Bicentennial Israel

In 1976, I attended the Summer in Israel program of Temple University School of Law. The program was directed by the late Professor I. Herman Stern. My fellow students included Lyn Weinberg and Doug Block, friends to this day, and the late Michael Greenberg.

It was my impression that Israeli pop culture copied America, though about five years behind and slightly warped as in a Batman episode.

Israel was short on consumer goods. Daily life looked Spartan. I arrived days after the July 4 Entebbe raid, in which Israeli commandos freed hostages held by Palestinian terrorists in the airport in Uganda.

I visited Israel in 2005 as a member of a tour sponsored by Germantown Jewish Centre.
I was pleased to see how the country had matured. Cars---a stretch for most people in 1976---were everywhere. Israel caught up in consumer goods. The country appeared prosperous. Israeli pop culture was a closer fit to America's.

The food situation had improved. In the summer of 1976, when I was a carnivore, meat was scarce. I remember yearning for meat and subsisting on sandwiches of Israeli bologna (thinly sliced). In 2005, when I was a vegetarian, meat seemed plentiful. I remember a dinner at the hotel full of meat. Starving for veggies, I asked for the vegetarian alternative. The caterer brought out tofu hot dogs. Israel has a long way to go on tofu technology..

Jewish Quarter of Old City viewed from the Turkish Walls in 1976. We walked atop the Turkish Walls to the Western Wall. By 2005, this view had been obstructed by new construction.

Regretfully, Israel is catching up with America in the violation of personal space. In 1976, we were able to walk atop the Turkish walls surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem. In 2005, parts of the walls were off limits.

Old City of Jerusalem as viewed from the Mount of Olives, 1976. The Dome of the Rock is in the center.

In 1976 we were able to visit the Dome of the Rock. I went there with a friend who thought it was Jewishly forbidden to visit a mosque. In 2005, Jews were not permitted on the Temple Mount, eventhough the mosque had been constructed over the ruins of the Temple, where God's presence once dwelled.

In the summer of 2008, my friend, a professor was in Jerusalem doing a study of Israeli and Arab housing. As part of her field work she made appointments with leaders on the Arab end of town. Her cel phone carrier called her to ask whether she was making calls to Arab Jerusalem. Her calls were being monitored. The long hands of John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez struck again.


My photographs were taken with my
Minolta SRT-101 purchased in 1970 by mail order from Kinephoto, Ltd. in Hong Kong. This camera is a single lens reflex. In its era, it was the state of the art, mid-priced camera. Only the light meter was electronic. All other controls were manual. After three decades and two or three overhauls, the Minolta still takes great photos. It has been my partner for rolls and rolls of film.

This webpage is dedicated to Lyn Weinberg, a steadfast friend for half my life. We shared a refrigerator together separately in Israel.


Our classes met at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.


The Old City, at the Citadel of David, just inside the Jaffa Gate.


View from the shuk (Arab market) of the Old City.

The ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim brought to mind a village in pre-war Poland.


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On my second day in Jerusalem I wandered to Mount Zion, where I found the bar mitzvah party of Uri Rabi (to the right of the pregnant man). The Uri family lived in Tel Aviv and came to Jerusalem for the bar mitzvah. The family immigrated to Israel from Iraq.

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The Bukharian market was staffed by people from the region of the Caspian Sea.

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In the summer of 1976, I rented a car for drive through northern Israel. In late afternoon, I reached Akko, then a dusty Arab city on the northern coast. Also known as Acre, it had been captured by the Crusaders. In the novel Exodus, Leon Uris pictured the fortress of Acre as a British prison for Zionist revolutionaries
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In 1979, I returned to Israel and took a camping tour of the Sinai.