After our day of rest has passed and I now have access to wifi, there is so much to recap over the last two days. On Friday morning we took a walking tour of the Old City in Jerusalem. We explored the Armenian and the Jewish quarters. We visited King David's tomb and saw where the last supper was held. The sites are so historic that it is challenging to grasp both the age and the mass significance of these places to so many people - Jewish and not.
Our final and most emotional stop was the Kotel - the Western Wall - a place, that is very special to many different people and brings all walks of life together. It was very moving, however, I also felt nervous. I had the expectation that I would feel something, but I wasn't sure exactly what. I was concerned I wouldn't touch the wall correctly or my notes weren't sending the right messages. But then Brittany, one of our trip leaders, took the women aside and told us that this was personal experience for each of us, it was whatever we wanted it to be and we could take from it what we liked. I'm still processing what that experience did for me, if anything at all, but I do recognize the value of it and felt so grateful to be in such a sacred and holy space - a space many people come from so far away to be in.
After the Kotel, we were set free to traverse the extremely busy shook in Jerusalem. The market was full of life, spices, candy, fresh fruit, and foreign smells. Later that day, we commenced Shabbat with a Kabbalat service in the park followed by a Shabbat dinner at our hotel.
On Saturday morning, we were finally able to sleep in! Our days are extremely busy, with only an hour or two per day for free time, so I really valued the extra hours of rest.
Today we woke up early and went to Yad Vashem- the national and international holocaust memorial and museum. Our guide was engaging, knowledgable, and held our attention for almost 3 hours. The museum is filled with relics from World War II, Natzi soldiers, concentration camps, and much more. Our guide stressed the series of choices that determined the fate of Jews during the Holocaust - to persecute them like the nazis or to help save them like the righteous gentiles. She also emphasized the importance of passing along the stories of Holocaust survivors, spreading their experience so that from generation to generation, their experience is not forgotten.
Soon we will hop on the bus and head to the Negev! We will be hiking Masada at sunrise and later floating in the Dead Sea, so fun!! More later! Le'hit!