Tag Archives: promenade

Meze Appetizers

While in Israel try meze (also spelled mezze), a selection of small dishes served in the Mediterranean and Middle East as appetizers, think of Spanish tapas.

The word meze was probably borrowed from the Greek mezés (μεζές), which was borrowed from Turkish meze, which was in turn borrowed from Persian maze ‘taste, flavour, snack, relish’, and is found in all the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire.

The meze served depends on the chef and the restaurant but could include some or all of the following:

  • Labne – strained yoghurt cheese
  • Babaghanoush – eggplant (aubergine) mashed and mixed with various seasonings
  • Muhammara – a hot pepper dip with ground walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil
  • Pastirma – seasoned, air-dried cured beef
  • Tabbouleh – bulgur, finely chopped parsley, mint, tomato, scallion, with lemon juice, olive oil and various seasonings

Walking along the promenade from Jaffa to Tel Aviv, you’ll find Etzel Pini BaChatzer, a restaurant that offers typical Mediterranean dining by the sea (not kosher) with a good selection of mezes. One of their specialties is chopped beef and lamb salad with Swiss chard and pine nuts.

As you walk along the promenade there is a fun wall mural on a building facing the beach that shows some famous people enjoying the restaurant/bar scene in Tel Aviv. The mural was painted by Israeli artist Anna Kogan (http://tziur-kir.co.il).

Wall mural-Anna KoganTwo of the people are from Renaissance paintings – the gentleman in the large-brimmed black hat and yellow jacket is from a painting, La Buveuse (Woman Drinking, 1658) by Pieter de Hooche and the fellow with the red outfit and hat playing the lute is from a painting, Jester with a Lute, by the Dutch Frans Hals about 1625. The two young women (in positions 2 and 10) are both named Orit and lived in a building nearby. Position 3 is based on George Harrison from this photo of the Beatles. Position 8 is based on rapper, Master P.

So the people from left to right are :

de Hooche painting, Orit, George Harrison,  Marx,  Freud, Golda Meir, Einstein, Master P., Ben Gurion, Orit, Herzl, Jester with a Lute, model, Golda Meir

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Caiaphas Family Tomb and Ossuary

Tomb layout from IAA via Biblical Archaeology Review article

In the winter of 1990 while doing some work in the Peace Forest just below the Haas promenade (in Hebrew known as the tayelet) workers discovered a burial cave made up of 4 recesses (called loculi), rectangular spaces about 6 feet deep and 1.5 feet wide, cut in the limestone bedrock. The promenade, a dream of Teddy Kollek and designed by the Israeli landscape architect, Shlomo Aronson, is built on the ridge with an impressive view of the Old City walls and ancient city of David; I often take people there to begin a tour.

Since many tombs have been found in the Kidron and Ben Hinnom valleys around the Old City it was not a surprise to find this burial cave. Inside were found 12 ossuaries, 6 scattered about indicating that the cave had been robbed in antiquity but 6 in their original places.  Zvi Greenhut, the IAA archaeologist called to the site, identified it as a Jewish burial cave from the Second Temple period. At this time, burial for those who could afford a family tomb, the body was laid out in a recess carved in the wall of the cave and closed off. A year later, after the flesh had decomposed, the family returned, opened the loculus and gathered up the bones and deposited them in a cavern with earlier bones. That’s the explanation of the expression in the Bible “to be gathered up with his forefathers” and why it is a custom to revisit the grave after a year. Later it became customary to put the bones in a special limestone box and to write the name of the deceased on the outside – this coincided with the rise in belief of a physical resurrection at the End of Days.

Of the five ossuaries with inscriptions we find the names of two women: Miryam berat Shimon and Shlom… the full version would be Shlomzion.

Caiaphas ossuaryFrom the name written on two of the ossuaries the cave seems to be the family tomb of Qafa, in Greek Caiaphas, a name known to us from the New Testament and writings of Josephus, one of whom was the high priest who presided at the trial of Jesus. One of these ossuaries is decorated beautifully in a rare and intricate pattern of two circles, each made up of six whorl rosettes, bordered by a pattern of palm branches. Inside were found bones from six different people, two infants, a child between 2 and 5, a young boy between 13 and 18, an adult woman and a male of about 60.

On the undecorated end is inscribed “Joseph bar Caiaphas” not necessarily “the son of” – here Caiaphas is a nickname which became a sort of family name. A fascinating statistic from the Second Temple period based on personal names mentioned in literary sources and inscriptions is that 28% of men had one of 4 names (Joseph and Shimon being the two most popular), 9 names account for 44% of men (so a family nickname would help identify people); for women it was even more extreme, 50% of women had 2 names, Miryam, which later became Mary and Shlomzion the equivalent of Salome in Greek.

A coin found in one of the ossuaries was minted by Herod Agrippa (37–44 C.E.). This would help us date the two Caiaphas ossuaries perhaps as early as the beginning of the century. The evidence suggests that we may have recovered the burial box (ossuary) and even the bones of the high priest Caiaphas who handed Jesus over to the Romans.

Segway Tour

This morning I rode a Segway (Personal Transporter) along the promenade at Armon HaNatziv and I can report that it was really fun (as they say in Hebrew, היה כיף). The Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle that was invented by Dean Kamen in 2001. There are 5 gyroscopes that with the aid of computers and motors in the base keep the Segway upright and balanced. Users lean slightly forward to go forward, lean back to stop or go backward and turn using a handlebar that can be tilted left or right.

Currently I often start a tour of the Old City or Herodium with an overview from the promenade so I’m happy to be able to add a Segway tour as part of a day’s guiding. Another example, before visiting the Knesset or Israel museum, you can ride through the Valley of the Cross, past a Crusader fortress-like monastery that was one of the first buildings outside of the Old City walls but in fact, goes all they way back to Queen Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine. It’s also possible to arrange a tour along the Jaffa-Tel Aviv promenade along the Mediterranean coast as part of a guided tour of Jaffa and/or Tel Aviv.

A Segway tour adds 180 NIS (which comes to less than $50.) per person (minimum of 2-3 people) for about 2 hours, note that children must be 16 years or older. Helmets and knee and elbow pads are provided.