Saturday was, for most, the longest flight of their lives. The morning sunrise greeted us from the plane as we descended through the clouds for our first glimpse of the Holy Land as a group. After a cheerful welcome from Jeremy, our tour educator, we headed to Jerusalem. From the Goldman promenade, our opening "shehecheyanu" was accompanied by the sights of new and old Jerusalem and the sounds of the Muslim call to prayer. We were already singing with the land!
We got back on our mini bus to explore the Old City and most importantly, have our first, authentic falafel lunch. Toronto's Israeli food will never compare!
We climbed the stairs to a rooftop at the center of the four quarters. The domes we had gazed from afar were now just before us. Christianity, Judaism and Islam represented by golden, black, grey and white domes. Only in Jerusalem!
From here we explored the Christian story. While not our own, realizing that visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the spiritual goal of millions of faithful made our visit very interesting. A favorite moment was descending to the cistern below the Coptic Church for a musical, echo delight. We heard our own voices reverberate again and again off the walls of this ancient site.
As jet lag set in, we spent time in a park playing games and having fun, lead by our shin shinit, Yuval. We had a blast! As the sun set on this very long day, some of us are already asleep and the rest not far behind. What a great first day!