Wednesday, March 10, 2010


March Madness! This month has been a blast so far. First we celebrated the Jewish Halloween kind of holiday called Purim. It's the celebration of Queen Esther. So we all dressed up and went to this dance studio for a partaaay. The instructor there had come to teach us Jewish folk dancing like a week before and we thought it was just a dance party... it was a Jewish folk dance party haha. So, we did Jewish folk dancing for like 2 hours! It was actually way fun!

Me and the "Just Struck By Lightning" girls... and Alex as a Zombie.

Swing yer pardner round n round!... I mean, Mazel Tov! Most of the dances were done in big circles. Others like the macarena, were in lines. That's basically it though.

This past Sunday (our Sabbath is Saturday) a group of us went to Tel Aviv just to get out of Jerusalem. We'd been cooped up in the Center for so long, a trip out was just what everybody needed! We went shopping at the Sukk, went swimming in the Mediterranean, rode bikes on the boardwalk, and went to dinner. Oh man, it was the best day ever!

The Bike Gang.

Notice the beginnings of the huge wave that is about to come over the jetti...

Aaaaand, the aftermath. We all got owned by this wave! It slowly but very surely took all of us out. Our bikes started just kind of going out from under us and we were all running into each other. Then it went fast once we were down. Hahaha! There were some battle wounds and an almost-lost sandal, but it was all good! Except for the wet jeans...

On the Beach! There's nothing like a good beach day. It made me miss home a lot... and strengthened my resolve to figure out a way to be home for this summer term.

The group at a fountain right on the boardwalk.

Mary and Jess shopping in the Sukk.

Sunset on the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv :)

Boardwalk at night!

The MONTH of February... it's been a while

Ok, so I haven't posted since Egypt. I just haven't had time to walk over to Hebrew University to upload my pictures! We had a few crazy weeks near the end of the month - tons of assignments, midterms, and finals, all back-to-back. It was nuts. I literally did not leave the BYU Center for at least 2 1/2 weeks. AND we were on lockdown for a good part of a week.

So, here I am, writing about 3 blog posts in one. Hopefully I'll have enough time to write it all!

So just a few things - first, our field trip through Hezekiah's Tunnel! King Hezekiah built a tunnel from the Gihon Spring through the city in preparation for battle. It brought the water supply into the city. This tunnel is looong and runs along underneath the City of David and eventually lets out at the pool of Siloam, where Christ healed the blind man. Our whole class went and walked through it, sang hymns (and lots of other songs at the top of our lungs) inside, and eventually had a huge water fight at the end haha. The water was really gross, but we were already thigh-deep... what's a few more feet, right?

Going down into the tunnel - along the way we passed Warren's shaft, which King David used to conquer the Jebusites and give Jerusalem back to the children of Israel

Water fight at the outlet of the tunnel before the Pool of Siloam. It was intense. I think every single person got dunked at some point.

Ok, next: More underground adventures! For part of our next field trip, we went along the entire Western Wall. The part that the Jews worship at which has the plaza in front of it is not the holiest spot for them. It's actually underground, a little ways north of that spot. This spot is the holiest place because it would be the part of the original temple mount that was closest to the Holy of Holies in the temple. So, technically nothing is special about it, but it was close to something special. It was a really cool field trip and we learned a lot though!

The biggest solid pieces of stone ever used to make anything are part of this wall right here. One is estimated to have weighed something like 600 tons?!?! It was nuts. And really cool to see how much of the actual wall is underground still.

Tunnel - it looked like a mineshaft and then would randomly open up a little bit into random arches and pillars and ancient street things... a little hard to picture as real and functional when they're underground though.

The Western Wall tunnel dumped us out in the city. This is my friend Steven and a cool street!

So after the northern part of the Western Wall, we walked around the entire temple mount, back through Dung Gate, and into an archaeological park. There used to be a huge staircase going up to the temple mount here, but it was destroyed and the pieces are just piled up around the place. You can see where the arch attached to the now closed up gate also, high up on the wall.

If you look closely you can see the BYU Jerusalem Center on the top left (all those little arches), and then the park in the middle of the Mount of Olives is called Orson Hyde Memorial Park, which ends at the edge of the Garden of Gethsemane, which is on the middle right - a bunch of olive trees on different levels. And this is from right next to the temple mount! Everything is so close here.

A view of the some cemeteries along the eastern edge of the temple mount. The gates leading up to it were blocked off a long time ago, like this one.

Rubble from a big arched stairway that used to lead up to the temple mount. People just leave stuff where they fall around here. Too many people want to clean house, so nobody does! Literally, you try to sweep a step at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and you'll witness a priestly battle. That actually happened.

Some ruins just outside the temple mount.