Travelogue: ISRAEL – Part 4

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Modern Jerusalem

-By Jonathan Daniel Luther

If the archaic and modern co-exist, the closest they can get is at Jerusalem. This modern city is as diverse and vibrant as New York or Singapore or any Indian metropolis.
Built on four hills, Jerusalem has no skyscrapers barring a few hotels that loom larger than life over an otherwise double story horizon. However, in the easternmost corner of the city is the Holocaust Museum; a modern building that stands to commemorate those who lost their lives at the hands of the bloodiest dictator the world has known- Adolf Hitler. The garish pictures in the Museum would make anyone’s breakfast churn. It makes one wonder about the realities of the where we live, where such monstrous hatred goes by forgotten and lies in a corner of the world.
The Museum is the queen of all ironies. Tranquil and solemn, the building squats upon Mount Scopus surrounded by elms and pines. Inside, nightmares and horrors abide. A visit to The Holocaust Museum is not for the faint hearted. A genuine interest in history and the happenings of the past is imperative. The Holocaust Museum serves as a study center for many universities and students who are pursuing history or various other cultural specific studies, which in fact is a must for all Jewish students in Israel.
The main city of Jerusalem houses the Hebrew University which, with its modern architecture and structure, is a vision.
If you happen to be living in the Jewish quarter during the Sabbath you must expect no help from any of the orthodox Jews. Observing the Sabbath very sanctimoniously, they will neither talk nor assist you in any way. Dressed in somber black with trailing coats and tall top hats, the men and women go about only praying and chanting. Conversation is limited. On the Sabbath (also called the Shabbat), no food is prepared in Jewish homes and everyone flocks hotels for their meals. The most visited hotel is ‘Kocher’. The name, surprisingly, does not refer to any secret ingredient, it simply means that the food has been blessed by and prepared under the supervision of a Rabbi.
Jerusalem is also a constant target for extremists of every kind; it is beset by scud rocket attacks and other insurgent activities. I witnessed the after affects of one such attack when the entire city was swarming with military and police personnel. The people here live under this constant threat and seem benumbed to it.
Although Jerusalem is a modern city vast in its dimensions, it is not the capital of Israel because of the constant threat it is subject to. While it has spacious avenues and boulevards replete with buildings that reflect modern architecture in every way, its crown jewel is the Old city. Its historicity and religious importance make the region a danger zone, where a tiny spark can set a fire blazing. Yet it is a treasure trove for the insatiable historian, the passionate adventurer, the travel-monger and the pilgrim, for Jerusalem is a pilgrimage for three of the world’s religions.

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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