Yesterday was Yom Ha’Zikaron (Memorial Day) in Jerusalem so there was a lot closed in the country to help with the day of observance. We started the morning off with sleeping in a bit and making a quick visit to a 24/7 laundromat as one of us (not me) was out of clothes.
We were in the laundromat at 11 am when the 2-minute moment/siren of silence went off. It’s a surreal and unusual feeling to see cars come to a complete stop and everyone standing on the streets at attention for 2 minutes remembering all of those who have fallen during prior wars and/or during active duty to help protect the country.
After laundry, we made our way down to Jaffa for lunch, gelato, and a walking tour of the city. We started the tour off at the Clock Tower and learned that it was one of seven built in the early 1900s- this one in particular to help the townspeople know what time it was to catch a train.
As we continued to make our way around the town, we learned about a man named Abu Nabbut who rebuilt Jaffa in the early 1800s after Napoleon had destroyed the town a few years before. Apparently Napoleon was on his way to a battle and conquered the city, killed off all of its citizens before continuing along to the actual battle further North before being forced to retreat. Upon retreating and returning to Jaffa, many of the soldiers became sick and he had to kill them off as well- we walked by the building where these individuals were quarantined.
As we continued the tour, we made our way to the house that Saint Peter slept in during his journey to share Jesus’ learning and teaching with other folks. Apparently he had some dream where God offered him some food but it wasn’t kosher, and when Peter rejected the food, God said who are you to reject what I have offered. The story goes that Peter took this dream to mean that he should be spreading the teachings to more than just Jews which is what he had been doing before.
After visiting this house, we walked through the city and learned that real-estate purchasing in the area of Old Jaffa is highly restricted and only those that are a part of some artists society are allowed to live in the old town area. It was part of a program to help bring more money into Jaffa- free rent for the artists as long as they stayed in the area during the day and helped bring people to the city.
We ended the tour next to the old gate that was the entrance to Jaffa- the current structure is actually a replica of what used to be there as the original is currently in a museum. Based on the inscriptions on the pillars, they believe this tower was from Ramses 2 (the pharaoh that expelled the Jews from Egypt) and that he was using the city as an important capture point in the fertile crescent.
After the tour was over, we walked back to Tel-Aviv to spend a few hours at the hotel before dinner. We ran into a few friends from Chicago (Sandy & Jacob K) after finding out from Debbie’s mom that they were likely staying at the hotel too (it was funny as it was moments after the text exchange).
We got ready for dinner and made our way over to meet Debbie’s cousin Matt at his favorite restaurant in Tel-Aviv. We had one of the best meals we’ve had on the entire trip- we did a “tasting” menu and it was so much food and all of it was excellent. The tasting menu was merely them asking the types of food we do and don’t like and they just brought out multiple rounds of appetizers, mains, and some awesome desserts.
After leaving the restaurant, we ran into more people we (I) knew right outside the restaurant- Megan T. and her husband Taylor who now live in Nashville but we know from Atlanta/OVS/GHA. It was funny that we’ve been gone for 10 weeks and hadn’t run into anyone that we knew unplanned but then it happened twice in one day.
Post dinner, we made our way to a bar with Matt as the entire town was out for Independence Day and after having a drink decided it was time to come home- after 11:30 pm for us but we weren’t going to make it until 2 am like the locals were going to do.
All in all, another great day in Israel as we only have one more full day left before leaving the Middle East and making our way up North for our final 2 weeks in Europe.