January 22nd, 2016

First day of school

Friday in Jerusalem

Credit to Mom:

We're a small group and everyone is cooperative, so we ended up getting to the Israel Museum about 20 minutes before it opened. To kill time, we took an unscheduled stop at the Israeli Parliament, which is an elegant structure, modeled on classical Greek buildings. It's not fancy, rather Spartan, but effective.

Israel Museum
The big draw here is the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were interesting largely for the magnificent way they were housed, under a huge white dome that is supposed to look like the top of an amphora, but looks more like a giant Hershey kiss. Visitors walk into a series of arches that simulate a cave, mimicking where the scrolls were found. The museum also has a fabulous sculpture garden too.

The Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem
The museum is extremely well planned, as visitors walk in on a carpet, evoking the comfort the Jews experienced before Hitler rose to power. As you walk through the museum, the carpet disappears, the floor gets hard, and the rooms become very small, confusing, and narrow, like the ghettos, making visitors feel closed in and eventually, trapped. The exhibits end outside, with a stunning vista of Israel. The message is unmistakable: you tried to kill us but we survived and built a magnificent homeland for Jews.

Afternoon Adventures
We got back to the hotel around 12:30, and after lunch, Mom and I set off just a few blocks to the (extremely upscale) outdoor mall. Some of the stores had already closed for the Sabbath, but we can get H. Stern, the Gap, Adidas, and Ahava at home, so we didn't care.

Then we fulfilled one of the items on Mom's bucket list by having tea (actually, hot chocolate, a Diet Coke, and sorbet) at the King David Hotel. The center promenade of the hotel has what is basically a Hollywood Hall of Fame, with signatures of famous visitors, including both Bushes, both Clintons, Paula Abdul, Winston Churchill, Stephen Hawking (his thumbprint), Putin, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, Madonna, the Black eyed Peas, Pamela Anderson (rather a shocker, that).