Monday, May 1, 2017

7 days in Israel, my journey to the Holy Land, part 3

From Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim by train

All pictures are taken from my cell phone. Please ask before using them. This trip was very personal and I'd like to keep my photos personal, so kindly ask prior any use.

This time, I am determined to avoid the Central Bus Station. I am heading towards Savidor Mercaz train station in Tel Aviv with bus 10 ( "otobus esser" in Hebrew).
On my way to the bus stop, my eye caught many interesting details in the city. Here are a few examples, among many others: a beautiful house, number seven, a wall inscription " Isreal" with an Israeli flag and a synagogue with the Shema, eternal reminder of HaShem's Oneness. I grab all these morning pearls like little blessings on my way.
synagogue front door with the Shema Israel

Here I am now at Savidor Mercaz. I am doing my best to order my ticket in Hebrew: " ani rotsa lalechet leyerushalayim, bevakasha." But sometimes there are words I simply ignore, so I have to continue in English. The employee is making faces when I am asking about the platform in English. "Number 4" , she replies coldly.

I am now ready to embark into the train to Yerushalayim. What an exciting journey!
The train is comfortable and I am sitting and watching the surroundings. I am taking pictures all the way.

We are riding via Beth Shemesh. I remember that there is a biblical episode involving the ark of Covenant in Beth Shemesh ( the house of the sun in Hebrew).
Every single place in Israel reminds you of Hashem. I keep asking myself how somebody could live in Israel, and still remain an atheist.

Discovering the holy town of Yerushalayim- How Yeshua provided me with a free guide.

After a one hour ride, the train stops in Yerushalayim. As I am reaching the exit, I ask a man who is using the automated machines if he knows how to reach the Kotel.

"I am going there too", he replies with a smile. "My company is paying for a guide. Feel free to join me. It is all free".

He introduces himself. His name is Giovanni. He is Italian. He comes from Sicily. I accept his generous offer. My talking partner hires a taxi and we are heading towards Jaffa Gate.
Once at Jaffa Gate, we are not seeing the tour guide immediately. Giovanni is calling him.
In fact, we had made the mistake to wait for him inside Jaffa Gate, while he was expecting Giovanni before the Gate.
Giovanni introduces me to his guide and we are ready for a very rich sight touring ( forgive me, there are names or details that I may have forgotten...)

We are starting with a panoramic view of Jerusalem and its most ancient Jewish cemetery. Then the next step has to be done on taxi.

At Jaffa door...Yerushalayim, town of the Psalmist, King David:)

A Lebanese taxi driver is taking us on board...he keeps negociating the price with the guide who is doing is best to lower the costs.
We are arriving to a very touristic point again. Some old Arab man with a donkey is posing with tourists in order to earn a few shekels....we had much fun taking this picture:)

This is just the beginning of our ride. There is much to visit...and we have to be quick. Today is Friday. Shabbat will be coming soon and the last train is at 2:45 pm. On the other hand, we also have to mind the Muslim community that will be coming out of the mosque in the afternoon. So our timing has to be very precise, and the guide is doing a great job in paying attention to all these details.

Here is another beautiful panoramic view of Jerusalem.

We then stopped at a beautiful souvenir shop.
I bought a Messianic menorah there and Giovanni acquired a wooden box with Yerushalayim graven on it for his wife.

Then the pleasure of the eyes begins: we are near Mount of Olives. The sight is wonderful!

I had been taken there in a dream, back in 1998. But seeing this place for real is a much different feeling. Everything is so intense, so beautiful here. I couldn't help thinking about our Maschiach returning as prophesied in Zachariah 14:4. The Mount of Olives is the very point of Yeshua's return. I am longing for this moment, when Yeshua will reinstate peace and a reign of justice.

This is Giovanni walking


We are now heading towards Gat Shimney ( Gethsemane), the oil press in Hebrew, which is the beautiful garden where Yeshua rabbenu taught His disciples and were He suffered tremendously.
Our guide explains that some trees are 3000 years old. Surely, they have seen Yeshua our Master.

This place, Getsemane, is so beautiful and so peaceful. There, our beautiful Savior endured for us, before He was betrayed by Yehudah Ish Kerioth ( Judah Iscariot). After that, we entered some local church ( please forgive me, I have forgotten the name) that represents the scenes at the garden.

After leaving Gethsemane, we are taking a taxi to reach the Kotel.

The guide is showing us 2000 years old stones that date back to Herod.

The Kotel experience

Again, dear readers, I would like to tell you: do not go there unprepared; This is a very holy site. Ask Yeshua to prepare you.

The guide let us 15 minutes to pray. I approached the Kotel, head covered and leaned my hand and head on the wall. It is a strange sensation when your skin touches these stones. They feel fresh, but not cold. During my own prayer, I heard some other people praying, but I was taken out of the world and alone with Hashem. It was as hearing these prayers from the outside and being inside of Hashem's "womb". My body was floating. It was very intense. When you are there, the divine element is so close, it is hard to explain, but this is how it is.

Lunch inside of the Arab quarter

After the Kotel, the three of us had some delicious meal inside of the Arab quarter before visiting the Via Dolorosa, a few churches and closing the visit with the church of the holy sepulcher ( I will tell you later why I disliked this church).

Back to the meal: as you can see, it was composed of delicious oriental specialties. The hummus was very good and everything was very fresh and nice to enjoy. On top of that we drunk some wondeful lemon juice mixed with mint. I've never tasted such a good, refreshing drink before.

This place is located at the corner between the Arab quarter and the Via Dolorosa. While enjoying our meal, I witnessed another poignant scene: some people were carrying a heavy cross and imploring: "Yeshua, please remember us".

The guide was pushing us to finish quicly because of the arrival of the Muslim crowd after prayer. So we left and started looking at the stations of Yeshua's walk while carrying His Cross.

The Via Dolorosa is very narrow and even if you are traveling with a guide or a group, I would like to warn anybody visiting this place to use extreme prudence; Never lose your walking partner (s) or guide out of sight. Although I was with Giovanni and the guide, I found this place scary. Some Arab teenagers pushed me from all sides, and it is easy to get lost. Do not stop at souvenir shops before telling your guide or partner. I think I would never have been able to do this walk on my own and I am very grateful that Yeshua provided me with the guide and Giovanni to accompany me on the way.

The place where Yeshua supposedly met Miryam ( His mom)

As you can see, the Via Dolorosa is made of very narrow streets.

We explored the different stations of the cross. There was a shield in Latin mentioning Simon of Cyrenea.

Shield mentioning Simon of Cyrenea: he was imposed the cross. ( written in Latin)

Our visit ended with the church of the holy sepulcre. I deeply disliked this place for several reasons:

- the incense vapors were really heavy
- our guide wanted to impose this place as "Yeshua's true tomb". Although he was Jewish, he expressed much in favor of catholic tradition and seemed to also have some preconcieved opinions about who Yeshua was supposed to be...I explained him why I believed the Garden Tomb to be authentic, but since he would not believe me, I just shut up in order to avoid any argument

- there was an atmosphere of discord inside,-see on the last picture- ( with idolatry practices among some visitors), I really entered because it was part of the tour;

However I am grateful I was granted to see all these places. 
Giovanni and I thanked the guide and left with a taxi towards the train station. We managed to catch the last train just on time.

Next episode will be about spending Shabbat in Tel Aviv.

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling

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