Day 3 – Jerusalem – Log

Jacob Anthony Amaro, Staff Writer

Our day today began with a long, “traffic-full” drive to Jerusalem. Traffic was buzzing because Sunday in Jerusalem is a work and school day; everyone is moving around, as opposed to Saturday (the Sabbath Day), during which everyone takes it easy or heads over to the synagogues to pray.

When we made it to Jerusalem, having picked up our tour guide along the way, we began by walking on the Walls of Jerusalem. These walls served, in earlier times, as Israel’s defense mechanism. In these walls were several crevices from which archers could shoot arrows. Along with the crevices were several areas open for other specialists to aim at enemies below.

Walking along these walls was a great experience. It allowed us to see the way in which warfare was fought in the past. Warfare today is technological and electrical. Back then, there were many different types of specialists and positions.

Walking on these walls led us to a Christian cemetery. Our tour guide informed us that the way to know it was Christian was by looking at the way the tombstones protruded from the ground. Jewish graves have flat markers, while Christian ones have a platform with blocks that rise perpendicular to the ground.

At the cemetery, we came across the burial site of Oskar Schindler, a man who is called today “righteous among the nations.” Oskar, at first, had intentions of making easy profit by employing Jewish people in his factory. And he was, for a while, extremely successful. He was a popular man—a party man; he loved the extravagant life which he had worked for. But, eventually, something within him allowed him to become attached and to care for the employees he hired and, going to great lengths — arguing, lying, devising plans, methods, and anything he could think of — he managed to save 1,300 of his employees, who he called necessary to his workplace when the Nazis questioned him.

The story of Oskar and his conversion from a money-seeking man to a man who did everything he could to save his workers was inspiring. Not only Oskar but 26,000 other non-Jews, some even Germans who were taught to hate Jews from the time they were children, risked their lives, families, legacies, their hopes, their futures, etc. to save the lives of many Jews.

After hearing Oskar’s story, some of us placed a stone on his grave. By doing so, we were participating in the upkeep of his grave, said our tour guide.

From Oskar Schindler’s grave, we headed to the tomb of King David. There, we wore a yarmulke, which is a head covering, as it is a very holy site. King David was the king  known today for the Psalms he wrote in which he expressed his longing, searching, loving, and fear of God. At his tomb, two men told us about him, and then sang a song with the lyrics, “Shema Israel Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Ehad,” which roughly translates to “Listen Israel. The Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”

It was a very moving song.

After the visit to King David’s tomb, we went to the room that commemorates the upper room in which Jesus held his Last Supper.

We continued to walk through the Old City, taking in the wondrous views, observing the beautiful architecture, and other sights.

We passed through several parts of the “Via Dolorosa,” which was the path Jesus walked leading up to the place of his death.

Then we made our way to the Western Wall. Everyone, no matter what race they come from, no matter which religion they belong to, is welcome at the Western Wall.

When we made it to the Western Wall, we once again wore our yarmulkes. And, having written notes, we all headed over to the Wall, prayed, and left our notes behind. It was a very moving experiencing. It was for me personally a very intimate experience; I felt connected to God in a way I had never been before.

After our solemn visit to the Western Wall, we continued to to walk through the Old City, passing by several small kiosks, shops, and restaurants, and having a delicious pita lunch along the way.

After our lunch, we continued our journey and headed then to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was a massive structure and held many sacred artifacts within it. Our first stop in the Church was a hole believed to have held the beam of the Cross on which Christ was placed. Many people dropped down to touch this hole; it was a very solemn moment.

After this, we stopped by a piece of slab believed to have held the body of Jesus before they put him in the tomb. Many people knelt down, prayed, and some even cried. Others rubbed all that they had bought in the Old City to bless them.

Then we made it to the tomb of Jesus, over which a structure was built. There we dropped down once again to touch it; some of us prayed.

I personally got the chills. I began to realize more and more that I was walking the same places where Jesus walked, the same places where he taught, the same places where his body was placed upon his death.

After this we continued to walk around the enormous church. Our tour guide told us a lot about the many small chapels within the Church. After concluding our visit to the Church, we headed back to the bus, and from there to our hotel, where we would sleep for the night. After settling down at the hotel, we went out to a restaurant nearby. There we had a delicious selection of different foods. When we arrived, there were several different salads waiting for us at the table. After the salads came the pitas along with hummus, a delicious sauce made from chick peas. After these, we had rice and beans, and a variety of delicious meats — which included chicken liver and heart. Then, having finished our main meal, we had tea and dessert. Unfortunately, most of us by that time were completely stuffed. Our trip to the restaurant concluded our day; when we made it back to the hotel, it was time again to rest up for the next day.