Monday, November 17, 2008

David's Citadel Or Shalem Sound and Light Show

Or Shalem - is the sound and light show at the Tower of David Museum just inside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. The show tells the story of Jerusalem through images, characters and sounds projected onto the walls, archeological ruins, bridges and hidden pathways of the ancient citadel. It is presented Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7 PM. It costs 50/40 NIS for the show and 65/45 or a combined ticket for the daytime museum entry and evening show. The website is and the phone number is 02-626-5333.

It is advised to call in advance to confirm.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Itinerary for Overseas Adventure Travel October 24 - November 6 2008


Friday, October 24th, 2008
Shabbat – please note everything closes at 4:00 pm

Arrive Tel Aviv, check-in to Tal Hotel Tel Aviv
7:00 pm Welcome drink and Briefing with tour TL
7:30 pm Welcome Dinner in Hotel

Saturday, October 25th 2008
6:30 – 8:30 am Breakfast in Hotel
9:00 am Arrive in Jaffa and walking tour of the Old City.,
10:00 am Visit Ilana Goor Museum
Walking tour and visit of the flea market
11:30 pm Lunch by your own
12:30 pm Depart for Tel Aviv
1:00 pm Visit of Reuven Rubin Museum and Bialiq St.
3:00 pm Visit Nachlat Binyamin and walking back to hotel
Dinner on own

Sunday, October 26th, 2008
6:30 – 9:00 am Breakfast in Hotel
9:00 am Depart for Caesarea and visit archaeological site
12:30 pm Lunch at Kibbutz Sdot Yam
1:30 pm Depart to Haifa and visit of the Bahai gardens
4:00 pm Depart to kfar Haruv
6:30 pm Arrive Kibbutz Kfar Haruv, Golan Heights
Meeting with the kibbutz members and Dinner at Mitzpe Shalom Restaurant

Monday, October 27th, 2008
6:30 – 8:00 am Breakfast in the Hotel
8:30 am Depart to Megiddo , guided visit including tunnels
11:00 am Departure for Nazareth and visit the Annunciation church
1:00 pm Lunch on own
2:00 pm Depart for visit of Tzippori archaeological site.
4:00 pm Depart to Kfar Haruv
Dinner on own

Tuesday, October 28th 2008
7:30 am Breakfast delivered to your cabin
8:30 am Depart for Gamla Nature Reserve
Short hike in the Reserve
10:30 am Depart to Kibbutz El Rom .View the film on the Yom Kippur war. Stop at the Valley of Tears Memorial area (view battlefield)
1:00 pm Depart to Majdal Shams and home hosted lunch with a Druze family
3:00 pm Visit and wine tasting in Odem Winery
5:00 pm Return to Lodge, Kibbutz Kfar Haruv
Dinner on own

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
7:30 am Breakfast delivered to your cabin
8:30 am Depart for the Valley of Kineret
Visit sites around the Sea of Galilee including Copernium
11:00 am Sail on the Sea of Galilee
12:00 noon Visit the “Jesus Boat”
1:30 pm “St. Peter’s fish” Lunch at a local restaurant on Jordan River
5:00 pm Arrive Jerusalem and check in Ritz Hotel

Thursday, October 30th, 2008
6:30 – 8:30 am Breakfast in Hotel
9:00 am Departure and visit City of David including wet and dry tunnels.
Walking tour of Old Jerusalem beginning with the Temple Mount area (view the Dome of the Rock from afar). Visit the Holy Sepulcher and walk along the Via Dolorosa viewing the Arab and Christian quarters of Jerusalem.
Lunch on your own in the old city
6:00 pm Depart for Optional tour Jerusalem by night included Dinner in a local restaurant ($100.00 P.P)

Friday, October 31st, 2008
Shabbat-Please note everything closes at 2:00 pm.

6:30 – 8:15 am Breakfast in hotel.
8:15 am Depart for "Yad Vashem" museum: visit and lecture by a holocaust survivor
12:30 am Departure to Machaneh Yehuda market and lunch on your own
4:00 pm Lecture at hotel by a Palestinian woman
5:00 pm Departure for the wailing wall for Shabbat prayer.
6:00 pm Transfer to Ambassador Hotel for Shabbat dinner. The dinner will follow the traditional menu for the Jewish Shabbat meal.

Saturday, November 1st, 2008
6:00 – 9:00 am Breakfast in Hotel
9:00 am Depart for Israel museum. Visit the model of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Continue walking tour in the old city
Lunch on your own
2:00 pm Return to Hotel
3:00 pm Optional Tour: Beth Lechem with included dinner ($95.00 P.P)

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008
6:30 – 8:30 am Breakfast in Hotel
8:30 am Depart for the Dead sea
Visit the Qumran Archeological site
12:30 pm Depart for Neve Midbar. Lunch in the restaurant followed by shopping time at "Sea of Life" Dead Sea products and time in leisure in order to enjoy swimming and floating.
2:30 pm Depart for Ein Ghedi and visit of the reserve
6:00 pm Arrive to hotel and dinner

Monday, November 3rd, 2008
6:30 – 9:00 am Breakfast in hotel
9:00 am Depart for Judean Desert Jeep Excursion.
12:30 am Lunch on own. Rest of the day at leisure. Experience the Dead Sea by using the Hotel's private beach and Spa facilities
7:30 pm Dinner at Hotel

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
6:30 – 8:30 am Breakfast in Hotel
9:00 am Depart to Masada and visit the site
12:30 pm Lunch in a local restaurant
1:30 pm Depart to Neot Hakikar and Farm visit: Learn about advanced farming techniques in the Israeli desert Agriculture
5:30 pm Return to the Hotel, balance of the afternoon at leisure
7:30 pm Dinner at Hotel

Wednesday, November 5th , 2008
6:30- 8:30 am Breakfast in Hotel
8:30 am Depart to Arad and visit ‘Sea of Life’ Factory
Continue to Tel Arad archaeological site and visit.
12:30 pm Depart Bedouin town, Darajat. Walk around village with local Bedouins, see traditional bread being made, visit cave –farewell traditional lunch in the cave.
2:30 pm Depart for Tel Aviv
4:30 pm Check in Tel Aviv hotel.
6:00 pm Depart for Meeting with Jewish Orthodox community followed by light Dinner

Thursday, November 6th , 2008
Continental Breakfast
Depart for Airport and Flights to U.S.

Bon Voyage and Thank you for traveling with Overseas Adventure Travel!

Tel Aviv Museums Continued

The Museums of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa

Azrieli Center (Round Tower, 49th Floor), 132 Menachem Begin Rd., Tel Aviv.
Tel. 03-608-1179. Bus No: 11, 78, 608.
Open: Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday: 10:00-20:00, Friday: 10:00-18:00,
Saturday: 10:00-20:00. Closed on Monday.

17 Ben Gurion Blvd., Tel Aviv. Tel 03-522-1010. Bus No: 4, 10.
Open: Sunday, Monday: 08:00-17:00, Tuesday - Thursday 08:00-15:00,
Saturday: 08:00-13:00. Closed on Fridays and on holidays.

