Saturday, June 29, 2013

Finals Week, Israel Museum, Humanitarian Activity

This week has been pretty bland compared to most of the other weeks I have had while I've been here.  We didn't go on a field trip this week because we took four finals and two midterms this week.  We just finished our Palestine, Judaism, language class, and the Old Testament.  So eight credits of the fifteen credits we take while we are here are finished.  The classes left to finish are New Testament, Ancient Near Eastern History, and our field trips class.  As I have finished all of these classes, just as I do every time I finish classes, I marvel at how much I have learned.  I know so much more about Islam, Judaism, the Israel-Palestine conflict, the history behind the Bible and the Holy Land, and the Old Testament.  

I feel very blessed to have come here and learn so much.  To see all the places I've seen so far and have the experiences I've had has really been amazing.  Probably the thing that I've been the most grateful about is that I have been able to get to know the Old Testament so much better than I ever did before.  If someone had asked me about two months ago if I wanted to take an Old Testament class at BYU, I would have told them no.  I have always just thought that the Old Testament was weird and foreign and just full of history that I didn't understand.  I wasn't really that excited about taking an Old Testament class here at the Jerusalem Center, but I figured it wouldn't be too bad because I would be in the place where all of the Old Testament took place.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  The Old Testament is awesome!!  I have loved reading and studying it each day while I've been here.  And as I have read it, studied it, and talked about it in class, I have come to know that the people in the Old Testament really had the truth of the Gospel just like we do today.  It's not in the same form of course, but those people still had the Plan of Salvation, revelation from prophets, temple worship, covenants to keep, and commandments that they needed to follow in order to get back to Heavenly Father.  Even though when first reading the Old Testament, it might seem like the Lord is really harsh, if you really study the Old Testament, it really is amazing how loving and merciful the Lord because of how many chances he gives people to repent and do better.  (Example: the kingdom of Israel had SO many warnings and chances to repent before it was scattered by the Assyrians attacking in 732 BC and 721 BC).  After taking an ancient near eastern history course alongside the Old Testament, I feel like I can understand so much more about the timeline of what is going on in the book.  I also feel like I can understand so much more of Isaiah when I read it now because of that.  

The other really awesome thing about the Old Testament is that it contains so many revelations about the latter days.  My favorite new scripture that I have discovered this semester from taking the Old Testament is in Jeremiah.  Jeremiah saw our day, and this is what he had to say about it: 

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

I feel like this scripture encompasses so many important principles.  It is talking about when Christ comes to fulfill the Law of Moses, and it also refers to Joseph Smith restoring the Gospel.  Both times the Lord is starting a new covenant with the House of Israel.  I had never thought much about the part of my patriarchal blessing that tells me I am part of the House of Israel, but really this is what the Lord is promising: that I will have the chance to make temple covenants (putting his law in my heart like the scripture says) and become a part of God's people.  It really is such an amazing promise.  I feel as if I have come to know Christ so much better just through studying the Old Testament.  I don't ever really think I knew it before, but after this experience, I now know that Jesus Christ really was the Jehovah of the Old Testament.  He is a merciful and loving god, and the people of the Old Testament were invited to come to know God through knowing Jesus Christ through the Law of Moses.  And as a result of coming to know Christ and our Heavenly Father through following the commandments now, we can become something even greater.  The Old Testament really does teach that we can come to know God through His son.  It is truly a great message that isn't new news, but it still applies to us today.  And we can come to know Christ and Heavenly Father so much better through the Old Testament because it is the story of the Lord's interaction with His covenant people, which people anyone can become a part of today through the restoration of the Gospel.  

