rocks and view line and this strengthens the feeling of awakening.

As in Or-nah’s other works, the motion is implanted in the sculpture, in its soul, and opposing it is the outward motion into space and upwards.

Sea Level, Road no. 1 towards East Location: 2,440 km from Mitzpeh Jericho junction.

Materials: Steel skeleton reinforced with cement coated with a layer of colored plaster, top coating polioriah.

Dimensions: Height 8.5 m.

Ordered by the Israel national roads company

Carrier out: Y.S. Shem Tov


Centuries old Sycamore Tree mentioned in the New Testament story about Jesus and Zacchaeus

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The unimpressive spring that gave birth to Jericho’s historic settlement 10,000 years ago and the remains of the “walls of Jericho.”

I’m not sure what’s in the building behind the spring because, though it was to be part of our tour, the man with the key couldn’t be found so that was that. In the Bible it is called Elisha’s Spring. Elisha was the successor of Elijah for whom we leave a cup of wine at Passover. Our tour guide explained to us about the walls to prove how old Jericho is, and because the walls are sort of the main attraction. But he never mentioned Joshua or anything that had to do with the Israelites other than that they were preventing the development of modern Jericho. To get to Jericho we had to have an Arab/Israeli bus driver and then the Daily Tours Company had to hire a Palestinian tour guide for our tour. A lot of politics got in the way of actually learning much about Jericho. There was a tour group from Brigham Young University seemingly getting a great deal our of their visit, but they had their own teacher with them.


Jericho was an oasis in the desert.


The modern but underdeveloped Jericho.


We left the dig and went to the “souvenir shop” where no one bought anything so our guide gathered us all up and we went off to "look up at"  the Greek Monastery of the Temptations up on the hill which was where the New Testament says that Jesus had to deal with the Devil’s temptations. It would have been nice to visit the monastery for its view, but that wasn’t part of the tour so we just looked up at the Monastery and the Israeli Military Station across the hill to the left.

Off to Bethlehem.

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The wall around Bethlehem and the walkway on the Palestinian side.

We drove back through Jerusalem and off to Bethlehem. We’d had to go through a guard crossing (in the bus) to get into Jericho. To get into Bethlehem we had to get off the bus and walk through the security gate out of Israel and through the security gate into Bethlehem. We didn’t have to show our passports but we did have to get a new driver and a new guide. Our guide had done his undergraduate and master’s work at Ohio State! But he mentioned nothing about David or Ruth whose stories connect with Bethlehem.

Just inside Bethlehem you are greeted with painted walls……..



But Palestinian art or issues weren’t part of the tour so our guide said nothing and we drove straight to Manger Square.  It was 1:30 and we were promised lunch at 1:30 but that wasn’t going to happen until we visited Shepherds Field.  So we just had to be wait and be hungry.


Shepherds Field is where the birth of Jesus was said to be revealed to the shepherds, though apparently there are different churches of different religions that claim the title of Shepherds Fields in different locations.  We visited the Catholic site.

   "On the north ridge of Beit Sahur, about 400 metres north of the Orthodox site, a Catholic site is located in an area called Siyar el-Ghanam (Place for Keeping Sheep).

A tent-shaped Chapel of the Angels, designed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi, adjoins the remains of a 4th-century church and a later agricultural monastery. Paintings in the chapel depict the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, the shepherds paying homage to Jesus and the shepherds celebrating the birth of the Messiah.

Beyond the chapel is a cave for small group worship. The area is administered by the Franciscans."


Not Saint Francis as I thought..our guide pointed to the keffiyeh on the statue’s head indicating he was a shepherd, not Saint Francis.  I had just looked at the animals and not thought about the story of the shepherds.  I was thinking about my friend Sarah who has a Saint Francis Help Dog named Drake, so I decided this was Saint Francis.  Logical to me.

Our lunch stop finally, and we were starving by almost 2 pm, served really good food. It was a much larger meal than I would have chosen, but we had no choice. It was pretty much eat where the tour stopped or don’t eat. The roasted eggplant and potatoes were wonderful. After lunch we went off for our odd tour of the Church of the Nativity.


Church of the Nativity

This was supposed to be the location of the manger where Jesus was born. There is a lovely star on the floor but it was impossible to photograph it because of the line of people wanting to get near. It was obviously more important to them than to me so I didn’t get that close. Plus we had to rush for a very odd reason. Our guide had to sneak us into the church because as a group larger than 6, we had to wait in the very long “tour group line.” So we had to divide up and some wait and some go and some of our group didn’t speak English and no one knew exactly what we were supposed to be doing at any given time. Pick a different tour group if you go, or go on your own.

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The chapel on the left is either Greek Orthodox or Armenian and on the right, the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church in the Church of the Nativity. is a good Smithsonian article about the church and how different beliefs get in the way of accomplishing the common goal of restoration. So here is where I say, "if religion could be personal rather than political the world would be more peaceful or at least would have one less thing to fight over."

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The church’s famous entrance, the four-foot-high "Door of Humility," was built not to make pilgrims bow but rather to repel looters on horse- and camel-back after the Crusades.

Read more:


Charmaine getting a chuckle from the appearance of this shirt in this place.


Bethlehem on one hill and an Israeli settlement on the other. 

I actually thought that Bethlehem would be an interesting place to spend at least a day and maybe stay overnight. It has things to see and a market. It seemed alive; and there were certainly lots of tourists. The one meal that we ate was quite good.

So that was our tour day of Jericho and Bethlehem. Our guide told us that Jews translated Bethlehem as House of Bread and Arabs translated it as House of Meat. Lehem sounds like the Hebrew word for bread. Lahm is the Arabic word for red meat.

The lighter side of Jerusalem


I just finished cooking our dinner for tonight, kugel to celebrate Shavouot.   Instead of a sweet kugel I sauteed onions, red peppers and some winter squash and mixed that in with the cottage cheese, white creamy Israeli cheese and 4 eggs.  Now it’s after dinner and though it was a bit bland, everyone had second helpings and it’s half gone.  If I make it again I’ll use cauliflower and mushrooms and some parmesan cheese.

