Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Few Days of Class

Sorry I haven't updated in a few days. I've been busy with homework and getting a few things to set up house in my new dorm room. I'm going to have to summarize what's happened the last few days since I have lots of Hebrew homework to work on.

The orientation was about the same as American universities except for the part about security. Getting into campus each day is almost like going through the airport. They hand search your backpack and you have to walk through a metal detector. So it helps to show up a little early on campus to avoid a bottleneck at the security checkpoint. Another point they mentioned, you can never leave your backpack unattended. At Texas A&M if you saw an unattended backpack you might wait a few minutes to see if someone comes to claim it then take it to lost and found. This is not the case at Hebrew University. If a bag is unattended it gets reported to security as a suspicious object and the call in the bomb squad. They block off a huge area drive in the remote controlled robot and blow up the bag. The school bears no responsibility for the loss of your bag if it was a mistake. It's your responsibility to keep up with your things. A suspicious object was found on campus yesterday near the pedestrian entrance and everyone had to stay on campus until the object was disposed of. Fortunately I had already left campus and was back at the dorms.

I took a tour of campus and learned some of the history. I was half asleep when on this tour but I think most of the information is correct. The ceremony for the laying of the foundation stones of the University took place in the 1920's. There is a painting commemorating the event hanging in the forum(student center). A lot of famous Israelis were in attendance but I didn't recognize the names. The first building built on campus was the Studies in Contemporary Jewry. Amazingly the first lecture given was on physics by Albert Einstein. A section of campus is named after Frank Sinatra because he donated a large sum of money to the college. Hebrew University has an interesting history. In 1948 Israel lost control of this side of Jerusalem to the Jordanian army. The school tried to bring students in by convoy but the Jordanians kept attacking the convoy so they abandoned the campus and built a new one on the other side of town. Israel regained control of this side of the city in 1967 during the six day war and the campus was reopened. Since the other campuses were already established they continued to operate.

I love the campus there are so many incredible views since we are on Mount Scopus. Here is the view from across the street from the Rothberg International School.

To the right here is a view of the desert from the amphitheater. These pictures can't really do it justice you need to come and see it for yourself.

My favorite part of campus so far is the botanical garden. Inside the garden is divided into sections each section represents one climate of Israel and the plants that grow there. It's absolutely stunning so you will likely be seeing several pictures from there as I explore further. The garden is larger than I first thought so I need to continue to explore to find all of its treasures. To the left is the entrance to the garden. You can't see it in the picture but on the sides of the pathway is running water that sounds like a babbling brook.

My favorite part of the garden is the tombs. The entrances are pictured at the right. One of the tombs is more modern though I can't remember how modern. Two very famous Zionists are buried but the names are in Hebrew and I can't read them.

The second tomb area is from the Second Temple period around the time of Jesus. You walk down a few steps and you can see ossuaries. An ossuary is basically a bone box, it is a form of secondary burial. First you would lay out the body in the tomb for a year, then you would come back, collect the bones and put them in a box called an ossuary. I'm thrilled that this burial site is on campus and I walk past it every morning on the way to class.Pictured above is one of the ossuaries. The pictures of the others didn't turn out so well. The other day I bought a tuna sandwich for lunch and decided to eat it in the garden. As I was eating I heard rustling in the bushes behind me. I turned to look and there was a stray cat as I continued to eat more cats showed up. I eventually gave up and ate my sandwich inside instead. The cats were not cooperative in getting their pictures taken they all turned out blurry. There are alot of stray cats on campus and in the student village. The story is that when the British were in control here there was a major rat problem. So the British imported a lot of cats and we are now dealing with their descendants. I'm not sure if this is the real reason for the cats but I've been getting the same story from everyone I've asked. Hopefully you enjoyed the pictures. I'll try to get some pictures of my dorm, student village and my walk to and from school up soon. It's just hard to fit in the time with all the studying I have to do. Please comment and tell me what you think. Or you can ask questions and I'll see if I can answer them in future posts. For now it's back to studying.


  1. I enjoyed the beautiful pictures and history of the campus. Interesting about all the cats hanging around campus. Looking forward to more.


  2. Sounds like that cat had a taste for tuna! I'd heard the story about the British solution for rats being to import cats when they had colonies. They've caused a few ecological disasters that way. Never heard the story applied to Jerusalem though. Given the timing that'd mean the cats survived several fierce battles. Gives me a picture of Israeli and Jordanian tanks blazing away while up in a window a cat looks down puzzled and munching a can of tuna. Possibly one of your cat's ancestors?

    If you're willing to docent the city I do have a question about something not too far out of your way. I was looking at Google and it showed a 900 year old olive tree in Gethsemane. That would mean it was planted during the Crusades. Could you find out why the oldest tree in the garden is no older than that? Wiki says that they commonly get over 2000 years so the ones that Jesus saw should've still been there. Also the Google images don't really let me tell how big it is nor can I tell if it's still making olives.

    I find your descriptions and images fascinating. Have a great time.

  3. Is it lame that I want to see what your Hebrew homework looks like? Probably.

    I love your pictures! The botanical gardens sound really cool and I look forward to hearing about more of your discoveries there. I love hearing about the history of your campus too.

    The cat story reminded me of another cat story. At the military base where I used to live they had a huge rat problem, so they brought in a bunch of cats. This caused a big cat problem. So they caught all the cats and took them away, only to find that they now had a HUGE flea problem because all of the pests that had been feeding on the rats and cats now had nowhere to go. They had to close parts of the hospital while they worked on clean up. They were literally sweeping up piles of dead fleas off the floor.

    Good luck with your homework and I look forward to hearing more!

  4. Hi Anna

    LOVE your blog! I enjoy hearing about all of your adventures. I'm learning so much and I love your personal stories. Mamaw makes me print out all of your blogs for her. Good luck with school and keep the blogs and pics coming!

    Aunt Donna