Jerusalem: The "New" City
PLACES TO VISIT:
The heart of the city is located around King George
Street, Jaffa Road and Ben-Yehuda Street. This is where you'll find a
bustling pedestrian mall filled with people from all over the world,
restaurants, souvenir shops and street musicians and artists. It is also
where you can find some of the imports from America, such as McDonald's.
If you want a more "sophisticated" evening
out, go for tea at the King
David Hotel. To see where the foreign journalists congregate, go to
Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem.
Jaffa Road leads into the Old City. If you head in the
opposite direction, you'll pass Mahane Yehuda,
the outdoor market where you'll find all sorts of fish, meat, vegetables,
fruit and odds and ends. On Friday, the place is really hopping as people
stock up on supplies for Shabbat.
Up King George Street toward Yemin Moshe, you'll see the
impressive Great Synagogue just across
from Independence Park and the Sheraton Hotel. Hechal Shlomo, adjoining the
synagogue, is the former headquarters of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis.
The Israel Museum
The Shrine of the Book (Ministry of Tourism)
Jerusalem is a wonderful city to explore on foot, but it
is a large and hilly place and a few of the more interesting and important
sites are not really within walking distance of the hotels where most
visitors stay. They are easily accessible, however, by bus or taxi.
One of the premier "modern" attractions in
Jerusalem is the Israel Museum where the fragments of the Dead
Sea Scrolls are exhibited in a special building known as the Shrine of
the Book. The distinctive white, domed-shaped ceiling of the building is
modeled after the clay jars in which the scrolls were found. The scrolls
are the oldest manuscripts of the Old Testament ever found.
The Museum also has a wonderful sculpture garden with
masterpieces by Rodin, Henry Moore and others, galleries with works by
modern and classical artists, including Rembrandt, Chagall,
Picasso and Miró, and archaeological relics dating as far back as the
Early Stone Age. The Museum is also known for having perhaps the world's
finest collection of Judaica.
The Knesset Building
Not far from the Israel Museum are many of the Israeli
government ministries and the Knesset,
Israel's parliament. The Knesset took its name and fixed its membership at
120 from the Knesset
Hagedolah (Great Assembly), the representative Jewish council
convened in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah in the 5th century B.C.E.
When visiting the Knesset and other government offices,
be sure to bring a passport. Security is tight and the lines to pass
through the gates are sometimes long. Once inside the building, the
highlight of the tour is the State
Hall where three tapestries and a mosaic created by Marc
Chagall decorate the walls and 12 mosaics cover the floor.
Just as most visitors to the U.S. Capitol are surprised
when they find few, if any, members of Congress in the chambers most of the
time, it is likely the Knesset will also be empty, or nearly so, unless a major issue is being debated
while you are there. Unlike Congress, debates in the Knesset are free-wheeling, with frequent shouting and finger pointing. Like the
British Parliament, the opposition also heckles the Prime Minister and
other government officials.
The Knesset Menorah
Across from the entrance to the Knesset is the impressive bronze menorah given to Israel as a gift from the British government in 1956. It depicts
events in Jewish history from the time of Moses to modern times. The inscription, from the prophet Zecharia, reads: “Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit says the
Lord of Hosts.”
Also nearby are the new Israeli Supreme
Court buildings, which have been acclaimed for their contemporary
The area around the Knesset and Supreme Court also
has a beautiful garden, Gan Havradim, which is filled with roses
from around the world.
Mount Herzl Cemetery
you head out of the center of town, up the hill on Herzl Street you'll
reach the memorial park and cemetery dedicated to the founder of political
Zionism, Theodor Herzl,
whose tomb is at the summit of the mountain.
with Herzl, many of Israel's other leaders, such as former Prime Ministers Golda
Meir and Levi Eshkol,
are buried in the cemetery. Since his tragic
murder in 1995, Yitzhak Rabin's grave has also become a magnet for tourists.
Israel's principal military cemetery
— its Arlington — is also located here. If you've
never been to a Jewish cemetery, you'll notice flowers
are not placed at the graves; instead, it is traditional
for visitors to place
small stones on the tombstones.
Chagall's stained glass window representing Joseph.
One of the world's premier hospitals is about ten minutes further
up the road in Ein
Kerem. Besides being an internationally renowned medical facility
and research institution, Hadassah Hospital is known for the spectacular
stained glass windows of its synagogue. The 12 windows created by Marc
Chagall represent the sons of Jacob from whom came the tribes
of Israel. The hospital, founded by the women's Zionist organization,
was originally built on Mt. Scopus. When that area was lost in the 1948
war, the modern hospital was built here in 1962.
Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
A little beyond Mt. Herzl is the Israeli Holocaust
Vashem was established by Israeli Law in 1953 to commemorate the
six million Jews and their communities wiped out in the Holocaust.
It has the largest and the most comprehensive archive and information
repositories on the Holocaust, housing
more than 50 million pages of documents and hundreds of thousands of
photographs and films.
A dream I dreamt
of terrible woe,
My people gone, alive no more.
I arose with a shout: "Oh no!, Oh no!"
The dream I dreamt -- It has become so!
"O God on high," shuddering, I cry,
"My people, dead! Wherefore and why?
Wherefore and why? In vain they died,
Not in war, fighting for their lives,
The young, the old, even wife and child,
They are no more -- lament the sorrow!
All day, all night, I weep and cry,
Wherefore, O God? Why, Adonai?"
Historical and Art Museums, as well as the Hall of Remembrance, the Valley
of the Communities, the Children's Memorial, and other monuments attest to
the tragic events that befell the Jewish people and instruct visitors to
Yad Vashem on the uniqueness of the Holocaust and its universal lessons. The Hall of Names is part of an effort to
collect the names of every Jewish man, woman and child murdered in the Shoah.
The Memorial Plaque of Oskar Schindler.
Yad Vashem also pays tribute to the courageous non-Jews,
such as Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, who
risked their lives to save Jews from certain death. These rescuers are
awarded the title of Righteous
Among the Nations and given a certificate and a medal with the Talmudic
inscription “Whoever saves a single soul, it is as if he had saved the
entire world.” A tree is then planted on the walkway, marked by a plaque
bearing the name and nationality of the Righteous Person.
The Jerusalem Forest
of the most impressive sites in Israel are natural ones. In Jerusalem and
its outskirts are some magnificent forests. The Jerusalem Forest is not far
from Mount Herzl and is an excellent place to physically contribute to the
greening of Israel by planting your own tree.
honored throughout Israel. For example, in Tel Aviv, Abraham Lincoln
and Woodrow Wilson have streets named after them. George Washington
Street is in Jerusalem and Martin Luther King has a street and
memorial in his honor in the Galilee. A statue of Lincoln is in Ramat
Gan and a replica of the Liberty Bell was built in Jerusalem's
Liberty Bell Garden.
This forest is also home to a special memorial to
President Kennedy. The building resembles the stump of a tree that was
chopped down in its prime. It consists of 51 columns in a circle,
representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Inside, an eternal
flame burns in front of a bust of JFK. The surrounding trees were also
planted in the President's honor.
Even this lengthy description of Jerusalem does not do
justice to all there is to see and do. Get off the tour and immerse
yourself in the city. Until you return, you will never be in a place like