The whole purpose of the JNF Mission my family is doing is to learn about the history of Israel in regards to the Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem, hence the mission is appropriately titled "The Road to Jerusalem". Many of you may not know this, but Jerusalem was not a part of the Israeli State until 1967, after heavy fighting, and major successes on the part of Israel. From 1948 until 1967, Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan, but after 1967, the control was returned to Israel, and Jerusalem was united with the rest of Israel.
We started our day off early, and our "real" breakfast was actually at an Air Force Base in the north. These are pictures from the hotel refreshments that were placed out for us before boarding the busses.
I will briefly mention that we spent some of the morning, including breakfast, visiting an Air Force Base in the northern part of Israel. Much like US bases, you can't take pictures, although Israel is a bit stricter than the US. I couldn't even take pictures of the breakfast served to us on base. Once on the base we were shown some of the air craft, which was neat for me as a US military spouse. In fact, there was really little difference between their base and ours. I felt right at home with the fighter jets taking off. I know it was an exciting demo for many because they have never seen this before. We learned a little about what it takes to become a pilot in the Israeli Air Force. It is not an easy task. In case you don't know, all Israeli citizens serve in the military when they turn 18. I am sure there are some exceptions, but I am not an expert on this topic. Others living in Israel can join too, as well as Jews from other countries. I have known Americans that have served, as well as some of the people we met last year that were from other places, like Russia.
After the base, we made our way to Jerusalem. Our first stop was Mt. Scopus.
Currently on Mt. Scopus is Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University. Here is one of the signs from the college campus.
One of the things that makes Mt. Scopus so unique and a part of Israeli history is that it was the only part of Jerusalem that remained part of Israel. This means just this speck inside Jerusalem was Israeli. No one could live here because they were surrounded by Jordan (Jerusalem under Jordanian rule). The UN came every two weeks to escort the Israeli police (military) in to trade off with those that had been their for the 2 weeks prior. The buildings remained empty for 19 years. Yes, I said 19 years. Can you believe for 19 years this area was guarded but empty. Over that time they smuggled in weapons, and when the time came, they fought and reclaimed Jerusalem as their own. This is now a busy place once again. While up here we listened to the story of the Mt. Scopus from someone that actually fought here. Remember, this was not that long ago. Until 1967, Jerusalem was part of Jordan and Mt. Scopus was desolate.
Next up was a visit to Ammunition Hill, which is another very important site in the history of Israel as this is where a very important battle of the Six Day took place. Of course this was an Israeli victory, and this win allowed for us to have the Israel that we have today. Without this battle, it is likely that Jerusalem would still belong to Jordan, and the Israeli State would not be the way we know it today.
Before touring the battle grounds we were served a delicious lunch. Again, this was a kosher meat meal, so at least the salads were dairy free (good for my sister who is a lactose intolerant vegetarian).
Here is what I ended up with. All of it was really good.
Here is my sisters plate.
I always feel funny snapping all these food pictures at these buffet style meals, but I think by now people are starting to get used to it. We have nearly 120 people on our trip, so there are probably still a few I have not met and have no idea why I am snapping pictures of food like it is a tourist spot. As a result, I can't take a picture of everything because I am respectful of the fact that people need to eat, and we can't spend all day focused on the food.
After lunch we headed out to look around the battle ground site and listen to the story of the events told by someone that was there fighting that day in 1967. It is very moving to hear the story told by people that lived it. There is so much emotion in their words, and they acted so honorably so that we as Jews can enjoy the Israel that we all know and love today.
Here is the Israeli flag flying high.
Here I am with my sister. We were trying not to get too sun burned, but unfortunately SPF 100 was no match for the Israel sun in May.
Right after the speaker we were served some fruit and chocolate lava cake.
Then we all moved into the amphitheater for a dedication ceremony. Some of the members of out trip had donated and dedicated a plaque to this wall at Ammunition Hill. This wall honors all Jews that have served in the military of their own countries, so this means even in the United States. It is a great tribute to all Jewish soldiers that have fought for the freedom of their home country over the years. Did you know that Jews even served in the armies of the North and the South in the Civil War? It's true, and they continue to serve in militaries all over the world, not just fighting for Israel, but fighting for freedom all over the world.
I have not had the honor of meeting this gentleman, but from what I gather he is a very honored and respected war hero in Israel. He was honored on this day with a plaque on the wall and here he is giving his speech. It is nice to know that people like him exist in order to make the world a better place, especially Israel where the threat of danger to the land and a safe place for Jews is always hanging in the balance.
After the ceremony we were able to head to our hotel, The David Citadel. I will say that for a 5 star hotel, there were a few glitches in getting settled. Here is a picture of our room, although this turned out to be a handicapped room and we needed to relocate.
The rooms are really nice, but I went to log into the internet, after paying a considerable fee for the week (the benefit is that it worked for all our devices so we only needed to pay once for all 4 of us), and discovered that it would not work in my room. After a long day and really needing to catch up on work, this was the last thing I wanted to deal with. I was told it was because I have a Mac Book. In the end I was given a USB modem, but it still wouldn't work in my room. I was able to use it in the lobby, but there was a very loud party going on, and this made it difficult to concentrate to get my work done. But that's another story...and the end of it is that the next morning, it miraculously decided to start working in the room, so crisis averted!
After calming down from the internet debacle, we headed to Ben Yehudah Street for dinner.
I ate at this place last year, but it seemed to be a popular spot, so we got some falafel from there for dinner.
Look at all the yummy fillings you can get for your sandwich.
I ordered mine on the flat bread, like I did last year. It was so huge that I couldn't even finish it.
Dessert was at my favorite frozen yogurt place.
Here they mix vanilla yogurt with any fruits or similar toppings. It gets pushed through a machine and blended together.
I got an assortment of berries mixed with chocolate. Yum!
Afterwards, knowing I had work to do, we went to the Coffee Bean. At this location they offer a great looking menu with all kinds of foods and 24 hour breakfast. I wish we had one in Japan!
Then I got some much needed sleep in a very comfortable bed.
Up next, more Jerusalem.
QUESTIONS: Did you ever hear of the Six Day War? Have you ever been to Jerusalem? Do you like falafel?