It’s Tuesday, and I fly out just after midnight on Saturday (the Sabbath!), so after checking out of my hotel then I’ll have 12 hours to kill.
Today I decided to visit the famous Israel Museum, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls, only to find out that the place didn’t open until 4 pm on Tuesdays. It was stupid of me not to check in advance, but I now know the way by bus, and I’ll go back tomorrow when it opens at 10 a.m.
As its Wikipedia entry notes,
Its holdings include the world’s most comprehensive collections of the archaeology of the Holy Land, and Jewish art and life, as well as significant and extensive holdings in the fine arts, the latter encompassing eleven separate departments: Israeli Art, European Art, Modern Art, Contemporary Art, Prints and Drawings, Photography, Design and Architecture, Asian Art, African Art, Oceanic Art, and Arts of the Americas.
Among the unique objects on display are the Venus of Berekhat Ram, the interior of a 1736 Zedek ve Shalom synagogue from Suriname, necklaces worn by Jewish brides in Yemen, a mosaic Islamic prayer niche from 17th-century Persia, and a nail attesting to the practice of crucifixion in Jesus’ time. An urn-shaped building on the grounds of the museum, the Shrine of the Book, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and artifacts discovered at Masada. It is one of the largest museums in the region.
Doesn’t that sound interesting? I’m especially interested in the archaeology and the Dead Sea scrolls, though I originally heard they were shown only in reproduction. But Wikipedia says no, some on display are original:
As the fragility of the scrolls makes it impossible to display them all on a continuous basis, a system of rotation is used. After a scroll has been exhibited for 3–6 months, it is removed from its showcase and placed temporarily in a special storeroom, where it “rests” from exposure. The museum also holds other rare ancient manuscripts and displays the Aleppo Codex, which is from the 10th-century and is believed to be the oldest Bible codex in Hebrew.
The Scrolls themselves are said to be “the oldest surviving manuscripts of entire books later included in the biblical canons, along with extra-biblical and deuterocanonical manuscripts that preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. At the same time, they cast new light on the emergence of Christianity and of Rabbinic Judaism.”
We’ll see tomorrow.
Anyway, it wasn’t time wasted, as I walked to the new Jerusalem train station on the way, and found out how to get to the Tel Aviv airport in only half an hour, and for a pittance.
As always, I took my camera in case something interesting appeared. Here’s what I saw today.
A guy with his phone and a smoke by one of the Museum’s pools:
. . . and an old Haredi Jew, also with his phone. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews spurn cellphones as technology that could spread modern (and therefore bad) ideas. In those ways, as in others, they are like the Amish.
On the tram back, a guy was snogging with his girlfriend, either a cop or a member of the IDF. They were clearly bonded, and it was very cute. A woman in uniform!
What twisted mind conceived of this tee shirt?
And, if you’re a Jewish basketball fan and want to combine your team’s tee-shirt with a religious tallit, well, this is a unique item of clothing:
Or, if you’re a fan of the artificial potato chip Pringles, you can get it on a yarmulke from Kippa Man:
Or a kitty keychain:
I went back to Hummus Ben Sira again, but decided to try something besides hummus.
One of their specialities (second to hummus) is sabich, described by Wikipedia like this:
Sabich or sabih (Hebrew: סביח [saˈbiχ]) is a sandwich of pita or laffa bread stuffed with fried eggplants, hard boiled eggs, chopped salad, parsley, amba [mango pickle] and tahini sauce. It is an Iraqi Jewish dish that has become a staple of Israeli cuisine, as a result of Iraqi Jewish immigration to Israel. Its ingredients are based on a traditional quick breakfast of Iraqi Jews and is traditionally made with laffa, which is nicknamed Iraqi pita. Sabich is sold in many businesses throughout Israel.
This one was made with regular pita, and it was delicious. Here’s the Wikipedia picture showing the dissected sandwich (mine was un-dissectable). And mine had all the ingredients save the samba, as I didn’t detect mango pickle.
A sabich from Wikipedia:
It was FABULOUS. The combination of hard-boiled eggs, tahini, vegetables, and a big piece of fried eggplant was wonderful. Here’s my lunch (I can’t resist the homemade lemonade.) This cost ten bucks. The pickles were dills, and I ate the sandwich with bites of ripe tomato (also in the sammy) and onion.
Dessert: pistachio halva from Halva Kingdom. Even better than plain halva:
Walking home after lunch. This is the street my hotel is on, and I can see the umbrellas from my window. They appear to be a permanent art installation of sorts:
This nearby bar (certified kosher) was apparently once the home of Ze’ev Zabotinsky, a famous politician, a dedicated Zionist, and a military leader as well as a poet and novelist. He also founded the first all-Jewish modern army unit, the Jewish Legion that fought under the British in World War I. Here’s a photo of Zabotinsky from 1935, five years before he died at sixty.
Pictures of Zabotinsky and his family are plastered all over the building. I can’t be sure he lived there or near there, but that’s a reasonable conclusion, especially when you read this (he didn’t live in Jerusalem for very long):
After a short stay at the Amdursky Hotel just inside Jaffa Gate, [Zabotinsky and his family] began residence in the Levy Building located at the corner of today’s Shimon ben Shetah and Ben Sira streets off of Shlomzion Hamalka.
Finally, The Bird of the Day: a hooded crow (Corvus cornix). Here are three ways of looking at a crow. Note the blue nictitating membrane; its eye is not damaged:
One personal note: save for my first night of jet lag, I have had NO insomnia at all since I’ve been here. I sleep like a log every night and am well rested. This seems to confirm that my sleeplessness in Chicago is created by anxieties connected with my work there (including ducks). But please don’t tell me to move to Israel! There are easier ways to deal with anxiety. . .