Our next stop is Omar’s Souvenirs. Omar’s place is in the area behind the bus station near the Garden Tomb. Omar is the world’s best woodcarver. On our way to his shop we cut through the bus station and market place.
We stopped for bagels. Bagels in Israel are long. They are almost a loaf of bread.
You see a few people wearing kefias (headdress like the one in the picture above). Red and white usually means Jordanian.
As we got close to Omar’s office, Omar came out of the barbershop and yelled, “Are you coming to see me?”
He came over and gave me a big hug and asked how I have been doing. We came in to his shop and one of the first things John found was this…
Everyone got something at Omar’s, and then Omar treated us to juice and lunch.
Off we went to our next destination – through the Damascus Gate.
We made another stop at the Garden Tomb. It was raining and nobody was there. That allowed me to snap a couple of photos with the place empty.
Pool of Bethesda
We stopped to see the place where Jesus was condemned to death. From there, it is only a short walk to the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a man.
Soon we found ourselves in tight alleyways and before long, on the school grounds. A man showed us around pointing out various sights around the old city. He then walked us out of that quarter of the old city.
We ended the day in the Yahuda area. I went for 1/2 a shawarma and a Coke. I’m glad I didn’t order the WHOLE shawarma.
There’s a lot of good in Jerusalem, but the Jerusalem post office isn’t one of them. Think of going to the D.M.V. in California just to get a stamp to mail a postcard. Yes, it is that bad. And knowing this, I opted to wait outside and take some pictures on the street while others went to buy some stamps.
Linda and John finally emerged from the post office. Linda showed me her Israel stamps featuring the Statue of Liberty.
Backing up to earlier in the day, here’s a picture of John at the front desk of our hostel. I love the sign on the wall, “Come on, get a room.”
The guy behind John was one of my roommates – Andrew. Andrew is from the U.K. but currently living in Germany. He was one of 3 of my roommates last night.
We boarded the train and road three stops – Jaffa Center, Jaffa Gate and Central Bus Station. The bus station and Garden Tomb are back to back as you will see from my pictures.
This is an old section of town just outside the Damascus Gate. It is largely an Arab population in this part of town.
On to the Tomb
The Garden Tomb is one of two sites believed to be where Jesus was resurrected. Several Latter-day prophets have commented this is the place. Before getting to the tomb, our guide stopped and showed a winepress and explained this was a garden at Christ’s time.
On our tour I saw this girl wearing a Sac State shirt. I walked up and said, “Sac State! My alma mater.” She looked at me like, “REALLY!”
I begin my 60th year here on earth. Yes, it was 59 years ago today that I was born.
After learning that Adam served his mission in Brazil, I told him on Monday (today) he would have to sing Parabéns A Você (translation: Happy Birthday to You). I continued to warn him and then today I asked, “So, when do I get to hear you sing Parabéns A Você?”
Brenda said, “Why would you want us to do that? Like it’s nobody’s birthday today?”
“I beg your pardon,” I retorted.
“Today’s your birthday?!!”, Adam asked.
I informed them it was, and while walking along the rim of the Kidron Valley, Brenda and Adam sang Parabéns A Você.
Earlier in the day we visited Omars. I know how to get to his place via the light rail system.
Omar is the Leonardo DiVinci of Olive Wood. If I were rich, I’d buy up a lot of his creations. Just lok at the detail in Captain Moroni. I ended up buying a bunch of small items for my children and grandchildren as well as a bust of Christ of Elizabethe.
We also had a day of contrast as we visited the Garden Tomb and Golgotha. We then to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Yup, contrast as you can see here…
And, we visited King David’s Tomb as well as the Upper Room (they are right next to each other.)
Earlier, we also visited the Pool of Bethesda.
We went all over the place, but everything is a relatively short walk as it isn’t a very large area.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.)
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.)
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!”)