Monday, June 24, 2013


June 22 - This morning is free time and some of the group went into the old city for more shopping - like they haven't had enough.  Others went swimming and I have been sitting here trying to finish this blog.  Most of us checked out of the hotel by 12:30 PM.

We stopped at Dominoes for Pizza and then went to the Promenade to have lunch and get one more look at Jerusalem before heading out.  When Mike took the left over drinks to the bus he found that Lori had been locked in the bus.  I don't know how this happened but she couldn't get out.  She tried honking the horn but it didn't work without the key.  Obviously the bus was very secure when no one was in it and we left all our stuff on it.  Fortunately she was fine and Doron said this was a first in the 40 years he has been guiding.

We then set out for the Church of St Peter of Gallicantu.  We had a reading of scripture when we were all in the dungeon and Lindsey had to do the reading since her eyes are a lot younger.  I sure am glad I put that flashlight app on my phone.

 and then to the Garden Tomb for communion.

Doron threw in another surprise for everyone.  We stopped at the 911 Memorial.  Israel is the only country that has put up a memorial to the 911 disaster.  It has a fragment of the Towers in it and the names of all that were killed.  It is a very nice memorial, but they need to fix the roads.  When we went 3 years ago we went by 4 wheel drive and this time by bus.  What an experience.

After a bus tour of Tel Aviv and a walk around Jaffa

 Doron  treated us to dinner at a restaurant by the Medeterrainian Sea where his daughter, Osnat and her family joined us. His granddaughter, Noam, likes him just a little.

This is one thing I have never seen a waiter do in the US.  Talk about talent!

We then headed for the airport and the trip home.  Stienkes, Currans and Phyllis & I road back to Jerusalem on the bus.  Doron will take. Phyllis and I to the airport in the AM for our send off.  Stienkes will catch a shuttle for the airport later and head for Germany.  The Currans are staying at another hotel close to town for a couple of days and then they will head for home.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 21 - We met at the bus at 7:45 for departure to Qumran.  We tried to get out as early as possible because today will be one hot day.

  After Qumran we stopped at the Ahava factory for a shopping experience, which the men love so much.

Next onto Masada where it was 98.6 degrees according to the internet. Lindsey thought it was just a little too hot.

Phyllis and Carrie stayed in the air conditioning and found a really neat museum.  This is a definite option for those who visit Masada for the 2nd or 3rd time.  I told Phyllis it would be my turn the next time to stay at the bottom.  Lindsey was really felling the heat.

After lunch at Masada, where some of our group found the McDonald's ,
we had a drive thru of En Gedi to see the Ibex

and then we headed for the Dead Sea experience in 102+ heat.  I had on one of my gauze shirts and took it off and ran it under the faucet.  Works pretty good for a short time air conditioning.
and then

We made it home by 6:00 and after showering, Phyllis and I were invited to go home with Doron to meet the rest of his family and for Shabot dinner.  He has a great condo that overlooks the hills of Jerusalem and all the lights of the city. The weather was beautiful.  The temperature in Jerusalem is alot like Colorado in the summer.  It really cools off at night.  His grand kids are adorable and love to climb all over grandpa.  Ida, his wife, cooked a great meal and we had the chance to finally meet Osnatt, his daughter who does all the computer work for her dad.  Joe we already knew from the Ramat Rachel where he has a jewelry shop.  Joe's wife does trading for a bank and Doron's son-in-law is a computer engineer.

We got home around 11:00 and hit the sack.
June 20 - Starting off this morning we headed off to Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha & Lazarus.  This took us about 45 minutes to drive to although it is only about a mile away from Jerusalem.  Since the Israelis erected the wall to stop uncontrolled access to the city it takes awhile to drive around it. We visited the church where Doron found a Mustard Tree and showed us the size of the seeds.

We had a demonstration of how to shoot a slingshot like the one David used to kill Goliath.  Of course, I had to buy one for each of my younger grandsons - won't their parents be happy???

Our last visit was to the tomb of Lazarus - which may or may not be the actual tomb. 

We then went to the Israel Museum and saw the Model City that shows us what Jerusalem was like at the time of Jesus.  It gives us an overall picture of what we have been seeing.

