Here in Haifa
During this Passover break, many International School students are busy traveling the world and seeing new places. Still, it’s important to remember that there is tons to explore in Haifa alone. Here is a post by an International Student, Zach Garber, which highlights some really interesting sites in Haifa.
I haven’t done a post in a while, so I thought I would take the opportunity to catch up on some stuff I did a few weeks ago when I had a Thursday free. I hope to post another update on my Passover break with my friend Adam (http://thefreiburgkid.blogspot.com
) sometime in the next few days.
A few weeks ago I spent a Thursday around Haifa, doing a few tourist-y things before going to a party at the Technion (which was a lot of fun actually).
I started out by going to the Israeli Navy and Immigration Museum (חילי הים ומעפלה). I had already been to the national air force and armored corps museums, so I decided that I ought to go to the Navy Museum as long as I was in Haifa. The immigration referenced is the “Aliyah Bet,” or illegal immigration, of European Jews on boats to Mandatory Palestine after World War II. The British government refused to allow Jewish immigration to Israel, instead preferring that Jews who survived the Shoah remain in displaced persons camps in Europe in the aftermath of the Allied victory over the Nazis. Rather than agree to the ban, Jews attempted to reach Israel en masse. Some ships managed to make it, while others were interdicted at sea and sent back to Europe. Many of the ships that made it to Israel were then converted into Israel’s first navy during the War of Independence, so the two aspects of Israel’s history were combined for the museum.
The museum consists of real Israeli ships, from a submarine (below) to one of the immigrant ships used in the 1940s, to an Israeli missile
The Israeli immigrant ship, Af-al-pee-khen (“In Spite Of”) אף-על-פי-כן
They also had lots of Israeli naval weapons, ranging from small machine guns to ship to air and ship to surface missiles. As a war buff it was a really fun experience.
In addition to the usual weapons though, the museum had an interesting specimen that ought to be highlighted. A few years ago Israel interdicted a boat headed to Gaza from Iran carrying advanced weaponry to be used by Hamas against Israel. The weapons were held in special canisters that were designed to sink to the ocean floor (but close enough to the coast that the depths would be manageable). Hamas divers were then supposed to release levers on the canisters to float them to the surface using special pontoons. However, Israel caught the vessel before those containers could be thrown overboard, and one is now on display at the museum.
A somber piece of Israeli history was also outside the museum as a dedication to Israeli naval soldiers lost both in and out of battle—In the mid-1960s Israel purchased three used submarines from the British government. The first made the voyage from England to Israel successfully, but the second, the INS Dakar, was lost en route to Israel after radioing its last position from near Crete. Despite efforts aided by the United States and the UK, Israel did not find the lost submarine until 1999. Though the Egyptians unofficially claimed to have sunk it using depth charges, the Israelis ruled out foul play, and have since ruled that the accident was due either to mechanical failure or human error. Israel salvaged the conning tower from the sub and displayed it outside the museum as a memorial to the lost sailors.
A short walk from the museum is Elijah’s Cave on the slopes of Mt. Carmel. Elijah is commonly held to have lived in a grotto (this one) in Mt. Carmel, where he bested the priests of Baal and the King and Queen (Ahav and Jezebel) before fleeing south. The Nevi’im (Prophets) are enormously important to Judaism (underrated in today’s world, in my opinion), and Elijah is one of the most important (his story spans much of the Book of Kings). The shrine is therefore almost always filled with religious Jews.
The Carmelite nuns also built a church on top of the Carmel because of Elijah. There is a path leading up the mountain from the cave at the bottom to the church at the top, which I decided to take. It has a nice view.
It was a fun, relaxed day, and I am glad I have no class on Thursday to allow me that kind of freedom. My next post (coming soon hopefully) will be about my trips with Adam here over Passover break.