Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Maggie and Isaac went out to the garden to have breakfast before Hadassah and I. We were taking a bit longer to get ready because the shower situation in the room was a little difficult. I had to hold the shower head over her as she showered. It reminded me of being at the tipi. I would have her stand in the galvanized tub outside the tipi and while she scrubbed herself I would pour warm water over her that I had heated on the woodstove. I would always get a little wet with her. I was doing the same thing here except the tub wasn’t galvanized…
Here at the Jerusalem Garden home the bathroom took up almost half the entire place. The wall-to-wall sliding glass doors of the bathroom divided it from the bedroom, but they didn’t go all the way to the ceiling. So there was probably 2 to 3 feet of open space above. There was a curtain that you could pull shut outside the glass doors, but it didn’t reach all the way to the floor. The combination of the two made it not very private.
The huge jacuzzi tub had a shower handle you could pull out of a holder, but no where to hang it so you can get under it and no shower curtain. We tried just taking baths, but the tub leaked all over the floor if you filled it. It was a bizarre bathroom. You really couldn’t take a shower alone and you didn’t really go potty alone either. I guess there were a few private stalls out in a hallway that Isaac found.
I actually had to give this place the worst review of all the places we stayed. I had great things to say about all the rest of the places we stayed, but even though it was in a great location our experience here was frustrating. Especially for what we paid.
Hadassah and I were only a few minutes behind them, but when we came out to the garden they already had breakfast before them. Maggie was sipping on a cappuccino and was very happy to be doing so.
The bed-and-breakfast owners were gone on holiday and the man that they had in charge did not speak English at all. Nor did he try. But he sure did make breakfast fast! At first he must’ve thought we were a party of two. But when Hadassah and I showed up he brought more out. The following mornings he waited until we were all there before he brought us breakfast. It had been raining during the night and all the chairs and tables were wet. Isaac tried to find me a dry cushion to sit on. I suppose we could’ve sat in the huge sukkah that they had built over part of their courtyard for the Feast. Palm branches made up the roof of the sukkah. I love palm branches!
He served us a very traditional Israeli breakfast platter full of different things to dip our bread in including eggplant (or babaganosh) and hummus and tomato, tuna and Israeli salad. I think it’s the first time my girls have eaten salad for breakfast…willingly. It was a wonderful breakfast!
Today we learned a lot! How to use the bank, how to take a bus, how to “grocery” shop, what it’s like to get swindled at the Jaffa gate.
The first thing we needed to do today was get some shekels. We found out a bank was only a couple of blocks away from our bed and breakfast so we walked to it. Across a very busy street and then onto a very large stone patio in front of the bank. They had ATM machines inside and outside. I opted for going inside. There were lots of people around. I put my card in the machine and of course it didn’t work. We looked at all the other machines and none of them had an option for English. So I walked in to ask the man sitting at the information desk for help. There were so many people inside! He was cranky. He had no patience to try to understand what I needed. He just kept saying use the machines!
So I went out and decided that I would try a machine that had no English option. Little scary. I wanted to get my card back if I put it in. In the little Arab town a couple days earlier the bank teller had put my card in the machine and then the option came up for English. So I tried it and it worked! We were able to get shekels for the day.
We learned how to take the bus in Jerusalem and in fact it is not scary. I think we have fear mongering in America keeping believers from coming here. I had looked at what the US government protocols are for its employees in Israel. The US government did not allow it’s employees to the West Bank without good reason and if they must go they must go in and come out directly. Also they cannot ride any public transportation in Jerusalem. We were going to just follow the same rules. But the bed-and-breakfast lady told us to not stress about it. She laughed when we said we had been told not to take the bus or public transportation. She said just “take the bus!” To the locals it’s the only way of moving through the town. It would seem foolish to them to not take a bus or a taxi to you get where you need to go.
It really does feel safe here. I don’t think I feel any safer in America. In fact, I think there should be warnings about people going into many places in America! Let’s say Las Vegas and even Spokane. How are those places any safer than this? You can be sitting in a concert and get shot in America. You can be attending school and get shot in America. Yeah things can happen here in Israel, but things can happen anywhere! The point is to have Yahweh’s protection with you no matter where you live or move. You’re only truly safe if you are right where he wants you and if that means he takes you into the eye of the storm that’s okay because honestly that could very we’ll be the safest place to be during a storm.
