Jerusalem – Living History

Courtyard in the Old City

“Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem.”
(Talmud: Kiddushin 49b)

The buildings in Jerusalem are built of a special stone called the Jerusalem Stone which at dusk and at dawn glistens like gold in the rising or the setting sun making it all, as in everything,  look stunningly beautiful. I have written in my earlier entries on Jerusalem about ‘Eating Out‘, ‘Life & Living‘ and ‘City of Gold‘ also on Israel itself in this entry. The Jaffa Gate became my ‘home’ gate into and out of the Old City Here is a collection of maps of the 1860’s by Charles Wilson and by others, also models by Conrad Schick  – he was a very famous architect – and others.

The incidents of the ‘Camels’ and the ‘Baileys’ and so did ‘Hi Handsome!‘ – all these happened at this time while in there! Also, the absolutely, fabulously, gorgeous treatments fit for Cleopatra and The Queen Esther that I wrote to you about in The Dead Sea Spa and in the ‘Alien Corn in an Alien Land ‘entries a couple moths ago took place during these years. I went again there – I had been in Israel in the 70’s – in 2002 when the terrorist attacks were at their most frequent and something like 100-200+ attempts were daily in just Jerusalem. In this neighbourhood there was the police station for the old city as well; actually, right next door on the other side. Any time we heard the sirens go of more than two-three police cars we knew what the story was. Anyway, we could feel the bombs as the whole city felt like it went into a spasm. There was a mosque right besides as well, and the rantings would go vile every time an attack would be coming and it became a sure sign of that what was to be…

Talk about living at the knife’s edge! The place where I lived and worked was in the complex that is today’s photograph of the courtyard in the Old City right at the Jaffa Gate that I mentioned earlier on in this entry. I worked there as a volunteer guide – though the job involved a multitude* of other related and non-related aspects to it – and lived for quite a while in this place. People from all the corners of the world would come over and we – I was the only female among the six** other ones there who would give guided tours explaining the history of the land, of Jerusalem and of the premises in various languages. This very job is The One where all of me: languages, love of history and the current affairs, personality, skills and know-how just came together in a wonderful mix thriving to the hilt! I absolutely loved it.

Do you spot the broken pillars in front of the building in the picture taken by me? They are 2000+ years old as they date from the time of Herod the Great whose palace was gigantic and covered the area of this complex where I lived. It was fascinating to think and ponder that here Herod and all his doings of that era had taken place. Of course, the history goes much further to King David and beyond as he captured the ‘city’ – that was not that large in size at the time.  The complex where I was is also situated opposite The Citadel, known as well as the Tower of David, even though it has nothing to do with King David at all. The Tower’s base – that is in nearly always the very first thing of the scenes of Jerusalem that the people in other countries recognize of Jerusalem – is one of the towers that the Romans left of the building that was the Palace of the King Herod when they utterly  flattened out the whole city in 70 CE.

Tis for now, yet again.  Riihele xx.

* As an example, the boss, an Australian, would suddenly ‘throw’ in the midst of some other urgent things: How is your German? I, thinking that it’d be something simple, answer him, ‘Okay’ and then he comes with a book from the 1860’s and wants to get the exact translation  of a particular passage into English on the very complex legal text!
‘Vielen Dank’, says me and tucks into work.  No dictionary at first in hand but found later – phew – asking him ‘when’ does he need the translation, the boss, ‘ tonight as I am lecturing to the  Germans about the history of a certain place the text is relating to et cetera.’

** We were an international blend of many nationalities in the complex and in the museum part, in particular. Most of the other guides had or were studying history in the university in Jerusalem  and also had done the very complicated tour guide exams. When I started to help them out, I asked where are the tools to the trade – material, books, notes as in all that is needed to get into the brains in order to give it further in the guiding – I had to learn massive amounts in the shortest possible time span! IT WAS GREAT FUN but immensely challenging. Really.

Incidents and Such Like – Baileys


This incident happened a few years ago in Tel-Aviv, Israel.There is a great Irish Pub there called, Molly Bloom’s and we just had to check it out being a gang of Irish. We met a couple of very happy Irish at the door coming out as we were about go in whom we knew that told us that they had – in their own words: ‘drank the place dry.’ They looked it as well, so we did not doubt it one bit. Well, not to worry. We are not big drinkers just one and we are grand.

In we went, found great seats in the packed-jammers pub as it is a very popular place and looked around to who else would be around. We got talking to tis chap and his girlfriend who we had never ever seen or heard of and it turned out that he was the owner of the place.

‘Aha’ says ma brain, aloud I say:
“Okay, R., you are Irish and I am Irish; What are going to give us on the house?

R. blinks only a second or two – that must said to his credit forever – and recovering manly says:

” What would you like?”

” Baileys, large, on plenty of ice, please.” I am not one to hesitate, you see.

Then he asks what the others want in the party and they get theirs, also on the house.

We leave the place sometime later thanking him profusely. The others are moved to the extent that I had to help them navigate back to the hotel
in the early hours through the streets of Tel-Aviv in 2002, when it was as its most dangerous over in Israel.

The other side of the story is this that the next evening we were going to the Irish ambassador’s posh do dressed up-to-the-nines at his residency near Tel-Aviv and whom did I spot there in the throng but R. himself. Well, now then!

It was my turn to recover this time, so I say to him:

“Thank you ever so much, R., for your kind generosity last night in your pub.”

R. all smiles, kindness and generosity itself:

“It was my pleasure.”

Well, what a gallant, noble gentleman, I say.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.