In Bodrum

11:30 am


  We’re here safe and sound.  We arrived about 8 M this morning and they were ready for us.  Conditions were blessedly calm when we arrived.  Last Sunday some friends had to wait a day for winds to abate before they could come in!  We had our 20 knots of wind during my second watch from 2am until 5 am with the wind on the nose so a bumpy ride. Our forward speed dropped from 6.9 knots to 3.9 knots, but luckily picked up so we averaged our 6 knots to get here when Randal had anticipated.   Because we were following the cost so had to go around points, each time I had to make a turn in our course there were boats coming the other way.  Crossing the Med from Israel to Turkey was in some ways easier than just going along the coast here.  Plenty more room and just your basic straight line.

   The folks here are professional so the lift out was smooth.  We are on our stands on the hard and Randal is out hosing the salt sea off the boat.  I’m in our shut up hot boat typing this before I pass out.  Or I’ll go stand in front of the frig.  Or try the trick Bill Kimley just emailed; wet a huge towel, lay it over myself, and turn on the fan.  He guarantees I’ll freeze.  I don’t even like fans when I’m dry.  Too noisy. 

  The yard has wifi but mine wouldn’t connect so I’m using our Turkcell dongle.  Hopefully some photos of our lift tomorrow.  The yard also has a small beach so maybe I’ll actually swim in the Med.




    Just a quick note to say we are off about 5 pm this evening for a night run to Yat Lift Boat Yard in Bodrum north west of Marmaris. We are going there as it wall cost far less there, than here at Netsel, and the work will be just as good. It will take about 13 hours to get there. We will be pulled from the water about 8:30 am Monday morning. We should be there about a week at the most. In the past we’ve lived “on the hard” while the bottom work was done. Not sure this time as it’s so hot that Randal isn’t sure we’d survive the nights without AC. Our AC circulates sea water through the unit to cool the freon, and on the hard, we have no sea water. There are some budget priced pensions in Bodrum that we might check after the boat is all settled in at the yard. It might not be as terribly hot as we think as Yat Lift is far enough from the city of Bodrum, and of course, right on the water. We rented a car and drove there last Monday with our friends from Blue Cotton, Sharman and Cliff, and it was quite hot, but that was mid-day. Here the nights cool off some. (Sharman and Cliff are in Marmaris for two months doing boat work and then will return to Karpaz Gate for the winter. We’ll miss them a lot!) This week we bought a Turkcell dongle 3G for Internet access at the Yard, so hopefully I’ll catch up on my last few Israel emails and post photos about Bodrum. We need a dongle here also because the wifi at Netsel isn’t very consistent; and often not there at all.

We really can’t wait to be here when the tourists and heat depart. It should be an entirely different story. Not that the tourists are a problem, there seem to be far fewer than last year when we were here. Just about every day a cruise ship pulls up and parks just across the dock from us (our temporary spot until we return from Bodrum.) It’s not noisy or a problem. They hardly generate waves. Even with that, the town seems rather empty. Our temporary berth is at the very far end of the marina which adds about 20 minutes more walking in the heat each time we go to town. It’s about a mile to the center of Marmaris Old Town which is usually our destination. That will be great in the cool, but in the heat, it’s really wilting and even Randal carries a bottle of water. But when we get our permanent spot, we will be nearer the town side of the marina where the liveaboards are. Now we’re on the dock with most of the charter boats or temporary boats.

So anyway: that’s what’s doing. Next time I promise photos.




   Here are a few photos of Marmaris I took during a walk a few mornings ago.  We were here a year ago at this time so some photos may look familiar.  We really are looking forward to experiencing the winter here.  We WILL BRING SOME WINTER CLOTHES FROM HOME this visit.  We were told that sweaters would be enough for Cyprus, but we froze with lots of sweaters on.  But it’s so hot now, I’m thinking cold weather will be just fine.  Now I know the real reason Jews wish to be in Jerusalem: it’s cooler!


ps  I don’t think all of the charms in Turkey and Israel can help my poor TERRIBLE Red Sox.  Yuck!

Marmaris: Morning Walk along the Coast


Our first full day in Marmaris: our first lunch at Aciktim.

It was either Bill and Judy on BeBe or Linda and Michael on B’Sheret who told us about this small tuvuk doner place on the side street where tourists don’t go. That was last year in May during our first Turkey stay. Now, if we’re not eating lunch on the boat; we’re eating it at Aciktim.

A walk along through the coast from the marina to the beaches and back to the marina.


Where there are fishermen, there are cats! But no crying kittens so we didn’t have to worry.

There are canals that run from Marmaris into the bay so foot bridges cross over to the city center. Not sure the source of the water.


An octopus walking along the promenade?


I rather like this fellow.


I like this fellow too.

The promenade area is quite nice though with not shade, quite hot!


This fountain with its sculptures of playing children was unfinished our first visit.


The romance of sailing…lovely….until something goes wrong with the boat, weather, or the crew gets seasick. It’s always easy in the harbor.


Ataturk still stands guard at the harbor.


You know you’re not in Kansas when KEBAB is also a choice along with ICE CREAM and WAFFLES.


My goal is to know the location of every WC in Marmaris town.


The coast promenade is lined with restaurants and hotels for miles and miles AND MILES; all the way to the next town.


The beach was un-crowded at 8:45 am: (and not very crowded even at mid day a few days later.)


Normally Marmaris beach population jumps from 30,000 to 200,000 during the summer. But things seem much less crowded this year than last year. Not good for the local economy.


Walking back past the restaurants of old town; lovely, inviting, but empty.


I love the pinks and blues… colors you see on Cape Cod and the New England Coast.


Mountains border Marmaris, hopefully good for hiking in the cool weather.


Small fishing boats line the canal.


Just outside Netsel marina is the Migros grocery store which carries pretty much everything we would need that we don’t get at the Thursday Market. It’s about a 10 minute walk from our boat.

Our friend Avi


  I am trying to relearn the Turkish Denise tried so hard to teach me.  I’m not having to start from go on the vocabulary, but the grammar….hmm.  I did remember, out of the blue, what to say when someone sneezes.  Our friends, my walking buddy Sharman and her partner Cliff are at Yacht Marine down the road doing two months of boat work.  They will return to Cyprus mid August.  Tomorrow we are all driving to Bodrum in our small rental car to check out the boat yard there.  At some point we need to pull our boat and repaint the bottom so we are checking different yards.  It’s great to get to spend time with them and we’ll be sorry when they return to Cyprus. 

  Randal and I went for an early morning walk along the coast before it got too hot, but then walked back to town to check about phone service rates.  Nothing about anything is seeming as simple as it was our last visit; but that’s a story for a different email.  I still have lots to share about Israel.  I will write a bit about Marmaris next though, just to refresh your memories from our visit here last April-July 2011.

  This email is about our Israeli friend Avi from Aseret.


Israel: Our day with Avi

While in Israel we had several people come look at DoraMac, oddity that she is in the cruising community. Most cruisers have sailing boats, so the sight of a diesel trawler in a marina is a rarity. One of our visitors in Ashdod was Avi (short for Avraham – Abraham.) Eve was visiting that evening and they established that one of her relatives lived near him..or something along those lines that always seemed to happen in Israel. Avi mentioned a winery that did Friday lunch time tastings and suggested that we try it. However, after our Saturday ride to Tel Aviv, even with the reduced Sabbath traffic, Randal wasn’t keen on motorbiking on the main roads of Israel. So one Friday, not long after his visit, Avi offered to come get us and Eve. Eve was away in Berlin cleaning out her daughter’s apartment, so it was just Randal and me.

We met Avi about noon in the marina parking lot. As we’d never really taken the time to visit it, our first stop was Jonah’s Hill overlooking Ashdod Port. Avi pointed out the greenway path along the Lachish River and suggested that Randal and I take the motorbike there…which we did a few days later. We also tried out the restaurant up on the hill for lunch one day.


It seems everything in Israel has either a biblical connection or modern military connection.


Nachal Lachish Park : The Greenway along the river that runs along the coast near Ashdod Port.

This would be a great place for Charmaine and Linda during bird migration seasons. As it was, the only time Randal and I took the motorbike it was broiling hot, so not so appealing for riding. There were lots of picnickers in the shady spots or fishing along the river. It’s kind of like the Roanoke River Greenway except for the small zoo and the sculptures and monuments. We really didn’t do the park justice, but it was just the wrong time of year when it was just too hot to spend time along the un-shaded path.

Nachal Lachish Park

“The source of the Lachish River is a natural spring in the Chevron Hills. From there, the river stretches 70 kilometers until it circles the city of Ashdod and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Winding along the side of the south bank of the Lachish River is the large, well-kept Lachish Park.

The pollution from the city’s sewage and industrial waste in the river’s water plagued Ashdod’s residents for years. The mouth of the river was clogged up, and the historic sites nearby were in a state of neglect. As part of an intensive restoration project of the river and its surroundings, initiated in 1991 by several organizations, the discharge of sewage from Ashdod into the river was stopped. (The tall power plant stacks spew steam, not smoke.) The area of and around the stream was cleaned up and underwent renovation and rehabilitation.

Established in 1996, Lachish Park was the culmination of these efforts to salvage the mouth of the Lachish River. A project of riverbank stabilization, using different types of vegetation that are well integrated with the landscape, was successfully implemented.

All this enabled numerous species of wildlife, fish, and birds to return to the site. The calls of numerous water birds that rest here during the migratory period fill the air, as fresh winds from the sea blow into the park. Now, unique fauna, waterfowl, and amphibians can be observed as the stream empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

The park was landscaped and comprises prepared lawns, a 2.5 km promenade, observation points, shady alcoves, playgrounds and picnic sites. A small zoo with antelope, zebra, ostriches, and native Israeli deer lines the back of the park and will delight children. There is even a cage of peacocks.

Many works of art in stone and marble dot the park. One bench has the heads of lions as its armrests. Among the collection is an enormous bitten into apple made of granite, as well as a great, white marble bird.

One can stroll along the riverbed in either direction for about 750 meters, resting under attractive pergolas or walk a bit down to the docks. This part of the park is wheelchair accessible and includes lawns, picnic tables and water for washing. The magnificent riverside walk offers an astounding amount of greenery. The substantial river foliage includes reeds, cattails and tamarisk trees, as well as a huge number of castor-oil plants with large, palm-shaped leaves.

An assortment of fruit trees — including carob and date palms; huge, knotty tamarisks; and small sycamores — were planted on the banks. A slight distance from the edge of the water, fig trees grow naturally. Park Lachish Ashdod is a nature reserve for the prickly white acacia tree, whose name derives from its cream-colored trunk.

A number of modern-day granite obelisks, a reminder of the withdrawal from Sinai after Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, are found at the entrance of the park. The pillars of stone, built especially as monuments, have square bases and sides that taper like a pyramid towards a pointed top.

Directions to Nachal Lachish Park: The park is situated near the Ashdod port. Take Route 41 west, and

make a left onto Bnei Brit Boulevard. At the third traffic light, make a right onto Ben Gurion. After the second traffic light, go around the traffic circle, and the parking lot will be on your right. Leave your vehicle in the lot and walk on the asphalt down to the paved paths.

The Lachish River walk is also accessible by way of Highway 4. Turn toward the sea at the Bnei Darom

Junction and follow Highway 41 into Ashdod and all the way down to the water. Turn left at the port, then follow the signs to the park.”

Our next stop was to be the Kahanov winery. Instead, because it was sort of on the way, we made another detour to an olive oil producing kibbutz.

