Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Message from Mr. Murphy

We continue to struggle with technology issues in Jordan. The students will try and post their comments from Mount Nebo (the place where Moses viewed the Promised Land before being taken up), an artists conclave in Madaba that specializes in mosiacs to help handicapped Jordanians, one of the greatest mosques in Amman, and some street market free time during our time at Kings Academy tomorrow afternoon. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Petra



Due to technical difficulties, our post will be a little abbreviated. We arrived at Petra after a 3 hour drive. It is an ancient city where people have been living since megalithic times. We started by descending down a valley into a gorge. Some of us got to ride horses and got to feel like Indiana Jones. The gorge itself was magnificent and towered above our heads. The gorge, unlike most canyons carved by water, was actually formed by an earthquake. It was easily a mile long, and walking through it, it was clear why the Nabateans thought this place was sacred. They revered the area and kept idols in facades carved into the rock. After a lengthy walk, the gorge opened up into a vast clearing in front of what is called the "treasury." This is the famous image of Petra that everyone knows. "Treasury" is a Bedouin name, and archaeologists are still unsure what its exact use was, though they suspect its use was more ceremonial than as a treasury. And we got our first glimpse of camels as well, which some of us, including Mr. Murphy, got to ride. What most people don't know about Petra, though, is that after the treasury there is an entire valley of ceremonial buildings, many almost as spectacular as the famous treasury. There is even a Roman theater carved into the rock. The buildings other than the treasury appear to have been used as burial sites. They have massive facades carved in the rock and chambers inside where people were buried. The exposed rock had richly colored layers. The whole place was beautiful and much more expansive and amazing than the single postcard picture people think of.

Mr. Murphy will post additional pictures tomorrow when we get a better internet connection.

Monday, March 19, 2012

From Israel to Jordan


We spent our last morning in Israel touring the ruins of Scythapolis at Beth Shean. We then crossed over the border into Jordan and spent the rest of the afternoon touring the amazing ruins of Jerash, one of the best preserved examples of Roman architecture in the world. 

An earthquake in 749 AD knocked over most of the structures


but the theatre still works! The acoustics are remarkable.
taking a rest at the former public latrines


having some fun in the main square of the town

The boys jumping at Jerash

From Israel to Jordan



Sunday, March 18, 2012

More photos from Day 8


More photos from Day 8


Day 8: From the Sea to Shopping

Matt and James:
Today we went to the Sea of Galilee. First, we learned some history about the location; including the miracles performed by Jesus (ie. walking on water and multiplying bread). Additionally, we visited a museum that housed a 2000 year old boat discovered recently. The boat was from the time of Jesus; it has been argued that this boat may have belonged to one of his apostles. Then, we took a relaxing voyage upon a boat that played the American national anthem.  This was a nice, relaxing experience that was different from our usual walking routine.

Izabela and Kalina:
We visited multiple churches today. We went to the church of the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached his last sermon. The inside of the church was simple and was centered around an alter. There was a hospice nearby where people go to peacefully die. Later on we went to the Church of the Primacy of Peter where Jesus assigned Peter his name. Peter comes from the word rock. There were rocks in the shape of hearts in the ground and we tried to break off pieces from the foundation rock for luck. It’s the one holy spot with access to the water and we were able to get shells from the Sea of Galilee. Both were beautiful, yet completely different.

Rachel and Aline:
Today we visited Tzfat in the north of Israel in Upper Galilee. Tzfat is a community that teaches Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism.  The city is painted blue to represent the heaven in the sky. Members in the community will paint their doors, windows, etc. blue. We visited the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue which was located right after the shopping market. It was interesting to see a lot of the city painted blue; it gave the city a community vibe. Bruce declared it to be the artistic city of Israel. So at the end of the afternoon, we were sure to walk along local artist shops. It was probably one of the coolest markets we've visited so far. It was so great to walk along this long tiny street full of artists’ shops where we could actually see the artists working on their pieces. Not only the traditional jewelry and art were great, but the people just made it so much better. Every shop we walked in we were greeted with smiles, and there wasn't a single shop owner that didn't try to start an outgoing conversation, or even guess where we were from! (I got Russian quite a few times) After an hour of walking around and being lured with beautiful art pieces, and getting some free gifts from the charismatic locals, we finished up out visit to the village with some natural fruit juices made by the locals!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More pictures from Day 7

