Jerusalem is such a beautiful city! I know it has had its fair share of riots, war, and general unrest, but it was much more peaceful that I had expected. Granted, there were a lot of soldiers with machine guns hanging around everywhere, making sure everyone got along.
We arrive in the city Thursday evening and went to the Mehane Yehuda Market for dinner. It was just a short walk from where we were staying, and it was bustling with people buying their groceries for the preparation of their Sabbath meal. We found a Mexican burrito restaurant run by Americans and it was amazing! I love Italian food, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you just want a burrito, ya know? We also bought a tub of chocolate tahini at one of the market stalls. I just want to eat it with a spoon!
The next day, Friday, we walked about 30 minutes to the walled Old City. We made our way toward Via Dolorosa, stopping at the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. The city of Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt, then destroyed again. However, this wall, the western wall, was left standing. It has become a holy place to pray for Jews. Notice the two sections: one for men and one for women.
We finally got to Via Dolorosa, or the way of sadness. It documents the path that Jesus took from the time he was arrested, tried, flogged, and the route that he carried the cross, finally ending at the Church of the Holy Sepluchre. Since Jerusalem had been destroyed a couple times since then, it is not certain that these were the exact places and route he took, but it still attracts many religious pilgrims. Here is the stained glass in the Church of the Flagellation. The dome of the ceiling (not in the picture) was decorated with a crown of thorns.
The general practice is to build a church on top of something holy, so the Church of the Holy Sepluchre contains the stone where they prepared Jesus’s body for burial, the hill of Golgotha, the crack in the rock made by the earthquake when Jesus died, and what is believed to be his tomb.
He is not here! He is risen, just as he said! (Matthew 28:6)
The next day, Saturday, was the Sabbath, and almost everything was closed. We went to the Israel Museum (which was open!). There were a lot of archaeological items, as well as more recent items from everyday Jewish life. We saw parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls and there was a scale model of ancient Jerusalem. Look how big the temple was!
On Sunday, we went to Yad Vishem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum. We had to go in one at a time because they don’t allow children (I wouldn’t have taken Noah in anyway. He has learned the joy of screaming in echo-y places.) The museum documented the history of oppression of the Jews before and during World War II. Its main purpose is to educate people in hopes that no such holocaust will happen again. Outside in the garden is the Path of the Righteous, where trees are planted as a memorial to families and individuals who hid Jews or helped them escape from the Nazis, thereby risking their own lives. There was a plaque for the Danish Resistance, a group in Denmark that mobilized the entire country and helped almost all Danish Jews escape to Sweden. I know its a kids’ book, but if you have never read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, you should.
Then we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Some of the olive trees are so old that they were probably there when Jesus was praying in the garden the night he was arrested. It is located on the Mount of Olives, just outside the city walls. Despite being on a main road and other tourists being around, it was still quite peaceful. Nearby was a tomb that was probably more likely to be where Jesus had been buried. The doorways are really short, and you do have to stoop down to go inside, just like John (John 20:5).
Israel was truly an amazing experience, and if you ever get the opportunity to go, I highly recommend it! I hope you have all enjoyed following along with our trip.