Tom & Holly Travels
since 2004

Israeli Facts from Ziggy Gill’s, our Jewish guide’s, point of view

There are 7.5 million people in Israel, 1.5 million Arabs, 5.5 million Jews, and .5 million minorities. There are 16 different political parties, so he said that each parliament member has four different views. That makes things tough. Israel is a democracy, so free speech is allowed. Unfortunately, the current radical Muslim leader stirs things up constantly and tells his people that the Jews are trying to take back the Temple Mount. Ziggy says that is absolutely not true. Mosha Dyan gave the Muslim’s the Temple Mount. The Muslims keep causing problems; hence the skirmish a few days ago. Jews and other non-Muslims are only allowed on the Temple Mount one hour each day with varying times, so really glad we got to go. Not long ago the Muslims were caught with huge boulders that they planned to throw down on people worshiping along the Western Wall. Oh Dear, glad I wasn’t next to the Wall and luckily the Israeli soldiers foiled that skirmish. The Arabs have all of the benefits that other Israelis have and you could tell it was a real thorn in our guide’s craw. That is when he also told us that good we had guards when we exited the tunnel along the Western Wall. The Jews try to avoid the Muslims as much as possible.

Yesterday we learned that the Upper Room was also the room where the apostles were hiding during Pentecost. We drove to Mount Olive where Jesus went after the Last Supper. We added a photo of people reverently praying. You can see one woman wailing. She was part of a large group. They sang and wailed the entire time we were there. We then went to the Church of Gethsemane at the foot of the mountain. The actual stone where Jesus was arrested becomes the altar and is surrounded by iron thorns.

Then we went to the Church of Agony where Jesus was imprisoned. This is where I walked the exact steps Jesus walked. It is where he faced criminal trial by the Sanhedrin at Caphias’s house or palace as Ziggy said. You can still see the ruins of Caphias’s ritual baths. In the lower parts of the palace, they had chiseled small tunnels in the stone over head where people were tied and then tortured. Jesus was kept there over night. This is also were Peter denied Jesus three times. There is quite a statue of Peter and the people who asked him if he knew Jesus. There is a rooster on the top of the church instead of a cross. The last time we were in Europe, we saw the rooster so many times. No guide seemed to know the reason. Now I finally know what the rooster symbolizes for sure. Many people walked from the Mt of Olives to the Church of the Agony. That would have been special but time did not permit this walk.

We went to King David’s tomb where we saw a Torah that survived the Holocaust. Again people praying everywhere! Then on to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.

After our trip to Bethlehem, or should I say, Palestine, we returned and saw the Dead Sea Scrolls and heard the story of the Bedouins who found the two jars that contained them. We saw the actual jars that they had found which had been buried some two thousand years ago.

Israel and the Holy Land has been an amazing visit and thankfully the Israelis have held off bombing Iran allowing us to leave this morning for Egyp,t so the next e-mail will be from Cairo.