I was really tired the night I sent out the long Jerusalem email and hardly mentioned my thoughts about the Hadassah Hospital and the Chagall Windows. The windows are located in the small, spare Fanny and Maxwell Abbell Synagogue in the hospital. The windows were quite beautiful, and breathtaking in their size and brightness in the small dim synagogue. If I’m being honest, I have to say that I had a harder time seeing the images in the darker red windows, but we had to look quickly. The “Chagall Windows tour” was an audio tape that moved along quickly so you didn’t have time to really LOOK at each window or ask any questions. When the tour was over you had to leave to make room for the next group. I think it would be lovely to be there and actually use it as a synagogue. My favorite part of the windows might be what Chagall said about them, “All the time I was working I felt my mother and father looking over my shoulder and behind them were Jews, millions of other vanished Jews – of yesterday and a thousand years ago.” During the 67 war several of the windows were damaged and I remember reading Chagall’s comment when he was told that some windows had been damaged. He said something like this, “You worry about winning the war and I’ll worry about repairing the windows.” The windows were repaired but one window was deliberately left with a bullet hole.

The hospital also has a sculpture garden and the pomegranate sculpture caught my eye. I seem to find them connected to every place I’ve been in the Mediterranean and spent long hours in North Cyprus trying to draw one. The shops here sell them in the form of Shabbat candle holders, tooth pick holders and just as “art.” I will get one when I find one that calls my name. “Make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe.”

-Exodus 28:33-34

And my mother was a member of Hadassah Women’s Organization and knitted wool hats for the Israeli soldiers.

So now we can move on to the lighter second part of “My Jerusalem.”

We stayed at the Allenby B&B just near the Central Bus Terminal making it very easy for us.


Danny Flax and his wife Puah were friendly and very helpful.


In the morning the tables are for breakfast; during the day for computers and chatting with the other people staying at the B & B. All of Danny’s accommodations stay booked up so we were lucky to get our room on the spur of the moment.

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The 4 of us shared a room with a sleeping loft up-ladder and two beds and bathroom down the ladder.

It was comfortable and quiet and I slept well. Randal and I were down-ladder.


I must admit that I found the Hassidic men the most fascinating as it’s the first time in our travels we have encountered them.


At this corner in Jerusalem it was, “each to his own,” women in shorts standing next to men in black coats and hats.


A private moment for two soldiers seemed a story somehow.

We ate in a restaurant called Ima (Mother.) It was OK, but my Ima’s cooking was better. Funny enough the first night we actually ate in a fast food pizza place in the bus terminal (thinking it was the Mahane Yehuda market….long story, ….we were confused.) I had a giant piece of pizza with olive oil, black olives and the mixture of green colored herbs and spices that is used on bagels or other breads. I actually thought it was really good.

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Mahane Yehuda market (not the Central Bus Terminal Market) was alive with lots of food and tempting smells; but we had eaten a great breakfast at our B&B so had no excuse to eat more.


Saw these signs lots of places in the market.


I had to take a photo of this Horovitz Hat Shop because of my Grandfather Horowitz who had a hat factory in New York.

Our goal for Tuesday was to visit the Temple Mount before 11 am, wander the Old City, see the Chagall Windows at 2 PM, retrieve our stuff from the B&B and catch the 480 bus back to Tel Aviv and then the 90 bus to Herzliya by early evening. So there wasn’t so much time to dawdle along the way. But I caught of glimpse of this hidden neighborhood not far from the Mahane Yehuda market so we stopped for photos.

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Might be an interesting place to live for a while if we didn’t have a boat so I had to do some research.

Eben Israel ("Stone of Israel").  "Founded by a Building Society which built every year not less than six houses, and expected, at the

end of seven years, every one of its members to have his own house. It comprises 130 Tenements, and

about 650 inhabitants. palestinepowerso00jann_djvu.txt

Another building society was called Eben-Israel, and another the name of Beth-Jacob. There have new

churches and new schools erected the last year.   Sir Moses Montefiore advised them to build houses on the European style, leaving a plot of ground in

front large enough to plant the olive or the vine. He told them to secure as much land as they could in the \’icinity of Safed, Tiberias, Hebron, and •Jerusalem.

They asked him when they should commence certain buildings, and his answer was, " Begin to-day if you can."


After our visit to Temple Mount we returned to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a quick second visit. We then wandered our way through all of the Old City streets and shops making our way to the Damascus Gate where we would exit for Nablus Rd. and the Palestinian Pottery shop.


When you gotta go, you skip all of the obvious signs that it’s a men’s bathroom and only focus on the words toilets and free. In a place where men and women pray or swim in separate areas, why we would think they would share a public toilet, I don’t know. Linda, Charmaine and I got out alive with a funny story to tell. The “Ladies” was around the corner and out of our line of sight so we never even thought to look for it.


the narrow streets were dark and light and every shop seemed to sell exactly the same thing as its neighbor shop.


Get outta the way! Carts loaded with whatever would push past with barely room to spare.

With Linda leading the way and some assists from shopkeepers, we made our way to the Damascus Gate. I have to say, no part of the Old City felt any less safe or less interesting than any other. And this was just two days after the "Jerusalem Day events" so who knows. We don’t live here, and choose to live in the United States or Canada, in the case of Linda and Charmaine, so we really should not have opinions about what life is like for those who do live here.


A spice shop that smelled wonderful and looked beautiful.

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Women selling herbs and a glimpse of Randal’s “too short for the Temple Mount shorts.”


She may have been carrying her load on her head to save her hands for her cell phone: you see both images, ancient and cell phones.

So we exited the Damascus Gate, crossed the main road and I helped stop a fight among some very angry teenage boys. Don’t worry, I didn’t physically try to break up what looked like a very emotional fight. But one teenage boy was being beaten up by several boys and that’s just not okay. So I walked towards them yelling and then several adult men took over and separated the boys who were still very very angry. But there was nothing we could do except leave it to those who could actually talk with the boys.

We went off to find the Palestinian Pottery which was started and run by an Armenian family originally from Turkey.


Marie Balian, Matriarch of the enterprise.


Here she is at her shop


Jane Friedman June 18, 1992.

Since the early part of this century, on a winding street not far from the imposing walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, a family of Armenian potters has been turning out gracefully painted bowls, plates and tiles from an obscure atelier, continuing a Middle Eastern art form that began in Persia in the 13th century In recent years, western visitors to the Middle East — journalists and diplomats especially — became avid fans of Palestinian Pottery, descending on the atelier and returning to the United States with the firm’s decorated bowls and tiles. The objects became collectors’ items among people who frequented the Near East.

