The city of gold.  Driving into Jerusalem feels pretty surreal.  The enormous gold dome catches my eye up above the city as we head to our hotel.  We are spending 3 days in Jerusalem with the Sabbath being one of them.

We headed to the giant market called The Shook open until Shabbat commences.  Anything you can imagine can be found in this market. We spent hours browsing through the aisles – rows upon rows of food, clothing and souvenirs. There are people from all over the world, with many different languages spoken. A giant alarm sounds with the commencement of the Sabbath followed by a day of rest, relaxation and prayer. Its like the city shuts down once a week to actually reflect and spend time with family and friends, few cars are running and stores are closed. The traditional Challah bread and wine are shared and a night of great foods and laughter follows.

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We wake up early as we head to walk the streets of Jerusalem towards the Western Wall.  Dressed conservatively we walk through and have a chance to take it all in. Quite surreal to see in person after reading and learning about it in school. The Western Wall or Kotel surrounds the Temple Mount; the holiest site and a place of prayer for the Jewish people.  The most Western wall is the closest to what remains of the Temple Mount and it is said to be the most sacred; why many people of all religions make an effort to visit it while in Israel.

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Seeing the kids running through the streets and people enjoying the sunny day we grabbed lunch before heading to our next activity. We spend the rest of the afternoon at the Holocaust museum, a very emotional experience for anyone.  A sunset swim caps off the day and we prepare to head out of Jerusalem.

The next adventure was in the Negev; the Southern desert.  I was looking forward to this part of the trip.  We were going to have the opportunity to watch the sun rise from Masada.  Masada is an ancient military construction situated atop a rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea.  Herod the Great built his palace near here to keep an eye on activity.  We woke up at 3 in the morning as the hike up to Masada was going to take a few hours.  Everyone was excited to make the trek up and the view was worth it –   the photos just don’t do it justice.

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Next stop: The Dead Sea and Eilat

Written by Aimee C