So even though most of my week has been consumed with studying and taking tests, I did do a couple of fun things this week.  On Sunday, I went to the Israel museum, which is the premier museum in the world for biblical history artifacts.  There was so much cool stuff that I saw there.  I saw gates that Solomon built, pottery that had the names of prophets on it, inscriptions that mention Israel and the House of David, and all kinds of cool things.  I saw the actual four-horned altar from Beersheba and the Holy of Holies from the Israelite temple at Tel-Arad.  I also saw some of the Dead Sea scrolls.  That was really neat to see the writings of the prophets from ancient times in Hebrew.  But the coolest things that I saw was a small metal amulet that had been found in a tomb in the Hinnom Valley.  (The valley on the southwestern side of Jerusalem.)  It is the oldest recorded passage of the Bible known to man.  The name of the amulet is Ketef-Hinnom, named for where the amulet was found--the shoulder of the Hinnom Valley.  The passage found on the amulet comes from Numbers 6.  It says, "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee...And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them."  (Numbers 6:24-27).  They think that whoever was wearing this amulet wore it for protection.  It kind of reminds me of wearing garments.  And the coolest part of the whole thing is that the amulet dates to 600 BC, the time of Lehi and Nephi.  And that's cool because it is other proof that people were writing scriptures on metal at the time.  Pretty cool huh?  I sure thought so.  :-)

The other fun thing that we did this week was have another humanitarian activity on Friday where we made school kits for kids around here.  It was a really fun activity, and we made over 2000 kits in two hours.  It was really fun, and it is a great way to missionary work around here.  And this time I took pictures.  

Tomorrow, I'm going to Tel Aviv to go to the beach with a group of about ten people.  I think it will be a much needed break and a good way to relax after a hard finals week.  And then on Monday we leave for Jordan, and we will be there for four days.  I'm really excited.  :-)  It's going to be a great week.  I'll post pictures of the trip next week.  

A life-size model of the city of Jerusalem at the Israel Museum.  The model said that every 2 centimeters equaled about a meter in real life.  The piece right behind Kjersten is Herod's temple that was built after Solomon's temple was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians.

Me in front of the building where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept.  The building looks that way because that is what the lids of the jars looked like that they found the scrolls in.  The most impressive scroll was the Isaiah scroll.  I can't remember which chapter it correlates to in the Bible, but it was definitely in the best condition of all of the scrolls.  It reminded me of Nephi's words, "great are the words of Isaiah..." Coincidence that it was so well-preserved?  I think not.  

 Us at our humanitarian activity on Friday making school kits for children in and around the area.

 The lighting is kind of bad in this picture, but this is the table I was at.

 We worked in the garage of the Jerusalem Center because it's the only place that's big enough to have that big of an assembly line, and it was really hot in there.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Eilat and the Red Sea, Neot Kadumim - Herding Sheep

This week has been pretty great.  On Sunday, we went down to Eilat, which is the only part of Israel that touches the Red Sea.  It is a very small part of what touches the Red Sea.  It was about a three and a half hour drive down there, so we left at about six in the morning, and we got back at about 10:30 that night.  It was really neat to go there and snorkel.  The beach there isn't really that nice.  It's not much of a beach really because the sand is more like dirt.  And then under the water, there is just a ton of rocks all over the bottom of the ocean as soon as you walk into it, so unless you jump off one of the docks there, you can't really just go in and swim.  The water was extremely clear.  It reminded me of swimming in Bear Lake because the water was kind of cold and that lovely light blue.  So snorkeling was really weird at first because it seems so unnatural to stick your face in the water and breath.  But once I got used to it, I really liked it.  There is a pretty good-sized coral reef there next to Eilat in the Red Sea.  So I saw a lot of different kinds of coral and a lot of really pretty fish in the water.  It was truly an amazing experience because the landscape around the whole place is just a bunch of ugly desert.  So it was neat to see more of God's creations that I had never even seen before.  I never thought I would get to see a coral reef.  It just always seemed like some far-off thing that I have only ever read about in books before.  I wish that I had had an underwater camera with me so that I could have taken pictures under the water.  It was a really fun day because we got to snorkel and just relax on the beach.  A lot of people got pretty sunburned, but I didn't get sunburned at all.  (The sunscreen you gave me worked really well Mom.  Thanks!)  We went to a restaurant for dinner at some local place there in Eilat.  The food they served was pretty good, but they had the best ice cream!  The ice cream here in Israel is more gummy than in the U.S., but it's still really good.  I got strawberry cheesecake ice cream, and it totally hit the spot after a day at the beach.  Then we got back on the buses and headed home.  It was definitely a great day.  :-)

