Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rabin's office. nbd

Today I went to Abu Gosh, an Arab town just outside of Jerusalem. You may have heard of it a few years back, because it set the world-record for biggest plate of hummus ever prepared (something like 8000+ pounds of hummus!)--and 50 Israeli and Arab chefs were involved in the making of the hummus. [Except then Lebanon regained control of the record, when it double that amount in 2010]. Abu Gosh hummus is a thing. People go to Abu Gosh to eat hummus (not to eat pita, with hummus on the side, but to eat hummus). 

I missed the bus that goes to Abu Gosh by 3 minutes (ugh!), so I took the next one that went to the area (although not as close) 40 minutes later. It goes to a Haredi town called Kiryat Ya'arim. This sign is at the entrance (an "eruv" essentially makes it permissible for religious Jews to carry things outside their house on Shabbat).  While waiting for the bus, I took out my notebook and did some writing, and sticking out from the notebook was a slip that I'd written Gamal Abd Al-Nasser's name on in Arabic. The guy sitting next to me said (in Hebrew): "You read Arabic?" "Yes" "What does that say?" "Gamal Abd Al-Nasser. Just his name." "You spelled it wrong, it's like this. And took my pen to write it correctly on his hand." It was so cute!

Anyway, Dani, one of my madrichim from the Mechina lives right next to Abu Gosh, so I went to visit him, and he showed me something very cool, which I missed when I was at the mechina because on the day the group went, I got stuck in traffic in Tel Aviv on my way to talk to some Americans about the program.  

 It was an old British fortress, just sitting on the side of the road. It had once been British, but about three weeks before Israel declared independence, the British abandoned it. The villagers in Abu Gosh (who historically had a good relationship with the Jews in pre-state Palestine--they were the ones who found alternate supply routes to Jews in Jerusalem during the Arab siege on the road to Jerusalem in '47-'48. When the Brits abandoned it, the Arab villagers in Abu Gosh notified the Palmach (pre-state military), so that they could take control of it--the Harel Brigade of the Palmach made it their HQ until December.

During the War of Independence, Yitzchak Rabin was the commander of the Harel Brigade, the brigade that took control of the fortress. This was his office. There's a sink in there, a closet where his uniform probably hung... and the sign on the outside of the door telling us that it was his office. (Rabin went on to be the Commander in Chief of the Israel Defense Forces and to be a Lieutenant General, to be Prime Minister, and to win the Nobel Peace Prize before being assassinated at a peace rally in 1995).

The fortress is huge. And totally abandoned. Most people don't even know it's here, and there's only a tiny sign outside of it. But Dani showed me all around it. There are more wings than I remember, and certainly upwards of 50 rooms. 

The roof/porch of the fortress. It was so cool to explore where so much history had happened! It's a beautiful, beautiful old building (and, unlike the fortress that the Mechina was housed at, is made of actual stone, chiseled by hand).

Stained-glass stickers on the synagogue where Dani lives/taught this year--a boarding school called Kiryat Ya'arim. 

The sunset from Dani's porch

Because I got in later than I expected, I didn't actually have a lot of time to wander around. And there's a lot to see in Abu Gosh, not to mention eating hummus. Which means I'll just have to go back sometime...


  1. OOOH you were in the Hummus town? I'M IN THE PITA TOWN! (You can post this on a comment bc I can't get on blogspot). But anyway I'm in Xi'an right now and the way Jane described the food before we came was that there's not so much pork (lot of Muslims here), a lot of lamb, and they eat on in "those bread things... what would you guys call them... like pita?" And I've seen them in the streets these last two days-- have to get one tomorrow.


  2. "Israeli and Arab chefs."

    Is that what you meant to say?