Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Schindler, the Mount of Olives, and Neil A. Armstrong

What do those things have in common, you ask?? Read on to find out!

To start out, I happened to visit 4 tombs over the last few weeks. What, isn't that what you do for fun?

The first one, Oskar Schindler's tomb, I'd been excited to visit for a while. The cemetery had really restrictive visiting hours, so I didn't get there until my time in Jerusalem was almost up. Schindler, which you know if you've seen the movie, singlehandedly saved 1200 Jews during the Holocaust. He was a member of the Nazi party who owned an enamelware factory in Poland. When he realized how evil the Nazis were, he risked everything to save the lives of the Jews that worked at his factory. It's one of my favorite stories from WWII! In the last scene of the movie, some of the Jews Schindler saved visited his grave along with the actors that played them in the movie. The Jewish tradition is to leave stones instead of flowers.

Just down the road from Schindler's tomb is David's tomb. As in King David! Wow, they actually know where he's buried *sarcasm*. But it was interesting because it was also a synagogue, with lots of people praying and studying inside.

On a different day, we stopped by Mount Herzl again. We went there for the first time when we went to Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum) as a class. Theodore Herzl is kind of like the George Washington of Israel. He was the first person to come up with the idea of a Jewish state. 

On the Mount of Olives, we went to Mary's Grotto, which according to some is where she was buried. There's another church over the site where she died (Dormition Abbey), but this is the traditional burial location.

And inside this little doorway is the actual tomb. Not sure if you were actually supposed to pose in it.

Another site we went to on the Mount of Olives was the Russian Orthodox church of St. Mary Magdalene. You can see its golden domes from all over the city. They also have very restrictive visiting hours, so I was happy to finally get there.

With Kelby!

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but it was a beautiful church!

The site that commemorates the location of the Garden of Gethsemane is also on the Mount of Olives.

Those are all olive trees behind me.

There's another beautiful church right next to the garden. It's called the Church of All Nations, because many different countries contributed funds to build it.

As a class, we went to an archeological park right next to the Temple Mount where they uncovered the stairs that were the entrance to Herod's Temple during the Roman period. Our professor told us that out of all the places in the Holy Land, this is the safest bet of somewhere where Christ actually walked.

Neil A. Armstrong visited this place when he came to Jerusalem, and our professor read us a quote where he said "I am more excited about stepping on these stones than I was about stepping on the moon." I thought that was a cool story.

Also, fun fact: I looked up that quote to get the exact wording, and I found a story that Muslim newspapers around the world reported that Armstrong converted to Islam after magically hearing the call to prayer while he was on the moon. I can say from personal experience that the call to prayer is loud, but not that loud. The U.S. State Department even made an official statement in the 80s to correct that claim. hahaha thanks internet

Well, there you have it. 4 tombs, 2 churches, a garden, and a staircase. Always so much to see in Jerusalem.

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