Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jerusalem Retrospective…

Visit to Jerusalem Science Center with Doda Nee (16)

What other people do in 1 day, we did in 3.

Our travel goals are simple: one activity per day, 4 hours round trip.

So, in “doing Jerusalem” (which can never really be done), we had three themes, one for each day.

Our first day took us to the Israel Museum which is a mammoth complex, but we felt would give the kids a sense of the depth and breadth of the history of the land.

In addition to the sculpture garden (where I saw the “do not climb” signs while the kids were climbing on the works of art), we exposed them to two things.

First, a model of Jerusalem during the period of the 2nd Temple (70 BCE). We discussed why cities have walls, how water flows downhill to reservVisit to the Israel Museum (2)oirs, why the defenses were as they were, what kind of sanitation and health concerns would be paramount, and more.

It wasn’t about a history lesson, it was, as my dad says, “creating a sense of curiosity” and nothing made me happier than when Tonka and Paco began to pepper the NFO with questions during her turn as tour guide.

Later, we made our way over to the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed and were thrilled when we saw a similar reaction in them.

Day Two brought us to the new (relatively) Bloomfield Science Museum which was a HUGE success with the kids.

While not so Israel or Jerusalem-centric, it was a highly interactive Epstein family at the Kotel-2010 (3)experience, very hands-on that entertained the team for a good 2 hours.

Afterwards, we rewarded them with 2 hours of playing at Gan Sacher, a fantastic park and solid playground.

Day three was about bringing it all together and connecting the kids to why Israel is important to the Jewish people and we went to the Western Wall (Kotel).

It is customary for people to write prayers or wishes on a piece of paper and insert it into the crevices, so Jokinen wrote it and I put it in the wall for him (special thanks to our friend, Aliza Gillman who had given me a ReMax real estate envelope the previous night and was in my pocket right when I needed it!)

Of course, when I got there, I had to do two things.

The first was to say the traditional afternoon prayer. Instead of a prayerbook, however, I pulled out my smartphone and used the “AndDaaven” app.

The second?

I had to check in on Foursquare….just for kicks.


And one more thing…if you are in the area and want some really fine dining, check out the Angelica restaurant. Its co-owned by the husband of a friend of mine from high school and it’s GREAT. Had the opportunity to have dinner there (sans kids) on one night as well.

In the 20 years since my first big visit to Jerusalem, much has remained eternal about the city.

The walls, the feeling of the Old City, the difficulty in navigating the streets since they change names every block.

But, much has changed. A new light rail system is slated to open (soon) and is changing the dynamic of Jaffa St, the Begin Road, the controversial bridge on the approach to the city and more.

I feel like this post can’t do the city justice (I’m pretty tired) and while travelling with 3 kids is exhausting, you can’t escape the uniqueness of the place and the spirituality embedded within it.


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