In December, Mrs. Jule Walker along with several other administrators across the U.S had the opportunity to visit various types of schools in Israel as well as the Holy Lands.
By Jessica Paul
In December, Mrs. Jule Walker along with several other administrators across the U.S had the opportunity to visit various types of schools in Israel as well as the Holy Lands. Her trip began with a cable car ride to the Masada, a mighty fortress that overlooks the Dead Sea. Mrs. Walker told the kids about the several rooms throughout this fortress, some for bathing, eating, cooking, sleeping and more. The bathing rooms were much like that of the Romans. They even had a window in the bathing rooms to let in rainwater. She also discussed how Israel is doing little to preserve this beautiful piece of history, like we, as Americans would try to do. Before the fortress was breached, there was a mass suicide of 960 people, which was believed to have been based on a lottery system. Monks also used the fortress, and it is like a Byzantine Church with audacious mosaic floors.
Mrs. Walker also talked about the way the Israel people read from right to left, completely opposite from our left to right. The next spot of interest was the Dead Sea. While there, Mrs. Walker learned that the sea is actually receding more and more each year and because of this fact, the salinity is rising. Many of the administrators waded around in the water, and enjoyed the buoyancy due to the high salinity. Also the mud or clay of the sea is said to have rejuvenating qualities.
The group stopped in Jerusalem at the graveyard and learned that the bodies are buried facing east, and instead of placing flowers on the graves of loved ones, they placed rocks. Mrs. Walker also learned that the culture does not embalm the dead, so they are wrapped in gauze, mummified, and most likely their funeral will be held that day. There is no cremation due to their religion, and there is little room in the graveyard. The administrators also learned that most buildings in this area are made of limestone, so all the buildings look the same color.
Next stop is the North Wall, or Prayer Wall in Jerusalem. Many people write on pieces of paper their prayer requests, then they tuck these pieces of paper in any little crevice they can reach. The men and women are separated when they visit the Wall, and all men must wear something on their heads. People walk towards the wall like normal, but when they exit, they walk backwards. Surrounding the North Wall there are several businesses and a large amount of commercialism. After visiting the North Wall, the administrators walked on the Dolorosa Street where Jesus carried the cross to his crucifixion. Mrs. Walker was appalled at the businesses that were strewn across the narrow little street. There were station like areas that told what happened to Jesus in certain places. It is said that Adam is buried below the spot of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. There were many paintings and mosaics inside; there was also a replica of Christ’s crucifixion with several chandeliers surrounding the area. There is an ancient praying cell inside as well, but nowhere around could anybody find any Christmas decorations.
The Bible Land Museum followed the visit to the North Wall and surrounding areas. There were several artifacts and tablets, there were houses made of stone which had praying pillars by the door. These people must pray when entering and exiting a house.
The administrators visited several schools including the Lod Arab School. Their desks were checkerboards. The colors of the classrooms are very white washed and most students are expected to speak the Hebrew, Arabic, and English languages. There are several schools located inside bunkers and some classrooms are outside. There is no credit given for music classes, and the children’s playground is full of old exercise equipment. At one of the boarding schools, they teach circus acts to kids. They also reintroduced the Purple Iris flowers that were almost extinct and raised tortoises to be released into the wild. The kids who attend the boarding schools have many chores. In Tel Aviv, science is not a common class, so kids have to attend a special science school if they are interested in science. Many times young children do not have the space to play, as children here do.
It is said in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Israel and Palestine are coexisting and getting along. There are certain guides to take a group into Palestine because the Israelis prefer not to cross the border. Once the group of administrators arrived in Palestine, they visited the little town of Bethlehem. They were happy to see that there were Christmas decorations a plenty here, with a giant, beautiful tree and a nativity scene. Again, they saw an excessive amount of commercialization; a man was even selling cotton candy out of the trunk of his car, using a generator attached to the roof of said car.
In the North Country, they eat little meat, but plenty of humus and vegetables. Dairy is a big business and is purported to be one of the highest producers in the world. Along the border of Syria, there are minefields. The group stopped at the River Jordan and learned that many people are baptized there. They also made a stop at the Sea of Galilee, and the Mountain of Beatitudes. The church of Capernaum had beautiful mosaic floors. This is also where Jesus took five bread loaves and two fish to feed millions. The stained glass windows and painted scenes on the walls and ceiling were majestic.
Tel Aviv was very up-to-date and urban compared to the areas around it. There were several skyscrapers, and the buildings were not all the same color. Shibbat begins at sunset on Friday night, and ends at sunset Sunday evening. They must pray facing east. The men and women are separated with the Rabbi between the curtains. Many activities are refrained from during Shibbat. They are to use no cars and buses; they cannot even turn anything off or on, such as to push buttons in the elevators. So the elevator is programmed to start at the top and stop at every level of the building.
The students and teachers all felt like they had learned a little about the intriguing culture of the area. It was very interesting to hear about not only the history of Israel, but to learn about their different types of schools and subjects they studied. They appreciated Mrs. Walker sharing some of the highlights of her International Travels.