Mar 10

The Most Holy City (Destination: Jerusalem)

Traveled May, 2016

My friend and I arrived in Tel Aviv airport in the midst of 100’s of birthright kids.  It was weird to hear 100’s of kids saying “like” with their American accents as we waited and waited.  The queueing was a bit ridiculous just for them to take a few seconds to print out a tourist card.  Israel no longer stamps passports but gives you a card since there are countries that deny entry if you have an Israel stamp.  We found our shuttle and gave them the printed voucher we bought from Abraham Hostel.  This was door to door service.

What can I say about Abraham Hostel?  This was probably the largest hostel I’ve ever visited.  They really had service figured out.  The rate was nice but they really got you with extras – buy a meal, buy some drinks, buy a tour.  On our first night, we took a hummus making class.  Here is my product:

The next day was Friday – Shabbat would start this night.  We walked to the Israel Museum.  This world class museum had many Egyptian and Jewish artifacts.  But the ultimate highlight is the scale model of old Jerusalem and the Dead Sea Scrolls, of which only portions are displayed at any time.

We caught the city bus to Damascus gate and headed to the Arab quarter.

From here there was a nice view of the Dome of the Rock from the Muslim elementary school.

At 3:00 pm, the Franciscan monks do a procession to the Stations of the Cross, the route Jesus took before his crucifixion.  Security was tight, protected by the Israeli army.

The walk ended in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  In here we visited the site of Calvary

And the spot where Jesus was taken down from the cross after death.  Now people bring cloths to soak up the anointed oil and pray.

Finally we stopped at the location of the tomb.

This has to be one of the most beautiful churches in the word.

We got back to the hostel where a Shabbat feast was being made.  On Shabbat, there are no restaurants open so it’s great the hostel offers this or we would all go hungry.

On Saturday, since the city is almost completely shut down until sundown, we decided to go to Palestine.

Later that evening we went to the City of David for their multi-media show about the history of Jerusalem.

Sunday was our last day in Jerusalem.  We headed to the Dome of the Rock first thing in the morning, as the lines can get very long by mid-day.  While standing in line you can spy the Western Wall.

Israelis and Jews are not to enter this site, and we were required to go thru a metal detector before entering.

The Dome is probably the most recognizable building in all of Jerusalem, and entry means we could walk around it but not inside.

By the time we finished it was still morning and getting hotter so we made a last minute decision to catch the trolley out to the Yad Vashem museum.  This holocaust museum is incredibly sad and interesting.  It was full of Israeli soldier trainees that are required to visit as part of their training.

We caught the trolley back to Jerusalem and headed to the Garden of Gethsemane.  We visited the beautiful Church of All Nations

and then headed up the hill through the Jewish Cemetery.

Our entertainment for the night was a classical music concert at the Mormon University, center of Eastern Studies.  The view was divine.

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