While writing this, we have left Jerusalem and are now living in the States again. Its been sad for me to look through these photos and remember the amazing experiences we had here and that we are now so. far. away. Israel, while it was incredible, was not a place we could see ourselves living long-term and we were feeling ready to come back “home” by the end of our time. That being said, I was also really sad about the end to the last few years of crazy adventures we’ve had (London, Manhattan, Tel Aviv). We’ve learned a TON, grown a TON, spent a TON of time together, and have a TON of fun stamps in our passports and friends that have put a permanent stamp in our hearts. Its been life-changing for us…the good, the bad, the hard, the amazing. All of it. And while I’m sure our time in the US will also be full of many lessons, this has felt different and saying goodbye to it was really hard for me. I hope, more than anything, that our girls will feel the change they’ve experienced by living the way they have (and that will soften the sacrifices each of them have had to make along the way). I love them for how resilient they are and how excited they (usually) are for the next “thing” we get to do, even if it means leaving a life they may have loved behind.
This was our last trip to Jerusalem. We knew it would be so we were soaking everything up as much as we could. The feeling, the smells, the people, the noises, the culture, the food, everything. Everything is sharpened at a time like this- when you don’t know the next time you’ll be able to see it all again.
Entering through the Jaffa Gate to the market and pausing to take a picture or two before we wound our way through the maze of the old city.
So grateful for the lessons we learned here in this holy place. The singular devotion on both sides of this wall and in the entire city is the most memorable feeling for sure.
And I’m always glad Brian is there, not only to take pictures, but for his innate sense of direction. We never would have seen corners of this place without him with us.
It began to sprinkle a little during our last Come Follow Me lesson near the Garden of Gethsemane. But, we didn’t let it stop us. Also, these horses made it all the more serene and magical to just “be” in the moment.
If you asked Brian and I (and hopefully our kids), the thing we will most definitely miss the most is having lessons in these important places. There really is a powerful feeling when you physically are in the place that the scriptures are talking about.
Outside of the first year after Kate’s birth, I have never felt more close to my Savior than living here in Israel. I came to really know Him because we spent so much time talking about and studying His life. It was incredibly life-changing.
Brian and I had a chance to spend an entire day in Jerusalem with just the two of us doing things that we have been dying to do. We went to the Israel Museum and specifically the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was incredible and I am SO glad we were able to spend a good amount of time here looking at all of the amazing artifacts. Another favorite was the the Second Temple and old Jerusalem Model.
We also made our way to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. I cannot really put into words the magnitude of the feelings and experience encapsulated in this place. Suffice it to say, it needs to be on every Holy Land visit. Here are some pictures below of the outside (which was beyond spectacular) as well as the inside.
Two quotes inside that stuck out to me were: “A country is not just what it does- it is also what it tolerates”. (Kurt Tucholsky) “I do not know what a Jew is, we only know what human beings are” (Pastor Andre Trocme). That last quote was a in a massive room dedicated to non-Jews who risked their lives to stand up for and often illegally harbor Jews and this pastor was among those who did just that. I was struck with his outright boldness and courage to do what would have surely been incredibly risky. Would I have done the same? Do I find myself thinking the same sentiment about those who are not like me today? I want to be more like Pastor Andre.
Some of the displays are just heart-wrenching. Like this one below. It’s a model of the gas chambers and how they operated and I won’t go into detail here, but it just made my heart sink with the sadness of it all.
“I shall give them in My house and within My walls a memorial and a name …” Isaiah 56:5
And then you finish here, where they have tried to gather and memorialize all of the victims by name. They all will have a place here in this amazing memorial and no one will be forgotten.
The structure itself is brilliant- so beautifully and thoughtfully designed.
Yad Vashem is surrounded by incredible green hillsides and gardens and the museum designs take full advantage of the views. It adds to the reverent serenity of remembering this dark time in our world’s history.
And then…and then..there’s this. The Children’s Memorial. My heart almost burst with the sadness of the 1 million children who died in the Holocaust enshrined here with 1 million lights. I don’t want to give away too much, but I don’t recall ever being so touched by a memorial in my life. Please make time to find this and go here.
Oh, Israel…you really are amazing.
Here are some pictures from our last few days in Israel. There is this kosher American comfort food restaurant called Crave in Jerusalem near the Mahane Yehuda market. We stopped in for kosher bacon cheeseburgers (fake cheese, lamb bacon etc) which were actually pretty good and hugely popular.
We made a last run through our own Carmel Market in Tel Aviv for our favorite meals. Shmuel for their beef and lamb pitas and Ning Thai for their noodles. I didn’t love tahini before we moved here, but now its just something that you cannot be without. It’s like America and their peanut butter. They find a way to put it in and on everything and these beef and lamb kebabs are just the perfect dish when smothered in its goodness.
Mouth-watering food that I will miss (above from Shmuel).
We also spent a few hours walking around old Jaffa’s market and shops. I love this place and how eclectic it is.
We all rented Bird scooters to get to and from Jaffa this time. Brian took Tessa, I had Lauren and Kate and Taylor doubled up. We laughed the whole way and had fun riding along the coast to get to Jaffa and then back home. The scooters were really fun and literally everywhere (we rode them a ton) and made getting around the city easy. Another really fun “last” that I’m so glad we scheduled in.