RTW 2011: Day 23

Our second day in Jerusalem was spent a little bit further afield. We visited the Church of the Visitation first, a beautiful church on the apparent site where Mary and Elizabeth met while both were pregnant with Jesus and John the Baptist. I liked that this church was mostly dedicated to the women of the Bible, with the paintings throughout the building of Biblical women such as Ester, Rebecca, and many others.

From the Church of the Visitation we headed to The Israel Museum where we looked at a model of Jerusalem from around 60 AD. We also went inside to see the Dead Sea Scrolls display.

Next, we went to the Holocaust memorial. It was a very powerful museum. I was bawling as I went through the rooms, which covered stories of Jews from all over Europe, and many video interviews of survivors. It is such a horrible thing to remember, but so very important to never forget.

After lunch, Aharon had to leave us as we were going to Bethlehem for the afternoon. Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territory. One of the rules between the Israeli and Palestinians is that Israeli citizens cannot enter the Palestinian territory. Palestinians are allowed to go into Israel, but only for work, and they have to return every evening. Our bus driver lives in a Palestinian town, so he was able to go into Bethlehem with us. On the other side of the border, we met with another guide. He took us to The Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. This church was another joint church between three different groups, with different areas belonging to different denominations. This causes problems with maintenance and restoration, as all the churches have to agree.

After the church, we stopped at a gift shop for a little while, and Josh and I bought an olive wood nativity set. It will be beautiful at Christmas time.