Thursday, March 4th Reported by Ben Lohrengel

Today was scheduled to be a free day, so we had no guide, but we still had a lot to see. Issam took us to the model of First Century Jerusalem at the Holyland Hotel, where we could see what Jerusalem looked like near the time of Jesus.

The model shows the first century temple and a lot of other features of Jerusalem at that time. A new viewing platform has been built to view the model from the west. We also noticed some reconstructed lifesize examples of Roman siege machines had been added to the display.

Then we went to Yad Vashem to see the commemoration of the holocaust. It features a chronological display of Nazi Germany's campaign against the Jews and is a very sobering and reflective emotionial experience.

After lunch we went to the Israel museum. Our first stop was the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. Then we toured the antiquities section. There also the artifacts are displayed chronologically. So we literally walked our way through Israel's history, represented by the artifacts that have been unearthed from ancient times.

Some mechanical problems with our bus delayed our return to the hotel for some free time in the afternoon. Many of our group visited the Garden Tomb, which is just around the corner from our hotel.

Then some went back to the hotel to catch up on some rest, while others went for a shopping jaunt through the Old City.