So back to the idea of taking the bus in Jerusalem….
Once your car is parked here in Jerusalem you pretty much want to leave it be — that is except on high Holy Days. There’s not too much traffic on those days and getting around by car is a lot easier on those days. But if you lived here having a bike would be doable. I saw one lady several times throughout the day who was riding a bike with a basket. She was collecting beautiful tree bows for Sukkot. I ended up talking to her later. The branches she was collecting that were in her basket were waving in the wind as she rode by. It was quite cute!
Isaac figured out how to buy a bus pass (you do it when you load) with a driver that spoke very little English. We picked up the bus only a block or two away from our bed-and-breakfast. It was bus number seven. Our driver seemed to be able to do everything all at the same time; drive a bus through traffic, stop and let people off and on, sell tickets, give change and try to communicate with English speaking Idahoians… all while not hitting pedestrians. He was quite talented.
One thing I noticed was that Israeli’s seem to not slow down for much. They go fast. They talk fast. They drive fast. They move fast. They want to sell to you fast. They expect you to go fast. I’m not sure why the rush.
We took the bus to the Shuk. The shuk is another word for market. And we went to one of the most famous markets in all the world. The Mahane Yahuda Market. It was amazing! We had to go today because they close down for the High Shabbat at about 3 o’clock this afternoon and aren’t open tomorrow. Tomorrow is our last full day here. So if we don’t go today we’ll miss out on it completely.
We spent at least an hour and a half walking through the vendors, videoing and buying food. I didn’t care that I didn’t have a kitchen to prepare the food in. I just wanted the experience of shopping there. So I bought for fun. Later, I would be glad we bought food because we would need something to eat when all the restaurants closed for Shemini Atzeret.
Even though I don’t agree, I can understand why many Messianic / Hebrew Roots believers just want to do the same calendar as brother Judah (the Jews). It makes things simpler. If everyone was on that calendar everyone would be doing the same thing on the same day. Simple. I understand. But we know that the rabbinical calendar is a calculated calendar and not the one that the Creator set up. So our family keeps the Biblical calendar according to the Aviv barley and the sighted new moon. Therefore, this week, the Holy days (according to the Biblical reckoning of time) are one day later than the flow here in Jerusalem. It definitely wasn’t too bad, but we ran into a huge problem with trying to find food and transportation on the days that we saw as workdays.
The pull to live that rabbinical calendar rhythm is so strong here that it would take a miracle for anyone to do it differently. It truly seems like it would be impossible. I think I got a little insight into how monumental it was for a Jew of the first century to become a Messianic Jew (a believer) in Yahshua. In the States when we read in the Scriptures about what they did we read over it really fast and don’t think much of it. The people in the stories are only two dimensional until we step into their shoes. We think we understand just because read the words. But it’s not until you see and feel how strong the river of rabbinisism is over here in the Land that you can even begin to understand what those Messianic Jews dealt with and gave up to follow Yahshua. They gave up everything! As one of the Scattered coming out of the nations to return to the Torah and Yahweh, I understand a little bit about how they must have felt. I am in good company. I have had to surrender a lot to follow the real Messiah. I feel their pain. But just like them I also know what awaits me. And I want that closeness with the King and his reward so I press on in my grief and in my hope just like they did.
Back to today…
We were going to try to meet up with Ginny at the Shuk. Ginny is a lady that I had met online who felt called by Papa to go to Jerusalem for the Feast. She felt the Ruach ha’Kodesh tell her that Papa wanted his people to be in Jerusalem at his Appointed times. So she flew over here all alone, got an Airbnb over a pub in Jerusalem for Sukkot and we were going to try to meet up with her. But that was a very impossible thing to do without a meet up location. Which we didn’t have pre-arranged. So we missed out on seeing her. And she left the next day for home. Bummer!
I’ve always loved the idea of going to an open air market. I have been craving what I’ve been calling “the plenty.” My soul aches to see the “more than enough.” I’m so tired of seeing a sticker on every single apple, small bins of avocados, pathetic pomegranates, mangoes that are not ripe, green bananas and nuts that are portioned up in bags for you. I’m tired of seeing small bags of herbs sealed up tightly and sold out of small jars, tea sold in 10 bags per box only enough rice in a box for one meal.
