Friday, January 2, 2009

The Old Jerusalem

I'm finally able to complete the posts on my trip to Israel. These are the photos from Jerusalem, the serene and the chaotic. Our first view of the old city (and the tombs in the foregound) was from the Mt of Olives. The Dome of the Rock dominated the scene with its pure gold dome, standing on the place where the last Temple stood. There is nothing left of this Temple except the supporting wall of the mount on which it stood. It is now called the "Western Wall" or "Wailing Wall". In addition to quiet petitions being inserted in the Wall, there are also noisy and happy Bar Mitzvahs being celebrated here.
One of my favorite spots is the Garden of Gethsamane, full of old Olive trees. Like at all historic sites, there is an ornate church here. I preferred staying outdoors. We next went to Mt Zion where there are many commemorative sites, like the church commemorating Peter's denial of Jesus, the church where Mary, the mother of Jesus "fell asleep", the Upper Room, King David's tomb.
On the second day of our stay in Jerusalem, we went on a walking tour of the city, of course beginning with a visit to the Dome of the Rock. As there was really no Christian or Jewish edifice to see here, the guides kept us standing there for some time, with long historical comments. It is actually a calm and spacious place, blessed by warm breezes on that day.
We had a lovely Jewish meal in the Kardo restaurant and then embarked on our walk of the Via Dolorosa in reverse, first visiting the site of the final 4 stations, the church of the Holy Sepulchre. What a strange place, with all it's different congregations having their own chapels and paraphernalia. No, I preferred the "Garden Tomb", although probably not the place where Jesus lay. Thanking God that no tomb holds the remains of Jesus, we had a service of Holy Communion here, on this Sabbath day in Jerusalem. Ada and and I tried to go back to the Old City in the afternoon via the Jaffa Gate. I don't even have any photos...the crush was just unbelieveable and we hurried back to the hotel to pack our bags!

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