In a cab ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Davis’s group isn’t expecting a ride complete with a tour guide. To their surprise and delight, a native Israeli driver sees it as an opportunity to teach Davis’s group as much as he can about their journey, making the trip captivating and educational.
The driver informs the group that they are passing a north Jerusalem suburb known as Shoafat. According to WorldNetDaily, the Arab sections of Shoafat are barricaded off from Jewish Jerusalem by Israel’s security fence.
The driver then points out Har Shlomo, a neighbourhood belonging to Jerusalem that is unique to Orthodox Jews. “Har” means hill in Hebrew, and “Shlomo” is Solomon’s Hebrew name. Next they see the center of the city, the yeshiva (Jewish place of study) and the synagogue, built to look like the First Temple. The driver explains that if they saw a model of the Temple in a museum, for example in the David Town Museum in Jerusalem, it would look like this synagogue is a model of the Temple in the King Solomon period.
Passing the industrial area, the driver notions to where most of the businesses are located, and then shows the group Ramot. Ramot was one of the first neighbourhoods built outside the city after The Six Day War in 1967. In the beginning, settlers were non-religious but today about 90% of its inhabitants are religious, Hasidic Jews. The driver tells Davis’s group where the religious Jews reside. According to him, the majority of the population is religious from the center of the city to the north side, and from the city’s center to south the people are more conservative. These Jews do pray, and will go to synagogue maybe every day even, but the majority will go once a week for Shabbat (Sabbath). The rest of the people are secular, and neighbourhoods like Rechavia and Gilod are home to a majority of non-religious Jews.
Next, Davis’s group learns about Begin Road, named after past Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Begin Road starts from north side of city until Malcha, a place where they have a big soccer stadium. There is also a big mall there and through the tunnel, one is lead to Bethlehem and the settlement on the way to Chevron, the cab driver explains. If a tourist wants to go visit Bethlehem, Israelis can take them to the check point but not further. Then from there, another driver will need to take the traveller to Bethlehem.
As the car passes a group of buildings, the driver explains that this road did not look the same 20 years ago. Davis’s group can now see all the new government office buildings. They pass the Foreign Minister Office, the Tourism and Financial Offices, and the Knesset (Israel’s legislature). The driver points out that the Prime Minister’s office is beyond the Financial Office, and then he shows the group the Supreme Court. He recommends the Supreme Court as one of the places tourists should visit because of the way the building is built, the inside is something to see and it represents the connection between judge and population, court and city.
The driver tells Davis’s group about Old Jerusalem. In the 19th century, it was very crowded so Moshe Montefiore raised money and convinced people to move. He first bought land from the Ottomans, the leaders of the city. He bought the land in Yamin Moshe, right next to the King David Hotel. He paid in 1860 and they build this neighbourhood, but people were afraid to move there in the beginning. They would live in the village during the day and then at night in the city, because in the Old City of Jerusalem, they closed the door when the sun set. For this reason lots of people were afraid to live outside the city at first. “That was the first neighbourhood outside of the wall and then years after years more and more neighbourhoods were built,” the driver said. Now inhabitants live there day and night.
To hear the driver explain this, click here: (Coming soon!)
When talking about The Machaneh Yehudah Market, the busiest outdoor market in Israel, the cab driver recommends that Davis’s group visit the market. When one in the group tells the guide that he’d been there about 25 years earlier, the driver laughs and responds: “Well the market didn’t change. Well maybe they renovated a little, but not so much.”
As the ride continues, the guide shows the group the area of houses donated by Isaac and Edith Wolfson. These philanthropists donated a lot of money to Israel so the houses were named after them. They were built about 20 years ago and the richest people used to buy them because nobody else could afford the large houses. Early on, doctors and lawyers all moved into the huge homes.
The driver then tells Davis’s group about a neighborhood built by the Yekkas, people that emigrated from Germany. He says that Yekkas are people who need everything to be correct. He recommends going there to see the main street of that neighborhood. “It’s beautiful there,” he promised. Many houses have been converted into restaurants today and the main street holds numerous cafes and nice restaurants.
Driving past more beautiful houses, Davis and his group are excited by what they have learned so far and await what is to come in Jerusalem; tours of the Wall and the Old City, Via Dolorosa, the Knesset and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum.
To read about what happens next in Davis’s trip to Israel, click here.
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To read about Davis’ trip to Tel Aviv, click here.
To read about Davis’ trip in Jaffa and Tel Aviv, click here.
To read about Davis’ trip to Jerusalem, click here.
To read about Davis' trip in the Old City of Jerusalem, click here.
To read about Davis' trip to Jerusalem from his Uncle's perspective, click here.
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