Friday, September 28, 2007

Children Touring Jerusalem

  • Children like many of the same Jerusalem sites that adults do, though often for different reasons.
  • Kids into role-playng games will like both tunnels from Rehavia to the Valley of the Cross, especially (until about age 12) if you call them mysterious. These tunnels are wide and short enough that claustrophobes do not mind them.
  • The monastery( and http://members.bib-http// ) is not only a monastery, but it looks like one -- tall walls, banners flying. You can climb the hill and walk behind it with the kids making up their own adventure stories, or with you telling them about Queen Helena ( ) and about the building's history, which is full of intrigue.
  • Up toward the Israel Museum you will come upon one of the fantastic animals ( ).
  • Of course they will like the cable-car museum ) and the windmills ( ). If you can play recordings of songs that relate to what you are seeing, and tell them what the words mean, even better. One of the shops selling CDs can, for example, sell you a copy of the wonderful song about Montefiore (sung by Yehoram Gaon, lyrics by Chaim Chefer, music by Dov Seltzer), and there are several songs about Jerusalem's walls (though they refer to walls built 1500 to 2500 years before the current walls) suitable for playing if you gather courage to take well-behaved children onto the walls ( ).
    See for links to songs about Jerusalem with words and where to buy them on the Internet. But I think it is more fun to go into the little CD shop near Agripas on Mahaneh Yehuda in the Shouk and, by sign language and key words, sample music.
  • The Davidson Archaeological Garden has much to delight cildren and adults, including the movie (which alternates a Hebrew version with and English version). In the garden you can go up onto a short section of the wall. Plan on spending at least two hours. The audio tour has some excellent sections, and can really get you into being on a Herodian street or in an Ummaid palace.
  • At Ir Daveed ( is a beautiful but frustrating website), the City of David ( ), you can arrange a tour specially for children. This manages to be interesting for adults, too. In summer, you can go through the water tunnel with kids who are tall enough. All year you can go through the dry tunnel. Do not go through the tunnel if the child dislikes enclosed spaces, or if you do!
  • Children like the energy-saving lights in Jerusalem stairwells. They push the button to trun on the light, wait on the landing until the light goes out, push the button again. One races ahead to push the button o,n a higher landing. That extends the time the light is on.
  • For a child used to the family car riding a bus is an adventure -- a city bus where you give the driver money and get change and the printer prints out your ticket. You can keep the ticket as a souvenir. The bus starts moving before you get to a seat. It winds back and forth through narrow streets, up hill and down. Who needs Disneyland?
  • Taxis. Another treat! "Good thing I'm a city kid and I can hail a cab" goes the song. (Google has failed to identify the source.) It's magic for a midwestern kid. I wave my hand and a car stops, ready to take us anywhere.
  • The shouk ( )can be almost too exciting. "What are those men shouting?" asks an eight-year old. He stands very close to me. "Bananas two and a half shekels a kilo," I tell him "Clementines three shekels a kilo." He moves a little away from me and listens. "Yes," he says. "I hear 'bananas' and 'kilo.'"
  • For kids who don't like strange food, there's pizza.


Sunday, September 23, 2007


  • Skhahkh has to be one of the hardest Hebrew words for Americans to get their mouths around. Skhakh is the natural stuff that roofs a succa, providing shade while allowing light in. Palm fronds, branches, bamboo -- stuff that grew and hasn't been made into something else -- is all appropriate. To be "green" where growing suff is best left growing, people buy reuseable bamboo mats.
  • Temporary huts are going up on balconies and parking lots.
  • Don't worry that you won't have a sukka to go to, Even the Burger King will have a succa.
  • For an affectionate comedy about the holiday of Sukkot (or Succot, or Tabernacles), see Ushpizin.

Copyright 20007 Jane S. Fox