Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Various thoughts on my trip to Israel

I just got back from my trip to Israel. Here are a few thoughts and observations about the trip with minimal attempt to put them in a coherent order.

Hezekia's Tunnel is freaking awesome. The tunnel is 1500 feet or so narrow tunnel (thin enough that two people cannot pass each other in it) which was used to convey water from a spring outside the city to a reservoir within the city. This was built roughly the 8th century BCE. The tunnel system is still functioning and you can walk through it. My twin and I along with some of our relatives walked through the tunnel (which is open to tourists). The

The Israeli Supreme Court hears approximately 10,000 cases a year. Roughly half of which are cases where it has original jurisdiction. This is due to the Court having large-scale original jurisdiction and all cases being in principle appealable to the Supreme Court. This is an interesting contrast to the US Supreme Court which is now down to 70 cases a year. Hmm, maybe a happy medium might exist somewhere?

Also, on the topic of the Court, their method of appointing justices would never be accepted in the United States and would be considered very undemocratic. New justices are appointed by a small committee which has on it representatives from the Supreme Court, the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), the Ministry of Justice, and the Bar Association. This committee of nine people makes all appointments to the Supreme Court and there is no way to overrule it.

Saturday night we went to a Sephardi shul for Maariv (the traditional evening prayer). Although I had been to Sephardi davening before, I had not been to their Saturday night services. As before I found sitting down during kaddish to be a disorienting experience. However, there was a nice touch that I'd consider advocating that Ashkenazi Jews consider adopting: for havdalah (the ritual which marks the end of the Sabbath) for the part that requires something that smells nice they used freshly cut flowers and little sprigs as opposed to the Ashkenazi practice of using little bags full of spice.

I have an odd ethical question that came up also that I'd like to get feedback on but I need to think about it a bit more before I post an entry on it. Suffice it to say it is connected to the very weird diversity that Israeli societies is composed of.

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