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Model City

We began our day at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, which was the first Jewish community built outside of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. A Jewish philanthropist named Sir Moses Montefiore built this development in the 1850s. 

On our way to our next site, our tour guide David pointed out The Great Synagogue of Jerusalem right before we drove through the political center of Jerusalem, which he called “Jerusalem D.C.” With this creative convergence of words, it was easy for an American to understand exactly what types of buildings one would find in this part of the city. We saw buildings that housed the Israeli Parliament, the Foreign Relations Ministry and the Supreme Court. 

Sr. Carol Ziegler with Sr. Gemma Del Duca.
Sr. Carol Ziegler with Sr. Gemma Del Duca.

Our next destination was the Israel Museum, which contained a model of the city of Jerusalem from the time of the Second Temple! This model, though debated amongst archeologists, gives the viewer a general overview of the geography and architectural design of the ancient city. When one hears of biblical events, the mental picture may now be slightly more accurate than that drawn from the 1970s film "Jesus of Nazareth." But the scholarly scripture fun didn’t end there! This museum also contained a lot about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran.

After seeing many different artistic outdoor sculptures, we were off to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum. We were welcomed by Sr. Gemma Del Duca, who has been running a Catholic Institute for Holocaust Education at Yad Vashem, through Seton Hill University, for the past 25 years.

Throughout the museum, videos of interviews with Holocaust survivors were being played on walls and screens in various chronologically organized display rooms.  Most of the stories were gut-wrenching and hard to listen to, but when we emerged on the other side of the museum hall we were enlivened with a breathtaking mountaintop view of a prospering Israel. 

We finished the day in Machaneh Yehuda Market, which was packed with people buying fruits, nuts, pastry, meat, clothes, scarves, yarmulkes, and any other item one can fathom buying in a market place. I was forced to sample very fresh chocolate-filled croissants and members of our group also partook in the culture by buying merchandise from traditional Jewish garb to sugared dates and pistachios. 

After a perilous walk back to the tour bus (crosswalk lights seem to be more of guidelines in this part of the city), we went back to the hotel for dinner and some shut-eye. 

Mark Levand '09