Israel: Part VI – Dread and beauty

November 19, 2017

The overly generous hubby made the mistake of giving $10USD to the housekeeping dude who cleaned our room once…okay, maybe twice over a seven-day period. Daily, starting from 6:00AM we are bombarded by the little old man who sings outside our door, staff yelling up and down the hallway while standing in front of our door, doors around us, along with toilet seats, slammed repeatedly until we finally emerge from our cave.

Advice from a friend: “Next time tip the dining room staff…”

I was in no mood today – the kid was leaving early this morning and I was dreading every second. It was hard enough saying goodbye when she left home back in September, but I knew this time would be just as painful as the last. My only saving grace was realizing how competent a person she had become. As she packed up the Batman blanket and Kinder Surprise egg toys into the hubby’s much beloved hiking backpack he humbly handed over, she handed Dolly to me…and of course I started to cry…and off she went…


Israel Museum

Planning ahead, the hubby needed to keep me busy today. Having been to the Israel Museum before, I knew we could make a day of it. This is another museum with extensive grounds outdoors (much to my delight). With rain expected later in the day, I convinced the hubby to walk around outside before the weather turned gloomy. Our first stop was the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Facing the complex with the blindingly white Shrine to the right, a massive black obelisk stands to the left – out of darkness there is light. Entering through the top of the white dome, we worked our way down into the story of the Scrolls and the history of the Judean desert through a multitude of ancient artifacts, finding ourselves in the structure’s inner circle containing the oldest Biblical manuscripts in existence, as well as a full-scale facsimile of the Great Isaiah Scroll and other ancient archaeological artifacts (no photos are permitted inside).

Looking at the time and having not heard from the kid, I desperately strained to shush the Little Voice by reassuring it that she had survived the bus ride and was back at her dorm and sent my first text – “All okay?” Even when the kid didn’t answer right away, I swept all anxiety aside, telling myself the wifi in her building must’ve went out again…

Exiting the Shrine, we were lead down a path to the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period…

…and still no word from the kid…my second text – “Hello?!” No answer…

Remaining calm, we made our way to the Zen Art Garden, where outdoor sculptures are added on a regular basis.


My favorite of the sculptures is the one above entitled “LOVE,” a Hebrew version of Robert Indiana’s original LOVE sculpture displayed at the Indiana Museum of Art. What I love (no pun intended) about this work of art, is that it can be read from left to right, top then bottom or from top to bottom, left to right. At first we automatically see the alef and hey at the top and then vet and hey on the bottom – the letters forming the word ahava or “love,” for which the sculpture is named. However, when read top to bottom and left to right, you see alef and vet on the right and hey and hey on the left – Av Adonai – G-d our Father…love is G-d and G-d is love.

Another sculpture I hadn’t explored last time we were at the museum was something called “Space That Sees” created by James Turrell. Encountering a unassuming stark white structure, I was baffled by its title and couldn’t quite figure out what it meant.


And then I noticed a gravel path off to my left and heading down a small hill in front of the “building,” the hubby opting to wait on a bench while I explored further. Coming across a doorway dug into the stone, I walked through a short hallway and found myself inside a sanctuary surrounded by gray and white concrete and limestone. My eye was suddenly drawn upward to a square opening cut into the ceiling  – and all I saw was that beautiful blue sky with the puffy white clouds, creating “an ever-changing abstract picture of the sky.”


Briefly misplacing the hubby and finding him sitting on a bench looking dehydrated in what turned out to be a rather hot day with no rain, we decided to head indoors to grab some lunch and gulp some much-needed water. On our way to the museum cafe, we stopped to take pictures of our reflections in Anish Kapoor’s “Turning the World Upside Down” sculpture. I also attempted to convince the hubby to sit in the giant apple, but grumpiness had taken over…

Ordering a couple of sandwiches and grabbing big jugs of water, we decided to sit outside in a shaded section of the terrace. As we ate, some very Israeli hooded crows plopped themselves on the table next to us and consumed the scraps left by a former patron and posed for the camera. Apparently one like the cheese and the other the bread…


Finally the kid responded with her customary, “Yeah” and all was right with the world…

Before heading to the floors upstairs, we briskly perused the Youth Wing for Art Education, whose current exhibition was a colorful exploration about cats and dogs.

The abundance of exhibits throughout the museum are innumerable. This is my third time here and, once again, I exhausted myself with wanting to see every.little.thing. I try to remind myself every time to just pick a section to scrutinize for that one visit, but I never seem to listen to the Little Voice. Either way, the museum was closing soon, so we needed to hustle.

I have to say, I’m a sucker for Sephardi synagogues – brilliant white walls and columns with crisp accents and simple lines. The Tzedek ve-Shalom (“Justice and Peace”) synagogue, fashioned in typical Spanish and Portuguese style, was founded in 1736 and located in Paramaribo, Suriname, a small village on the northeast coast of South America. It was deconstructed from its homeland and later restored inside the museum.


Working our way to the exit, we came across a sukkah (“booth”), a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. Created in the town of Fischach, Bavaria (Germany) for the Deller family in the early nineteenth century, this elaborately painted structure was smuggled out of Germany in 1935 and now stands in the Israel Museum.


And, of course, we had to stop by a few masterpieces on the way out…

Thoroughly exhausted, we went back to the hotel to freshen up before heading to dinner.

We promised one another that we would not leave Jerusalem this time without eating at Burgers Bar and found our way back to Ben Yehuda once again.


The first time I ate there in 2011 was the hubby’s second. He had forgotten that it was a cash-only establishment at that time and, although we had no cash, the server gave us our food based on the honor system, telling the hubby he could go to the ATM up the street after we finished our food (the kid and me staying back as collateral). Things had definitely changed over the past six years – now they took all kinds of credit cards. The hubby ordered his “usual” burger with me choosing the fancier lamb burger and a beer, of which the cashier spilled all over herself upon opening and handed me a new one. Waiting some time for our food, I was approached by a young woman who asked me if I was Alice. Wondering how we possibly knew each other, she giggled and told me that the cashier had called my name several times (I guess I really look like an Alice). As I approached the counter, the cashier told me that they were all out of lamb, so they made a burger from entrecote at no extra cost. Despite not having asked me if I minded the change, I wasn’t going to complain…and then the hubby said, “I make you lamb!”

And I managed to get through the rest of my day without worrying about the kid…

“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
It’s easy”

All You Need Is Love – The Beatles

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump


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