July 2, 2009 9.30 am: fifteen lucky voyagers are gathering at the Moscow Domodedovo Airport to go to Jerusalem – the city of the three religions and the cradle of civilization. Four hours in the clouds and we are in the Promised Land.
“Ladies and gentlemen! Let the ascension to Jerusalem begin!” said Boruh Kimelfeld, our guide and guardian angel of the trip, introducing us to the Holy Land.
We were exploring Jerusalem according to the most extraordinary program prepared by Sokolniki Museum-Educational Complex and TOURS’R’US Ltd, an Israeli company. We had seventy-two hours to attain the balance of the heavenly and the worldly, to unveil the three- thousand-year-old mysteries of the way of the sons of Israel.
The very first day we went back to 1868 – the year when the restaurant where we had our first kosher dinner took place. The washing of the hands before partaking of the bread. The ancient ritual performed by a famous Israeli calligrapher Avraham Borshevsky.
The first surprise: each of us received a colorful album about Israel and a first letter of our names written calligraphically from Alexey Shaburov.
Thus, the first day in the Holy Land came to a symbolic end.
We met the second day long before sunrise. At 4.20 am, we found ourselves wide-awake and getting ready to travel through time and space.
The first steps on the Way of the Cross.
We are at the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that rests on the place where, according to religious convictions, Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and then resurrected. Every year the temple witnesses the Descent of the Holy Fire.
The Holy Fire descended from here.
Deepening further into history we stepped into the Hebrew Holy of Holies – the place where the Solomon’s Temple destroyed in 586 BC by Babylonians used to stand. The temple was reconstructed, but then destroyed again in 70 AD during the rebellion against the Romans. But before we entered the holy territory we were blest by a Cohen, a direct descendant of the high priests, performing his ministerial offices while still waiting for the erection of the Third Temple.
And the sun rose…
Day or night, you may see praying believers at the Wailing Wall.
Here you may address God directly.
Further and further on… the Prison of Christ.
At the entrance to the Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary
Inside the Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary
We are on our way to the Garden of Gethsemane that is on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. The eight olive trees in the garden that witnessed the Saviour still blossom.
Here we will have a breakfast people had in the times of Christ.
A wonderful view of Jerusalem
A breathtaking view opens up from the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Centre on Mount Tsofim.
Here we took a breather and came back to the 21st century for a while. The organ music is played especially for us.
A few moments of recreation in the university garden…
Now, let’s try to mill olives as they did two thousand years ago when producing olive oil.
We leave the university to move on to one of the world’s biggest museums: the Museum of Israel.
Established in 1965 the museum possesses an encyclopedic collection covering the world’s cultural heritage from the prehistoric times to the present day. It has the richest gathering of biblical archeology including the Dead Sea scrolls.
This is a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem of the Second Temple period (1st century AD).
This land “leaks milk and honey”. However, who knows how many pains were taken to reach such abundance! People need the latest agro-technologies and skilful hands to transform the desert into a flourishing garden. We are eager to do our bit, inasmuch as the trees we are planting would see the future of this land.
We – calligraphy lovers – appreciated the visit to a famous Israeli calligrapher Avraham Borshevsky.
At 7.13 pm the sound of air horn bounced all around Jerusalem. The horn announced the beginning of the Shabbos, the main Israeli holy day. At that moment, we were entering the Belz Great Synagogue.
Alas! No cameras were allowed here.
This was how we ended our tour around holy places. The next day was fully devoted to mundane desires. We had a good time at the Dead Sea.
Here we reached the harmony of body and soul.
All in 72 hours? One more miracle of the Promised Land? Yes, a miracle, though partially man-made. This miracle was made by MVK-Travel and the Israeli company TOURS’R’US Ltd. headed by Fyodor Poberezhsky.