Friday, May 4, 2012

One last look at Jerusalem - saying goodbye (for now)

Here's one last look at the Old City of Jerusalem, a video I took from the tower of David's Tower Museum...A city that has become so familiar to me, and definitely feels like a 2nd home.  I am writing this from Brunswick, GA, and am sooo glad to be home with Michael. I had an uneventful and long trip home and of course very little sleep.  The only good thing about leaving Israel was knowing that I get to go back in just a few months:)

I wanted to show you what was waiting for me at the gate of JUC when I came out to get in the Sherut (taxi) waiting to take me to the airport:)  After I took the video, they all gave me a 'group hug' and squished me so hard I couldn't breathe. I love those kids....

P.S.  Happiness is high-speed internet, and not having to wait for hours to upload a short video:)
P.S.S.  Thanks for looking at my blog!! I hope you have enjoyed a little taste of what it's like to live and study in Israel. This blog is TO-BE-CONTINUED when I return to Jerusalem August 23rd!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Modern Israel Day 2 and 3

This was our first view of the day...I know it doesn't look like much because it was hazy, but we climbed way up high onto the Golan Heights and are now looking down on the Sea of Galilee. We could see the entire Sea from up here!! The little village you see on the shore is En Gev, the resort we were staying at for 2 nights. It was an amazing view, we could see Bethsaida, Capernaum, Safed, Tiberius, etc. all from that lookout.

Here we are at a location where we stopped beside the road to have a look at 3 countries at the same time. The near hill on the left is Israel (Golan), the middle hill is Syria, and the far hills on the right are Jordan!
Another view of borders from Mount Bental. These soldiers are looking over the land. From here we can look straight into Syria. There is a big military lookout base on the next hill over. Mt. Bental is an extinct volcano.
Also from Mt. Bental...blow this picture up and you will see the snowy peaks of Mt. Hermon. Its summit straddles the border of Syria and Lebanon.
The next border we went to was Metulla, in Northern Israel. We sat up here, looking over the city of Metulla, and Lebanon is right behind it. That hill behind the homes is in Lebanon, and is Hezbollah territory.  We sat up here for about an hour while our professor lectured us about the history of conflict between Lebanon, Hezbollah and Israel. Here is a news blurb I saw about Metulla a couple days after we were there:
Metula's security wall offers protection from Hezbollah
Metula, the most northern town of Israel, susceptible to Hezbollah attacks by virtue of its location only six kilometers from the Lebanese border, is receiving increased security and protection by the IDF. A security wall over one kilometer in length and 5-7 meters high is under construction to protect the approximately 1,500 Israelis living in Metula. It is being built in coordination with the UNIFIL peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, who has notified the Lebanese army. The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement on Monday that the barrier will serve to reduce tensions and improve security in the area.
This is a map at a museum at Hanita, that shows the many settlements that were developed in the 1930's just before Israel became a state. Back then, it was not yet decided where the borders would be, and the thought was to go ahead and settle in these areas because where the Jews lived would actually determine the borders of Israel. The people that settled these villages risked their lives, especially during the Arab revolt of 1936-1939 and many lost their lives defending their homes and families.

 The pioneering Jews had a system called "Tower and Stockade", where they would go into land that had been legally purchased for them, and within 24 hours set up a fence (stockade) and a lookout tower for defense. By nightfall it was not unusual to be attacked by bands of Arabs. These settlements were built pre-fab elsewhere, and trucked into the areas where they wanted to settle.  This is a little model of the tower and stockade concept.
Boots of a Jewish pioneer who worked to build Hanita, a kibbutz, in 1939.  10  men lost their lives as it was being built in what would become Northern Israel.

 We are at the present-day kibbutz of Hanita, looking at the border fence of Lebanon. The truck you see is in Lebanon.
 This hill is in Lebanon, and if you look really close, you can see a Hezbollah lookout tower on top of it. (Hezbollah is a Shi'ite Muslim militant group and political party in Lebanon, that may soon take over their political system, which would not be good news for Israel).
And here's one of Israel's lookout/survelliance towers on the Lebanese border.