22 Bialik St., Tel. 03-525-4530. Bus No: 4.
Closed for renovations.

16 Rothschild Blvd., Tel. 03-517-7760. Bus No: 12, 4.
Open: Sunday – Tuesday, and.Thursday: 09:30-12.30, Wednesday: 09:30-12:30, and 16:00-19:00. Closed on Friday and Saturday.

2 Chaim Levanon St., Ramat Aviv, Tel. 03-641-5244. Bus No: 7, 7a, 13, 24, 25, 27, 74, 86, 274.
Open: Sunday - Tuesday, and Thursday: 09:00-15:00, Wednesday: 09:00-17:00, Friday and Saturday: 10:00-14:00.

6 Tarsat Blvd., Tel. 03-528-7196. Bus No: 5, 26.
Open: Monday, Wednesday: 10:00-16:00, Tuesday, Thursday: 10:00-22:00, Friday: 10:00-14:00, Saturday: 10:00-16:00. Closed on Sunday.

4 Mazal Dagim St., Old Jaffa, Tel. 03-683-7676. Bus No: 10, 46.
Open: Sunday.-Friday: 10:00-16:00, Saturday: 10:00-18:00.

16 Rothschild Blvd., Tel Aviv, Tel. 03-517-3942. Bus No: 4, 12.
Open Sun-Thur. 9 am - 2 pm. Closed on Friday and Saturday.

38 King George St., Tel Aviv. Entrance from 1 Simtat Sheva Hashikmim St.,
Tel. 03-528-7320. Bus No: 5, 18, 24, 25, 48, 61, 62, 129.
Open: Sunday.-Thursday: 08:00-16:00. Closed on Friday and Saturday.

8 Avraham Stern St., Tel Aviv, Tel. 03-682-0288. Bus No: 1, 2, 3, 16, 18, 19.
Open: Sunday.-Thursday: 09:00-15:00. Closed on Friday and Saturday.

Etzel Museum
38 King George St., Tel Aviv, Tel. 03-621-0611. Bus No: 2, 4, 25.
Open: Sunday.-Thursday: 08:30-16:00. Closed on Friday and Saturday.

Etzel Museum, 1947-1948
South Herbert Samuel Promenade, Jaffa, Tel. 03-517-2044. Bus No: 10, 8, 25.
Open: Sunday.-Thursday: 08:30-16:00. Closed on Friday and Saturday.

The Haganah Museum
23 Rothschild Blvd., Tel. 03-560-8624. Bus No: 4, 5.
Open: Sunday.-Thursday: 09:00-16:00. Closed on Friday and Saturday.

The Collection House (Museum of the History of the IDF)
35 Eilat St., Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Tel. 03-516-1346. Bus No: 40, 42, 44.
Open: Sunday.-Thursday: 08:30-16:00. Closed on Friday and Saturday.

The Palmach Museum
10 Haim Levanon St., Ramat Aviv. Tel. 03-643-6393. Bus No: 7, 7a, 13, 24, 25, 27, 74, 86, 274.
Open: Sunday.-Thursday: 08:30-15:00, Friday: 08:30-12:30. Closed on Saturday. By appointment only.

Tel Aviv University Campus, Matityahu Gate (#2), Klauser St., Ramat Aviv. Tel. 03-640-8000. Bus No: 6, 25, 45, 49, 27.
Open: Sunday - Tuesday, and Thursday: 10:00-16:00, Wednesday: 10:00-18:00, Friday: 09:00-13:00. Closed on Friday and Saturday. Daily guided tours in English: Sunday - Friday: 11:00.

25, Shaul Hamelech blvd., (library "Shaar Zion"), Tel Aviv. Tel: 03-6910141/5 (ex. 204).
Closed for renovations. Ouverture due in April 2005.

21 Rokah St., Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, Tel. 03-516-1970. Bus No: 12, 24, 31.
Open: Sunday - Wednesday: 10:00-16:00, Thursday: 10:00-19:00, Friday: 10:00-14:00, Saturday: 10:00-17:00.

36 Simon Rokach St., Neve-Tzedek, Tel Aviv, Tel. 03-510-0655, 516-2531. Bus No: 4, 12, 25, 46.
Open: Friday - Saturday: 10:00-14:00, Sunday - Thursday: groups by appointment.

14 Bialik St., Tel Aviv Tel. 03-5255961. Bus No: 4.
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10:00-15:00, Tuesday: 10:00-20:00, Saturday: 11:00-14:00. Closed on Friday.

4 Berkowitz St., Tel. 03-695-6513, Fax: 03-691-0504. Bus No: 18, 9, 70, 10.
Open: Sunday.-Thursday: 10:00-14:00, Friday: 10:00-12:00. Closed on Saturday.

9 Achad Ha'am St., Tel Aviv. Tel. 03-517-7304. Bus No: 12, 61.
Open: Sunday-Thursday: 10:00-18:30, Friday: 10:00-14:00, Saturday: 11:00-16:00.

27 Shaul Hamelech Blvd., Tel 03-696-1297. Bus No: 9, 18, 28, 70, 90, 111.
Open Monday, Wednesdy: 10:00-16:00, Tuesday, Thursday: 10:00-20:00, Friday: 10:00-14:00, Saturday: 10:00-16:00. Closed on Sunday.

Reform Judaism magazine - World's Largest Circulated Jewish Magazine 1st Place Award Winner for Excellence in Jewish Journalism and a Benefit of Membership in a Union Congregation

Home / Spring 2008 / Spring 2008
Exploring: The Artists’ Trail
by Gail Barzilay

Ahava by Robert IndianaArt lovers: here’s your guide to discover Israel’s art treasures.


Within Israel’s capital city you’ll find Israeli art with biblical themes as well as contemporary abstract art glowing with bright Mediterranean and desert colors.

At The Israel Museum (Ruppin Blvd., Givat Ram, 02-670-8811), half a million treasures of fine art, archaeology, and Judaica illuminate the history of world culture from one million years ago through today. Two new exhibits celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary: a comprehensive survey of contemporary Israeli creativity over the past ten years (April 15–August 30, 2008); and, at the museum’s Shrine of the Book, the first 28 chapters of the Book of Isaiah—the best-preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scroll document ever found (May 13–August 15, 2008).

The Ticho House, the former home of the Ticho family (the eye doctor Albert Ticho and his cousin, the renowned Israeli artist Anna Ticho), is a lovely offsite venue of the Israel Museum (9 Harav Kook St., 02-624-5068). Anna’s prizewinning paintings and Albert’s collection of rare Hanukkah menorahs are on permanent display, and a new temporary exhibit (March 7–May 14, 2008) features works by contemporary Israeli photographers and video artists exploring the emotional depths of architectural spaces devoid of human inhabitants. Visitors can also dine at the serene garden restaurant and listen to music (jazz on Tuesday nights, Jewish soul music on Saturday nights).

