First of all, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year guys! Thank you so much for the likes and support you guys have given to this blog, especially for the Israel posts. So, without further ado, here is the fourth installment.
Day 7 – Old Jerusalem
Pool of Bethesda
Located in the Muslim quarters of Old Jerusalem, the Pool of Bethesda is associated with healing, even though it is used to supply water to the temple. Legend is that an angel would come down into the pool and “stir the water”, and the first person into the pool after the waters are stirred will be made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.
This is also the place where Jesus healed a crippled man, after asking him if he wants to be healed. Apparently, people were not happy, since the day the man was healed, it was the Shabbat.
Just outside the Pool of Bethsda is St. Anne’s church where we were made to sing (choir style) to showcase the acoustics of the church.
Also known as the walk of grief, it is located within the old city of Jerusalem, showing the path where Jesus was lead in agony, carrying the crucifixion cross. It is broken into 14 stations.
After the walk, we were given some time to shop around the markets.
Feeling very honoured, as we were apparently the very first group of Singaporeans who were given a chance to be guided by a local rabbi and to enter into a synagogue, a place where the Jewish will pray and study at.
So on the day that we were there, there was a festive mood in the air, since they were celebrating a century of Allenby’s entry into Jerusalem, freeing them from Turkish rule.
The Israel Museum
Although not as interesting to me as the Holocaust Museum was, there were some interesting artefacts that were showcased, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the world’s smallest bible.
The Church of St Peter in Gallicantu
This was the location of the secret night trials of Jesus before He was brought to Pontius Pilate.
After, it was shopping time!
Waking up really early to get ready for checkout, and as usual, our guide wants us to be the first at every site so as to avoid the crowds.
The Garden Tomb
So after Jesus was crucified, it is believed that he was brought to this place, to be buried.
For lunch, we went to a Kibbutz called Yad Hashmona which showcased picturesque scenery. We were also there to experience the Passover meal.
Valley of Elah
The very place where the famous battle between David and Goliath took place. Our guide very kindly brought along a sling to demonstrate using the pebbles to shoot. As a river used to run through here, the stones were all smoothed out, and we were all given a chance to bring those pebbles home.
Tel Aviv – Joppa
The heartbeat of Israel, Tel Aviv was a world of difference from where we have been previously where sprawling mountains were replaced by skyscrapers. We went to a town called Joppa, well known for the famous story of Jonah and the Whale.
Soon, it was time to bid farewell to our guide who I admire not only for his bible and country knowledge, but also his passion in his job, and to ensure that everyone in the group learns and understands. Of course, his sarcastic humour was also highly welcomed.
So that’s all for my Israel adventure, and I have to say, this has truly been an eye-opening experience. I don’t know how many times I have said that a certain place was gorgeous, and truth be told, no matter how many thousand times I look back at the photos, their beauty just baffles me.
I understand that there might be some concerns in going to this beautiful country, but do not let the newsreel stop you. I have never once felt my life was in danger, even though I was in Jerusalem when Trump made his Jerusalem announcement. Sure, there was a bit of unrest here and there, but the Israelis continue to live in peace, as seen from the map of Old Jerusalem, the Muslims live next to the Christians, the Jewish, the Armenians. This place has truly opened my eyes and turned fictional bible stories to reality.
Ending off this post with a few tips I’ve gotten along the way:
- If you are unsure of the currency, they make use of both Shekels (which can be changed at their money changer, do note that Singapore’s money changer do not have Shekels) and US Dollar. If you do make payment in US Dollar, they will return your change in Shekels. I would not recommend changing all your US Dollar to Shekels as no money changer will change them back for you.
- Tap water in Israel is drinkable, so feel free to fill up that bottle.
- No one works on Shabbat (Sabbath) which falls on Saturdays, including bus and train service. Since I went on a guided tour, travelling around was not a problem. However, if do take note of the lifts, as it will stop on every floor on Shabbat.
- Be sure to cover up when visiting religious sites. As I went in winter, I was sure covered up.
- Talk to the locals! The Israeli soldiers, despite their demeanor, are really very friendly.
Last but not least, I wish everyone of you a great year ahead and I hope you enjoyed this series!