About Us Holy Land Sites Holy Land Tours Christian Photos Community Travel Tips

Tags - jerusalem

May 11, 2010May 11, 2010  0 comments  Geography

While working on Jerusalem’s present day water infrastructure, workers uncovered a section of the city’s ancient aqueduct and a 14th century bridge near Sultan’s Pool, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.

The aqueduct conveyed water to the Temple Mount during Solomon’s time.

“The bridge, which could still be seen at the end of the 19th century and appears in old photographs, was covered over during the 20th century,” said Yehiel Zelinger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “We were thrilled when it suddenly reappeared in all its grandeur during the course of the archaeological excavations.”

Zelinger explained that the aqueduct actually began in Bethlehem at Solomon’s Pools and ended at the Temple Mount cutting through the neighborhood today known as Yemin Moshe, across from Mount Zion. Its route has been documented by scholars. The bridge, Zelinger said, was built in order “to maintain the elevation of the path along which the water flowed.”

“Two of the original nine arches that were in the bridge were currently excavated to their full height of about 3 meters,” Zelinger said.

jerusalem, archaeology, aqueductThe bridge, rebuilt in 1320 by Sultan Nasser al-Din Muhammed Ibn Qalawun according to an inscription on the bridge, was constructed in order to replace a bridge from the time of the Second Temple period.

The Israel Antiquities Authority and Nature and Parks Authority plans to expose the entire length of the bridge and integrate it in the framework of the overall development of the Sultan’s Pool, as part of underscoring the importance of the water supply to Jerusalem in ancient times.

The Gihon Corporation, name for Jerusalem’s ancient source of water, is assisting in funding the excavations.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.

May 17, 2010May 17, 2010  0 comments  Geography


The name Ben Hinnom most probably means Son of Hinnom, Hinnom being the owner of the land, but the valley's name in Hebrew, Gei Ben Hinnom, resembles the Hebrew word for Hell, Geihenom, and despite its peaceful and innocent appearance, its history makes the name well deserved.

Hinnom Valley


Right below Mt. Zion, outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, lay a deep valley, green and wide, that separates the old city of Jerusalem from the modern neighborhoods of the city. In fact, the valley, known as the Ben Hinnom valley or Gei Ben Hinnom in Hebrew, separates the Old City from the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the Old City walls, Mishkenot Sha'ananim (established 1860).


The name Ben Hinnom most probably means Son of Hinnom, Hinnom being the owner of the land, but the valley's name in Hebrew, Gei Ben Hinnom, resembles the Hebrew word for Hell, Geihenom, and despite its peaceful and innocent appearance, its history makes the name well deserved.

 It was here, in the Ben Hinnom Valley, that people in ancient times used to sacrifice their first born children to the foreign gods, the Molech and the Baal. The Israelites that a few hundred years back had adopted the Mosaic faith upon receiving the Torah, emulated their gentile neighbors and adopted this custom as well.

It is told of King Ahaz of the Kingdom of Judea in relation to the Ben Hinnom Valley: "Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign... and he did not that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, like David his father; but he...made also molten images for the Baal. Moreover he offered in the valley of Ben Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel"( II chronicles, 28:1-3).hinnom valley


King Ahaz was not the only Israelite to follow this custom. This custom was quite prevalent on those days. Actually, it was so common, that the prophet Jeremiah preached the Israelites and warned them against it: "(they) have filled this place with the blood of innocents and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal; which I commanded not, nor spoke it, neither came it into My mind. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called... the valley of Ben Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter; and I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies... (Jeremiah 19: 5-7);
Jeremiah's prophecy manifested itself later on in history, when Jerusalem was captured and the Holy Temple destroyed by the Babylonians and once again by the Romans a few hundred years later.

The deepest part of the valley is called the Sultan's Pool, named after Ottoman ruler (Sultan) Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566) who made it usable. There is a bridge leading to the pool that used to serve as a dam. Today the place is mostly dry and serves as a scene for festive summer concerts that attract multitudes of people. Visitors can also enjoy the Artists Quarters adjacent to it (Hutzot Ha-yotzer), hosting different art galleries of local artists.

 The Sultan's pool in the Ben Hinnom valley is also known as Batsheba's Pool. This name is an informal name derived from a common mistake. The Tower of David inside the walls of the Old City is towering just above the valley and the pool. The tower was built in the Ottoman Era, but people mistakenly thought that the Tower of David really was a tower from King David's time, and figured that it must have been from there that he saw Batsheba bathing in the near by pool. Hence the mistake that led to the name.

The valley itself is a part of the graveyard surrounding the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a Jewish practice not to build graves and graveyards inside the city walls, therefore the area outside the walls used to be a burial area during all the different eras of history since Jerusalem became a Jewish city (over 3000 years ago). One can see there graves from different times and eras in the city's history dating back to the Second Temple era and before that as well.

All in all, when walking through the Ben Hinnom Valley, one can hardly suspect the bloody history of the place, but once one knows of that history, it's impossible not to feel an eerie feeling around the place. That same feeling crawls into one's heart even when praying in the beautiful synagogue at the Yemin Moshe neighborhood right above the valley.

That said, one can learn a lot of the different historical levels of the city of Jerusalem by taking a stroll through this beautiful valley of hell, Gei Ben-Hinnom.


Written by : Avital Yona, first published in Eastory.


May 23, 2010May 23, 2010  0 comments  History

This chronicle of Solomon's Temple was created by Sir Isaac Newton and originally published within "The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended" by Sir Isaac Newton (1728).


The Temple of Solomon

November 21, 2010November 21, 2010  0 comments  History

On Tuesday, 17th or 18th October 1009, a group of workmen entered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and started demolishing what was then (and is now) the holiest site for Christians worldwide. Who ordered them to do so, and why?

The answer lied on the banks of the Nile, inside the head of the Caliph of the Fatimid Empire Abu 'Ali Mansur al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah. This man, whose Arabic name literally meant "Ruler by God's Command", ruled from his palace in old Cairo over a vast strip of land stretching from modern Tunisia in the west to modern Syria in the east, including all of the Holy Land.

Al-Hakim's reign, which began at the age of eleven, was a relatively troubled one. The Caliphate under his rule faced opponents abroad, such as the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad (which saw his rule as illegitimate on the grounds that he was a missionary of Shi'ite Islam rather than Sunni Islam). In addition, the army under Al-Hakim's command was torn by rival factions.

Al-Hakim repeatedly exhibited eccentric and capricious behavior. Besides executing several viziers (chief ministers) in a short period of time, he was very much obsessed with his subjects' morality. This obsession found expression in strange rules regarding every aspect of their daily lives (down to their diet), and also in harsh measures taken against non-Muslims.

The most famous of these measures was the 1009 order for the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This large complex, originally built in the 4th century, contained several chapels and churches commemorating key events from the New Testament regarding Jesus' crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection.

The workmen assigned for the job started by demolishing the empty tomb of Jesus and the dome above it. Chunks of wall that fell as a result blocked access to many parts of the church, thus saving them from destruction.

The church had already faced a similar assault between 614 and 622, when the Byzantines were temporarily driven out of the region by the Persian Empire. The destruction of 1009, however, had much longer implications. Until the end of al-Hakim's reign in 1021 Christians were banned from approaching the ruins, and only in 1042 his successors reached an agreement with Emperor Constantine IX regarding the church's reconstruction.

Further repairs and a substantial enlargement were made by the 12th century Crusaders who took the country from the Fatimids.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher we can see today is, architecturally speaking, the magnificent sum of all these past constructions and reconstructions.

Amir Rosenbaum is  the Co-Founder and owner of the Holy Land Gift site, Eastory.


August 5, 2013August 5, 2013  0 comments  History

An incredible discovery dating to the Crusader period (1099-1291 CE) was revealed today in Jerusalem in an excavation being done by the Israel Antiquities Authority in cooperation with the Grand BAzaar Company of East Jerusalem. An enormous part of a busy hospital was discovered in a building owned by the Islamic Waqfsituated in the heart of the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. The area is known as "Muristan" (a corruption of the Persian word for hospital), and is located near David Street, the main road in the Old City.

For the last decade the building had been sitting empty but in light of Grand Bazaar Company's plans to renovate the market and redevelop it as a restaurant, the Israel Antiquities Authority began to excavate the site. A small part was exposed but apparently covers an area of almost fifteen dunams and consists of huge pillars, ribbed vaults and stands over six meters high.

Excavation directors Renee Forestany and Amit Re'em, "We've learned about the hospital from contemporary historical documents, most of which are written in Latin. These mention a sophisticated hospital that is as large and as organized as a modern hospital. The hospital was established and constructed by a Christian military order named the "Order of St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem" and known by its Latin name the Hospitallers (from the word hospital). These righteous warriors took an oath to care for and watch over pilgrims, and when necessary they joined the ranks of the fighters as an elite unit."

Similar to a modern hospital the ancient facility consisted of a number of different wings each for a different department. According to documents the hospitallers treated sick men and women of different religions and documents also indicate that the Crusaders ensured that their Jewish patients received kosher food. Apparently the local Muslim Arab population was instrumental in assisting the Crusaders in establishing the hospital and teaching them medicine.

An orphanage also functioned within the hospital as well. Contemporary documents provide much insight into the size of the hospital as well as the management.

The Crusader ruler Saladin lived near the facility. He renovated the building and also allowed ten Crusader monks to continue to reside there and serve the needs of the population of Jerusalem.

An earthquake struck in 1457 CE and the hospital was buried until the Ottoman period.
Plans for restaurant will incorporate the historical site, which will be integrated into the design of the restaurant, expected to open later in 2013.


Source: Israel Antiquities Authority; photo credit Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority

August 20, 2014August 20, 2014  0 comments  History

While a cornerstone laying ceremony was held recently for the rebuilding of the Old City of Jerusalem's Tiferet Israel Synagogue - dedicated in 1872 and dynamited by Jordan's Arab Legion in 1948, don't expect to see the 20-meter-high new / old Chassidic landmark reappear to its former glory anytime soon.

Speaking at the event in May, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said, "Today we lay the cornerstone of one of the important symbols of the Jewish community in Jerusalem. The Municipality attaches great importance to the preservation and restoration of heritage sites in Jerusalem, and we will continue to maintain the heritage of Israel in this city."

Citing Lamentations 5:21, Housing Minister Uri Ariel added, "We have triumphed in the laying of yet another building block in the development of Jerusalem, a symbolic point in the vision that continues to come true before our eyes: ‘Renew our days as of old.'"

While the two politicians symbolically placed a stone salvaged from the ruined building, construction will take three years, according to the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem Ltd. (JQDC) - a public company under the auspices of the Ministry of Construction and Housing. The project, budgeted at NIS 50-million, is being mainly funded by anonymous donors.

Fundraising to purchase the land for the Tiferet Israel, also known as the Nisan Bak shul, was initiated in 1839 by Rabbi Israel Friedman of Ruzhyn, Ukraine (1797-1851) and his student Rabbi Nisan Bak (1815-1889). While the Holy Rizhiner, as his Hassidim called him, finally bought the land in 1843, he didn't live to see construction begin.

The two were motivated by a desire to foil Czar Nicholas I's plans to build a church and monastery on the hilltop site which overlooks the Temple Mount. Outmaneuvered by the Hassidim, the Czar instead purchased land northwest of the Jaffa Gate outside the Old City where the Russian Compound was ultimately built.

Rabbi Bak, who designed the massive project and served as its contractor, spent more than a decade fundraising and six years building the synagogue. Finally inaugurated on August 19, 1872, he named the three-storey building with its iconic dome in honor of his rebbe.

The quick-witted Rabbi Bak was able to complete the ornate synagogue thanks to a donation from Kaiser Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary. In 1869, while visiting Jerusalem en route to dedicate the Suez Canal, the emperor asked his subjects who came from Sadhora in the remote Austrian province of Bukovina why their synagogue had no roof. (In 1840, having spent two years in Russian prisons on charges of complicity in the murder of two Jewish informers, Rabbi Friedman fled to Sadigora as it was known in Yiddish to escape persecution from Czar Nicholas I.)

Seizing the moment, Rabbi Bak replied, "Your majesty, the synagogue has doffed its hat to you." The Kaiser, understanding the royal fundraising pitch, responded, "How much will it cost me to have the synagogue replace its hat?," and donated the needed money to complete Tiferet Israel's dome which was thereafter referred to by locals as "Franz Joseph's cap".

In the winter and spring of 1948, that soaring dome served as a key Haganah military position and lookout point for the Jewish Quarters' outgunned defenders. Badly damaged by heavy shelling, the house of worship was demolished by Jordanian sappers on May 21, 1948. A few days later, following the neighborhood's surrender on May 25, the nearby Hurva Synagogue - the main sanctuary of Jerusalem's mitnagdim (anti-Hassidic Ashkenazi followers of the Vilna Gaon) - met the identical fate.

Tiferet Israel's collapsed walls and smashed dome covered the building's foundations, which were revealed as part of the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter after the 1967 Six-Day War. With the rebuilding of the Hurva completed by the JQDC in 2010, Tiferet Israel became the last major Old City synagogue destroyed in 1948 not rebuilt.

Both buildings are stone-clad, concrete and steel facsimiles of their original structures updated to today's building code and equipped with an elevator

* * * *

Gil Zohar is a tour guide and journalist and contributes regularly to Travelujah-Holy Land tours. Originally from Canada, he resides in Jerusalem.


March 27, 2014March 27, 2014  0 comments  Masses

On Easter and the preceding Holy Week, Jerusalem usually fills with visitors from all parts of the world. Pilgrims flock to the Holy City to commemorate the important events from the last days of Christ’s life.


The main celebrations will take place in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, built over the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. However, other churches and shrines will also hold religious services honoring various happenings from last moments of  Christ’s terrestial life.


This year 2014, according to western and eastern Eucharistic calendars, Easter will be celebrated by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians on 20th of April. Moreover, this time will coincide with Jewish holiday of Passover, which will begin on the evening of 14th of April and end on the evening of the 22nd of April. This cover up of the dates will probably increase the number of visitors to Jerusalem at once, but will also make this time more interesting and meaningful for all.


Holy Light Jerusalem


Travelujah’s tip:


The best way to have an unforgettable spiritual experience in the Holy Land is to commemorate the Easter happenings with the local Christian community. Have a look at the following list of masses and events for that period of the year.


Travelujah is a leading faith-based social network that could be also your space to share your Holy Land tour and travel experiences with others. If you would like to do that, simply contact us on: info@travelujah.com


List of the Holy Masses:




  • Commemoration of the Flagellation of the Lord in the Church of the Flagellation in Jerusalem at 17:00



  • Resurrection of Lazarus, celebrated in Bethany (El-Azariya) at the Tomb of Lazarus at 6:30 with a Holy mass in the
 Church of St. Lazarus at 7:30, that will be followed with a solemn mass and spiritual pilgrimage to the Ascension Shrine on the Mt. of Olives and to the Church of the Pater Noster.



  • Mass at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at 16:00



  • Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Lent at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at 6:30



  • Commemoration of the Way of the Cross at Lithostrotos (Ecce Homo Convent) at 17:00



  • Friday of Seven Sorrows at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at 9:00
  • Solemn mass on Calvary at
17:00 with a daily procession



  • Commemoration of the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the Church of Betfage at 9:00
  • Eve of the Palm Sunday: Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre - 8 am; Solemn mass - 
14:30; Solemn entry of the Latin Patriarch, H.B. Fuad Twal and procession
at 00:40; Vigil in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament presided by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custod of the Holy Land

13/04/2014 (Palm Sunday)


  • Procession with Palm branches and pontifical mass at the Mary Magdalene Altar in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at 7:00
  • Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives at 14:30

14/04/2014 (Holy Monday)


  • Via Dolorosa - V Station - Holy Masses in different languages from 6:00 till 8:00
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Holy mass in Arabic on Calvary at 7:00; Solemn mass in the Holy Tomb at 8 am; 
Daily procession at 17:00

15/04/2014 (Holy Tuesday)


  • Solemn mass with singing of the Passion of Christ

at the Church of the Flagellation at 8:00
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Solemn mass with singing of the Passion of Christ at 8:00; Daily procession at 17:00

16/04/2014 (Holy Wednesday)


  • Solemn mass with singing of the Passion of Christ
 at Gethsemane in Basilica of the Agony at 8:00
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Solemn mass with singing of the Passion of Christ and daily procession at 8 am;
Exposition and veneration of the Column in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament throuout the day from 10:00;
Tenebrae Service at 16:00

17/04/2014 (Holy Thursday)


  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Entry of the Latin Patriarch, H.B. Fuad Twal, pontifical mass with the Washing of the Feet and procession with the Blessed Sacramant
Notes at 8:00; Soon after the service (approx. 12:00) the doors of the Basilica will be closed - no exit or entrance; Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and service at 14:45 - The doors open and close shortly afterwards. After the service (approx. 18:00) the Basilica remains closed for the rest of the day.
  • Mount Zion - Last Supper Room: Spiritual pilgrimage to the Cenacle, Washing of the Feet, and to the Churches of St. James and St. Mark
with a departure from St. Savior's Monastery at 15:10;
  • Gethsemane - Basilica of the Agony: Holy Hour presided by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land at 21:00 
(Note: 21:30 – 00:00 private prayer in silence)

18/04/2014 (Good Friday)


  • Celebration of the Passion of Christ on Calvary

in Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher at 7:15
  • Procession of the Way of the Cross, starting at 12:15
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Service at 16:00; 
"Funeral" Procession at 20:15

19/04/2014 (Holy Saturday)


  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Easter Vigil at 6:30;
Evening Prayer in front of the Edicule at 18:00;
Pontifical celebration of the Liturgy of the Hoursat the Altar of Mary Magdalene, presided by the Custod of the Holy Land at 23:30

20/04/2014 (Easter Sunday)


  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: Entry of the Latin Patriarch, H.B. Fuad Twal at 10:00;
Pontifical mass and procession at 10:30; Daily Procession at 17:00

21/04/2014 (Easter Monday)


  • Franciscan Shrine of Emmaus - Qubeibeh: Solemn mass presided by Fr. Piebattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land at 10:00;
Evening Prayer and Solemn Eucharistic Exposition
at 14:30
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre:
 Solemn mass at 8:00;
Daily procession at 17:00

September 16, 2009September 16, 2009  0 comments  Books

Tourists to the Holy Land walk right past one of the most important sites in Christian history without realizing its significance.  Noted archaeologist and author Shimon Gibson claims that the place of the trial of Jesus is not near the Antonia fortress, as the route of the Via Dolorosa (the "Way of Suffering") marks, but rather in a completely different part of Jerusalem - now a small, unmarked park near the Jaffa Gate. 


In his newly published book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence, Gibson claims that the starting point of the Via Dolorosa, which has been walked for centuries, is incorrect and reflects "a tradition with no historical basis whatsover."


"It is amazing for me to think that thousands of Christian pilgrims pass by one of the most important, tangible sites of Christian history without realizing it. It is not known and there is no sign posted," Gibson said in a recent interview I conducted for Travelujah.


Gibson, who has spent the last 30 years excavating numerous sites which are relevant to the story of Jesus, admits that some of his conclusions may be controversial. He is convinced, nonetheless, that the ancient stones and ruins have an important role to play in unraveling many of the mysteries surrounding Jesus's final days and first-century Jerusalem.  "Books which deal with Jesus tend to be written by theologians and historians who might make use of archaeological data, but not always. They usually use archaeology as a garnish, for a bit of illustrative material but not more than that.  I decided to start with the archaeological context."


His other findings include a new interpretation of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and a proposed location for the tomb of Jesus.


What to see if you really want to walk in Jesus's footsteps


I asked Gibson what pilgrims should plan if they really want to "walk in Jesus's footsteps."  He suggested four sites, not always on the typical itineraries:


1.  The Bethesda and Siloam Pools


These massive pools were thought for many years to have been water reservoirs. Yet Gibson argues that they were not designed to conserve large quantities of rainwater but were actually built for ritual purification needs.


Jerusalem was packed with thousands of Jewish pilgrims during Jesus's time who came to celebrate the Passover festivities and attend the Temple. These pilgrims had to undergo ritual purification before ascending to the Temple. Gibson suggests that Jesus was trying to establish a new movement of baptism, with alternative purification and healing procedures centered at these pools. 


It was at these pools, Gibson believes, that the "main activities of Jesus took place while he was in Jerusalem."


2.  Flight of Steps south of the Temple Mount


The Temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world and more than twice the size of the Athenian Acropolis.  Gibson said that here "you can get a sense of the crowds that would have climbed up.  They story of the Jesus overturning the tables took place here too."


3.  Mt. Zion


Gibson is currently excavating in this area, known in the Byzantine tradition as the area of the "House of Caiaphas".  While the exact location of the first-century house of the High Priest is still unknown, there are many palatial homes from that period being uncovered. Gibson writes that it is "great fun to thread the soil through one's fingers, digging up fragments of cooking pots and storage jars, occasionally hitting upon a coin, but ultimately the main thrill is in being able to reveal the outline of the households, kitchens and installations, dining halls and bedrooms, dating back some 2,000 years."


4.  Park between Jaffa Gate and the southwest corner of the city (Trial location)

In this small park are the remains of a gateway system with a large expanse that Gibson believes was the site of Jesus's Trial. He doesn't believe the Trial would have been inside Herod's palace, as commonly believed, since the palace was a very private residence.  "It is inconceivable that Herod would have done business in his home."


In his book, Gibson makes the case for this location and uses recent archaeological finds to name the Trial's exact physical setting. He believes "the Trial was out in the open, conducted in front of the crowds."   


The Final Days of Jesus paints a picture of life in first-century Jerusalem that brings together the latest archaeological discoveries with the traditional sources. Author Shimon Gibson is currently a senior associate fellow at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and an adjunct professor of archaeology at the University of North Carolina. He previously worked in the Israel Antiquities Authority.


Gibson wrote in his book, "There is magic in its stones.  Jerusalem is one of those special cities that many put on the list of places they most want to visit during their lifetime." We recommend this book as a must-read for anyone who wants to uncover a bit more of that magic.

To buy the book click here: The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence


The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence

HarperCollins 2009



Lori Kaufmann is Co-Founder of Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land.  Based in  Israel, www.Travelujah.com connects people to the Holy Land by allowing users to share their experiences, write blogs, upload their pictures, create profiles, Search the Bible, learn with experts , book tours, hotels and Christian guesthouses and journey into the Land of the Bible.


March 11, 2009March 11, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

An ancient Byzantine era church was discovered recently in the Jerusalem Hills at a construction site in Nes Harim, according to Ha'aretz Newspaper. Local residents unearthed the site which previously had been covered by pine trees and terraces.

The Israel Antiquities Authority exposed the excavated church, which  is paved with mosaics and decorated with an ancient inscription written in ancient Greek.
Dr. Leah Di Signi, a leading expert ifn ancient inscriptions at the  the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,  deciphered the inscription: "O Lord God of Saint Theodorus, protect Antonius and Theodosia the illustres [a title used to distinguish high nobility in the Byzantine period] - Theophylactus and John the priest [or priests]. [Remember o Lord] Mary and John who have offe[red - ] in the 6th indiction. Lord, have pity of Stephen."

As first reported in Ha'aretz,  the first excavation in the site in November 2008 revealed the church's narthex - the broad entrance at the front of the church's nave. A carpet of polychrome mosaics  adorned with geometric patterns of intertwined rhomboids separated by flower bud motifs was inside. Much of the mosaic was defaced and destroyed by vandalism.

The same excavation also revealed a complex wine press that was partly exposed consisting of at least two upper treading floors and and arched cells, likely designed to assist in the fermentation process.

According to archaeologist Daniel Ein Mor, "We know of other Byzantine churches and sites that are believed to be Byzantine monasteries, which are located in the surrounding region. The excavation at Nes Harim supplements our knowledge about the nature of the Christian-Byzantine settlement in the rural areas between the main cities in this part of the country during the Byzantine period, among them Bet Guvrin, Emmaus and Jerusalem."

May 20, 2009May 20, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology


A first Temple-Era Bone Seal engraved with the name Shaul discovered in the excavations in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park in the City of David


During a visit to the City of David in Jerusalem, the Knesset presidium, headed by Speaker Reuben Rivlin, a Hebrew seal that dates to the time of the First Temple was displayed for the first time. The seal was found in an excavation that is being conducted in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, under the direction of Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the IAA, and underwritten by the ‘Ir David Foundation'.


The seal, which is made of bone, was found broken and is missing a piece from its upper right side. Two parallel lines divide the surface of the seal into two registers in which Hebrew letters are engraved. A period followed by a floral image or a tiny fruit appear at the end of the bottom name. The name of the seal's owner was completely preserved and it is written in the shortened form of the name Shaul (or Saul). The name is known from both the Bible (Genesis 36:37; 1 Samuel 9:2; 1 Chronicles 4:24 and 6:9) and from other Hebrew seals.


According to Professor Reich, "This seal joins another Hebrew seal that was previously found and three Hebrew bullae (pieces of clay stamped with seal impressions) that were discovered nearby. These five items have great chronological importance regarding the study of the development of the use of seals. While the numerous bullae that were discovered in the adjacent rock-hewn pool were found together with pottery sherds from the end of the ninth and beginning of the eighth centuries BCE, they do not bear any Semitic letters. On the other hand, the five Hebrew epigraphic artifacts were recovered from the soil that was excavated outside the pool, which contained pottery sherds that date to the last part of the eighth century.

It seems that the development in the design of the seals occurred in Judah during the course of the eighth century BCE. At the same time as they engraved figures on the seal, at some point they also started to engrave them with the names of the seals' owners. This was apparently when they started to identify the owner of the seal by his name rather than by some sort of graphic representation."


It appears that the "office" which administered the correspondence and received the goods that were all sealed with bullae continued to exist and operate within a regular format even after a residential dwelling was constructed inside the same "rock-hewn pool" and the soil and the refuse that contained the many aforementioned bullae were trapped beneath its floor. This "office" continued to generate refuse that included bullae, which were opened and broken, as well as seals that were no longer used and were discarded into the heap of rubbish that continued to accumulate in the vicinity.


May 20, 2009May 20, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

 Ras El Amud Neighborhood  - Jerusalem surroundings area

Settlement remains dating to different phases of the Middle Canaanite period (2200-1900 BCE) and the last years of the First Temple period (eighth-seventh centuries BCE), including an inscription in ancient Hebrew script that mentions the name Menachem, were recently exposed in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the Ras el-Amud neighborhood of Jerusalem, prior to the construction of a girls’ school.


