"And to them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a "yad vashem")…that shall not be cut off." Isaiah56:5
Yad Vashem is Israel's main Holocaust remembrance and education center and is located on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.
In 1953, Israel began the painful work of commemorating the Holocaust by setting out to document the experiences of Jewish people during the Holocaust so that future generations will never forget the atrocities that occurred.
In 2005 the new Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum was opened. It's shape is that of a prism that penetrates the mountain with nine galleries that relays the stories of Jewish communities before and during the Holocaust, as well as the events that led to the Nazis rise to power, their pursuit of the Jews, the ghettos the Jews were forced to live in, the Final Solution and the mass genocide. Personal experiences of victims of the Holocaust form the foundation of the exhibits. Films, photographs, documents, works of art and personal items turn history into something shockingly real for visitors.
On exiting the museum, the breathtaking Hall of Names memorial is passed through which contains over three million names of Holocaust victims that were submitted by their families. Visitors can still add to the memorial via a computerized archive.
Additional memorials and monuments in Yad Vashem include the Hall of Remembrance where ashes of the dead are buried and an eternal flame burns; Yad LaYeled is the children's memorial that commemorates the one and a half million children who were murdered in the Holocaust; the Memorial to the Deportees which features an authentic railroad car that was used to deport Jews to concentration camps; the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations features over 2,000 trees that were planted in honor of non-Jewish people who endangered their lives in order to rescue Jewish people from the Nazis.
Visiting Yad Vashem is heartbreaking, painful and highly emotional but is a truly meaningful and fitting way to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
How to get there: Buses 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24a, 26, 27, 27a, 28, 28a, 33, 39 and get off at the Mount Herzl bus stop. The Light Rail Train has it's final stop at Mount Herzl and that is where you want to get off. For those driving, the entrance is via the Holland junction, which is situated on the Herzl Route, opposite the entrance to Mount Herzl and the entrance to Ein Kerem.
The Western Wall is the most significant site in the world today for Jewish people as the last remnant of the Temple. Jews worldwide pray towards Jerusalem and Jews in Jerusalem pray towards the Temple.
According to Jewish tradition, the Temple Mount of today is the place that creation spread out from and where the first man was created. The famous Biblical story of the Binding of Isaac also took place here and the first and second Temples were built around the Temple Mount area.
The Western Wall, as opposed to the three other remaining walls that also supported the Temple, is the closest one to the Holy of Holies- the holiest place in the Temple and the world. When the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, all four support walls remained standing and the Western Wall was the closest Jewish people could get to the Holy of Holies and it subsequently became a place of prayer and longing.
Tens of millions of visitors visit the Western Wall every year- children reaching the milestone Bar/Bat Mitzva age; soldiers have swearing in ceremonies; tourists; locals; Jews; non-Jews; young; elderly and families. The Western Wall Plaza is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day and you are welcome and encouraged to experience this ancient relic, source of longing and inspiration and to place a note of request, thanks or praise in it's cracks as is practiced by visitors.
How to get there: There is a lack of parking in the area so public transport is recommended- buses 1, 2 and 38 get to the Western Wall.
Useful Info: • On the Jewish Shabbat and festivals it is forbidden to smoke, take pictures or use a mobile phone- it is therefore respectful to restrain from using these devices in the Western Wall Plaza on such days. • Pets aren't allowed in the Western Wall Plaza • Dress must be modest- meaning skirts to the knee, sleeves to the elbow and no low-cut tops.
The Old City of Jerusalem covers a mere one square kilometer, yet there is something simply indescribable about this place, something that washes over you when you visit, something that causes you to wish that these ancient stones could speak, could tell you the stories that have taken place here. The Old City of Jerusalem is the beating heart of this tiny country; it is also the heart of the three Abrahamic religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The Western Wall, found in the Old City, is a remnant of an ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple's courtyard. This wall is the most significant site in the world for Jewish people today.
Above the Western Wall lies the Dome of the Rock and Muslims claim that the prophet Mohammed departed from this world at that very place.
A few minutes away lies the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.
