Saturday, March 27, 2010

Everyday In Jerusalem

Posted by Colleen

So, what is it that we do when we aren’t visiting ancient sites or roaming the Old City?

This is a question that many have asked us. We have also had many ask about our home. Believe it or not, life is very normal here in Jerusalem. There are a few differences that we experience but if we moved from downtown New York, there may be even fewer differences.

DSC_0086_00 Shopping at Mamilla Mall just outside the Jaffa Gate. We had a hard time finding the right size shoe for Celine.

We live on a busy street right across from President Shimon Peres’ home. It is a very unassuming residence except for the armed guards, high fence and large steel posts (at his house, nor ours) that prevent anyone from entering or leaving without permission. We often benefit from the frequent bands that play for international guests in the President’s garden. Our street is often void of cars to allow the president to leave and return. Recently, when Biden visited, the sky was busy with helicopters, the street lined with police and locals had to find another way to the connecting street, HaPalmach, and other main roads in the area. The other day Eric left for school and heard a screaming Jet approaching, when he looked up he saw a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) shoot across the sky then straight up followed by a loop and then exit stage left, upside down.  Very cool. Not sure who the show was for but it impressed Eric. We also heard it in the house and I sent the girls upstairs. Tally was the only one that got to see it.

image Similar to what Eric and Tally saw flying above our home.

If you walk a couple of blocks down the street and turn left, walk another 4 blocks, you will come to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence. Again, the actual home is large but unassuming (at-least from the outside). It has a high fence and many guards present. Unlike the President’s home, the Prime Minister’s home limits who can drive, not just on the property but on the entire street. Each end of the street has the large steel posts that can retract into the ground when someone needs to pass but only after going through the proper inspection and approval. We walk by often as this is how we get to Ben Yehuda, one of our super markets and sometimes to Old City.

100_9995 A view of the President’s house from the gate of our front courtyard. The covered area is where guests walk-in. The street is blocked off right now as you can see with the tape. 2 guards are in picture.

With all the amazing sights to see and people to meet and watch, there are many days we, the girls, stay home. School is the priority on these days. When that is completed, our day takes on many forms. Building forts is a popular past-time. For every fort, there must be furniture. Normally, in Texas things like empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls are thrown in the trash. However, in Jerusalem, we put them into a sizeable pile. Sometimes Lillian spends an hour just cutting them into tiny pieces. Other times they become a beautiful Barbie couch or pair of binoculars. The girls also like to play Uno or Spoons or put together puzzles. One of Lillian’s favorite things to do is play dress-up. Celine is the fashion consultant on all fashion shows and Tally uses her drawing skills to create paper dolls and props for whatever is happening.

one of the many forts with furntiure Celine with one of the forts that have been constructed in our home.

For St. Patrick’s Day, Celine got up early and decorated the house with signs. One read “Wear Green” another “St. Patchricks Day” (yes that’s how she spelled it). Scarves, baby blankets and paper ribbon have all been used for decorating our small home. She also plans games for us. One of the big hits was when she divided us up into 2 teams. We then had to perform a play for the other team. Eric and Celine’s play was called, “Meatballs in Israel.” Tally, Lillian and I named our play “Princess Wise.”

IMG_0473 Eric and Celine posing after their play called “Meatballs in Israel.” This was taken in our living room.

Of course, there are the regular activities like grocery shopping, laundry, housecleaning and such. We have even taken in a trip to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo where you will find placards telling about the Genesis Creation account and Noah being the first Animal conservationist. At the end of the path, just past the safari, you come to a large Ark, the kind you would find in any story book. Inside, there is a movie the kids can watch about where all the animals come from geographically. Upstairs, you can relax with an ice cream bar. The coolest thing was visiting the Lemurs. They just walk around in the same area with you. Some had a baby clinging to their belly—very cute.

IMG_0633 Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. Yes, that’s a real, live lemur! 
The Lemurs were in a section where we could walk among them, like a children’s zoo except we weren’t allowed to touch them. They would come right up to us though. Some had babies clinging to their tummies as they walked around.

The other day, the girls and I took a trip to Old City where we climbed atop the Petra Hostel and then made our way over to Habad St where you find many Bedouin vendors, climbed an open metal staircase to the roof of the covered markets. These markets were covered during the crusader period. It is believed that the hot sun was just too much so they enclosed this section of Old City.

rickety wooden staircase leading to roof top of Petra The “rickety wooden staircase” inside Petra Hostel leading to the roof. There are many views of Old City from outside the gates but this was one of the rooftops you can climb to see what surrounds Old City from within the gates. Petra used to be a high-end hotel.

We have also climbed down into the Hinnom valley, then walked down to where it dead ends at the Kidron Valley. This is also in east Jerusalem where the Arabs live. It is north of here that the riots you may have see in the news recently have occurred. On the north side of the valley we saw an enormous herd of goats, 2 kids (the human variety)  racing—one on a donkey, the other on a horse. We also came across a group of teenagers climbing the trees on the south side of the valley. These kids run on these hills like it is a soccer field but it is nothing of the sort. These hills are so steep, sometimes I wonder if my ankles are supposed to bend at such an angle. So far, so good.

