Comments from Recent Visitors

"Madeleine gave us an objective view of the people and places we see on the news."

"She is no nonsense, easy to work with, and very flexible. I recommend her highly."

"Madeleine kept our children, 10, 13, 15 yrs interested and engaged (as only a former teacher can), and her depth of knowledge was welcome by the adults in the group."

"We were a diverse group - different ages, religions, athletic abilities - and Madeleine managed to accommodate us all."

"Madeleine gracefully navigated complex issues of faith and culture and we came away with a much better perspective of Jerusalem through 3,000 years of history"

"Madeleine has a talent for listening to what we're interested in and crafting an itinerary that when experienced, flows perfectly while she is open to being flexible and the serendipity of discovery"

"Madeleine was incredible - a huge wealth of information, extremely professional and a wonderful sense of humour"







Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jerusalem Pottery - Behind the Green Door

The green door at number 15 Via Dolorosa (between Stations V and VI) conceals a tiny gallery and workshop where beautiful Armenian handpainted plates, tiles, bowls, cups and other ceramic pieces are created by brothers Stepan and Berg Karakashian and Stepan's son, third generation Hagop.

When touring the Old City, I always try and stop by the Jerusalem Pottery which has been run by the Karakashian Family since 1922 and at its current location since 1948.

Stepan and Hagop in their workshop with yours truly



Stepan and Berg's father, Megherdich Karakashian, and several other Armenian ceramic artists were brought to Jerusalem by the British from Kutahya in Armenia to repair the 16th century tiles covering the Dome of the Rock. These craftsmen were glad to leave Turkey to escape the 1915 persecution of the Armenians and settle in Jerusalem practising their traditional craft of making richly-colored glazed pottery.


The Gallery

Their work incorporates traditional Armenian bird, animal and flower designs and biblical scenes influenced by the 18th century tiles in Armenian Church of St. James which is also well worth visiting.

On your next trip along the Via Dolorosa, step behind the green door into a world of real Armenian pottery.  You are in for a treat!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Madeleine on the Roof - the article

Following the success of the rooftop video produced by Israel 21c, an article appeared about me in the the local ESRA Magazine for English-Speaking Residents of Israel. Written by Lydia Aisenberg, a member of Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek in the Jezreel Valley, who works tirelessly as a journalist, informal educator and special study tour guide for the Givat Haviva Institute which has been educating for peace, democracy, coexistence and social solidarity for half a century.

You can read the article here: Madeleine On the Roof

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Scenes from above - rooftop views of Jerusalem

There are many ways to visit Jerusalem. However, the best way to get a sense of the city is to see it from above.  There are a number of excellent options including the Mount Olives - probably the number one viewpoint best seen early in the day, the rampart walk around the Old City, the rooftop of the Austrian Hospice in the Muslim Quarter and the YMCA tower on King David Street. I was recently interviewed for Israel21cdotcom showing me guiding some of these sites. You can watch it here -Rooftop Tour with Madeleine

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Old City Personalities - My Mate Yousef

If you happen to be walking along Christian Quarter Road and pass by number 30, stop in and say hello to my friend Yousef Natshe whom I have known for over twenty years. He comes from the esteemed Natshe family of Hebron. To this day his family still produces the hand-blown glass for which the town is famous..
Born in 1958 in the village of Silwan just south of the Old City, Yousef is one of 8 children - 5 boys and three girls. He learned his trade through his late father, a fabric merchant.  Despite hardships - the family lost two homes in Katamon and Baka and a shop in Mahane Yehuda in west Jerusalem after 1948 - he is always positive and has a ready smile.


Yousef has owned his store on the Christian Quarter Road since 2003 but has traded in the Old City since 1973. A father of 4, he lives with his wife, three girls and a boy in the village of Anata close to the northern Jewish neighborhood of French Hill.
While I was sitting with him and drinking a refreshing glass of mint tea, I asked him what his dream was. He told me that he'd like to live on a mountain, somewhere green away from the city.
Feel free to pop in and view some of the rugs and fabrics. His honesty, fair prices and good quality have made him popular with his loyal, local clientele.  There is no pressure and you will always be greeted with a warm smile especially if you tell him that I sent you!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A few of my favourite things

Beyond the tourist shops and restaurants, the Old City is filled with hole-in-the-wall eateries offering authentic and tasty local delights which add to the fun of wandering around the alleyways.

One of my favourite areas are the three Crusader market streets which make up the Cardo of the ancient Roman-Byzantine city.  These are Butchers' or Meat Market, Spice Market and Engravers' Market.
Butchers' Market
Descending from Jaffa Gate along David Street to the bottom of the hill, make a left on Shuk HaTzorfim (engravers' street) to Arafat Restaurant. The only sign is a large pot of freshly-made hummus and a tiny cave filled with hungry customers. There is a daily special which usually lasts until 1 p.m. so get there early.



