Remember: we are talking about my ENTIRE extended family: my kids, who have seen almost everything in and around Jerusalem; my sister, who has seen a lot; my parents, who have been here a lot, but haven't done much touring; my brother who has been here once or twice, done a fair bit of touring, but still hasn't seen much; and my brother's wife, who is in Israel for the first time!
And, don't forget, my brother's two little kids, who aren't yet interested in hearing about our fascinating history and amazing archaeology.....
Well, we packed it in!
DAY ONE: (Sunday)
Our shul went to Herodion, and we joined the group.
It was fun to be on tiyul with members of the community. It was a spontaneous trip -- put together on Friday and announced in shul on Shabbat. About 25 families participated. It is so nice to be part of an active and cohesive community!
My kids and I had visited Herodion this past Chanukkah (we had a great tour from one of the on-site guides) but Moshe and everyone else had never been there. Plus we were interested in viewing the recent discovery of what might be Herod's tomb...
We travelled in convoy on the new road (open to Jews only during certain hours). It was cool to be part of such a long convoy! The drive took only 10 minutes, instead of the 35 minutes, round-a-bout route that we took during Chanukah.
Before visiting Herodion, we drove another 5 minutes to visit members of our community who, about two years ago, moved to Ma'aleh Rechav'am.* They wanted to actively support the fledgeling community that the government was (and is) threatening to destroy. They live half-time in Homat Shmuel and half-time in Ma'aleh Rechav'am (sort of like families who live half in Israel, half in the US -- but with a shorter commute!)
Then on to Herodion.... A member of our community, who works for the Antiquities Dept., and is a serious Jewish History buff, was our guide.
It was a challenge translating in real time for my family, but I think I did an okay job. I enjoyed the tour and learned a few new things too.
Nonetheless, I am forced to admit that my father was correct: I should have been our guide. Between the language barrier and running after my cute, 3 year old nephew, it would have been better for everyone (except, perhaps, for Moshe) to have a less academic tour that was more geared to our families' needs.
Apparently, though it would take another day to learn that lesson....
DAY TWO: (Monday)
Moshe and I both wanted to visit Ir David (The City of David). Over the past two years, there have been some amazing new archaeological discoveries (in addition to the discoveries of 15 years ago), which we both wanted to see. Moshe had never been there and I hadn't been there in a number of years.
A few months ago, I missed the special enrichment day organized by Migdal David (The Tower of David Museum) for its tour guides. I have been a guide at Migdal David for over 15 years (on and off). Migdal David always gets the best guides to guide us, and I was disappointed to miss the day at Ir David.
My father wanted me to guide our family. Despite the previous day's adventures, I again thought it would be better to join an English tour with one of the on-site guides.
When we arrived at Ir David (on Succot, this is an adventure in itself), we discovered that there were two seperate tours, one for "first-timers" and one for people who are already familiar with the site.
In deference to my parents and my brother's family, we chose the first tour, but that didn't include the new excavations. So, after the first 2 1/2 hour tour, we joined the second tour! (paying twice!)
Well, the second tour was well-worth it. Our guide, A, (who, coincidentally, is the husband of Moshe's cousin), was excellent. It was a real treat to have him as our guide.
After returning home, exhausted, my father and brother both told me that the second tour would have sufficed.
My father was correct... again.
There was about 70% overlap in material and I could have guided the sites that the second tour didn't cover.
One of these days I'm going to learn to listen to my parents.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
* Ma'aleh Rechav'am, named after Rechav'am ("Gandhi") Ze'evi, was founded on three principles: Jewish Labor (our friends built everything themselves, including the back-breaking work of moving stones for their large, and beautifully, cultivated garden), No Fence around the Yishuv (artificial border, placing the community in a cage), and Co-Existance between religious and secular Jews (we are all part of one nation and need to live together as part of a unified community).