February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 8 and 9

DAY 8 – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16: SOUTHERN WALL EXCAVATIONS, CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER, A FEW FREE HOURS, GARDEN TOMB

Today is our last full day here in Jerusalem. The weather was perfect, with sun and highs in the mid 60s. We would encounter the best of both OT and NT Jerusalem!

Southern wall Excavations

Massive Herodian stones

Some of the massive stones of the Temple (Mark 13)

Leaving again shortly after 7:30, our first destination was the southern wall excavations. The Temple of Herod began in 20 BC and according to John 2, 46 years were already invested in this massive building project. Here we saw massive Herodian stones, some weighing hundreds of tons! We also saw the Herodian street. Jesus would have walked on this stone pavement! At the southern end, we ascended the steps that would have led into the Temple. We read from many passages that placed Jesus and others using these steps (e.g. Luke 2, Mark 13, Luke 18, Acts 2, etc…) While sitting on these steps we took some time to reflect about the specialness of this place and the life and ministry of Jesus here!

City of David – David’s Palace, Warren’s Shaft, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Siloam Pool, Drainage Channel

Hezekiah's tunnel

Inside Hezekiah’s Tunnel at the “meeting point”

Walking south out of the Dung Gate, we entered the excavations of the City of David. After seeing a 3-D movie, we began to explore the area. This was where David built a palace after he conquered the city from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5). Walking down through Warren’s Shaft (a series of tunnels and a 52 foot shaft), we made out way down to the Gihon Spring. This spring served as the water source for the city since its beginning. Over half in the group walked through the “wet” Hezekiah’s Tunnel while the others walked through the “dry” earlier Canaanite tunnel. Both were great experiences!!

Siloam pool steps

The very stone steps of the Siloam Pool (John 9)

Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloam where we read the story of the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9) in “dramatic fashion.” From here, some walked back up to the southern excavations through the drainage channel discovered just a few years ago. Others bussed to the Zion’s Gate and walked to the Jewish Quarter.

“Moshe” & the Jewish Quarter

About noon we enjoyed a conversation with Moshe in the Jewish Quarter. He talked about his Jewish faith in the context of our Christian faith. He and his brother own a store called Shorashim. Following lunch on our own, we enjoyed a few hours of free time (for shopping, exploring, and people-watching).

Garden Tomb

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Our last visit was to the Garden Tomb. This location serves as an alternative site for Christ’s crucifixion and burial. While we worship the person and not the place, what is important is that “He is Risen!” We enjoyed a time of worship & Communion here. We ended the service with an “A-men” and three Swedish “horah’s!” 🙂

We drove back to the hotel for dinner and free evening. It was a great last day here in Jerusalem!

DAY 9 – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17: FLIGHT HOME

The plans are to drive to the airport for our late morning flight to Toronto and then back home. Keep us in your prayers as we fly home!

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Day 13 Trip Summary – January 2018 14 Day Israel Tour

DAY 13 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 26: CITY OF DAVID, SOUTHERN EXCAVATIONS, A FEW FREE HOURS, GARDEN TOMB

Today was our last day in Jerusalem and the last day of this trip. While it was once again cold, at least the predicted rain didn’t come until we finished the day! What a blessing!

City of David

Hezekiah's Tunnel, City of David

Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long, chiseled from bedrock between 705-701 BC).

After breakfast, check-out, and loading the bus in preparation for tonight’s flight home, we drove to the City of David. This small 11 acre piece of land was first taken by David (2 Samuel 5).

We would spend over 2 hours here seeing the excavations. We saw David’s palace, Jebusite and Israelite fortification walls and houses. Further down the slope we walked through Warren’s Shaft. This series of tunnels leads to the massive tower that protected the source of water for the city, the Gihon Spring. Solomon was made king here (1 Kings 1). It was also here where a number in the group walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long that still flow with water, see 2 Kings 19-20 and 2 Chronicles 32) while others walked through the dry Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Siloam Pool where we read from John 9 in “dramatic” fashion!

