The fourth full day of the Israel trip was short and lots of fun! Day 4 was a Friday, so the students were let out early in order to prepare for Shabbat, the Jewish holy day of the week. The day started with a lecture by Professor Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, and then the students went to sift through the dirt from the Temple Mount at Emek Tzurim on the Mount of Olives. The day ended with the students getting lunch and other goodies at Machane Yehuda (otherwise known as the shuk).
Left: Students looking for ancient artifacts from the Temple Mount!
Professor Efraim Inbar served in the IDF as a paratrooper and later went on to be a part of the Political Strategic Committee of the National Planning Council and the Chair of the Committee for the National Security Curriculum at the Ministry of Education. Additionally, Inbar was on the Academic Committee of the History Department of the IDF and served as the President of the Israel Association of International Studies. Inbar specializes in politics and security strategy in Israel, and discussed the current security situation in Israel and the focus on Iran. Inbar also discussed how the US policy on Iran is affecting Israel and what the policies of both countries should be like in order to combat the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.
After hearing from Professor Inbar, the students went to Emek Tzurim on the Mount of Olives in order to sift through dirt from the Temple Mount. After a massive excavation project was started on the Temple Mount, the people who would go on to form Emek Tzurim took the discarded dirt and started to sift through it for artifacts. Students on the trip found things that are from both modern times (such as pottery from the British Mandate) and ancient times (such as tiles and pottery dating back to the Roman Empire).
At the end of the day, the students went to Machane Yehuda, or the shuk, and were given the freedom to roam around the massive semi-outdoor market. In the shuk, many students visited the small restaurants and bakeries that operate at a swift pace on a Friday just before Shabbat. The hours before Shabbat are the busiest at Machane Yehuda, as the stores are all trying to sell what they can before closing for the weekend.
On Saturday (Shabbat), the students were given a day off to explore Jerusalem or observe Shabbat. Many students went to the various open quarters of the old city, walked around Jerusalem and visited the Western Wall (also known as the Kotel). At the end of the day, the whole group rejoined for a Motza’ei Shabbat meal.