Day 08 - Herodium, Bethlehem, Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum)
Phil and Josie Mettler here! What an amazing day in the Holy Land! We woke up to a beautiful morning in the City of David and, after a delicious breakfast, we were off like we were shot out of a Red Ryder BB gun. We hurried to board the bus to make the trip to the Herodium, the immense summer palace (and eventual mortuary) of Herod the Great. As an architect in Fresno, I was always excited to tour the ancient buildings and cities. While the fortress was undoubtedly an architectural triumph, it was hard not to be struck by the folly of the king who constructed the palace as a monument to his own greatness, especially when we walked through its halls only a day after touring the site of the temple in Jerusalem that Solomon built with the intention (however misguided) to glorify the one true God.
From there, we traveled to Bethlehem, the city where, almost in the shadow of the Herodium, the King of Kings was born in a humble manger to bring light and salvation to a fallen world. Again, the juxtaposition was striking. After touring the ancient church at the site that is traditionally held to be the birthplace of Jesus, we were invited into the home of a local shopkeeper. He and his family are part of a small group of Christian Palestinians in Bethlehem, and we shared a traditional Jewish “dipping” lunch with them, where we tore pieces from bagels and dipped them into bowls of hummus, hyssop spices, olive oil, sour cream, and date honey that were shared by the whole table.
We concluded our eighth day with a somber walk through the Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem). It’s hard to put into words the emotions we experienced here, but it was incredibly impactful. The structure of the museum itself was architecturally intentional in its floorplan in that, as Ronen phrased it, there were “obstacles along the pathway to life.” So, as we walked through each thematic corridor, there were literal obstructions that forced us to experience the different phases and facets of atrocity.
It was a difficult end to our day emotionally, but we all appreciated the reminder of the importance of remembrance. As believers, we must remember our history… to learn from it, to avoid its repetition, to grow from it. In many ways, I suppose this afternoon in Yad Vashem fit perfectly with the heart of our trip - embracing our history and standing firm in the promises of our God.
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