Israel Study Trip

Day 9 – The Markets, Bethlehem, Olive Wood Shop and Welcoming Shabbat

Our first stop this morning was at the market. Simon, our guide, said this time would be the best time to visit while the Jewish people were getting ready for Shabbat. It was very interesting to weave our way through all the people, taking in their normal shopping experience. And of course we found a few food items to try and others to take back with us to the states.

Because of rearranging the schedule, our next stop was an extra bonus! We headed over for a quick visit to Bethlehem. We saw the Church of the Nativity and had the privilege of singing several Christmas songs in the church which had great acoustics. Then we walked through what would have been something like a shepherd’s cave. It was fun to imagine those many years ago when the area was a pastureland and the amazement the shepherds experienced on that special night!

Our next stop was an olive wood manufacturing shop. It was very interesting to see how they created the beautiful scenes and figures we saw for sale.

And a final finished piece.

The afternoon was hastening on and it was time for us to head into the Old City of Jerusalem as Shabbat was quickly approaching. We were dropped off at the Jaffa Gate and walked through the city to Tova’s house. Tova is an Orthodox Jewish lady that Andrew’s had met on a previous trip.

Pillars from Hezekiah’s time
Part of the old Roman Via in Jerusalem

We were with Tova as she welcomed in Shabbat by the lighting of the candles. Then she took us to a balcony overlooking the Western Wall as many Jewish went to pray.

After Tova taught us on the balcony, we wound our way down to the Western Wall. She requested that we wouldn’t take any phots while we were there this evening out of respect. It was quite a special experience to join with the many people there who had come to pray and also to sing and rejoice!

A little while later we walked back through the city and to our hotel where Tova led us in the Shabbat meal rituals. After supper, we enjoyed singing again. First we sang some songs from the Psalms for her and then she taught us a round in Hebrew, which I personally very much enjoyed.

Shabbat Shalom!