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Up to Jerusalem

The Holy City of the 3 Major Monotheistic Religions

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Today we checked out of our Dead Sea hotel. It has been hot here! It got up to 42C (108F) at the Dead Sea yesterday, and it’s been pretty warm in our hotel room, too. When we checked in on Friday evening, our room was 31C (that’s 88F). By the time we went to bed, it had finally fallen to 27C ( 81F). Much warmer sleeping temp than we prefer, but better than a fellow tour traveler whose A/C had tripped a circuit breaker and she slept in a 31C room all the first night. By the time we left, our room was finally down to 25.5C (it kept vacillating between 25 and 26C, or 78F), but we weren’t the only ones with rooms warmer than we prefer. The hotel in general was quite nice (though I’m beginning to suspect their maintenance schedule could be improved), but I don’t think I’ll go back to the Dead Sea again. There is nothing to do there except sit in your hotel room or in the lobby/bar, be outside in the sun (LOTS of sun and heat), or shop at the 2 tiny malls that don’t offer much. For those of you who know Dan and me, we are not people who spend lots of time in the sun for the fun of it. Our Columbia SPF shirts (we call them our sun shirts) have been getting a daily workout.

I believe I mentioned earlier that the Dead Sea is shrinking. As we were leaving the Dead Sea area, our guide pointed out a mark on the rock face along the road that ran alongside the dead sea. The road today is about 300m from the shore. The mark was about 10’ above the road and was labeled PEF for Palestine Exploration Fund and indicated the level of the Dead Sea when it was surveyed in 1917 (i.e., the sea has dropped a couple hundred feet in the past 100 years). Here is a view of the Dead Sea from our balcony.
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Our first stop on the way to Jerusalem was the Wadi Qilt, an example of the Judean wilderness (as in the temptation of Jesus). It was pointed out to us that the slight ridges around the (almost) barren hills are not mini-terraces, but the paths worn by the Bedouins’ sheep over the years as they walk around the hills, eating what vegetation they can find. The sheep prefer to keep at the same elevation rather than going up and down the hills; it makes the hills look kind of like corduroy. There were a few patches of green, but not many. The second shot is a panorama, thus the distortion from side to side.
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Our first stop in Jerusalem was on the Mount of Olives. This is a hill that overlooks (it’s taller than) Jerusalem. We got some good pictures of the Dome of the Rock from here. We had a bus-group devotion, and while we listened, we saw group after group of school children going past us. A good percentage of the children carried the Israeli flag, sometimes several flags in one group. Turns out today was Jerusalem day, celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 and coming under Israeli control. Lots of kids were going to be everywhere!
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We then drove to the Gethsemene Garden (part of the Church of All Nations). They had some pretty flowers
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and many olive trees, ranging from a little more than saplings to hollow trunks with shoots coming out from them, and everything in between. But they said none were more than 1000 years old. After this, we drove to an ordinary olive grove on the Mount for a few worship songs and a full-group devotion, though to find shade enough for all 200+ for us, we sat beneath a big pistachio tree.

Our bus then took us to the Mamilla Mall, where we all enjoyed lunch at another Aroma Cafe. And then for an important stop, though a difficult one – Yad VaShem. Yad VaShem is the Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial. The name means “a memorial and a name” and is taken from the book of Isaiah. Part of the purpose of the Memorial is to list the name of every Jew who died in the Holocaust. They currently have the names of 5 million of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. It was a very sobering visit. No one can take pictures in Yad VaShem, so we have no pictures to share with you, but we could take pictures in their Garden of Righteousness. In this Garden, the Israeli people celebrate many of those who saved Jewish lives by planting a tree in that person’s name. Among the many trees were one for Oskar Schindler and another for the Ten Boom family. (The first is Schindler’s, the second is Corrie Ten Boom’s.)
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We were told an interesting story about the Ten Boom tree; the original tree died when Corrie Ten Boom died, so they planted a new one. That's why the tree is so young.

We are finally done for the day and we head off to our newest and last hotel on our tour.

Posted by dasafish 14:00 Archived in Israel

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