Now, the work of one family member, Marie Balian, 67, has been elevated to the status of fine art. In "Views of Paradise," an exhibit in the International Gallery at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center, her glazed wall panels — arranged around a glistening Arabian fountain — have received international recognition. It’s the largest space ever devoted to contemporary Middle Eastern art at the Smithsonian.

Balian’s work, like most art from the Arab world, is decorative. Because Islam bans depictions of humans, traditional art forms — like painting and sculpture for example — have long been eschewed. But applied art, like ceramic painting, has been a long tradition.

The show comes, oddly enough, at a time when Balian’s children are becoming known in the Washington area for their work on kitchens and baths. In the late 1980s, Balian’s son and daughter, operating out of a studio in Springfield, began to sell hand-painted tiles with Middle Eastern motifs for kitchens and bathrooms. The works of Marie Balian offer a "view of paradise" compared with the more earthbound work of her children.

"The children are artisans," says Gus Van Beek, the Museum of Natural History curator who organized the show. "I regard Marie Balian as an artist. We have never seen a tile painter equal to her."

The show brings together 22 wall panels that Balian did during the late 1980s and early ’90s. They depict lush gardens, swirling with garlands, flowers, gazelles, peacocks and birds and frequently framed by an arch to give the feeling of a view from a window. The panels give an idea of how a room is transformed when such tiled scenes are set into a wall, the way they are in the Middle East.

Balian’s work combines both Armenian and Islamic elements, drawing on traditions rooted in Persia, now Iran, and Turkey going back to medieval times.

"It’s very easy for me," said Balian, speaking of her art while sitting in front of her panels at the Smithsonian. "It’s as if I did this in an earlier age."

Balian’s family, as far back as she knows, had been potters in the town of Kutahya, Turkey. In the 13th century, Persians fleeing invaders from Central Asia streamed west into central Turkey, infusing life into a local ceramics tradition.

In 1919, a branch of the Balian family came to Jerusalem, commissioned by the Ottoman rulers to repair the 15th-century mosaic tiles on the Mosque of Omar. The mosque, which dominates the ancient Temple Mount, had been damaged during an earthquake.

The money for the project never materialized, but the Balians stayed on in the Holy Land, dissuaded from returning home because of the massacre of Armenians by the Turks. In 1922, they set up shop in East Jerusalem. Eventually, Setrak, the eldest son, began to churn out bowls and urns.

Painted decoration was simple until Setrak, on a visit to France, met Marie, a distant cousin whose family also hailed from Kutahya. She had been studying fine art in France. After they married, Marie Balian set about applying her vision of Eden to the bowls and plates produced in Jerusalem.

Then, in 1967, the world changed. As a result of the Six Day War, Jerusalem was unified and diplomats, academics, and journalists based in Israeli West Jerusalem now discovered Palestinian Pottery in the eastern half of town. In 1969, Van Beek, conducting an archaeological dig near the Gaza Strip, also discovered it. From then on, he and his wife would visit the Balians each summer, encouraging Marie Balian to do more of the large panels that she had begun to experiment with.

By 1990, she had done major commissions including wall panels for the salon at Israel’s presidential residence. Once there was a body of work, Van Beek began to lobby the Smithsonian for a show. The exhibition has been extended three months and will likely travel afterward.

The artisan tiles of Balian’s children, Sylva and Neshan, charmed Tammy Haddad, senior executive producer for "Larry King Live," who is a Syrian-American. Haddad noticed the tiles at a kitchen boutique and hired the younger Balians to do the kitchen in the Palisades home she and her husband bought.

"I thought they were beautiful," she said of the tiles. "They’re not like other grapes or vines. They were so beautifully detailed."

The Balian’s company, The Ceramic Tile Studion in Alexandria, Va , sells the artisan tiles through several kitchen and bath showrooms in the Washington area.

Because of the strife in Jerusalem between Jews and Arabs, Marie Balian hopes to work part of the year in the Washington area. She says the local foliage will not change her Middle Eastern view of paradise which, she says, is firmly etched in her mind.

But I have to say our favorite is still the Dizayn74 Pottery that we visited in Cyprus and where I bought my small pitcher and pit dish: but this is an interesting glimpse into one family’s story.

Then it was lunch time!!

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Al-Quds Restaurant just across the Sultan Suleyman Rd. from the Damascus Gate.

I had a great chicken pita sandwich real French fries and lots of meze salads. If you’re ever there, I recommend Al-Quds.

So we had a great trip and made it home with only a small glitch.   We couldn’t easily find the stop for the 90 bus from Tel Aviv to Herzliya.  But we did find it, and now we know, and soon we’ll move the boat to Ashdod and have to learn all of the bus routes in Ashdod.  The plan is to leave Herzliya and move to Ashdod for the month of June.  It looks like I might find a Hebrew School there and even some art classes so that will be good.  More about that when it happens.  But next email, our tours of Jericho and Bethlehem.



My Jerusalem

Shalom and Happy Shavuot (Saturday night through Sunday evening)

We had some Israeli visitors yesterday. DoraMac attracts anyone who knows anything about boats. I was working on this email about our visits to Jerusalem, and I told them that it has been a struggle. They asked me why, and I said that it was just too much history to condense into a few sentences under the photographs. And I told them that Jerusalem was “a feeling.” You either feel it and that’s all that matters; or you don’t and then it doesn’t matter. And those feelings just can’t be conveyed in an email.  They smiled and agreed.

So I’m just going to post the photos I have, tell you how I came to take them, and not try for more.

“There’s an old story we all learned as children about a stranger who came to the two teachers of the first century, Hillel and Shammai, with an odd request.”Teach me the Torah while I stand on one foot."

First, he came to the sage, Shammai and he makes his request, "Teach me the Torah, Rabbi, as I stand upon one foot." The Talmud teaches that Shammai picked up a builders rule, a piece of a two by four, and smacks him along side of the head, and the man left him.

Then he came to Hillel and made the request, "Teach me the Torah as I stand on one foot." So Hillel taught him: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah, all the rest is commentary. Zil u’gemar, now, go and learn it."

I post that story here because I asked a version of that question to the Visitor Center volunteer just inside the Old City at the Jaffa Gate. He was a very wise man, knew the story, and gave me the same answer Hillel gave. I told him that I felt myself becoming “more Jewish” in Israel and I couldn’t understand why not being observant or spiritual. He told me that by being in Israel I was “with” all of the Jewish people important to me, and if I am honest, I have to say I think he was right. For me, being in Israel, especially Jerusalem, is more about emotional connections than intellect. And as lovely as that is, it’s probably why problems here are so hard to solve; the heart definitely gets in the way of the head. If Herzliya were the entire country, things would be so much simpler; it’s a big resort city looking to the future rather than the emotionally filled historic past.


