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    • Day 3

      Ein Erlebnis: Eine rauschende orientalis

      September 15, 2022 in Israel ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

      Nach Zeit in der Grabeskirche und an der Klagemauer machten wir uns mit einigen Schülerinnen und Schülern abends noch auf ins jüdische Viertel in der Altstadt. Auf dem Weg erlebten wir ausgelassene Schülerinnen und Schüler der jüdischen Thora-Schulen, die in großer Zahl singend und tanzend Abschied vor dem jüdischen Neujahrsfest, Rosh ha‘Shana, feierten. Für uns Deutsche, die nicht gewohnt sind, stolz singend und tanzend die Nationalfahnen zu schwenken - bis auf Zeiten der EM oder WM :-) - war das eine neue Erfahrung.

      Im Anschluss erlebten wir im Vorbeigehen noch ein weiteres Highlight: Eine große Hochzeit! Im Orient dauert eine orientalische Hochzeit in der Regel mehrere Tage und mehrere hundert Gäste sind geladen. Wir erinnern uns an das erste Wunder Jesu, der sechs Krüge Wasser à 100 Liter in guten Wein verwandelte, damit das rauschende Fest nicht abbricht und die Bautleute und die Gäste weiter feiern.
      Wir durften auf unserer Fahrt eine großartige Hochzeit in einem besonderen Restaurant an der Stadtmauer in Jerusalem miterleben, mit toller Hochzeitstafel, Kleidung der Festgesellschaft, israelischer Musik und ausgelassenem Tanz! Leben in Fülle! Tagen der Freude - auch für uns- in Jerusalem!

      Herzliche Grüße, Andreas
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    • Day 74

      Hugs in Israel

      October 30, 2022 in Israel ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

      The boys have been doing such a great job of posting that if feels like my posts are unnecessary. However, when on a 6hr flight to Marrakech… The last few weeks have been sort of magical. We have all enjoyed slowing down, having a homebase, a park a few blocks away, a grocery shop whose aisles we learned, an amazing smoothie guy who knows our orders when he sees us and watches over our kids as they go and come from the park on their own, a favorite falafel place, a great produce stand where the cucumbers are crunchy, the grapes are sweet, and the dates are soft, and a regular path to the beach that the boys can navigate on their own. We had a wonderful time just living and being in Tel Aviv with short trips to explore the country, including the Golan Heights, Dead Sea, Masada, Ein Gedi, Haifa, Safed, and staying on two kibbutzes, which were some of our favorites.

      We are so lucky to have my grandpa’s cousins, Micha and Ofra, organize multiple get togethers where we got to see and meet our Israeli family. We use the term family loosely as many are 3rd, 4th or 5th cousins, many times removed, but it was all ‘mishpucha.’ I enjoyed reconnecting with cousins with whom I raced up Masada as a teen and having him now teach me and my kids how to make wine, having a Sukkot dinner and meeting a cousin who happens to be a patent attorney who led a CAR-T patent litigation I followed closely, having pizza at a home surrounded by lush vegetation and mature plantings that 23 years ago was new construction surrounded by dessert, and watching our children connect and play with their Israeli cousins and form their own connections.

      The 5 weeks in Israel was capped off with an incredible hug from home when Gila, my co-mom and the boys nanny for the first 6+ years of their lives came to visit us in Tel Aviv. We spend most of the time in the shuk and on the beach, soaking up the sun and the Gila love. Words can’t express how much visits with loved ones fill our buckets.
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    • Day 14

      Yad Vashem - Holocaust Museum

      December 15, 2022 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

      A small group of us journeyed on the tram to Yad Vashem. These incredible grounds host not just the museum but gardens, mini exhibitions and shops. The museum was moving, heartbreaking and at times confronting. A must see place that reminds us to never forget, and to never let history repeat.Read more

    • Day 15

      Jerusalem Museum & Shrine of the Book

      December 16, 2022 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

      In this smaller museum we looked over a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem during the Second-Temple Period. This was incredible to see the sheer size of the Temple compared to the rest of the buildings. The scale model allows you to see how all the different parts of the Old City were connected and how the people navigated around.

