Last Day in Jerusalem (October 30, 2019)

Before our feet hit the floor this morning after a glorious nine hours of sleep Dan checked on game six of the World Series. Glory be…THE NATS WON! A great way to start the day.

The breakfast buffet held new surprises: baked potatoes and cheese filled phyllo. Our waiter was the second person we’ve met who immigrated from the U.S. to Israel. (A lady at the kibbutz was the first.) Our guide at the Holocaust Museum yesterday immigrated from the Netherlands and even converted to Judaism. I digress.

Today was for some the highlight of the entire tour because of our visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. The church, considered to be the holiest Christian site in the world, is believed to encompass the sites where Jesus was crucified, anointed with oils in preparation for burial, buried, and resurrected. We were so very lucky because when we got there the crowds were small and the lines very short. For those with enough time to wait their turn, it is possible to touch the rock where the crucifixion took place, to touch the stone Jesus’ body was moved to after he died,  and also to go inside a tiny chapel to see his grave. 

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher has been remodeled, added on to, damaged, and repaired countless times over the centuries with different Christian denominations having a say about one thing or the next. The overall effect of this is a surprise around every corner with contradictory design and decorations at every turn. Near one chapel there were thousands of small crosses of various designs that pilgrims had etched into the stone walls. One small alcove commemorated the place Jesus’ cross was believed to have been dropped haphazardly into a cistern. The Greek Orthodox Church has custody of the three most revered areas in the church, so the look is very ornate and colorful with life size silver figures of the two Marys and Jesus on the cross, lots of gold lanterns dangling from the ceiling, beautiful mosaics, ornate ceilings, enormous candles, and beautiful floors.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is within view of the Mount of Olives where Jesus slept the last week of his life and adjacent to Temple Mount which for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike.

Our special morning was followed by a special afternoon. We went off the grid by going into the West Bank to visit two cousins of a man Dan works with. Cousin Sam picked us up at the hotel and kept us fully occupied with his colorful dialogue for the hour it took us to get to the West Bank checkpoint and into Ramallah. We heard about his 10 years in Chicago where he owned a Philly cheese steak restaurant that he named Chicago Cheese Steak. He delivered us to Cousin Ibrahim in Beituna who gave us a quick tour of his town and then treated us to a monster lunch. Before the main course was served we enjoyed flying-saucer-size flat bread, 12 starters, and a giant fish platter! Dan ordered fish for his entree and got the entire fish, head, tail, and all. Alan decided to go light and order what he was told were little sardine-sized fish. He got, for real, 19 of them. Sandy and I had shrimp. All of this was followed by Iraqi tea and a small (thank goodness!) dessert. Sam and Ibrahim’s warm hospitality was so kind and made for a memorable afternoon.

We left lunch at 4:00, finished our tour, drove back to Jerusalem, and went straight to our farewell-to-Israel dinner at the rooftop restaurant at Notre Dame de France. We were without food in our mouths for three entire hours tops! 

… Fun Facts …

The average Israeli citizen pays 35% income tax. The highest tax bracket is 50%. 

The sales tax (vat) is 17%. 

Jews worldwide can get immediately citizenship here if they can prove Hebrew ancestry for three generations. The actual practice of Judaism is not necessary.
Dual citizenship is allowed. 

The population has grown so quickly that there is now a hospital shortage in Israel.

The current retirement age is 64 for women and 67 for men.
The expectation is these will rise in the near future.


One thought on “Last Day in Jerusalem (October 30, 2019)

  1. What a remarkable and memorable day! We are enjoying it all vicariously with great appreciation! 😊



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