The afternoon we left the kibbutz (October 8) we made our way to Jerusalem. We stopped at the Mount of Olives to see the view. Below we could see the huge Jewish cemetery and we could look over to the Dome of the Rock. Mt. Moriah, the tip of which is inside the dome, is supposed to be the place where Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac before the angel intervened. It is not open to Christians at the moment. Our vantage point is perched on the Mount of Olives.
We are staying at a lovely and very cushy hotel called the Isrotel Orient. It has only been open a year and a half, and it is within walking distance of the Jaffa Gate to the Old City. Inside the Citadel there are light shows; some members of our group saw the one on King David; Roger and I saw the one that portrays the history of Jerusalem.
The morning of our first day we went to the area called the City of David; recent archaeological discoveries point to the possibility of the location of the palace of David. We saw a brief film about the site's discoveries and theories. I also ran into a couple of Japanese women so I could practice. The other impressive stop along the way was the Zion Gate where the Israelis and Jordanians had a shoot out. Near the Zion Gate is the spot of the Last Supper. The Upper Room was at one point a mosque, so there are traces of Islam there.
Jerusalem is divided into areas or quarters; there is also a section called the City of David where archaeologists are theorizing the location of David's palace is. There is still an ongoing dig. There are a lot of places that have become important shrines or sites of memory for assorted religious groups; I am not so big on touching this or that, but rather it is interesting to get the feel of the place. For example, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre there were huge lines to touch the top of Golgotha or Calvary; we watched from afar and that served our purposes. We did hike up most of the Via Dolorosa which is supposed to be the Stations of the Cross. Fascinating to see this layered city, the archaeology, the churches, and to match all of the visuals with the stories.