Old City Treasure Hunt

by Brian on March 30, 2011

in A Parent in Israel,Just For Fun

Jody and her mom Adriane find the shofars at the Beit El Yeshiva

Dr. Clue is the world’s leading team-building company specializing in treasure hunt activities. Dr. Clue is also my brother, Dave. He was just here in Israel for our youngest son Aviv’s bar mitzvah and, as his gift, he planned a special treasure hunt in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Dave normally organizes hunts for companies like law firms and hi-tech startups, as a way of prodding teams to work more cooperatively. For Aviv, it was less about group dynamics and all about fun.

A treasure hunt can open your eyes to sites you’ve never even heard about; it’s a remarkable way to get to know a city. Our route had us searching for historical plaques, obscure addresses and hidden mosaics throughout the ancient walled streets. Did you know that the Royal Austrian Post Office was located across from the Tower of David museum until 1914? Or that there are two shofars above the door to the Beit El Yeshiva? Have you ever even been to the Church or St. George or St. James Cathedral (we hadn’t)?

But before we could go scavenging, we had to answer the clues, and they were tough: 10 brain twisters including one where we had to organize monopoly cards in the right order to spell out a direction; a Morse code game with lions symbolizing dashes and zebras as dots; and a personalized food twister where recognizing the pattern of our son’s favorite dishes (from meatloaf to sushi) spelled out an address on HaNevel Street.

Sample clue: hieroglyphics

Once we’d solved all the clues, we only had an hour left to find the locations – for each minute we arrived back at the starting point past the cut-off time, we’d be docked 2,000 points. Dave had rachmanus (sympathy) on our group, which ranged in age from 48 to 74, and waived the penalty we’d accrued for being 6 minutes late. We still lost out to the teenagers. But who’s counting (OK, I was).

So, what’s the connection for readers who didn’t participate in our private family adventure? Dave is working on plans to come back and open up his Old City treasure hunts to overseas tour groups, as well as the general public. He’s already done this in countries ranging from Switzerland to Dubai; he’s even run a program on a cruise ship to the Great Barrier Reef (I’m definitely in the wrong business)!

Imagine if every visitor to Jerusalem took a morning to explore the Old City in an entirely new way – a far cry from the “follow my flag” type of tour guide-led group? What a boon it would be for the city and for engagement with the Holy Land. Nir Barkat – are you listening?

This post appeared earlier this week on Israelity.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rachel Selby March 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Google Ross Ciliner’s Tourgames: Inside Jerusalem (The Old City), Neighbourhoods (Nahlaot), and Jerusalem Kaleidascope (Yemin Moshe). I used to work for him in the 1990s. I don’t know if the games – also treasure hunts, are still running but the website is still there.

2 Adriane April 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm

What a fun morning that was! Fun to relive it with your article and picture!
Hope you’re having a great trek!

3 Millie August 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

Well done to think of seomtinhg like that

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