Bnei Darom : Sons of the South for an Olive Oil tasting.

Bnei Darom בְּנֵי דָּרוֹם‎‎ Sons (בְּנֵי Bnei) of the South (דָּרוֹם‎‎ Darom) You read Hebrew from right to left so you see the modifier come before the nouns.

Bnei Darom is one of the more religious kibbutzim, so the fact that we arrived the last hour they were open Friday maybe wasn’t the best time to visit. It was a spur of the moment stop as we were really on our way to the non-religious Kahanov winery for their Friday buffet lunch/wine tasting. We did take the time to taste some olive oil and some vegetable spreads and saw a brief movie about the special process this kibbutz uses to press its olives. Then it was time to go. Other days and times they offer more tours around the kibbutz.


Olive Oil Tasting!

I’ve been to wine tastings, but never olive oil. There really are lots of different flavors. The first one I tasted really surprised me. The aftertaste had a real kick! I would have gotten some, but you had to buy a giant tin of it and I wasn’t sure how well it would do in our closed up boat from mid-September until mid-November. I like the taste of olive oil so I picked one with a rather strong taste. We learned that you should never buy olive oil sold in plastic containers or clear glass. Apparently you should only store olive oil in dark glass or non-reactive metals. I love the giant colorful olive oil tins that folks in the Med use for planters when the oil is all gone.

Keeping Olive Oil Fresh

By Camilla Brown

“Fresh extra virgin olive oil delivers a wonderful flavor and legendary health benefits. To ensure that your olive oil maintains optimum freshness and flavor, there are a few things you can do to store it properly.

Avoid Heat, Light, and Air

When olive oil is exposed to heat, light, and air the valuable nutrients in the oil begin to oxidize and it will begin to lose its fruit flavors. When buying extra virgin olive oil, look for those packaged in opaque or tinted glass. Or, try pouring olive oil into a clean used red wine bottle equipped with a spout. Do not store olive oil in plastic containers, as the oil can leach harmful substances out of the plastic.

Store your olive oil in a kitchen cabinet or another cool, dark location such as a basement or wine cellar. Keep a small container of olive oil within easy reach, and the rest of your supply tucked away to avoid repeated exposure to air. Make sure the lids of your containers fit tightly, and never store olive oil next to the stove, where it will invariably be exposed to heat.

Don’t Store Olive Oil Too Long

Olive oil should be consumed within two years of pressing. Any longer, and the flavors deteriorate and the nutrients degrade. Every month that olive oil ages, the acidity levels increase, a result of oxidization. Extra-virgin olive oils have the potential to last longer than other grades because they have a lower acidity. Buy your olive oil fresh from a supplier, or specialty retailer with high turnover. Pick a bottle from the back of the shelf where it has been shielded from harsh lights. Check the date of pressing if there is one, and abide by expiration dates.

Maybe most importantly, use extra virgin olive oil liberally. You’ll have a healthier diet and your supply will always be fresh.”


Avi and Randal sample other kibbutz products.


In our pantry on the boat, along with some Israeli pretzel chips: eggplant, lemon with garlic, and tomato spreads and a bottle of olive oil. Can’t wait to break into these, but have to finish off a few open jars in the fridge first.

I was thinking as I took the photo that we have food in the pantry from at least 4 or 5 countries. Of course a couple, like the blueberry pie filling from our first trip to Rebak Marina in Langkawi, Malaysia, expired 18 months ago…perhaps time for it to go. We bought the olive oil because we’d just finished up the last bits of the wonderful stuff our friends Heidi and Kalle gave us in Cyprus.

הבלוג הציוני אוסטרלי Bnei Darom Olives – a good choice


“If you try to buy at least one item from Israel each time you are in the supermarket, an excellent purchase is Bnei Darom green or black olives. The olives are exported to Australia and elsewhere by Bnei Darom, a religious moshav not far from the southern port of Ashdod.

Every place in Israel has a history and Bnei Darom is no exception.

History: South of Bnei Darom in what is now Gaza, Kfar Darom was founded in 1930 on 250 dunams of land purchased by Tuvia Miller for a fruit orchard on the site of an ancient Jewish settlement of the same name mentioned in the Talmud. In 1946, Miller sold his land to the JNF (Jewish National Fund) a community was established by Hapoel HaMizrachi’s kibbutz movement as part of the 11 points in the Negev settlement plan.

The next part of this article seems to me to be as much opinion as fact……

In the summer of 1948, Kfar Darom was abandoned following a prolonged siege by the Egyptian army during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. A book “The 222 Days of Kfar Darom”, which details the heroism of Kfar Darom, was published in 2007 by military historian Aryeh Yitzhaki of Efrat. Originally in Hebrew, it was recently translated into English. For eight and a half months, several dozen young men and women, under almost complete siege and suffering from terrible hunger and thirst, faced the local Arab enemy and the invading Egyptian army. Most of the defenders were religious kibbutzniks, reinforced by Palmah fighters.

Some of those who were forced out of Kibbutz Kfar Darom then established Bnei Darom in its current location near Ashdod. Currently about 400 people live on Bnei Darom and it is thriving.

Meanwhile, following Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War and its subsequent occupation of the Gaza Strip, a Nahal military outpost was established at the original Kfar Darom site in 1970. In 1989, this was converted to a civilian community by the Israeli government. Prior to the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, there were about 60 families, totaling about 330 people, who earned their living particularly from agriculture, and a central packing center for the world renowned insect-free vegetables produced by the Gaza Jewish communities. Kfar Darom became a symbolic last stand by the Israeli settlers and their supporters in August 2005. Many settlers from Gush Katif, as well as other supporters from the rest of Israel and abroad, mostly religious youth, concentrated themselves in the synagogue. After a bitter struggle, the people were removed by Israeli soldiers. Following the eviction and Israeli withdrawal, Palestinians razed the synagogue. Many of the Kfar Darom people have since struggled to reestablish themselves, with inadequate support.

Location of Bnei Darom:

To get to Bnei Darom: Near Ashdod on Route 41, just east of Route 4. Entrance to Bnei Darom on side of Route 41.

At Moshav Bnei Darom, a communal agricultural settlement of the National Religious Movement, the olive industry is booming. Most of the olives are harvested from trees grown south of the moshav in the desert and irrigated with 10,000 year old underground well-water. The oil, however, is cold pressed at Bnei Darom. Visitors to the olive press learn about the qualities, history and properties of the olive fruit, as well as how to identify real olive oil.

Olive Tour – A Bnei Darom highlight A tour includes the visitors’ center, with a film of how olive oil is produced, and a visit to a modern olive-oil factory. Afterward, people are given an opportunity to produce their own olive oil with a reconstructed ancient press. There are also tractor rides and arts and crafts projects during Chanukah.

Kad Bnei Darom is a family operation on the moshav. It is the only Israeli mill to produce olive oil using the Italian Rappanelli Sinolea olive oil extraction process. In addition to olives, the company makes canned cucumbers, peppers and egg plant.

Uses for olive oil……

*Besides the olive branch being the symbol of peace, olive is one of the seven species of the Land of Israel. Since ancient times, Jews in different cultures have used olive oil for medicinal purposes. Folklore relates that the Rambam drank a glass of olive oil each morning.

* Indian Jews smeared babies with olive oil before bathing the child to strengthen skin and bones.

* Syrian Jews recommended that pregnant women drink olive oil for good luck.

* Tunisian and Algerian Jews used olive oil for massage and prevention of back ache.

* Morrocan Jews recommended olive oil to ease joint pains. Coughing babies were given a mixture of olive oil and honey.

* Iraqi Jews believed that a daily tablespoon of olive oil prevented headaches, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and digestive ailments.

* Yemenite Jews rubbed olive oil on the head to prevent hair loss and dandruff. A daily spoonful prevented the flu.

* Ashkenazi Jews dripped warmed olive oil into aching ears.

SO next time you are shopping, have a look for Bnei Darom olives!!

Then it was off to the winery where Randal and I were more interested in tasting the food than the wine. We’d eaten breakfast before 7 am and it was about 1:30 by the time we arrived at the winery.

Kahanov Winery….

“Eliezer Kahanov came from Europe to Gedera as a pioneer in the early twentieth century and planted his first vineyard. Legend has it that at the end of that century while he was kneeling and planting a new vineyard, a man approached him and asked: “You are almost a hundred years old, do you think you will harvest the grapes of this vineyard”.

Eliezer raised his kind eyes and answered: “If I won’t, then my son will.If not my son, my then grandson”.

Indeed, Eliezer did not live to harvest the grapes of this vineyard, but his son and grandson did.

And it is they who follow his legacy of knowledge, experience, tradition and love.

The Kahanov winery is a family winery located in the heart of the family vineyards.The high quality vineyard and the winery providing a picturesque and pastoral atmosphere compatible to the experience of visiting the site. The Winery grapes are only one percent of the family crop, enabling the selection and careful choosing of the grape clusters which make Kahanov’s wine so special and unique.

These wines are produced using traditional methods and state-of-the-art equipment, this production reflecting the winery and its wines – a new world but deeply rooted in a long tradition.

Each bottle receives warm and particular attention from Kahanov family members, who personally produce each one of them.

The family’s deep familiarity with vineyards allows an intimacy with each acre and variety of grape – it is such intimacy and love that have created the miracle of the Kahanov Winery and the Kahanov wines.

Kahanov winery’s flagship wines are noble Cabernet and Merlot varieties. These wines age for a long time in oak barrels in order to maintain and enhance the quality of the wine.

These wonderful wines have won prestigious awards and medals in many competitions and exhibitions worldwide. “

Winery Website:


Inside one of the work buildings that was part lunch room/ wine tasting room and garage as you will see.


I love the hat! Liked the wine and the different meze and shakshuka that made up lunch.

Avi and I believe one of the grandsons of Eliezer Kahanov who started the winery in the 30s.

Randal needed to buy some chemicals to pickle our water-maker and hadn’t any luck in Ashdod. Wineries use the same chemicals to clean their vats. “Grandson Kahanov” was able to tell Avi where it could be obtained and Avi was kind enough to go get some and bring it to the boat the following Thursday.


A giant sized corkscrew, can opener used in a winery ad.


While we were eating, this tractor was being repaired. Everyone cheered when the engine started up.

From the winery we went to visit Avi’s home in Aseret.

Aseret From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hebrew עֲשֶׂרֶת

Name meaning Ten (after ten members of Bilu)

Founded 1954

Aseret (Hebrew: עֲשֶׂרֶת‎‎) is a communal settlement near Gedera on the coastal plain of south-central Israel. It belongs to the Gederot Regional Council. The word "Aseret" means ten, and the community is named after the ten members of Bilu who founded Gedera.

The community was founded in 1954 as the municipal center of the Gederot Regional Council. It continues to serve this function today. Aseret is the center, both geographically and municipally, of the

other six communities in the council: Meishar, Misgav Dov, Kfar Aviv, Kfar Mordechai, Shdema and Gan HaDarom.

Aseret is built on the ruins of an Arab village Bashshit, which was destroyed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. There is an old grave that some people associate with Seth, the son of Adam in the Hebrew Bible.


The year the pogroms began in Russia, 1881, is the year Russian Jews started emigrating in large numbers to the United States. A smaller number of them, however, turned their eyes toward Zion; in 1882, several thousand Russian Jews emigrated to Palestine. Prior to this, most Jews who made aliyah to Israel did so for religious reasons; it was considered meritorious, for example, to die in the Holy Land. Living in Palestine, however, was considerably harder. It was an impoverished land, many — if not most — of whose Jewish inhabitants depended on worldwide Jewish charitable contributions.

