First Weekend Excursion: Jerusalem

June16-18: The weekend spent at Jerusalem was tiring but never boring. Our schedule was filled with intermittent company visits and historical cite visits. Here are some of the pictures I took during our first weekend excursion of the program in Jerusalem.

The second day we arrived, we walked around in the Old City and visited the Jewish Quarter.

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If I remember it correctly, this is the Jaffa Gate. One of the eight historical gates in the Old City.

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Later that day we visited the Western Wall. You could see men and women praying and some of my friends wrote a prayer and stuck them in between the cracks of the wall. You can also see the beautiful golden dome in the back.

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After the sun went down, we went on to visit the tunnels of the Western Wall. It was long, narrow, and yet intriguing. It feels like every stone in the tunnel has a story to tell and sometimes I was just stunned by the delicate engraving by hand on the ancient stones.

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The next day early in the morning we set out for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The visit in the museum was emotional, nonetheless educational. I wasn’t very familiar with Jewish history before and the museum just walked me through the history of Jews. It wasn’t like a typical museum: “here are the exhibits, now you look at it”. We had devices with recordings in them, so we had a audio tour where we listen to the audio from our headphones while looking at the exhibits. The different types of display also kept me engaged. There were picture, audios, videos, little theater where you can sit and watch interviews of the survivors and actual historical item displayed. I personally feel like the museum wasn’t simply playing a role of the history teacher, or a victim crying for pity or asking for someone to blame. They emphasized the lives, the opportunities, and the humanities lost because of it. The very second audio piece you will hear is the list of names of every victims and the recovered personal items of theirs. In that way, the focus in not on the war, what political power did that, what authority ordered what, but all the innocent lives and their beautiful faces. They were blood and bones just like any of us.

I was especially impressed with the end or the exit of the museum as well. After all the information and the historical lessons you learn in the museum, you hear the bangs and fires in the videos, you see the blood and bodies of the victims, you feel the despair of the people, and you cry at the stories of the survivors. But when you walk out of the automatic glass door at the end, there was nothing but quietness, and peace. You enter this wide outlook post on the mountain and you overlook the entire city. There are cars running, wind mill turning, and trees whistling with the wind. No war, no pain, and no blood. You just stood there and you think about how much the Jews have endured and overcome to get here. Here, nothing but peace. Nothing but a city full of lives.

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I was also lucky enough to be able to walk around the park outside of the museum alone because we arrived early and none of the big tourist groups were here yet. I had some moments to process and take in all the beautiful memorial structures .

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Outside of the Children’s Memorial.

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Taken at the gift shop:

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The Third day we head out to the local Shuk in order to witness how bustling it could be on the night of shabbat.

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The Shuk was filled with people: locals, tourists, kids, and elderlies. It was fun to witness everyone getting to freshest produce for shabbat but it was just too crowded that I got out of it physically and mentally exhausted after only two hours of hanging around in there.

We then visited the Western Wall to see how the local Jews celebrate Shabbat there. when the siren blew, people started gathering around and forming circles. Soon they started chanting and singing folk songs and dancing in circles. I haven’t seen anything like this since I was a kid. I haven’t seen people who aren’t kids leave their technology and devices behind and just simply enjoy the purest form of entertainment: move with your body and sing with your voice.

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On the last day, we visited Masada and the Dead Sea. Here is us on the sky tram, ascending toward Masada. We planned to hike up there at first but the heat of the day made the authority closed up the hiking trail.

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I left my phone in the locker so I didn’t get to take any pictures form the Dead Sea. But floating on water was definitely something I wish I can do everyday. Here are some pictures on the way back from the Dead Sea on the bus. No filter. Somehow there a shroud of pink over the rock mountains in the distance. Could be the salt, could be the heat. But it was beautiful.

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