Day 7 - Sea of Galilee and Mount Hermon

Joon
Caesaria Philippi
One of the successors of King Herod, Herod Philip founded a city and named it Caesaria Philippi at the foot of Mountain Hermon. The place we visited today was Temple of Pan, which is the remains of the city of Banyas (Banya is Arabic pronunciation of Pania). The temple is consisted of several parts that were built in different time periods. The main part is the Temple of Zeus, built by Herod the Great himself. The temple was built for his patron, Augustus Caesar, in order to earn favor of the Roman Empire. The whole courtyard of the temple is located around one of the main water sources around the Sea of Galilee region. As we climbed the stairs to the temple, we could see several water streams. In such dry areas, water sources play dominant role in daily life of people even though the entire land is covered with green plants. There were many armed conflicts over water sources, and springs became strategically important when it came to major warfares that were fought over land between today's Israel and Syria.
Miriam and Arwah
Nimrod Fortress
While in the Golan Heights, we visited the Nimrod Fortress. A remnant from the Crusader Period, the fortress is 420m long. This structure, according to legend, is where Allah punished Nimrod, King of Shinar. By the 15th century, this fortress was used as a prison. Now, shepherds use this lush land as pasture for their herds. The breathtaking framework enthralled all of us. We went inside the castle to see what it looks like.
Greg
Yom Kippur War
The land rolls and rises, sinks and swells, stretches far and further than the horizon, up and past the distant and omnipotent cloud line. Crater Lake nestles itself in a pit created by some volcanic explosion of yesteryear. Placed between lush hills- remnants of long extinct volcanoes, scattered with green grass and spring flowers- the lake spans nearly a mile in breadth, nearly two hundred feet below our perch. We stood on the roof of a small, white building, composed of crumbling concrete stairs and peeling plaster. The view also encompassed a breath-taking scene of Mt. Hermon. The snow covered mountain divides Syria and Israel, serving as a natural border between tense states in the form of a ski resort. It jutted from the sage landscape as a pure white cloud, not capped white but in a blanket of snow. The sun ignited the ice in with radiant brilliance, reflecting the light up to illuminate the sky. Juxtaposed to the lake was a local falafel joint. For the fifth day in a row, I ate the homegrown Israeli cuisine, and I still can't get enough. Though the room was cramp, though the seating was scarce, though the tea smelled like "old people" (Izabela Tyska), I enjoyed the meal. Like most restaurants we've visited, this unnamed business offered limited cooked goods- falafel and pita bread. With the addition of cinnamon tea, Pringle chips, Twix and Snicker bars, and an assortment of cold drinks, we ate like tourists and not like the Druze people bordering the lake.
A short bus ride transported us from a natural marvel to a quasi-current battlefield. During the Yom Kippur war, a failed Syrian invasion burst into the Valley of Tears October 6, 1973. Israeli tank battalions, outnumbered 10 to 1 and Israeli artillery forces outgunned 20 to 1 managed to pull through the three days of constant fighting with no food, water, or rest through sheer "sacrifice and determination" (Bruce). Mt. Hermonit (little Hermon) housed the attack, and though only containing a few of tall vegetated hills and a deep valley now used for agriculture, the attack was expansive and well executed. In the words of our beloved tour guide, Bruce, "Israel was caught with their pants down." Attacking on the Jewish day of rest, troops were significantly diminished in number; large sand barricades meant to deter tanks and absorb explosives were comically washed away with hoses; a river trap in which kerosene tanks, upon release lit the waters aflame was sabotaged by Syrian scuba divers. The thousand Syrian tanks plowed through early defenses stunningly halting at the hundred Israeli tanks.
A local movie theatre cluttered with foodstuff, chocolate, souvenirs, and the occasional pair of provocative boxers reading "100% kosher" or "I'm Jewish, wanna check?”, served as an informational site to conclude Yom Kippur. Once we finished waiting for the village youth to evacuate from a showing of "The Muppets," we were ushered into a red room. Red cushion chairs, red tiled floor, red curtains veiling the walls, and a white projection board. A documentary reviewing the reflections of three soldiers and one of their wives of the battle could have been a moving and powerful experience except for the rapidity of the English subtitle which made it very difficult to follow. It tracked the story of a gunner, tank commander, and radio operator during the three days of fighting. While outmanned, they were also outdone in tech. Syrian tanks were well equipt with ammunition and inferred scopes, allowing for constant, accurate shooting even during the night. The Israelis, however, had no night vision and frequently ran dry on ammo, forcing a defensive approach during the first day and night. In pitch black, so the Syrian scopes couldn't pick up any Israeli tanks, confusion was rampant. Tanks broke ranks in the haze of artillery as the night flashed to fire. It was not uncommon for a Syrian tank to accidently align with Israeli tanks and fire on their own formations. One of the soldiers recalled it was like "baptism by fire." By the final day, courage rallied in the Israeli hearts and pushed all available troops to the offensive, even those with no shells left. The advance was concise and effective winning the day and destroying the Syrian troops.
Chris
Surviving the Cold
Today we visited a fort on top of the world that overlooks the border between Syria and Israel, among many other interesting sites.  We learned about how the United Nations controls a small portion of land on the border to help keep peace between the two countries.  There is still great tension between Israel and Syria in the aftermath of the War.  The weather was chilly and due to the open position of the fort, we were subject to ferocious gusts of wind.  Luckily, after this excursion we all enjoyed some nice warm drinks and homemade desserts at the café at the top of the world, “Coffee in the Clouds.” --- Man was that Delicious!
Nancy
Baptism of Jesus
Late in the afternoon we arrived at the site of Jordan River. After early morning hiking, fortress touring in the freezing weather and strong wind that is probably stronger than Chicago’s, the group was very exhausted and worn out. However, after listening to a short introduction of the holiest site in the mountains, everyone became excited. According to Mark 1:9-11, the Jordan River was the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer. Christians all over the world come to the holy site to get baptized. On the walls right next to the river, there were inscriptions of Mark 1:9-11 in many different languages. We walked along the shore and watched many pilgrims who were dressed in white robes waiting to get baptized. It was a very interesting experience for all of us, and definitely a holy one for those of us who were Christians. Many of us bought bottles and filled them with holy water to take home. It was a great way to end our day in Golan Heights.