In 1882 also, a new Jewish organization was founded that had a very different scenario in mind for Jewish life in Israel. The group was called BILU, an acronym based on a verse from Isaiah (2:5), "Beit Ya’akov Lekhu Ve-nelkha/Let the house of Jacob go!" BILU’s founders believed that the time had come for Jews not only to live in Israel, but to make their living there as well.

The Bilu’im were influenced by Marx as well as the Bible, and hoped to establish farming cooperatives in Palestine. For the fourteen ex-university students who comprised the first group of Bilu’im, farming represented a complete change of lifestyle. (Because Jews had been forbidden to own land in Russia, the country had almost no Jewish farmers.) Arriving in Palestine with enormous "funds" of good will and energy, but with little money and experience, the Bilu’im found life very difficult. Two Palestinian Jews who had already raised money to buy land gave the group a tract to set up a farm in the settlement of Rishon Le-Zion. Within a few months, the Bilu’im faced starvation, and most had to leave.

A few years later, the eight members of the group who had remained in Palestine were offered land in G’dera. Here they struggled against both difficult farming conditions — meals eventually consisted only of radishes and potatoes — and Arab marauders. "They violated our boundaries," one of the Bilu’im recorded in his diaries, "and dispossessed us of whole tracts of our land — and we were helpless." Ironically, the G’dera outpost was eventually saved through the philanthropic efforts of one of the arch-capitalists of the Jewish world, Baron Edmund de Rothschild of France. The dispirited, and by now demoralized, Bilu’im soon left the settlement. Some went to other parts of Palestine, others returned to Europe.

Although the BILU movement, failed completely its vision of Jewish cooperative farms was carried out very successfully a few decades later by the kibbutz and moshav movements. Ever since, the BILU dream of Jews living and supporting themselves in their own homeland has been regarded as one of the important forerunners of the international Zionist movement which Theodor Herzl organized fifteen years later.

SOURCES AND FURTHER READINGS: Howard M. Sachar, A History of Israel, pp. 26-32.

Source: Joseph Telushkin. Jewish Literacy. NY: William Morrow and Co., 1991. Reprinted by permission of the author.


The home of Avi, his wife Rohamah, and their two daughters.


Looks like any place in the USA


I loved the glass wall and the lush foliage.


Avi’s collection of wind chimes in the kitchen.

Avi is pretty much retired: Rohamah is the principal of an elementary school.

Both their daughters completed the 2 years of military service.


A grape arbor creates a shady patio in the back yard.



I asked, “ Why spend all that time and effort, in the desert, to make a lawn you then have to mow?”

Avi’s answer was that the kids liked playing on the lawn and he likes maintaining the lawn and plants.



Avi pointing out how the covered ceiling in over the community pool provides for year round swimming.

Aseret has a community center with a gym and pool, schools, a library, a health and dental clinic and a retirement community for the “elderly.” It’s like one of those ideal places to live; except for the need for a safe room with the shrapnel preventing window cover.

Editorial comment.

At dinner the other night with friends we were talking about Israel and I realized that I have less of an open mind about the issues there than before Randal and I visited. I remember “discussing/arguing” with my parents back in the 70s after they’d been to Israel and were so impressed. I kept insisting that there were two sides and Israel hadn’t always treated the Arabs so well and needed to do better. My mother got angry and told me I’d feel differently if I’d go there; that I’d have more respect for what the Israeli people have accomplished. Turns out something else mom was right about. Maybe it will ware off and I’ll regain some perspective. I know I lost my taste for pork in Israel, though I did eat calamari here in Turkey the other night. So anyway, if some of my emails seem one-sided about Israel, I will accept the criticism.

Turkey email # 1

Hi All,

So we’re back in Marmaris at Netsel Marina just a 5 minute walk from “downtown” Marmaris. I’m not sure how that will translate into bar and restaurant noise at night, but it will make for wonderful walks for me and lots of exploring each little street for great scenes to sketch. I am determined this time to do just that. Our home for the next 12 months.

We left Israel 10:10 AM July 15th.


Bug hunting on DoraMac in the Ashdod marina.

Hooray for our friend Eve who will now be this little kitten’s friend. We passed along the food and the Frontline (which the Russians had bought along with the fish shaped cat dish) to Eve. The kitten already knows Eve as half the time it slept on her boat deck….tiny paw prints gave it away. Eve loves cats so if this little guy plays his cards right, maybe she’ll keep him forever. He loves to curl up next to you and purr.


Fruitcake in Ashkelon

We left Ashdod at 7 am July 15th. Eve came to throw our lines and to make sure the kitten was on land and not on our boat. We arrived in Ashkelon about 8 am with just time to tie up and have our last freezing blended coffee before we met with the custom officials who checked us out from Israel. A very professional, friendly, and “cute” woman who also wanted to know if we liked Israel and would come back. We said, yes we liked Israel, and one day might come back, but not by boat. There are still places there I’d like to visit, friends we met, and one can never get enough of Jerusalem.

We left Ashkelon Marina heading north-west directly to Marmaris, Turkey. We usually average 6 knots per hour but with a constant head wind and swells and some kind of adverse current we spent most of the first day below 5 knots! At one point our passage calculator predicted we’d reach Marmaris 1 am Thursday morning on the 19th! Not good. Luckily things evened out and we averaged enough speed to arrive early afternoon of the 18th just 4 hours or so later than Randal had projected.

Our first night we had company.


A feathered passenger riding a motorbike riding a boat.

This beautiful bird of prey joined us late afternoon and stayed with us during the night. It was gone when I checked mid-morning. When Randal walked past it to come down from the flybridge the bird just flew up to the helm chair. Then it returned to the motorbike and stayed there all night. (Wish Charmaine and Linda had been here for him: they’d know exactly what kind of bird it was.)

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If it had been there in the morning I was going to feed it some raw chicken we have guessing it might not like Randal’s pepper salami.

Our weather was clear but the swells were between 3 and 6 feet or 1 and 2 meters with winds between 6 knots to 18 knots. Nothing like our horrible Indian Ocean crossing (now I can say it’s good to have that horrible experience to look back on.) The swells were front to back so our stabilizing fish wouldn’t help. But I’d packed everything away so there was no crashing of things in cabinets down below. I could read for small amounts of time. Actually the movement and heat were quite tiring so Randal and I took turns watching or sleeping the first two days. Night watches were actually easy as there was very little boat traffic. There was lots of radio chatter to listen to as NATO and the Israel Navy and the Lebanon Navy and Turkish Navy patrol.

NATO was conducting a survey among commercial ships asking if they knew about Operation Active Endeavor. It was nice to hear all of those mostly female NATO voices with accents from lots of countries. My favorites were those from northern North America. (I’ve learned you can tell an American voice from a Canadian voice, but not so easily.) NATO and the Israel Navy were mostly female but only rarely was the voice of a commercial ship female. I did listen in when she was interviewed by NATO early during our passage and that’s when I learned what the survey was and why NATO was conducting it.

No looking over our shoulder as we did from India to the Maldives wondering if some unlit boat was pirates, not with all of these NATO boats patrolling. And the ever present Israel Navy. I’ve said this before: Some people complain about Israel security checks. Any time we had to deal with Israel security they were polite and professional. And you never had to worry about some official wanting a “gift.” Israel officials were only concerned if people meant to do harm to Israel and her citizens or “if we liked Israel.” Israelis are proud of their country which they worked very hard to get and do not yet take it for granted. They also don’t feel as safe as we do in the US, even after 911. At night in Ashdod we could hear Israel’s Iron Dome intercepting incoming rockets from Gaza. We would hear what sounded like an explosion but then guessed what it might be. It’s something they deal with on too regular a basis. We were only there for some of it.

"Two rockets fired from Gaza into Israel; Iron Dome intercepts one

Another missile explodes in open area in Eshkol Regional Council; rocket fire marks first projectiles since early Thursday morning.

By Yanir Yagna and Gili Cohen | Jun.21, 2012 | 11:54 PM

But mostly we didn’t think about it. Hopefully, one day, Israel and her neighbors can find a way to make peace and then grow to be friends. I know the parents in all countries, not just Israel, would wish that would happen.


Our Israeli friend Avi showing us the ¾ in steel cover for the window of the “safe room” now mandatory in homes built in Israel. And people own gas masks. (More about Avi when I catch up with the emails about Israel.)


Self portrait…I was bored and tired this passage, which is much better than being Indian Ocean scared.

Or seasick. (Linda, you would not have enjoyed this passage, not even for the bird’s visit…way too much boat movement. More than the passage from Herzliya to Ashdod. )



Diet Nesher Malt Black Beer…Diet, non-alcoholic Israeli version of root beer.  (Some people would call it a "why bother."

but I think this stuff is great!!!! Eve turned me on to it and now I’m hooked but down to my last 1.5 litre bottle. To me it tastes like mild beer, not like American root beer. And I don’t really like beer, but his stuff I do.  It certainly kept me going this passage.


Randal was mildly seasick and tired.

He felt too sick to drink his usual many cups of coffee and so was even more tired. The boat was hot and rolling so we stayed down in the pilot house rather than on the fly bridge which is cooler but exaggerates the motion. Of course, even sea sick Randal can do what needs to be done.


Captain Randal up and at the helm going into Marmaris Bay.

What a difference calm seas make!  At the marina we were directed to a temporary berth and Randal backed in like a pro. I was pretty good with the fenders and stern lines but blew it when the marina guy went to hand me the “mooring line” and I didn’t know what he meant. It’s a line from the dock to the front of the boat when you “Med Moor” which is what we have to do here. In Israel we were lucky enough to tie up alongside. Today we move to our permanent spot. At 11 am our agent Soner, who was our agent last time in Marmaris, will drop off our entry papers and then we’ll go to town to the Thursday market and visit our friends the “cheese guys” and load up with cheese and olives and everything that looks good!



Jordan River, Galilee, and Golan with Nilly, Eitan and Dror


  We’re just starting to feel more at home here in Israel, and it’s time to leave.  Tomorrow when it’s light we’ll leave Ashdod Marina and go the 8 miles to Ashkelon Marina where there are government officials to check us out from Israel.  We are heading back to Turkey.  Our home for the time we will be there will be Netsel Marina in Marmaris.  We spent from May through July 2011 in Marmaris and liked the town.  We were "out in the country" at Yacht Marine last time.  This time we will be in the city which will be nice. 

   Our passage to Turkey will take 3 nights.  We should arrive in Marmaris July 18th.  It will take us a bit to get set up with a phone but hopefully the marina wifi will work so we can announce our safe arrival.  I still have lots to write about Israel.  I’ll catch up at some point.

    This email is about our day touring with Nilly, Eitan and their son Dror.

So for now, Shalom


Golan Heights with Nilly, Eitan, and Dror (which means freedom)

Some reminder notes from Nilly and Eitan to help me with this blog. So I especially want to say that any mistakes are truly my own.)

