Shalom my friends!
Yesterday afternoon, we finally arrived in Jerusalem—the last leg of our journey throughout Israel. It has been quite the experience!
On our trip to Jerusalem, we stopped at Masada, the Jewish fortress perched high above the desert near the shores of the Dead Sea. This fortress, originally built by Herod the Great at the beginning of the First Century CE as a fortress to defend the territories against invaders. Among the ruins of the fortress are palaces, garrisons, churches, and other buildings. In 73CE, three years after the destruction of The Second Temple in Jerusalem, the Romans laid siege to the fortress. It was the last hold out against them in the region. It took nearly a year for the Romans to penetrate the fortress walls; they were only able do so when by building a ramp up to the city walls, and endeavor that ended more than a year after it began.
Remnants of frescoes in the palace at Masada.
The ramp the Romans built to access the fortress.
When the Romans finally entered the city, they found that all of the Jews living and fighting there—save a few women and children—had committed mass suicide rather than be subjugated by the Romans.
After our arrival and check-in in Jerusalem, we quickly showered and dressed for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Center. In all honestly, this was the most difficult experience of the trip. The museum detailed a history of anti-semitism, the rise of Nazism in Germany, Germany’s eventual extermination projects, and Germany’s defeat by Allied Forces. The sadness of the atrocities committed against the Jews mixed with anger at the world’s initial inaction moved all of us to tears at some time or another; for me, it was the Hall of Names. The Hall of Names is a large circular room filled with catalogues of names of Holocaust victims. Imagine this somber place juxtaposed with the hopeful sound of children singing the Hatikva—Israel’s national anthem, a song of hope and joy. Though the museum is heartbreaking, it is also inspirational. It reminds us of the destructiveness of hate, the power of love, and that we must never let it happen again.
We ended our day with a wonderful Italian dinner and plenty of laughs at a restaurant near our hotel—a pleasant recovery from Yad Vashem.
Look for more stories of our travels as we finish our trip!
Until next time,