Day 7 - Temple Mount, Via Dolorosa, Pool of Bethesda, Teaching Steps, Wailing Wall Church of Holy Sepulchre

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January 19th 2020
Published: January 20th 2020
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Following breakfast, we boarded the bus, but for some reason there were no wake up calls so several people were late. It was rainy and cold. Our agenda today was to get to the Dome of the Rock. This is the huge gold dome that you see in just about any picture of Jerusalem. The dome is under Muslim control and they can and do close it often, so it is tricky getting to go there. This is my fourth trip to Israel and I have only been there one time until today. Today we were successful!!

The Dome of the Rock is considered a most holy site by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. It is the third most holy site to Muslims following Mecca and Medina. It is built on Mt. Moriah, the site where Abraham was to sacrifice Issac. The are many rules and regulations you must follow to visit here. You cannot have any religious objects, so if you wear a cross necklace you must remove it or hide it. You must dress modestly and show no public displays of affection. You cannot offer prayers or devotions. I know of some one who had their Bible taken because it was in their purse! You even have to go through a checkpoint much like going to a government building or the airport. The place beautiful and you have a great view of the city and old Jerusalem.

From there we walked down past the church over the place where Mary was born and to the pools of Bethesda.This is where Jesus healed the lame man who had been sitting by the pool for 38 years, waiting for someone to lower him into the healing waters. Read the story in John 5:2-12.

In that same area is the Church of St. Anne which has perfect acoustics. If you sing you can hear the music reverb perfectly. We sang It is Well With My Soul and Amazing Grace and it was beautiful.

We moved on through the old town and the Via Dolorosa. The roads are very narrow so when a car comes by everyone has to move. It is also very crowded as we pass through the Temple streets. It is very difficult to stay together. This is where people could and do get lost. There are locals going to work. There are locals that are shopping. And there are groups of tourists....many groups. Refer to the pictures to see just how congested is really was today. This is also an area of high pick pocketing. It's crowded so you know you are going to be bumped around. There are stores and vendors so you are getting in and out of your purse frequently. You have to be careful.

There are 14 stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa which goes back to that all important number 14 and the generations of Christ. The Via Dolorosa is located in the old city of Jerusalem and is the path where Jesus was lead in agony, carrying the cross.. It starts at the place where Jesus was tried and convicted and it ends near the crucifixion site in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Inside the church you can see the marble slab where they prepared the body, the rock on which the cross stood, and the empty tomb. Today the lines were extremely long and it seemed people were pushing, shoving, jumping line. As we were standing there complaining about the situation, Debbie Weekley said "We really should happy that so many people want to some here and pay tribute to and honor Christ”! Kinda put things into perspective.

Once we all gathered together, after exploring the church, we met, walked to the bus, and left for lunch. Our guide was going to take us someplace special. It was the City View Restaurant on the hill above Jerusalem. and they do have a wonderful view of the city!! Our lunch was a choice of falfalel pita or chicken Swarma sandwich. The young ones got pizza and they said it was all good!

Today was the first time we had encountered unisex bathrooms. There were two bathrooms and you just went in the one that was empty. Everyone, whether male or female, waited in the same line, used the same two bathrooms (or WC - water closet), and washed hands together. Many of our group thought it was odd but this is becoming more and more common.

The afternoon found us back at the temple visiting the Teaching Steps and the Western or Wailing Wall. The Teaching Steps are so named because rabbis like to teach their students there, just outside the temple. So did Jesus. Some of the steps have been reconstructed, but there are original steps there...steps on which Jesus has walked. Imagine sitting there at the feet or our Lord and Savior and hearing him teach the Bible or hear one of his parables! The steps are uneven in width so that people has to be careful, bow their head to look at their feet and enter the temple humbly and unhurried.

The last stop of the day was the Western Wall also known as the wailing wall. It is the most sacred spot for Jewish people. It was the support wall for the Temple Mount and since the Temple Mount is not always available, the Jews pray and wail here as often as is possible. The men and the women are separated and the men must cover their heads. It is traditional for people to place their written prayers in a crack in the wall. Twice annually - before Passover and before the Jewish New Year - the notes are removed and buried on the Mount of Olives according to Jewish tradition. I placed all my prayers in an envelope together with those given to me. It is a very touching experience to go there and pray.

Tomorrow, after a full day of touring, we move to a hotel on the Sea of Galilee. So that means we have to pack up and get our luggage out in the hallway early in the morning before breakfast. Its hard to believe this trip is winding down. We have two more touring days and one more overnight before we start the long ride home. Nite All!!!

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