Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Wailing Wall

Last Friday I had the opportunity to visit the wailing wall. It is a known throughout all the world as a gathering place for religious Jews. In fact, their Sabbath (which begins Friday night) is celebrated by singing, dancing, and reciting verses from the Torah at the wailing wall. 

The Wailing Wall during the day--it's much more crowded Friday nights

As far as cultural experiences go, being at the wailing wall for the beginning of Shabbot ranks in my favorites. We were welcomed into a group of young Jewish men, who taught us a traditional dance and showed us their worship service. It was pretty fun to participate!

Love,

Mark

Friday, February 3, 2012

Herod's Palace

One of the first sites I visited was Herod's palace.

Jason and I sitting in Herod's palace--Herod had people drowned in the pool just to the left of us.
After obtaining regional power, Herod the Great wanted to make his name known forever. One of the ways he tried to create his legacy was by building an impressive palace (not far from the current Jordanian border). Though he tried to leave his mark on the world, today little is left of his then stunning getaway. I suppose no matter who you are and what you have, the only thing that matters when you're dead is how you lived--that's the lesson Herod's palace taught me.

Check it. Professor Ludlow lookin' like a boss
Love,

Mark

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Outside the Center

In response to Amy's request, I'll tell you a little more about what exactly the Center is all about. 

The BYU Jerusaelm Center has been opened since 1987. It is an eight-story building with housing for around 180 people, including professors, service volunteers, and their families. Each Monday we have a day-long field trip to somewhere in the Jerusalem area that concerns something we are studying that week. Tuesdays through Fridays we have classes, some limited free time, a forum address, sports activites, and other student-planned events. Saturday is the Sabbath (after church we usually walk into the city, go to the Garden Tomb, or the Garden of Gethsemane to read scriptures and sing hymns). Sunday is our free day, when we can plan whatever kind of trips or activities we want.

Mill stone in the Center's garden

At the center of our activities is, of course, food. The Center is fully staffed with security personnel, maintenance, and of course, a few cooks. Three times a day we have meals prepared for us that we eat in the Center's cafeteria--The Oasis. The food is surprisingly delicious, consisting mostly of pitas, hummus, fried vegetables, and pretty much anything else that the chef decides to prepare that day.

A picture in front of our university sign, just for mom ;-)

We also have opportunities to host tours for visitors, and serve in the community. For instance, today I spent the afternoon teaching English to pre-schoolers at a nearby Arabic pre-school. Reminded me of my days in Ukraine! I serve on a humanitarian committee, and my main responsibility is to help recruit students to teach at this school. So far it has been a great success and positive experience for both our students and theirs!

Hopefully that helps paint a better picture of our day-to-day life in Jerusalem!

Love,

Mark