Christmas Eve in the Old City

My friend from Costa Rica came to visit me in Jerusalem on Christmas Eve. It was wonderful to see her, and it also gave me the opportunity visit my city as a tourist. It’s nice to be reminded how exciting the Old City can be.

We wandered around and enjoyed the views.

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View from the Austrian Hospice (looking southward). Today it’s a hotel and in the past it was a rest stop for Austrian pilgrims.

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Exiting the Lion’s Gate, we looked over Gethsemane (lower left) and the Mount of Olives cemetery (right). Perfectly timed as the sun was just about to be blocked by the walls of the Old City.

 

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Candle lighting at the Kotel. It was, after all, also the third night of Chanukah.

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Since it was Christmas Eve and there wasn’t a Chinese restaurant on our way, we had kosher Korean food. From the left, clockwise: gimbap, tteok-bokki (sweet version), japchae, and kimchi. YUM!

Next stop, Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was unbelievably crowded. And yet quiet and respectful. It may surprise you to know that many of the special tours were in Hebrew – meaning Israelis were visiting.

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Nativity scene in the silent chapel at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

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Crusader graffiti. These marks were left by Crusaders along the walls going down the stairs to Helene’s Chapel. Helene was Constantine’s mother and declared this site to be the location of the crucifixion.

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The Holy Selpuchre itself. Inside this structure is a tomb that was opened in 2016 to be cleaned and restored. Some Christians dispute the site, but there is actually a tomb there consistent with the time period. See the National Geographic article about it HERE.

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In the Christian quarter. One of the few places in Jerusalem decorated with lights.

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Lighting up the walls of the Old City.

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We finished our evening by wading through a Chabad candle lighting at the entrance to Mamilla. The yeshiva boys are dancing, jumping, singing. The band is on the balcony playing wild Chanukah music featuring a flute. (Think mosh pit at a Jethro Tull concert.)

This was a great way to end 2019 and get ready for 2020. (I can’t believe it will be 2020 in a few days!!!)

Wishing you all good health, many joyous occasions,
and success, productivity, and prosperity in all your projects!

Happy New Year!!

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