The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters; the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter. One can enter the walled city via seven gates, the one most frequented by tourists being the Jaffa Gate which is located next to the Tower of David Museum. Each quarter is an adventure unto itself, with different sights, sites, atmospheres and experiences.
The Jewish Quarter is characterized by narrow, cobbled alleyways that are lined with homes of Jewish families and schools of Torah study. Teenage Yeshiva students who come to study in Israel for a year after completing high school mingle with the Jerusalemite children, who play without a care in the world as they are passed by wizened old men who are on their way to the study halls.
The narrow alleyways open up by the Western Wall Plaza, a place that becomes incredibly crowded at festive seasons and a visit to this holy site is interesting for any visitor- just keep in mind that there is segregation between the sexes at the Wall and women are expected to wear modest clothing out of respect for the holiness of the site. The Western Wall Tunnels allow for an extended, underground view of the wall. The Little Western Wall, located in the Muslim Quarter is actually regarded as holier than the Western Wall due to it's being closer to the Holy of Holies which was the holiest area of the Temple.
The Muslim Quarter is busier and more crowded than the Jewish Quarter and contains the famous Shuk- outdoor market where almost anything can be bartered for, in a way that takes one back in time to a genuine Middle Eastern marketplace.
The Dome of the Rock sits above the Western Wall Plaza and tourists can tour the compound although non-Muslims may not enter the building itself.
The Christian Quarter is home to about forty holy Christian sites and the streets are often buzzing with priests and pilgrims who have come from all over the globe. The quarter was constructed around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and different parts of the quarter are controlled by different Christian sects.
The Armenian Quarter is the smallest quarter of the Old City with some 2,500 Armenians living there for over two thousand years.
Over three-thousand years ago King David left the city of Hebron and moved to a hilltop city by the name of Jerusalem, which he then established as the capital of the land. David's son, Solomon later built the First Temple on the nearby Mount Moriah, the very same place where Abraham had bound his son Isaac, and Jerusalem thus became the most important site in the world for Jewish people.
The City of David is still very much alive today. With exciting archaeological discoveries being made all the time, providing some of the most exciting finds from the ancient world, above ground the city is a non-stop center of activity with fascinating tours offered by the Visitor's Center, allowing visitors to learn about the place where most of the Bible was authored.
The tour takes visitors back 3,800 years at it's stunning starting point overlooking Biblical Jerusalem, followed by a look at some of the most recent excavations, reliving King David's conquest of the city as described in the Bible. The tour ends at the Gihon spring which was not only the main water source of the city, but was also where King Solomon was appointed king. In addition, those looking for some adventure can wade through the 2,700 year old water tunnel created in King Hezekiah's time.
This magnificent tour takes visitors back in time to the very beginning of this magical city so that they can't help but leave with a new appreciation for the only place on earth where the Bible itself is the only guidebook needed.
How to get there: All Jerusalem inner-city buses that go to the Old City. By car, enter Jaffa Gate, exit through Dung Gate, make a left, take first right and Visitor's Center is on left-hand side
Cost: Varies; http://www.cityofdavid.org.il/info_eng2.asp
The Israel Museum is ranked among the best museums in the world due to its rich exhibitions made up of artifacts, ancient documents and Israeli art. In 2010 the museum underwent a huge face-lift and visitors continue to be spell-bound by this museum.
One of the most significant changes was the work done on the Shrine of the Book, the dome-shaped monument that is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls that were found in Qumran in 1946 and are, until this day, one of the best-preserved Judeo-Christian texts. The Shrine of the Book is itself a magnificent structure that abstractly represents the fabled war between the Son of Light and Sons of Darkness, as portrayed in the texts. Two-thirds of the Shrine is submerged in water.
The Aleppo Code, a tenth-century Bible that is believed to be the oldest existing Bible, is another fascinating artifact that should not be missed.
Audio guides are available at the Shrine of the Book in multiple languages and the information provided ensures a deeper appreciation of the displays. It should be noted that photography is forbidden at the Shrine.
The Second Temple model is another attraction- a reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem before the Great Revolt in 66 CE.
The art exhibitions in the Museum are also fantastic, with the largest collection of Jewish art in the world on display including artifacts that provide a cultural aspect to the rich history that is portrayed through the pieces of art.
