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I had a fantastic trip to Israel overall with quite lots of memories.
I got incredibly lucky with the weather and was able to make a few nice shots from the aircraft’s window.
Our flight Toronto – Tel Aviv began in the evening and lasted for almost 12 hours. The security did not like that I was carrying two laptops and one of them was confiscated from my luggage and sent separately. When I arrived to Tel Aviv I did not know the destiny of my confiscated laptop. I was ready not to see it at all but then I recognized the wrapped bag with my last name written all over it! Yes, it was my laptop. While I was putting my stuff together I missed my mother-in-law.
But finally we have met and here is my first picture I have made on the land of my fathers after 20 years.
This menorah looks awesome at night. See this picture.
New railway (new to me!) which is very convenient to take from Tel-Aviv to Haifa.
Some awesome photos of Israel I took while sitting in the train:
Next day we took a walk to a sea. My in-laws live in 10 minutes from the sea. The walking lane which surrounds set of grey colored 5-floor houses, similar to those we called “of Hrustchev or Hruschevka’s” in USSR, was still predominant of Russian speaking folks, mostly retirees.
We walked to the beach which was not changed much since last 20 years and Russian language is still wide-spread.
Winter in the best time to be in Israel. Fresh air and less crowdie. It is also a time for fishing.
What puzzled me was the presence of poor houses by the seashore. One might think that seashore place would be a good investment in a real-estate market. I did not make pictures of these houses.
We walked back home and I made a few more photos on our way
We walked by a boat museum
This was it for my day today. Next day I was off to Jerusalem. My mother-in-law bought me a tour called “City of 3 religions”. At 6am pink-colored bus picked me up and headed to Tel-Aviv to pick up more tourists.
In Tel-Aviv our bus was already full of post-soviet union folks from different regions; some were Christians; some were Muslims and some were Jews (and such a borsch of people made sense according to the name of the tour). Our tour-guide classified himself as an atheist but maybe only the atheist can run such a tour after all.
The tour-guide (he is in the photo above holds his microphone) knew his business well. He made a special arrangement for our Muslim pilgrim from Uzbekistan to visit some mocks which were part of the tour before but cancelled for now due to politics. Politics can punish as a lot. For example, I wanted to visit a Russian church in Hebron. After I realized that this place is outside of Israel and only folks with Russian passports can get there I give up my idea indefinitely.
My mother-in-law prepared me a lunch (who have Jewish mothers can imagine the size of this lunch). On the way to Jerusalem we had a stop where I bought a cup of coffee for 20 shekels (about 5 bucks) and shared most of lunch with this homeless dog. Unfortunately there are lots of homeless animals on streets of Israel.
Our tour guide was telling interesting stories but I was not able to write all down and make pictures at the same time. These pictures I was able to shoot from the bus window and most of them have history behind.
We were passing these olive plantations origin of which going back to biblical times and the current owner of this land must be the richest dude in entire real-estate market of the world to own these olive trees.
This very impressive monument is dedicated to Sakharov, Andrei Dmitrievich who was imprisoned in my native Nizhniy Novgorod during Soviet era for his unti-soviet propaganda.
Sakharov was born in a family of Russian nobility; his God father was baptized Jew and married second time to a Jewish woman. (I will refer to his name one more time in my future article to-be “Russian Jews”. Sakharov’s name must be already known in North America for his meetings with presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Mitterrand and Margaret Thatcher. He also proposed the concept World Wide Internet in 1967 thankfully to which I’m able to share my thoughts with my readers.
Three birches (exactly 3) are a cultural cliché for a person who associate himself with Russia. Though I did not do very well with my camera in this shot but you got an idea.
We are passing via downtown where we had a stop to pick up one more tourist. This is one of streets where Orthodox Jewish would live and shop.
Our pink tour bus finally arrived and we are ready to start our visit.
The weather was perfect for me: plus 15 degrees when I can wear a few cloths and be physically active and have an air to breath. I did not need all the extra cloths my mother-in-law gave me. She was concerned that I will be cold. I was concerned with the opposite – that I will be too hot. She already forgot that I’m originally from northern part of Russia and she still does not believe me that Canadian winters make me feel like at home.
This green stick held by our tour guide I was following all the time.
I was a bit nervous because I have no orientation in the space; Even I live in Canada half of my life I still ask a question how East and West can be relevant for the traveler who have no clue about the location and why the most logical Left and Right is not used instead. (I must admit that finally I thank the high tech for inventing GPS; not even so much for cell phones and my hubby is very happy not to write the detailed instructions how to get from point A to point B). Since I did not have my buddy GPS in Israel I was afraid to get lost. Now you can feel the FORCE driving me to be there.
We are approaching the Old Jerusalem. You see old walls from the picture above.
When I said New Jerusalem I meant the city outside the Old Walls. This mill is not a thousand year old. Maybe a couple of hundreds.
