13.07.2012 - 13.07.2012
Unlike in Western Nations, the day of rest is not on Sunday in Israel. The Jewish day of rest begins at sundown on Friday and lasts until sundown on Saturday. This time is known as "Shabbat" - which means "the sabbath". On Shabbat, all stores are closed, all transportation stops, and the Jewish people rest.
For this reason, we had no day-camp on Friday and Saturday. I had Friday morning and afternoon all to myself to leave Tel Aviv and explore Israel. On our first availible Friday, Alex, a team member from Kiev, and I took a bus to the old city of Jerusalem.
The old city is divided into four quarters; the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. It seems like foreigners are scared to go into the Muslim Quarter because I rarely see tourists there. I, however, am my own tour guide and I go wherever I please. We were dropped off outside the Muslim Quarter, so that's where we began our Jerusalem Journey. We walked from Damascus Gate to Via Dolorosa, the street through which Jesus carried the cross. From there we walked into the Jewish Quarter and to the Western Wall, a remnant of a wall which surrounded the Temple's courtyard.
It is interesting to see Orthodox Jews praying at the wall, while Muslims pray in the Dome of the Rock Mosque on the other side. I wasn't allowed to go the mosque because it was Friday, the holy day for Muslims. Only Muslims get to go to the mosque on Fridays. The guards check whether you are a real Muslim by making you quote scripture from the Qur'an. I don't know any Qur'an scripture because I am a good Christian boy who only reads Bibles.
We walked out of the old city and into the City of David;
to the Kidron Valley;
to the Garden of Gethsemene;
and then to the Mount of Olives.
Surprisingly enough, two golgothas exist in Jerusalem. The orthodox golgotha is in a church called the "Church of the Holy Sepulchre" inside of the old city. The church is said to be built on top of the actual golgotha and Jesus' tomb. Everything inside the church is pimped out in Orthodox bling.
The protestant golgotha, known as the Garden Tomb, is located outside of the Old City in the Muslim Quarter. The Garden Tomb is in an actual garden with pretty trees and flowers - much more peaceful than the orthodox. From the garden, you can see "the skull" on which Christ was said to be crucified. The tomb where Jesus was buried is nearby.
Before leaving Jerusalem, we climbed on top of the steeple of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. From the top, we could see a panorama view of the entire old city of Jerusalem. It was amazing.
Jerusalem is truely a remarkable place. The roads in the old city are too narrow for cars. It is a maze of people and cultures. Religion is everywhere. There is no other place on earth with so many mosques, churches, and synogogues conjested in such a small area.