Considering the global preoccupation with every event involving Israel, it is useful to be reminded just how small Israel really is. To help, Jewish Virtual Library has provided a comparison of Israel’s size to the place of your choosing.
Being Australian, it is natural to compare with Australia, and to be astonished how small Israel is, even in comparison with New South Wales. But what about a comparison with the birthplace of Islam – Saudi Arabia,
or for that matter, comparing the width of Israel’s pre ’67 borders to President Obama’s home town, Chicago.
The excellent new roads in Israel, such as Highway 6, if anything accentuate the small distances. So, what would Israel do but go further and create a mini version where one can walk around “Israel” in even less time!
“Mini Israel” situated at the Latrun turn-off on the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem road is a marvel of construction, and a fascinating visit for people of all ages.
As an article on Tourism states, “The amazing variety that is Israel is nowhere better revealed than at Mini Israel. Along its paths, shaped like a Star of David, over 350 intricate, hand-crafted, true-to-life scale models depict the country’s best known sites and monuments. From Mount Hermon to the Temple Mount, from a Talmudic village to the Tel Aviv beach, from the churches of Galilee to its synagogues, from a bus station to the Bahai Gardens, and many more – each structure tells its own inimical story.”
The sound effects are also fun .. lions roaring at Ramat Gan safari park or fans shouting at a basketball stadium. Visiting on a hot Israeli summer day, it would have been good to be one of the skiers going down the snow slopes of Mount Hermon. Listen to the trucks on a highway..
In more detail here is an excellent video montage by Gil Shamir.
A mini version not to be outdone is the Model of Second Temple Jerusalem, first opened in 1966 on the grounds of the Holyland Hotel. It was built at the instigation of the hotel’s owner, Hans Kroch, in memory of his son Jacob who fell in Israel’s War of Independence. But when construction activities around the hotel necessitated the model’s move, it was reopened at the Israel Museum in 2006. The Model, which brings history to life, is continually updated based on new archeological information. Even if you have seen it before, a revisit is worthwhile, as illustrated on this video.
Covering nearly one acre, the Model recreates Jerusalem as it was prior to 66 ce , the year in which the Great Revolt against the Romans erupted and the city and the Temple were destroyed. The ancient city at that time was at its largest, extending over approximately 445 acres, more than twice the size of the Old City of Jerusalem today. At a scale of 1:50 meters (with two centimeters in the model representing one meter in the ancient city), this recreation of Jerusalem is constructed primarily of the same local limestone – so-called Jerusalem stone – from which the city was constructed in ancient times and continues to be constructed today.