Jerusalem Day marchers.

Our second visit to Jerusalem coincided with Jerusalem Day. We avoided the Old City and spent the day at the Israel Museum. Monday some streets were closed and our Jericho-Bethlehem tour bus driver said it was because of incidents connected with Jerusalem Day. We weren’t aware of any disturbances that took place Sunday, Monday while in Palestinian controlled Jericho or Bethlehem, or Tuesday when we visited the Old City and were in East Jerusalem at the Dome of the Rock, Damascus Gate and in the Arab section on Nablus Rd.

“Sunday was Jerusalem Day in Israel, a holiday once again observed by thousands of young Jews who chanted as they marched through Arab neighborhoods conquered in the 1967 Six Day War. The tension is always highest in the narrow passages of the largely Palestinian Old City. So much so that the city’s police this year tried to route the column of youths — most singing patriotic and religious songs, a few chanting “Death to the Arabs” — away from the Arab Quarter. But in the end, the police proved powerless against tradition, and the original route was restored. On Jerusalem Day, marching through the Arab Quarter is the whole point” …………………………..


Linda as tour guide.

Our first trip to Jerusalem we did the whirl wind tour of the Old City and Yad Vashem. Our second trip we were already veterans and went by ourselves.


Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known as the Church of the Resurrection (Anastasis) to Eastern Orthodox Christians, is a church in the Old City of Jerusalem that is the holiest Christian site in the world. It stands on a site that is believed to encompass both Golgotha, or Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the tomb (sepulchre) where he was buried. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been an important pilgrimage destination since the 4th century.   Several different Christian sects have different sections in the Church. 


I really am quite ignorant about the Christian faith so I’m not going to attempt any commentary at all. But if you have questions, ask me and I’ll ask Reverend Ken to answer them for you. Reverend Ken, married to Randal’s sister Linda, is a minister with enough of a sense of humor to have officiated at our wedding.


Linda lit candles.


The Via Dolorosa is marked with the Stations of the Cross.

This is the 5th station of the Cross.


During our first trip to Jerusalem we made an all too brief stop at Yad Vashem. It would take days to watch all of the video presentations and read all of the displays. Many visits are necessary. You know what you will read: you know what happened, but the stories are all about individuals and you want to listen. Taking photos is not allowed in the buildings.  But while I was walking through the museum I saw a photo of a man who looked like he could have been my father at a young age. I wanted to take his photo which had no name.

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Outside the memorial to the children who were murdered: a sculpture and a mezuzahs on the building.


During our second trip to Jerusalem we visited the Israel Museum including the Shrine of the Book exhibit that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the main museum, in the morning,  we joined the 11 am guided tour through the archeology section which was very good. After lunch we just wandered the museum until the tour of the Shrine of the Book in the afternoon. Israel Museum Jerusalem

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The prayer we heard at the end of every service.

I had read the following story in Bruce Feiler’s Walking the Bible so seeing the silver amulet with the familiar prayer was a favorite part of the museum for me.

“In his lecture, {Gabi} Barkay described how in 1979 a group of 12-year-olds from an archaeology club in Tel Aviv had come to the dig. Barkay thought the children were “pesky.” One in particular, a boy named Nathan, was always “tugging on my shirt and asking silly questions,” Barkay said.

Barkay assigned Nathan to a far-off, unimportant task: clearing out an ancient repository cave to prepare it for being photographed. Nathan took to the task with a hammer, and “expressed his frustration by hammering the floor of the repository.” Barkay recalled being quite perturbed when young Nathan, who had not been on task for much time at all, tugged on this shirt to tell the archaeologist that the hammer had broken through the floor of the cave and there was something below.

    Upon inspection, Barkay realized that what he had thought was the floor of the chamber was, in fact, the ceiling of another ancient chamber underneath. Nathan had opened up a chamber where Barkay would make his most renown discovery.

Below was a repository containing a large quantity of intact vessels dating from the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries B.C., Barkay said. Many had survived Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Glazed pottery, gold jewelry, silver, semi-precious stones and beads all gave evidence of a thriving population. Silver coins minted in Greece showed that the Hebrews were part of a network of international trade.

Skilled hands took over from Nathan and began carefully sorting through the artifacts from the newly-discovered repository. That was when the “very important” discovery came to light. During the lecture, Barkay projected a photograph of a tiny, dirty cylinder he described as “the size of a cigarette butt.” It was an amulet designed to be worn on an arm or forehead in literal obedience to Deuteronomy 6:8, an ancient precursor to what are today known as phylacteries.

“Inside [the amulet] we found a tiny, silver scroll, which took us three years to unroll,” Barkay said. “The scroll yielded 19 lines of minuscule writing … in ancient Hebrew script.” The writing included three repetitions of ancient Hebrew letters which are transliterated YHWH. “This is the private, unpronouncable name of God, which is often pronounced in the West as ‘Jehovah,’” Barkay said.

After extensive, careful analysis by experts in ancient Semetic languages, the tiny scrolls were shown to contain the earliest written example of the Aaronian benediction recorded in Numbers 6:24-26: “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”

“This text predates the earliest Dead Sea Scrolls by four centuries,” Barkay said in reference to the importance of the silver scrolls. “They are the oldest biblical verses identified in the world.”

In Walking the Bible, the “Nathan” story continues……

“Did you ever call Nathan and tell him what he found?” {Feiler asks Barkay} “No, but I gave a lecture ten years later. I told the same story to a group of professional archaeologists. I realized while speaking that somebody was standing to the side of the hall. A very tall soldier. He was making me nervous. When I finished I went over and asked him why he was standing there. Was he interested in archaeology? He said, “I’m Nathan,” I was so shocked I forgot to ask him his last name. And to this day I don’t know who he is.” The story reminds me of a student my mother had when she taught Sunday School. His name is Aaron Lansky and she called him, Aaron Lansky, that rotten kid. Well Aaron grew up, shaped up, became interested in Yiddish and founded the Yiddish Book Center on the campus of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts to save thousands of Yiddish language books and insure the language continues.

