The highlights always seem to revolve around seeing people. Today, Mike spent some time visiting with Rabbi Bienenfeld at Cup O' Joe. (We did find out today that Avi Borow works there in the mornings, but we have not seen him.) Rabbi Bienenfeld looks good, is keeping busy, is setting up meetings to try to become busier and is a wonderful advocate for making aliyah. In case anyone is wondering - he was wearing a tie; but he had good reason as he was coming from a meeting with a member of the Knesset.
This morning we went up to Mt. Herzl. Part of the excitement was how we got there - we took the 18 bus. The kids liked to stand and sway, and we liked it when they sat. First, we went to see Herzl's grave. Then, there is a new museum that is interactive, non-traditional and very engaging. You start off walking down a street in Vienna in the 1890's, go to a room where there are several movie screens - on one is a dramatization of the Dreyfus affair and on another is a modern director interviewing an actor to play Herzl in a play. We learned all about Herzl and the earliest days of modern Zionism through the actor learning about Herzl. In the museum are Herzl's desk and other furniture and some personal belongings.
Afterwards, we went to visit the graves of other Zionist and Israeli leaders, including Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meier and Yitchak Rabin. We also visited some of the memorials and graves in the military portion of the cemetery. It is awe inspiring the number of young men (and women) who have given their lives for this land and our people. Among the highlights (can we write that?): seeing the rows of boys who died in Lebanon since 1982; Hana Senesh - interred with 2 of her female companions who parachuted into Europe; the memorials for the unknown, last of kin (meaning, they were the last of their family), terror victims, ma'apilim (illegal immigrants) aboard the Salvador and other "common graves" for those who died in battle but were only able to be buried years later; and the memorial for the Dakar. The Dakar was an Israeli submarine that disappeared in January 1968. All 69 sailors were lost at sea. For 31 years, the Dakar remained lost; but, in 1999 the sub was found at the bottom of the Mediterranean. The memorial is reminiscent of a submarine, and very moving.
From Har Herzl we went the science museum. We took cabs for the first time this trip. Mike's trip cost 32 sheks/Sima's and Donna's only cost 22 sheks - hmmmm.... The science museum was engaging for the kids - even Ilana. There was a whole exhibit on optical and other sensory illusions. They had a lot of interactive activities (in Hebrew, English and Arabic). Then we went for lunch on the campus of Hebrew University in Givat Ram (across the street). After walking up, and up, and up, and up (Jerusalem is built on hills), we got to the main gate to the campus and the bus stop for the 9 bus back to "town." The kids and Sima went swimming (on the roof of the hotel); Mike saw Rabbi Bienenfeld; and Donna went to see a friend.
We went to dinner at Burgers Bar - the boys were in heaven. Since Naomi wasn't going to eat a burger, she complained and complained. We offered to get her pizza; nope. We asked her what she wanted and she said that all she wanted was a carrot. On the way to dinner on Emeq Refaim we came to a juice bar. So, we asked for one gezer gadol bli mitz (big carrot, without juice). The guy looked at us as if we were absolutely nuts (aren't we?). We explained. He washed a carrot and gave it to us. When we asked him how much, he smiled and said One Shekel (about 25 cents). That was Naomi's dinner.
Back to the hotel, but instead of walking down noisy, dirty streets, we decided to walk through noisy, dirty Liberty Park. The kids played on an alligator thing with a group of Arab girls. We are glad our kids were polite; we may have done a teensy, weensy bit of bridge building.
We put the kids to sleep (after watching the World's Strongest Man Competition on ESPN) as we are heading south tomorrow - to Masada, Ein Gedi and wherever else the wind takes us.