Fall 2022 Up to Jerusalem Tour — Day Five

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Who Will You Follow?

This morning we drove away from the Dead Sea and started our journey up to Jerusalem. Our first stop was at Masada, an ancient mountain fortress that stands as a monument to Israel's continuing struggle for survival. Thankfully, we rode on a cable car up more than 1000 feet high to see the incredible palace built by Herod between 37 and 31 BC. There is so much to be said about Herod and the stories of his concerning leadership and choices he made, but in short, Augustus said, “It’s better to be Herod’s pig than his son”—who, incidentally, he ordered to have killed even from his own death bed. 

Later, in 66 AD, according to Josephus, a Jewish Roman historian, a group of Jewish rebels inhabited the mountaintop. When they knew the Romans were on their way to kill the Jewish men, women, and children on top of Masada, they determined that it would be honorable to take their own lives instead of suffering the Romans’ attack. When the Romans arrived, they only found death and desolation, because the Jewish people had chosen to die as free people.

It’s an incredibly tragic memory for the Jewish people, but also the right tone to start the day for what was next. 

Yad Vashem

We continued our travels up to Jerusalem on a road called “The Red Ascent” (translated). We entered Jerusalem, which meant we had returned to civilization and traffic lights. Orthodox men and women were walking along the streets, pushing strollers and talking on their cell phones. The city was bustling as we drove through.

Our next visit was to the Yad Vashem Memorial to the victims of the Holocaust on Mt. Herzl. Before we started our guided tour, we were greeted by Sari Granitza, the director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem

We then gathered into our groups and started our hard but necessary journey through the history of the Holocaust. When Hitler came into power, it only took six months before the first concentration camp was formed. Over 6 million Jewish people were stripped of their dignity, cruelly separated from their families, and brutally murdered simply for being Jewish. 

The architecture, design, and meaning that was poured into creating the memorial is noticed at every step. It’s truly a breathtaking experience as you hear stories from Holocaust survivors, read about the horrors of their experience, and see their faces, garments, and goods they were forced to leave behind. To read about the “strategizing” that took place among the men who created the plan to annihilate a race just stops you in your tracks. How could such hatred exist? And why didn’t more people help stop it? 

One sliver of hope found along the journey through the memorial were the stories of those who risked their lives to help save Jewish people from death. To God be the glory for their bravery and selflessness in a time when it was needed most.

Quite possibly the hardest but most necessary way to end our time at Yad Vashem was walking through the children’s memorial. An estimated 1.5 million children died during the Holocaust, and an absolutely beautiful building was designed to honor them. You walk through an almost completely dark room, with candles reflecting off of prisms to light up countless stars everywhere you look. It’s hard to explain but not hard to express. We must remember the Holocaust and tell their stories; otherwise those children and their families will be forgotten. 

Herzl Museum

Following Yad Vashem, we continued our learning of Jewish history by visiting a museum dedicated to Theodor Herzl, the visionary for the Jewish state. 

Going back in Jewish history, we find Herzl in the late 1890s determined that the only way for the Jewish people to survive would be for them to return to their homeland, Israel. He formed the first World Zionist Congress, which still exists today. He was a passionate man who did everything he could while he was here to see his dream come to life—but he died too soon, though he created a movement that outlived him. 

Herzl is remembered today as a leader with a vision "to establish a National Home for the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael, that will be secured on the basis of the Law of Nations."

Israel was recognized as a state on May 14, 1948.

Following the museum, we took a moment graveside to honor the life of Michael Levin, an American-Israeli soldier who died in the Second Lebanon War. He died a hero, and thousands have shown their loving respect to him by leaving special gifts at his grave since he was buried in 2006. 

Who Will You Follow?

Today it struck me that we went from one incredible memorial museum to another, and yet the leaders of both had far different goals. At one, Hitler had a singular goal of annihilating the Jewish people; and at the other, Herzl’s sole purpose was to bring life back to the Jewish people for the sake of freedom.

To end it with a story like Michael Levin’s reminded me, that how you live and who you follow is a choice. 

We are wired to long for a leader who can direct us and give us hope, but a human leader (good or evil) can only take us so far. It’s why making Christ the Lord of your life provides the leader that will stand the test of time. 

Western Wall Tunnels

Our day ended with an after-dinner tour of the Western Wall Tunnels, the famous rabinnic tunnels that run along Herod’s ancient wall, ending another amazing day on our Up to Jerusalem tour. 

Until tomorrow! Good night from Jerusalem.

Our Team
Blog author: Karen Katulka
Director of Marketing & Communication
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Photos: Dan Price
Assistant Director of International Ministries
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Masada


Arriving in Jerusalem


Arriving in Jerusalem


Jim Showers and Sari Granitza


Sari Granitza at Yad Vashem


Yad Vashem


Yad Vashem


Yad Vashem


Yad Vashem


Yad Vashem Children’s Memorial


Herzl Museum


Herzl Museum


Herzl Museum


Herzl Museum


Herzl Museum


Michael Levin Grave


Western Wall


Western Wall


Western Wall Tunnels


Western Wall Tunnels


Western Wall Tunnels


Western Wall Tunnels


Western Wall Tunnels


Western Wall Tunnels


Western Wall Tunnels


Western Wall


Western Wall


Western Wall

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