The thing I found most interesting about Jerusalem is that you can pretty much touch every holy site you want.
Rub your hands, face, jewelry, clothing all over it. Go for it!
Slowly destroy history.
Just don’t take a picture of it.
I began to realize that these sacred stones which covered spots of historical Jesus-related significance were probably not very old (they probably had a few spares in back) but perhaps photos eliminate the need to visit for the those you show them to?
Or is it just the fact you’re boring everyone with your vacation slide show?
Today, was basically Jesus Day.
We spent the entire day exploring Jerusalem and Bethlehem and anywhere else Jesus hung out, took a poo, raised the dead, ect.
The Old City of Jerusalem (the oldest part, I guess) is completely walled in and contains 8 gates (grand entrances). The walls were built in the 1500′s, long after Jesus’ day.
All three major religions have a stake in the Old City. Muslims have their Dome of the Rock, Jews have their Western Wall and Temple Mount (which is housed in the Dome…makes things tricky) and the Christians have their Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
More on that later.
For those of you who aren’t Jewish or don’t live in LA or New York, a mezzuzah is placed on the doorway of every Jewish household.
It contains a piece of parchment with a few verses from the Torah.
It’s basically good luck to walk by it, so more agressive households place one in every doorway of their house.
Except the bathroom.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built, destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed a few times but I believe the current model was finished in 1048. Just don’t quote me on that.
Basically, it was built to commemorate the spot where Jesus was crucified, where his body was prepared for burial and his tomb.
And this place gets PACKED.
What make this place trippy is two-fold. One, it has been built and destroyed so many times it’s this crazy hodge podge of building styles. I could spend days in here exploring.
Second, each major Christian denomination runs a section of the church. One wing for Roman Catholic, one for Greek Orthodox, ect.
It’s kind of sad how rare it is for religion to share and intersect like this.
The general wait to get inside Jesus’ tomb can be a half a day!
We managed to luck out, so it was only an hour for us.
And, of course, no pictures inside the tomb.
But I could touch the hell out of the burial stone!
It was SO odd to see people furiously rubbing their scarves and necklaces and anything they could pull out of their pockets on the stone below.
I just stood and watched them for a second in awe. Even their lint must have been holy after this ritual.
They had some stone fragments with holes where the cross supposedly was jammed in, covered in glass.
But people were jamming themselves in there so tight to get a picture, I wasn’t able to get one of my own.
Now, I don’t mean to sound jaded with my use of the term “allegedly” and “supposedly” (and “jerks”) and it was pretty incredible to see these sights and relics in person to match with the stories I was raised on.
I’ve just become very skeptical in my old age and have my doubts that any of these spots relating to jesus are exact.
I guess I won’t be happy unless they find ancient graffiti from Jesus himself saying “I was here” or “This Shroud is wrapped too tight.”
It’s nice to have a symbolic spot or memorial for reference and there’s definitely a lot of spiritual energy here, however, so I can appreciate that.
But there were a lot of crucifixions going on at the time, do they really know if that was Jesus’s exact spot? Or that belonging to Charles the farmer who had blatantly refused to use Monsanto’s seeds.
Trust me, if Monsanta was around back then, you know they would do it!
Afterwards, we roamed the Arab market. I LOVE Arab markets, there’s nothing like them anywhere else. So many colors and smells and fresh fruit and sticky desserts and carcasses surrounded by flies.
Everywhere you go.
Not like that POM shit we have here.
On our way to Bethlehem, which I learned is in the West Bank, we crossed into Palestinian territory. They have the option to board your bus and check your passports, but they let us in without hassle.
It was sprinkling that day, creating a somber mood.
We visited the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus was supposedly born.
In order to avoid the long ass lines, our tour guide decided to grease some wheels.
I don’t think he slipped enough shekels to the guard cuz, cuz we sure were waiting… and waiting… these guards must have HATED our guide!
We finally got to slip through a side entrance to the basement area where the Jesus spot was.
People were lining up to kiss it.
While I should have been moved the experience, I was just thinking that a cold sore epidemic was about to break out.
You have to bend down really low to this enclave where all these lamps and incense are hanging.
It’s kind of trippy.
That evening, before dinner, we did one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.
The Tower of David Museum’s Sound and Light Show.
It’s so gorgeous and moving, I can’t even describe it.
But since I kind of have to, it’s like watching the world’s largest IMAX movie (part trippy animation, part live action)
They basically take the ruins of the Tower of David pictured above (which is an ancient citadel, built in the 2nd Century BC) and turn it into the spectacle below.
(Keep in mind, no photos were allowed so these pics are courtesy of four jerks online who broke the rules. Just call me Robin Hood, stealing from the rich).
Afterwards, we had dinner at a restaurant that boasted Biblical recipes and ingredients.
Like every meal in Israel, it was a 3 hour affair.
The Chef came out and gave us a little demonstration and passed around ancient ingredients including Jerusalem Artichoke, also called a Sunchoke..
Really fun, delicious, creative food. Especially that chicken stuffed fig! One of the richest things I’ve ever eaten.