Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Monday, September 26, 2011

Neot Qedumim

Neot Qedumim means something like "Beauties of Ancient Times" or perhaps "Beauties of the Ages" and is a "biblical park and nature  reserve." It is located midway between Jerusalem and Modi'in, the home town of the Maccabees.  We take our students there so that they can see the different kinds of plants and animals that are mentioned in the Bible to get a better feel for both the text we are studying and the land where we are living.  See the brief Wikipedia article and the park's own website.

Besides seeing almond, pomegranate, and of course olive trees, the students saw typical terraced hillsides, cisterns, and water wheels.  They also participated in herding sheep and goats (not as easy as it looks), grinding hyssop in mortars and pestles, making qeli or parched grain and pita, and turning the wheel of an olive press.

Almonds on the tree

Rivka, or "Rebecca," drawing water like her namesake

Izak makes parched grain or qeli

Students working at homemade pitas

At the end we watched a Torah scribe describe the parchment and tools he uses for copying the Torah onto scroll, saw him make the special ink, and witnessed him read from the sacred text in Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Yemenite fashion.

A special treat for me were the remains of a small Byzantine chapel.  Because Neot Qedumim was midway between Joppa on the coast and Jerusalem, it was a convenient stopping place for Christian pilgrims in that period.

Showing the students the Alpha and the Omega on either side of the cross in the mosaic floor

One fun thing, for me, was that Elaine came with us on this field trip.  Now that the children are settled into school and their schedules, I am hoping that she can either accompany us on our Monday field trips each week or at least go with the faculty, and sometimes the faculty wives, on our Thursday "pre-trips," when we scout out ahead the sites that we are taking our students to the next week.  She enjoyed it well enough, but I guess a long, hot, outdoor trip might have not been her favorite!  The students enjoyed her, though, and I certainly did!

This was as close as Elaine would get to the sheep

Grinding hyssop

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