"Hi Ruth and Randal
   The name of the kibuz is o.k as you wrote. (Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael where we stopped for a quick tour.)
    The name of the guide is NITZAN GALPAZ. (Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael guide)
         we also stop at cohav yair were dror is living, (Dror is the son of Nilly and Eitan)
     In Yardenit, on the Jordan river.
    The tank in kibutz  DEGANIA
     breakfast close to ARIK SHARON bridge.
     mount BEN-Tal were cofee anan and the bunker. a view to Cunetra in Sirya, and other side
   to kibutz Merom-Golan. ( Cofee Anan is the name of the coffee shop on Mount Bental…a play on the name of Kofi Annan)
      the valley of tears and the  story of Avigdor Kealany.
    We cross the city  KAZARIN.
      a view on the Kinnert lake from the Golan  from the kibuz Kefar-Haruv ( Shalom point of view.
      ,  we drove from HAAMAT-GAder, the border of Syria,Jorden
       and Israel (were the Hot spring+spa+Crocodails.
     we eat dinner at OR-AKIVA  near CEASARIA. (And it was really really good!)
Hope it will help you to remember.

     Nilly and Eitan."

You can see how much we crammed in so I might be forgiven for mixing up a few things.

You met Nilly and Eitan Bukchin in a earlier email.


On DoraMac in Herzliya

Nilly, Eitan and their son Dror Bukchin love their country. They don’t think everything about Israel is perfect, but they love it and have fought for it…..literally! More about all that later. Knowing our time in Israel was coming to an end, and that we hadn’t seen enough of the country they love, they pretty much dropped everything they were doing and planned a day to take us touring. Wednesday, July 12th was that day. From 7 am until 10 pm!!! And that doesn’t include the time from their home to collect us and then back to their home in Kfar Azar.

“ Kfar Azar (Hebrew: כְּפַר אֲזָ"ר‎‎) is a moshav ovdim located in the Ono Valley in central Israel. Previously part of Ef’al Regional Council, in 2007 it was transferred to the municipality of Ramat Gan together with Ramat Ef’al. With an area of around 1,000 acres (4.0 km2), its population is around 500.

The moshav was established in December 1932 by two pioneer groups, Brenner and Ma’ash. Land was purchased adjacent to the Arab village al-Khayriyya, and was later supplemented by more land bought by the Jewish National Fund. The name "Azar" was given to the moshav as an acronym for Alexander Ziskind Rabinovitz, a Jewish Russian writer.”


Historic & interesting item from the first year of Kfar Azar. 1934. + interesting Palestine government, south district in Jaffa, regarding the map of the new settlement (kfer Azar). Very rare!!! Relatively in good condition.

(I hope this info is correct: the dates don’ t exactly match, but the story of how Israel came to be is the important part. If I were doing this as a reference question for someone else I’d make sure it was absolutely correct, but as it’s my question…..I’m piecing it together from the info I have. Nilly and Eitan, please correct me if I am wrong. I should have written everything down!)

But I don’t think most people realize that early in its modern history much of the land of Israel was actually bought from the Arabs; I certainly didn’t. Tel Aviv was purchased as we learned when we did the Bauhaus walking tour on Rothschild.

But back to our actually day touring…….

Our first stop was Kochav Yair the home of Nilly’s and Eitan’s son Dror. He would not only be joining us, but we would all pile into his car and he would be our driver and tour guide for the day. Then we were on our way. They were taking us to the Golan/Galilee area and Yardent, a baptismal site on the Jordan River was our first stop. Eitan told us that it is a very interesting pageant to watch as pilgrims make their way in white robes to the river where the actual baptism take place. It would have been interesting, and the location was lovely, but there were no baptisms taking place at that time we were there. There were so many things to see during the day so we didn’t have that much time to spend at any one place. I know little of the New Testament, but after being in Israel for these past months, I certainly know more than I did. Actually about Jewish history too.

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Around the walls of the complex are translations in at least 100 languages of the passage Mark 1.9-11.


It is a lovely site for any ceremony.


Randal and me: Randal was already baptized and I was Bas Mitzvah so neither of us was a candidate.

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Glenn Beck planted an olive tree, but I’m still not a fan. This sign needed to add Shalom Y’all!

Here is a little bit about the geography of the area of the Jordan and the Galilee.

“The Jordan River is a river in Southwest Asia which flows into the Dead Sea. It is considered to be one of the world’s most sacred rivers. It originates approximately 200 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, Israel. It ends its course at the lowest spot in the world, the Dead Sea, at 420 meters below sea level. Along its course, the Jordan feeds two lakes: the Hula (now almost completely drained) and the Sea of Galilee. (Israelis call the Galilee, the Kinneret. Kinnor in Hebrew means violin and the lake is shaped like a violin. When referred to as the Galilee, it is pronounced Galeel which always throws me off.) In its course from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, the Jordan travels a winding 230 kilometers, covering just 105 kilometers in a straight line.”

"The Sea of Galilee, known to Israelis as Lake Kinneret, is only 13 miles by 7 miles, but is one of the most well-known bodies of water in the world. It was on these beautiful shores that Jesus delivered sermons and performed miracles. Many famous sites are located around the lake, including Capernaum, home to at least five of the twelve disciples. The Church of the Beatitudes is said to be where the Sermon of the Mount was preached and Tabgha, believed to be the site where Jesus fed 5,000 followers from five loaves of bread and two fish, is marked by The Church of Multiplication. The nearby lakeside town of Migdal is the hometown of Mary Magdalene."

The water level of Lake Kinneret is very important. During our driving around the Golan, Eitan, Nilly and Dror kept commenting on the high level of water in the lake and other small bodies of water we saw. They explained how important it was for agriculture which is dependent on this water. Cold, rainy winters are hoped for. We also saw several small herds of beef cattle where in dry years there are none.

“All winter long, the most important part of the news report for Israelis is not the dollar-shekel exchange rate or the level of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange index, but rather the water level in Lake Kineret, which often reflects the national spirit. The Kineret, or Sea of Galilee, is Israel’s largest fresh water reservoir, and is also the country’s largest and most important source and reservoir of drinking water. For this and other reasons, the Kineret has become an important national symbol and is also a first class tourism center. “ (I’ve seen it spelled Kineret and Kinneret.) “

Then it was off to find a spot for our breakfast; which had become, at this point in time more like brunch. Wait till you see where we ate.


Picnic lunch along the Jordan

Along the Jordan River we found a place for our picnic. We’d been looking for a picnic table and there were some here, but two bus loads of kids had them all filled up. So instead we used a portable bridge as our table.


Setting out the food


Eitan, Nilly and Dror set out a wonderful Israeli breakfast.

Cheese, yogurt, hard-cooked eggs, cucumber, tomato, bread, olives and we were all pretty ready for it. The bridge is there in case the Israeli military has to cross the Jordan and the “real” bridges aren’t an option. They had used two of these portable bridges during the Yom Kippur War to cross the Suez. Here is the story about that from a review of the book Crossing by Amiram Ezov.

“Ezov does a fine job of describing the difficulties the complex operation entailed: The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) had no experience negotiating a water obstacle; contrary to all the planning, the operation did not commence at the waterline itself but rather kilometers from there, (they were hidden in the desert)  and penetrating the Egyptian deployment and clearing the crossing zone became the main effort; all of the movement to the bridgehead took place on the first night along a single route, which created a massive traffic jam; and the units that had practiced transporting the bridging to the waterline were fighting elsewhere, so the ones that ultimately carried out the job ran into trouble because they were inexperienced. As a result, the first bridge, the pontoon bridge, was laid over the canal 48 hours after the operation began and the second bridge, the roller-bridge, 33 hours later. The plan for the Abirei Lev operation called for both bridges to become operational on the first night of the operation.


Trail Markers

Inspired by the Appalachian Trail in the United States, the Israel Trail runs from one end of the country to the other, covering 950 kilometers. It intersects and overlaps with many trails – all part of the large network of trails and routes that were built and marked by SPNI’s Israel Trails Committee (ITC).

There are hiking trails and biking trails (though actual bike touring around the country isn’t particularly popular because of the traffic,) and tons of water sports. We especially miss our bicycles here. We certainly could have biked around Herzliya and here around Ashdod.


Randal collecting some lavender seeds where once there were battles.


The valley separating Syria from Israel.  That may be the United Nations post visible in the distance.


Up on the hill behind where we’re sitting is, I think, the hill where Eitan was stationed during the Yom Kippur War.


Mount Bental.

“The Mount Bental overlook is beautiful and provides stunning views of Mount Hermon and the Golan. Located in the Golan Heights, Mount Bental is 1,170 meters above sea level. The road to the top has recently been repaved and tourist facilities have been renovated and rebuilt. In a region where much is inaccessible to tourists due to restrictions on non-military traffic and poor roads, Mount Bental offers a rare and rewarding sight. The overlook is managed by Kibbutz Merom Golan, the first Kibbutz established in this region after the 1967 war. From the overlook one can see Mount Hermon (3,000 meters above sea level), several Druze villages as well as a network of old bunkers and trenches. Just to the east of Mount Bental is Syria, with Damascus lying just 60km away."


"In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Mount Bental was the site of one of the largest tank battles in history. Mount Bental is a key strategic point for Israel due to its advantageous observation point. Israel knew it count not risk losing this mountain, nor any of the Golan Heights . The Syrians attacked the Golan with 1,500 tanks and 1,000 artillery pieces. Israel countered with only 160 tanks and 60 artillery pieces. The long stretch of valley in between Mount Bental and Mount Hermon became known as the Valley of Tears. The 100 Israeli tanks were reduced to seven under extreme enemy fire. However, the Israelis managed to take down 600 Syrian tanks in the process. The Syrians eventually retreated, but not without inflicting heavy casualties on Israel."


"Mount Bental is a dormant volcano which rises above the kibbutz of Marom Golan to the height of 1,165 meters above sea level. On the top of the mountain is a visitors’ center which belongs to the Golan Regional Council and includes an Israeli Defense Forces Bunker, with an automated information system, a charming café and a small and humorous Sculpture Garden made of scrap-iron, created by the Dutch sculptor Joop De Jong. From the mountain one can see the magnificent views of the Hermon, Northern Golan, Syrian Golan and the mountains of Southern Lebanon."

The cafe is called Coffee Anan Café…a play on the name Kofi Annan as there is a UN base not visible in the valley. Anan is the Hebrew word for cloud. We all had iced coffee!

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Where you are and where everyone else is.



It was very dark entering the bunker but lights are provided inside.


Organic produce from Kibbutz Merom Golan …swords into ploughshares.


Valley of Tears Memorial


“At the Valley of Tears around 200 Israeli tanks held off about 1400 Syrian tanks over the course a a few days, breaking the momentum of the Syrian attack and giving Israel time to organize. In many ways the exploits of the 77 Battalion of the 7th Brigade saved much of Israel from the Syrian invasion. Their story has fittingly passed into Israeli legend. The tales of battalion commander Avigdor Kahalini jumping from tank to tank, during the Israeli counterattack, are known to every child. He later became an Israeli politician.

At the sight today, there is a lookout point, a grove of trees in memory of the fallen, a description of the combat, and a burnt out Syrian tank. Sometimes you can see Israeli tanks on site – adding a touch of authenticity. “


Near the small plaques are new trees planted for fallen soldiers.

This poem was on a plague at the memorial. It reminds me of Flanders Field from World War I by John McCrae. I didn’t photograph the poem and can’t find the author’s name and I’m not even sure this is the entire poem; just all I could find.

My Brothers the Heroes of Golan

I wanted to write to you, my brothers

With beards and sooty faces and all the other marks

I wanted to write to you – you who stood alone

Facing enemy tanks from front and flank

You whose clanking tracks set a land trembling,

You who proved that armor is iron but man is steel,

To you, who gave a shoulder and extended a hand

And destroyed them in their masses one by one

I wanted to write you a hymn if only one

For each of few who stood against the many.