Location: Zion hill, near the Zion Gate of the Old City. Our tour starts with Dormition Abbey. In Jerusalem’s Old City near the Zion Gate is a place revered as much from 383g.n.e. That’s when the Byzantines built their church and named it “Pillar Church.” After about 300 years after the burning and recovery, in the church began to read a stone on which, according to one legend, the Virgin Mary died, that finally tied the Shrine of the Assumption of the place. Dormition – the modern name of the church – Assumption of the means in Latin, the Latin root “dorm” – a bedroom, a shrine.
Photos of Dormition Abbey I took while walking on our way.
We did not go inside of this church. The following photos and stories I found in the internet here (in russian)
Room of Last Supper (Горница Тайной Вечери) also located on mount of Zion near Dormition Abbey. By the Christian legend, in this church Jesus appeared after his resurrection, and here is the miracle of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, and they spoke in different languages (Acts 2:1-4).(Деян. 2:1-4).
The Franciscans purchased and rebuilt this building in 1335, giving it its modern form. In the early 15th century, the Jews made an attempt to buy the building. This led to some strife between Jews and Christians. Muslims are also set out to get control of the building, which happened in 1524. That’s when the Franciscans were expelled from the Zion Mountains. In 1524, the Turks turned the church into a mosque.
The architectural style, which made the “upper room” – a Cypriot Gothic.
As described in the New Testament these events happened: the last supper of Jesus with his disciples before his arrest and the first Christian Easter (anagaion) (Matthew 26:17-29);(Мат. 26:17-29) and the election of the 12th apostle of Jesus’ ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (Acts 2) (huperion), which happened when they gathered at the feast of Pentecost (Shavuot – receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai for 50 days after the Exodus from Egypt).
This place is revered as the first Christian church in the world. It was here that St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine built in the 4th century Church of Hagia Sion.
The image of two pelicans torturing the chest of third pelican – a Christian motif of atonement
On the column, located on the right side of the entrance, there is a shield crusader, on which is written the name of the German city of Regensburg.
The place where the Last Supper took place is located above the tomb of David.
In Jerusalem during the Second Temple there was one of the seven synagogues on the Mount Zion. Here, according to legend, the King David was buried in (1 Sam. 2:10).
In the Byzantine period, when David and James, Jewish and Christian founders of the city of Jerusalem, the synagogue was the center of the liturgical praise during a church service, held at the church on Mount Zion. This gave reason to believe that they were both buried at Mount Zion. Traditionally it is believed that the tomb of David is here, in the same building where the Last Supper took place and the grave of James in the Armenian Cathedral.
In the south wall is the mihrab (prayer niche in a mosque in the wall facing Mecca), covered with ceramic tiles. Mihrab was built during the reign of the Mamelukes, and is now hidden behind the bookshelves.
In the next room is a huge sarcophagus – cenotaph: at this point, according to legend, lie the remains of King David. The sarcophagus is covered with velvet, and on him the crowns of the Torah from a variety of synagogues, Jewish communities that were destroyed during the Holocaust. On velvet with golden letters written (in Hebrew): “King of Israel, David, lives and exists.”
Next to king david’s tomb is Chamber of the Holocaust
We are passing Arabic cemetery and Chamber of the Holocaust
We are moving to Jewish quarter. There is a bus station which arrives via Dung Gate (Навозные Мусорные ворота ).
More information about Dung Gate in russian in english
See these holes? Read about them here.
More information about Zion’s Gate here.
I noticed Russian church while we were moving to Jewish quarter.
Read about Four Sinagogues built in 16th century by Spanish Jew
We are passing the real ornament of the Jewish quarter is the Roman Cardo street.
As early as 70 AD Romans destroyed Jewish Jerusalem and occupied Holy Jews Solomon’s temple/Соломонов Храм located at Mount Moriah/Храмовая гора. The new city was dedicated to Roman Jupiter Capitoline/Элиа Капитолина. Fight for this temple was one of the reasons for the second great Jewish revolt against the Romans – the revolt of Simon Bar Kochba/Симона бар Кохбы(132-136). The city had a strict geometric design of the Roman military camp. Cardo was the main street of this city. At the time of the Byzantine Empire Street led to the church of Nea, which was built by the Emperor Justinian in 543 AD, and in the VIII. Was destroyed by an earthquake.
In the past time of the Crusaders Cardo was the main shopping street. However, with the liberation of Jerusalem by Muslims has become a dirty street, full of dust lane. Only in the 80s of XX century Cardo street revived back to life. Only excavations, pillars and memorial plaques recall today of past centuries.
History of Ramban Synagogue
It was interesting to notice that Jewish synagogue had a Muslim architecture.
Descend to the Wailing Wall with panoramic views of the Temple, the Olive and Jordanic mountains and Judean desert.
Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall are located on the Temple Mount.
More about Temple Mount in russian
The whole foundation of the temple complex and its retaining walls were built 2,000 years ago by King Herod царем Иродом. The Wailing Wall – is part of the western wall of the temple complex.
More about Ala-Axa in russian
More information in russian 1
History of menorah in russian
Our tour guide said that people of any religion can come to the Wailing Wall. I did not see christians standing next to it and all photos I saw show Jews people only. Folks from our group were hesitant to approach it and only three of us came to this wall. Those who read New Testimony should know that all evens described in the bible were happening inside of these walls.