For those of a strong disposition, take the first left along Butchers' Street - Shuk HaLahamim in Arabic and Katzavim in Hebrew - walk past animal heads and entrails and walk almost to the end. On the left side is Abu Taher, a small restaurant run by Taher and his male cooks. Ask to see the daily specials simmering on the stove. The hummus is also good.


Za'atar spice mountain, spice market
Walk to the end of Shuk HaAttarin, Spice Market - the most aromatic of the three streets which contains another secret - grilled lamb kebabs. For over 70 years the family has been making this delicacy served in a pita with grilled tomatoes and onions for only 9 shekels. The tiny cafe is usually crowded so take it to go and eat it around the corner near the Holy Sepulchre Church and watch the world go by.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Flying with the Birds - the Agamon Hula Park

Israel is a major international bird migration area. Around 500 million birds migrate across this country twice a year using the Dead Sea Rift Valley as a navigation aid. Waterfowl, birds of prey and song birds from 390 different species make their way from Europe to Africa in the winter returning in the summer, stopping to refuel along the way at the Agamon Hula Park situated in the heart of the Hula Valley.

One of the main problems caused by the large volume of birds is damage to agricultural land. In order to overcome this the birds are fed corn to divert their attention from the local produce without causing harm to the birds themselves.

Last week I had the pleasure of viewing some of the 30,000 cranes who had dropped in for their seasonal visit which began last October. I joined a group of tour guides on a tractor-drawn hide which entered deep into the special bird area during feeding time. Oblivious to our presence, the birds swooped on the food and provided us with a breathtaking show.

The Agamon is open all the year round. Here one can see not only birds but also water buffalo, take part in a bird banding workshop and enjoy the unique flora and fauna of the area.  The 5 mile trail encircling the Agamon Hula can be experienced on foot, bike, multi-passenger vehicle or club cart. Fun for all ages!http://www.agamon-hula.co.il/

Friday, February 11, 2011

BLACKOUT - Dining in the Dark

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Last night I experienced my first meal served in total darkness at the Nalaga'at (do touch) Center in the Port of Old Jaffa. After overcoming my initial apprehension, I allowed myself to be guided into the dark restaurant by the blind wait staff. What an amazing time we had!  Without vision, my other senses were sharpened as we enjoyed a creative three-course meal.

Dining at BlackOut is one of the three outstanding experiences offered to the visitors of the “Nalaga’at” Center. The Center - the first of its kind in the world, seeks to promote interaction between deaf-blind, deaf, and blind individuals and people able to hear and see, regardless of cultural or social distinctions.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Through His Father's Eyes - Elia Photo, Jerusalem's Old City

A visit to Elia Photo on El Khanka Street is a must for anyone visiting Jerusalem.

Kevork Kahvedjian was raised in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City and inherited his father’s photography business. His father fled Armenia and was raised in an orphanage in Nazareth. After discovering a trove of his father’s negatives in an attic, he published “Through My Father’s Eyes” a unique collection of photographs showing everyday life in Jerusalem and throughout the Holy Land as captured by his father’s camera since 1924. Recently, the photographs were used to guide the restoration of the historic Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, which was destroyed by the Jordanians. 

(Many thanks to my friend Aliza Orent of the JCC Austin, Texas for the photo)

A Gem in the Galilee

Read about my visit to Tzafra Porat, ceramic artist, from Kibbutz Kfar Giladi.





Follow me around Jerusalem!

Take a virtual tour with me around Jerusalem. My thanks to Harvey and Margie Wilensky for their report.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A place where time stands still – the Rockefeller Museum

Off the Beaten Track

On a free day last week, I took a couple of friends on a tour to the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem. Walking along the ramparts from Jaffa Gate to Damascus Gate, we continued down Sultan Suleiman St. to the museum about a 10 minute walk away.

The museum building is an architectural gem designed by Austen St. Barbe Harrison, Chief Architect during the British Mandate period (also famous for designing the Central Post Office on Jaffa Road and the Government House – currently the UN headquarters). He successfully blended east and west in a landmark building which is today run by the Israel Museum.

Displaying fascinating archaeological artifacts from around the country, and decorated with unique Armenian ceramics by David Ohannessian, the father of Armenian pottery in Jerusalem, the museum is well worth your attention!
27 Sultan Suleiman Street
Opening hours: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs 10 – 3 Saturday 10:00 – 2 p.m.
Parking on site available only on Saturday.
Free entrance