Hadassah Hospital's synagogue (Henrietta Szold Rd., Ein Karem, 02-677-6271) is home to the world-renowned Chagall Windows—twelve magnificent stained-glass windows depicting the twelve tribes of Israel. Chagall’s assistant, Charles Marq, developed a special pigment process that enabled the artist to use as many as three colors on a single uninterrupted pane; Chagall himself worked pro bono from 1960 to 1962. In bringing “my modest gift to the Jewish people,” Chagall said, “I felt my father and mother were looking over my shoulder and behind them were Jews, millions of other vanished Jews of yesterday and a thousand years ago.”

You’ll walk by beautiful 400-year-old olive trees to enter the Museum on the Seam (4 Chel Handasa St., Jerusalem, 02-628-1278), a private, by-appointment-only art museum established in 1999 in a Jerusalem home on the pre-1967 border between Israel and Jordan. Here the designer and curator Raphie Etgar has assembled contemporary art by internationally known figures (Yoko Ono, Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, etc.) that promotes respect for others, liberty, and peaceful coexistence.


Enhance your experience of Tel Aviv’s fine art museums by visiting the many galleries on trendy Gordon Street; within Neve Zedek, Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhood; and along the restored cobblestone streets of picturesque Old Jaffa.

The permanent collection of the international cultural center Tel Aviv Museum of Art (27 Shaul Hamelech Blvd., 03-607-7020) serves as a platform for freethinking cultural and artistic exchanges on the major figures in Modernism, including Picasso, Miro, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Modigliani, and Kandinsky. Don’t miss Klimt’s 1916 masterpiece “Friedericke Maria Beer,” Kandinsky’s “Untitled Improvisation V, 1914,” and the permanent collection of 15th- and 16th-century Italian Renaissance and Dutch portraits. A leading advocate of Israel’s artistic legacy, the museum also traces the development of Israeli art from the 1920s (which marked the beginning of the Modernist style of painting in Israel) to the present and features rotating exhibitions of Israeli and international art.

In a building constructed 250 years ago to welcome Jewish pilgrims upon their arrival at the Jaffa port before they continued on to Jerusalem, the Ilana Goor Museum (4 Mazal Dagim St., Old Jaffa, 03-683-7676) showcases paintings, sculptures, furniture, and jewelry (some of it crafted by Ilana Goor, the artist/designer who makes the renovated building her home and studio). Make an appointment to walk through the museum’s theme rooms (Persian rugs, African artifacts, medieval knights) and meet the artist, who’s typically adorned with one-of-a-kind bracelets halfway up her arm, eye-catching necklaces, and sterling silver rings.

At the Herzlia Museum of Art (4 Habanim St., Herzlia, near Tel Aviv, 09-955-1011) works by some of Israel’s most prominent artists (Boaz Arad, Guy Goldstein, and Zoya Cherkarsky) are often juxtaposed with controversial works by emerging Israeli and international artists. Original, surprising temporary exhibits feature the latest trends in contemporary art—painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, and especially video art and digital media.

Influenced by Henri Rousseau, Israel’s esteemed artist Reuven Rubin (1893–1974) painted holy sites in Jerusalem and Safed, as well Jaffa and Tel Aviv landscapes in the Eretz Yisraeli style. At the Rubin Museum / Reuven House (14 Bialik St., 03-525-5961), his former residence, visitors can view his paintings, watch an audiovisual slideshow on his life, and see the preserved studio where he worked—while taking in temporary exhibits of modern Israeli artists.

An enchanting place, the Nahum Gutman Museum (21 Rokach St., Neve Tzedek, 03-516-1970) opened in 1998 within the reconstructed 120-year-old Writer’s House (a center for Jewish intellectuals from 1907 to 1914, before Tel Aviv was established). Paintings, sculpture, mosaics, drawings, illustrations, and engravings by one of the most popular artists in Israel’s history are on display thanks to the artist’s son, Professor Henri Gutman, who wrote: “The most difficult moment in my father’s art was parting with it.”

Established just three years ago, the young and innovative Raw Art Gallery (3 Shvil Ha Meretz St., Bldg 8, 4th floor, Tel Aviv, 03-683-2559) showcases the works of cutting-edge contemporary Israeli artists such as Shirley Kanyon and Adam Sher.


After the Second World War Felix Tikotin (1893–1986), a Holland-born architect and art collector, traveled to Japan, fell in love with Japanese culture, and became a dealer and collector of Japanese art. The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art (89 Hanassi Ave., Haifa, 04-838-3554), built in a Japanese style, showcases his donations of some 7,000 works of Japanese art mainly from the 14th–19th centuries. To deepen your knowledge, you can also take in a lecture or film on the language, culture, or Japanese flower-arranging.

As you stroll in the picturesque Ein Hod Artists Village on the western slopes of Mt. Carmel (04-984-1126) with its vaulted stone houses, fragrant gardens, and Mediterranean views, you can visit galleries, workshops, guesthouses, three restaurants, and, notably, the comprehensive Janco-Dada Museum. Founded in 1983 by a group of friends and admirers of Marcel Janco (a contemporary of Picasso and the only Dadaist living in Israel), the museum is dedicated to Janco’s seventy years of artistic creativity; also, an entrance gallery features works of young artists/special projects and a lower gallery exhibits contemporary and avant-garde art.

The retired Greek-Italian banker and international art collector Harry Recanatti has built museums around the world to showcase his art, including two architecturally stunning Ralli Museums (named after one of his banks) in Caesarea (Rothschild Blvd., Highway #4, 04-626-1013). Ralli I, surrounded by courtyards, sculptures, and shaded verandas at the center of a sprawling ten-acre park, houses contemporary Latin American art and a gallery devoted to the works of Salvador Dali. The new Ralli II, built last year in the same park, specializes in classical art of the 16th to 18th century; visitors are also welcome to stroll in the medieval-style courtyard.


During the city of Nazareth’s golden age under Ottoman rule, local Lebanese and Italian artists used a mixture of ash, animal hair, and egg whites to paint magnificent ceiling murals in the homes of the well-to-do. The personalized motifs of each mural draw on the owner’s social position, interests, and religion. At Beit Em Manor (19 St., Nazareth, 04-645-5434) visitors can view richly decorated frescoes depicting Venetian grandeur and local scenes such as the Hijaz railway. To view other houses call 04-601-1072.

The sunlit galleries of the Mishkan Le Omanut Kibbutz Ein Harod/ Museum of Art in Ein Harod (near Afula, 06-648-5701) showcase works by renowned Jewish artists Camille Pissarro, Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, and Ben Shahn, as well as leading Israeli artists.

Within the rolling hills of the Western Galilee lies the Open Museum-Tefen (Tefen Industrial Park Western Galilee, 04-987-2977). The 29-acre sculpture garden features large- and small-scale works by Israeli artists; indoor galleries with changing sculpture and painting exhibitions; and a car collection tracing the development of the auto industry since the turn of the 20th century.