I stand here on the ramps and count them by their scores

Sooty hulks and abandoned tanks and cold corpses

And I remember how you worked alone and in pairs

One turning on a light while the other struck from close,

And I look on towards the bloody path and Mazrat Beit Jan.

While looking to see what was meant by Mazrat Geit Jan I came across the website of photojournalist Rachael Hirsch. “Beit Jan, a Druze village in the north of Israel, had, at the time, the highest percentage of soldiers who were killed in Israeli wars. The widows claimed that, according to their religion, they would never remarry. “ NE and D had told us that the Druze fought in the Israeli military.  They have always chosen to stay in Israel rather than leave for Arab countries. 


Mitzpah HaShalom (Peace Vista) of Kibbutz Kfar Haruv, overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)

“Kfar Haruv, or "carob village," lies to the south of the Golan, east of Lake Kinneret…..The kibbutz was founded by English speakers and is economically strong. It has orchards, cow barns, traditional crops, lodging for tourists, and also A.R.I. Kfar Haruv, an industrial plant that makes fluid control accessories. The weather is comfortable, compared with the Jordan Valley, and it isn’t as chilly as the Golan. The expansion neighborhood lies along the cliffs, to the north of the kibbutz. Buyers can choose from a range of home styles.


My ever expanding, exploding hair shows there was a lovely breeze.

Our next stop was Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael.


Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael was established on August 25, 1949 on a windswept, treeless sandstone hill

on Israel’s coastal plain – 30 km south of Haifa and 70 km north of Tel Aviv between the Mt. Carmel in the east and the Mediterranean Sea in the west.

The initial settlement, made up of a few spartan wooden huts, numbered barely 200 souls – of which almost 50 were children. Most of Ma’agan Michael’s agricultural land was located on inhospitable swamplands that were later reclaimed. The Kibbutz’s original assets consisted of one cow, a small flock of sheep and a few chickens.

Since then Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael has grown and prospered into the largest kibbutz in Israel – and one of the most successful – with a current population of 1,412 residents (excluding outside workforce hired by the Kibbutz). It has developed into a multi-million dollar agro-industrial complex with international activities that embrace much of the globe.


We toured their koi fish farm.


Dror called on his former army buddy NITZAN GALPAZ (in the red shirt), a member of the kibbutz, who kindly gave us a tour of the fish farms and the Plasson manufacturing plant (no photos allowed there) which Randal found particularly interesting. Nitzan worked in quality control and showed us the x-ray machine’s ability to detect any faults in the products. If so, the plastic product was broken down and completely recycled. Actually Dror was Nitzan’s commander, but it was Nitzan giving the orders that day.


A walk through the cactus garden.

Then it was off to dinner. We’d had a snack of plums, wonderful pastry that Dror had made and some peanuts (I should have brought the ones without shells that dump in cars) while at the Peace Vista. But we were all pretty hungry. By the time dinner was over we were all really full!


Dinner at OR-AKIVA  near CEASARIA.

14 different meze refilled as needed and great grilled pita bread. THEN we ate wonderful grilled Moroccan beef kebabs, Israeli kebabs and chicken kebabs. Yum


If you are ever in Or-Akiva…the name of the restaurant is visible on the placemat…so I am including it.

So that was our amazing day! 

I’m going to end with a story about Nilly I had come across on the Internet from the Jerusalem Post by Tovah Lazaroff written on November 24, 2009 concerning the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.  Nilly and Eitan will soon have 3 grandchildren serving in the Israeli military.

“On Monday morning, Nilly Bukchin, 70, woke up with a nervous knot in the pit of her stomach, in anticipation of news that captive soldier Gilad Schalit might be released soon. "It’s the same feeling that I had before each of my three children were married," said the curly haired mother of three and grandmother of eight. She doesn’t know Gilad. Still, she has been so bothered by the thought of an Israeli soldier left in captivity, that for close to two years she has come to Jerusalem by bus from her Kfar Azar home once a month to sit in a protest tent that the young man’s supporters have pitched outside the prime minister’s residence. On Monday afternoon, in spite of the persistent media reports of Gilad’s imminent release, the white plastic tent was mostly empty, save for a few reporters who came to interview her. With no radio or television in sight, she has kept her cell phone close to her in hopes that her husband would call with news that Hamas and Israel have reached a deal by which Palestinian prisoners would be exchanged for Gilad, who has been held captive in Gaza since June 2006. As she spoke with The Jerusalem Post, an Egged bus driver honked in support as he passed. Pasted to the tent walls behind Bukchin, who sat on a folding chair on the Jerusalem sidewalk, were banners and posters from past protest campaigns that stated: "I have been drafted," and "Gilad is still alive." On top of the tent hangs a small sign with the number of days that 22-year-old Gilad has been held by Hamas in Gaza: 1247. For her, like for most Israelis, she said, the story of this young man has become very personal. Her grandson, is due to enter the army soon. Her husband and her son served in combat units. Their fate could have been his, she said. "It could be the story of any soldier in Israel," she said. "From the moment that a son is born here, you already start to worry what will happen once they enter the army. Time passes fast. Her husband and son served with the understanding that the IDF does not leave soldiers in the field, she said. Working on Gilad’s behalf is her obligation as a citizen, she said. "This boy has become the child of the nation." "I want to show his parents that we are with them," she said as she sat by a folding table, with petitions supporting the release of Gilad. Next to her sat an American blogger and comedian, Benji Lovitt, who made aliya from Texas. Unlike Bukchin, he was only recently recruited to Schalit’s cause, inspired to act after after walking by the tent. "I didn’t serve in the army and I was looking for a way to feel Israeli and to do my part to bring him home," he said. Almagor Terror Victims Association on Monday delayed its plans to pitch its own tent outside the prime minister’s residence to protest a prison swap for Gilad which would include the release of Hamas terrorists who have killed Israelis. Almagor has said that terrorists released in past deals have killed some 180 Israelis.

Shalit was released October 18, 2011

Jewish Quarter part 1


This email finishes the Ramparts Walk and takes us into the Jewish Quarter.  In the email just before this I wrote about the Armenian Quarter.  But I started to think that it is the quarter that’s the hardest to readily understand its existence if you don’t know much about Jerusalem.  A Jewish, Christian, and Muslim section are easy to understand.  Buy why Armenian? 

   "Tucked away in a corner of the Old City of Jerusalem lies the Armenian Patriarchate of St. James, a sprawling convent and monastery complex built on the site of Rome’s vaunted 10th Legion encampment. Like the Jews, the Armenians have survived religious persecution, attempted genocide and exile from their historic homeland, currently divided between Turkey and the U.S.S.R.   Today, only 1500 Armenians remain in Jerusalem, and their future here is uncertain. According to their traditions, Armenians reached Eretz Israel between the tenth and sixth centuries BCE, when Tigranes the Great ruled an empire extending from the Caspian Sea to the shores of the Mediterranean. The first time the word "Armenia" is mentioned is in an inscription attributed to King Darius. Armenians arrived in the wake of the Roman legions, as traders, artisans, legionnaires and administrators. But it was Christianity that put the final stamp on the perpetual Armenian presence here. Diaspora Armenians are descended primarily from ancestors who lived in historic Armenia. Many still have relatives in the disparate towns and villages of Turkish Armenia, although their roots may have disappeared from the pages of history following frequent family name changes, necessitated by political exigencies. Apkar, for example, has been changed to Ali, Misak into Murad, or even Mohammed.  Armenians have survived by challenging empires and by scuttling all attempts at assimilation. They believe in the eternality of their race, symbolized by their emblem – the soaring twin peaks of Mount Ararat, traditional site of Noah’s stranded ark. The goldsmiths, jewelers, photographers, pharmacists, teachers and potters who pound the ancient cobblestones of the Old City – a place that is just another diaspora for most of them – are living proof of Armenian durability." tells an interesting story.

So now back to the Jewish Quarter..



Israeli Security

You can never have too much security. Those are my feelings after having to even think about the Somali pirates. When Randal and I did our Ramparts Walk, just near the end, a young boy, maybe 12, passed us and then turned to follow us. He didn’t say anything or smile. He just followed us. Randal and I were alone. We didn’t know if he had friends up ahead where we couldn’t see. And this is the Middle East where things do happen. Of course, nothing happened (and two adults being wary of a young boy is sad) but the memory gave me pause about doing the other half of the walk by myself. But I was determined to go and so I went and it was fine. Actually I kept passing small groups of people on the walk so that was reassuring.


Climbing up and over the Zion Gate built in 1541

“Providing access to Mount Zion, this gate bears the marks of the Arab and Israeli battles of the 1948 War of Independence. The gate connects the Jewish and Armenian Quarters with Mount Zion, hence the name. Arabs call it “Bab Nabi Daud,” which means “Gate of the Prophet David” because legend has it that the tomb of David was located nearby, on Mount Zion.” iTravel Jerusalem

“Since the 10th century it has been thought that King David, after his 40-year reign of Israel, was probably buried here, although it is more likely that he is buried on the Ophel with the other Israelite kings.” Jerusalem


Mount of Olives gives a timeline of the Mount of Olives. Click on a date for the information.

We stayed our first night in Jerusalem at the 7 Arches Hotel on Mount Olive. The next morning I was out at 6 am to walk down the mountain and through the cemetery. It was so vast that it was amazing. From Mount Olive you look over and see the Gold Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount. shows a panorama of the area and tells its history.

“The hills of the Mount of Olives have served from time immemorial as the eastern border of ancient Jerusalem, forming a clear partition that separates the city from the edge of the Judean Desert. In fact it is a long hilly range that runs from Mount Scopus to the slopes running down to the Kidron Valley in the south, and to the foothills of the summit known as the Mount of Corruption. Its height, which is impressive in relation to its surroundings, provides a spectacular view of the city to the west and of the desert to the east.

During both the First and Second Temples Periods, the city of Jerusalem, with the Temple Mount at its centre, was the focus of Jewish life. This was to have a great influence on the status of Mount of Olives in Jewish history, tradition and culture. Its proximity to the Temple Mount, and, primarily, the view that could be had from it, gave the Mount of Olives a special religious significance and it became an integral part of the holy rites of Jerusalem. Jewish sources connect the Mount of Olives with future miraculous happenings that will occur at the time of the Redemption. These traditions turned the Mount of Olives into a place of deep Jewish significance from which developed religious practices and the Mount came to be regarded as holy and a place of pilgrimage.

The holiness of the Mount, its proximity to the city and in addition to these the texture of its rock (soft chalk, that is relatively easy to chisel out) resulted in the Mount becoming a burial place over the generations. The tradition of burial here started in the First Temple Period and has continued right down to the present day.

The Mount of Olives now offers spectacular views for tourists who come to its summit, and in addition to the impressive scenery, a variety of tours of the Mount that explore the depths of Jewish history are also available. From between its rocks the Mount softly whispers its stories and all we have to do is wander through its hidden corners to recognize its glorious past.”


Looking at ruins, and maybe and old cemetery, just outside the Old City Walls.

The walks ends just short of the Dung Gate which got its lovely name as it was thought that during the time of the 1st and 2nd Temple waste was taken out through this gate. I climbed down from the walls and wasn’t sure where I was, though I knew I was in the Jewish Quarter so I felt safe enough to wander anywhere. I also felt kind of stupid for not knowing where I was or being able to follow my map, but so it goes.


