DAY 9 – MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11: WESTERN WALL & TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER, HERODIAN HOUSE, SHORASHIM, RAMPART WALK, YAD VASHEM
Today was our second full day here in Jerusalem. Enjoying perfect weather again (sun and 70s), we connected to both biblical and modern history.
Our first stop following breakfast was the Western Wall. This wall served as one of the four retaining walls that Herod the Great used in 20 BC to expand the Temple platform. This wall is a wall seen by Jesus and His disciples! We entered the Western Wall Tunnels and walked parallel to this wall. Some of the stones weighted 100s of tons! How they were placed with such precision is remarkable! No wonder the disciples commented, “What massive stones” as they leaving the Temple from the southern end. We also enjoyed walking down to the Wall ourselves. Many ultra Orthodox men and women were there for their morning prayers.
From the Western Wall (the Kotel in Hebrew) we walked up to the heart of the Jewish Quarter. We entered the Herodian Mansion to see amazing ruins from 2,000 years ago. This multi-level house was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. Some suggest that a house like this could have been the dwelling of a important Jewish leader or even high priest (e.g. Caiaphas) in the days of Jesus! We also gathered here to listen to Moshe, an Orthodox Jew, share with us. He shared about His Jewish faith and perspectives. It was both very interesting and enlightening!
“The Western Wall this morning was special for me because of what this wall represents! It was a wall seen by Jesus and His disciples. It’s amazing how it was built and large the stones were!” -Tour Member-
Rampart Walk/Free TIme
The next 1.5 hours was free time. 33 in the group enjoyed walking on a small section of the Rampart Wall from Jaffa Gate to Zion’s Gate. This wall was built by the Turk Suleiman the Great in 1537-44. Walking on this wall gave us a unique perspective of the Old City below. Others explored the Old City on their own. We all also grabbed a bite to eat for lunch.
We walked from the Jewish Quarter out of the Zion’s Gate where the two buses picked us up. We drove to Yad Vashem (a “place/memorial and a name” from Isaiah 56:5), Israel’s Holocaust Memorial & Museum. Both our guides shared their own personal stories that were both touching and moving. Like many Israelis today, they both lost family members at the hands of the Nazi Germans during WWII. At Yad Vashem we walked through the Children’s Memorial, and Valley of the Communities, and the Avenue of the Gentiles. There were 10,000 Gentiles who helped or aided in some way Jews all over Europe! Trees are planted in their memory, including trees dedicated to Cori ten Boom and Oscar Schindler. On our own we walked through the museum as well.
We drove back to our hotels from here and enjoyed dinner and a free evening or rest and relaxation.
DAY 10 – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12: THE “SHEPHELAH” – LOWLANDS OF JUDAH: GEZER, BETH SHEMESH, QEIYAFA or AZEKAH, BEIT GUVRIN, JERUSALEM