Israel without a budget....again.... travel blog

Tzipi Livni

Dennis Ross - US Middle East Envoy

Prez of Macedonia - His Excellency Georgei Ivanov

President Shimon Peres

Meeting President Peres

Out for dinner at HaMishpacha

Wednesday June 22

Presidents on parade: Collect ‘em all!

Debbie went shopping in Emek Refaim today with Brent & Sora; Hart; and Leslie and Ari. Which brings me to a discussion of all things shekel. The exchange rate for shekels was 3.48 shekels to $1CDN when we arrived but it has gained strength vs. the dollar since we’ve been here and is now approx. 3.40 shekels to the $1CDN.

Some interesting shekel facts:

1. The ‘large stone structure’ we saw in the City of David appears on the 5 shekel coin. Politically, it is important to show the presence of Jews in the land in antiquity and the Jewish artifacts found to date in the City of David are the oldest so far.

2. Zalman Shazar is on the 200 shekel note. We played triva about that tonight with the gang at dinner and using magnifying glasses we were able to (we think) discern the names of the players on each of the notes.

After lunch, they headed back to the Arab Market for another cashmere pashmina from Hashem (we now have purchased 6,238 of them but Debbie still insists that we won’t need to buy another suitcase).

Apparently (and I wasn’t there so I can only repeat what I’m told) the gang got a bit lost deep in the Muslim Quarter based on Brent’s directions but after an Israeli counter-terrorist squad was sent in on a search & rescue mission they were safely extracted. Well, except for their money. That’s where Hashem comes in… again.

He has now sold flying carpets to everyone from Canada and Leslie is, I’m pretty sure, getting some kind of kickback ‘cause there’s no other explanation for this phenomenon, don’t you think?

I spent the day at the Presidential Conference and attended a couple of plenary sessions and 1 of the ‘side’ sessions. Here’s some of the folks that I heard from today:

• Niall Ferguson (British journalist) – right wing

• Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks – righter wing. Lord Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of the UK & Commonwealth (except for Estevan, Saskatchewan where they’ve sworn allegiance to The Baba Shalom and plan on making a pilgrimage to The Great Celebration on 17 Sivan 5771)

• Tzipi Livni – leader of Kadima and mad at Netanyahu’s Interior Minister for proposing back door legislation to bring back “Religion” on the National Identity Card

• Saul Singer (Start-Up Nation co-author) who thinks that Israel will continue to be a Start-Up Nation

• Dennis Ross (US Peace Envoy to Middle East) who I did not know until now was Jewish but is apparently NOT related to Diana Ross or, so far as I can ascertain, any of the other Supremes;

• Leonel Fernandez (President of Dominican Republic) – best quote of day: “I thought Shimon Peres was from the D.R. because of his last name except he spells it funny

• Georgei Evanov (President of Macedonia) – best name of a country who has attended this conference

• Wu Cai (Minister of Culture, Peoples Republic of China) – spoke glowingly about the major strides that have been made by the Peoples Republic at world economic hegemony. Also, he’s staying at our hotel.

• Shimon Peres – famous shortstop from the Domincan Republic.

After the morning sessions I was about to purchase a 35 shekel sandwich (what’s that, about $87CDN?). Dina & Naomi stopped me and told me that our Hebrew U. Board of Governors status allowed us access to the VIP Lounge next to Teddy Hall, the main plenary hall. The key is the free food and drink in there.

After the afternoon session I headed in there for some lemonade when who shows up and plunks himself down on the sofa next to me? None other than that famous D.R. shortstop Shimon (“Dusty”) Peres.

I immediately took a photo (before the other baseball fans could ask for autographs and ruin the moment and he turned to me and gravelly voiced a “Shalom… vair ar yu frome?” to me which allowed us to have a couple of minutes of conversation before his handlers whisked him away.

I met up with the gang in the lobby of the Mamilla Hotel and we all went for dinner at “HaMishpachah” on the Salamon Mall between Hillel St. & Jaffa St. (Shawarma for me; St. Peter’s fish for everyone else) followed by glida at the Mamilla Mall.

We have enjoyed very much meeting and being part of what I’ll call the “Young(er) Western Canadian Crowd”. Without the 8 of us on this “Mission from BOG” the average age of the missionaries would be in the mid-100’s, I’m estimating.

In speaking with Merle, Naomi, Dina & Ravid (our HUHandlers) it’s pretty clear that we’re causing minimal stress to them. I’m thinking that we ought to come up with a collective complaint (“The tomatoes on the breakfast buffet aren’t very fresh – is there something you can do about that?”) just to have a little ‘fun’.

Anyway, this was a fun day – I can’t wait to see what famous ball players I’ll meet at the Prez Conference tomorrow!

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