After the archaeology tour we stopped for lunch and a rest. Everyone wanted to see the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit and tour, but that didn’t start until 3 pm. So we all just wandered. In hindsight I wish I’d done the Jewish Art and Life and Synagogue tours, but maybe another time. There was a Joshua Neustine exhibit and because I’d been told he was a major Jewish artist I wanted to see it. We asked a friendly museum docent how to get to the exhibit and she wasn’t sure so led us there asking guidance along the way from museum security guards. It was up stairs, over the other way, around the back….and finally we found it. Only it looked like it was either going up or coming down, the Haaretz piece was written May 17 and we were there May 20th. Very strange exhibit. I wasn’t wild about his art; but I did like this one piece. It is also the one shown in the Haaretz article.


Joshua Neustein, once a young lion of Israeli art world, shows five decades of work in New York, at new Israel Museum exhibit.

By Daniel Rauchwerger | 05:41 17.05.12 |

His exhibit has a small palette and doesn’t try to impress. Torn and folded paper, drawings, a few video works and quiet, monochromatic but also mature installations. Though he doesn’t call the show a retrospective, Neustein offers five decades of work here. A wandering Jew born in Poland and living in New York where he owns a studio, he nonetheless decided to hold this exhibit in Israel. It seems that even though he views the state as an "episode" in Jewish history, it is the foundation of his own……

Neustein immigrated with his parents to the United States as a child. He grew up in Manhattan and studied in an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva. Afterward he decided to study art at the Pratt Institute. Upon finishing his studies in 1963, he went first to Vienna and then to Jerusalem. "I wasn’t in a hurry to become an artist. I knew that I would be one; I was self-important and arrogant, but I put it off," he told Haaretz. "I wandered around Israel for two years without accomplishing very much; I lived off my parents." ………..

Tearing paper

The exhibit starts with an early series of works on paper from the end of the 1960s. Neustein scrawled pale graphite squares on white sheets of paper and then erased parts of them to create cross and oval shapes. He collected the erasures in small paper envelopes which he attached to the drawings. The value of the work is in its documentation of the act of erasure, of a sort of choreography, and not the quality of the image itself……….

"Here," he says, "there was always a struggle between [the identity of] the Jew and the Israeli. For me there was no question. I was just a Jew, a Diaspora Jew. I always saw Israel as a chapter in Jewish history."

These ideas emerge in a few of the works he created for the exhibit, notably a large map of Israel drawn on a wall and floor with cheap cellotape. "This is temporary material, like the geographic borders of the state," he says, as one of the pieces of tape falls to the floor. "The Jews are one of the first people to separate nationality from geographic location; they became wanderers. The question is whether the Israelis are also willing to be mobile. I don’t know. In another three generations, I’m not sure Israelis will exist, but there will certainly be Jews."

Much of the exhibit is devoted to works made of torn paper. From Neustein’s viewpoint, these are drawings, too. "Tearing is a kind of total drawing, the mark of a line with no turning back," he says.

Aside from the conceptual significance he attaches to these works, Neustein sees the torn paper as a symbol of falling leaves and aging.

"When I tore paper for the first time, it was a life-changing event," he says. "Suddenly I no longer belonged with Aryeh Arokh or [Yosef] Zaritsky, even though of course I liked them. This process was like boarding a ship without noticing that it was unmoored and moving far off, and impossible to stop."

Randal went off to do his own wandering and I stayed in the art section; partly because it was such a labyrinth I couldn’t find my way out.

“But the current redesign has critics, too. Many say it is still easy to get lost in the museum. Some claim the new enclosed passage route is more suited to an airport. Tour guide Jeff Abel complained about the dearth of practical elements, such as toilets and benches, though he praised the improved lighting in the fine-arts wing.”

I did find this one video art presentation that I really liked because I am familiar with Jackson Pollock’s work.

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I was also intrigued by this tall metal sculpture.


“The 16-foot hourglass of polished steel, reflecting an inverted sky and surrounding landscape, shines at the highest point of the grounds of the hilltop Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Commissioned in honor of the venerable institution’s three-year expansion and redesign, Turning the World Upside Down by Mumbai-born Anish Kapoor calls to crowds in the city and beyond to come view the extraordinary objects on display at the museum. With the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Hebrew University, the Science Museum and Bible Lands Museum grouped together on a series of hills, the Israel Museum stands for culture and reason in a city riven by religious and political strife. Like Kapoor’s new sculpture, it turns the city’s madness upside down.


The main museum of the Shrine of the Book.


Model of Jerusalem : A Memorial to a son killed during the war for independence.

This 50:1 scale model, covering nearly one acre, evokes ancient Jerusalem at its peak, meticulously recreating its topography and architectural character in 66 CE, the year in which the Great Revolt against the Romans broke out, leading to the destruction of the Temple and the city in the year 70 CE.

The model, a Jerusalem cultural landmark, was originally built at the initiative of Holyland Hotel owner Hans Kroch in memory of his son Jacob, who fell in Israel’s War of Independence. Kroch argued that Israel in general, and in particular its capital Jerusalem – which was cut off from the Old City at the time – lacked a historical monument that could compare with the antiquities of Athens and Rome.

In 1962, Kroch approached Michael Avi-Yonah, professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, commissioning Avi-Yonah to create the Model and provide its topographic and archaeological basis and architectural design. The model was opened to the general public in 1966, immediately becoming a popular attraction and educational site for Israelis and tourists alike.

In 2006 the Second Temple Model was transferred to the Israel Museum campus, where it offers a concrete illustration of the period documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls, when Rabbinic Judaism took shape and Christianity was born.

Providing a vivid context for the Shrine of the Book and the Dead Sea Scrolls and for many contemporaneous archaeological artifacts displayed throughout the Museum, the Model Illustrates one of the most formative periods in the history of the Jewish people, and bears a deep connection to the symbols of modern statehood that surround the Museum campus.

We were probably too tired to appreciate The Shrine of the Book tour. Our guide rattled off too many facts and dates too fast to take it in and I was instantly lost when we “toured” the Jerusalem model. We did see examples of the scrolls and hear the adventure story that brought them to Israel. But it was too long, too late, too air conditioned and just altogether too much of a good thing. So we dropped out of the tour and went back to our hotel to rest up for our dinner adventure.


Roadside art you wouldn’t see anywhere but Israel just near the Israel Museum


We took the bus from Herzliya to Jerusalem on Sunday and spent the day at the Israel Museum. Monday we did a "not great" tour of Jericho and Bethlehem (more about that in a later email.) and Tuesday till mid-day we spent visiting the Old City, the Jewish and Arab parts. Linda and Charmaine wanted to see the Dome of the Rock so off we all went. It was an experience in itself crossing between the two halves of Jerusalem.