We had a different kind of a field trip this week.  On Wednesday, we went to this Bible nature preserve called Neot Kadumim.  There they try to preserve all of the plants that are mentioned in the Bible.  And I didn't realize it until we went there, but there are a lot that are mentioned.  We had a tour guide that took us around the place, and we looked at tamarisk  trees, caper bushes, almond trees, and fig trees there.  We also saw an ancient well and talked about the story of Rebecca pouring water for Eliezer (the servant of Abraham) and his ten camels and how much work that would have taken.  We also got the chance to herd some sheep and goats.  That was really fun, even though it was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  You have to stand behind the sheep and push them, rather than try to lead them in the front.  And they are kind of hard to get going, but once you get them going, they will keep moving pretty well.  At one point our guide had us separate the sheep and the goats, and that was kind of hard because they all just wanted to clump together in one big group.  It was neat to do that because I feel like I will understand all of the sheep analogies that there are in the scriptures now much better.  

After herding sheep, we got to go to a campsite looking place, and we split into groups and made our own lentil soup and pita bread.  It was really fun to cook something after not cooking anything for two months almost.  I chopped an onion for the soup, and I could tell that I was out of practice because I couldn't do it very quickly.  Haha!  That was a really yummy lunch, and we had a good time making it.  Our group had some of the best food because most of the other groups burned theirs.  

Also at Neot Kadumim, a Torah scribe talked to us.  He read the Torah for us, and showed how you could read one passage in several different ways.  He showed us how he makes ink and talked about how long it could take to write one scroll.  The process is very intricate.  They don't allow any mistakes, so if you mess up on writing a letter, then you have to start over on another piece of parchment for the section you are on.  

On Thursday, we had a Passover dinner.  They call it a Seder dinner in Hebrew because the word "seder" means order.  There is a very specific order to what happens at the dinner.  The whole thing lasted about three hours because you read a lot of the story of the exodus from Egypt.  I read a narrating part at the dinner, so I got to sit at a table in the front of the room.  I really enjoyed it.  It was neat to read about the miracle of the exodus and have a ceremony about it.  Our Judaism teacher lead the dinner, and at the beginning he made the joke that every Jewish holiday can be summed up with, "They almost killed us, but they didn't.  So let's eat."  Hahaha!!  The grape juice we drank instead of wine was really good.  The whole dinner was pretty neat, and the food was really good.  Except for the unleavened bread we ate.  It's called matza, and it pretty much tastes like cardboard.  Bleh!  But the whole thing was a good experience.  I really liked it.  Too bad we couldn't be here for the actual holiday of Passover.  One thing that I noticed as we went through the dinner was that all the words were in past tense.  "God brought us out of Egypt, God has done great miracles for us, etc."  It made me realize how much God has done in the past for his children.  But the great thing is that He still loves His children now, and we still see God's hand in our lives today.  It's not only something that happened in the past.  God still does miracles today.  We just have to know to look for them because they may not be as grand as parting the Red Sea.   

Yesterday, I went out into the city with some friends, and after shopping around a bit, we found this Jewish bakery right next to the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish quarter that was about to close for the day.  Since it was the end of the day on a Friday and they were closing right before the Sabbath started, they were trying to get rid of their stuff, so everything was really cheap.  So I got this bag full of pastries for 6 shekels.  (Less than $2).  I shared with my friends, and I ate some more of it today after church.  (Every Sabbath here feels like fast Sabbath because we eat breakfast at eight, but we have dinner at four with no lunch in between, so I am always starving by dinnertime.  So it was good to have something to eat right after church at 1.)  So that bakery is definitely a gem that I plan on going back to because their stuff was so good, and it was so cheap. 

Today at church, I did a musical number with my friends Morgan and Luiza.  Morgan and I played a violin duet of "How Great Thou Art" while Luiza accompanied us.  It was really fun to do that with them.  I love church here because every sacrament meeting and every lesson in class is so good.  Like today we had a really great lesson in Relief Society about Sister Burton's talk "First Observe, Then Serve" from the Relief Society broadcast this last September.  Everyone always makes such good comments.  Every week we have quite a few visitors because lots of people come here on vacation, so you just never know what cool people that make comments you get to hear from in classes or in testimony meetings.  

This next week we have finals for four of our classes and a midterm for one of them.  I'm excited because that means the hard part of the semester is almost over.  After this, we will get to go on more trips and be able to spend more time out in the city.  Unfortunately though, we don't get to go on a field trip this next week which is sad.  But that's all right.  Thank you to everyone who reads this blog!  I really appreciate the chance to share this experience with others.  