Southern Excavations

Temple Steps

The steps of the Temple in Jerusalem

After we all loaded the bus, a number in the group were dropped off at the new Gavati excavations where we walked to the SW corner of the Temple further north through the northern end of the drainage channel just recently discovered a few years ago. Meeting at the SW corner of the Temple (Robinson’s Arch), we saw massive stones lying on the Herodian street. This was a stone street for sure used by Jesus! On the southern steps of the Temple we remembered passages like Luke 2 and 18, Mark 13, and Acts 2 (among others). Jesus would have used these steps many times.

Walking up to the Jewish Quarter for lunch and a few hours of free time, we enjoyed shopping and exploring on our own. Some went to Oscar Schindler’s grave on Mt. Zion. Some also climbed the 178 steps up the tower of the Lutheran Church in the heart of the Christian Quarter. What a view from there!

Garden Tomb

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb

Our last experience of the tour was to visit the Garden Tomb. This is another possible location for the crucifixion and burial tomb of Jesus. Here we enjoyed a brief time of worship & Communion. It was a special time together!

Flight Home

As we said goodbye to Jerusalem, we drove west through heavy rain (it held off until now) to Abu Gosh for our Farewell Dinner. The meal was excellent (lamb chops!) and we enjoyed a time of reviewing the trip and sharing stories! Continuing driving west, we arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport for our night-flight home.

At present… we are through the ticketing and passport procedures and are waiting at the gate for our non-stop flight back to Newark and then to our respective states.

DAY 14 – SATURDAY, JANUARY 27: ARRIVE BACK IN THE U.S.A.

We plan to arrive back in the States early Saturday morning. Praise be to God for a life-changing experience!

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Oct-Nov 2017 Egypt-Jordan-Israel Tour Update – Day 12

DAY 12: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9: Today was our first day in Jerusalem and it was a good one. The weather was a bit cooler but with very enjoyable partly sunny skies. Temps were in the low 70s. City of David Leaving the hotel around 7:30, we drove directly to the City of David excavations. First, we enjoyed a view and briefing of the area from an observation tower. Looking east we saw the Mt. Of Olives. Looking north was the Temple Mount (the location of the 1st and 2nd temples). Looking south we saw the ancient site of Jerusalem as described by the Bible. Following a short video, we walked down through the excavations. We saw David’s palace (2 Samuel … Continue reading

September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 8

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10:

Today would be another sunny day, with highs in the 90s (a bit above normal for Jerusalem this time of year). Pulling out of the hotel once again shortly after 7:30, we drove to the excavations of the City of David.

City of David

The City of David

The City of David was previously called Jebus. According to the Bible, David conquered the city (2 Sam. 5). We saw many of the ruins here (walls towers, David’s fortress) dating to biblical times. Walking through Warren’s Shaft we came to the water source of there city, the Gihon Spring. Here is also where some in the group entered Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a 1,720 foot water tunnel carved out of the bedrock. Some in the group walked through the earlier “dry” Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Siloam Pool where we heard John 9 read in dramatic fashion. Here we celebrated that Jesus continues to open our eyes and hearts, allowing us to see Him.

From here some in the group walked up the Herodian drainage channel up to the south wall excavations of Herod’s Temple, while others took the bus up to this area. Meeting at the SW corner of the Temple, we stood amazed at the remarkable building project of Herod’s temple. Even the disciples made this comment (Mark 13:1-2). Finally, we walked to the southern steps of the Temple, the primary way for commoners to enter the Temple in Jesus’ day. We remembered the stories of many who would have used there steps (Jesus, disciples, Simeon, Peter, Paul, and the apostles, etc…). Before leaving this area, we also entered the Western Wall area.

