We got to sleep in today which was awesome and we had a pretty short day. We are all pretty tired, but still having a lot of fun. We started our day going to the Holocaust Museum. It was overwhelming to say the least. We saw a lot of pictures and history about what happened and some of the most powerful parts were the piles of shoes and the dolls and kids toys that they found. At the end they had this huge round room with books all around the room on shelves. They went from below the floor to above the ceiling, which was high, and each page of each book had the information about one person killed in the Holocaust. It was overwhelming to see that mass of people ruthlessly murdered. There was also this huge canvas where people wrote the first names of all the people really small and some were in different colors so it made a picture. It was really cool. At the end they had a room just for the children. you walk in holding a handrail and it gets totally dark. You go into a round room and in the middle there is this huge circle full of candles. Around the outside there are tons of mirrors at different angles, so it looks like there are contless candles all around you and it's all you can see. There was a voice reading off names of children that were killed and their ages and where they were from. If you wanted to hear a name over again, you would have to wait for 20 months. That's how many of them there are. It was amazingly sad. At the end, we talked for a little while about why this happened and ways to try to prevent something like that from ever happening again. We talked about the importance of developing relationships with people that are different from ourselves so that we see everyone as people and not as issues, or causes, or demons, or things. It was also interesting that in a lot of ways, the church set up an environment of anti-semitism, blaming them for the death of Jesus. Hitler used this in a lot of ways. There were even quotes from Augustine about scattering jewish people and punnishing them for what they did. The church also ignored this in many ways while it was happening, which makes it worse. I think I need to think very carefully about the things that I really need to take a stand on. Many Christians in America seem to think that taking a stand to demonize groups of people like Muslims or homosexuals, is the way to stand up for what is right. It seems to me that this leads us down the same road as what I just saw the effects of today. Standing against hatred and violence, seems to me to be the way to combat things like this. These are just my preliminary thoughts as I try to work though all that is going on in my head.
Next, we ate lunch and Kaleel's uncle's restaurant. We ate some good food and I sat with Mike and Kaleel and talked to them a little about what it was like to be a Palistin living and working in Jerusalem. It was really interesting how their everyday lives are. Kaleel is a driver and he works everyday. He has no days off and then gets 2 months off in the summer. He is an awesome driver!
After lunch we went to the second place that claims to be where Jesus died and was buried. It was in a garden by a mountain that looked like it had a skull on the side. The tomb was down below and it was different from most tombs because it has 2 separate rooms instead of one. The body is to the right in this one and is straight ahead in most tombs. They make a pretty good case and it was much less gaudy than the other place that claims to be the place. This was nice and peaceful and a beautiful garden. Afterwards we had a really cool service and took communion together. We each got one of these cool stones that said hope or believe or something like that on them. One got mixed in that said "kiss me" on it, like on those candy hearts. Jeb got that one and showed it to me when we sat down. We were laughing so hard. We showed it to "dollar Bill" who was sitting in front of us and he busted up. He was laughng so hard, it made us laugh even harder. It was supposed to be a solemn time so we were all trying like mad to hold it in, which made it even funnier. Bill couldn't take it and busted out audibly at one point. I was biting my toungue. This really nice and sweet lady was sitting next to Bill and though he was crying. She comforted him and it was very sweet, but i almost lost it! Maybe you had to be there, but it was extremely hilarious!!!
When we got back to the hotel we walked around for a while. After dinner most of the poeple left to go to the Tel Aviv airport to go home. I've got another week where I'll be in egypt along with 12 other people. Half of us will be going down the Nile River and the other half will be spending time around the Luxor. It seems like a lot of stuff in Egypt will kill you, so I am going to be careful. Drinking the water is dangerous, and associating with Israel seems to be pretty dangerous as well. I wanted a tattoo on my had in Hebrew, but i found out today that it would not go over well in Egypt, like some people would want to harm me when they saw it, so I took a pass. I guess there is a lot of tension between Egypt and Israel as well... I need to watch the news more often. Well, we'll see what the internet situation is, but we leave at 7 tomorrow morning for a 5 hour bus ride to the border and another 3 hour one after that. i'm hoping to sleep some on the bus for sure! Once we get in the desert, it is all going to look the same most of the time.