Monday June 20
First there were the Jebusites (well, actually, the Canaanites were before them) and then along came David, King of the Jews, and he laid siege to the fortified stone walls of the Jebusite hilltop city and it fell before him.
Well, no, it didn’t happen like that, actually. Instead of a siege, David promised a reward to the first of him men who could find a way through the cracks in the walls and cut off the Jebusite city from its water source at the Gihon Spring.
And then the walls came a tumblin’ down. Nope – wrong story again. Oh, yeah, and then David called his city Ir David (“City of David”) and his palace was built on that same hilltop with workers sent from the north by King Hyram.
And how do we know that? “….cause the bible tells me so…”. And also, the style used for carving the capitals of the pillars was known to be a staple ‘go-to’ pillar capital style from the north country.
The City of David tour was led by Oren who looks like he could be 14 years old until you find out he’s been doing this for 8 years and loving it! He was a very well read and well-spoken young man who did a tremendous job of painting the mental pictures needed to transport us back 3,000 years ago to the time of King David.
Also, the 3-D movie at the beginning of the tour was helpful to set the stage for the mayhem that was about to follow.
The City of David expanded rapidly and within 40 years after the capture of the Jebusite fortress the First Temple was being built by David’s son, Solomon on the neighbouring hilltop that was named (and still is) Jerusalem.
Ir David is an ongoing major excavation site and the discoveries have fueled the nationalist debate – what is the first evidence of a Jewish presence in Jerusalem. The answer appears to be here, in the ruins of the City of David.
The highlight of the tour is the walk in pitch black along Hezekiah’s tunnel – the one he built to bring the spring water into Jerusalem itself - through waist high cold water. Debbie & I opted to take the ‘dry’ and older (and tighter!) Canaanite tunnel.
We were hungry after our tour and stopped for a bagel and cream cheese at the Mamilla Mall Bagel, Pizza & Gelato joint. Two new discoveries:
1. Bagel & cream cheese come ‘pressed’ Panini style. Ever had a squished bagel & cream cheese Panini? Trust me, no need to try it.
2. Passi-Flora is the Hebrew transliteration for Passion Fruit. It is a delicious flavor of slurpee available throughout the land. It has little Passi-Flora seeds in it. Not quite bubble tea but a nice crunchy aftertaste.
We got ourselves spruced up and made our way to Hebrew U. for the Conferment of Honourary Fellowships, including one for our friend Lenny Shapiro. The guests included Chaim Navon, the 5th President of Israel and Cdn. Ambassador Paul Hunt. Paul is staying at our hotel and we’ve run into him about a half-dozen times now. He insisted that we call him & Pauline when we’re next in town. I think we have the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
The Conferment ceremony was lovely with two highlights:
1. Sophie Dabi from France received an Honourary Fellowship (should that be a Womanship for her?) and was wearing (approximately) 23” heels. She wobbled with every step she took. The English people in the room were taking bets on whether she’d wobble head over 23” heels into the orchestra pit but I personally thought that was bad form on their part.
2. Professor Limor Shifman of the Department of Communiction and Journalism delivered the traditional lecture based upon her recently completed Phase 1 research project on (I am not making this up) “Internet Jokes”. Here is the killer joke that she put on the internet:
“Dear Tech Support,
Last year I upgraded Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0 and noticed that the new program began unexpected child processing that took up a lot of space and valuable resources. In addition, Wife 1.0 installs itself into all other programs and monitors all other systems activity. Applications such as Poker Night 10.3 and Beer Bash 2.1 no longer run, crashing the system whenever selected.
- - - - - - -
“Dear Desperate User,
This is a very common problem men complain about but is mostly due to a primary misconception. Many people upgrade from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0 with the idea that Wife 1.0 is merely a “Utilities & Entertainment” package. Wife 1.0 is an Operating System and designed by its creator to run everything. It is impossible to uninstall, delete or purge the program from the system once it is installed.
Dr. Shifman translated the joke into about 20 major languages and tracked the route the joke took to determine whether it is a secret agent of globalization. I think that is just the thesis that she used to get university funding but it seems to have worked as she’s now into Phase 2 of the research project and has sent 100 jokes out onto the net to see how they fare.
So far, and this is my very favourite part of her findings to date, the jokes seems to be viewed and sent on to varying degrees in all languages except…. Arabic! Astounding research, I say. She says this is due to the Muslim world not being familiar with the concept of Poker Night and Beer Bash. I have an alternate theory – if the Muslim world has a problem with Wife 1.0 they simply install Wives 2.0 – 13.0 (or as many more as are needed to solve the problem).
Dinner this evening was held a block away from the hotel at the Hebrew Union College (beautiful lawn garden for cocktails; reflecting pool courtyard for dinner). At the dinner we honoured Hebrew U. Prize in Excellence award winners by watching them walk across the reflecting pool to see if they fell in (surprisingly, none did).
These are some VERY smart people! Each was asked to give a brief overview of the work they do. Here is mostly what is sounded like:
“Ehhh, I em performing research on the frackulation theory as it applies to advanced grackamoles. “ (but in an Israeli accent)
We shared a table for dinner with Ravid & Naomi & Molly (Hebrew U staff) and Molly’s husband David, an archaeologist at Ir David and their 8-month old baby son Avishai who is, apparently, the youngest ever Hebrew U. grad (I just made that up).
Other dinner guests included Canadian Ambassador Paul Hunt (like this guy is EVERYWHERE!). We were treated to a concert after dinner by Sophie Milman – very smooth voice and a real treat. Casey was taking some photos next to me while she was singing. It was a delight to see how enthralled he was with his wife's performance. Almost like he was hearing her sing for the very first time. Young love - very sweet!
Debbie was zonked after the dinner but I wanted to see the Jerusalem Light festival in the Old City so I wandered into the Old City at 11:00pm and wandered back out around 12:30am. The place was packed and that part of the walk was more fun than most of the light displays themselves with the exception of the giant easter egg of light erected in the Ophel Garden next to the Kotel. It constantly changed colour and was quite mesmerizing.
Also, for the first time ever, I went to the Kotel at night. It is quite mesmerizing also to see the plaza all lit up and packed with people at midnight. All in all, a mesmerizing event.