I love saying "challah."
It sounds like the Hebrew version of "HOLLA!" Just with a little cough at the front.
Today, Geoff and I headed to the Shuk (market) one last time - this trip.
We love food.
Street musicians just add to the fun. Gettin' crazy with that didgeridoo. Pleasant chaos.
Enjoying food is not all about eating. Sometimes it's just fun to admire.
And smell. Oh spice shops. You are my weakness.
There's no going to the market to get whatever you want year round. Feasting is built around the fruits and vegetables that are in season. The way it should be.
Have we mentioned the cherry harvest is coming in?
They are everywhere. Geoff's dream come true. Guess what we're having for dessert?
Geoff picked out his last, fresh baked in Jerusalem, challah bread.
I love saying "challah."
It sounds like the Hebrew version of "HOLLA!" Just with a little cough at the front.
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.
Our day began bright and early driving up the same ancient road (now conveniently paved) that Abraham traveled to Mt. Moriah in Genesis 22. We stopped at a beautiful overview where the hill crests at the spot that Abraham would have "lifted up his eyes and saw the place in the distance." Mt. Moriah, where he was to sacrifice his son.
This location is the heartbeat of Jerusalem; one of incredible significance for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. It's the place where Abraham went to sacrifice his son who Jews and Christians believe was Isaac and Muslims believe was Ishmael. Today Mt. Moriah is known as the Dome of the Rock but historically, especially for the Jew, as the Temple Mount.
Groups usually get 2-3 days to see everything we saw today and we saw a few extra sites on top of that. Lots of walking in this 140hour day but fun was had by all. We went to amazing sites and heard great lessons gleaning from Geoff's wealth of knowledge from the history, culture, archaeology, and geography of the time of the Bible. It was a GREAT day to be in Jerusalem.
Our day ended with a fantastic meal at the Tent Restaurant where we dined in high mid-east fashion learning about the blessing for bread and wine in Jesus day, and Passover. The boys are now full, happy, and sound asleep. They'll need the rest for tomorrow's journey through the wilderness.
For a few pictures from the day check out the slideshow below:
Olive wood carvings are easy to find throughout Israel, and make a popular gift from the land of the Bible. The Old City streets of Jerusalem are lined with vendors selling olive wood carvings of nativity scenes, camels, shepherds, saints, crosses, you name it.
What many don't realize when shopping for their olive wood carvings is that some carvings are started with machines and finished by hand, some receiving this hand finished attention to detail more than others. The best carvings to be found are done entirely by hand, and there is some incredible work to be found.
Once you're aware of the the difference between carvings, it's easy to appreciate and to understand the associated price difference. Some are confused by this and argue, "I got this camel for x amount, why is this one twice as much, but the same size?" While haggling for a good price is culturally expected and can be a fun part of shopping over here, it can also be embarrassing if you don't recognize this quality difference. As with many things, you get what you pay for.
Many of the olive wood carvings are made in Bethlehem, and its surrounding smaller villages such as Beit Sahor, just outside of Jerusalem. There are several impressive stores in Bethlehem, and though the prices may be higher than you find in the alleyways of Jerusalem, the quality is often better as well.
We've made it a point to visit as many of these stores as possible, to decide which are the best to bring future groups to. Who offers the best selection, quality, group discount, etc. While looking around we've enjoyed the hospitality of many, along with several cups of mint tea and strong shots of Arabic coffee, and found that it's really hard to go wrong.
Our favorites included Johnny's Souvenir Store, whose starting prices and hospitality cannot be beat (we are currently looking forward to a dinner invitation with Johnny and his family this weekend). Another stand out is Kando's, whose store received the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were leather workers in those days, and the bedouin came by to see what they could get for these old hide scrolls they found in big clay jars. The original jar is still on display in Kando's. It's an interesting bit of history to enjoy, while shopping in their beautiful showroom full of olive wood, jewelry, and other high quality products.
While these fancy shops are ideal for groups, Geoff and I had a bit more room to explore. We were determined to find the actual wood carvers and buy our gifts direct. Yesterday we happened across a shop in Beit Sahor that was exactly what we were looking for.
Stacks of old olive wood sat ready to create, carvers were at work, and the wonderful smell of fresh wood shavings filled the air. Family run, George showed us around the shop and we were free to sort through piles of wood dust covered carvings for our treasures. Our kind of shopping.
Though carved, the pieces were unfinished (no sealer), and we are happy to do that on our own. We sorted through piles of carvings scattered about the floor and picked out a few treasures.
George led us into a side room where a few finished pieces were set on a table. I quite literally squealed with delight (and I'm really not a squealer), when I saw the carving pictured to the right. Two little bears wrestling and playing immediately brought to mind the good ole days with my labs, who I affectionately refer to as "my bears." I didn't have a chance to ask how much it cost, George picked it up, polished it, and handed it to me saying, "this is for you."
