Monday, September 15, 2008

Escape from Jerusalem

Anyone who has read any of this blog will have a sense of how much I love Jerusalem. But -- as it is with the other great city I love so much, New York -- part of staying in love with it is getting out of it, too. This past weekend, Minna and I got to finally spend a little time outside Jerusalem. We got a sense of the incredible diversity one can find in this tiny country on our little trip to Tel Aviv and then to the north.

An author who came to talk to one of Minna's ulpan classes said he sometimes describes Israel to foreigners by saying it's part Iran and part California. If Jerusalem is Israel's religion-obsessed Tehran then Tel Aviv is Israel's sun-worshiping Southern California. As we walked through Tel Aviv's central shopping district, a different image came to Minna's mind -- she said it reminded her of Blade Runner. Much of that comes through even in the daytime as these images attest:

One of the most "Runner-esque" images I saw (but, which, unfortunately, I did not get a pic of) was the sight of ultra-Orthodox Jews who had set up sidewalk tables in the midst of this materialistic scene where they were offering secular men the opportunity to wrap tefflilin.

Another thing that especially caught my eye in Tel Aviv was the bicycles. They seem to be everywhere on its fairly flat streets. And, not just the streets. If -- as I've commented before -- there is a stay-off-the-sidewalks ethic among many of Jerusalem's bike riders, this ethic has not found its way to Tel Aviv. Its riders snake their way though the most crowded of sidewalks, managing to stay upright with their feet on the pedals at even the slowest of speeds by exercising expert balance. Here is once such "sidewalk rider" snaking by Minna:

We also visited Kikar Dizengoff, which features a fountain that was brand-new when Minna did her kibbutz year here as a teenager. It's come to be a bit rundown, but was still a good place for Minna to pose.

Speaking of Minna's kibbutz year, we spent Shabbat with her kibbutz family who now live in a community called מנוף/Manof that's a bit south of their old kibbutz.

Just outside of Manof we found these critters by the roadside.

After we spent some time with the critters, Minna blew her (new!) shofar out over the hills (see pic at top of this blog post).

We also got to Nimrod's castle, a mountaintop medieval fortress built by Muslim rulers to defend against the Crusaders.

Here are a couple of pics of Minna and I there.

We had fun!


Here, by the way, is the approximate route of the walk we took in Tel Aviv (the blue line):

Bigger map


And here is the (very approximate!) driving route we took over the course of the trip:

Bigger map


Anonymous said...

What are those critters? They are awfully cute.

As are the two of you! Adorable. You make me smile.

Minna said...

They are hyraxes or שפני סלע/sh'fanei sela in Hebrew. They hop! And one of the little ones was trying to nurse but its mama clearly had weaning in mind.

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

so THAT's what a hyrax is. really cute. they are almost like...hydroxes.