What are some interesting sites I can visit with my family to learn about Jewish history?
Jerusalem is rich with history. The patriarchs, the three forefathers of the Jews, dwelt here. It was here that Abraham overcame the trial of sacrificing his son Isaac; here that Jacob dreamt of angels ascending and descending a ladder that reached the Heavens; here that our beloved King David, composer of the Psalms, and King Solomon, known as the wisest man who ever lived and composer of the Proverbs, ruled.
King Solomon built our First Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Our Second Temple also stood here. It is here that the Western Wall stands. Built with the contributions of the poor, it has remained intact until today, ever since the Babylonian and Roman empires besieged Jerusalem. In those sieges, both Holy Temples were destroyed, but their surrounding wall — the Western Wall — survived.
The Jews have held Jerusalem dearly in their hearts for almost 3,000 years now.
The sites that will interest you depends upon the periods in history you wish to explore. If biblical times interest you, you have a wide selection of sites to choose from. The Western Wall, is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Western Wall Tunnels can be toured (call in advance, Tel. 02-627-1333.) In the Old City, there are several museums focusing on the Temple eras. The Tomb of King David is also located in the Old City on Mount Zion.
Hebron, a little farther out of Jerusalem, is the burial place of several great biblical personalities – including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives, the matriarchs Sarah,
Rivka and Leah. Adam HaRishon and Chava (Adam and Eve), the first people who ever lived, are also buried there.
On the outskirts of Jerusalem, by Bethlehem, is the Tomb of Rachel, one of our beloved matriarchs.
If you are interested in more contemporary sites, you may want to visit Ammunition Hill – a strategic battle place in the Six Day War. Yad Vashem is the internationally known Holocaust memorial and museum. To learn more about the rich Jewish History of Jerusalem and of the Jews in general, I would suggest a presentation called “A Crash Course in Jewish History” that is offered by Aish HaTorah – a world-renowned Jewish learning organization located in the Old City (Call 02-628-5666).
Please take a look at the Jerusalem Touring Guide below for further information about sites pertaining to the historical periods in which you are most interested.
How do I get to the Western Wall?
I would like to visit the Kotel [the Western Wall]. How do I get there? What should I bring with me?
The 1, 2, and 38 buses arrive at the Old City of Jerusalem near the entrance to the Kotel. You can catch the #1 bus by the International Convention Center (Binyanei HaOuma).
The Kotel is a place in which to express your heart’s sincere prayers. So you may want to bring a wish, a dream or a prayer. As it is a holy site, it is respectful to dress modestly – i.e., sleeved shirts and skirts for women – clothing that covers necklines, arms and legs. For men, head coverings, sleeved shirts and long pants are appropriate.