Most people end up with camels and such, but I couldn't be happier with my little bears and am so thankful for the gracious hospitality of George, and so many we visited in Bethlehem. There are some absolutely stunning pieces of art, hand carved from olive wood and on display in many beautiful stores in Bethlehem. Even for non-shoppers, it is worth stopping by just to admire.
1st Century AD/CE Marbled Glass Bottles
Not only have I seen, repeatedly, every item in the Israel Museum having to do with the land and time period of the Bible - I have photographed them.
As of last week - I am finally, officially finished. Whew.
If you see me with a nervous twitch in the future, it was caused by this assignment. The pics aren't even for us, but I'll show you a couple just so you can appreciate a bit of what I've spent enormous amounts of time cataloguing. Oh, and if you ever need to know where any specific item is in the museum...ask Geoff. My brain went totally numb after the hundredth visit.
Proto-Ionic Capital - Geoff's Favorite
Though I enjoy a good museum, it's only for a limited amount of time. It's not that the ancient stuff isn't fascinating, educational, yada, yada - it's just so out of context that I get lost. I'm really more of a "had to be there" kind of girl.
Gazing at ancient artifacts through glass at a museum? Not so much. Digging it out of the dirt at an ancient site? YES.
Not that this has happened to me. But I'm totally up for it. Geoff has his heart set on finding a library at Tel Hazor. Wouldn't that be cool? Ah, but that's another adventure, for another day.
Among the gazillion pictures I've taken at the Israel Museum (okay, only about 20,000 or so) over the past 5 months, I'll point out just a couple that you may find of special interest.
Can you tell where the heads rested?
One of, if not the coolest thing at the museum, are the tiny silver scroll amulets found by Geoff's professor, and world famous archaeologist, Dr. Gabriel Barkay. These amulets (seen below) were made of silver, engraved with scripture, rolled up, and would have been worn ornamentally like a necklace. These were found in the tomb Dr. Barkay is standing at in the photo to the left.
The details and stories of this find, and their implication for archaeology are fascinating. It took a lot of time and careful work to unroll the tiny scrolls, and they are now on display at the museum as seen below:
Those who travel with us to this land, like the group to the left, will have the opportunity to visit the very site where these were found and (when he's available) listen as Dr. Barkay tells you the story of their find.
And by the way - he's coming to the states on a speaking tour this fall! Will be lecturing in my hometown and at Abilene Christian University for Summit, in addition to many stops throughout Texas and other states. If interested in attending a lecture or inviting him to speak at your event - contact Geoff.
Geoff showing me around Galilee
I had been in and around Jerusalem for a couple of weeks. I’d met lots of incredible people; from hospitable shopkeeper's, to the always fascinating backpacker crowd at the hostel. I’d even run off to Egypt for the weekend with a few new friends on a whim.
I'd also met Geoff Carroll. Met may be the wrong word. I knew of him from college. He was the slightly odd, albeit handsome, Jesus follower running around campus with long hair, the same outfit everyday...and tassels. Yes. Jewish tassels. In his words, "Jesus would have worn tassels, and I wanted to be just like Jesus - so I wore them!" Same with the long hair; he only cut it when research showed that men in Jesus day likely kept their hair short. Same outfit? Vow of simplicity of sorts. He really is that good.
As far as our relationship in college, I remember speaking to him on a few occasions, each of which required me to reintroduce myself. "Yes, we've met, I'm Jamie." Everyone knew Geoff Carroll. Clearly, I had not made such an impression.
A couple professors encouraged me to look up Geoff while in Israel (since he was going to school in Jerusalem and all). I contacted him, making sure to link my blog so he could “remember” who I was - though white girl knocking on his door in Jerusalem was a good clue.
I really am not into sappy, but I do remember every detail of seeing him for the first time in Jerusalem. He looked much better with short hair. He also welcomed me with a hug as an old friend. He’d made dinner for me to eat before the Bible study we were heading to with his friends, at which they drank wine while passionately studying and discussing scripture for few hours. This was my kind of man.
Over the next 2 weeks Geoff and I managed several adventures and outings together. Aside from his whole not going to Egypt with me thing, I was pretty impressed by the guy. Only problem was, the just friends thing was awkward from the start; just wasn't an option for us, apparently. I was not interested in dating. I was also not interested in being away from Geoff.
May 23, 2006
May 23, 2006. Evening. Jerusalem.
It was a handy time to have a best friend around. I stopped into their hotel before meeting Geoff for dinner, seeking sanity. I confessed that although I didn't feel like dating, if Geoff had asked I'd likely marry him on the spot. I was conflicted, to say the least. They knew me well. They asked good questions. They liked Geoff. I headed to his place for dinner.
