Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Students arrived . . . well, most of them

Students coming through customs at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv

Meeting the students in the airport
Students are the lifeblood of the BYU Jerusalem Center.  While it is a beautiful facility and a wonderful place to be, the other families and we have remarked the past few days that it has been like living in a museum the past week.  So we were excited when it came time to drive to Tel Aviv to pick up two groups of students.

Well, we ended up picking up one group of students, only 30 our of 82.  That is because the second group suffered a cancelled flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia that kept them from making their flight to Israel.  Getting 52 people (the 82nd student is the son of faculty member Jared Ludlow and was already here with is family) on another flight just does not happen, so they are going to be coming in small groups on different flights over the course of the next few days.

This is wrecking havoc with our schedule, but an emergency faculty meeting adjusted the schedule with its associated classes and field trips.  Now we just need to go in shifts to the airport to pick up the new students and fit in their various orientations, including the famed orientation walk.

Still, having just a part of our student cohort here has made the center come alive.  We ate dinner with them this evening and each met with our classes for just a half an hour.  Tomorrow we will take those who are here on their walk through and around the Old City.  They seem like great young people and all seem exited to be here.

The Anglican International School of Jerusalem

Monday, September 5, Rachel and Samuel will start tenth and third grade respectively here in Jerusalem.  BYU enrolls all faculty children in the Anglican International School of Jerusalem, a private school run by the Church of England.  The school is the oldest privately run school in the city, and it meets in buildings that are even older: they were originally a hospital begun by the British as early as 1863.  See AISJ History.

The Anglican School buildings are arranged in a horseshoe around a walled front court

Samuel and Rachel start their new school on Monday

The school has an open house Friday morning, but we wanted to give the children a sneak peak of their new school today.  We thought that this was particularly important given Samuel's special needs.  Becoming familiar with the school, its grounds, and his teachers before a lot of other people were there was just the ticket for Sam Man.  He liked the classroom, warmed up to his teacher, an Irishman named Mr. Shepherd, and played basketball with me in the yard while Elaine talked to Mr. Shepherd about some of his needs.  The principal of the primary levels talked to us and let us know about the class aid and the observations and help that they have already arranged.

Rachel did not get to meet her teacher, but after we left Sam's room, we went upstairs where the secondary levels have their classes.  She was excited to see pictures of last year's drama productions and is excited for school to start.

Rachel was excited about this bulletin board, which had pictures of last year's production of "The Merchant of Venice."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rachel's Page is up and running

See Jerusalem from the perspective of a Utah high school sophomore at Rachel's Page.

Day before the Students Arrive

Tuesday, August 30The students arrive tomorrow, so much of today was devoted to getting ready for our first out-of-center activities with them when they arrive, an orientation walk around the Old City and parts of West Jerusalem their first morning here and a field trip a few days later to various overlook sites around the city.

For our orientation walk, we like to break the students into as small of groups as we can, so we use the faculty, the service couples assigned to the center, and sometimes the faculty wives.  Elaine can hardly walk up all the stairs in the center let alone walk all around the city.  It is official: the center doctor says that she has walking pneumonia, so she her activities with the family and in the household, let alone with the students, will be limited for another week.  So instead Rachel came with me - she will not be leading her own group, this time (let's see about winter semester!), but it was fun for her to go with me and get out of the center and SEE the real city.

We started by walking out the lower gate of the center and walking down along the north side of the Old City, passing St. Stephen's and Herod's Gates.  Before going into the Old City, we went up Salah e-Din Street, the main street of East Jerusalem.  After seeing the post office, the money changers, and the American Consulate for East Jerusalem (the U.S., like most countries, does not recognize the reunification of the city by the Israelis in 1967 and so maintains diplomatic missions in both sides of the city and its embassy in Tel Aviv), we came back down to the Damascus Gate.

The northeast corner of the Old City near St. Stephen's Gate, which is at the spot where Jesus would have entered the temple complex at the Triumphal Entry

Herod's Gate, which is now the main entrance into the Muslim Quarter. Despite the names of the gates, they and the walls themselves only date back to 1538, when they were built by the Ottoman Turkish sultan Suleimen the Magnificient.
A view of a street in East Jerusalem, the largely Arab area of the city which was part of Jordan until 1967.

Aladdin's, our usual money changer.

The Garden Tomb, with the nearby "Golgotha" or Gordon's Calvary, lie in East Jerusalem just outside the Damascus Gate. Despite less archeological support, these sites are preferred by many Latter-day Saints and some Protestants to the traditional sites within the Old City.
Damascus Gate is perhaps is the busy and interesting main entrance to the Old City. The current city walls, which date to 1538, follow the course of the Roman city of Aelia Capitolina that the emperor Hadrian built on the site of Jerusalem after the Second Jewish Revolt.  The original Jewish city was considerable farther south than the Roman, Medieval, Turkish, or current Old City.  Under the Damascus gate are traces and foundations from the much earlier Roman gate.

Rachel and Eric in front of the Damascus Gate.

An archaeological look at the Roman remains beneath the Turkish gate and wall

Vendors cooking and selling in front of the Damascus Gate

Rachel as she entered the Old City for the first time.
Our orientation walk will take students through the Muslim Quarter to the Austrian Hospice, from the roof of which on has wonderful views of the Old City in each direction.  We then went into the Christian Quarter, the most important site of which is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has been venerated since the fourth century as the scene of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

Despite the traditional designations of the various quarters (Muslim, Christan, Jewish, and Armenian), the neighborhoods are mixed demograpically, with Jewish settlers encroaching on other traditional areas. This is the home occupied, at least part time, by the former prime minister Ariel Sharon in the midst of the Muslim Quarter.

