Thursday, May 20, 2010

Exploring Jerusalem

We began today at the Western Wall of the old city of Jerusalem. The Western wall is a 2000-year-old structure built by the Jewish people to support the Temple Mount, upon which stood the second temple. It is currently the largest roman structure still standing today (larger than the roman coliseum). Although the temple was destroyed in AD 70, the wall remains the holiest place of all the Jewish sites.
We began today at the Western Wall of the old city of Jerusalem. The Western wall is a 2000-year-old structure built by the Jewish people to support the Temple Mount, upon which stood the second temple. It is currently the largest roman structure still standing today (larger than the roman coliseum). Although the temple was destroyed in AD 70, the wall remains the holiest place of all the Jewish sites.

We began in the Southwest corner of the old city of Jerusalem, and made our way underground through the passages beneath the Western wall. The tunnels harbored Jews either praying, or stuffing prayers written on pieces of paper into the crevices in the rock wall. We eventually made our way to the center of the Western wall - the closest place to where the holy temple once stood - which contained the largest number of praying Jews. We eventually reached the Northwest corner of the outer wall and exited through the Lion Gate, and boarded the bus in route to Mount of Olives.

Mount of Olives hosted a spectacular view of the Old City from the east side. The Dome of the Rock was visible which is the spot where Muhammad ascended to heaven according to the Muslims. We could also see the Golden Gate, where Jews believe the Messiah will arrive on a white donkey. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre could also be seen which as mentioned yesterday is the spot where Christians believe Jesus was crucified. Below us on was a mass cemetery where 150,000 Jews have been buried outside the Old City. According to the Book of Zechariah, Mount of Olives is where God will start to redeem the dead when the Messiah returns on the Day of Judgement. In order to get a good place in line, Jews have always preferred to be buried here.

We then went to Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Hebrew University was established as a part of the Zionist movement. A major supporter of the establishment was Albert Einstein, who donated his scientific and personal papers to ignite the reputation of the University's patent program. We attended a meeting with the vice provost of the university, at which we discussed the University's policies regarding academics, demographics, and international programs. We also discussed procedures in obtaining patents and funding for research and development at Hebrew university. After our talk with the vice provost, we attended a more detailed lecture on patent policies with the marketing executive at Hebrew University. Following the lecture, we ate lunch in the university food court.

Our next stop was Mount Zion. The last supper is said to have occurred here, as well as the eternal sleep of the Virgin Mary, and it is also the sight of David's tomb. We walked down to the tomb where many Jews were praying. This is an extremely holy spot for them. Like the Western Wall, it was gender segregated so men prayed on one side and women on the other.

We then journeyed back into the old city to the center which is marked by the intersection of two roads. These two roads split the city up into 4 quadrants, each housing a different group of people: Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Armenian. This segregation started over two thousand years ago and is still the case today. We exited the city through the Western Wall, which was still busy with many people praying. It is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year and you will always find people praying even in the middle of the night.

Our final stop of the day was the City of David. King David founded the city 3000 years ago and is the oldest part of Jerusalem. Archeologists are still excavating this area. Before exploring it, we watched a 3D movie about the city. We then saw remains of the Royal Quarter and walked through Warrens shaft to where the people got their water from underground 3,000 years ago.

Finally, we returned to the Guest House where a guest speaker from the Hadassah Medical Organization came to talk to us about what they do and his job as a patent lawyer for the hospital. The Hadassah hospital is a top line hospital in Israel where people of any race can come to get treated. We also learned that Israel has the second most number of medical device patents per capita than any other country, behind the United States. The speaker said he believes this is due to Israel's security situation. Millions of dollars are poured into research for their military. For example, Israel developed a very small camera for use on their missiles. Another person later came up with the idea to put this camera into a capsule so patients could swallow it and doctors could get video imaging from inside the patient without surgery. The speaker also said that Israel is very informal at work and easy going. This is encourages innovation and new ideas.

By the end of the day, we were all exhausted. We saw and learned a ton. We all slept very well.

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