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Friday, April 29, 2011


Jerusalem model
Once again Jerusalem amazes.  Our visit to the Israel Museum and, in particular, two of the exhibits blew me away. 

The first was the Jerusalem model, a scale model of this eternally important city as it existed at the time of the second Temple.  We’re talking 66 CE.  It is awesome to view and to walk around, and it is awesome to contemplate how meticulously the model was researched and constructed.

Jerusalem model

The Jerusalem model was commissioned by hotel owner Hans Kroch in honor of his son Jacob killed in the 1948 War for Independence.  It was built under the supervision of archeologist Michael Avi-Yonah of the Hebrew University who based his research on the writings of Josephus Flavius in the New Testament and on Hebrew writings found in the Talmud and the Mishna as well as on customs concerning buildings of that period.  Even the construction materials are from that time whenever possible.  If a contemporary archeological find proves an inaccuracy, the model is updated.  Almost incredibly, ancient Josephus was so accurate and complete in his descriptions that very few changes have been made.  As I think of it in these terms, I am awed.  Again.

Jerusalem model

The model opened in 1966 on the grounds of the Mr. Kroch’s hotel but eventually had to be moved because of construction.  The Israel Museum welcomed it with open arms, and it was reopened here in 2006.  The model occupies 21,500 square feet, so it cannot help but be impressive. 

Jerusalem model

Picture the era.  The Temple, the single biggest structure, was built by King Herod and the Romans will destroy it in 70 CE.

Jerusalem model

To this thriving and beautiful city, worshippers came to the Temple three times a year to sacrifice and to pray.  Thousands entered the open areas to watch the proceedings, and they brought their offerings with them. 

Jerusalem model

Jerusalem model

Before I move on to another exhibit, I think of how remarkable it is that I am able to see some of the remaining city still standing, during my visit--the walls encircling the city, the Western Wall of this Temple, the gates to the city.  The feeling is indescribable.

Now on to another exhibit. Perhaps even more impressive is what lies beneath this building we jokingly called a Hershey’s Kiss when we entered the museum grounds. 

Israel Museum

Little did we know that this is The Shrine of the Book, and within this carefully constructed sanctuary lie the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest group of Old Testament scrolls ever found.  (no photos allowed) All I can tell you is that I researched further after I returned home, and these scrolls reveal ideas, beliefs, stories, psalms, and history that boggle the mind.  There is so much information about the scrolls, where and when they were found, the biblical and non-biblical texts, the different versions, the use of Hebrew and Aramaic, the link between Judaism and Christianity and so much more that I cannot begin to write about here, but this link will summarize some of the amazing facts.

Don’t get me wrong.  The rest of the museum was beautiful.  Art—modern and ancient, sculpture, pieces of antiquity, gardens. 

Israel Museum

Israel Museum

Israel Museum

Certainly more than several hours’ worth of viewing.  But if you are in Jerusalem, take the time to look at the model and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Those times will be with you forever.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've never fished in the ocean until today, and it turned out to be one great experience as Rob and I went on a 4-hour drift fishing excursion via Flamingo Fishing out of Ft. Lauderdale.  On a whim I bought vouchers on Living Social, and it was a good bet!

Before we even boarded the Flamingo the trip was worthwhile.  A visitor--a young manatee had sidled in to get herself a long drink of water from a dangling hose.  She was fascinating to watch, and wow, she really was a drinker!



As we boarded the Flamingo, we were assigned spots. Each spot had a rod and rod holder. It took about 50 minutes to reach the fishing ground during which time we were given instructions on how to use the reel and to make note of the length of line let out.  The Captain would give us a number, and we would let out our measured lengths—by the arm length—to allow our lines to sink to the level the fish inhabited. 

The ride, by the way, was smooth.  I was Dramamine fortified just in case.  On the way out to the fishing grounds along the Intercoastal Waterway, we passed gorgeous boats and yachts and the incredible homes of the R&F. 

Intercoastal Waterway

Intercoastal Waterway

What better place to dock your yacht than outside the local Hilton!


When we arrived at the fishing grounds and the Captain told us “60,” we yanked that fishing line out as fast as we could—itching to bring in “the BIG one.”  There was a pool: biggest fish wins all. We were in….

The Captain must have been right!  Within seconds, a man caught a Tile fish.

Two more minutes went by and I caught a mackerel.  What a difference from trout and bass.  This guy was a fighter, and I was surprised by how difficult it was to bring him in and how hard I had to work to do it.  BUT with the size of my catch, I beat that tile fish loser by a mile!!!!!!! 

Things slowed down considerably at that point, but soon Rob caught a remora which is a useless suckerfish.  The crew member demonstrated how a remora can create enough suction to hang onto the boat. 

Rob's suckerfish

Then he tossed him away—ha ha, Rob—close but no cigar. 

Within five minutes Rob hauled in another fish.  This time it was a yellowtail snapper.  But, oh.  It was under 12” and the crew member tossed it back.  Poor Rob.  Meanwhile NO ONE else caught a fish and time’s a-moving along. 

Then Rob hooked another fish--another yellowtail snapper, and it was big enough to keep—not as big as mine, mind you. 

Rob's snapper

But it goes into the cooler, and the crew member marks it with MY mark, 2 slits on the throat.  The woman next to Rob warned him that if he caught another, he’d end up overboard.  The mob was getting ugly!

Someone hooked another remora, but the crew member insisted it was the same remora because of some markings he noticed.  Overboard.

Then a guy hooked what seemed like a big one from the bend of his rod—his own rod.  He was standing in the bow of the boat, but in working the fish as he reeled it in, the fish moved all down the port side to the stern, the guy following and each of us moving back as dramatically he moved under each of our lines.  Closer and closer the fish came.  When it was finally brought in, it was a mackerel—bigger than mine.  Pooh.  But it was a beauty. 

The big mackerel was the last fish caught.  That was a bit surprising because I thought people caught tons of fish on these jaunts.  Not so, I guess.  Rob and I caught ours, however, and so I was smiling.  And Rob wasn't thrown overboard.

Wendy's mackerel

It gets better.  The crew member fileted our two fishes and we took the filets to a nearby restaurant, Bahia Cabana where the chef made the most delicious fish dishes for us.  He broiled the snapper and blackened the mackerel, and they were served with huge wedges of lemon, vegetables, and onion rings.  He did that for $8.50 for each platter.  There was mackerel remaining, so we had the chef prepare two more platters to take back to our Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort rooms.

Bahia Cabana
Just look who was waiting for us!

Just look at these platters.  What a wonderful experience.

My blackened mackerel

Rob's Snapper

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