Yesterday’s guest author= ??? no guesses, no answers…
Today’s guest author:
Today we woke up at around 9:30 and got ready for the busy day. Mom said it was supposed to be very hot so we brought a lot of water, except the water is not good enough for Noah so he had to buy purified water. We walked to the Old City and were already very sweaty by 11:20. The first event of our agenda was going on a tour of the Hurva Synagogue. We met in the lobby of the Synagogue and the first thing we saw was this 13 meter high Ahron Kodesh, it was so beautiful. We started our tour thinking it would be 20 minutes long but ended up being an hour, but we were not disappointed. The Synagogue has so much history it was burnt to the ground twice; once by the Romans and once By the Jordanians in the Independence Day War, yet they continue to rebuild it. [editor’s note: though there were earlier synagogues on this site, the Hurva Synagogue was first built by about 500 Ashkenazi Jews who came back to Israel in the early 1700’s – these were the first Jewish immigrants to return to Jerusalem in 100’s of years. The synagogue was burned by the Ottomans, and was rebuilt in grand fashion by followers of the Vilna Goan in the mid 1800’s. The synagogue was designed and constructed by the sultan’s chief architect, and was the first grand and proud Jewish synagogue permitted to be built in the old city in 100’s of years as there was a Turkish law again the construction of any new Jewish house of worship – this was only circumvented with the help of Rothchild and Montefiore. This glorious structure was destroyed by Jordanians in 1948. In 1977, ten years after Israel united Jerusalem, a single arch from the synagogue was reconstructed from its back wall. This was a symbol of the Jewish rebirth of Jerusalem. Now that arch is incorporated into the back wall of the synagogue, which is prominent in the Jewish Quarter]. It was rebuilt a year and a half ago and they spent 10 million dollars on it. First on the tour we went to the basement a saw a ruins that they excavated, one of the ruins was a wall of what they think was the wall to the Rambam’s Shul. That was very cool for me to think about this great Rabbi who lived hundreds of years ago davened here. [editor's note: We also went up on the roof and climbed up to the dome, and walked around both inside and out]. The tour ended and we made our way to the Burnt House, but on the way one of the kids saw a place were she really wanted a ring so we all had to stop and wait for this person to chose the ring she liked. Then we joined another tour group and the Burnt House and watched presentation on what they found there and then watched a movie about what could have happened at this house based on the facts that we know during the Churban Beit Hamekdash Sheni. We all enjoyed learning about History in the comfort of sitting down and air conditioning. After we were all getting pretty antsy but our Mom dragged us on to another archeological site called The Herodian Quarter. I can’t tell you much about this place except there were a lot of stones and some tiles because I was completely spacing out. But I know my Mom really enjoyed it. [editor's note: This site is underneath Yeshivat Hakotel, and consists of the ruins of 6 large homes from the time of the second biet hamigdash. Mosaics, mikvah’s murals, ad may other artifacts are on display here.] It was already 2:00 and we had not eaten yet so we walked back to Mamilla mall and ate at Café Rimone. All Ilana ate at Dairy reasraunts was ravioli, but this time my mom decided to use her veto power and made Ilana have something else. After filling our bellies we walked back to the Old City and met the Pearlmans at Ir David. Instead of just meeting the Pearlmans we saw a lot of unexpected guests, we saw Noah’s friend from school and an Aish group for women from St. Louis. The tour started with us getting lost (not unusual) but we found our way back to the right tour guide. [First our guide showed us the boundaries of the orignal city of David, in David's time. Ir David sites on a hill adjascent to the Old City. It is not within the walls of the current Old City. It sits between two valleys, and is surrounded by hills. One of the valleys, the Kidron valley, has a spring that is the source of water for the city. More on that later.] Our tour guide took us on an adventure back in time. Our first stop was where some historians think that David Hamelech’s Palace once stood. Then The Tour Guide showed us two places where letter seals made out of mud were found. The First was that of a minister 3 hundred years after David’s time. The second found 15 feet away was another minister of the same time period. [editor's note: He read to us the possuk in Jeremiah in which these two ministers are mentioned – in the same sentence in the Tenakh, and found only 15 feet away from each other in the City of David, right next to what may have been David's palace!] They survived because when the Temple was destroyed and burned the mud seals hardened and survived. Next we learned about how important the water was during the Jebusite period, and how they had to fortify the water supply. In order to have access to the water and protect it from being poisoned, they fortified the spring, which lay in the valley outside the walls of the city. They dug an underground tunnels leading down to the fortified spring, the citizens would walk down many steps and take water from the spring back up to the city. [We walked through this tunnel, and I would not want to be the one who had to carry the water back up – hard job!] When David Hamelech captured the city he used the tunnels as his point of entrance into the fortified city. [editor's note: We then re-enacted David anointing Shlomo at the actual site of the Gihon spring. Our tour guide was amazing – he had the kids role play throughout the entire tour so one was the king of the Jebusites, one was King David, one Shlomo, etc.. The guide also read to us from the Tenakh the passukim that described the city, or the battle, or the ministers, in the place where they actually were, that was so powerful and just plain cool. The Tenakh came to life. About 400 years after David and Shlomo, a king called Hezekiah had expanded the city to the west, and now one of the border valleys became incorporated into the city. So Hezekiah had the spring, that was still outside the city, channeled through rock, underneath the city to this valley within the city’s borders. The engineering is truly mind blowing – the tunnel is about 1/3 of a mile long, but has a decline of only one foot! And they built it from both sides and met in the middle! Axe to axe is how the sources describe it. Truly an amazing feat!] Then we actually walked in the tunnel for 20 minutes in the water, it was so much and refreshing. [editor's note: At the end of the tour, our guide read of Jermeiah;s prophesy that Jerusalem will be rebuilt and within its walls we wil again hear the sounds of joy, and reminded us that is what we did today -- very powerful]. That concluded our visit to Ir David. We then went out to dinner with the Pearlmans because it was Ella’s Birthday. We all had either falafel or pizza or both. It was a jam-packed day full of excitement. [We ate in the Old City and walked back through Mamilla, which is beautifully lit at night, the air was cool, the breeze refreshing -- i wish that the walk was longer so that could prolong our enjoyment of the night!]
Sima’s note: This was a day of chance meetings. We saw Ezra and Shoshana Hurwitz on our way to Hurva, Noah’s lacrosse teammate from Ladue and many friends on the Aish tour (Michelle Brooks, Lisa Binowtiz, Marianne Chervitz, and Keri Simon to name a few) at Ir David, then on the way home in Mamilla Noah saw a kid from Petach Tikvah that he met on the robotics weekend, and we topped off the night by running into Joe and Orit Strauss at our building – Joe’s dad lives in the apartment next door to the one we are renting. We also had phone calls from Elianna, Faye and Earl, and we are invited our for both Shabbat lunch and dinner this week… That connected feeling that you get here is hard to describe, but we really do feel like we belong and this is where we should be.