Thursday, May 2, 2013

Only in Jerusalem

Always educational, in anticipation of Yom Yerushalaim, Raphaela's nursery has begun to teach the children the history of Jerusalem, especially the Old City.  Surrounded by a wall, the Old City hosts eight gates, and walking home, Raphaela and I could only name four of them.  Because I detest ignorance, I thought we might go home and use the resources of the Internet to find our answer, and then we passed by a local book store.  Inspired, I took my daughter inside and asked the employees if they had any books about Jerusalem, and/or if they happened to know offhand the names of all the gates.

With the help of the staff of the book store and another customer, in a friendly yet competitive trivia contest, Raphaela and I were able to walk away with the complete information.

Raphaela's favorite gate is "Shaar Ashpot," translated from the Hebrew as The Dung (or Garbage) Gate;  named so because it is through this gate, the closest to the Western Wall, that Elijah is meant to come aridin' on his white donkey to announce the arrival of the Jewish Messiah.  Previous conquerors of the city had piled their garbage there, thinking it would prevent the resurgence of the Jewish nation and the arrival of the Talmudic Messiah.

When I asked Raphaela why it was called The Garbage Gate, her mind immediately jumped to a recent Eco-Dora episode, in which an evil octopus was polluting the oceans with trash and threatening the balance of nature under the sea.  My daughter assured me that naturally, this octopus is responsible as well for violating the walls and gates of Jerusalem.

(Raphaela also regularly reminds me that Bob the Builder is the foreman on any construction project in our area.  Who knew?)

1 comment:

Philo said...

Sha'ar Ha'ashpot has been traditionally translated into English as "Dung Gate", which may have an even worse connotation, but sounds a little better, or at least more poetic. I'm not 100% sure how far back that translation goes - I think 19th century. But it definitely goes back to the 1930's, as evidenced by a NY Times article. The part about conquerors piling their garbage there to prevent Mashiach's coming may be an urban legend, though. It may just have been a convenient gate.