Then we were moving via streets of Old Jerusalem and heading to the heart of Christianity the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I was making photos on my way following our crowd. If you pay attention to my photos you will see plenty of security wires and cameras.
These are the photos:
One thing I wished was to go inside of each shops but I was following this green stick.
And if you can’t read the sign, don’t go in there. Safety rule.
As it is written in russian Добро Пожаловать or Welcome.
Alia of Russian Jews established its own shopping route including owing this store in Old Jerusalem. Inside of this store one can find any Judaic or Orthodox Christian gift. Interesting to notice that there is no gift for a Russian Muslim. As I wrote this sentence I have realized that in times of czar Russia and USSR Jews were marring predominantly Christians and not Muslims. You can find similar gift store in Toronto. I did not buy anything in there. The cost of a hand painted Russian icon was starting from $700 dollars. Not that I did not want to support this store but I would rather spent this money here in Canada in a Russian church for one reason or another.
You can even find Ukrainian Karate in this location.
Ultimate solution for both believes. I mean it.
Finally we are at the entrance to the Holy Sepulcher. What I would do if I were to run this place I would not allow in here eat and smoke. Both human activities bring lots of dirt and I don’t think this is the place for it. (Plus I would improve conditions of toilets too; and not only in this church but in all tourist places we were visiting).
Christian route would bring you here from the Via Dolorosa Street. We followed the Jewish route.
The temple is run by many different Christian denominations. Note the three columns to the left of the entrance to the Temple. The central one is split, the history of the cracks in the column begins on the day of the descent of the Holy Fire in 1547, when one of the confessions would not let the other inside the Temple, and it is difficult to say – the Greeks were not allowed the Armenians, or vice versa: each of the two faiths today tells this story so that the right is exactly it. Holy Fire came out of the column, split it, and thus “supported” offended. Do you think they stopped arguing? No at all.
See this movie from Dagestan commented in Russian. This is a humoristic presentation. No, Greeks and Armenians did not fight for the proper cleaning procedure in the temple.
This movie also in russian is trying to explain the real reason for this fight.
For the reason the key holder for the temple is a Muslim and not a Christian.
Story about this church:
Golgotha is the biblical name for the place where Jesus was crucified. Empress Helena studied the location of Golgotha, ordered excavation of the tomb where nails, three crosses and Pilat’s sign were found and built a church at this location. Helen’s church was destroyed by Persians and later by Arabs and rebuilt by Crusaders in 18th century and restored after a fire in 19th century which is the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The most important places to see inside:
камень помазания/Anointing stone.
капелла адама/Chapel of Adam
кувуклия Гроб Господень/Holy Sepulcher
One woman was hesitant to go inside of the Holy Sepulcher. She said she was not baptized. I told her that it does not matter. Anyone who believes that this place is sacred can go inside. Not everyone went inside only 6 of us. It was given about 20 seconds for each of us to be in there and only 3 people maximum can fit inside. It is believed that items placed on the top would keep the Holy Spirit of this place. But one has to believe in it.
After I came back I was asked a question: “What did you feel?” I said that I was sorry that did not have cash with me to donate some. What can you say to a person who asks question like this? Our tour guide found an answer: “This is about Christianity – to believe in something you can’t see.” I got a bit irritated by that and said: “What did you expect to see?” Then realized I was dealing with an atheist running same tour day-after-day for quite a few numbers of years.
In past times when was no aircrafts and automobiles when people were traveling to the Holy Sepulcher they were engraving crosses in walls like this.
…today people leave their personal names like this
Other icons and architecture inside of Holy Sepulcher church:
If you know the story about this 2-headed eagle, please let me know. This 2-headed eagle is engraved into a floor near the exit. It caught my attention as we exiting the church.
We go back to our tour buss.
Same church as shown in the beginning of our tour. I guess we have made a round.
Our purple tour buss. It was getting dark already.
One more interesting place and I don’t remember the story behind this place.
Our last stop was the church of the prophet Ilia.
Perhaps prophet Ilia is the most worshiped biblical figure in Christian and Jewish religions. I will visit his cave where a synagogue is and the Russian church in his name, both in Haifa.
View of mountain Ilia.
Inside of this church (in russian, some sarcasm of an atheist is noticed)
Last view on Old Jerusalem. Was getting dark and Muslims started praying. You can hear voice of a prayer from the distance.
In Haifa, you can see synagogue of prophet Ilia from the sea shore. In my last day of visit we went there to lit candles.In front of the synagogue the religious man said a prayer (about half a minute for each of us) and my mother in law paid for the service. I’m not fluent in Hebrew anymore and I was curious how much she paid. She said 40 shekels.
In Russian church of prophet Ilia she bought me a hand painted icon on canvas of Ilia for 20 shekels and we participated in a service. Impressive comparison, is not it.
In old testimony there is a story how prophet Ilia was hiding in a cave. This exact is the cave where sinagogue is located.
This is all for my memories.
Last two photos of Toronto from aircraft’s window at night time: