Israel 2010- Day 4- Modern Jerusalem

Marking the one year anniversary of my trip to Israel, I intend to post a short summary of each of the days for the next 22 days.

In the morning of Day Four, I finally got out into West Jerusalem, the modern part of the city. 

My first stop was at The Bible Lands Museum. The museum was really well-done and contained artifacts as old as 5,000 years old. I don’t have any pictures from inside the museum as photography was not allowed. 

Next to The Bible Lands Museum is Jerusalem’s most famous museum, The Israel Museum. The museum was under construction, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the permanent collection though, the two exhibits I was able to see were amazing. The first was model of ancient Jerusalem from the time of Christ. Part of my admission included an audio guide and map, which allowed me to receive English explanations and descriptions of what I was seeing. I’d read a lot of book before I left and spent extensive days exploring the Old City, but nothing helped me understand the Second Temple Period better than this model. 

The second exhibit which remained open during the construction was The Dead Sea Scroll exhibit. The scrolls are over 900 texts from an early Hebrew Bible found at Qumran (which I would visit later in the trip) about 40 miles East of Jerusalem, near the Dead Sea. The scrolls are contained in a display area in a specially designed vault which is climate controlled in a way not to damage the delicate scrolls. My only disappointment here was that it seemed like 90% of the scrolls displayed were replicas. I do understand why it’s done this way, but there is some authenticity lost.

I briefly debated if I should head over to the Knesset, the seat of the Israeli Government, but I knew the tour would take away time from my next stop, and that was more important, so I hoped in a cab and headed further west to Yad Vashem.

Yad Vashem is Israel’s state of the art memorial & museum dedicated to telling the story of the Holocaust. Like the Israeli Museum, I was given an audio guide which allowed me to follow along with the story while passing through the museum & grounds. It was gripping, horrifying, heart-breaking and powerful. It was very well-done and touching. After spending over two hours following the audio guide through the museum, I was emotionally spent.

There were a number of memorials and monuments outside as well, including The Avenue of the Righteous, a leafy walk with trees planted and dedicated to those non-Jews who risked their own lives to save the lives of the persecuted.

My final stop of the day was the Mahane Yahuda market, known by the Israelis as the shuk. This was a real ‘local’ style market, unlike the touristy Souq in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City where my hotel was located. Much like the Albert Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam, this market gave me the opportunity to see how the average citizen of Jerusalem did their shopping and errand running. Not wanting to spend the money on another cab, I took the long walk back to my hotel.

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