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Tonight I walked up to the Western Wall for the first time. Isn’t it awesome that God dwelt in the Temple, right here, for hundreds of years, and now, His Spirit dwells in us? Wow! I am in awe of Him.

Tomorrow I’m going on a field study around the City of Jerusalem. I’m not sure where I’ll be going, but two places on the itinerary are the Mt. of Olives and the Herodian. Very exciting!

School Food

My bedroom at JUC

My bedroom at JUC

So what is life at JUC like? No, the food here at school isn’t kosher. This school is not Jewish, it’s evangelical Christian.  We eat a lot of rice and hummus. That’s the staple food. Overall, the food is pretty good, but some of the meals are kind of iffy. The other day the main dish was green beans in tomato sauce.  Weird.  I’ve discovered you can mix hummus with most any food makes that food better.

The JUC Facilities

As for facilities, everything is just as it is in the States. Everything that is, except for the toilets. The plumbing here on campus cannot handle anything other than the expected being flushed down the toilets. That doesn’t sound too bad, except that toilet paper is not part of the expected flushables. So, next to every toilet is a garbage pail, and as you can imagine, the bathrooms are a bit smelly around mid-afternoon.

JUC’s Location: On Mt. Zion, but not on Mt. Zion…

The school itself is situated upon a hill overlooking the Hinnom Valley, which is also known as Gehenna in the New Testament. Yes, I live on the edge of hell! Actually, that valley is now very beautiful. Find out why it was called Gehenna and you’ll know why that is. If you have looked at the JUC website, you might have noticed the address says that we are on Mt. Zion. Well, we sort of are, but that is only because Josephus, and later the Byzantine rulers, confused this hill with the real Mt. Zion. The real Mt. Zion is where the City of David was, and that is one more hill over, between here and the Mt. of Olives.

"Mt. Zion" - The Dormition Abbey bell tower is on the left, looking like a rocket ship.  The JUC buildings are on the right.

“Mt. Zion” – The Dormition Abbey bell tower is on the left, looking like a rocket ship. The JUC buildings are on the right.

According to the story I heard, when the Greek Orthodox obtained control of the Byzantine holy sites atop this hill, they began calling this hill Mt. Zion. Of course you want to say you own Mt. Zion.  Thanks to a lapse in our knowledge of history, people started believing them.  So pilgrims thought they were able to visit these Byzantine holy sites and knock six or seven sites off their pilgrimage list with barely any walking by visiting the mis-named Greek Orthodox “Mt. Zion”.

The name has stuck for centuries and some tour guides even still call this Mt. Zion. The real Mt. Zion is between the Cheesemaker (Tyropian) and Kidron Valleys. It really doesn’t look like a mountain anymore. Partly because it is very low and has two much higher hills on either side of it (the Mt. of Olives on the East and the Western Hill, aka fake “Mt. Zion” to the West).

I was able to go to the City of David last Sunday. But, I’ll tell you about that in my next post. Right now, I have to go get some sleep. The next two days are going to be adventures from dusk to dawn. I’ll let you know about them soon. Until then, blessings and shabbat shalom from Yerushalayim!

One more thing…

Enjoy this parody.