      Following this we visited the Book of the Shrine exhibit. Here we saw replicas of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The most intact one they found is from approximately 7m long and dated at around 100BCE.
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    • Day 338

      Jerusalem, Israel

      April 11, 2023 in Israel ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

      Jerusalem is a complicated city. We knew this before coming here, but it's still more complicated than we expected. It didn't help that within a week before our visit, tensions started flaring. A raid on an ultra-sared Mosque, Al-Aqsa, caused rocket attacks on Israel for the first time in 10 years. Also four deaths from terror attacks in fairly close proximity (one in Tel Aviv and a family of 3 killed near northern Jordan in the West Bank).

      Jerusalem's old town, is divided into 4 quarters. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Armenian Christians (mentioned in a previous post). We did not venture into the Muslim quarter much because of high tensions during the week we were there. Our visit coincided with Muslim Ramadan, Jewish Passover, and Christian Easter. This was part of the reason for elevated tensions. We are really good at timing things.

      The most complicated site in the city has to be Temple Mount as it is important to all of the 3 religions that dominate the city. First, Temple Mount is where Abraham, was asked to sacrifice his son to God. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in this event, and believe it happened on Temple Mount. Second, King Solomon built a temple around this site. It is considered to be the Holiest site of Judaism. The famous Western Wall or Wailing Wall is the only thing that remains of this temple. Thirdly, Temple Mount, is the site where the Muslim prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven in 621 AD. This makes it the 3rd holiest site in Islam. Today, Muslims control the top of Temple Mount. Built on top of it are the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the shrine of the Dome of the Rock. Israeli forces handle security checkpoints before entering the area, but Jordanian religious authority Waqf controls the site itself. The Jewish population has been able to create a small sanctuary up there. Some of the conservative Jewish population has done up to start praying for God to command them to create a 3rd Temple on this hill. This would probably cause serious disruption to, if not involving destroying the Muslims sites already there. This is often a source of conflict between Israelis and Muslims primarily from Palestine and Jordan, but from other neighboring states as well.

      Besides all that, in certain parts you'd never know there was a conflict at all. Our AirBnB was in a Jewish neighborhood and it was often a party with shops and traditional Jewish music playing at night.
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    • Day 45

      Shabbat Shalom

      June 10, 2023 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

      We really did have a restful start to Shabbat. After a very long day yesterday which ended at nearly 3am today, we both slept in - Loss more so than me as I had to wake her at 11am.

      Being Shabbat, things were very quiet anyway. While Loss was still sleeping I went in search of a mini market to buy some milk. There are several near us but none were open, so a ‘long black’ it was :)
      We eventually made our way down Ben Yehuda Street and found that our favourite non-Kosher restaurant (Zuni) was open so we indulged in a real lunch. Fortified by this and feeling much refreshed after our sleep, we kept walking to the Jaffa Gate via the Mamilla centre. Our one and only plan was to do The Tower of David / Kishle museum which was surprisingly open on Shabbat - I had seen this online before coming.
      Being a bit obssessed with Herod the Great and his building works, I was pretty keen to see this.
      It’s a brand new excavation and exhibition and I was particularly interested to see the excavated base of the Phasael tower which is part of Herod’s palace complex right by the Jaffa gate and has just recently been opened to the public.
      On the way down Hillel street we noted that there is also a new, large museum where we remembered a construction site last time we were here. We saw it was named ‘The Museum of Tolerance’ as we approached it and weren’t quite sure what that meant. However, in the forecourt area is a display of all the Jewish Nobel Prize winners and a brief description of their field of expertise.
      This is exactly what Darren Tappouras was speaking of at the combined day on 14 May (which we had streamed while travelling in the UK) and I have included a video of it.