The trained locksmith Nissim Levy emigrated from Iraq in 1941. In Israel he worked in agriculture until retiring at age 58, when he began turning pieces of scrap iron into quirky, whimsical sculptures. His creations are on display and for sale at his in-house workshop, Gallery shel Saba / Grandpa’s Gallery (5 Emek Haella, Moshav Tsafririm, 02-991-1212)—and don’t miss the homemade ethnic dishes prepared by Levy’s friendly wife Tziona, a native of Bucharia.

If you’re traveling with young visitors (ages 4–12), be sure to visit the Israel Children's Museum (Peres Park, Mifratz Shlomo St., Holon), a sprawling complex complete with a large park and rowboats gliding on a manmade pond. Here, children are encouraged to touch the exhibits and stimulate their imaginations through the colors, shapes, and textures of art. The city of Holon itself is an open-air museum featuring more than fifty environmental sculptures in different neighborhoods, many of them (like the colorful chess chairs and “stylized people” benches) just the right height for kids to enjoy.

And a brand-new museum—the Israeli Museum of Caricature and Comics (61 Weizman Street, Holon)—just opened last December, a testament to the great inroads Israel has made in these artistic realms over recent years. Permanent exhibits showcase the work of six caricaturist pioneers prior to the establishment of the State; caricatures, comics, and animation from the times of the pharaohs until today; and contemporary Israeli comic strips. Other highlights include rotating exhibits, a comics archive, festivals, a caricature contest, and “Golden Pencil” prizes for lifetime achievement in the field.

To learn more about Israel’s museums and artists, visit the Israel Art Guide online.

Gail Barzilay, a freelance writer, is a frequent traveler to Israel.

Copyright © 2008 Union for Reform Judaism.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Western Wall Tunnel Tour Phone Number

If you want to book a Western Wall Tunnel Tour

Call the Western Wall Heritage Foundation

(02) 627-1333

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Southern Wall of Jerusalem that Dates to the Time of the Hasmonean Dynasty was Discovered on Mount Zion

The Southern Wall of Jerusalem that Dates to the Time of the
Hasmonean Dynasty was Discovered on Mount Zion

The southern end of ancient Jerusalem, from when the city was at its largest,
was recently discovered in the form of an impressive city wall 2,100 years old
A large excavation which is being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority
together with the Nature and Parks Authority,
and underwritten by the Ir David Foundation,
was presented in a press conference that was held today (Wednesday)

An exciting discovery in Jerusalem constituting extraordinary remains of the wall of the city from the time of the Second Temple (second century BCE-70 CE) that was built by the Hasmonean kings and was destroyed during the Great Revolt, and also the remains of a city wall from the Byzantine period (324-640 CE) which was built on top of it, were uncovered in an extensive excavation that is currently underway on Mount Zion. The lines of these fortifications delineated Jerusalem from the south in periods when the ancient city had reached its largest size.

The new finds were presented today (Wednesday) at a press conference that was held on Mount Zion. The excavation has been in progress for the past year and a half, under the direction of archaeologist Yehiel Zelinger of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and with financial support provided by the Ir David Foundation.

The project is being implemented as part of the master plan for the Jerusalem City Wall National Park, the purpose of which is to preserve the region around the Old City of Jerusalem as an open area for tourism. In the future the remains of the ancient city walls will be incorporated in a promenade that will encircle the southern side of Mount Zion and will continue along the northern bank of Gai Ben Hinnom and terminate in the City of David.

The lines of the wall that delineate Mount Zion from the west and the south were first discovered and excavated at the end of the nineteenth century (1894-1897) by the Palestine Exploration Fund, under the direction of the archaeologist Frederick Jones Bliss and his architect assistant, Archibald Dickie. The work methods they employed involved the excavation of shafts that were linked by subterranean tunnels which ran along the outer face of the city walls.

Over the years their shafts and tunnels have filled up with soil and a year and a half ago when archaeologists were asked to determine the location of the areas that were excavated one hundred years ago they were unsuccessful in doing so. By cross-referencing the plans of the old excavation with updated maps of the area from today archaeologist Yehiel Zelinger was able to locate the tunnel which the British expedition had dug. There remained in it “souvenirs” that were left behind by the early excavators in the form of one of the laborer’s shoes, the top of a gas light which was used to illuminate the tunnels, as well as fragments of beer and wine bottles from 120 years ago.

According to Yehiel Zelinger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Having located the two city walls on Mount Zion corroborates our theory regarding the expansion of the city toward the south during these two periods, when Jerusalem reached its largest size. In the Second Temple period the city, with the temple at its center, was a focal point for Jewish pilgrimage from all over the ancient world and in the Byzantine period it attracted Christian pilgrims who came in the footsteps of the story of the life and death of their messiah. The exposure of the Hasmonean city wall and the line of fortifications from the Byzantine period, which is dated 400 years later and is right on top of the former, prove that this is the most advantageous topographic location for the defense of the city. The artifacts indicate that in spite of the fact that the builders of the Byzantine wall were unaware of the existence of the wall from the time of the Second Temple they constructed their wall precisely along the same route”. Zelinger adds, “The fact that after 2,100 years the remains of the first city wall were preserved to a height of three meters is amazing. This is one of the most beautiful and complete sections of construction in the Hasmonean building style to be found in Jerusalem”.

Additional Information and Details
The Byzantine Period City Wall
Christian pilgrims of the fifth and sixth centuries CE ascribe the line of the city wall’s construction to the Empress Eudocia, the estranged wife of Emperor Theodosius II. According to the historical sources of this period, the city wall was erected because of a biblical verse that appears in the Book of Psalms (51:20), “Do good in thy favor unto Zion; Build Thou the walls of Jerusalem”. In translating the Bible to Greek the word that meant “do good in thy favor” was translated with a word that greatly resembled the name of the empress. Eudocia therefore concluded that the reference was explicitly intended for her and that it was she who was destined to build the walls of Jerusalem. In the excavation a section of the city wall was uncovered that rises to a maximum height of 3.30 meters and is approximately 2.50 meters wide. The wall was built of stones that were specifically quarried and dressed for this purpose; however, one can also discern some of the stones in its construction were probably taken from nearby ancient fortifications.

The Fortifications of the Second Temple Period
South of the line of fortifications from the Byzantine period and at a depth of approximately 4 meters below the elevation of its base, a tower that is preserved to a height of 3.20 meters was exposed which dates to the time of the Hasmonean Dynasty (the Second Temple period). The tower was built on the bedrock which was straightened and made fairly level. It was constructed of large stones that are characterized by a dressed boss in their center, with no bonding material between them. The “header-stretcher” construction method used in building the tower is typical of the Hasmonean period. The tower was part of the line of the “First Wall” that is described by Josephus. Other sections of the “First Wall” were revealed at the base of the western wall of the Ottoman city wall, in David’s Citadel and in other excavations that were conducted in the Jewish Quarter. The soil fill and the pottery sherds that abut the city wall prove that it was used until the time of the Great Revolt and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the year 70 CE.
Afterwards, the stones of the wall were taken for secondary use, probably in order to build “Aelia Capitolina”, the Roman colony which the emperor Hadrian established on the ruins of Jerusalem in the year 131 CE.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Holyland Sailing Tiberias Phone Numbers

Holyland Sailing Tiberias Phone Numbers

Contact Person Joanne

(057) 528-5246
(057) 775-2260

You can Drive to Rachel's Tomb

KEVER RACHEL NOW OPEN TO PRIVATE CARS (not just special busses)

As of Monday morning, 1 Sept Rosh Chodesh Elul - no more waiting endlessly for bullet proof buses. Drive to Kever Rachel as easily as you drive to your local supermarket. This is a tremendous breakthrough. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to drive to Kever Rachel THIS MONTH which is a "trial month" as far as the army is concerned.

