Israel Mystery Photo #18

Israel Mystery Photo. Tour Guide Fun Joel Haber.

You Either Know This or You Don't. Period.

Firstly, I need to apologize about how long it has been since my last post. Been very busy, but that’s no excuse for neglecting you, my faithful readers. I’ll try to be better.

I’m happy that everyone who responded to the last Israel Mystery Photo correctly identified the location as Beit Shean. It means I accurately identified the photo as an easy one to figure out, and it also means that many of you have been to one of the more significant and impressive archaeological sites in Israel.

The current Mystery Photo will be a bit more difficult to identify. I don’t think anyone will be able to figure it out from context. Rather, I think it is going to be one of those pictures that you’ll identify if you’ve been there, and will have no clue if you haven’t. So don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize it.

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This is Not a Political Post

Mughrabi Bridge, Jerusalem, Old City. Israel tour guide. Fun Joel Haber.

The Temporary Mughrabi Bridge in the Plaza of the Western Wall (photo courtesy of Flickr user Ariela R.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I hate politics.

But living in Israel and working in the field of tourism, it is fairly difficult to completely avoid dealing with political issues. Nearly every visitor has heard things about the political situation and/or sees things that relate to the issue. So they will inevitably ask some questions.

And it would not be right for me to ignore these questions. So the way I handle them is to respond in as objective a manner as possible, all the while recognizing and admitting that it is actually impossible for anyone to be truly objective. I try to relate the facts as I see them, and try to keep my opinions out of things. When Israel does or has done something wrong, I admit them. But when I see lies or misrepresentations that damage Israel’s image, I will speak out against them as well.

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On the Licensing Exam – Part 4 – Good Preparation Tool

Biblical Backgrounds. Geobasics in the Land of the Bible. Israel Tour Guide.

The Geobasics book from Biblical Backgrounds, Inc.

Way back in the first installment of this series, I promised that I would write a post about a specific study aid that I had come across and which I felt was an excellent tool. Actually, however, this post is about a whole suite of products that are available for sale from a small company called Biblical Backgrounds, Inc.

You won’t find much about the company on their website, though who they are is not the important thing. Rather, what they have created is an in-depth and rather unique way to understand the Land of Israel. Using their tools, you gain a deeper understanding of the events of the Bible (seemingly the main goal of the company), but you also can better learn and comprehend the extra-Biblical history and archaeology of the Holy Land.

So what do they offer?

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Top 10 Things to Do in Jerusalem – Part 2

Jerusalem Summer Street Fair. Live Band.

A band playing at one of Jerusalem's Friday afternoon summer street parties.

For the first three entries in this post: Jerusalem Top 10 – Part 1

Continuing the list:

4. Get Some Culture

Jerusalem has a thriving cultural scene, full of great music, art and crafts. And especially through the summer season (which really lasts about half the year here), there are tons of festivals that can satisfy myriad interests.

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Israel Mystery Photo #11

Tour guide. Tourguide. Israel. Fun Joel. Mystery Photo.

Where in Israel is this?

I’m fairly certain that almost anyone in my tour guide course will recognize this week’s Israel Mystery Photo, because it is from a site that once you’ve been there, it sticks in your mind. It is very memorable. But it is also, unfortunately, not as commonly visited as perhaps it should be. So I’ll be very curious to see how many people outside of my class recognize it.

Last week’s photo post got many correct answers as well. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in modern Jerusalem, a city I know and love. So I’m happy to see that many of you recognize it as well.

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Israel Mystery Photo #10

Another Israel Mystery Photo. Picture. Tourism. Tourguide. Tour Guide. Joel Haber. Fun Joel.

Look familiar? Many of you have seen this before! Guess where it is!

That time again… Another Israel Mystery Photo. This one is one that I think many of you have probably seen but perhaps didn’t look that closely at. So I look forward to seeing how many of you can recognize it, and also to telling you about it in the next Israel Mystery Photo post!

But what about last week’s mystery photo? Well, many fewer guesses, possibly due to how late I posted it. Benny, however, was correct — it was indeed the covering of Abraham’s tomb in Ma’arat HaMachpelah / The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. I bet Aaron is kicking himself for not recognizing that one; you were so close, dude, and yet didn’t quite get it!

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Israel Mystery Photo #8

Mystery Photo. Israel. Fun Joel. Tour guide. Tourguide.

Another Mystery Photo from Fun Joel's Photo Archives!

I guess I knew that last week’s photo would be a bit more challenging, but I really liked the guesses people made in the comments. All were very logical, and show that we can tell a lot about this country by making informed guesses.

By the way, it also raises another point. Yes, I post these pictures as a fun little game for you all to see if you can recognize the pictures’ subjects. But in my interactions with you all I’ve heard a bit of hesitance to guess if you don’t know the correct answer. That’s not really my point with these. Rather, the real point of these posts is the blog post I write each week in which I talk about the correct answer. The picture is not the important thing; the explanation of it is. These photos are a brief way for me to launch discussion of the various sites (and sights) around this awesome country of Israel. So please do leave your guesses in the comments about this week’s mystery photo, above.

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Jerusalem’s Archaeological Surprises

archaeology, Malha, Malcha, Jerusalem, Israel, Middle Bronze, village, foundations

Malha Mall archaeological site -- a village from about 1800 BCE

Construction in Israel is always a difficult endeavor. In a country with as long a history as ours is, every time a spade or backhoe touches earth, there is the chance (or even the likelihood) that you will come across finds of archaeological significance. And when you do, construction grinds to a halt until the archaeologists can come in and examine the finds, determining whether they are significant, and whether construction can even continue there at all.

In recent years, building expansions have uncovered an ancient church at the site of a modern prison and an ancient cemetery near a hospital. In both cases, the building plans were halted until solutions could be found. Sometimes the archaeological site will be preserved at the location so people can see the finds in situ — where they were found, and construction will be abandoned. Other times, they will be covered and preserved underground, with the construction proceeding above the site. And sometimes the material will simply be removed and catalogued for later research.

I’ve recently visited a few of these types of sites, all within the boundaries of modern Jerusalem. It is yet another reason why I love living here. I am constantly surprised by the history and archaeology that you practically trip over every time you walk around this magnificent city.

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What Is… A Pillbox?

Pillbox Bunker. Jerusalem. Israel. Derech Hevron. British Mandate.

British Pillbox Bunker in Jerusalem, on the corner of Derech Hevron and Asher Viner

Now I know some of you are seeing the title of this post and thinking, “Isn’t it just something you put pills into?” And right you are, moreso than you know. Because while I am referring to a modern architectural feature all over the land of Israel, the pillboxes I am talking about also relate to what you’d see at a pharmacy. The pillboxes I’m talking about though are British pillboxes — military bunkers which you are sure to encounter on virtually any tour of Israel.

And while I am describing pillboxes, I’ll also tell you about another related structure from the same era that similarly dots this country: the Tegart fortress.

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Thoughts on Tourism in Israel’s Future

Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, seen from Manger Square (photo taken from Wikimedia Commons, by Wayne McLean)

One of the questions that I face as I prepare to become a licensed tourguide here in Israel relates to the future of this great country. Uncertainty is a key word that describes the situation of Israel’s future, and it makes preparing for my future career all the more difficult. It also makes my preparations more emotional, while I also delineate between my hopes for my career and my hopes for Israel’s future as a country.

A few recent news stories, that seem narrowly focused on specific laws that affect the industry, instead made me think more about what my career may be like in a future Israel. And they also made me think about what I’d like it to be like.

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