Because it is "a city set on a hill that cannot be hid," Jerusalem has a thousand viewpoints, both looking at it and looking from it. I know I sound like a broken record, but being there, seeing those vistas, was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. At one point in the tour, the song "The Holy City" by Stephen Adams got lodged in my mind, and I think I hummed it for about a week.
So here you go. As you look at these various views of Jerusalem, have the song playing in the background. It is sung by the internationally famous tenor Stanford Olsen and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I'm warning you, however, that it has a way of getting stuck in your head.
1. SHRINE OF THE BOOK
One of the more unique views of Jerusalem is found at The Shrine of the Book, a museum that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found in caves near the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956.First a word on the Shrine itself. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside this museum, but it was dimly lit anyway, presumably to protect the ancient texts. I have seen a traveling exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls, so while the scroll exhibits were interesting, the unique building with its terra cotta striated walls was just as intriguing:
|Picture from here|
The building's unusual exterior, a white-tiled dome, is supposed to resemble the lid of the first clay jar in which the scrolls were found in Qumran. (Actually, it reminded me of a nuclear power plant.) The dome, together with a nearby black basalt wall, are meant to evoke the imagery contained in one of the fragments--the Scroll of War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness:
The view of Jerusalem at the Shrine of the Book is actually of a mini Jerusalem, a 1:50 scale model of the city as it was in about 66 AD. (A human figure at this scale would be less than 1.4" tall.) The model was built in 1960 by Hans Kroch, the owner of the Holyland Hotel in Jerusalem, in honor of his son Jacob, who was killed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Biblical Museum in Amsterdam:
Creating this masterpiece is far beyond my comprehension:
|That's Bob taking a picture|
A raven surveys the scene. (Perhaps he is thinking about the city's past and thinking "Nevermore." Or not.)
2. GERALD HALBERT PARK AND OBSERVATION PLAZA
Bethany was the home of Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus, and it was here that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus began his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in Bethany, and he returned there each night of that final week to sleep. The house of Simon the Leper, where Mary symbolically anointed Jesus's head with a bit of expensive alabaster, was also in Bethany.
|Our group listens to a lecture through our "Whisper Perfect" headsets.|
Our guide focused on these stories, and I particularly liked his insights into the story of Lazarus. Even though Jesus could have said, "It's okay; it will be all over in just a few minutes," he groaned within and wept because he felt the pain of those who were grieving. We should all be like that--compassionate and empathetic, even when our perspective of a situation is different than that of the one who suffers.
It was fun to see a shepherd in Bedouin dress with a herd of about thirty sheep and goats grazing just below us. It was a Made to Order moment, as good as anything on a movie set.
|I just had to throw in this cute picture of Bob.|
3. GLICK OBSERVATION PLAZA
Not far away, we had a panoramic view of Jerusalem:
Each person listed has given at least $1 million to the Hebrew University:here):
It's nice to see everyone working together.
We were lucky enough to attend church on Saturday morning (in respect for the Jewish Sabbath) at the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. It is owned and operated by Brigham Young University, my alma mater.
TimesofIsrael.com calls it "one of the most sensational buildings in the city." The arch theme is repeated on the inside of the building as well.
Security was amazingly tight. There was a Secret Service-type guy walking around the grounds keeping visitors corralled, and another was manning a computer surveillance system just inside the entry.
It is one of those rooms that elicits a *gasp* upon entering. This incredible sweeping view of Old Jerusalem does make concentrating on the spoken word a bit difficult. The organ is positioned in the back rather than on the stage, more like a cathedral than an LDS chapel.
The Jerusalem Branch of the LDS church meets here weekly, and other buildings that are part of the complex are used for BYU Study Abroad students. (My niece was here fall semester of 2007 and had a wonderful experience.) The Church has a non-proselyting agreement with the government of Israel and has held to that agreement. There are four branches of the Church in Israel with a total of about 230 members (plus the BYU students), many of which are ex-pats studying at various universities (one of the speakers at our meeting was a student at Hebrew University) or businessmen working here. The current branch in Jerusalem has members from twenty countries, and they speak eight different languages.
I took one picture from a hallway inside the building:
"Jerusalem! Jerusalem!" Are you humming it yet?