I long for the old farm I grew up on. It was there that I felt “the plenty.” Apple orchards where we had so many apples they would fall and rot on the ground because we just literally couldn’t eat or share them all. Prune orchards where I could sit in a tree and eat so many prunes that I would get sick to my stomach. Each prune did not have a sticker on it and I didn’t have to pay for each individual prune. I ate till I had enough and threw the pits into the field. Cornfields I could walk down and pick as much corn as mom wanted for dinner and hundreds of yards of berry vines that we could fill our buckets with. I miss going to the farmer and getting boxes and boxes of fruit and vegetables that were not all individually accounted for. I experienced some of that “plenty” during our time at the tipi. Harvest time had us so much kale and spinach I didn’t know what to do with it! 🙂
Eating and shopping for food should be a sensual experience. I’ve known it all my life and I’ve always been frustrated with our western grocery stores and all the government control over our food. Government really has no business being in our food. Grandma does. I understand they say the regulations are to keep us from getting sick, but what an evil irony they are! Obviously the government doesn’t care about what’s actually in the package or on the food that they deem okay to sell and ingest– not to mention immunizations! People die and get sick left and right because of the chemical ingredients and GMO’s that are in those sealed up packages that are served up as food here in America. Oh don’t get me started!
I’m so tired of not being able to touch my food. I’m so tired of going into the produce section at the grocery store and not smelling anything! Everything is so damn expensive and sanitary over here. Sealed up, boxed up, double wrapped, frozen and small portions! Our food so far from the ground. I’m so sick of it! So when we got to the Shuk and I got to see all the spices and food out in the big huge piles was pretty amazing and quite good for my heart. I just kept buying food. I just assumed I will be able to get it home. I just wanted the experience of it all.
Vendors would hold out samples for us to try and sometimes they were kind-of pushy. But I actually liked a lot of the samples and would buy anyway. The place I got my challah for Shabbat tonight was crazy. It’s so Middle Eastern! I walked up between huge piles of bread and pastries to stand in line to buy my challah. I wish Maggie had taken a picture of it. I was trying to get the old man behind the counter’s attention because I also wanted to buy some bourekas. But ladies who could speak Hebrew kept cutting in front of me. I couldn’t back up anymore because of the pastries that were all around. I tried to keep my back from touching the pastries, because they were so sticky. The floor where I stood was sticky with honey. I stood there for the old man to notice and help me, but he was too busy attending to the needs of a lady (I think it was his daughter) who was yelling at him as she was out in front trying to help all the people passing through the Shuk. I don’t know how they have the energy to keep up the yelling, buying and selling like that.
We had also been told to make sure our money was in a money belt when we traveled through the land. Isaac had a good one that worked for him, but mine just wasn’t going to work for me. So I wore my purse crossways over my neck and shoulder. It was no problem digging into my purse for a little money here and there. I felt no fear that I would be stolen from (it was more scary to walk around in San Francisco). Even though we were shoulder to shoulder and swimming through crowds in the Shuk I felt fine. I’m sure that one person could’ve made that feel different, but for today I didn’t feel like that was an issue that I needed to worry about too much. I can’t imagine that anyone could grab your purse and run very fast or far in that situation. We were shoulder to shoulder with everyone. It was hard to move. Why would a thief try to grab and run in that situation there be so many people to stop him? But nevertheless I kept my purse in the front of me so I knew where it was and we kept a hand on Hadassah so she didn’t wander off or get lost in the crowd. That would definitely be devastating and totally probable.
The streets of the Shuk went inside and outside, but it was mostly food. I was trying to find a basket. None here.
We bought lots of pomegranates; dates; Turkish delight; spices including smoked paprika; special herb, dried fruit and nuts mixtures for rice pilafs; mango tea and Indian curry. We also bought Arabic coffee with Cardiman. They pretty much had anything you wanted except it seemed yogurt. The merchants wanted you, but as soon as you bought they wanted you gone and they were looking over you to find the next customer.
