DAY 11 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
This second full day here in Jerusalem was another perfect weather day, with temps around 80. We started by driving a short distance to the Western Wall. We were able to spend some time here at the most holy place in Judaism. At 8:30 we entered the Rabbinical Tunnels (“Western Wall Tunnels”) where we walked about 350 yards along this western retaining wall of Herod’s expanded Temple Mount. We saw huge blocks of stone, one the size of a bus weighing up to 600 tons. It made us recall what the disciples said about the “massive stones” of the Temple (Mark 13, Luke 21).
At the end of the tour, we walked back to the Jewish Quarter. Here we enjoyed listening to Moshe, an Orthodox Jew who talked about his Jewish faith. It was quite interesting.
Leaving the Old City through the Zion’s Gate, we boarded the bus again and drove to the Mt. of Olives. Here we participated in the Temple Mount Sifting Project. We carefully sifted through the debris from the Temple Mount in hopes of finding something important. Steve found a piece of pottery from the 1st Temple Period, while Lili found a part of a pipe from the Ottoman Period. Everyone found pieces of pottery from other periods, glass, bones, and mosaic stones. It was really neat to “handle” portions of items from the Temple Mount!
In the afternoon we drove to West Jerusalem to the Israel Museum. After grabbing a quick bite for lunch here, we saw a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem of what it looked like in 70 AD prior to its destruction by the Romans. We connected the dots between what Jerusalem looked like and the Gospel stories (i.e. Temple courts, Pools of Bethesda, Siloam Pool, Herod’s Palace, etc…).
We ended the day by visiting by visiting Yad Vashem. This is Israel’s Holocaust Museum & Memorial. Shlomo shared his personal story of his family. He lost 12 family members to the Nazis regime in Poland. We also saw the many trees dedicated to the Righteous Gentiles (Oscar Schindler, Corrie ten Boom, etc…), and the Children’s Memorial. On our own we walked through the museum on our own.
We returned to the hotel for dinner (skirting around the traffic because of the Shimon Peres funeral viewing at the Kinesset – his funeral is tomorrow, with many world leaders attending) and a free evening. It was another great day here in Jerusalem!
DAY 12 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30: CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SOUTHERN WALL EXCAVATIONS, FREE AFTERNOON, GARDEN TOMB