Jerusalem: Underground to the rooftops

First of all, slichah (excuse me) for the lack of posts. This program runs us ragged! Most mornings we’re up at 6 a.m. and have jam-packed days that run until late into the night. Here’s a long overdue post about one of our days in Jerusalem!

On Sunday, we were up early as usual and headed for the City of David, an incredibly old part of Jerusalem that is a national park and still undergoing archeological excavation.

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Irad, our rough and tumble trip guide, took us to a beautiful vantage point where we had incredible views of the city. He explained the history of the area, including the many churches and mosques in the area. To sum it up, this is the most holy land in the world and Jesus’s old stomping grounds.

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We also had a good view of the Western Wall, which we had visited Friday evening for Shabbat, and would be returning to later in this day.

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Our first activity was trekking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a 3,000-year-old aqueduct built so the people could have access to clean water without having to be on the surface outside the walls of the city (history lesson: there’s always been a lot of wars around here).

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This was one of the coolest things we’ve done on this trip: walking through a hand-chiseled tunnel in knee-deep water, and sometimes in complete darkness. The whole experience was totally surreal and tons of fun. I felt just like Indiana Jones!

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After we emerged from our dark tunnel, we had lunch in the Old City (more falafel), then went to the Western Wall. As one of the most religiously significant places in the world, it was quite intense to have time to be in front of it and tuck our wishes in, written on tiny slips of paper. I took time to meditate and reflect, and felt an incredibly strong and grounding presence there.

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The Old City of Jerusalem is filled with more history than you can shake a stick at. Wish I could remember more, or give you Irad’s lectures on tape!

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We spent the afternoon walking around Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street, a busy shopping area filled with falafel shops, creperies, hookah bars and clothing shops.

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Jerusalem is an incredible city filled with thousands of years of history, and it’s hard to wrap your head around how many important events have happened here. We barely scratched the surface of this magical place, and I hope I have the chance to return someday to discover more (aka, Birthright is working!).

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