At one point, while we were shopping we tried to go back the same direction we came. Kind of swimming upstream idea. But we found that no one else was going the way we were and pretty soon we realized that everybody was being pushed in the opposite direction. We thought that the Shuk was being closed. So we veered off onto and side street to try to get out.
Finally out and back at the street side with all our goodies we caught the bus number 7 to go back to the bed and breakfast, but we caught it going the wrong way. We thought it was going to do a loop, but when we got all the way up to Hebrew University it stopped and the bus driver told us to get off. We were very confused because we knew the number 7 bus was what we needed. We wanted to go back to the bed-and-breakfast to drop off all our loot before we continued our day in the old city.
While the girls and I sat on benches Isaac tried to find a bus driver or just someone to talk to. Finally he found a driver who spoke English. She told him that our driver was just on a break and he would return to his bus in 15 minutes. Until then we just had to wait for him at the bus stop. So silly! He could’ve just told us that he was taking a potty break and we would’ve been happy to wait. I find that Israelis don’t communicate very well. I think they just expect you to understand.
We waited for about 20 minutes and then our driver came back from somewhere. We got back on the bus and got to see lots of Jerusalem from the bus. Of course you had to tell the bus driver when you wanted to get off. Since the drop off spot was in a different location then when we got on I barely recognized the area. At last minute I recognized the bank we went to earlier. And pulled the cord just in time! Yay!
We got off and walked to the bed and breakfast to lighten our load. As it was was afternoon, we decided to walk up to the Jaffa Gate to meet Derek who was joining us from Beth Lecham for the evening. It is still the Feast of Sukkot and he was going to show us around the old city and I had more gifts to give him.
It was a long walk to the Jaffa gate, but doable. We just had to follow the street in front of our bed-and-breakfast all the way up to the Old City. It went through a nice part of town. Before we got to the old railroad tracks and Park I found a basket I liked in a shop on the way. It made carrying things easier for me. I love baskets!
The guy who sold me the basket seemed ok, but I after this trip to Israel I won’t be able to trust an Arab ever again.
At the old railroad tracks we met a man who was so excited to meet us. Uri. I think we stopped and asked him for directions or something. But once he figured out that we were coming to the Feast all the way from Idaho and all alone at that he was very touched. He knew that Scattered Israel was going to come out of the nations and return to the land. He was impressed that we weren’t even part of or even knew about the big 20k person convention going on that very day. I guess a ton of people came from all over the world to march in the city. Something about returning to the land.
From there we walked up the Railroad tracks to Jaffa Gate. It really was a nice walking path through a town Square, parks and next to the busy street to the gate. It kind of reminded me of the Centennial Trail at home. It was a beautiful day for walking. To get to the gate we were told to just walk through the open air Mamilla mall and it would dump us out at stairs that would lead us to the gate.
I wish I wasn’t reporting in every blog a run-down on how I feel, but it was part of my experience and it’s my blog…. 🙂 So, again I was pretty miserable when I woke up this morning. Unfortunately, even though I have been taking concoctions of fryers balsam, fire cider, Viraattack and probiotics I have stronger cold symptoms this morning. It kind of rotted to be a little under the weather in Israel. The biggest trip of our life that took months to plan and a small fortune and I was sick! I thought I was getting better, but I think just the intense amount of travel and lack of sleep getting here started my immune system off on the wrong foot. That combined with the change of weather and constant go-go-go has made my body struggle a little bit more. I rarely get sick! I’m definitely not as bad as I could be, but I’m having trouble sleeping cause of my stuffy nose. This morning I tucked in the back of my mind that I would look for a pharmacy today. And what do you know….Papa provided! On the way through the Mamilla Mall I saw a pharmacy. It was probably about 2 o’clock in the afternoon when I tried to enter. A janitor who was cleaning right by the doors basically tried to shoo me out, motioning to me that they were closing. I motioned back that I had a stuffy nose and I couldn’t sleep well. He smiled and let me in. My family said he closed the door behind me.
