About a year ago my friend Donna told me she and one of her cousins, George, were planning a trip to Israel and asked me if I wanted to come along. Naturally being someone who enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures, I said yes without hesitation. After all the planning, the time had finally come and we finally touched down in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Arriving in the early evening, we collected our bags and rental car and drove to our first destination in East Jerusalem. The next morning, we woke up super early to head to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. For the record, I will state I am not a religious person. I believe in being a good person and karma and some higher being but I don’t subscribe to any organized religion. Having said that, even I must admit this place is a BIG deal. Like a really big deal. This place holds 2 of the holiest sites in all of Christianity. The first being where Jesus was crucified and the other being the empty tomb where they say Jesus was buried and resurrected.
After leaving the church, we walked around the city some, taking in some of the sights.
We also visited the Tower of David which provided some nice views of the city.
The next morning, we made our way to the Western Wall (also called the Wailing Wall). The Western Wall is considered holy due to its connection to the Temple Mount. Because of the Temple Mount entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, though the holiest site in the Jewish faith lies behind it.
After spending time at the Western Wall, we visited the Dome of the Rock (Islamic Shrine), which is also on Temple Mount. The site’s great significance for Muslims derives from traditions connecting it to the creation of the world and to the belief that the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey to heaven started from the rock at the center of the structure. Since we are not Muslim, we were not able to enter but we walked around the grounds, taking in all of the beautiful detail of this site.
Next, we grabbed a taxi to the Mount of Olives. There is a small church at the top of Mount of Olives which is supposedly where Jesus ascended up to heaven. It also offers spectacular views of the entire city.
We ended our time in Jerusalem with a visit to Vad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It has extensive exhibits documenting the horror that happened. Photography isn’t permitted (which I didn’t realize) so I will only show a couple shots below out of respect.
After our incredible time in Jerusalem, we set off for a trip to Jordan. Stay tuned for that blog entry!