 The beach place we went to at Eilat.

 Some of our group at Eilat chilling on the beach.

 Kimmy Watts, me, and Kilee Fairbanks at Eilat.

 Some of our group in the water at Eilat.  The water was extremely clear and extremely salty.

 Lots of people were kite-surfing out in the Red Sea.  Look how blue the water is!  (I have no idea why it's called the Red Sea).

 The view you can see from the beach.  The Negev Desert.  So dry and hot.

 Me, Sarah King, and Alfredo Solar at the restaurant we ate dinner at.  We thought this cow statue was pretty funny since it seemed like it had nothing to do with the restaurant.

 The landscape at Neot Kadumim, which is a Bible nature preserve.

 This is an actual ancient biblical well with a cistern underneath that you can draw water out of still.  That is my friend Rodolfo pulling water out.  Notice how leaky the bucket is with all the water coming out of the bottom.

 Me and a sheep at Neot Kadumim.

 More sheep!  (Nathan and Jordan, I totally thought about all of the sheep jokes we made at work.  Haha!
Imagine stuffing one of these in the buffer.  What?!?)

 Us trying to herd the sheep and goats around.  It's actually harder than they make it look on all of the Bible videos.

 A group of us herding sheep and goats.

 More herding sheep.  The sheep were having a hard time getting going at that point.

We had to separate the sheep and goats, and my group herded the goats, and these are the goats we herded.  That was hard because the goats kept trying to run away and join the sheep.

We got to cook lentil soup and pita bread at Neot Kadumim, and it was really yummy!  It was also really fun to cook something again after not cooking anything for like 2 months. 

 This was part of our group making pita bread.  Haha!

 A Torah scribe showing us how to read the Torah.  (The Torah is the five books of Moses.)  That scroll is older than the United States.  And it is all hand-written.  To buy a scroll like this would cost about $35,000.

 Before the Seder dinner started.  This is the view from where I was sitting.  I had a seat at the head table since I read a narration part.

 A typical decorated table at the Seder dinner.

 More decorations from the Seder dinner.  This was in front of the head table.

Some of the guys chugging the bottles of grape juice leftover after the Seder.

I went back to the Garden of Gethsemane today, and I noticed this carving into the rock that I didn't notice before.  I think it's a cool image of what Christ might have looked like during the atonement.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Yad Vashem, Mt. Herzl, Zedekiah's Cave, Rockefeller Museum, Hurva Synagogue, Light Festival, Israeli Soccer Game, City of David, Hezekiah's Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, and the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Mary Magdalene

This has been an extremely busy week!  We did something big everyday this week.  Luckily classes and homework haven't been too crazy this week in order to accommodate for all of things we've done this week.  On Sunday, we took a trip to the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem called Yad Vashem.  Going to the museum was really interesting.  One of the things that they try really hard to do there is to tell individual stories of different people through all of the artifacts the museum has received.  It is needless to say that going through a holocaust museum for two hours is a very sobering experience.  One thing that made the museum extremely Israeli is that at the end of the exhibit, they talk a lot about the rise of the Zionist movement.  (The idea of the Jewish people having their own state in Israel.)  Then you walk outside, and you see this magnificent vista of West Jerusalem and how beautiful it is outside.  And it's supposed to create a feeling of pride in the Israeli state.  I didn't really feel that as much since I'm not Jewish or an Israeli, but I can appreciate what they were trying to do.  After we went through the museum, we stopped and ate lunch at some picnic tables near the museum.  Everyone was pretty quiet and pensive after going through the museum.  But after a while, we started talking at my table about what we thought as we were going through the museum.  And we started talking about how it is good to remember what happened during the Holocaust  so that it doesn't happen again, but that we don't need to feel bad for the people that suffered through it because Christ already suffered for all of those afflictions and pains that those people went through.  He is their Savior too, and He felt the suffering of the Holocaust already.  I thought that was a neat insight that different people thought of, particularly my friend Morgan Garlock brought up.  