I went to the back of the store and stood in line to see the pharmacy guy. It took a while because there was a lady from Belgium or somewhere in front of me who is also struggling a bit to communicate what she needed. But she looked like she was a world-class traveler and knew how to get what she needed. The doctor or whatever he was behind the counter knew enough English to understand what I was saying. I motioned what my problem was. He said, “you healthy other than that?” I said yes. He went into the back and got a prescription level nose spray for me. I was very grateful! Back in the states you would’ve had to go through an expensive doctors appointment to get a little thing like that. It definitely helped me sleep that night and I definitely brought it home.
The part of the Jaffa Gate we went through didn’t look like a gate. It looks like a road. I was a little confused from my very close-to-the ground view.
It was just inside the gate where I learned my biggest lesson so far: Don’t shop in an Arab shop unless you know exactly what you want and how much you want to pay! We got took and the experience is actually too painful to write down…..Oy Vay! Maggie wants to forget this moment all together! Okay, I’ll try….
I had barely looked around the plaza before I picked up a little brass menorah that was outside the first shop I saw. I really liked it. I asked the merchant how much it was. It was beautiful. Heavy and perfect. It was made in Israel. He “pulled” me into his store by taking it from me and telling me how much it was only when we got to the counter.
My fateful error was that I followed him in and then that I didn’t just pay for it and leave.
Unfortunately, Maggie begin to handle a Persian tea set that was near the floor inside the shop. It was very glittery and beautiful, but Isaac noticed later it wasn’t made very well. Then Hadassah begin to handle some scarfs on a rack. She took them off and begin to try them on. Of course the merchant was thinking he was going to make a great sale! We were shopping like Westerners. I had no idea how to shop like a Middle Easterner.
My second fatal mistake was not listening to Maggie. The merchant went and got the tea set she had her eye on and put it on the counter next to the menorah and tried to sell the two of them together at a combined deal. She kept saying “no, no! I don’t want it!” But I thought she really did want it.
When he saw we were struggling with making a decision he threw in the scarf Hadassah was playing with for “free.”
My third fatal mistake was that a necklace grabbed my attention in the case underneath us. I pointed to tell Maggie it was pretty and of course he flattered me as having “good taste.” He got it out and literally put it on me. Then he got matching earrings and actually was so pushy that he take me clear to the back of the store where a mirror was and put the earrings in my ears for me.
Of course Isaac was there trying to figure out what to say. I don’t think I could hear him really well. I wish he would’ve grabbed my hand and jerked me out of there. But it ended up that the guy put all the things on the counter together and gave us a price. Isaac said to me, “this will be your one big purchase Rebekah! Are you sure?” I don’t know what possessed me, but I said “yes.” I asked the young merchant if he could wrap the tea set good enough for the plane ride and he said “of course of course! I’ll take care of it!” I asked him if he could shorten the chain on the necklace because it was too long. And of course he said “yes, yes!” We asked him if he took credit cards. He said “yes!” I think he meant that literally. This was a big mistake! When you shop in the markets you need to have shekels and not shop with your credit card! We were told to use a credit card. Big mistake!
Isaac got out the credit card and handed it to me. I had it in my hand and I was still thinking. I was a little confused. I did like the stuff, but I wasn’t sure if I liked it that much. I needed some time to think. But the merchant had other ideas! All I really wanted was the little menorah. Maggie kept saying “no” to the tea set, but I kept thinking she meant “yes.” Most of the time she is so hard to read.
Everything was going so fast. All I wanted was time to look at the items and think about it. But the merchants here have claws and won’t give you that luxury. Time to ponder anything here seems to be a luxury. This seems to be one of the differences between shopping in the west and shopping in the middle east. Time. Uninterrupted time and personal space to look at things. The merchant literally tried to get his fingers on my card. I was holding it thinking and he kept trying to get it from me. He would say, “yes we have a deal?” And he tried to grab it several times. I should’ve known at that point and slapped him and walked out. But he was slick and kept flattering Isaac that he had a beautiful and smart wife. I sure didn’t feel very smart.