HEzekiah's tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel

This afternoon we drove south to the area of Bethlehem. First, we enjoyed lunch outside the Shepherds’ Fields before descending down into a cave. Here we considered the role of the shepherds in Jesus’ day and the amazement of God’s redemptive plan! It was “just at the right time that God sent His Son. (Gal. 4:4).” We enjoyed singing a few Christmas carols in the cave as well as in the small chapel.

Further east is Herodium. This was where Herod the Great was buried. The view from the top of this “palace-fortress” was good. We could see Jerusalem to the north, the Dead Sea and Judea Desert to the east, and Bethlehem to the west. We left the site by descending down through the cistern system. We also saw where Herod was buried.

Herodium

Herodium

Our last stop of the day was an olive wood factory and store in Bethlehem. We joined not only seeing how the olive wood items are made, but also some shopping here.

We drove back to the hotel for our farewell dinner. Nearly half in the group are flying home tonight back to the States. Shlomo and David drove these folks to the Ben Gurion Airport for their night-flight home. The other half of the group will enjoy a four more days here in Israel.

DAY 9 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: ARRIVAL BACK IN THE U.S.A OR BEGINNING OF THE OPTIONAL EXTENSION – SHILOH AND HIKE IN WADI QELT/JUDEAN DESERT

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Hezekiah’s Tunnel Explained

One of the most exciting “adventures” to experience in Jerusalem is to walk through what is known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel. It is also called the Siloah Tunnel

Hezekiah's Tunnel

A cut-away of the City of David revealing the path of Hezekiah’s Tunnel

In a few places, the Bible mentions about the chiseling of this tunnel (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chr. 32, Isaiah 36-37). In the wider context, in 705 King Sennacherib from Assyria took reign. In preparation for his southern advance, Hezekiah carved out of the bedrock a 1,720 foot tunnel. The purpose for doing so was to allow the waters from the Gihon Spring (the source of water for the City of David) to flow south to the inside part of the city. So with two team of rock cutters starting at opposite ends, the tunnel was carved.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel in the City of David. The tunnel is 1,720 feet long and was built at the end of the 8th century BC.

We even have an inscription (the Siloam Inscription) that tells us how it was precisely done. This inscription was discovered in 1880 and still today is housed on display in the Istanbul Museum. It describes how the the two teams of rock cutters met in the middle of the tunnel. They literally heard each other’s picks and axes until they broke through. Amazing!

The video below is yet another one that features Dr. Ronnie Reich. He is an Israeli archaeologist who excavated over 10 years at the City of David. He shares some interesting perspectives on the tunnel.

Also, a shorter video was produced by the City of David Foundation.

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April-May 2017 Israel-Egypt Tour Update: Day 10

DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 3:

Today was our last day here in Jerusalem. We started the day by reading from Psalm 137 as we drove to the City of David excavations. The day would be another perfect day, with sun and temps around 80.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

At the “meeting point” in Hezekiah’s Tunnel, City of David, Jerusalem

Arriving at the City of David about 8 a.m., we first ascended the observation tower, viewing the city from various directions. To the north we saw the Temple Mount and the excavations of the Ophel. To the east is the Mt. of Olives. To the west is what is called Mt. Zion today. And to the south are the excavations of the City of David. We could see part of David’s palace and Israelite ruins.

Pool of Siloam

The Pool of Siloam (John 9)

After watching a 3-D movie about the history of OT Jerusalem, we walked down through the excavations. We read from 2 Samuel 5 (David conquering the city from the Jebusites). We also recalled the story of King Hezekiah, the Assyrian siege on the city in 701 BC, and the carving of the water tunnel (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chr. 32, and Isaiah 36-37).

Continuing through Warren’s Shaft (what was once believed to be the “water shaft” Joab climbed in order to take the Jebusite city), we arrived at the Gihon Spring. This still flows today from ancient times. Part of the group walked through the 1,720 foot Hezekiah’s Tunnel, while others took the Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Siloam Pool where we read John 9 in dramatic fashion!

