Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Just for Fun

Just some pictures from the past few weeks activities.

Bar Kochba Caves at Churvat Madras. There are sites all over Israel that include tunnels carved into the rocks from the time of the Bar Kochba revolt. Some in the middle of nowhere, some under other sites like the palace at Herodium. As you may remember, Bar Kochba was a charismatic figure who attempted to establish Jewish independence in the 130s CE. Rabbi Akiva was said to have called him the messiah. His movement, however, was crushed by the Romans in a horribly bloody war that decimated the Jewish population.

While we talked a little about the caves and the people who had to hide there, our focus was mostly on the fun of crawling through. The pitch black, narrow tunnel took about fifteen minutes to crawl through. The kids had it somewhat easy, especially the three year old. The adults were lucky when we could crawl on our hands and knees, and once or twice had to squeeze through on our bellies. The first time, all six of us went, then I went with the kids, then my husband went with the kids. When they asked to go through a fourth time, we sent them on their own.

Ein Gedi is mentioned many times in the Tanach. This is where David hid from Saul. There are numerous waterfalls and pools all along the path.

Mamshit National Park. Mamshit is a Nabatean city. For hundreds of years, the Nabateans, whose capital is in Petra, Jordan, developed a monopoly over the transport of goods from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. They had very sophisticated water systems that enabled them to thrive in the Negev. Their wealth and success is evident in the cities they left behind, including five that are located in Israel. Mamshit, one of the five, was a particularly wealthy city. There are multiple mansions on the site, including one that is 2000 square meters (>21,000 sq ft). That particular house included an internal stable for twenty or so horses.

In the first house build in Mamshit
Most of the Nabatean cities were resettled over the years. Mamshit includes two churches and evidence of monks who likely used the former market place as living quarters. Under the Roman Empire the Nabateans became Christian and then, later, Muslim. They were thought to have lost their particularity as a people sometime during the early Muslim period and assimilated into the world around them.

Though we were having fun, our oldest was maxed
out on ruins and suggested our next stop have a roof on it.

Outside one of the churches
The kids thought this would be a good place for the flat screen

A self portrait from inside a huge cross carved into the stone

As we left Mamshit, we happened upon the Camel Ranch of the Negev. They give tours all around the area on camels. Sounded like fun, but we opted for twice around the corral.

Masada, in general, is always a great trip. This was our second visit. We ascended the Snake Path both times. The first time was in the last week of March and we started at eight in the morning. This time, it was mid-May and we started at nine. Wow, what a difference a couple of months and an hour makes! It was hot and the climb was much more difficult. One of the kids suggested that it could also be because of the excitement of the first time. He had told himself that hiking up the Snake Path was a once in a lifetime experience. As it turns out, the second time you have a once in a lifetime experience, it just isn't the same.

The Mineral Beach on the Dead Sea. Of all the beaches on the Dead Sea, this one might be our favorite. We have promised at least one more trip to the Dead Sea before we return home. For those of us who love getting slathered up with mud and floating in salty water, we just can't seem to get enough!

Guess who?

In and around Jerusalem. There are a number of new sites that have just opened in honor of long time mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kolek. At least one member of the family thinks that Teddy Park right outside the old city and Teddy Stadium near the Malcha Mall were named just perfectly.

And, just for fun at home. Did you know that Mah Jong is an Israel tradition? Well, at least for my family. This is not the original set that was purchased when my husband and I lived here fifteen years ago. This is a mini travel one we asked my sister to bring because the our set is way to heavy. The luggage weight limit was much higher back then. And, in case you were wondering, my Mom was the big winner.

We have about five weeks left here in Israel. More adventure to come...

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