Among the remains from the First Temple period is a handle on which the Hebrew name Menachem is engraved. According to archaeologist Dr. Ron Beeri, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This important find joins similar names that were found in archaeological excavations in the Ancient East and in Israel in particular. The names Menachem and Yinachem are expressions of condolence – possibly related to the death of family members”.


Dr. Beeri adds that such names already appeared earlier in the Canaanite period: the name Yinachem was found written on an Egyptian pottery shard that dates to the eighteenth dynasty and the name Yinachemu is mentioned in the El-Amarna letters (from the fourteenth century BCE) as the name of an Egyptian governor on the Lebanese coast.


This is the first time that a handle with this name has been found in Jerusalem. The name Menachem is known from the corpus of Hebrew or Phoenician names and seals that bear this name were found in Israel, Assyria, Cyprus and Egypt. The name Menachem Ben Gadi is mentioned in the Bible. He reigned as king of Israel for ten years in Samaria and was one of the last kings of the Kingdom of Israel. According to Kings 2 Menachem Ben Gadi ascended the throne in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah, king of Judah. Menachem, king of Israel, is also mentioned in the texts of the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser III, as Menachem of Samaria and as one of the kings from whom he received tribute.


Photograph: Mariana Salzberger, Israel Antiquities Authority

June 22, 2009June 22, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

The discovery of an ancient aqueduct that served as the principal water supply to the Sultan''s Pool outside the Old City of Jerusalem was announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The aqueduct, which supplied pilgrims and residents with water for both drinking and purification, was discovered in a salvage excavation in the city's Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood ahead of the planned construction of the Montefiore Museum at the site, the state-run archeological body said. The upscale district overlooking the Old City walls, which is now a top city attraction for artists and painters, was the first Jewish neighborhood outside the Old City.

Currently a popular venue for large outdoor cultural events in the city, Sultan's Pool, located at the foot of the neighborhood, was for hundreds of years one of the city's most important water reservoirs. The aqueduct was repeatedly used and repaired for about two thousand years, dating back to the Second Temple period, to supply the many pilgrims who flocked to Jerusalem with drinking water, said Dr. Ron Beeri, director of the excavation at the site.

The recent excavation focused on a section of the previously uncovered "low level" aqueduct, one of two ancient water conduits that originated in the Hebrib and Solomons Pools and terminated in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. He said that the location of the aqueduct was "extremely successful and efficient," noting that his team had uncovered aqueducts dating from four different periods at the site, ranging from the Byzantine to the Ottoman The impressive, three-meter high Ottoman-era aqueduct found during the dig included a tower and a ceramic pipe which diverted water to Sultan\'s Pool, as well as to a public fountain which was built for pilgrims. The low-level aqueduct is to be incorporated in the planned Montefiore Museum to be built by the Jerusalem Foundation at the site.

 Source: Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2009

February 11, 2010February 11, 2010  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

 Upon entering Jerusalem's Old City through Jaffa Gate, you are enveloped in the bustling and colorful David Street, lined with souvenirs shops and local shopkeepers. Now, an archaeological dig has confirmed that this very street has been on the map, literally, for 1,500 years.


The Israel Antiquities Authority announced the find this week. At the time, the thoroughfare was 4.5 meters below the current street level. The road dates from the time when Jerusalem became a Christian city in the Byzantine era. While other locations on the Madaba Map have been discovered, the road had remained hidden until now.


The existence of the road is confirmed on the Madaba Map, an ancient mosaic map of Jerusalem from the 6th century. It is located in a church in Jordan and is the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of Israel.


The Madaba Map describes Israel with an emphasis on Christian sites at a time when the country transitioned from paganism to Christianity. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is among the identifiable sites on the map. All of the churches on the map are portrayed with red roofs on the map.

Dr. Ofer Sion, director of this excavation, said that after digging through "a number of archeological strata" the team discovered meter-long flagstones of the ancient street.


"It is wonderful to see that David Street, which is teeming with so much life today, actually preserved the route of the noisy street from 1,500 years ago," Sion said.


During the Byzantine period (4th-7th centuries), Jerusalem was a Christian city. Thousands of Christian pilgrims came to Jerusalem to worship and many left written descriptions of the city and its holy places. The Madaba Map was one of them, showing the city walls, gates, the main streets and the churches. The main throroughfare, the Cardo, was a colonnaded street that bisected the city from north to south.


The IAA said that the 8- by 16-meter Madaba Map also clearly showed an entrance to Jerusalem from the west through a large gate that led to a single, central thoroughfare on that side of the city. Excavations had never been performed in this area since it is still a main thoroughfare in the Old City frequented by tourists and locals alike. However, the dig will continue now allowing tourists to catch a rare glimpse of history.


The flagstones found were cracked from the burden of centuries. Next to the road archaeologists also discovered a stone foundation which supported a sidewalk and a row of columns. Other artifacts discovered in the excavations include pottery vessels, coins and five small square bronze weights that shopkeepers once used for weighing precious metals.


During the Middle Ages, a very large building that faced the street was constructed on the stone foundation of the Byzantine period. Later, during the Mamluk period (13th to 14th centuries) rooms were built inside this structure, apparently used as shops and storerooms. Beneath this building, right below the street that runs between David's Citadel and David Street and leads to the Armenian Quarter, is a cistern, 8 x 12 meters and 5 meters deep, which supplied water to its occupants.


By Nicole Jansezian for Travelujah.com

July 25, 2011July 25, 2011  2 comments  Biblical Archaeology

A rare gold bell from the second temple period was discovered in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, adjacent to the Western Wall, last week. The bell was apparently sewn to the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period, making it approximately 2000 years old. The excavations are being conducted at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and underwritten by Ir David Foundation.The drainage channel  begins in the Shiloah Pool and continues from the City of David to the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, near the Western Wall.


According to the excavation directors, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, "It seems the bell was sewn on the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period (first century CE). The bell was exposed inside Jerusalem's main drainage channel at that time, among the layers of earth that had accumulated along the bottom of it. This drainage channel was built and hewn the length of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, on the bottom of the slope descending to the Tyropoeon Valley. This drainage channel conveyed rainwater from different parts of the city, by way of the City of David and the Shiloah Pool, to Nahal Kidron".


The main street of the Jerusalem is in the region of the excavation, above the drainage channel. This road ascended from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David and an interchange, known today as ‘Robinson's Arch', was built in it, by way of which people entered the Temple Mount. Apparently, the high official was walking in the Jerusalem street in the vicinity of Robinson's Arch and lost the gold bell that fell from his garment into the drainage channel beneath the road.


We know from biblical sources that the high priests, who served in the Temple, used to hang a gold bell from the fringes of their robe. Thus, for example, in the ‘Tetzaveh' Torah portion, in the Book of Exodus, there is a description of the high priest Aaron's robe: "All of blue...it shall have a binding of woven work ...And upon the skirts of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the skirts thereof; and bells of gold between them round about".


It is impossible to know for certain if the bell did indeed belong to one of the high priests; however, the possibility cannot be entirely discounted.



August 23, 2011August 23, 2011  1 comments  Biblical Archaeology


The Old City of Jerusalem is famous for, among other things, its eight unique gates*, none of which are more impressive than the Damascus Gate.

Built by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538 as part of a total revamp of Jerusalem's walls, the Damascus Gate featured a majestic crown-shaped parapet. But during the heavy fighting in and around the Old City during the Six Day War in 1967 the Damascus Gate's "crown" suffered considerable damage.

With so many ancient and biblical sites on their plate, it took Israeli archaeologists over 40 years to get around to it, but this year the Damascus Gate was finally restored to its original glory.

Damascus Gate


"The Old City of Jerusalem is a focus of interest for people the world over and the number one tourist attraction in Israel," said Elad Kendel, director of the Old City Basin in the Jerusalem Development Authority."The city walls and the gates are the first thing that everyone sees when they arrive at the Old City, and it is therefore important to us that tourists, both domestic and foreign, see the city in all its glory," Kendel added.

The Jerusalem Development Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority have concluded a comprehensive cleaning of the gate's ancient stones and restoration of its famed parapet.

But getting the parapet just right was no easy task. Archaeologists had to consult photographs of the Damascus Gate taken during the early 20th Century when the British governed Jerusalem.

"Because of its beauty, Damascus Gate is also the most documented of Jerusalem's city gates and its historical material and numerous photographs facilitated an accurate restoration of its appearance," explained project architect Avi Mashiah. "Every single decoration, including all of its features, was studied and restored by us down to the smallest detail, in order to provide visitors to the gate as full and complete an experience as possible," Mashiah continued.


Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate lit up during the recent Jerusalem Light Festival. Credit: Allaboutjerusalem.com


To lessen the likelihood of the "crown" falling into disrepair any time soon, the archaeologists fixed them to the rest of the gate using special undetectable anchors.

The restoration team did not stop with the Damascus Gate, and is continuing their work along the length of the Old City's walls in a large-scale effort to enhance the impact of this holy city on visiting pilgrims.

* Including the closed Golden Gate. Jerusalem's Old City has seven open gates.



* * *

Author: Ryan Jones, Travelujah



September 18, 2011September 18, 2011  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

On the slope of the City of David hill, where the Kidron and Ben Hinnom Valleys meet, the Ancient Shiloah Pool was discovered just a few years ago. This magnificent pool was constructed 2,000 years ago during the days of King Herod, in Jerusalem's glorious building tradition. This grand pool served as an important meeting point for Jerusalem's pilgrims, who would arrive in the city to visit the Temple Mount on the three major Jewish holidays: Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth), and the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot).


The pool is mentioned in the New Testament as the place where Jesus has performed a miracle, as he healed a blind man (John 9 7). An impressive road once connected the Shiloah Pool to the Temple Mount and served as the central axis for all of Jerusalem's pilgrims and visitors. Shops and businesses once lined the length of the Herodian Road and enjoyed the road's centrality and the wide exposure that they had to the many pilgrims who filled Jerusalem on the holidays. The way that leads from the Shiloah Pool in the direction of the Temple Mount reached 600 meters into the valley whose Greek name once was the "Tyropoeon" which means the valley of the cheese mongers.


During the Hellenistic Period the road was lined with the shops and factories of dairy product manufacturers, such that when the winter rains would come, the valley would be washed clean of the refuse and smells that were a by-product of the dairy industry. During Jerusalem's Herodian period the road was paved and at its foot, the Shiloah pool was formed in order to store water for drinking and for the bathing purposes of the visiting pilgrims.


The road became more central and important because of the increasing pilgrimage phenomenon and because of the importance of the Shiloah Pool in the culture of the pilgrims. Specifically, the Shiloah played a critical role in the Libation Ritual ceremony - during which the waters of the Shiloah Pool were brought as an offering at the Temple Mount itself.


Charles Warren in the shaft in 1873

Charles Warren in the shaft in 1873  Credit: City of David


In the drainage channels situated beneath the road, impressive artifacts were discovered from the time of the Great Revolt against Rome. The channels themselves and the rare artifacts discovered bear a striking resemblance to the description of Josephus in his book "Wars of the Jews," Volume 6, which tells the story of the Jews who hid "in the tunnels beneath the Shiloah." Thus, this new excavation was able to authenticate Josephus' moving historical description of the aftermath of the Revolt in Jerusalem.City of David is now offering a new tour to showcase this new "Pilgrims Route". The short version of the tour begins from the pool of Siloam and continues to the Givaty parking lot next to the City of David visitors center. The tour length is about 1 hour.



City of David Sidebar:

City of David is opened as follows:


Winter Schedule (Beginning on October 3, 2011):
City of David Tours (English): 10:00am, 2:00pm, Friday: 10:00am
City of David Tours (Hebrew): 10:00am, 2:00pm, Friday: 10:00am
Hasmonean Aqueduct Tour (Hebrew only): Friday only: 10:00am
Segway Tour (English): 1:00pm
Segway Tour (Hebrew): 10:00am, Friday: 9:00am, 11:30am


Summer Schedule (until Rosh Hashanah, September 28):
City of David Tours (Hebrew): 10:00am, 12:00pm, 4:00pm, Friday: 10:00am, 11:00am, 12:00pm
City of David Tours (English): 10:00am, 4:00pm, Friday: 10:00am
Hasmonean Aqueduct Tour (Hebrew): Friday only: 10:00am
Segway Tour (Hebrew): 10:00am, 4:00pm Friday: 9:00am, 11:30am
Segway Tour (English): 1:00pm


Entrance to Warren's Shaft and Hezekiah's Tunnel is permitted until one hour prior to site closing time. Tickets can be purchased up to two hours prior to site closing time.
A person who has bought a ticket for the last entrance time to Warren's Shaft cannot continue his tour through Hezekiah's tunnel.
Paid parking is available at the Givati parking lot.


Tours in English are available on site for visitors. For an up to date schedule please visit http://www.cityofdavid.org.il. Group tours are available by reservation in advance. For information and reservations call 02-626-8700 or - rcv@cod.org.il. For groups -shimi@cod.org.il


General admission pricing is 27 shekel for adults (about $8) and 14 shekel for children ($4). For those prefering a guided tour (highly recommended) the price is 60 shekel per adult and 45 shekel per child. Independent travelers that are members of Travelujah can receive a 15% discount in advance by contacting Travelujah.


Visit www.cityofdavid.org.il


March 12, 2013March 12, 2013  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

With a rich history dating back thousands of years, its pretty incredible that some of the Holy Land’s most renowned sites can be traced to the lifetime of one individual, King Herod the Great, who reigned over the land over 2,000 years ago. Lifetime over 2,000 years ago! The 40-year building spree that defined Herod produced magnificent structures, many of which still stand today.

Examples of King Herod’s fortresses, palaces or water systems can be found throughout the region.






Built between 37 and 31 BCE, Herod built Masada as a refuge from his enemies. Sitting 1300 feet above sea level, Herod chose this natural horst plateau, once occupied by the Hasmonean king Alexander Janneus to build his home away from home. Remains of the majestic Masada, with its vast array of water cisterns, storerooms, palaces, soldiers’ quarters, bathhouses and the magnificent Northern three-tiered palace that was once carved into the massive bedrock can still be explored. If you’re looking for a physical challenge, climb the 1,300 feet high path leading up to the fortress compound. As you climb the ancient “Snake Path” whose serpentine trail leads you to the mountain fortress, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Dead Sea and the surrounding sandstone mountains. If you’d like to save your energy for all of the antiquities waiting for you at the top, take the cable car for a dramatic ride which still affords the great views of the Dead Sea to the east and the jutting s mountains that surround you.


Masada Travelujah


But Masada wasn’t only important during the time of Herod. Little more than 70 years later, Masada would serve as the stage to one of the most dramatic battles in history. After the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, a community of Jews fled to Masada. For three years they lived in Herod’s old palaces, built a synagogue and ritual baths and survived a months-long siege by the Roman army’s illustrious 10th legion. In the end, however, the 966 Jewish residents of Masada opted for a mass suicide rather than succumb to Roman slavery. You can still see the “lots room” where archaeologists found pottery shards inscribed with “ben Yair”, the name of the leader of the Jewish rebels.


Masada’s history continued however, as a community of monks would make this hilltop there hideaway during the Byzantine era in the 4th and 5th centuries. You can still see remains of their church and its mosaics and frescos.


With its rich history, elaborate Herodian water system and well-preserve ruins, it’s no surprise that Masada became a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most visited spots in all of Israel.




Herod was a master politician. Even when he initially backed the loser, he changed his allegiance so quickly that he was usually rewarded for his “longstanding” support. That’s how he was awarded control over the oldest city in the world; Jericho. This city, located more than 1000 feet below sea level, is the same location where the Biblical prophet Joshua gave the command to blow the trumpets that would allow the Israelites to conquer this city. One thousand years later, this site would become home to a Hasmonean fortress, and then expanded again by Herod. Wandering along ruins one marvels at the vast mountain landscape. Remains of ancient burial chambers carved into the surrounding bedrock make for intriguing exploration. You can see vestiges of the expansive water system that filled the swimming pool that was the sight of the dramatic assassination of the high priest Aristobulus III by Herod’s mother-in-law as well as magnificent ancient mosaics near the sunken gardens.




Herodium National Park


Just 10 miles south of Jerusalem and even closer to Bethlehem, King Herod built the Herodium fortress after his victory against the Parthians. This unique site is the only Herodian complex that was built in a spot that prior to construction was completely desolate. Masada had once been occupied by the Hasmoneans. Caesarea had once been a Phoenician port, and Jerusalem had already been the Jewish capital for 1,000 years when Herod expanded the Temple mount. But Herodium was pure, unadulterated Herod.  Its unique landscape can be seen miles away with its volcano-like shape. This hill is man-made and is a result of Herod’s workmen shoring up the double walls which ran over 200 feet in diameter! Ascending to the top one finds the remains of Herod’s fortress, the lookout tower, the opulent bathhouses and cisterns. Equally fascinating are the remains of an ancient synagogue used by Jews who defended themselves from the Romans during the Great Revolt in 70 CE and later, during the Bar Kochba Revolt  in 135 CE. 


Herodion Bethlehem Travelujah


After you’ve explored the fortress area, escape the heat by descending into the tunnels below. Built by the Bar Kochba fighters thee tunnels connected to Herod’s massive water cisterns enabling the fighters to hide from the approaching Roman army. And as you look out over the base of Herodium, you’ll see the remains of an ancient country club where Mark Antony as well as Herod’s other royal guests were treated to lavish pool parties complete with musical entertainment and the best imported wine served pool side.  Because this was Herod’s favorite spot and commanded an uninterrupted view of his beloved Jerusalem, he demanded to be buried on this magnificent site. In 2007, Ehud Netzer discovered Herod‘s tomb after 40 years of searching.


The Western Wall and The Temple Mount


King Herod’s most famous building project was the expansion of the Temple Mount in which he expanded the Temple and more than doubled the size of the Temple Mount area. Then, to insure the physical security safety of this holiest of sites, he planned a retaining wall. The western side of this wall, known in Hebrew as The Kotel, or the Western Wall, is the holiest site in Judaism today. When viewing today’s Western wall I one sees the top 28 layers, however, another 17 layers remain underground! Built of limestone quarried from the nearby Zedekiah’s Cave situated just outside the Muslim Quarter, by today’s Damascus Gate, the stones at eye-level represent the typical Herodian design with beautifully chiseled edges. But gazing upwards, note how the stone style changes, evidence of later additions built by Umayyad Muslims and later still, by the Ottomans. You don’t have to be Jewish to participate in the tradition of writing a personal prayer on a small piece of paper and sticking it into the cracks of these well-worn stones.   


Western Wall Travelujah


The Dome of El Aqsa and the Mosque of Omar are located on the Temple Mount.


If you’re planning a visit to Israel anytime up to mid- fall 2013, include a trip to the Herod exhibit currently at the Israel Museum for a thorough history as well as artifacts from one of the most controversial kings in the history of the Holy Land.


Dome of the Rock Travelujah


Tomb of the Patriarchs


The city of Hebron is most notable for the Cave of Machpelah, which is the traditional burial site of biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs: Abraham and his wife Sarah, their son Isaac and grandson Jacob, and their wives Rebecca and Leah, as well as Jacob’s son Joseph. (Gen. 23:17-20)


The massive edifice built over the cave, which we can see today, is the result of multiple transformations and renovations since the construction of the huge outer enclosure (65 x 35 m) by the architectural mastermind Herod the Great. The thick walls, built of massive stone blocks with the characteristic recessed margins, reach around 16 m high. The exact location of the orginal entrance is hard to identify.


Tomb of the Patriarchs Travelujah


The place is undoubtedly holy for the tree monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There are assumptions that during the Byzantine times a church was built inside the enclosure, which was replaced by a mosque during the Ummayad period around the beginning of the 8th century. In the 11th century, after the Crusader conquest, the mosque was changed into a church built in a Gothic style and dedicated to St. Abraham. The main structure of the church can be seen till this day. The site became again a mosque after Saladin’s conquest in 1187. In 1967 the sanctuary was shared to create inside it also a place for a synagogue for Jewish believers.




Apollonia National Park 


Apollonia National Park is one of Israel’s smaller national treasures and not nearly as known as other archaeological sites. Nevertheless, set atop the cliffs just north of Herzliah Pituach overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Appollonia is home to amazing antiquities dating back to the Phoenicians who settled this coastal town about 500 years before King Herod. Though the Roman villa here may actually date to a few years after his death, with its Crusader-era the site is a worthy visit. Two walking paths snake their way through Apollonia’s ruins; one which descends partway down the cliffs is designed for more experienced hikers while the upper one is relatively flat and suitable for people in wheelchairs or pushing strollers. Only 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv, Apollonia is a perfect site for those long on interest in antiquities but short on time!




Despite his thirst for power, no one knew how to say “thank-you” better than Herod.  Herod would show his gratitude by building fortresses in honor of Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor who granted Herod the province of Judea to rule.  But Herod realized that in order to impress the Romans they needed beauty was key. In 22 BCE, one year after his workers started building the Herodion Fortress, Herod embarked on one of his most ambitious building projects, Caesarea. He enlarged the natural port at what was formerly called Stratton’s Tower, renamed it Caesarea in honor of the emperor and create a harbor to rival the magnificent port of Alexandria. Located on the coast one hour north of Tel Aviv, Caesarea is home to a Roman-era amphitheater which even today offer some of the best acoustics. An impressive Hippodrome once that welcomed 10,000 spectators to the fight-to-the death lion tamers and chariot races, is reminiscent of a Charlton Heston’s nail-biting portrayal of a charioteer in the famous movie, Ben Hur.


Caesarea Travelujah




Sebaste National Park


Located in Samaria, the capital in the ancient northern Kingdom of Israel, Sebaste National Park is located about seven and a half miles north of Nablus. The Old Testament site of Samaria (it is mentioned 109 times in the Old Testament) was founded by Omri (ruled 885–874 BC) and it was once the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel . Like most of other Herod buildings Sebaste was originally built by Ahab, the son of Omri and husband of Jezbeel. The Assyrians captured in in 723B.C, thereby ending the Israelite rule.


Sebaste Travelujah


Sebaste contains a fortress and palace dating from the ninth-eighth centuries BCE when prophets such as Elijah warned people of what would happen if they did not follow the word of God. But Sebaste flourished during the Roman period as well. The Roman Emperor Augustus gave the city of Sebaste to Herod and he then rebuilt it in typically grand Herod style complete with an impressive, kilometer long cardo containing 600 columns to an impressive gate. He also built a forum, a Roman basilica, stadium, temple, hippodrome, houses, storeshouses and a theater surrounded by a wall and gates. Situated in the Samarian mountains, the site enjoys gentle mountain breezes .  The ancient Roman theater and stadium were both built in honor of Augustus Caesar and the remains of a mosque built over a 7th century church dedicated to John the Baptist, who’s head was kept here (according to some traditions)




Banias National Park


Banias National Park, located in the Golan Heights is one of the favorite spots in Israel for tourists and natives alike. The hike along striking springs and waterfalls offer a cool respite from the summer heat and the impressive antiquities, carved into the natural stone face, are not to be missed. The Greek king Antiochus III won an important battle here and, as a result, a Greek Temple dedicated to the god Pan (Pan = Ban and is how Banias got its name) was built. But Herod also recognized the beauty of this site. Situated along the Banias Springs, one of the sources of the Jordan River, Herod chose this spot as the perfect place to erect a temple in honor of his patron Augustus Caesar.  Not long after his death, it was here that Simon Peter declared that, “You are the Christ, the son of the living G-d.” Then Jesus blessed Simon saying, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16-19). Banias is filled with plane and poplars and spots abound for sitting and reflecting on the importance of this site in the life of Jesus.


While you may not be able to visit all of the destinations here, you can be assured that no matter where you visit in Israel, you’re not far from one of Herod’s great masterpieces.


Travelujah offers a new 7 day Herod in the Holy land tour for groups interested in studying Herod in depth. The tour includes site visits to several important Herod sites and museums throughout the Holy Land accompanied by an expert tour guide specializing in the second temple period, Herod and archaeology. For more information contact Travelujah.


Onnie Schiffmiller is a licensed Israeli tour guide.


 *  *  *

If you go:


For contact information:




  • Masada - There is a one day Masada and Dead Sea tour that departs daily from either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. For more information visit this site. Tel: 8-995-9333
  • Jericho - There is a one day Jericho and Bethlehem tour that departs three times a week.  For more details please visit this link.
  • Hebron – Travelujah can help you to arrange a tour with a private guide. Abrahams Tours has regularly scheduled tour to Hebron every Wednesday. For more details check: here.
  • Herodium can be visited in a specially arranged day tour by contacting Travelujah. For site information visit this link. Tel: 02--654-1255
  • Western Wall – Open 24 hours a day.
  • Apollonia – Although there are no one day tours that include Apollonia the site is easily accessible to those with their own transportation and is about a 25 minute drive time from Tel Aviv. For more information click here. Tel:  03-903-3130          
  • Caesarea- A group one day tour is offered three times weekly that includes Caesarea, Acre and Rosh Hanikra. For more information visit this link.  Tel: 04-626-7080
  • Sebaste - Sebaste is best visited with a private tour guide. Visits do need to be prearranged in advance through the parks authority director,  Moti Fee, at 057-7762053 or by phoning  09-8841623. (Note Sebastiye is located within the Palestinian Authority areas)       
  • Banias - A guaranteed group tour to Banias is offered as part of the 3 day Golan and Galilee tour that is offered weekly. For more information contact info@travelujah.com Tel: 04-690-2577

Temple Mount  Visit - Available visiting hours for non-Muslims are restricted and are as follows:


Summer: Sundays – Thursdays: 8:30 am – 11:30 am , 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm.

Winter: Sundays – Thursdays: 7:30 am – 10:30 am , 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm.

The Temple Mount is closed to tourists on Fridays and Saturdays.

It is recommended to call in advance to find out regarding changes. Tel: 02-622-6250 



June 25, 2013June 25, 2013  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

An 1800 year old Roman era road was exposed this week during road work in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood in Jerusalem. The road is part an ancient Imperial road network leading from Jaffa to Jerusalem, dating to the Roman period (second-fourth centuries CE).The wide road (c. 8 m) was bounded on both sides by curbstones and is built of large flat stones fitted to each other so as to create a comfortable surface for walking. Some of the pavers were very badly worn, indicating the extensive use that was made of the road, and over the years the road also underwent a series of repairs.


beit hanina

Roman road discovery in Beit Hanina, Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority


According to David Yeger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which was overseeing the excavation that was being conducted during drainage work undersway in the area, "Several segments of the road were previously excavated by research expeditions of the IAA, but such a finely preserved section of the road has not been discovered in the city of Jerusalem until now".