Directions: If you are driving from central Jerusalem, take Derech Hevron straight south. Pass the Gilo Rozmarin junction and continue straight south. You will reach a Border Police roadblock. Continue straight from there. Eventually, you will see concrete walls on both sides of you. Continue straight to Kever Rachel. Do not turn to Ma'avar Rachel. There are plenty of Border Police around to ask for directions. If you are coming from Gilo, turn right at the Rozmarin junction and continue as above. Info: Shelli Karzen 052 580 2213

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kobi's input on Taxi Driver rates

Hi Mark

Great idea. I've heard though the going rate is $300 for a taxi but whatever.

Here are some names and numbers that Avi gave me.

Aaron Cohen 052-240-5342
Ofer 050-564-1677


Directory of Taxi and Van Drivers - Need your input

I am trying to develop a list of reliable taxi and van drivers for full day itineraries in and around Jerusalem – including Dead Sea area.

I understand the current going rate is $200 USD/Day for taxi and up to 8 seater van.

I would then like to post this information for our use on our Class Blog

The idea is that if you are seeking a driver you will have an easy resource directory at your finger tips.

Write to me directly – NOT REPLY ALL if you have used driver(s) and have been very satisfied.

We would need the name of the driver and cell phone number. Also let me know if you feel it would be appropriate if us to call and make arrangements directly or if you would prefer we go through you on the first go around.

If any of us use drivers posted on the blog, please comment following your experience about the quality of the experience.

I hope this proves helpful.

Also if you have recent tour guide experiences you would like to share – please send me your item and I will post. You can comment on items directly.



Saturday, March 15, 2008

Eric Cooperman Guiding East African Pilgrims - Jerusalem and Enviorns

I received a job to guide a group of Protestants on pilgrimage from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, & Rwanda, who despite being Protestants, wanted a more Roman Catholic iterinary.The following is my tour of Jerusalem with these pilgrims./My iterinary was handed to me in advance.
After picking me up at Latrun, I started our day at Emmaus: Reading from Luke about Jesus & his appearance to two of his disciples. I also pointed out Tel Ayalon in ParK Canada connecting it with the battle fought by Joshua against the Canaanites & reading from Joshua.

We proceeded up Route 1 where I gave my tourists a good dose of Zionism with the Battle For the Roads..siege of Jerusalem & the Jordanian occupation of this area. I firmly believe that it is healthy to remind pilgrims that they are in the Jewish state of Israel even as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

I then had my group enter Jerusalem through Ein Kerem & pointed out the churches connected to the Visitation.

Our next stop was Yad Vashem. My assignment….to guide the Shoah Museum in just one hour. My East African pilgrims were in tears as they left the museum….some, especially the Rwandans understood genocide all too well. Asked how Cultured Christian Europeans could carry out genocide…we got into a healthy discussion of the impact of the charge of Deicide against the Jewish people for 2,000 years laying the groundwork for this genocide. It also surprised my pilgrims that nowhere in the entire New Testament does it say that the Jews killed Jesus. I explained that this act was carried out by Pontius Pilate & the Romans…all Gentiles. This would also not justify persecuting & murdering Gentiles in revenge. This they internalized in tears as they began to understand what I was telling them.

Next stop….the Government compound on Givat Ram for a explanation on Israeli democracy.
We then stopped at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel for an overlook of Bethlehem & the Church of the Nativity. I also talked about the Palaces of the Judean Kings at Ramat Rachel while reading from Jeremiah. I also talked about this area as being the traditional place in Christianity that Mary, pregnant with Jesus & her husband Joseph stopped to rest while en route to Bethlehem. Also, another dose of Zionism with an explanation of the Jordanian trenches we were standing on.
Next stop: Goldman Promenade & an explanation of the the view of Jerusalem & the location of the Mount of Olives & the churches on it connected with the last days of Jesus.
After lunch: Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Yes, these are Protestants who wanted not the Garden Tomb, but preferred the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We toured Golgotha, the Sepulcher, the Armenian Chapel, Helena chapel, the Chapel of Adam…& gave the pilgrims the whole history of the church as well as the explanation of the lack of up keep of the church….infighting among Christians over who is in control there.

We then proceeded down the Cardo to the Jewish quarter & a visit to the Kotel & an explanation of the Temple Mount & the Jewish Temple, Dome of the Rock, Al Aska, & the sites around & on the Temple Mount relative to Jesus during his last days as related in the New Testament.
As we left through the Dung Gate my Protestant East Africans had questions for me. Are those people they saw with the funny clothes (Jewish Haredi) Christian Jews? After explaining what they were & why they dressed that way, I was asked why I did not dress that way….leading to another healthy discussion on different denominations of Judaism…which led to "you are a Jew but are not religious? I explained I am a secular Zionist Jew who does believe in G-d in a way that the entire universe is alive & all humans & all things are part of that living universe (Spinoza & a healthy influence of Native American Indian folklore)….confusing them even more.
But, my tourists came away very happy with their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They were all very sad to say goodbye to me: embarrassing me beyond description….& I felt that I had indeed connected to genuinely nice, curious people on religious pilgrimage who felt very satisfied with their tour.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Desert Kites in the Negev - Across the Road from Hai Bar

Negev Desert Kites….

Location: An example across the road from Hai Bar on left side of the entry road to Kibbutz Samar. You will see a small white sign indicating that the field is an antiquities site. Best you walk the site first before taking tourists…Guiding will require good imagination and story telling.

Coming back from our visit to Eilat last week we explore the ancient site of a desert kite in the Negev.

'Desert kites' are ancient large triangular-shaped structures built of two long diagonal stone walls with a circular apex. First discovered in the Middle East in the early 20th century, their date and function remain controversial. Many scholars claim that kites served mainly as large-scale game traps. This hypothesis is supported by early travel accounts and ethnographic parallels. Others suggest that kites were intended to corral herds of semi-domesticated or livestock animals. Kites were used, probably continuously, from the Neolithic period until the 19th century.