We walked down Jaffa street stopping to visit and sample the Mahane Yehuda market and next a small artists’ cooperative on Jaffa street. Then it was through the Jaffa Gate and the security of the Western Wall area through which we would take the walk way to Arab Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock.

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There was joy and prayer and noise and no problem with Randal’s shorts.


The path between the Jewish and Arabic parts of Jerusalem.


El-Aqsa Mosque

Part of the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock complex viewed from “the other side.”


Dome of the Rock


Only Muslims are allowed inside so this postcard view will have to do. (Randal was wearing shorts and wasn’t offered any wrap for his legs, so he just left right away.”

“Thus, what today is called the Temple Mount is believed to be Mount Moriah — the place where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac, where the First and Second Temples were built and where the Dome of the Rocks currently stands.”

Our long Tuesday in Jerusalem ended with a visit to the Chagall Windows at Hadassah Hospital. Thanks to Linda’s great tour leading we easily found our way from place to place literally stepping of the light rail onto a bus which took us right to the Hadassah Hospital and its synagogue where the windows are located.

We arrived a bit early for the 2 pm afternoon presentation. No photos are allowed which is very too bad.


Calder Stabile

Calder Statue Returns Home

After a three-year construction induced move from its original Jerusalem location, the towering red Calder statue was returned to its Mount Herzl home on March 12, 2008. The "red statue", which over the years became a symbol of modern Jerusalem was moved in order to facilitate the construction of an underground parking lot for Jerusalem’s new light-rail train.

The Calder statue, "Homage to Jerusalem – Stabile" was the last statue planned by the famous American artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976), and was installed in Jerusalem in 1977 as the result of a generous donation from the Berman Family. Calder himself chose the location where the statue would be placed, but did not live to see its installation in Jerusalem’s Holland Square. This statue and many others, were part of The Jerusalem Foundation’s plan to improve the quality of life, increase the beauty and raise cultural awareness in the city, by placing outdoor sculptures at various prominent locations throughout the city.

When the city realized that the Calder statue stood in the way of the Jerusalem light-rail system being built, The Jerusalem Foundation insisted on preserving the rights of the artists and the donor family that all changes to the statue’s location must conform to Calder’s original wishes. A public committee was appointed by The Jerusalem Foundation to take responsibility for the welfare of the statue from the moment it was moved from its place. The committee consulted with the French company that originally erected the statue, and Dr. Martin Weil, who worked with Calder to choose the statue’s location originally, was an active member of the committee.

The massive statue weighs a whopping 65 tons, is built of steel and sits on a base of nine concrete blocks. The statue had been broken apart into three pieces in order to enable its transportation, and over the course of the night of March 12, and with the aid of two of Israel’s largest cranes, the statue was reassembled, and erected in its original location. In the coming weeks that statue will be repainted "Calder Red" with paint that was specially ordered from abroad.


Stamps illustrating each of the 12 windows which represent each of the 12 tribes.


Magic Pomegranate by Ruslan Sergeev in memory of Adam Gilert

Petra Final Email!


  Randal has spent the afternoon cooking up a storm.  He’s making falafel, Randal version and salmon egg baskets that he learned in a cooking class in Thailand 12 years ago.  I’m staying out of the galley!  This morning I went for a walk on the beach and by 9 am it was jammed packed with lots of families and people of all ages.  I’d worn my flip flops over from the marina so I could walk in the water.  I only need to do that once as lots of it has lots of little pebbles and shells.  I got used to it so by the way back hardly noticed.  But next time, shoes. 

  This is my final Petra email.  It really is just a small bit of what there is to see, but hopefully you get the idea.  Bruce Feiler made the comparison between the Jews of the time who survived leaving no structures behind and the Nabataens who have "disappeared" leaving structures behind.  The Nabataens were good at mixing with other cultures and the Jews tried very hard not to do that.  Maybe that’s what happened, the Nabataens just mixed themselves in and became part of something else which is, I guess,  one way to disappear. 

"It is not known when exactly Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire from the first century BC, which grew rich through trade in frankincense and myrrh, along with spices from Yemen. Petra was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake in 363 AD destroyed much of the city in the fourth century AD. Many buildings were never rebuilt after this, although not long after that event Petra was designated the seat of a Byzantine bishopric. However, the earthquake combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city which was ultimately abandoned; by the middle of the seventh century Petra appears to have been largely deserted and it was then lost to all except local Bedouin from the area."



ps  I know it is Indiana Jones and not Indian Jones which Randal told me I did twice!

   Petra # 5


Water system in the Siq along the walls used to conserve water and prevent flooding.

I wasn’t so fascinated by them for some reason but my “brother” Ken asked about them so here is a photo. He has visited Petra and was fascinated by them.

Excavations at Petra Church

“Superbly detailed 6th century AD mosaics adorn the aisles of this once large Byzantine basilica. A cache of 152 scrolls found here revealed details of daily life in Byzantine Petra.” Eyewitness Jerusalem


Sifting for ancient relics in the church.

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Restoring the mosaics.


Randal has become fascinated by mosaics and wants to learn to make his own! Maybe his will have cars and bicycles as symbols of what is important to him.


For the Byzantine people, other things were important.


Roman Petra entering the Cardo


The Romans annexed Petra in AD 106.

Photos of some of the people who earn their living within Petra Park.


I could hear the music even at a distance…..

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It was quite lovely so I paid my money and took my photo and helped him earn a living.

Modern Bedouin cowboys or donkey taxi drivers as they call the donkeys air conditioned taxis.




And then there were the camels….


A camel pretzel.

We ate two really good meals in Petra. The first night we plopped ourselves down in the hotel lobby and the manager sent out for chicken doner take out for us! The second night we had falafel and grilled vegetables and chicken and tabouli and way too much food. But that didn’t stop an after dinner visit to the bakery to check out what we might want the next morning.

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Flying pita waiting for customer pick-up, the actual bakery must have been upstairs.

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The bakery also giant, wonderfully smelling pancake flying saucers coming down from above.

We left our Petra hotel about 9:30 am and were driven to the border. It was a pretty simple process to leave Jordan (pay and exit fee) and enter Israel. We have heard people complain about the strict, scary Israeli border security, but we’ve not encountered any of it. We did pass the remains of a beach complex in Tel Aviv that had been destroyed by a suicide bomber in 2001. It is now a memorial. There is a reason for the security.