"The Romans attached great importance to the roads in the empire. They invested large sums of money and utilized the most advanced technological aids of the period in order to crisscross the empire with roads. These served the government, military, economy and public by providing an efficient and safe means of passage. Way stations and roadside inns were built along the roads, as well fortresses in order to protect the travelers. The construction and maintenance of the roads was assigned to military units, but civilians also participated in the work as part of the compulsory labor imposed on them by the authorities."


In some places the modern Bir Nabala road was paved just a few centimeters above the route of the ancient road, which indicates that until a few decades ago the ancient road in this region was visible and was used.



*   *    *   *


Source: Israel Antiquities Authority


March 3, 2009March 3, 2009  3 comments  Pope Benedict XVI Visit to the Holy Land

The Israel Ministry of Tourism officially announced the upcoming itinerary for Pope Benedict's trip to the Holy Land. The Papal delegation with is to include 40 representatives from the Vatican and approximately 70 representatives of th foreign media, will arrive on May 11th. The Pope will meet with the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barakat, local leaders, President Shimon Peres as well as the Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel (the Chief Rabbis, the President of the Moslem Religious Court of Appeals, Christian religious leaders and the heads of the Druze Community). The Pope will also meet with leaders of the Palestinian Authority Mohammed Abbas during his visit to Bethlehem on May 13, 2009. The official itinerary is posted below: •


May 11, 2009 - Pope to arrive in Israel; official ceremony with President Shimon Peres and visit to Yad Vashem Martyrs' and Heroes' Memorial of the Holocaust. Pope Bernedct XVI will also meet with the Council of Religious Commuity Leaders in Israel. In the evening there will be an Interfaith Dialogue meeting at Notre Dame Center.•


May 12th, 2009 - Visit to the Temple Mount and meeting with the Grand Mufti. He will also visit the Western Wall, Mt. Zion and the Cenacle (the Site of the Last Supper), Heichal Shlomo Synagogue (the Great Synagague) as well as a visit to Gethsemane Church. A mass will be held at the Kidron Valley. •


May 13th - Visit to Bethlehem and meeting with Palestinian Authority Leader Mohammed Abbas. A mass at Mangar Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, will be held. •



ay 14th - Visit to Nazareth and meeting with local leaders. A Holy Mass in Nazareth at the Mount of Precipace overlooking the Jezreel Valley will be held. A prayer at the Church of the Annunciation is also planned as well as a meeting with local religious leaders in the Galilee. •


May 15th - Meetings with local religious leaders at local Churches in Jerusalem. A farewell ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport will be held. Pope Benedict XVI will return to Rome on a special EL AL flight at the conclusion of the ceremony. If you wish to plan a tour following in the footsteps of this memorable Papal visit, please let us know. We have arranged special priced tours for groups of 15 people or more.

April 19, 2009April 19, 2009  0 comments  Jesus


Saturday Night - April 18th.

The crowds swelled and pilgrims came from all over the world to join in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire Ceremony. The festivities occurred at the sacred Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the believed site of Jesus's crucifixion, buriel and resurrection by many - located in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Church was built on the orders of Emperor Constantine in 325, and has attracted a steady stream of pilgrims since its construction with the exception of a few periods in history. Control of the grounds and interior is sharply divided between Catholics and various Orthodox denominations, in a tenuous status quo that often degenerates into physical violence between monks, and has prevented much-needed structural repairs.

Considered a miracle that occurs annually on Holy Saturday - the day after Orthodox Easter Sunday when at precisely 2 pm local time, a sun beam believed to shine through the windown in the ceiling of the Church lights a lamp placed inside the tomb of Jesus. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theofilos III entered the tomb structure of Jesus at the Church and after the lighting of the lamp, he lights a few candles with the holy fire and passes them to worshippers in the Church. The fire then spreads rapidly amongst the church-goers. An olive lamp is expected to bring the flame to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, where street celebrations are also held.

Traditionally, the pilgrims were expected to bring back the fire to their own communities in Eastern Europe and Russia.


March 30, 2009March 30, 2009  1 comments  Peace


Situated well off the beaten path, in the heart of the American Colony neighborhood of East Jerusalem, set behind the gated walls of a a 120 year old building lies the home of  the new Prayer House. Baptists have owned the building for the past 40 years. It has served as a university student ministry center, a New Testament Study Center, a YWAM base and various other ministries.

The setting is quite unique and its location is indicative of its mission of peace and co-existence. The north and south sides of the building are bordered by two schools (a Christian ARab school on one side and a Moslem school on the other). To the west, there is a view of the adjacent ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim.  Inside the large two story home are several rooms available for prepare. On the main floor is the Prayer Chapel, offering a beautiful space for group worship and study. The central focus of the chapel is the 4.4 meter X 3.8 meter HARVEST FIELD mural. The mural features the "Seven Species" of Deuteronomy 8:8 and the words of Jesus in Matthew 9:37-38 "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." with hand painted frescos on the walls.

Upstairs there is a large interactive prayer room designed with numerous corners that are ideal for meditation and reflection. Visual displays on prayer and the scriptures are available in various areas and there is simple yet powerful corner where one is invited to author his own prayer on a stone. In order to maintain the spiritual ambiance and reflective nature of the space, visitors are asked to speak in whispers and to remove their shoes prior to entering the upstairs room.

The setting is a perfect venue for groups interested in joining together for an hour of prayer or reflection during or after a day of tour and/or learning. Anita and Dale Thorn run the ministry and the facility is open to individuals and groups.

"My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations."   Isaiah 56:7

For contact information - dthorne1938@gmail.com or call 02-626-1439.
The center is located at 35 Nablus Road, and less than a five minute walk from the American Colony Hotel, the Garden Tomb and the Damascus Gate.


August 31, 2009August 31, 2009  0 comments  Peace

On Sunday, October 4th, tens of

millions of Christians worldwide will unite

for the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, a day specifically set

aside by more than 1,200 global leaders (click here to view a partial list of



ures.aspx> ).


YOU can make your presence felt and pray for God's power and His peace to

flood the streets of Jerusalem by doing three simple things:


1. Make sure your local church is participating on October 4th.


The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem is NOT a single location event

but rather a worldwide celebration day when LOCAL CHURCHES pray for Jerusalem

in their Sunday services, in accordance with Psalm 122:6. There will be a

Jerusalem Celebration on this day carried live on GOD TV around the world,

but the real thrust of the initiative is on the local church level. Please BE

SURE that your church is participating! To receive your FREE equipping packet

now, and to obtain helpful materials such as posters, prayer cards, videos,

flyers, and children's resources for your local church, go now to

www.daytopray.com <https://www.daytopray.com/Ministry-Resources.aspx> .


2. Please forward this link to as many people as you can.


The goal is to reach 100 million Christians within the next 30 days with this

timely message for the Body of Christ. Help us meet this goal for the Lord's

sake and for His advancing Kingdom! If you will simply take a moment right

now and forward this link on, especially to your pastor, close friends, and prayer

partners, we can literally sound a global trumpet to bring clear focus and

awareness to this urgent prayer effort. It really, really makes a difference

if you will take only five minutes and forward this e-mail.


3. Sign the "Call to Prayer Resolution".


Thousands of Christians from all over the world have signed this document,

calling for a day of global prayer for Jerusalem and all her inhabitants. Add

your voice to this growing number today. Click here to sign the "Call To

Prayer Resolution". <https://www.daytopray.com/Prayer-Resolution.aspx>


Finally, the Jerusalem Celebration of the Day of Prayer for the Peace of

Jerusalem will be carried live into 192 nations on GOD TV. If you are in

Israel at that time, please plan to join us for this celebration. If you

cannot be in Israel, GOD TV will be broadcasting this event internationally,

LIVE on October 4th (broadcast schedule will be available closer to the event

date). Also consider having your church link with the Jerusalem celebration

of the DPPJ by viewing the event on GOD TV! Go to www.god.tv

<http://www.god.tv/>  for more information.


We thank you for putting action to your prayers and for taking part in seeing

God's true peace for Jerusalem unfold in this hour of history!


May the Lord's shalom rest over each of you,


Rev. Robert Stearns

Co-Chairman, Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem


Dr. Jack Hayford

Co-Chairman, Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem


P.S. If you have not yet done so, please make sure to add your name to the

thousands of Christians around the world who have signed the "Call To Prayer

Resolution." Be sure to check out the free online resources as well as the

DPPJ materials available in more than 15 languages.

May 4, 2009May 4, 2009  0 comments  Christian Guesthouses

Perched on a small hilltop overlooking a beautiful courtyard and situated just outside the New Gate of the Old City, lies the majestic Notre Dame Center, a 145-room guesthouse managed by the the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ. According to Father John Solana, the local representative of the Holy See, the historic guesthouse is also the selected property for the upcoming Papal delegation that iss arriving on May 11, 2009 with Pope Benedict XVI. The 70+ members of the delegation will be hosted at Notre Dame and, in fact, other important events surrounding the visit have and are occuring at this venue. On the evening of May 11th a special invitation only Interfaith event will take place at the John Paul Center where leaders from all three faiths will meet to discuss dialogue and understanding.


The guesthouse enjoys a long and rich history in Jerusalem, initially a school, later as a hospital and most recently as a guesthouse for all denominations of Christian visitors from around the world. the rooftop of the Notre Dame Center offers one of the most rewarding views of the entire city of Jerusalem. Adjacent to the property is a professional hospitality training center for Palestinian youth as well as a permanent exhibition on "Who is the Man of the Shroud". The Legion of Christ, known as the Legionaries of Christ, is a Roman Catholic order that was founded in Mexico in 1941 by the late Father Marcial Macial, LC. Its mission is to extend the Kingdom of Christ in society according to the requirements of Christian justice and charity.

June 16, 2009June 16, 2009  0 comments  Christian Guesthouses


George Salfity is a shining example of perseverance and dedication. General Manager of the landmark YMCA Jerusalem, built in 1933 and one of the most prominent Christian guesthouses in the Holy land, George feels he is "where he's meant to be."


For George, the YMCA  is a part and parcel of himself. He spends much of his time each week away from his wife and 4 children who live in Jerusalem, working late nights at the property and attending to all the details of day to day management. When the building was nominated in 1983 for a Nobel Peace prize for reconciliation and co-existence work, he was proud, "this is a Christian institution and it is open to all."  The property's mission of being a place for tolerance and co-existence is reflective of George's personal philosophy. He makes it a point to recruit and maintain a diversified staff of Jews, Arab Muslims and Christians. In fact members of the YMCA board come from many backgrounds. There are 21 board members, of which 7 are Jews, 7 are Arab Moslems and Christians ,7 are Internationals.



During his 29 year tenure at the YMCA he has hosted dignitaries that used the A La Carte Restaurant including Madeline Albright, Warren Christopher, and Hillary Clinton, who visited the famous kindergarten on site. Many of the local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) use the extensive facilities of the YMCA for meetings and other events including the US Embassy, French Consulate, Turkish consulate, Red Cross and many more. The YMCA is ideally located in the heart of the Western side of Jerusalem, directly across the street from the King David Hotel and down the street from the David Citadel, the new Mamila Hotel as well as numerous shops and restaurants.


George is living his childhood dream. Some children want to grow up and be policeman while others want to become teachers, baseball players or doctors.  At the age of 21 George Salfity swore that he would one day work at the historic YMCA.


George was born back when Jerusalem was a divided city and the Mandelbaum gate physically separated the East and the West sides of the city. Movement was restricted and places like the American Colony and Notre Dame were located in what was considered "no man's land" between the Eastern Arab areas and the Western Jewish sections of the city. The Old city of Jerusalem was off limits to Jews and the western side of the city was not open to residents of the east. It would remain divided for 19 more years.


After the 1967 war, the Jewish government immediately unified the city and the physical walls were opened. George, a resident of the Old City was one of several school children to receive a scholarship to attend one of the most prominent day camps in the city, the YMCA Jerusalem, located on King David Street directly across from the prominent King David Hotel.


Children from all over the city attended (and still attend) the day camp at the YMCA, and George mixed with Jewish, Moslem and Christian children from all parts of the city. "In the beginning it was not easy to get along" said George, "there was a stigma because I was from the Old City."  He explained how the kids divided themselves into three cliques; the Israeli kids, the well to do Arab kids, and the scholarship kids, who tended to be from the Old City. " George felt himself to be firmly in the third and yet slowly the children began to mix .  How did they overcome their differences? "We played sports together", continued George, "that's what bonded us."


As summer camps often do, George's camp experience changed his life. He was exposed to new people, new cultures, and in his words "a whole new international world". It was very cosmopolitan and more glamorous than anything he'd known growing up in the Old City. 


In 1979 George graduated from De la Salle high school, a Christian school located just inside the New Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. He immediately began working part time at the YMCA as a waiter, later moving to the Kings Hotel. He continued his studies at Tadmor, the recognized hospitality management program in Israel and received his hotel management degree. George earned his degree as a Certified Hotel Manager in 1996 at the Education Institute of the American Hotel Motel Association in Lansing, Michigan. His "hands-on" training included stints at the King David Hotel and the Laromme Hotel (now the Inbal) both located in the western side of Jerusalem. He also taught hospitality management courses at the University of Bethlehem and the Hotel School at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem. Today he feels very lucky, "it is not every child who grows up and lives his dream."


June 12, 2009June 12, 2009  2 comments  Food & Drinks

La Rotisserie, the understated 80-seat upscale restaurant at Notre Dame has finally reopened its doors after a four-year hiatus and a substantial renovation project that added a new bar, among other things. Historically this restaurant was considered one of the finest restaurants in the city, if not the country. The restaurant has been significantly renovated with wide new windows, extensive lighting, muted furniture, a new European chef, Rodrigo Ganzalez-Elias, was brought in from Spain to oversee the fine dining experience which includes fabulous foix gras, smoked salmon, fish, meats and other European specialties. A prominent yet inviting bar promises to be the new after work destination for NGO's, journalists, tourists and consuls and business people. While visiting the restaurant diners included the Nuncio and the Latin Patriarchate as well as others from the local Catholic community. At a recent reception there, we mingled with H.E. Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, Director of the Ecumenical & Foreigh Relations of the Armenian Patriarchate, representatives of the Custody, the Slovanian Consul, the Chilean Counsul, as well as a number of local Palestinian Christians including Habib Khoury, Mazan Qupty, Issa Hebesch, the General Manager of the American Colony Hotel, and local Israelis. Average check for food is 200 shekel per person.

La Rotisserie is located at Notre Dame, the 145-room guesthouse situated directly across the street from the New Gate.

May 11, 2009May 11, 2009  0 comments  Pope Benedict XVI


The second papal visit to the Holy Land in nine years has been picked up by leaders of the Jewish State as a clarion call to beckon Christians from all nations and denominations to visit the Holy Land.

"The fact that he's actually coming here to the Holy Land conveys a strong message to Christians  around the world that they should come here," Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said at a media briefing. "The government of Israel joins this message in calling Christians, come to the Holy Land, come as pilgrms, we ae ready to receive you and welcome you."

Misezhnikov spoke of Christian sites as well as other packages the State of Israel can offer - from spa treatments to holy sites - that can provide a "spiritual, extraordinary experience in a country with extraordinary landscapes and a progressive infrastructure."

Indeed, old infrastructure is getting a facelift while new is being added.

Some of the ancient sites renovated include the room in the Old City believed to be the site of Jesus' last supper. The site on Mount Zion will be host to a personal and private visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Also in Jerusalem, the Kidron Valley, once a haven for drug dealers and users, has been cleaned up and will host Jerusalem's first papal mass. The valley separates the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem's Old City. Nestled between the Eastern Gate and the Garden of Gethsamane, the valley is now home to newly planted olive trees and refurbished tombs of  including the Pillar of Absalom, the Tomb of Bene Hezir and the Tomb of Zechariah. The mass will seat up to 6,000 worshippers in the historic location.

Besides sprucing up historic and ancient sites, Israel has invested in new structures as well. "As a government we have drawn numerous lessons from previous visits (by officials)," Misezhnikov said. "All of the infrastructure is going to remain and will of course this infrastructure is designated for future."

In Jesus' home town of Nazareth, for example, a 7,000-stone seat amphitheater has been built on site for future use.

"This is one of the important things that will remain and will be an economic lever," said Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy. "We know this will be seen from around the world. This is first-class exposure and will encourage tourism in the future. We are expecting a wave of tourism following this. We hope for a specific call from the Pope for people to come and make prilrimage to the Holy Land."

By Nicole Jansezian

February 18, 2010February 18, 2010  2 comments  Events

A 128-person delegation comprised of leaders from the Pentecostal Church of God proclaimed their support for Israel and an undivided Jerusalem with a signed declaration of prayer presented to the Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Sunday.


Bishop Charles Scott (left) and Mayor Nir Barkat

At a time when replacement theology and apathy are pervasive in the American church, "understanding the theology of the situation is paramount," Charles Scott, general bishop of the Pentecostal Church of God told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land.

Scott said the declaration and the group's visit is not simply symbolic of its support for Israel, but is going to be felt through action.


"We intend this to be a juggernaut," he said.


Scott estimates that the ripple effect of this visit will reach a quarter million of the church's constituents. The goal, Scott said, is education about Israel through literature and media, and ultimately, tourism to Israel.


This is apparently the first time a denomination itself has made a public stand with Israel. The Pentecostal Church of God is a 91-year old denomination founded in Chicago in 1919. Its membership consists of 620,000 people in 60 nations. Of 37 districts within the United States, more than half were represented on this trip to Israel and most of the trip participants were on their first trip to Israel.

The delegation praying in City Council chamber

The group met Barkat at Jerusalem's City Council chambers and presented him with the written declaration, which is also hanging up at the Church of God headquarters in Joplin, Missouri.


"We wanted this to be a demonstration that we really supported Israel, not just in declaration but in covenant," Wayman Ming Jr., general secretary of the Pentecostal Church of God, explained to Travelujah.

Robert Stearns, director of Eagles' Wings ministry which hosted the trip as part of their Watchmen on the Walls program, told Mayor Barkat this large delegation was evidence that "a new kind of Christian was coming forth on this earth."


"We will not remain silent" in support of Israel, he said.


Barkat said that the group were "shareholders in the city." He urged the leaders to go back to their members and encourage more trips to Israel. Tourism also blesses Jerusalem by creating new jobs for Israel's poorest city, he noted.


Barkat was elected mayor of Israel's capital city in 2008. One of his goals is to bring 10 million tourists a year to Jerusalem. Representatives from Eagles Wings and the Pentecostal Church of God have joined the cause to help make that goal a reality.


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah (www.travelujah.com) the only online social networking community focused on learning about the Holy Land and providing Christian interest travel products and services to Christians worldwide. The Israel-based spiritual travel portal allows users to learn about the Holy Land, create and share content, and book unique, high quality travel experiences through a network of Christian guesthouses, hotels and to

September 27, 2010September 27, 2010  4 comments  Events

Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, is one of the seven annual holidays instituted by God in the Tanakh, or Old Testament. As such, it is viewed as a "Jewish" holiday. So it must seem strange to Israelis and Jews everywhere to see thousands of Christians make the journey to Jerusalem every year in accordance with Deuteronomy 16:16-17 to celebrate Sukkot.


Indeed, so many Christians converge on Jerusalem every year for the Christian Feast of Tabernacles celebration that it is by far Israel's largest annual tourism event, injecting an estimated $15 million into the local economy in a matter of days.


So, while most Israelis aren't complaining that Christians desire to mark one of "their" holidays in such grand fashion, the question remains - why?


Travelujah asked a number of participants at the Feast of Tabernacles hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to answer that question.


"Zechariah says the nations will all come up to Jerusalem for Sukkot, so we are fulfilling that prophecy," said Judy Ball from North Carolina, referring to Zechariah 14:16.


The ICEJ website notes that "the Bible describes the Feast of Tabernacles as the third of the three annual feasts which the people of Israel are commanded to celebrate in Jerusalem."


As Christians, the ICEJ states that it "believes that celebrating the Feast each year honors the Lord in anticipation of the fulfillment of the words spoken by Zechariah when ‘the nations...shall come up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles' (Zech. 14:16)."


Ball said that she and her husband have been making that journey of anticipation for the past 14 years, and today lead the ICEJ intercession team at the Feast.


"We see it as a perfect opportunity to not only intercede for Israel, but also for the nations that are all represented," Ball told Travelujah.


Beyond that, Ball also sees the huge influx of Christians during the Feast as "an opportunity to help promote peace in the region and build bridges between Christians and non-Christians. God not only loves the Jews, but all the people of this region, so we are here to pray for them, too."


Herta and Irene from Austria, who are by comparison relative newcomers to the Feast, said their participation and decision to come up to Jerusalem with a group of 20 fellow Christians was a simple expression of faith.


"We want to bless Israel," they said, adding that "our roots are here, in Israel. We have the same God."


In truth, it should be little surprise for those who read and believe the Bible (be they Christians or Jews) that people from all nations come up to Jerusalem during Sukkot.


Sukkot is a harvest festival. It occurs just after the summer harvest has been gathered, and the first fruits of that harvest are to be brought up to Jerusalem as a sacrifice to God (Leviticus 23). Sukkot is also known as the Feast of Ingathering, which, like most things in the Bible, has a physical and a spiritual meaning.


In the physical, that passage refers to the harvest season, and to offering a thanksgiving sacrifice to God for His provision. In the spiritual, many Bible teachers believe this is speaking of an ingathering of the nations that will be drawn close to God by the Word He gave through Israel.


Sukkot also has tremendous messianic overtones, and is closely related to the closing of Jesus' earthly ministry and his anticipated return.


The seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah, or the Great Supplication. During Hoshana Rabbah, Jews of faith will wave palm branches while calling out to God for salvation and for the coming of Messiah.


Psalm 118 is recited, and special emphasis is put on verse 26: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord..."


Jesus' early followers, being all Jewish themselves, made use of these messianic Sukkot traditions when welcoming him into Jerusalem:


"As they approached Jerusalem... A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hoshana to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hoshana in the highest!" (Matthew 21:1, 8-9)


As they had been for generations, the Jews of that time were anxiously awaiting their conquering King Messiah, and so greeted Jesus with those signs and symbols they had been taught during Sukkot. But Jesus had other plans, knowing that he must first conquer death and fulfill the spiritual aspects of redemption by allowing the shedding of his blood for the people's sins.


Jesus was coming to die, not to reign. But he did acknowledge that the Sukkot traditions were accurate when he told the people they would "not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,'" a clear reference to the Sukkot prayers.


And so it is that those Christians who have reconnected to their Hebraic biblical roots join the Jews in viewing Sukkot as the season in which Messiah will arrive and establish his kingdom from Jerusalem.


Is it any wonder that so many Christians would desire to be in Jerusalem at the time of Sukkot?


Ryan Jones writes for  Travelujah, a Christian social network focused on fostering a deeper connection with faith through Holy Land tours. You can plan, learn and share your holy land experience on Travelujah using our in-depth locational content, user and expert blogs that can take you off the beaten track, and individual or group tour booking services.

September 27, 2010September 27, 2010  4 comments  Events

"Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles." Zechariah 14:16


Entering Jerusalem's International Convention Center during the annual biblical festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), it is clear one is among the nations, people from every corner of the earth come up to the holy city for a single purpose: to take part in the fulfillment of that ancient prophecy.


Hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, the Christian Feast of Tabernacles is a gala event. And with 2010 marking the 30th anniversary of the ICEJ (the ministry was actually born out of the inaugural Feast of Tabernacles celebration in 1980), this year's opening event, held  on September 23rd in Jerusalem, was even that much more spectacular.

 Opening Night Parade of the Nations

"We know that God is present here because he has promised to meet his people here in Zion during the Feast of Tabernacles," declared ICEJ Executive Director  Rev. Malcome Hedding.


ICEJ International Director Jürgen Bühler added that what the 5,000 participants who had filled the International Convention Center in Jerusalem to overflowing were doing "has been going on for 3000 years. For 3000 years the Jews have been obeying God's command to come up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot."


Opening night started in dramatic fashion with an impressive shofar blast and the sound of various international voices reading from Isaiah chapter 62:

 Sounding of the Shofar on Opening Night

"For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch... You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth."


Following was a brief but powerful musical and dance performance accompanied by the images of past and present events that have formed the modern State of Israel - with a poignant reminder that God has vowed to one day make Jerusalem a praise in all the earth. In today's tense political atmosphere, where Jerusalem represents one of the thorniest issues standing in the way of peace, that may seem like a wishful thinking.

 Opening Night Dance at Feast of Tabernacle

But the ICEJ is standing firm on that divine promise.


"Given that the issue of Jerusalem has again come to the fore, this year's Feast is dedicated to reaffirming global Christian support for a United Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, a message that will be reinforced at several events during the festivities," said ICEJ Media Director David Parsons.


That message clearly touched Israelis, all the way up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, in a pre-recorded video greeting, told the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles participants:


"Three decades ago when some countries decided to move their embassies out of Jerusalem, you decided to come to Jerusalem. At first you came by the dozens, then you came by the hundreds; now you come by the thousands.


"Year after year you come from over a hundred countries to march through the streets of Jerusalem; and in doing so, you remind the people of Israel that we are not alone. You remind us that there are people across the world who recognize that in returning to Zion, the Jewish people have returned home.


"So on behalf of my country, and on behalf of my people, I say thank you. Thank you for your moral clarity. Thank you for your solidarity. Thank you for supporting the one and only Jewish State. Thank you."


Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov addressed the gathering in person, adding to Netanyahu's greeting by noting that Jerusalem is also "the spiritual capital for people of faith all over the world."


"Welome to Israel, the land of God; welcome to Jerusalem, the city of King David, the eternal and undivided capital of Israel," said Misezhnikov. "Welcome home!"


The welcome messages were followed by what is in some ways the most dramatic element of the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles - the Procession of the Nations.


During the procession, the flags of most of the 100 nations represented at the Feast were paraded across the stage. There was the expected representation from Christian-dominated Western countries. As has been the case for years already, the Brazilian contingent in the auditorium was huge, dwarfing even the American representation.


For first-timers at the Feast, there were also some surprises during the procession, as the flags of the Muslim nations of Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as just about every poor and impoverished African and southeast Asian country made their way across the stage.


The presence of these nations at the Feast made the event real, put it beyond being merely a colorful and dynamic display of solidarity. It is clear that for a great many Christians around the world, the life-changing experience of being in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles in accordance with God's Word is an opportunity worth stretching their meager means or risking further social rejection to be a part of.


But in the end, it was the host nation, Israel, that won the most thunderous applause, as the Feast participants loudly and passionately reaffirmed their love of and commitment to the Jewish state.


The ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles is a production with tremendous impact that is easily on par musically and in terms of presentation with anything Broadway has to offer. Only this is not entertainment. It is a sincere and powerful expression of faith in God and His Word by the hundreds who put on the Feast and the thousands who attend  and participate in it.


Ryan Jones writes for  Travelujah, a Christian social network focused on fostering a deeper connection with faith through Holy Land tours. You can plan, learn and share your holy land experience on Travelujah using our in-depth locational content, user and expert blogs that can take you off the beaten track, and individual or group tour booking services.

October 3, 2010October 3, 2010  0 comments  Events

Jerusalem, Israel  More than 400 Christians attended Sunday's International Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem in the Israeli capital, and upwards of 300 million Christians had committed to participating from their home nations including tens of millions who watched it live on God TV.



Founded by Dr. Robert Stearns in 2002, the founder and executive director  of Eagles' Wings Ministries, a dynamic organization focused on building bridges of relationship and hope around the world, the Day of Prayer is a global grassroots prayer initiative that links the Christian liturgical calendar with the biblical, Jewish calendar.


Robert Stearns


Dr. Robert Stearns, welcoming Archbishop Joseph - Jules Zerey, the General Patriarchal Vicar of the Greek Milkite Catholic Patriarchate 



This year the event was held at the Haas Promenade overlooking Jerusalem's Old City. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, giving the keynote address, reinforced the importance of a united Jerusalem.


 "Jerusalem is special to three billion people of faith in the world. No other city in the world is a destination that fills our hearts like Jerusalem. My mission for the city is to return it to its role of 2000 to 3000 years ago and to welcome people from around the world, to explore our ancient past and build our modern future."


Nir Barkat


Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat giving the keynote address


To do this Barkat insisted Jerusalem must be kept open to people of all faith to enjoy and to freely practice their religion and he was very proud to point out that during  Ramadan, which fell in the latter part of August/September 2010, there had been over 200,000 Muslims who had freely traveled to the city in order to visit the the Temple Mount to pray.


"As major I'm committed to maintaining that. This is not trivial," he emphasized, "Jerusalem must keep reunited, undivided and be the sovereign capital of Israel. It is the heart of the world. You can't divide the heart," he continued, "I read the Bible, and it is very clear who the capital of Jerusalem is for."  


According to the website set up for the event, the Day of Prayer has "quickly become the largest Israel-focused prayer event in history." More than 300,000 churches from 175 nations annually take part in the event.


Performers at the Day of Prayer


Ray Ramirez, Music Director and  International Christian Embassy Jerusalem performance group


The people and ministries behind the Day of Prayer note that while they "pray every day for Israel, we seek on this day to unite believers around the world in raising a cry to Heaven on behalf of this troubled, but strategic land and its people."



The Day of Prayer brought together a diverse group of Christians, Arabs and Jews and including  Rev. Tom Hess who gave the invocation, Dr. Bishop Naim Khoury from the Holy Land Baptist Mission,  Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey from the Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchate,  Rabbi Shlomo Riskin from the Center of Jewish Christian Understanding, and many others who all joined together with Christians in petitioning the Almighty on behalf of the holy city.


Rev. Tom Hess


 Rev. Tom Hess, founder Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations giving the invocation



By: Elisa Moed and Ryan Jones for Travelujah.

Travelujah is an Israel-based Christian social network focused on fostering a deeper connection with faith through Holy Land tours. You can plan, learn and share your holy land experience on Travelujah using our in-depth locational content, user and expert blogs that can take you off the beaten track, and individual or group tour booking services.

October 11, 2010October 11, 2010  0 comments  Events

Happen to be in Jerusalem? This Thursday, October 13 - Shababeek restaurant, located on Shimon HaTzadeek in Jerusalem is having a very special Fish Lovers Night. Travelujah members receive a 20% discount.


Enjoy Sea Bass, Red Mullet, Shrimp, Denis or Salmon and other favorites at one of Jerusalem's best restaurants.


Prices are:


Sea Bass   - 180 NIS

Red Mullet - 140 NIS

St. Peter    - 110 NIS

Denise/Salmon/Shrimps - 130 NIS


All prices include VAT


Reservations are recommended at 02-532-2626

Tags: shababeek jerusalem 

April 23, 2011April 23, 2011  0 comments  Events

Want to really experience the essence of Jerusalem?


Join Travelujah this Tuesday evening, April 26 at 7 pm. We've planned a very unique night walking tour of the Old City. Visitors and residents of all denominations will enjoy this stroll through the ancient streets of the Christian Quarter including visits to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jewish Quarter and more on April 26 at 7 pm. With one of our experienced licensed tour guides, you'll have an opportunity to learn about the history of Jerusalem andto experience the historic alleyways and special atmosphere that is found only at night.


Participants will get an inside look at the Christian and Jewish community of the Old City including, among other sites, a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at night. Participants will also enjoy  a ‘behind the scenes' look at the new Wujoud cultural center and small museum  situated within a historic 650 year old building owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate with a lovely terrace overlooking the heart of the Old City and the major street of the shuk, David Street. Founder Nora Kort will provide a tour of the museum as well as a brief lecture on the Christian community of the Holy Land. Tea will be served.


The group will be meeting just inside the Jaffa Gate at 7 pm and the tour will also conclude at the same spot.


Register in advance by clicking here or call 052-744-4033.

Space is limited. Cost 100 shekel.


Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.



August 21, 2011August 21, 2011  0 comments  Events

Jerusalem's brand new light rail service officially began operations on Friday and over 40,000 people used the service on its inaugural day.


Of course, the price was free - and will remain that way for two weeks after which time the price will be the same as a bus, or 6.4 shekel per ride, and for those with the special RavKav card they can have unlimited rides for 90 minutes.

Jerusalem Light Rail

Credit: AllaboutJerusalem.com


Official operating hours when fully opened will be 5:30 am to past midnight. 14 trains were operational on Friday.


Jerusalem's light rail was built at a cost of over  $1.4 billion and took over 10 years to  build. Former Israeli Prime Minister and Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert proposed the idea in the mid 1990's and the project was overwhelmed by a number of disputes which delayed its development and eventual opening. The rail links the east and the western parts of the city despite the fact that no final status peace agreement yet exists between Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, immediately after the Six Day War.


To see a video on the new light rail click here:


Other Transportation News - New buses


The first of the new BRT buses are already operated by Egged along express routes in Jerusalem . These buses are 18 m long, with four double doors specially adapted to allow the entry of wheelchairs and baby carriages.

In the future, satellite information systems will be installed on the express bus lines and they will have priority at traffic lights all the way along the route. The 150 brand-new buses that will be arriving in Jerusalem during the coming year will meet the Euro 5 environmental quality standard and are considered particularly environmentally friendly.


The first high-speed route from Hebron Road to Ramot already serves tens of thousands of passengers, bringing them to the city center quickly and in comfort via four rapid transit bus lines.

For more information on the new train and bus line and the map, please visit AllaboutJerusalem.com's website. 



October 5, 2011October 5, 2011  0 comments  Events

Combining pilgrimage to the Holy Land and athletics, the Pope John Paul II Games later this month will feature a peace run from Bethlehem to Jerusalem and a soccer game with Italian, Israeli and Palestinian players. Two lucky people can win an all expense paid free trip to the Holy Land in order to participate.


The mission of the trip, organized by the Catholic Josper community in Italy, an entity of Pilgrimage organizer Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, an activity of the Vatican, is to unite people through sports and to encourage dialogue. Star athletes from Italy are expected to join the tour including, from the famous designer Versace family, Giusy Versace, the paralympic athlete who lost both her legs in an accident, and former soccer stars Demetrio Albertini and Damiano Tommasi.


Peace Marathon

Participants in the Peace Marathon, 2009


Some 500 participants will join the tour from Italy and 100 Haitians will also take part, adding a new international flavor this year. Both Israelis and Palestinians will join the soccer game and the run, as they have in recent years.


According to the website, the JPII Games "evangelizes through the instrument of pilgrimages and promotes values that exalt the dignity of man and his being a creature of God."


The JPII Games, October 21 to 25, are not competitive. This year, the organization is offering a free trip to two people who are inspired "peace builders." The tour allows Christians to participate in a pilgrimage that promotes peace while at the same time allows them to experience their Christian roots in the land where it all began.


Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi and Centro Sportivo Italiano, the Italian Sports Association, brings star athletes and pilgrims from Italy to participate in these athletic events with both Palestinians and Israelis.


The peace run begins at Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus. A soccer game will take place at the checkpoint in the middle of the 12-kilometer run. The runners then continue together in from the checkpoint to Notre Dame.


Manger Square plaza outside church of the nativity

Plaza outside Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem; credit Travelujah


Another highlight of the trip will be a visit to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and the Mount of Beatitudes.


"In the Holy Land it is likewise hoped that sports, which by their very nature are a vehicle of peace and use a universal language, represent an opportunity for people who normally live with different rhythms and customs to meet and embrace," the sponsoring organization said.


Church of the Annunciation

Bishop Narcuzo inside the Church of the Annunciation Nazareth with Chilean miners earlier this year. Photo: Travelujah


In a homily, Pope John Paul II once said: "Sports have spread to every corner of the world, transcending differences between cultures and nations. Because of the global dimensions this activity has assumed, those involved in sports throughout the world have a great responsibility. They are called to make sports an opportunity for meeting and dialogue, over and above every barrier of language, race or culture. Sports, in fact, can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love."


To register to win the all expense paid free Holy Land trip visit this link: http://www.jpiigames.com/en/educational.html



*   *   *   * 


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



November 9, 2011November 9, 2011  0 comments  Events

For the last four years Jerusalem has hosted a the Open House Jerusalem Project, which provides an opportunity for residents and tourists alike to get a glimpse inside many seldom seen historical or otherwise unique homes throughout the city.


This year, the Franciscan Convent of St. Saviour in Jerusalem, theseat of the Custody of the Holy Land, was one of several special 'homes' which hosted a large group of mostly Israeli Jews, including young people, families and small children.


The project is similar to other 'open house' initiatives found in major cities worldwide, such as London and New York, and provides  visitors an opportunity to learn about the historic heritage of prominent or historical  homes and buildings as well as the architectural styles and, as in this case, the unique lifestyle and character of the people who live there..


Several local administrative and cultural bodies, including the Jerusalem City Council, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Society for the Preservation of the Israeli Historical-Cultural Heritage, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.


This past weekend St. Saviour's Convent, situated in the heart of the Christian quarter within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, participated for the third time hosting almost one hundred people divided into two groups. Brother Oscar Mario Marzo guided the first and the Brother Alberto Pari was the guide of the second group. The tour included the parish church of St. Saviour, the refectory with its fine paintings and the Custodial Curia, and for the first time visitors were allowed to admire the Custody's cellar which included wine-making equipment and large old barrels which, until the 1950s, allowed the Franciscan friars to produce the wine for all the religious families of the Holy Land.


St. Saviour Wine Cellar

Courtesy: Franciscan Media Center, Custody of the Holy Land


The initiative has a positive impact on connecting the local Israel public with the Christian and more particularly, Franciscan culture and lifestyle. Visitors have a unique opportunity to converse frankly and directly with the Friars and to ask questions. The dialogue helps to build bridges of mutual respect and cooperation and of course, represents a very warm gesture of Christian hospitality and fellowship.


For more information on the Franciscan Convent of St. Saviour visit the Custody website.



January 24, 2013January 24, 2013  0 comments  Events

Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, currently the Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, has been elected 97th Armenian Patriarch, gaining 18 out of 33 votes, in the second round of the election that took place Thursday, Jan 24 at the Church of St. James, in Jerusalem.


Meeting in conclave, the members of the priestly Brotherhood of St James, cast their crucial votes on Jan 23 in the first round of elections for a successor to the throne of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.


Born in 1937 in Aleppo, Syria's second largest city, Manoogian was ordained in 1963 and elevated to the rank of bishop in 1984.



March 13, 2013March 13, 2013  0 comments  Events

President Barak Obama is scheduled to arrive on his first-ever visit to Israel as President of the United States on March 20, 2013. His delegation will be staying at Jerusalem's prestigious King David Hotel.


The president's three day itinerary includes visits to several sites in Jerusalem including Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial, Mt. Herzl, to visit the grave sites of notable Jewish figures including Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism as well as Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's Prime Minister who was assassinated 17 years ago by Yigal Amir, a Jewish extremist. The itinerary also includes a visit to Israel's most renowned museum, the Israel Museum, which among other artifacts, is also home to the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls on display within the famous Shrine of the Book building.


President Obama will also be giving a speech to approxiamtely 2,000 students at Jerusalem's International Conference Center.


church of the Nativity - travelujah

Church of the Nativity - Bethlehem; courtesty Travelujah



The President will travel north of Jerusalem to Ramallah, located in the Palestinian Authority and currently the seat of the Palestinian Authority government. Bethlehem, located approxiamtely 8 kilometers southeast of Jerusalem was also added to the itinerary. The President is expected to visit the Church of the Nativity, a historical site that was added to UNESCO's list of protected heritage sites on June 29, 2012. 


President Obama's three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories will also include meetings with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as a state dinner with President Shimon Peres. Labor Party leader and the Knesset's opposition leader, Shelly Yakimovich is also expected to meet with President Obama.


 *   *   *   *


Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian travel network focusing on connecting Christians to Israel. People can learn, plan and share their Holy land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


September 15, 2013September 15, 2013  0 comments  Events

Despite the recent tensions in Syria, over 5,000 Christian pilgrims from nearly 100 nations will descend on Jerusalem for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. The festival begins Friday evening (20 September) in Ein Gedi at the Oasis Hotel and continues to Jerusalem's International Convention Center for the remainder of the week of Sukkot.  The weeklong celebration is expected to generate $16 million in revenues, and is the largest annual tourist event to Israel.


"We are thrilled that thousands of Christians from all over the world will be arriving in Jerusalem this week to take part in our annual Feast gathering, despite the recent tensions in the region over the Syrian conflict," said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, the ICEJ's Executive Director. "Their visit to Jerusalem is a timely message of solidarity with the people of Israel." According to David Parsons, the ICEJ media director, there have been no cancellations to this years event.


Many key Christian leaders from around the world will be speaking during the feast.  Billy Wilson, Rene Terra Nova, Lance Lambert, Howard Flower, and Susan Hattingh are just a few of the notable pastors scheduled to speak at the celebration.


Several dignitaries will be addressing Feast participatns, including senior Israeli officials, representatives of the International Israel Allies Foundation,and top Jewish Diaspora leaders. Below is the tentative schedule of events.


feast 2013




The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was founded during the first Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in September 1980 as a response to the last thirteen national embassies leaving Jerusalem under threat of an Arab oil boycott. Today, the Christian Embassy is considered the world's largest pro-Israel Christian organization, with established branches in over 70 nations and a reach into more than 140 nations worldwide.


November 24, 2013November 24, 2013  0 comments  Events

Visiting Jerusalem and looking for Christmas tidings? Or perhaps you are planning to tour Bethlehem and wish to find some authentic olivewood carvings or ornaments to take home.

Jerusalem offers two wonderful Christmas Bazaars which are open to the public on November 30th:


1. Jerusalem Expat Women's Charity Bazaar - 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, American colony hotel Jerusalem Saturday November 30th. Proceeds benefit the UN Sabaya Programme aimed at empowering rural women. Many handmade tunics for women, children and other handmade textiles will be available for purchase. Entrance is free.


2.Church of the Redeemer - in the courtyardof the Church on Muristan Road from 1:00 - 4:00 pm with childrens activities, Santa Claus, gift items and more. Cost 5 shekel to enter.

Tel: 00972-(0)-2-6266800


Bethlehem is also hosting a number of Christmas bazaars which are wonderful for the whole family:



1. Join the Christmas Market (01-08/12/2013) that will take place on the Manger Square in Bethlehem, just in front of the Nativity Church as well as the Childrens Parade. The market will open on the 2nd of December at 11 am. The first part of the day is organized by the Bethlehem Peace Center and  features international Christmas spacialities. In the afternoon the Market remains openuntil 9 pm  under the patronage of the Bethlehem Municipality.



2. Children's Parade -December 1 - 3 pm -  - 1000 Palestinian children bearing messages of peace, love, and hope will march from the Catholic Action Center (Kind David Wells) through the Star Street towards the Manger Square. The ceremony of Lightning of the Christmas Tree will start at 6 pm and will be followed by fireworks and an artistic program.



3. Christmas Market -December 2 -  December 8, 2013  continues from 3 pm till 9 pm on the Manger Square and  features a great choice of food, toys and local products.



For more information contact: vicbethlehem@gmail.com



Happy holidays and happy shopping!


July 2, 2014July 2, 2014  0 comments  Events

When you combine ancient medicines, miracles and faith - you get a fascinating remedy in the form of the new exhibition now on display at the Tower of DavidL Jerusalem: A Medical Diagnosis. With a view of Jerusalem through the lens of medicine and faith, the exhibit curated by Dr. Nirit Shalev-Khalifa, takes a look at the constant human struggle of a healthy life through the unique context of the holy city of Jerusalem.

The exhibit begins thousands of years ago - from the time of King David and King Hezekiah and continues up to the modern history of Hadassah and Shaare Zedek hospitals. Medicine in Jerusalem has always been a sequence of apostasy, sickness and epidemic intersected by an overriding story of healing, miracles and faith. This extensive exhibition draws inspiration from stories and medical cases, from doctors and pharmacies in the Old City and the new city, and from the many exhibits that are being shown to the public for the first time. The exhibition looks at the partnerships and contradictions found in the space between miracles and medicine.

Starting up in the Phasael Tower, and passing through the herb garden in the citadel's courtyard, and ending in the Crusader Hall, "Jerusalem: A Medical Diagnosis" recounts the uses and types of cures that have survived from Biblical times and reports on how sickness and plague have changed the fate of history. It shows how the holiness and status of Jerusalem brought streams of pilgrims, priests, scholars and travelers to its gates. Many of them needed medical services while others provided medical relief. It focuses on the cures that were invented along with wonder drugs (a pre-cursor to the antibiotic) and potions. It also narrates the wars of faith and missionary activity in the 19th century and early 20th century which ironically led to the establishment of hospitals and clinics: a sanatorium established by the London Society for promoting Christianity Among the Jews, Marienstift Children's Hospital, Meyer Rothschild Hospital - first Jewish hospital outside the Old City, Bikur Holim, English Mission Hospital and the Italian Hospital. The positive outcome was the establishment of hospitals that made Jerusalem a center of advanced medicine. In a city that has always been divided by religions, today doctors and nurses of different faiths work side by side together treating patients from all backgrounds.

Exhibits have been brought from around the world and many are being shown to the public for the first time at the Tower of David Museum. Among the artifacts are photo albums from the Rothschild Archives in England, an x-ray machine dating back to the 1920s, the door knocker from the Order of St John's hospital (lent by the Order of St John in London) which according to belief came from the original Crusader hospital, record books from Shaare Zedek, lotions and potions, diaries of nurses and doctors from the early 20th century, cuddly toys from 1908 that made children smile despite their illness. Every artifact tells a distinct story.

You are invited to embark on an absorbing journey through the citadel along the paths of the medical story of Jerusalem and discover a city fighting for its life, on a continuum traversed by apostasy and faith, plagues and miracles, sickness and healing.

The exhibition is presented in two galleries:
Part One - The Miracle and the Plague and the Historical Apothecary in Phasael Tower
Part Two - The Physicians' Wisdom and Medical Mercy in the Crusader Hall

In the courtyard there is a special exhibit of traditional remedies and spices brought from the Old City markets. An array of traditional herbs can be found in the Herb Garden.

The breathtaking lookout point on the top of Phasael Tower, where the old city meets the new, concludes the visitor experience to the exhibition and the Tower of David, the gateway to Jerusalem, then and now.

As part of the on-going events surrounding the exhibition, there will be walking tours that use the exhibition as a platform to explore the secrets of medicine in Jerusalem in and around the Old City on Friday mornings.

Museum opening hours:
Sunday - Thursday: 09:00 - 16:00 Friday and Saturday: 09:00 - 14:00

For more information and reservations: / 02-6265333 / *2884


Exhibition Closing: April 2015

August 25, 2014August 25, 2014  0 comments  Events

Jerusalem Season of Culture will soon be showcasing the The Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival,   four days of exceptional world class music taking place at some of the most amazing cultural and historical venues throughout the city. The festival, now in its  year, brings together diverse artists from around the world who ascend to the world's holiest city to present and explore their own brand of ‘sacred' music. Whether you are Christian, Moslem, Jewish or any other religion, the Sacred Music Festival offers a cultural tour of music that is beyond one religion and is truly music to the ears of all. The Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival will take place from September 9-12, 2014.

The festival will take place at the following historical venues:

Tower of David
Situated just inside the Jaffa Gate, The Tower of David Museum, also known as Herod's fortress, will host several cultural events throughout the citadel.

Zedekiah's Cave
 Zedekiah's Cave is located just north of the Damascus Gate. This important cave was a quarry and stones from inside were used for the development of the First Jewish Temple 2,400 years ago.  Smaller performance tailored to this venue will take place during the series Healing Frequencies, a unique musical experience.

Jerusalem Music Center in Mishkenot Shaananim
This  intimate auditorium is situated outside of the Old City gates within the artists colony of Mishkenot Shaananim, considered the first neighborhood to be built outside of the walls of Jerusalem. The venue offers outstanding acoustics.

The schedule of events for the festival is as displayed below.

sacred music festival

For tickets:

Please call 972-2-6535854, or email box@jsoc.org.il

For more information visit the Jerusalem Season of culture website.

 *   *   *   *

Elisa L. Moed is the founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian travel site connecting Christians with Israel. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



May 16, 2010May 16, 2010  1 comments  Historical Sites

Just outside of Zion Gate is a cluster of religious sites that will be especially popular in Jerusalem this week as Jewish and Christian feasts converge and bring to light these locations on Mount Zion.

The Jewish Feast of Shavuot (Weeks), celebrated by Christians as Pentecost, begins on Tuesday evening. The holiday comes 50 days after Passover and Easter.

The site of the Upper Room is a memorial to Jesus’ Last Supper and the place the disciples waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, both of which are believed to have occurred in the general vicinity.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” Acts 2:1-3

pentecost, mount zion, upper roomThe site is also holy to the Jews as the traditional location of David‘s tomb. Mount Zion Church, with the Last Supper and Upper Room, is one floor above David’s tomb. The building where both are housed was built in the 12th century.

Entry to all locations is free of charge and pilgrims to all sites respect the others’ religious observances.

The word Pentecost is from the Greek, meaning 50. The word is based on the scripture in Leviticus 23:16: “Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord.” Fifty days also elapsed between Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Shavuot is one of the three annual pilgrimage feasts to Jerusalem, along with Passover and Tabernacles. Consequently, Jerusalem was filled with devout Jews on the day the disciples received the Holy Spirit and when Peter stepped outside and spoke to thousands of people of the testimony of Jesus.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting to the land.

March 25, 2013March 25, 2013  0 comments  Historical Sites

“The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? - He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready.” (Mark 14:14-15)


The Biblical Cenacle is the “large upper room furnished and prepared” that hosted the scene of the Last Supper, which was the Passover meal Jesus and his disciples ate together before Christ’s capture in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.


The Gospels do not mention the exact location of the Cenacle. However, the tradition which dates to the times of early Christianity, spots the place on the Mount Zion just outside of the Zion Gate. At the time of Christ, the area was supposed to be a part of the proper city of Jerusalem.


The place of the Upper Room became associated not only with the site of Lord’s Last Supper and the institution of Eucharist, but as well with the events of Apparition of the Risen Christ and the Descent of the Holy Spirit.


History of the Cenacle:


Cenacle Travelujah The interior of the Cenacle



The foundations of the church of the Cenacle date back at least to the 3rd century A.D. or maybe even earlier, thus many scholars associate it with the ‘little church of God’ mentioned in the writings of Epiphanus of Salamis (310 - 403), which he based on documents from the 2nd century.


Epiphanus wrote: “Hadrian… [135 A.D.] found the city entirely raised to the ground and the Temple of God destroyed and tramped upon, with the exception of some houses and a certain small church of the Christians, which had been constructed in that place, in which the disciples, after the Saviour was taken up to heaven from Mount Oliviet, betaking themselves, mounted to the Cenacle.”


Cenacle Travelujah A group of pilgrims visiting the site



The church was reconstructed in 4th century by St. Maximus and was first known as the ‘Upper Church of the Appostles’, and then in the 5th century it was transformed into a great basilica by the Archbishop John and named ‘Sion, Mother of all the Churches’.


In 415, relics of the Protomartyr St. Stephen were taken to Sion from Cafargamala and remained there until the Empress Euxodia had finished in 460 the basilica to the north of Jerusalem, especially built to receive them.


The ‘Mother of all the Churches’, as most of the other Christian edifices in the area, was razed to the ground by the Persians in 614, however soon after it was restored by the Patriarch Modestus.


The Christians took the words that St. Peter said on the day of Descent of the Holy Spirit: “He [King David] died and was buried, and his grave is here with us to this very day” for the indication of a presence of his David’s sepulchre in the proximity of the Upper Room. Thus with time a tradition, also strengthened by the previous placement of St. Stephen’s tomb in one of the chapels, stated that the King David’s burial was around.


The Crusaders built there a three nave edifice and named it ‘St. Mary’s of Mount Sion’. During their rule, none of the pilgrims to the Holy Land mentioned in their writings the presence of King David’s tomb there, however under the power of Saladin, who captured Jerusalem in 1187, its legend revived. The Franciscan friars, who took over the possession of the Cenacle in 1336, kept the tradition as well.


Cenacle Travelujah Islamic decorations



In the 14th century, the complex was designated as having two floors, with each shared on two sections. One of the rooms on the lower floor, which with time was taken by Muslims, contained the tombs of David and Solomon. On the upper floor was the place of the Last Supper as well as the Chapel of the Holy Ghost, which was actually restored only in the middle of the 15th century.


In 1429, Jews bought the Chapel of David, which was not immediately transformed into a synagogue, but yet stayed in the Muslim possession. The chapel was however returned to the Franciscans in the very next year.


Cenacle Travelujah A Jewish woman praying next to the shrine of King David’s tomb



In couple of the following years, the monastery was destroyed and the friars received a very had time. Later, some of the edifice’s chapels were being passed back and forth from the hands of the Franciscans to the Muslims, who kept the tradition about Prophet David’s tomb being placed there. In 1928, also the Upper Room was turned into a mosque and a mihrab was erected there.


