Jerusalem and Dead Sea

13 Oct

Our next stop was Jerusalem where the three of us walked through the winding, twisting, and turning streets of the old city. We eventually found our way to the Western Wall for Shabbat. There were a few really interesting experiences that took place here, I mean, you know, other than actually being there, which is a pretty interesting experience in and of itself.  “Best people-watching of my life” — Jo-Ann Travis.

So, there are two sides to the wall: the men’s side and the women’s side. Ben warned me that the woman’s side, which was smaller, wouldn’t be as exciting during Shabbat. The singing and dancing associated with Shabbat mostly happened on the men’s side, and the women were quieter (minus the crying and touching of the wall). The men’s side is bigger and longer, and women and little girls are not allowed inside.

HOWEVER, it seems the extra perks on the men’s side are not without cost–you get what you pay for, right? My dad came back from the men’s side with quite the story (inspired by true events). Picture this:

You’re slightly overwhelmed by the experience, overcome by the spiritual nature of impending Shabbat and the wall. You watch as people pray and cry; they are touched by something bigger than themselves. So you decide to pray, which you almost never do. You lean your head into the wall to begin prayer, when all of a sudden, someone you suspect to be a rabbi comes over and softly touches your head. The rabbi leans you into the wall and starts praying over you. You’re touched; this experience has awakened you to greater forces and– but wait. As you turn to thank the rabbi, you see that he has his hand held out. Are we shaking hands? Do I thank you for the blessing? Then you realize he’s waiting for you to put some money in his hand.

“Are you kidding me?” You say. “Aren’t you a man of God?”

“Yes,” the rabbi says, “but we’re still asking for donations.”

So you pull out a couple of coins from your pocket, and the rabbi reaches over to take the ones that amount to $5 (the largest of the coins). But what he really took was the little remaining faith you had left. So you leave the wall.

Talk about a spiritual journey…



The divider separating the mens side (left) and the womens side (right).


We shook off my dad’s experience and prepared ourselves for what was to come. It was 5pm, the beginning of Shabbat, and we were surely about to have a synergistic experience. My mom and I went to our separate part of the wall and found a seat. My dad, reluctantly, went to his (and really, who could blame him!).

All of the women were wearing wigs, and they were really beautiful. At 5:30pm the men started singing, and by 6pm it was dark. The men were really getting into it; they were boisterous and lively… if ever I had FOMO (fear of missing out), it was at this very moment. The women were quiet the entire time. So, at 6:34pm, exactly one minute after official sundown, I gave up on the idea that we were going to have fun; my mom and I left to find my dad who was waiting for us and super ready to leave.

Yeah so, we kind of thought that we’d want to be more Jewish after visiting Jerusalem, but this experience may or may not have had the opposite effect. Ben had tried to warn me…


Eating my feelings through mountains of Baklava. Don’t judge– Only God can do that.


I also visited the church where Jesus had risen, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There were so many people everywhere (flashbacks to Petra). And what would be a holy site without loads of vendors selling souvenirs. Giving into the religious feelings abound, I rubbed a clean sock on the stone of Unction where the body of Christ was cleansed. I still use it to protect my sunglasses in their case, just in case it does hold some healing powers. Better safe than sorry!



Two smiling faces (yours truly & Makai) wandering through Jerusalem at night. Thanks to Lynn for linking us up!!


The next day, my parents wanted to sleep in (understandable), so I went for a long walk to another Holocaust museum. I got mildly lost and ended up climbing a steep route, which was fun and added to the adventure. But when I actually reached the museum, I decided I couldn’t handle being sad and found a quiet place to charge my phone and read instead.

When my parents picked me up, we headed 394 meters below sea level to the lowest place in the world– no, not hell. The Dead Sea!!!



View of the Dead Sea from above. Despite its name, the Dead Sea is gorgeous.


At one point during this excursion, we went slightly off-roading for just a couple of minutes because we like to live life on the edge; although, we did have to do some real problem-solving to get back on the main road. Was this a test? Would we be stranded in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights? Only time would tell.

The roads back were either way too steep, way too rocky, or filled with loose gravel. So, because we didn’t want to fall off a cliff or damage the car driving through jutting rocks, we chose the loose gravel as the safest of our three treacherous options. Now, I won’t say that we didn’t get stuck…but teamwork makes the dream work, so when the car did get stuck, we all got out to unbury the car from the loose rocks. Our best helper, though, was a trusty old road sign that someone had knocked down. Two hours later (yikes!), we were unstuck and a little less embarrassed than when we’d thought we were going to have to flag down a car on the highway for help.



Back on the road to FREEDOM!!!!! Tip: don’t drive in loose gravel.


So, finally free from the gravel, we made it down to the water and got in. PSA: the rumors are TRUE! The water in the Dead Sea is just as buoyant as everyone says. It was so fun to bob up and down in the water and float next to my parents. When we got tired of floating, we decided to cake mud all over each other. We deserved a spa day after digging 2 hours to free ourselves from the gravel trap.



Mud monsters in love.



Come to the Dead Sea for an all natural facial!



Like (muddy) mother like (muddy) daughter.


So after a nice, relaxing time floating, soaking in the sun and the rejuvenating mud on our skin, we headed back to Jerusalem that night to get some much needed rest. Of course, we washed the mud off first… no need to scare the good people of Jerusalem!

Salty hugs,


3 Responses to “Jerusalem and Dead Sea”

  1. Andrew Josey February 17, 2018 at 2:47 pm #

    My favorite post so far. Thanks for the morning read. ❤️

    Andrew Josey Manager Wings, Suds & Spuds 8806 University Boulevard Moon Township, PA 15106 (412) 264-1866 (412) 680-3127 – Cell


  2. Timothy Paul Westbrook February 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm #

    That’s so awesome. I hope to make it to these places someday.

  3. deekerson February 19, 2018 at 8:47 pm #

    Love ❤️ Love ❤️ Love ❤️ this blog. I actually forgot some of the Wailing Wall/rabbi experience. Thanks for reminding me of what really happened.

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