Lunch on a Yotava Kibbutz famed for its dairy.

We ate shakshuka ( eggs, tomatoes, onions wonderful!) and a cauliflower dish that tasted like it had been simmered with onions and spices and was wonderful. Their ice cream choices looked spectacular but we, with some yet untapped will power) all took a pass. They had lots of jars of things in their shop but none had English subtitles so we took a pass. Not speaking Hebrew in Israel is much like not speaking Chinese in China; you can get along but you definitely miss a lot and have to constantly rely on the kindness of strangers.


Half way home we encountered a sand storm.


We went from blue sky to no sky and low visibility. Like driving through a snow storm but not as dangerous as the roads don’t get slick.

So, that’s it!

Petra # 4


Randal and I continued down form the High Place of Sacrifice…


Garden Temple Complex and time for food!


More tombs and at one time, amazingly, some gardens..


Now an impromptu picnic area with every rock taken, shaded from the hot noontime sun.


Roman Soldier’s Tomb, I think.

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Triclinium with its amazing colors


Looking out from the Triclinium towards the Roman Soldier’s Tomb


Not sure what this is; maybe the Columbarium according to the Petra brochure


Fragrant bushes in the desert.

From there Randal and I went directly for some hot tea (me) cold beer Randal, and a rest.  This was the end of our second day at Petra.   We said our final farewell and walked our way back to and through the Siq and treated ourselves to a taxi back to the hotel.


Hike to “The Monastery” with Charmaine and Linda the afternoon of our first day in Petra.

This hike crosses part of Wadi Musa..Valley of Moses and includes 800 stone cut steps along the way.


It was a hot, tiring walk that we started late afternoon our first day while Randal waited for us down below relaxing with some ice cold beer.


Some of the 800 stone steps encountered along the way. Many people opt for the donkey taxis but we walked up and then we walked down.

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The Monastery facade with Linda and Charmaine (matching hats) in the foreground and a photo of me taken by a friendly stranger earlier.

"The Monastery is Petra’s most colossal temple, dedicated to the deified king Obodas 1 who died in 86 BC. Its simple, powerful architecture, thought to date from the 1st century AD, is seen by many to be the quintessential Nabataean Classical design….It came to be known as The Monastery because of the many Christian crosses carved on its walls. Eyewitness Jerusalem and the Holy Land.


As we watched this guy climbed up and jumped around the roof tops and then climbed to the very top!


Fiddler on the Roof or Crazy Nut?


And then we walked down, back through the complex, back through the Siq and all the way up hill back to our hotel for a very full first day.

Petra # 3


  Let me know when you’re tired of Petra photos because I have lots more to send!  It is taking me forever because I spent most of the morning trying to research whether that is Aaron’s Tomb visible from the High Place. Islam believes it is.  The Bible has two locations; Mt. Hor in Numbers and Moserah in Deuteronomy.  And apparently they are too far apart to be really confused.  I really do miss being able to go to the library though you would think here in Israel I could find some info somewhere.  I haven’t found a library yet and I’m not sure how much I would find in English.  There is much less English than we all thought and many people actually don’t speak any.  I really REALLY do wish I’d paid attention in Hebrew School!   (Har, could you ask Ellen to ask Gabriel if that really could be Aaron’s Tomb that we saw from Petra?)  I have probably enough photos for 2 or 3 more emails, one our hike to "The Monastery", one of mosaics that Randal loves, and one just some of the people who make their living through the tourists trade." 

  Tomorrow we’re off early in the morning for Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Jericho so no emails for a bit and I’ll be taking more photos and getting further behind!  Oiy!


Petra # 3


Sunset over the mountains from our hotel room window.

You couldn’t count on getting hot water; but you could count on the 4 am calls to prayer and a beautiful sunset over the mountains.


Also our hotel window view.

We were pretty tired from our long first day at Petra but since we had “two day” tickets, we had to go back for the second day. Linda and Charmaine went off birding but Randal and I went off to hike to the High Place of Sacrifice so I could see what “might be” Aaron’s Tomb. I say “might be” because apparently the Bible mentions two different locations where Aaron is buried.


Starting the climb and it was already quite hot early in the morning.

We hadn’t met Khoa Nguyen yet when I took this photo. But we all walked up at about the same time so talked along the way and took each other’s photos and traded email addresses. Khoa lives in Washington State but had lived outside Boston for 6 months so commented on my B hat. He is a structural engineer which must have made everything even more amazing.


Both Khoa and Randal spent time in Vietnam. Khoa left in 1992 at the age of 21 with his parents. Because his father had worked with the American military, Khoa was eligible for education scholarships from the American Government. Randal was there in 1969 as a marine and in 2000 on his world bicycle trip.


The view as we climbed.


You could take a mule up and it was amazing how they climbed the stairs.


Local Bedouin women had shops along the way.


3,000 feet about sea level on Jebel Attuf Mountain stand two 20 ft. stone obelisks.


Khoa took this photo of me with the obelisks in the background.


The place of sacrifice with lots of tourists.


Aaron’s Tomb (maybe) is the white dot on the center peak.


Randal and me with the “invisible maybe Aaron’s Tomb” off in the distance.


Lots of stone piles left as ….not sure what. In Tibet it was where spirits would come back after death.


I see an elephant and its trunk facing the camera though it’s really just a trick of the imagination and geology.


The remains of a bas relief lion fountain that is really there for all to see…for now until it is worn away like the head.


The descent was less tiring but technically more difficult.




We had more walking to do, but we were most of the way down to the central part of the park.

Nilly and Eitan Bukchin


  Before too much time passes, I want to introduce to our new friends Nilly and Eitan.  Thanks to them we knew about the free museums day and also about interesting places to stop on our way to and from Eilat/Petra.  They also provided the maps.  It seems a while ago that Nilly and Eitan came for dinner but it was really only 6 days ago.  Nilly is the cousin of our Roanoke friend Gabriel Szego (and his wife Ellen.)

We invited Nilly and Eitan to dinner as it was easier for them to get to us than we to them, but then they brought most of the dinner!  Several salads, fruit, several Israeli dishes and even dessert and wine!  Randal did cook wonderful salmon and I made potato salad and everyone was very full at the end. 

