Jerusalem and southern environs: rooftops, matriarchs and wise women
The Ramparts Walk – the opportunity to see the Holy City from above, with the mountains and the modern city on the outside, and a unique slice of life on the inside. One still-prevalent ancient custom is the women’s use of rooftops surrounded by special barriers to shield them from strangers as they work at household tasks.
Kibbutz Ramat Rachel (“Rachel’s Height”) – the remains of a First Temple royal citadel unusually accented with artwork by sculptor Ran Morin. From here, an overview of the Judean Desert, Bethlehem, and the Mountains of Moab recalls that Ruth the Moabite changed history by braving the unknown to come to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi.
The Church of Mary’s Seat – some years ago during road work here the remains came to light of the Katisma (“seat”), a church previously known only from pilgrims’ literature, where tradition says the heavily pregnant Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem. It is hoped the remains, including magnificent mosaics, will someday be restored. Meanwhile, the stone seat and the form of the octagonal church around it are still visible.
Rachel’s Tomb – Rachel was another biblical mother-to-be on the road to Bethlehem. After she died giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob built her a monument here (Gen. 35:20). To this day, women come to Rachel’s tomb to pray for fertility and safe childbirth.
Tekoa – explore the story of the savvy Wise Woman of Tekoa (2 Sam. 14:1-21) who got David to recall his estranged son Absalom. Take in beautiful views of the Judean Desert, visit with local women leaders to discuss models of female biblical leadership, and see two unlikely arid-land endeavors: a winery and a mushroom farm.