Since 1948 the Cenacle room is open to the visitors. However, the Franciscans are permitted to have there a mass only twice a year: on the day of Pentecost and on the Holy Thursday. Christian pilgrim groups usually have there a short silent prayer when visiting.


The former Chapel of David is now a Jewish shrine of the King David’s Tomb. A statue of the king decorates the entrance. The room is divided into two sections for prayer: one for men on the right and one for women on the left.


If you go:


Cenacle Travelujah The sign pointing the direction to ‘Coenaculum’



The Upper Room is located just outside of the Sion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. After exiting through the gate, you will see a gray door of a Franciscan Convet and on its side there will be a sign ‘Coenaculum’ directing you to the right. When turning, in front of your eyes will show up the magnificent Dormition Abbey church. Follow along church’s wall to the left until you will see a statue of King David. In front of the statue are the door you shall enter and take stairs up.


The shrine of King David’s Tomb is located on the lower floor of the same building.


Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Tel.:  02 671-3597

Holy Thursday in the Cenacle:


On the Holy Thursday, the 28th of March 2013, there will be celebrated a Pilgrimage to the Cenactle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark. (Departure from St. Saviour’s Church at 3:10 pm). For the detailed schedule of Catholic celebrations in the Holy Week and Easter 2013 check: here.


Did you know?


Did you know that another tradition locates the Upper Room of the Last Supper in the Syriac Orthodox church of St. Mark? The monastery is located in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City in the Armenian Quarter on the junction of Ararat and St. Mark streets.


Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ; Sundays 11:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Tel.:  02 628-3304 or 052 509-0478


* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.


March 25, 2013March 25, 2013  0 comments  Historical Sites

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’” (Mark 14:23)


It was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the foot of the Mount of Olives where Jesus was pointed out by Judas Iscariot to be arrested by the Roman soldiers and the Temple guards, who were sent by the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. Christ knew that his hour was near, so he decided to speak to God the Father. In his prayer he hoped that he would not need to suffer much, however he agreed to all God’s will. Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)


Gethsemane Travelujah


It is believed that the garden of Gethsemane belonged to one of Jesus’ followers, since it was a place where he often preached. “Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.” (John 18:2) In Hebrew, Gethsemane was called gat shemanim, which means oli press or oil storage.


The Basilica of the Agony


Gethsemane Travelujah 


Today, when entering the yard in front of the entrance to the Basilica of the Agony, we can notice couple of very old olive trees. Their ancient look create a feeling that they might have been the silent witnesses to Christ’s contemplation with God, followed by his capture and suffering.


On that place, after Christianity became an official religion of the Roman Empire, a basilica was built in the 4th century. However, because the church was built in the Valley of Kidron, outside of the walls of Jerusalem, it was one of the first Christian constructions destroyed by Persians in 614.


In the times of Crusaders, stood there a church built by the local Christians, which was later enlarged and named St. Saviour. The monastery was unfortunately destroyed, so the mass services had to be held in the nearby Grotto of Gethsemane.


Present Basilica of the Agony, was committed to the famous Italian architect A. Barluzz by the Custody of the Holy Land. The basilica is also commonly called Church of All Nations, since many countries contributed its construction, which has begun in 1919. The sanctuary was consecrated in 1924. Inside the church can be seen remains of a floor mosaic of the Byzantine construction, and to the right of the sanctuary are visible the ruins of the Church of St. Saviour of the 12th century.


The Grotto of Gethsemane


Gethsemane Travelujah


Nearby Grotto of Gethsemane is considered to be the place of Christ’s often meetings with the disciples, and as well the one on the evening of his arrest. The interior of the cave is covered with the 12th century wall paintings, which now are almost effaced. The remains of the mosaic which used to decorate its floor can be also seen.


The grotto became a Franciscan property in 1392. In the years between 1956 and 1959, it underwent multiple restorations and at that time three altars were erected.


Gethsemane Travelujah


Holy Thursday in the Garden of Gethsemane


On the Holy Thursday, the 28th of March 2013, the door of the Basilica of the Agony will be open at 9 pm for Holy Hour of prayer. From 10 pm till midnight there will be time for private prayers in silence. For the detailed schedule of Catholic celebrations in the Holy Week and Easter 2013 check: here.


If you go:


Opening Hours:


Gethsemane Basilica: Summer (April – September) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


6 a.m. - Mass in Italian language is held everyday in the Basilica of Agony

4 p.m. – On every Thursday, except the 1st Thursday of the month, there is a mass in Latin and Italian languages, which is followed by half an hour adoration. On the 1st Thursday of the month there is celebrated a Holy Hour.


Tel: 628 3264


Gethsemane Grotto: All year long 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Note: Sunday and Thursday till 3:40p.m.


Tel: 628 3264



* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.



March 12, 2014March 12, 2014  0 comments  Historical Sites

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over Calvary – place where Christ was crucified, entombed and where he resurrected from, stands in a very central place within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. However, as we can easily imagine, at the time of Jesus, the topography of the Holy City varied a lot from the present one.


The Gospels describe Golgotha (place of the Skull) as a garden just outside the walls of Jerusalem. That clearly means that the procession leading Jesus to death must have left the city through one of the city gates - the Judgment Gate.


It was only around 41 AD, when the Holy City was enlarged towards northwest by Herod Agrippa and the Christ’s sepulchre was included into the proper area of Jerusalem.


Interior of St. Alexander Nevsky Church


Can the Judgment Gate be seen today?


Not all the visitors to Jerusalem are actually aware that the threshold of the Judgment Gate remains excellently preserved and is one of the most sacred shrines of Christianity. But where can it be seen today?


Our fully understandable admiration and focus on the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre might overshadow many things located around it. But we need to remember that the Holy City of Jerusalem hides plenty of precious and important sites.


Threshold of the Judgment Gate


One of such places is St. Alexander Nevsky Church that was named after an admired warrior and Russian prince from the 13th century. The edifice was completed and consecrated on 5th of September 1891, and today, it serves as the focal area of the Russian Orthodox mission in the city of Jerusalem.


It is located just next to the present form of the Holy Sepulchre, on the grounds purchased by Russia in 1859. The shrine houses important archaeological findings.


The archaeological dig at the site, which begun in 1883, was led by A. Kapoustin. It revealed massive walls with and opening between them, dating back to the Roman era and determined as the “Holy Threshold of the Judgment Gate” - the edge of the city walls and the place where Jesus passed on during his crucifixion journey.


Looking to the left from the threshold, we can also see an “eye of needle” – a hole where stake of the gate’s door shall be placed. When the church was built, the threshold was covered with glass in a wooden frame. Behind it was placed a large stone taken (purchased) from the Calvary, on which a traditional Orthodox Crucifix was fixed.


Remains of the Roman Temple


The excavations also revealed remnants of the columns and arches dating back to the 2nd century AD, which might have been parts of the Hadrian’s temple built over the site of the Holy Sepulchre.


What is more, there were also found ruins of the Constantinian’s Basilica from the 4th century. For example, part of a massive column can be seen behind the Judgment Gate.


Travelujah’s tip:


Take with you some coins (5 NIS), as there is a small entrance fee (totally worth the experience). Please remember about modest clothes, covering your arms and knees. At the entrance to the church, women will receive something to cover their hair and a skirt – the dress code of Russian holy sites.



Beata Andonia blogs regularly for Travelujah, the leading faith-based social network in the Holy Land. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010. 

August 12, 2009August 12, 2009  0 comments  attractions

So you've been to Jerusalem before, seen the major sites and have done the "tourist thing" already, perhaps more than once. Now it is time to go a little farther off the beaten path in the Israeli capital and find some nooks on the road less travelled.

Travelujah has some suggestions for several nontraditional sites you can see if you only have two days in Jerusalem, or you can stretch these sites into a three-day visit. The locations are laid out in geographical order, but can be rearranged, skipped or revisited. Please note that opening hours and admission fees are subject to change.

Day One

Starting your tour on Nablus Road in East Jerusalem, you can first find yourself at The Prayer House, a relatively new house of prayer run by the Baptist church. The 120-year-old building was once the Swedish consulate but was sold to Christians in 1968. The building has been used for many purposes over the last three decades, but now is dedicated to prayer and quiet reflection. The location, on the seam line between Jewish, Muslim and ancient Christian neighborhoods, is an ideal place to pray, according to Anita Thorne who runs the house along with her husband, Dale. This is not another site to visit, it is an interactive experience, Anita says. Visit only if you plan to pray and spend time in quiet reflection.

Once back on Nablus Road, head toward the Old City. Along Nablus Road is a small turn off to the Garden Tomb, believed by many to be the burial an resurrection site of Jesus. The garden and sepulchre may have been owned by Joseph of Arimathea. The peaceful gardens also provide an overlook to the possible site of Golgotha, the hill of the skull, where Jesus was believed to be crucified.

Before entering the Old City walls, to the east of Damascus Gate, is Zedekiah‘s Cave, or Solomon's Quarries, traditionally thought to be the source of the stones for the Temple. Jewish and Muslim legends claim that tunnels in those caves extended to the Sinai Desert and Jericho. The cave is named after King Zedekiah who is believed to have fled from the Babylonians through these tunnels in 587 B.C., only to be later captured soon after. The caves' paths lead into tunnels under the Old City.

Into the Old City, the Wittenberg House on Haguy Street was frequented by Mark Twain from September 1867. At least one of the 50 letters that became the basis for his book "Innocents Abroad," the most widely read travelogue in American literature, was written there and could be the inspiration for what Twain calls the Mediterranean Hotel in his writings. The Wittenberg House became famous when former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon purchased an apartment in it and lived there several days a week with his wife.

Onto the Via Dolorosa, the guest house of the Ecce Homo Convent, run by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion, provides spectacular views of the Old City and Mount of Olives. The name "Ecce Homo," in Latin "Behold the man" refers to Pontius Pilate's statement recorded in John 19:5: "Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them: ‘Behold the Man.'"

Peer into the Temple Mount area from the rooftop of the guest house and across the expanse of the Old City. But don't forget to head to the underground as well. The building, located at the beginning of the traditional Via Dolorosa, is built above a canal constructed at the time of the Hasmoneans in 2 BC that serviced cisterns in the Temple Mount area. The building also houses a pavement known as the Lithostrotos, large flat stones laid by Adrian that served as a plaza and marketplace to Aelia Capitolina, the name that Adrian gave to his new city, built in 135 AD on the ruins of Jerusalem.

If it is time now for recharging, the perfect place for a cappuccino and slice of delectable homemade carrot cake is Christ Church. Near the entrance of Jaffa Gate, Christ Church is the first Protestant church in the Middle East, built in 1849. The compound houses a church, guest house and a cafe. Besides the food and patio to help facilitate recharging, there is also ancient history to be seen at the Heritage Center. In addition to the restored church is a three-dimensional model of the Old City, historic documents, medieval Bibles and a 2,000-year-old water reservoir that leads to an ancient tunnel.

Now check your watch. Plan to be at the St. James Armenian Church at 3 p.m. This is the only time the oft-bypassed monastery is open to the public. Located within the residential compound, the church built in the 12th century, shows layer upon layer of architectural styles added as it stood through the years. Attesting to its age however is the fact that there is no electricity in the building still. Oil lamps provide the only illumination by night and the sun by day through scant windows. The Armenian service is primarily chanted by priests in ancient Armenian.

For a small overview of the Armenian presence in Jerusalem - the community has had a presence on Mount Zion since 301 AD - visit the Armenian Museum, also located in the convent but accessible through a separate entrance further down Armenian Patriarchate Road.

Heading into the Jewish Quarter a fascinating site with a mysterious historical story is the Burnt House. The home belonged to a Jewish family who lived there before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD It was excavated in 1970, found buried beneath layers of soot and destruction. Within the house, archaeologists found a kitchen, work rooms and a small ritual bath plus stone water jars, inkwells and Roman coins.

Buried under a layer of ash and covered with soot, the house was probably burned down. A spear was also discovered there along with the bones of an arm that apparently belonged to a young Jewish woman who may have been reaching for the weapon to defend herself against the Roman seige. Photos of the bones are on display. As evidenced by some of the remains, the house may have belonged to the Bar Kathros family, a priestly family, which had abused its position in the Temple, as legend has it.

Time for dinner? Head back to the Armenian Quarter for a relaxing meal in the garden at Bulghourji Armenian Restaurant and Garden. The garden is located adjacent to the Old City walls and sits between the police station and the Armenian seminary. Here you can sample some Armenian style appetizers such as stuffed grape leaves, burekas (cheese-stuffed pastries), lahmajoun (Armenian-style pizza) and bulgur wheat salad, the establishment's specialty for which it is named. Western sandwiches, salads and meat dishes are also available.

You can wrap up the day with a light and sound show at the David Citadel Museum. The walls of the museum come to life with a technological walk through the history of the land. This restored citadel was constructed 2,000 years ago by Herod the Great. The panoramic route along the citadel towers provides breathtaking views of the city. The 45-minute state-of-the-art sound and light show, called "The Night Spectacular" is not narrated, but the images serve to paint 1,000 words about the history of the city.

By the end of day one, you've seen sites in all four quarters of the Old City.

Day Two

Now it is time to step out of the Old City and get a different perspective of Jerusalem. Beginning just  outside the walls near the Temple Mount and Western Wall plaza, head to what was once Jerusalem's center, the City of David, established by David as his headquarters and palace when he left Hebron and became king of Israel some 3,000 years ago. David's conquest of this Jebusite city is described in 2 Samuel.

On the surface, the City of David looks like a modern neighborhood of Jewish and Arab residents bordering the Arab town of Silwan, the Kidron Valley and opposite from the Mount of Olives. But underground, this site reveals archaeological finds of yore including excavated fortresses, passageways and water systems. The tour ends at the Gihon Spring, Jerusalem's major water source for some 1,000 years. You can actually walk through the spring in the Hezekiah Tunnel,  underground in water - the depth depends on rainfall and time of year, but is at least ankle and knee high at some points.

The Gihon Spring was stopped by Hezekiah when he saw Assyrian King Sennacherib approaching the city. Had the king found water in abundance, Hezekiah feared he would have certainly conquered the city (2 Chronicles 32:2-4).

Overlooking David's city is the Hill of Evil Counsel. A Byzantine tradition identifies this hill as the place where Caiphas and his colleagues conspired to arrest Jesus (John 11:47-50). Today this hill provides a scenic vantage point to view the Old City from the South. Called, the Tayelet (or Haas Promenade), the scope of Jerusalem is laid out before you. You may rent segways (motorized standing carts) to cover the breadth of the hill, where the United Nations' headquarters are located today. Mosaics on various portions of the promenade show the direction of an aqueduct built by Herod the Great to bring water from well past Bethlehem, through his summer palace and to the Second Temple.

Nearby, the German Colony, now a yuppie neighborhood replete with cafes and trendy boutiques, was developed by the German Templars in the 1870s. There are two cemeteries in the neighborhood, a Templer cemetery on Emek Refaim Street, and next to it an eclectic Christian cemetery where lie Ulysses S. Grant's Jerusalem tour guide Rolla Floyd and Dola Ben-Yehuda daughter of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew. She was married to a  gentile and is buried at his side. Another notable Christian, globally renowned and beloved Bible teacher and Christian author Derek Prince, was buried there as well in 2003 after spending much of his life in and devoted to Israel.

In town is another exciting Christian attraction: The Bible Society on Jaffa Street, has an exhibit called the Bible Experience, which walks visitors through the development of Biblical languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), materials used in recording the Bible through the generations and modern translations of the Bible. The exhibit contains the oldest known Book of Esther on papyrus in Greek, a full-size replica of the Gutenberg press and first edition Bibles printed in more than 50 languages.

If you want to stick with the water theme, you can hop in a car to Sataf, a serene park with ancient aqueducts and caves, just west of Jerusalem. Here on Mount Eitan, ancient mountainous agriculture is practiced as it was by the Israelites thousands of years ago. Today the work is still done by hand or with the help of farm animals, with no machinery or pesticides. Two springs, Ein Sataf and Ein Bikura, flow into the Sorek riverbed. At Ein Sataf you can walk through a cave following the tunnel to the other side. Be sure to bring a flashlight. On site is also the remains of a 4,000 BC Chalcolithic village with some of the oldest agricultural traces in the region as well as the remains of a pre-1948 Arab village.

There's no better night cap than that provided at the Bible Lands Museum. The museum holds concerts every Saturday evening during the summer serving wine and cheese while showcasing a variety of ethnic musics. The price of admission includes entry to the museum, which is a must. The collection of archeological artifacts transports you to ancient Middle Eastern cultures arranged chronologically and featuring objects, inscriptions, jewelry, seals and scarabs from Ancient Egypt, Syria, Anatolia, Mesopotamia and Persia. The museum seeks to illustrate the connection between the various peoples of the region. Also on site is a garden with trees and plants mentioned in the Bible.

Where to Stay?

Notre Dame Guest House - A very nice, 145-guest rooms are offering twin-bedded accommodations and private washrooms and located just outside the New Gate of the Old City.

Rosary Sisters - A modest guesthouses, located on Agron Street, across from Independence Park

St. Charles - Located in the German Colony

For Reservations: Contact Holy Land Tours - Travelujah

The Prayer House

35 Nablus Road. Hours flexible, but call in advance of visit: 02.626.1439. Free.

Garden Tomb

Conrad Schick Street, off Nablus Road. Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5:30 p.m. Closed Sundays. Free, but donations accepted.

Zedekiah's Cave

Near the Damascus Gate. Daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: 10 shekels.   

Wittenberg House

Haguy Street

Ecce Homo

41 Via Dolorosa. Daily 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: 7 shekels. Contact: 02.627.7292

Christ Church

Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Across from David Citadel entrance near Jaffa Gate.

Armenian Museum

Monday to Saturday, 9 am. to 5 p.m. Admission: 5 shekels.

Burnt House

2 Hakara'im Street. Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Jewish holiday eves 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission: 8 shekels. Contact: 02.628.7211

Bulghourji Armenian Restaurant and Garden

Daily from noon to 11 p.m.

David Citadel

July - August: Sunday to Thursday, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; September - June: Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday: closed; Saturday, holiday eves, holidays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission: Museum 30 shekels; Night Spectacular 50 shekels; Both for 65 shekels. Contact: 02.626.5333

City of David

The City of David has different hours and prices depending on what you are interested in, from a site tour for 12 shekels to a motorized "Segway" tour for 160 shekels to 4x4s for 300 shekels and up. Consult the website for hours and prices: www.cityofdavid.org.il/info_eng2.asp

The Bible Society

17 Jaffa Road. Contact: 02.625.1849


There are a number of ways to reach the Sataf. Sataf Junction is located at the intersection of Routes #395 and #3965

Bible Lands Museum

Museum Row, 25 Granot Street. Open Sunday to Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and holiday eves 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission: 32 shekels; Saturday Night Concerts (Tickets include museum admission): 75 shekels. Contact: 02.561.1066.

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering valuable planning resources, travel and tour services, user and expert blogs for people interested in learning about connecting to the land.

July 2, 2009July 2, 2009  0 comments  Volunteering

Looking for a way to contribute to the Holy Land on your visit? Table to Table is dedicated to "rescuing food" in Israel and provides an opportunity to participate in volunteer activities that support the needy. Over 36% of all children in the country live below the poverty line and Table to Table provides much needed excess food to those in need. More than 4,000 volunteers a month assist Table to Table. We've picked clementines with our children's school and strawberries during the winter, both of which were very fun and meaningful activities for kids and adults alike. Volunteering in the fields is a wonderful way to not only give back, but to connect more intimately with the land and the Bible. Travelujah is happy to develop special programming for groups that want to participate in a meaningful volunteer experience during their visit. Some examples of programming options include:


Project Leket is a wonderful activity where participants go into the fields and orchards of Israel to glean fruit and vegetables that remain unpiced at the end of the season's harvest. The rescued products are distributed to non-profit organizations feeding people in need.


Sandwich Preparation is organized and executed almost daily and has alllowed many Israeli children to have a proper lunch. Volunteers can come to Ra'ananna early in the morning to prepare sandwiches which are delivered each school day along with fruit and vegetables to over 75 schools in central and northern Israel. Over 25,000 sandwiches per week are prepared.


Food packing volunteers collect excess food from more than 500 functions a month from many banquet halls and restaurants and deliver the leftover items to needy residents.

July 8, 2013July 8, 2013  0 comments  Volunteering

Not too far from the Old City and just across the valley from Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial sits a center that is typically doesn't appear on a tourist's list of places to see when visiting Jerusalem.

But Shalva, the Association for Physically and Mentally Challenged Children in Israel, is where real life occurs for hundreds of Israeli families on a daily basis.

Each day, Shalva bustles with hundreds of children who arrive for various programs where they receive professional care, love and important life skills to help them integrate into Israeli society. Though unknown outside of Israel, Shalva is a beacon of hope in Jerusalem lauded by national leaders such as President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

For visitors to the Holy Land, a trip to Shalva presents an opportunity to see real life in Jerusalem and - for those interested in hands-on work - a chance to volunteer in the midst of dozens of children.

Just this year, several Christian groups either visited or volunteered at Shalva joining the thousands of Jewish tour groups from abroad that have already learned about this hidden gem nestled in Jerusalem's hills.


Antonio di Marco of Wales meets a child from the daycare; photo courtesy Nicole Jansezian for Travelujah


One such group was a team of young adults from around the globe who came to Israel through Bridges for Peace.

"It was such an honor to serve, and a whole lot of fun connecting with the people at Shalva, helping out in every way we could, and of course playing with the children," said Canadian Peter Fast. "It was a blessing and an eye opener to see the fruits of such an incredible organization and what they have accomplished and the hearts they touch on a regular basis. Go Shalva!"

Another organization from the United States, Kim Clement Ministries, didn't just visit, but brought its own musicians to play with Shalva's dedicated band of teenagers with special needs in an inspiring and emotional performance. (see video here)


kim clement ministries

Kim Clement Ministries visiting Shalva in Jerusalem; photo courtesy Nicole Jansezian for Travelujah

Yossi Samuels, who is blind and deaf and today considered the Hellen Keller of Israel, was the inspiration behind the creation of Shalva. After experiencing the struggles and challenges of raising a child with special needs, the Samuels were determined to ensure that the best care be available to Israeli families in similar situations. In Hebrew, the word shalva means "peace of mind." That is Shalva's mission - to provide peace of mind to families learning to cope with the intricacies of caring for their special needs child.

Shalva's programs include the after-school center five days a week, respite sleepover once a week, weekend respite every four weeks, a daycare and the Mommy and Me program for parents and their infants, as well as the summer day camp and sleep away camp. Shalva not only helps the child reach their full potential, but enables the parents to get back on their feet.

All of Shalva's programs are provided to the children and their families free of charge!

Shalva was recognized by the State of Israel as one of the best-managed not-for-profits in the country.

Tourists may come just for a visit of the facility. Alternatively, opportunities to volunteer at Shalva, include a one- or two-day program that would involve organizing the closets in the respite center, cleaning and disinfecting equipment and toys, and sometimes lending a hand with the children in the daycare and after-school programs.

Language is not an issue as most of the staff is bilingual and some of the projects will not require verbal communication with the children, except for the universal language of love. Even without words, love is constantly communicated and it is precisely this love that exudes from the staff at Shalva that makes it such a special place!



A group of young adults with Bridges for Peace spends time with children from Shalva's daycare; photo courtesy Nicole Jansezian for Travelujah

Planning your Visit

For more information visit Shalva's website. To arrange a tour of Shalva or a volunteer day, contact Travelujah-Holy Land Tours.

* * * *

Nicole Jansezien works at Shalva and is a guest contributor to Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. People can learn, plan and share their Holy land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



July 8, 2009July 8, 2009  1 comments  Jewish Holidays

Author : Rabbi David Ebstein


17th of Tammuz


July 9th, 2009 marks the Hebrew date, the 17th of Tammuz, the date on which the Romans breached the walls surrounding Jerusalem (Mishnah Ta'anit 4:6). Three weeks later on the 9th of Av, they destroyed the 2nd Temple.


In the book of the prophet Jeremiah, 39:2 we learn that "in the eleventh year of (King) Zedekiah, on the ninth day of the fourth month, the [walls of the] city were breached." This means that before the destruction of the 1st temple built by King Solomon, the walls were breached on the 9th of Tammuz, and not the 17th. Despite this minor discrepancy, both events are commemorated on the same date, as are the destructions of the first and second temple which both took place on the 9th of Av-Tisha B'av.


The mishnah (edited by Rabbi Judah the  Prince, 210 AD) teaches us that there are other calamities connected to the 17th of Tammuz: the burning of the Torah and the erection of an idol in the Temple by Apostomos during the period preceding the Maccabean revolt; the cessation of the daily sacrifices (korban tamid) during the Roman siege of Jerusalem; and the breaking of the tablets by Moses. The rabbis connected the Torah reading for the 17th of Tammuz to the breaking of the tablets, by having us read verses from Exodus, 34:4-10 that remind us that Moses carved the tablets of stone for a second time. This special reading provides us with an element of comfort as we remember the destruction of the first set of tablets.


If you are in Jerusalem on the 17th of Tammuz you may not notice any change in the life of the city and its inhabitants. The fast of the 17th in Tammuz does not preclude work or travel, although it is observed by a fast from sunup to sundown. The day is punctuated by regular morning and afternoon services that contain special references to the fast day both in the liturgy and biblical readings.


Rabbi Isaac Klein (may his memory be for a blessing) reminds us that "the days between the seventeenth of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are considered days of mourning, for they witnessed the collapse of besieged Jerusalem, beginning with the breaching of the walls on the seventeenth of Tammuz, and culminating with the burning of the Temple on the ninth of Av. Since exactly three weeks passed between these two events, the period is known as the "three weeks." In rabbinic literature is is known as bein hametzarim, between the straits, derived from a verse in Lamentations 1:3, which was interpreted as referring to the days between the seventeenth of Tammuz and the ninth of Av.


During this 3 week period, observant Jews refrain from joyous celebrations like weddings, and on the Sabbath, read special prophetic portions that emphasize the somber mood. The mood as reflected in various customs becomes even more somber from the 1st of Av (the month following Tammuz) to the 9th of Av. Many Jews do not eat meat or wine, refrain from swimming, and do not have their haircut. All of this leads up to the 9th of Av which is a full fast day, beginning at sundown and ending at sundown the next day.


