DAY 11 – TUESDAY, MAY 15: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER & SHORASHIM, CHURCH OF ST. PETER GALLICANTU, YAD VASHEM
(Theme of the day: Facing the “walls” of life)
This morning was an early start here in Jerusalem. With breakfast at 6 a.m., we departed shortly after 6:30 because of the early reservations made for the Western Wall Tunnels. We enjoyed the sun and perfect temps (mid 70s) once again. The day would also be a lighter day, with some free time.
Western Wall Tunnels
Visiting the Western Wall was special. Here we saw many Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered at the Wall for morning prayers. In three groups, we saw more than just this part of the exposed Wall. We entered into the Western Wall Tunnels and walked parallel to this western retaining wall about 400 yards. Here we saw huge stones on the Temple placed by Herod the Great, a project he began in 20 BC. One stone, called the Master Course, weighs several hundred tons. For sure, the Temple was the most extensive building project in the ancient near eastern world at this time! Up to the time of Jesus, the temple was already in its 46th year of building (John 2).
Peter Gallicantu Church
After returning to the Wall for more time here, we walked out of the Dung Gate and boarded our bus for the short drive up the hill to the Peter Gallicantu Church. This is the traditional location for the house of Caiphias, the High Priest who bound Jesus (Luke 22). After visiting the church, we descended further down the slope. The most impressive thing to see here was the stone steps dating to the 2nd Temple period. These set of steps would have connected the upper city with the lower city of Jerusalem. Jesus would have used these steps! We also saw a model of Byzantine Jerusalem.
From here we drove to western Jerusalem to Israel’s Holocaust Museum & Memorial called Yad Vashem. We first visited the Valley of the Communities, highlighting all the cities and towns throughout Europe effected by the Nazis. Both Eli and Shlomo shared their personal stories.
In the visitor center we ate lunch, followed by walking through both the Childrens’ Memorial (1.5 million children were killed), and the museum itself. Along all the pathways are trees planted in memory of the righteous Gentiles who saved Jews during WWII. Certainly, this place is a difficult yet important place to visit.
Old City/Free Time
Leaving Yad Vashem, we drove back to the hotel. Many on both buses got off at the Jaffa Gate for some free time in the Old City. Some walked on the ramparts (Turkish walls of the city), gaining a unique perspective of the city and people below.
Returned to the hotel for dinner and a free evening.
DAY 12 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 16: TEMPLE MOUNT, SHORASHIM, TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT, ISRAEL MUSEUM, FREE TIME
(Theme: We finds hidden treasure in God)by