Jerusalem: highlights of the Old City
The Jewish Quarter – including the Cardo, Jerusalem’s ancient main street; the First Temple-era Hezekiah’s Wall; and the Burnt House, destroyed when the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 70 CE, where a moving audiovisual presentation highlights questions of class, the place of women, and the tragic end of one ancient Jerusalem family.
The Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Mark – over the traditional house of Mark (Acts 12:13-16), where visitors can consider the part played by the servant girl Rhoda in the story of Peter’s return to the community and other “lowly” female figures in Scripture.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre – the most sacred ground in the Christian world, this ancient church stands over the Tomb of Jesus and the last of the Stations of the Cross.
The Dormition Abbey – marking the site of the Assumption of Mary, with an unusual representation of Mary surrounded by a mosaic of Old Testament women.
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.
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.