Students climbing up to the Donjon,
the highest inner tower in Nimrod Fortress 

Mount Hermon from Mount Bentel

View from the Fortress at Mount Benten

People being baptized at Jordan River

My Brothers the Heroes of Golan
I wanted to write to you, my brothers
With beards and sooty faces and all the other marks
I wanted to write to you - you who stood alone
Facing enemy tanks from front and flank
You whose clanking tracks set a land trembling,
You who proved that armor is iron but man is steel,
To you, who gave a shoulder and extended a hand
And destroyed them in their masses one by one
I wanted to write you a hymn if only one
For each of few who stood against the many.
I stand here on the ramps and count them by their scores
Sooty hulks and abandoned tanks and cold corpses
And I remember how you worked alone and in pairs
One turning on a light while the other struck from close,
And I look on towards the bloody path and Mazrat Beit Jan
...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Post from James that was written yesterday

  James-

We started our day with a trip the town of Latrun. This was an excellent experience that provided us with insight on the modern history of Israel. The main attractions of the trip included a wide variety of military vehicles and a fortress, now an IDF (Israeli Defense Force) training center. Our guide, Bruce, explained the importance of tanks in the IDF; he also gave us free time to climb on several decommissioned tanks.

Day 5 -The Dead Sea!

Andrew and Andrew 

Massada- In the morning we went to Massada, a refugee palace for King Herod. It was a remarkable structure located on the top of a Judean mountain, overlooking the Dead Sea. We climbed the mountain in a cable car opposed to the snake path that winds its way up. When we left Jerusalem it was rainy and cold, yet when we got down to the valley the sun was out. The mountain provided a tremendous view of the dead sea and the surrounding valley area. Masada was captured by Jewish rebels in an attempt to gain there own freedom. We heard a dramatic reading from Hannah about the final stand of the Jewish rebels when 960 rebels killed themselves rather than become Roman slaves. 


 Dead Sea
Devan, Roland, Zunaira
We had the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea today. What an amazing experience with 33% salt… excuse us, fun! Located at the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea doesn’t serve as a habitat for any living creatures.  Everyone looked like avatars because they were covered in mud, which would have been awesome if it didn’t burn your face.  Talking about irritated skin, the salt made our faces and bodies sting at first but later on we came out feeling as though we had spent the day at a spa.