After eating lunch, we visited Mount Herzl, where our Judaism professor talked to us about Zionism and how important it was in creating the State of Israel.  One thing that I thought was cool was that he connected the bringing of Herzl's bones to be buried in Jerusalem is very reminiscent of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  David did this to legitimize Jerusalem as the new religious capital of Israel, and the bringing of Herzl's bones to Jerusalem legitimized the Zionist movement in Israel.  So Mt. Herzl can be considered the Holy of Holies of secular Zionism.  

On Monday, we had a free day since we had been on a field trip on Sunday.  I did a few different things.  First I went with some friends to Zedekiah's cave.  (Zedekiah was the King during Lehi's time that was still king when Jerusalem was taken into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 BC.)  The cave is thought to have been a limestone quarry for much of the limestone that was used to build the city from David all the way down to Zedekiah's time.  It's name after Zedekiah because the water that drips from the ceiling is thought to be the tears of Zedekiah weeping over the lost city of Jerusalem after it was captured.  The coolest thing about the cave is that it is 200 meters long, and it is all underneath the Old City of Jerusalem.  I think that's pretty amazing.  After Zedekiah's Cave, we went to the Rockefeller Museum, which was started sometime in the early 20th century.  It's full of archaeological finds from Egypt and Israel.  It was pretty interesting.  The building is really beautiful, and it sits on a hill right outside the city gates.  After that, we went to the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.  We were so lucky because we got there about five minutes right before the only English tour they were giving that day.  The Hurva Synagogue is actually pretty new.  It was originally built in the 19th century, but then it was destroyed in the war of Independence in 1948 by the Palestinians.  Then it was recently completed once again in 2005.  It was beautiful inside!  And underneath the synagogue, while they were doing construction on it for the second time, a piece of the road that lead to the Temple Mount during Christ's time was discovered.  So they took us underground, and we got to see that, which was really neat.  The Synagogue is an Orthodox synagogue.  It was really beautiful inside.  It was the closest thing to an LDS temple I've seen in Jerusalem.  It was beautiful in a very simple way, rather than just being extremely lavish like so many of the other churches I've seen  here.  There is a huge white dome on top, and we got to go up in it.  There's also a balcony on the outside of the dome, so we got to walk out there, which was really neat.  Honestly, it was the best view I've had of Jerusalem since coming here because it is right in the middle of the city.  And it is actually even higher than the Dome of the Rock, even though nothing in the Old City is supposed to be.  

Then on Monday night, Jerusalem was having a light festival in the Old City.  We are normally not allowed in the Old City after dark, but that night we were to see the lights.  There were lots of different light displays that different artists had created to decorate the Old City.  It was basically the equivalent of people coming out to see lights at Christmas time like we do in the U.S.  All kinds of people were there, and it was just a cool thing that united a divided city for a night.  And the artwork was very beautiful.  

On Tuesday night, most of the students at the JC and one of the service couples went to a soccer game.  It was Israel vs. the U.K.  And it was the under-21 teams, but there were still a ton of people that came out for it.  There's a huge soccer stadium in West Jerusalem right next to the mall, so that's where the game was.  Tickets were only 20 shekels (about $5), so I went.  It was pretty fun.  Israel won 1-0.  And when they scored that one goal, the whole stadium went nuts.  Even more so I thought than people cheering for a touchdown at a football game.  It was a good experience, and I'm glad I got to go.  The only downside of the night is that it took us forever to get home because no one knew which bus to take home or where the bus even was, etc.  So that was annoying, but it was fine because we got home by about 10:45 that night anyway.  

On Wednesday, we took a field trip to the City of David, which is just south of the city walls of the Old City Jerusalem now.  There were some neat ruins there.  We looked down on the ruins and made jokes about being able to see Bathsheba's house.  Lots of people dispute about what ruins went with what building because a lot of the buildings date a little bit after than they think David would have been the king.  But that doesn't matter.  It was still neat to see where the original city of Jerusalem was.  The city has really migrated north and west since the City of David was established.  After seeing the ruins and talking about King David, we went through Hezekiah's Tunnel.  This is something you have to do if you ever go to Jerusalem.  Hezekiah's Tunnel is an underground tunnel that was build during the reign of Hezekiah (hence the name of the tunnel) to channel water into the city during the Assyrians attacking Jerusalem.  They were afraid that the Assyrians would cut off their water supply from the Gihon Spring, so they dug a 2000 meter-long tunnel underground to get water into the city.  We waded through the tunnel.  The water came up to our knees most of the time, and as high as mid-thigh at one point.  The cool thing about the tunnel was that it has less than 1% of an incline through the whole tunnel, and the tunnel was dug from the two sides towards the middle.  The tunnel lets out close to the pool of Siloam, where Christ healed a blind man.  The story comes from John 9.  We sang the song "Amazing Grace" there, and the last line of that song is "was blind but now I see," which was really neat because in the story the man that was healed said, "One thing, I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25).  That was really neat to sing that at the sight of a miracle.  

