Today I had the privilege of waking up in the most quaint, serene and miraculous city I have ever visited. Although there was a lot of hustle and bustle around the city due to the Jerusalem marathon, there was something about the cobble stone streets and old architecture that made me feel at peace. Our first stop in Jerusalem was to the City of David which was the walled city that King David built his palace in and established as the capital during the Bronze Age. The City had one of the best views of the Mount of Olives and the homes that are embedded in the rolling hills that spanned as far as the eye could see.
The city has been undergoing archaeological exploration since the nineteenth century and we were able to climb below the surface and explore the layers of the palace that lie below the ground. When we exited the city, a couple of hundred feet below where we entered, we walked down to the Pool of Siloam. This was the first time we were actually standing in the exact spot where Jesus conducted one of his miracles. The Pool of Siloam is mentioned in the Gospel of John and is known to be the spot where Jesus heals the blind man. The water has since dried up, but this was once filled with water and is the spot where the man bathed, was cured and given the sense of sight for the first time in his life. From the pool we entered Hezekiah’s tunnel, a tunnel that is also mentioned in the Bible and was constructed to provide Jerusalem with water during the siege by the Assyrians. The tunnel was built in the 8th Century BCE by two teams, one starting at the Pool of Siloam and the other at the Gihon Spring where they kept digging until they met in the middle. Again, the tunnel has dried up but the absence of water did not eliminate the smell of mildew or the claustrophobic humidity that took over the air. To top it off, we all had to use the flashlight from our phones to guide the way because the tunnel was pitch black, with slippery rocks covering the floor and condensation dripping from the ceiling. When I emerged into the light I was in shambles. My purple dress was covered in dirt, my Stewart Weitzsman shoes were beaten up, and my hair had taken on a new hairstyle, and one that I was not particularly happy with.
After a lovely morning in the City of David, the afternoon started with a tour of the Knesset, which is the legislative building of the Israeli government. The Knesset passes laws, elects the President and Prime Minister, approves the cabinet, holds committee meetings among many other legislative duties. In the Knesset we were able to sit in a committee room in addition to sitting in the room where Parliament presides. We were all pretty tired after the Knesset but there was a lot left on the itinerary for the remainder of the day. Before we could break for lunch we met up with Uri Goldberg who talked about his book “What is Next for the Start-up Nation?” He did not want to ruin his book for us, which talked about the future of Israel so instead he spoke about his research into the history of Israel that provided the basis for his future predictions. He elaborated on the many threats that Israel faces in the future and how the entrepreneurial ecosystem and spirit of innovation will allow Israel’s vibrant economy to continue to grow.
During our lunch hour, Abigail Klein Leichman, a reporter from Israel 21c, an online news magazine came to interview members of our group to get a better understanding of what and why we were spending our Spring Break studying entrepreneurship in Israel. I had the honor of being interviewed and she even used a quote of mine in her piece, which you can read here http://israel21c.org/headlines/babson-business-students-tour-the-startup-nation/
Our final speaker of the day was Bob Rosenschein, an American-Israeli serial entrepreneur. He was the founder and CEO of Kivun, the first Hebrew/English word processor for Windows, then went on to found Answers.com and is currently working on his newest venture Curiyo. From all of the entrepreneurs I have met his speech really touched me because he was able to do it all and never compromised his personality, feelings or humanity for any of his success. His enthusiasm was contagious and I admired how he never had to step over anyone else to become successful. He spoke about how to become a better leader and how to live a healthy life. He took the time to ask each person his or her name before answering their questions and remembered my name when I went up to him after his presentation to introduce myself further. He is an amazing role model for all entrepreneurs, for all business people, actually for anyone in the world because he achieved remarkable success while still remaining compassionate, kind, and genuine.
I entered Bob’s presentation with droopy eyes and ready for my afternoon nap and when he was done I was more enthused than I had been all week. Resting was no longer an option. So we hit the streets! We had to check out the markets and see more of the city before we had to get back together with the group. Paris, Kiana, Graham and I set off and we shopped the side streets, tasting different spreads, cheeses, fruits, olives, juices and more. The market was filled with people preparing for Shabbat and the crowds of people made the adventure even more exciting. We got back to the hotel just in time to freshen up before we set out for the Night Spectacular at David Tower. The Night Spectacular is a light and sound show that unveils the history of Jerusalem through images and sounds that move across the walls of the tower. It was truly amazing to see the different colors blend together to tell the magical story of one of the oldest cities in the world.