A Bit of History

Last Thursday I received a double dose of History, bridging the gap from the Second Temple to the modern state of Israel. We started in the town of Zikhron Ya’akov which lies at the southern end of the Carmel Mountains and is named after James Jacob Rothschild. James Jacob was the father of Baron Edmond Rothschild, the youngest son and the founder of a few Jewish towns including Zikhron Ya’akov. The Rothschilds are perhaps the most famous and prestigious Jewish family and have received noble titles in both Austria and England. They were huge donors to the early state of Israel and you can see many streets, parks, and towns named after them, including the most famous boulevard in Tel Aviv. The picture above is the synagogue where Edmond prayed and below is the quaint street running through town.

Above, a picture of my Israeli friend Yaron and I. Below is a picture of me, but more interesting is the girl with the giant backpack. This is an Israeli soldier who is completing compulsory service – for her it will be two years, for men it is three. That’s a standard issue backpack which the soldiers use to cart their dirty laundry from the base back home for the weekend.

Later on the same day, we visited Caesarea, a historically Roman style city in Palestine. The city was never known for its’ Jewish spirituality, but rather for the port, gladiator games, and theater. Like many great archaeological sites in Israel, it was built by Herod, who ruled Palestine from 74 to 4 BCE. Herod had some lose Jewish ancestry but he really operated as a client King for the Romans; he brought a lot of Roman culture to Palestine, angering the local population. Herod built the most holy surviving site in Judaism – the Western Wall – along with the fortress of Masada: the location of the Jew’s greatest last stand until the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The time from about 100 BCE to 100 CE were the most tumultuous in Jewish history until the 20th century. There is so much more I could write about Herod, the Jewish factions and rebellions of the time, and the relationship with foreign ruling powers but I will instead leave you with a few pleasant pictures.

Fishing on the Mediterranean.

Me in front of the ruins of Caesarea and sitting by the Med.

Written on February 1, 2015