We went shopping at a nearby grocery store, walked back to his apartment, and cooked hamburgers together. It was the first time we had hung out, just because. My flight left for Texas in 2 1/2 days. It was time for the DTR (define the relationship) talk. I hate those.
Thankfully, Geoff skipped the awkward stuff and basically just asked if he could court me with the intention of marrying me.
For starters, although I entertained the dream a bit, in reality I didn't think a guy like Geoff could really like me. Second, did he really mention marriage already??
I said yes.
That night, he called my dad back in Texas, introduced himself, and repeated the “court with intent to marry” concept and asked for my parents blessing. The first thing my dad said when I got on the phone was, “You’re supposed to warn me about stuff like that!” He also said yes.
We spent as much time together as possible over the next 2 days before I left for Texas, and he continued grad school.
Long story short, he made it to Texas in late July, we were engaged by August 3rd, and married on September 30th. No dating required.
The phone bill was another story.
May 23, 2013. Evening. Jerusalem.
Tonight we went back to the same grocery store we shopped at for the first time 7 years ago, just for kicks. For the sake of tradition, we grabbed a hamburger (and salad for me) from a nearby restaurant and picnicked by Geoff’s old Hebrew U. campus overlooking Jerusalem. It was fun to reflect on the same night 7 years ago, and the life since.
On our way home we stopped by a rock we've named Evan Galui, which we first wandered to on a walk the day after we started "courting." It's our place.
It’s been a good, hard, up and down, wonderful 7 years. I am so thankful for such a man to walk with, who reflects Jesus, love, and peace more than anyone I have ever met. We look forward to what our future together holds more than ever!
Today Geoff and I went to the zoo. But not just any zoo - a Biblical zoo.
I know, the only zoo I remember from the Bible was on a boat, but this one is located here in Jerusalem and highlights animals referenced in the Bible (in addition to many more!).
There was an ark at the zoo. But it was used as more of a learning center. My favorite part of the zoo was their days of creation walk, the fish aquarium on Day 5, and so on. Best 15 minute VBS, ever.
We love visiting zoos and this was the perfect way to spend our Sabbath afternoon. It was such a blessing to slow down for a while (something we don't always get to do even in a land that culturally remembers the sabbath), spend time together, and just BE.
To visit the zoo yourself, check out the slideshow below:
Shabbat Shalom - Sabbath Peace
For many Sabbath meals tonight in Jewish homes across Jerusalem, and the world, there will be at least the above two elements present. Challah bread, and wine. These are traditional elements to the meal, dating back at least to Jesus day. Well, I don't know about the challah specifically, but bread, anyway.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
There was a specific blessing used with the breaking of the bread at mealtime in the first century, that will still be said tonight as many gather to begin the Sabbath. It has changed very little from the time of Jesus, and would translate in English to something like this:
"Blessed are you O L-RD our G-D, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth."
Or, if you want to say it in its original Hebrew like Geoff:
"Baruch atah ADONAI Eloheynu, melekh ha-olam, ha-motsi lechem min haaretz. Amen"
"Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
"Blessed are you O L-RD our G-D, King of the universe, who created the fruit of the vine."
"Baruch atah ADONAI Eloheynu, melekh ha-olam, borey pri ha-gafin. Amen."
The bread and wine are not what are being blessed. G-D provided them, right? So they are blessed already. He gives His children what is good. We bless G-D for what He has provided. He has also given us a day of rest, the seventh day, Sabbath, or Saturday. Blessings on you as you seek His rest, whether on this day, or another, or in moments through the week. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, to you.
Visible part of the Western Wall, the tunnels are to the left
Last weekend we went through the "Rabbi's Tunnels" with a group. We hadn't been through since 2011, and the models and a few other elements had improved.
I wanted to share the experience here, however, beyond a firm realization that we were 1) underground, (or at least under other structures), and 2) looking at very significant rocks, I am not the best suited to share the experience. Geoff will take it from here...
Time to go back in time. Waaaaay back. Around 700 years ago, during the time of the Mamluks, Jerusalem was getting crowded and homes and other structures were built covering over a majority of the Western Wall.
Through recent excavations, you can now take the "Rabbi's Tunnels" to see more of this covered wall area, to see foundational stones of the Temple Mount. Some of these stones weigh over 570 tons. Yes, tons. The largest (found) is incredible at over 60 ft. long. That stone's not going anywhere...for a long time.
The tunnels extend from the Western Wall to the very end of the Temple Mount. In fact, when you exit the tunnels you're standing on the Via Dolorosa - the traditional path of Jesus when going to the cross.
Jumping back thousands of years, one can see how impressive Herod the Great's building projects were in the first century B.C. Huge, carved stones laid the foundation for the holiest site in all of Judaism 2,000 years ago - the Temple. He even had some of the bedrock carved to look like individual stones. Herod worked hard (or others did under his design and command) shaving off mountains and filling in valleys to create the massive platform on which the Temple stood. Though the Temple is gone, these walls remain one of, if not the, holiest site in Judaism.
