Our First Firsts

Posted by Amy

On top of Masada with the sun rise

Israel is our first stop and has been a great place to experience all of our firsts on this trip.  Beginning with our first night in Jerusalem, we were witnesses to democracy in action as 20,000 people marched down Ben Yehuda street after Shabbat.  Apparently that was small compared to the numbers assembled in Tel Aviv (300,000).  We had a great view as we sat outside our falafel stand eating our first meal in Israel.  From what we could gather and have been able to read about in the days since, Israelis are very upset with the economic and social policies practiced by their government today.  They feel that someone with a good degree and a job shouldn’t have to struggle to find affordable housing and pay for gas (9 and a half dollars a gallon!).  The amazing thing was how organized and peaceful the protestors were.

This morning, I just read that similar concerns were being voiced in London, but if you read the news you know that peaceful and orderly did not describe the London protests.  Since we are headed there in a couple of weeks, I certainly hope they get with the program there and fast.

To the Israeli government’s credit they have already set up some sort of commission to address these concerns and may help mitigate the problems with a decrease in some of their VAT taxes.  We shall see.  I wonder how this would play out in the US.  I think these same problems are smoldering back home, but as of yet, only the Tea Party is organized to speak about much of anything.

Demonstrators on Ben Yehuda Street

That first night, we also bumped into our first familiar face in a faraway place.  Marching with the protestors, the kids actually saw someone they knew.  They said, “We know that woman from camp.  That’s Eli’s wife.”  Naomi Rockowitz was walking down Ben Yehuda and we picked her out of the crowd.  Small, small world.  Naomi was the guide on Davd’s last trip to Israel and her husband works at Tamarack as the head of Jewish Programming.  I have to say it again, small, small world.

Other firsts have included our first lost retainer.  Yes, one down on day two, swept away with the breakfast dishes at the Hotel Dan Panarama.  Don’t worry, Dr. Rubin was smart enough to send us with two retainers.  Also, our first doses of anti biotics for both Rikki and Maya.  One eye infection and one sinus infection.  Good thing we have our doctors here with us on this first part of the trip.  Thank you Aunt Laurie and Uncle Greg.

As for the sites, they have all been amazing.  Our guide, Yitzak, is great.  He gave us one of the most comprehensive tours of the City of David that I have ever been on.  This is just a small part of the Old City, but even still so much has changed since I was here last almost 20 years ago.  You would think how much could change in a part of the city famous for being old, but the amount of archaeological excavations going is amazing.  We walked through water tunnels, still filled with water built by King Hezekiah about 2100 years ago in order to allow the city to have access to a water source outside the city walls.  He saved the city from siege because of these walls.  They connected up to Roman sewers that we also walked through.  The kids loved walking in a tunnel once filled with Roman poop.  And in the newspaper the very next day, there was news of a discovery of a Roman sword, 2100 years old, right in those very sewers!  We all were very curious what kind of soldier would be so careless as to lose his sword in the sewer.

We have learned all about King Herod.  Yitzak has told us, “If it is beautiful, it was probably built by Herod.”  Yitzak’s other famous line is “All Jewish holidays are the same.  They tried to kill us.  There was a war.  We won.  Now let’s eat!”

Other highlights have included hiking up Masada at 5: 00 in the morning, already hot at that time., floating in the Dead Sea, going on an amazing archaeological dig  – and actually finding ancient relics, or at least pieces of ancient relics!  Planting trees, touring  Yad Vashem with David’s friend and Holocaust Witness Elie Ayalon, touring Caeserea , also beautiful and also built by Herod.  Almost lost retainer number two there and did lose me there!  Don’t worry, I was eventually found and so was the retainer.  Tomorrow is up to the Golan and also over to Tsefat.

It is especially amazing to be sharing all of these firsts with the Katzes and Aunt Susan.  It is making the beginning of our year of touring seem very easy and this will be a great transition to whatever comes next.  We really couldn’t be asking for anything more.  Wish you were here!

