Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jerusalem, Here We Come!

TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: Israel - Jerusalem - Day 1

Another cloudy morning, but not as windy. We were on the road leaving the Dead Sea around 9ish. We stopped at En Gedi Spa to see what all the fuss was about. It wasn't anything except a public access to the Dead Sea for an admission fee. This was going to be our alternative if we did not get a hotel room. Glad we got the hotel. It seemed much nicer.

A bit further up the coast is the kibbutz at En Gedi, whose claim to fame is the botanical gardens. We had hoped to walk through, but the ticket office didn't open till 10:15. Took some photos of what we could see outside the gates. Too bad it looked like it is probably quite nice. But we really didn't want to hang around for a half hour.

The road along the Dead Sea has some truly incredible views. Again, some of photos could be paintings. Next stop the Ahava factory. This is another kibbutz that produces the famous Ahava beauty products. Poked around here for a bit and moved on. Made a quick stop at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Decided it wasn't worth the admission price to go see a few caves. We pressed onward to Jerusalem.

One way or another, we made it to the apartment. It is across from the Old City right near the Russian Compound. The good news is it is plenty big and the washer/dryer works - which we really needed. The bad news is that it isn't quite as advertised. It is in an old building which we expected, but it is really run down. The apartment itself is not really as clean as it should be. Although we have found that everywhere in every country in every accommodation - plus, I admit, I am a bit on the anal side of cleanliness - so this gets to me. And although we can see the Old City, it is sort of a stretch.  And, as long as I'm on the negative side of things, the weather has taken a nasty turn -- it is cold and extremely windy!  Hoping it warms up for tomorrow but we're not counting on it.

After we dropped our stuff off, we had to find the Avis place to return the car. This was an adventure. Between the one way streets and streets that are just for pedestrians, Geoff wound up driving down a non-traffic street just for the light rail (streetcar). We got plenty of looks but nobody stopped us. Made it to Avis and said goodbye to the car and walked back to the apartment.

OK, so we are in and settled -- time to venture out and find the stores and restaurants. On the way, we ran into the Underground Prisoners Museum. Paid our 20 shekels and took the tour:
The museum is located in the Russian Compound that served as the central prison of the British Mandatory authorities. The building was erected as a hostel for Christian pilgrims towards the end of the Ottoman period, when the European powers sought to strengthen their hold on Palestine. The Russian Compound, built outside the Old City, included a church, a hospital, and pilgrim hostels for men and women. The inscription "Marianskya women's hostel" can be seen in Russian above the entrance.
In 1917, the British conquered Palestine from the Ottoman Turks. The Russian compound
became a British security and administrative center known as "Bevingrad." The women's hostel was transformed into the central British prison. With long hallways leading to separate rooms, it was an ideal layout for a prison. Over the course of the British occupation, hundreds of prisoners passed through its gates. Jews and Arabs were incarcerated together. While the facility housed many death-row inmates, members of the Jewish underground sentenced to death were executed in Acre. The British, fearful of the Jewish reaction to executions in the holy city, never used the gallows for Jews. In each cell, one prisoner was appointed supervisor and given a bed. Prisoners from the Jewish underground were put to work making coffins and gravestones for British policemen and soldiers who had been killed in attacks by Jewish underground groups. As the guards used to tell them, "What you start on the outside, you finish on the inside." The wire fence, bars and inscription "Central Prison Jerusalem" on the door are from the British Mandatory period (1917–1948).
We saw the cell and the tombs of the two Jewish prisoners who committed suicide rather than die by the gallows. Nachum told us this story and here we were. It was all interesting but also heart-breaking.
Moshe Barazani, a member of Lehi, and Meir Feinstein, a member of Etzel, were
sentenced to death in 1946 because of their involvement in the attempted assassination of a British officer and a bombing attack on a Jerusalem railway station in which a policeman was killed. They awaited execution in the cell on the right. The British, fearing that the vehicle taking them to Acre would be ambushed, decided to execute them in Jerusalem. At the initiative of the two underground groups and with the agreement of the two condemned men, it was decided to thwart the plans of the executioners. The plan was to smuggle into their cell two improvised hand grenades. These were to be hidden in orange peels and placed in a fruit basket. The first hand grenade would be thrown at the hangmen including the warden during the planned execution. The second hand grenade would be used for the two condemned men to take their lives.
The execution was set for April 22, 1947. On the previous evening they were visited by Rabbi Yaakov Goldman who was so impressed by their courage and spirit that he decided to accompany them to their execution. They tried to dissuade him from accompanying them, but the rabbi insisted. The rabbi left the cell with the intention of returning the next morning. Shortly afterwards Feinstein wrote a brief note on the cover of his bible, gave it to the British guard to whom the note was addressed and asked for privacy to pray. The men embraced each other, holding the hand grenade between them, and sang Hatikva. The grenade was then detonated, killing them both.
Left the museum and found the shops and restaurants.  Found a market and picked up breakfast provisions. Decided to pick up a couple of falafal sandwiches and eat in tonight.  Too cold to wander around-need to get acclimated again to chilly weather.

Laundry is going and dinner is waiting. Still better than being in a hotel room. Tomorrow we have a guide to take us around Jerusalem. Looking forward to seeing the sights.

Next time.... Exploring Jerusalem

TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: Israel - Jerusalem - Day 1

1 comment:

  1. The Dead Sea photo series is awesome. I might want copies to frame & hang the collection.

    Please tell Ahava to correct the spelling on their sign for "Salts Hooper" shoukd be "Salts Hopper".

    I can't believe the Patriots traded away Chandler Jones. Duh!!