      Continuing on, its always a thrill to enter the Old City and we immediately found the entrance to the Kishle display just around to the right of the Jaffa gate. The audiovisual displays and artefacts are really excellent and we spent a long time going through these, As there was no signage to the contrary and the staff were unconcerned, we photographed and videoed each one. We then moved outside to the courtyard area (just adjacent to where the night time sound and light shows take place) and found all the relevant excavated walls from Herod’s Palace.
      Eventually we were being chased out by the staff as we had stayed beyond closing time but there is still more to see! Our friendly guy on the Jaffa gate exit said he would let us sneak back in tomorrow to finish this off without having to pay for another entrance fee - as long as he was on duty. We shall see.

      It was then time for a bit of a wander down through the Arab markets; up onto the roof of the markets where all four quarters of the old city can be seen; Western Wall Plaza, which was just starting to come to life as Shabbat was drawing to a close; a bit of a wander around the Jewish Quarter and then back towards the new city still in search of a super (or mini) market that was open. We found one - but they had already sold out of milk.
      No ingredients for self catering tonight, so its off to the YMCA restaurant (opposite the King David hotel) for dinner which we had enjoyed last time when we had stayed there.
      Alas, we arrived at 8.10pm and the kitchen had just closed so we decided we would head down to the Mamilla Centre to find somewhere to eat.
      This plan changed again when we spied the Supermarket across the road had now opened, so we bought some overpriced ingredients for dinner and returned to the apartment.

      Our restful start to Shabbat ended up being quite busy with about 13km of walking which is probably pretty standard for a day in Jerusalem.
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    • Day 50

      A bang and not a whimper

      June 15, 2023 in Israel ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

      Whenever we holiday, we always like to go out with a bang rather than a whimper and today was a good example of that.
      The weather was fine but slightly cooler and we revisited some familiar places. We also stumbled across a great new way to do Hezekiah’s tunnel if you’re on a budget.

      We commenced by trying out the light rail system in preparation for tomorrow when we hope to catch the light rail to Jerusalem central station then catch the fast train direct to BenGurion airport. We knew we needed to buy physical tickets for the light rail and we didn’t want to be stumbling around tomorrow with a full complement of luggage trying to work out the unfamiliar ticketing system.
      It was just as well we did.
      After several attempts to purchase a ticket at 3 different machines on Jaffa street we eventually got a physical card (a bit like an Opal Card for Sydney people) loaded with two single fares. We thought we had read that 2 people could share one card (and simply debit it twice when boarding) but when we did board the next tram to Damascus Gate station we found that it would only debit one fare . . . .so one of us was riding ticketless . . . again. Later re-reading the fine print we discovered that you can indeed share a single ticket on all forms of public transport EXCEPT the light rail.

      We got off at Damascus Gate and thankfully no ticket inspectors ‘detained us for further questioning’. We endeavoured to purchase another card at Damascus Gate station but none of the machines would cooperate. Eventually we surmised that they had run out of the physical cards in the machine so it was impossible to buy a valid fare by this method.
      We walked into the old city through the Damascus Gate, through the market street where we bought some delicious looking baklava at a fraction of the price it is in a ‘regular’ shop and then turned left on Via Dolorosa to get to the Lion Gate. The purpose of this was because Loss hadn’t been to the Lion Gate before and it had of course featured prominently in our ‘Ammunition Hill’ experience yesterday as being the gate through which the Old City was taken in 1967.
      We stood outside the gate and discussed this, noting that most of the gunfire damage inflicted on the gate in 1967 has now been repaired.
      We then took a few steps back inside the gate to visit St. Anne’s Church in the grounds of which are the remains of the Pool of Bethesda. We had visited this before but it was good to see some new information and signage which made the layout of the site much easier to understand.
      We continued back along Via Dolorosa with the sole intention of enjoying coffee and apple strudel at the Austrian Hospice. However, a sign on the side of the Ecce Homo Pilgrim House caught my eye indicating that parts of the Strouthion Pool and the rockscarp of the Antonia fortress could be observed inside. I had heard about such a site but wasn’t sure of its location - now I knew.
      Entry required a few shekels in cash which I didn’t have, but the Australian lady on the reception area kindly let us go in anyway. The archaeological aspects were surprisingly good and quite well placarded and we enjoyed piecing this together with our understanding of Herod’s Temple and its associated structures. We had seen the Antonia Fortress rockscarp from the Temple Mount a few days ago and part of the Strouthion Pool on the Western Wall Tunnels tour from a few years ago. Now we were seeing the opposite side of these same features.
      Caffeine and strudel were calling and we were not to be sidetracked again. The Austrian Hospice is a wonderfully tranquil haven just a few metres away from the noise and bustle of the streets below and we rested here for a while, taking the opportunity to do our Bible readings in a most enjoyable location. The rooftop view from the Hospice is also quite good and we enjoyed picking out many of the features that we had visited over the past 5 days from this vantage point.