Even this didn’t help me much. But a kind woman who pointed me the “nicer way” that took me by shady lanes and a large book/Jewdaica shop where I finally bought my Jerusalem book,


Somewhere in the Batei Machase neighborhood.



Lots of this part of the Old City looked newly rebuilt since 1967 which  I’ll write more about from my visit to the museum Alone on the Walls about the defense of Jerusalem in 1948.



Thursday is Bar Mitzvah day so there were lots of celebrations, for the boys. Girls are on the outside looking in as this photo on the right serendipitously captured.


Golden Menorah Jewish Quarter

The menorah (spelled this way on the website) was painstakingly crafted only after years of extensive research by the Temple Institute’s full time staff of researchers. The conclusions upon which the construction of the menora was based took into account archeological evidence and, of course, the halachic (Jewish law) requirements of materials, dimensions, ornamental affects and manner of manufacture as first delineated in the Book of Exodus, and further explicated by Jewish sages throughout the millennia.

The menora weighs one-half ton. It contains forty five kilograms of twenty four karat gold. Its estimated value is approximately three million dollars. The construction of the menora was made possible through the generosity of Vadim Rabinovitch, a leader of the Jewish community of Ukraine.

The proportions of the menorah are over two meters in height and plated with 43 kg (95 lbs) of gold.

The golden menorah is located in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. The menorah was constructed by the Temple Institute and is based on extensive research carried out by the Academic and Biblical researchers.

I walked, with about a billion other people, through the security gateway into the plaza of the Western Wall. I thought I would visit The Wall again, but it was just too crowded and I was too hot; and the awe from my first visit couldn’t be recreated. So I just looked around at the other people.



A once in a life time photo taken at someone’s Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem at the Wall.


Three men wearing their religion in different way: notice the similar hanging fringes (Tallit Katan) on the two men and the white kippah on the man in the middle.


The mitzvah to wear Tzitzit ONLY applies to four-cornered garments. In biblical times, most clothing consisted of a four-cornered rectangle of cloth, direct from the loom, which was draped and fastened around the body. In modern times, people tend to wear more tailored clothing, which often does not consist of four corners. So a special four-cornered garment called a Tallit, which is somewhat like a shawl, is worn by those who want to fulfill the commandment to wear Tzitzit. The only religious significance of the Tallit is that it holds the Tzitzit on its corners.

According to Jewish Law, a Tallit must be long enough to be worn over the shoulders (so it qualifies as a garment). It may be made of any material, except wool and linen together (this is not a kosher combination for any clothes).

Tallit Katan (Tzitzit)

In more observant Jewish communities, boys and men often wear a Tallit Katan (little tallis). The Tallit Katan consists of a simple rectangle of cloth with a hole for the neck and fringes on the four corners. Sometimes the Tallit Katan is simply called Tzitzit.

They wear the Tallit Katan every day, all day long, under their shirts, with the Tzitzit hanging out. They do this because they want to fulfill the mitzvah of wearing Tzitzit more often than just during prayers and because it is written "and you shall see them."


So what else is new?”

The men wear the fringe and the women are on it.

All I could think of is that they come all the way to Jerusalem for the Bar Mitzvah and then can’t really even see it or be there. They have to look over the barricade that separates the men and the women.

So that’s enough for this email. But I’m not finished with Jerusalem yet, as if you ever could be. More in the next email.

Ramparts walk south part 1


Randal and I did a "formal" one day tour of the Old City, and I did read the biography of Jerusalem by Montefiore, but mostly we have just wandered around and looked and, after the fact, I’ve done some research.  We don’t own a tour guide of Israel, though Charmaine and Linda had one which we used while they were here.  I, for one, didn’t come to Israel with lots of questions.  I did read several of Bruce Feiler’s books so that gave me some background.  Wandering around the Jewish Quarter this last visit I did buy a book about Jerusalem.  It was published by the same Italian company that published the book we’d bought in Ephesus when we were in Turkey.   If I were you coming to Jerusalem for the first time, I would read ahead as much as you could and look at lots and lots of pictures.  I think it would be easy to spend at least a month in Jerusalem alone if you really wanted to explore the different areas, old and new and not have to make a mad rush of it.  If your focus is the Old City, stay in the Old City.  Stay in the different neighborhoods that you want to visit.  Anyway, that would be how I would do it if we were just coming to see Israel and not traveling on a boat around the world.


Ramparts Walk South: The Armenian and Jewish Quarters by myself…





The Citadel and Tower of David

“Situated next to the Jaffa Gate, the Citadel encompasses an area where once stood three towers built by King Herod: the Phaseal Tower (named for his brother,) the Hippicus Tower (named for his friend,) and the Miriamne Tower (named for his wife.) They were there to guard Herod’s adjacent palace and were later spared destruction by Titus’ Roman army in order to house his Twelfth Legion. During the Byzantine era it was in such a state of ruin that philosophers and recluses chose it as a place of meditation. It was used as a fortress headquarters in the 12th century by the Crusaders, who repaired its walls and surrounded it by a moat. The Muslim Mamluks demolished it in 1239 and it remained in a state of abandon until 1335 when the Turks repaired the walls and added the minaret known today as the Tower of David. The Citadel became a British base during the Mandate (1917-1948) and then a Jordanian one until 1967. Today it houses the Museum of the History of Jerusalem and is famous for the sound and light shows presented on its walls.” Jerusalem




“As you continue along the wall, you pass above the Armenian Quarter. The Armenian quarter is home to about 2500 Armenians. A walled compound encompasses the mostly residential area, as well as the St James Church, the Mardigian Museum, the Gulbenkian Library, the convent of the olive tree, and the residency of the Armenian Patriarch.


The back of the Armenian Library in the Armenian Quarter (I think.)


“There is also an empty lot, which is valuable real estate and archaeologically, but the Armenians will not allow excavations in the area.”

I walked along looking inside towards the Armenian Quarter, but there really wasn’t so much to see close to the walls.


More land left undeveloped by the Armenians who make the decisions for their quarter.

Outside there was always something to see even if, at the time, I didn’t really know what I was looking at. It was just being able to look down that was amazing. Not far from the Jaffa Gate is the Mamilla area.

“Outside of the old city is the new Mamilla neighborhood; Mamilla used to be on the Jordanian border and was a poor residential area. Following Mamilla, are the neighborhoods of Yemin Moshe and Mishkenot Sheananim. The relative “skyscrapers” which you can see from the ramparts are the King David Hotel, the Sheraton Hotel, and the YMCA building.”

“This area extends just outside of the Old City west of the Jaffa Gate. Built in the 19th century as the financial center of the Arabs and Jews, between 1948 and 1967 Mamilla fell into decline. It was later the subject of an impressive urban renewal project and, today, is a luxury residential and business district.


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The high rises are few and far between so Jerusalem, to me, has a “human” scale.”

Within this area is “the Sultan’s Pool,” once a reservoir, now a stadium.


Sultan’s Pool (the outdoor stadium.)

Jerusalem’s Secret Revealed: How They Filled The Sultan’s Pool

Archaeologists have uncovered the secret to how ancient engineers filled the Sultan’s Pool with water in the Old City of Jerusalem.

By Hana Levi Julian

First Publish: 6/16/2009, 1:29 PM

“During an excavation prior to the construction of the Montefiore Museum in Mishkenot Sha’ananim by the Jerusalem Foundation, archaeologists uncovered the main aqueduct that conveyed water to the pool.

The aqueduct supplied pilgrims and residents with water for drinking and purification, at the Temple Mount as well as the Sultan’s Pool.

Although today most Israelis think of the Sultan’s Pool as a venue for outdoor concerts and other large cultural events, for hundreds of years it was one of the city’s most important reservoirs.

The dig, led by Gideon Solimany and Dr. Ron Be’eri (of IAA), focused on a section along the course of the Low-Level Aqueduct on the western side of the Ben Hinnoam Valley, above the Derech Hevron Bridge. The aqueduct originally reached a height of three meters.

"Naturally, one of the first things Sultan Suleiman The First hastened to do in Jerusalem (along with the construction of the city wall as we know it today) was to repair the aqueduct that was already there which supplied the large numbers of pilgrims who arrived in Jerusalem with water for drinking and purification," explained Be’eri.

"Suleiman attached a small tower to the aqueduct, inside of which a ceramic pipe was inserted. The pipe diverted the aqueduct’s water to the Sultan’s Pool and the impressive sabil (a Muslim public fountain for drinking water), which he built for the pilgrims who crossed the Derekh Hebron bridge and is still preserved there today.”

Beeri added that the location of the aqueduct was extremely successful and efficient. "We found four phases of different aqueducts that were constructed in exactly the same spot, one, Byzantine, from the sixth-seventh centuries CE and three that are Ottoman which were built beginning in the sixteenth century CE. The last three encircle a large subterranean water reservoir that was apparently built before the Ottoman period”.

The Low-level Aqueduct is one of two ancient water conduits that originated at the springs in the Hebron Highlands and at Solomon’s Pools, and terminated in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

Research has shown that the ancient aqueduct was meant to supply high quality spring water to the Temple Mount, to Jerusalem’s residents and to the many pilgrims that have come to the city over the course of generations, according to a statement by IAA.

“We can see that from the time of the Second Temple until the Byzantine period water flowed in an open channel that was covered with stone slabs. In later phases, beginning in the Ottoman period, water was conveyed in ceramic pipes which were installed inside the aqueduct,” Be’eri noted.

The Low-level Aqueduct is to be incorporated in the Montefiore Museum, which the Jerusalem Foundation plans to build inside the pool, adjacent to the aqueduct.”


An illustration of Sultan’s Pool as a reservoir.


The Dormition Abbey (outside the Old City walls on Mount Zion)

“This massive structure that rises on Mount Zion resembles a mighty fortress: it is topped by a high, domed bell tower, a conical dome, and corner towers. The church, built over the site where the Virgin is said to have fallen asleep for the last time, is the last in a series of buildings erected over the centuries. It was completed by Kaiser Wilhelm II during the first decade of the 20th century based on plans by Heinrich Renard, based on the model of the Carolingian cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle. The church belongs to the Benedictines. The highlights are the mosaic and the wood-and-ivory statue of the Sleeping Virgin in the crypt.” Jerusalem


Renovations/repair were underway.


There was an Armenian Cemetery on one side of the Abbey and a Greek Cemetery on the other.


The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu: (the gray domed topped building on the right surrounded with greenery.)

“The name of the church recalls the episode in which Peter denied Jesus three times before “the cock crowed.” This church was consecrated in 1931 and belongs to the Catholic Assumptionists, and was built over the remains of an older Byzantine basilica. It has been said, but never officially confirmed, that it stands over the house of the High Priest Caiaphas.

The church crypt has a series of grottoes, one of which has been called Jesus’ prison. It is said that after having been questioned by Caiaphas that he spent the night here before being taken before Pontius Pilate.” Jerusalem

At this point, I am still on the walls looking over to Mount Olive and Its amazing view. But this email is already too long so I’ll save the end of the walk when I reach the Jewish Quarter and include it with some of the things I saw wandering around inside.

