Welcome to my blog post series on Israel, a tiny country where world politics and religions converge, and it takes a mere five hours to drive across its entire length. 🙂
So, is Israel on your bucket list? It was on mine. For a very long time. But I was filled with doubts on how to go about it. It turned out that the one country I was most unsure and nervous about travelling to solo and independently was in fact the easiest to explore on my own. Israel is an independent traveller’s dream come true.
Don’t believe me?
Come along with me as I blog about Israel over the next few months, the land of Yhwh’s “Chosen Ones,” in a series which traverses three Abrahamic religions and countless natural sites of mind-boggling beauty over a 15-day voyage—at the epicentre of which is the “Wall.”
It did not matter what time of the day or night I walked into the open-air synagogue facing the 2,000-year-old Western or Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem—the faithful were always deep in prayer here. Lost in another world in which it was just them and their beloved god: Yahweh or to be more correct Yhwh [in Hebrew] or G-d [in English].
Jews believe their god’s name is so sacred it is not to be taken in vain. More crucial, it is never to be defaced. By writing it without the vowels, it eliminates that possibility. Though the alphabets represent god, the incomplete word is not an exact representation. And hence, safe to use.
The towering limestone wall referred to as simply Kotel is all that remains of the esplanade built by King Herod in 19 BC to support the Second Temple, the ancient dwelling place of Yhwh.
In 70 AD the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burnt the Temple to the ground in response to a local Jewish uprising. In 135 AD, in response to a second Jewish uprising, the Romans prohibited Jews from ever living in the city again, sending them into exile for the next two millennia.
At the foot of the remnants of the Wall, Jews today lament and wail over the loss of their “Temple.” The Wall is also the closest Jews can get to the most venerated site in their religion: Temple Mount where Yhwh created the world, and the holy and holies of the ancient Temples once stood. Since the 7th Century AD a shrine and mosque stand in their place instead. Jews are barred from entering Temple Mount.
Israel is a fascinating and complex country, to say the least. Israel also requires one to leave all prejudices and beliefs aside, and travel with an open curious mind.
Twelve posts. Three months. I hope you enjoy reading the posts as much as I am looking forward to writing them. ❤
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[Note: This blog post is part of a series from my solo and independent travel to Israel for 15 days in November 2019. To read more posts in my Israel series, click here.]