I woke up around 9:30 am this morning, I looked at the clock on my phone and got up. I knew I wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum and the Mount of Olives today, I needed to get moving early to squeeze it all in. I left my hostel around 10:30 am, bought some pastries for breakfast at the bakery next door and got on the tram headed for Israel's Holocaust Museum.
I arrived at the museum a little after 11 am, I gave myself 2 hours to go through the exhibits at the museum, not enough time to read everything, but enough time to see the museum. I would have spent more time at Israel's Holocaust Museum, but the Mount of Olives tour began at 2 pm, at the other end of the light rail line, in Jerusalem's Old City.
The museum is located on a beautiful hill in Jerusalem, there were tour buses at the museum, but it was not as crowded as the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. After passing through the information center, I was alone walking into the building, no big crowds, just me walking past security to enter the museum. The security guard told me no picture taking in the museum as I walked by, there was no line, no crowd, just me entering the museum.
|Lynnae outside Israel's Holocaust Musem|
I had to pace myself at the Holocaust Museum, it was a museum where I could spend a lot of time, reading the stories, they were stories that drew me in, made me want to read them. There was also historical information about the Nazis, the progression to the final solution. Reading the history, I always wonder, how could people let this happen, I have had conversations about this with others. How can people see horrific crimes being committed and remain passive or become active participants. That is a question for another blog, there are sociological theories that have attempted to answer these questions, I will not get into them here.
I left the Holocaust Museum a little after 1 pm to catch the light rail to Jaffa Square, go to the ATM, then head to the Jaffa Gate, the meeting point for the Mount of Olives tour. The first ATM I tried did not work, today is Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and Jerusalem is observant, many things had closed by early afternoon. I found another working ATM, I was in West Jerusalem, my impression was the old city shutdown for Shabbat, I was wrong, West Jerusalem shuts down too.
I got to the meeting point about 5 minutes before the tour was scheduled to begin. I paid the 95 shekels, saw someone from my hostel, chatted with her for a minute, then our group went to wait for the shuttle bus that would transport us to the Mount of Olives. Our tour of the Mount of Olives began at the Chapel of the Ascension, the point where it is believed Jesus ascended to heaven.
|The Chapel of the Ascension|
|Slab believed to contain Jesus' Foot print inside the Chapel of the Ascension|
|Me at sight where it is believed Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer|
|Lynnae with the Lord's Prayer in Japanese|
|Me looking at Jerusalem's Old City from the Mount of Olives|
|Jewish Cemetery Mount of Olives|
Next we went to Hotrvs Gethsemane, the garden where according to the Gospels, Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before Jesus' crucifixion.
We went to the Church of All Nations after visiting the Garden of Gethsemane. This church contains the rock where it is believed Jesus prayed before his arrest, we were able to go up to the rock and touch it because mass was not in session. People surrounded the rock praying, and taking pictures.
|Garden of Gethsemane|
|Me touching the rock where it is believed Jesus prayed before his arrest|
|Me entering door to Mary's Tomb|
A couple of women staying at my hostel mentioned they were going to the Shabbat dinner, after talking to them I decided to go. There were not many choices for food in Jerusalem tonight, it is Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and Jerusalem has a large observant Jewish population, the city shuts down. The light rail was not running after our tour ended around 5 pm, I think we saw the last train pass us on our walk back to the hostel. Then the light rail signs said not in service. Almost all the shops along the street to our hostel were closed too. I found one open and bought a snickers bar and some cashews to hold me over until dinner time at 8 pm. Jerusalem became a Ghost town on Friday afternoon in observance of the Shabbat.
I bought my 35 shekel ticket to the Shabbat dinner when I returned to the hostel. The hostel has a communal Shabbat dinner, the attendees, help prepare the food, and clean up after the meal. My job was cutting the garlic, something that has never been a favorite task, but it was not bad, I was surrounded by people preparing food for our Shabbat dinner. We heard the Shabbat siren sound on the streets of Jerusalem a little before 7 pm indicating Shabbat had officially began, the siren sounded for about a minute it seemed.
|Me chopping Garlic for the Shabbat Dinner|
|Part of the Shabbat Dinner Spread|
|Me and my Shabbat Dinner Plate|
The Shabbat dinner was a delicious, fun, and educational experience. I enjoyed it from the beginning to end and was glad I happened to be in Jerusalem to observe Shabbat, learn more about Jewish culture and meet new people. I had a full day, it is time for me to go to sleep. Tomorrow I have a full day outside Jerusalem, I go to the West Bank, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Ramallah.
Jerusalem Day 3 Photo Album