This is also the location of the Shrine of the Book where they have the Dead Sea Scrolls.  In the middle is a replica of the book of Isaiah which is complete and shows that the only changes in the past 2000 years is 9 letters in the whole 60+ chapters.
We also had the opportunity to visit some of the exhibits in the museum, which we had never had the chance to do before.  They have just opened a great Herod Exhibit of findings from the excavation of Herodium.

Our last stop for the day was the Holocaust Museum which is always draining.  However, I think it is a necessary part of the tour.  We can't very well concentrate on the history of Israel and ignore the most resent part of their history.  The 2 most devastating part of their history is when the temple was destroyed and when the Holocaust occurred.
They don't let kids in under the age of 10 and they suggest 14 so Josiah and Autum went with Doron for ice cream and found a "cave" to play in.

In the evening 14 of us headed to Ben Yehuda St for ice cream..

June 19 - We started this morning with preparations to visit the Old City and the Dome of the Rock.  The Muslims really don't like to see any skin on women, so we tried our best to accommodate. 

 We started off to the Old City and headed for the Western Wall.  This is the only wall standing from the Temple Mount of the 2nd Temple Period and is actually a reinforcement wall.  This is as close as the Jews can get to the place where their temple stood. It was really neat to see two doves perched on the wall.

We then proceeded to the Temple Mount to see the Dome of the Rock.  As you can see some of us were still not adequately dressed and had to wrap up in scarves.

 When we left the mount we traveled to the next site that was the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the man that could not walk or make it to the pool when the angel stirred the waters
 Every time we come we have to sing in St Anne's that has the best acoustics I have ever heard.  We all actually sounded like we could sing - as long as we remembered the words.
 Our next stop was the Antonio Fortress
and onto the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Our final stop for the day was at the gold menorah that has been made for the thrid temple.  Some of the Jews are making the articles that they will put into the 3rd temple when it is built on the temple mount.  Of course that would mean that the Dome of the Rock and the mosque that is there now would have to be destroyed and that would definitely start World War 3.  Most Jews don't even want the temple to be rebuilt.  This is a very interesting variety of cultures that you experience here.
After dinner most of the group went to the Rabbinic Tunnel along the western wall.  They have almost the whole wall excavated and have found some huge Herodian Stones that are bigger then the ones used in the pyramids in Egypt.

When they all got back to the hotel we met in the bar to wish John & Maxine a happy anniversary and then off to bed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 18 - Today we started off the day by visiting the City of David where we saw ruins of homes built at the time of David.  They way they terraced the houses with the palace at the top it was easy to see how David could see everything below that was going on.  Especially, a woman bathing on her roof
.  We then walked through Hezekiah's Tunnel.  The water was knee deep in only a few places. 
After drying off we visited the Davidson Center where we walked on the same paths that Jesus walked.  One of my favorite spots is the steps that lead up to the Temple Mount, also known as the "Teaching Steps" since the Rabbi's would sit here and teach.  This site is definitely an area that Jesus walked on and probably taught on.  It is so neat to sit there and think about the teachings he did.

We then loaded up on the bus and headed for Jericho.  We visited the store that has Hebron Glass where we gave everyone a chance to spend some money.  After this we stopped for lunch  and then drove up to the Mount of Temptation that commemorates the temptation of Christ.  This area is really wilderness and I can't imagine spending any time there let alone 40 days.
We stopped for a photo op at the sycamore tree that they say is 2000 years old and reminds us of the event when Zachias climbed the tree to see the Lord.

On the way to the next site we spotted and actual Caravan of Camels. Doron said this is very unusual to see this and we were so glad that we had this opportunity.

Doron surprised us again with a new site to see. This time we went to the site on the Jordan River that is the historical site of the baptism of Jesus.  Right across the border is Jordan.  They just opened this site about a year ago.  I gathered Jordan River water for future baptisms in our family and all I have to do now is remember that I have it.  I accidentally took a swig of it when I thought I grabbed my other water bottle and it was nasty.

We ended the tour today with the Valley of the Shadow and the 23rd Psalm.

Then it was back to the kibbutz and an early dinner, several glassis of wine and to bed.