•1)      As a rabbi and a tour guide, I find myself teaching about this holiday, the ninth of Av, quite often, especially as I lead groups through the southern and western excavations. I frequently teach them the following Talmudic passage:


Our rabbis have taught: When the First Temple was about to be destroyed, bands upon bands of young priests with the keys of the Temple in their hands assembled and mounted the roof of the Temple and exclaimed, "master of the Universe, as we did not have the merit to be faithful treasurers, these keys are handed back into Your keeping." They threw the keys up towards heaven. And there emerged something that looked like the palm of a hand, and received the keys from them. Whereupon they jumped and fell into the fire. Babylonian Talmud Taanit 29a


I am fascinated with this legend found in the Talmud, and it makes me wonder who today contains the keys to the temple, to the future of the Jewish people and to the state of Israel. There are many keys and keeping Israel strong in the 21st century requires that all of us need to be "faithful treasurers" so that we can insure that Israel is a home where all visitors and residents of all faiths remain free to practice their religion.








July 28, 2009July 28, 2009  0 comments  Jewish Holidays

For those of you who will in Israel on the 9th of Av, (beginning on the evening of July 29th and continuing for 24 hours), you might want to know how this unique holiday will be observed in the land of Israel. Perhaps the most prominent observance of the holiday can be noticed in Jerusalem where countless congregations begin their evening prayers at the Haas promenade in southern Jerusalem. From this unique location, you can see the old city, the Ottoman walls built in the mid 16th century, and a faint outline of the city of David created by King David and his son, King Solomon close to three thousand years ago. From this location, you will also be able to see remnants of the second temple built by Herod approximately two thousand years ago. The view, especially at night is breathtaking, dramatic and full of hope.


On the 9th of Av Jews observe the anniversaries of the destruction of the first and second temple, both of which resulted in exile, destruction and massive loss of life. It is one of the saddest days on the Jewish calendar. It is not surprising then, that congregations like to go to the Haas promenade to look at the ancient city of Jerusalem and contemplate these terrible moments of destruction. As we gaze upon the flickering lights of the old city and the new city of Jerusalem, we read from the book of Lamentations the following: "Alas! Lonely sits the city once great with people! She that was great among nations is become like a widow...bitterly she weeps in the night, her cheek wet with tears. There is nobody to comfort her..."  (Lamentations, Chapter 1:1-2)


As we listen to the lament of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in the year 586 BCE, I am always struck by the contrast between what was and what is. Almost 2600 years ago, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia ("By the rivers of  Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we remembered Zion..."Psalm 137:1). Almost 2000 years ago the Romans brutally took advantage of Jewish disunity and destroyed one of the wonders of the world, the temple that was built by Herod. And today, as we look at the old city of Jerusalem, remembering those moments of destruction, I am filled with joy.


Why? When I read Lamentations, the first word is "Alas." I can't quite understand that word and therefore I prefer the Hebrew, which in some texts says ‘oy' and in others says ‘woe.' Nobody ever sat around after the destruction and said ‘alas!' The language was much stronger. And today, as we are in Israel during the 61st year of the 3rd Jewish commonwealth, while I do think about the destruction, the ‘oy', my oy has turned to joy.


In the 21st century, Israel is a sovereign nation, in control of its destiny, with its capital here in the holy city of Jerusalem. I mourn for what was lost, but I also am filled with joy at what we have achieved. The ninth of Av for me is a mixed bag. I am compelled to remember the past and what was lost, but my focus must be on what we have achieved and how we can continue to redeem Jerusalem from her modern day woes.


On a more prosaic note, many observant Israeli Jews observe the holiday by fasting for the entire day, beginning from the night before. In the evening and the morning of the 9th of Av, the book of Lamenations is read in its entirety, and afterwards, Kinot, or additional lamentations are recited.


Written by: Rabbi David Ebstein

September 19, 2010September 19, 2010  0 comments  Jewish Holidays

After 30 years, the Feast of Tabernacles celebration hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) has become an icon of Christian love and support for the Jewish state.


This year, the theme of the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles is "Jerusalem: A Praise in the Earth," which harkens back to the founding principle of the ministry - to support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.


"The Feast theme of 'Jerusalem: A Praise in the Earth' is meant to emphasize the original mandate of our ministry at our founding, which was to stand in solidarity with Israel in its 3000 year-old claim and connection to Jerusalem," ICEJ Media Director David Parsons told Travelujah. "The future of this city is once again coming into focus worldwide, and we will be laying stress to the fact that our position remains the same as three decades ago - that Jerusalem is and should remain the united capital of Israel only."


Parsons said that during this year's Feast,which began on September 23 and runs through September 29th,  the various speakers and lecturers will be expounding upon the "rich biblical truths concerning Jerusalem and its central place in God's redemptive plan."


That message will also hit home for many Israelis who remember well the mass exodus of foreign embassies from Jerusalem in 1980 when Israel officially reunited the city by annexing its eastern, Arab-dominated half.


The Feast of Tabernacles and the founding of the ICEJ was a direct response to that exodus, and was welcomed by Israelis who were feeling increasingly isolated as the first major act of Christian kindness since the nation's rebirth.


Held every year during the week-long biblical feast of Sukkot (tabernacles), the Feast of Tabernacles sees upwards of 5,000 Christians from more than 100 different nations flood Jerusalem carrying a message of love, hope and peace for the Jewish people.


Jerusalem Parade

The ICEJ was actually born out of that first Feast of Tabernacles celebration in 1980. The Feast event became the centerpiece of the ICEJ's mission to comfort Israel and the Jewish people, as well as begin the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy stating that "the nations...shall come up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." (Zechariah 14:16)


During the Feast of Tabernacles, which has for years been held at the Jerusalem Convention Center, participants are treated to daily seminars about Israel's place in their Christian faith, the Hebraic roots of the Church and the difficulties facing the modern Jewish state. Every evening, the participants come together in the Convention Center's main hall for a time of worship, biblical performances, and teachings and speeches by renowned scholars and top Israeli officials. Booths are set up for other local Christian ministries engaged in aiding and comforting Israel to get to know the thousands of Feast participants.


On one very special night, as many Israelis as can fit in the Convention Center are invited to come and see just how the Christians are celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles and to hear a special message of reconciliation and support after so many centuries of widespread Christian persecution of the Jews.


Ryan Jones writes for  Travelujah, a Christian social network focused on fostering a deeper connection with faith through Holy Land tours. You can plan, learn and share your holy land experience on Travelujah using our in-depth locational content, user and expert blogs that can take you off the beaten track, and individual or group tour booking services.

April 12, 2011April 12, 2011  0 comments  Museum

A little known, off the beaten path, museum focusing on the historic Christian  presence in the Holy Land brings a new dimension and rich diversity to the Jerusalem cultural scene.  The Wujoud museum, situated within the walls of the Old City, in the Christian Quarter has slowly been making its presence known in this multi-cultural city and cradle of faith.  With so many cultural offerings in Jerusalem, there has yet to be a place specifically focused on the Christian presence in the Old City, which is what the new Wujoud museum offers. 


Wujoud, which means existence, is set within a 650 year old building owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, situated in the heart of the Christian Quarter. Built during the Marmeluke period, the building was recently renovated and includes lovely verandas and view points, including a setting overlooking one of the Old City's ancient dry pools, Hezekiah's pool.  After two years of rehabilitation the center opened in May 2010 and has welcomed groups from all denominations. 


Wujoud Founder Nora Kort

Wujoud Founder Nora Kort with a personalized bread stamp


Founder Nora Kort, who started the organization over 20 years ago, explained to Travelujah that the mission of the museum is to showcase the Christian communities presence  in the Holy Land and how it has remained a part and parcel of the fabric of the city.  


"The fact that Christians have been here since ancient times is often overlooked", explained museum founder Nora Kort, herself a member of the Greek Orthodox  community.


Nora personally meets groups at the museum and speaks about the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The center offers light breakfasts and lunches that are prepared by local Christian womens groups.


"We are working to bring beauty and life into the Old City.  The 'living stones' are more important than the 'dead' stones.", she said referring to Christians who lived here long ago. 


"People can come here to meet people and listen to shared stories." 


The mission of the center is to be a cultural meeting point in the Old City, not just for Christians but for all denominations.


"Culture brings peace and reconciliation amongst people", Nora says, " Humanity transends all borders."


The Wujoud Cultural Center and museum can be visited by appointment. The facility can fit 120 people and the cultural center can seat up to 70 people. Meals can be prearranged. 


Wujoud Cultural Center


For further information contact nkort1@bezeqint.net




Side Bar 


On April 26 at 7 pm, Travelujah is offering a special night tour of the ancient streets of the Christian Quarter including a night visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Jewish Quarter and more. Participants will get an inside look at the Christian community of the Old City including,  get a ‘behind the scenes' look at the new Wujoud Cultural Center and Museum situated in the Christian Quarter. The focus of the museum, which is the only one of its kind within the walls of the Old City, is to tell the story of Christians in the Holy Land. The museum is set within a historic 650 year old building owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, and overlooks one of the Old City's dry pools, Hezekiahs pool.  Wujoud organization founder, Nora Kort, a member of the local Greek Orthodox community, will provide a tour of the museum as well as a lecture on the Christian community of the Holy Land.

Register in advance at info@travelujah.com Cost 100 shekel.

 *         *         *       *        *

Elisa Moed is the CEO of Travelujah.

February 13, 2013February 13, 2013  0 comments  Museum

For the first time ever, Herod the Great has become the subject of an extraordinary exhibition at the Israel Museum entitled "The Kings Final Journey".  The exhibit, which opened to great fanfare yesterday, includes over 250 artifacts collected from the archaeological remains of several buildings and palaces constructed by Herod the Great including pieces from the  Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The display features reconstructions and artifacts from Herod’s edifices at Herodium and Jericho. Starting with his funeral procession of Herod, which began at this third palace in Jericho, the visitor first arrives in Herod's reconstructed throne room completed with restored frescos. As the visitor walks from room to room within the exhibit he is taken through many of Herod's major building feats including Caesarea and Masada and artifacts from these sites and others along with digital restorations are on display. However, it is the newly excavated (as believed) Herod’s tomb, which takes center stage. The reddish sarcophagus of Herod, discovered outside the palace at Herodium in 2007, was found shattered in hundreds of pieces and was meticulously restored for the exhibit. It is pm display in the last room of the exhibit, adjacent to the magnificent royal room.


Why did Herold build his tomb on the northeastern slope of Herodium? While no one really knows the answer it is believed that he wanted the tomb to be seen from Jerusalem. As to why it was not within the palace grounds, speculation is that Herod, with his vast knowledge and respect of Jewish culture and its rules regarding impurity, understood that should his tomb be within the palace complex priests would not be able to visit. He therefore constructed the mausoleum on the highest possible spot ouside the palace.


The exhibition is dedicated to Prof. Ehud Netzer, a prolific archaeologist who devoted much of his professional career to searching for Herod's tomb. In fact in 1972, Netzer came within one meter of the tomb's location during a dig at Herodium. However, it took him another 40 years until he finally discoveredthe tomb in 2007. Knowing that this find would require a professional restoration team in order to protect and restore the significant artifacts discovered, he conceived the initial idea of Herod's exhibit and brought in the Israel Museum to assist. Unfortunately, during the initial site tour at Herodium accompanied by members of the Israel Museum's restoration team, Netzer fell from  the theatre site and died from his injuries three days later. The Israel Museum team, led by co-curators David Mevorah and Silvia Rozenberg, and designed by Iddo Burn, spent the last three years planning the exhibit, which contains over 30 tons of material from Herodium and 250 artifacts from the site and other related sites throughout the region, as well as related artifacts on loan from other museums worldwide.


The exhibit plays tribute to Herod the man and his achievement as a regional imperial ruler with an obligation to be loyal to his imperial mandate het with an understanding that he was presiding over a magnificent golden age of Jewish life. According to museum director James Snyder, the exhibit "explodes this moment" of  Jerusalem's golden age by showcasing the grandeur of buildings constructed by Herod during this period. The exhibit "brings into context remote imperial rule during a pivotal time", says Snyder. Which is, he explains, why this exhibit is of great interest, not only to Jews but to Christians as well. While Herod the Great may have died four years prior to the birth of Jesus, he ruled during a pivotal period in history, and his death and the subsequent rise of his son and the turmoil which began during his reign, paved the way to early Christianity.


Herod the Great

Herod the Great Exhibition Travelujah

Miniature Model of Herodium and the Tomb below; photo courtesy Elisa Moed, Travelujah.com

Herod the Great (73/74 BC – 4 BC) in 39/40 BC was appointed the client king Roman province of Judaea, consisting of geographical regions of Judea, Samaria and Idumea.


Herod was the second son of Antipater the Idumean, a high-ranked official of Hyrcanus II, and his mother was Cypros who was a Nabatean.


After the conquest of Idumea by John Hyrcanus, all its residents were obliged to convert into Judaism or leave the area. Thus Herod as well followed the Jewish faith, however due to his Idumean blood, religious Jews of Judea did not considered him Jewish.


When Herod was 25, his father appointed him a governor of Galilee, but it was his brother Phasel who governed in Jerusalem. In the middle of the 1st century BC, Hyrcanus’ nephew Antigonus took his uncle’s throne by force. At that time, Herod escaped to Rome to ask for help in bringing him back into power.


Herod with the support of the Romans managed to win the kingdom from Antigonus – the Hasmonean dynasty came to the end giving the way to the Herodian one.


In the Bible, Herod is mentioned as the ruler at the time of Jesus’ birth. “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod” (Matt 2:1) The ruler was so obsessed with the wish of power and domination that when he heard from the Wise Men from the East that they are looking for the newborn King of the Jews, he decided to kill all the babies of Bethlehem and its surroundings.


Herod the Architect


In the early years of his reign, still before he became a mad man, Herod conducted multiple construction projects, which impressing results can be seen until today.


One of his great architectural achievements was expansion of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, which was however tremendously destroyed, as predicted by Jesus, by the Romans in 70 AD.  “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2)

Herod the Great Exhibition Travelujah     Herod the Great Exhibition Travelujah

Ruins of Herodium & Reconstruction of Herod's Tomb memorial 

Other projects of the king include the advancement of water supplies for Jerusalem, imposing fortresses such as Masada or Herodium, founding new cities like Caesarea Martima or expanding the existing ones, e.g. Sebastiya. Herod built also the enclosure over Cave of the Patriarchs (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi) in Hebron etc.




Modern scholars commonly agree that Herod had a mental disease which resulted in paranoia and constant depression. As well, after basing their theories on the writings of the ancient historian Josephus, they suppose that in the last days of his life the king suffered from serious gangrene, which he tried to cure in the waters of the Dead Sea.


Herod died in his winter palace in Jericho. While on his deathbed, he became afraid that no one would mourn after his death, so he ordered to execute a large group of important personas, so the feeling of grief and loss would hit the country. However, finally this wish was not carried out.


After his death, Herod’s kingdom was divided between tree of his sons. Cesar Augustus apointed Herod Archelaus to rule over Judea, Samaria and Idumea, Herod Philip I to rule the northern part of the kingdom and Herod Antipas to take care of Galilee and Perea districts.




The location of Herod’s tomb is also described in the writings of Josephus Flavius as being at Herodium. Those documents gave a hint to the archaeologist Ehud Netzer, who focused his search in the area atop the tunnels and water pools.

Herod the Great Exhibition Travelujah     Herod the Great Exhibition Travelujah 

Herod's Sarcophagus & Restored urn in a block from the conical roof on Herod's tomb; photo courtesy Elisa Moed, Travelujah.com

Finally, after decades of search, on 7th of May 2007 the archaeology team of Prof. Netzer  announced the discovery of the sarcophagus with no body inside. Scholars assume that it was destroyed during the first Jewish revolt against Rome (66 – 72 AD) in an act of hatred or revenge towards the tyrannical king. (Likely part of the reason why he had tomb hidden.) The reddish limestone sarcophagus was found shattered into hundreds of pieces on the floor of the tomb, unlike two other whitish limestone sarcophagi found at the site, which were found broken into many larger size pieces, indicating that they had been dropped.


Israel Museum


The mysterious tomb of King Herod and many more interesting findings can be now seen on  display within the temporary exhibition entitled “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey Exhibition” in the Israel Museum.

Herod the Great Exhibition Travelujah     Herod the Great Exhibition Travelujah

Carved Window Screen & Ossuary with an inscription "Simon builder of the Temple" in Aramaic; photo courtesy Elisa Moed, Travelujah.com

The museum contains an impressive  permanent exhibition of archaeological findings in the Near East, Jewish Life and Art, and an international Fine Arts collection.


The exhibition and its publications was made possible by a grant from the William Davidson Foundation of Detroit. other generous support was provided by Bank Hapoalim, Tel Aviv, Ingelborg and Ira Leon Rennert, New York, the Leon Levy Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, Sara and Avie Arenson and Dr. David and Jemima Jeselsohn.


If you go:

The temporary exhibition on Herod the Great will remain at the museum through October 5, 2013. The Israel Museum is located in Jerusalem on Ruppin Bldv. and is open:

Mon, Wed, Thur, Sat, Sun and on holidays: 10 am – 5 pm;
Tue: 4 pm – 9 pm; 
Fri and on holiday eves: 10 am – 2 pm.

For more information visit their website.



By Beata Andonia and Elisa Moed for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

October 27, 2013October 27, 2013  0 comments  Museum

For the first time ever in Israel, more than 200 of the rarest and most important Biblical manuscripts and texts will be displayed in Israel in an historic exhibition, titled "The Book of Books", at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.


On display will be original fragments from the Septuagint, the earliest New Testament Scriptures, exquisite illuminated manuscripts, rare texts from the Cairo Geniza and original pages from the Gutenberg Bible. This exhibition is from the collection owned by Steven Green, a devout Baptist and the President of US craft store chain, Hobby Lobby. The exhibition  traces the history of the Jewish Bible, the Jewish roots of Christianity and the dissemination of monotheistic faith. In a speech he made at the exhibition's opening at the Bible Lands Museum  last week, Mr. Green explained that the display is intended to unite Christians and Jews.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, in cooperation with Verbum Domini, is proud to host this exhibition which will be in Israel before heading to the Vatican and afterwards to Washington D.C, where it will be permanently displayed in a museum which is being built next to the Smithsonian primarily for the purpose of hosting these rare texts and manuscripts.


*  *   *   *

Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian travel network focused on Holy Land tours. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


February 13, 2013February 13, 2013  0 comments  Religious ceremonies

“Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights” (Mt 4:2)


On Ash Wednesday, 13th of February 2013, the Roman Catholic Church enters the liturgical period of Lent – forty days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving that are going to lead us through the Holy Week towards the joyful celebrations of Easter.


The period of Lend commemorates Christ’s forty days and nights of strict fasting in the desert, right after His baptism and just before the beginning of His public ministry. There in the wilderness of Judea, traditionally on the Mount of Temptation, Jesus endured Satan’s temptation and again overcame the sin. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Mt 4:1)


Lent Comes to Jerusalem Travelujah 


Lent, observed in deep prayer, penance and repentance, is a special time of preparation for Christ’s death and rebirth. Here, in Jerusalem, this period has a really special meaning as it can be celebrated with one of the earliest Christian communities in the world, in the town which has witnessed His passion and resurrection.


Ash Wednesday


The Lent opening mass of Ash Wednesday, celebrated in St. Savior's Church in Jerusalem at 7 pm (in Italian), is well attended by local and foreign Catholic believers. According to Western Churches, Ash Wednesday holds the tradition of scattering ashes on the foreheads of the faithful  to symbolize their repentance before God. “[…] for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)


Celebrations in the Holy Sepulcher


Throughout the period of Lent until Easter, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the Calvary – the place where Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, will be the focus palce for the various liturgical celebrations.

Lent Comes to Jerusalem Travelujah

Each Saturday during Lent, a solemn Way of the Cross, lead by the Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, takes place along the stations of the cross in the Basilica, with a special procession around the Tomb of Christ. The fragrance of incense, sounds of organs and hymns, and hundreds of lit candles will accompany the celebration. Just before midnight, the night vigils begin in the Latin part of the church, followed by another procession around the Holy Tomb.

On Sundays, His Beatitude, the Latin Patriarch, celebrates High Mass in the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.


16/02 – Saturday - Eve of the 1st Sunday of Lent


  • 2 p.m. -  Solemn Entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre followed by Solemn Procession
  • 11:40 p.m. - Solemn Matins in the Chapel of the Apparition.

17/02 – 1st Sunday of Lent


  • 8:30 a.m. - Entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, followed by the High Mass in the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene.

23/02 – Saturday - Eve of the 2nd Sunday of Lent


  • 2 p.m. -  Solemn Entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre followed by Solemn Procession
  • 11:40 p.m. - Solemn Matins in the Chapel of the Apparition.

24/02 - 2nd Sunday of Lent


  • 8:30 a.m. - Entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, followed by the High Mass in the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene.

02/03 – Saturday - Eve of the 3rd Sunday of Lent


  • 2:30 p.m. -  Solemn Entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre followed by Solemn Procession
  • 11:40 p.m. - Solemn Matins in the Chapel of the Apparition.

03/03 – 3rd Sunday of Lent


  • 8:30 a.m. - Entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, followed by the High Mass in the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene.

09/03 – Saturday - Eve of the 4th Sunday of Lent


  • 2:30 p.m. -  Solemn Entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre followed by Solemn Procession
  • 11:40 p.m. - Solemn Matins in the Chapel of the Apparition.

10/03 – 4th Sunday of Lent


  • 8:30 a.m. - Entry of His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, followed by the High Mass in the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene.

16/03 – Saturday - Eve of the 5th Sunday of Lent


  • 4 p.m. -  The daily procession of the Friars of the Holy Sepulchre. No entry of his Beatitude the Latin Patriarch at 2:30 p.m.

17/03 – 5th Sunday of Lent


  • 5:30 a.m. - High Mass at the Tomb, sung by the Friars of the Holy Sepulchre (No Entry of His Beatitude at 08:30)


Via Dolorosa


Lent Comes to Jerusalem Travelujah


Every Friday at 3 pm, visitors can join the Franciscan brothers as they walk down the Via Dolorosa – the Way of the Cross to commemorate Jesus’ passion under the cross. The procession walks along the streets of Jerusalem to mark the journey of Christ from Pilate’s Pretorium to Golgotha. The scriptures are recited in English, Arabic, Italian and Spanish.


Franciscan Pilgrimage


During Lent, Franciscan brothers make pilgrimages to various shrines around Jerusalem related to the Passion of Christ:



  • 27/02 (Wednesday) - Commemoration of the Weeping of the Lord at 4 pm in Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives.
  • 06/03 (Wednesday) - Commemoration of the Agony of the Lord at 4 pm in the Basilica of the Agony of Jesus in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.
  • 13/03 (Wednesday) - Commemoration of the Flagellation of the Lord at 4 pm in the Flagellation Church in the Old City of Jerusalem.
  • 14/03 (Thursday) in Bethany (El-Azarya) at the Tomb of Lazarus at 6:30 am and at 7:30 am in the Church. The celebrations will be follow by the spiritual pilgrimage to Pater Noster Church and the Chapel of Ascension.
  • 20/03 (Wednesday) - Commemoration of the Way of the Cross at 5 pm in Lithostrotos (Ecce Homo) Church in the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem.


* * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

March 19, 2013March 19, 2013  0 comments  Religious ceremonies


“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” (Matthew 21:8)


In the 33 AD, almost 2000 years ago, on a Sunday preceding the Feast of Passover, Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem on a back of a donkey and was ceremonially welcomed by many of the Jewish pilgrims who gathered in the town to celebrate the holiday.


The Jews knew him as a great preacher and miracle maker. Thus, greeted him with the words “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:26) and spread on the road in front of him their clothes and tree branches. They took him, however, as their possible political leader, who could free them from the Roman rule, not as the Messiah, whose Kingdom is in Heaven.


Jerusalem view from Mount of Olives


The Christian Feast of Palm Sunday solemnizes Jesus’s glorious entry to Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago and marks the beginning of the Holy Week, which commemorates the events which happened before Christ’s death and resurrection.


Join the Celebration


In the Holy Town of Jerusalem, where it all happened, Catholics annually celebrate the Palm Sunday procession to commemorate the great events of the past. Also this year 2013, on Sunday of the 24th of March, the joyful and colorful gathering will follow the way from Bethphage on the Mount of Olives to Saint Anne’s church on the Via Dolorosa. The march will start at 2:30 pm from in front of the Franciscan Church of Bethphage, located in the village where Jesus took the donkey to ride on it into Jerusalem.


Palm Sunday Travelujah


The Palm Sunday procession, during which people cary palm or olive tree branches, is commonly known for its full of singing and blessings joyous atmosphere. The rhythmical music of the local scouts usually accompanies the event.


This is an amazing spiritual and cultural experience for all the gathered to follow exactly the way Christ took to enter Jerusalem and meet the fellows in faith from all around the world.


The destination of the march, through the part of Via Dolorosa, is the Church of Saint Anne.


Palm Sunday Travelujah


Other Catholic mass services in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday 2013:



  • 6:30 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Procession with Palms and Pontifical Mass at Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene
  • 2:30 pm – Bethphage – Palm Sunday procession over Mt. of Olives to St. Anne’s Church
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem - Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession



* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.



June 7, 2013June 7, 2013  0 comments  Religious ceremonies


When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. […] Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit […]” (Acts 2:1-4)


According to Jewish tradition, feast of Pentecost (Shavout) commemorates the day in which Moses received the Law of the Lord God on the Mount Sinai. Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Passover.


2 millennia years ago, on a day of Pentecost celebration, all the believers in Christ gathered together in one place in Jerusalem. At once, they heard some strange noise which came from the sky and was similar to blowing of a strong wind. Then all of the sudden, the Holy Spirit in a shape of fire tongues touched disciple’s heads and filled them. That enabled the believers to speak in many different languages.


Pentecost by Jean Restout, 1732 Pentecost by Jean Restout, 1732


It was the time in which those words of Christ has been fulfilled: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5) The beginning for the Church was marked by that first baptism of the Spirit.


After that, many people, and among them religious Jews who came to Jerusalem from all over the world, heard the disciples speaking in their languages. Most of the gathered ones were amazed by the miracle, but there were also some who disbelieved. So apostle Peter, explained to them that the things they have just seen were foretold by prophet Joel: I will pour out my Spirit on everyone.
Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message. […] (Joel 2:28-32)


On that day, also many of the gathered people believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ the Messiah and joined the Church.


Where did it happen?


Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room


The tradition states that the Descent of the Holy Spirit took place in the Cenacle or the Upper Room, which was the same spot where Jesus and his apostles held the Last Supper.


The church of the Cenacle is located on the Mount Zion, today just outside of the Zion Gate, but in the times of Christ, this area was included in the city walls.