Herodian Street

Herodian Street at the SW corner of the Temple Mount

We ended the morning at the southern wall excavations of the 2nd Temple. Some in the group walked up to this SW corner of the Temple through the Herodian drainage channel. Up at this SW corner, we saw the massive stones toppled down by the Romans in 70 AD. They are still resting on the Herodian street that Jesus must have walked on! At the southern end of the temple are the temple steps. Sitting on these steps we recalled how many people used these steps to enter the Temple in the Gospels, including Jesus Himself (Luke 2 & 18, Mark 13, John 6, Acts 2 & 4, etc…).

Walking up to the Jewish Quarter, we enjoyed a talk with Moshe, owner of Shorashim and an Orthodox Jew who talked about his faith.

The Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

We also enjoyed a time for lunch, shopping, exploring, and people-watching. At 3:15 we walked out of the Zion’s Gate and bussed to the Garden Tomb. Here we had a tour of the place, including the suggested tomb used by Jesus. Following the tour, we shared worship and Communion together.

Returning to our hotel to freshen up, we drove to the Olives & Fish restaurant for our farewell “last supper” dinner. Following dinner, those flying home later tonight were driven to the airport, while those going to Sinai & Egypt tomorrow walked back to the hotel.

It was a wonderful Israel trip!

DAY 11 – THURSDAY, MAY 4: ARRIVE HOME OR DRIVE TO SINAI DESERT IN EGYPT.

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Biblical Israel & Jordan Tour, March 2017 – Day 12 Summary

DAY 12 – FRIDAY, MARCH 24: 

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel in the City of David. The tunnel is 1,720 feet long and was built at the end of the 8th century BC.

Today was our last day of our tour and our final day in Jerusalem. This last day would again provide almost perfect weather.

After loading up the bus with our luggage, we drove to the City of David. Here we heard the story of David (2 Samuel 5) conquering the city from the Jebusites, and the story of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 36-37). After seeing a movie about these stories from the Bible, we walked through the ruins dating from various times of the Old Testament. Descending down the slope of this ancient city, we walked through Warren’s Shaft down to the Gihon Spring, the water source of the city. Some in the group walked through the “wet” Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long) while others walked through the now “dry” Canaanite Tunnel. Both groups merged at the Pool of Siloam where we read John 9 in dramatic form!

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

From here some bussed back up to the South Wall Excavations while others walked up the Herodian drainage channel underneath the Roman street that extended southward from the Temple. At the SW corner of the Temple we saw the pinnacle of the Temple. On the southern steps we recalled all the people in the New Testament who used these steps to enter the Temple. This included Jesus, His disciples, Peter and the rest of the Apostles. We recalled the stories of Luke 2, Luke 19, John 10, Acts 2,3 and 5, and others.

From here we had a few hours of free time. Most walked to the Jewish Quarter where we enjoyed lunch and some shopping. It was fun watching people pass through this area.

Walking out of the Zion’s Gate, we met our bus and drove to the Garden Tomb. Here we enjoyed a visit of the suggested place of crucifixion as well as the suggested tomb of Christ. We shared in a time of brief worship, Scripture, and Communion as well.

9-11 Memorial

The 9-11 Memorial in Jerusalem

Leaving the Garden Tomb we drove back to the hotel to freshen up for our night flight home. On the way, we stopped at the 9-11 Memorial just outside of Jerusalem.  Continuing from here we had our farewell dinner in Abu Gosh. Continuing from here we arrived at the airport where we checked in.

(Note: At the time of this post, we just passed through the normal passport and security procedures, we are now awaiting boarding our flight home. Pictures will be added later of this last day)

DAY 13 – SATURDAY, MARCH 25: ARRIVE HOME

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January 2017 Pastors Israel Tour – Day 9

DAY 9 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 31:

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Today was our last day of the tour. The weather was partly sunny in the morning but overcast with rain by the afternoon. Leaving at 8 a.m., we drove to the north side of the Old City to the Garden Tomb. This location serves as the alternative place for the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus. After touring the beautiful grounds here, we enjoyed a time of worship and communion together. We read from John 19 and 20. We all enjoyed Pastor Don’s song he wrote!