Scrolls/Caves
Jane
After visiting the Dead Sea, feeling as if we had just gone to the spa, we went briefly to Qumaran see the site of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. These scrolls date the Old Testament to be very, very old (100 BCE or a thousand years earlier than any other archeological evidence had previously proved). Along with the caves, we saw even more ritual baths (we have seen a lot of baths, especially today). On our journey, we saw Bedouin herders, date palm groves, mango trees, almond trees, and wild animals such as young ibexes (little gazelles) and hirexes (a bunny like creature somehow related to elephants). They were so cute!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some photos from Day 4

Today's student blogs

Message from Kalina and Izabela:



Today we visited Wahat al-Salam Neve Shalom, an experimental bilingual school for Palestinian and Israeli children. Most schools are religious in the area and the children do not have the opportunity to understand each other. We got a tour of the school and were able to play with the children during recess and visit a classroom. The kids had only been learning English for two years but could read stories without much difficulty. I found the idea of having Palestinian and Israeli children go to school together and learn to interact with each other to be amazing. It allows them to get to know each other and see the others point of view, so they can work out their issues. I really liked playing with the kids and talking to them, since they were all really cute. The little girls wanted us to braid their hair and one even wanted to braid my hair, which was the highlight of my day. Afterwards, we discussed and compared what we saw to our previous notions of the situation. The school definitely shows the attitude of the peace community which is an experimental village. It helped us realize the successes within our community but also things we could work upon ourselves.



#Rachel and Matt

After our visit to the school, our tour guide, Bruce, took us for a hike in a rocky valley outside the city of Jerusalem. It was nice to see the natural part of Jerusalem rather than the urban, religious parts filled with stone houses and buildings. On the hike, we saw wild flowers (when Bruce scolded Ms. Schlosser for picking them), a natural spring, beautiful hills filled with tall trees. When we reached the spring, there were Israeli boys jumped from the top of the rock into the two- meter deep water. We were worried they were going to get hurt, but they all made it up.   Bruce described some of the fauna that were present in this valley that appear in Biblical scripture, including more olive trees.  Bruce was also very shocked when he saw water at the bottom the valley, blocking our way out to the bus. This is from the Israeli winter; it had it first major rains in 12 years.  He joking told us to take off our shoes to walk across as he was looking for another way to find out. I (Rachel) was the first to cross the creek from the natural rock bridge that formed. Fortunately, only one of us fell in (Zunaira) and the others made it across safely. The hike was overall a different experience from what we have been doing before, but also a good learning experience. It was a good change to absorb the outdoors of Israel.

Will-

Following our symposium theme of religious pluralism, we went through an incredible program with the organization “Oasis of Peace”. This commune of sorts is home to about 50 families, half Jewish, half Palestinian. There is also a primary school with children of both traditions, who are taught in Hebrew and Arabic. In addition to touring the site and interacting with some of the children from the school, we engaged in dialogue with one of the organizations leaders, Abdessalam Najjar. Abdessalam not only spoke to us about his job as a discussion mediator, but also spoke with us about our opinions of the Jewish/Palestinian conflict and about peace keeping in general. He shared great experience from years of peacekeeping work and gave remarkable insight to the world that we live in today, and the people we share it with. After days of intense intellectual stimulation, our discussion was by no means a break; however it was an unforgettable experience with a truly remarkable man.



 

Day 4 of our blog

Message from Mr. Murphy:
Today was a different kind of day for us. You will be able to tell by the students' blog today. The weather has turned chilly and everyone is wearing jackets tonight as we head for the New City and a pedestrian mall for desert and some fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More photos for you to see.

Day 3 of the LFA blog

DAY 3 OF THE LFA BLOG

Message from Mr. Murphy:

What a day! We wore out a pair of shoes today. From the Temple Mount (where several of our Muslim students received access to the Dome of the Rock), to the Holocaust Memorial, to the Mount of Olives, to Gethsemane , and finally shopping in the Arab Market in the Old City, we are wiser, better informed about numerous religious traditions, better able to bargain in the market place, and literally exhausted. But that won’t stop several of our students from sharing their experiences and pictures with you tonight. Enjoy!

Message from Matt and Brian:

Today we visited the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock. We were struck by how central the place was to three of the world’s major religions. For the Jews, it is the holiest of places where the old temple used to stand. For Christians, it is the place where Jesus preached and cast out the money-changers. For Muslims, it is the place of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven where he received a prophetic vision. Given that it is at the confluence of all these different beliefs, it really felt like a sacred place. It is an interesting symbol of the commonality of the three faiths where Jews are praying to essentially the same place as Muslims, and all three faiths agree that it is a place filled with divine presence. It is also telling that despite this commonality, the three faiths cannot agree on how to respect it and it is a place of great contention. Like the city, it has changed hands several times and has been built over with houses of different faiths throughout the ages. But despite these changes, the place has always been worshipped by one faith or another, so in a sense, the divine presence has never left.

