Near Mish Mish

December 3, 2009

This is out of order, but I just took some pictures off my phone.

Our last night in Israel, Scott, Marshall, Heather and I went to Tel Aviv.  Our flights were all at 6am, so we stayed up all night.  This was the last bar we went to.  It was near another bar, Mish Mish.  The inside felt a little like a bar mitzvah, but the outside part was really cool.

Israel Pictures

November 9, 2009

Here are some of Scott’s pictures from Israel.

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Here’s his column from today:

Call White House, Ask for Barack

It’s pretty interesting, and I’m not sure I disagree.  It might be time for the U.S. to step back.  We kept hearing over and again that the constituents who live in Israel, live the bombings, the day to day tensions, are much more lenient, much more willing to make a deal, than the academics and foreign peace facilitators who step in.  Maybe Tom’s right.

Tel Aviv

November 8, 2009

Scott, Marshall, Heather and I spent our last day and night in Tel Aviv.  A big city on the Mediterranean, it’s apparently where all the young people from all over the country go.  The streets were filled with cafes and shops and wine bars.  The main avenues were packed with people going in and out of malls, buying ice cream, chatting.  We had a great afternoon walking around, running along the water, seeing the more modern side of Israel.

When we left for the airport at 3.15am to catch our 6am flights, the streets were still packed with revelers out and about at hip little places with thumping music.

We then hopped on our next, very long transatlantic flight.  I’ve never seen such security at an airport.  It was awesome, though, to spend so much time with my brother and his wife, to have a chance to talk about this really special trip that we had and to process all that we heard.

Yad VaShem

November 8, 2009

I had been to Yad VaShem as a little girl, and only remembered the Children’s Memorial, with the single candle–it’s flame reflected in millions of mirrors.  A brand new museum was constructed on the same hill four or five years ago, that was incredibly well done and I think emotional for all of us.

The new building is submerged in the earth, and looks like a knife slicing through the land.

The path a visitor must take through the museum brings you in and out of every exhibit, through the chronological timeline of the Holocaust.  As Marshall said when we left, it makes you understand why we were forced to go to Hebrew School for all of those years.  It’s so easy to forget, and be flippant about being Jewish, we’re not confronted with the history and the fragility the way previous generations were.  The whole experience of walking through, absorbing this information as an adult, was overwhelming.

Scott and I went to the Tower of David Museum to get the historical perspective on Jerusalem.  The old citadel goes through the three thousand year history of this city, beginning with the Canaanites, on and on through all of the groups that lay claim to this tiny strip of land.  Learning about the history made me realize that it’s pretty naive to think we can stop the fighting now, it’s been going on pretty much throughout Jerusalem’s existence.

The old stones everywhere look a little bit like bones, bleached out and calcified.  Where they were chipped into blocks, it looks like joint grooves.  It sort of seems appropriate here, where the stones have seen so much.

We had tremendously delicious falafel from a hole in the wall stand and wandered through the old city for a while.

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The air smelled like spices, saffron, and outside the walled city, lavender and lemon thyme.  There were olive trees while I was running, and the call to prayer while inside the Moslem Quarter.  People sold scarves, and menorahs, kitschy tee shirts and talit.  Priests in black with the collar monks and nuns passed arabs in head scarves and jews in pais, literally all shoulder to shoulder in narrow corridors.

Jerusalem

October 31, 2009

Scott and I arrived in Jerusalem today, by way of Madrid. This is pretty inconsequential, but a quick note about airports. Terminal 7 at JFK is just about one of the best airport terminals I’ve seen in New York.  I haven’t flown British Airways (or Iberia) in forever, and it’s great.  They have Ciao Bella gelato and a Balducci’s take out area.  We flew Iberia through Madrid, which is also one of the coolest airports I’ve seen lately. Designed by Richard Rogers Partnership it’s bright and sunny and organic looking.

Driving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it’s hard not to feel something, to feel the weight of the history and the brightness of the limestone.  It’s fresh and consuming, and simultaneously the safest feeling place where you can still worry about being bombed in the street.  As Scott said, in Rio, once you make it inside someplace, you’re pretty much okay.  In Israel, it’s all fair game, but you don’t think twice about wandering down a dark alley.

We had dinner at a restaurant called Chakra. It was delicious–fresh warm bread with different small dishes of tabouleh, eggplant, fiery red pepper spread, marinated avocado, kochoba squash, ceviche.  It was perhaps my perfect collection of foods.  The place was filled with Israelis–older couples having inky wine dinners at tables for two, and groups of friends and other twosomes perched at the bar.  From there we wandered to the old city.  The streets were clearly created before cars, and narrow passageways lead to stairs between shuttered shops and homes.  After about ten minutes of winding through alleys past Hasidic men in pais and black suits and fur hats, we turned a corner, passed through a metal detector and were at the Western Wall.

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There were men praying on the mens’ side and women praying on the womens’ side and all of the stones all around us were polished with thousands of years of use.  I remembered being here as a four year old and a seven year old for my brothers’ respective bar mitzvahs, peering over the division between the two halves.  There were two boys about our age, black suits, black hats, pais, on their cell phones, telling their friend, Maier, to just come up the ramp, they’ll see each other.  I couldn’t help wonder if then their Saturday night would begin however it goes, after the davening was done.

It feels surreal to be here.  The weight of all that was fought for to get it makes it seem worth fighting for now.  This city glows.  It’s living history, ruins, and archeological digs mixed in with pizza places and mod cafes.