To get to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, we joined the Beim Harim bus tour.
Our first stop was called the Wall of Life. It was a monument that lists all of the benefactors of the Hebrew University. It was at a special place on top of Mount Scopus where an overview of the entire Jerusalem and Mount Olives can be seen. Our guide was pointing at all the mosques, synagogues, and churches that we could spot from where we were, emphasising why Jerusalem is aptly called the “City of Peace”. In fact, there was even a spot wherein you could take a photo that would already include a Muslim mosque, a Jewish synagogue, and a Christian church.
We entered Jerusalem from the Zion Gate. We were greeted by a sign that commemorates the Armenian Genocide. Then we proceeded to the market that was divided into sections. It’s interesting to see all kinds of Star of David pendants at the Jewish quarters, Turkish eye charms in all shapes and sizes at the Muslim section, and crosses in different metals at the Christian compound.
The most interesting part for us as Christians, of course, would be seeing and walking through the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) and visiting the Holy Sepulchre Church that houses the empty tomb of Jesus. The Via Dolorosa is the route that Jesus was said to have taken between his condemnation by Pontius Pilate and his Crucifixion and burial. We also went down a small church underground run by Catholic nuns. They said that it was the closest to the actual ground level that Jesus walked on. There was a spot along the road where Simon was said to have helped Jesus carry His cross. And just a few feet away from it was a dent in the wall to commemorate where Jesus was said to have laid His hand on and rested for a while.
At the Holy Sepulchre, we knelt and kissed the table where the purification of Jesus was said to have commenced. We also saw a part of the actual rock of Golgotha. We were able to touch the stone where Jesus was said to have been crucified and we got to see His empty tomb. The entire experience was so surreal, it was hard to absorb everything at that moment.
My heart was just bursting with wonder, excitement, praise, and awe all at the same time. I’ll never read the Bible the same way again after this experience.
It was Hannukah the day that we were in Jerusalem. And so when we went to see the Wailing Wall, a lot of Jews were there to celebrate Hannukah and I guess at the same time, lament the loss of the temple and place written prayers within the cracks of the wall. The men were separated from the women. And the men had to wear a skull cap called yamakah or kippah. Even if you are not practising Judaism or are not a Jew, you are welcomed to visit the wall and observe. The DHB went really close to the wall with his kippah on.
The tour ended with a meal of kebabs and shawarmas.