JEWISH HERITAGE TOUR WITH JERUSALEM IN YOUR HEART
We’ll start our tour at the Western Wall – “Kotel” as it is called in Hebrew. Visitors who stand at the Western Wall most often have a sense of not only the rushing presence of the “now-and here”, but also of all those who for centuries streamed to this, the most sacred place to the Jewish people. Two thousand years ago, it was a part of the most magnificent building Jerusalem had ever seen – The Temple. But today it does not only remind us about the glorious past but brings hopes for the future and a pride for the present. There seems no better place than Kotel to contemplate and pray.
We’ll further proceed to the Jewish Quarter, where plenty of religious and historical sites of worldwide importance are actually “squeezed” together. We’ll walk through The Cardo which had been Jerusalem's main street 1500 years ago, and is now one of the most interesting sites in the Jewish Quarter. And we’ll visit “Hurva” (“Destructed”) Synagogue, which was the largest building in the Jewish Quarter prior to its destruction during Israel's War of Independence. For decades only a lone arch remained as symbol of the Quarter’s destruction. It has just been rebuilt and once again it dominates the whole Quarter. Further on, we’ll stop above the Broad Wall. This huge defense wall was built in the late 8th century B.C.E. when King Hezekiah extended Jerusalem's walls to enclose the western hill of Jerusalem in preparation for a Babylonian siege.
We’ll descend the Herodian Quarter, probably the most visually interesting site of the Jewish Quarter. Here, hiding in the basement of a modern Yeshiva, the remains of mansions dated from the late Second Temple period provide a peek into the life of the wealthy Jerusalemites in the days of Herod. Most of what we’ll see is well preserved for the last 2000 years - tableware made of glass to keep it kosher, and even furniture, ready to decorate any modern house. Special attention was given by the inhabitants to their bathing rooms, those we can find at every house - the flooring was composed of colorful mosaics, and the walls adorned by frescoes, to make bathing even more enjoyable!.
We’ll proceed with visiting four Sephardic Synagogues, fully restored gem of the Jewish Quarter, established by the Sephardic Jews, who had originally arrived in Jerusalem fleeing the Inquisition. These four synagogues have been operating for over 300 years, were destroyed during the Israeli Independence War and finally restored in all their timeless glory.
From here we’ll proceed to the Holocaust Museum – “Yad Vashem”. Yad Vashem means actually “a Memorial and a Name” - "And to them will I give in my house and within my walls (a "Yad Vashem")... that shall not be cut off" - (Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5). As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations. Established in 1953, as the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is today a dynamic and vital place of intergenerational and international encounter. Following the Museum’ path, we’ll be moving slowly down, from one room to another, through the inferno of the evolving Nazi atrocities. And then we’ll continue climbing up and up, through the stages of fight for life and freedom of the Jewish people, until we’ll finally see the Modern Jerusalem view from the huge terrace. A symbol of life and eternity!