My Jerusalem Book: Book Review
Author: Barbara Shaw
Publisher: Barbara Shaw Gifts
Year Published: 2017
Price: $24.90 – 89 NIS
Barbara Shaw moved to Israel from Sydney, Australia, over 30 years ago. I remember coming to Israel as a tourist and falling in love with her clever giftware line, with its bold and colorful designs.
Now Shaw, a veteran immigrant who has serviced tourists over the decades, is sharing her knowledge and love of Jerusalem, in My Jerusalem Book,” an “insider city guide, travel journal and activity book all in one.” The volume is paperback and note-book size.
Her introduction begins, “The real joys of Jerusalem are the alleyways and hidden paths. Discover rhythms, archways, courtyards and faces… so many different faces.” Since moving to Jerusalem 11 years ago, I totally agree with her.
In her guide, mainly for first time visitors, Shaw has crafted a general overview of Jerusalem’s most important sites. It provides specific suggestions, from where to start the day with coffee or tea, to a reading list of recommended books on Jerusalem.
After morning caffeine, the Old City is suggested as first stop. The guide includes not only the Jewish Quarter, but the Armenian, Christian and Muslim, with a helpful map of the stops on the Via Dolorosa. Culinary experiences, from Abu Selah ma’amoul to the Austrian Hospice’s famous Vienna Strudel are listed to simplify the tourist experience.
This guide is crafted to be appropriate for Jewish and non-Jewish tourists, and is available in English, though it is being translated into Mandarin, with additional languages in the future.
A major part of enjoying the Jerusalem experience involves food. Best locations for falafel and humus and shawarma are revealed. A full-page recipe for DIY falafel balls, made from dried chickpeas, is tempting me to add falafel to my holiday menu. Besides food, I found other bits of new and interesting information.
The Jerusalem timeline, near the end of the 127-page volume, goes from Canaanite period,1500-1000 BCE, to 1967-Israeli rule, and is a good historical overview. Shaw has avoided political or controversial issues to make her work of love universal. However, on the Western Wall she writes,
“For Jews throughout the generations, the Western/Wailing Wall (Kotel in Hebrew) is “considered” the most holy place on earth. It is actually an outer wall of the Ancient Temple built by Herod the Great and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. No visit to Israel is complete without seeing the Kotel.”
There are too many people who consider the Western Wall, the Kotel, the holiest spot in Judaism. It is not. The Temple Mount, which is the site of the two destroyed Holy Temples, and to which Jews have prayed for almost 3000 years, is the holiest place in Judaism. It is considered so holy that many religious Jews will not go up to the Temple Mount.
Credit goes to Shlomi Gorodetsky, for the black and white designs and illustrations throughout My Jerusalem Book which enhance its light and informative nature.