Sunday and today were both very busy days. Avi needed another “chill” day so he stayed behind while Marsha, Noam, Shayna and I went first to Beit Guvrin National Park where we were met by someone from Archeological Seminars and we went down into one of their caves and dug. We found many bones and pieces of pottery. Someone in the group even found a metal hook which was a very rare find and went in a special place to go straight to the lead archeologist! After we dug for a while we also went spelunking through a cave and then saw another cave that was totally excavated. All the caves in the area were dug by volunteers and in this one cave they found an entire olive press! Unfortunately, our finds were a bit more mundane, but we still had a great time.
The entrance to our cave
After the dig we had a quick lunch in Beit Shemesh and then on to Latrun to see the Tank museum. Actually we never really went into the museum. Shayna had a blast climbing on the tanks. Noam like seeing the tanks, but did not want to climb.
Shayna on a tank
After Latrun, we went to perhaps the most interesting stop on our trip. In the years just before the war of independence the Haganah secretly built a bullet making factory in Rehovot, just outside of Tel Aviv. It was underground, covered by a laundry and bakery. The Laundry helped block the sound of the machinery and the bakery helped mask any smells. The tour is fun and informative and if you ever go to Israel, you really need to see this place.
The secret entrance under a laundry machine
Then we made a quick stop at the Knesset to see the iconic menorah and take a “family” photo.
Today we all went out and our first stop was Kehillat Moreshet Avraham where we had a Shaharit service at which Noam read from the Torah again. We were a nice little group of people I have not seen in a while and a few people who helped put together our trip.
Noam putting on Tefillin
Noam reading from the Torah
We’re from HAGALIL!
Our next stop was Yad Lekashish were we had a chance to do some shopping at the shop of this wonderful place. Here, retired men and women can come each day and work. They make all kinds of crafts that are then sold in the shop. Noam got a Tallit bag and we got a new Challah cover.
Then we drove to Har Herzl. We parked and then took a short shuttle to Yad Vshem. The children are too young to go into the museum, but we went to the grove for the righteous gentiles and David told Noam and Shayna about these people. Avi stayed in the visitor’s center. We also walked through the children’s memorial. Then we walked the path that connects Vad Vshem to the Military Cemetery at Har Herzl. This is an amazing placement where you go from the lowest point to a place where we honor Jews who fought for the Jewish state. We saw a few special graves. First Hannah Senesh who parachuted into Hungary during WW II to try and rescue Jews. Then we saw the grave of Yoni Netanyahu who led the mission to rescue the hostages at Entebee. Finally we saw the grave of Michael Levin who was a USYer who went on Nativ and then made Aliyah. He died in Lebenon and was buried at Har Herzl. His death brought to the forefront the group of lone soldiers, people from all over the world who come by themselves to fight for the Jewish state. His grave is visited by every USY group in Israel and as you can see has become a sort of shrine.
Michael Levin’s grave
Then we saw Herzl’s grave and those of the Prime Ministers who are buried at Har Herzl. After a quick lunch we also saw the Herzl museum which is a great museum. Rather than just look at artifacts, you get to see a movie throughout the museum about Herzl’s live. Another great find that should not be missed.
Finally we ended the day at the Israel Museum. We saw the model of second Temple Jerusalem, the Shrine of the Book, a very interesting exhibit about the Nano-Tanakh, the world’s smallest Hebrew bible and ended with a walk through the archeology wing of the museum. Avi loved this part and went right for the Roman period pieces. He recalled everything we had seen throughout the trip that had to do with the Roman period and this was definitely a highlight of his day.
Shayna in the Ahavah sculpture
Almost a full family photo!
Finally, we went back to the apartment for dinner and packing for our trip home tomorrow. All total, I think we are happy we brought the kids to Israel. Shayna clearly had a great time and loved every bit of the trip. Noam had his ups and downs, but mostly ups and he too is happy we came. Sometimes it is hard with Avi, but there have been moments where we are certain that he really did get something from this trip. Whenever he would also questions about things having to do with the ancient Israelites or Jews, he would also use “we” to talk about it, not them. To me this is very significant and shows me that Avi knows who he is and that he is part of the Jewish people. Other times, like today in the Israel Museum, he shows us that he heard everything that was said when we visited sites around the country.
We are all happy and excited to be coming home tomorrow but sad at the same time to leave Jerusalem. I hope it won’t take us 15 more years to get back!