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Jerusalem: The Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Seen

Jan 03, 2017

Today, we had the experience of a lifetime: visiting the holy city of Jerusalem and the Western Wall. We were taken by surprise to an overlook of Jerusalem. It was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. You could see the Old City, Mount of Olives, the New City, and the West Bank in the distance. An Israeli musician with a shofar and drum joined us at the overlook. He played music as we danced and sang in circles, celebrating life and the opportunity to be in such a holy place all together. Everyone had a smile on his or her face. No one was tired (that’s a first, believe me). No one seemed unhappy. It was if the music and the city had brought up our spirits from the 6:30 am wake up call.

Next, we walked through the old city. As we looked up the walls made from stone, we were overwhelmed with history and emotions. We went into King David’s tomb, followed by the room of Jesus’s Last Supper on the floor above, and a mosque tower on the top floor. The entire Middle East is in conflict and somehow three religions agreed to put a little bit of their own beliefs in one building. Incredible!

After another lunch filled with schwarma, falafel, and Gal’s favorite nickname for us (schnitzel), we made our way to one of the holiest cites in the world. The Western Wall is a strong symbol for the Jewish people because it was the closest remaining wall to the 2nd temple. For some, it was their first time visiting the wall. For some, they were the first of their entire family to be there. The Western Wall has this weird way of bringing out tears and emotions from people who would least expect it from themselves. While it was my second time there, I was still surprised to see others crying. I walked right up to the wall, said a prayer for one of my family members who recently passed, and said the Shema. I was filled with different emotions. From sadness, to happiness, to being blessed. I couldn’t be more blessed to have the opportunity to visit the wall a second time. Hopefully, I will have another opportunity to visit sometime again. It’s truly amazing how a simple stone wall has such power over its people. With all the mysticism of Tzfat and the miracles of Jerusalem, this was magic in itself that could physically be seen. Every Jewish person should try to get to the Western Wall at least once in his or her life.

We finished the day by coming back to the hotel for a wonderful Shabbat with all the birthright groups staying at our hotel. Everyone was dressed up in nice clothes. Everyone lit candles with their own group. We sang and ate Sufganyot. We were reunited with old friends, met new friends, and connected with our history that was once left in the past.

We have finally come to the halfway point of our trip. We’ve driven around some of the holiest cities in Israel, been rained out, lost all of our Wi-Fi and some of our luggage, and still haven’t seen a single camel. Despite not seeing a camel, we came to the conclusion that camels are in fact indigenous to Israel and not imported by Birthright. But, we’ve made friends and family to last a lifetime, and we still have plenty more memories to come, so stay tuned.

Justin Asarch
University of Oregon Class of 2019
Westlake Village, CA

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