This spot is believed to be the place where the very first congregations of early Christians took place. The foundations of the chapel might date even earlier than to the 3rd century AD. Thus many scholars refer to it as to the ‘little church of God’, which Epiphanus of Salamis (310 - 403) described in his writings based on scripts from the 2nd century. Epiphanus in his documents mentioned that when Hadrian in 135 established Aelia Capitolina, the part of Jerusalem where the Cenacle stood was not much destructed.


To learn more about the Cenacle read:




 Christian Feast of Pentecost


Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room


Christians celebrate Pentecost (the fiftieth) 50 days, or more specifically 7 weeks, after the Easter Sunday. It is a movable feast as the Easter is. This year the Western Churches will celebrate it on the 19th of May 2013 and Eastern Churches will celebrate it on the 23rd of June 2013. The difference in the date is caused by using of different liturgical calendars.


Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem


Join the Holy Land’s Christians in Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem on Sunday the 19th of May 2013. There will be a Solemn Mass celebrated by the Patriarch, H.B. Msgr. Fuad Twal in the Church of the Dormition Abbey at 10 am. And in the evening, at 4 pm, the believers will gather in the Cenacle for Vespers presided by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land.


If you go:


Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room


The Upper Room is located just outside of the Zion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. After exiting through the gate, you will see a gray door of a Franciscan Convet and on its side there will be a sign ‘Coenaculum’ directing you to the right. When turning, in front of your eyes will show up the magnificent Dormition Abbey church. Follow along church’s wall to the left until you will see a statue of King David. In front of the statue are the door you shall enter and take stairs up.


Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Tel.:  02 671-3597

Visit as well:



* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.




June 12, 2013June 12, 2013  0 comments  Tourism

For visitors to Israel, Saturdays can seem like a visit to another world. Jerusalem in particular seems to shut down on Saturdays with only a handful of restaurants and other attractions staying open. However, even though things slow down significantly on Saturdays, there is no reason to escape to Tel Aviv. The city still has plenty to do and see even on the Sabbath.

Haas Promenade

Start with the Haas Promenade in the Talpiyot neighborhood. This viewing point and walking path provides breathtaking vistas of the city, including the Old City of Jerusalem. There is even a plaque indicating that it is the spot where Abraham left his servants as he and Issac descended into the valley before ascending to Mt. Moriah. You can see the roads leading to the city that people would have walked on in the times of Jesus. It is a bit of a walk from the City but well woth the views. Located at Armon Hanatziv in Talpiyot.

Via Dolorosa, Mt. Zion and the Christian Quarter

Next, go to the Old City and enjoy a walk down the Via Dolorosa. This is of course the path that Jesus walked on his way to being crucified. Be sure to check off the various markers along the way and watch for all 13 additional Stations of the Cross. Take in all the sites at and near Mt. Zion, including the Upper room, the Cenacle, the Room of the Last Supper, Dormition Abbey, the Protestant Cemetary,  (where you will find the grave of Oscar Schindler) and St. Peter of Gallicantu.

Take a Bike Tour

Another great thing to do in Jerusalem on a Saturday is to take a bike tour of the city. EcoBike offers a three hour bike tour all over the city with an English speaking guide who will show you everything there is to see. biking in Jerusalem

Walk the Ramparts Walk

Get an entirely different perspective of the Old City by walking it from on the top of the walls. You can begin at the Jaffa Gate and walk south to the Zion Gate and along the way you'll get a birds eye view into the Armenian Quarter and other parts of the Old City.

Shop in the Arab Market

If shopping is your thing, the bazaar at the Arab Market in the old city is open every Saturday for business as usual. Be sure to bring your best bargaining face as the denizens of this ancient bazaar are always ready to make a deal.


Visit the Garden Tomb

Discovered in 1867 by General Charles Gordon, the Garden Tomb is a fascinating site located on Nablus Road approximately one block north of the Damascus Gate. The site is identified as "the place of the skull" referred to in the bible as the place of Jesus's crucifiction. The Garden is owned and administered by The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association, a Charitable Trust based in the United Kingdom comprising people from many different denominational backgrounds. Considered by Protestants as a possible burial place of Jesus, and thus the site of his resurrection, due to its proximity to "Gordon's Calvary" - the site is frequented by many Christians.

garden tomb Partial remains of a burial bench can be seen inside the tomb. The date of the tomb is unknown however it is quitely likely that it is from the period of the Old Testament. There is some evidence that the site has been venerated for many years. The Garden Tomb is open on Saturdays from 8 to 12 pm and 2- 5 pm. There is no charge to enter though a donation is appreciated.


Western Wall

While you may not take pictures on a Saturday, the Western Wall is open to the public every day of the week. Those wishing to approach the wall should be aware that men and women will be asked to go to separate areas. Be sure to be as respectful as possible while visiting as the local religious population will be engaged in prayer at the site.  

Botanical Gardens

Those looking for a nature walk will be happy to learn that the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are open for business every Saturday except when it falls out on Yom Kippur. The garden hours are generally from 9AM-5PM every Saturday. However, it is a good idea to check with them because they sometimes have extended hours. Located at 1 Yehuda Burla Street on the Hebrew University Givat Ram Campus. Phone:  02 6794012.

Visit A Jerusalem Museum

There are a number of museums in Jerusalem that are open on Saturdays. For example, the Israel Museum is open for business as usual. The great thing about visiting the Israel Museum on a Saturday is that it's often a bit less crowded than it is during the rest of the week. The museum is massive so don't expect to see all of it in a single visit. Be sure to check out the Shrine of the Book while you're here - it is an exhibition of the oldest Hebrew bible scrolls ever found. Open 10AM-5PM on Saturdays and located on Ruppin Blvd. near the Knesset.

Often overlooked on a trip to Jerusalem, the Rockefeller Archeological Museum is considered to be part of the Israel museum though it is located in the eastern part of the city. Located at 27 Sultan Suleiman Street just outside the Old City, the museum features a superb collection of archeological finds from the Jerusalem area. Note that the museum is only open from 10AM-2PM on Saturdays.

Another often overlooked museum is the Armenian Museum, which features a collection of artifacts detailing the contribution of Armenians to the Old City of Jerusalem. Located at St. James Street in the Old City, the museum is open every day 9:30AM-4:30PM

Finally, the Bible Lands Museum is a favorite for Christian tourists in the Holy Land. It details the biblical history of the city with various exhibitions, including a number of ancient artifacts. The museum is open on Saturdays from 10AM-2PM. Located at 25 Avraham Granot Street.

The First Station

No, not the first Station of the Cross. This is a different first station - the first train station in the city of Jerusalem has been completely revamped and includes many trendy restaurants and other things to see.  There is an arts and crafts fair each Saturday which is great for the whole family. The station is open 7 days a week.

The Biblical Zoo

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is unique in that it attempts to gather in all the animals mentioned in the bible. The zoo is open 7 days a week though their Saturday hours are reduced to 10AM-6PM.

St. James Church in the Armenian Quarter

Those interested in seeing an old time style church service would do well to drop by St. James Armenian Church in the old city. This church, open since the 12th century A.D. is one of the oldest Armenian churches in the world. It hosts a 3PM prayer service every Saturday which is reputed to be quite interesting. 

Barbur Gallery

Finally, consider ending your Saturday at the Barbur Gallery, situated in the cute little area of Jerusalem known as Nachlaot. The venue hosts concerts and other events on Saturday evenings which are open to the public.

Tip: Remember that while many sites are open in Jerusalem, public transportation in Jewish parts of the city is shut down. Taxis do operate though and there are some shared taxi vans available as well. If you are driving, pay attention to street closures which may be in effect in some religious areas. Have fun and enjoy your visit to the Holy City.


Visit a Synagogue

You're in Jerusalem and you've never been inside a synagague? Now's your chance. Whether you are staying in the Old City, or West Jerusalem, there is synagague near you. Try out the Great Synagague on Karen Hayesod, or visit the newly reopened Hurva Synagague insdie the Jewish Quarter. Here is a listing of synagogues in Jerusalem. If you go, please be sure you dress appropriately - and this differs depending on the synagogue that you may go to. To be sure Men should wear pants, long shirts and kippot, and women should have their arms shoulders and arms covered and wear skirts covering their  their knees, and a scarf that can double as a head covering if needed.


*    *   *   *

Eric Hammer and Elisa Moed for Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan adn share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



Tags: jerusalem 

March 23, 2017March 23, 2017  0 comments  Tourism

Standing in a lovely one story Ottoman period home, overlooking the picturesque valley of the Yemenites, in one of the most enviable locations in Israel,  it is hard to imagine  that when the original residents of this community came to their homes nearly 70 years ago, the area was an abandoned village without electricity or water, situated in an undesirable area isolated from population centers, grocery stores and other services.


But today the area breathes tremendous life, culture and art. Twelve of the twenty four local families living here are participating in a project,breitlingshow Women and Tales of Jerusalem, that seeks to bring tourists to discover their village and along with it, the special foods, hospitality, culture and unique handicrafts that have brought much prominence to Ein Karem and the surrounding villages connected to it. 


The Woman and Tales of Jerusalem is a special social tourism initiative spearheaded by Orly Ben Aharon, Jerusalem Mayors advisor for the advancement of women. According to Orly, the project started four years ago in an en effort to empower women and promote women businesses. It began with 28 women and now there are a total of 60 different women that host in their homes. Of these 8 are Orthodox and 52 are secular including several Moslem and Christian Arab residents of Jerusalem.


Tour participants have the opportunity to delve into the life of locals, to taste their foods, hear their stories and become familiar with their fascinating folklore.  The project offers a variety of different types of tours around the city and includes tastings, cooking workshops, visits swiss replica watches with artists and other talented local residents in their homes.  The city supports project participants by providing regular training to teach home hospitality and business skills and acts as a administrative headquarters to many project participants.


The unique at-home hosting is a part of a worldwide trend of "social tourism" which allows tourists to go deeper and engage with locals on a very personal level .he city's women.


Efrat Ginat's home is situated just outside the heart of Ein Karem, in an area known as the Yemenite Valley. In 1949, in the secret operation known as Operation Magic Carpet, some 49000 Yemenite Jews were airlifted to Israel. They  Yemenites  traveled by foot across the desert where they eventually made their way onto ELAL flights that took them and their few belongings to Israel. Upon arrival, some of them were taken by bus to a small valley outside of Ein Karem, where a number of Ottoman period homes lied vacant.  They were told that these abandoned homes were to be their new home and that they should take their families and get settled.


 Efrat Ginat in her yard in the Yemenite Valley



So they did.


Efrat described the story of her grandparents arrival. "They had no  electricity or water. The Jewish Agency gave them the house, two goats and one chicken and were told that with that they would never go hungry." And with that, this small community began to take shape.  


Today the primary residents in this picturesque community are the descendents of the original families and with the lovely surrounding landscape ,they enjoy one of the most enviable locations in Israel. Efrat's family still raises goats not so much for their cheese and milk but rather for what she calls ‘the health of her own family".  Taking care of the goats, feeding and milking them and keeping them healthy teaches many important values to her children.  


In addition to giving us a tour of her farm and meeting her goats, Efrat prepared a tasty breakfast for our group. One of the highlights was the Yemenite specialty bread known as Kubane, which is generally only prepared on Fridays for Shabbat.



After visiting with Efrat, we made our way to the home Dalia Harfootf, a Kurdish mother of five boys. Her parents arrived to Palestine in 1921 from Kurdistan.


Dalia Harfoot


With her lively demeaner Dalia had us dancing and then had us try some of the delicious sambusak she had prepared for her next group that was soon to arrive. An engaging story teller, we learned about how she did not have electricity even into the early 1970's. She ultimately authored a letter to Leah Rabin in 1974 asking her if she had to  wash her husbands laundry by hand. Within days the remaining homes had electricity.


Over the last three years Dalia has welcomed over 3000 people to her home from all over the world. Her most recent group was from China. 


So far the programs have primarily attracted local tourists, however, there is a strong desire to expand the project and to be included in tours organized for tourists from abroad.  One tour operator Breaking Bread Journeys has been including a hallah making experience in a local Haredi home that was borne out of this program. The company offers such engaging experiences with locals in Israel and the Palestinian Territories  each day as part of their tour. According to founder Christina Samara, tourists are seeking authentic experiences to meet locals and learn about the many cultures and narratives present. Participants go into the homes and cooperatives of residents in both areas and enjoy  daily "breaking bread" opportunities. By going deep into the home and lives of locals and fostering understand, the project builds itself as a bridge for cooperation.


The Israel Tourism Ministry supports the initiative with training sessions for the women, as well as helping them with marketing. The program is still in its infancy, primarily serving local tourists from all over Israel. The Israel Tourism Ministry is working hard is to expand the project to international tourists from abroad who tend to have a very narrow view of Israel. 



If you go: you can find more information on the Wonders of Jerusalem programs visit this link.



*   *    *   *



Elisa L. Moed is the founder of Travelujah, the largest Christian travel network connecting Christians to Israel.

March 9, 2010March 9, 2010  1 comments  Easter

It is the season of Lent, the 40 days of fasting leading up to Easter, and Israel's Christian community is bustling with Easter preparations from the spiritual to the culinary.



Jerusalem, of course, is central to the Easter story. Within the next month, thousands of pilgrims will converge in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and rose again. The Catholic and Orthodox Easters coincide this year and come during the Jewish Passover. Catholics and Orthodox Christians use different calendars to determine the dates of their feasts. Easter is the most significant holiday for Christians in the Holy Land, even more of a draw than Christmas.



"Christmas, in the West, has eclipsed Easter whereas the big feast of the Church is Easter," Father Athanasius Macora, a Franciscan monk serving at the Custody of the Holy Land, told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on learning about and traveling to the Holy Land. "It is the central feast, the most important feast of the church. With the local community (in Israel) you do appreciate the importance of Easter."

 Pilgrims praying on the Via Dolorosa


Indeed, the ceremony and involvement by local Christians and pilgrims from all over the world that go into Easter week have a tendency to take over the Old City. Marching bands replete with bagpipes and drums gear up to represent their parish on Holy Saturday. Women begin baking the traditional Easter cookies, maamoule, butter cookies filled with dates or walnuts. Eggs will be painted in pastels and distributed to children.



Lent is marked differently by the different denominations. Some fast more, some less. But no matter how it is marked, lent is a time of internal, personal preparation for the upcoming feast.



"It is a spiritual retreat for the entire church. It involves fasting, but above all, the goal is to try to change one's life to come closer to the Lord in preparation for the Easter celebration," Macora said. "The goal is to arrive at some positive change in your life, to create a space for the risen Lord."



All of the events and services of Easter will bring to mind an event during Jesus' last week before his death and resurrection. A mass at Dominus Flevit will recall where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. At Gethsemane, one can reflect on Jesus' last few hours before his arrest. A processional takes place on Good Friday on the Via Dolorosa, the path many believe Jesus took carrying his cross to Golgotha. And at the Holy Sepulchre, the possible sight of his death and resurrection, participants can remember the sacrifice plus the power of the Son of God to die for us, and yet overcome death.



The Palm Sunday processional is perhaps the most visual of all the masses. From the Mount of Olives hundreds of people join the processional to St. Anne's in the Old City carrying palm and olive branches, in a touching reflection of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem one week before he was killed.



Macora said there are 4,000 Catholics in Jerusalem.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.

March 28, 2012March 28, 2012  0 comments  Easter

You're about to embark on the trip of a lifetime-a Holy Land pilgrimage that will coincide with the celebration of Easter, a unique and truly exciting experience for any Christian. This year, record numbers of tourists are expected to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the holy city where the story of Easter takes place. As is customary, a host of very special activities are planned in celebration of the holiday. Father Juan Maria Solana, L.C, Charge of the Holy See, gave Travelujah his top 5 "must do" experiences for Christians celebrating Easter in the Holy Land (plus a couple of our own special favorites)


1. Go to an Easter Celebration in Jerusalem. There are numerous services in churches all over Jerusalem as well as in other major cities throughout the land. Make sure you visit at least one service during Holy Week.


2. Participate in the Palm Sunday and the Good Friday Processions. The Palm Sunday procession is held on Sunday April 1, 2012 at 2:30 in the afternoon and commemorates the entry of  Jesus into Jerusalem.  Approximately 5,000 to 10,000 people are expected to join this event. The procession is led by the Latin Patriarchate and begins at Bethphage and continues into the Old City entering thru the St. Stephen's Gate and ending at the Church of St. Anne.  The Good Friday procession is led by Franciscan Friars and begins at 11:30 am in the Old City. The walk follows the path that Jesus took on the day of his death, known as the Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. "Being a part of this very special procession," says Father Juan, "is a unique experience for any Christian."


Father Juan Solana

Father Juan Solana, photo courtesy Travelujah


3. Celebrate a Passover Seder. "Every Christian should have a Passover Seder with a Jewish family because our Eucharest comes from Passover," says Father Juan. Moreover, a Passover Seder is a true family celebration, something that is not very Catholic. As he explains, "Catholics celebrate Easter by attending Mass, but it is centered around priests, not the family."


4. Visit the Holy Sepulchre on Easter Sunday. This shrine is where the last five Stations of the Cross are located. No Easter in the Holy Land is complete without exploring this historic shrine.


5. Recite the Gospels in the Upper Room. To have a truly authentic experience, visit the Upper Room located at Mount Zion and while you are there make sure you read about the resurrection in the Gospels. Jesus's appearance to the Apostles occurred in the Upper Room.


last supper room mt zion www.allaboutjerusalem.com

Room of the Last Supper, photo courtesy www.allaboutjerusalem.com


Travelujah Add Ons - (We can't help but add a couple of our favorite experiences as well to this list)


1. Easter at the Garden Tomb - Not only is Easter Sunday a special day at the Garden Tomb but on April 14 the Garden Tomb holds its annual Arabic Easter event which brings together 500 - 600 Arab and Israeli believers. Seeing both Israelis and Palestinians together in prayer makes this an even more spiritually significant event.


2. Holy Fire Ceremony-On April 14th Orthodox Christians gather early in the morning at the Church of the Sepulchre for the annual Holy Fire Ceremony. The ceremony begins at 1 pm.



If you go:

Good Friday at the Holy Sepulchre

8.00 a.m. - Celebration of the Passion of the Lord, Calvary. The doors will remain opened.
4.00 p.m. - The Liturgy of the Hours
8.10 p.m. - "Funeral" Procession

Good Friday Procession (Via Crucis)

11:30a.m. - Procession beginning at the First Station of the Cross with the Franciscan Friars

Passover Seder Experience

Hineni Jerusalem- 02-624-9747

Easter Sunday at the Holy Sepulchre

7:30a.m. - Entry into the Basilica by the Latin Patriarch
8:00a.m. - Solemn Mass of Resurrection and Procession around the Rotunda
5:00p.m. - Daily Procession

Mount Zion Upper Room

The Upper Room is open daily from 8:30 to 4:00 pm
On Holy Thursday- at 3:30 pm there is a Pilgrimage to the Cenacle and to the Church of St. James

Garden Tomb

Garden Tomb is open Monday through Saturday 8:30 - 12 and 14:00 - 17:30

April 8 - Resurrection Celebration (Easter Sunday)

April 14 - Easter Worship in Arabic


Holy Fire Ceremony

April 12 -  Church of the Holy Sepulchre


For further information on Easter in the Holy Land or Christian tourism to the Holy Land, email info@travelujah.com


 *   *    *    *


Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land Tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan, and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


March 17, 2013March 17, 2013  1 comments  Easter


“In two days, as you know, it will be the Passover Festival, and the Son of Man, will be handed over to be crucified.” (Matt. 26:2)


Those are the words Jesus said to his disciples two days before he was captured and sentenced to death. At the same time, chief priests and elders, who were against Jesus, were making plans how and when to arrest him.


Jesus Is Anointed at Bethany


Bethany Travelujah


Jesus was then anointed in Bethany, at the house of Simon. While he was eating, a woman came and broke a jar containing a very expensive perfume made of the pure nard, which she poured on his head. Christ’s disciples did not understand why she would ‘waste’, as they thought, such a valuable thing. However, Jesus excused her and said that she prepared him for the upcoming burial.


To commemorate this event, Franciscan brothers make an annual pilgrimage to Bethany (El-Azariya). This year 2013, they gathered on Thursday 14th of March, first at the Tomb of Lazarus and later in the church. The celebration was followed by the spiritual pilgrimage to Pater Noster Church and the Chapel of Ascension.


Holy Thursday - The Last Supper and Arrest of Jesus


Getsemane Travelujah


On the first day of Passover, the disciples asked Jesus, where they should eat their meal. So He ordered that they say these words to a ‘certain man’: “The Teacher says, My hour has come; my disciples and I will celebrate the Passover at your house.” (Matt 26:18).


Already at the supper, suddenly, Jesus rose from the table and started to wash and dry disciple’s feet. When he approached Simon Peter, the disciple wanted to refuse: “Are you going to wash my feet Lord?” (John 13:6) Jesus wanted to teach his followers that all the people are equal and that no one is better than another: “I am telling you the truth: no slave is greater than his master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16)


Again at the table, Christ said to his twelve disciples: “I tell you, one of you will betray me.” (Matt 26:21) After hearing those words, all of the apostles became very upset. Jesus surely knew that one of his disciples - Judas Iscariot, went to the high priests and agreed with them on a prize of the thirty silver coins for betraying his teacher.


While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread and asked the gathered to eat it as it was his body, and he took a cup of wine and told them to drink from it as it was his blood. At that moment, Christ revealed that he is going to die for the forgiveness of sins of all his followers.


Cenacle Travelujah


After the meal, Jesus and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane. He wanted to pray on the mount, he took with him only Peter and two sons of Zebedee: James and John, so they could guard the place while he was praying. However, the apostles fell asleep. Suddenly Judas arrived with the soldiers behind him. He kissed his teacher, and pointed out who should be captured. Christ let the people arrest him to fulfill the prophecies written in the Scriptures.


Holy Thursday (28th of March 2013) solemnizes the events described above.  At 7 a Pontifical Mass of Washing of the Feet will be celebrated in the Holy Sepulchre. At 3:10pm in the afternoon, there will be a pilgrimage beginning from St. Saviour’s church to the Cenacle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark. There will also be a mass in the Basilica of Agony in Gethsemane at 9 pm, followed with time for private prayers from 10 pm.


Good Friday – Passion of the Lord


Jesus was taken to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, where all the teachers of Law and elders gathered. “The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some false evidence against Jesus to put him to death.” (Matt. 26:59). Christ, when asked if he is the Messiah, admitted but the gathered people did not believe him and accused him for blasphemy.


In the morning, the priests handed Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor, who tried to inquire if the one he received was the “King of the Jews”.


There was a tradition that at every Passover Festival a Roman governor would free a Jewish prisoner selected by the crowd. The people had a choice between two prisoners: “Which one do you want me to set free for you? Jesus Barrabas or Jesus called the Messiah?” (Matt. 27:16) Barrabas was one of the well-known criminals, but neverthe;ess the crowd wanted him to be freed.


Even though, Pilate saw Jesus the innocent, he could not go against the people’s wish. “I am not responsible for the death of this man. This is your doing!” (Matt. 27:24) They wanted Jesus to be crucified.


At the governor’s palace, Pilate’s soldiers took off Christ’s garments and put on Him a scarlet robe and a crown made of the thorny branches, which hurt him. After making fun of him, they dressed him in his own clothes and led him towards his crucifixion at Golgotha (Place of the Skull).


Via Dolorosa Travelujah


Jesus died on a cross, after screaming “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” Many strange things happened on the day of his death. There was an earthquake and it was completely dark in the middle of the day. “Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matt 27:51) All this made many people believe that he really was the Son of God.


Good Friday (29th of March 2013) is marked by various celebrations held in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. The Way of the Cross will be followed at 11:30 am from the First Station to the Golgotha. The “Funeral” procession will take place after midnight.


Easter Sunday – The Resurrection


There was a prophecy that Jesus would rise from death on the third day after His death. The chief priests knew this and therefore they ordered his tomb to be well guarded to prevent the disciples from stealing Christ’s body.


On the Sunday morning after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, went to see the tomb. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord came from heaven to roll away the stone blocking the tomb. The guards were so afraid that they could not move. The angel spoke to the women: “He is not there; he has been raised, just as he said.”


Calendar of the Holy Week and Easter Celebrations:


Palm Sunday – 24th of March


  • 6:30 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Procession with Palms and Pontifical Mass at Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene
  • 2:30 pm – Bethphage – Palm Sunday procession over Mt. of Olives to St. Anne’s Church
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem - Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


Monday of Holy Week – 25th of March


  • 6 am – Jerusalem –  5th Station: Masses until 8 am
  • 6 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre (Calvary): Parish Mass (in Arabic)
  • 7 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Solemn Mass
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


Tuesday of Holy Week – 26th of March


  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 7:30 am – Jerusalem –  Flagellation: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


Wednesday of Holy Week – 27th of March


  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion and daily procession
  • 7 am – Jerusalem – Gethsemane (Basilica of the Agony): Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 9 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Veneration of the Flagellation Colum throughout the day in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
  • 3 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Tabernacle Service


Holy Thursday – 28th of March


  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Mass (Washing of the Feet). Procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • 1: 45 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Notes: Basilica doors open, and close shortly afterwards. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Service. Notes: Exit after the Service (5 pm). The basilica remains closed for the rest of the day.
  • 3:30 pm – Jerusalem –  Mount Sion: Pilgrimage to the Cenactle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark (Departure from St. Saviour’s at 3:10 pm)
  • 9 pm – Jerusalem –  Gethsemane: Holy Hour in the Basilica of Agony (No Photographs) Notes: 10pm – midnight: private prayers in silence


Holy Friday – 29th of March


  • 8 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Notes: Basilica doors open only for celebration, not for visits), and close shortly afterwards.
  • 8:15 am – Jerusalem – Calvary: Celebration of the Passion of the Lord
  • 11:30 am – Jerusalem – Via Dolorosa: Way of the Cross. Starting from the First Station with the Franciscan Friairs, followed by various groups.
  • 6 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Service
  • 00:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: “Funeral” Procession


Holy Saturday – 30th of March


  • 7:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Easter Vigil
  • 3:15 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Entrance and Solemn Procession
  • 6 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Evening Prayer in front of the Edicule
  • 00:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in front of the Edicule, with the Custos of the Holy Land officiating


Easter Sunday – 31st of March


  • 6:30am SonRise service -Garden Tomb
  • 9:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Entrance of the Latin Patriarch
  • 9:45 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Mass and Solemn Procession
  • 1200 Resurrection service in Korean broadcast on short wave radio to 2000+ Korean churches planted in the Far East
  • 5 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


Easter Monday– 1st of April


  • 8:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Solemn Mass
  • 10 am – Emmaus (Qubeibeh) – Pontifical Mass and Blessing of bread by the Custos of the Holy Land
  • 2: 30 pm – Emmaus (Qubeibeh) – Solemn Eucharistic Exposition
  • 5 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession


* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

January 2, 2011January 2, 2011  0 comments  Holy Sites

There are few places as diminutive from the outside and yet grandiose on the inside as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church was built originally in 325 A.D. by Constantine's mother. He was the first emperor of Rome to officially convert to Christianity. He razed a former temple of Venus which had been built on the site several hundred years before during Hadrian's effort to rename Jerusalem Aelia Capetolina.