      Next up was a retracing of steps down the Via Dolorosa, back through the Lion’s Gate, down across the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives. We accidentally discovered a new stairway adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane site that leads right up to the crest of the Mount which was much safer and somewhat easier than dodging cars flying up the narrow, winding road.

      We lingered here for a while taking in that view of which you never tire. We decided we would head down and walk the Kidron Valley as they have installed a new path that runs down its length. As we made our way down we noted some excellent signage with Bible references to events that had taken place in the Kidron.

      Unexpectedly, we came across a structure that looked like a large open Bedouin tent with seats, couches and refreshments. We initially didn’t have any intention of engaging with the proprietors but the young Israeli man told us it was a new feature of the City of David company. Looking about, it did have appropriate signage so we let him speak on.
      For a small fee of 15 shekels (equivalent to just over AUD$6) we would be taken on a tour down the rest of the Kidron and then given access to a ‘side entrance’ into Hezekiah’s tunnel to either do the Wet or Dry tunnel as we chose. Additionally they would provide a courtesy shuttle ride for us back up the valley if we wished - and the absolute clincher was that they made us a free cup of mint tea in the pleasantly cool tent while I paid via the online facility!
      Loss got to ride in a sidesaddle sort of arrangement on the gopher driven by our ‘guide’ who hailed from Silwan and spoke not a word of English - but no matter, because he had a magic phone that opened locked gates in our path and then a magic key that opened the ‘secret’ gates where Hezekiah’s tunnel can be accessed from the side of the Kidron Valley.
      It was quite disorienting to approach Hezekiah’s tunnel in this way.
      We stood there for a few minutes getting our bearings, said goodbye to our Arab guide, allowed some groups to pass and then we found that the normally packed Gihon spring fortifications area was completely empty!
      We spent about half an hour going back around all this area, taking photos and watching the excellent audiovisual demonstration that helps make it all very understandable. Being able to move around this area freely with no one else there except 2 Israeli information people who also answered a few of our questions was just amazing.
      Now we started to hear voices coming down from above so it was time to go.
      As we had not come with shoes or clothing to do the ‘wet’ tunnel, we opted for the dry (Canaanite) tunnel which neither of us had done before.
      This was also a bonus, as right with us was a knowledgeable guide and his sole client who filled in some background information on this tunnel and how it was used for irrigation during David’s time.
      Once exiting the ‘dry’ tunnel and as we were still within the bounds of the City of David facility we were able to go and investigate some more of the archeological features in this lower area of the site, including walls from the first temple period.
      We decided to walk back up to the starting point of the City of David rather than right down to the Siloam Pool, so as it turned out we did a full City of David experience starting in the Kidron Valley for exactly half the cost of a ‘regular’ City of David ticket.

      So, there’s a tip for anyone travelling on a budget! This operation has only been going for five months and as far as we were concerned, it was a winner.