On Wednesday evening, we heard from a ninety-five-year-old man from Poland that went to nine different work camps and concentration camps during the Holocaust.  Both of his parents and his six siblings were killed early on in the Holocaust.  He had moved to Guatemala with his wife after the Holocaust, so he spoke in Spanish, and some of the guys that went on Spanish-speaking missions translated for him.  He moved to Israel in 1969, and he has been here ever since.  It was really interesting. He just seemed so happy and positive about life.  I really enjoyed his story, even though it was sad.  He was a really good example of what it means to have a good attitude and to never forsake God.  He said that he felt like God kept him alive the whole time and that even there were people around him asking where God was at such a horrible time, he never did because he knew that God would help him to get through it.  I think he will definitely be blessed even more in the next life for his faith.  And it made me want to have a better attitude about life in general.  I also really liked hearing him talk in Spanish.  I feel like my ability to understand Spanish has definitely declined, but that's okay.  I'll get that all back when I take more Spanish in the fall.  By the end of him talking, I could understand about 95% of what he was saying. 

On Thursday, I went with some people on a little outing to the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Mary Magdalene.  It was a very beautiful church.  It was very ornately decorated.  They supposedly keep the remains of Mary Magdalene and Elizabeth there.  They also had some relics that came from some other saints.  On the wall was a huge painting of Mary Magdalene trying to convince a Roman ruler that Christ had risen again.  One of the nuns there explained to us that the way she was able to convince him was that she showed him an egg and said that even though you can't see it right now, there is a chicken inside the egg that is alive.  And then she said that if she was telling the truth about Christ living that the egg would turn red in her hand.  According to tradition, the egg turned red, and so now, members of the Russian Orthodox Church always greet each other with red eggs on Easter.  The nun also told us that that is where the tradition of dying Easter eggs comes from.  I thought that was a cool little story even if we don't know if it's true or not.  

We had a talent show on Thursday night at the Center.  It was really neat to see how talented different people are.  I played "Danse Espagnole" by Kreisler in the talent show. Everyone told me that I did a great job and seemed to be really impressed.  It was really nice to have have such a rewarding feeling after working so hard on that piece all last semester. I also played the violin accompaniment to my friend Rose's song "Savior Redeemer of My Soul."  I really enjoyed doing that.  It was definitely a great night.  

I'm really excited for tomorrow.  We are going to a place called Eilat, which is a town in Israel on the Red Sea.  And we are going to go snorkeling in the Red Sea!  It's a student activity, not a field trip, so we had to pay extra for it, but I think it will be great and totally worth it.  They told us it's about a four-hour drive down there.  I didn't know you could even drive for four hours in Israel since it's such a small country.  But it will be a great time!  I'll post pictures next week.  
 An image on the side of the Holocaust museum called Yad Vashem.  This picture shows the people going like "sheep to the slaughter" into the holocaust.

 This memorial outside the museum is to commemorate those that rose up in resistance during the Holocaust.

 A shot of the museum from the outside.  It is a long triangular prism that looks like it's floating off of the ground.  It is meant to represent a world that is not part of this world because the Holocaust was so horrible.

 Me on top of Mt. Herzl that is right next to Yad Vashem.  This is where Theodor Herzl is buried, the founder of the political Zionism movement.

 Graves of speakers of the Knesset on Mt. Herzl.  The Knesset is the congress of Israel.

Inside Zedekiah's Cave.  This whole cave is underneath the Old City.  It goes back about 200 meters.  It's pretty impressive that the whole thing is completely underneath the city and that the city is still standing on top of it with that much space hollowed out.

 The Rockefeller Museum right outside the walls of the Old City.  It is an archaeological museum that was one of the first museums to be opened in Israel.