Several of the surviving large Syrian and Jordanian desert kites have been studied, but not much is known about the small Negev kites and what function they served. A recent reconnaissance survey pointed up at least a dozen small kites in the Negev, all poorly documented. The "Negev Desert Kites" project is a multi-disciplinary endeavor that seeks to shed new light on past human adaptations to arid conditions while focusing on large-scale hunting and trapping techniques. Our aim is to meticulously survey and document all the Negev kites in their topographical and geological landscape settings, using advanced 3-D models. Similarly, we will excavate three apices of the best-preserved kites, where evidence of their past function is expected to be found. Combining the results of fieldwork, microscopic analyses, radiometric dating and 3-D modeling, we expect to reconstruct past lifeways in a harsh environment where survival depended on resources that were scarce, unstable and unpredictable.


A bit of history:

The term "Kites" was first given by two British Royal Air Force pilots after the 1st World War, they discovered the installations while flying mail above the Syrian desert from Cairo to Baghdad.

On the ground they saw numerous installations that looked triangular in shape, the bases of the triangles are missing and at the apex there is small enclosure.Research in the field prove it to be hunting installations of game like gazelle, orax, wild ass and more.

The "kites" of the Syrian desert are built of 2 low built stone walls with lengths that can be hundreds of meters and with enclosure in the apex that look like a closed yard. They are some time dug into the ground so the game is captured.In Sinai and southern Negev desert in Israel the installations are much less then in the Syrian desert and smaller, but the functions are the same-hunting; A. ambushing the game, B. chasing it to direct it between the stone wall to the apex where thy get to the enclosure.The impression is that the 'Kites' in the Syrian desert were built for herds of Gazella Subguttyroza that are more numerous compared to the Gazella Dorcas and Gazella Arabica of the Negev and East Sinai where the herd consist up to 6-7 gazelles. This is the reason for the smaller 'Kites'. The oldest known Desert Kites are from the 6Th millennium BCE. The 'Kites' have been used for thousands of years. In excavated Kites we find evidence (digging the enclosure) for long usage duration.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Chaim at the Hermon Field School - The Tribe of Dan

I was at the Hermon Field School with a bunch of families from my neighborhood in Beit Shemesh for Shabbat. I gave a little talk and told them that they were not the first families from the Bet Shemesh area to go up north to the same place.

I made them guess.... (Judges 18) Tribe of Dan going to Laish (Dan) cause the Philistines gave Dan a hard time...

Also told them how David "was proven" to be real with the discovery at Dan 15 years ago of the inscription about the "house of David" destroyed. They liked that since I tied that in with yesterday being the 15th year anniversary of the passing of my father-in-law name David and the "house of David" continues since I named my (now 13 year old) son David... The tour guide course helped... ;-) and it was lots of fun.

Mordechai Guides Ammunition Hill

I received a phone call Friday afternoon from Mayanot in Jerusalem. They requested a guide for 2.5 hours at Ammunition Hill for Sunday, for a group of 12 college students here in Israel on a study program. Yes, Johnny. The program is for women.

My Shabbat reading involved reviewing War of Independence and Six Day war data. On Sunday morning I reserved the English movie presentation at Ammunition Hill. I spent some time alone at the drizzly Mount Scopus observation point reminiscing about the first time I was there with our course (Kobi could spot all the churches, and Nikky complained about the tall guys blocking her sight of view). I also spent one hour alone at Ammunition Hill becoming more familiar with the sight.

All went well. I opened with the news of the deaths yesterday of the 2 soldiers in Gaza. My theme was sacrifice and the price we pay for holding on to this Country. When giving the background information on how Jerusalem was divided, I did the Avi routine of laying out a map of Jerusalem on the floor demonstrating how the Green Line was born. At the memorial plaque for the 36 paratroopers who died on Ammunition Hill I chose a name to tell a personal story. It was the story of the medic throwing his body over his comrade, saving his comrade's life only to lose his own. I recounted how my own 10 year old son acted out that scene in last year's Yom Yerushalayim performance, and how in 8 short years he too will be serving in the IDF.

In the museum, I showed off to another guide that I knew that Rehavam Zevi was in the background of the famous photo of Narkiss, Dayan and Rabin entering through the Lions gate. I concluded the tour from the Mount Scopus observation point, tying in everything we had spoken about at Ammunition Hill. The Churva looks great from there! They were very satisfied customers. And I received $150 for my efforts.


Friday, February 29, 2008

How Sinkholes are formed at the Dead Sea

We have/will be guiding in the Dead Sea area and among the most common issues is the lowering of the sea level - we can point to the receding shoreline at the Ein Gedi Spa, the Lido Hotel now far removed from the shoreline and sinkholes.

I have just noticed a short item from a journal abstact explaining the phenomenon.

Numerous sinkholes have appeared in alluvial fans and other unconsolidated
sediments along the coastlines of the Dead Sea (DS) in Israel and
Jordan. There are two principal competitive geological models explaining sinkhole
development: (a) the piping model and (b) the salt dissolution model. The
latter is accepted today as being the main mechanism of sinkhole formation.

The salt dissolution model requires the simultaneous existence of three factors: (1) a
salt layer within the uppermost subsurface, (2) unsaturated groundwater in the
vicinity of the salt layer, and (3) fractures or faults capable of conducting the unsaturated
water into the salt layer and removing of the brine from the dissolved

Yet another, and perhap simpler explanation was found on the Israel 21C website

Sinkholes are a product of environmental degradation at the Dead Sea. As the water level drops, freshwater washes out mineral pockets underground. Over time, the freshwater melts the materials inside, generating surface caves and meters-wide craters which can trap people and animals and damage nearby highways, hotels and factories.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Graeme's First Tours

Last week I had the extraordinary luck to take some small groups on tours of the old City. Each group had wished for an overview of the development of monotheism in Jerusalem. Our meeting point was outside the Tourist Information Office, just inside of Jaffa Gate.

We started off with a few “icebreakers”, and headed down David Street, across the plaza of the Kotel towards the City of David. I explained along the way that the Old City is composed of a mosaic of time periods, and since our tour would not necessarily return in the same direction I highlighted the prominent locations along the way and their various time periods – starting from the walls of the city; history of David’s Citadel (which allows a general overview of the time periods); Crusader streets/markets and Mameluke facades; the Kotel plaza and Temple Mount –modern and ancient history.

When we arrived in the City of David, people loved the views from the observation point with the contrasts of topography, culture and architecture, religion and politics. The 3D movie was a great success (though possibly not for charedim, and you have to check when it is screened in English – 10.10 and 14.10), and it encapsulated the development of David’s kingdom very successfully – although it leaves people breathless, and requires extra explanation.

Juicy stories of Amnom and Tamar, and the conflict between David and Absalom, and the accession of Solomon to the throne, bring the biblical story to life – especially when you point out where David was standing and Bathsheba was bathing on the rooftop, and the events that ensued – the bedroom scene probably took place directly underneath us (according to Eilat Mazar, who happens to be on site wiping her grimy overalls). The Bible begins to come to life and jump out of the pages, and one has to control oneself.

I find the excavations under the visitor’s centre - if you enter underneath - more interesting than the terraced hillside for further explanations – but that depends on the size of the group.