The Austrian Hospice, built in the eighteenth century, to serve Catholic pilgrims to the Holy City.

Rachel on the roof of the Austrian Hospice with the Dome of the Rock in the background.

The gray domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are above me and to the left.

The white gray dome in the upper right is that of the Hurva Synagogue, a famous place of worship in the Jewish Quarter that was destroyed in 1948 and recently rebuilt, adding a Jewish dome to the Old City's skyline.

The Muslim Dome of the Rock over the dome of the chapel of the Austrian Hospice

The Via Dolorossa or "Way of Sorrows" is a relatively recent route,  begin established in it current route only in the eighteenth century.  Still, the events of the Passion of Christ that it commemorates remain moving.

Rachel on the Via Dolorossa.

Rachel at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Before the iconstasis, or altar screen, of the Greek Orthodox Church of John the Baptist.  I love Byzantine churches!
Our walk emerges from the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, which opens into West Jerusalem, the Jewish side of the city that has a completely different feel.

The "Citadel of David," an Ottoman fortress built on the site of the old Palace of Herod, is seen upon emerging from Jaffa Gate

Looking across into West Jerusalem, once sees the famous King David Hotel

Ben-Yehuda Street in West Jerusalem feels very European

It even has a (kosher) McDonalds!

Rachel and I enjoyed some frozen yogurt on Ben-Yehuda Street
Later in the day my teaching colleagues and I went on a pre-trip of our Jerusalem Overlook Field Trip.  It takes students to sites such as the Augusta Victoria Hospital and the Five Arches Hotel on the Mount of Olives, St Peter's Gallicantu below the Old City, and an overlook at a monastery called Mar Elias that has views of both Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

The Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives, from the Five Arches Hotel overlook

The same view minus Eric but with more Jewish graves visible

Since the first century, the Mount of Olives has been an important Jewish cemetery, partly because of the belief that the resurrection will begin here.
Looking at the Hinnom Valley, just south of the city, from St Peters Gallicantu. Because child sacrifice was practiced here during the monarchy and trash was burned later, it became the model for Gehenna, or hell.

The garden in the upper of the two corner of the wall is claimed to be Alcedema, where Judas Iscariot committed suicide.

The Al Aqsa Mosque at the south end of the Temple Mount is actually more sacred and important than the more famous gold-domed Dome of the Rock

The monastery of Mar Elias between Jerusalem and Bethlehem

Bethlehem from Mar Elias

One of the possible sites of Sherpherds Field, just north of the city (the traditional sites are east of the city)

The Temple Mount from the south

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jesus sites in Galilee!

Monday, August 29.  Today was a great day because the sites that we quickly visited on our "pre-tour" were all places around or near the Sea of Galilee that are associated with the life and ministry of Jesus.  These included Capernaum, the home of Peter that served as the center for much of the Galilean Ministry; Taghba, the site traditionally associated with the Feeding of the 5,000; St. Peter's Primacy, where Jesus may have met with Peter and a few of the disciples after the resurrection (see John 21); The Mount of the Beatitudes, the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount; Mount Tabor, the traditional site of the Transfiguration (though it may well have occurred on Mt. Hermon farther north); and Nazareth, the site of the Annunciation and then the early life of Jesus.

It is now after midnight, and I am exhausted after two days of touring, after which I spent time catching up with my family in the apartment and posting pictures from yesterday.  So without any further explanation, here are a few pics!

In the ruins of a later synagogue in Capernaum built on the site of the first century synagogue probably used by Jesus.

Under a modern Franciscan church lie the foundations of an earlier Byzantine church which in turn rest upon the remains of a first century house traditionally attributed to Peter

On the water front of Capernaum with Steve, Jared, and Ray. Peter and Andrew and James and John were fisherman operating from here, and it was from somewhere near here that Jesus called them to follow him
Taghba is an Arabic corruption of the Greek Heptapegon, meaning "seven springs."  This is the traditional site of the Feeding of the 5,000.

The exposed rock under the altar at the church in Taghba is reputedly where the loaves and fish were laid.
The Church of St Peter's Primacy commemorates the Savior's post-resurrection interview with Peter: "Simon, lovest thou me more than these" and his direction that Peter "feed his sheep."

Inside this church my friends made me sing "Come, Follow Me." I did so only if they would sing with me, but once I started I sang with all my heart, almost in tears. 

The Church on the Mt of the Beatitudes commemorating the Sermon on the Mount.

The beautifully manicured lawns and gardens of the church slope down to the Sea of Galilee. Here or in a spot like it nearby, the Lord may have delivered his Sermon on the Mount.

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation over a spring where their tradition holds Mary was when Gabriel appeared to her
The Roman Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation, built on the reputed site of Mary's home, where this tradition maintains the Annunciation took place
The grotto that reveals the remains of earlier Crusader and Byzantine churches.

Church of St. Joseph

In the basement of the Church of St Joseph are the remains of what is claimed to be the workshop of Joseph the Carpenter

This so-called "Synagogue Church" is built around the remains of the first century synagogue where Jesus may have taught.  It later became a church for the Jewish Christians of the first and second centuries.

In the market by some freshly dressed lambs. A little bit of local color!