      Our final activity for the day was to visit ‘The Time Elevator’ which is a motion-ride experience that takes you through the history of Jerusalem in a novel way. It had moved from its previous location up near Jerusalem Tower hotel and is now down in the Mamilla Centre. We got there just in time for the last show of the day at 5.20pm - and as we were literally the only ones in the theatre they played the English soundtrack for us over the theatre speakers rather than having to listen to the translation through headphones.
      It was pretty much the same as we had remembered with a few added touches at the conclusion but I particularly enjoy the way they portray the scenes that involve Jeremiah and Zedekiah.
      We made our way back towards our unit with a detour to try to buy another Light Rail ticket in preparation for tomorrow’s trip. After 2 more unsuccessful attempts we finally got a machine to spit out a ticket.

      And the Damascus Gate baklava was very much enjoyed after dinner.

      So ends our Jerusalem visit. We didn’t visit many of the ‘classic’ sites because we had been to them before and were well familiar with them. What we did this time was to seek out new points of interest (e.g. Annas’ tomb) and to also spend more time at places that we had not had sufficient time to explore properly in past visits, at the same time enjoying the new archeological finds that have taken place since we last visited.

      It has been a wonderful 7 weeks. We have suffered no illness or injuries. The weather has been remarkably good and the experiences diverse and enriching. We have been truly blessed.

      It’s now time to head home to our ‘real’ life. May it be that we will be in Jerusalem again very soon when it is ‘made a praise in all the earth’.

      And thank you to all those who have followed this blog and for those who have contributed (and helped correct some entries) along the way over the past 50 days.
      Hopefully it has been informative and entertaining in equal measures.
      May God bless you all.
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    • Day 7


      August 25, 2023 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      2 fascinating sites in Nazareth.. the Church of St Joseph , like most of the sites her,built on top of layers of older churches,synagogues..there is a cave in the depths below this one where Joseph worked his trade (and no he apparently wasn't a carpenter but a stonemason hardly any trees there thousands of years ago!)..the 2nd is the Basilica of the Annunciation...where the angel announced to Mary she would become the mother of Jesus !! Amazing sites...all have new built on old built on Ancient! Never been in the slightest bit religious but do find it all fascinatingRead more

    • Day 7

      Jerusalem - Christliches Viertel

      October 25, 2019 in Israel ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

      Hauptpilgerort im christlichen Viertel (rosa eingezeichnet) ist die Grabeskirche, die im 4. Jahrhundert auf Wunsch des Kaisers Constantin erbaut wurde. Dem neuen Testament nach ist Christus hier gestorben und auferstanden, bzw. liegt er hier begraben. Der Stein, auf dem er vor seiner Beerdigung aufgebahrt wurde, ist zentral in der Kirche und wird von vielen sehr gläubigen Pilgern mit dem eigenen Körper oder mit mitgebrachten Kleidungsstücken berührt. Hunderte von Christen quälen sich die engen steilen Stufen herauf und herunter, um dem letzten Ort, an dem Jesus lebendig war, den Felsen Golgotha, zu huldigen.
      Weitere Hunderte stehen auch an, die angebliche Grabstätte zu besuchen.
      Ein sehr hoher Lärmpegel und die unglaubliche Enge bewegen uns dazu, diese Stätte schnell zu verlassen.
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    • Day 14

      En Kerem The Church of the Visitation

      February 15, 2022 in Israel ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

      En Kerem is the village where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. Elizabeth was Mary's cousin and mother of John the Baptist. This is where Mary went to visit her cousin. The church is built on the traditional site of Zechariah's summer home, likely where the cousins met.
      The 1st picture is the front of the church with the mosaic of Mary riding a donkey to see her cousin. The 2nd picture is the outside wall which is covered with the Magnificat in many languages. Tradition holds that this is where Mary offered this prayer.
      The 3rd and 4th picture are in the basement of the building. This is a vaulted chapel. In the 3rd picture are some of the mosaics of scenes related to the visit including Zechariah in the temple, the visit and Elizabeth and John hiding in the well.
      In the 4th picture is the altar and, to the right, is the well where Elizabeth and John are said to drink and to hide.
      The 5th picture is upstairs in the main church with its frescoes showing the council of Ephesus where Mary was declared Theotokos, the wedding at Cana and more.
      The last picture is of one of several garden around the site.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Jerusalem, Jérusalem, ירושלים

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