Thursday, July 28, 2011

Armenian Quarter (sh!), BLIND/DEAF CAFE IN YAFO!!, The Israel Museum, and Challah (yum! cookies, too)

After work on Tuesday (maybe it was Wednesday?) I went with Leah and another Yale girl, Ariella, to the Old City. We took the cool shortcut Leah and I found, and wandered around... a lot. On our way out, we walked through the Armenian Quarter, which is basically the most closed off to the public. They have their shops, of course, but none of the residential stuff is really open for people to walk through--they kind of keep to themselves. The door to the church courtyard was open, however, and the guard told us to take a peek through the gate. So we did, and saw a door...and climbed through the doorway, up two flights of stairs, and found ourselves in the Secret World of the Residential Armenian Quarter! It was very cool--essentially, there are three layers of city built on top of each other, and you look out over Jerusalem and down into the church courtyard (this picture)

The view from the top layer of the residential part of the Armenian Quarter.

Our secret doorway ;)

Big cross.

So pretty! The church is opened to visitors between 3:00pm-3:30pm every day. What?

A wedding on the boardwalk in Yafo, the port town next to Tel Aviv. Shalem took the interns yesterday to "Mercaz Na Laga'at" ("Please Touch Center"), the center for blind and/or deaf in Yafo. It's a really cool organization, that tries to teach people what it means to live with a hearing and/or visual impairment. There are three things that they do: a play, in which all the actors are blind and/or deaf, a cafe in which all the waiters are deaf and they teach you how to order in sign language, and a "blackout restaurant," which simulates the way that a blind person would eat. The last thing is what we went to.
You're led into a room that's pitch black (as in, there are no light cracks at all, and I was there for two hours and my eyes didn't get used to it. Not only could I not see Leah, sitting two inches from me, but I also couldn't see my fork as I lifted it to my mouth). You walk in with your hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you, and the waiter shows you where your chair is, explains where your utensils are, and advises you to always return the water jug to next to the wall, "otherwise you'll never find it." Around their ankles, the waiters wear the same bells that belly dancers wear, so that they don't run into each other.  You have a choice of ordering a meal and dessert from the menu, or of getting "surprise" ones--obviously I chose the latter. You're brought your food, and left to your own disposal to figure out how to eat it (my method: use left hand to put food onto fork. Put napkin as bib on shirt. Put fingers in cup when you pour water, so you don't spill over the top). Your taste buds and fingers are all you have to tell you what you're eating (but it's delicious!).
There's a lot of things you can do in absolute, total darkness that you can't do when it's light--or even light enough that your eyes get used to sensing shapes and blobs. I'll leave it to your imagination.
It's really cool. I've wanted to go for a long time, but never got around to it. But my friend Elana W-K volunteered there this year, and told me it was a must, so I suggested is as an "interns fieldtrip" and Shalem made it happen. I'd really recommend that everyone make the trip to hot, humid Yafo for this, it's by far worth it!
After that, I met up with Ari Rosenberg and Lital in Tel Aviv. I'll just say that Yafo is a really sketchy place to walk through at night (and I'm from the south side of Chicago...)

Today we took a field trip to the Israel Museum. The only other time I was there was when everything was under renovation, which was a little bit of a downer. It's a really great museum--lots of archeology, and their kitsch is that everything that's there (except a few) was excavated in Israel! But they also have a modern wing, and some surealist stuff, and a sculpture garden outside (hence this picture, with Adj and Amy, other interns)

We bought baking ingredients so that we would HAVE to bake. Today we (me and Leah) came to Adj's, to make diner, do laundry, bake challah (unbaked, here), and chocolate chip cookies! Oh, and a side trip to the pool :)

My "bootiful" (thanks, mom!) challot


  1. Mmm . . .

    I seem to be on summer vacation from making challah. Yours look good. Too bad that we could not come to eat them, but we'll be happy to help when you make them next in Chicago.

    Heading to a splash park now with the kids and have already been swimming today. Summer is fun but we miss you.

  2. That challah looks to die for, and I heard that cafe was awesome! (I know this is super-delayed--finally catching up! :-))
    Shabbat shalom!