As we went through, we were reminded yet again how much history has taken place here. From cisterns dating to the 8th-century B.C., to arched bridges from the Crusaders in the 12th-century A.D. to modern walls from the 1900s, these tunnels tell the history of Jerusalem in a comfortable 1-hour tour.
Going through these ruins reminds me that nothing on earth lasts forever. Kingdoms rise and fall, and nations come and go. Amidst the angst that the cycles of life create, it's comforting to know that G-D is still on the move, using His creation to make a difference in this world and in the world to come.
Enjoy a few more pictures from the experience of going through the Rabbi's Tunnels:
One of the hotels most unique features is their quite literal "hall of fame." Signatures of digniatries, political leaders, and celebrities line the hall.
That's the regal side of the King David Hotel's colorful history. Another story made this location famous back in 1946 when the hotel was host to the British Military headquarters. Terrorists bombed the building, killing almost 100 people.
Though it's easier to assume so, terrorists cannot be identified by race, nationality, religion, etc. The above pictured act of terrorism was committed by militant Jews. Perspective is everything.
Some say this event defeated the last of the British will to maintain Palestine. The Jews were reeling from the devastation of the Holocaust and coming to Palestine in droves. Fights between the Arabs who had dwelled here for the previous 1,000 years and Jews who claimed rightful ownership and believed GOD wanted them restored to their former "promised land" were constant.
The State of Israel was created by the United Nations in 1948. In the following months and years, continuing still today, many Palestinians were removed from their generations-old homes and lands and relocated into a smaller section that was to become the State of Palestine. Many live in refugee camps to this day in anticipation of this event, or in hope of being restored to their homelands.
Though quieter today in many ways, the conflict between Jews and Palestinians continues and is a media favorite. The media's fascination most often distorts current realities, turning even peaceful protests into what looks like all out war on various news mediums. Living here and having friends on both "sides of the fence," we have learned to always look for multiple sides to every story - a pretty good ideal in all of life's conflicts.
The news reports on what's actually going on here are distorted at best. They share the story their audience wants to hear depending on which country they report to and what those citizen's itching ears want to hear. Some paint only a horrible picture of Israel's occupation of the Palestinians with no regard for Israel's right to exist and defend themselves; others paint every Palestinian as a terrorist instead of recognizing the reality that on both sides there exist peace loving, hospitable, gracious people who truly want what's best out of this very difficult situation.
Though the pictures above may be, the situation here is not black and white. There is no simple solution for a lot of reasons that I can't go into on this blog, and have only begun to scratch the surface of understanding in all our time in Israel. The longer you're here, the less clear the reality becomes. Impartial observation is unheard of in this land; everyone expects you to pick a side. Shouts and actions of militant minorities on each "side" are heard above the surprising majority who could more likely find peace.
Pray as much for peace in this region, as for grace. Both are needed; both are hard to come by.
Life is sometimes one incredible juggling routine. I learned to juggle a while back, but my ability to coordinate is only so-so. This week has been full of juggling the joys of having my father in town (and wanting to show him as much as possible) and beginning new projects with our work here in addition to the day to day joys and struggles of living life in this place.
We're tired, but so thankful for the opportunity. It's (well, most of it) a really good kind of tired. We've been to all kinds of sites with my dad, sometimes dropping him off to wander on his own (look out Old City!) while we get some necessary work done.
He's been very gracious, naturally, and would be more than happy to wander on his own. However, we are so excited to have him here that we don't want to waste a minute of opportunity to explore with him. I've travelled a lot but this is the first time (unless Mexico counts) that I've been able to share my love of international travel with him, on site. My mom visited me in my beloved Oxford and now I get to share the land of the Bible with my dad.
Yesterday, work and showing my dad around coincided when we were called in to help with a new group arrival and their first day in Jerusalem. My dad visited this land in '78 - that was 35 years ago. Things have changed a bit. Most of the ancient sites we visit existed way back then, but were in different stages of excavation and/or development. It's been interesting to see his reaction to what he remembers, what has changed, what stands out in his memory from that trip, and what he is the most fascinated with now.
We've had some great experiences, many that deserve their own write-up but I'm just too tired and have been staying up way too late already - even for me! To share as much as possible in my slightly disheveled state, check out the smorgasbord of a slideshow below that highlights a few recent adventures. I did not include the action packed pictures of Geoff and I working on research and project development, sitting in front of computers. I know, I know, I'm holding out on you. You're welcome.
Travel with us as we explore new lands, engage cultures, and learn to better love each other, those we encounter, and the Lord Jesus Christ at every crossroad of life.
Where Are We Now?