I finally handed over the card and he instantly said he be back. Back from where? Guess he was going to his “brothers” shop to do the transaction. I quickly told Isaac to follow him. This wasn’t good. Isaac followed him all the way to the moneychangers booth. Oy vay! I guess the guy put our card in his pocket on the way. When he came out of the moneychangers booth he apologized to Isaac that it had been charged more than what we agreed on. And he gave Isaac the cash difference. (Isaac didn’t tell me this until a couple days later. I was mad. But more mad at myself.) As soon as he came back from his “brother’s” with the receipt he basically threw our stuff we bought into a bag and shooed us out of their shop. It really was an awful experience. I feel for Maggie. Now she doesn’t ever want to go back to the Jaffa gate and to this day she doesn’t even want to see the tea set. We all felt like fools when we left. I learned to not go into a merchants store unless you are serious about buying and bartering. I learned that shopping here and shopping at home are very different!
As soon as we came out of the store Derek showed up and we walked with him to the Wailing wall. As we walked we tried to shake off the experience we just had, but it was hard to do.
On the way I decided quickly I wanted to try shopping one more time. I know that sounds stupid, but I wanted to basically get back on the horse and not let them have the upper hand. I wanted to use what I had learned to make a good purchase and end on a good note tonight.
I saw a shop that had three Arab young men sitting out in front of it. It was a jewelry store and they had a ton of jewelry made out of Arab silver (whatever that is). I stood back I looked at all their earrings from a distance. I spotted one that I liked. I decided it was worth tangling with them over. I walked up to them pointed to the earrings and asked “how much?” One of the guys began flattering me. Then he flattered Maggie from a distance. And said he wanted to marry her. I stayed focused and said “how much?” He told me. I said it was too much. I didn’t have it. He said “how much do you have?” It was the end of the day and beginning to get dark. I pulled out a 20 shekel bill and a few coins. If I could do that moment over I would have gotten my money out before I was in their presence, because he literally tried to open my purse for me and look in it. I just stayed strong and said this is what I have and dumped a bunch of change in his hand. He took it into the shop, must’ve counted it and came back and said “fine!” And handed me the earrings. I quickly left with them. And didn’t look back. I felt that was a successful purchase. I felt better at that point and was more able to let the bad experience go so I could enjoy going through the old city with the family and Derek.
That was the last and only purchase I made in the old city. It will take us a while to recover from our Jaffa gate experience! I understand why, but it was a bummer for us that the Jewish quarter market was shut down for Shemini Atzeret.
Derek lead us down the tall and narrow cobblestone streets of the Jewish quarter. We got to the overlook at the Wailing Wall where the golden menorah was. We think it was hand-painted gold. It kind a looked fake. We stood there for a long time looking at all the activity down at the Wailing Wall. Maggie and I decided to go down to the Wall to pray. I didn’t know it, but she had a little prayer she had written out to leave there in the wall. I had a little prayer to deliver for Darlene. We got our head coverings that we had brought just in case and walked down the stairs onto the flat and through security. You have to go through security to get onto the plaza. The men and Hadassah watched us from atop the stairs.
After we went through security we walked to the wall. Of course, on the women’s side. We thought all the ladies would have their head covered, but they didn’t. Many women had no head coverings at all. I didn’t know that was allowed. The closer we got to the wall the more it messy and dirty it felt. Lots of trash on the ground, white plastic chairs scattered all over the place, stacks of Hebrew Torah books open and closed laying around. There were so many notes and prayers from people that the wall couldn’t hold them all. The wall seemed to be spitting them out onto the ground. A layer of folded up notes covered the ground at the base of the wall. Maggie went up to the wall and put her note in a crack above her and prayed. I did the same for Darlene. Then I stepped away. I looked around, took some time and then went back and prayed myself. This definitely felt like one of the slower places that we’ve been in Israel so far. There was an overwhelming sense of sadness here. Not just from the stones, but from the people. I guess people believe this wall is the closest wall to where the Most Holy place was in the Temple. That’s why they feel it is sacred. But Papa had a surprise waiting for us the next day. He was going to tell us where the “most holy place” is in the entire universe.
We walked back in the dark with Derek to our bed and breakfast. At one point he carried Hadassah because her feet were hurting. We prayed together and ate what we had. The stores were closed so I think we had pomegranates and a little bread. I gave him 2 more gifts and then he got a cab to go back to Beth Lecham.
We went to bed and tried to laugh off our experience at Jaffa gate and embrace all the fun we did have today! I can’t believe were actually in Jerusalem!