The site is of course traditionally believed to be the place where Jesus was crucified and where he was later resurrected in the presence of his twelve disciples. It also known to house the last four Stations of the Cross.


The building you'll visit today however is not the original building, nor is it even the original remade building or even the remade original building. In fact, few places have been destroyed and rebuilt more times than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The church was destroyed by Persians in 614A.D. and then rebuilt for the first time soon after that. However, the church was to see additional destruction, being burned to the foundations in 1009 A.D. by Hakim, the Sultan of the Muslim Caliphate at the time (he's sometimes known as "Hakim the Mad").


It was partially rebuilt later in 1048 A.D. when money was provided by Constantine IX of the Byzantine Empire. However, the church built by Constantine IX's money was not nearly as grand as the original church that Constantine had built. While no official explanation is offered for this, it's reasonable to assume that the Byzantine Empire, of which Constantine was ruler at the time was already facing a sharp decline, which eventually led to its ultimate destruction so he simply didn't have the money to do the rebuilding properly.


A proper rebuilding effort would have to wait until 1505 A.D. when a group of Franciscan monks came to the Holy Land with the intention of remaking the Church of the Holy Sepulcher into something truly grand and spectacular. The monks succeeded spectacularly; however what you'll see when you visit today is still not much of what they built.


That's because their vision was largely destroyed in 1808 when the church once again was burned to the ground, though this time by accident rather than deliberately. It was rebuilt yet again at that time and at the same time, a number of different groups began to lay claim to the church, with the groups now sharing power amongst themselves.


The groups include the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, under the auspices of the Vatican. However, the primary power in the church rotates between the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church (the Greek Orthodox Church however maintains most of the control of the building).


A renovation plan was begun again in 1959 and it continues to cause controversy with each group who controls the church jockeying for position and the Israeli government attempting to get the parties to talk so that the church can be properly preserved without prejudicing any one group's claims t the church. An old ladder rests outside one of the windows of the church and has been there at least since the middle of the 19th century. However, because the various factions who control the church have not been able to agree on how to renovate it, the ladder has remained in place all this time.


Because the church has so many different groups claiming ownership and was rebuilt at various time (parts date from the 1048A.D. construction, other parts from 1505A.D. and most parts either from 1808A.D. or from the modern renovations begun in 1959 A.D.), it can seem pretty confusing with different styles dominating different parts of the building. However, the over-all effect is still quite stunning and beautiful.


The most important place in the church is of course the place of the crucifixion, where it is believed that the Jesus' cross was placed outside the city walls of Jerusalem in 33 A.D. (There is another, competing location which was identified in the 19th century called the Garden Tomb, however most people still look to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as being the place of the actual crucifixion of Christ.). This part of the church is run by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and includes what some describe as a "rocky outcropping" where the cross is believed to have been placed. The area includes the 12th station of the cross, which is the rock of cavalry and 11th station of the cross, which is run by Franciscan monks. There is also the "Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross" in the same area. The 13th station of the cross is there as well, with a statue of Mary Mother of Jesus and that is where His family moved Him after He was killed on the cross (according to most traditions).


The Stone of Anointing, where the body of Jesus was prepared by Joseph of Arimathea before it was buried is located just inside the entrance to this area.


The Edicule is the place where Jesus was initially buried after he died on the cross. The cave is no longer there having been destroyed completely by Hakim (that would be "Hakim the Mad" who we mentioned above) in 1009 A.D., however the tradition that this is the place where the cave was initially is quite strong.


The "Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea" is here as well and it is an actual tomb dating from the time of Jesus. It's largely looked to as archeological proof that the place is indeed the final resting place of Christ.  However, while archeologists have been able to date the tomb to the time of Jesus, there are no markings and the area was actually discovered fairly recently during renovations in the building.


Two locations inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher also lay claim to being the Prison of Christ, where Jesus was held before His crucifixion.


A number of chapels are located in the Armenian part of the church as well, including the Chapel of St. Helena and the Chapel of St. Vardan, which is said to contain relics from Hadrian's temple to Venus and Constantine's original church. There is also the Chapel of the Invention of the Holy Cross, where the original cross Jesus was crucified on was said to have been found and finally the Chapel of Mary Magdalene, where Jesus' mother met Him after His resurrection.


Overall, the church is really an overwhelming place to take in and as we said at the beginning of this article, it's all accessed through a small door which makes it all the more unique of an experience.


The church is located at the corner of Suq Khan e-Zeit and Christian Quarter Rd in Jerusalem's Old City. to experience candlelighting inside the Church View Candlelighting at Calvary.


Eric Hammer writes for Travelujah, the only Christian social network where people can learn, plan and share their Holy land travel experiences. 

February 27, 2013February 27, 2013  0 comments  Holy Sites

Via Dolorosa, also known as Way of the Cross is situated in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the route that traditionally traces the steps of Jesus Christ on the way to Golgotha, the place of his crucifixion, burial and resurrection.


For centuries pilgrims have followed the Via Dolorosa daily, even though its path might not be exactly the one that Christ took on the last day of his life, as it has changed over the centuries together with the topography of the town. However, what is important, is the tradition and purpose of commemorating Christ’s passion under the cross.


Via Dolorosa has 14 stations, called Stations of the Cross, which relate to the particular events that happened on the way to the Place of the Skull. Let us take a closer look at each of the stations to understand better the events of the past.


Station I – Jesus is condemned to death


“So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.” (Matt 27:2)


The Via Dolorosa starts in front of the Ottoman building of ‘Madrasa el-Omariyya’, a school situated in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, around 300 m from the Lion’s Gate. The tradition says that here stood the Roman Antonia Fortress where Jesus was sentenced to death. Here, every Friday at 3 pm through October till March or at 4 pm through April till September, the Franciscan brothers begin their walk along the Via Dolorosa.


Station II - Jesus carries His cross


“Then they led him away to crucify him.” (Matt 27:31)


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah Monastery of the Flagellation


This second station is in front of the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation, which was completely rebuilt in 1929 on medieval foundations. The church traditionally marks the place where Jesus took up the cross, after being flogged and crowned with thorns.


The Franciscan complex on the site contains two churches - the Flagellation and also the Condemnation. The buildings surrounding the monasteries house the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a prestigious institute of biblical, geographical and archaeological studies and Studium Museum, which contains various archaeological items excavated by the Franciscans.


The Way of the Cross follows under the magnificent Ecce Homo Arch. The arch stands on the site where Pontius Pilate is said to have uttered the words: “Ecce homo” - Here is the man” (John 19:5) while exposing Jesus to the crowd. The arch was built in 70 AD to support a ramp being laid against the Antonian Fortress and after rebuilding Jerusalem in 135 AD the arch was reconstructed as a monument of Roman victory.


Station III - Jesus falls the first time


The third station is located on the crossroad between the streets of Via Dolorosa and El-Wad. It marks the moment when Jesus fell for the first time under the weight of the cross,  commemorated by a relief above the door of a small chapel on this site.


The sanctuary once was the main entrance to the baths “Hammam es-Sultan”, built in 15th century. It was bought by the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in 1856. It is sometimes called the ‘Polish chapel’ as it was renovated with the financial help of the Polish army in the late 40s of the 20th century.


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah Interior of the Ecce Homo Chapel


Station IV - Jesus meets his mother


“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” (Jn 19:26)


According to the tradition, the fourth station is situated at the place where Jesus met his mother Mary on the way to Golgotha. The location of this point, a bit further on El-Wad street, is exactly in front of the Armenian Church of Our Lady of the Spasm from 1881. When digging the foundations for the church, a great mosaic dating to the 7th century was found, which probably belonged to the church of St. Sophia (Holy Wisdom).


Between the third and fourth station, look under your feet and notice a well preserved stones remaining from the Roman street, probably the “secondary” Cardo of Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem). It is well possible that Jesus could have walked on these stones.


Station V - Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah V Station of the Cross


“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.” (Matt 27:32)


Jesus’ pitiful condition and the weight of the cross made the way extremely difficult. Roman soldiers ordered Simon of Cirene (today’s Libia) to help Jesus carry the cross. There are some theories that perhaps Simon might have been one of Christ’s disciples, however, he might have been just one of the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem in observance of Passover.


The fifth station commemorates this event and is located at the small church built in 1895, on the first Franciscan site in Jerusalem founded in 1229-1244.


Station VI - Veronica wipes the face of Jesus


This station is dedicated to a woman who wanted to ease the pain of Christ by whipping his face from blood and sweat with her veil. Then the piece of material she used revealed the impression of Christ’s face.


The exact story is not mentioned in the Gospels but can be based on those verses from Luke “A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.”(23:27) proving the presence of women dedicated to Jesus at the site.


According to the tradition, which might be based on the writings of the ancient scholar Eusebius, it was Berenice (St. Veronica), a women once healed by Jesus, who wiped his face. The name Veronica could be a corruption of the name Berenice. However, the woman’s name could be also derived from the Latin words vera and icon which mean ‘true image’ - Jesus’ portrait on her veil.


In the wall of a small Greek Catholic chapel of “The Holy Face” there is an old stone with an inscription indicating the sixth station. The remains are probably parts of ancient monastery of St. Cosmas and Damian from the middle of 6th century.


Station VII -Jesus falls the second time


In the time of Christ, Golgotha was outside the city walls. Traditionally, the seventh station of the Via Dolorosa commemorates Jesus second fall under the weight of the cross. This time, he collapsed when crossing one of the gates of Jerusalem leading out to the country. The place is called “Gate of Judgment”.


The station is marked by a large Roman column placed in the Franciscan chapel, which once stood on the ancient thoroughfare, the Cardo Maximus, the main route of Roman Jerusalem.


Station VIII - Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem


On the outer wall of a Greek Orthodox St. Charambalos monasterythere is a small cross carved that marks the eight station, which is the traditional point where Jesus met the the women of Jerusalem, who mourned over his destiny. “Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.’” (Luke 23:28)


Station IX- Jesus falls the third time


A bit further and very close to Golgotha, the ninth station represents the site where Jesus fell for the third time. The spot is marked by a cross on a pillar located on the wall of the Coptic Patriarchate building, the northeastern part wall of the Holy Sepulcher.


Next to the ninth station there is a small Coptic Orthodox church of St. Helen. Inside there is a great water cistern, believed to be discovered by the mother of Emperor Constantine  in the 4th century AD and has served as a source of water for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.


Station X-  Jesus is stripped of his garments


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah Facade of the Holy Sepulchre Church


 “[…] they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Matt 27:35)


The tenth station is placed at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and exactly in the Chapel of the Franks. At this spot Jesus was stripped off his clothes and once more ashamed in front of all the gathered people.


Station XI - Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross


After reaching the place of the crucifixion, the hill just outside Jerusalem, Jesus was nailed to the cross. This station is placed inside of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, at the Latin altar, which in  1938 was decorated with mosaic representing the scene of the crucifixion.


“They crucified him […]”(Matt 27:35) – These short sentence includes a very severe torture which was implied on Jesus for putting him to death.


Station XII - Jesus dies on the cross


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah XII Station of the Cross


“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.” (Matt 27:50)


After the last cry on the cross, the Christ died in agony – the Saviour consummated his great sacrifice for our sins. The Greek Orthodox altar marks the twelfth station, just next to the previous one. Under the altar can be seen a silver plate with a hole in the middle, which shows the spot where the Cross stood.


Station XIII - Jesus is taken down from the cross


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Travelujah 

Mosaics in the Holy Sepulchre


After he died, Jesus was taken from the cross and prepared for entombment: “Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.” (Jn 19:40) It was in the habit to break bones of convicts to check if they are really death. But in case of Jesus, a soldier stubbed his right side with a spear to make the scripture come true “”


The altar of the Stabat Mater, with a beautiful wooden 16-17th century statue of Mater Dolorosa donated in 1778 from Lisbon, marks the thirteenth station that stands between the eleventh and twelfth stations.


Station XIV - Jesus is laid in the tomb


This is the last station of the Way of the Cross, situated in Rotunda – a round hall of the Holy Sepulcher, with the Tomb of Christ in its centre.


Jesus’ body was requested by one of his disciples Joseph, a rich man of Arimathea, who placed the body in his own tomb situated close to the place of the Skull. Christ could not be entombed any further than that, because of the nearness of the Sabbath.



If you go:


When to go?


It is possible to follow Via Dolorosa at any day of a week, however the most common days to do it are Fridays. The Franciscan brothers follow the Way of the Cross every Friday, starting at 3 pm (October - March) or at 4 pm (April - September) at the 1st station in front of the ‘Madrasa el-Omariyya’ school. On the Good Friday, 23rd of March 2013, the solemn procession of Via Dolorosa will start at 11:30 am.


Opening Hours:


  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre – April – September: 5 am – 9 pm; October – March: 4 am – 7 pm; tel: 02 – 6267000
  • Ecce Homo – Lithostrotos – 8 am – 5 pm; tel: 02 – 6277292
  • Flagellation Church, Via Dolorosa - April – September: 8 am – 6 pm; October – March: 8 am – 5 pm;
  • Flagellation Convent – Museum: 8 am – 1 pm & 2 pm – 4 pm; closed on Sundays and Mondays; tel. 02 - 627-04-56
  • Most of the monasteries on the way are open daily during the daylight.


Carry your Cross


There is a possibility of borrowing a wooden cross, which group could carry during the procession. The cross could be picked up at the Monastery of Flagellation (2nd station). The service is free of charge. The owner of the crosses also offers group photographs to capture the great moment of their pilgrimage. For more information and reservation call: 057-444-97-48


* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

March 28, 2013March 28, 2013  0 comments  Holy Sites

“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull”. (Jn 19:17)


Jesus Christ was unjustly pronounced to death, however, he did not oppose to the given sentence for it was his wish and act of an unconditional love to die for our sins and be a redeemer to us. He was crucified and later entombed on a hill called Golgotha in Aramaic, Kranion in Greek, and Catvary in Latin, which means ‘skul’. This was also the place of his resurrection.


In the gospels, the place of the Skull is described as garden just outside the walls of Jerusalem, which gives us a good impression of the common tradition among the civilizations of the ancient world to place tombs outside the city walls.


Holy Sepulchre Travelujah


However, due to many changes in the topography of the town, nowadays, we cannot see Golgotha as it used to be on the day of Christ’s death. In 41-42 AD Herod Agrippa enlarged the city walls towards the northwest, so the place of the Skull became incorporated into the proper part of Jerusalem.


Temple of Jupiter


Early Christians used to gather in the places significant for Jesus’ life. Thus, the area of Golgotha was a site of their worship, probably until 135 AD, when the Roman Emperor Hadrian decided to reconstruct Jerusalem and name it Aelia Capitolina. The Emperor, as an opponent to Christianity, built over Calvary an altar dedicated to Jupiter and over the Tomb an altar for Venus.


Constantinian Church


According to the writings of historian Eusebius (263 – 339 AD), the Roman temple stood on the site of Golgotha until 326 A.D. This was the year in which Empress Helena, mother of the First Christian Emperor of Rome - Constantine, began her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During her journey she founded multiple churches - one of them was the splendid Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, which was inaugurated in 335.


Holy Sepulchre Travelujah


The architects of Emperor Constantine raised tree blocks of buildings, which position and arrangement are still visible today.


The first block, called Anastasis and meaning resurrection, contained the Tomb, which isolated from the mountain, stood in the center of a colonnade of double row of columns supporting a cupola with an oculus. This part till now remains almost intact.


The second block occupied the area called the Holy Garden, which on the sides had galleries enclosing a vast open space. In the south corner stood the Rock of Calvary, on which shone a cross of gold. Its principal architectural elements were arcades and galleries. Today of the Constantinian construction all that remains is the long wall to the north.


The third block of Martyrion Basilica, formed a great construction erected for liturgical celebrations, which could be entered by atrium from the main street Cardo Maximus of Aelia. Unfortunately, not much remains of that part, so it is impossible to fully reconstruct the plan this building.


Persian Invasion


The impressive edifice of Constantine was destroyed during the Persian invasion of 614, but immediately after, the church was restored by the Abbot Modestus, however on a reduced plan.


Holy Sepulchre Travelujah


Caliph Hakem


In the 11th century, the fanatic Caliph Hakem again brought the Holy Sepulcher into destruction, however its restoration was completed in 1048 by Emperor Constantine Monomachus. And this time only the Anastasis regained its former magnificence and the other Holy Sites were marked just by little oratories.




In the 12th century, the cupola over Christ’s Tomb and the chapels on Calvary were joined together under one roof, within a magnificent cathedral. The Rotunda (Anastasis) was conserved in great part and furnished with a grand triumphal arch opening on the new church erected on the former garden, used as a choir, which was contained within pillars and columns, provided with a  tribune and surrounded by and ambulatory.


The southern courtyard was beautified with a bell tower and a noble entrance to Calvary, called the Chapel of the Franks. The North aisle, called “The Arches of the Virgin” was not changed. According to Tradition, this is where Mary walked to visit her Son’s Tom. Saint Helena’s lower Basilica was built during the Crusader era, as was the Chapel of the Finding of the Holy Cross.


The edifice of the Crusaders, although despoiled of its early splendour and disfigured by later additions and deplorable restoration, exists to this day in its main outline.




Nowadays, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher looks like a puzzle – it is shared on many small chapels, which each of them has its own name.


The churche’s façade till now preserves the characteristic of the crusader architecture. It has twin doors, the right of which has been closed in the time of Saladin (end of 12th century), the other has since 1246 been confided to the custody of two Muslim families, one of each keeps the key, while the other has the right of opening.


The last structural changes were made after the great fire in 1808. Among other works, the Rotunda over the Tomb was renovated. From the Constantine times, there remain only its external walls. The elegant marble columns were in 1810 enclosed in the massive pillar, which reduced the diameter of the Rotunda from the 33 m to 19,30 m.


Holy Sepulchre Travelujah


Catholic celebrations for Easter 2013 in the Holy Sepulchre:


Good Friday - 29th of March

  • 8.00 The doors of the Basilica open (Note: only for celebration, not for visits and close shortly afterwards.)
  • 8.15 Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Calvary
  • 11.30 Way of the Cross from the I. Station (Omarije School) to the Holy Sepulchre with the Fransiscan fathers
  • 16.00 Service
  • 20.10 "Funeral" Procession


Holy Saturday - 30th of March

  • 7.30 Easter Vigil
  • 15.15 Entrance and solemn procession
  • 18.00 Evening prayer in front of the Holy Tomb
  • 00.30 Pontifical celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in front of the Holy Tomb with the Custos of the Holy Land


Easter Sunday - 31st March

  • 9.30 Entrance of the Latin Patriarch
  • 9.45 Pontifical mass and solemn procession
  • 17.00 Daily procession


Easter Monday - 1st April

  • 8.00 Daily solemn mass
  • 17.00 Daily procession


If you go:


The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located at St. Helena Street in the Old City of Jerusalem. Phone: (02) 6273314


Opening hours: (April-September) Sundays 5.00 am - 8.00 pm, Monday Saturday 5.00 am - 9.00 pm. (October-March) Sundays 4.00 am - 7.00 pm. Monday-Saturday  4.00 am - 7.00 pm





Armenian Orthodox

8.45 am Liturgy twice a month

9.45 am Liturgy (S) twice a month

4.15 pm Procession (W)

5.15 pm Procession (S)

3.30 am Liturgy (W)

4.30 am Liturgy (S)

4.15 pm Procession Fri.& Sat. (W)

5.15 pm Procession Fri.& Sat. (S)

Coptic Orthodox

7.00 am Liturgy (W)

8.00 am Liturgy (S)

6.00 am Liturgy Wed.& Fri. (W)

7.00 am Liturgy Wed. & Fri. (S)

2.30 pm Vespers Sat. (W)

4.00 pm Vespers Sat. (S)

Greek Orthodox

7.00 am Orthros (W)

8.00 am Orthros (S)

11.00 pm Liturgy (W)

12.00 mn Liturgy (S)

Roman Catholic


between 5.30 am & 8.00 am

6.30 am High Mass (Latin)

6.00 pm



between 4.30 am & 7.00 am

5.30 am High Mass (Latin)

5.00 pm


between 5.30 am & 8.00 am

7.30 am High Mass (Latin)

6.00 pm Saturday



between 4.30 am & 7.00 am

6.30 am High Mass (Latin)

5.00 pm Saturday

Syrian Orthodox

8.30 am Liturgy (W)

9.30 am Liturgy (S)




* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010. 

May 10, 2013May 10, 2013  0 comments  Holy Sites

“After the Lord Jesus had talked with them [apostles], he was taken up to heaven and sat at the right side of God.” (Mark 16:19)


After his resurrection, Christ appeared to his disciples many times. However, after 40 days since he was brought back to live, Jesus rose up to heaven. According to Evangelist Luke, it happened close to Jerusalem, in the area of Mount of Olives, on the way to Bethany.


When the apostles saw Jesus suddenly disappearing behind a cloud, they were disoriented and shocked. Two angels, however, made them calm down, predicting Christ’s return: “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven.” (Acts 1:11)


The Chapel of the Ascension


In the early days of Christianity, still before the Emperor’s Constantine conversion in 312 AD, early believers honoured Christ’s Ascension in a concealed cave on the Mount of Olives. This kind of secret worship was quite common, as it was much safer to congregate in hidden places in the time of the Roman persecution. Egeria, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 381 - 384 AD, in her writings describes her participation in a celebration of Ascension that took place on the present open site, uphill from the cave.


Chapel of the Ascension


The spot on the Mount of Olives for building the chapel commemorating Christ’s Ascension was pointed out by Constantine’s mother Queen Helena, who was a pious Christian. She also defined the sites for erecting the Basilica of the Nativity and the Holy Sepulcher.


The first shrine was built with help of Poimenia, a member of an imperial family, in the 4th century (around 378 – 384 AD). The great rotunda open to the sky was erected and called Imbomon, which means "above the hill".


The Byzantine structure had originally two concentric ambulatories (6 m and 2 m in perimeter) that surrounded the principal round space with the spot from which Christ is believed to ascended to heaven located in its center. The church had no proper apse,  just an altar located east of the rock. The archaeological investigations of C. Schick in 1887 and Fr. Corbo between 1959 and 1964 confirmed the round design.


Furthermore, in the 5th century the Chapel of Ascension went through a phase of architectural shifts, when around 438 Melania the Younger installed a shrine in it, eukterion which means ‘a place of prayer’ for St. Stephen. The inauguration ceremony was held during the first imperial visit to the Holy Land of Empress Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II (around 438).


It is not certain if the the church was destructed during the Persian invasion in 614 as the pilgrim Arculf describes the round church open to the sky in 670. However if it was destroyed, the Imbomon might have been restored by Patriarch Modestos around 626.


While the church still existed in 870, it seems to have vanish before Crusaders’s arrival. It was probably destroyed by Fatimid caliph Hakim in 1009.


The Crusaders built on its place an octagonal church which could have been reached by taking 20 steps up. Under the altar was shown a stone from which the Lord rose to heaven, and in which the legend and strong belief sees Christ’s footprint. The chapel was surrounded by still clearly visible columns and arches. The church was encircled by a fortified Crusader monastery.


Chapel of the Ascension


In 1187, the Church of the Ascension came under the Muslim possession and it was transformed into a mosque in 1200, which preserved much of the Crusader design but added a roof and a mihrab. Though not mentioned in Quran, Muslims believe that Jesus ascended into heaven. As the chapel was mainly used by Christians, in 1620 the mosque was relocated to a new structure of Zawiyat al-Adawiyya Mosque built just next to it.


In 1835 the Crusader structure became an enclosed room – the walls were added between the columns and a small dome was built over the roof.


Feast of Ascension


The Ascension Day that commemorates the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven is observed on Thursday, on the fortieth day of Easter. It is a movable feast since Easter is as well. The Catholic and Protestant Churches will celebrate the Feast of Ascension this year on the 9th of May 2013 and the Eastern Orthodox Churches on 13th of June 2013.


In Jerusalem, the feast is annually celebrated with a solemn mass at the site of the Chapel of the Ascension.


Chapel of the Ascension


If you go:


The Chapel of the Ascension and the Zawiyat al-Adawiyya Mosque are located in the suburb of At-Tur on the Mount of Olives. It is easy to reach it on foot from Jerusalem’s Old City. It is also possible to take bus #75 from the Bus Station next to the Damascus Gate, which will take you there. Entrance fee: 5 NIS ($ 1.50)


Visit as well:




* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010. 

October 14, 2013October 14, 2013  0 comments  Holy Land Pilgrimage

Pope Francis is expected to visit the Holy land in March 2014, and it is anticipated that his Argentinian Rabbi friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka will join him on a joint pilgrimage devoted to reconcilliation.


Coincidentally, in a possibly  related event, Israel's Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau, met today with His Beatitude Fouad Tual, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to discuss enhanced cooperation regarding pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Pope Francis's upcoming visit will highlight the cooperative agenda more clearly.

The Year of Faith, which Pope Benedict XVI initiated in Rome on 11 October 2012 will be celebrated in Nazareth in a Eucharist ceremony at Mount Precipice on Sunday, 17 November, led by the Latin Patriarch. Pilgrims from Spain, Italy and a number of other countries are expected to attend.

The Tourism Minister expressed his hope that the meeting would herald the "beginning of enhanced and prolonged cooperation between the ministry and the Catholic Church. Pilgrimage serves as a bridge for peace, bringing together peoples and cultures from around the world."


The Latin Patriarch echoed the sentiments of the minister, speaking of a "spirit of authentic cooperation and strong communication. We share both a mutual interest in providing hospitality and services for pilgrims and the goal that these pilgrims will return home as new ambassadors for the Holy Land."


Photo Credit: - Reuters

Search The Site.

Share This Page

Bookmark and Share


Posts: 387
Comments: 153
Travelujah's Blog
Search The Bible

Produced by KCS interactive boutique
Copyright © 2011 Travelujah.com