Secret Museums: Al Ahli Bank Numismatic Museum

One of the great things about teaching is that I get to see places I wouldn’t otherwise find or visit through field trips. As I am currently teaching my students about the history of money, our last field trip was to Al Ahli Bank’s Numismatic Museum.

The bus took us to the bank, where we climbed two or three flights of stairs up to the small, one-room museum. There is an enormous amount of information crowded into that tiny room (a little like the museum at the Citadel), with an impressive collection of ancient coins from both the Greek and Roman empires as well as a number of Islamic civilizations. Continue reading

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The Carmel Mountains

On Friday morning we woke up early and checked out of Chef Hostel, piling into the car to drive up to Haifa. The drive there was easy enough and quite pleasant, but once we were in Haifa and had to find the home of my mother’s friend we were completely lost. While we made the journey from Tel Aviv to Haifa in record time (about an hour and a half) we spent another 30 minutes driving oh so slowly up the Carmel mountain and driving in circles to find the little street that we had to get to.

We finally found my mother’s friend – a man who had been her leader in a Jewish youth group when she was 15 and who was responsible for my journey to Israel – and we got into his car and headed up to the Druze village of Isfiya, which I had visited once many months prior. My mother was elated, chattering away while my father and I enjoyed the beautiful views. Once there, we stopped off at a Druze restaurant and ate until we were stuffed. Honestly, we all ordered a main dish but we could have just as easily satiated ourselves on the many salads that our table creaked beneath.  Continue reading

Christmas, Yad Vashem and Haram al-Sharif

Christmas morning we woke up and it was raining. It was also a Sunday and thus, most museums were closed (though Sunday isn’t a weekend here, this is similar to how museums in the West often close on Mondays).  After much deliberation, we chose the most cheerful place we could possibly go on a rainy Christmas Day, Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum), as it was one of the only places open.

We took the newly installed Jerusalem light rail, a 10 year construction project that runs from East to West and from West to East. Unsurprisingly, the construction of the rail, like much in Israel, was plagued by controversy as it passes through settlements in East Jerusalem as well as through Arab East Jerusalem. I also read an interesting Haaretz article about how the light rail served, in a way, as a connecting bridge between East and West, with the author observing Palestinian families who evidently didn’t often come into West Jerusalem take the train to the end of the line and then get straight back on a return train taking them back to the East, as if they were on a sort of sight-seeing venture.  Continue reading