Wow, has it been busy! These past two days have been very busy and intense and (BH) all for good things!
Let's start with Tuesday...the day began with me going up to Or Yehuda to go to the office and spend some good quality time there. Upon my return to J'lem, I was supposed to go to an Open House dealing with a tour guide course. Unfortunately, it was cancelled and I merely received the info by mail. I spent some time in town and then went to Midreshet Devora (a new Seminary in J'lem) and spoke about making the most of their year in Seminary. From there, it was off to Bayit Ve'gan for the next phase of my (Posner) cousin Bar Mitzva. It was so nice to see some cousins I have not seen in a long time. This is yet another perk of moving to Israel!
Wednesday was a great day...I mentioned a few days ago that I was going to be doing something a little different and that you too would be "involved" in. Well, I made my first of what will be a number of appearances on a local radio show that is also broadcast in the USA. It is called "Rusty Mike Radio" (www.rustymikeradio.com) and the show from yesterday will be available to download right after the Chagim. I spoke about my time in Chicago, Aliya activism and the company I work for. Future shows will deal with Aliya and Aliya-related issues.
Then, I participated in a FABULOUS 7-hour trip/tiyul with a group of other tour operators. We started at the base of Har Ha'Zeitim (Mount of Olives) and discussed the various historical and Tanach-based issues of the area. From there, we participated in sifting through the rubble that was removed from Har HaBayit by the Moslems, learned how to ride on a Segway (for the purpose of knowing what kind of tiyulim are available), took a ride in a 4x4 up through part of East Jerusalem for two unreal views. One view was in the direction of Har HaBayit that was probably one of the best views I have ever seen. The second view was towards the East and afforded me a long-distance view of Maale Adumim. How interesting to see our place from that perspective!
Then, the most interesting part of the day. We had the opportunity to go through a new area in Ir David that has only been visited so far by archeologists and not by visitors. We walked through the newly uncovered Mei HaShiloach and traced the path where visitors to ancient J'lem would go on their way to Har HaBayit for the Chagim. We saw the area exactly from where water was drawn for the Simchat Bet HaShoeva. And then, one of the most astounding things of all...we walked along a HUGE staircase that led directly to the Temple Mount (not going IN actually, of course) and learned an incredible fact. Below the stairs there was a once-in-a-lifetime find! For the first time, archeologists found complete bowls WITH ashes from cooked food in situ under the stairs. They were not broken and put back together by the archeologists but were complete and in tact! These items are more than likely from people hiding from the Romans in the final months before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. It was so exciting to be among the first to see all of these things!
We were also treated to music under the start-lit sky by three young men living in Ir David (among 70 Jewish families). If you have never been to Ir David, or if you have not been there for the last few weeks (things change EVERY DAY!) you owe it to yourself to visit when you are in Israel!
Sukkot is coming and it can be seen, felt, heard EVERYWHERE you turn! People are building sukkot everywhere you look, stands with people selling Lulavim and Etrogim pop up on what seems like every corner; huge tents with dozens of vendors selling Lulav, etrog sets and items for sukkot...it is incredible. And the prices?? You can get a beautiful Mehudar set for about 90 NIS (approx $22.00) which is less than a 1/3 of what I was used to paying! Ah, the law of supply and demand!!!
One last comment about Sukkot...sadly, at the Central Bus Station, there are two men that LIVE under the underpass that goes from the CBS across the street to Binyanei HaUma (the other part of the bus station). Last night, on my way home, as I passed one of these two men, I noticed that someone had given him a Lulav and Etrog for Sukkot. Homeless, he may be, but he has his Lulav..."Mi K'amcha Yisrael..."