So after only a couple of days I could tell I was already wearing myself out. I woke up a bit sleepy but tried to ramp up for an emotional day. My first stop was to Yad Vashem – the Holocaust museum here in Jerusalem. I don’t know that I have words to comment on it much but it was powerful and they have done an incredible job presenting the events of the Holocaust. I think it was an important experience while here in Israel. Though I’ve been to other museums this was really impactful walking out into a Jewish state immediately after. I’m not saying that any of the experiences are the same but it has also made me think of all types of people throughout history and now that are fighting for their identity. We all know I prefer to believe in a world of unicorns and rainbows and I don’t obviously have any genius solutions to the unrest in the world. However, it still brings me to tears and breaks my heart into a million pieces to think of how much fighting and death are occurring every day. As I write this, civilians of Aleppo are posting their farewells on social media and being lined up and shot as (rebel) armies come in to secure the city. The bombing of hospitals, the photos of premies without a NICU have been heart breaking and these stories continue to put me in a state of confusion and disbelief.
After a very intense morning, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to my afternoon plans. However, it was a stunning day out and I felt like I needed to be out walking in the sunshine and perhaps thinking about something different for a few hours. I managed to arrive early for my Mount of Olives Tour. After some coffee and falafel (both amazing!) I did a quick walk of the northern ramparts. It was so lovely! There was sunshine and a guitar player in the square playing Christmas tunes. My favorite was looking down at one of the streets in the Islamic quarter with all the men yelling at each other form the rooftops in Arabic while trying to get the Christmas tree just right. It was just what I needed to get me feeling a little more festive and realize that the regular day to day routine continues for so many people.
It was then time for The Mount of Olives. We saw the Jewish cemeteries covering the hillside, the Mosque of Ascension, Pater Noster Church, Dominus Flevit Church, Church of Mary Magdalene and Mary’s Tomb. My favorite was definitely Mary’s tomb which was a cave beautiful ornamented with lanterns and the view of the city was all too perfect.
We concluded the tour with a walk back to the Lion’s Gate with our guide. As we walked through the Old City, he reviewed some of the historical points I had seen the day before. Seeing it again on the quiet streets and illuminated by lights in the evening was equally as impressive. I finally made it home and tried to have a quick rest before we headed out for a late night supper at Basha to catch up with my hosts!