Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Art Around Campus

Today we had a "surprise" in ulpan: a tour around the Hebrew University campus focusing on its art and architecture. Our tour guide was a wonderful teacher named חן/Chen with whom I've been learning Israeli literature three times a week (sort of a mini-course within the rubric of the larger ulpan). As you can see --like the art she is showing us-- she has a colorful style all her own. Don't let the 'hawk fool you, she's a total sweetheart (today she offered to look at the Hebrew U course catalog and make some recommendations for me based on what she knows about the classes and my Hebrew knowledge):

By agreement with Jordan, which controlled the surrounding land, the campus remained in Israeli control after the war in 1948. Subsequent attacks on the road leading from the Israeli-controlled West Jerusalem to the campus led to its closure until the entire territory was taken in 1967. Mount Scopus was still in Israel's hands, but the University (and the Hadassah hospital nearby) both suspended operations. This leaves a gap in the architectural styles on campus: there are buildings from the 1930's (including both buildings made to look like much older Jerusalem buildings as well as those with a decided Bauhaus flavor --albeit covered in very un-Bauhaus Jerusalem stone) but then the next buildings weren't built until the 1970's.

We also looked briefly at the trees on campus (Chen is good at innocuously working a wide range of vocab words into her teaching). She also let us in on the following: the צבר/sabra cactus, which lends its name to native-born Israelis (because the cactus' fruit is prickly on the outside but sweet on the inside), is not itself native to Israel!!! Apparently it's a South American species originally.

Here is Chen in action again, showing us a sculpture featuring Jacob wrestling the angel and then an indoor mural.

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