Hannah and Grace:

Today we visited the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem; we found it to be an eye-opening and overwhelming experience. The most important part of the tour for us was the Hall of Names; it was a circular room surrounded by thousands of books that held the names of those who perished during the Holocaust. Rather than just a number, it became a humanizing reality of how many people actually died. Another illuminating moment of the day of us was the Children’s Holocaust Memorial; this memorial was a dark room with five lit candles reflected upon hundreds of mirrors to give the illusion of the millions of stars in the sky, representing the children who died. In the background, a voice lists the name of the children who perished.  We found the Holocaust Memorial to be an enriching experience and we were further educated about the Holocaust from a different point of view.

We also were able to spend some time in the Arab Market located in the Old City. We quickly learned that the markets in Israel are very different than in America. When walking down the stone streets many venders aggressively invited us into their stores to show us their merchandise. We had to be able to bargain prices to a reasonable price that we hoped was in our favor. We came to the conclusion that even though you may desire the object, the best thing to do is to walk away and hope that the vender will lower the price. We observed that the venders were more interested in doing business with foreigners (i.e they loved it when Hannah bargained with a British accent).The majority of the venders tried to sell you through flattery as well as selling the product. Overall we were able to make some great purchases that will remind us of our time together in Israel. 

Message from Karisma:

Today included very powerful experiences from all three faiths. We started the day by going to Temple Mount. We would finally have the opportunity to see the iconic Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque up close. Although we were not allowed to enter either, we admired the beautiful architecture, took lots of pictures, and learned a lot about Islam. After descending from Temple Mount, we stood at the Western Wall while we respectfully observed the Jews and gentiles who were praying there, just like yesterday. Next, we headed to and learned about Mount Hertzle and watched a group of Israeli soldiers practicing for an Independence Day celebration ceremony before visiting the Israeli Holocaust Memorial museum. We walked through a triangular building full of artifacts, videos, and quotes from eyewitness accounts arranged chronologically, ending at a serene synagogue that emphasized the ideas of justice and human ethics. After lunch, we travelled to the Mount of Olives, where we were astounded by a beautiful panoramic view of Jerusalem. This part of the trip was probably most memorable for me since, while standing mesmerized at the highest point in the city, we saw all of the sights we visited and could connect all of them to each other, truly encompassing the purpose of our journey. Towards the latter half of the afternoon, we got the chance to go shopping in an Arab market, where many of our friends had many interesting experiences. Nevertheless, most of us bought many items that we could bring home for our friends and family, as well as for remembering our amazing experiences in Jerusalem.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 2 in Bethlehem and back in the Old City

The door was dark and cramp, cut from stone slab in such a way that all who enter are forced to bow in respect. It was originally gargantuan  Byzantine craftwork, opening near fifty feet high; then cut down by the crusaders so that only pilgrim on horseback can enter at  a time; finally falling to five feet at the hands of the Ottoman. The door was veiling however as it immediately opened to a massive Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Barren rock floor supported marble columns stretching to elevated wooden ceilings. Oil lamps hung from the spaces in between the columns and down the meridian of the floor. The Church of the Nativity was shaped like a cross, placing the altar at the head and the cave of the manger directly beneath the body. The decoration was lavish and was more luxurious in past eras. Remnants of mosaics scattered the suspended walls, splashing crimson and gold across the bare, beige paint. The air became damp and dank as the open air of the above moistened from body heat below the floors. Ducking under rock down a narrow tunnel breathed into a small cave crawling with tourists. The star of Jesus’ birth placed beneath a low altar to one side and the manger opposite on a descended platform. Shoving and pushing are way through lead us back up to the airy halls.

Living quarters of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and other religious groups had different cultures and looks. Muslim community was located on narrow marketplace alleys while Christian community had much wider streets. Jewish community felt more like a college campus. Two college students were playing guitars in front of the central synagogue. There even was a bagel café called Holy Bagel.

The Via Dolorosa also known as The Stations of the Cross is the final journey of Jesus. It starts where Jesus is condemned to death and then his crucifixation. We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is where Jesus was buried. For me personally it was an amazing experience because it’s significance to the Catholic faith and I was walking where Jesus took his final steps.

