Visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem was very emotional, especially for our friend Sylvia. William and I had visited several of the Concentration Camps during our travels in Europe including Auschwitz, Dachau, and Ravensbruck. Visiting the Holocaust Museum brought full circle our better understanding and appreciation of the atrocities the Jewish People endured.
As you walk through the museum there are videos playing with individual stories emphasizing the experiences of the individual victims and survivor testimonies. Near the exit of the museum there is a Hall of Names. There were over 6 million victims of the Holocaust.
The most moving part of the Museum was the Children’s Museum. It is a tribute to the 1.5 million Jewish children that were murdered during the Holocaust. The museum has no lighting except for the candles burning for each victim. As you walk through the museum the names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background. This was built with the generous donation of Abe and Edita Spiegel, whose son Uziel was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of two and a half.
Thank you so much to Amy who provided the picture below from inside the Yad Vashem Children’s Holocaust Museum.
The next morning we would begin our exploration of Jerusalem at the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralyzed man.
The Church of St Anne is a Crusader period church best known for its remarkable acoustics. Amy led us in “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” and Buddy led us in “How Great Thou Art.” If you want an inspirational story about the song that Amy sang don’t forget to click on the Link above.
In the Old City we walked along the Via DoloRosa, the path that Jesus would have carried His cross to His crucifixion.
It was so inspiring and uplifting to be here in the Old City of Jerusalem. We even paused after lunch to sing and raise our hands to Him in “Hallelujah.”
We visited the Burnt House Museum which is an excavated house in the Jewish Quarter from the Second Temple period.
Just a few minutes from the Burnt House was the Western Wall. It is also referred to as the Wailing Wall which is sacred to the Jewish people. It is the only remains of the retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount. It is divided, one side for the men and the other side for the women. The men must cover their head while praying at the Wall. Below you can see Buddy preparing to pray at the Wailing Wall.
And here you can see Sylvia, with her prayer written and folded on paper to place in the crevices after she completed her prayer on the women’s side at the Wailing Wall.
Jewish law dictates that holy texts may not be destroyed, so, twice annually the notes are removed by workers who care for the site. These scraps of paper are then buried according to Jewish tradition.
Before ending our day in Jerusalem, we went underground on the Rabbis tunnel tour. Below is the massive stone forming the lower level of the Western Wall measuring almost 45 ft long and 11 ft high. It is estimated that the depth of the stone is about 9 ft and it is believed to be the heaviest stone in the world. All of the tunnel photos below are courtesy of Don Litton Photoworks
It was quite impressive to view so much more of the Western Wall than the 200 feet we visited in the Western Wall Plaza. The tunnel exposes the full length of the Western Wall which allows access to an additional 1600 feet of the Wall.
As we walked through the tunnel we saw women praying. Dr. Al told us that the women were praying at the closest point to the Holy of Holiest.
On our next day in Jerusalem we started our exploration at the House of David. During our visit to Tel Dan in Northern Israel we learned of the artifact there boasting of victory over the King of the House of David. This proved that King David from the Bible was a genuine historical figure and today we would see the excavation of his palace in Jerusalem. Below is a picture of that stele found at Tel Dan. It is actually housed at the Israel Museum now.
Before beginning our tour of The City of David we were delighted to watch a 3D movie about the history of Ancient Jerusalem and the City of David. Thank you Stephanie for such a cool pic!
The city of David is located outside the Old City Walls. The excavated site borders the Kidron Valley and offers a beautiful view of the Mount of Olives.
After touring the above ground ruins of the City of David we went underground through Hezekiah’s tunnel which lead to the Pool of Siloam. The pool was fed by the Gihon Spring in the City of David. This was a key purification place so multitudes of people would have witnessed Jesus’ miracle of healing a blind man here.
I can only believe that since David was renowned for his skill with the harp or lyre that is why it is a symbol here at the City of David.
Next we toured the House of Caiaphas, After being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was taken to the High Priest Caiaphas. He was held here and tortured in the dungeon at the lowest level of the House before being taken to Pilate the next day.
It was here that Peter would deny Christ three times before the rooster crowed twice.
Below our friend Eva is standing on the same ancient stones that Jesus would have walked on as he was brought to the House of the High Priest. Notice the Mount of Olives in the background.
It was hard to believe that we were actually walking on the streets of Jerusalem. We were overjoyed with excitement.
On the first floor of this building is David’s Tomb. And the Upper Room is where Jesus shared the Passover (Last Supper) with His disciples.
As we continued to explore the old city of Jerusalem, Shira and Dr. Al took us to the Southern Steps to the Temple, the main entrance to the Temple in the time of Jesus. There were also ritual baths for purification located here at the Southern Entrance.
After lunch we took a short ride outside of Jerusalem to Yad Hashmona. It is located on a hilltop and looks out over the beautiful valleys of Judah. Yad Hashmona is a unique community of Finnish Christian believers who live communally in a collective settlement. Here we would see a synagogue that was dismantled stone by stone and moved there by the Israel Antiquities Authority. It’s the only ancient Galilean synagogue outside the Galilee. There was also a watchtower that overlooked the valley.
Our guide Anne Bar-David showed us olive presses and wine presses and taught us how people would have lived during Jesus’ time.
To add just a little more fun to our day Moshe stopped the bus at The Elvis Inn, a cafe and souvenir shop where obviously the owner had a passion for the King. Of course both William and Buddy had to get their picture with Elvis in Israel.
Although I have no pictures to share of the Temple Institute Holy Temple Museum, this was a favorite site to many in our group. The Temple Institute is an organization in Israel focusing on establishing the Third Temple. The Museum displays Temple-ready sacred vessels created by the Institute, garments of the High Priest, and scale models of the Second Temple. The Golden Menorah stands in the Old City of Jerusalem and is also ready once the Temple is rebuilt.
Another favorite site where I have no pictures to share was the Friends of Zion Museum. At the Museum the focus was on the dream to restore the Jewish people to their homeland. It also tells the story of the many non-Jews that helped the Jewish people to realize this dream. Our visit here was beautifully depicted with exhibits and movies. A must see if you visit Jerusalem.
Our last day in Israel was probably the highlight of our trip. We started at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb where we had communion and saw the tomb where Jesus was buried and resurrected.
After leaving the Garden Tomb we went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and spent his final hours before being betrayed and arrested.
Words cannot express how thankful I am for the picture below captured by our friend Don.
After visiting and praying in the Garden we went to the Mount of Olives for a view of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
This was a beautiful ending to a journey through Israel that has definately changed our lives. We made many new friends on this trip and we will share memories along with them as we journey back to our homes. Thank you Dr. Reichman, Shira, and Moshe.