Up at 6:00. Brynne had a bowl of cheerios and we had fruit and juice, and packed fruit and bagels in our backpack. We were ready at 6:50 when Tom drove us to the Laromme Hotel where we would meet the Egged Tour bus to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. We left the apartment building and took stairs down past an entrance to a bomb shelter below the apartments, then to the parking garage under the terrace. Tom used a remote control to open the wrought-iron gate to exit out onto the street. Shabbat had begun one hour before sundown on Friday (yesterday), and would last until one hour past sundown tonight. The observant Jews would dress up and walk to synagogue. There would be no driving, cooking, showering, using the elevator, turning on lights (but the use of timers was allowed to turn them on and off!), etc. So it was very quiet in the neighborhood. We soon arrived at the Laromme Hotel, where Vice President Al Gore is due to visit next month, and later former President Jimmy Carter. Secretary of State Warren Christopher is a frequent guest here.
As soon as we stepped out of Tom’s car at the hotel, Brynne lost her breakfast. She kept gagging and coughing, and spit into the nice brass top of a trash can. We wiped the mess off the sidewalk and dropped it into the trash can, and decided to all get back into the car and go home. We had reservations for the bus tour, but luckily had not yet paid. We did not see anyone around to notify, and left. Back at the Ls’ apartment we apologized for getting Tom up so early, but he seemed just thankful that Brynne did not make a mess inside the car! Brynne was feeling tired, feverish, and was coughing. This was more than jet lag now, so she has the flu? We let her go back to bed, and Kent went back to bed as well.
I decided to accompany the Ls when they went to pick up their Christmas tree. It seems the Israeli government cleans out their forests and donates the trees to the embassies and consulates. The rest they bring to a designated place for distribution to local Christians who pick them up for free. We had seen people walking through the Old City dragging what appeared to be large evergreen branches, but apparently these were their Christmas trees! We did see some small artificial trees for sale in the souk. We drove up a street past the Prime Minister’s residence, but couldn’t really see much of it. We parked in front of the United States consulate on Agron Street, one of two in Jerusalem, the other being on Nablus Road/Derekh Shechem in East Jerusalem (near the Garden of the Tomb). The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv deals with the Israelis and recognizes Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. The United States Consulates in Jerusalem deal with the Palestinians, in an official capacity. We were buzzed through the door and the Marine allowed us into the lobby of the building. We exited out to the courtyard in front of the American Consulate General’s home. The “Christmas trees” were lined up along one wall, taller than the ones we had seen, but all rather asymmetrical. The evergreens had feathery leaves and large nebulous “cones.” They were more silvery in color than green. One was tagged for the Ls, and Tom cut off the bottom branches, which we saved. We then left by the auto gate, and a large shield behind the gate lowered into the ground so we could walk through. Outside a couple Israeli guards watched curiously as Tom tied the tree down in the hatchback of their Volvo 440. I took a couple photos, then we drove home.
|US Consulate on Agron Road|
|Tom put the tree in the trunk of the Volvo 440|
|Jerusalem Christmas Tree, before|
|Monastery of the Cross|
|Entrance to the Monastery of the Cross|
|Bronze disk marks the spot where the tree|
grew from which the cross of Jesus was made
Next we headed uphill past rocky dirt areas with scraggly trees (some olive trees) and shrubs. We came up behind the Knesset building that was entirely enclosed by walls and barbed wire. We had to walk all the way around to locate the entrance, only to find that the gate was down across the road. We went into the Wohl Rose Garden to look down onto the front of the Knesset.
|Wohl Rose Garden|
We found the Menorah, which I had expected to be bigger. It is a 10-foot high bronze menorah, the seven-branched candelabra based on the one that graced the First and Second Temples. Now it is the official symbol of the State of Israel. Designed by Bruno Elkin, it was a gift of the British Parliament in 1956. It was decorated with bas reliefs of events and persons in Jewish history from Biblical times to modern day.
|Menorah and Knesset|
We walked back along the road to the back of the Knesset, then across the street to the Israel Museum. We read a sign that we were supposed to get tickets for Saturday in advance, as they cannot sell tickets on Shabbat! But there was a van parked outside selling tickets, so either a non-observant Jew or a Christian who was allowed to handle the money transactions today! It cost 18 NIS each to enter the museum complex. Built in 1965, it was a series of glass and white stone pavilions on a 22-acre hilltop. Our goal was to see the white dome-like Shrine of the Book housing the Dead Sea Scrolls.
|Shrine of the Book dome/Sons of Light and |
basalt slab/Sons of Darkness
From the Shrine of the Book we went up to the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden, donated by the American impresario/director and designed by Isamu Noguchi (whose sculptures are in the garden). It was a series of semicircular terraces divided by stone walls.
|Homage to Garment District (197, by Arman)|
|Kent with Vertebrae (1968-1969, by Henry Moore)|
|Adam (1880, by Auguste Rodin)|
|Kent examines Apple Core|
(1992, by Claes Oldenburg)
|Terraces of the Israel Museum|
|Brynne decorating the Christmas tree|
|Jerusalem Christmas Tree, after|
|A German smoker|
|Brynne with a German candle "carousel"|
One hour after sundown, Shabbat ended with a lot of noise, shouts and drumming. It was unusual activity, perhaps because of Hanukkah (which would end on Christmas Day this year)? We have noticed big commercial hanukkiahs, and small ones in the windows of homes. Each night an additional candle is lit, and I think this is the eve of the seventh day of eight. We at the Ls', though, listened to Christmas music!
For dinner we had a lamb roast with cranberry sauce, carrots, kohlrabi, mashed potatoes with gravy, salad, bread and butter. Brynne had not eaten all day, but wanted to try something. We found Ramen noodles to make for her with chicken bouillon, which initially she was afraid to eat, then had some.
Kent and I decided to go to Ben Yehuda Street, the pedestrian shopping area. Now that Shabbat was over, the buses would be running and the shops would be open. Tom drove us to the beginning of Solomon Street then continued to go beer shopping. It was already 20:00 and I was wondering if anything would be open. But all the taverns, restaurants, and discos on Solomon Street were busy. The pedestrian street was crowded with people. There were some street musicians, a juggler, a few fundamentalists out lighting a hanukkiah, or driving around with a lighted hanukkiah on the roof and shouting through a bullhorn. On this car were posters of Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose pamphlet we had received at the Tomb of David. We window-shopped along Ben Yehuda Street. Saw a McDonald’s down a side street.
|McDonald's in Jerusalem|