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Jerusalem what do you have in store for us?


View Shalom Israel - 2020 on Ils1976's travel map.

My alarm clock went off at 7 AM, just as it was supposed to do, but OMG, why couldn't I find the OFF button? It seemed to take forever to let it shut up and although I was awake, I still felt like a zombie when I finally got out of bed and fled into the shower. The hot water felt so good and as soon as I was dressed and arrived at the breakfast area, I was glad to see that I wasn't the only one feeling not that great!

9 AM we left the building and as the sun was shining very bright, I was so thankful that I could wear sunglasses. It looked like I had a hangover, but I guess I still wasn't that awake. I must admit that it didn't take long coz as we stepped inside the bus, we got to know our new guide Michel as well and once again I felt a bit proud that he also was a Belgian Jew, born and raised in Antwerp. So strange to be honest, I was really flabbergasted. It seemed that every Jew born in Belgium comes from Antwerp. Of course this is not true and I find it amazing that although born in one country, they all seem to find their way here to Israel.

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Today we were going to stay a whole day in the vicinity of the city and the first thing on our program was a visit to the Knesset. I thought it was a weird thing to do to give a Parliament building its own name and although I am not that interested in politics, if I had to believe our oh so funny guide Michel, it has the same problem as we do in Belgium. Too many parties not agreeing about one thing and whenever there is no government, the economy of the country does better than with a government. I began to understand why I love Israel so much! :)

On the opposite of the Knesset there's a huge Menorah, which seems to fit in the home of a giant, but was designed by a German Jew who moved to Britain and ultimately it became a gift from the UK to Israel. On the Menorah there are several stories told mainly about the Jewish history as well as religious things such as the Ten Commandments.

From here it was but a short ride towards the most impressive museum I have ever visited. As Michel guides us in some sort of garden which is lovingly called Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations, he tells a story about a family taken by the Nazis and who later would be executed in a concentration camp. All but one member of the family remains because she was too far from home to celebrate Shabbat with the rest of the family. This meant her saving in the end. As the story prolongs, he tells about a young man visiting Poland and to be more precise Auschwitz only to find the names of his aunts, uncle and grandparents on a wall . It turned out that Michel was that young man and his mother was the only survivor. It made him leave home and start a whole new life in Israel.

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Visiting the museum for several hours made a great impact on me, so I can understand when visiting such a place as Auschwitz and finding the names of family members on a wall at the age of 18 you go crazy. I can completely relate to this and understand why one person wants a whole new life away from all the bad memories.

I have always been fascinated with WWII and especially the German impact of it all, not realizing that while visiting this museum it answered some of my questions I had for a while. This museum is really to the point and the testimonies of the survivors really gets to you. I certainly hope that nothing like this repeats itself, but while we are now fighting against an invisible enemy like the Corona Virus, I am not sure that it will never happen again. Maybe this time it is mother Nature against us humans, but what comes next!??

As we had time to have a quick lunch, which most of the group just skipped all together, we were more than ready to tackle the rest of the program.

Once back in the bus, Boas drove us to the Zion Gate where we said our goodbyes for a couple of hours and Michel took us to Mount Zion where we first visited the Abbey of the Dormition, which according to Christian tradition is the place where the Virgin Mary died and ascended into heaven.

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It was such a lovely church that I got an instant Dan Brown vibe. The whole atmosphere was tense and I can't explain it but I really felt at ease here. This vibe was still hanging around especially when we went inside the crypt and I saw the life-size statue of Mary in death. This was Dan Brown for sure, it even gave me goosebumps. This was really a special church!

Once outside again, the sun was still shining bright and we slowly walked through several cobbled streets only to arrive at the Room of the Last Supper or The Cenacle which is considered to be one of the holiest sites in Christianity. It is here that Jesus gave wine and bread to his apostels and some even assume that the Last Supper was a Seder, a ritual meal held in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Whatever the case, I don't really mind, it was not that significant to me except for the view you get once you leave the room and arrive at the rooftop of the building. It was mind-blowing, especially the view on the Abbey of Dormition.

I could have easily stayed longer but we still had a bit of sightseeing to do. Once downstairs again we had a quick peek at King David's tomb. If he really is buried there or not, that is not really determined but many people think so and his heroism is still a stronghold for many. It is said that Jesus is a descendant of David, so maybe that is one of the reasons he got so famous!

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As we arrived at the Zion gate again, we walked straight in the Armenian quarter and from here we went to The Cardo, which was back in the days or better during the Ancient Roman period the main street running from north to south, lined with a row of stone columns on each side, which even till this day is visible. Going from one quarter to another we arrived in the Jewish quarter and as we got a bit of free time to do some "shopping" in The Cards or nowadays called souk, we met up with each other around 4 PM.

Some of us are great shoppers, others are more gazing at all the things being sold just like me and I was more than glad we got out of the souk and back into the open air and sun. Walking through the Jewish quarter, we met up with Boas again at the Jaffa gate about an hour later.

Arriving back at the hotel half an hour later, we all relaxed a bit in our room till it was time for dinner and needless to say it became kind of a habit to explore the bar and its delicious fluids hours later. In the beginning of the trip we were but with 6 people, but now a couple of days later almost our entire group sticked together, it was quite amazing to see how it clicked with most of us.

This time however I said "adieu" to the group at 10 PM and went straight to bed. I was tired as hell and wanted a goodnights rest as we were going to tackle another day in Jerusalem tomorrow and I wanted to be ready for it!

Posted by Ils1976 06:01 Archived in Israel Tagged churches buildings monument city sightseeing sights

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Comments

Thanks for your great story, Ils! I know I have to pay a visit to Jerusalem some day...

by Vic_IV

I'm thoroughly enjoying seeing Jerusalem through your eyes. The personal experiences of your guide and his family must really have brought that museum to life for you

by ToonSarah

You sure should Victor ... it is a beautiful city!

by Ils1976

It was Sarah, I still could see the tears in his eyes. What will remain in my brain for the rest of my life is that after he visited the concentration camp he could finally understand his father and the fact that he couldn't throw something away and although it smelled sometimes because of food that was rotten, he still kept it and said it might save a life. That is heartbreaking and I guess you have to be a survivor of the war in order to understand it. You can be sure that by the end of the visit tears came in our eyes as well ... it is an eye opening that's for sure! :(

by Ils1976

That reminds me of an old lady we know here in London, who co-founded a charity with my husband which gets surplus food redistributed to charities. She was in some sort of detention camp during the war and was so hungry she would put pebbles in her mouth to fool her stomach that she was eating, which is what motivated her to help hungry people now.

by ToonSarah

so sad to hear about that. I must admit that I heard someone do this as well during the war, I guess I am glad that we didn't have to deal with all of this ... it is nice to hear that she found a good project to help with and I can completely understand her. We can't comprehend what these people went thru and to be honest I hope I will never do either. At this moment Covid-19 is severe enough and we are just at home or at work, nothing more, nothing less. Hope it all will be over soon though!

by Ils1976

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