Jerusalem Ramparts Walk: Northern Route


  A week or so ago we had a visit from one of the many people who are quite curious about our boat.  We invited him aboard and had a lovely chat.  His name is Avi and he and Eve, who had been on our boat for dinner,  discovered that they had relatives who lived near each other…or something like that as always seems to happen in Israel.  Yesterday, Friday, Ari came to collect us for the Friday lunch and wine tasting at a nearby vineyare.  We also stopped at a Kibbutz that raises olives.  I’ve been to wine tastings before, but never to an olive oil tasting.  It is quite interesting as the flavors are very distinct.  We also went to visit Avi’s home and community meeting his lovely wife.  I will write about it when I know how to spell every name and place correctly.  We had a lovely day.  We also had a visit from the owners of the sail boat Sea Gull.  Guy Zagursky is a sculpture with a studio in Tel Aviv.  His brother Ran makes jewelry.  You can Google their names.  Nice guys! 

   I have lots more to write about Jerusalem, especially as I went again last Thursday for the day ALL BY MYSELF!  Randal really didn’t want to go and that was fine.  He drove me on the motorbike to the Ashdod bus station and I caught the early bus to Jerusalem getting off at the Central Station where we always get off.  From there it’s just a short walk to Jaffa Road which takes you to the Old City.  I spent the day and caught the insanely crowded 3:50 bus back to Ashdod.  Lots of soldiers going home for Shabbat weekend leave.  This email is about the walk Randal and I did on the walls that surround the Old City of Jerusalem.


Jerusalem Ramparts Walk

You can walk along the walls of the Old City circumambulating (how’s that for a word) almost the entire area. The section that passes by the Temple of the Mount is blocked off so you have to do the walk in two parts. Randal and I did the longer northern route around the Christian and Muslim areas first as we wanted to end the walk near the Damascus Gate. Last Thursday when I went to Jerusalem alone, I did the southern route along the Armenian and Jewish Quarters by myself. Both were interesting, the northern for its look into the Old City and the southern for its views looking away from the Old City. There’s no glitz, no noise, no crowds along the walk…at least when we did them. I think you get a real sense of the Old City and its story when you walk the walls.


The walls of Jerusalem that exist today were built by Seleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century as fortification for the Old City.


A map of the Old City Walls

Randal and I walked the “northern route” from the red Jaffa Gate in the middle of the left side of the Old City until the barrier at the beginning of the green Temple Mount area on the right side of the map. We looked down into the pink Christian area and the gray Muslim area exiting at the Lion’s Gate just before the area of the Temple of the Mount which is the green area with the gold dome. I went south from the Jaffa around the tan Armenian quarter and the blue Jewish quarter ending at the Dung Gate.


Walking towards the Jaffa Gate

“In ancient days if you were a pilgrim who docked at the Mediterranean port of Jaffa and walked east for three days or perhaps more, along the Jaffa Road, you would eventually reach the Jaffa Gate. “

iTravel Jerusalem Summer Edition 2012

“Its traffic and strategic position make it the most important junction in the Old City. Known as Bab el Khalili in Arabic, it has two openings: the smaller one in the original, while the other was created in 1989 to make room for the procession of the Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Jerusalem : Golden Book Series 2011 /Pages/OldCityJerusalem.aspx

The Moslem Quarter The Moslem quarter is the largest quarter in the old city, and most of its population arrived after its original Jewish and Christian residents moved to newer neighborhoods. The Moslem Quarter has churches and mosques, and there are several Jewish homes and Yeshivas still remaining. The most important sites in the Moslem Quarter are sacred sites for the Moslem faith such as the Dome of the Rock on Mount Moria (also a holy place for the Jews).


Looking up Jaffa street to the left of the building with the rounded front.


“The walls stretch for some 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles), rising to a height of up to 15 meters, (49 feet), with an average thickness of 3 meters (10 ft). Along the course of the walls are 11 gates to the Old City, seven of which are open: New Gate, Damascus Gate , Herod’s Gate, Lions’ Gate, Dung Gate, Jaffa Gate, and Zion Gate.”


Looking into homes in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem.

The Old City was always a place where people lived; not just a collection of historic buildings

The Christian Quarter /Pages/OldCityJerusalem.aspx

The Christian quarter has more than 40 churches, monasteries, and hostels that were built for Christian pilgrims. In the heart of the Christian quarter is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Church of the Resurrection, which, according to Christian tradition, was the site upon which Jesus was crucified and buried following his final walk along the Via Dolorosa, or the Stations of the Cross. The Via Dolorosa begins at the courthouse – which was located at what is now the Lions’ Gate – also known as St. Stephen’s Gate– and ends at Calvary Hill or Golgotha, where the Church is now located. Many Christian pilgrims walk along the Via Dolorosa following the final path of Jesus.

There are several sites that are important to the Christian tradition inside the Church of the Resurrection, including the Stone of Anointing, the tomb, and the rotunda.

The market – one of Jerusalem’s most popular tourist attractions, is located in the Christian quarter and is a noisy, colorful market where one can buy decorated pottery, candles, souvenirs, ethnic costumes, mats, rugs, beads, and jewelry, glass lamps and decorative items. The merchants call out their wares and the food stands emit tantalizing aromas. One of the most outstanding attractions of this market is that shoppers are expected to bargain for wares, and if you insist, you can bargain shopkeepers down from their original price.

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A private family mosque in the Christian Quarter.

“Just inside the northwestern corner of the Old City walls is a modest family mosque with a large dome. Built in the 16th century it is known as Masjid al-Qaymariyya


Inside the walls are all manner of shops including bars!



The walls followed mostly along the Christian quarter.


The ever-present graffiti



Not so picturesque; just real life inside the walls.



She just looked at us and then go onto her swing.


Looking outside the walls toward the Arab area of Eastern Jerusalem.


A play area in the Muslim Quarter in the Muslim Quarter.


The Dome of the Rock visible behind this playing field.


A final rest before we climb down from the walls at Lion’s Gate which borders on the area of Temple Mount. Actually we just sort of re-entered the Old City and never exited through the  Lion’s Gate

“The Lion’s Gate opens toward the Mount of Olives: Christians call it St. Stephen’s Gate because they believe that the saint was stoned to death on that spot while the Muslims call it Bab Sitti Maryam, that is the Virgin Mary’s Gate, believing it to be the site of her birthplace. “ Jerusalem

“Legend has it that the four figures of lions on the gate’s crest appear there because Suleiman dreamed that if he did not construct a wall to protect Jerusalem’s citizens, he would be killed by lions.”

ITravel Jerusalem

The best humus joint in Israel and maybe the worst bus terminal


   It has been a really nice few days so I was in a really good mood when I sat down to finish this email.  Then our "neighbors" off across the dock next to Eve’s boat turned on their music loud enough to blast us off the planet…..again.  I walked over to ask them to turn it down and they got mad and told me this was how they lived so too bad.  They said not to come over every night and tell them to turn it down.  Since we’ve been here I’ve asked 3 times, tonight being the 3rd.  Other nights, and often during the day,  when it isn’t SO LOUD or so POUNDING we just put up with it.  Even the Israeli Navy’s music in Herzliya wasn’t so loud.  We learned today that we have to move the boat to Ashkelon to check out from Israel so we are thinking to move the boat there for our final few weeks in Israel just to get away from our awful neighbor.  It will mean leaving Eve and the little kitty, but for our sanity I think we’ve no choice.  And there are things to see in Ashkelon.  We’ll see.  I actually called Yorman Greenburg, the marina manager this evening because I was so mad.  Not sure what he can do.  The music is a bit lower and in some ways that’s all they needed to do.  Not shut it off, but just not make our windows rattle which is only a slight exaggeration.  Now it’s off altogether.  Are they cutting off their noses to spite their faces or are they just getting ready to blast off again?  Unfortunately they were getting ready to broadcast what sounds like some really bad karaoke.  The boat has some really nice music too so if they would play that at a reasonable level we’d probably like it.  Even the loud Ramadan Prayers in Indonesia were more tolerable because they had some purpose.  These people are insane has become my new overworked phrase since we’ve come to the Ashdod Marina.    I use it for the loud music and for the horrible long lines in the grocery stores.  Time to leave for sure!  Israel is a neat place to visit, but if you’re not fond of blasting music, I would be a bit leery of the marinas. 

" Long lines mean good food.  When you see a restaurant with a line of people waiting to get in, go there and eat, even if you’re not hungry."

"Don’t ask for the check until you’re finished eating, we’ll have to get up from the table."  Both quotes are by Eve’s son Norm and will become clear as you read the email.

Our friend Eve has been working as an evening/overnight care giver just outside of Tel Aviv this past week. So Sunday Randal and I took the 7:48 bus from Ashdod to the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv and then bus 4 to Shuk Ha Camel to meet her as she has most of the day free. Shuk Ha Camel is a huge bazaar with lots of stalls selling t-shirts, souvenirs, fruit, cheese, wine. We’d been there once before with Linda and Charmaine, but it was on a “market day” and the place was insanely jam packed. Sunday there were no additional market vendors so you could actually walk through the center promenade and not get claustrophobic. We stopped in some of the Judaica shops and I did find a few things.

Because the highways in Israel are just too busy for our small, slow motorbike, Randal and I are becoming veteran bus riders. The HUGE and slightly awful Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv is confusing, but this time we paid attention to where we got off the bus (floor 6 in the back at the Veolia Line.) And we knew we needed to catch the # 4 bus on the Dan Line from the terminal to Shuk Ha Camel to meet Eve. Finding bus 4 was easy; finding the well hidden WC and having the correct 1 shekel change to get in, another story.

We arrived before Eve so found a coffee shop and had a 10 am snack.


Randal ordered his favorite ice coffee smoothie. The cappuccino machine was having an issue so I had to wait for mine. Bad Randal also ate a cheese pastry and I ate part of a honey nut seed thing.

Eve arrived and we walked through the main row of the shuk. Most of the stuff is aimed at tourists, but that’s what I am so I could find a few things that I liked but didn’t cost more than our boat. That’s a slight exaggeration, but you know you’re not in China, India or Malaysia when you go shopping in Israel. We strolled along not taking so much time as we still wanted to walk to Jaffa where we would meet Eve’s son Norm for lunch. (Food plays a big part in this email.)


Emerging from the stalls of the Shuk.


Eve wants a motorized bicycle so we stopped to look.


Graffiti piano at the renovated Train Station complex. (Lots of graffiti in Israel.)

I tried to play but my fingers were stiff from walking and so completely out of practice. Mom was right, I should have practiced. We had stopped mid way between Tel Aviv and Jaffa at the renovated train station to visit the book shop. Eve bought some magazines that her son Norm would take Monday when he left Israel for China to visit his sister who works near Shanghai. I had said that selection was limited as I remembered from our time in China. Eve’s daughter who speaks Hebrew, English, and German is now learning Chinese for her work as a fashion designer. Eve said that there are many Israelis working in the industry in China.


Walking the beach between Tel Aviv and Jaffa


The Clock Tower showing the time in Jaffa.

The clock tower in Jaffa is one of seven clock towers built in Israel and of the hundred clock towers built in the Ottoman Empire in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the reign of the Turkish sultan Abdul Hamid the Second. The towers were built as part of the modern reforms guided by the sultan, in order to conduct the empire’s cities by accurate, Western timetables. According to the local tale, the tower was built at the initiative of Yossef Moial, a wealthy Jew of Jaffa, who erected the clock tower in order to save himself pestering by pedestrians who would come in to his shop to ask the time on their way to the train station.

Four clocks were installed in the tower – two of them showing the time in Europe, and two of them the time in Israel.

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The decorative doors of the clock tower.

I couldn’t really see the stained glass or much of anything else as they were too high and the sun was too bright. I have just spent about an hour trying to find information about the door decorations but no luck other than a tiny bit of info on the following somewhat confusing website.