  Nilly and Eitan are also world travelers and have been far more places than I.  Randal probably wins the travel prize because of his world bike trip back in 2000.  But Eitan is definitely the Israel expert and we are definitely benefiting from his insider tips to free stuff and what to see.  Our next free tour will be Tel Aviv thanks to a tip from Eitan.  But that will have to wait until we return from Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho.  We are leaving early on the # 90 bus and switching just outside of Tel Aviv to the 480 to Jerusalem.  We’ll return late Tuesday evening…with a zillion more photos.  The problem is that we don’t seem to be able to keep all the facts and dates straight so I have to keep researching everything before I can send out an email.  Boy, am I ever sorry I didn’t pay more attention in Hebrew school and Sunday school classes. 



Randal, Eitan, Nilly and me.

Petra continued


   One could spend days and days in Petra studying and photographing the ruins, or better yet sketching them with water colors. Or you could do as much as you could in 2 days and be amazed at and grateful for the experience. I was thinking that, along with our recent photos of Petra,  we have the Western Wall and Jerusalem, the Forbidden City of China, the Taj Mahal, the Potala Palace in Tibet, Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, Michelangelo’s statue of David and the Sistine Chapel, an imaginary line on the Equator in our boat, Roanoke, Virginia in a hot air balloon? Ok, I wish I’d skipped the hot air balloon, but really, how lucky am I? How many people get to see and experience these things for real, and my list really is much longer. It really is a great gift to be able to travel.

Because we’d gotten up early Monday morning and crossed the border into Jordan at 6:30 am, we had almost a full day in Petra even after the 2 hour drive from the border to our hotel. We dumped off our stuff and were shuttled down to the park entrance. A two day ticket cost 55 Jordan dinars equal to about $78 US per person. That’s about the most we’ve ever paid as an entrance fee. A one day ticket is 50 JD so not much of a savings and we were told it would take 2 days at least for a worthwhile visit. It was money well spent.

I had 3 favorite parts: The walk through the Siq, the hike to the High Place of Sacrifice, and the hike to the Monastery. This first email is about The Siq. I actually have little interest in ancient Rome or Greece. But I am starting to be more curious about Jewish history. Maybe all those years in Muslim countries? Maybe being here in Israel? Maybe being 61? Who knows? So I read about Petra and learned that Aaron was buried just beyond the High Place of Sacrifice. In Bruce Feiler’s Walking the Bible a theory is proposed that rather than wander the desert for 40 years, the Israelites spent most of that time in Petra because it had a supply of water. As for the Roman Colonnade or the tombs or temples…well that just wasn’t what interested me. But all of the geology and geography was stunning. Like Georgia O’Keeffe, I prefer places not so crowded with trees.

On the way to The Siq you get bombarded with offers for a horse ride “that is included with you ticket.” But what isn’t included is the 10 JD “tip” for the guy whose horse you’ll ride. We opted to walk turning down offers for donkey taxis, camels, or carriage rides.

The very innovative and assimilating Nabateans created Petra so here is a bit about them.

Understanding the Nabateans

By Avraham Negev

“In 312 B.C. a Greek diplomat and historian named Hieronymus of Cardia visited the Dead Sea and probably the Negev and reported:

“There are many Arabian tribes who use the desert as pasture, [but] the Nabateans far surpass the others in wealth, although they are not much more than 10,000 in number.”

Masters of the desert, the Nabateans were the dominant traders, merchants and caravan guides for centuries. The principal factor that accounts for the Nabatean superiority was their unrivaled ability to procure water in the desert. Hieronymus describes this in detail. In modern terms, the Nabateans transformed concentric nomadism into linear nomadism. The traditional wanderings of ancient nomadic tribes centered around the few permanent natural sources of water—the oases in the desert. The Nabateans, however, learned to line their cisterns with impermeable plaster. These desert cisterns were then filled with water from the occasional rains. In this way, they were able to store water for a year or more. The Nabateans could thus cross the inhospitable deserts of northern Arabia, the Negev and Sinai, finally reaching the harbors of the eastern Mediterranean, where, Hieronymus tells us, they brought caravan loads of spices and aromatics from Arabia.

“The key to the Spice Route was the Nabatean technique of collecting water in hidden underground cisterns to be used when the traders arrived. In the Negev, Avner took me (Feiler) to a handful of these caverns, which are still remarkably intact. The Israeli army trains soldiers for desert survival by dropping them a few miles from the cisterns and instructing them to find the locations. Few ever do.

Because the Spice Route was so complex an undertaking, the previously nomadic Nabateans were forced to undergo a process of civilizing themselves: organizing a security force, collecting and distributing money, building administrative centers…and the result was Petra” p 383 Walking the Bible, Feiler


Djinn Blocks are the first bit of amazement you encounter.

“Fancifully-named "djinn blocks" (a djinn is an Arabic spirit) are located on the way to the Siq (bab-as-siq, in Arabic). The imposing blocks are well over a person’s height, and are thought to be funerary monuments. The middle one has two shaft graves inside.” While in India I’d read William Dalrymple’s book City of the Djinns about Delhi and became a bit fascinated with these spirits so it was neat to encounter them again here in Petra.


The Siq and the T-shirt to prove it.

A "thaniya" is a small crack in a mountain. The city of Petra had two thaniyas, or passages through the mountain. The main one is known as the "siq"… (This looks like a really good website if you want to learn about Petra.)

The experience is like walking through a mini-Grand Canyon as you are made to feel very small as you crane your neck to look up at the sky through the slit in the rock.


Walking toward the entrance to the Siq.

Walking through the Siq in amazement.

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How small we all felt….


The colors and light made me want to take lots of photos both days; our first somewhat overcast but thankfully cooler day and the second much hotter sunny day bringing lots of light and shade ( at least in the Siq but not in the open desert where there was no shade so very hot.)


And then, like Indian Jones, we emerged from The Siq and found ourselves staring at Al-Khazneh, The Treasury.



Part Hellenistic and part eclectic Nabatean design, the façade is 30 meters wide and 43 meters high. It was carved in the 1st century BC as a tomb of an important Nabatean king and maybe later used as a temple.


The buildings were carved out of the sides of sandstone cliffs.

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Red stands out dramatically against the stone.

But the older images of Petra weren’t in Kodak color; they were pencil drawings or muted watercolor, so I eliminated the color from some photos and I find them still quite interesting.


A young girl watching for her father.

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The Siq.                                                                      Randal in The Siq


Scottish painter David Roberts (October 24 1797 – November 24, 1864) sketched and painted water colors of many scenes of Petra. for more info about Petra