Friday morning we woke up to great weather, although I am sure some would think it is a little too hot. Our hotel has a great view of the old city, not to mention a gorgeous pool.
We started our day with a wonderful spread for breakfast. Foods ranged from eggs and salads to pastries and cheeses.
They even had hot chocolate cake for breakfast!
As usual, I took way more that I could really eat, but I wanted to try a little of everything.
Our day started after breakfast as we headed out of Jerusalem towards Gush Etzion. This is another historic place where a battle was fought, but many, many Jews died there, leaving behind a story and remembrence of their honor as they defended their land. These next few pictures I took along the way as we were leaving Jerusalem and area just outside.
Here we watched a multimedia presentation, and once the video ended, we were able to look into the actual bunker at Kfar Etzion where many people died during the War of Independence during what became one of the deadliest battles of the entire war. Many people hid in this bunker where they died. Years later, the children of the men that died here were able to return and start their lives over.
Once we were finished with this presentation, we continued with a dedication ceremony for the site of the new museum to memorialize this historic event. The organization I am here with, JNF, was involved with helping this project become a reality.
Here is the mayor of the community speaking about this project.
After we finished inside, we all headed outside for the continuation of the ceremony. Here I am with my sister in their lovely gardens.
This is the cornerstone laying, with 2 tour participants posing with the CEO of JNF.
This is a close up of the stone.
This is the official document for this ceremony.
My sister, posing with the beautiful scenery.
I couldn't resist this picture since my sister's name is Rachel.
Here are some pictures as we were returning back to Jerusalem, before we headed to the hotel to get ready for a trip to visit the old city.
Once we were dressed appropriately, or more specifically modestly, we all headed to the Old City for a walking tour, which included a stop for lunch and a little shopping.
Here you can see the old city walls. If you aren't familiar with the history behind this area, it is something I suggest you read up on. I could give a run down of everything, but it is quite extensive, and it really does vary depending upon your religious background, although most accounts of the "facts" remain the same. I know there is probably a different spin on the information depending where you hear it, but I think for the most part, the historical details remain the same. The main event is the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD, which was carried out by the Romans.
Across the way you can see the cemetery on Mt. of Olives, which I visited last year (I also rode a camel there).
Now we are entering the old city walls and beginning our tour around.
One of the first stops along the way was at the Kotel, or Western Wall, and also known as the Wailing Wall.
After putting notes in the wall, we made sure to get a few pictures without being too obtrusive, as there were people praying at the wall.
The gold roofed building is the Dome of the Rock, which is a holy Muslim site.
Here is a menorah that can be viewed in the Jewish Quarter. The old city is split into 4 sections. I usually only go in the Arab and Jewish quarters.
All scattered throughout the old city are remnants of past life and ancient times.
Since it was Friday night and Shabbat was fast approaching, many of the restaurants and stores in the Jewish quarter were closing up. We were lucky to get the last few bagels here.
I had an onoin bagel with tomato, smoked salmon and cream cheese.
Here is one of the old synagogues that was shown to us. This was destroyed by the Jordanians when Jerusalem was in their territory.
This was directly across the way. It is the Karaite Synagogue, and belongs to the Karaite sect of Jews, which I had never heard of until our guide explained a little about them to us. It is interesting to learn about the different subsections of Judaism since some groups practice a little differently from others.
Here is a synagogue that was rebuilt and finished about 10 years ago.
Next up was a trip to the Cardo, which was the main street leading through Jerusalem back before the temple was destroyed, about 2000 years ago.
Here is my picture of the sign for the Jewish Quarter. I only spotted it on our way out.
The tour ended and I was thankful that we would have about 3 or so hours until Shabbat dinner at the hotel. My sister napped and I did some work. Then, as the sun set, it was time to start Shabbat. In Israel, Shabbat is the center of all things that happen on the weekend. Dinner takes place after the men attend synagogue (women can go too), and then there is a full 24 hours of rest. Stores shut down and the city falls quiet.
I managed to get to dinner before too many people filled the room, and I took these great pictures of the many vegetable and fish dishes. They also served meat, but it was a lot harder to get into the enclosed hot food containers to take pictures.
As you can see, we had a pretty impressive spread for dinner. Dessert was equally impressive, although some of the items looked better than they tasted. I will give them credit though because diary free desserts that taste good are not always easy to do. Most often they don't taste good at all, especially when doing fancier desserts, and things that are typically dairy, like custard and cheese cake. Take a look at all the awesome desserts. I promise, these pictures will make you drool!
Can you believe all those dessert were dairy free?
Once I took all those pictures, the room filled with people, prayers were said, and wine flowed!
One of the dishes that I most enjoyed was the potato soup with little corn crackers.
Dinner was good, and of course very filling, but there was still room for dessert. I loved the single serve, brew in the cup coffee. It looks like you fill the hot water in the top and it brews right there.
Even my sister got a fancy eta bag.
The very last thing we did for the night was split a beer that I bought in the Golan Heights. Yummy! This was a great way to end Shabbat dinner and lead us in to Saturday, which is the Sabbath, but we did not entirely rest since we all went to the Dead Sea.
QUESTIONS: Do you know the history of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple there? Have you ever participated in Shabbat dinner? Are you familiar with the Western Wall? Do you know of any good dairy free desserts?