Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Rob's Visit to Jerusalem

Rob was lucky enough to go on an all-day tour of Jerusalem yesterday. Although he had been there before when he visited Israel with a previous ship (probably at least 9 years ago…egads!), he said he really appreciated seeing it with the new perspective that comes with maturity and different views.

I’ll post the pictures from his tour along with his own commentary, as that is probably the best way to convey his experiences. By the way, you can view a bigger version of any of the pics by clicking on it.

This is a picture of me at the place where we stopped for lunch. It was definitely a designed tourist stop because it had a big cafeteria-style lunch which was included in the tour and tasted pretty darn good. The beauty of the place is that it had a fantastic panoramic view of Jerusalem. In the picture behind me you can see the gold dome. That is the Dome of the Rock which is at the center of Jerusalem's holy area. It is near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is built where it is believed that Jesus was crucified.

The first place we went after lunch was to King David's tomb. It is a very holy Jewish site because it is built over the area believed to be the family's burial grounds. It is also believed to be in the general vicinity of where the Last Supper took place. I say believed because there is no archeological evidence and the building was built around the time of the crusades as opposed to 2000 years ago.

This is a picture of one of the streets of shops in the Old City. They had a large market area but they forced us to do most of the shopping at one store that was approved by the embassy. It was a nice shop that they closed off to the public while we were looking at its goods. It must be the place the embassy sends all officials for merchandise because the owner had pictures of himself with Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others.

This picture is at the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The interesting part of this pictures is the punky kids with machine guns. As I am sure you know, Israeli youth are forced to spend 3 years in the armed services. While they are serving they carry their guns every where. They take them home with them and any time they go out. So it is not like these kids were guarding the entrance of the church. They were just being typical punks lounging around with their M-16s.

This is picture of the Dome of the Rock. It is actually a Mosque that is over the rock where the prophet Mohammad rose to heaven. It is also a place that is important to Christians and Jews, but only Muslims are allowed in. Below the Dome in the picture is the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall. It is the closest point Jews can get to the rock and considered one of the most holy places. There were lots of Jews chanting prayers in font of it.

Rob with the Dome in the background.

This a is picture of all the people praying at the Western Wall. It was very interesting. You can see all the notes with prayers placed in the crevices of the wall.

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