The journey down through the tunnels is exciting. Stories of the exploits of Warren, and the discovery of the tunnel add drama to the site, and then entering the dry tunnel or for the more adventurous – the wet tunnel, with the aid of flashlights (which are rentable on site) and rolling up your pants is great fun. People enjoy going through the tunnels – something primordial – perhaps it metaphorically connects them to their birth! Note, the water is at a constant temperature, and the path has been leveled.

Outside the tunnels, a short walk brings one to the Siloam Pool complex and the Herodian pavement. Beware of shady characters who approach your group claiming to be working on site and selling genuine forgeries of Roman coins! Although, the interaction did add color to the tour. An Arab taxi stand is nearby, and for 25 shekels per taxi, they will take you to Lion’s Gate for the next stage of the tour, otherwise, there is transportation to the entrance of the City of David - 5shekels per person, and from there, it is a very pleasant 15-20 minute walk to Lion’s Gate – with all the views of the Kidron Valley, tombs and Mount of Olives.

I will not go into graphic detail of the rest of the day (unless you insist, and send me a photo with your mail), regarding Graeme’s tour of the Via Delarosa and how to find station 9 for the first time on your own, or an in-depth exposition of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Though, what I would like to say, is that progressively one has to build up stories of the sites, and colorful anecdotes, and have fun! Beware, that if one of your customers orders a Wiener Schnitzel at the Austrian Hospice, then you should stand behind them in preparation for the Heimlicher movement, other than that, the rooftop views are amazing .

All the best, Graeme

Monday, February 25, 2008

Itinerary in the Upper Galilee and Golan by Rabbi Mordechai

I spent the day today with a large family (not mine): Grandparents, parents, and a bunch of kids, ages ranging from infant to 10 years old. The parents are chareidi. They strictly forbade any movies. We met in Safed. We drove to Lake Agamon and rented golf carts. The kids had a ball. Some 25,000 cranes and assorted other birds are now there hanging around for another week or so until they continue on their way up north for the spring.

We then took the Daughter of Jacob's Bridge up to the Golan, stopping briefly at the Gadot overlook, and then headed to Mt. Bental. The kids were fascinated about the idea of being on top of a real live (albeit inactive) volcano. They loved running around the trenches and the view of the snow covered Hermon is breathtaking. It's also real cool for people to see Syria from up close.

The pizza in Katzrin wasn't kosher enough for the parents. We ended the day at the Talmudic Village in Katzrin. I found it to be very child-friendly.

Mordechai Weiss

Trip from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea - Rabbi David Ebstein's First official Guiding Experience

My first official guiding was this past Thursday. My referral came from one of our classmates, and the clients were a 50 year old mother and her 12 year old son. It just so happens that this woman and I were good friends many years ago at Camp Ramah and she is very friendly with my parents. Her son is a sixth grader at a Solomon Schechter school. In addition, the woman is a cantor at a major Conservative synagogue and her husband is a Conservative rabbi. The family is steeped in yiddishkeit and that came through during the guiding.

I am going to offer a few highlights and tips. As we drove down to the Dead Sea in Jerusalem I spoke about various topics relating to the desert, geomorphology, E1, the route of the patriarch, Nebi Musa, Mitzpe Yericho and Jericho.

1. Our first stop was at the Lido Hotel where I spoke about the receding Dead Sea.

2. Second stop was the PEF marker. Although it is supposed to be between 203-205 kilometer marker, I had trouble finding the kilometer signs. Since I have stopped here before, I was able to spot the marker fairly easily. I pulled over on the opposite side of the road and we got out. We all climbed up the side of the mountain, touched the PEF marker, read the explanation, took pictures and again I spoke about the receding Dead Sea.

I made one brief mention of the PEF and its mission.

The 12 year old had lots of fun scampering about. The mother and I made sure we didn't fall and totally embarrass ourselves!!!

3. Masada-We didn't go to the museum, not enough time. The 12 year old had fun running around the storehouses. The highlight was climbing down to the Northern palace. When we went there as a class an artist was painting frescoes. He had just started and was experimenting. If you recall, he told us that he wasn't sure how long to wait for the plaster to dry, and in his first panel, there are artistic mistakes. He apparently corrected that and in the rest of the panels there are no light spots.

4. We wanted to walk to the cistern on the southern side of the horst but there was no time. While this is not the most exciting location to visit, I have taken young boys there before and they love the mini-hike.

5. The mother and I took the cable car down the mountain and sat down by the juice stand area. The 12 year old basically ran down the snake path and had a great time. He had no trouble finding us.

6. Ein Gedi was a lovely hike up the waterfalls…Nachal David. We made it to the synagogue just before it closed. The adults definitely appreciated that more than the 12 year old.

7. Important note: The day before we left I called the National Parks number to find out about flash flooding and the times of Qumran. They said that Qumran closes at 4pm. That was fine with me as I had to get home to take care of kids (Rena is in the states with her father). But the client wanted to go there. We pulled in and noticed that even though the kupa was closed, people were still walking into the park. I prepared to guide every site we went to and even scripted where we would stop. But I didn't expect to have to guide Qumran. I was certainly prepared enough to do a decent job, but my point is you never know what you'll need to guide. Even when you agree with the client ahead of time what you'll see, there can be surprises. The night before the guiding I had read some material on the Dead Sea sect so I had some up to date information, so I was lucky.

8. Getting paid. My client was very easy on this count. She paid me at the beginning of the day in case she might forget. I am grateful she was so sensitive. If she hadn't been I would have reminded her at the end of the day. I'm interested to hear how you guys handle this issue.

9. As we drove back to Jerusalem the mother asked me for my TaNaCH and began reading stories to her son. The kid wouldn't let her stop. Amazing. Remember, this woman is a cantor and part of her job is to train Bnai Mitzvah students. That means she knows the haftorah portions as well as I know the mishnayot in Pirkei Avot. One of the stories she read was the story of Elijah and prophets of Baal. Her son loved it. Wouldn't you know it…on Shabbat the haftorah was that same prophetic story. I called her after Shabbat and we both laughed at the coincidence. This taught me a lesson. Read parshat haShavua and the haftorah at the beginning of every week. I had a wonderful time, even though it was a very long day. 8:15 until 6:30pm. L'hit, David

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Negev Settlements Presentation by Bill Kaplan

GUIDING POINT: (Presented at Mitzpeh Bet Eshel): Jewish responses during the latter part of the British Mandate for Palestine to White Papers issued during the Mandate

0830 – 1000
From Be’er Sheva Paradise Hotel to Mitzpeh Bet Eshel
1000 – 1245
From Mitzpeh Bet Eshel to Mitzpeh Revivim (with pre-arranged lunch)
1245 – 1315
From Mitzpeh Revivim to Nahal Besor suspension bridge
1315 – 1345
From Nachal Besor suspension bridge to memorial at Tzomet Gvulot
1345 – 1445
From Tzomet Gvulot to Kibbutz Be’eri (rest stop en route)
1445 – 1515
From Kibbutz Be’eri to Kibbutz Nir Am
1515 – 1600
From Kibbutz Nir Am to Kibbutz Ruhama
1600 – 1640
From Kibbutz Ruhama to rest stop / coffee break at Tzomet Kama
1640 – 1835
From Tzomet Kama to (pick one) Ben Gurion Airport/Tel Aviv/Jerusalem.

