Today was a slight drop from the fantastic success we’ve had each day so far. Our primary target; the Israeli Museum was mostly closed but some of our secondary targets turned out to be interesting. We ventured our beyond the Old city to the Jewish suburbs and most of our day was spent in a taxi ($200 on taxi fare!) Much of it could have been California if you ignored the Hebrew signage.
We left our fantastic room at the American Colony around 9 a.m. and grabbed our first ride. I had decided earlier to skip Bethlehem, thinking that a long ride was not worth a church. Luckily, the charming taxi driver, (who was doing tours of Petra from Jerusalem in the 70’s) convinced me to do it. We switched cars in Bethlehem, which is one of only a few christian towns in Israel or Palestine, and got a quick tour.
The Church is the oldest intact church in the world, and it was built on top of the cave where they kept animals: the famous manger. It was genuinely interesting on it’s own but the crowds of singing, chanting, prostrate tour groups from Italy that packed the place were also fantastic. There were gift shops everywhere.
On to Hadassa Hospital where we tried to find a plaque with the girls’ great-grandmother’s name inscribed. It turns out that it was in a different hospital, but they were able to show us pictures of it and were very helpful. There are a series of Chagall stained glass windows at the hospital synagogue that were amazing and worth the extra effort.
Yad Vashem was Emma and Lily’s first experience with the holocaust. We answered hundreds of questions from them as we went through the half-dozen memorials including a memorial to the exterminated children that I won’t forget. We couldn’t see the new museum as it is too graphic for kids.
The highlight of the day was supposed to be the Israel Museum where we would see the dead sea scrolls. And we did. They are amazing. But we also hoped to see the main building with some great modern and ancient art, especially the Islamic section. But it was closed for renovation. Doh.
Around the corner was the kids science museum of Hebrew University. If you’ve seen one kids science museum you’ve seen them all but they never fail to entertain. We made it back to the hotel by 4:30 and got ready for work. We both have several hours of meetings tonight.
[Photos by Trisha Creekmore]