And we have arrived in Israel! Kathy had arranged for a guided tour for three days, two in Jerusalem where we would stay overnight in the city, and one day in Haifa. Our guide, Avi, met us at the port in Ashdod. We immediately wondered what we had gotten ourselves into when Kathy tried to introduce the seven of us who would be with him for three days and he said “Never mind. I won’t remember your names anyway.”
Here is the port in Ashdod. Look at the rows and rows of new vehicles in the background, but few of them are for export. Israel's neighbours refuse to trade with them. The port of Ashdod had been closed on the previous cruise because of security concerns.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. Four people in our group of seven were Jewish, and this stop was particularly important. Much of the museum has been built through donations from survivors and victims' families.
Jerusalem has been conquered, pillaged, plundered, restored and conquered again and again. This is the city where a Roman ruler, Herod, washed his hands and sent Jesus, the son a carpenter, to be crucified. In 1948, a Jewish nation, which had not existed for nearly 2000 years, was suddenly reborn, though the city of Jerusalem remained divided. In 1967, victorious over insurmountable odds in just six days, Israeli army paratroopers captured Jerusalem and stood before the Western Wall, the foundation of the Temple of their Lord. After 2000 years, the blast of the ceremonial ram’s horn, the “shofar,” echoed once again through the streets of ancient Jerusalem.
Here we could see the Old City with the Dome of the Rock in the background.
For Christians, it is where God chose His Divine Presence to rest.
The Mosque is sacred to Muslims who believe the Dome covers the rock where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Church of All Nations, also known as the Church or Basilica of Agony, is located next to the Garden of Gethsemane.
“The Western Wall is one of four massive walls surrounding the Temple Mount, which is Mount Moriah, where according to tradition, the world was created; the binding of Isaac took place and this is where both the First and Second temples stood.
After the destruction of the 2nd temple by the Romans, the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem. Access to the sacred Temple Mount was forbidden. Pilgrims therefore chose the Western Wall as the place for prayer and lamenting, both because of its proximity to the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount, and because of the ancient tradition that “The Divine Presence Never Moves From the Western Wall.”
Zionism brought back the Jewish people from around the globe to the ancient Western Wall where mourners lamented the sorrow of exile, and celebrated the return of the Lord. The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former.”
The wall is divided by a fence with men on one side and women on the other.
Back in the Jewish quarter, we came across these excavations.