 The courtyard of the Rockefeller Museum.

 This is the fountain across the courtyard in the picture above.  The tiles behind the fountain were all hand made and are done in the same style as the ones on the Dome of the Rock.

 A view of the Jerusalem Center from the top of the hill where the Rockefeller Museum is.  It's a pretty prominent landmark, which is really great because it is such a beautiful building.

 The Hurva Synagogue in the middle of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.  The pictures below are from the balcony on the outside of the dome.

 Inside the main hall of the Hurva Synagogue.  We weren't allowed to do anything but look in because there were people in there studying and worshiping while we were there taking a tour.

 A view of the synagogue from the second floor.  The stone wall in the front was left from the previous synagogue that was built here that was destroyed by Muslims.  It is significant that the east wall was the one that was left because that is the wall that faces the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

 The minaret connected to the synagogue leftover from when Muslims destroyed the synagogue.

 The view of Jerusalem from the balcony on top of the Hurva Synagogue.  On the left is the Tower of Ascension that is connected to a Russian Orthodox church.  The white tower in the middle is the Church of the Redeemer in the Old City, and the gray domes to the left of that are the domes of the Church of the Holy Seplechre.

 The other side of the view on top of the Hurva Synagogue.  You can see the golden dome of Dome of the rock, Hebrew University on the left side of the picture with the tower in the background, the Jerusalem Center in the middle, and the Augusta Victoria church tower on the right side of the picture.

 Me on top of the Hurva Synagogue.

 Part of the light festival that they had in the Old City on Monday night.

 Me at the light show in Jerusalem.

 More of the light show on Monday night.  You can see that there were tons of people there.

 Me, Kjersten Ness, and Amy Fillmore on our "field trip" to underneath the Center.  Really it was just a maintenance place with a bunch of pipes.  And we got to write our names on the pipes down there.  (Shown in the picture above.)
 Me, Ryan Schnell, and Kjersten Ness at the Israeli vs. U.K. soccer game on Tuesday night of this week.  As you can see, the stadium was pretty full.

 Our group at the soccer game.  Most of the students went, and one of the service couples did too.

 Looking down on the ruins of the City of David that is south of the Old City of Jerusalem.

 A view of the Kidron Valley that runs next to the City of David.  This is what East Jerusalem looks like.  (The Palestinian part of town.)

 This is the southern part of the wall that goes around the Temple Mount.  If you look very closely, you can see the triple gates that used to be an entrance to the Temple Mount in Christ's time.  There are some remains of the stairs from Herod's temple there as well, but you can't really see them in this picture.

Part of what might have been David's palace as a part of the City of David.

 This is part of the wall that scholars think Nehemiah preached from.  The gray covering in the picture is a place that has been nicknamed "Ahiel's House."  It is called that because there is the layout of a house from Lehi's time that references someone named Ahiel that had a high status in the kingdom due to the large space that his house probably took up.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but it does jut pretty far out of the wall.

 Me walking out of Hezekiah's tunnel.  I got wet all the way up to my thighs, but it was really fun walking through the tunnel in the water.
 The pool of Siloam where Christ healed a blind man.  The steps there lead into the pool.  They think it is much larger than this, but they have not excavated further because the Greek Orthodox church next door does not want further excavation on their land.

 Tombs in the City of David.  It is unknown whether or not these were tombs for royalty, but it is possible that David's line could have been buried here at one point.

 Me in from of a bronze age wall.  This wall dates back to Abraham's time of about 1900 BC.  This part of the wall was probably part of the Salem settlement that was here before David made Jerusalem his capital.

 Davis Esplin, Me, and Paul Bradshaw in front of the wall from King David's time.  (1000 BC.)

 Me in front of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Mary Magdalene.  Unfortunately we couldn't take pictures inside.

 What olives look like before they are ripe.  I tried eating one, and it was pretty nasty and bitter.  These were at the Russian Orthodox church as well.

Rose Kiernan, Sister Clayton, and me after the talent show on Thursday night.  Rose helped turn pages for Sister Clayton while I played "Danse Espagnole," and I accompanied her on  the violin while she sang "Savior Redeemer of my Soul."  Sister Clayton accompanied both of our numbers on the piano.  These are some of the most talented people I have ever met.