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.