DAY 12 – THURSDAY, JANUARY 25: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM
Today was a colder day, but with just a little rain (the predicted rain came during the night). We were also glad that those who were not feeling well and stayed back yesterday were able to join us today.
Western Wall Tunnels
Leaving just after 7:15 this morning and reading John 2 (a reference to the Temple being built over 46 years) as we left the hotel, we arrived at the Western Wall. Before our walk in the Western Wall Tunnels, we had time to go to the Wall and pray. Many ultra Orthodox were there as well for morning prayers.
The walk through the tunnels was fascinating! Herod’s Temple project (that he began in 20 BC) was an incredible feat! We saw some stones that weighed several hundred tons! We walked the entire distance of this western retaining wall of the Temple.
Jewish Quarter – Cardo, Herodian House, Shorashim
Exiting the tunnel, we walked to the Jewish Quarter. Here we saw the Cardo (the main north-south street of the city). It dates to the 2nd century AD. We also saw the very impressive 1st century ruins of the Herodian Mansion. This was a massive house destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Close by we met an Orthodox Jew named Moshe. He and his brother (Dov) own a store called Shorashim. Moshe shared about his Jewish faith. We also had the chance to ask him questions. After this interesting conversation, we enjoyed lunch in the Jewish Quarter.
Walking out of the Old City through the Zion’s Gate, we drove to the Israel Museum. Here we saw three things: A 1:50 model of 2nd Temple Jerusalem, the Shrine of the Book (where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were displayed), and the Archaeological Museum. Here we saw some “highlights” of artifacts found here in Israel related to the Bible.
We ended the day at Israel’s Holocaust Museum & Memorial – Yad Vashem. We first walked through the Valley of the Communities where Shlomo shared his family story. He lost 12 family members in Vilna, Poland. We then walked through the Children’s Memorial and the museum itself. It was quite sobering.
We returned to the hotel for dinner and an optional walk to Ben Yehuda to experience some more “modern” Israeli life and shopping.