Those pools are right next door to my hometown of Efrat, on the northern side of the Dagan Hill.
Seeing this terrific Library of Congress Photo brought back lovely memories of family times at Solomon's Pools.
When we first moved to Israel, we joined other American ex-patriots who used to celebrate the Fourth of July at Solomon's Pools. We packed a picnic lunch of fried chicken and cole slaw, a blanket to sit on, lots of drinks and baseball gloves and softballs.
We drove two minutes north, out of Efrat's gate, and straight into the parking area of Solomon's Pools. American olim packed the entire area with cars and gymboree, baseball tosses and tag. The celebrations were innocent, gay and filled with laughter.
The giant pools, built during the Hasmonean Era to bring water from Hebron to the Temple Mount, were impressive, even twenty years ago - although they were filled with mucky filth. Just separating Bethlehem and Efrat, Solomon's Pools and a JNF (Jewish National Fund) Forest unfortunately were never renovated and made into the major tourist attraction they should have been.
But we Efratians still enjoyed our July 4 celebrations there. Jewish children - ex-New Yorkers, Clevelanders, Atlantans and the rest - ate their cotton candy and stood around the pools (not too close) wondering how deep they were, and if they really contained "poisoned water" like their mothers claimed.
When Oslo "peace" came, Efratians were no longer allowed to visit Solomon's Pools. We weren't even allowed to drive passed there any more.
But we still know that right on the other side of the Dagan Hill is a piece of Jewish history that ties us to our ancestors more than 2000 years ago. One day we will return to Solomon's Pools, picnic there once again, and this time, clean them and restore them to the majesty they once knew.
Thank you, A Picture A Day, for always making us appreciate our land, our heritage, and our ancient ties here.