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Inside Hezekiah’s Tunnel at the “meeting point.”

From here we boarded the bus and drove to the City of David. This was where Old Testament Jerusalem as located. The city was captured by David from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5). We saw some of the excavations here, including David’s palace. Walking through Warren’s Shaft (originally thought to be the “water shaft” through which David infiltrated the city), we arrived at the huge water stone tower and the Gihon Spring, the source of water for this city since its beginning. Here we walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. This is a 1,720 foot tunnel cut out of bedrock. It’s mentioned in 2 Kings 19-20 and 2 Chronicles 32 (also Isaiah 8:6 and 36-37). Some in the group walked the “dry” Canaanite tunnel. It was an amazing experience! With both groups converging at the Pool of Siloam, we read John 9 in “dramatic fashion” at the steps of this ancient pool. Jesus sent the man-born-blind here to wash his eyes.

Our last archaeological area to visit was the south wall excavations of the 2nd Temple. To get there, some in the group walked up through the Herodian drainage channel that lead up to the SW corner of the Temple. Others bussed there. The SW corner of the Temple was most likely where Jesus was tempted. It was also the “place of trumpeting” according to the inscription found here. We also could see huge stones of the Temple that were toppled by the Romans in 70 AD. Walking over to the southern steps of the Temple, this was where Jesus, the disciples, and the apostles entered the Temple. We remembered the passages that recorded the many who used these steps (Luke 2, 19, and 21; Mark 12, 13; John 10; Acts 2,3, and 5).

Herodian street in Jerusalem

The Herodian Street at the SW corner of the Jerusalem Temple

Walking to the Jewish Quarter for a late lunch on our own, we enjoyed some free time in the mid-afternoon. We then met the bus outside Zion’s Gate again, and returned to the hotel to freshen up.

Following our farewell dinner at a nearby restaurant (Olives & Fish), we bussed to the airport for our night flight home.

** Note: At present, we are at the airport now awaiting our flight. We land early Wednesday morning back in the States. This will be the last post until we get home.

 

DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1: U.S.A.

We arrive back in the U.S.A.

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January 2017 Israel Tour – Day 13

DAY 13 – SUNDAY, JANUARY 22:

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel in the City of David. The tunnel is 1,720 feet long and was built at the end of the 8th century BC.

Today was a great last day here in Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. The sun was full, with cool temps in the low 50s. Leaving the hotel at 7:30 again, our first stop was nearby – the City of David. Upon arriving we enjoyed a view from an observation tower. Looking north we could see where the temples of Solomon and Herod once stood. Looking east across the Kidron Valley we could see the Arab village of Silwan. To the south was where the city of Jebus was located. David conquered this city (2 Samuel 5) and then built a palace here.

Siloam Pool

The steps of the Pool of Siloam (John 9)

After seeing a 3-D video, we walked down through the excavations. We saw ruins dating to the time of the Canaanites through the time of Hezekiah. We also walked through Warren’s Shaft (once believed to be the “shaft” through which Joab and his men infiltrated the Jebusite city. Finally, we descended all the way down to the water source of the city, the Gihon Spring. Here, some walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 36-37). This still flows with “gently-flowing water” (Is. 8:6) about knee deep. It is 1,720 feet long. We saw the “meeting point” in the middle of this tunnel where the two team of rock-cutters met (according to the Siloam Inscription). The others in the group walked through the earlier Canaanite tunnel. Today, this is a dry tunnel that runs south along the slope of the city. At the southern end of the City of David both groups convened at the Pool of Siloam. Here we read John 9 about the blind man who was healed by Jesus.

Robinsons Arch

The SW corner of the 2nd Temple and “Robinson’s Arch.

