We started our day by going to the national museum. This is like Israel’s Smithsonian. The coolest thing there is this huge model of Jerusalem as it may have looked at the time of Christ. It is very detailed and quite big. I took lots of photos of it. It was helpful in seeing what was where then, and then picturing in my mind what is there now.
Huge Model of Roman Era Jerusalem
Of course, on the temple mound today is the Dome of the Rock. But, the above picture is how the eastern wall may have looked in Christ’s day. To the left, you see the Western Wall. And, in the front center is the Golden Gate.
And Example of A Sepulcher
Inside the museum were lots of things of interest, but this one caught my attention. This gives us an idea of what the sepulcher Christ was laid in might have looked. Of course, the layout is a little different, but it is about the same size and shape of the Garden Tomb.
A Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Nothing to do with religion, they had an original by William Bouguereau. I only noticed that as I was rushing out the door. I had to stop and take a photo. After all, he’s my favorite.
We then drove to the Mt. of Olives to the BYU Jerusalem Center, or as they call it “Mormon University”. We received a tour and an organ recital. One of the volunteers played three pieces, including a very difficult piece by Bach.
The Organ at BYU Jerusalem Center
The tour also included an overlook over the city, a demonstration of a couple different types of olive presses, and a video about what students do at the BYU center. It’s a beautiful campus and should be on everyone’s list of “must see” things in Jerusalem. (They do have the best view of the city.)
Our Tour Guide at the BYU Jerusalem Center
Once outside, one of the other visitors to the campus too our photo with our tour guide.
Then, Matt took us on a hunt for a wood carver he met two years ago. I was honestly thinking… “Really, haven’t see seen LOTs of wood carvings in the market place?” But, I’m game and it seemed important to Matt.
In a Palestinian section of town, we found his shop. As we parked the car, a car load of girls yelled, ‘Welcome to Palestine!’ Omar met us in the parking lot and walked us to his store.
The first thing I noticed was a bulletin board with Omar’s photo with President Ezra Taft Benson. And, another picture with Gordon B. Hinckley. In addition, he had pictures of LDS notables like Steve Young too. I’m not talking about pictures of these people, but these people with Omar.
He pulled out a nativity set and said, “You know what I call this one?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer his question. “A Nativity Set?” I thought.
He said, “I called it the Elder Holland. I called it Elder Holland because he always orders this set for his family members.”
This guy has some serious connections at Church Headquarters!
But, look at his work and you’ll see why…
So, to be in good company, I asked to have my picture taken with my favorite piece. (It was out of my price range. It’s a $480 carving.)
Omar the Wood Carver
I love the painting by Arnold Freiberg titled, “Peace Be Still”. So, when I saw this carving I fell in love with it.
After spending a considerable amount of time in his shop, Omar asked if he could buy us dinner. We graciously accepted. He then added that he would normally ask us to his home, but his wife has been recovering from a stroke, so he asked us to accept his apologies and had his nephew bring us shawarma’s from his shop down the street.
Omar pulled out chairs and step stools for us to sit on, and boxes to use as tables. (It brings tears to my eyes just retelling the story.) There, he insisted we sit and eat and be his guests.
I came to love a fine man today. Omar the Wood Carver as I call him. Not only is he a very talented artist, but a man with a huge heart.
As we left his shop, he stopped and said he had one more thing for us. He then gave us each a small nativity ornament made from olive wood.
If you ever go to Jerusalem, you MUST visit Omar’s shop. (Also, budget about $500 as I’m sure you’ll find something you will fall in love with. Some day, people will say, “Oh, you have an Omar!”)