We had to rise and shine even earlier than usual to catch our first glimpse of the Western Wall—or Wailing Wall—in the Old City of Jerusalem. Part of the ancient wall that once surrounded the Temple courtyard, it remains a holy place of pilgrimage and prayer for devout Jews.
And then we entered the Temple Mount and beheld the golden Dome of the Rock, a Byzantine-era shrine. Here and there Muslim men were gathered in small groups to study the Qur’an, barely glancing our direction as we walked across the broad courtyard and snapped endless photos of the blue-and-white porcelain walls and the gold-covered dome.
Not sure how I imagined the Pool of Bethesda might look, but when we visited there next, I was surprised to see deeply hewn rock and a thin stream of water far below us. “Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” John 5:3
Midday found us at the Bible Lands Museum, where each ancient artifact was fully described including a passage of Scripture. I now have a much clearer picture of those household idols Rachel took from her father. No wonder she could sit on them: they were tiny, like miniature action figures! Since we couldn’t take photos, check out their website: http://www.blmj.org/en/index.php.
At the nearby Israeli Museum we saw the Shrine of the Book with one of the original Dead Sea Scrolls and a huge outdoor model of old Jerusalem.
Our sightseeing day ended at the Holocaust Memorial of Yad Vashem, which completely undid me. A series of paths guided us through rooms with artifacts and video interviews of survivors, their stories unfolding chronologically through the desperate days of World War II. The sense of loss was overwhelming, yet as we walked ever upward, we finally reached a glass wall with a green and peaceful view and sunlight streaming through the trees: “hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11