Sunday, September 26, 2010

All Roads Lead to Jerusalem

Since I’ve never been to Israel before the moment we landed nearly a month ago, each trip we take is brand new, exciting and emotional. Even my first trip to IKEA was pretty exhilarating. I mean, it was my first trip to IKEA and my first trip to Netanya. Okay okay, maybe comparing IKEA and Jerusalem is a bit exaggerated…alright maybe even a bit sacrilege, but you get the point.

I’ve been looking forward to going to Jerusalem since…well, since I was a little girl in Sunday school actually. It has only existed in my Bible and in the news. This city, one I’ve never stepped foot in, means so much to me in ways I could never explain. An odd feeling, but I’m certain I'm not isolated in that sentiment. Only a city so rich in history, so sacred to many, so rife with conflict could engender such emotion.

DH, his brothers and I got on the road early towards Jerusalem. Not that I minded getting up early though, because I couldn’t sleep anyway. We made a stop at Latrun, a memorial to the Israeli Armed Corps. That’s what I get for sightseeing with three boys. After the boys got their fill of playing with tanks...that’s right ladies, they never grow out of it…we finally get back on the road to Jerusalem.

Boys and their toys.

Jerusalem is nestled in the Judean Hills and the flat coastal land gently climbs higher as we make our way east near the Holy City. We park in the uber luxurious Mamilla Mall. Even the Mamilla Mall, with its Rolex store and 5-star hotel, hides tiny reminders of its place in history. Mamilla was a Jewish/Arab business district that was nearly destroyed and was literally a no-man’s land after the 1948 War of Independence. Blue numbers are etched into the bricks of some buildings. These numbers were carefully marked during reconstruction so that each brick could go back to its rightful place.
The Walls of the Old City from Mamilla.

We entered the walls of the Old City through the Jaffa Gate and walked through the Armenian Quarter and Jewish Quarter towards The Kotel, or the Western Wall. I separated from DH and his brothers and slowly made my way towards the last remnant of the Second Temple. I was almost too overwhelmed to pray. Thoughts fumbled, words failed. But I’m sure He knows my heart anyway.

Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock
We then toured through the Temple Mount and the excavations of the sites surrounding it. I stood in the presence of where Jesus overturned tables of the moneychangers, overlooked where Abraham bound Isaac and saw the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended to Heaven.

My first trip of many to Jerusalem was truly an emotional journey. I was exhausted and eager to get back home to Tel Aviv. DH and I decided to head home early and made our way to the central bus station. As we settled into our seats for the 45 minute trip back to Tel Aviv, we noticed the air conditioning wasn’t on. Surely the bus driver wasn’t going to make us ride in this heat. Yep, he had the full intention of letting us ride in this heat.

It didn’t take long for the sweltering 95 degree heat to unnerve the natives. After each and every passenger yelled at the bus driver to turn on the air conditioner, he finally caved and grudgingly blasted the icy air on us. Calm once again settled over the bus. As we drove up the steep hills of Jerusalem, I noted how slowly we were going and that half the population of Israel were passing us in their cars. I wasn’t the only one. The natives once again yelled at the bus driver to driver faster. He ignored their requests until again each and every one of the 40 passengers yelled at him to go faster.

“I can’t go faster,” he said. “The bus is tired.”

The yelling continued.

40 angry Israelis, 2 exhausted Americans and 1 tired bus pulled into the Tel Aviv station exactly 2 hours later. Apparently all roads do lead to Jerusalem, but the ride back is a little bumpy.


  1. Can't wait to experience Jeruselem with an experienced guide (you). Maybe not the bus home..

  2. I love the way you tell recall your trips, I can't imagine what you felt and can understand why your thoughts would fuble and words fail. Worry not though, God can hear all that you really want to say to him.

  3. I think so too Jen! It was an amazing experience and I can't wait to go back.

    Mom, you better get ready! I'm dragging you all over this incredible country!