Israel, The Dome of the Rock and Western Wall Part 7 Holy Land Tour

Israel, The Dome of the Rock and Western Wall Part 7 Holy Land Tour

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Destination: The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem Israel
Date: March 2010

Me posing in front of the city of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock in the background
Jerusalem, Israel, March 2010

(experts from a letter home to my mom and kids)
Sunday. We are finally heading home. It doesn’t mean we didn’t do a ton of things today. Yesterday was the sabbath here, so today everything is back to normal and open again. We started our day off going to the Dome of the Rock or as we know it the temple site of King Solomons temple. Since the Muslims own this property it has a big mosque on it and is protected by Muslim soliders. This is where they believe Muhammed went up to heaven and walked with God. Of course we know it as the site where Christ threw out the money changers, where the Ark of the Covenant was once kept, and where King Solomon’s temple once stood. 

A close up of the Dome of the Rock inside the walls of this site
Jerusalem, Israel March 2010
A close up of the intricate mosaic of the Dome
Jerusalem, March 2010

 This site reminded me a lot of the Taj Mahal though not as grand in scale. It has been here since the late 6 th century so it’s old and definitely a hot piece of real estate over here. While going onto the site I was asked to cover my shoulders (and I was wearing a shade under a vest) and once inside my sister-in-law and her husband, “T” and “R”, were asked to not hold hands. Women and Men cannot be affectionate.   Sadly this site did nothing for me spiritually.  Maybe because it is now occupied by a non-Christian sect, I’m not sure, but it gave me a feeling of not being welcomed.  When we entered the temple site we had to go through a passport check and more metal detectors.  Jewish people are not welcomed here, and so our guide once again had to leave us at the door. 

My in-laws pose with Trent’s brother “T” and his wife “M” in front of the Dome of the Rock
Notice no one was able to touch on this holy site
Jerusalem, March 2010

As I read in the LDS Tour Guide, “The Holy Mount, Temple Mount, or Harem ssh-Sharif in the Old City is for Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, a sacred shrine.  Early Jews and Christians knew it as the “Hill of Zion” for it was here on the stone summit of Holy Mount, known in the Old Testament as Mount Moriah, That Abraham prepared to sacrifice his sone Isaac.  Solomons’ temple was built here to protect the Ark of th Covenant, but was leveled in 586 BC by the Babylonians.  In the 7th Century, the Dome of the Rock, an exquisite mosaic mosque capped with gold, was constructed to mark this spot.”

Me posing at the Dome of the Rock in my sensible shoes.
After all our walking I gave up any kind of fashion for comfort!
Jerusalem, March 2010

When we exited the site we came to the wailing wall where the Jews now separate the men and the women. Here faithful Jew’s go to the wall to pray or write prayers and put them in the crevice of the wall.  It is supposed to be the only wall that would have been closest to the temple that the Jewish people can worship. They are not welcome up at the Dome of the Rock, nor can they go there and be religious. Bibles aren’t even allowed up there. 

A view of the Western Wall from the ramp that leads down from the Dome of the Rock
Jerusalem, Israel, March 2010
An up close shot of the Western Wall with little prayers stuffed into the crevices
Jerusalem, Israel March 2010

“The Western Wall is part of the retaining wall that King Herod built when he expanded the Temple Mount.  For political and religious reasons, Jews can no longer worship on the Temple Mount.  For centuries it has been replaced by the Western Wall as their place of worship, being the closest to the Temple Mount they can come.  They worship facing the mount and use the Western Wall a a giant synagogue.  All Jewish synagogues in the world are oriented toward the Holy Mount.”  LDS Travel Study Guide

One of the few places this flag can wave undisturbed in this torn city
Jerusalem, Israel March 2010
Walking through the Armenian district where we didn’t see much since it
is a walled city within a walled city
Jerusalem, Israel March 2010

Once we left that site we walked through the Jewish quarter of town. It was so much cleaner and such better food up there that we wondered why this was the first time we’d been to that side all week. There is a new Waldorf Astoria going in up there and Trent and I took mental note that when we do this trip someday in ten years with the kids we want to stay there.   Just letting you know incase anyone wants to know where they should stay In Jerusalem. We then walked by the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem but since it is a walled neighborhood within a walled city we couldn’t see anything.  We did see a girl about Clay’s age, 8, walking her brothers and sisters all 6 of them  through town pushing a stroller with no parents or adults around, it was adorable but giving me a heart attack. 

Outside of the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel March 2010
Walking into the beautiful Holocaust Museum with our group
Jerusalem, Israel  March 2010

When we left that area we went on to the Holocaust museum. It was very nice but of course heart wrenching.   It’s a great tribute for these people who have suffered so much. 
On a side note,  my Mom wrote me about the missiles fired from the Hamas at Israel. The interesting thing is… everything  here seems go be life as usual. The security seems the same, the life here seems to be unaffected. I even asked our local guide to see if it was true, and he said it was, but the Israelis are so used to life with war, little things like this do not affect their daily life.  Otherwise they’d all stay home all day and worry. It was a very different perspective.  Especially since there is an active draft In this country so everyone has to serve 3 years in the military when they turn 18, males and females. It did make me nervous having guards with guns on every street corner, and they were all just so young. Not nervous because of the guns, but because they are just kids. 

A memorial marker outside of the Holocaust Museum
Jerusalem, Israel March 2010
The entrance to our hotel in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel March 2010

We are at the hotel waiting for our ride to the airport now.   All the other family members have left but Trent and I.   We will get on a flight at 10:00pm and it is thirteen hours to Atlanta and then another two and a-half to San Antonio.  It should be a very long night, after an amazingly spiritual trip to the Holyland! 

As always happy travels and be safe!!