Lastly, the Billy Rose Art Garden, a Japanese garden containing pieces of some of the best artists and sculptors and is worth a slow walk through.
How to get there: Buses 9, 9a, 17, 17a, 24 and 24a will get you to the Museum which is located in the Givat Ram neighborhood, near the Knesset/Israeli Parliament. For those driving, enter Abraham Granot Street on your GPS.
The Tower of David Museum contains fantastic exhibits that deepen one's understanding of Jerusalem and is itself a part of the city's living history, with walls that have been standing for almost five centuries, built by King Herod and the spire that stands over it became recognized worldwide as a symbol of Jerusalem after the British General Allenby marched under it when he marched into Jerusalem in 1917.
There is a magnificent view of old and new Jerusalem from the very top of the tower that the Museum is named after. The exhibits include films and dioramas that help to illustrate the complexities of the truly unique city of Jerusalem. Each ancient room displays a different period- making sense of four-thousand years of history for the visitors. Each doorway has a view of the central courtyard of the citadel where remains from the Maccabees to the Middle Ages have been unearthed. Multi-sensory exhibits are also held in the unique museum space and private functions can also be held.
How to get there: Located next to the Jaffa Gate in the Old City
The Jewish Quarter, known as "HaRova" ("the quarter") by locals, is located in the southeast quadrant of the Old City and when the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem after the exile after the Second Temple was destroyed, they settled here and the community grew rapidly. Nowadays about 650 families live here and city planners made archaeological discoveries every step of the way in building the new neighborhood.
Some sites that are worth seeing in the Jewish Quarter are;
· The Western Wall- Judaism's holiest site today, a supporting wall of the Second Temple that is visited by hundreds upon hundreds of visitors who come to lean their heads against the cool, ancient stones at they offer up prayers to G-d. There is a custom to leave notes in the crevices of the wall that contain written prayers. Friday evening is a special time to visit the Wall as Jews come from all over Jerusalem and the world to usher in the Shabbat day. Be sure to cover heads (men) and legs, chests and arms (women) out of respect for this holy site.
· Western Wall Tunnels Tour is one of the most popular tours in Jerusalem which takes visitors under the current Old City neighborhoods to the Western Wall's original level. Ruins of Herodian shops that once lined the Wall as well as stones used by the Romans to destroy it are part of the tour.
· Wilson's Arch is named after the English archaeologist who discovered it and is located inside an arched room to the left of the Wall and is accessible from the men's side. The arch was originally part of a bridge that allowed Jewish Priests to cross from their homes in the upper part of the city to the Temple. Women can't enter.
· The Herodian Quarter and Wohl Archaeological Museum is a fascinating excavation site with three mansions that are thought to have belonged to the High Priest's family in the time of the Second Temple period with stunning mosaic floors.
· The Burnt House is the remains of a priest's house from the time of the Second Temple period. The excavation of the house provided direct evidence of the destruction of the upper city of Jerusalem in 70 CE by the Romans. Sound and light shows in the Burnt House re-create the events of its destruction.
Other sites of interest that are worth seeing also are the Cardo, the Alone on the Walls exhibit, Hurva Synagogue, Ramban Synagogue, four Sephardic synagogues; The Synagogue of Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakkai; the Prophet Elijah Synagogue; the Middle Synagogue and the Istanbuli Synagogue, the Yishuv Court Museum, the Broad Wall and the Center for Jerusalem in the First Temple Period.
The Cardo was the main street in Jerusalem 1,500 years ago, running from north to south and through the heart ("cardo" is Greek for "heart") of the city with parallel columns supporting a tile roof. Jerusalem's Cardo features on a mosaic pavement map of a sixth century church that is situated in Jordan.
Today the Cardo is one of the main attractions in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Part of the Cardo is once again a shopping street with pieces of art and special goods on sale and an open part displays some pillars. There is a partially-restored area that shows visitors how the stalls and shops would have appeared in Roman times.
There are some interesting archaeological excavations around the Cardo from the First and Second Temple period. The Cardo leads into the Arab Shuk in the Muslim Quarter.
The Cardo is a fascinating mixture of archaeology, history and shopping and is well worth a visit.