IMG_0398 Lillian in the Hinnom Valley. If you look on the hill behind her, you can see a herd of goats and off to the left is a boy on a horse. Lillian and Celine LOVE picking the flowers. They really are beautiful especially the red poppies that grow everywhere.

Last week, Eric joined the other students in a game of ultimate Frisbee. He really enjoyed it. They play in the Hinnom Valley at Sultan’s Pool which is below their school.

IMG_0486 Eric playing ultimate Frisbee with the other JUC students in the Hinnom Valley below their school. He is in the foreground with long pants. He didn’t have the luxury of changing clothes after class because he lives off campus.

Though most of Eric’s time is spent in school and on field studies, he also spends much time studying and reading. His professors are amazing. The professors include Christians, Jews, and Muslims all teaching at a high level of expertise. The students are from all over the US, Europe and Australia.

IMG_0678_00 Eric studying at the table – after a hair cut and beard trim by an old fashion barber in the Muslim quarter of the Old City.

On our days home, the garden (backyard), is a wonderful place. Celine is currently working on a walking path. The girls have also constructed a Barbie mansion that the hail/rain storms destroyed along with our beautiful flowers. There are also beautiful parks in Jerusalem that we frequently find ourselves enjoying.

IMG_0680 Celine has raked the yard and plans to return the gravel to make a path. Hopefully, this happens soon so our garden won’t be mud if it rains. The squeegee in her hand is what is used for a mop here in Jerusalem. You buy a rag type thing that goes on the end. When you are done mopping, you throw it in the wash. Good idea. Today it was a rake though.

Tonight, after a day of laundry at Eric’s school, we enjoyed a Passover Seder with the students at JUC. It was a lot of fun complete with the kids trying to find the Afikomen (half of the matza) that is hidden in the early part of the Seder. Afikomen means that which comes after or dessert. Matza is an unleavened bread that is eaten during the week of Pesach (Passover). As we go into the week of Pesach, things baked with leaven are not available in the grocery stores. My brother is arriving tomorrow evening so I thought I should stock my freezer with pita and bread. I wasn’t sure if he was prepared to eat matza all week. The description below is very abbreviated. There is deep meaning in the Passover. If you are a Christian or Messianic Jew, there is a Messianic Passover Seder available that you can use at your own Passover Seder. I would encourage you to participate in one and maybe begin the tradition with your family. The symbolism of Jesus Christ comes through so vividly in the Passover story. He is our Passover Lamb.

Passover Seder plate:

IMG_0681_00  Moror- bitterness in Egyptian slavery (horseradish), Charoset- mortar used to build storehouses in Egypt (a mixture of apples, cinnamon and nuts), Karpas- pain and tears of Jewish slaves (parsley dipped in salt water), Z’roa (not shown)- Pesach sacrifice or sacrifice made at the Temple (roasted lamb bone), Beitzah- mourning over the destruction of the Temple (roasted egg which is the first thing served after a funeral.)

In the narrative of the Exodus, God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh would release his Hebrew slaves, with the tenth plague being the killing of all of the firstborn, from the Pharaoh's son to the firstborn of the dungeon captive, to the firstborn of cattle. The Hebrews were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term "passover". When Pharaoh freed the Hebrews, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. In commemoration, for the duration of Passover, no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason it is called "The Festival of the Unleavened Bread". Matza (unleavened bread) is the primary symbol of the holiday. This bread that is flat and unrisen is called matzo. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Shabbot Shalom!


Unknown said...

Very cool. So fun to see your girls doing things there that my girls do here (like the fort in the house and the barbie garden ;) ). My girls would be SOOO jealous of being able to walk among the lemurs. I bet they were so cute with their babies!

I think I told you that we had a pastor here who used to do a Passover Seder at our church. The girls really miss it and especially the part about finding the afikomen.

Meant to tell you - there was an orthodox Jewish couple at the hospital when we were there. We talked about you being over there and she said she was jealous. When she was younger she went to an all girls school there.

Love you guys. Hope you have a great time with Calvin :)

Carole L Robishaw said...

Can't you at least find two shoes of the same color for her? :}
I miss the girls artwork, and Tally's engineering skills with found items!
Tally, did you ever finish that tree house bed? The one you were using tp rolls for?
Aunt Patty is coming to visit next week. Can't wait to see her.
I'll bet you run your uncle ragged showing him around, don't forget, your legs have adjusted to all the hills and stairs!

love ya

Nanny said...

Dear Colleen, This has got to be one of my favorites of your blogs because I can compare living in the USA to your daily activities..walking past the PM house on your way to the grocery store...hearing the bands, etc. ,how the Israeli zoo is differnt from USA zoo, etc. They're calling me for lunch..til later. Tell Eric I LOVE his haircut, etc. Be sure and get the name of that barber so he can always use him in the future. HA!
Love, Mom