University of Haifa International School Student Blog
I want to tell you about my trip to the Holy land of Jerusalem! The school had planned a trip to Jerusalem. When I went to sign up for the trip, the deadline had already passed. I was very sad, almost to the point of tears. I was told that if I came to the bus stop Sunday morning there might be room on the charter bus to Jerusalem. I thought about this option but didn’t think I would be able to manage being turned down at the bus stop. So, I decided to go alone. It was the spur of the moment decision. I checked the bus schedules, booked a room at a cheap hostel and packed my bags. I left after my Thursday afternoon class, Media in War and Crisis.
On the way to Jerusalem I could see the full moon in the sky, it was very sweet. When I got off the bus I asked the first person I saw for directions to the bus that would take me to my hostel. He asked me where I was from and welcomed me to Jerusalem. It was late, around 7 or 8, so I took the bus directly to my hostel, checked in, ate and took rest.
I woke at 4:30 the next morning, ate breakfast and made my way to the Old City. The Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall built during the time of the Ottoman Empire. The hostel that I stayed at was just outside of the Damascus Gate. I walked to Jaffa Gate and made my way down King David Street to The Wall. When I entered the place of The Wall I became aware of the spiritual significance of The Wall. I went down to The Wall and prayed. It reminded me of the Holy places that I had visited in India. I spent a lot of time at The Wall that morning. I took a tour that led along parts of The Wall that were being excavated. We went to a place where there had been an entrance to the area of the Temple. There were water cisterns and bathing pools that had been excavated. I learned a lot about the history of the Temple. It was very educational; there were a lot of things that I didn’t know about the temple. Why it was destroyed, who destroyed it, who built it the first time, the second time? I asked a lot of questions.
I spent most of the day on Friday wandering through the Old City. I went to the different districts, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter. There were a group of pilgrims traveling down Via de La Rosa. I followed them to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Church was so old, there were stone steps going up to the second level of the Church. The steps had been traveled on so many times that they were concave from the wear of pilgrim’s steps. The tour guide was in Spanish so, it wasn’t until Sunday, when I met up with the group from the University of Haifa that I was able to have the significant places in the Church pointed out to me and explained. There is the place where Jesus was crucified, the place where they took his body down and bathed it. The feeling of mourning for the life of Jesus was very strong in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We also went down to the cave where Jesus’ body was placed after he was bathed. There was a lot of beautiful art decorating the Church, a lot of history.
I also visited the Armenian Quarter. There were many shops displaying Armenian art work on tiles and plates. It was some of the most interesting art that I have seen. Very unique designs painted on to plates with religious symbols of the Cross and writing in Armenian. An interesting note, while going along the road I saw a poster recognizing and informing about the Turkish Genocide against the Armenians. The poster was in a place with little walking room and a lot of traffic. My reading of the poster was interrupted by passing cars such that I had to keep moving into an alcove in the wall along the road. After moving in and out of the alcove for about 10 minutes I was finally able to complete the reading of the poster. It ended with the acknowledgement that the Turkish Government has yet to recognize the genocide. I found a curious relationship between the out of the way location of the poster and the denial of the incident by those indirectly responsible. None the less I enjoyed walking through the Armenian Quarter; there was a lot of beautiful art work and churches. Some of the Museums were closed so I’m going to have to go back.
Outside of the places of religious significance the Old City was like a large market, the different Quarters distinguished by the items that were being sold.
I spent the next day doing homework, all day. I had to finish my scholarships applications to have them turned in by the 15th. I was basically at the hostel for the whole day until the evening, when I went with some other guests from the hostel to the Old City to watch the sunset. We arrived late but the time was enjoyable none the less. Running through the old city, it was a lot of fun. Later that evening we went to Mt. Zion Church. This is where the last supper was and where King David’s tomb is. When we got there that night everything was closed but, in the morning I met the group from Haifa there.
The next day I met with the group and received the guided tour of the Old City. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, The Golden Menorah, The Wall, and an old Synagogue that had been destroyed and rebuilt 3 times (actually destroyed only twice, rebuilt three times).
In summary Jerusalem was sweet, and I can’t wait to go back!