“The Jaffa clock tower was built in honor of the sultan Abdul Hamid the second in honor of his 25th year in rules, although the initiative for building it actually came from the Jaffa Jewish community. The clock tower concept was Moritz Sheinbergs, a watchmaker, one of the free masons who promoted the establishment of 17 shops on Bostros street. The French company’s management, who won the railway permit in Jaffa in 1892, chose to install by it 7 watches in each train station from Jaffa to Jerusalem. The Jaffa watchtower was reacted with the contribution from the city’s residents, Arabs and Jews. The cornerstone was placed on September 1st 1900. That same morning, both different religions held prayers at the same time, and in the evening the Rishon Le Zion band performed.

The tower stands in the Jaffa main entrance and crossroad- between the new government buildings, the police station, the jailhouse and Muhamdia mosque. In 1901 two stories were built and the third story was in construction. In 1903 the tower was complete, two clocks were installed and in the second floor, Abdul Hamids signature mark was engraved to all four sides of the tower. In 1965 the tower was

renovated by the city of Tel Aviv, new clocks were installed, artistic bars, stained glass windows which illustrate chapters of Jaffas history.

In 2001 the tower was renovated once more with the initiative from the department of tourism in Tel Aviv Jaffa.”


Clock Tower Square in now The Carmel Selzer Plaza

It seems as if almost everything in Israel has some kind of plaque on it. Many are for sad reasons, but this one is in “honor of the 9 grandchildren.”


Ali Karavan (or popularly called Abu Hassan): the best humus in Israel

Eve called her son Norm who met us near Clock Tower Square and led us what felt like half way across Jaffa for lunch. It was hot, we were tired, and it was the best humus I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t just good humus; it was delicious food. The place was packed with a line out the door when we arrived. I took this photo after we ate.


This is Humus Masabacha

It is served warm, spiced and drizzled with a bit of olive oil. It doesn’t taste like any humus you’ve ever eaten. The smooth part is thick and creamy but there are also bits of chick peas that are still whole, but cooked soft.

Along with the humus you are given a small bowl of lemon/garlic juice, huge chunks of onion and a stack of pita bread. I couldn’t imagine eating the entire dish of humus; it was so huge and who can digest that much chickpea at one time? Having said that, I ate it all and there were no ill after affects. I was brave enough to use some of the lemon/garlic oil but left the onions. Everyone else left the onions too. I wish we’d discovered Abu Hassan’s when Charmaine and Linda were with us. They love humus.


Everyone shares tables and you sit where there’s room. We were next to this young woman and her soldier friend next to me. Those other folks are waiting for us all to hurry up and eat. As soon as our tablemates were finished, two men sat down.

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Inside the place was packed too: The man on the left was running the show and serving the food and telling the jokes. Eve asked for the falafel they sometimes serve with the humus and his answer was, “it’s out of season.” There was no time for falafel; it was just too busy for them to do anything than seat people, dish up the humus , plunk down your drinks, and collect the money.


If you are ever in Jaffa….

“Tourists do not tend to explore much past the attractions of the old port, the flea market and a few fish restaurants. The only real exception to the rule is Ali Karavan, popularly known as Abu Hassan’s, which is widely considered the best hummus joint in Israel. Given that Israelis are completely obsessed with hummus, this is saying a great deal. If you want to check out this 40-year-old legendary hole-in-the wall, it’s just down the hill on Dolphin Street. But get there early – by mid-afternoon the hummus is usually all gone, and on Fridays a queue of people starts to gather from early in the morning for their weekend treat.” gives a recipe for this humus dish.

The Ali Karavan restaurant serves the Best Humus in Jaffa, and has been serving it for almost 40 years now. Located in Jaffa, the restaurant was opened by the father of the family, Abu-Hassan, in 1966. Since then it has been known throughout Tel Aviv and Israel for its fresh and creamy humus. You might have to wait quite a while until you manage to get a seat, especially on weekends, but it is worth it. Sitting beside strangers and eating humus with pita-bread and fresh onion. There is nothing quite like it.

The menu is very limited, only humus, Masbacha and pita-bread, topped off with cooked chickpeas or fava beans, and served with fresh onion and lemon juice. Oh, and if you were wondering – There are no napkins. ( I did notice that, but had a package of tissues.)

The ambiance is vibrant and friendly, but you will be expected to be on your way once you have finished eating so others can take your place.

Make sure you arrive for an early lunch (or breakfast), because once the humus is finished the place closes down!


Eve writes a note to put with the magazines she had bought for her daughter while Norm and Randal chat.


Norm, Eve, Randal


Me, Norm and Eve

Norm’s shirt kind of looks like the graffiti painted on the piano. He and I talked a bit about the “street art” that seems to be all over Israel. I really don’t like it much but Norm, being about 30 years younger seems to be able to appreciate it.

We said good-bye to Norm and then Eve, Randal and I walked back to the Jaffa Flea Market but really didn’t have the oomph you need for a place like that. I think we were all too tired and hot (and full) and we were ready to be done. We checked with a taxi to take us all back to Tel Aviv but Eve waved him off saying we weren’t going to pay his “too high tourist prices.” We would take the bus so we walked over to the main road and with Eve’s help got a bus that would take us a block or so from the Central Bus Station. The bus driver assured us he’d tell us where to get off. Unfortunately the driver had already driven several blocks past our stop when he remembered. He’d been having a heated discussion with an elderly lady just after we’d gotten on so apparently forgot about us. When he finally remembered, he pretty much said, “sorry, get off.” So we got off, not at all sure where we were exactly or where the bus terminal was. I wish I could have taken photos but we just wanted to get where we needed to be as fast as we could. South Tel Aviv, in the blocks around the terminal, is not where you want to be if you don’t have to be there. If you have read about the refugee problems in Israel, you have read about the problems in south Tel Aviv. It looks terrible and smells worse. We stopped one women who spoke just enough English to give us vague directions and then I asked the driver of a big yellow minibus who said, “2nd set of lights, go left.” We did and got back to the terminal with no problem; hunted down another hidden WC and managed to catch the #320 bus just about to leave for Ashdod. It had been a really fun day with the special experience of Abu Hassan’s wonderful humus!

Here are some articles about the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. Picture any large, unappealing bus station you’ve been in and you get the idea.

Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, known as the New Central Bus Station (HaTachana HaMerkazit HaChadasha), is the main bus station of Tel Aviv, Israel. Located in the south of the city, it was opened on August 18, 1993. It was the largest bus station in the world from its opening date until 2010, when it was overtaken by Delhi, India’s Millennium Park Bus Depot. The station covers 230,000 m2 and a total area of 44 dunams (44,000 m2).

Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.

The entire fourth floor of Tel Aviv’s central bus station shakes every time a bus rumbles along one of the platforms above. In a corner stands a clinic specializing in venereal diseases. Across from the clinic, in one of the “lost spaces” of the cavernous station, an experiment in community restoration has begun: a preschool and daycare center for the children of foreign workers and refugees who live in the area.

“We’re interested in turning the ‘lost spaces’ trapped in the central bus station into spaces that serve the residents of south Tel Aviv. We’re identifying these spaces and adapting the programs the community needs to the spaces’ particular configurations,” says architect Yoav Meiri, the designer of the new preschool and daycare center that recently opened.

“We believe in a slow, informed and thorough process to discover the added value of the central bus station building as part of the social space of the city,” Meiri adds with irrepressible optimism, the kind that allows someone to work instead of sinking into paralyzing inactivity.

With cosmic irony or perhaps poetic justice, the central bus station, which brought destruction to an entire urban neighborhood and its urban and human fabrics, is atoning − albeit very partially − for the wrong it inflicted by providing a home for a humanitarian endeavor, the UNITAF Preschool, Daycare Center and After-school Center Project, founded by the Yehuda Tribitch Memorial Fund for Social Involvement. The effort provides both an immediate solution for preschool children without making the families wait for government decisions, and uncompromising architecture and design that give the lost space a human dimension, a momentary respite, and a humanizing touch. “The greatest and most complex challenge we faced was how to create reasonable conditions under impossible circumstances,” says Ofra Paz, director of the UNITAF Project. Below the school is the commercial bazaar whose photogenic, romantic and multicultural charm does not make up for the station’s original sin.

Meiri sees the proximity of the preschool to the clinic, public transportation and bazaar shops downstairs as “a continuation − or even an enhancement − of the mixed usage motif that characterizes the neighborhood.” More than simple optimism is necessary to be able to view things this way. The preschool inside the door is the light at the end of the tunnel − literally. It is orderly and well-appointed, as well as aesthetically pleasing by any standard. Constraints such as the elongated space and leaky ceiling have been turned into advantages. The rooms are spacious and airy. One of the decisive factors in choosing this lost space was the expansiveness of the windows, originally part of the bus station building itself, letting in copious amounts of natural light. Even the bus ramps viewed through these windows look like a legitimate urban landscape.

The UNITAF Project, which opened its doors in 2005, operates preschools, daycare centers and afternoon programs throughout south Tel Aviv. It serves some 3,000 children, three years old and under, from the community of migrant workers and refugees. In addition to the central bus station location, the project operates preschools in Hatikva and Shapira neighborhoods as well as near the Carmel Market. The central bus station houses two preschools for some 100 children: a long-established infant daycare center slated to be redesigned and refurbished, and the new preschool for children up to age four.

Other project partners are the Tel Aviv Municipality, which leases the spaces for the schools, the municipality’s Mesila aid center for the foreign community, the Tel Aviv Foundation and the Central Bus Station Management Co. Equipment is provided by private donations ‏(which can be made through‏). The schools and daycare centers are run by preschool teachers and aides who themselves belong to the foreign community and who previously ran pirate babysitting services, often in surroundings bordering at times on the life-threatening. UNITAF’s contract with the teachers stipulates that they must maintain satisfactory childcare standards, says Paz. The plan and design of the new space are welcoming and supportive. Because the children are there from 7 A.M. until 6:30 P.M., the teachers get extra help from National Service volunteers and others who volunteer there regularly. Some are teaching professionals while others “come with lots of goodwill and the love that the kids need so much,” says Paz.

Nonetheless, she admits that the picture is far from rosy. Some of the children and their parents live under the threat of deportation, and live with a constant sense of impermanence and fear, dead-end violence and conflict.

UNITAF’s next goal is to erect an indoor playground inside the central bus station − an artificial “outdoors” as a stand-in for the real outdoors that is unavailable in the neighborhood, especially for the very young.

The site that has been chosen is a wide spot with tall ceilings that “will be a place for play, creativity, wandering about, and letting off steam for the children at the preschools,” says Meiri, who is also designing the playground for UNITAF. This project is in a sense a mirror image of his previous social/architectural project − the open public library in nearby Levinsky Park.

The designated spot is still a black hole; at a glance, it doesn’t seem ever to have had or be capable of having any sort of human purpose or justification. But judging by the plans and 3D imaging, it will be a brilliantly colorful playground with jungle gyms, a sandbox, wading pools, climbing structures and slides, swimming pools and artificial, neon-green grass − all underneath a ceiling painted in blue “to create the illusion of freedom,” as Meiri puts it.

In light of the recent and ongoing outbreaks of violence directed at the community of migrant workers and refugees in Tel Aviv and at various aid organizations, along with the lack of any official government solutions, a bottomless well of optimism is indeed needed to maintain this vision. is an article about the building’s history and projected huge revenue losses.