This Blog Title Brought to you by Ben Salone

Tel Aviv and the Ayalon Institute/Bullet Factory

So, it’s officially chilly in Jerusalem.

Just in case you were wondering.

I’ll start this post with Wednesday, November 9th.  My mom was lucky enough to visit Israel in 2009 with a a group called DATA.  They spent 10 days in the country and attended many lectures throughout the course of the trip.  One of these lectures was one given by Lori Palatnik called Chaim, Bracha, and Tov (Life, Blessing, and Good).  About three weeks ago, my mom found out that Lori was going to be in Jerusalem again with another tour group and just so happened to be giving the lecture again.  She told me I should go and check it out.

So I did.

I can easily say that I took more notes in this hour long lecture than I have during the last month in my actual classes.

It was fascinating.  The entire lecture was about identifying who you are as a person.  Every person has two aspects to who they are.  Body is who you are externally, what everyone sees.  Soul is who you are in the inside (that one’s pretty self-explanatory).

I’ll actually be typing up my notes in the future…if you’d like a copy, just let me know.

From this lecture, I left and wandered around the Old City (again) for quite a while.  Visited the Western Wall on behalf of my dear friend Rose whose letter JUST arrived in Jerusalem.  Here yah go, Rose…just for you:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWhile wandering around the Old City I actually ended up making a friend named Luay (Lou-eye).  He works in the Muslim quarter.  We talked for two hours about all facets of life.  It was quite interesting.

Thursday, Carolyn and I departed for Rehovot and Tel Aviv.  When we got to Rehovot, we had a wee bit of time to waste.  Carolyn got pizza (omnomnom) and I got Chinese food (omnomnomier).From here, we went on an epic adventure on a bus.  We almost died when the bus driver was having too much fun yelling out the window at the guy driving down the street in a wheelchair/scooter thing.  Crazy bus driver should watch the road instead of other drivers…then maybe he wouldn’t hit other people!  What a novel thought!  Either way, we made it to the train station and had to walk the rest of the way to our eventual location which was the….

AYALON INSTITUTE.  (Also known as the Bullet Factory.)

The story behind this museum is one of significance.

In 1945, the Haganah (Israeli defense) determined that at the end of the British Mandate (basically, border control keeping out the Jews) a struggle would ensue between the Jews and Arabs of the land. A decision was made by the Haganah to establish a secret plant. In just three weeks, preparations for the factory were completed and it was code named the Ayalon Institute, a military industry factory.

Above ground, this appeared to be no more than a kibbutz. Eight meters below ground things were quite different; this was actually the largest bullet factory, where 45 people worked. Between 1946-1948, 2.25 million bullets were manufactured here. At the height of operations, 40,000 bullets a day were made at the institute. It has been said that the bullets manufactured at the Ayalon Institute constituted the only supply that was not in shortage during the war.

So we walked to Kibbutzim Hill.  As I walked through the gate, it looked deserted.  I stopped at the “guard stand” and walked up to the window to ask a question….SURPRISE!  It was a cardboard cutout.  >_>SANYO DIGITAL CAMERANot off to a great start.

We were about 20 minutes early, so I passed the time reading Inheritance.  When the rest of our “tour” showed up, we were off.  We started with a dramatic reenactment of the history of Ayalon.

Our tour guide then took us to the laundry room and showed us the original entrance to the factory.  (It was underneath the washing machine.)SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFrom there, she took us to the bakery where there was a “general” entrance for the tourists.  Underground were four of these machines (though there used to be twelve):There was also a place to test the bullets:All in all, a very dangerous place to work.  Especially considering exactly how confidential this was.  At the end of the day, the workers had to have their shoes scrubbed so as to get rid of the metal shavings that might give away the secret if they were seen above ground.  The workers also got the very first Israeli tanning booth, because being underground isn’t exactly conducive to getting a lot of sun (whereas, if they were working on a kibbutz, they would be tan…).

From here, one of the people from the tour offered to take our picture.  We decided to strike a pose with an old tractor.  Too bad it had a flat (or two) or we totally would have taken it and driven it back to the train station…Instead, like the good backpackers we are, we walked and hopped on the train to Tel Aviv (where we promptly got lost and had to hail a taxi.)  It took us to Momo’s Hostel!  Everyone smokes at Momo’s.  Hell, everyone smokes in ISRAEL.  It was just particularly bad at Momo’s.  However…they had cool art on the wall:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERABy the way…the girl on the left?  That’s Daria!  She’s my passport twin.  We decided to meet up again.

On Friday, we hung out.  We walked around Tel Aviv.  Our mad/crazy plans to go to the Tel Aviv Zoo unfortunately fell through.  It’s really quite a shame.  I know Carolyn wanted to steal a Sand Cat.  Seriously?  Most adorable thing I’ve ever seen….but I want to kidnap a Red Panda…sooooo.  Who’s in?

No takers?

Shame.

While we were walking around, I happened upon a pretty flower.  Honestly?  This yellow flower was SO bright I was immediately reminded of a highlighter:We also wandered around the Tel Aviv Artists Market which I thought was pretty cool.  They do it once or twice a week and set up on one of the main roads.  Artists of all kinds come and hawk their wares.  I saw many cute things…nothing I could afford…but one of the cutest things I saw all day was this precious child attempting to play with a dog over the back of a couch at a restaurant.  This picture was entirely necessary.After that, we headed back to Momo’s for a light night.  I ended up meeting a guy named Graham from a city right outside of London.  We talked long into the night until about 12:45 about life, the universe, and everything.  I even introduced him to American comedians such as Ron White and George Carlin.  xD

By Saturday, the city had shut down for Shabbat and we were being “evicted” from our rooms by 12:00 for checkout.  At that time, we headed to the beach to blow off some time before the buses started running again at 6:30pm.  We hung out on the beach for about two hours.  I had a little too much fun in the sand.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then…with nothing better to do…I drew hearts.From there, we left the beach and headed back to Momo’s to sit in the lobby and waste time.  It was delightful.  I read fanfic and relaxed.  *le sigh*

Finally, the buses started running again.  Daria, Carolyn, and I jumped on a bus to Jerusalem and came home.

Today’s Sunday.  I showed Daria around the Old City a bit as she had previously only been to the Western Wall on Birthright.  I introduced her to Luay and showed her all of my favorite haunts.  Even showed her the Church of the Holy Sepulcher…even though I couldn’t provide much backstory.  From Jaffa Gate, we walked through Mamilla to get to Ben Yehuda.  On the way, I found the most awesome toilets EVER.  They…were…SQUARE.And finally, last picture just for fun (and because I can…and so can they), Abercrombie and Fitch is slowly taking over the world.  This store opened THIS week.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWonder how long that’ll last here.  Considering the only reason it’s still around in the states is because of the brand name, I’m hoping it doesn’t hold out too long and that it goes the way of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.

And with that…she’s gone…

Author: alisonlcohn

Graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications Advertising. Traveled a bit. Taught for two years. Administered aptitude tests for a while. Worked as a Training Associate for Guardian Mortgage and a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink. Obtained my Master's in Film, Television and Screen Media in London, England. Now seeking a full-time something-or-other. Nice to meet you!

2 thoughts on “This Blog Title Brought to you by Ben Salone”

  1. I am so in for the red panda. Just give me the time and place. That square toilet doesn’t look very comfortable. Lol.

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