Earlier this week, Chuck and I decided we needed a Jerusalem fix and took off by train to spend an overnight visit there. Tel Aviv is young, diverse, artsy, vibrant, and ever changing. Jerusalem feels ancient, spiritual, religious, (those two are not the same) and mysterious. It is also an important part of our history as a couple!
We walked through Machaneh Yehuda, the outdoor market in Jerusalem. It used to be open air and much more gritty. Now it’s covered and feels positively upscale! I”m not sure I fully like that change, but we’ve always got Shuk Hacarmel in Tel Aviv if we want a more old world feel. Here are a couple of photos from the market.
One of our favorite galleries in Jerusalem is Neil Folberg’s Visions gallery. Neil is an incredibly talented American-Israeli photographer. We spent a few hours with Neil, and it was inspiring. We own and love a few of his photographs and books, but his latest body of work, called Taking Measure, is simply stunning. Here is a link to a video about these photographs- do watch it- you’ll love it. https://youtu.be/hBsS-B3aa0U
Our friends Alvan and Marcia visited us in Tel Aviv and suggested we go to the roof of Notre Dame for a panoramic view of Jerusalem. It’s a historical hotel owned by the Vatican that is across the street from the New Gate of the Old City. I had never even heard of it, but it was worth the elevator trip. As I looked out over the Old City, I was struck by the weight of history that hangs over Jerusalem- so much tragedy, so much conflict, so much beauty, so much majesty, so much meaning. It never fails to touch me deeply.
We also visited the Italian synagogue and museum, which I haven’t seen in 50 years. The synagogue interior is from a 17th century synagogue in Conegliano Veneto, a village in Italy. It’s ornate and quite beautiful and I remember praying there one Shabbat in 1968. It hasn’t changed, thank goodness!
As Chuck and I wandered around Jerusalem, we saw this shop and thought about getting a bucket, but we had reservations for dinner at Eucalyptus. Any time you see a sign completely in English, you know who the intended audience is! Israelis eat lots of schnitzel but American fried chicken is not very common here.
Dinner at Eucalyptus was an experience. The owner, Moshe Basson, is a showman and well known chef who creates modern dishes based on biblical cuisine. The restaurant was very crowded and after eating absolutely delicious appetizers, we waited almost an hour for our main course. When we let the waitress know we were very unhappy about the poor service, out came Moshe to charm us. He apologized for the wait and I reminded him I met him about 15-16 years ago when he did a cooking demonstration at a private party I attended during a terrible period in Jerusalem when terrorists detonated suicide bombs in crowded restaurants and cafes, bringing tourism to an almost complete halt, Moshe was forced to close his restaurant. He claimed to remember the party, he apologized again for the long wait and then proceeded to send four desserts to our table and he invited us to watch him turn out a pot of traditional chicken and rice. He succeeded in turning out the dish and turning us around.
On our meandering around the city, we came across the sign below for the Mandarin Chinese restaurant. Fifty years ago, when the culinary scene in Jerusalem was very limited, this was one of two exotic and special restaurants in the city. (The other one was La Gondola, the only Italian restaurant in Jerusalem.) On my last night in Israel after my year there as a student, on July 21, 1969, my cousins took me there for dinner. In the middle of dinner, the entire restaurant grew silent as we listened to the radio as Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and uttered his famous line. It was thrilling then and the memory of it will never leave me.
I love living the good life in Tel Aviv, but Jerusalem will always hold my heart.