In the late morning, we visited the “south wall excavations.” To get there, some in the group walked up through the drainage tunnel that was built underneath the Herodian street. At the SW corner of the Temple at Robinson’s Arch, we saw here Jesus as tempted (the pinnacle). We also walked up the very southern steps of the Temple, the same ones used by Jesus, the disciples, and the apostles. Here we recalled the many stories that happened in the Temple (Luke 2, 18, 21; Mark 13; John 7, Acts 2, etc…). From here we walked to the Jewish Quarter for lunch on our own.

Leaving the Old City through the Zion’s Gate, we drove to Yad Vashem (which means a “place of memorial and a name” taken from Isaiah 56:5). This is Israel’s Holocaust Museum. We first walked through the Valley of the Communities before we heard Shlomo’s personal story about losing 12 family members in Poland during WWII. We also saw the Children’s Memorial as well as the museum itself. Walking through on our own, it was quite moving and sad.

Yad Vashem

The Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

We returned back to the hotel for our farewell dinner. After a time of sharing, some in the group were driven to the airport for their flight home. Others are planning to fly home tomorrow morning.

DAY 14 – MONDAY, JANUARY 23: FLIGHT HOME

Some in the group flew home last night, while others fly home in the morning.

It was a wonderful life-changing trip!

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Oct-Nov 2016 Israel Tour – Day 11

DAY 11- THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10 

garden tomb jerusalem

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Today was our last day here in Jerusalem. With full sun and perfect temps again (70s), we left our hotel around 7:45. Our first stop was the Garden Tomb. This is an relatively new (late 1800s) alternative site for Christ’s crucifixion and burial. It is a beautiful place located just north of the Old City and is operated by British believers. After seeing the proposed place of crucifixion as well as the tomb of Christ, we enjoyed a time of worship and communion together.

Leaving from here, we drove back to the southern end of the Old City where we walked into the Dung Gate. Here we visited the Southwall Excavations of the Herodian Temple. The huge stones from the Temple that were toppled by the Romans in 70 AD were piled high. We also walked on the actual Roman street that Jesus would have walked on as well. Also, this was where the pinnacle of the Temple was (the SW corner). What was left of Robinson’s Arch (named after the early explorer who discovered it in 1838) could be seen. This was the main entry for priests into the Temple during Jesus’ day. We also walked over to the southern steps of the Temple. We remembered the many references and stories that took place in the Temple (Luke 1; John 2, 10; Mark 13; Acts 2,3 & 5).

temple steps jerusalem

The steps of the Herodian / 2nd Temple in Jerusalem

From here we walked down to the City of David excavations. We first saw a 15 “3-D” movie before seeing some of the ruins. These date from the time of the Jebusites to the Nehemiah. David was the one who conquered the city (2 Samuel 5). It was also Hezekiah who expanded the city to the western hill and carved out a 1,720 foot water tunnel during the time of the Assyrian siege of the city by Sennacherib (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chr. 32, Isaiah 36-37). We also saw David’s palace!

Continuing further down the eastern slope of the city, we walked through Warren’s Shaft and down to the Gihon Spring. This was where Solomon was made king! Splitting into two groups here, some walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel while others walk through the older Canaanite tunnel. Converging at the Pool of Siloam, we read from John 9 bout the blind man healed by Jesus here!

steps of siloam pool

Sitting on the steps of the Siloam Pool (John 9)

Accessing the Herodian drainage channel here, some walked back up to the SW corner of the Temple while others bussed to the Zion’s Gate. We all enjoyed a few hours of free time. Most took care of final shopping in the Jewish Quarter while others visited new sites (the Upper Room). We also saw many Bar Mitzvah celebrations!

Back at the hotel, we enjoyed our farewell dinner. A few joined the optional walk on the nearby Promenade.

(Note:Later tonight we plan to wake up at 2 a.m. in order to drive to Tel Aviv for our flight back home.)

DAY 12 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11 – FLIGHT HOME

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