 Walking back to the bus, we are walking amongst brand new houses being built for residents of Hanita. It seemed amazing that these people are choosing to live right on the border, so close to a militant anti-semitic terrorist organization. They believe they are helping to protect Israel's borders by doing so, and their families have been there since the 1930's.
 Now we are on the coast of the Mediterranean, at a prison museum at Akko where members of the Zionist underground resistance were imprisoned by the British during the British mandate (in the 1930's and '40's). These statues are showing a prisoner checking in. They were members that were resisting the British and wanting to establish a Jewish homeland.
 Here's the prison courtyard where the prisoners were let out once a day and allowed to walk in a circle, two by two, for a few minutes of exercise.
 The prisoners slept on mats on the floor, woven from pieces of cloth. They used to hide contraband in the mattresses, even explosives, and once were able to effect a prison breakout. Many escaped, but several died during the breakout. Their crime was being Jewish and wanting independence from Britain, and freedom from the Arabs who tried to kill their families.
 This represented the little room used as a synagogue in the prison.
These are just 3 of the men who were hung in this prison. Reading their stories made it all seem so real (well, it IS real). Young idealist Jewish men who fought bravely for their right to a homeland, safe from the Nazis and others that persecuted them. Nine ended up being executed right here.
This is the little window visitors would come to, to visit someone on death row.
This is the same room they were executed in, by hanging. The trap door, the rope, etc. was all so sobering. The Hebrew words on the wall are the names of the nine men who died here.

 Driving through Haifa, also on the coast...I took this pic out the window of the bus. Looking down this street you can see the Bahia Gardens up on the hill.
 We had a 'bus lunch', where we just ate out the side of the bus. Pita bread (it was cold and half frozen), hummus, cheese, carrot sticks, whatever we could find in there.  Peter is hungry enough to eat it:)
 Now we are at Atlit, a museum that once was an Illegal Immigrant camp for Jews that came to Israel 'illegally' when the British had control. In the late 1930's they severely limited the numbers of Jews that could come (due to pressure from the Arabs), yet tens of thousands of Jews were still trying to flee from Europe and Russia and from the holocaust. Most came by ship, and were taken to these camps to be detained.
 A ship similar to the ones that brought the Jewish immigrants to Israel. They were crowded and crammed as many people on them as possible.
 These are actual boards from the bunkers where the immigrants stayed...they would carve in their names, say where they were from and where they'd be taken. Hoping their lost family would find them. You may need to click on this to enlarge it to see. Someone even carved a pic of the ship they came over in.
 The guide is showing us a spray cannister that was used to de-louse the immigrants, and she standing in front of a big washing maching where their clothes would be laundered when they first got there. The extreme heat would shrink their clothes, and they would no longer fit so they'd have to exhange them with someone else smaller. Can you imagine coming from a concentration camp to Israel, then the first thing they do is make you undress, spray you down, and make you get in a shower? It was terrifying for them I am sure. But the end result was that most of them did get to stay in Israel and eventually become citizens of the new Jewish state.
Here she is pointing to actual photographs of the immigrants at this camp.  They look pretty happy to me, once they figure out this is NOT a concentration camp.

Trip to Galilee (Modern Israel Class) Day 1

Starting our day off by looking at map of Israel's borders.  We went on a 3 day trip with my "Historical and Social Settings of Modern Israel" class, where are theme is the borders of Israel...who settles there, who are neighbors are, historical conflicts, etc.
 Looking down into the Jordan Valley from a war memorial.
 This war memorial remembers the soldiers who have fallen in the Jordan Valley area, protecting the borders of Israel.
 Now we are at the site of Old Gesher, a former Kibbutz. We are getting ready to make bread to be baked in the really old stone oven that has been used for decades there.

Don't we look fabulous, read to make our foccacia bread, they will bake it for us, and we'll eat it up for lunch:)
Here we are hard at working, making that bread, putting all kinds of toppings on it.
 This is the view from the Kibbutz Gesher, right on the border of Jordan (the border is actually in the middle of the Jordan River, which is right down the hill).
You can click to enlarge and read this description.
 This train bridge was blown up by the fighers at Gesher after the war, to prevent Jordan from using the bridge to attack.
 Here's another bridge over the Jordan River at Gesher, this one originated in the time of the Romans in Jesus' day.
 Rachel is sitting behind this man, who doesn't seem to want to talk with her. She is on a bus at Gesher, part of the museum there.
 We are at a cemetary at Kinneret, another kibbutz museum near the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. This is monument to Theodore Herzl, the father of Modern Zionism.  Kinneret was the first Kibbutz of its kind in Israel in the early 1900's.
View of the sea of Galilee from the cemetary.
 I was drawn to this grave the inscription, wonder how they earned that reputation?
 Back at En Gev, we all took a dip in the Sea of Galilee. The water was slightly warm, still cool and refreshing, it was wonderful!!
 You have to stay within the buoys to swim!  That's a group of JUC students in the clump of people.
 The beach at En Gev....many are enjoying the beautiful spring weather.  Can you even imagine swimming in the Sea of Galilee. It was outstanding:)
This is the view from my hotel room at En Gev. We had a beautiful day around the Sea of Galilee.