My usual Friday morning activities include cooking for Shabbat, perhaps a little shopping and there's always an errand or two to run. This last Friday morning my routine changed. This last Friday morning I was delighted to be invited to take part in a Jerusalem Scavenger Hunt for bloggers. Fortunately, after a week of rain and grey skies, the sun came out as we drove towards Jerusalem and, arriving at our designated meeting point in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City (in Hebrew known as HaRova Hayehudi or the Rova), I knew that I was in for a fun morning!
Tali Tarlow, the brains behind the Scavenger Hunts, believes that "there is so much to see and do in Jerusalem that the best way to â€śsee and doâ€ť it is with your eyes, feet and hands, along with your hearts and souls!". She believes that the Scavenger Hunts are educational and fun for groups of all ages and I can say right now that I totally agree with her!
The twelve bloggers invited along to the hunt were divided into teams of four and given a pack which included a source book, a map, instruction booklet and notebook. We then set off to scavenge around places of interest in the Jewish Quarter, many of which, even after over 17 years living in Israel, I had never seen before.
Along the way we stopped to learn how a simple cleaner in a Beit Midrash (House of Learning) became a famous and revered Rosh Yeshiva (the title given to the dean of a Talmudical academy) known as Rashash HaKadosh - almost overnight, and heard the heart wrenching tale of 10 year old Nissim Gini, wounded in the battle defending the Old City of Jerusalem on May 27th 1948 and who sadly became Israel's youngest victim killed in action. We saw some beautiful buildings and some yet to be restored, and learned the history of the Broad Wall, built by King Hezekiah (late eighth century BCE), through Rami, the owner of the Makolet (corner store), whoâ€™s shop lies just opposite the wall.
It took most of the bloggers about two hours of exploring to answer all the questions and find all the stations listed in our booklet. Okay, so I admit to being in the team which came in last! My husband laughed out loud when I told him so. He was sure that I had made my group read every sign and not leave any stone unturned, apparently as I do with my kids. Whoops!
The instruction booklet we had been given at the start of the hunt was incredibly clear and, though it really would have been quite hard to get lost, Tali was at the end of her mobile phone if we needed her. The tasks at each of the eleven stations in our hunt were suitable for all ages - great for school age kids and upwards, though perfect for our adult group too - and the route itself was very self-contained, making everything accessible to an older age group as well.
We knew we were running somewhat late when Tali called to see where we were. Unfortunately that meant rushing our last two stations a little because we knew that the rest of the group were waiting for us at the final stop, Batei Machse Square, in front of the Rothschild House (financed by Baron de Rothschild to house the influx of Eastern European refugees in 1871). Tali and Jeremy, our guides for the morning, were there to meet us and to answer any of our questions. Tali reassured us that time was not important, that she was delighted we had not felt the need to rush.
The morning's activities closed with a short talk from our guides about the places we had visited and a brief history of the area. We'd all had a fantastic time and enjoyed meeting some new friends as well. Personally I cannot wait to take my own kids - and Grandpa too - on a Jerusalem Scavenger Hunt. I know that the kids will learn so much from the experience, without it being a "boring tour" (their words, not mine!), and they're sure to have a lot of fun along the way.
read more: Scavenging around Jerusalem