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The Tower of David, as seen from outside the Jaffa Gate. The tower you see, also sometimes called the Tower of David, is a minaret.

Going to Jerusalem? First Visit the Tower of David

As one of the first things visitors see on entering the Old City of Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate, the Tower of David makes an imposing impression, with its massive stone walls and towers topped with crenellations. The first thing your tour guide will say is that this citadel has nothing to do with King David from the…

Visiting the City of David: Siloam Pool

Visiting the City of David: Older than the Old City of Jerusalem

Those of us who are not religious often see the Bible as nothing more than a collection of myths. Yet archeologists have confirmed many elements of Bible stories. Visiting the City of David reintroduced me to the overwhelmingly long history of Jerusalem. There’s something awe-inspiring about its sheer length, covering thousands of years of human history….

A street in Yemin Moshe, a neighborhood just outside the old walls of Jerusalem

Tit for tat: the American version

But is it safe? or… There have been incidents lately. Please be careful! or… Are you sure you want to go there now? These are the sorts of comments I’ve received each time I’ve gone to Israel. The fact is that “incidents” do sometimes happen in Israel. Lately, it’s been a few stabbings on the…

A Dead Sea Day

Floating in the Dead Sea is one of those things people put on their bucket list: something that has to be experienced once in a lifetime. The Dead Sea is called the Dead Sea because its salt and mineral levels are so high that nothing lives in it. It is also the lowest elevation on…

Masada and the Israeli Army

In about 66 C.E. (Christian Era, which is the term Israelis use for A.D.), a Jewish rebel movement captured a great fortress and palace built by King Herod. Called Masada, it stood high above the Dead Sea on a flat-topped mountain, surrounded by desert. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. by…

along the Via Dolorosa (photo courtesy of Anne Hellersmith)

The Via Dolorosa

Jerusalem A 24-hour ceasefire has been agreed, and swiftly failed. Palestinian civilians are suffering terribly – many dead and wounded, houses destroyed, shortage of food – and Israelis, particularly in Ashkelon, are living in fear of the next rocket attack. Only the politicians on each side seem to want this war to continue. Nevertheless, I insist…

The Mundane in Jerusalem

A protest march in the West Bank turned violent last night when it was stopped by riot police at the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Also last night, I had a very pleasant meal with my cousins at an Italian restaurant right outside the Jaffa Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem. The coexistence of…

Why I’m in Israel

Jerusalem, July 23, 2014 When I told people several months ago that I was planning to go to Israel, their reaction was usually “Oh, how interesting! I’d love to go there someday!” or “Really? How exciting!” By the time I told people a couple of weeks ago about our trip, their reaction had changed to…