Notes left at the Western WallOur whole group in Caeserea. Mediterranean Sea behind us.

Categories: Israel, The Trip Begins | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Our First Firsts

  1. Kareen

    wow what an exciting way to begin your adventures! We miss you. Sounds like you are having a great time! Enjoy. you are getting some good lessons in democracy and social movements. Hope everyone is feeling better -xoxo

  2. AMAZING AMAZING update!! Thank you for giving us so much info! Sounds like a great trip so far. You forgot to mention “first beard” – David you look very israeli! see you in Europe! xoxo Lisa

  3. susie weiner

    just gorgeous writing and i am tearing a little about your israel trip– you know me
    giggled plenty about retainers- who needs retainers anyway

    miss you all tons love and hugs

  4. Ilene Einstandig

    Sounds exciting so far…the pictures are great and the trip looks amazing so far. Can’t wait to follow you on your journey!!
    Have an incredible time!!

  5. Gail Rotheiser

    David and family, this is from Howard Zavell’s mother-in-law.
    Anne was kind enough to pass on your blog site and show us the photo of you and Itzak on Masada. We also thought he was terrific and so knowledgeable on EVERY subject. Whenever he asked who did this or that (in history) there was an immediate yelling chorus from the back of our bus: “Herod! It was Herod!!”
    I am so impressed with your “year” and its itinerary. The girls will learn more from your experiences than from any school book. When Jordan and I were very young (the year before Anne was born) we took off and traveled throughout Europe, England, Istanbul and Israel. Traveled 6 months and lived in Paris 6 months. The year away from family seemed interminable, but now it feels like a small bump in the road and it has given us unforgettable memories. We are so glad we did it when we were able and I am sure all of you will never regret this experience.
    Enjoy each and every day and be well. Looking forward to hearing more (and David, you are a terrific and enjoyable writer).
    Fondly, Gail Rotheiser

  6. Sari Grossman

    Glad everyone is having a good time! Sending hugs to the Goldmans all the way in Israel!

  7. mel

    sounds like sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. mel

    guess what eva i saw talia and georgie. we all really miss yo

  9. erica

    I don’t know what everyone is fussing about. Sounds just like the last couple of days I had in Huntington Woods. On the other hand, as an experienced visitor in Israel, I enjoyed seeing it through your eyes. Amy, I am sure you are astounded at how much it has changed in such a short time.

  10. Allie

    Israel sounds like soooo much fun! I wish I could be there!!!!!!!!! Have a AWESOME time!

  11. The Febers

    Wow. Your trip sounds amazing! Thanks for all of the information. We wish we were there!!!!

  12. David Contorer

    David and Amy,
    I never get tired of hearing exciting narrative as people experience Israel’s wonders! You are all veterans there, I know, but how can you ever get tired of watching the sun rise from atop Masada (for instance)? 🙂
    Beth and I just had a fabulous week celebrating our 15th anniversary in Paris. I know you will love your time there with the Sterns later in your itinerary.
    Your fund is all set up at CFSEM, so e-mail me at dcontorer@cfsem.org (before Oct. 7!), and we’ll get you granting from internet cafes across the 5 continents of your tour!
    All the best–KOL TUV–and safe, fun travels to you all!
    -David Contorer

  13. Dan

    Hey Amy, I didn’t you were in the neighborhood…

  14. Karen Hellman

    Dear Goldman family:

    We have just had a wonderful weekend with Nison, Doreen, Mitch and Marilyn in Milwaukee. All the Milwaukee Hellmans are now following your travels via this blog and really enjoying traveling with you in Israel. I know this is an adventure of a lifetime. We sympathize with David’s experience driving in Israel and amaze at the energy to climb up Masada at 5 am. We look forward to more travel updates. With love, Karen and Bob Hellman

  15. Marcy Wasserman

    What an incredible journey your family is on! I love the stories and pictures.

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