Our tour today takes us into the northern part of the Negev. We’re going to examine this area as it relates to the establishment of Jewish settlements during the British Mandate.

The Mandate began after the end of the First World War, and ended May 14, 1948, which was the date the British withdrew from Palestine. The same day Israel proclaimed its independence.

The bulk of the settlements in this part of the Negev, however, were established during the period from 1943 through 1946.

To understand why so many settlements were set up in such a relatively short period of time, we need to go back a little in history.

The Mandate is full of references to the duty of the British to
secure the establishment of the Jewish national home
facilitate Jewish immigration
encourage settlement of the land by Jews

The Mandate also provided that
no person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief, and that
none of the terms of the Mandate could be modified without the consent of the Council of the League of Nations.

Unfortunately for the Jews, things went downhill from there.

A series of Arab riots began after the mandate went into effect, and each time there was a period of rioting, the same things happened:
There was death, injury, and destruction of property
The British wondered how to prevent repetition
The British formed investigatory commissions
The Investigatory commissions issued White Papers
The White Papers contained recommendations to stop future problems
The Arabs began rioting again

A common thread seemed to run throughout the entire White Paper exercise. Almost every investigation showed that rioting was instigated by Arabs. And almost every investigation resulted in a White Paper that
restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine
restricted Jewish land acquisition
restricted Jewish use of land they already owned
This was even though Jews had purchased thousands of acres of land in the South. Nothing was stolen or appropriated. Everyone who sold land had deeds, or tax records, or records of the Ottoman land registry, the Tabu. And the sellers usually had more than one form of proof of official property ownership before Jews would buy the land.

There were more riots, which got progressively worse, from 1936 through 1939, and there were commissions and recommendations issued in 1937, 1938, and 1939. These recommendations progressed from removing the Negev from consideration as part of a future Jewish state, to an even smaller prospective Jewish state to be located only in the coastal plain, all the way to a recommendation that there not even be a Jewish state, but a single bi-national state governed “democratically” by its citizens. This was at a time when the Jewish population of Palestine was around one third of the total.

Why did the British so clearly violate the terms of the mandate?
The British were governed by both need and fear:
They needed to secure their control of the Suez Canal
They were afraid that Arabs would support the Germans and Italians

And frankly, there were no Jews in the Negev – in fact, except for a few nomadic Bedouin, there were no people in the Negev except in the Gaza subdistrict.

Because of Ben-Gurion’s response to the 1939 White Paper, where he said “We will fight the White Paper as if there is no war, and fight the war as if there is no White Paper,” the British knew that they could rely on support of the Jews, no matter how much they appeased the Arabs. And appease them they did!

All these commissions and reports and recommendations boiled down to one key point: They served as a slap in the face, a true wakeup call to the Jewish leadership. Whereas the Jewish body politic was, and for years before had been severely fractured and tension-ridden, on this issue they came together and spoke with one voice. They knew that if these recommendations were allowed to stand, there would be no Jewish presence in the Negev, the size of the future Jewish state of their dreams would be reduced by more than half. Moreover, there was a strong likelihood that there may not ever be a Jewish state. The viability of the entire enterprise was in mortal danger!

Faced with these prospects the Jewish leadership began to plan, and to gather its resources.

Notwithstanding their prohibitions, the British did, in fact, allow a number of settlements to be established in the Negev, although most of them ended up in the Gaza sub-district.

Then, in 1943, the situation changed a bit. Although they continued to prohibit new Negev settlements, the British did allow the establishment of observation posts (in Hebrew, mitzpim) in this area, and there was a mitzpeh (a separate post), set up at Mitzpeh Gvulot, at Mitzpeh Revivim, and here, where we are sitting, at Mitzpeh Bet Eshel. We will be visiting all these mitzpim, and a number of settlements, as well.

The stated purpose of the mitzpim was to conduct scientific experiments and observations. They examined soils, temperature, humidity, plants, and water – notice that every one of these mitzpim was located on, or near a water source. In the desert, water is the source of life. Gvulot was near the Besor River, one of the only year-round streams in the country; Revivim was at the Revivim stream, one of the tributaries of the Besor, and here at Bet Eshel, the outpost was established near the junction of two rivers, the Be’er Sheva and the Hebron. More important from the standpoint of water, all the way back to Biblical times this place was well known as a place where wells could be dug with relative ease. This was because the water table in this area is very close to the surface, so this became a place where life could be sustained, and where Abraham could relax under his eshel tree, just you are relaxing under the eshel, now.

Back to 1943, it’s the middle of World War Two, and the mitzpim and a couple more settlements were set up in the Gaza district, all at a time that the British were very much occupied in other places. I’ve already told you about the open purposes of the mitzpim, but probably more important was the underlying purpose – which was to train an experienced corps of people who could begin settlements of their own.

The Jewish leadership is moving, slowly, slowly, toward the realization of the goal to overturn the effects of the recommendations of the White Papers. Studies are continuing, and Jews, although not too many of them, are here in the Negev.

Jewish leaders realize that this area could, indeed, become viable. In England and the United States, Zionists are vigorously pressing their case with every politician who could help them offset earlier British recommendations.

Then, in 1946, something happens to change the whole settlement enterprise in the Negev. All the planning and preparation, the months of hiding of people, supplies, and materials, pays off.

Picture this: It’s Motzei Shabbat, and it’s also Motzei Yom Kippur. People in Palestine go to sleep that evening, October 6, 1946, and when they wake up in the morning, there are ELEVEN new settlements in the South! Reality changes! New facts are on the ground.

By 1947, at least one more new settlement is established in the Negev, and more important, the First Negev Pipeline, built with 190 kilometers of surplus British pipe, is sending water from Kibbutz Nir Am South and East to settlements in the Negev. Almost 300 million gallons the first year of operation.

The British know that there really is nothing left to do except find a graceful way out of the mandate. In May of 1947 the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) is formed. The UNSCOP representatives go to Palestine and investigate the facts as they exist at that time.

UNSCOP comes here to the Negev. They see flourishing, growing, thriving settlements. They see Jews being trained in agriculture. They see Jews who are irrigating the desert and making it bloom. UNSCOP reports back to the United Nations, and on November 29, 1947, the UN votes, contrary to all the recommendations of all the British White Papers, to divide Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, and to include the Negev as part of the Jewish state.

It is only because of these courageous pioneers, who braved the elements, the desert, and formidable adversaries, and who refused to accept the perfidy of the British, that you and I, as Jews, can sit here under the shade of these eshels, just like our forefathers, and offer hospitality to our guests and partake of the goodness of this land.