Yet again we will start with the highlight - we ran into our friends Joe and Orit Strauss at the Kotel. They looked great, were in a protracted conversation with someone asking for tzedakah, got Mike to give him $20 for them and then another $10 from us. They walked a bit with us out of the Old City and told us about their son, Irad (sp?), and his induction into the Golani brigade last week. Irad is now up at Tel Faher (do you remember from an earlier blog? The Golani overlook, where there is a memorial for the Golani Brigade, where there was a battle at the beginning of the war in 1967) setting up for some big ceremony this week. We called him on his cellphone and had a nice, but short, chat.
We woke up a bit later than we wanted, had another giant breakfast - this time, we each were able to get pancakes and omelettes, on top of bourekas, cheese, fruit, etc. At this hotel, the kids were able to squeeze their own juice - mitz tapuzim (orange) or mitz eshkoliot (grapefruit). That was an activity in and of itself. We then started walking "to town" - we took the kids to the Great Synagogue - they have a huge and amazing collection of mezuzot. We were right next to Boaz Genut's office and were going to pop in to say hello when Mike checked his email and Boaz had emailed 20 minutes earlier. Unfortunately, he was on his way to a meeting, but hopefully we will see him.
We then walked to Machane Yehuda, a huge and amazing outdoor/indoor market. We bought candy, some grapes, some nuts (American peanuts, of course), more candy, dried fruit, more candy. Eitan kept burying his face into Sima's stomach every time we came near a fish vendor. He just can't bear to see a dead fish. Of course, we didn't quite like seeing all of the flies on the dead fish either. Donna ran into a friend who goes to Wash U - Jerusalem is such a great place! We bought the boys some cheap kippot, and then had to buy them 2 expensive ones (not all that expensive) - Noah got a Chicago Bulls kippah and Eitan got one with ....... guess ......... come on, try a guess...... you got it ....... fish! We bought Ilana a cute dress and Naomi a beautiful skirt (same price as the pricey kippot). Lucky for us Donna knew where to go to get nuts and fruit from a vendor who uses gloves.
We then walked down Ben Yehuda. This street is named after the father of modern Hebrew and used to be The Place for people to congregate. It was not all that crowded, but then again it wasn't Saturday night either. From there we went back to the Old City and went to Migdal David (the Tower of David). They have a really intersting museum of the history of Jerusalem through all the periods of history. It is amazing to think about all of the times this city has been conquered and rebuilt. (At the next stop, a guide told the story of a professor from Hebrew U, who went to the Israel Museum on every Tisha B'Av to yell at the statue of Hadrian (the Roman emperor) - he would yell, "We are still here, where are you?") We spent a lot of time at Migdal David - lots of climbing, lots of vistas, lots to see. One change from the last time we where here - we used to see lots of antennas on the roofs of the houses in the Old City, now all we see are satellite dishes.
We then made our way through the Armenian Quarter back to the Rovah and got the girls pizza and got our first shwarma for the trip. The boys were in heaven. Noah almost inhaled his, and had to slow down. Eitan's ended up on his cheeks, nose and chin. (And, fortunately, it didn't make Mike sick.) We then headed to a play ground in the Old City, near the outer wall. The kids played (and played), we walked a bit along the ramparts, and relaxed. Then, we went back to the Kotel for the tour of the underground tunnel by the Kotel. Noah, Eitan and Mike went to visit Rabbi Shmuli again, and davened mincha right next to the Kotel. Then the tour - the kids were great in the narrow spaces. Enthralled by the huge stones. Rather amazing to be that far underground to what is modern Jerusalem and at street level of what was ancient Jerusalem. Also amazing to be at the place closest to the holiest place in our tradition - the rock that we believe was the foundation rock for the world, where Avraham bound Yitzchak and where the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) stood.
This city is incredibly dusty and dirty. Garbage is everywhere and we carried most of the dirt with us on Eitan's feet. We tried to wash Eitan's feet, but only got down a few lawyers, so we walked back to the hotel. After showers/baths, we gave Donna the pleasure of putting the kids to sleep and we are sitting at Cup 'o Joe on the corner of Keren Ha'yesod and Jabotinsky, enjoying the breeze, the smoke, the screeching breaks, blaring horns and near misses, and of course free Wi-Fi.