At noon, the group stopped at a small restaurant in the middle of the market in The Via Dolorosa for our first taste of Middle Eastern food. Filled with tourists from all over the world, the small restaurant set its chairs and tables casually out in the street with nothing but a box of napkins set on the tables. A middle-aged man started introducing two choices of sandwiches that we have: falafel and chicken shehwarna.



Jewish men and women revere the Western Wall as the site most sacred to their faith. At this remnant of the Herodian wall, one can directly communicate with Yahweh, often by inserting slips of paper onto which he or she has written prayers. The significance of the Herodian wall stems from how it encases the Temple Mount, an Abrahamic complex dating back to David’s conquest of Jerusalem.  Once we tucked away our own wishes into the Western Wall, we followed the ritual of walking backwards to the entrance designated for our gender. The ambiance and spirituality of the region instilled us with hope.




More photos when the internet connection is better

Day 2 in the Old City of Jerusalem

The door was dark and cramp, cut from stone slab in such a way that all who enter are forced to bow in respect. It was originally gargantuan  Byzantine craftwork, opening near fifty feet high; then cut down by the crusaders so that only pilgrim on horseback can enter at  a time; finally falling to five feet at the hands of the Ottoman. The door was veiling however as it immediately opened to a massive Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Barren rock floor supported marble columns stretching to elevated wooden ceilings. Oil lamps hung from the spaces in between the columns and down the meridian of the floor. The Church of the Nativity was shaped like a cross, placing the altar at the head and the cave of the manger directly beneath the body. The decoration was lavish and was more luxurious in past eras. Remnants of mosaics scattered the suspended walls, splashing crimson and gold across the bare, beige paint. The air became damp and dank as the open air of the above moistened from body heat below the floors. Ducking under rock down a narrow tunnel breathed into a small cave crawling with tourists. The star of Jesus’ birth placed beneath a low altar to one side and the manger opposite on a descended platform. Shoving and pushing are way through lead us back up to the airy halls.

Living quarters of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and other religious groups had different cultures and looks. Muslim community was located on narrow marketplace alleys while Christian community had much wider streets. Jewish community felt more like a college campus. Two college students were playing guitars in front of the central synagogue. There even was a bagel café called Holy Bagel.

The Via Dolorosa also known as The Stations of the Cross is the final journey of Jesus. It starts where Jesus is condemned to death and then his crucifixation. We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is where Jesus was buried. For me personally it was an amazing experience because it’s significance to the Catholic faith and I was walking where Jesus took his final steps.

At noon, the group stopped at a small restaurant in the middle of the market in The Via Dolorosa for our first taste of Middle Eastern food. Filled with tourists from all over the world, the small restaurant set its chairs and tables casually out in the street with nothing but a box of napkins set on the tables. A middle-aged man started introducing two choices of sandwiches that we have: falafel and chicken shehwarna.



Jewish men and women revere the Western Wall as the site most sacred to their faith. At this remnant of the Herodian wall, one can directly communicate with Yahweh, often by inserting slips of paper onto which he or she has written prayers. The significance of the Herodian wall stems from how it encases the Temple Mount, an Abrahamic complex dating back to David’s conquest of Jerusalem.  Once we tucked away our own wishes into the Western Wall, we followed the ritual of walking backwards to the entrance designated for our gender. The ambiance and spirituality of the region instilled us with hope.




Sunday, March 11, 2012

Message from Mr. Murphy

The students were great getting through a very trying day. We experienced no major problems and even managed some comic moments.
A new group will be assigned to write the blog tomorrow... but anyone can volunteer to help on any day.

Finally! We are here! (Day 1)

After one of the longest flights in our lives-- no personal monitor, a broken bathroom, and crying babies-- we arrived in Tel Aviv. Admiring the mountainous view of our one hour bus ride, we have finally settled in our rooms at the Leonardo Inn in Jerusalem. Our hotel has a beautiful view of the University of Jersualem and Israeli Parliament building. Tonight we rest before a day filled with a big agenda. Starting off the day at Bethlahem and visiting numerous other religious monuments we cannot hold back our excitement.
View taken from 30,000 ft

Students at the airport after arriving in Tel Aviv

Students at the airport

Checking in at the hotel


On the way to Jersualem

On one hour bus ride to Jerusalem

-Joon, Karisma, and Zunaira

Monday, March 5, 2012

New bloggers test their skills

As we get ready to leave on Spring Break, a group of students have been nominated to oversee the blog and our posting of photos from each day's visits. This is a test so that they each know how to accomplish their assignments.