Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Day To Match The Mood

Because of the impending weather, Yad Vashem was going to close by noon today, so we headed there first thing this morning.  As Reuben informed us, the term holocaust is not used by the Jews because that word is associated with a sacrifice, as if the Jews were animals who were sacrificed by the Nazis.  Instead, the killing of over 6 million Jews (1 1/2 million of those children) is known by the term Shoah.  It means calamity.  The "final solution" was not about a philosophy, or political disagreement, or even about religion.  It was simply because anyone who ancestry gave them at least 25% Jewish blood, they were deemed worthy of destruction.  The cold, rainy day matched the sobering mood of the museum.  Another moving experience was hearing the story of Janusz Korczak, an educator who started a school in the ghetto to demonstrate life in the face of death and then went with his children to extermination.

We also viewed the Dead Sea scrolls and other Scriptural fragments at the Israeli Museum as well as the model of first century Jerusalem.  This put into perspective what we would later see.  The scrolls completed the picture first painted for us at Qumran two days ago.  Seeing a complete copy of Isaiah was amazing.

Following lunch at the museum, we drove to the Dung Gate and walked through security to the Western Wall plaza.  We had a short time to pray at the Wall and then entered into the shelter and warmth of the Rabbinical tunnel.  It was enlightening to learn of the way these massive Herodian stones were cut and moved into place during the building of this retaining wall for the Temple Mount.  We saw a smaller gate that would have been used by the priests to enter the Temple area near the Holy of Holies.  Women were praying nearby.  We walked on bedrock stones for this street.  Exiting past the water source that supplied both the Antonio Fortress and for cleaning all the blood at the Temple, we walked down a street to the Pool of Bethesda.  This is the place Jesus healed a man who had been lame for 38 years.  Jesus was then criticize for asking the man to pick up his mat and carry it on the Sabbath.  We also visited St. Anne's church, a church honoring the mother of Mary, Jesus' mother.  The natural acoustics in this Crusader era church are amazing.  So we sang several songs and enjoyed.

We ended our day early by going up to the top of the Mount of Olives; got a group picture taken; took a few pictures of the Old City while Reuben talked briefly; then scurried to the bus to return to the hotel.  We were all a little wet and cold and ready for an early return.  We are preparing for what will be an even more challenging day tomorrow.  Reports are calling for 1-3 inches of snow!

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