Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pleasant day in Jerusalem hills

Today began like most of my weekdays in Jerusalem - with a visit to the National Library to work on my research and course planning. (Today I was working on planning my Jerusalem course - there is so much to learn about the history and communities of Jerusalem. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface). In the middle of the afternoon, as I was sweating again over a hot photocopier (this is not meant metaphorically, by the way - it's hot here now, which I'm sure is a surprise to my readers), a friend called to say that she was going horse-riding.

I seized the opportunity to flee the library, and went with her and another friend on a pleasant drive in the hills of Jerusalem to חוות נטף (Nataf Farm), where she climbed on the horse and we sat around and watched her, the other horses, and the beautiful landscape. After she finished her lesson (the first time in many years, with the goal of getting over her fear of horse-riding engendered by past falls from horses) we went to another beautiful place to have dinner - a restaurant called בר בהר ("Bar in the Mountain" - it rhymes in Hebrew). I didn't have my camera with me, but we went there last year too and I took some photos of the surrounding mountains then.

We had a very nice dinner and then headed back to the sweltering city via a road I had never traveled on before, the מנהרות (the tunnels). This meant crossing the Green Line (out of Israel proper) into the West Bank, passing by a Jewish town named Betar Illit ("Upper Betar") and an Arab town just across the road from it named Bittir, and then arriving at the tunnels into Jerusalem. Before we entered the first tunnel we drove right along the separation wall, and then between the first and second tunnels there was another wall, this one not completely filled in however. We entered Jerusalem from the south and passed by a sign directing us to the tomb of Rachel, which is just at the entrance to Bethlehem and is on the Israeli side of the Green Line. When I last visited it, which was about twenty years ago, there was no wall, no checkpoint, and no massive building that enclosed Rachel's tomb. I wouldn't go there now - I can't imagine how it would be a particularly spiritual experience now. A sobering end to a pleasant afternoon in the Jerusalem hills.

No comments:

Post a Comment