Day 8 - Jerusalem

Three more days in Israel and then the flight home on Day 11 (and into Day 12). On Day 8 we crossed the checkpoint out of Bethlehem and headed to the Old City of Jerusalem. There is much more to Jerusalem, but this was a one week trip, so we stuck to the Old City, the part within the walls.

We entered the city through the Dung Gate. I don't know why it is called that. We had to go through quite a bit of security at this gate and into the Western Wall Plaza. Later in the day I visited all of the other gates, and left through two of them, and this was the only one with security screening. It is the closest gate to the temple mount, which is considered holy in itself, but also contains numerous other holy areas, such as the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall. So it is more closely guarded.

First up was the Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall. This is the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which is the foundation Herod built for the temple. There is nothing left of the temple. The Western Wall is a Jewish holy site and is segregated, with a side for women and one for men. It is also a popular site for bar (and bat) mitzvahs--one was in progress while we were there.

From here we went onto the Temple Mount. There are only certain hours of the day that non-Muslims can visit there. Many Jews do not visit it, because it is forbidden. It is too sacred and the original location of the Holy of Holies is unknown.

 Several groups of Muslim men were meeting there.
 Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the southern end.
Dome of the Rock.

We visited the Pool of Bethesda. I can tell I was getting tired of ruins, because I didn't take very good pictures of it.

Then we began a walk along the Via Dolorosa.

The path ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a huge complex of churches built over the site it is believed that Jesus was crucified and buried.

 Area of the crucifixion

Area of the tomb.

We had the rest of the afternoon to explore the Old City, which was wonderful--the most free time we had had the whole trip. If you looked at the link of the map above, you might have noticed that the city is divided into different quarters (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Armenian). It was great to have time to explore these.

Kerri and I headed toward the Zion Gate in the Jewish Quarter, because I wanted to see Oskar Schindler's tomb. We found the graveyard but not the tomb. We stopped on the way at the Chamber of the Holocaust, a somber, sobering tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

We headed back in the Zion Gate and decided to eat some pizza at this place. He served New York style pizza.

Then we roamed the streets of the market.

We saw Jaffa Gate and left at Damascus Gate, where we met up with the rest of the group.

From here we went to the Garden Tomb, which is a British-held area that is quite similar to the area where Christ was believed to have been crucified. Regardless of which site is the actual site, the Garden Tomb area does provide a better picture of what this area would have been like, since it is not covered up with churches.

We also had a devotional time and shared communion at this site. I noticed  my Baptistness kicking in here, where we typically have the Lord's Supper every three months or so, maybe once a month if you are really radical. This was two times in three days! Dr. Michelson's devotional focus shifted a bit this time, but I did not write down what he spoke about and now it's gone. Just being in this place, in the garden, was meaningful enough on it's own. This site made it easier to picture the crucifixion site, tomb, and garden area, and it was more meaningful and solemn to me than at those at the church.

Our final stop for the night was at the Church of the Nazarene in East Jerusalem, where we met up with Tim. He is one of the missionaries working there, not only with the church services but also an aquaponics research project. He and his friends are hoping to develop a system that will help people living in the refuge settlements grow their own food on their roofs. Aquaponics is similar to hydroponics, but instead of adding chemicals to the water for the nutrients the plants need, this water has fish living in it. Their waste provides the nutrients.

I also discovered that Baptist missionaries work next door, operating the Jerusalem Prayer Center. It was closed by this time of day though so I did not get to meet anyone there.

This was the end of our day's tour, so we headed back to the hotel for dinner.

Up next:
Day 9 Samaria
Day 10 The Judean Wilderness
Day 11 Going Home